At World’s End: Chapter 3

Prologue 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

“Fucking bitch,” Zed muttered under his breath as he pulled his tattered shirt from the dirt and putting it over his head.

Eli ignored the insult. “She wants you to chase her.” He dropped the firewood on the ground and proceeded to start a fire.

“What?”

“She’s,” Eli paused, scrambling for the right words, “playing.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“She had a complicated childhood. It is nice that she can retain some childlike wonder.”

“But she is not a child.”

“Does that matter? She has been through a lot and now she is happy.” Eli looked in the distance as smiled. 

It was clear that Zed wanted the conversation to end but Eli persevered. “So what has a young boy like yourself seen?”

“None of your business.”

Eli chuckled once again, “you know you remind me of someone.”

“Lovely tidbit but I’d prefer that you don’t compare to a pathetic friend of yours in a past life.”

A small snigger came from Eli’s mouth. “Ouch. You’re mean. An old man is just trying to warn you. That pathetic friend did alright. In fact, look for yourself,” he said as he gestured to himself.

Zed observed him, and as much as he did not want to admit it, he was doing alright. His build was thin and slender upon first impressions but the way he had pinned him, Zed realised that he was a lot stronger than he had seemed. He did not look old. But above all, he was alive, alive and happy. A mix that is seldom seen.

“Is this the future I should look forward to?”

“Alright, Zed — if that’s still the name you want to be referred to as — ”

“It’s my name.”

“Sure, ‘Zed’ , if you learn anything from me let it be this: nothing is as simple as it may seem. Remember that when you’re judging people.”

“You and your sister travelling together seems simple enough. What is it? The cliché ‘parents died in front of your very eyes and you devote yourself to avenge them’ but before you can, you realise how royally fucked you are; so you just move, valuing your own life more than anything.”

“If you want me to start from the top then I will.”

“Anything is better than you making me guess.” Zed stretched out his arms before sinking closer to the ground. He looked as if he was waiting for a bedtime story.

Eli cleared his throat. “My parents were killed before my very eyes.”

Zed groaned loudly to a story he expected.

“They were killed years before the war and as a child I lashed out. Became a ‘victim’ of the system. I hated that term but I guess it was true. I had no one in the world. I had nothing. I lived and did anything to feel alive. Drugs, crime, who knows what else. Even when I turned eighteen and was forced out, I continued that life, slept rough and squatted when I was lucky. 

“Then the war started and chaos spread. Dead bodies littered the street, the ringing of an explosion. I became intoxicated with havoc, I felt happy. People were suffering the pain I had been suffering for years. I saw this as an opportunity. I could do whatever I really wanted and with absolutely no consequences.”

Zed had no snarky comeback for Eli, the person he was describing did not sound like the person who had been so forgiving of him.“So what did you do? Kill people. Did you shoot a man as he begged for his life, seeing the fear in his eyes but using it as ammo when you pulled the trigger. Watching yourself becoming a killer and not hate it.”

Eli was not shaken by the oddly specific description that Zed had painted for him. “I’m thankful I was never that far gone. I did the same shit I always did. I tripped on acid, got high with the same people but just in a bigger playground. Met some people who only fueled my self-destructive tendencies. I thought I was so hard, I thought I was living how I wanted. I thought that what I did was a big ‘fuck’ you to everyone who did me wrong. These things that were taboo, but I had been doing it so easily. It’s because there was no one left to tell us, no punishment, no crime, no boredom. In reality, we were just teenagers squatting in someone’s house that didn’t care while other people were dying. I didn’t care because in that moment, I was immortal. The feeling of immortality is only heightened when you see more people die. I felt superior.”

“There was an abrupt end to that feeling. One day when we were all tripping, a group of kids our age had bigger plans of saying fuck you. They were the killers you described. They came into our home, our barrier to the shit that was happening outside. They lit it on fire and tried shooting at us from the windows. My best friend Sawyer got shot right in the eye and burst out laughing, all the drugs dulled him out and the hallucinations must have been hilarious. He was enjoying the pain and didn’t even feel his life slip away, not from the first, second or even third bullet. Some people got an idea of what happened and ran. They tried at least, however the fire spread and their alcohol soaked shirts determined their fate. I didn’t flee I just sat there completely unable to move. One friend pulled me out and threw me out the window, he saved my life. We were on the second floor and my landing was not graceful, in fact my leg never recovered properly from that. I urged my friend to jump with me but he smiled and exploded with the house.”

“What was your friend’s name?”

“I wish I could tell you. I must have called him something but my memory of that time is a little bit shaky. The man saved my life and I can’t remember his name. Even if the name he told me was fake, many of us did that. There was a Snake and Blaze in the group but for the life of me I can’t put a name on him.” Guilt was eating away at Eli. 

“So you were the only survivor?”

“Me and Sarah. We both survived. She was so fucking crazy. She would occasionally trip out and do some crazy shit but most of the time she was clean. She did these insane things like jumping from bridges, completely in her right mind. She was fearless.” His eyes lit up talking about her, which urged Zed to ask, “you loved her?”

“Completely. I thought if I lived by jumping out of a house on fire then I could survive if she rejected me. I was more taken aback when she actually said she liked me too. We already travelled and lived together for a year and a half. But now it was different. Now we were together.”

“So where does Kanna come into this story?”

“I completely forgot that’s why story time began. You’re awfully interested in her.”Eli probed.

“You haven’t explained why she’s such a bitch.”

“If you want to know, maybe you should ask her directly.”

“I’d rather not endure any more pain from her.”

“She is a feisty one but she isn’t a bad person.” Eli’s carefree attitude had dissipated, he wore a stoic look which did not suit him. “Zed, this is an odd request but if something were to happen, I would like you to take care of Kanna.”

“I can’t promise that. I don’t even expect to see you again after tomorrow.”

“You’re welcome to stay. It is easier to be in groups and I know you’re not a bad kid either.”

“Why don’t we finish the story before I start making lifelong promises?”

At World’s End: Chapter 2

Prologue 

Chapter 1 

There was a rustle from the forest — the slightest sound of a stealthy hunter.

“Let’s talk about this over dinner,” Eli said.

The figure of a small girl clutching a knife in one hand emerged from between the trees. Her hands were covered in blood as the other hand held the bitter remains of a rabbit.

Eli smiled. “Hello, Kanna. Say hello to our new friend.” 

She glared at the stranger, not once breaking eye contact with him even when she walked past her brother, dropping the rabbit in front of him in the process. She stood before Zed, he towered over her, yet this unfazed her. She extended her arm, holding the blood stained knife to his neck. The knife was freshly sharpened, already drawing blood from his neck — one wrong move would result in fatal damage. 

“What do what want?” She asked, her voice did not shake, nor show any emotion. It was almost a monotonous tone. 

“Kill me, I dare you,” Zed laughed. “Put me out of my perpetual misery.”

“Kanna, you brought a lovely meal. Now, let’s sit and eat.” 

There was a moment where the Earth stood still, no one spoke, no breeze passed them, not even an animal stirred, as both Kanna and Zed stared at each other. 

“Children,” Eli said. His voice was soft but it was enough to make Kanna finally withdraw her knife from Zed’s throat. 

She spun around to face Eli exposing a sweet smile. “Would I ever kill a defenceless animal?” she asked while picking up the rabbit. 

Much like his feelings towards Eli, Kanna also made Zed feel uneasy. She showed no emotion to him, yet changed that in an instant when she spoke to Eli. He knew that she was not only capable of killing him but she was ready to. There would be no tears if he died in that moment and certainly not from her. 

Zed felt sweat trickle down on his back, he let out a shaky breath. As he glanced over to Kanna, he saw that she did not share the same sentiment on the event. She leaned back on a tree skinning the rabbit whilst humming a jaunty tune. 

“Zed,” Eli called out, “take a seat.” He was so polite, plastering a grin on his face as if Zed was an ordinary dinner guest.

“No.”

A small knife coming from Kanna’s direction passed Zed, landing on a tree behind him. 

What’s her problem? He thought, however before he could voice his qualms she spoke: “before you get pissy, I don’t miss a shot. So maybe next time I won’t be so nice. If you wanna avoid testing that then I suggest you start listening.”

Zed obeyed sitting on a rock near the camp.

Eli had the same smile on his face, “now, isn’t this nice?”

“Fucking lovely,” Zed said.

“Do I need to get the firewood as well?” Kanna asked. 

“I don’t mind but then you need to keep our guest company. But we can’t expect him to do it.”

“Is the dog unable to do that?”

Eli’s expression changed. “Kanna, it’s manners. He has a name.”

“I’m bad with names. The name I gave him suits him perfectly.”

“Don’t be rude. I’m getting sick of your attitude.”

“People like him just want to hurt us.” She began to shake. “I can’t lose you.” It was like a quiet plea, so small like a child’s voice. 

“Some people need our help, Kanna. We can’t be like those other people. Kindness and compassion can be much harder but it will free us. I promise. Don’t hold onto fear and anger.”

Kanna wiped her face before walking to Zed. “I won’t apologise but I will offer to clean your neck.”

It was a small wound on his neck, compared to other injuries this was so minuscule that he forgot it was there. He knew it was a gesture rather than a necessity, but it still made him want to laugh. The idea of someone showing him a weakness to him, made him want to scream that he was the monster she thought he was. 

Instead he grumbled an agreement. Eli left for the firewood, leaving the two to simmer in a thick silence. Eli sat on the ground, looking upwards as Kanna dabbed a rag with alcohol over the cut. 

He hissed, “no need for that shit.”

“If I’m doing this then I’m doing it properly.”

He just grunted in response, he would much rather she left it but it was better to get this done quick. It did not take long, ensuring that someone does not die over something small was a basic need in dire times. 

“All done,” she exclaimed. “You took it like a trooper.” Kanna joked as she slapped his back while passing him.

He cringed from this force. She did not intend it to be hard but his back sore, some pain from his encounter with Eli but mainly scratches from before he arrived. 

Kanna noticed the discomfort. “Take off your shirt.” 

He remained still as he searched her expression to see if she was being serious. 

“Are you worried for a girl to see you naked? I guarantee you that I will be less than impressed.”

“Darling, I’m sure you can’t wait to see me naked. Would you like me to take off my trousers while I’m at it?”

She glanced down. “I’m not interested in anything so small. Shirt off is fine.”

Zed removed his shirt to reveal bruises along his back, splotches of black and purple painted his back. There were some scratches on his back, the blood from these were dried from these and thankfully, they were not deep. They would not scar like the many marks which trailed to his waistband.

Kanna once again cleaned these wounds and applied an ointment to his back as a thousand theories on how the torments he endured raced through her mind. 

“I fell. It’s not a big deal.” Referring to some of the bruises. 

“And the scratches?”

“I was hiding in some bushes, didn’t realise how prickly it was.”

“The scars?”

“Those are years in the making.”

“They hit you a lot.”

Kanna continued to apply the thick cream, tracing the lines of his scars, some ran to his torso which she followed. She stared at two large gashes on his chest. Eli looked away from Kanna, clearly embarrassed, he was not used to anyone staring at him like this for so long, especially a girl. As he mustered up the nerve to look at her, he noticed that she was not going to cry or feel pity for him, like he was used to. Instead she was filled with a rage directed at those responsible. 

Trying to extinguish that anger, even slightly, Zed muttered, “hey, my eyes are up here.” As he held his shirt to his chest. 

“Sorry for staring. That was tactless.” 

Zed was surprised about the apology, when he was ready to respond Eli came barrelling in. It was obvious to both of them that it was Eli as he was singing a pop song loudly and out of tune. “Seeing you to like that, makes it look like you’re a couple.”

Kanna’s face twisted. “Gross, bro. That’s not funny.”

The quickness of her response hurt Zed, not from any love harboured but from exposing so much of himself, only for people to still be disgusted by him. “What about me? I don’t like you much either.”

She poked his side.  “Wanna tell me what’s wrong with me, bastard? You’d be lucky to get a girl as sophisticated and loving as me.”

Zed did not want to pout or deal with them for any longer, he had his own reasons for travelling. His freedom required him to leave.

“Bitch,” Zed scoffed. 

Before Zed could start the dramatic exit he planned, Kanna ran past him into the forest but not before her hand hit his back. His back stung as he watched her disappear into the night.

At World’s End: Prologue

In a time of complete turmoil, when the Earth is in distress, the thought of living became menacing. 

Many died. Whether it be in poverty, in riots or by the hands of their fellow man, there was never a time to mourn. 

Those people left behind — the “lucky” few — roamed the land, looking for a way to survive. Living off scraps, alone in their sadness. To be left alive was considered luck but to live was not lucky. 

They had seen their families die before their very eyes. Watched the devolution of humankind and eventually the death of humanity. There was no solace. Surviving for the sake of simply not dying, with no hope was cruel. But some could not justify the alternative — choosing to die on their own terms when the darkness became too much. 

The battle of the land had long finished but the war never ended. In this desolate place, life is often forgotten and death is far kinder.

However, human nature dictates that a fighting instinct remains until the very end. Even in a lifeless expanse of sand as far as the eye can see with the blistering heat beating down, there was finally a sign of life. The sound of laughter from a young woman as she ran across the land with a slightly older man trailing behind. Two mismatched people seeking survival.

Nightfall

Image result for black and white forestThe sound feet hitting the pavement in perfect rhythm was the only sound which resonated through the quiet street. They belonged to a young woman taking the same route she takes everyday, with her knowing that she would arrive to work late and that no one would realise. She continues at her relaxed pace, with footsteps growing slightly heavier as the same unease shot through her. This unease was the reminder that this was her life until the end of her days. The town was too predictable, thus for her, too boring. Nothing ever changed, not the people, and never their routine.

This was proved when she turned into the busy street, greeted by the eyes of the barber peering out of his glass shop front. There was the same awful aroma coming from the real estate agents sucking their morning fag. Then the barking of the dog with his owners resting on the bench. All sounds and senses dulled ever so slightly with the familiar bustle of cars in traffic. This isn’t where I’m meant to be, she had always thought. It just doesn’t feel right.

A singular raindrop fell, leading her to sigh and pull an umbrella from her bag anticipating this change of weather. Not much time passed before the downpour increased, leading to the streets to clear. She watched a bus crammed with people stuck in traffic and decided to continued by foot — extending her beloved solitude. Another turn led her to enter an empty park, her usual shortcut which truly was not shorter. She stopped the blaring music in her ears to listen to the sounds of the rain hit the surface. 

The clouds above merged into a grey storm, showing no sign of stopping. The pitter patter of the water hit her umbrella forming a gentle beat which calmed her. The rhythmic sound was disrupted with the emergence of footsteps running through mud, accompanied by a heavy panting. It was sudden but the footsteps were closely approaching. 

Her pace began to quicken and it was not long before she achieved a full out sprint. She did not dare turn around, instead she glued her eyes to the setting directly in front of her, praying never to hear that gnarly panting again. A time soon came where she could no longer run, her ears ringing and vision blurred. She hunched over, squatting close to the wet grass, still with the umbrella in hand but not positioned above her. Her throat was aching due to a combination of the weather and the most exercise she had done in years, breathing hurt, yet she was hyperventilating. Her chest felt like it was on fire, and a twinge of fear remained instilled into her. When she was able to hear again and the need to throw up finally subsided, she had realised she could not hear the rain, nor any footsteps and bad things which followed it. It was replaced by an undisturbed tranquility. 

The feeling of was cut short when cold bony hand touched the woman’s shoulder. “Finally,” a deep voice said, belonging to a man towering over her. He stood upright making his six foot demeanour seem even taller, he was composed, no sense of uneven breathing, just serenity, in contrast to the woman near him. She turned around, examining the stranger’s face. Due to his paleness, his skin seemed to illuminate, his dark attire did not help his complexion — he wore a long black jacket with a hood over his head while strands of long damp black hair peeking out. His most prominent — and unsettling — feature were his black eyes staring down at her.

“Why were you running?” he asked, monotonously.

She racked her mind, wondering how she could explain to a stranger that she was running from something she never even saw. She stood upright mimicking his posture whilst dusting off her trousers. “Just late to work, so I should make a move.”

“I don’t think you’re going to make it there.”

“Excuse me,” she pushed past him and walked with urgency.

Her apprehension had returned, not able to stay near the strange man but her mind fixated on the initial creature she was trying to escape. She roamed further away, expecting to see the same red bricks from the wall she encounters every day, but instead was greeted by an unfamiliar terrain. The path that would lead her to work was no longer there, replaced by trees vaguely concealing a railroad. Though the heavy downpour stopped, the grey sky remained, however darker than before. 

She stood frozen at her new surroundings when the stranger approached her again. She didn’t know where to go, but wanted to run. “Stay away from me. I bet you were the one chasing me before as well.” The minimal composure she hoped to maintain had disappeared. 

“What are you talking about?”

“Something was running behind me, which is how I ended up — well I don’t even know where.”

“Please, honey, I don’t run. The real question is how you got here. What are you, like a witch or something?”

“What did you call me?”

“So not a witch.” He held his hands up. “You can’t be a reaper too. Sure, you’re pale enough but your eyes are brown.”

“Excuse me. I’m not going to stand here and be insulted, especially after you have already threatened me.” She turned around, grabbing her phone hoping to see where she was, but instead came to face a black screen.

The strange man was before her again, he had no audible footsteps, nor presence. “I guess you’re small enough to be a fairy.” He slyly smiled at his quip, while she just glared at him. “That can’t be it. There is hate in those eyes, you are nowhere near ‘sparkly’ enough to be a fairy. With those eyes, you must be a siren.”

“Hey, weirdo! What the fuck are you on about?”

There was silence. 

“Actually, you know what I don’t have time for this. Just tell me where I am so I can go work.”

“Nightfall.”

“Where am I?” she repeated.

“That is where you are.”

“Nightfall is not a real place.”

“Look around, darling. That is where you are.”

“I am lost in a strange place with strange man.”

“I am no mere mortal, miss. I am a reaper.” 

She fell to the ground and uttered the most pathetic words: “I’m gonna be late for work”.

A silence swept over them once again. He didn’t leave – a kind gesture that she did not want, nevertheless she quickly became consumed with her own thoughts. “I’m going to die here,” she muttered.

“Hate to break it to you but if you’re here then you’re probably already dead,” he said.

“You severely lack any sensitivity.” God, why could he not leave? “Earlier when you said you were a reaper. Did you mean like grim?”

“Is there any other kind?” a proud smile spread across his face as he bowed dramatically.

As he hunched over she grabbed his collar. “You bastard did you bring me here. I’ll fucking kill you.”

“What a gross misconception.” He sounded hurt and easily escaped her weak grasp. “Reapers don’t take lives, they only guide them to the afterlife.”

“Genius, are you meant to guide anyone today?”

“I usually get a name, one second.” He gestured with his index finger as he turned his pockets inside out like a schoolboy. “Nothin’”.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The warmth of the mug radiated to her fingertips. She stared down at the hot beverage, firmly believing that comfort can always be found in a cup of tea. The steam raised up warming face as she slowly took a sip. Familiarity, is all she thought.

Due to pity and curiosity, the “reaper” could not help but invite the lost woman into his home. She never went into a stranger’s home, but considering the circumstance, an exception was made. It was homelier than she had presumed. From the outside, his house looked like a small bungalow, however inside it was strangely spacious. The minimalist composition further added to this sparse look. There were no dividing walls, the bedroom overlooked the living room and past this was the kitchen. The kitchen particularly stood out, differing from the rest of the house, as it was contemporary and bright. She also could not help be comforted slightly by the thought of a reaper wearing an apron and preparing meals like a normal person.

The rest of the house was dark, which suited him more. The sofa she sat on was black, similarly with the rug that rested below her feet. Behind her was his bedroom, with a black brick wall complemented by an array of  grey decor.

Her trance was cut short from the harsh steps of the so-called reaper. Before she even looked up, she  could see him pacing back and forth in her peripheral vision. “I don’t understand,” he said.

“You and me both, dude.” Finally relaxed and embracing the new warmth, she gulped down the hot tea. She stretched on his couch and began to lay down.

“No, no,” he rushed toward her before her back could rest against the leather of the sofa, placing his hands on her back and pushing her up. “No,” he repeated. “Don’t make yourself comfortable. You’re going to heaven or hell or whatever the afterlife is. But you don’t belong here.”

“Well, apparently you’re the expert, so you tell me what to do.” I was clearly a novice at this whole dying thing, she thought. 

He wanted to retaliate, but quickly deflated, knowing he had no rebuttal.  “Why are you relaxed now? Ten minutes ago, you were frantic, cursing me out.”

She shrugged. “Ten minutes ago, you were level-headed and carefree. You’re looking pretty flustered now.” She knew she was irritating her only hope to get answers but in this moment she finally did not have a care in the world. “What usually happens when someone dies?”

“I get a name and when I read the name I see the person’s face. I wander out to the forest and in the middle of the plains, someone’s lying there. They’re unconscious, laying in the same exact place, every time. When they come to, they can’t recall their life but when I look into their eyes, I see it all — guiding them through these wastelands, where they gradually remember as well. When they know their truth, then they have reached the end. For each person, it’s different but it’s usually a gate — a gate to the next life. The final one.”

“Interesting. But it proves I’m not dead. I remember everything, my whole life. My house for example, it’s nice. Not too big but not too small. There’s the porch door which is white and leads to the black tiles where I throw my shoes when I get home. Then there’s another door, a cream colour. This leads to our hallway. There’s two doors, the one with a glass pane leads to our living room. It’s all open, so we have a long room and the kitchen at the end. Above the kitchen is a skylight, which you can see from my room. The kitchen has a lot of light which I always hated a bit because it blinds me first thing in the morning. The-”

“Okay!” He cut her off, clearly agitated, “I get it! Was there anything weird about the events leading up to before I saw you?”

“It started off as a pretty normal day. It was raining before I got here, real heavy rain, it even had the same rain smell mixed with petrol and mud. And of course, the weird rabid dog panting which I thought came from you.”

His eyes widened. “Hellhounds,” was all he muttered. “Did it bite you? Tear you limb from limb?”

“No, I ran.”

“No one could ever outrun a hellhound, especially considering how unfit you are. Coughing your lungs out from the slightest bit of exercise. It is just so strange.”

She walked up to him extending her hand out as a sign of friendship. “We spent a bit of time together and I find it odd that we haven’t introduced ourselves yet. My name is Noor.” There was brief silence therefore Noor took it upon herself to continue speaking. “It means divine light in Arabic, fitting right?”

He was wary but graciously accepted the act of kindness. “Right.”

“This is the portion of the conversation where you say your name.”

“I’m reaper, I guess.”

“That’s not a name, you must have had a name once. A life aside from reaping.”

“This is all I know. All I have ever done. I am but a reaper.”

“So how long you been doing this gig?”

“What is with the interrogation?”

“I’m trying to be friendly.”

“I think I preferred when you were threatening me.” He sighed, “as far back as I can remember. The beginning of time, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t know when it started or when it will end.”

“De-pressing,” she said in a sing-song tone.

“I am sorry I don’t get the same luxury as you deplorable humans.” Noor was shocked, wondering what she had said to hit a nerve, and also hurt by his harsh words.

It wasn’t long before he spoke again. “I apologise for my outburst. I’m never like this, reapers don’t have a lot of emotion —  it helps maintain a judgement free zone. But I have met a lot of people. I have seen their deepest darkest secrets and all their desires, the flaws. I am not the one to pass judgement — but I see it and I can’t pretend like I haven’t.”

“So, you don’t like humans, how about the witches and sirens and fairies you mentioned? Maybe I’ve met one.”

“Doubtful. There are things not in your world which can enter mine. It’s like walking through a neighbourhood for them. Any being with free will have the same issues. And for the record I don’t hate humans.” He smiled, slyly referring to Noor. This was the first time he really smiled at her and she couldn’t help but grin back.

“I don’t want to make this about myself again but can you see anything about me, even a glimpse?”

“That’s exactly it. When I look at you, it’s a complete blank. Usually, I see everything when I look in their eyes. I see their souls. The eyes are a window to the soul, never underestimate how true that is. I see what they don’t know about themselves. Just to summarise, paper, vision, memory lane which then leads to the gate. I’m a glorified delivery boy. With you, there’s nothing, I didn’t even realise you came here, I didn’t know your face, I know nothing about you. It irks me.”

“Maybe it’s just a delayed reaction. What if you look in my eyes, like really look in them?”

“It couldn’t hurt to try,” he said. They sat opposite each other, legs folded like school kids. As they stared into each others eyes, his face betrayed him to show that he once again reached a disappointing blank. “You have black eyes,” he noted.

Noor knew that he was unable to see her years unfold before his very eyes, instead she saw his. The entirety of the reaper’s existence flashed before her. However, he was no reaper, not anymore and he wasn’t from the start as he believed. There is more to his story, that he had yet to learn. A sad story of a boy destined to live a normal life, but died before he became a man. As her vision became clouded, she felt a dampness on her face, but she saw his face change. Something he hadn’t felt in years despite the thousands of people who previously broke down in front of him — empathy.

“Micah,” was all that left her lips.

He looked at her in disarray, completely unaware of all that she had seen. He instinctively wiped Noor’s tears with his thumb, which she knew that he had never been compelled to do for any other soul. That only made her tears flow more. She abruptly stood up, startling him slightly. With her back turned to him, she quickly wiped the tears with her pulled sleeves.

Micah stared at her, restraining himself from comforting her. Before she was ready to face him again, she dug her hands deeps into her pocket and felt a roughness at the bottom, brushing over it with her thumb. Removing the foreign object — a scrunched-up piece of paper — and unfolding it, which revealed the new name Noor had just learnt.

“Micah, would you like to go for a walk?” Noor asked.

The Long Exhausting Life of a Vulture

I am a bird of prey,
Knowing only two things: to fly and to feed,
There is not much else to say,
Abiding to a cycle of search, eat and breed,
The same, every day
What more is there that I need?

For humans, it is difficult,
But when there is a war,
They’ve lost, knowing it’s their own fault,
But I continue to soar.

To me, they are no more than meat,

I should be content not to die,
While their corpses are littered in the street,
My own kind flourish in the sky

Surely, they are just like me,
So why am I filled with disgust?
Food, like them, is all I see,
Their next victim is seen in the dust,
Although this is no body,
However, it’s still what they lust.

The human is alive,
Albeit, on their last strand of life,
Someone must take a dive,
So they don’t yet feel the sharp scythe.

If they are as good as dead,
It shouldn’t be left to rot,
We should be fed,
As long as it’s not for nought.

As they drew toward the child,
I feel I want to cradle the thing,
They were so wild,
That something tugged at my heart string.

Every instinct I have installed in my body
Is aching,
I didn’t think this feeling was a possibility,
My very being is the very thing I’m contradicting,
As I flew to she,
And perched my body next to hers, in the warmth under my wing.

I gave the heat,
That no one showed the compassion to,
I gathered our food with my crows feet,
I did whatever I could possibly do.

She had no life nor a name,
She’s only known war and struggle,
It was such a shame,
She didn’t look like food because I was full.

I’m the only one to show any kindness,
The truth is kind of sick,
But better than nothing in this mess,
Everything, like it happened, was too quick.

The disgusted glares of my brothers as they looked over me,
My emotion was not invited by them,
But I couldn’t leave her be,
I would much rather be the one to face the condemn.

They would often taunt me,
However I wouldn’t shake,
Even when they used their long claws to bully,
And then my wings would break.

I would limp to the river,
My spirit still not be crushed,
But my frail body would still shiver,
These moments away from her was the only times I was fussed

It would hurt not having a home,
But watching her age,
Seeing her able to roam,
It was like a book turning another page.

When I saw that she lived for her,
No amount of grief would take away that joy,
Therefore when I left bloody trails further,
I could only play coy.

She began to look over us,
When I was completely wrecked,
She never kicked up a fuss,
It was almost perfect.

But everything changed when the hunters came,
They damaged my beautiful home,
It was such a shame,
That once again I was left to roam.

They burnt the forest,
Killed for sport,
Truly becoming a pest,
Like the ones the fought.

My loathing for them was intolerable,
But she became infatuated with these fools,
Once upon a time her eyes were dull,
but they sparkled upon seeing these animals

She watched them from afar for a long time,
Until those tyrants took her away,
It was really the greatest crime,
And for that they shall pay.

For her I left the place I call home,
Yet she could not do the same,
I was left alone,
Most definitely lame.

By this time the war was long past,
The humans have entered a golden age,
But every other being had to run fast,
Away from the humans rage.

We were not so lucky, not allowed to rest,
We are hunted, running,
Barely alive at best,
We are homeless again — left with nothing.

Many of my brothers since thenhave passed,
I always thought their spirits have been starved,
But as I go past the place I once called home, which will be the last,
I see that they have nests of children, in their spirits are their parents carved.

Not hungry,
They scoured for them when push came to shove,
And the truth that I couldn’t see,
Was to provide for the ones that they love.

It has dawned that I’m the one who is pathetic,
They were not monsters — they did what they must,
I felt sick,
Left by myself in the dust.

The humans did what they did not for survival,
But for entertainment,
Just like an animal,
I raised the monster I was sent.

As I flew to find food,
I had no purpose,
So for me to still try to survive was albeit kind of crude,
But I’ve lived for less.

Now that I had nothing, not drive or even energy,
I truly believed this to be my ending,
Until a woman with her resemblance uncanny,
Had approached me, and upon her seeing.

She grabbed her bloodied knife,
And granted me a corpse,
I did what I did best in my life,
And fed of the poor creature as my mind warps.

She patted my head,
And spent time until I could fly,
Said she was glad I wasn’t dead,
And when she parted with me, she did genuinely cry.

Seeing her children and her family,
With her own happiness,
It made me smile and I didn’t know I could be so sappy,
I’m glad, I must confess.

And it was like the beginning, my life on repeat,
She left food out,
Happy, full and complete,
But why did I feel still some doubt?

It got all too familiar when she got ill,
She became skinny once more,
I watched from the windowsill,
When everyone would come through the door.

Unable to walk,
What was left was skin and bones in a pile,
No more could she couldn’t talk,
Or even smile .

They carried out a party upon her death,
Wearing all black,
As I let out a breath,
Watching them crowded as a pack.

They were completely disgusting,
As I felt moisture run down my face,
It was somehow touching,
That I wasn’t, as I always believed, a lost case.

As they screamed and blubbered,
I still watched from the fence,
And joined as they mourned,
Her beautiful existence.

I wasn’t just watching,
I participated,
As we celebrated her living,
and this day that was fated.

I stayed,
Watching her I let out a cry,
There was still a happy face even in the dirt where she was laid,
Now was the time I could finally say goodbye.

Doing what I couldn’t do those years,
Because of the pity I felt before,
But now as she grew and overcoming those fears,
I devoured begging for more,

Tears that I didn’t think I was capable of still flowed,
It was intoxicating,
I ate and I was full once again in the cold,
I had taken away what was left of her being,

Now it was truly over.

Beyond the Window

Going back to my routes on this one, creative writing from words from a random word generator. 

The words were: Hostage, Talkative, Deal, Infection

Image result for window  photography

I lay on the soft mattress, sinking in as the covers surround me. I made it a habit to lay in the dark, I was not concerned about my surroundings. It was nice to not think, not dream just be. I had to savour this feeling. As I relax further into my nest, my safe space quickly became intruded. 

The lights turned on and a young man strolled in. Leon came here everyday, wearing a smug grin on his face accompanied with a chirpy attitude. “It has been a lovely day.”

“I wouldn’t know,” I said while sitting up, leaning on the headboard.

“You’re not a hostage, Mika. You can leave whenever you want.”

I felt my lips tightening, I had nothing to say nor any desire to leave, feeling too comfortable within these four walls. I was sick for a long time and once I got better rather than returning to my life it was just easier to stay here. 

No one came to visit me besides Leon. Not that I could recall many of my memories from before that time but I thought if they came then it would trigger some memory. Instead I was left alone with Leon, it made me bitter and Leon was the only one I could take out my frustrations on. 

On some level, I should be thankful but I’m not, he just reminds me how weak I am. Besides I never asked him to see me, he just does. I realised that he wouldn’t stop no matter what I said. 

I glared at him as he sat on the foot of my bed. It was no longer a quizzical stare, wondering why he came to visit or why he seemed so happy to see me I gave up on that a long time ago. Instead I glared at him to make it clear I didn’t want him here, make him not feel welcome enough to stroll in as he likes and make himself at home. 

“You’re very talkative,” he joked. 

“I don’t have much to say. Nothing has changed since yesterday or the day before. I haven’t done anything.”

“Are you still having those dreams?”

I did have dreams good dreams. In those dreams I can relive the feeling of happiness, of being uncomplicated. A blue sky, watching the clouds with a pair of eyes staring at me. The eyes were full of warmth. Even though I could not remember the face, I know I was happy. They were mundane activities, dreams of cooking and dancing, walking outside, going to the store. They were normal,  yet I craved them. However, I could not will myself to leave.

I looked at him for the first time. He wore a light blue jumper with white trousers. I have only seen him in some rendition of blue. 

“You really like blue?”

“It was my wife’s favourite colour.” He played with the silver band on his finger, smiling. He must really love her. In some way it made me jealous. Not because he was taken, but he was happy I did not have that luxury. 

“Was?” I repeated.

He ignored me, instead he observed the curtains, pushing up his glasses. “You haven’t opened the curtains again,” he stated. 

“No need. There is nothing out there for me.”

“There is nothing in here for you.”

“This is my home.”

“It was.”

“I remember how I used to be here. I remember laughing so easily. Smiling. Why does it not feel like me?”

“You remember?”

“Only a little.” After that sudden confession, I became defensive. “ I don’t know why you care, I don’t even know you.”

In that moment I thought I saw his eyes become glassy but focussed more on the hurt expression he now wore.  I had pushed him away before but this is the first time it had affected him. That is what I wanted but a knot still formed in my stomach. “Please, just indulge me,” he pleaded.

“I loved watching the clouds. The blue sky.”

“You did.”

“Can you tell me more?” I asked, this was the first time I had wanted to know more about my life, no longer content with the fragments.

“It’s not fair to ask me that.”

“How about a hint?”

“Here is a deal. I will look outside if you give me a hint.”

He leaned in closer to me. Initially, I thought it was to deny my request, instead he pulled me closer to him and kissed my forehead. “I love you.”

For the first time, I felt hope. The face in my dreams, the kiss on the forehead confirms it. It was all Leon. 

“You would humour me before.” 

“You had a strange outlook on the clouds but you loved looking at them, coming up with the most absurd stories.” I recalled him giggling when I would say the wildest observations about the clouds, the face were no longer eyes but Leon’s face. If I could remember him even a little then I was sure he would remind me of the rest. Finally the world was bright and I thought that I could live that we could live. 

He slipped a matched band to his on my finger and smiled weakly. 

Fulfilling my promise and with a new sense of confidence, I drew open the curtains, expecting to see my blue sky. But that is not what stared back at me. 

The sky was a blood red. The streets weren’t the ones I grew up in, the buildings were falling and resembled rubble more than structures. There was no form of life beneath us. 

“It hasn’t got any better, I’m afraid. Everyone left.”

“We will follow them.”

“Mik, the infection spread. I don’t have much time left.”

“I got better.”

“And you’re the only one.”

“Why did you stay with me ?”

“I was sick too, ” he lied. 

“You liar, you should have left me.”

“I could never do that.”

“I will stay with you.”

“It is more dangerous. You don’t know this world, Mik. It gets worse every day, the air is toxic for most animals, they’re going wild. The longer you stay, the further everyone else gets. You won’t find them if you wait around for me. “

“No.”

He rested his head on my shoulder and I felt a dampness on my t-shirt. “You have to,” he sobbed. 

I already decided that I would not leave him. Just like he refused me.

Queen of Hearts

The village where I spent my boyhood years had an unwritten mantra amongst the children, it existed before my family moved there generations before and will continue long after I am dead. Be careful what you wish for. It was a law, a saying and a threat. It goes in accordance with another lore, which states that if a person pure of heart believes anything strong enough, it will come true. Almost like a wish.  I never thought much of it before, but it became the forefront of my thoughts after a winter that changed my life. The night exceeds all scientific possibility and the village of Efrose still contains inexplicable mysteries which turn into stories. 

In my youth, I was particularly fond of magic. It inspired an odd sense of hope and no one can deny that it holds a childlike wonder. The one trick that enamoured me was the disappearing act. I never saw a trapdoor or other cheap tricks; it was simple, a person was there and the next second by some divine miracle, they no longer were: magic.

My best friend at the time — probably the best friend I ever had, a better friend than any I’ve made well into my adult years — was a girl named Reina. That wasn’t her real name, there was another story. This story like all others entwine into each other, so I must bore you with some details.

Her real name was Olivia but she hated being called that, in addition to Liv, Ollie or any other rendition you can muster . One day by pure instinct, I called her Reina. She looked at me confused, like I was stupid. I got flustered quickly and felt a strong urge to explain myself. “My mum reads me a story about a strong princess who ran away with a knight. Her name is Reina — it means queen. So even if she wasn’t the queen of that kingdom, she was still a queen by name. That’s what my mum said at least. It just reminds me of you. Sorry.” I look down at my shoes when I noted that she looked sad due to the tears forming in her eyes, however, upon reflection it was quite the opposite.

She put her hands on my face, looking at me with those glassy eyes, and said, “you truly are an Angel.” Now would be a good time to mention that my eccentric parents named me Angel. She kissed my forehead and we proceeded to play like we always did.  Shortly after that event the name stuck and everyone called her Reina.

We were inseparable. While the other kids in our class would tease me for expressing high praise for the magical arts, she would encourage it and remind me why I loved it. She made sure no one laughed at me.

At that age, I never understood why she would not want to return home, or why she had bruises on her body. I never understood why sometimes she would flinch when anyone came close to her. At that age, all I thought was that her life was awesome because she never had a curfew and would spend all day trying to play. She would spend days on end at my house or hide in the park. I understand it now. But it’s too late.

She was my partner in crime and on occasion my lovely assistant. The most notable case, brings us to the winter of 2000. We were 11, preparing for the school’s talent show. I remember the nerves, and how I would joke that Reina had a spidey sense for it. She had a knack of soothing me and on that night Reina simply said, “I believe in you.” 

With that my nerves dissipated. “Believe in me but the magic is a trick, which we have practised to perfection.” 

“Remember, if you believe strong enough anything can come true. Like Peter Pan and fairies. Believe in the magic.”

Backstage was a flurry of parents fussing over their children. Reina’s parents were not there so she gave her seats to my family. While the other kid’s parents primped them, she was alone. The teachers and parents often gave her sympathetic looks coupled with inaudible muttering. She smiled at me as though she couldn’t see them. “I really wish I could disappear sometimes,” she muttered to herself.

When the show commenced, it was a mashup of offkey singers and out of time dancers. We were the last kids to go on, not for our talent but because we were the only act that was different. It went as practised, we did our card tricks without a hitch, pulled a coin out from behind unsuspecting audience members ears, turned water into ice immediately and made a ring defy gravity by going up a string. Finally, time for the big finish: make my lovely assistant disappear.

We had it planned: there was a small space underneath the stage where Reina could hide, mimicking a trapdoor. We placed the box on top with a false bottom. She walked in the box with a large smile, her face shone brighter every time the audience would clap. She whispered to me just as I closed the door, “this is the happiest day of my life. Thank you for being my best friend.”

Upon hearing those words, I said to the audience, “I love Reina. She is my best friend.” The door was closed but I was sure she could hear me. The big reveal to the audience which showed she had disappeared resulted in a massive round of applause. I just imagined how happy she would be to hear it. The finale should have shown Reina reappear. Should have. “Now ladies and gentlemen. I need some help to get Reina back. Reina. Reina.” I made motions to encourage them to chant. Now everyone was chanting Reina’s name, including the kids that would ridicule us and even the teachers who knew of the trick. I opened the door to reveal Reina. But she wasn’t there. I closed it and tried again. 

Panic struck me, maybe she was stuck, I thought. I dropped to the floor and removed the false bottom. The space was empty. There was no sign of Reina in the school or town of Efrose. Everyone searched for her but to no avail. Her parents never pushed to find her and moved out of the village not long after she went missing. The people soon forgot about her after that. Reina was a whisper in the wind and the village would never see her again. She had truly disappeared.

An Excerpt From Something I’ll Never Finish 

What has been written is what I found today in one of my notebooks for a character I created, who you will clearly see is very cynical and kind of mean. This must be at least 4 years old. 

It’s simple really. There is no real reason as to why I am who I am. No one has done me any real wrong. There aren’t any traumatic experiences on system for me either.

The real experiences occur everyday, the traumatic experience I talk of is life itself. How people are conquered, humans are fragile and stupid. I guess this is what makes me cynical because there is no reason to be happy. Happiness is just an illusion. Any person, any character in a book or any being in a movie will without fail wish for happiness and wish they could see a beauty in the world. They would gladly revoke everything they believe in and betray themselves for this illusion. Then, this is called a happily ever after.

October Writing Challenge: Day 8

This is a piece of fiction because I am so sick about writing about myself. I hope you enjoy. 

I looked over the floor where the shatters of glass remain in the same place. They were scattered over the room, towards my bare feet which were still bleeding. I hugged my knees tight into my chest. The moisture from my face stinging the open wound on my legs. I hoped that when I looked up the glass ornament would have repaired itself and that this was merely a dream, a nightmare. She loved the glass figurine more than she had ever loved me. It was an ugly thing, it was a fish on the ocean floor, it had a blue tint, it was so elaborate and large. And just dreadful. I had always hated it. The fish was fat, and not at all pleasing to look at but she had loved it. Now it was there on the floor looking more beautiful that it had ever been. With the brilliant shards illuminating in the light. The singular ray of sunshine which streamed into the room from the small crack where the curtains were drawn but not completely shut from sloppiness. The light bounced of the broken pieces of glass which danced with the blood dripping on it, coming together and swirling around. It was breath taking. It was terrifying.

As the minutes, hours, however long it was stared at, it didn’t come back together, yet it still felt so surreal. Then the truth had to be shared when there was shuffling that began in the next room. Footsteps which gradually came closer to the door. When finally, after all the anticipation, the door had opened. More light flooded into the room, revealing what I had done. What had been broken. I prayed that she would comfort me and secretly hated the broken thing too. Instead when her eyes darted across the room, she let out a loud shrill scream. A chill went down my spine, and I saw what she was looking at.

She didn’t seem to care about the glass, it was the amount of blood. Then I remembered this blood wasn’t mine. She was staring at the body in the corner of the room.

Chapter 4

Zed watched Kanna skip into the darkness. “Bitch,” he muttered under his breath whilst pulling his ripped shirt from the dirt and putting it over his head.
“You’re going to have to excuse my baby sister. She’s been through a lot.” Eli shot him his signature closed eye smile. A very genuine smile.
Zed scoffed, “We all have. She’s no exception.” He sat in the dirt leaning on the rock as he observed the fire.
“So what has a young boy like yourself seen?”
“None of your business.”
“You remind me of someone.”
“That’s nice but I’d prefer if you didn’t compare to a pathetic friend of yours in a past life.”
A small snigger came from Eli’s mouth. “Ouch. You’re mean. An old man is just trying to warn you. That pathetic friend did alright. In fact, look for yourself,” he said as he gestured to himself.
Zed observed him, his build was thin and slender upon first impressions but the way he had pinned him, Zed realised that he was a lot stronger than he had seemed.
“Don’t compare me to you.”
“Okay, Zed, let me tell you something nothing is as simple as it may seem.”
“You and your sister travelling together seems simple enough. What is it? The cliché ‘parents died in front of your very eyes and you devote yourself to avenge them’ but before you can, you then realised how royally fucked you are; so you just move, valuing your own life more than anything.”
“You want me to start from the top I will.”
“My parents were killed before my very eyes.”
He groaned to a story he expected.
“They were killed before the war. As a child I lashed out. Became a victim of the system. I had no one. Nothing. Just lived. Did drugs. Committed crimes. Squatted in other people’s houses. Pretty much did anything I could to survive. Then the war started and chaos spread. The dead bodies on the street, the shattered glass. I became intoxicated with it, I felt happy. People were suffering the pain i had been for years. I saw this as an opportunity. I could do whatever I really wanted with not even a risk of punishment.”
“So what did you do? Kill people. Did you shoot a man as he begged for his life, looking at the fear in his eyes as only more ammo as you pulled the trigger and watch yourself becoming a killer. And not hate it.”
Eli was not shaken by the oddly specific description that Zed had painted for him. In fact he chuckled. “I’m thankful I was never that far gone. I did the same shit I always did. I tripped on acid, got high with the same people but just in a bigger playground. I thought I was so bad, I thought I was living how I wanted. I thought that what I did was a big fuck you to everyone who did me wrong. These things that were taboo, but i had been doing it so easily. It’s because there was no one left to tell us, no punishment, no crime, no boredom. In reality, we were just teenagers squatting in someone’s house that didn’t care while other people were dying. I didn’t care because in that moment I was immortal. The feeling of immortality is only heightened when you see more people die. I felt superior.”
“Then one day when we were all tripping. A group of kids our age had bigger plans of saying fuck you. They were the killers you described. They came into our home, our barrier to the shit that was happening outside. They lit it on fire and tried shooting at us from the windows. My best friend sawyer got shot right in the eye and burst out laughing because he was hallucinating. He was enjoying the pain and didn’t even feel his life slip away. Not from the first, second or even third bullet. Some people got an idea of what happened and ran. Well, they tried at least, however the fire spread and their alcohol soaked shirts determined their fate. I didn’t flee I just sat there completely unable to move. One friend pulled me out and threw me out the window, he saved my life. The reliable older brother. We were on the second floor and I had managed to land as safe as possible. I urged him to jumped but he smiled and exploded with the house.”
“So you were the only survivor?”
“Me and Sarah. We survived. She was so fucking crazy. She would occasion trip out and do some crazy shit but most of the time she was clean. She did this crazy stuff like jumping from bridges completely in her right mind. She was fearless.” His eyes lit up talking about her, which urged Zed to ask, “you loved her?”
“Completely. I thought if I lived by jumping out of a house on fire then I could survive if she rejected me. I was more taken aback when she actually said she liked me too. We already travelled and lived together for a year and a half. But now it was different. Now we were together.
“So where does Kanna come into this story?”
Eli laughed. “I completely forgot that’s why story time began. You’re awfully interested in her.”
“Only because that’s why you started it. Explaining why she’s such a bitch.”
“Well if you want to know maybe you should ask her.”
Kanna walked into the camp. “Ask who what?”
“Well, sis, Zed has a question for you.”
“Go on, bastard. Make sure you don’t piss me off.”
Zed cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable with the current situation. “So why are you such a bitch?”
Her blood boiled. “Wrong question.” Before he knew it a small fist came into an uppercut at his chin. “I’m not treating him again.”
Eli unfazed once again. “Nice hit but why hurt an already injured pup?”
“There’s a lake probably 500 km. Dump his body there or treat him. Your choice.”