Posted in Random Stuff

Redding

Hi guys! This is actually a short story I published in my school magazine some time ago. Please do leave your comments and criticisms…

When I was born, the world was bathed in red.

I remember lying in a puddle of my mother’s blood and excrement. I remember feeling wet – and very, very cold. I could hear every single one of my mother’s fading moans. She didn’t even try to pick me up. We lay there, the both of us; me – red, alive and squalling for all I was worth; my mother – pale, weak and fading fast.

Then suddenly, she was dead.

I vaguely recall a Large Man stumbling towards me, drunk and red-faced. He squinted at me and grunted. “Worth some money,” he muttered.

He picked me up roughly and wiped his mouth with a dirty sleeve. His breath stank of cheap liquor and sour milk. I remember being carried away to an unfamiliar place. I wailed.

“Noisy little bugger, ‘in he?” a Strange Man remarked.

“He’ll make you a good fighter.”

I remember being inspected. I was turned this way and that, poked and prodded like a cow for sale. I didn’t like it, so I bawled. But Strange Man just laughed.

“Sure has strong lungs, I’ll give you that. Parents?” he asked suspiciously.

“Dead,” Large Man said. “Found this one in an alley. Mother was cold as stone. Died birthing him, methinks.”

Strange Man frowned. “Fifty bucks for this one,” he said, picking his teeth.

“C’mon, Gage! You know he’s worth more’n that!”

“Final offer, Hob. Take it or leave.”

I remember Hob calling Gage a few choice words about where he could stick his fifty bucks. I remember Hob thundering off – with the fifty bucks, of course. I remember being handed to the fattest woman I would ever know.

I remember.

***

                I remember growing up in a dank stone cell under the City with six other boys like me. As soon as we were old enough to walk, they gave us weapons and taught us how to fight. We were pit fighters; Gage’s pit fighters, in particular. The best pit fighters there ever were.

The other boys and I were trained in the art of combat. We served the people, Gage told us. We served as entertainment to take the day’s burdens off a tired man’s shoulders and instead give him exhilaration and excitement.

I remember training hard and being praised. I remember two boys dying of inflicted wounds, but Gage told us that it was okay, because only the strong survived.

I was strong. I could survive.

For a few years, I was happy. I was fed, clothed, and wanted for nothing. But one day, food never came. Neither did it come the next day. And the next day, and the next. We waited in our cells, growing hungrier very passing day.

I remember this sharp, burning sensation in my belly. I kept drinking water to soothe it, but it never did help. The only thing that kept me going was Killian. He was my friend. F-R-I-E-N-D. Yes, that’s how you spell it.

Killian was eight, like me, and he had to finest blonde hair in the whole of the world. He wasn’t a good fighter, and Gage kicked him a lot. Gage said that Killian would be better off as an actor, but Killian wanted to be a cook. Yuck.

But that was never to be.

An agonizing period of time passed before Gage called us out into the arena. By then, I no longer felt human. Food, I kept thinking, food.

Killian was not much better off. We stopped talking after three days when the food did not come. Maybe it was hunger, or frustration, or fear. Maybe it was all three.

“You boys must be wondering why you have not been fed these five days,” Gage announced, smiling.

Only five days? It had felt so much longer.

Gage held up a plate of bread and gravy. The smell of it hit my nose. I inhaled deeply. The scent almost made me full. Almost.

Then Gage picked up a bird cage on the ground and placed the plate inside. Five pairs of eyes, including my own, followed Gage’s every movement. He locked the birdcage and hung it up on a hook on the wall, out of reach of five eight-year old boys.

“You boys,” Gage said happily, “are going to have to fight for this bread. Only the winner gets to have dinner tonight.” He paused and looked us all in the eye. “The rest of you,” he continued, shrugging, “will be dead. Now I’ll leave you to your business.”

He walked away.

Five pairs of eyes bored into each other. Then the killing began.

***

I don’t want to remember. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.

But I do remember. I do. Every single detail of the whole bloody business.

In my mind’s eye, I see myself grappling with a boy with curly hair. I look him in the eye as I strangle him to death.

I see myself pounding my fist against the floor as someone punches my kidneys. I yell, and throw him off.

I see myself grab a small boy with the finest blonde hair in the world. I pull him aside and pummel him with my fists. He writhes and struggles violently against my grip. “Stop that!” I yell.

I hit him hard on his cheeks and he begins to cry. Then I look at him.

It’s Killian.

Part of me wants to stop. Part of me wants to eat.

There lives a monster in me, and at that moment, the monster makes me look Killian in the eye.

“I’m sorry,” I remember saying.

The second last thing I see is the fear in his blue, blue eyes. They are wide with terror.

The last thing I see is his blood on my hands.

Then I fall to my knees. I cry.

***

I am jolted from my reverie by a soft kick.

“Redding. You’re up next.”

I nod. I get up and stare at my hands to calm myself down.

Today will be another name on my arms.

For every man or woman I kill, I carve their name on my arms. The first name I carved – Killian. On my right palm, my friend’s name in engraved into my skin. My F-R-I-E-N-D.

My arms a riddled with scars – names nicknames and titles. The Bear. Rafe the Wild. Mason. Scylla.

But my left palm is blank. I am keeping that for a little special occasion.

I walk out into the arena to a crowd of cheering, screaming people. I look up at Gage. He is sitting in his box up in the stands. He gestures at me. I smile.

Tonight, I will fill my left palm with a name.

Posted in INTEC, Learning Curve, Writing assignment

A Little Poke

Hihi!

This is to whoever’s reading this blog. Since it’s for an educational purpose, I would really appreciate it if you could leave your comments about my composition in the space below. I accept any sort of criticism – harsh, building and anything that helps. Please don’t feel shy to be honest, because your opinions will really help me be a better writer… You’re insight is very much appreciated 😀

Lillian

(Winter ain’t never coming to Malaysia)

Posted in Education, INTEC, Writing assignment

In Lieu Of Swords

If.

There lives a cynic in me, constantly humming Kumbaya in the most sardonic tone you can imagine. His name is Steve. This cynic’s entire lexicon consists of that confounded word. If I were less introverted, if I were braver, if I were not tied down, if I had been given the opportunity, if I were Daenerys Targaryen – assuming I had to put a dollar in a glass jar every time that blasted word surfaced I’d be richer than Donald Trump’s ex-wife.

Residing in the deep recesses of my mind also lies a short, slightly rotund lady with a horn-rimmed glasses and a neat bob of purple hair. I christened her Brigitta, the antithesis of Steve. She’s much nicer.

Today, Brigitta decided that my life’s goal was to fight for equality regardless of culture and creed. I rather liked that idea. Then Steve had to interject, saying that I had nothing to fight with and everything to lose. And I decided that his point, although rather morbid, was true. I had a family to care for, a scholarship to uphold, no money, no swords, no guns and most of all, no A-bombs! How could I expect to succeed without any A-bombs? They’re, like, vital in every skirmish, no?

The argument went a little like this –

Brigitta: You idiot! She can do anything she sets her mind to. Let her save her country.

Steve: What if she has to sacrifice her family’s privacy and safety?

Brigitta: It’s all for the greater good. They’ll understand. Look at Malala Yousafzai!

Steve: She was shot in the head. Three times.

Brigitta: She survived and she was martyred.

Steve: So you want Lillian to be shot in the head and then martyred?

Brigitta: You…you filthy lawyer. This fight means something to her! It’s what she’s always wanted.

Steve: What about those scholarship terms? If she breaks them to join a hippie rally – what happens? If she decides halfway that she’s not built to take the pressure and it’s that it’s too late? What happens then?

Oh yes, I forgot to mention – there’s this other little guy. He’s tall, bespectacled and wears tailored suits made in Italy. He usually sits in the corner while Brigitta and Steve pull their punches. It’s atypical for Roger to come out so blatantly, but I’m glad he did today.

Roger: Hey, now guys…hold your horses (he’s arcane like that, my Roger). Yes, it’s a huge risk for her to fight for what she believes in – but that is a thought so many others have had. She wants to take the road less traveled, to make something of her life. She knows well enough that she and every memory of her will dissipate into obscurity one day, so let her make the most of it. She’s lived her whole life frustrated for those not granted the same opportunities as those around her – so let her try to make a difference. Let her fight for equality – regardless of race, religion and social standing. Let her –

Steve: Die?

Roger: Well…sometimes dying for the right cause isn’t such a bad thing. She believes in it. She believes that it will cause a paradigm shift. She believes that she can cause that paradigm shift. She wants to see everyone treated equally. And her actions don’t have to be big or bold. They just have to mean something. Is that so bad? She doesn’t have guns, or swords, or bombs for that matter. But does she need them? She has her voice. And then there’s us.

Like I said, I liked Roger most of all. And yes, I would fight for equality. If only I could get those –

Just kidding.

But it’s true. I’m totally devoid of anything material. No funds, no political backing, nothing much to help me fight for what I believe in. My actions will be small, and I can only hope that the little pebble I toss in the vast ocean of reality will send ripples enough to change not all, but some lives.

In lieu of swords, I have my voice, my spirit, and my thoughts.