“As you can see on the timeline, there have been three murders, with the people having no connection whatsoever.” My companion looked awfully fidgety, with his voice being somewhat a pitch higher than usual. His arms flew everywhere as he talked, “The only thing we /do/ know is that each murder had an interval of six days, at the same time: 4:44 PM. If the pattern is correct, then we are only four minutes away from hearing our phone ring for another murder case. Who would do this mess so frighteningly accurate? Surely there has to be a way to stop this. This can’t go on forever.” He was almost talking to himself while I busied myself in cleaning my nails.
“Look,” I said, interrupting him before he begins another tirade of words. “We’ll find a way. We need more time, and… we can’t solve a crime in less than five minutes.”
Both of us looked at the wall clock, which we easily read as two minutes before four.
“We can’t lose another person.” My companion sighed, “It’s like playing a game with a child! You never know what’s going on in their minds!”
I turned away from him and looked out the window. Sooner or later, another person will lose his life. But isn’t that how the world works? People come and people go. People do die, and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t fight a battle against death.
“You know what,” I said, “What if we should drop the case? I don’t see the point in continuing this game when we don’t even know who we’re up against. We can just leave this to another group. This is way out of our league.”
There was no response.
I turned back quickly, only to see my friend’s body lying on the floor. There was already blood pooling around his head.
And my eyes immediately flew to the clock: 4:44 PM.
Anyone who saw that sight would liken it to
two atoms in a molecule, with their bodies
together, and their arms and limbs
completely entangled with each other
As a mere spectator, you would never know
how their hearts followed the same rhythm, and how
their souls dissolved into one another
You can never see things for what they are,
unless you change your perspective
To the molecular level.
“I’m warning you now,” the gruff voice penetrated through the thick glass that surrounded me. “No one can guarantee what will ensue from this… this mess.”
My eyes were closed and I could already feel myself wandering through nothing and everything. The cushion under my body was already slick with sweat, though a serene calm swept across me. The tangles of electrical cords around my body seemed to disappear, leaving me with a sense of freedom I have never felt before.
“There is no going back.” The words seemed foreign in my mind, invaders that threatened to strip me away from this newfound serenity.
“Do it,” I whispered, with the last bit of reason in my head. Before everything went black, I heard the heavy pull of a lever and a million stars colliding with each other.
You locked me out of your heart
And I found myself alone with the wind and the moon
Greeting me like old friends
With electric waves flowing down my veins
I tried to get out of this demon I’ve made
Ravenous, lost, angry, and wild
I refuse to look back: I’ve done what I’ve done
At first, the thought, so frightening yet bold;
Then the hand, then the chest, then the head swallowed whole
That was the start of this hell that I’ve made
No exit, no shortcut, just a circle of death
Now, my heart, all charred and dried up
Has left a big hole — no space for my soul
“We’re just going bowling, mom.” I said through the phone, exasperated. I was /not/ getting a sermon — not when I was about to have the night of my life. “I’ll be back before eight, I promise.”
In the dark, I could feel Devon looking straight at me.
“Eight, really?” He was smiling, a mischievous spark in his eyes.
“Yes, why?” I said slyly. “Is there something wrong with that?”
“Well, of course not…” He said, “Except that it’s going to be a promise you’re going to break.”
Suddenly, I felt myself be pulled by his strong arms as he drew me in a long, sweet kiss. I felt like a marionette, pulled by strings — he was the master of my body. Once we started, I didn’t want to stop, — helpless yet content in this world — but he carefully removed my lips from his. I gasped.
“Now, that was just the first pin.” He said through a heavy breath. As I laughed excitedly, his fingers have already found their way inside my blouse. “I’m going in for a strike.”
“Turn left. Okay, right. Now two blocks from there, drop it.”
“Roger.” Static crackled in my ear as the transmission ended. With wailing sirens coming after me, I ran towards my destination.
It was an abandoned alleyway. Without wasting any time, I assembled the weapon. A wire here, a button there… The cry of the sirens became louder by the second.
As I heard the final /click/ that finished the job, I felt the ground rumble with the thunder of screeching cars.
“Drop your weapon.”
“Okay, you got me,” I put my hands up and left the device beeping at the ground. “Now what?”
The sound of static reached my ears. “Did you plant it?”
“Affirmative.” I smiled, eliciting a scowl from the policeman in front of me. The beeping got quicker.
“Good job.” Static filled my ears. “Mission accomplished, ____. I knew you were the best planter in our team.”
The static disappeared for the final time.
And then it started.
Someone lay shackled on the ground with his arms and feet restrained. With his head bowed from exhaustion, he let out a mournful cry. From his position, several wounds became exposed to the waning rays of the moonlight that passed through the open hole above him.
A door opened. The man looked up in a flash, his eyes dark with rage — all the pain suddenly gone.
The man, dressed elegantly, sauntered inside the cell. Bringing a chair in front of his prisoner, he sat down and smiled.
“Get out.” The voice was raspy and dry.
“Why? We’re just getting started.”
“What do you want?” It trembled with fury.
“What do /I/ want?” The man moved his head closer to his prisoner. “I want revenge. I want to finish this game.”
“Come on,” he snapped. “You know what I’m talking about. You’ve made your move. Now it’s my turn.”
The prisoner’s eyes became wide with fear. He knew what this man was capable of doing.
A phone rang innocently in the room, its sound echoing like a haunted scream.
“Have you done what I asked you to do?” The man was smiling now, enjoying the look of horror on his captive.
“Affirmative.” The voice at the other end was devoid of emotion. “They’re dead.”
As he ended the call, the prisoner had bowed his head down once more. He knew.
In a few moments, the sound of a door closing was heard, along with the stifled sobs of the man inside the cell.
The room smelled of ancient moth balls and dust particles long sheltered in the corners of the house. Every piece of furniture had a thin cloth of white, covered by another layer of filth. The floorboards creaked, the windows shut, and the doorknobs jammed. There was no source of light; even the shutters have blocked out the gentle fingers of the sun.
In the farthest corner, obscured completely from human eyes with nothing but shadows hiding its features, a vanity set stood. The white cloth that protected it from the clutches of dust motes was long gone; it lay now on the wooden floor, almost camouflaged by the thick layer of filth on top of it.
The mirror, intriguingly, had a sheen of magenta — a shock of color amidst the bleakness and darkness of the room.
A step closer and it is seen that the mirror was just freshly painted with a deep, crimson layer of blood.
Though dusk had only broken in for a few minutes, the metro was overcrowded with men and women and children — as if it were already the time to return to their homes after an exhausting day from work, excited to seeing their families once more. Policemen were stationed around every entrance and exit, searching for an unusual suspect amidst the sea of groggy, ill-tempered civilians.
A little boy, swallowed by the crowd, rushed frantically towards the train headed for ___. Just before the doors closed in, with everyone inside packed in like sardines in a bottle, a certain policeman looked at the little boy square in the eye. He gestured a thumbs up to the boy, and smiled sadly. With a stifled sob, the boy turned away from the door.
The train sped away.
In the next minute, the bomb detonated.
The wolf’s cry followed me through the forest.
It was now or never.
After dashing through the thick foliage, the tiny pinpricks from the twigs and branches that clutched to my skin and my clothing became visible. My breath was heavy, laden with fatigue and fear. With nothing but a stone dagger to save my life, I had no doubt that the wolf could smell my horror.
The creature was crouched into an offensive position, ready to pounce at the first moment of confusion. I could feel my chest beating ferociously as beads of sweat rolled down my back like ants crawling away from danger.
I took aim. The beast snarled.
Before I knew it, the wolf leaped — right into the edge of the dagger. The cry of the creature ended abruptly, quickly replaced by the gruesome sound of its hide ripping to let the blood flow out of its body.
I shook uncontrollably, dropping the bloody dagger on the forest floor.
As I looked up from my bloodstained hands, I saw the figure of a man lying naked on the ground — dead.
Just then, the moon had taken its position in the sky, shining its spotlight on the remarkable scene before it.
I struggled to keep my tears from falling as I listened to her talk — though mumbling would have been more accurate. She was a lovely woman, with sharp features and a charismatic personality, although her skin showed evidences of having been long subjected to the hands of time.
“After that fire, that… dreadful tragedy, I lost everything — my job, my home, my husband… I lost hope.”
At that point, she stopped. Her blank stare told of how she reminisced that terrible moment, her eyes suddenly glistening with unshed tears. There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch on between us as we cried together, me pitying the woman very strongly for the losses she had suffered, and her recalling what she had hidden so long in the depths of her mind and in the corners of her heart.
After a heavy sigh full of grief, she added more animatedly, “But amidst that darkness, I found light… You know, it is only when the night has conquered that you see the fireflies in their beauty.”
As my head was buried in my hands, I looked up at her just in time to see a serene look fall upon her face. Her eyes had closed and her lips curved into an eternal smile.
“Yes, that will be worth much…”
The merchant continued on grumbling to a customer, immersed in defending the quality and affordable price of his apples. A little girl crouched beside one of the fruit crates, listening intently to the two men talk. She had a good leverage; perhaps she can get away with this one easily. Soon enough, when the merchant was on the verge of exploding from frustration, the little girl rushed out of her hiding place and quickly grabbed an apple from the fruit stall.
The little girl did not look back. Instead, she looked at the fruit in her tiny hands. She couldn’t help smiling as she felt strange feeling of fulfillment bubble up inside her.
Finally, she thought excitedly. I got it! Let’s see if it works, just like in the stories…
And little Regina ran back towards her home, having lost that gruff old wolf along the muddy pathways and deserted alleyways of the city.
The gentle sound of the water dripping from the ceiling reached my ears. They fell slowly, like a solemn symphony of raindrops on the ground. I frantically blew into the lamp as its fire threatened to flicker out at any moment. There was no way I was going through this tunnel without any light, I thought nervously.
Several insects and other tiny critters seemed to become attracted to my rapidly dimming lamp. I swatted them away angrily; the last thing I need is for those bugs to become attracted to /me./
I sighed heavily. Maybe I shouldn’t have ran away… look where I’ve gotten myself in to! But my choice lay between escape or adoption. Anything seemed like a much better choice than the latter. Am I really regretting my choice now?
Occupied by countless thoughts and regrets, I sloshed forth into the sewer.
“Where’d you get that?”
I looked at my passenger; his finger was pointing at the fluffy red dice that hung above my dashboard.
I didn’t answer.
“Something personal?” At that moment, the cemented road in front of me seemed much more appealing than his face. I continued driving, feeling his eyes on me. I pursed my lips. Why can’t he see that I don’t want to talk?
“Okay then,” he said, letting out a heavy sigh. “I’ll shut up.”
“Thank you,” I said, rolling my eyes.
After that, I enjoyed the silence of the car, listening to the hum of the engine and the wheels of the vehicle as it rolled past the road.
Much better, I thought.
Frustrated, I threw my binoculars on the ground. The sea of people below me continued the monotonous rhythm of their boots striking the pavement. How was I supposed to find /one/ man among all of them? Aside from his incredibly tall height, pallid complexion, and dusty brown trenchcoat, I had no means of identifying him. He could be anyone!
I packed up my things. This was impossible.
I grabbed the binoculars on the ground, now with a missing lens, and drew it up my face. Didn’t hurt to have a last glance at the city before me, right?
My eyes caught the movement of a deep brown trench coat. It stopped. Vexed by this sudden action, I carefully trailed my binoculars to this person’s face.
I gasped, and the binoculars once again hit the ground.
Before I knew it, I was running.
He was looking straight at me.
A bell announced my arrival in the cafe. Immediately, the aroma of coffee and of freshly baked pastries filled my nose. With an air of pride, I strode towards the counter, listening to the gentle clatter of the coins in my pocket. This time, they won’t shoo me out, I thought.
I waited there for a few minutes, waiting. A gruff man who just came in was about to yell at me when I called out for my order.
A petite woman who looked as lovely as the stars came to the counter. It’s her, I thought excitedly. I remember how she looked so perfect when I first saw her. Of course, her beauty was emphasized by my greasy appearance, my face and fingers all soiled up.
“What will you have?” Her heavenly voice cut through my mind, pulling me back to reality.
As my fingers felt the coarseness of the red brick wall, uninvited memories inevitably came to my mind… An elderly woman grasping a meter stick, snapping at the children — snapping at me. A little girl swallowing her fear, letting the tears escape while she silently sobbed in the corner. The other children pointing and laughing, whispering and giggling.
The red brick wall, now a crumbling, monochrome mess. The building, the teacher, the children have gone. But the memories remain.
I felt the tiny pellets find their home on my skin.
I could feel them slowly rolling down my arms, legs, face.
The sticky consistency remained in my fingers as I fingered the splashes delicately.
Could be pain.
Could be bliss.
What am I feeling in the arts of this art?
As I sat there on the bench with my arms and legs crossed, my eyes wandered over to the sea of people that passed across me. Unconsciously, I tried to look at each of them in turn. The men, the women, the […]
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