Tag Archives: Prose

Disturbia

The bars rattled in an otherwise still night. The guard walked past, a sharp click marking each of his steps on the stone. A pink dawn snuck its way through the tiny hole in the wall. For months, this had been my only window to the world, and I looked down across the walls towards humanity as it bustled by, unknowingly forming a part of my last few memories.

A key rustled in the lock and my eyes met the guard’s. A stiff nod was all it took for me to realize that it was time.

I was to follow him to my death.

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I fell in step behind the man with the umbrella. Grey suit, polished shoes. Wealthy, I presumed, by the clinical cuts on his suit – made to fit while an admiring wife and daughter looked on. A family man with a small, happy family.

But tonight, he was going to die.

I turned a corner onto a side street. The clouds obscured light as the breeze turned into a howling cacophony, almost as if the heavens were preparing.

I moved a step forward, and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned.

The knife was an extension of me as I thrust it forward.

Plunge. Insert. Push. Twist. Withdraw.

A bright red flower bloomed on his spotless cream shirt, expanding as his blood found freedom from the shackles of his body. As I held him to me, I felt a soul flow by, a final breath expunged. A not so strange sense of déjà vu struck me, as if my whole life had been preparing for this one moment.

I withdrew the knife and extricated myself from the man in the grey suit, laying him on a moth eaten armchair on the street. The man with the umbrella had found his final resting place.

It looked like the climax of a movie, with the weather and the street and the costumes all perfectly set up in some sort of karmic colossus. I smiled to myself.

The wind howled one final time.

It was done.

——————————————–

As I followed the guard to my decidedly gruesome fate, my mind slipped back to that windy night. In retrospect, I could have done a better job. Getting caught was not part of the plan, but I had become careless. The trial had been brief; the jury had sentenced me to the chair. I had quietly chuckled at the irony of fate, two dead men in chairs. The wry smile had, of course, not gone down well with the press, quick to label me a remorseless murderer.

We arrived at a large metal door. Another key turned, and I was faced with the end. A void filled me, and I wondered if another smile would be out of place.

I sat down on the chair and closed my eyes.

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The title was optional

I think its the city.

I look out the window at night and I see a glow in the sky. Unnatural. No stars, no natural light. Its as if the clouds are glowing, party to some secret they’re not letting you in on.

I look back at the TV screen and images flash by, Top Model, Belieber, Syria, West Brom and Southampton, NASDAQ.

I push the red button and stare back out the window. The clouds still seem smug in their knowledge. In the distance a silver shard pokes holes into the sky, blinking periodically. Reminding the cloud who’s boss perhaps? I shrugged, wanting no part of their quarrel.

I tilt my gaze downwards. The water in the harbour glimmers invitingly. But its too late to head out now. Sigh.

Across the road, the lights go off in an apartment on the 19th floor. A family going to bed? Or a couple settling down for a movie? Or someone turning off the light and staring out at the world beyond him? There was a story there, I told myself.

Yes, it’s the city all right.

The dictionary of obscure sorrows

cigvana

n. the feeling you get when you light up the first cigarette of the day, especially if its after a meal; the first drag of smoke fills your lungs, and you can almost hear the cells in your lungs screaming, their life extinguished; the tension evaporates from your body, taking you to a quieter, saner place; only temporarily however, and as you watch the embers die out and stub the remaining under your shoe, you are brought back to a discordant reality; you turn to walk back to your dreary desk, counting down the minutes to the next drag.

Inspiration: http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/

V

I just rewatched V for Vendetta, one of my all time favourite movies (hat tip to Alan Moore) [Edit: He apparently hates the movie, so I have been advised not to mention the movie and him in the same breath] and was once again awed by the beauty of the dialogues and screenplay. The more famous ones are reproduced frequently, like V’s introduction in the movie, and his speech to the people on TV. However there are a few beautiful moments in the sequence where V puts Evey through a fake incarceration. The exchanges in the letters of Valerie, excerpts below:

 “It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one. An inch. It is small and it is fragile and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must NEVER let them take it from us. I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place. I hope that the worlds turns, and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. Valerie. “

“Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free.”

If you haven’t already, read the novel, then watch the movie.

It is night. A …

It is night. A few stars shine above us. Solitary. Insignificant. 
 
Our eyes are locked in embrace. Us. Now. 
 
The world moves, twists, turns around us. We are ourselves, one, the center of our own universe.
 
This is our moment.
 
And yet, it is only a moment.

The bridge across forever

Clarification: This post has no relation to the book “The Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach. I haven’t even read the said book. This piece was written by me for a creative writing competition in IIT KGP.

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July 7, 1944, 2300 h

We had been here for the past two days. Two days after Normandy, where the allied forces had taken the worst beating of the war. After wading through blood and limb on the beach, camping at night in the safety of an abandoned church, and writing by the relative comfort of a candle should have seemed like a walk in Piccadilly Circus.

But we knew it wouldn’t last. You weren’t sent out to war, and told to camp out next to a bridge unless it was vitally important. And you didn’t stand guard by a vital installation and not expect the Germans to attack. They would attack. It was just a question of when.

July 8, 1944, 0200 h

The incessant chatter of the captain’s radio told me all I needed to know. It was time. He looked at me from across the room and mouthed ‘1 hour’. Well, that just about gave us time to do what we needed to do. I raised myself and started preparing my kit. Next to me, Tommy started furiously penning a letter. To his sister? To his fiance? There were just too many people to say goodbye to.

I walked around and watched 19 year olds perform the last human acts they would ever do. They looked up at me as I passed them. I smiled reassuringly. But they knew there was no hope. Not with a division of Panzer tanks waiting to roll over us. They could see it in my eyes.

War was unfair.

The captain was smoking a cigarette outside the church when I found him. “You could get shot, sir”. ” I damn well could, Sargent”. He smiled and passed me the cigarette. I took a long puff and let the smoke fill my lungs.

July 8, 1944, 0300 h

The shelling started promptly at 0300h. The Germans had always been punctual. I admired them for that. At least we didn’t have to wait around anymore.

The first salvo took out a section of the church wall, and with a quarter of my platoon. As I ran past, I saw the letter Tommy had been writing clutched in his now lifeless fingers. I pried it from him, folded it neatly, and put it in my inside pocket. Something for after the war.

I cocked my rifle and ran out.

July 8, 1944, 0320 h

We had held the Germans so far. They hadn’t sent in the Panzers yet, and one-to-one my men were a much better shot. I could see the captain across the road, as I crouched behind a mound of rubble, shouting instructions and organizing what was left of the men. He never seemed to lose it.

I wouldn’t have fought for anyone else.

Two minutes later, as I ran towards him under covering fire, he was shot in the throat.

July 8, 1944, 0330 h

The Germans on the other side of the bridge had been silent for the past minute or two. It was a bad sign. It meant they were rolling out something big.

We didn’t have to wait long to find out what it was. All of us heard the sound of the Panzer rolling onto the bridge almost simultaneously. There is something about the sound of gravel being crushed under the weight of tons of monstrous machinery that’s hard to miss.

For an infantryman, a tank is his worst nightmare. Machine gun nests and mortars can be taken and destroyed. But in an infantryman’s dictionary, a tank is the definition of unsurmountable.

I looked around and saw the men looking at me. I stared back.

Well, better now than never, I said to myself, threw down my rifle, and ran.

I don’t know whether it was the cover of night, or the fact that they didn’t believe anyone was foolish enough to run towards a Panzer in full flight, but they never saw me coming. I pulled out the pins of two grenades as I jumped onto the tank. The hatch was open. I thanked my lucky stars, popped in the grenades and shut the hatch firmly.

As I jumped off, I felt rather than heard the explosion that ripped the tank apart.

Sometime later (it’s hard to keep track of time when you are half dead and under a pile of rubble), I woke, pushed a rock aside from what was left of my leg, and tried to stand. I gave up that thought as soon as the pain shot through me.

I wouldn’t be standing again for a very long time.

The mangled remains of the tank lay beside me, blocking the bridge. My thoughts drifted to the poor souls inside the tank, and then immediately back to my safety as I heard the rumble behind me. The Germans had finally mobilized another tank. I grabbed a pistol from a nearby dead body, and lay in wait.

I heard the first explosions behind me pretty soon. Another wave of pain shot through me and I grew groggier. Maybe I had lost too much blood. Through the mist that was slowly clouding my thoughts, I vaguely made out that something was not right. The rumble behind me was coming up too fast. Or maybe it was just my imagination. Then came the second round of explosions, and that knocked the fight out of me.

The last thing I remember seeing was the plane flying over my head.

It had the Allied insignia on it.

I clutched at my inside pocket. Tommy’s letter was still there.

Something for after the war.

I smiled and passed out.