Out Of The Labyrinth- Chapter 3

Posted: November 6, 2015 in Blog Posts, Short Stories
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labyrinth

“She’s up” I heard a girl say. It was dark and what I could make of my surroundings was merely alternatives shades of the darkness. I could hear people. A whole crowd. Through my blurry vision I could barely make out the silhouettes of the people around me. I tried to get up. Pain started from my stomach and shot through my body as I did. Of course. I was hit last time I was here. Here was the strange place I could only visit in my dreams. I still had no idea where or what this place was. All I knew was that the effects of what happened to me here, stayed with me when I woke up back in the real world. It was all so confusing.

“Morning wee princess. Napped well?” Said the badass guy. The person who had hit me.

“YOU” I said standing up in anger, forgetting all about the pain in my stomach. “Who do you think you are? You think you can go around punching anyone you like?” I strode in his direction, fists clenched and ready to punch.

“Calm down hot-head.” He said coolly. “First off, nobody asked you to jump in and play hero-“

“But you were beating the sh-“

“I’m not done talking.” came an irritated reply.

I bit my lower lip to stop myself from screaming at this guy. I started to say something but he began again.

“Secondly, Ali and I have our matters settled.” He grabbed the guy who was beaten by his hand and pulled him forward. “Also, I would like to sincerely apologize for literally blowing your stomach off.” He cackled at his own joke, a few others from the crowd joining him. Ali smiled too. I narrowed my eyes at him. He mouthed “thanks” and smiled again. Only this time I could see his teeth. Even in the darkness. White. Straight. Perfect for a toothpaste commercial. I rolled my eyes at him.

“I don’t care. I just wanna get out of this freaking Vagueland.”

“Oh so you gave this old place a name. Nice” I heard Mr.Badass say as I stormed off, unable to stand this guy for another minute. I needed answers. Answers that maybe didn’t even exist. As I was moping, I noticed a willowy shadow beside me. I wouldn’t care to see who it was if he hadn’t tripped over a stone and almost fallen down. I stopped.

“Why are you following me?” I spat.

“Following you? Don’t flatter yourself…” he said with a pause like he wanted to know my name.

I muttered, “Amal.” I had no idea what on earth made me say that. But I felt stupid after doing it.

“Hi Amal. I’m Hadi” he said.

“We’re not here to socialize.” I said in a cold tone.

“Well then what exactly are we here for Miss Know-It-All?” he said in a mocking voice.

“Uhh. I don’t know. Why are we here? ” I asked.

“I don’t know” he shrugged.

“Why are you so calm? Do you have any idea what is waiting for us in the dark? And why is this happening to us? “

He didn’t answer for a while.

“No.” he stated finally. “But mystery is what keeps us alive. Most of the times when we have nothing to hold on to, we live only by the hope of what’s coming next. ” This was the most serious I’d seen him so far.

“I can’t even tell whether it’s real or not.” I said more to myself than to him.

“Everything that happens is real. It doesn’t matter if it’s your imagination or a dream or even a manipulated dream. It happens for a reason. It is related to you and only you. You might not know the reason now but sooner or later you will.”

“What are you? A writer? Or a philosopher?” I sneered. “Oh, forget it.” I looked around.

Houses. Abandoned houses. The paint on the walls had flaked off ages ago. The grass was so dark as if it had never been green. The sky darkened even more over the spooky houses. I walked towards the nearest one. It’s windows were smashed. Shards of glass lay near it. Some looked like pointy icicles, still attached. Touching the window pane made me shiver. I could hear Hadi approaching me. Leaves made a cracking sound with each step he took. Ignoring him, I tried to look in to the house through the smashed window. Just as I was trying to peek in, a fragment of glass slashed my cheek.

“Ouch” I backed away, wincing.

“You okay, princess?” Hadi asked, worry somehow lacing his distant tone.

“Yeah I just-” I stopped in mid-sentence. I couldn’t blink.

Eyes. Dark. Bloodshot. Glistening. Staring right at me from the broken window.

I screamed as loud as I could. Opening my eyes, I found myself screaming in my bed. A rush of adrenaline flew through me. Just a dream, again, I reminded myself. I lay there for a while, waiting for myself to calm down. I looked at the door of my room. It was closed and no one was there. I rushed towards the bathroom to get ready. Images from my dream kept flashing through my mind. I looked up to see my reflection in the mirror. I caught a sight of a small cut on my cheek. Tears of confusion started running down my cheeks. I washed my face and recollected myself.

As I opened the door of my room, I heard mum calling my name. She was right outside, telling me to hurry up. I closed the door of the bathroom quickly. I didn’t want her to see the cut on my cheek. I grabbed a towel.

“Good morning, mom! ” I chirped, hiding the cut with the towel. I even added a smile. It felt good to smile after crying. It was like a metaphorical bandage on a bruise.

“I’ll be downstairs in 5 minutes.” I told her.

She went downstairs. I closed the door. I sat on the dressing chair. Wondering how should I hide the cut. It was small but noticeable. And, to my surprise, still fresh. Like I’d just got it. My head hurt thinking about it. Why is this happening? The first person who came in my mind was Hadi. I wanted to tell him about this. He is probably not even real. But he knows about this. He saw this. Maybe together we could figure out something, I shrugged at my own thoughts. I hid the cut with concealer. I put my long black hair into a ponytail. I noticed bags under my eyes. I clearly hadn’t been getting enough sleep. But no one could tell. I looked alright. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just a dream. I left my room and went downstairs for breakfast. Mum was preparing our lunches. Adan and Hassan, doing what they do best. Arguing with each other. This time over the remote. I actually like their cute little arguments. Adan wanted to watch cartoon network and Hassan, a football match. Mum turned off the t.v. switch and grounded them. They were prohibited to watch t.v. for the next three days. “Ouch. How will you two survive now?” I cackled. And it was followed by further hassling, which didn’t end all along the drive to school. Mum was in a bad mood. I hadn’t noticed before because I was too preoccupied by Vagueland and the cut. This is the real world. I reminded myself.

“What happened Mom? You look a little down today.” I asked her.

“I’m fine. Just a little worn out.” She replied in an easing tone.

“Where’s dad? I didn’t see him yesterday.”

“He got home late. You were asleep.”

“Oh.”

We reached school. I made a mental note to ask what was bothering her on our way back home so that Adan and Hassan would not be there.

My clique called out my name loud enough to make people think they’re crazy. I smiled vitally and headed towards them. We did our daily ritual – the group hug. Since I was late. As usual. The assembly had already started. We kept on exchanging our little inside jokes by glances throughout the assembly.

Then came the worst part of the day. Going to the class. One class after another consecutively. Fifth class was Chemistry. Boring enough to make me sleep, unintentionally. The worst part I couldn’t talk to my friends. So instead I was trying my best not to fall asleep. “Hey, dreamy-head”, whispered Zilay,  a short girl with medium length dark brown hair. “Dream-y” it felt like someone just put me in a tub of ice-cold water. That word scared me so much that it seemed like it was prohibited for me. Who knew a word could prove so vital? The whole thing played inside my head, like a horror movie. I controlled my urge to scream at the flashback of those glistening eyes, with an amount of difficulty even I didn’t know myself. I buried my head in my arms and rested it on the arm of the chair. I didn’t want to close my eyes. I’m not even sure if I ever will want to sleep now.

“What happened to you? Are you not feeling well?” Zilay inquired.

“Yeah. I just have a slight headache.” I told her and sat up.

“We could go to the infirmary if you want. You don’t look alright.” She said.

“I’m perfectly fine. Really” I reassured her.

“Look at your face. Whatever dumbass, at least we can get outta here.”

She took my hand, told the teacher I was sick and we left the class. It felt incredibly uplifting.

I reached back home. I had plenty of homework. I didn’t even play badminton with Haania. I got done with everything at 10:00 but I didn’t want to sleep. Even the idea of closing my eyes scared the living daylights out of me. So instead I started reading “An Abundance of Katherines” and refrained myself from looking at the time. I’m not going to sleep tonight, I reminded myself.

“You don’t remember what happened, what you remember becomes what happened”.

This had me wondering about what happened last night. Or maybe didn’t really happen but what I remember happened. I loved John Green but at that moment I didn’t appreciate him much for reminding me of that vicious dream I never wanted to remember.

It was almost 12 when sleep started to actually get to my head. It was a weird feeling that I got. I told myself again and again “Don’t sleep. Whatever happens, don’t let your eyes get closed.” But then, something changed all of a sudden. The idea of sleep began to sound so welcoming. Like a trap. Like someone was luring me to sleep. I had all the power but I felt myself giving in. I could actually do something but I didn’t. I can’t say I was getting forced into it because I was doing nothing to go against it, to resist it. Whatever it was. I let it take control and then my eyelids began to droop as I embraced slumber.

I opened my eyes and a scream came out, piercing my throat. Bloodshot, murderous, dark eyes. Staring right at me.

Saja Ali and Zoha Hidyat for Beyond Sanity Publishing

Read the story here: Wattpad Link

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