Short Stories

Some short stories to share.

Remembrance Day

Hello,

As many of you know, today is Remembrance Day or, if you’re living in the US, Veteran’s Day – it’s still the same thing, right? You know, with the poppies and a short silence to remember the fallen soldiers. I also found out that today is also Pocky Day…I’m not sure why Pocky decided to match up its celebration day with Remembrance Day but, well, it’s up to them, I guess.

This morning, the school had to line up for longer because we had this poppy ceremony where the teachers and important students (Head Girl and Boy) made speeches – or were they reciting a poem? – and then the important people who were invited stick poppies (fake, of course) onto the ground (again, not real) below a large poppy. Then, there was this familiar trumpet tune that was always played on 11/11 – since Mr. Phil has left the school, the played the song on some kind of music player, so it wasn’t played life. Well, it seemed like it wasn’t played life.

So I made this really short story for Remembrance Day. I always thought wars as something glorious yet horrible at the same time…mostly horrible, but when you win then it’s glorious. Weird, right? When a gruesome deed is deemed heroic just because you have proven yourself to be more powerful than the other side? I think war is basically mass murder under the disguise of “better future project”. Why would anyone do it in the first place? I know, you need to expand to find natural resources so you can survive, and yadda-yadda-yadda…But it’s not necessary to barge into other people’s houses, beat the owners to a pulp, turn the whole house upside-down, steal their food and other belongings, declare their house as you second home and say that what you did was perfectly justified. You just committed trespassing, technically beat the living daylights out of some innocent people, destroyed their home, steal their resources, conquer the place and tell the media that the whole violence was perfectly justified. And if you still don’t get why people hate it when you just appear out of the blue in your country to declare a missile party, then why don’t you host it at your own country? Or maybe some other place that, let’s say, don’t have that many population? I think you all know what I’m talking about.

Bottom line is: war is stupid. Hands down.

Moving on from the rant, here is the short story I prepared for our honourable brave soldiers. It may not be directly relevant to war but, well, it’s relevant in some ways. Enjoy!

 

The King is a Pawn

He’d had enough. All this time he had been pull by the strings by shadows behind the bushes. All this time he had been dancing obliviously while the audience laughed behind his back. All this time he had been riding on the wrong bus to get home for years straight, still not knowing why he hadn’t reached his destination yet. But the driver knew; the audience knew; the shadows knew. He was a puppet – merely a pawn amongst a coalition of kings. He didn’t want this humiliation, and he vowed to change his fate.

So he met up with That Woman. She was sitting down on a plain, single bed in a plain white room, situated at the top most floor of an apartment building, located somewhere near the outskirts of the city. Aside from the bed, there was a pasty blue dinner table with matching chairs – no cushions – and a little coffee table at the corner, at the foot of the bed, where an old TV sat. The kitchenette was located near the front door and in a few feet in front of the dinner table, while next to the kitchenette was the protruding section of the room that housed the bathroom. The place housed no decoration – it was kept trim and austere, just like her.

She didn’t seem to acknowledge him when he had entered the room, even though she was the one who had offered him assistance. He had been standing awkwardly by a dining chair, watching her stare at the wall in front of her. The wall was plain, just like her glassy eyes, just like her whole being. The silence in the confined space was unusual to him; everywhere he went (before all of this happened) was followed by noise – dreadful noise or amicable noise, or just noise. After what seemed like an eon, she inclined her head to him and smiled slightly.

“Good morning, Mr. Woodhink,” she greeted him in a soft yet curt voice. “Please have a seat, if you’d like.”

He nodded stiffly and sat himself upon the chair he had been standing next to. “It was very pleasant of you to offer me this very much needed assistance, Miss Mentir,” he said courteously. “If it weren’t for you, I would not be able to talk, yet along breath, at this very moment.”

“Yes, I have realised what a situation you are in, Mr. Woodhink,” she said in a serious tone, though her mannerisms made it seem as if she said it absentmindedly. She hadn’t made an eye contact yet. Her spin was stiff and rigid under her opaque black suit. She had her hands folded primly on her laps, and her chin was brought up so it was as if she was peering down. Domineering. He fought the urge to clench his fist at her attitude. “Not to be rude or anything, but I’d like to keep this meeting short and straight; I’ll tell you as much details about what you need to do as possible, and then you’ll have to do this as quickly and as soon as you can. No questions, Mr. Woodhink, for my ways are absolutely justified and effective.”

Woodhink clicked his jaws shut once Mentir stated this. He felt the cold sweat pouring down his whole body, drowning him in an ocean of fear and anticipation. “Please, do tell me what it is I need to do,” was all he said before Mentir took the lead.

“I believe your main problem is Mr. Verita Nascosta, correct? If he exists, he is a threat, but if he doesn’t then you wouldn’t need to worry. Simple, right?”

Realisation dawned upon Woodhink’s face. He was about to object to the absurdity and impossibility of the idea, but Mentir cut him to it. “I am not quite done yet, Mr. Woodhink. Although the notion may seem ridiculous, albeit impossibly easy and dangerous, to you, I can assure you that it is the right thing to do. Think about it – freedom, no strings attached! How do you think that will feel like? When was the last time you have looked at yourself in the mirror and be satisfied with what you see?”

Woodhink gulped in all of her words like fresh air. Whenever he saw his reflection, he felt bile rise up his throat. Cuts, bruises, scars – all because of that man. And for what? Service of the country? All he ever did was kill fearful nameless in foreign lands whilst being forced to watch his comrades melt into dirt one by one. And all he got for the trauma was a golden chip with vibrant ribbons attached to it, as well as fleeting praises, and fortune. Oh, the fortune – so pleasurable, yet so ephemeral. It left him with nothing but a transient feeling of joy, and an everlasting emptiness. Meaningless, his life had been. Woodhink lifted his head from his bowed position to finally look at Mentir squarely.

Foggy glass-like eyes, revealing everything but nothing, locked onto his desperate orbs. You cannot tell her age or her experience from her appearance, but her eyes would reveal everything to you. She smiled that patronizing smile once again, and continued. “You see? It will be simple – no fingerprints, no attachments…”

* * *

The gun felt lighter after I had used it. Verita Nascosta’s body was concealed within a potato sack, which had fresh bullet wounds on them. I would love to see his face, to hear more of his agony, but that would risk many things. I looked at my trembling hands, and I dropped the gun. The callused surface of my palm and fingertips looked more pronounced, as if someone had traced them over with a very bold marker. I brought up my shaking hand in front of me, marvelling at the power trapped within it. I smiled, and laughed – I am my own man, a powerful being in his own right! I clenched my hand into a fist and brought it against the nearest wall – no one can control me anymore! The pain that shot up my arm and crawled up my spine was nothing like what I’ve felt before; it felt so fresh, sharp, and real – this hand can do many things, and I, myself, will be the one to control it! I didn’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life. My head felt so light, I was sure I was flying.

The body was no moving. I briskly paced over to it and gave it a hard strike with my foot. My foot! The same foot that had stepped upon strange lands upon a lunatic’s orders! The same foot that had clobbered the same lunatic that had made me miserable! Free – free at last! The power is mine! I don’t think I can get enough of it!

I was still panting after I was done with my share of kicks. Clicking footsteps were approaching, growing louder as Mentir drew nearer. I turned around to greet her with a grin, and she returned it back with her own secluded smile. “You really are something, Mr. Woodhink – a soldier, indeed,” Mentir commented, eyes glinting with amusement.

“Soldier?” I scoffed. “I am a man! Soldier is a term for those clueless drones that would willingly serve this dolt!” I emphasised the last word with a kick to Verita Nascosta’s head. I cackled as the sack turned over so that its back was facing me. “Well, now that’s settled,” I said. “I think I have a vacation to see to–”

“However, Mr. Woodhink,” Mentir interrupted, blocking my way with her arm. “In order to be properly free, you are required to execute some more tasks.”

I frowned. This was not what she had offered. “What do you mean, Mentir?”

She smiled. Her glassy eyes were focused at Verita Nascosta’s back, at the visible bloodstains on the sack. “Did you know that Verita Nascosta had many alliances with other powerful men? These men I am talking about, according to my information, are willing to continue his ruling even after he has perished. Don’t you think it’s a problem for you, that Verita Nascosta has planned to continue his reign of terror?” Mentir sighed and clicked her tongue. “Such a fickle man, he is. Doing good for the country whilst making dire sacrifices? Are his truths really belieavable? Such a joke…”

Verita Nascosta had men? I did not know that…I was not free yet. In fact, I don’t think I can be free, so long as these men exist. I looked at my trembling hands. The hands that hold so much power. I can do this – for my freedom, for everyone’s freedom.

“For freedom,” I breathed. “Anything for freedom. If I have to kill twelve men, then so be it – so long as it’s for freedom.”

Mentir nodded and stepped aside. Her smile seemed to be more permanent and brighter than before. “And I lay all my trust in you, Mr. Woodhink,” she said. That was the last I saw of her before I received another set of tasks from my earpiece. I didn’t know what she was doing down there with Verita Nascosta’s corpse and though I was curious I didn’t look back. The future was all I see – a future of freedom and self righteousness; a future where there will be no bloodshed or public fallacy. True freedom, it was my future. As I neared the exit, I heard Mentir’s laugh for the first time, low and jubilant.

-rookieMANGAKA

Categories: Journal, Short Stories, Story, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Somewhere Only We Know

Hello,

After reading this story, those of you who have read “The Scientist” will think: “This has a pretty similar plot!” Yes, I agree, but NO – I don’t agree. This story is more focused on emotions and the perspective of the heart, and is more of a surrealism/emotional-ism piece of art rather than the usual once-upon-a-time-heroes-and-whatnot-the-end kind of story I usually write. I don’t think it’s the best story I’ve ever written, but I think it’s pretty damn good…or not. Well, it depends on what the readers think.

So read, think and see you!

Somewhere Only We Know

 

(This song is inspired from the song of the same name by Keane.)

 

I came across a fallen tree

I felt the branches of it looking at me

Is this the place we used to love?

Is this the place that I’ve been dreamin of?

 

Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?

I’m getting old, and I need something to rely on

So tell me when you’re gonna let me in

I’m getting tired, and I need somewhere to begin

 

And if you have a minute, why don’t we go

Talk about it somewhere only we know?

This could be the end of everything

So why don’t we go

Somewhere only we know?

* * *

The park is the most beautiful place in town during summer days. It’s such a shame that most people would be gone for their summer holiday out of town, leaving just a few who are willing to withstand the glaring heat – but really, it’s never that bad. Lynn and I usually go to the park to feed the pigeons or just hang around, doing kids stuff. Today, we are just sitting on out usual bench, relaxing after yesterday’s test; today is the first day of the summer holiday, and our reports will be out in a week from now.

Lynn has her legs stretched out in front of her, wriggling her toes while she hums a song we usually hear from the radio. Something about walking on an empty land, growing up and moving on – it was lovely, but sad. I’m just sitting beside her, listening as she hums contently. Lynn then says “Have you thought about where you’ll go?”

I shake my head, “We still have years to go, Lynn.”

“But it won’t hurt to start planning now, right?” Lynn counters, “A few years will come in a blur before we know it and when the time comes, we’ll be unprepared.”

I think about that for a second. Then, I know where I’ll be years from now. “I’ll be with you,” I simply say.

Lynn blushes and laughs lightly. “That’s stupid! I’m planning to go overseas!”

“Then I’ll go with you.”

Lynn stays quiet. She gets up and walks a few paces away from the bench. “You can’t…go with me.”

I’m confused. “Why? I can just study hard enough and hopefully I’ll get in.” Lynn is not responding. “Lynn? What’s wrong?”

Lynn only stands there, her back to me. The summer breeze feels colder and clouds begin to crowd over the sun. Birds stop singing and the trees cackle silently. Lynn turns around just a slight bit, enough for me to see her face draped over with her hair. “John, there’s something I need to tell you –”

There’s a storm. It’s in the middle of summer, but there’s a storm. Lighting strikes something far away from me but right now, I don’t really mind if it were to hit me. No one’s passing by the park, not at this time or weather. I wonder if they’re spending their time in their homes with their loved ones, warming up by the fire with mugs of hot chocolate, watching TV shows and laughing at cheesy jokes. And after that, they would retreat to bed, bid good dreams to each other and then when morning comes, they would wake up to bid them a good morning and then a good day.

As time passes, he can hear people nearby him. A couple are fighting in the rain, screaming at each other’s faces and spitting venom whenever there’s chance. People seems to gather out of nowhere, surrounding the couple, and me.

The couple’s argument gets louder and louder and louder, and the words they lash out get more horrible every second. It goes on forever, no side forfeiting or showing signs of defeat. The people start to murmur, gossiping and commenting. Some were scathing remarks. Some were piteous words. Some were just comments from blind men.

“They’re fighting for no reason.”

“But someone is at fault.”

“Who is it?”

“Is it the man?”

“Or is it the woman?”

“The woman is. She didn’t tell him the bad news, not until it is way past mending.”

“The man is. He’s not being understanding enough, and all he can do is blame her.”

“Both are. They’re just being children, refusing to solve the problem with level heads.”

“They’re angry.”

“They’re furious.”

“They’re confused.”

“They’re sad.”

“They’re broken.”

“They’re weak. Oh, so weak.”

“They need time.”

“Some time alone, to sort out their heads.”

“But what will happen in their time?”

“The woman will perish. The man will move on.”

“They don’t want that.”

“They’re weak.”

“They deserve sympathy.”

“Do they really deserve sympathy?”

“It’s just a fool’s play.”

The couple’s voices lowers down. There are words of bitter agreement, and they part ways. The man walks towards the direction he came from. Lynn walks past me, raindrops and tears marring her face.

Lynn drops down next to me, silent and distant. Flower buds were frozen on the ground, refusing to blossom even though it was way past the beginning of spring. I match Lynn’s silence, watching the pigeons feed on things from the ground from afar. A pigeon lifts its head and looks at me with its calculating, beady eyes, judging my posture and attitude. I refrain myself from squirming under its scrutiny and it seems like the bird will not mind to stare at me until I die from paranoia, but something in its gaze tells me that it wants me to do something, make a move. Talk to Lynn.

I take a deep breath and glance at Lynn. Her face is a perfect sculpture representing a mix of disappointment, anger, sadness, desperation, and submission. I lift my hand so I can put it atop of hers, but I pull it back, thinking about how it may be (and it is) the wrong move to make. Instead, I lace my fingers together and lean just a tiny bit forward, staring at the ground between my feet.

“We can work this out,” I begin.

Lynn breaths in slowly and exhales through her mouth. “You could, but we can’t.”

I twiddle my thumbs from nervousness. “Lynn, really, we can change things if we try – isn’t that what you always say?”

“Things change, John. I’m not the same person you have known since you were five, and neither are you. Besides, I only have a week left before I need to go –”

“Before you’re gone forever,” I finish. Lynn doesn’t have anything to add. She slinks back further in her seat and looks up at the sky. She opens her pale lips and say “Do you know why I hate spring even though it’s beautiful?”

I shake my head.

“Because since it’s the beginning of a new life, everything looks pale. Sometimes, I think spring’s worse than winter, because nature looks like she only half-heartedly coloured the world and by the time summer comes, she would go on full blast in her painting, making everything vibrant. Spring has no personality, like an indecisive newborn baby, not knowing whether it should linger in the cold or move on to warmer days.” Lynn pauses, resting for a minute before she continues. “I don’t like helplessness. I don’t like it when I can’t decide things for myself. When summer comes, it means that I’ve decided to move on rather than stay hung up on the past, and that’s good because I can let go of the old pain and whatnot. Even though the price is to forget about old happiness.”

I get up and kneel in front of her, my eyes searching hers. “Don’t go,” I plead, “Don’t forget. Don’t move on. I – I can make you happy. We will be alright. Even though the time is short, w-we can make it together, and we’ll be happy in the end! Think about it, Lynn; I don’t want to lose you. What will happen if it won’t work out? It’s better if you’re here than when you’re not here when the time comes.” Lynn is not moving. She’s not saying anything. “Lynn? Please, answer me!”

I clutch at the empty seat in front of me, spilling frozen tears on the icy bench. Though it’s only a light drizzle of snowflakes, it feels like I’m pelted with million shards of ice. My face feels numb and it’s hard to open my eyes, what with the ice around my eyes. Or maybe I don’t want to open my eyes, afraid to see what’s not there.

I can hear people around me, talking about all sorts of things. Happiness. Sadness. Turmoil. Annoyance. Nothing in particular. Some people would stop and murmur about me, thinking I’m mad, or just extremely troubled. Extremely depressed. I don’t have the energy to shout or scream or deny anymore. I don’t have the energy to blame anyone anymore. Maybe they’re right – maybe there’s nothing to live for anymore.

Footsteps are approaching. They stop.

“What are you doing here?”

I didn’t move from my kneeling position, nor did I acknowledge the voice.

“You’ll freeze to death if you stay.”

The sweetness in the voice is still the same as ever. But I didn’t care.

“What’s wrong?”

I shakily take a long drag of cool air and croak out “I’ve lost something.”

“Then why don’t you try to find it?”

I hear myself say “Someone took it from me; I can’t have it back.”

“Who took it?”

“Death,” I say.

“What is this thing you lost? What does it mean to you?”

I’m afraid to answer. I don’t want to answer.

“What does it mean to you?”

I don’t think I have any other choices. So I say “She’s my friend…no, she’s more than that. We’ve known each other since, like, forever. I’d do anything for her, and I know she’d do the same. So when she’s gone…” I laugh bitterly, sniffling and coughing after that. I try again. “So when she’s gone…it feels like everyday’s winter. Summer air feels colder; spring looks duller than before; autumn feels unbearably lonely and depressing. You know, watching the leaves fall remind me that things we love will eventually perish and then turn to dust, just like the leaves. But I think spending the last moments with her before she dies is better than not getting to hear her last breath.”

The footsteps approach slowly. I hear a thump on the empty space next to me. A warm hand caresses my stiff hair, entangling icicles from between the strands.

“Did you know why I didn’t tell you?”

I bring my head up and prop my chin on the bench, sitting cross legged on the earthy ground littered with orange leaves. Occasional leaves would flutter down from blinding heights, landing with frail grace upon the ground. A leaf latches itself on my nest of a hair. I shrug. “I don’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Lynn smiles and places her hand on her lap, palms up. “You were always happy. If I were to tell you, I’ll break you.”

I glance at her. She’s in a plain white dress – her summer dress – and her hair is done in two plaits that hung on either side of her shoulders. Just like the first time we met. I lift myself up and sit on the spot she usually sits, because she already took mine. We spend most of the time watching red fairy flutter around in the wind. Sometimes, squirrels would climb down from their homes and gather nuts to store for winter. I can hear children playing on my right, the sound of crushing leaves crisp and clear in my ears. I take a look at Lynn again; she’s smiling at two squirrels on the tree in front of us.

“You know,” I say, “I think I’ll manage somehow.”

Lynn turns and looks at me, a sad but relieved smile gracing her face. “I’d like you to do that,” she says gently.

I give her a lopsided smile. “Don’t be like that! You’re the one who has been nagging me about this. I won’t forget you; I still have lots of pictures of us around my house, and I still keep the old board games and Game Boy slots. Do you remember the drawing of that winged giraffe?” Lynn laughs at that, her eyes glassy. She nods. “I have that hung on top of my desk, where I can always see it from every side of my bedroom. Even my mum still has that teddy bear you made for Jessie in our living room – Jessie wouldn’t stop hugging it whenever we watch a movie.”

Lynn looks at me with more happiness this time, her tears wiped with her hand. I take that said hand and hold it as tightly as I can, but as gentle as I would when handling a baby. “I won’t forget you,” I repeat.

Lynn nods. “Thank you, John. For everything.”

The leaves from the ground rustles and one by one, they twirl around in the wind, flying up towards the clear blue sky. My hand is still on Lynn’s and I enjoy the warmth of it. All I can hear now is the whistling of the wind, the song of the red leaves, my heart beat slowing down in peace. The leaves on the trees morph from red to yellow, and then to a brilliant shade of viridian, symbolising joy and freedom. The air in the park warms up to a comfortable heat, and the sky brightens up, making all things around glitter mesmerizingly.

I lightly caress the spot next to me, remembering Lynn’s presence like she is still there. I can hear her laughs, mingling in the summer breeze, her grace dancing around with the birds. Children and adults come and go, enjoying the summer heat or cooling down under shades or by relishing in a cool beverage. I can handle the heat just fine, since I’ve been to this park in the middle of summer for ever since I was little.

I see the time on my watch – half past twelve noon. My shift at the orphanage is at one, but it won’t hurt to leave early. Charity works had kept my head below the clouds, especially ones that involves raising awareness of deadly diseases. I don’t want people to experience the loss I’ve experienced but if they are experiencing it, I won’t let a thought get in my way of helping them. That’s what Lynn would do, and she still does it.

Two sets of footsteps race each other towards me – they were Billy and Joe’s. They leap at me with big eyes, telling me of their day’s conquest without taking a breath. Behind them is Anna, her hair tied in a ponytail, her yellow sundress billowing in the wind. She’s reminding me about our picnic after my work, and I nod and thank her for reminding me, else I would endure hours of insufferable lecture. She says that she had asked Mrs. Dobson to look after the kids while we celebrate our anniversary together – perfect! Now we will have all of our time together – no pranks, no screams, no pests! I’ll make it up to Billy and Joe for their birthdays in three months.

Anna and the kids head over to the playground, the boys’ excitement evident in their youthful voices. I pat the empty space and with a lingering glace, I stand up, gathering my belongings, and depart for my work. The wind accompanies me towards the park entrance, where I stop to turn around and say “I won’t be long, Lynn.”

-rookieMANGAKA

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Why did I just write?

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Gone Not Around Any Longer

Hello,

I didn’t know why I wrote this but I just did. I love this song and I listen to it often, and I wish I wouldn’t have to ruin everyone’s mood with this but this is what I’ve got in mind for the song. Don’t worry – it’s pretty short so it won’t affect you or anything. Just pray for a happier song next time. Maybe “That XX” by G-Dragon would be a better love story than “Gone Not Around Any Longer” but that would wait for later.

I’m currently working on Deus Ex Machina chapter 10 – I rewrote chapter 9 because I was dissatisfied, and I still am. I just hope you’ll still like it, and me. Hehehe. So, enjoy!

Gone Not Around Any Longer

(This song is inspired by SISTAR19’s song of the same name.)

 

I didn’t know we would break up so easily

My tears won’t stop flowing

 

In my bathroom your toothbrush was here then gone

Your strong scent was here then gone

I just wanted to say that I love you

But your number is disconnected now

 

The pictures in the frame were here then gone

Fallen hair were here then gone

Walking on the road with an empty mind

As tears keep flowing down

 

I can’t breathe now that you’re no longer here

I can’t even stay because you aren’t with me

I am slowly dying but you’re not here

Anymore, anymore, anymore

 

I can’t smile because you’re no longer here

Because you’re not here

I hate seeing myself break down

I have nowhere to depend on now

* * *

The sun filtered through the translucent white curtains in an angelic way, bathing the disarrayed room in silent sympathy. A gentle breeze waltzed inside the room, flipping pages of books and journals, opening secrets best to be forgotten. Photographs were scattered on the floor like dying petals, the smiling couple in them were nothing but blotches of ink forming a picture. A table and two chairs lied limply nearby the messy pile of pictures, and a picture book stared blankly up towards the ceiling. The bed sheet was tangle up with the duvet and bunched up high near the headboard, covering the pillows in a suffocating manner. Outside, it was a sunny day.

A trail made from a thin sheet led to a pristine white bathroom where a young woman perched at the side of an empty tub, looking at the tiled floor with disinterest. Her hair, which she used to keep in style, was now dead brambles; her face, which used to house a cheerful smile, now looked older and weary. It was deafeningly silent, something she had never likes, but she didn’t even notice how loud and disturbing the constant drips of water were. It was as if she couldn’t hear a thing at all.

After a long while, she looked up. The mirror reflected her worn-out face mockingly. A cup that held a toothbrush stood mournfully beside the tap, an exact replica of her inner state. She glanced at the toothbrush and then towards her reflection, then back to the toothbrush. The toothbrushes.

She remembered starting the day playfully bickering over the bathroom space, stating that it would be better if she had a shower booth rather than a bathtub. Before she could tidy up her hair, she would complain about the amount of fallen hair entwined with each brush teeth. However, her morning frustration would ebb away as soon as that familiar scent wafts into the room and then into every part of the house – she had chosen that particular brand of perfume.

The girl looked back at her reflection and got up as if she hadn’t seen anything at all. She walked back towards her room, past her bed and towards the balcony. The sunshine was blinding.

She used to spend the time here marveling the brilliant warmth and how the light would cast beautiful images of the city. The wind was the best since her room was not too high or too low, and the city orchestra had never been a bother at all. She was so eager to come here every morning to greet the day with newborn vigor –

The sunlight irritated her.

She walked back in and noticed the pile of photographs on the floor. There were always two, never alone, and always smiling whether stupidly or contently. An arm was always around her and she too would give back the loving gesture with a loop around the neck. She spotted the camera nearby the pile and glared at it. Why were these pictures taken again? She hadn’t taken them to taunt her. They used to represent happy memories. She wasn’t so sure about that.

She flopped down onto the bed, her hand unconsciously reaching for the phone. She didn’t try to stop it, because she wanted to hear it.

To hear it.

To hear his voice.

To hear him.

How he used to bicker in the morning about the space in the bathroom, but would always insist on keeping the tub because he liked how it fits the corner perfectly. He would always use her comb, stating that if he did then her hair scent would always be with him for the rest of the day. And in turn, he would use that perfume she picked for him because he loved the scent so much.

Every morning, she would always drag him out to the balcony so they would have a fresh start for the day. He should admit that he enjoyed the light morning breeze, the welcoming warmth and the lovely sunlight. The noise was not to his taste, though. He would always wonder how she could be so eager to come here every morning and jump around like a hare even though there’s nothing so special about the landscape, but he would always come to see that smile.

He had bought the camera so they could save every happy memory they had experienced so that when they’re down, they would always look at the pictures and remember the happy days. They had both agreed that that was what they would do when they’re forlorn.

She wished that was true.

She dialed his number without having to recall it and listened to the monotonous tune. Even though she knew what the outcome will be, she still hoped; hoped that someone would answer, that someone would greet her, that someone would talk to her – no, not just someone. It had to be him.

The tune went on endlessly. A click. A more rapid tune replaced the slower ones from before. Her tears fell down once more.

-rookieMANGAKA

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Cleansing Cream

Hello,

As promised, I wrote “Cleansing Cream”! In my opinion the story’s kind of messy but, meh! You should really read the translated lyrics to the song – it matches the concept of the story. I’ve put the introduction, verse 1 and the lyrics in the beginning of the story but if you want to know the rest of them, here’s the link:

http://kpopquote.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/lyric-cleansing-cream-brown-eyed-girls-hangul-romanization-english/

Anyways, enjoy the story and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cleansing Cream

 

(This story is inspired by Brown Eyed Girls’ song of the same name).

 

It hurts, it hurts – my closed heart – a lot, a lot

Oh my honey, honey baby – what do I do?

 

After playing like crazy all day, I erase my thick makeup

Will I forget by being like this?

Looking quite miserable, on top of my half-erased cheeks

On top of the half-erased lipstick,

The fallen tears melt with the cleansing cream

 

Why, why, why, unni?

All throughout the night, why can’t I forget him?

Why, why, why, unni?

With my blackened and smeared tears, I can’t forget him

And I stubbornly say, bye, bye

 

What do I do, unni? I want to sleep now

But my heart keeps running to him

What to do, unni? I don’t think I can go on like this

Please, can you have a drink with me? I ask of you, unni

* * *

“I dumped him,” I declared nonchalantly, inspecting my nails in a bored fashion. Beside me, my friend just gawked stupidly at the confession.

“Y-you didn’t even go beyond a day!” she pointed out.

“Got bored. He was boring. End of story.” Eva clicked her tongue and shook her head disapprovingly – oh Lord, not another lecture… “Look. You can’t force me into a relationship that both you and I will not work. I mean, look at that guy – who still has that bowl cut? And what’s with the formalities? Men don’t walk around with top hats anymore, y’know.”

Eva looked as if she was about to argue but she shut her lips tightly and gathered her things to leave. “Just don’t get yourself killed, Irma,” she sighed before she left.

I don’t get what her problem was but Eva would have the weird urge to take care of someone because apparently, “people’s stupidity worries her to death”. She knew I’m not that foolish so why bother checking up on me? Why bother setting me up on blind dates? What’s with all the lectures? She should’ve minded her own business.

I sighed and pulled out my pocket mirror to inspect my mascara. My eyes had always been watery to begin with so I would constantly check if the waterproof mascara would live up to its name. While on it, I added on another layer of lip gloss to cover up the damage done from the coffee cup. Once that was done, I went back to checking my cuticles. The cafeteria was buzzing and loud – not an ideal place for a hangout or relaxation and Eva would always complain about the bland food. But I would come here anyway. This was our favourite place. The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch break. I didn’t feel like going to my class.

* * *

People were swarming the dance floor, some dancing happily while some swaying listlessly. Some sat at the bar to enjoy their drinks – I was among those people. My margarita sloshed in boredom as I lightly shook the thin glass. I would glance at my left or right occasionally to see the same sight over and over again: flirters, drunks and attention seekers. If you’d squint really hard you could see some depressed men and women among those people, only they would sometimes hide it well – I was among those people.

The bartender was wiping the cocktail mixer with a small towel, his eyes scanning the room in mild curiosity; he must’ve been wondering about how many people were actually here to have some fun rather than drowning themselves in grief. He caught my eyes and said, “I didn’t notice you.”

I smirked, “I tried a different make-up.”

“Well, that explains a lot,” he said over the blaring music, “You and your margarita enjoying the night?”

“We’re having a blast, Karl,” I said.

“Yeah, I can see it,” he rolled his eyes, “I can’t believe you managed to come here every night. Don’t you have work or something?”

“I’d do them in advance, or my friend would do them for me.”

“Such loyalty…”

“She’s a keeper, I tell ya.”

“Still hung up, then?” My fingers twitched at that. “Heard from Mark that you two just broke up. And you’re still here.”

I glared at him and pulled up my most vicious smiles, “Oh, I’m not hung up, Karl. He’s just boring, a disgrace to humanity.”

“And now you’re talking like Mordney the Vampire,” Karl deadpanned.

I downed my drink and pushed the glass towards Karl. With a last glance, I called out “It’s kind of fun being a bad girl, you know?” I molded into the sweaty dancing crowd easily, closing my eyes and swaying to the beat sleepily.

* * *

I saw him at the cafeteria.

I was enjoying my hangover alone there, nursing my head while drinking a homemade remedy. To entertain myself I also doodled on my notebook, drawing nothing in particular but lines and squiggles. That was when I saw him.

His strong arm was around a petite brunette with a gentle smile. He himself wore a charming grin that could illuminate the whole world. It seemed like they had just gotten out of the café famous for its reputation of housing couple – the person I knew back then wouldn’t have come to that kind of place unless he’s asking for somethin in return. He had kept up his act so well that I almost didn’t recognise him and when he stopped to “lovingly” caress the girl’s cheek, I nearly emptied my stomach.

Also, why didn’t the girl notice? Surely she had seen his real personality from observing him or absorbing information from others. Why did she look so happy?

Naivety. That will be the death of her.

I harshly pressed my pen upon the page and ripped it into shreds.

* * *

I would see them more frequently after that time.

Sometimes they were on their way to a place; sometimes they would stop at a shop among the street. Sometimes I would see him alone or with a friend, and sometimes she would do the same. I wouldn’t always see them together but I’ve noticed that they would always meet up at Friday and be a perfect picture of an ideal couple.

It was disgusting.

I’ve done my part hating him but seeing as how blessed she looked, it evoked a new hatred within me.

Whenever she would see him she’ll have a twinkle in her eyes that could rival the Sun. Her smile would grow brighter and her face would light up immediately like when a puppy greets its owner after a year-long trip. She’s usually a shy girl but she would sink deeper into her shell when he’s around. It reminded of old days, when I believed that I would see rainbows at every corner –

 – when I’m with him –

I yearned for the day when her hopes will be crushed into powder so I approached her. I found her in the café as per usual, reading a classic literature with her head rested on her palm, eyes trained on the letters and shoulders relaxed. Casually, I peered over her book and said “’To Kill a Mockingbird’? That book’s amazing.”

She looked up and realising that I’ve read her beloved book she beamed, “Oh, yeah! I’m rereading it. It’s just…amazing! I mean, I’ve read other great books but this one’s just so classic. Well, there are other books that I like as much as this but I’ve at least read them twice and –”

As expected – she’s not his type. Probably after her fortune or looks, otherwise he wouldn’t even spare a glance. He doesn’t deserve him; neither does she.

After spending some time together after that we’ve become quite good friends, on her part that is. She would consult with me about work, friends and most importantly, her love life. It turned out that she was head over heels and hoping for the impossible – perfect. I supported her pointless dreams until the play was reaching its climax.

“He’s asking me to a dinner!” she squealed, “Quick! What should I wear?!”

Ah. I remember this part.

“Why, you should dress up nicely,” I simply said.

We spent the afternoon choosing a suitable dress as well as matching shoes and purse, not to mention accessories and most importantly, make-up. She had never worn any make-up before so I did it for her. The same make-up I wore that day.

I must admit that she was beyond presentable; she was stunning in her own way. She had been jumping with excitement before and after we’ve arrived at the said dinner place. True enough, it was the same place. She tried to compose herself and before she entered the place, I said “Good luck.”

She simply smiled and gave me a little wave. “I’m sorry” was left unsaid.

* * *

She never wore make-up anymore. Not after that incident.

She was unlike me. She wallowed in grief for days and days until there were no more tears to cry. I’ve heard that she had quit her job and moved to another city, all for the sake of erasing the past. She still sends me messages about her life and problems and would frequently ask questions regarding the two subjects; I would reply honestly.

The day after the latest one I couldn’t bring myself to look up, to see which other girl he had decided to pick up. But I was sure he was still wearing that sickeningly sweet smile –

– something I can’t live without –

And maybe that’s why I kept them away from him. Using any means, I would drive those girls to despair in order for him to continue existing. I would always compare other men to him, how they were nothing but dirt compared to him. Maybe Karl was right – I’m still hung up on him. I missed his presence wherever I was, missed his voice, missed his touch. I missed him, maybe.

Or maybe I wanted to see myself playing the fool again and again. Maybe I wanted to feel happy, just like how I was, and how those girls were.

* * *

“Why’d you bring me here?” Eva asked wearily. The bar was packed as usual, the same crowd and the same music. The same flashing lights and the same drinks. I was seated at my usual seat with Eva beside me, judging her martini with a critical eye; meanwhile I was playing with my vodka.

“I was bored,” I said, “Drink with me, will ya?”

Eva was silent for a while. “You’re make-up’s kind of heavy,” she finally commented, “I mean, it’s not that heavy but it is for your standards, I think. I can tell you’re wearing BB cream, for starters, and your lips are redder than normal; it’s like you’re wearing a mask. I can’t really see your real face.”

I turned to her and smile bitterly. “Maybe I just don’t want to see myself right now,” I shrugged, “Maybe I don’t want to be myself right now.” I downed two more shots of vodka before staggering towards the dance floor.

Eva was the greatest friend ever. She brought me home and tucked me in before heading home herself. I was about to doze off until I remembered that my make-up was still on; wouldn’t be nice to wake up with a stiff face or having smears all over your sheets. Reluctantly, I got up and walked towards the bathroom.

I picked up the bottle of cleansing cream and poured some my hand, mixing it with some water to lather it up before use. Seemingly ready, I looked up and saw my face in the mirror – no, not my face. It wasn’t my face. The eye shadow and eyeliner made my eyes looked sunken and tired. My lips were the colour of blood, so sweet yet sinister. The artificial white of my face stood out against all aspects, giving an image of a mask.

I brought the cream onto my left cheek and wiped the make-up off of it; I did the same with the rest of my left side, my eye, chin and forehead included. When I looked at the comparison I was a polar opposite: a made-up adult face filled with scorn and hate, and a confused young woman staring back sadly. One might say that the made-up one looks more beautiful that the other because of it having the beauty requirements people would kill to have, while the clean face would be described as plain and ugly –

“Oh? Why do you look so surprised? Someone as ugly as you should have known that from the time you were born. You’re not even worth looking at, you blind whore –”

Water cascaded down my face. When did this happen? How did this happen? Why did this happen? I’ve become a monster. I’ve become the person I hated the most. I’ve used others to bring happiness upon my selfish self – I’ve used the time I was their friend to take in their every drop of happiness they’ve earned from spending their time with him. And in the end, all I had ever wanted was to see them fall. To see the same ending for every game play, the same ending to the same game. I still loved him, but why? He was horrible, but my mind would always come back to him. The water kept falling, little sobs echoing in the small bathroom, blackened smears staining my right cheek and the fallen tears melting with the cleansing cream.

-rookieMANGAKA

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Hate

Hello,

Okay, not a topic you’ll like for Valentine’s Day but it still has love in it! To summarise the story, it’s about a sister that hates her younger sister for some reason (you’ll find it out later). Now, it might be a bit weird to read it because I’m not used to touchy stories and that kind of things but try to see the message here, people – family love is lovely! Well, enjoy!

Hate

I remembered the day my parents brought home Lilly. She was so small, nothing but a fragile doll, a soft pink bundle of blanket in Mum’s arms. She wailed and gurgled and laughed a lot– she was an innocent little being my parents loved dearly, so much that they would be there for her night and day, give her expensive gifts that children could only have on Christmas and dress her up beautifully. Lilly was a bright girl, an eager learner, easy to get along with and would always look at me with stars in her eyes, following me like an excited puppy. From the moment she was born, our parents loved Lilly. From the moment I set eyes on her, I hated her.

I was in the middle of finishing off my presentation when Lilly knocked on my door. “Dinner’s ready, Molly,” she said.

“Just a second,” I replied, “I’m nearly finished.”

Lilly wandered over to my side and peeked over my shoulder to look at my laptop. “What are you working on?”

I answered as I typed in facts onto a textbox in a purple slide, “A presentation for tomorrow. I’m supposed to do it in pairs but Gabby said she’s going to be absent tomorrow, so she sent me the PowerPoint to finish. This’ll be my chance to make up for my bad test results.”

Lilly hummed as she regarded the slide with keen eyes. “Need any help?” she offered.

Oh, no. I don’t need any more of her patronising. I stood up abruptly and breezed out the door, calling out behind me, “Nope, none. Don’t even touch it.”

Truthfully, I didn’t feel like eating dinner with my parents; I’ve stopped doing that since Year Six after a memorable big fallout between us. However I’ve walked out off my room with my nose in the air and it’d be awkward if I were to come in again (especially with Lilly still inside), and so I’ve decided to just grab something to eat.

Lilly was behind me not long after and both of us arrived at the dining room. Mum was seated nearest to the door while Dad sat in front of her where he could see what’s happening outside from the staircase until the wall dividing the hall and the living room. Mum’s eyes were a mix of amusement and relief while Dad’s stare was that of curiosity. Lilly went over to sit next to Mum while I went to the cabinet to take a bowl and then a spoon from the drawer by the sink. I sat down between Lilly and Dad – it felt like the whole room was closing in on me.

Mum cleared her throat and started a conversation, “So, Molly, what were you doing up in your room just now?”

“Hmm? Oh, just finishing a presentation,” I said whilst taking some mashed potatoes and a salmon; I took as little as possible so that I could finish early and go back to my sanctuary.

“What’s the presentation about?” Mum asked.

“Why Louis the sixteenth was a horrible king,” I answered.

“Oh, I know that!” Lilly chimed in, “I read it in Wikipedia last night – his wife, Marie Antoinette, was a very fancy person and –”

“We know – you told us yesterday,” I interrupted, rolling my eyes. Lilly fell silent immediately, chewing her salmon in embarrassment. It was Mum that continued the talking.

“Now, now, Molly, you don’t need to be so harsh on your sister!” she said, “She was just very excited about the topic, that’s all.”

“But she keeps on saying it over and over again and it’s just really annoying!” I moaned.

“Molly, don’t talk about your sister like that,” Dad ordered sternly. I fell silent immediately. No one can object Dad’s words. “Speaking of which, I heard you’re going to do a presentation for the scholarship competition, Lilly,” Dad said to Lilly with fondness in his voice. Only for Lilly.

“Ah, yeah. It was by luck that I got in, really…” Lilly giggled.

“That’s not true, Lilly. You’re brilliant, a genius! You make me proud,” Dad smiled proudly at Lilly, until he turned to me with a scolding glare, “And you should take your sister as an example, Molly. Your grades have dropped a lot ever since you started high school –”

“They’re just ‘C’s, Dad. At least I passed the year,” I countered.

“Well, ‘C’s are not enough. You used to get ‘A’s and ‘B’s, and then you met those delinquents and your life had started going downhill,” Dad pointed out harshly.

I seethed, “They’re not delinquents, Dad. They’re cool.”

“That’s what you always say but the reality? They skip classes and they barely passed the year! Why do you associate yourself with those people, anyway?”

I couldn’t answer that. My friends were the ones who would comfort me when I feel like trash; they were the closest people I had and the most supportive. My father wouldn’t understand. I stood up, having finished my dinner, and dumped my dishes in the sink before rushing upstairs. I heard my father call out to me to wash my own dishes, but his voice was muffled as soon as I closed the door. I’ve always hated family dinners.

I spent the rest of the evening working on my presentation with the music on full blast. Before I knew it, Lilly was beside me with a glass of warm milk, a warm smile on her face that told me to cheer up. I’ve always hated that. “You didn’t answer the door so I took the liberty of letting myself in,” she called over the music, “Have some warm milk – it’ll loosen you up!”

I shook my head and shooed her away with a flick of my wrist, but she insisted. Lilly went to place the milk next to my laptop –

She lost her grip and the glass went tumbling over the keyboard, soaking it completely. The next thing I knew was that there was smoke rising from my laptop and the screen flickered to black.

Silence.

Did she just…?

I hit the power button but my laptop made no move to wake up. Next, I went to the bathroom to fetch a towel to wipe the milk off and tried the power button again. Nothing. That was it – all of my works were gone. All because of a glass of milk. All because of Lilly.

Lilly just stood there, horrified, stuttering apologies and on the brink of tears. I grabbed her wrist and yanked her outside, not without a warning. “If you ever – ever – go in here again, I will make your life a living hell, just like what you did to me,” I hissed with a painful lump at the back of my throat. My vision was turning blurry but I ignored it. “I hate you. I hate you – I’ve always had and will for the rest of my life. Now get out of my sight!” Just like that, I slammed the door in her face.

The next day I found myself sitting confidently in my seat, arms folded across my chest and leaning back against the chair to stare at the clock instead of volunteering for the presentation. I decided to just give up – that was my chance to prove my father that I was not incompetent of getting good grades, and Lilly – stupid Lilly – just came along happily and killed my only hope.

The teacher glanced at my direction and clicked his tongue. “Molly, would you please get ready for the lesson and get your things out?” he said crossly.

I merely huffed and bent over to reach inside my bag to pull out my books –

Something hard and metallic bumped my fingers. That’s odd; I’m pretty sure I left my laptop in my room. Oh, well, I’ll just take it out to look as if I’m getting ready for my presentation. I took the laptop out and lifted the screen. It was clean smelt like lemons, and there were no traces of stains anywhere. When I turned it on, it immediately went to the “Welcome” screen and showed me a desktop with a blank blue background. This was not my laptop.

The only thing on the desktop beside the recycling bin was a PowerPoint file titled “Why Louis XIII was a Horrible King”. I clicked it open and found myself looking at the exact same PowerPoint I was working on last night; the layout, the colour scheme, the font style and sizes, and the pictures used. The information, however, was more detailed and professional.

The lesson went on with my head in the clouds but I do remember the teacher praising me with my excellent presentation and gave me an “A”. As soon as the bell rang I ran straight to the theatre, where I was sure Lilly would be. And sure enough I found her there, alone, sitting amongst an empty sea of chairs. I walked over to her and took the chair to her right.

“You gave me your laptop,” I said absentmindedly, “It was your chance to get a scholarship thing, the one you’ve always wanted. Why waste that chance for something stupid, like allowing me to get an ‘A’?”

Lilly just laughed silently and said, “Because it was my fault, and I felt bad about running your chances of proving yourself capable to Dad. I was horrible – I’m sorry.”

No, you’re not. You are wonderful, the best sister I could ever have. But that’s why I hate you. You’re kind – much too kind – and I don’t deserve to be your sister. I’m the horrible one because I kept pushing you away from me with harsh words and actions, but you just keep on coming back to me, smiling. You have a great future ahead of you and you should use every opportunities present. Don’t walk down my path. Don’t stray from the light. Don’t be like me. You’re a wonderful person, Lilly, and I hate you for that.

-rookieMANGAKA

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The end of friendship

Hello,

Fourth chapter of Deus Ex Machina! is not everyday that I do things quickly so you’d better like it! Also due connection problems, I will have to to post the other stories tomorrow – deepest apologies from me. So, until next time!

Deus Ex Machina

4 – Amor et melle et felle est fecundissimus

Ace was a good person, really, despite what his actions tell. He was a righteous man and a doting brother to all of his siblings; he disapproved on Brian’s underage drinking because it would cause harm for him, and he would always scold Michael if he were to steal from others because it would bring no one any good. Since he was the most experienced fighter in the Naitt family alongside Annette, the two would teach the other Naitt children some fighting techniques and some uses of a wide range of weapons – except for Vivianne, for she had expressed her disinterest of the subject very clearly.

He was close to all of the Naitt children, but he would always be the kindest to his youngest sister, Erin. No matter how wicked and wrong she may be, Ace would always defend Erin with everything he has; he once claimed Erin innocent after she had clearly set up a prank on the teacher (the teacher argued no further because he was intimidated by Ace’s fury). He was known in the town as the God of War and Bloodshed because of his love for violence and his trademark fiery red hair.

Even though he’s like this, he would always be liked by the Naitt children.

That is, until a certain incident.

* * *

Erin was finally cured and so she could join the Naitt children on their adventures. That morning, they were discussing on where to go for the day and with the dominating vote, they all decided to go fishing down the river near their home. Gathering their fishing equipments from the shed, the Naitt children went out for the day’s adventure.

It was Erin’s first time fishing so Ace was delighted to have everyone teaching her how to do it; putting her reputation aside, Erin could be bearable if you push the right buttons, though it will never be the same when with Vivianne (and they were glad Vivianne takes pity on fishes). They had to walk through the woods to reach the river – after the hunt three days ago, Ace and Dea had successfully eliminated danger from the woods for the time being. There rattling of buckets, glinting of fishing hooks, whistling of youths; the birds were quiet despite such a lovely day, and the solemn whispers of the trees were like a nature instruments ensemble played just for the day. Now that the weather had warmed up after winter, the children felt lighter than they had in months.

Ace and Annette lead the group, followed by Hiero and Abel, and Dea trailed at the back with Erin. The head of the train was the loudest while the tail didn’t make a sound, so to break the awkward silence, Dea pulled out a nagging question from her head. “You were right about Zach not coming for Christmas and New Year,” Dea said lightly.

Erin snorted, “He won’t, considering the position he’s currently in…”

“Again, you’re leaving the big pieces – what’s up?”

“…Alright, since we’re outside, I’ll tell you about Grandpa –”

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Just then, sudden realisation struck Dea like a blow from a cricket ball. “…No way…”

“He was assumed dead, not declared,” Erin said blandly, “Grandma told me that when Zach shot Grandpa, he just left without checking if he was truly dead or not; turns out he was mortally wounded but not enough to send him to the Afterworld.”

“So… Grandpa Cornelius had been snooping around the house all this time?! Wouldn’t he be really old?”

“He’s not that old – sixty is still a healthy age, you know,” Erin couldn’t stop rolling her eyes like it was the most obvious fact in the world, “Anyhow, I’m not really sure on the details but Grandpa had been messing with Zach’s business for some time now and Zach’s just in a really deep trouble.”

“Right… Erin, want to make a truce?”

Erin looked offended at this as if someone had just spat an insult, “Sleep talk when you’re sleeping, Dea – the last thing I want to do is to make treaty with an enemy.”

“Why do you consider me an enemy?”

“Alright, so maybe rival. Truth, I harbour envy to your existence.”

“Why?” Dea asked, genuinely curious.

“You were blessed with great beauty, pure personality and endless talents, whilst I was cursed with wickedness and sickness throughout my life; of course, I’d be deeply jealous of you.”

Dea hadn’t expected Erin’s confession. She could only look at her slightly shorter half-sister with surprise imprinted on her face. “Why – um… thanks? But Annette and Vivianne are both well, too.”

“Annette’s a living pillar of principality, all lines with no waves, and Vivianne’s a vain brat who takes things for granted. But you’re as free as the wind and as modest as first snow; you show confidence when needed, not all the time, and you are loved by many. In my eyes, you are the ideal form of a true maiden.”

“Okay, sometimes I find you speech older than Grandma – but thanks, for the compliments. I mean, you are pretty yourself, you know, if you were to at least show your face and smile more.”

“Thank you for the advice, Dea, for it was appreciated.”

“No problem. So is this the beginning of truce?”

“…I don’t see why not,” Erin huffed a small laugh, shaking her head in fondness.

A few more minutes, the Naitt children heard the soft trickle of river water which became louder as they approach it. Crystal clear water reflected the holy sunlight with the utmost glamour, giving the place the otherworldly beauty of spring. Environment agencies had been keeping the river clean ever since they set up their stations in the town so the Naitt children were grateful for their work because they were able to see the rocky riverbed and also different kinds of river fishes that lived there. Once in a while you would spot some dragonflies skimming at the water’s surface like figure skaters and sometimes you’d see jumping silver or pink fishes, depending on the species of the fish.

The Naitt children proceeded to setting up their fishing equipments, unfolding chairs, unravelling lines and hooking baits onto hooks. Erin was taught the basics by Ace, leading her arms to move a certain way which he deemed true and giving trivial fishing tips such as to make sure the worm is pierced through by the hook to prevent it from being snatched so easily by the fish. Ace instructed Erin to ask Abel for more advice since he was the best in fishing among the Naitts (Uncle Nathaniel personally taught him fishing when he visited for New Year).

By thirty minutes, Abel had gathered the most fishes – fifteen – and Hiero took the second place with twelve. Erin learned quickly though and had gathered herself eight fishes – more than what Dea had gotten on her first try. Ace and Annette were still holding their competition, throwing remarks at each other and swearing on victories. Unexpectedly, Erin’s hook snagged out of the string and she needed a change, so she went over to Abel to ask for a new hook. “Sure; we have lots, actually. It’s right here…”

Abel beckoned Erin to come with him to get the hook from the fishing box. He opened the lid and let some stuff out to reach for the hook which was placed pretty deep inside the box. To their annoyance, the hook was stuck on a piece of plastic that was covering a pretty big box of unused baits. Seeing it impossible to let it free easily, Abel decided to just pull it free to save time, and so he tugged at the hook, tugging harder each time and when it finally let fo, his fist hit a rather unfortunate Erin, who was crouching just behind Abel.

“Oh my – Oh, Erin, I am so sorry! Are you okay?” Abel was flustered, helping Erin up and inspecting her face, cringing when he saw the ugly bruise on her cheek.

“Yeah, I’m okay – nothing troubling,” Erin said reassuringly.

“Really? Because it looks pretty nasty –”

“Erin? What’s wrong?” That was Ace, jogging up to see what’s wrong with his sister and when he set his eyes upon the nasty bruise, rage brewed in his eyes. “What did you do?” he growled at Abel. Abel was frozen, unable to form words to explain the accident.

Erin tried to calm him down, speaking soothingly, “Umm, Ace? Ace, it’s okay, it’s not –”

But Erin’s efforts were put to no avail, for Ace reached forward and grabbed Abel by the collar, shaking him around like a ragdoll, mercilessly threatening his life. Abel tried to twist his way out of Ace’s grip but his success lead him to his downfall; when he finally got Ace off of him, he stumbled backwards, tripping on a rock and fell into the river headfirst – the Naitt children could hear a faint thud when Abel’s head sunk into the chilly water.

All but Ace, who turned away and yanked Erin from the river to return home. Erin, on the other hand, looked back hopelessly, concern and guilt etched on her face, looking at where Abel had fallen. Meanwhile, the rest of the Naitt children panicked.

Dea was first to react, following where Abel’s body had flowed along the river, shouting his name in order to get a response; Annette and Hiero followed, Annette instructing Hiero to get a string-less fishing rod in order for her plan to work. At some point, Abel’s body was halted by a boulder and Dea didn’t spare a moment to dive in and swim towards her twin. “Abel – ahck! – Abel! Hey, Abel – Oh gosh, wake up! – cough! – Abel, no!” Dea cried as she swam towards Abel, shaking him to consciousness when she had reached him.

He was out cold, a bump at the back of his head but otherwise he was alright. Annette called out to Dea to grab onto Hiero’s rod, which extended long enough to reach the boulder. Dea grabbed the rod awkwardly but as best as she could with Abel in her other arm, kicking the water towards the shore as Hiero pulled. When Dea was in arm’s reach, Annette scrambled for Abel and hauled him up to check on him while Hiero tried to calm a bewildered Dea down. A successful CPR brought forth a coughing Abel, who seemed to not realise what just happened and fell back into unconsciousness.

“Dea, you okay?” Hiero said as softly as he could, “Abel’s fine – Annette said so. Yeah, Annette’s a great person so she knows what to do, so you’ll just have to let her do her thing and –”

“…itor…”

“Hmm? What?”

“..aitor…traitor…he’s a traitor…”

“…Dea, you know how he’s like; he’ll calm down soon enough –”

“He’s a traitor!” Dea screamed, getting out of Hiero’s comfort zone and pacing about, “He’s a traitor and a bull-headed idiot! He almost killed Able over an accidental punch – it’s a bruise over a life, for God’s sake! How is that rational?! He’s just like the others, just his mother – just like Jenny, that selfish witch! Oh, how I wish they would just perish this very second!”

“Dea, calm down,” Annette offered, “You shouldn’t get too worked up –”

“And what about you all?” Dea addressed Hiero and Annette, angry tears spilling free, “How would you feel when someone you trust so much suddenly tried to kill you over something so trivial? Sure I understand how it is to care so much for your real sibling but he’s got plenty – he’s got other siblings, he’s got a mother, while I only have Abel! And he’s getting all worked up over a punch?!”

The two stayed silent, letting Dea’s words sink in. It was true – Dea nearly lost her only whole family just then and a twin to boot. If it were Annette’s or Hiero’s mother, they’d feel the same too. Ace was lucky to be one of the legitimate children of Zacharias Naitt, blessed with good birth status and unimaginable love from every side.

Annette heaved a sigh and beckoned Hiero to carry Abel back while she gathered the fishing equipments and placed a hand on Dea, saying “Let’s go home.”

* * *

Dea hadn’t left Abel’s side since they stepped inside the mansion, regarding his pale complexion worriedly, holding his hand as if he were about to flee any moment. After the doctor had attended to his wounds, he had told Dea some precautions and upcoming symptoms such as dizziness and then he left the twins alone. Annette had dropped by to give food for the two of them when Dea had decided to skip dinner; Annette had said it was a great decision to skip dinner.

Dea was just nodding off when a knock resounded through the door. “Come in,” Dea answered.

To her dismay, it was an apologetic-looking Ace, looking awkward when he was shuffling his feet and looking at Abel sympathetically. “Is…Is he okay?” he asked, testing the words carefully.

Dea gave a scornful smile, coldly looking at Ace, “Why? You were the one who pushed him to near-death and not bother to even look back.”

Ace winced at the poison in Dea’s words, “I’m sorry – I guess I wasn’t thinking straight because I was too heated up with the bet with Annette…”

“Trying to use someone else as a scapegoat? How low can you go?” Dea mocked.

“Dea, really, I am sorry –”

Before Ace could even blink, Dea had a handful of Ace’s collar in her iron grip, levelling Ace’s gaze with one filled with pure anger. Ace, not knowing what to do, threw his hands up in defeat. “You may say that until your death and you may even crawl like a peasant for eternity, but there will never be a time when I will forgive you. Never.” Ace could only nod in understanding; he had gone too far, and there will be no chance that Dea will ever forgive him for almost taking her twin’s life. “Now get out before I do something that I’m sure I won’t regret.” Dea released Ace abruptly and stepped back, arms crossed. Ace looked at Dea, glanced at Abel and then back at Dea, then he nodded as his dismissal and exited the room. A slight figure was standing out of the way, waiting to enter to talk to the fuming maiden.

“You did well on the threat; it’ll take years for ordinary people to get him to back off,” Erin said lowly.

“I don’t know – he’s just…too brash,” Dea sighed.

“I’m apologizing on my and Ace’s behalf. I really feel guilty for his actions and for my weakness and clumsiness.”

“No, it’s not your fault. Now I’m starting to think you’re much better than him.”

“You’ll take that back soon.”

“I sure will,” Dea chuckled, sitting back down.

“It’s today.” Dea nodded. “Be sure to lock your window.”

“I installed locks and some sensors on the window so it’ll go off when the knife tries to slip through,” Dea said wearily.

“But I doubt he means any harm, because he could just cause a casualty anytime he wants,” Erin pondered.

“Who knows? It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Dea said. She gave a last look at Abel and kissed his forehead before switching off all the lights and slipping out of the room, readying for her own share of rest.

-rookieMANGAKA

Categories: Short Stories, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Story time!

Hello,

First story for the anniversary! Don’t what to say – just enjoy and don’t forget to comment and do other awesome stuff!

Umbra

3 – Walhaz

Weekends were the only days Linck was able to be free; free from schoolwork, free from scrutinising eyes of school peers, and free from Mr. Maverick for half of the day or more. Usually, Linck would organize a hangout with Teddy or go to Walhaz to meet his friends – it was a good thing he declined the offer for the basketball team, else he’ll have to sacrifice his freedom for practices. Linck would always be back for dinner because Mr. Maverick would most certainly beg the police to search for him if he didn’t.

Because of some situations, Linck was not allowed to venture out the city anymore and just last week, he understood why exactly why. Apparently, some kind of serial killer had been walking around Basildon for some time, targeting practically anyone in his reach. His alias was John Doe and depending on what you might think, fortunately or unfortunately, Linck had seen a glimpse of the man: around early thirties with a healthy build, a mop of curly dirty blonde hair, narrow angled face with sharp chin, straight nose, thin lips, and dead icy blue eyes. If you were to compare him with Mr. Maverick, you’ll see some similarities, though Mr. Maverick was more of a copy of Severus Snape than John Doe, dark eyes and equally dark hair kept neatly unlike the unruly blonde of John Doe. The dark alley that Linck had encountered before was soon forgotten like it was a place of a child’s imagination. From that day and forth, Linck had been going back and forth school without minding anything.

Linck had told Mr. Maverick that he knew how the culprit looked like, to which Mr. Maverick responded with a shoulder twitch and a plea of silence on that subject when Linck offered to tell the police about John Doe. Didn’t Mr. Maverick want the killer to get arrested? Linck asked about why Mr. Maverick refused to tell police and he said “This man can kill a whole city in a blink of an eye if he wanted to; the police is aware of him, but his identity shall not be confirmed, for he’ll surely annihilate the city if he were to be made public – he sent a letter to the law enforcement department not long ago about this.”

“How do you know about these things, Mr. Maverick? You work in an ordinary office!”

“…A friend told me,” and that was the end of the conversation.

Linck hadn’t brought up the subject about John Doe since because of Mr. Maverick’s clear discomfort on the subject. He didn’t even tell Teddy about it, insisting that it was when Linck had fallen into a ditch when walking home. But never underestimate Teddy, because he knew that there was no ditch anywhere near Linck’s neighbourhood. Okay, Linck had made a mental note to never go out of Basildon until the coast is clear.

However, Linck was still struggling to grasp the reason as to why he’s going to Walhaz with Mr. Maverick on a clear Saturday.

First, Walhaz had reported the most amount of missing people that was linked to the John Doe case; second, the alley Linck discovered not long ago turned out to be on the border between Basildon and Walhaz; lastly, Mr. Maverick was the one who pestered Linck into coming with him – it was as if Mr. Maverick wanted a double suicide.

Thankfully, the journey to Walhaz was not coloured blood red. The Mavericks travelled to a part of Walhaz Linck hadn’t discovered the place full of unfamiliar faces and equally unrecognisable buildings and cultures. He recognised some though, like stone heads of Lemuria and decorated skulls of Tenochtitlan. The Mavericks then passed the Westernmost North America of Walhaz, full of bull skulls and coloured eagle feathers, as well as the people native to the west. Though the eastern side of US was more modern and dominated by Caucasian, the western side maintained the traditions of old North America after the peace treaty between the locals and the European conquerors. They drove further to the north and they finally stopped at the Eastern North America, the proud flag waving at the tallest building in the area.

They parked the car at a parking lot and walked for the rest of the way, enjoying the smell of barbequed meat, the recognisable traditional music and the lovely ladies of the west, looking merry and very much at home in the district. Linck absorbed as much information as he could because they hadn’t stop for a break since they walked into the district and Mr. Maverick made to sign of incoming rest, so Linck had to cope with just the brief sightseeing.

Past a barber, past some diners, past a few clothes shops, the Mavericks walked on and on until they reached a pharmacy. No, not just a normal pharmacy – if it weren’t for a small sign near the entrance, no one would notice the thumb scanner. Mr. Maverick stopped and placed his thumb on the scanner, receiving a small beep and waited in front of the door, despite the shop being open for business. The pedestrians behind them seemed to give them odd eyes, judging from how some would falter in their path and give an eyebrow raise at the customers in front of the obviously open shop like visitors waiting for someone to answer the door – there were even buyers inside! Why would they need to wait for someone to let them in?!

Linck looked around and nudged Mr. Maverick. “Sir, I think we can just go in; it’s weird to wait in front of a shop like this,” he said.

“Elodie wouldn’t know the importance of our visit if we don’t behave properly,” Mr. Maverick responded.

Linck was quiet for a moment and then he said “Okay, you are most certainly keeping something from me. Even about the John Doe thing – you didn’t even bother to fully enlighten me about the whole thing. Why are you doing this? I feel like you want me to just obey what you say without a purpose, which is completely stupid because no one likes to do things without a reason.” Linck held his gaze on Mr. Maverick, who showed no sign of emotions. “So? Will you tell me or should I put myself in danger to understand, like what happened recently?”

“…I…Elodie will explain better,” Mr. Maverick said.

“Who’s Elodie –?”

“I’m Elodie.” Linck turned to the shop door and regarded the dark olive-skinned woman. She had her dark brown hair pulled back in a messy braid while her bangs hung loose in front of her right eye, the blonde highlights standing out like neon lights at night. She had a face the shape of an inverted triangle, almond-shaped honey brown eyes and slightly chapped lips. Despite the warm weather, she wore long-sleeved dress shirt topped with thin brown cardigan and swamp green baggy pants. She nodded to Mr. Maverick in greeting and then turned to Linck. “Elodie Moreau, nice to meet you,” she said, voice carrying a slight Francic accent.

“Linck Maverick, miss,” Linck said in return, “I take it you are Mr. Maverick’s colleague?”

“More like old friends; we’ve gone separate ways in terms of occupation, no longer working under the same roof,” she said, giving a lopsided smile. Elodie then moved aside to let the two in. “I really should move the finger scanner inside to avoid suspicion; my customers usually come at night when there’s not much people – that’s why the scanner’s outside.”

“What’s the scanner for?” Linck asked.

“It activates a bell down in my room so I know it’s not just an ordinary customer, else they’d just come right in,” Elodie explained, walking past buyers and workers, through a rusted iron door, down a flight of stairs and through a narrow corridor that smelt like rugs and boiled cabbage, mould a normal sight where the floor met the walls and on the ceiling, “See, I seldom come out because this pharmacy’s not mine –”

“Then who owns it?”

“The owner, of course! I rent the basement because it’s cheap, and the owner won’t mind me running my own business down there as long as I pay the rent.”

“Doesn’t he get suspicious? I mean, what if he suspects you a terrorist? Or a drug dealer?”

“The owner himself’s a drug dealer so why would he not allow me to do an equally shady job? Besides, he owes me his life.”

“…Okay, I’m missing a big part of this situation,” Linck said, stopping in his tracks. Elodie stopped and leaned on a wall, arms cross and waiting for Linck to continue; Mr. Maverick stood beside Linck, listening, “Alright, so what you’re saying is… you’re an illegal dealer with a mix of undercover spy who saves people’s lives? Then, does that mean Mr. Maverick’s an ex-spy – Wait, I bet he’s not actually an office worker.” Linck turned to look at Mr. Maverick quizzically. “Actually, I don’t get any of this and I also don’t get why he’s keeping lots of stuff from me –”

“Wait, you didn’t tell him?” Elodie asked Mr. Maverick.

“I didn’t think it’ll be like this and even if I told him, it’ll sound absurd,” Mr. Maverick said.

“But you still have to! What will happen if he were to get killed? They’ll go after our heads!” Elodie’s tone was now scolding, her hands on her hips and eyes narrowing dangerously.

“Umm, I actually nearly got killed just a week ago, so…” Linck confessed.

“See?! It’s because you’re not being specific and understandable that he doesn’t regard you seriously!” Elodie said in a hard voice, “I specifically told you to take care of him and be a proper foster parent but all you did was shoving the important things under the bed and leave him defenceless! I bet he can’t even wield a gun –”

“Wait, what? –”

“ – or even break a man’s neck – ”

“He’s still too young, Elodie. It’ll scar him,” Mr. Maverick said tiredly.

“’Too young’? We started younger, Daniel, and he needs to start soon or else we’ll be bringing Scarlett a corpse instead –”

“You know Scarlett?” Linck exclaimed. Elodie ceased her scolding and looked at Linck. “No, Mr. Maverick didn’t tell me about Scarlett, but I remember some things like images and sequences, but they’re all the same each time.”

Elodie drew in a deep breath and straightened up. “Okay, kid. What’ve you got?”

“Corpses, piled up on me. My mum, saying something like no one’s coming back – a red robot, called Scarlett. Pretty much that.”

The corridor was eerily quiet. Elodie stared blankly at Linck and Mr. Maverick looked as if he was reminiscing something. Finally, Elodie sighed and continued her walk towards her room. “True on all that, but only the side notes,” Elodie said.

“Will you tell me all of it, then?” Linck said as he followed Elodie alongside Mr. Maverick.

“Yeah, but it’ll sound absurd.”

* * *

“Do you know Umbra?” Elodie asked.

“Shadow?”

“True meaning, but not what I’m looking for; Umbra is an organisation, a secret one with rumours orbiting it. I assume you’ve met John Doe, looking at your wound – does it still hurt?”

“Yeah, but not as much,” Linck said, flexing his hand and rolling his shoulder experimentally. They were seated in a relatively small room that housed a single bed placed the farthest from the door, two plastic chairs, a desk piled up with papers, folders and research books, and a big drawer across the bed. Across the bedroom was the kitchen and beside it was the bathroom; further down the hallway was a room Elodie didn’t introduce. Linck was seated on the bed while Elodie and Mr. Maverick occupied the two chairs. Mr. Maverick was leafing through a folder, choosing to leave Elodie and Linck to converse important matters, both having a mug of sweet black tea. “The big cut on my back wasn’t that deep so it didn’t hurt as much as my arm,” Linck continued, “Is John Doe with Umbra?”

“No, he’s working for the government,” Elodie said, “Umbra is actually responsible for the Termites – no, don’t’ say anything; let me finish.” Elodie held up a finger as Linck opened his mouth, eyes wide with disbelief. “Anyhow, the government is actually hunting you down because you were once a part of Umbra – you were one of the people who took the vaccination to counter the Termites. Umbra injected a special type of antibody called aneantir into your body. Aneantirs are the only substance in this world that can destroy the Termites and Umbra gave this vaccine to a specific group of people only.

“Now, as to why they released the Termites – for the Perfect World Project, apparently. They’re trying to kill the so-called ‘worthless beings’ and let the ‘perfect beings’ live. The specific group of people mentioned earlier is a group of people who are included in the Millennium Monarchy; these people are geniuses, prodigies in different areas and in Umbra’s eyes, they are the representation of perfect human beings who they believe will make the world a better place than the current one. It was a good plan, to tell the truth, but their plan was leaked out by a spy and now the government is in search for every people who possess the aneantir so they could get the antibody to cure everyone… and you just happen to be one of them.” Elodie pointed at Linck for an emphasis, her other hand bringing the mug to her mouth.

“Who else has the aneantir?” Linck warily questioned.

“Daniel and I, and other Millennium Monarchy members. Note that neither Daniel nor I are in the Millennium Monarchy; we stole samples.”

“Well…am I?”

“Your whole family is,” Elodie said as she set her mug onto the desk, “Your family is actually quite special because Umbra seemed to have been monitoring your family for a long time. Well, I’m not sure about the details but I heard that your family is very much alive and well.”

“Then why am I in Anglia? Where was I from?”

“Eastern North America, also known as ENA. The whole Millennium Monarchy had been split up before the Rise of Termites and its members are now scattered all over the world. This is to prevent them from dying at the hands of the government. Since there were no specific characteristics of the people, they were forced to use vague information they got from some Umbra workers.”

“And why do you have to keep me alive?”

At this, Mr. Maverick closed his folder and sat up straight. “We made a promise,” he said, “to your mother, to take care of you while she’s gone. She was…an important person to a lot of people including us, so we won’t hesitate to do her a favour, no matter how big or strange it may seem. Another favour aside from keeping you safe was to end the Perfect World Project by activating the Cabbage Bomb –”

“You’re going to bomb the world with cabbages?!” Linck gasped, horrified but also finding the idea laughable.

Elodie barked out a laugh, “No! Okay, so maybe the name is stupid – all credits goes to your mum – but it’s basically a bomb filled with aneantir. The location of the bomb is hidden somewhere in ENA but the only ones who know where the exact location are your mum, Solomon, Daniel and I.”

“Who’s Solomon?” Linck never got his answer. Instead, they continued to explain the situation.

“Since we’re not allowed to immigrate, we’re developing a portal that will allow us to travel between places freely. Just a few more tweaks and we’re done – maybe it’ll be ready by next week, hopefully,” Elodie beamed.

“So, you’re going to leave me?” Linck asked in a low voice.

“No, kid – you’re going with us; Anglia’s not safe anymore ever since John Doe saw your face so it’ll be bad if we leave you here. Maybe we can drop you off at a friend’s place or something. Who knows? – maybe you’ll meet your mum when we reach the place!”

So much for a well-thought plan, Linck thought.

Then Elodie said, “Well, now that’s done, I guess you all should be home before it’s too dark.”

The Mavericks walked back to the parking lot after bidding farewell to Elodie and drove to their house, feeling tired despite the lack of actions done during the day. Mr. Maverick cooked pasta for dinner and the two sat in comfortable silence during the meal, now understanding each other after meeting Elodie. When Linck was washing the dishes after the meal, he asked “Sir, will your plan work?”

Mr. Maverick set his book down and twiddled his thumbs, furrowing his brows as the thought about an answer. “…If you ask me if it ‘will’ work, then I can’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you were to ask me if it ‘can’, then I can confidently answer ‘yes’, for we can’t be definitely sure that it will work accordingly but we know that with effort, it can.”

“What will happen if you fail?”

“We’re not sure – either death by the hands of the government or nothing.”

“What will happen if you succeed?”

“Everything will live and despair will cease to exist; we will all continue our lives as if nothing ever happened.”

“…Oh.” Linck wanted to meet his parents badly, to know who they were and to have a normal life for once, but the thought of living without his closest friend was worse than dying. He was left to ponder if Mr. Maverick will miss him after the whole charade but forced the thoughts out of his head in favour of living the comfortable life he knew then. After all, ignorance is bliss.

-rookieMANGAKA

Categories: Short Stories, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

The girl who called wolf (and was right)

Hello,

In this chapter, you’ll see how “family-ish” the Naitt children are, and this is actually the beggining of the real deal. As you might all know – or not – tomorrow is the anniversayr so I’ll post more posts than I’ve had for the past days. For now, enjoy!

Deus Ex Machina

3 – Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea

For once, Erin was right – the intruder came back. The first thing Dea did when she woke up was to inspect the sealed window, only to find it ripped open with something akin to a knife. Then, she ventured around her room to make sure that the intruder hadn’t stolen any of her possessions; nothing seemed to be disrupted but on closer inspections, as Dea was about to exit her room to get prepared for the day, her security breaches and other safety precautions were disabled from the inside. When she checked the time in which they were deactivated, it told her somewhere around eleven-thirty – an hour after Dea had turned off her lights. So that meant that the intruder had wanted something not of Dea’s.

But what was the deal with her bow?

Before breakfast, she ran around the mansion asking the residents if they had lost anything or if there’s something off about the house. Apart from Erin’s sarcastic response, everything seemed to be normal, down to the servants’ quarters. Breakfast was normal too, if it weren’t for Dea’s overly cautious gaze (it had concerned Abel that he offered some of his portions, only for Ace to take instead). On the way to school, Dea had instructed every Naitt children to check their rooms for any oddities and this only gave some incredulous looks from each heads.

“It seemed you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed,” Annette mused.

“No – I mean, maybe… but there’s a regular intruder that had been loitering around the house for some time now –”

“Wait, how do you even know there’s an intruder?” Hiero chimed.

“Because they went in via my window,” Dea explained, “A week ago, the intruder had come to my room and broke my bow – the one from Zach – and this time, they had ventured the house; I know for sure because my security precautions were disabled at somewhere close to midnight, so that meant the intruder went outside after making his way in my room.”

“How do you know it was the intruder who broke your bow? Erin might’ve been lying to you when she said that she was present during her lectures while Jenny was out,” Abel said.

“I found splinters at my window sill, which indicated that someone tried to fiddle with it to get them inside, and the security didn’t give any signs of break-in attempts when I checked them. Also, Erin would be the last person on the planet to climb up to the second floor without stairs or ladders – heck, she’s scared of ladders! And Erin wouldn’t even think about missing any one of her lectures, be it in school or at home.”

“Suppose the intruder was real,” Annette said, “then, what have they got to do with your bow?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out!” Dea gave a frustrated growl, “It was my favourite and if they think they could get away with it, they’d be lying!”

“Anyway,” Ace joined, “we still have the hangout with Vivianne, so we can check the house after that. Good thing Erin’s still with her sick spells, else Vivianne wouldn’t quit complaining about how much she hates Erin.”

“Nah, I think she likes home lectures better than school ones,” Hiero offered.

“She once told me that the peers there weren’t pleased to have her around,” Ace recalled, his face darkening at this.

“Chill, Ace – you’ll end up in jail!” Abel chuckled.

As the Naitt children continued their friendly bicker, Dea couldn’t help but feel a ghostly presence nearby although no matter how much she turned around, there were no one but students in the same school uniforms as them – and a seemingly docile old man feeding the pigeons in the park nearby.

* * *

“Hey, Dea!” a familiar voice called to her. She turned around and couldn’t help the rise in temperature as Oscar approached her, a blinding smile fixated upon his adorable face. He towered over Dea but he was never intimidating, except when he’s extremely engrossed in his hunting which he usually does with Dea. “You’re going to chemistry, yeah? Mind if I come with you?”

“Yes – I mean, n-no! Not at all! We’re partners, anyway!” Dea laughed nervously, “If you were to be absent or something then I won’t be able to do the activities and stuff, and –” Gosh, Dea – stop talking! He’ll think you’re an awkward freak and… and… Oh, Great Lord… his smile is so sweet…

Oscar laughed heartily, “Yeah, it’ll suck to just watch the others do the experiments instead of doing it yourself.” The pair walked towards the chemistry laboratory whilst conversing. “So, when’s the next hunting game? I can’t wait to run around in the forest; my mum’s been keeping me in the indoor gym every Sunday for basketball practices and I really prefer animal droppings to smelly changing rooms.”

“Well, we can’t do it today because we’re having a hangout with our sister –”

“Bummer…”

“ – and Jenny’s been telling me not to hunt so much because she hates mud on her floor.”

“We can hunt near my house.” Oscar’s suggestion made Dea snap her gaze towards him.

“Really? I mean, is it okay? Can you hunt there?”

“Yeah. Most of the people in the neighbourhood would organise a hunting week to get rid of the boars and other pests and luckily, the hunting week is next week so you can swing by any time in that week for hunting.”

“That’s so cool! I’ll go – I won’t miss this kind of thing!” Dea beamed, “Oh, there’s the class.” The two entered and settled down in their seats by the corner where they could easily watch what’s happening in the classroom. The bell didn’t ring yet and Mr. Anderson won’t come until the bell so the class was full of monkeys. In the corner of her eyes, he could see Alvin staring at her as usual and when she looked up she saw Abel giving her a blank expression.

Abel then proceeded to stealing a glance at Alvin, Oscar, and then back at Dea, who got an eyebrow lift from her twin and a concerned headshake. In turn, Dea gave him a shrug and listen to Oscar’s talk about the best way to kill two boars with one arrow. Abel was not amused.

* * *

“I don’t like that guy,” Abel declared afterschool.

“Who, Alvin? He’s creepy, yes, because he keeps on staring at me since the beginning of high school and he even stayed with me to take sixth form education –”

“No, I mean your forest buddy,” Abel huffed, “I bet he’s even more untrustworthy than Alvin; you can actually see the ‘I-like-you’ vibes he’s always giving out.”

“He likes me?” Dea gasped dreamily, “Oh.. that’s nice…”

“No, that’s scary! He’s like a giant and he can just snap you like a twig if he wants to!”

“He’s not what you see him as, and he asked me to go hunting with him in the woods near his home next week – I’m going.”

“You don’t know if Jenny will approve!”

“She has no grudge against Oscar,” Dea said airily.

“She has a grudge against you,” Abel deadpanned, “She’ll even send you to get eaten by sharks if she can – and she can.”

“Well, that’s more reason as to why she would let me go hunting,” Dea confirmed, “Hey, Vivi!” Dea ran up to a beautiful young lady standing by the gates, who had gathered an amazing amount of audience by just standing idly. When she heard Dea, she broke into a small squeal and gave her a bear hug, telling Dea how much she missed her and the others and asked if all were well.

Abel strode up to Vivianne and offered his hand to be shook which Vivianne took earnestly. “Hey, Abel! You’ve grown, a lot! The last time I saw you, I couldn’t tell the difference between you two,” Vivianne said as she gestured to the Naitt twins.

Abel shrugged and smiled sheepishly, “More dashin?”

“You bet!” Vivianne beamed.

Soon after, Ace, Annette and Hiero followed, giving Vivianne their greetings and whatnots. After deciding on where to go, they headed to the arcade not far off from the school – some students from nearby schools (including the prestigious school the Naitt children studied at) would call this place their sanctuary; more rational people would wait until afterschool to go here and if they have cram school, they won’t even know this place existed. The place was bustling with excited students but that made the whole place seem more interesting than just your typical neighbourhood arcade. Next was the walk to the evening market which housed different kinds of traditional artefacts and the kinds alike. While Ace and Hiero went over to the old battling equipments sold by a war veteran, Abel went along with Annette to look for ancient scrolls and texts, while Dea was forced to go along with Annette to look at silk veils and fine jewellery – Dea wanted nothing but to look at the battle equipments with Ace and Hiero.

For dinner, the group went to a restaurant and ordered a group serving of barbeque meat. As embarrassing as it had been, Dea gave up her vegetarianism when the waiter finally brought their meal to their table. “I can’t stand it when you all are enjoying something delicious and just not know how to be happy myself,” Dea complained. When she took her first bite of meat, she nearly ate the whole table.

“You’re not staying?” Hiero whined.

“I will, only if Jenny would stop hating me for my face,” Vivianne said. There was a time when Zach had complimented Vivianne for being beautiful, noting how her strawberry blonde hair was like golden waves from the ever-calm ocean and how her eyes made the sky look ashen. He even said she looked fairer than Jenny – that was the worst mistake ever. “Anyhow, I actually have a job tomorrow – modelling! – and I wouldn’t want to be late for the photoshoot. So, see you soon, guys!”

“Bye!” the Naitt children said in unison. When they couldn’t see Vivanne any more than a speck, they headed towards the mansion, passing streetlights, houses and hiking a steep road bordered with dark woods. Jenny was asleep already according to the butler and so we wouldn’t have to take an earful of scolding – maybe later, in the morning. Ace knocked on Erin’s door and presented a miniature warrior he’d gotten for her from the market, to which Erin appreciated. Annette closed her door before Hiero and Abel, and Ace went in after talking with Erin. Dea held back in order to have a word with Erin concerning the intruder.

Dea didn’t have to knock because Erin had expected her visit, blocking the view of her room with her body. “I watched him last night because he made the mistake of checking my room; he was going around the house trying to find something, it seemed,” Erin said casually.

“Did he go to Jenny’s room?”

“He did but only for a brief peek, not actually entering it. It looked like he wasn’t here for the fortune but for something more specific.”

“Well, what does my bow have to do with it?”

“We’re bugged, remember? I’d tell you if we’re out of earshot but I can’t even set a foot to the front lawn so I’ll have to keep things to myself until I recover. Oh,” Erin added quickly before Dea reached the stairs, “Saturday next week.”

Dea didn’t need to ask what it meant; she just nodded and as she readied herself for slumber, Dea planned for a treasure hunt on an extreme level that will start tomorrow.

-rookieMANGAKA

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Umbra

Hello,

So this is the other idea I meantioned in my previous post. If you hadn’t known, “umbra” is another word for “shadow”, though what it really means is total shadow – penumbra is part shadow and antumbra is when the shadow makes a circle on the object (antumbra is hard to explain so… there you go). Umbra will also have chapters because the story line wouldn’t fit in a page. This story is set in a parallel world because my knowledge of other countries is not that good, so it’s easier for me to just invent worlds to know its economy and politics better than the back of my hand. The genre is sci-fi, I guess, since it’s about… stuff. I’m not supposed to tell you! You need to read it if you want to know what the story is about! Oh, and I haven’t scrapped the other short stories; I’ll upload them, don’t worry.

Okay, enjoy the story and give feedback!

Umbra

1 – Termites

In a world were sickness dominates every other thing, people would be desperate to find a cure for it. And fast. The first case was in Florence, Italy; a young girl was on her way home from school when she suddenly fainted in the middle of the sidewalk. Though reported as anaemia, the doctors found out later on during the day that all of her blood had mysteriously disappeared from her system. They found no blood outlet in any parts of her body and when her family was asked, they confirmed that their daughter was perfectly fine days before – furthermore, she was an overachieved player in her school’s volleyball team and kept a healthy diet.

Later on the same week, the girl’s family had died with the same symptoms as the girl – first diagnosed as anaemia but their blood would vanish in a matter of hours.

The following year, citizens of Florence began to develop this syndrome up to the point where half of Florence’s population perished, all credits given to the Phantom Disease. The Disease was spread when tourists return to their home country; some tourists came home before the first casualty and some not long after. As a result, it was too late for the government to prevent the spread of the Disease by sealing off Florence. Large countries like Yugoslavia and faraway lands like Brazil soon had identical cases; the eastern lands such as Chipangu and Cathay had reported the alarming escalation of the death rate, and Rossiya had performed the isolation of its north-eastern land in order to make place for executing victims in hopes of ending the terrible outbreak (also known as the Six Years of Terror), driving victims from other parts of Rossiya as well as neighbouring countries to the place. As a result, the north-southern part of Rossiya is now called the Land of Death. To prevent the spread of diseases, governments had made travelling forbidden until further notice – in other words, no one can go in or out unless everyone is cured.

Scientists had tried their best to identify the cause of the deaths but whenever they got a hold of a dying victim, their blood would be gone before they could even run some tests. Then they began to take blood samples from people in the infected region before they show symptoms of passing out. Their discovery was phenomenal – what they found were microscopic organisms that continuously feed on red blood cells as well as white blood cells. These horrible creatures, as the scientists observe them daily, would stay dormant and focus on reproducing, though they would begin to take action when their numbers had reached to thousands, vigorously consuming any blood cells nearby until there were no more. Once there’s only plasma left, these creatures would escape through body holes, float into the air and wander around until they came into contact with another host. Lots of experiments on producing vaccines or anything that could kill these creatures were run but to no avail – nothing could kill these godforsaken creatures.

With the new found knowledge, it was concluded that with the high numbers of victims, the whole atmosphere might be contaminated. These creatures reproduce fairly slowly, producing about ten offspring in two months, so it would leave the host some time to live their lives pretty much normally. Although they know this, no one knows when the first time they contracted the creatures was, thus making their death seemingly unpredictable. In addition to that, the Land of Death was theoretically proven to be the most contaminated area, and so were lands nearby it.

Panicked and desperate citizens caused havoc everywhere; suicides were more common and some even developed mysophobia or agoraphobia, locking themselves up in their homes in hopes of not catching the Disease. No matter how much they raved and cried and begged, no matter where they hide, Death would always claim them. Soon everyone saw no point in doing anything – they would die sooner or later, anyway. Everything was back to normal, but in their hearts they know the afterlife had opened its gates for them.

This was the beginning of the Rise of Termites.

* * *

Anglia was a fairly peaceful country known for its excessive amount of rainfall and distinguishable dialects and accents. It was located in the southern part of the Britannia, neighbouring Scotland and Wealas. To its west was Éireland and to its east were the rest of the Europian countries such as Francia, Deutschland and Italia. If you were to go more to the east you’ll meet Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Rossiya, Cathay, Chipangu and other Asian countries, and if you were to cross the ocean on the west you’ll meet Iceland, Greenland and the Americas; to Anglia’s south is Hispania, Portucale and the African continent and the north was a massive block of frozen land coated with ice and snow; in the farthest south-east were Indonesia, Australia and Aotearoa.

The locals of Anglia were called Anglians and they speak Anglish (though popularly spelled Aenglish or English) which the people speak in a range of dialects throughout Anglia and across Britannia, and even in the US where Americans speak in different varieties of accents and dialects. Due to Anglia’s once great empire, the world had learnt a lot of Anglish and thus made it an international language used in all countries, used as the standard language of tourism. Aside from Anglish, Anglians also spoke Wealish, Scottish and Éirish in order to maintain the whole of Britannia’s culture, since Anglish was heavily influenced from Old Norse and other northern languages.

The population in Anglia alone was 39 788 090 (data taken from 2011 Census) and 6 056 895 lived in London by June 2012; from this, 85% of London were Caucasians, 6% were of Asian descent, 3% African descent and the others were mix raced. Also, note that among these people were tourists who couldn’t come home due to the Rise of Termites.

The tourists were the inspiration for the Walhaz Project. It’s not that they were being inhospitable or racist that they made a city just for these tourists. In fact, they tried to include as many different cultures into the city as they could in order to make the tourists feel less homesick. The use of airmail and international calls were free of charge in Walhaz so the tourists could get in touch with their beloved back at home as much as they could – the project was funded by many companies and organisations from all over Britannia and around the world. These tourists could still venture outside Walhaz and Anglians were very gentle towards them too so there were no signs of grouping anywhere. The concept of Walhaz had also started in different countries as well, and by 2013 the Walhaz Project was a great success.

Linck Maverick lived with his adoptive father, Mr. Maverick, in one of Walhaz’s neighbouring cities, Basildon. Linck would often visit Walhaz to see most of the world’s culture squeezed together into a city near London. He had friends from Walhaz who would often tell him stories about the countries they had hailed from; in return, Linck would take them to different parts of Basildon or London to introduce them to Anglia’s way of living. The people in his school had some from Walhaz – his school was located near the city border between Walhaz and Basildon – so he would frequently talk to them about the things he had discovered in Walhaz and some things in Britannia. Mr. Maverick had no qualms about Linck talking to those from Walhaz; he would often invite some for dinner at the Mavericks’, after much begging from Linck.

One day, when Mr. Maverick had just returned from his work, Linck came up to him, giving him the usual evening greeting. “Hey, Mr. Maverick! How was office?” Linck chimed.

Mr. Maverick stayed quiet. He took off his coat soundlessly and entered the kitchen for a mug of hot tea without words. Linck was in the doorway, observing Mr. Maverick’s usual mannerisms, though he sensed something fishy about his lack of speech and the occasional twitch of his fingers. “Sir, are you okay?” Linck asked. No answer. Well, maybe he’s just tired, Linck thought, I should leave him be.

The same attitude continued for a week. Mr. Maverick would come home muted and Linck would be left to wonder what had exactly happened. Whenever Linck spoke of his day with those from Walhaz, he could see the lack of response from Mr. Maverick; he would usually hum tiredly when he doesn’t feel like speaking. During the eighth day, Linck couldn’t take it anymore. “What’s wrong, Mr. Maverick? Why are you so upset?” Linck kept his distance from Mr. Maverick, standing in the doorway while Mr. Maverick sipped his tea. No answer. “Sir, it’s been bugging me, y’know; you haven’t been talking to me for a long while. Are you mad at me? If so, I’m sorry, even though I’m not sure what’s it I’ve done.” No answer. “Mr. Maverick.”

At this, Mr. Maverick set down his cup gingerly on the clothed wooden dining table and turned to Linck. Linck’s face was sincere anxiety whilst Mr. Maverick’s was that of a brick wall. After some moments of staring, he said, “Can you not get out of the city anymore, Linck?”

“…Pardon?”

“I’m saying, you shouldn’t go out of the city – no more London nor Walhaz. Afterschool, you should return home directly and in the weekends, you can only venture around not outside a ten kilometre radius. Understood?”

“B-but why? Why’s this? And why have you been quiet all this time?”

No answer.

Mr. Maverick stood up and walked past a confused and frustrated Linck, making his way to the bedroom and into his dream, while Linck was rooted on the spot, his head swimming in the sea of confusion, angry tears threatening to spill.

“Eh. Maybe he’s just worried,” Teddy suggested. Linck and Teddy were hanging out at the deserted playground in the park (of course, no one would come this late at night to go for a walk!) “I mean, I hear them Termites had invaded Deutschland and making their way to Francia. Who knew when they’ll get here?”

“Theoretically, the whole atmosphere contaminated, Ted.”

“But I bet them Termites in the air are dormant, unlike the active ones who’ve been killing humans.”

“True…” Silence. “So, I guess movie’s cancelled, or maybe you could give my ticket to someone else.”

“Nah – I’d rather not watch it than going with strangers.” What a loyal puppy! Ted should win the Best Friend in the Whole Universe Award! “And I don’t think you should sneak out, either. Mr. Maverick’s not aggressive but he kills silently, and he might mean good cause.”

Linck contemplated Teddy’s words carefully and then nodded. “Yup, Ted. Maybe I should do what he says.”

Ted gave a lopsided smile and stood up from his swing. “Well, better get going; it’s getting late.” Linck slid down from the slide, said his goodbye and walked the opposite direction of Ted’s.

What you should all know is that Linck was in his rebellious stage, and he’s mighty stubborn.

-rookieMANGAKA

Categories: Short Stories, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

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