Sunday, 28 December 2008

of exams (part 13)

John stared at the ceiling from his bed. His lips and hands were trembling.

“Did I actually do something wrong? Were they mad at me?”

John bit his lip and got up. He looked out at the window. It was all dark. Owls were hooting and werewolves were howling from afar. The moon was barely visible and the night sky was robbed of its stars. John thought back of his first night here. The night he slept on the road against the cold hard walls. He remembered vividly the coldness that ran through his spine, causing him to shiver in his tattered shirt. He reminisced the thoughts that went through his mind as he laid down on the ground. He thought it was all over, that he wouldn’t be accepted into the house, and probably have died on the streets and have an unmarked grave. He thought he would be reunited with his parents up in the sky. Crystal droplets uncontrollably rolled down his cheek. He just stared and stared at the scenery outside his window. The wind was blowing quite strong and leaves were flying all over.

John slid open his window and closed his eyes to enjoy the chilly breeze. The wind blew against his face and dried the tears. He smiled as he heard the sounds that rang all over. The chatter of the maids in the room next door, the sound of the leaves and branches as they were blown by the wind, the howling and hooting, the crickets chirp, the sound of peace and tranquillity. He whistled a tune and his face was beaming with happiness.

Friday, 12 December 2008

of exams (part 12)

By the time John stopped crying, it was already nightfall. It was dinner time. Alfred called out to him, and John rushed to the dining table for a drink. He had cried too much. His throat felt dry and his eyes were swollen. His shirt was still slightly wet and slimy after he wiped his tears and mucus on it.

“Go change, young master,” said Alfred. “It’s not good to be presented at dinner that way.”

The whole family sat at the table for the first time together. Mrs. Colby was finally well enough to come down from her room.

“Weird. I thought I heard someone on the keys just now while you were away, Frank. It was beautiful. I think I felt better after listening to it. Were you around just now?”
“No. Was at work the whole day.”
“Hmmm. But certainly no one else plays it.”
“I agree. This is weird.” Mr. Colby went, nodding his head slowly in deep thought. "Alfred..."
"Yes, master?"
“Were you, by any chance, on the piano?”
“No sir, not I.”
“Okay, I was just wondering. Go on and do your work.”
“Yes master.”

At the mention of the word piano, John lowered his head and started to stuff food into his mouth faster. His heart rate increased and he grew more and more excited. His hands trembled, wondering what would happen to him if it was discovered that he had touched the piano without permission. Would he be punished? Thrown out of the house? He dropped his knife on the floor as his shaking hands could hold it no longer. Mr. and Mrs. Colby continued eating their meal silently as John reached down to grab his knife. Anna immediately went to help him clean the mess.

He finished his dinner with haste and took big strides to his room. He immediately made a decision to never step into the piano room again. Never.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

of exams

this story was actually written during my mid year exam and the exam question was one word - music. thus the birth of the story of john.

due to popular demand, (okay, maybe not. but somewhere along those lines.) i'll try to come up with something and hopefully wrap up the story. now that spm is over, i'll have time to think of something. my advice, don't hold your breath.

part one
part two
part three
part four
part five
part six
part seven
part eight
part nine
part ten
part eleven

Monday, 13 October 2008

of trials

Task: complete your essay with the ending "...we hugged each other and cried tears of joy."

Note: A combination of elements from a lot of other stuff, like games, movies, stories, manga etc. If you can list them all down, you’re good.

A.D. 3875. September 15. I crawled along the cylindrical tube that was my prison cell. It was made of reinforced glass, and suspended over the “Earth”. Earth. Hah. It was no longer the earth that humans 1000 years ago knew. It was now an artificial life-sustaining ring that surrounded the Earth. The Earth was now but a wasteland for us. A junkyard. We humans have departed to the Zoë Ring. Zoe – the Greek word for life. Yes. That was the life-sustaining ring. That was where we lived on.

Two round panes limited my cell to a length of fifteen feet. It had a diameter of six feet only. We could barely stand straight in it. I crawled to one end of it. I could see my inmate. She was beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, and breath-taking. She had the most amazing hazel eyes, and flowing brown hair with patches of blackness. I could sense a bond with her. Every now and then, we reached towards each other and tried to touch each other’s hand. It was as though I saw her somewhere. Maybe in my past life. Unfortunately, we could only touch the pane that was set before us. Crystal clear glass, as though it wasn’t there. But it was, and it was thick. Sigh...

I looked to the other side. It was an empty cell. Not too long ago, a guy from the Secha Clan inhabited it. He was taken away just yesterday, cruelly executed by The Executor. Will my time come?

The Executor was a coliseum-like arena where the superior Tiha Clan children choose the death of a random prisoner. It had been there for a thousand years, and had eclipsed the likes of the Soccer World Cup or the Olympics in terms of popularity. Everyone related to the Tiha Clan watched The Executor live as prisoners were executed by the Tiha Clan children. The Freedom Clans watched too, and had no sympathy for us, the prisoners. There were no rules to how the prisoner would die, and the way the kill was carried out was only limited by the creativity of the Tiha Clan children. Some died being skinned alive then flushed down a gigantic toilet bowl that contained hydrochloric acid, others by a Venus fly-trap-like device that sent spikes piercing your entire body that was frozen apart from your head. You could imagine how much painful it was for us, members of the other clans that were categorized under “The Outlaw Clans”. Did we die because we stole? Or was it because we murdered? Were we liars, rapists, or thieves? Were we parents, children, priests or farmers? Or was it just because we were born of a different clan blood?

I was dumb from birth. The priests of the Zecha ziggurat prophesied that my tongue would bring disaster upon the Zecha clan, thus they cut it out from me the very moment I was born. That was all I knew about me. I woke up a few years later, with a tube connected to my head, and clueless about my past, only knowing that incident and that I was of the Zecha Clan because of the tattoo on my arm. They took me, disconnected the tube, and locked me up in my current cell, after physically torturing me. Every day, I was fed a blue pill, and a glass of Zliquid. It was all that was needed to survive in the Zoë Ring.

One day, a guard dropped something behind after serving me my meal. It was a bag of orange pills. ‘Must be their soldier pills’, I thought to myself. The Gods must be smiling upon me. Each day I ate one, and I grew stronger and my muscles expanded. Having nothing to do in the cell, I planned my escape with my new-found strength as my secret weapon. It was today. The moment they open the doors to feed me, I would take their pod and make my escape. That moment came right on the dot, just as I’ve planned...

As the guards smoked the chambers, I held my breath. Then *click*, my cell door opened. I barged my way out, knocking the guard out cold. The pod only had a pilot who was clueless about his fate. I snapped his neck and took off. It was relatively easy to manoeuvre as it used brain signals to fly. I took up an ion blaster from the dead pilot and made my way to the Tihakunoziggurat. It was their palace, their fortress, their stronghold and their pride, and I was determined to destroy it, together with their emperor. He is the reason why we’re suffering, and the guy who stepped on my mother’s skull that led to her death. Her poor head collapsed under his weight, and he walked off with no remorse. Wang Feroh, leader of the Tiha Clan and the ruler of the Zoë Ring.

I rode my way to it using their flight-pod. No one suspected anything as I was flying under their colours. The people were at the Executor, I bet. The palace was empty, the guards were missing. I took out a bomb from the pod and initiated it. The pod took off again. I hoped the foundation would crack under that bomb. It was placed strategically. Right where it hurt most.

30 seconds later, Tihakunoziggurat was dust. The world was in chaos. Tiha Clan warriors were in saiyan mode and searched the skies for me. They had idea of what they were chasing after, but they chased anyway. I joined them using my flight-pod, and they failed to realise that I was not one of them. A message flashed on the hologram transmitter. The Tiha Emperor, Wang Feroh, is believed to be slain in the bomb blast. I thought I would be happy, as I got my revenge, but that was not the case. I was not happy at all. I was angry, confused, and most of all, I was lost. The Tiha Warriors’ pods had disappeared, and I was on my own. The pod continued to fly, even though I did not give it any specific orders.

I found myself flying back to prison. Why? Maybe my heart was still thinking of that girl. Was it possible to save her? I allowed my heart to take over as I fell asleep on board. Moments later, I was awaken by a crash. I had crash-landed on the prison grounds. I quickly ran towards my old cell. Suddenly, I heard this voice boom out loud.

“Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Initiating bomb sequence in two minutes!”

The prison cell would be completed disintegrated in moments! I ran to my old cell and went to the next one. Empty! My heart pounded as the timer continued to countdown. Was she dead? Was she alive? Was she just an illusion? Or was she the latest Executor victim? Thoughts were all over my head. I was anxious to see her, to make sure she was safe.

The timer stated that there was only 22 seconds left. I ran and ran. I turned around a corner, and collided with someone else. It was a squeal that I heard, the squeal of a female. It couldn’t be any of the guards as they were all males. I was stunned.

“Nine...Eight...Seven...”

It was her! The angel in the cell next to me! I quickly got to her, we hugged each other and cried tears of joy.

(1247 words)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

of exams (part 11)

Alfred

Master John is a poor chap. He is barely 12 I guess, yet he’s been through so much. Doubt I’d survive a day like that. Yet he has done it his whole life. I regret the day I first saw him and shouted at him. But, who can blame me? It was late, and I was tired. Who isn’t grumpy when they’re tired?

Weird. I woke up for dinner that night. I could sense heaviness in the air. I wondered what was going on. Looking out the window, the sun had already set, and the night had been cloaked with darkness. It was a full moon night, but the clouds in the sky hid parts of it. The stars never fail to amaze me. The whole process of it being formed and shining light over here is just crazy. I smiled at the heavens, knowing full well there is omnipotent being up there watching out for me. Then I sensed that heaviness in the air again. The smile faded and deep thoughts filled my mind. There was a weird feel, as though there was some mysterious melody floating in the chilly night air. It was distinct, yet inaudible. I couldn’t describe it.

I washed my face, and readied myself for dinner. Nothing beats the “good ol’ Janet dinner”. I walked down those familiar steps and sat at the long table. I sat at the head. I have always fancied myself to be a knight, sitting at King Arthur’s round table. That would be the best experience one could have. Food was already served, and Janet, Anna and Master John were already having their meal. It seemed different. I know what’s wrong. Janet is too quiet. She has never stopped talking since the day she stepped in this house. And today, today she was just sitting quietly. There must be something wrong. I looked at her eyes. It was all red and swollen. She looked tired and worn out. She looked like she had just cried. No, that’s not right. She isn’t being the happy, jolly Janet I have always known. I looked at Master John. He had been crying too. No. That’s not right. Has the Ma’am departed? I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I quickly closed it back and finished my meal.

Monday, 25 August 2008

of exams (part 10)

Janet

It’s a nice feeling to sweep the porch during autumn. I just love the cool breeze that blows on my face and the way my hair dances to the lead of the wind. It was as though they were in some sort of waltz. Well, who cares if it isn’t a waltz. That’s the only form of dance that I know, and I’m sure ain’t gonna be no one to judge my thoughts. I looked at the sight I knew so well. The evening sun always set early during autumn, and night crept too early to cover the sky. Each stroke that God painted in the sky during evening is just indescribable. It’s just lovely. I miss my husband. He’s been long gone, back to God’s embrace. It’s been a while since we last hugged in the rays of the setting sun that slowly dissolved into the horizon of the northern seas.

Sweeping the porch is a fun thing during autumn time, especially the evenings. There’s not much to sweep as autumn draws to the end. I get to enjoy the scenery. Glorious! To think that I once swept in fear, fear that the trees would come alive to eat me. Silly me. Then again, anyone could have been fooled at my age back then. The shadows of the bare trees were puppeteered by the arms of the wind, and they stretched as the sun set. It looked scary, coupled by the fact that I was new at Mr. Colby’s residence. Now that I’ve worked here for so long, it’s all but a normal sight. 

Pity that young master, Master John. He must have travelled real far to get to this house. I overheard master talk to his wife about Master John’s walk to his house. The moment I saw his bleeding and cracked heels, I couldn’t help but tear. He must have had a hard life. I understand how he feels. I myself never really had a good life, till I met my dear husband. Now that he’s left me, it’s back to normal life for me. Working at this mansion isn’t that bad, except for the fact that it’s huge. Master treats us well.

Master John looks real special. He has that twinkle in his eye. Reminds me of someone I know, but I can’t remember who.

I sensed something special today. I don’t know why, but I know it’s a special day. Something in my bones just tells me that it’s going to be a day I’ll never forget.

Suddenly it happened. Music started playing out from the music room. Wait a moment! That can’t be right. Master Colby has gone off to work, and no one else in the house plays the piano. Who could it be? Surely not Master John.



Janet danced to the tune of the music with her broom still in her hand. She closed her eyes and danced like never before. She had never learnt waltz, but she had seen it. And that tune led her to start moving her feet. In her mind, she saw her husband’s face, then his whole being. She slipped into a semi-conscious state and embraced her husband. If anyone was watching her, they would have thought she lost her mind. But no, she was perfectly fine. Her body was led on by the music. She twirled and turned, stepped and hopped, all guided by John’s heart song. There was something special about it. She smiled to herself and her mind played back happy memories of her and her husband. As soon as the music changed key, Janet could feel her body slowing down, yet she had no control over herself. It was as though her body had a mind of its own. The happy memories slowly turned into sad ones. Her imaginary husband started slipping away from her. She tried desperately to hold on to him, yet he was bit by bit turning into dust that the wind carried away. “No!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she cried out aloud. “Noooooooooo...... Why?” 

She collapsed to a kneeling position then changed to a sitting position. She hugged her knees and sobbed all by herself in the porch of the mansion. Crows on the cold moss-covered wall of the mansion crowed slowly and softly as if they understood her feelings and shared her sorrows. She sobbed even harder and reminisced about her husband’s funeral as John played out that sorrowful melody line. It was painful to lose your dad, worse to lose the other half of your body.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

of exams (part 9)

His heart song.

His fingers danced on the keys, as graceful as a ballerina twirling on stage, as skilful as Pele on a football. He played like he had been playing the piano all his life. The accents, the staccatos, thrills, slurs, all blended together to play out his life’s story through music. It started off in a light manner, a major key in a naive tone, representing his childhood life where it was without worries. Here and there, notes were hammered out to tell off how he cried every time he needed something. Then in the background, the bass notes, slowly altered to a minor key, and if anyone could hear it, they could feel the darkness creeping in. It was when he was 5 years old; he finally realized that life was no longer a bed of roses. He knew that he came from a poor family. He saw the pain in his dad’s eyes everyday he came back from work. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he played on. The music grew and grew to broader sounds, a more intense melody line and each chord contained more and more notes. Suddenly, he fisted the bass section of the piano and stopped. A solo melody line was played on the high register. It was a sad melody line that represented his dad’s death. He felt the hurt in his heart. And the piano was his tool to release all his emotions. His pants were wet from the tears that kept coming down. He had mucus crawling at the corners of his mouth. His eyes were closed as he thought of that moment his dad came home from work and collapsed unconsciously, never to open his eyes again.

John stopped playing and wiped his face with his sleeves. It was too much for him. He wept.

Friday, 11 July 2008

of exams (part 8)

The piano was two floors down and was at the other end of the house, but it made no difference to John. He could see the piano with his mind. It was right in front of him. He saw himself playing it. He felt the connection between him and the piano. He thought to himself that he must get to the piano, by hook or by crook, and touch it. He wanted to produce sounds like the ones he heard that night. He wanted to finish off the song that he heard, to play out the sequel that he made for that song. It was a torturing time for him. He couldn’t stand not being able to play the piano after that moment of enlightenment. If you didn’t know him, you would have thought he was a drug addict.

John crept into that room once everyone in the house except Janet was taking their afternoon nap. The time was about 5 in the evening. Janet was outside of the house and in the garden. She was busy sweeping the porch area. It was quite bare compared to the days of spring and summer time whereby the garden area would be littered with leaves and flowers. The trees in the garden stood there tall and naked. Janet was not too bothered about how eerie they looked when the wind blew. She was too used to it. Maybe once she was scared, but that was a thing of the past. John looked out from the window of the room into the garden. He shivered with excitement and fear as the piano was right behind him. Just him and the piano. He took his seat in front of the piano. The black and white keys called out to him. He looked at the keys, and he could sense that they were looking back at him. He looked up from the keys and he saw a giant picture there. One that he hadn’t noticed from the two times that he stepped into that room. It was a family portrait. He could see Mr. Colby and his dad standing at the back of a couple that were older than them. It had to be their parents. They were all smiling very happily. Little did he know that that was their last family photo together. His dad left home shortly after that, and never came back.

That picture brought back memories of him and his dad when he was younger. The days were they played catching in the fields nearby his shack, rolling around on the ground, fishing and all. He missed his dad sorely. And there was not one night that he had stopped thinking about his dad, except that night when he was thinking about the piano. Tears started to form at the corner of his eyes. He put his palms towards his eyes and his elbows on the piano. The sounds that were produced from the piano broke the silence in the house. Suddenly, John stopped crying. He glared at the piano with those two wet eyes. He remembered what he was in that room for – to play the piano. His right index finger pressed a note, and another, and another, and another. His heart started to beat faster and faster. He felt a weird feeling running through his body. Again, he pressed another key. “Glorious!!” he thought. He was amazed by how a block of wood could produce such beautiful sounds.

He then pressed two at once to see what would happen. It was a G and a Bb. “Wow!” he thought. “This is so amazing!” He started pressing three, then four, then with two hands, a whole chord. He recognised every sound that each key produced from the short moment of messing with the single notes. He started thinking of which sound would blend with which, and how to make it sound nice. His mind raced at the speed of sound, making out chord after chord after chord. He started playing it out. He had composed a song that no one knew. A song unheard of before this, except by his heart. It was the heart song of John. It was a melody that rang deep down inside his heart.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

of exams (part 7)

That note ignited an explosion of emotions in John. It was an Eb, but being one whom had never had any music background, it didn’t matter. He fell into a trance. His mind began to wander to a land far, far away. Every nerve in his body tingled the moment the Eb was pressed. His heart pounded faster and faster. The smile on his face grew wider and wider. Finally, he had found the source of the sounds he had first heard the moment he stepped into his uncle’s house, and that of the tune he heard during his first night at the house.

So that’s where the sound comes from,” thought John, enthralled by that single note that many others wouldn’t have bothered about. Unknown to himself, he was still muttering the word “piano” over and over again.

“Yer’ saying something, young master?” asked Janet in her thick Scottish accent upon hearing John’s gibberish.
“wh..wh...what?” stuttered John.
“Never mind.”

He shivered in excitement as he made his way back to his room, zombie-like. That note was still ringing in his ear very clearly. He sat on his bed and rubbed his palms against his thighs.

Piano...piano...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

of exams (part 6)

John began to walk around the house aimlessly after finishing his meal. He rubbed his stomach in satisfaction. There was no doubt of the butler’s cooking skills. His eyes got back its glow and began to twinkle with happiness. He explored every corner of the ground floor, going in and out of rooms that were all over the house. He walked into the study room. It was filled with lots of books. In the centre of the room was a long table made of the finest oak wood. It was so clean that you could see your reflection on it. He took a book and flipped through it. “Weird symbols again,” he thought. He put the book back and went to the next room. It was the music room. He saw a violin on the mantel top, together with its bow. A grand piano occupied the centre of the room. It was white and old, about twenty years old. The white keys were yellowish and the black keys lost the shine that it once had. He looked around for a moment and saw nothing interesting. He proceeded on with his adventure.

“Lunch time Master John!” called out the butler at about noon.

John hurriedly walked to the dining room and ate together with the maids and the butler. It was roast beef with potatoes and coleslaw. It was good. They all ate in silence. John used his hands to eat as he was not accustomed to forks and knives. He couldn’t stand the silence and decided to break the ice.

“Well, you all know me. But I haven’t gotten your names yet.”
“I’m Alfred,” answered the butler.
“I’m Janet,” said the plump maid. She was a bit short and round, but always had a smile on her face.
“And I’m Anna,” said the other maid. She was tall and bulk. Her skin was tanned and her features were sharp.

“Nice to meet you Alfred, Janet, and Anna. I want to say thank you for all that you’ve done for me these past few days.”
“It’s our pleasure, young master,” replied Janet.
“What are you going to do after this?” asked John.
“Oh. Nothing much. Just a bit of cleaning up.”
“Can I follow along?”
“Sure you can.”

After lunch, John followed Janet to clean up the music room. She began to dust the picture frames and shelves with a feather duster and told John about her history in this house. John stood patiently by the door and listened to her stories. Janet continued talking as she proceeded to wipe the piano. As she wiped the keys, she accidently pressed one of the keys and the sound echoed through the room. John’s heart began to pound. “What was that, Janet?” “Oh, nothing. Just the piano.”

Piano... piano...” he muttered under his breath as his face became more and more excited.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

of exams (part 5)

The boy’s face remained expressionless. He was tired out by the amount of walking he had done. Three months, to be exact. And that wasn’t something easy for a boy who had barely lived a dozen years. His uncle ordered the butler to show him to his room. It was evening already, and the sun had started to set. Nocturnal animals started to creep out of their homes in search of food as darkness covered the land. His room was small, barely five metres wide. It contained a chest of drawers, a closet, a bed and a table with a table lamp on it. The table had a layer of dust on it, and the corners of the ceiling had cobwebs on it. It was an abandoned room, not used since Mrs. Colby’s mom had passed away and the maids never bothered to clean it, explained the butler to John. His tired mind barely took in any of the details in the room and dropped on his bed in exhaustion. The butler apologised for the rude behaviour previously and then took off to do his usual duty. The boy nodded and dozed off.

He had slept barely for two hours when he woke up again. The piano in the house was being played again. He could hear every note and every mistake made by the pianist, but he did not know who was playing what. He could hear the sounds outside the house. He could feel Mother Nature playing its own accompaniment to the playing of the piano. He smiled. It was soothing. All his tiredness faded away as his body swayed along with the music. He grew more and more ecstatic as the music gradually climbed towards the climax of the composition. He began to hum along, stopping a few times only to smile. Soon, the music stopped, but the tune was still alive in his brain. His mind started composing a sequel to the piece he just heard. He twisted and turned in bed, not being able to sleep even though it was 4a.m.. Regardless how tired he was, his mind just could not stop thinking of the tune he had just heard.

The next morning, he was found sound asleep by the butler who came to his room. Looking at his face, the butler decided to wake him up later. Breakfast was served to Mr. Colby who was up and ready to go to work. His eyes were glued to the newspapers in his hand as he munched down his breakfast and downed it with a cup of coffee. Once he finished eating, he rushed off to his workplace. It was 11a.m., and John finally woke up from his sleep. It had been the best sleep ever for him. All his life, he had never slept that peacefully and comfortably. He wiped the drool off his chin and went to find the butler. He passed by the toilet and saw the butler inside shaving. He wondered what the butler was doing as he had never seen someone with a blade and white stuff all over his face. The butler ignored him and continued shaving. John waited patiently outside. The butler finally came out after cleaning his face. He politely asked John whether he was waiting to wash up.

Wash up? What’s that?”
“Don’t you know? It consists of brushing teeth and washing your face etc.”
“No sir. Never heard of it my whole life.”
“Come. I’ll teach you.”

After washing up, both of them went to the kitchen to get breakfast. The butler, an excellent chef, began to prepare the stuff and asked him what he would like. “Anything would do,” said John. A three egg omelette with ham, tomato, mushroom and cheese plus two slices of toast was served in an instant. “Enjoy, master,” said the butler as he placed the food before John together with a cup of orange juice. John hurriedly gobbled down the meal as his mind was on something else. He was still thinking of the tune he had heard yesterday on his bed.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

of exams (part 4)

His ears jiggled. He could hear sounds coming from the house. It was the sound of a piano, but he knew not of it. “What was that?” he wondered. He was taken to the study room and asked to sit and wait by the butler. A man, aged about 50, wearing a pair of spectacles, walked in while puffing at his tobacco pipe. He took a seat behind the large antique rosewood study table that was neat and tidy. He took off his glasses and looked at the boy. Satisfied, he leaned back and took another puff from his pipe. “So, young man, what may I assist you of?” he asked, politely yet in a firm tone. The boy trembled slightly and thought for a while. Then he dug deep into his pockets and produced a yellowish photo that had its corners nibbled off. He handed it over to Mr. Colby. Mr. Colby took the photo and put his reading glasses on. He inspected it closely then looked at the boy, and took another look at the photo again.

“Say, young chap, what are you trying to prove by bringing me this picture that is old and stained?”
“My mom asked me to find you and show it to you.”
“What name do you go by?”
“My mom used to call me John Colby.”
“Used to?”
“Yes. She died last spring.”
“And your dad?”
“Two years ago.”
“His name?”
“Wayne...”

Mr. Colby froze at his seat. This was none other than his own nephew, son of his brother that had left the family to work so that he could get his education. It had been 17 years since he walked off, and he never contacted the family, only sending a large sum of money every month by post, with no sender’s address. That photo brought back memories. Taken when he was only 10 years old. Crystal droplets began to form at the corner of his eye as he stared blankly at the old photo. His mind began to playback the days when he and Wayne played at the field together. They were the best of buddies, and the closest of brothers. He got up and stood at the window that overlooked the vast fields of his home. He wept. It was uncontainable. He never got to repay his brother for that sacrifice he made. That was love. Love was never about receiving, but of selfless giving. It was a sacrifice that led him to achieve what he had achieved. He wiped his tears off and turned back to the kid. He could see Wayne’s face reflected on John’s face. They had the same blue eyes, and cheeks that were narrow and long. He summoned for his butler.

“You are to treat him as my own son. Do what you have to do.”

John was taken to eat. A meal he had never experienced in his life, coming from a poor family. Before this, all he ate was stale bread and beggar’s stew, and more than once he had to starve as his family did not have enough money to buy food. He gobbled down the meal. After that, he was taken to have a bathe and haircut. Clothes were bought for him and he was dressed up. He had never experience baths; neither had he ever dressed up in cotton-made-clothes that were extremely comfortable. It was as if it was paradise. Once he was done, he was brought before the family. Mr. Colby, his butler and his two maids. His wife laid in bed as she was sick and in no condition to move around. No one could recognise him after the makeover, not that anyone did in the first place.

“John, you look just like your father.” Mr. Colby remarked.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

of exams (part 3)

He was rudely interrupted by the butler that came to answer the knock. “You! What do you bring at such a time?” he blurted out in an irritated tone, with a scowl on his face.
“Is this Mr. Colby’s house?” said the boy in a trembling voice.
“Are you blind?” snapped the butler back angrily. “There’s a sign that’s right before your eyes and you have the cheek to ask me that?”
“Can... can I see the master?”
“The master is in bed. Whatever you have will have to wait for tomorrow.”
“But...”

The gate slammed shut onto his face. His sentence was never heard by the butler as he stormed off into the house. “... but... but I don’t have anywhere else to go back to...” he stuttered, in a timid voice. His body was weak, and he was in desperate need of food. Fatigue got the better of him and he crumbled to the ground, barely conscious. He took a handful of the maize and barley in his pouch, ate it, and snuggled against the cold, bare stone wall of Mr. Colby.

The sun rose the next day and brought light back to the land. Still in his sleep, he could feel the sun’s heat licking at his ankles. He woke up with a shudder, wondering where he was. Then he remembered. He knocked on the gate once again, sending its echoes through the house that had barely woken up. The butler opened it up with a snort. “You again! You do have a tendency to come at the ‘perfect’ time, don’t you? Come along, and touch nothing, or you’ll regret the day you set foot on planet Earth.”

Sunday, 15 June 2008

of exams (part 2)

He crossed a little bridge that went over a dry creek, now filled with moss, patches of small vegetation here and there, dry braches and leaves. He walked and walked, until he came to a huge gate that seemed like the only entrance to the mansion that lay before his eyes. The walls surrounding it were ten feet tall, and had ivy hanging from it. The house looked abandoned and had a sense of creepiness. A plague was embedded into the wall, stating:

Colby’s Residence.
44, Winsor Road.


He was illiterate. That plague held no significance to him other than a decoration on the wall with weird symbols on it. Food would have been much better. He clenched his fist and rapped on the knocker. “Hello!” he yelled, with every last bit of energy in him. “Anybody home?” By then, the moon was the sole light provider to nature, and the stars danced in the sky. There was a faint rustling of leaves in a distance, and the sounds of the lizards and hoots of the owls from the forest that was not too far away. He could also hear the howling of a wolf that stood on a huge boulder. He began to tap his feet on the ground, subconsciously. It brought a smile to his face, and a tune to his brain. It painted a placid picture in his mind. He began to hum out a tune, and that brought much pleasure to him.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

of exams (part 1)

His fingers gently ran along the outer walls of the houses he passed by as he walked along that lonely path. The mould had grown a layer thick on the stones that were used to make the path. The paint on the wall was shedding, and the wall cried out for a new coat of paint, much to the ignorance of the owners. The loose flakes fell off into the ditch as his fingers gently caressed the wall. The cold winds were blowing gently. The trees stood stark naked. The streets were painted with a warm colour with orange and yellow as the leaves that came off the trees covered the streets. The sky was reddish. The trees’ shadows grew longer as the sun slowly disappeared, dipping into the horizon, as though the sea was swallowing it up. The streets grew darker, and the air colder as nightfall crept in. The moon was faintly visible, though the sun had not gone completely.

He shivered as he quickened his footsteps. It was cold, and his thin, filthy and soiled shirt that was tearing apart did not offer much resistance against the winds, or warmth against the cold night air. His feet were aching from the walking he had done, barefoot. His hair was scruffy and unkempt, and his lips were dry and cracking. His throat longed for water, or any form of fluid that could quench his thirst. His pants, once denim blue, was now the greyish and had holes here and there. He had nothing with him, except a bag of dry maize and barley, plus a leather water bag that was empty.

“Just a little more. Just a little more... Hold on and be strong.”

He grew faintish. His teeth were chattering. His fingers were numb. It was only sheer determination, and the dying words of his mother that made him continue his journey.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

of school assignments 2

TASK: Write a story with the beginning: "I could hardly believe my ears..."

I could hardly believe my ears as they announced me as the winner for the world’s most prestigious essay writing’s competition, the Writer’s International Guild Challenge 2008. I’m officially the most envied person amongst all the writers and authors out there in the world. I had joined this essay competition for fun and partially for the sake of pleasing my girlfriend, and much to my amazement, out of the 1.763 million entries, I won the award!!

For a moment, time just stopped and that exact moment that the host announced me as the winner was replaying in my head over and over again. The host went, “And the moment we’ve all been waiting for. And the winner is... *drum roll* Mr. Arthur Pond!!!!” Time started moving again and the crowd went wild. The spotlights circled the hall and then gradually focused on me. The entire hall was dimmed, and all that could be heard was the screams of delights, the cheers and the applause of the people. I was dumbfounded. It just was not possible. I worked out 77 mathematical formulas to calculate all the possibilities of this being just a dream, but no, it was real! I think I sat there stunned for 35 hours with my mouth opened wide. Okay, maybe not. As the saying goes, the show must go on. I quickly regained my composure to look good in front of the cameras. Flashes from the cameras blinded me as journalist, reporters and busybodies swarmed over the area around me to get the best possible angle to take pictures of me. Yes. Me. The one and only handsome me.

I arched my lips upwards to please the cameras. Just slightly, I thought. I don’t want to look like an idiot on tomorrow’s headlines. Just think, not everyone would get their chance of gracing the headlines, but oh well, every dog has his day. I stood up from my seat, dusted my tuxedo arrogantly, adjusted my tie, and then proceeded down the aisle towards the stage to claim my award. My 2 minute walk was accompanied with the sounds of applause, whistling and the music played by the ‘sound guy’. As I walked down the red carpet, a gazillion amount of thoughts ran through my head, like the moment immediately after the gun shot is sounded, signalling the start of a marathon. I remembered my girlfriend, Jenny who was always there to support me. Regardless how fat she was, she was my true love. That brought a smile to my face, and the twinkle from my exposed front tooth must have blinded those who were looking at my juicy lips. I thought of my school life arch-rival, Bobby who often said my essays were not fit for reading. Hah! Now I’ve proved him wrong. Who’s the loser now? A menacing laugh cried out in my heart.

As I walked up those few steps leading to the stage, I knew the world was looking at me. I have never felt so proud in my life before. I have proved all my critics wrong. Then something bad just had to happen. I was so caught up with my thoughts that I missed a step and fell flat on my face. My lips tasted the dust on the carpet. My goodness, that carpet must have been last vacuumed during Stone Age. My thick nerdy spectacles flew off in slow circular motion and I hurt my knee on the edge of the step. At that moment, I wished the stage would just open up and swallow me in. It was so embarrassing. My face must have turned into a tomato. But of course, the stage stayed as it was and didn’t consume me. I could hear the gasps of the crowd behind me. Then, I remembered something I read over the internet, and immediately got up into a martial art pose. I acted as though I was in a trance, and carried out some basic martial art moves that wouldn’t cause my pants to tear and after a while, assured the crowd that the ghost was gone. There was a loud gasp, followed by silence, and then a huge round of applause rang out from the crowd. I gave a crooked smile. “Phew,” I thought. “That was a close shave.” My brilliant acting skill saves the day once again.

I picked up my specs and proceeded to the rostrum. Adjusting my specs like those professors, I started my speech.

“Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening to all of you. Don’t worry about what happened just now. What’s important is, everyone is fine and in good condition.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the organisers for presenting me with this award. It is of great joy and pleasure that I stand here before you to receive this award. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would win this award. I joined this competition only because my girlfriend ‘forced’ me to do it. Having said that, I would like to express my deepest heartfelt gratitude to her. Jenny, this is for you!

To satisfy your curiosity, and also cause I’m required to do so, it is my honour to be read out my first few paragraphs of my ‘What Would You Do If You Woke up Turning into a Millionaire Overnight’ composition. To find out more, you can visit my blog at ArthurtriX.com/blog or check out the organisers’ official website. It goes something like this.

‘A million is not a small amount. Likewise, a million dollars isn’t a small amount of money. Sure, money cannot buy everything, but it can buy a lot of other things. With a million dollars, regardless what you may think or say, it can impact one’s life in an instance, for the better or worse.

I know that many people, as they write this topic, would be the same old stuff, like charitable deeds and how they’ll repay their parents and all, but let’s face it. It’s pure horsefeathers. Frankly, how many of us would actually do all that sort of things? If you have any doubts, give one that amount of money after he writes those sorts of cliché things and see the change in him. It’s a dog eat dog world, and it’s every man for himself indeed. If I woke up being a millionaire, all that money would be in my account for my personal, selfish use.’

That’s all. Thank you.”

A journalist from the crowd yelled out, “At least tell us your last paragraph!” I paused for a moment in front of the microphone that stood lifelessly in front of me. I duly obliged. “If.” I said. Satisfied with the laconic reply, I took my trophy and took a bow, much to the delight of the crowd.


Word Count:
1136 words
13 paragraphs

Saturday, 19 April 2008

of school assignments

TASK: Write a story with the beginning: "My mother was sitting alone on the couch when I arrived home that day."

My mother was sitting alone on the couch when I arrived home that day. I had just completed my latest assignment. My mother and I were not the closest of mother-son relationships. I stared at her for a while and said monotonously, “Hi, I’m home.” She shot a glance of acknowledgement before continuing to indulge in her favourite book, The Reader’s Digest.

I proceeded to my room. I slowly unpacked my briefcase. In it, a 9mm ASP automatic, fake passports, a pair of sunglasses, a suit and a wig. I had just returned from my duty. A top secret job which was not to be known to anyone outside the headquarters. I was known to the outside world as Mr. Kane Belluc, (taking after my mother’s name) an established journalist cum businessman. But not many knew what I actually do for a living.

Welcome to my world. I am Vic Stan, a cold-blooded bounty hunter working under a secret assassination organisation, known simply as “The Eagle”. We kill for money, and for money we kill. It was simple procedures. We get calls, we get assigned, we go out to the field, and we kill, collect the money and then wait for the next call. These people that we are supposed to kill are not just any Tom, Dick and Jane out there, but the top of the crop. People such as politicians, oil tycoons, leaders of society etc. A few of our agents get killed on their duty, while others unfortunately get caught and tortured while being interrogated. Many captured hunters like me commit suicide to protect the organisation. It was part of the deal. Giving out secrets during interrogations would not be tolerated. Not a single ounce.

We were trained to be the best of the best, mastering the art of stealth, various martial arts and self-defence movements, recognising, assembling and dismantling over 200 firearms, each under a minute, trained to be able to withstand pain, torture, hunger and all sorts of mind tricks. Besides that, we were taught the most important thing as a bounty hunter. The 365 techniques of hit-and-run to ensure we vanish from the scene without anyone noticing, in the quickest time possible. We were world class assassins, the evil 007 agents. It was not a job for the faint of heart, as killing people without remorse isn’t the easiest thing to do. But like I said, we were TRAINED. We learnt to stare our victim in the eye and yet take them out without any emotions. Emotions were only excessive baggage, according to agent ME, our trainer and superior.

I took of my coat and slumped onto my bed. The scenes of the previous mission flashed back into my mind. It was pure success, I thought. A smile came to my face. I took care of the Haitian representative on his way to visit a diplomat of our country. There was not much to it. I shot him and took leave while the airport went chaotic. It was our job. I don’t really know who I shot, but it doesn’t matter. We do not know much of our employers nor our superiors. This was to prevent secrets leaking out. I picked up my ASP automatic and toyed around with it. It was my favourite weapon. Accurate up to 150 yards with a silencer on. It had served me well. The lives it had claimed were practically countless. Many of which were part of self defence while I was on the run. I took it apart and polished each and every part of it.

My mother called me down to eat. I hid my gun under my pillow and swiftly made my way downstairs. That smell. I could recognize it anywhere. Roast meatloaf and potatoes. Mom’s trademark. I hungrily gobbled down the food. Mother told me to slow down and started to ask me about work. I lied and said that business was good and tried to change the subject. She didn’t pursue any further and in moments, we both ate dinner silently under weak dining lights and a creaking yellow fan. A text message interrupted my dinner. I picked up my phone to check, and that familiar number flashed on my screen.

Agent Wing. Latest assignment: Prison Break. Location: Cyprus. Further details to be briefed as soon as you reach headquarters. Come ASAP. Agent ME.

I excused myself from the table and took off after wiping my mouth on the napkin laid before me, citing a business deal worth $100k as a reason to leave. Told my mother I was going on a business trip to Cyprus. I quickly grabbed my stuff from my room, packed it all into a luggage bag and raced to the headquarters in my Mini Cooper S. Agent ME was extremely particular about time, and anything less than punctuality would be a tragic tale to the agent who came late. The streetlights were not functioning, as usual. The road was dark. I took a turn and sped along the highway. Suddenly a pair of headlights appeared in front of me and blinded my sight. It was too late to hit the brakes. It all happened too fast. Two shots rang out from that car. I felt the impact. Inertia threw me forward and I knocked my head hard on the steering wheel. The last thing I saw was an explosion from that car.

As fate had it, I was not to die. My time was not over yet. I woke up in a blurry state. The surroundings were so familiar. A light hung over me. I could barely open my eyes as I tried to look around. I tried to sit up but was incapable. “Why is my head hurting so badly?” I thought to myself. Suddenly it all turned blank and I passed out again.

Approximately an hour after that, I was awaken by discussions of two people. I kept my eyes close. I could not help but eavesdrop on their conversation. It sound familiar but I could not make head or tail out of it.
“He should be alright by now.”
“You sure?”
“Positive. We have conducted some tests on him. He suffered a concussion. We are expecting a slight case of amnesia.”
“He better get well. Everyone knows we need Agent Wing to get back on duty as soon as possible. The assassination of the Haitian was so messed up as there were no professionals to replace him. Good thing our agents escaped unharmed.”

There was a long pause followed by the sound of a sigh. They seemed disappointed. I could hear their footsteps sound gradually fading away. Exiting, I presume. Thoughts ran through my mind. “Who is this Agent Wing...? Why are they talking about him in front of me? Wait a moment... Who am I? How on earth did I get here?” I could not remember anything. Memories flashed in my mind as I strained myself to recall my past. I saw a guy shot, and let out a scream.

“Are you okay?”

I opened my eyes and saw the face of a woman. I said yes, and proceeded to ask what was I doing there. She said I was involved in an accident and was retrieved by several agents from the car wreck. Apparently there are people trying to get rid of our organisation. I was resting at the headquarters’ medical centre. Agents? Headquarters? I was puzzled. Moments later three agents burst into the room and wheel chaired me to a room, where I was checked and asked questions. According to the guy in the white coat, I was suffering from amnesia. I was then escorted to a room where they briefed me on my past.

“A murderer? How can this be? I have never killed anyone before, either that or I don’t remember doing so.” I blurted out blatantly. “Calm down, Agent Wing. It is the latter. You will soon remember.” said the guy who identified himself as Agent ME. I got off my chair and walked towards the exit, only to be stopped by the outstretched arm of a bodyguard. He reached out to handcuff me but I took his hand and twisted it effortlessly into the position of a body lock, much to the amazement of myself. One immediately tackled me to the ground and it took a further two to hold me down. Agent ME calmly said, “It is no use retaliating. You will soon learn to accept the facts of life. But first, we need you to take lessons to remember your past and then training to recap what you have learned over the years.”

I was told that I had been in a coma for seven months. I was taken to a shooting range. The gun that laid there seemed so familiar. Blur memories, moments of the past just came to thought the moment I took hold of the gun. I wiped the body of the shining gun. Without any guidance and in a half sub-conscious state, I let out three shots that were dead on target, each shot overlapping each other on the bulls eye. I dropped the gun and staggered backwards, collapsing on my back. “How...how... how could this be?” I stammered as I stared at the gun that laid on the floor. Agent ME again reminded me of who I was and who I am. I finally was forced to admit and again take on the identity of Vic Stan, a.k.a. Agent Wing, who I was once so familiar with, supposedly.

The next call came in. I was assigned to it. It was an easy job. Its objective was more of me getting used to field duties again. The target was Kristy Belluc.
“Wait a minute. That name sounds so familiar.”
I wasn’t given any other details except where I would find her. They provided me with an Arctic Warfare Pistol, a sniper rifle that could tear apart the victim’s head even over long distances, and also the ASP automatic that I have started to fall in love with during my three months of “recap”.

I left in my new Audi A4. Finally leaving the headquarters was a breath of fresh air for me. The time spent there was torturous. Officers barking orders and expecting me to follow a rigid schedule. I stopped by at a park and grabbed a chilli dog. I pondered on my latest assignment while devouring the gastronomic delight. Why am I even doing this, I wondered. Moreover, I don’t recall killing anyone. Plus, why does the name Kristy Belluc ring a bell?

I pushed the questions aside and continued on my journey. It was a taxing two hour drive. Agent ME warned me beforehand. NOTHING MUST GO WRONG. As I neared my destination, there was a sense of nostalgia. Childhood memories played in my mind. I remember growing up in this area. Why is all this so familiar?

I followed the GPS system on my PDA and parked myself a good distance from the target’s house. I rapidly assembled my equipment, setting up the tripod for my AWP and all. I took a moment to look at the sunset. By the time anyone realises that Kristy Belluc is dead, I’ll be long gone. Hopefully. Agent ME’s warning rang again in my head. I took out my binoculars from its’ leather case and set my eyes on my target’s house. There was little movement.

I almost dozed off after one long boring hour. Exactly 1935 hours, a car drove up the porch. A female figure aged about 55 stepped out from the car. That must be her. I took a quick peek at her profile before laying my eyes again on her. Yes, it’s her. There’s no mistaking. I readied myself on the AWP and my finger was ready to pull the trigger as my scope focused on her. She turned around to reveal her face for the first time. My mind went, “Yes, that’s her. It’s her. It’s... mom? MOM???” That smile on her face as she looked out to the park nearby, totally oblivious to the danger that looms over her, just evoked memories inside of me.

“This is so not happening.” I thought. “I cannot be shooting my own mother.” I remembered back my childhood days, when she raced through the rain, carrying me, just so I could see a doctor. I remembered her taking care of me when I broke my leg. Something deep inside my gut told me that was my mother. Kristy Belluc is my mother! My target is none other than my mother!!!

I loosed my finger from the rifle’s trigger. Tears flowed down my cheeks. What am I doing? I quickly took out the wireless radio given to me and reported in.

“I can’t do it. Not on my mother...”

I dropped everything there and ran off, never to be seen or heard of ever again.
Word Count:
2164 words
30 paragraphs

Thursday, 20 March 2008

of crimson hearts

1. two friends hugging each other.
2. a man taking a bullet meant for his friend.
3. wife and husband kissing.
4. parents staying up all night taking care of their sick child.

which of the above is love?
i'm sure your answer would be along the lines of all of the above.

love, is so abstract, that at times, it's hard to define love exactly. dictionaries have tried, but can it really define love? can love be defined in words?

what do you perceive as love?

many a times, we think we understand love. but do we actually really really understand the meaning of true love? love is now a word badly misused by the world. how many actually understand and actually mean it before going around saying "i love you" to every tom, dick and jane just so that they can hope of nurturing a relationship based around affection and attraction intensified by raging hormones?

when we think of love, what comes to mind? coupling and dating and valentines and all? we are disillusioned by what the world wants us to perceive as love. to love someone can mean just having fun together, maybe at most a caring hug or a warm smile...love does not need to be the affectous love for another...

do we truly understand what true love is?

the greatest love story isn't the one between romeo or juliet or any soap operas out there for the record. this love story is so great, that isaac watts once said, "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." it is also sung by rachel lampa...
No greater love than this
That you should lay down your life
For someone such as me
I'd spend a life time wondering why
The beauty of heaven is here in my heart
And I know there can be
No greater love
Than this




and indeed, it is about a man laying down his life for another. it sounds dramatic, but some argue : so what, there's a lot of people who die for their friends, or take a bullet meant for another.

but how many of you would die for your enemies? how many of you would die for one who hates you, who rejects you, who persecutes you, who humiliates you, who mocks you? and not just one, but thousands, millions of them... would you?
and this death is not just a bullet in the head where all glory goes to you and you barely suffer anything, or being sentenced to the electric chair. this was one which was humiliating and torturous.
at that time, to be hung on the cross, was the worst punishment a criminal could receive. it was a public humiliation, and only the worse of the worst criminals get it. this man took it one step further. not only was he whipped and spat at and mocked, his head was pierced with thorns and he was forced to carry his own cross for a long journey. as he walked along that mud road, the people whom he loved swore at him, mocked him. every time he stumbled, the guards, instead of helping him, whipped him to get up. and upon reaching Golgotha, the place of crucifiction, his hands and legs were pierced with nails. not those normal nails that hold chairs together, but nails that would hold giant tents up. and there he was left to die.
it would seem okay, if you were guilty of killing 4000, causing virus outbreak, torturing 70000 kids and all, but to be innocent, would you be able to do so?
we whine when we get one stroke of cane when we're innocent. yet this man, being whipped by whips that had hooks and the end designed to rip your flesh out, took all of it willingly, saying "forgive them for they know not what they do".

he's the reason we live, the reason we breathe, the reason why we have something to smile about. if he isn't, he'd better start being it. his name is Jesus.

upon his shoulders as he took up the cross, was our weight of sin. imagine carrying the weight of one man's sin. he took up the whole world's sin, for those who came and died, those who were living, and those whom were yet to see earth. and it's only by grace and love that we can stand here today, knowing that our sins are cleansed and heaven awaits us. indeed, this is love that exceeds all else, love undeserved, love so abundant, love that never fails, love that the world could never give and love that the world could never take away.

God loved us so much. are we actually responding to his love?