ROOM

Room

It is dark. It is cold. I am scared.

I can’t remember anything but it all seems familiar. The grey stone walls, the weird mossy smell, the chains. The chains on my stomach. Why are they there? I can’t get out. There are no windows. The only light comes from the few cracks in the wall. There is a rectangular outline in the wall. A door? Yes, a door! I get up and walk towards it. I grab the handle. It’s locked. I shake and pull, but still it doesn’t budge. I huff and stomp my feet in frustration.

Clank! There is a noise behind me. I whip around. Nothing is there except for the chains. The chains. They’ve moved. They’re right at my feet. I kick them away and turn back to the door. I am about to drive my foot into it when something drags me from behind into the darkness of the corner of the room.

I wake up. It is dark. It is cold. I am scared.

The chains are there in front of me. I get up and go to the door. I try the handle again. Still nothing. I push and pull. Then I have an idea. I grab the chains of the floor. They are cold. And heavy. Very heavy. I whip them against the door. The sound of the metal against the wood is eerie, like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Cracks are starting to appear in the door. I raise my hands above my head for one last effort. I throw the chains against the door. I miss. Somehow. The chains wrap around me and knock me off my feet. I fall through the stone floor into the darkness.

I wake up. It is dark. It is cold. But I am not scared. I am angry. Angry at the chains. Angry at the door. Angry at myself. I’m going crazy. The chains are not there anymore. But the door is. I stand up and make my way towards it. Then I punch it. I punch and punch until my fists go red and my knuckles bleed. Then I scream. My throat is raw, but I keep on screaming. Then I drop to the floor, out of breath. If the door won’t give way, then I shall start on the wall. I’ll claw my way out through the cracks.

No. That won’t work. Wow. I am going crazy. I laugh. I laugh at how stupid I am. Soon the laughter turns into crying. Crying into screaming. Screaming into anger. Anger into one final push.

I grit my teeth and press my hands up against the door. The cracks in the wood grow, until at last, it shatters, like glass. I lose my balance and fall into the nothingness beyond.

Thud! I land on my feet. There is a slight pain in my legs. I can’t see anything. Everything is pitch black. The only sound that can be heard is my heavy breathing. But then there’s a thump. It comes from behind me. What is it? Whatever it is, I’m not going to wait for it to come get me. I start to edge away, trying my best to be silent. But that thing in the darkness pushes me to the floor. I have no other choice. I run. I run as fast as my legs can carry me. But I’m not fast enough. I feel it dragging me back by the collar. My strain to get away. But my efforts don’t work. It picks me up then throws me to the floor. My whole body throbs with pain. Quietly sobbing, I drag myself across the ground. I am desperate to get away.

The thing hisses threateningly behind me. It sounds demonic, deathly. I just know it wants to kill me. But why? No time to find out.

Crawling, crawling, crawling. Like a worthless little bug. I have never had to crawl for my life before, but I had never imagined it could be so terrifying. Gradually, I slow down. I am running out of breath. This is hopeless. I might as well die. I lie on the floor, waiting for the beast to take me and kill me. But then I see a glint of light. Daylight. A doorway. Hope.

Groaning, I pull myself onto my knees and drag myself closer to the heavenly light. I want to escape, but at the same time, I want to die from the pain. It’s just too much. But no. I can’t give up. Crawl, crawl, crawl. Crawl to safety, I hope. I hope. Just hope.

I am nearly there. Just a little more. But I don’t make it. My legs buckle. I drop to the floor and lie there, sobbing. It hurts so, so much. Soon, the deathly hissing surrounds me. It’s so loud it’s like it’s like is coming from my own mouth. The light fades. My limbs go numb. The hissing grows quieter. Then, emptiness.

I wake up. It is bright. It is warm. I’m in bed.

I look around. Everything seems normal. Just a bad dream. But where am I? How did I get here? I look down at my legs. They’re in thick layers of bandages. Did I have an accident? Am I in some kind of nursing home?

I get out of bed to investigate, but I can’t even walk to the door. My hands are chained to the bed. Those chains look familiar. I know them. I’ve seen them. But where? Then I remember, and a pang of fear hits me. These are the chains that I used to escape that dreary grey room. These are the chains that hunted me down. These are the chains that I dreamed of, but was it even a dream?

It is no longer bright, but grey and insipid. I take a look around the room. My eyes rest on the wooden desk in front of me. Piles upon piles of documents are stacked on top of each other. I read through them. I see my name at the top of one. They’re about me. I read on.

PATIENT SHOWS SIGNS OF SLIGHT DISORIENTATION. UNFOCUSSED, FREQUENTLY FORGETS CURRENT SITUATION. SCHEDULED FOR MORE APPOINTMENTS, WILL RECORD PROGRESS THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE WEEKS.

Strange. I look to the other pieces of paper.

DAY 1:

PATIENT IS STILL DISORIENTED, DOES NOT RESPOND WHEN CALLED. EXPRESSIONLESS. MINIMAL SPEECH.

DAY 2:

PATIENT CANNOT RECALL BASIC FACTS ABOUT SELF, DOES NOT KNOW CURRENT SITUATION HE IS IN. SEEMS WARY OF OTHER PEOPLE. RECLUSIVE.

DAY 5:

DELUSIONAL. CALLS OTHERS BY MADE-UP NAMES. IS UNSURE OF OWN IDENTITY. HALLUCINATIONS OF INTRUDERS. PILLS PRESCRIBED.

DAY 10:

PATIENT HAS REFUSED TO TAKE PILLS. FREQUENT MOOD SWINGS. CLAIMS THAT HE IS BEING HUNTED DOWN BY “IT”, AN IMAGINARY BEING WITH CHAINS. ENJOYS VIOLENT ACTIVITY. TALKS ABOUT SUICIDE.

DAY 25:

PATIENT MUMBLES INCOHERENT WORDS. REACTS VIOLENTLY WHEN INTERRUPTED. ATTEMPTED ESCAPE. INJURED SEVERAL PEOPLE. HE MUST BE RESTRAINED.

DIAGNOSIS: PATIENT IS SCHIZOPHRENIC – LEVEL: DANGEROUS

I pull away from the desk. My head is spinning. I’m confused. Can I even trust myself? My inner voices become real, and they taunt me, tell me to get out. I’m not the person I know anymore. I don’t think I ever really knew myself before. I look at the chains and think, I’ve done this to myself. I look up to the mirror hanging on the wall, and my heart nearly stops. My reflection doesn’t look like the me I know. It hisses back at me, but this time in despair. The story is clear. I am my own victim. I am the beast.

Written by O. Mukhtar O. Mukhlis

26th October 2018

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Into The Forest, But Never Out…

spooky forest background

The sun was high in the sky, but did not illuminate the dismal forest much, as its shine was filtered through the foliage of the dense forest canopy, leaving only a few rays of light touching the ground. Even so, there were many things to keep me relaxed while walking through such a place. The psithurism, for instance, was very calming as it travelled into my ears. The sweet scent of flowers and wild berries was quite soothing too. Other than the fact that the rest of the forest was not quite pleasant, one could agree that it was quite an enjoyable walk.

But, there is always a chance of an unexpected event ( a abad one, too, that is) happening at a time like this. And so that was the case for me. I realised that the air wasn’t quite as warm as it was before. I pulled my coat tighter around my body. The lovely aroma which had so wonderfully tantalised my nose whilst wafting through the air no longer lingered near me. It seemed unearthly for everything to change so suddenly. But then, I was walking through the forest in the middle of nowhere; anything could happen, what with the lack of light and vast air space. I told myself that I was just imagining things. I shook the thought off.

I continued on my journey for about 10 minutes, maybe 20, and just when I thought everything was going fine, I came face to face with another obstruction, the biggest one of all.

CRUNCH! The leaves behind me rustled. A few bushes shook. Somewhere in the forest, I heard the unmistakeable cry of a human. Now I was worried. My rapid breathing filled the air: it seemed to encourage the trees to whisper back. SNAP! A twig broke. Another scream. All my surroundings seemed to revolved around me, and just as I was about to turn and run, I met the worst thing I could have ever imagined: Him…

The Wake

large_Rise-of-the-Machine

Lightning never strikes twice, does it? Well, that was just the problem: he needed it to strike twice. It was nearly done, nearly done – it just needed energy. Enough energy to break a pylon, enough to make it come alive. Two strikes of lightning was all it needed. Nothing else could replace that, but he kept asking the same question:

“How do I replace that?”

He had already made a seemingly perfect contraption – a forked metal rod pointing downwards, its bottom pointed out of the skylight to attract lightning. If the lightning travelled down the rod, it would be split in two and weave its way down the two cables connected to the rod that led to a pair of power banks. The power banks would send the electricity to the machine, giving it power in the form of two artificial lightning bolts. It was too risky, though. A malfunction could go badly wrong, but there was no turning back now. The storm was upon them, and the lightning would strike any moment soon.

Crack! A bright white flash lit up the room. He jumped back as sparks of electricity bounced across the floor. The power banks whirred, and the thing on the table slowly lit up. He chuckled as the creaks of gears travelled into his ears. He had just gotten up, only to jump back down again. Another deafening crack filled the room. The glass in the open skylight shattered. It was another lighting bolt, and another lightning bolt wasn’t the best thing it needed right now. He had made the contraption with the power banks storing energy to make that one lightning bolt turn into two, but now his machine had been given four bolts to charge it up. The thing on the table jerked up, glowing brightly. Then the lightbulb in the lamp next it popped. The power banks exploded. As it turned around, he could see its eyes shining, but it wasn’t warming. This was it. This was the wake of the automaton.

*Inspired by Pobble 365*

Want To Write? Start With Reading!

I’ve received many requests to share my writing tips. Well, to be honest, I don’t really have any, but I’ve always loved to read. It’s been a major part of developing my writing skills and I have to admit, I have ORD – Obsessive Reading Disorder! Just one book a day can stimulate my mind into creative mode and get those imaginative juices flowing. So no, I don’t really have any tips, but I believe there is one core, essential practice which is the foundation of writing.

You. Need. To. READ.

Seem daunting? It might sound like that at first, but it is the key to writing. You’ll need to read to find ideas and check your work. It happens whilst you’re writing! When I say read, I don’t mean read for a day or two then stop, I mean read everyday! Make it part of your daily routine. Make it part of your LIFE! Keep a book close wherever you go, so if you have spare time, you can open it up and peruse with ease.

At an early age, we all learn to read and as we get older, we start to read more difficult texts. We’ve been reading naturally all this time, and yet some people sweat at the thought of having to read something. If you could do it so young, why can’t you do it now?

The action of reading has many benefits. Books can teach us grammar and punctuation skills and language basics. Your vocabulary will be enriched too. Books are like dictionaries – there’s bound to be new words on show! The human brain is similar to a sponge, so it will absorb everything it reads. For me, reading also enlarges my imagination and stimulates my creativity. Books have many other benefits, such as improving your health, helping growth and much more. It’s clear that books are a writer’s best friends!

So now you see why reading is so crucial. We shouldn’t just give up reading because it seems hard or boring. If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this right now! But then there’s the choice of what to read and what’s good to read and what’s bad. Well, like I have said in the previous post, there is nothing good or bad, it’s just what you personally prefer! I love reading science fiction and fantasy, but other people might not. However, even though I like these specific genres, I still read a broad range of books. It’s great to read many books, but if you want, you can find the genre that suits you. The best way to find your perfect genre is to read a range of them, and work out their pros and cons so you will be able to find the one that you like the most. Once that’s done, you can read with relaxation and soon write! Remember, reading is an important step towards making yourself a better writer!

Yes, I think it’s great to read, but when I say ‘read’, I don’t mean just in English. You can read in your own mother tongue or your preferred language! Be it Malay, Urdu, Thai, Arabic, Gaelic, Chinese…you can read in any language you want! Don’t let language be a barrier that stops you from reading! And of course, remember to be bold, be brave, challenge yourself to read, readREAD and never stop reading! Now, if you’ve managed to read up to this point, then you’ve successfully read 581 words! So that’s me sharing my experience with you. Hope you find it useful.

Keep calm and carry on reading so that TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”

– Lemony Snicket

mukhtar book in park.jpg

Under The Lake

under the lake photo

Every day is just about the same for me. Wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, grab an apple and walk straight into that 300-foot deep lake outside.

I work under the surface – well, when I say under, I mean on the other side. There’s plenty of other people that come too, it’s part of life for us. We work for Death, writing reports on certain people that are assigned to us, then calculating their life expectancy. Death has less on his plate because of us, so all he needs to do is fix his schedule.

Everything we do, think and feel is written on our bodies as soon as we pass through the portal. When we resurface, the writing disappears. Death pays us quite a fair salary each week, so life is sweet. There’s just one catch: whenever I start work, my skin is empty.

Death doesn’t favour me as much as the others, even though my wages are the same. There was another one like me, but she died sometime before I started. They call us Outsiders, which is pretty rude, but I don’t care.

I was always empty-skinned until that one day when my life seemed to change forever. I went through the same morning routine: brush teeth, wash face, eat apple, walk into lake. I just didn’t know that under the lake, it would be different.

The first few steps in are through the water barrier, then we should arrive on the other side. This time around, though, the journey seemed longer, and as I delved deeper and deeper, I could make out the distinctive shape of a person in the distance, a man, tall and skinny. He gradually came closer and closer, until I could see his face. It was Death himself, and he had grabbed hold of my hand. Before he pushed me up to the surface, he uttered four words: “You, master of me.”

And suddenly I was floating back up, and I flew out of the lake, landing on my feet. I wasn’t the slightest bit wet, as always. There was a piece of paper in my hand, reading:

Take my place under the lake.

Yours,

D.

And on my hand was a single word, as if written in black ink. ‘No need to ask for wages anymore.’ I thought to myself as I walked back to my cosy little home, smiling at my own hand, reading over and over again ‘Death’.