The Nightmare


The rain was pounding on the window, and it was this that woke Max. He was scared of the rain, but there was something else that scared him more. The nightmare.

The turning wheel.

The sweat still clung on to his face as he groped around in the dark for his glasses. They were on his bedside table, he knew it.

It was perhaps unreasonable to expect a four-year old boy not to be scared of a nightmare.

So he screamed into the night. Screamed till his parents from the next room came rushing to his aid, screamed till he was safe in his mother's arms, watching his father pace the room. Yes, the wheel can't get him now, not with his father standing guard and his mother's arms around him.

"What happened, Max? Another nightmare?"
His mother's voice warmed him, even when the drenched clothes were sticking to him.
"Yes Ma, the wheel... it was coming again Ma..."
"Shhh... Max its okay. We're here now"
His face got buried in his mother's lap once more.

"Son, you gotta be brave. For me. Can you do that? For your Dad?"
"Yes, Dad. I'm brave", said his mother's lap.
He had to pretend to be brave again. Even if he knew he was scared inside...

A year passed. Max still saw the wheel. It still began to turn sometimes.

He was past the stage of crying into his mother's lap now. Past the stage of pretending to be brave and actually be brave. He was, after all, five years old. One whole hand.

The nightmare returned again. On a summer night, when the windows were thrown wide open, when he was alone at home. The wheel stood motionless, then it turned, slowly, gathering speed...

The doorbell rang. "Mum, Dad, you're back!"

He unlatched the door to find himself staring at his uncle, with a policeman behind him. He could barely see the crashed car behind them, as though it belonged to a different time, a different place.

“Max, you have to be brave. Your parents had an accident. They… they’re not coming back. I’m sorry… you have to be brave Max…”

His Uncle’s hollow voice shook the shattered glass of the broken car. His tears rolled down his cheeks, dampening the “W” of Welcome. The rest were untouched.

The funeral happened the next morning. His parents missed it, as they were sleeping in wooden boxes lined with fluffy pillows.

His mother’s lap looked so comfortable. He wished he could bury into it again.

His father looked brave, even as he slept. He wasn’t scared of the darkness or the tunnel underground.

The wooden boxes swallowed his parents and the earth swallowed the boxes. It was time to return.

He sat in the car, the doors slammed shut. The engine throbbed to life

The wheels turned…

A Day in a Picture Frame

… He woke up

The shrill ringing of the alarm clock was the first thing that pounded on his eardrums. Groggy, sleepy, with wild, tousled hair, he hobbled out of bed. He saw a dark stranger staring back at him in the mirror, a boy he didn’t think he knew…

A few intimate moments with a rush of water, and he was ready for the day… at least as ready as he could be. The morning bus came to pick him up, another day, at a place where her mother had promised he would “feel at home…”

She had disappeared the same way that promise did, the same way all promises do…

“Hey Buddy… wazzup?”
“Hey man… listen, we have a game today… wanna come?”
“Did you see that awesome babe in sixth grade man? Want me to set you up with her eh??”

Why couldn’t they leave him alone? They all were after the same old selfish desires after all… he did not like the conversations, because he did not want any friends. And so, he had no friends. Only acquaintances…

He knew how his day would be, the way all his days were. Nothing was a surprise to him, it was the dull mundane life that was the only thing he could call his own, and he was strapped on to it. It fed him, and in return he fed it.

It would be six grueling hours before he could be back at his Aunt’s place, a place he was condemned to stay by a big burly man wearing flowy black robes, sitting behind a big ebony table, a hammer in his hand. So tiny it looked in his hands, yet a single blow from it had the power to silence the other Men sitting in the room, deciding on his fate.

Lunch time, an added insanity to already insane corridors of the school. The cacophony reached him where he was sitting in the class, alone as usual… the sounds of laughter throbbing his eardrums. The visions of a drunken madman, looking quite similar to his father… but the eyes were different, as they looked at him. A bony finger pointed at him, the mouth opened into a derisive laughter… aimed at him…. The hand raising the revolver to his mouth, kissing the barrel of the gun… a deafening explosion followed by a red silence...

There was nothing much left for him at school anymore, but he had to survive it… one day at a time. This he did, one day at a time… waited patiently, staring quietly at the wall clock, watching the seconds tick by, the sand of the hourglass slowly slipping out of his hands…

Painfully, the day got over… and it was time to go back to the building which the man in the black robes had termed his home… a simple room with a simple bed with simple bed sheets, all of it a contrast to his complex life.

It was that time of the day again when he could hit the bed, put his alarm clock in place, and let his nightmares get back into action. He dressed, brushed his teeth, said goodnight to his Father and his Mother, and fell onto the bed.

He slept…

The Tale of a Boy

This is a story, a tale, a saga, of Michael, a regular 13 year old boy, who was known amongst his friends as Mike. A boy like all else, having dreams, and some nightmares as well.

On the bright Monday morning our story launches off, Mike was running late for school.
"Stop wolfing down your bacon like that, sweetheart," his mother said, peeping from behind the kitchen counter
"I'll be fine Mom, don't wanna be late for school"
"There's always time for a decent meal, to be had in a more civilized manner..."
"See ya later, Mom"

And he was off, to the start of a brand new day. He passed a bunch of boys playing Football at the park, too engrossed in the game to notice anything else in the world. For a fleeting second, Mike wanted to be out there, to run and play like those boys.

It never happened.

He reached school, a few minutes late for his Biology class. He just hoped Grandpa, the nickname for elderly Mr. Joseph Bing, wouldn't mind him being late.

"May I come in, Sir?" said a timid voice at door of Grandpa's class.
"Mike, I'm sorry, you're late," said Grandpa
"I'm sorry Sir; I promise it won't happen again"
"But sonny, there's a decorum that has to be maintained”
"Please sir, this is the first time I'm late ever!" Mike almost begged, "Just this once, Sir."
"Oh, alright then. Take a seat next to Ms. Cathy Jones here. And mind you be on time next time!"
"Thank very much, Sir"

As he settled down beside Cathy, the new student of the class, he couldn't help but notice that she was very pretty. Their eyes met, she smiled, and said "Hi," her hand extended. Mike shook it, and was teleported to a ballroom, soft music playing, Cathy's hands in his, both dancing a slow, sweet tango

It never happened

He was amazed how fast Biology class went by that day, and he had to endure the rest of the classes, waiting for recess, so he could talk to Cathy again.

Finally, the bell for lunch rang, and Mike moved slowly along with the crowd. As he started with his lunch, Ronald, the school Bully, appeared, as always flanked by his cronies; the Trilogy- Steve, Peter and Martin.
"Easy Target," whispered Ron into Steve's ear, pointing at Mike and grinning.

"Well hello, softy," Peter said, addressing Mike. "In case you haven't noticed, you're sitting at our table."
"I don't mind if you guys sit here, there's plenty of room for all of us," Mike said, looking up.

Ronald looked as though he had swallowed a wasp. He recovered quickly though, and in a flash had Mike by the scruff of his t-shirt, and thundered "Listen Punk! Dare to talk back at us like that again, and I'm gonna rip you, limb- from- limb." He threw Mike bodily, who landed painfully, five feet away.

He visioned himself getting back up on his feet, sprinting towards Ron, and getting him with Muhammad Ali's famous One- two punch.

It never happened.

The next class was Geography. Mike's class was studying Mountains of the world, and the teacher had brought a video about a mountaineering crew. As the class watched, mesmerized, at the amazing feats the crew conducted, Mike drifted off into his own dreamworld, where he was the leader of the crew, the best and most skilled mountaineer in the world. He scaled sheer rock faces with ease, conquered snow capped mountain peaks, risking his life to reach the ultimate pinnacle of his dreams.

It never happened.

When class was over, he saw Cathy leave school, walking with a boy ("Her brother," Mike thought hopefully), and in a moment, inside his head, he was walking her home, side by side, talking all along, bonding with her as he had never done with any girl before.

It never happened.

All because Michael was a slave to his wheelchair... forever...

Four Feathers...

Once upon a time, in the hustle bustle of a city, stood an ancient mosque. On a bright sunny morning, the tip of the dome of the mosque became the stage for a drama unfolding. The Dome became a battlefield between a pair of hawks and a pair of crows. Each was fighting the other to gain control for that position, and were ready to slaughter the other for the sake of victory... yet life for the humans below remained the same, the chaos of a busy marketplace, people walking about supremely unconcerned about the four birds fighting for their lives and their pride up in the freshly laundered blue sky...