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