Category Archives: short story

Dr Faustus (Modern Retelling)

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Faustus. I was unfortunate enough to be born in this century in Egypt. Why misfortunate you ask? Because things couldn’t have been worse for me. I used to be a straight A student in school and college. While that should mean that I am well educated and know a lot of stuff about a lot of things, I don’t. Our educational system works on memorizing. That means after the exams and no longer using the info, all the things I learned evaporated from my mind. The other part of my problem is work. I have none and I can’t find any. Nothing says Egypt more than a 30 year old unemployed man.

So to recap; I am 30, barely know anything, and have no hope of finding a job. And that led to the stupidest decision I have ever made. It is the sort of thing that you hear about or see in a movie and think to yourself “Who is dumb enough to do that?” The answer turned out to be “Me”.

I think it is time for some clichés to set the mood. It was a long dark night–at midnight to be specific. I was walking in a lightless street, feeling as lost, confused, and angry as I’ve been feeling for the last decade. I came by a big long crossroad, also dark and deserted. A very weird looking guy suddenly appeared right in the middle of the crossroad. He was tall, and devilishly handsome (pun intended). He seemed to be emitting darkness and coldness, like he was the source of all of it. Needless to say he made me feel uneasy. If this had been a movie that would’ve been the part where a car suddenly shows up and kidnaps me. Or a helicopter appears out of nowhere along with black vans filled with agents with guns coming to arrest me. But this is real life where that doesn’t happen. But apparently, weirder stuff do.

Back to the mysterious guy. The closer I got to him, the more silence seemed to prevail, and the more the world seemed to disappear. When he spoke, his voices felt disembodied; if he wasn’t the only one around, I would’ve thought someone else was speaking. It felt like it didn’t come from his throat, but from inside my mind, and yet there was an echo to it that filled the world around me.

“Hey Faustus” he said “Don’t you know it is dangerous to walk into a dark crossroad this late at night”

As you can expect, the first thing I said was “How do you know my name? Do I know you?”

He laughed a very gloating laugh “I love it when people say that. You do know me, or at least know of me. I am the great Lucifer. And that is how I know who you are and everything about you.”

“OK” I said uncertain of what I was supposed to do or react. No one ever told me what I should do when I meet a crazy person.

He sighed exasperatedly. He was obviously bored of having the same conversation over and over again. “Humans are so narrow-minded. You know of me. You know I exist. And yet when I appear before you, you act like I am a fictional character from fairy tales”

Then the most unnerving thing happened. His pupils were on fire. Or to be more accurate, they were fire. My first instinct was to run. But I was too scared, and let’s admit it, too intrigued to run.

“You didn’t try to run” He sounded proud “I knew you were different. That is why you were given the honor of meeting me and not one of my demons”

He looked at me like he was waiting for me to say or do something, but my mind was completely blank. That seemed to really annoy him, A LOT. I guess he must have had somewhere to be and this was taking longer than he wanted.

Suddenly there was fire everywhere and that was enough to snap me back to reality. I looked around panicking, thinking if I don’t run I’ll get burned. But it seemed to go everywhere but 6 meters in every direction around us. Even smoke didn’t dare come near us.

“Now that I have your attention again, let’s talk business”

“Business?” That I didn’t expect.

“Your life sucks, no offence. And it is not going to be any better in the future. So I’ve decided to offer you a deal. I will make you rich and successful and anything else you want – you’ll set the terms you want- in exchange for your soul. And don’t ask me what I am going to do with it. It is too obvious and it is none of your business”

“I’ve seen enough movies to know that” I said, terrified of the thought. “And when do you get my soul?”

“Tell me first your price, and then I’ll tell you when you’ll pay for it”

Every part of me was telling me to run and forget that this ever happened. I recalled everything I’ve heard about those who sell their soul to the devil (even if I didn’t believe it then) and how they rot in Hell for all eternity. And I remembered the movies I’ve seen; they die before their time, as soon as they achieve their dreams. The darkness inside of me took its turn to speak “Is there really something called Hell? That seems more like a scary tale they tell children and adults to get them in line. And even if you don’t sell your soul, you still might go to Hell after you die. The only difference is, you wouldn’t have had a good worthy life and have gone to this so-called Hell for nothing”.

For some reason, this seemed to make sense to me. It was a valid argument. And I was so tired of being a loser and having everyone remind me of how big of a loser I am.

“OK” I screamed out without even realizing it. “I’ll give you my soul but I don’t want a limited time offer. I want to be a genius like Bradley Cooper in Limitless. I want to be able to start my own company. And I want to live a long normal life and you get to have my soul when I die”

“I accept this deal, but with one small alteration. You say you will start your own company. So let me give you an incentive to make you work hard; the minute your company fails, you die and I get your soul. As long as it is a big successful company, your soul is yours”.

“Fine”

And the deal was struck. A contract appeared in my hand accompanied by a sharp pain in the left chest, right on the heart. I looked and I saw blood on my shirt.

“The contract has to be signed with your blood”

I put my finger on the cut to cover it with blood and signed my name at the bottom of the contract. Just as I wrote the last letter, the contract and the fire disappeared. It was just me and him and silence once again.

“Good luck, Faustus” he said it in a way that made me feel it was meant to be a curse. And with that he disappeared.

That was 6 years ago. The cut on my heart never healed, and the bleeding never stopped. I’ve tried everything. But even with all my money and all the advancement of medicine, a simple cut turned out to be impossible to treat.

As per my deal with Lucifer, I am as smart as Cooper in Limitless. I can see every possible scenario to every situation. I can see the end of a game from the moment it starts; the result of every variable. But when it comes to my life, every scenario I see seems to end with a fire. When I choose a girl to marry, I see the wedding set on fire. Whenever I consider a deal for my company, I see my company on fire.

That is why I had no choice but to always go with the safe usual options that everyone always does. And that is a source of great irony. All my life I thought if I had been a little more intelligence, things would have been so much better for me,. Now I am one of the smartest people on the face of this Earth, yet I can’t use my intelligence for my own advantage. Keeping the company successful in order to keep my soul for the longest time possible turned out to be the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. I work 24/7, travel all over the world, and that is barely enough; the company is merely doing OK. I became the modern day Uncle Scrooge; I have more money than I could ever need, but I have no time to spend it or enjoy it. Personal and social lives haven’t been an option for the last 6 years. And neither has sleep.

It turned out that Lucifer added a gift to the deal; I can create and control fire. At first I was so excited remembering all the cool movies I’ve seen where characters were able to do that and how much fun they had with it. So I started to “have fun” with it. I’d make my friends think their car is on fire and then create an explosion around it. Then after they freaked out and when the smoke clears, they see their car is intact. Yep, that was all my “genius” mind could think of. At first I did this prank on my friends, then family, then random people when I was bored. But soon I started to realize why Lucifer gave me that ability; so I’d never lose sight of our deal, so that I’d never forget my fate, and so that I’d never enjoy the deal. This “cool” ability became my torture, which is why I stopped using it. But that didn’t actually help. I now see my future residence in every fire I come across, no matter how small. Even cooking became a punishment for me.

My life now is a living hell, looks like there is no escaping it. My deal with Lucifer has brought me nothing but torture. Before, I had nothing and was miserable, but now l have no life. I have seen all the things I once wanted to see. I have done all the things I had wanted to do. And I have all the things I had ever wanted to have. But they don’t seem to mean anything to me, or bring me any joy. Every waking and sleeping moment of my life, I am regretting that night, thinking no matter how much life sucked back then, at least the little things made me happy; my friends, family, occasional outings and parties. At least I was able to sleep and escape from life for a while.

And this brings us to where I am right now, outside my company, at 11:58 PM, taking a last long look at the nightmare I once longed for and sold my soul for. I guess the old saying is right “Be careful what you wish for”.

Peep peep.

I look at my watch, it is 12 AM. Talk about a happy coincidence, I didn’t mean for it to happen at this exact moment, but the irony is too sweet to let it pass. I snap my finger and watch the yellow and orange as they rise, spreading warmth all around. It is unstoppable as it makes its way to the top like I once did.

In a matter of seconds the fire is everywhere, not an inch of the building was spared. And since this is Egypt, the fire truck won’t be here before a minimum of half an hour, and maximum next month. That means it is going to be a job well done.

Lucifer suddenly appears before me, confused and dumbfounded. I look at him and give him a finally relieved smile. “What can I say, I missed you and couldn’t get a hold of you so I decided to plan this happy event to see you”. If it was possible to make Lucifer feel like the stupidest man wandered earth and the heavens, this has certainly done it. “I don’t understand! Why? I should be the one to burn it or do something to force you to give me your soul”

“I’ve had enough, I’d rather be dead and tortured out in the open, than to be secretly tortured in the disguise of being blissed. And this stupid move is nothing compared to what I’ve done 6 years ago.”

He just stood there, still unable to grasp what I’ve said and done.

“Do you want to take me now, or should I get another ride to Hell”

That confused looks never wavered from his face as he approaches me still trying to comprehend what I have done. And here I am, standing next to Lucifer himself with a relieved smile on my face. I take a last long look at the glorious fire and suddenly; it all turned black.

Simple Desires chapter 6

You know that moment before the impact, that split second between oblivion and the shattering truth, like that instant in some hospital corridor when the doctor is heading down to tell the anxiously waiting family that piece of news that will slowly unravel the fabric of their existence, these tightly woven memories and constants that will soon change after the doctor pulls at the binding threads.

I’ve always been intrigued and drawn to examine such moments or what I call the ‘’the seconds before the impact”

To this day I still remember my first “seconds before the impact “and unwittingly I thought it would be my last.

It was 2 a.m and Chris hadn’t returned from god knows where , I had completed the evening with my mum so she wouldn’t get too worried and had found out that Chris had rushed out claiming he had an urgent work matter to deal with.

Had he noticed me?

Did he hear me as I came down the stairs?

I kept thinking about that awful scratching sound and the blood…….

what was bone chilling is that Chris didn’t seem to care about the mess,  and part of me felt he sought relief in that mess he reveled in the savagery he was inflicting on his skin

Was his other arm like that?

I sat on my bed unable to sleep until I knew he was home safe, I’d tried calling him but his cell was closed.

At 3 am I heard stumbling behind the wall adjacent to mine, I quickly headed out to the hall unlocking Chris’s door –we had each other’s keys in case of emergency- as I rushed through his disheveled apartment I didn’t have a moment to notice the waning signs.

Chris was never messy, in fact he was agonizingly immaculate bordering on OCD

This wasn’t normal

Something was disturbingly wrong

I headed quietly towards his bedroom bracing myself of what I might see…

“Chris”

He was balled up in the corner next to his dresser, his head was bowed and I could see he was shaking

“Chris” I called again not knowing what to do or how to begin to gather those shattered pieces bundled together in the corner

“Chris, sweetie can you hear me?”

I approached him silently afraid to make a sudden move, he looked like a wounded animal, and then I heard that blood freezing scratching sound again.

“Oh god “I covered my mouth, tears welling in my eyes as he continued to scratch the already raw flesh of his forearm completely oblivious to my body crouching in front of him.

His sleeves were no longer  clean , but instead stained with his own blood , and I got a feeling that Chris had two self-harming states , the controlled one he had at my mother’s house and this frantic unstable one he was having here in the comfort of his own apartment

I called his name again but he didn’t answer. I forced his chin up to see his face but he was so stiff and wooden

I tried again trying to seek comfort in his warm green eyes, but they were closed in a grimace, brows knitted and his mouth was slightly opened his breathing shallow.

I could smell the alcohol in his breath.

Chris never drinks.

I buried my face near his neck whispering comforting words coaxing him out of whatever hell he’s been trapped in.

“Chris sweetie please , you’re hurting yourself , please Chris don’t do this honey , Chris listen to my voice” I kept pleading with him through my tears ,my body was so pressed to him that we might as well been one .

I slowly reached my hand to his frantic one, touching his bloody fingers “Chris you’re breaking my heart Chris please, I’m so sorry I didn’t know, please forgive me”

His sense of urgency slowed down and I took the opportunity to grab at his hands holding them tightly, he tried to struggle resisting my touch but I was so determined to snap him out of it.

I pressed my face harder to his neck “it’s ok, you’re ok Chris, I got you, its ok I’m here I got you, you can stop now “ I kept chanting the words over and over until I felt him relax into me , I hadn’t noticed then of course but later I realized that it was the first time Chris had let me be that near to him or touch him

When I felt him completely relax, his muscles unwinding. I slowly took him by the hand urging him up, thankfully he complied.

I led him to his en suit bathroom and sat him at the edge of the tub, I grabbed the nearest towel and soaked it with water .all the time I made sure I was still holding his hand, I was so terrified to leave him alone for a minute fearing he would return to his self-harm.

I quickly reached for the antiseptic he had in his mirror cabinet, unsurprisingly I found a soothing balm that was also anti scarring.

I cleaned his wound , pressing gently at the raw skin , all that time Chris’s eyes were almost closed as if he was barely conscious to what was happening , I feared the antiseptic would sting but Chris hadn’t even flinched as if he was completely numb,. I applied the soothing balm and slowly wrapped his abused arm in gauze and cleaned the mess we made

My hands hesitated when it came to what I wanted to do next. I slowly reached his shirt unbuttoning it but Chris’s eyes suddenly shot wide in panic

What are you doing? His voice was terrified and shaky, his eyes glazed and unseeing

“Chris it’s ok sweetie, I’m just going to take off your shirt and get you a clean one “I said soothingly

Chris did not seem to comprehend my words his eyes were still wide, cold sweat erupted on his forehead

“Please don’t do this, please I won’t do anything please I’ll sit quietly I won’t fidget “Chris’s voice pleaded with me, his eyes filled with agony

My heart sank and shattered and bled

I realized Chris didn’t know it was me ……..Chris saw someone else in my place someone who had hurt him.

Someone who the mere action of moving caused him to terrify Chris to that extent.

“Chris baby it me, Ceels “I sobbed out

“Chris, its Cecilia you didn’t do anything wrong honey I just want you in a clean shirt “I ran my hands through his soft hair.

His mesmerizing green eyes focused on my face and a bewildered look replaced the terrifying one

“Ceels?”

“Yes it’s me Chris, I’m just going to remove this shirt ok “I kept my eye contact, as I slowly unbuttoned his bloody dress shirt.

Chris’s eyes stayed on me drinking me in as if he thought I wasn’t real, I slowly finished my task and tried to push the sleeves off his shoulders, but he stiffened

“Chris I’m just going to slip it off gently” I said soothingly, afraid he was confused again

But he wasn’t, I could see that at this moment he knew who I was but he was still afraid

I gently slid the sleeves off, shushing him and telling him he’s going to be fine, when my hands pushed at the sleeves removing them from his arms I gasped …….

I was wrong …..The moment I found him in his bedroom wasn’t my moment of impact…

This was.

 

Week 22 – The Phoenix

I can’t look away; my eyes are glued to the scene. I hate what’s happening but I can’t help but admire its beauty. How can you look away when the phoenix is about to burst into flames only to rise again from the ashes! Even as you hear its painful screams, you are hypnotized by that glorious scene that it becomes a siren’s song. You want to get close but you don’t want to risk disturbing the master piece in front of you.

So no, I can’t take my eyes off him and I am not even sure I want to. I have seen him strong and powerful. I have seen him kind and passionate. But this! This is something (of fantasy).

The foundation has been rocked, cracked, and now it is about to fall… I can see the lights dimming in his eyes. He is about to break, go back to the starting point to which he thought there was no return. He is losing himself. His mind is frozen from the shock.

I can’t take me away off him. I don’t want to miss it.

I have been in love with him for so long. I know him from the inside out and every time I knew a bit more, I fell for him a lot more?

To see him like this, broken, crying, is worse than ripping my own heart out.  How can something so painful, be so beautiful?!  why can’t I look away?!

I want to approach him, help him, be all that he needs me to be. But I know he doesn’t want me to. If he has to break, then he has rise again on his own. He doesn’t want any help, and he doesn’t need any. All he wants, is to feel my presence, my belief in him. For the only one who can rebuild him, is himself. Only he has the power. He is the phoenix, powerful no matter what. He will burst into flames and be born again, stronger than ever.

Shooting Stars

My father and I went to the market; he had suggested it since I had been frustrated with the constant crying of my newborn child. My husband, eager to help, had taken our son from my arms, and told me to take a break. I hurried along, happy to escape for a while. We were away for one hour, and as we walked back I saw my mother sitting in the balcony enjoying a tiny glass of green tea. I could see my brother playing football with the neighbor’s son on the street, my brother had been screaming “goal” and dancing. He saw us and instantly waved his hands in excitement and just as I started raising my hand to wave back, the shooting stars rained upon us.

***

Attempting to sit down with a couple of broken ribs was very painful, but I managed. I had to. My dad sat down next to me, wincing because he accidentally moved his broken arm. It wasn’t a comfortable place to sit, but it wasn’t like we had that much of an option. He looked at me with a smile though and hugged me with his other arm. He wouldn’t leave my side; he made sure I came with him even when I begged him to leave me behind, to save himself. We were both a mess, from burns, broken bones, cuts and bruises, but we made it.

Here I’m with my father on top of the rubble, battered as we watched the sky. We sat there in silence as we huddled close, not feeling that much of the pain. Maybe it was the adrenaline coursing through our bodies, at this point it didn’t matter. I sighed and laid my head on my father’s chest; I could hear his heart beating fast. It was very calming. I looked up at the sky, it was dark. I couldn’t see the stars or the moon from all the smoke; I could only see the shooting stars. They were magnificent; they flew with so much grace. Next to me my father shuddered, he was looking down at the rubble of what was once our home. If I looked closely I would still see my husband from where I sat, I smiled at his protective nature. He was covering our four months old child with his body. I could see someone’s arm too, I thought it belonged to my neighbor but I wasn’t sure. My baby brother was crushed by a car nearby. We stayed next to him till he stopped screaming and crying from the pain, till he finally took his last breath. I could hear someone screaming from under the bricks and stones but the agony eventually died out. There were scattered limbs everywhere and even someone’s brain. I had never seen a human brain before; it doesn’t look that different from a cow’s. We couldn’t find my other brothers and my mother, but we knew they didn’t survive. No one did.

I shuddered in fear as the shooting stars neared us, my father held me close. I could feel his arm trembling. He tried to be stoic to what was too come, but death is a hard enemy to face. I like to believe it wasn’t death that scared us, it was the pain. My heart jumped, beating faster; I hid my face into my father’s arm as my body shook violently. The smell of burnt flesh made it difficult to calm my racing heart. I don’t know how long it took, it could have been a second, a minute or an hour but it felt like forever. My eyes were squeezed shut. Anytime now I thought. The earth shook with the impact, I could feel it. I could see it too, behind my eyelids. Bright light pierced through them, I smiled because the shooting stars were giving me a sign that it had begun striking again. I kept my eyes shut, waiting to meet my creator. Everything went quiet and I heard my son crying, and a hand touched my back and as I turned I found my husband crouched down close to me, smiling.

“What took you so long?” he asked as he handed me our son.

***

Week 16 – Carla loves Frank

‘Carla loves Frank’ was scrawled on the decrepit wall. The neon pink paint still stood out through the generations of dust piled on top. Sierra gripped her SMG wondering how life must have been back then, before the Infestation. She tried to step carefully through the echoing ruins. Although she had trekked through the halls of the train station several times, today felt different. ‘Stay alert’ she kept reminding herself. She had a feeling she might have to actually use her combat training.

‘Carla loves Frank’ – Wait! Did I get turned around? She thought. Drip, drip. The writing looked darker. Drip, drip. Sierra made her way towards the graffiti. Drip, Drip. As she got closer, the colour became clearer thanks to the dregs of light shining through. She reached out and touched the scribbles. ‘Fresh…blood?’

CLICK CLICK CLACK CLICK. CLICK CLICK CLACK CLICK. TUT TUT CLICK TUT. Click…click…tut…

Sierra’s heart fell into a pit and her insides shuddered – screaming at her to turn around, to run.

CLICK CLICK CLACK CLICK. CLICK CLICK CLACK CLICK. TUT TUT CLICK TUT. Click…click…tut…

The sounds repeated. ‘They’re here…’ More joined in, voices rising. CLICK CLICK CLACK TUT TUT CLICK. With tiny steps, still gripping tight her SMG, she turned slowly, hoping to postpone what was to come. The dripping was now drowned out by the chatter. Sierra faced them, a horde of creatures resembling crickets and cockroaches. Antennae that seemed to move of their own accord with exoskeletons slimy and crunchy.

Sierra gulped down the last of her saliva, unable to produce more. The army stood before her. The Festants had arrived. CLICK, CLICK, CLACK, CLICK. They continued. Her heart pounding against her ribcage, attempting to escape. She knew this was probably the end. She thought about those who waited back at the camp unaware. She knew her mission. ‘I might as well go out with a bang,’ she thought. ‘At least now they’ll have a head-start.’

Gun in hand, she wailed her tribe’s war-cry. Her machine gun screamed, raining metal fury on the monsters. She continued fighting even as her magazine finished, and even as the horde overpowered her. She fought as they tore her limb from limb, but as they were just about to take her heart she thought, ‘Fuck you Carla and Frank’.

Week 15 – Sam & Misty

“I want to speak to your manager!” She screeched at me in the hotel foyer while passing guests stared.

“Maam, I’m here in his place. He’s away for the week. How may I help?”

She stared back at me holding her breath, like an infant whose parent had refused to bend to his whim. Her cheeks expanded and her face turned red, ready to burst like an overblown balloon.

“How about we comp your first night and start there?” I said, wishing I had let her suffocate and black out.

“Perfect” Her face returned to normal and she smirked, victorious. My eye twitched but I continued to smiled.

“First, I’d like…” She yammered on for a bitter hour, with each demand more frivolous and conceited as the one before. Her voice ate away at my skin. With each piercing syllable my smile grew larger.

“Got all that?”

“Of course” My smile now took up half my face.

“I’ll be sure this is reflected… positively in my husband’s review.” Her nose high and pointy.

I bit down and grinned, allowing my smile to hide the black hole waiting to consume her deep within my eyes.

“Our establishment is here to serve.” I bowed out and returned to my office.

—–

“Misty!” There sat my best friend in my chair.

“Sammy!” She jumped up and hugged me. We screamed a little before we calmed down to human speech levels.

“What are you doing here?”

“I thought I’d surprise you.”

“We’re gonna have some fun tonight!”

—–

Misty and I danced among the tourists with fervour and hunger for the beat. I rode the intoxication, which wasn’t thanks to alcohol but because when Misty and I convened, we made a killer team.

“OW!” A being bumped into me, with a voice that managed to pierce through the heavy beats of the club. It was her. I shot a look to Misty and I turned to find the uptight, arrogant woman living off her husband’s influence.

Misty winked my way. She hooked her arm around the harpy guest and I followed suit. We led her out the backdoor and pushed her against the dumpster.

“This one’s mine” I informed Misty.

Our grins nearly split through our cheeks.

“How dare you?! Don’t you know who-”

“Shut it!” Misty stroked the defiant woman’s chin and grabs it. “You don’t want to lose your voice now do you?” With a final slap, the lady broke down in hysterical sobs.

“Huush, hush now” I pulled out the chopsticks holding up my hair. Misty howled. I chuckled, this all felt so nostalgic.

I twist and lock my sticks together, which allowed me to pull them apart and reveal a pencil blade. I felt my blood heating, my anger dancing around the fire, as Rumpelstiltskin did in the forest. I’m alive again. It had been far too long. I got in close to the trembling wench, I could smell her fear. Exhilarating. I ran the blade down her tear drenched cheek and traced it down to her throat. I could hear her trying to hold her breath as her eyes begged me in silence to end my madness.

“P…please..” She whimpered.

In a single firm motion I stabbed her the doomed lamb in the neck. She grabbed her jugular failing to stop the spurting blood from escaping. I took a few steps back, avoiding the rogue splatters. I watched my latest enemy’s eyes as Misty cheered on in the background. The spirit that once resided there vacated the now empty shell. My blood pumped and adrenaline rushed. The familiar satisfaction rising through from the depths.

“I missed this!” Misty jumped ecstatic. “You have a little on your cheek” She reached over and with a single smooth motion wiped it off and licked the blood.

I grabbed my dear friend’s hand and led her back into the club. This is going to be a great night!

Kiera

Droplets of water dropped down from the tree leaves as she limped her way through the jungle, she walked down the narrow path that only her trained eyes could see the subtle signs left by tribesmen to help guide the travelers back to their homes. Dense thick trees surrounded Kiera, branches brushing against her, leaving scratch marks all over her body with each step. Her body was raw with exhaustion and her stomach wound oozed more blood with each stride. If it weren’t for the earlier rain, the trail of blood would have led the enemies right to her. Her sword sheathed but her hand never left the handle, her eyes constantly searching and scanning the area for any threat, she was prepared to fight any animal or human.

Birds chirped happily, oblivious to the state she was in. They suddenly flew away, disturbed by the roar of a tiger nearby and the scream of its prey. The sounds of her surroundings didn’t faze her, even when the muddy path seemed endless. Kiera kept walking, but dizzy with exhaustion and blood loss she failed to hear the swoosh of the arrow as it flew and pierced her right shoulder.

Kiera fell to the ground with the impact, but quickly moved to act. She screamed in agony as she broke the arrow then pulled it out of her flesh, and swiftly moved to stand, but it was too late. She was already facing the archer; he had jumped down the tree he hid in, and stood in front of her with a knotted arrow that’s ready to fly. Kiera froze, the only sounds were of her heavy breathing as her assailant stood calmly and quietly in front of her. His eyes were the only thing she could see and they were unreadable, but she knew enough that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. She knew with her stomach wound and her newly acquired one, she won’t be able to fight off the archer. Her only option was to get him close enough to just touch him with her ring, one prick and the poison would kill him instantly. All she had to do was avoid his flying arrows and get close enough. As she gritted her teeth to bear the pain and prepared to move, the archer’s eyes fell on the tiger shaped amulet hanging on her right forearm, his eyes widened in recognition, yet he didn’t drop his bow and arrow.

         “Did you succeed?” he gruffly asked.

  She stayed silent, trying to buy time; if he was a betrayer of their cause, her answer could lead to her death.

“Who are you? And which tribe do you belong to?” she asked instead.

“I think it would be wise if you answered my simple question, warrior.” He said, “I wish you no harm, but you shall not pass untill I get my answer.”

He gestured with his eyes to Kiera’s wounded shoulder and said, “I don’t miss, this was merely a warning shot”

Angry at his ways, “I will answer nothing; unless I know who you are and what tribe you belong too.”

The archer quirked an eyebrow in surprise, she was in no place or state to negotiate yet here she was: stoic in the face of death. He was impressed and he inclined his head in respect, which was not what she expected.

“I’m Kahlil son of Ghashis of the Tiger Tribe.” He finally answered.

She recognized both names, and he could sense it, and he carefully slid down his bow and arrow.

“Did you succeed, warrior?” he asked again.

Kiera stared at him as she forced her body to relax, “No, I didn’t.”

She knew the penalty, if she failed then she must be killed. Her body screamed in agony as she dropped to her knees. He was the son of the tribe’s chief and he can deliver the message to his father and warn their people.

“I know the penalty, and I ask you for only one thing before you execute me.” She begged, “I want you to deliver a message to Chief Ghashis.”

Kahlil’s eyes were cold, but he nodded his consent. He dropped his bow to the ground and unsheathed his sword as he walked towards her, “Relay your message, warrior.”

“The emperor knew of the attacks!” she blurted out in anger and relief, “It was he who sanctioned it, the slaughter of our elders, children and women was sanctioned by him. He wishes to end our existence. “

Kahlil stared at her in shock, “It cannot be, why would he kill his own people? His own blood?!”

Kiera flinched in pain as she moved her left hand to touch her amulet with both her index and middle finger, “I swear it on my life and on everything I hold dear. The emperor told us himself, before he ordered our deaths, it was a trap. There will be no support from him, our only choice is to find allies among our own people and tribes and create our own united army.”

Kiera took a deep shuddering breath and bowed her head in prayer, as she readied her soul and body for the deathly blow. Kahlil stood frozen, angry at the state of his country and what his emperor had become. It didn’t take him long to make a decision, Kahlil sheathed his sword and pulled Kiera to her feet, “Let’s go, you must meet father.”

He bent to pick his bow and arrow; she looked at him in shock, this was not the way of their people.

“What are you doing?” she asked

Ignoring her question, “The tribe is a one day walk from here, but in your state it will take us two days. I shall take you to a safe area for you to rest, I’ll hurry to the tribe to deliver the news and find you a mage to heal your wounds. Till then the healing salve I carry, will lessen your pain and keep infections away.”

“I have failed my mission, you must kill me or shame will follow me!” Kiera exclaimed.

The archer pulled down the cloth covering his face, fierce determination set in, “You’ve not failed us, warrior. It is the emperor who has done so. We are going to war and we need every warrior we can find. There’s no time for this, let’s move.”

Unable to reply, and her body screaming for rest and peace, Kiera finally let exhaustion takeover and let Kahlil lead the way. She was content and baffled with the results; her mission to inform the emperor of the massacres occurring was a failure, since he was the main cause of those attacks, but her personal mission of warning the tribe of his betrayal was a success, her fellow warriors’ lives were not lost for nothing. She sent a simple prayer for their souls, thanking them for their sacrifice and hoping they had found peace.

Week 14 – The Deal: Part One

He emerged from the darkness, the dim street light barely illuminating his face. Hair styled and short, the wind couldn’t get it to dance like it did the surrounding shrubbery. His walk was sturdy and open, secure of every step he took. Although his boots were heavy, his step was light. Light struggled to reflect off his brown leather jacket, which weighed down his loose shirt. He smirked my way. It was my first time meeting him, but that smirk, although normally insulting, was comforting. A cat scurried across the road that still shimmered from the rain earlier that day.

“The house on the left” He said.

“Is the house on the right” I replied.

He smiled, completely unphased by what had just occurred. He took out an envelope from his pocket and gave it to me. I took a cursory glance at the bundle of money inside, judging that it looked about right. I nodded my head towards a nearby trash can, that hasn’t been cleaned since it was placed on that road. He walked over with a spring in his step, causing me to move back, unsure of how to read this stranger. He searched around the bin and looked my way, expressing with his hand “where?”. I gesture “underneath” and he gives me an “okay”.  The man lifts the metal bin and throws at an abandoned car, shattering the already battered windscreen. I heard the cries of a few feral creatures hiding in the dark, escaping the sudden intrusion into their urban habitat.

Momentarily distracted, I looked back at the customer, trying to keep a professional poker face. I didn’t want him to see the hoards of cells inside me screaming like people about to be massacred.

“Is it what you wanted?” I asked. Desperate to keep my voice from wavering.

He looked down at the fabric package and removed a crudely wrapped gun.

“Is it a 35 like I asked?”

“It is.” I replied.

His smile got bigger, causing the creases around his eye sockets to further hide his dark eyes. A cat screeched and dropped something heavy, startling me enough to look in its direction. My heart pounded against my ribcage trying to escape my chest, just as frightened as I was by the entire situation. I let out a staggered breath and looked back at the stranger. His smile now from ear to ear, hands out in front, legs spread out shoulder width.  I no longer faced the unhinged customer, but the barrel of the gun I had just delivered. He stood there, pointing it at me.

‘Shit’ I thought, ‘Is it loaded? Or did he load it?’. I could feel my guts telling me to run and my brain screamed MOVE! ‘FUCK! I’m going to die! I’m going to die! Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!’

BANG! The sound echoed through the deserted neighbourhood.

 

To be continued…

simple desires chapter 3

“hey Chris ”

“hey Ceels why are you calling  so early, is the wedding over?” Chris asked me in a tired voice

“Mm..m no, I escaped , just didn’t like the music ” I said trying to sound nonchalant and failing , I know Chris could read me like a book .

“Did any of those skinny mean girls as you like to call them at your sister’s wedding give you a hard time?

I didn’t answer

“Ceels come over ,we’ll watch a stupid show , eat some candy and you can tell me all about it ”

damn him and his perception into my soul

“Chris you can say bitches ,you’re a grown man ” I teased

“I know ,I just don’t like too”

“ooh look at you Mr. raised properly ” I said smiling

…..silence.

the same old iron gate of silence I ‘ve grown familiar too , I mention something about his childhood and he is silent as the dead

“Chris are you still there?”

“yes ..so are you coming over? ” Chris said quietly the smile from before absent from his voice.

“yeah sure,  I already spend way too much time at your apartment , you think I should give up my apartment next to yours “I said jokingly trying to lighten his mood from before

“are you kidding I practically live in your apartment ” Chris says laughing

“maybe we should tear down the connecting wall in our bedrooms and have a big fat giant loft “he mocks

“Ooohoo can we do that Chris pleeeeease ” I was whining like a child , I would almost do anything to make Chris laugh even suggesting being roommates  which I know  is a no way in hell situation for Chris.

when he first suggested I rent the apartment next to him I was shocked , I thought he was joking , I knew Chris was super private when it came to sharing living space , he always had his own space ever since I could remember , but he had explained that I was his best friend and that I was already looking for a place , and let me tell you I LOVED it, it was well-lit and had a lovely view of the city .

I had come here after I was offered a job in one of the psychiatric hospitals and it was my dream job ,Chris had done well for himself too , working as a lawyer in one of the top firms , all in all we had done well for ourselves and over the years Chris has become my closest friend and confident, I’d like to say that I was his but it wasn’t the same , Chris knew everything about me  and I mean everything even when I got my periods , I was the queen of over sharing and he was the complete opposite .

I knew I was special to him because he only offered me the apartment next door, although I knew john had been looking as well , but still he never revealed anything just some scraps about his young life, but I didn’t give up sometime I would say something that would trigger a stoic silent reaction from him, and sometimes he would deflect the hell out of a conversation

“Ceels where are you now ?” Chris’ question interrupted my thoughts.

“I’m coming up right now ” I answered distractedly.

“ok , see you”and he hung up.

seconds and he was opening his apartment door with a big smile on his face

“hey grumpy ” he greeted

“hey obnoxious” I returned

I plopped my self on one of his beige baby butt soft sofas as I like to tell him cause they are just ridiculously soft and fluffy .

“So you look …uh  I mean the dress is..”chris stammered trying bless his soul to identify the monstrosity I was wearing.

“like a giant cupcake ate a strawberry jam doughnut ” I finished

he threw his head back in a chuckle

ha Cecilia -1 broody-ness -0

he headed to his kitchen to make coffee still laughing

after a bit he handed me a mug of excellently brewed coffee , he even chose my favourite mug ..I mean his…. whatever , I inhaled the coffee and just closed my eyes savouring the moment, when I opened my eyes I found his green eyes looking at me with a soft smile on his face .

I felt my cheeks heat -damn it Cecilia pull it together , it’s just Chris sometimes gave me the mother of all intense looks and I didn’t know what to do with it , because that was it! there was no other indication that he thought of me that way , he even set me up with some of his lawyer friends but still when he gave me that look I couldn’t stop the heat from invading my face.

“so what happened?”he broke the silence

I proceeded to tell him about my stupid sister and her bitchy friends and my mum hounding me about getting married and my biological deadline and all those colorful jabs only moms and relatives know how to say.

after I finish I huff out an annoyed breathe “it’s just I don’t know how to please them Chris , and I can’t keep up with their deadlines for boyfriends , for husbands , for careers , for kids .

I fall silent feeling the water works begin to form and my lips trembling

“hey Ceels ,hey… look  at me “Chris says softly taking my hand.

“your mom is just worried and meddling , you know her , as for your sister , she’s just jealous cause you are friendly and kind and funny and people just love you instantly and she’s the opposite of that ”

I smile at his words and sincere eyes “thanks Chris you are the king of pep talks ”

“I know that’s why I’m an awesome lawyer” he says smugly

“hey Chris texas called and they say your ego is blocking the sun ” I mocked

he laughed and took our mugs to the sink to wash , I swear Chris’ OCD is just crazy , his apartment is always immaculate with all its whites and beige it looks out of a catalogue ,nothing is out-of-place.

“so why didn’t you hang out with the guys they said they were going to joes?”

“I’m still working on Robinson’s case and I needed to finish,  the closing session is in 3 days”

“you’ll be awesome and completely annihilate that human trafficking dick” I said confidently.

”I hope so Ceels I’m so close , I already have him cornered ” Chris said biting his lip

“you will and then we will celebrate and be awesome together ”

“besides john keeps setting me up on blind dates” he said annoyed

“ooh ” I pretended to find the cream carpet interesting.

“it’s getting on my nerves honestly I feel ambushed “Chris says running his hands through his soft hair

“maybe you’ll like one of them ?”

“don’t be ridiculous Ceels ,you know me I don’t do that ” he says firmly

“why not ?” I push

“because …it’s not for me …and I don’t want to , besides I’m too busy”

ah yes, same old excuses .

“you don’t seem busy now listening to my problems or the other gazillion times I came to you to rant ”

“it’s different we’re best friends “he answered through his teeth

“well a relationship is like that but you get to be intimate with this person too” I continued to push knowing I was getting to him and crossing his invisible lines .

I was now standing in front of him ,and I could feel the shudder run through his body from my words

“stop it Ceels “he said warningly looking me straight in the eye

“why ?

“Ceels”

“Why is it not for you , you hug me , you hold my hands sometimes ,why can’t you have that with someone you’re in love with ” I countered stubbornly

“It’s not the same “now he’s looking anywhere but at me

“why? “I sound like a broken record

“why don’t you find someone ? “he shoots defensively

I stare back, seeing the panic in his eyes , he’s deflecting as usual , I’ve learned all of Chris’ tricks by now, this attack doesn’t phase me

“well ,cause I haven’t found my person yet”

-yes you have Cecilia (shut  up brain )

he turns his back to me pretending to wipe the clinically clean counter top and I can feel how tense his shoulders are , I know this reaction he’s giving me the do not approach signals.

so naturally I do the opposite

I put my  hands on his shoulders and he flinches a whole foot away from me his eyes darting around for an exit.

my heart twists ,its time to back off.

“hey Chris it’s ok , I was just upset from my sisters and you’re stressed ,I’m sorry ok  calm down “I said soothingly giving him an out

he nods silently avoiding my eyes but I can still see how tense he is

“umm I have to finish my closing argument , so ..” he says quietly

“it’s ok I’m beat , I need to change this awful dress and take a long bubble bath “I said dismissively backing away from him ,gathering my shoes and pouffy clutch – stupid sister-  and heading for the door

“Ceels ” he calls ,and I can hear the desperation in his voice

“yeah Chris ” I look from the door

um… tomorrow i’ll bring you cupcakes from the coffee shop you love near my work ” he says

and then silence with exchanged looks.

both of us burst laughing until I’m supporting my body by his front door

“I’m gonna get you for this Chris , one day you will look like shit and I will have my sweet revenge”

“don’t think so muffin ” he answers smugly

“shut it grumpy” I said heading to my door

” but I expect cupcakes tomorrow non the less”I shouted over my shoulders

he’s standing at his door smiling while looking at me waiting for me to get in ,and its like he’s a different person from before .

I smile back and close the door .

my smile falls once I’m inside , I prepare my bath silently and once Im in my tub , I finally allow my tears to flow

this is not the first time nor will it be the last time I tried with Chris and failed to reach through ,and it’s not the first time I’m crying over him either .

Week Eight – Giving In To The Whispers part 3

She was walking in the hallway when she “felt” it. Something inside her was drawing her towards it. She went to grab a chair, got on it, and moved her fingers over it; there it was, the only evidence, the dent that her little… she couldn’t think of the word to describe it; little “mishap” maybe, has done.

Continue reading Week Eight – Giving In To The Whispers part 3