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Bound By Darkness


T’was the eve of Halloween, the sky was covered with clouds, blocking out the crescent moon. The trees had shed all their leaves, standing bare against the cold wind. The yellow streetlights had cast their gaze around the silent street, leaving the shadows of the autumn trees to look like hands emerging from the depths of hades, waiting for an opportunity to drag you with them. The clouds began to rumble and the wind wailed like a banshee. At that moment, the sky split as lightning tore across it. Devilish thunder accompanied the lightning just seconds later. 

Damien who was asleep in his bed, jerked awake as the thunder rumbled in the night sky. His heart, pounding so hard he could feel the pulse in his throat. He sat upright in a cold sweat and reached for the bottle on his nightstand. As he quenched his thirst, his phone began vibrating viciously. It was his girlfriend Anna calling him. They had been dating for a while now but had known each other since they were children. As the light from the phone hit his eyes, he squinted. The darkness had not yet left his eyes. He picked up the phone and her soothing voice calmed him down instantaneously. She asked him if he had left home yet. They had planned to roam around together on Halloween eve, as it would be one of the few chances they would get to spend together before they left for college in the summer. He replied with his rough but gentle voice, “Sorry, I fell asleep. I’ll be there to pick you up in 10 minutes”. He told her he loved her and got up to get dressed. 

He placed his feet onto the cold floor and stood up. The wood underneath creaked eerily. The rains had turned the entire house into a creaking wonderland and the sound always made him uncomfortable. Switching on the lamp by the corner, he stood in front of the dusky framed mirror and fixed his dark brown hair. His purple eyes gleamed through the dull light the lamp gave off. He put on a pair of torn jeans and wore the T-shirt that Anna had given him for his birthday. Leaving the room, he pulled his leather jacket off the back of the door and snuck out of the creaking house, and made his way towards Anna’s house. She lived few blocks away, in a small and dingy-looking house. It was just her and her dad. 

Damien walked to her front door and before he could knock, she had opened the door and flung herself into his arms. The cold weather made his warmth more prominent and comfortable. He was happy to see her. He looked into her blue-ish green eyes and saw her soul. Her golden-brown hair fell back as she looked up to see his face, revealing her captivating smile. She was everything he was not. She was clumsy and always had a smile on her face, even through the tough times. Her laugh was beautiful and she danced her worries away, like a graceful swan surrounded by a multitude of lotuses. But alas, this would be the last time he felt her happiness, for the night ahead was not going to be a pleasant one.

They began to walk down the street towards the lake, where they always sat down and stared at the sky while talking about nothing and everything. The cold wind pushed them closer to each other. The wind had an uncomfortable feel to it, like as if it had a presence of its own. The yellow-lit streetlight had begun to flicker and slowly take a reddish hue. The feeling of being watched only grew more intense as time passed. Carved pumpkins, that were placed outside the doors of the many houses on the street began to turn towards our young couple. The carvings on the pumpkins lit up as if they were on fire but they weren’t burning. Damien held Anna’s hand firmly and they started running towards his house. The ominous presence seemed to follow them or rather, it never left them. 

The thing about Damien was that he always felt out of place. Like every other teenager, he felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with him. Every Halloween, he felt like there was something inside him. No, he knew there was something that was trying to come outside and every year, the presence only grew stronger. He would call Anna up and listen to her melodious voice, which calmed him down to a point where his fears could no longer reach him…

As they ran for his house, the blood-red lights went off. The darkness of the night had surrounded them and all the pumpkins were facing them. One by one, all the pumpkins simmered down. Damien knew that this time, nothing was going to stop the presence, it overpowered him…

It took over his will while Anna took few steps back in fear… She could hear whispers around her, like an enchantment, slowly growing louder and louder until it was unbearable. She fell to the ground, holding her hands against her ears to keep them from bursting.

The whispers suddenly stopped, Damien started walking towards her and picked her up, and waited until she could steady herself. The crescent moon began to peek through the clouds, shining onto our couple. Damien moved his hand upwards slowly like he was making for her cheek but at that moment, he stabbed her through the chest, his hand emerging from her back, with her beating heart in his palm. Anna was losing her strength and as the moonlight fell on Damien’s face, she looked into his eyes, but they weren’t purple anymore. It was as if there had never been any eyes in there, empty, hollow… 

Damien pulled his hand out of her writhing body and watched her fall onto the ground. Her heart was still in his palm. Blood spurted out of the slowly beating heart and onto his clothes. The T-shirt she had gifted him, was now covered in her blood. Her now lifeless body started going pale as she bled out all over the moon-lit street. Her golden-brown hair, covered with her blood now had a crimson glow. Even though it was Anna who died, it was Damien who lost his heart… The clouds began to cover the night sky, hiding the crescent witness. The street lights began to glow yellow again. The presence had left him, all alone… Seeing what he had done he broke down into tears and wailed loudly. His pain was immeasurable. At that moment, the sky split as lightning tore across it and Damien woke up in his bed in a cold sweat. He looked at his hands and found no blood. He was relieved that it was all a dream and went back to sleep but… his shadow moved across the wall and onto the ceiling, covering it in its darkness and staring at Damien with a devilish grin…

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From Platinum To Taupe


One fine day, with a load of deadlines approaching, in way over my head, I was contemplating my existence and how it had taken a turn for the worse and jauntily headed down disaster lane. You know, a normal morning. And in typical fashion, I proceeded to depress myself further by berating myself for being ungrateful when everything could have been much worse. 

This thread of thought took me to that night years ago, to a railway station, where I sat alone enjoying the serene breeze, waiting for the train. It was almost midnight, and with only a couple of people around, it was with mild surprise that I beheld a man approaching, weighed down by a bag larger than his frail body, asking for alms. Now I am not a person who can ever turn down anyone in such a predicament, or any other for that matter, for I still hadn’t mastered the subtle art of saying ‘no’. So it was with great regret that I informed him that I had no money at hand, for I was quite young back then and was waiting on my parents. 

He put his bag down, which consisted of a great deal of plastic, probably headed to the recycling yard, and started giving me what seemed to be life advice. I scoffed in my mind and was tempted to turn away, after all, talking to a stranger at midnight was not the brightest idea. But then he started recollecting his life and regrets and it was not what one would expect of a beggar. Turned out, he was a businessman but had been dealt quite a hand by fate when his children kicked him out with not a penny to his name. that seemed unbelievable and far-fetched, and I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it weren’t for the fact that he could speak fluently in English, which was hard to come by in itself. He sold pens for a living, and he gave me one, insisting I keep it as a token when I refused, citing my inability to pay him. It all seemed genuine enough, considering he walked away, giving me something, which would have cost him precious money, with no strings attached. I admit that I was extremely naïve at the time, and my observations were perhaps clouded by sympathy, bleeding heart that I was and that he probably only lied, although, to this day, I can’t for the life of me, figure out why.

All I did, was perceive this overly emphatic side of me as a weakness and try and tune it down a bit. And what brilliant idea did my mind come up with to achieve this end? Faking it. That proved to be a blunder, for, when faking morphs into reality, when the lines blur, when your pretence goes just a bit too far, how do you find your way back?

I do not know how it feels to be hungry, to not know where that little amount of money will trickle in from next. I know not how it is to live without the assurance of a roof over my head, a barrier to keep me warm on a cold night. What will I be willing to give up in the name of survival? The image of a man from a cartel in California, a hired gun, claiming with utter conviction, that he was not a bad man, but just a good man who did bad things in a documentary, flashed through my mind. He believed that he was just another man who worked to put food on the table, yearning to see a smile on his wife’s face and hear the joy in his child’s laughter. Perhaps it was just an effort to give himself an illusion of righteousness. How far would I go when the pangs of hunger make me delirious and my parched throat begs for a drop of water? Would I be able to bring myself to take a life, kill another man, to put food in my belly, or would I rather die? Will I be desperate enough to take any job, and sacrifice my morals and beliefs? I believe I would never know, for it is all well and good to wonder when I haven’t experienced any of it.

Is it not the actions that define us, no matter what we feel about them? But is it not our opinions that make us unique, make us who we are? The infinite degrees of a moral compass provides for infinite shades of grey.  From those that drive people to murder by proclaiming that the glass is neither half-full nor half-empty, but full of air and water and that one unapologetic person in a party, who cares not what the world thinks, ardently believing that there are as many opinions as there are heads, and continues to dance so ungracefully, it would put a zombie to shame, to those that can’t be bothered with life’s games, and are content to wallow in monotony and those that turn killing and maiming into an art form, life is all shades of grey. It is only our decision which one we end up residing in.

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It was a cold Friday morning, and I didn’t feel like waking up. My back hurt a lot from last night. I kept going back to sleep. But finally, I pulled myself from my bed, trying to forget everything that happened last night. As I wash my face, I see a wound near my lips. From the corner of my bruised eye, I see Derek walk towards me. My hands started to shake in fear, and I just froze. He came closer and just hugged me from behind and said I love you. I smiled a bit, more than which I couldn’t. I dusted the whole thing off, and I was going to go back to sleep when Derek came around carrying a hammer with blood dripping from it. My eyes widen as he runs towards me to hit me with a hammer; the radio is being turned on.

“Mama, just killed a man

Put a gun against his head

Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead

Mama, life had just begun

But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away”

There walks Michael with blood all over his shirt, staring at us in the eye. 

Too late, my time has come

Sent shivers down my spine

Body’s aching all the time

I was in shock. I didn’t know what was going on. My legs felt numb, and I fell to the ground. Everything was way beyond my understanding, and I was looking around, and all I saw was blood. Before I could even realize it, Michael fell in his pool of blood. Derek scoffs, and he turns towards me, and all I wanted was to escape. 

I see a little silhouetto of a man

Scaramouche, Scaramouche

Will you do the Fandango?

Thunderbolt and lightning

Very, very frightening me

He walks towards me with the same hammer. As I bleed through my vagina, he raises the hammer and SLAM!!!!!!!!!


*the alarm rings*

I started breathing heavily and profusely sweating. It was a cold Friday morning. My back hurt a lot from last night. I kept going back to sleep. But finally, I pulled myself from my bed, trying to forget everything that happened last night. As I was dressing up to leave for work, I see Michael walk towards me from the corner of my bruised eye. He hugs me from behind as I stand there. 

*The doorbell rings*

I went to answer the doorbell, and I see Derek there. 

“Hi, Laila! I hope I didn’t disturb you,” said Derek.

I stand there baffled when Michael plays the radio. 

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality

*Bohemian Rhapsody plays in the background*

I had instincts that something is going to go wrong, but I chose to ignore it. 

I started applying makeup to cover the bruises under my eye and…

*glass breaks*

I ran to the living room to see what happened, and I saw Derek lying on the ground, while 

*Nothing really matters

Anyone can see

Nothing really matters

Nothing really matters to me* feebly plays in the background.