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Love More Challenge
Quarantine has become a time where everything seems uncertain and the future appears bleak. It may be because of the media reporting mostly on daily casualties and also the difficulties doctors have to overcome to maintain the healthcare system as efficient as possible to save the most lives. However, we tend to forget that happiness is neither a physical object nor a person who may be lost or disappear in time and never to return. Happiness is a state of being; a moment where you find true fulfillment in what you do or what you’ve achieved. Tt can even become that time when a special someone can make you feel completely satisfied and full, because you know that, so long as that person remains with you, you won’t need anything else to feel content. Being quarantined may take away the physical connection with some of the people I love the most, especially my friends, whom are miles away from my home country and I have to communicate with via Whatsapp or videocall. Of course, I can’t complain too much given that these advances in technology at least give us the chance to stay connected throughout these difficult times, and yet I have started using it to distract myself from the outside world every now and then, when things get particularly heavy.
Home? (Chapter 14)
Thousand eyes are staring at me. I don't know what to do. Should I step forward and call them, make them notice me? They have already seen me enter and I'm scared I won't be able to turn back. I don't say anything for a while, everything seems surrounded by a cloud of silence that is impossible to break, and it makes me uncomfortable. The eyes don't blink, they simply watch me quietly, undecided. Am I an enemy, an intruder? Or am I a trustworthy individual? So as to not cause any undesired response, I remain as still and quiet as possible and my breathing seems to be the only thing betraying the silence. However, standing there for several minutes without moving proves to be a harder task than I had anticipated. I finally decide to go ahead and call them out. Why are you here and should I be here?
Home? (Chapter 13)
When I wake up, I find myself in the same room, dark and cold. Lonely. Nausea hits me almost instantly, so I remain tucked in bed for a longer while, wondering, thinking. My head cannot think too clearly but I know what I saw and, thankfully, I remember all of it. Max is not Max and my dad isn't who he was before The End. Images of past events over the last 24 hours run through my mind as if they were a marathon, trying to see which one would ingrain itself better inside my confused and disturbed head. I hear a soft knock and I don't answer. I'd rather stay sound asleep. It doesn't work. A guard comes in my room probably to check that I am still there. He sounds astounded that the rebellious teenager hasn't escaped or attempted to and that she's peacefully sleeping, unaware of her surroundings. He doesn't try to do much else other than check the cubicle, to ensure himself that it's not a trap. They are scared. The guards are beginning to fear me. I feel mighty all of a sudden. I have become a bigger threat than they or even I expected. I could use a bit of that power to my advantage. He leaves and closes the door. That's how I know he's a man. The way he locks my room, banging the door, without caring whether the patient is in need of rest. His walking manner is rather violent, his feet stepping on the ground noisily. I get out of bed and search for my bag. I can't find it. They must have taken it. I need to figure out a way to escape but the switch won't turn on, leaving me in darkness. I sit down on the cold tiled floor, waiting for an idea to hit my brain, but I'm so weak at the moment I can barely think straight. Silence is all that accompanies me. And suddenly, a dim light bulb appears over my head. I hear wind, a gentle passing of air from someplace above me. I look up and I see an air duct, almost indistinguishable in this pitch black room yet still standing out thanks to its metallic tones. Determined, I push my bed above it and try to figure out how to open it. Is it toxic to go through it? I don't know. I'm not one to try to sneak through air ducts during my free time, but there is always a first time for everything. It's too tight for me to break it, and so a rather strange idea comes to mind. I barely have any strength but I'm lucky exercise was something that was pushed for in this ship. Even though my body is exhausted, it somehow finds the strength to lift up the metal bed and push one of its legs into the entrance to the duct. The lid falls off, a metallic "bang" is heard, and I start worrying that a noise like that can alert unwanted visitors. I speed up the process, carefully dropping the bed back on the floor and bouncing lightly on the mattress, willing to escape this cell of a room once and for all. My feeble arms are able to push one last time and get me inside, my thin frame able to fit into the small hole that I hope won't allow for guards to pass given that they are much more muscular than me.
Neighbours (Chapter 8)
8 AM I have decided to skip work today. My boss hates me. I was going to get fired anyway. And, who cares? Roy can pay for my unemployed desires, lustful gifts that I could otherwise afford if I had a job. But now I don't. I look around, noticing that I'm not inside my room. I slept on the couch and probably dreamt of him. I'm not really sure of it, but I have a feeling; the kind that sits in your gut, waiting for you to acknowledge it. I get up and wrap my cardigan around my thin frame. I haven't eaten much lately and not because my body doesn't ask for it. In fact, it's like my own mind has been set into oblivion, forgetting to fulfill its basic function— help me survive. My phone has a bunch of messages left unread and one missed call from Anna. I leave the device on the table, unwilling to enter into the realm of social media and the like. I'd rather face my day with no communication at all. She can call the cops if she likes. My boss on the other hand can get hold of a new and more adept person for the job.
Home? (Chapter 12)
His saliva continues to impregnate my face and his arms have grasped my wrists tightly, while his knees are on my feet. I am immobile. Trapped under a man who I can't consider to be my father, but rather a lunatic, a creation of this villainous government in order to kill me or render me even crazier than I already am.
Neighbours (Part 7)
1AM I can't sleep. It's as if the thought of him is ingrained so deep in my mind I cannot duck my head out, and it consumes me, yet it's still comforting somehow. I wonder when he's going to come. I hope it's soon. I turn around, my left cheek on top of the pillow facing the dark corners of my room. I soon give up though; I can't even close my eyes. I'm too awake to be laying in silence, so I decide to help myself to a glass of water.
Neighbours (Part 6)
7 AM I wake up feeling an overwhelming sense of dread, which I cannot escape and I'm rather exacerbated by the fact that I have to go to work just like any other mundane person must. Why is it an obligation? A devotion? It should be the other way around. My company should be committed to my persona and my ideas. They should beg for me to come up with new ways to establish their footprint in this complicated and complex world. Yet they don't. Only Roy makes me feel as though I am something much more intrinsic to this society than just for my organisational skills or punctuality. He makes me feel special and different, like my whole self is being accepted by this stranger who oversees me from his window. Every day.
Home? (Chapter 11)
Jerry's blood fills the air and runs under the sole of my shoe, soaking the predominantly white colour of the sneakers with a tint of dark red. His gun lays beside him, shining under the blinding and electric light that brightens up the room, as if it is reminding that I am one of the reasons for his death. I can't help feeling guilty, even though he deserved it. A question now lingers my mind like a hidden predator awaiting for fear and confusion to settle into my weakened brain: Is Max really dead? Or was he trying to scare me?
Neighbours (Part 5)
8 PM I have been sitting contemplating my filled cup of coffee for the past hour. A dilemma has decided to surface inside my head, just as a sunrise would, only that these thoughts are uninvited and seeing the sun awaken is rather beautiful and relaxing.
Home? (Chapter 10)
I see her approach my inert body with a large syringe on her hand, her fist clasped tightly around it. "Who are these people and what are they trying to do?" The question prevails in my mind, and it almost sounds like a whisper coming from the depths of my subconscious. Suddenly the doctor interrupts her operations to comment on some unimportant aspects of their job, to which she releases the syringe on a table next to me. My hand is almost at reach and I know that I can take possession of it if I act quickly enough. While they speak, my fingers attempt to touch the delicate glass, though the chains are too tight to even allow my hand to move in the slightest. Panic settles in and so does the conversation which ends abruptly as soon as one of the present medics sees me move. With a narrow nod of the head, he signals his partner to continue with the injection. However, my fingers have finally managed to grasp the item, though the woman has not noticed.
Neighbours (Part 4)
6PM I've been laying on my bed, fiddling with my hair for the past hour, with the words 'human meat' still imprinted in my brain. Could that be the real reason for her distress, or is it quite simply a product of my imagination? While these ideas circle my head, Roy's apartment experiences a loud thud which indicates he's back. I look at his dimly lit room and indeed, there he is, holding a plastic bag with some clear, empty bottles. I stand upright and see him leave for the bathroom, taking the glassware with him. He soon reenters the room with these filled up to the top, and I begin to wonder what they contain. Is it water? I wouldn't think Roy is that simple of a man. Without a previous warning, he throws it on top of the lifeless girl and lights up a single matchstick. Her body is in flames, as if she was in a Viking ritual, biding one last goodbye to this world on a bed rather than a luscious ship. I feel sorry for her but not necessarily bad. Roy is still holding the bottle, watching her body disintegrate under red, beautiful flames. He then pours what appears to be water over her corpse and the fire is soon extinguished.
Neighbours (Part 3)
7 PM I sit there mortified, afraid that he may have seen me watching his every move. He may come after me. However, despite his crime, I still do not reject him entirely and I feel dreadful about it. What is wrong with me? Have I really become that desperate? I decide to phone one of the only few friends who still stand by me.