On-going Stories

Betwixt (Chapter I)

The cinema hall is dark.

In the far corners, it looks like the shadows were swirling up like tendrils of smoke. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it.

I could feel goosebumps on my arms.

I brush off the tingling feeling that something is about to happen.

Wallace, a close friend, sits beside me starts rubbing his arms.

’It’s getting cold real fast.’

The cinema screen begins to glitch. Dark silhouettes flash on the screen. They grow larger with each flash. In between the flashes, there are images of a city street.

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With one last burst, the cinema falls into darkness.

’Wallace?’

I reach for his arm, but he’s gone. Just an empty seat beside me. The blood in my ears roars along with a buzzing sound. My throat feels itchy, but I can’t swallow.

I head for the exit, but I begin to rise off the floor. I grab for the seat, but my fingers slip off. I can feel my scream clawing to get out, burning my throat but my lips are shut tight.

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I’m floating in the dark screaming inside my head. Then I hear someone shouting my name. The voice is getting louder trying to get to me. It sounds angry and hungry.

I curl up into a ball; whatever that was in the dark knows who I am.

Then all at once, it was quiet. A barren space of sound and entity. I move slightly to wrap my arms tighter, but my arms go through me.

I can feel something heading my way at a great speed. It was not a sound but a feeling of a heavy rumbling massive force reeling towards me.

Slowly I feel myself fading and disintegrating into the abyss. I could no longer feel, and I could not recall who I am.

In a sudden lurch, I was back.

‘Cassie? Are you ok?’

The sounds in the cinema crash down on me. I wince in pain and cover my ears. A piercing sound erupts in my head. I hold the armrest of my seat tightly fighting the pain. I fight the rise of bile in my throat.

‘I need to go home.’

’i’ll bring you.’

’What happened?’

You got so pale all of a sudden and passed out.’

’Oh. Did you?’ I look at him, but he did not look as haggard as I felt.

’Did I faint like a damsel in distress? No, I’m the one to save you.’

’In your dreams Wallace.’

Wallace calls a taxi and accompanies me home. ‘You sure you don’t want to see a doctor?’ he asks.

I drunkenly shake my head. “No, I’m fine. I think I need to sleep it off. Thanks, Wallace.’

He bows deeply, ‘For Lady Cassie, anything. Farewell, and be well!’ he says in a horrid fake British accent.

I can’t help but smile and wave goodbye like royalty.

I live on top of a shopping centre. An apartment I share with a few others.

I unlock my main door, and it was quiet. Thankfully. I had nothing against the other tenants but I prefer the silence.

My ears were still throbbing haunted by the piercing sound like my eardrums were being sliced to pieces.

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The hallway smells like fried chicken and mould. It makes my stomach gurgle, still urging me to release the bile and acid.

I enter my square-like room and turn on my lights but it doesn’t work. I couldn’t see at all.

Not again please.

With the dim light, I pass the back of my closet. The post-its I stuck at the back of it brush my left arm.

In front of me, the bathroom door was open, lights were flickering from the inside. I take a peek inside slowly. All the candles inside are lit. I turn to the rest of my room and find the other candles are lit too. What was happening?

Everything else looks normal in the room. The bed against the back wall in the centre was messy. The blankets were scrunched up, half of it falling off the edge.

At the right side of the bed was my mini bookshelf under the window. The shelves looked ready to cave in.

The curtains rustle and I could smell a hint of seaweed in the air. Which was weird considering the sea was miles away.

I drop my bag on the floor by the bookshelf and open the curtains.

It doesn’t make sense.

I close my eyes and open them again to be sure. I see it still.

The next door condominium with its noisy pool was not there.

I’m somewhere else.

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I’m looking at a beautiful seashore. The moon was in the distance but more massive than I have ever seen. It was so large it made it look like day.

I slide the window wide open, and a blast of salty air hits me.

Like it was an entity of its own, it gushes into my room tossing around the mess that was already my room — swirling all around blowing out some of my candles.

Sticking my head out, I look down expecting to see the dark alley that’s supposed to be there, but there was nothing but waves of sand ready to fall in through the window.

I quickly rush to my door. I slam it open expecting the smell of fried chicken, but there was only more sand slipping into my room and around my feet.

I like this better.

’Whatever this is, whoever is doing this mental shit on me. I prefer it, no more shadows and dark, scary emptiness please.’

I get no reply.

It’s different this time, whatever this strange teleportation was. A dream, an illusion. My dizziness was gone, and there was no sign of the dark slithery shadows.

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I walk out into the desert. The sand stretches out further into the distance.

There was a white glow in the sky a mile away. It looks like a city.

The sky was deep and endless. From the day-like glow of the moon setting in the ocean, a merge of colours meets halfway to a million specks of stars that seem to be dancing in place. I catch a few shooting stars some blazing across in blues and reds.

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I pinch my self, and it hurts.

A wind blows in from the ocean rustling my clothes; I look down and realise I’m suddenly wearing a thick long white dress with ribbons sewn across my chest down the sleeves of my arms to leave short tendrils hanging at the ends.

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I can’t help but laugh at all this madness. Adrenaline flowed through my body and with the high I twirled.

No one was watching. I was alone in a beautiful Neverland. What was I to do? Cry my eyes out or live it up?

Barefoot I go to the water’s edge. There were plenty of beautiful shells and a vast array of colourful stones. It was like a giant chest of jewels were dumped onto the shore, and the waves have been dragging it into the ocean.

I enter the warm, clear water; I can see my toes. There was something under my foot that fades in and out with the light.

It looks like moonlight made substantial.

I pick it up; it was clear as glass with a cloudy core, and at different angles, it glows in different colours.

At one moment it was an emerald stone, in another it was a ruby, and it changes continuously. It was mesmerising.

I feel my senses calm down as the gentle waves rock me gently. My fatigue starts slipping back, adrenaline leaving my system.

I head back up to dry land and find a large ruby red blanket spread out on the dry sand with temptingly soft pillows.

I chuckle to myself, I’d be worried, but it’s not like I can just fly back home.

I step into it and curl up into a ball. I stop fighting my weariness and keeping my eyes open.

In the last flickers of my lashes, I catch a man’s silhouette walking towards me. Instead of fear, I feel a calmness overtake me. Happiness like meeting someone I haven’t seen for so long.

I wake up to a car’s backfire. The noise of the horns and racing motorcycles outside my window easing me back into reality. I open my eyes to see the galaxy stickers on my ceiling.

It was all a dream after all. I sit up and look around; sadly, everything looks the same. An ordinary girl in a regular room in an ordinary world. I slip off the bed to stretch, and the moonstone falls and thuds on the floor. It was then I notice there is sand all over my carpet.

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‘Oh donkeys.’

  • End of Betwixt Chapter I (Find out what happens next week to ordinary Cassie. Every Thursday, Betwixt!)
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dreams, Short Story

Arcade You Not, Arcade You

I never imagined I would ever wonder what the lips of another girl would taste or feel like. However, at that moment when our eyes met, I felt the strangest discomfort. I think you felt it too. We did not dare look at each other again. Our transaction became the bridge. Our fingers touched and I felt guilty. I had a boyfriend. I took the receipt and quickly rushed away. I had to get away as fast as possible. I mean what was this feeling?

I had 60 dollars to pass time in that arcade. I’m sure I could survive that. You at that counter, I just had to avoid you right?

I threw some balls but that heavy bursting feeling in my chest kept expanding. My head lost in the clouds. I missed most of my shots. Then I felt you looking, I turned and there you were looking away. Why was it so hard to love someone in this time? Why must I love only one?

I looked away, feeling like a deflating balloon. I had someone who loved me so deeply and with his whole heart who would never hurt me but here I was mesmerized with dreams of lips, not his. Hands on me that weren’t his and I falling deep into the eyes that were not his.

I did try to brush the dreams away but as soon as I returned to earth you were suddenly beside me. Fixing the machine just next door. I could feel your existence just steps away. Hearts racing, eyes avoiding our guilty pleasure.

You know I have someone, you saw him once before, he brought me to this world of the arcade. I loved the old games and the new. There was something about the old merging with the new that felt comforting, that there was hope.

A million miles away we ride with friends getting lost in the wilderness. My hair blown around me by the wind and your arms are around my waist pulling me down, back into our seat. I fall onto your lap and you wrap your arms around me. Nuzzling my ears like no one was watching. I catch sight of our guy friends grinning like buffoons on the mirror reflection. I roll my eyes and snuggle deeper into your chest, comforted by your warmth and smell.

We stop at the top of a hill, we run down like wild spirits falling then rolling on top of each other laughing like maniacs. You look down at me, heat rising between us as our bodies mould into each other. Your lips inch closer to mine, as my hand rises up your waist while yours slide under my shirt. I feel myself stop breathing as your breathing increases. I close my eyes waiting to feel your lips.

The crash of the arcade machine jolts me back to reality. I’m down to my last throw and did not realize. Why do I feel so afraid?

Photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash

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