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Wallace

August 17, 2008 1 comment

It was an early monsoon morning. The rain poured steadily, rivulets of water streaked down buildings, trees and plants forming muddy puddles on the ground.

A large grey building stood out against the deep, navy blue sky. The dark black clouds hovering in the sky were reflected in the grimy dirty windows of the building. Bits of the already peeling plaster on the walls fell to the ground, along with the thousands of water droplets that seemed to flow endlessly from the skies.

At other parts, the roots of moss and ivy growing on the slippery walls seemed to be desperately clutching to them, trying hard not to fall down to a premature death.

A crow sat on the ledge of a window, one of the few spots sheltered from the rain. Behind it, in faded red paint, the word ‘Wallace’ was barely visible in the thick sheet of rain.

About ten stories below, the building seemed to loom over the tiny figure that stood in front of its only entrance. A dark cloak was draped over her small shoulders and she clutched hard at a black umbrella, to prevent it from blowing away in the strong wind.

Stepping cautiously into the building, she looked around. A large empty hall greeted her, dry for the most part but wet where the water had leaked through broken windows. To the left, was a passageway leading into the many other wings of the building, to the right, a wrought-iron spiral stairway led to the higher floors.

She pulled off her cloak and left it along with her umbrella on the floor to dry. Her long wet hair fell onto her shoulders and into her eyes and brushing it off her face, she headed up the rusty, old staircase.

The iron felt icy on her already cold, wet skin, sending an involuntary shiver up her spine. She climbed the stairs, ascending slowly, passing floor after dizzying floor.

By the time she had reached the top, the storm had become even worse. The sky had turned darker, the wind stronger. She left the spiral staircase and walked into a room on the left, pausing at the door to catch her breath. Seconds passed, maybe minutes; then she felt a hand on her shoulder. She jumped back in shock, almost letting out a scream until she recognized the owner of the hand.

“So, you finally got here,” said the man who had walked up behind her, a strange look in his eyes. His voice was tinged with a mixture of sarcasm and annoyance, “I almost thought you weren’t coming.”

“I almost didn’t,” she replied quietly as her eyes darted nervously from side to side. The man gave her a queer grin and walked to the window, his back to her. He looked down and slowly reached into his pocket. There was a large flash of lightening and a loud bang.

The woman stood a few feet away, her hands shivering and shaking and this time, it wasn’t the cold. She dropped down to her knees breathing hard, the sound of her breath and the fast irregular beating of her heart seemed to be the only sound in the entire room. Then, she unclenched her fists, and the gun that she had been holding onto fell noisily to the ground, clattering across the stone floor.

Cautiously, she looked up outside the window. The sun had just begun to rise, casting a reddish-orange glow in the sky. The clouds were tinged with streaks of orange and maroon. And the man, she saw him, bent double and almost falling out of the window. And although she couldn’t see it, blood dripped from the hole in his head where the bullet had punctured it. It slid slowly down the building and colored the sign that said ‘Wallace’ a darker shade of red.

‘The last Wallace is dead now,’ she thought, looking at the pitiful form of her husband. ‘The mills are finally mine.’

And then she saw something white near his feet, the thing her husband had taken out of his pocket. She hesitated for a second and then reached for it, and found it to be a thick white envelope.

She opened it slowly with still trembling hands, tears welling up in her eyes. She held in her hand the deed to the Wallace Mills, that her husband had just transferred to her name.

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Insomnia

June 24, 2008 1 comment

For the hundredth time that night, he flipped over onto his back. It was quite a hot night and he felt the sweat dripping down every niche and crevice of his body. But he was sure it wasn’t all because of the heat. The thin sheet that he had covered himself with was not entwined between his legs, under his back and around his neck, almost cutting of his air supply. He felt suffocated, even though he occasionally felt a light breeze drift through the window. While disentangling himself from the sheets, he made as little noise as possible, trying his hardest not to wake his wife who lay dreaming peacefully beside him. It was only for her sake that he maintained the farce of sleeping, the charade of normalcy in his otherwise chaotic life. It was only for her that he climbed into bed each night, kissed her good night, and watched as she drifted off into her happy world of dreams. For three months before they were married, he spent every night up awake at his desk. Now he lay alone in bed with her, afraid to close his eyes, afraid to fall asleep.

Which was exactly what had happened that night, exactly what he had tried so hard to avoid. Months without sleep however took their toll and his eyes shut slowly, as he drifted off helplessly into a perilous dream. And he dreamt… The very dream that had haunted him in his sleep six months ago, the very dream that passed through his day dreams occasionally. The dream that had haunted him for months, through days and nights, shocking him, terrifying him, driving him nearly out of his own mind. He was lucky that night though, he had woken up just in time. Just before his body died, or tried to kill itself to escape that horrendous dream, the dream that would keep him awake for what seemed like forever. But forever soon passed. He wasn’t as lucky that time…