Archive for the ‘Out Of The Labyrinth’ Category

It is exciting to see people with talent and the will to write joining hands to create beautiful art and literature.

That being said, I announced last year that Beyond Sanity Publishing is accepting submissions for a paperback anthology of the best work submitted. Last date to submit was May 31st. So right now I am going through hundreds of different poems and stories to see what comes where. I will announce the final list on In July!

So that leaves us with little over a week. way too much to do, so little time. Beyond Sanity Publishing is currently working on the following projects:

  • The Youth Of Pakistan by Hafiza Noor.ul.Ain
  • Psychaotic by Irum Zahra (2nd Edition)
  • The Tales of Crucified Blunt by Areesh Fatmee
  • Five Wishes and the prophecy of the prince by Faran Kiani
  • Out of the labyrinth by Zoha Hidayat and Saja Ali
  • Reneging Quiescence by Dr. Samiha Zubair
  • Eliminating Riba- A Way Forward by Summan Waseem

Many other projects are in pipeline as well, including my personal favorite, Humans of ICG. I studied in Islamabad College for girls for 12 years and it was a long long time. I learnt so much and I went through so many emotional changes during that time. ICG was and is a place where we made friends, had endless gossip sessions, motivational pep talks sessions, Oh and the students week was the best of all. Funfairs, concerts, book fairs. What was not there?

Sadly, not me anymore. Everyone graduated and then their sisters are there and their cousins and the cycle goes on. The story goes on. So I decided to make a Facebook platform where everyone who has attended ICG can submit a story of their time in ICG and other students can read and share and relate to the same things. This project is lead by Maham Fatima, an excellent student of ICG and a very important member of Team Beyond Sanity.

We have also started a giveawayEnter Here! winner will get a free BOOK from us and an Eid gift! How cool is that. 

Then, we are currently taking submissions for book reviews ans marketing. If you’re already a published writer, let us help you in promoting your work to our audience.

Highlight of this week is Noor.ul.ain’s National Television Interview, that you can watch Here.  We are so proud of her. To order her book, please drop an email at beyondsanitybooks@gmail.com

SUMMERS! Send us your summer book collection. we want to know what you’e reading.

Have fun!

 

 

Are books your favorite thing? Do you absolutely adore bookshops? Is hanging out with literary people discussing their work your favorite way to spend your evenings? If you answered yes to all these questions then I can bet you rushed eagerly to the Book Launch and Reading Session by Beyond Sanity Publishing on the 9th of May, 2016, at London Book Company, Kohsar Market.

The turnout at this event was delightful. London Book Company was filled to the brim and people who came a bit later faced difficulty in finding a place to sit. The ambiance was perfect for all bookworms and lovers of literature – bookshelves on either side, dimmed lights and glittering stars amid a darkening evening sky outside.

The CEO of Beyond Sanity Publishing, Irum Zahra, came up with this event to ensure that the love of reading remains alive and thriving in Pakistan. Those who are linked with these events know that people love coming to such gatherings and there are so many writers, poets and artists in our midst who jump at the chance to share their creativity with others.

The Youth of Pakistan, a book by Noor ul Ain was launched at this event, with people eagerly buying copies and having them signed by her. It was the first book launched by Beyond Sanity Publishing. Irum Zahra, writer and Goodreads Award Semifinalist, read a few poems from her upcoming book, Invictus, full of full of thought provoking words. Saja Ali and Zoha Hidayat, coauthors of the mesmerizing book Out of the Labyrinth, read a chapter from it. Faran Kiani read some parts from his book Five Wishes and the Prophecy of the Prince, a novel which will take you down the road of magic and fantasy. Taqdees Alam read his poetry and also showcased his fabulous artwork. Hadiya Rehman, social activist and writer shared her views on women’s rights. Kamil Khan illuminated the audience with his stand up poetry on how technology has slowly managed to ruin our lives. Last but not the least, the special guest at this event was none other than Taimur Rehman, poet and storyteller, who captivated the audience with his beautifully spoken words in Urdu and created quite a magical atmosphere! After the conclusion of the reading session, there were enthralling musical performances by Sherry Bakshi, Abeer Ali Ikram, Uzair Idrees and 360 Degrees. All in all, it was the perfect combination of reading and music and definitely worth going to.

Anyone and everyone who came to this event must have gone home spared from the usual Monday blues. It was a refreshing event because everyone needs a good dose of reading every now and then. In an era where technology seems to have taken over everything else, there is nothing better than being in the midst of books and hearing people talk about their love of literature in all its forms. Being able to express feelings in words is fascinating, and anyone who can channel his emotions through this medium is indeed a lucky person. We look forward to more events like this one in the future.

Article written by Maria Mansoor for SpeechOfpak.com

 View the article here!

 

Beyond Sanity Publishing is a literature reviving initiative by Irum Zahra, an International award nominated writer which focuses on bringing the young and talented writers, poets, story tellers and artists to exhibit their world across the globe.
This event will have:

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Book launch of ‘The Youth Of Pakistan’, written by Ms. Noor.ul.Ain
Reading sessions by:
Our special Guest, Taimur Rehman
Irum Zahra from ‘Psychaotic’ and ‘Invictus’
Zoha Hidayat and Saja Ali from ‘Out of the Labyrinth’
Faran Kiani from ‘Five Wishes and Prophecy of the prince’
Taqdees Alam
Hadiya Rahman, social activist and writer
And many more!
Bookitnow.pk is our official promotional partner! See the details here:
We have so many surprises in store for you. For more details, See:

labyrinth

“Hey, you okay?” Hadi asked, reaching me.

Fear had taken over my body, hugging my throat with all the power in the world. It was as if it had gotten colder all of a sudden. Shivering all over, I pointed towards where those daunting, bloodshot eyes were a moment ago. There was nothing but sheer darkness there now.

“Tell me what I am supposed to see at least. Wait. Let me guess. A ghost?” He let out a laugh which he quickly stifled when he realized I didn’t find his attempt at humour funny at all. I couldn’t care less about what he had to say at the moment, my mind all too occupied with the image of those eyes. They were real! They must have been.

“Listen, I’m gonna go in that direction.” I pointed towards the road to the left of the haunted house. “and you may go back to the others or to hell for all I care. Just don’t follow me.”

“Are you always this rude or-” I walked away from him before he could finish.

“If that’s what you want then be careful! It’s really dark out there.” He shouted from the back.

“Do you ever shut your pretty mouth, blouche?” I shouted back, annoyance clearly lacing my tone.

“What in the world is a blouche?” I heard him yell but I ignored.

I walked, accompanied only by the sound of dried fallen leaves crushing beneath my feet and my shaky breathing. I already regretted walking here alone. But then I reminded myself that’s its just a dream. It’s not real. It’s just a dream. It’ll disappear as soon as I wake up.

That’s it! I just needed to wake myself up. I remembered people biting or pinching themselves in movies to wake up from a deep sleep. And so I did. A bit too hard. I yelped in pain as the bite mark on my hand turned into a bright shade of red. But nothing happened. I felt stupid enough knowing I had just done that. The reality of the situation only got worse when I heard an entire crowd of people laughing at me. Great.

“Nice try kiddo but I’m afraid it’s not that easy.” Barked Badass Guy, his sentence interrupted by his own loud laughter.

I wanted nothing more than to punch him square in the face. But the memory of getting punched in the stomach earlier was still sharp in my mind so I decided not to take the risk. I just turned around and started walking away without another word. I didn’t make it far before I found Hadi standing in front of me with a grin plastered on his face.

“I thought I told you not to follow me? I’m seriously considering mass homicide.” I put as much vileness in my words as I could manage.

“Yeah right! Ever killed an ant, little one?” I heard the sucker-face say from the back.

And so I snapped. So I turned around to face him and shouted, “Listen up douche-face! Don’t ever call me that or I’ll show you what I can do.”

Apparently my threat seemed to amuse him for he smiled and started calmly, “First off my name is Yusha. And secondly I think we’d all love to see what you can do to me. We really enjoyed what happened last time.”

Unable to answer, I closed my eyes out of anger.

“Amal, honey did you sleep late again? Wake up, you’re getting late.” I heard mum’s familiar voice and realized I was home. I’d been home at night too, my mind snapped at me.

“Morning, mum” I said a little too enthusiastically, jumping up to wrap my arms around her. She smiled warmly at me.

“You’ve got 10 minutes sleepy-head.” She said as she threw a towel at my face and directed me towards the bathroom to get ready. I brushed my teeth and washed my face hurriedly.

Oh great! A bruise, a cut and now a bite. And a bite had given myself. I got pulled out of my thoughts when Adan opened the door of my room with a force I never thought a creature as small as herself could possess.

“Hurry up, blouche. ” she bawled out and ran back downstairs. I started running after her without thinking.

“Why aren’t you ready yet Amal? Look at you.” Mum yelled at me.

“No particular reason, Mum. Just stressed out because of the burden of studies.” Hassan answered in a high-pitched imitation of me which was followed by a roar of laughter from both of the tiny devils. The frown on mum’s face, however, hadn’t changed.

“Now eat your breakfast properly, at least.” She told me. I wolfed down the slice as quickly as i could and ran back upstairs. I tied my hair quickly into a ponytail without looking in the mirror. Grabbing my blazer and my bag, I rushed towards the others who had already got in the car, nearly tripping on the stairs. Getting in right next to Adan, I stared at her.

“Who taught you that?” I whispered as low as i could.

“Taught me what?”

“Blouche. You called me it when you came to get me.”

“Oh that. You.” She said as loud as she could, giggling afterwards. I let out a sigh and gestured her to lower her voice. This 5 year old was driving me crazy.

“How many times do I need to tell you not to be so loud when I’m driving? It distracts me. Don’t you know that?” Mum said. “Amal you shouldn’t be acting so childlike.”

“It wasn’t me! Why am I always blamed for everything these two do?”

“Chill, Amal, Chill.” said Hassan, making sure he said something in every situation.

“Shut up, you-”

“Blouche.” Adan finished for me.

“Stop saying that.” I hissed at her.

“Blou-what?” Asked mum, pulling over.

“Err nothing. Love ya. Bye.” I jumped out of the car and entered the school.

I found my clique in the corridors, seemingly waiting for me. “Hi losers.” I chirped. Despite my annoying siblings, I was happy today. It was oddly satisfying knowing I wasn’t stuck in a dream being tormented by annoying guys.

“Hey.” They said in unison.

“Why aren’t you guys in the class? ” I asked.

“We were waiting for you. We’ve been asked to be at the gymnasium at 8:00 sharp. Let’s go.” Said Sarah, a rather small girl with black-brown hair and a pretty face. We entered the gym. There was something about the gym which made me feel at home. It smelled of freedom, power and, sometimes, sweaty socks. It was my favourite place in the whole school. There was a large basket-ball court in the middle. To the left was a tiny room where you could find the sport supplies and to the right were neat badminton and tennis courts. For sports like cricket and football, you’d need grounds,of course. It smelled freshly cleaned today, much to the relief of my nostrils. Miss Nida was standing opposite to the entrance at the upper most portion where there were seats for the spectators. Most of the seats were already filled.

“Oh look, there’s the Grey Witch.” Said Ziley pointing at a senior teacher standing right next to Miss Nida. We called her that because she was old. With her greying hair and white facial hair sprouting like whiskers, she was a total witch. If she could, she would make this school in to a prison and never let us escape. I clearly remembered how one time we were bunking a class. We were talking and walking and without realizing we entered the corridor that took you to her office, only to find out we were at one end of it and she was at the other. “COME HERE YOU LOT.” She screamed at the top of her lungs. She couldn’t see our faces clearly. Old and all. At least we thought she couldn’t. We had two options. Number 1: We go to her and face the worst. Number 2: We run and don’t look back. Our choice was obvious as Miss Nida’s voice echoed in the corridor. “WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING? COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW OR-” We heard her yell as we took a right turn and took refuge in an empty class.

So there it was. The announcement we’d been called here for was made by the grey witch, of course. There was going to be a huge sports competition between our school and a few other schools. What excited me the most was this that it was going to be a boys vs girls match. I’d never been too fond of them but the guys in my dream have made me hate them with burning passion.
“All of you who are willing to participate in basketball, cricket, badminton, football, snooker and swimming are supposed to go through a trial today. So we can form the teams and practice further. Also there will be no classes in the first half today.” She announced with her trademark face. I wondered how would she look if she ever smiled. Then I realized everyone looks beautiful when they smile. As mainstream as it may sound but everyone is in fact beautiful. It’s just our actions and sometimes consequences of life which make us look or feel otherwise.

Sarah and I decided to go for cricket. The others weren’t that interested in sports. We had so many interests in common that we’d always been in the same competitions since childhood, even against each other in a few.

“It’s gonna be fun.” I said. We had to wait for an hour for our turns. The cricket tryouts were held in the school ground. Sarah went first. I had to wait for 15 more minutes. “Amal, you’re up next.” I got up with mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness and walked towards the field.

“Time to announce the name of those who made it to the cricket team. First up, it’s…

 

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Read the first 3 chapters here!

Saja Ali & Zoha Hidayat For Beyond Sanity Publishing

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 Hidayat For Beyond Sanity Publishing

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I heard the same ear-piercing scream again. The same darkness surrounded me. With my heart beating twice as fast as usual, I turned around the corner of the street. I saw a huddle surrounding the object of torture. I was shivering with fear but somehow gathered the courage to move forward. Boys and girls, roughly around the age of 17, were gathered around it. A tall boy was standing in front of me. Even in this darkness I could see that his hair was the darkest shade of black. His head was the only thing I could see. I tapped on his shoulder.

“Excuse me, you’re blocking my view.”

“I am the view,” he said after he turned around.

In the moonlight I could see his eyes gleaming, big brown eyes. I would have thought he was handsome if it wasn’t for the smirk he was wearing.

“What is happening over there?” I asked

“Some guy getting his ass kicked by some other guy, I suppose,” he said seening completely unfazed as if it was the most normal thing ever.

“And you’re just gonna stand here and watch?” I asked again, this time a with a look of disgust.

“If that means I won’t get punched in a fight I have no part in then yes.” He replied, that smirk still there.

“Someone is getting tortured and you’re just standing here and enjoying the show? Just get out of the way.” I frowned.

“Tortured?” He let out a small laugh and moved to the side. I walked past him to get a better look of what was happening and saw a boy on the top on another, punching the living daylights out him.
The one getting beaten clearly didn’t wish to defend himself.

“Hey, leave him alone!” I screamed and ran towards them.

The bad-ass guy, as I named him in my head, looked at me as if he would like nothing better than to see me dead.

“You trying to stop me, princess?” was all I heard and before I knew it he got up and punched the living daylights, this time out of me.
Everything became blurry as I took an almost lethal blow to my stomach. A thunk was heard when I fell on the ground and everything became silent as I shut my eyes.I felt something wet touching me. I opened my eyes and there it was. Patches, my cat licking my toe. I sat on bed and noticed one thing. I was drenched in sweat. Was it really a dream? It felt so real.

“Ouch” I exclaimed with pain. My stomach. I pulled up my shirt to examine it and to my horror a bluish black mark was there, exactly where the bad-ass guy had hit.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

“Amal, keep you voice low. Are you out of your mind? Get your arse up and get ready for school or you’ll be late,” I heard my mom say.

I was about to jump out of my bed and go down and tell her about what had just happened but her tone made me feel like the bruise was going to be the least of my worries if I didn’t get ready for school on time. I changed into my uniform as fast as I could. Washing my face, I looked up into the mirror. Exhausted big black eyes stared back at me. Shaking my head, I combed my hair, picked up my bag and got out of my room. Taking two steps at a time I reached the bottom of the staircase.

Dad: Off to work as usual.
Adan and Hassan: Fighting over a toy that came out of a cereal box. Mom: Packing their lunch bags.

“Hassan, give that toy to Adan. You had one last time,” Mom said in a hurried voice.

Hassan, frowning, handed the toy to Adan, who mock-smiled at him. These two.

“Mom,” I said, reaching her. “Can we talk?”

“Right now? In the car maybe, on your way to school, okay? Now eat your breakfast.”

“Not in the car, mom. Not in front of them.” I pointed at my siblings.

“Not right now, either. On your way back then. We’re alone in the car at that time. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, don’t worry,” I said, even though I was already feeling nauseous with the anticipation of telling her.

Barely eating anything off my breakfast plate, I got out of the house and sat in the car. We got stuck in traffic on our way to school. I could tell it was a not a lucky day for me. My thoughts kept rushing back to that vicious dream and the bruise which I had gotten. I knew that something was not okay. We never hope for anything fantastic or wonderful, we just want everything to be okay. Because most of the times, okay is enough. I wanted that too.

I finally reached school. As I was late, I didn’t get to see my friends in the corridor and perform our daily ritual. The group hug. The first class had started. It was the English class. The teacher gave me an ice-cold stare as I entered the class.

I tried turning back to normal but failed miserably. I had to tell someone about it because sometimes keeping it to yourself is more dangerous than letting it out. It was killing me. I was sitting next to my best friend Izza.

“What is wrong with you? You look so weary today.” she asked.

“Oh nothing! I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” I replied.

“If you still haven’t figured out that you can’t lie to me, then I must say you’re an idiot,” she said in an obnoxious tone.

“Miss Amal that’s enough for today. First you come late to the class and then you create a chaos in the whole classroom,” the teacher finally let out her anger.

Before I could say anything, the bell rang. Izza gave me the what-the-hell look. We could communicate just with our eyes, which was pretty awesome.

“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you everything in the recess,” I wore a fake smile which I knew I could hardly ever pull off.

She said “Okay” with a genuine smile. After a few boring lectures, it was finally time for recess. I kept thinking about how should I tell her everything when it all sounded somehow irrelevant even to myself. I started,

“Have you ever had a continued dream? Like a series of dreams?”

“Um I have no idea what you’re talking about, Amal. But go ahead, enlighten me.”

I told her everything from the start till the point at which I fainted and the bruise, which was real. She was looking at me wide eyed. Decisively, she said,

“Well there could be two possibilities. Either that guy in your dream hit you so hard that you clenched it yourself subsequently. Or someone is manipulating your dreams, the odds of which are 1 out of 100.”

“I think you’re right,” I said in a calm tone.

“See? There’s no need to worry about it. It’s just a bad dream.” she tried to cheer me up.

“And if that doesn’t help. You could look it up on the internet” she suggested.

“Yeah. I hadn’t thought about that,” I said.

The school day finally ended. I was too tired to feel anything. I just felt numb with exhaustion.

“What was it that you wanted to talk to me about?” Mom asked on our way back home. I felt okay now, after telling Izza. So I decided not to tell her and in my most laid back tone I said,

“Um it was nothing… nothing special.”

“Are you sure?” She eyed me with concern. I reassured her of it.

Rest of the day was normal routine. I did my homework, unwillingly. Read for an hour. Haania called up on me like she did everyday. She told me about a cat-fight at her school and we both had a good laugh. I told her I had some stuff to catch up on and went in earlier than I normally did. I’d just remembered I had to do some research on “dreams”. There were many unfamiliar terms. Lucid dreaming. Sleep paralysis. Astral projection.

I texted Izza and told her about what I’d found out. Astral projection: an interpretation of out-of-body experience that assumed the existence of an “astral body” separate from the physical body and capable of travelling outside it.

She said “Oh. Are we talking about supernatural here? I don’t think it’s as thrilling as you think it is. It’s not a big deal, really”.

We agreed on it. Mom came to check on me. It was 10:38 PM. A little past my bedtime. I went to sleep. I didn’t want to dream again but if I did I decided to punch the bad-ass guy hard enough that he’d wake up with a bruise for a week. I opened my eyes, only to find out I was getting stared at by the same crowd.

Saja Ali and Zoha Hidayat For Beyond Sanity Publishing

Read the story here: Wattpad Link

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My eyes have adjusted to the darkness of the deserted street. I feel chills run down my spine with each step I take. All of my senses are heightened. I hear an ear-splitting scream. My heart pounds ferociously as I move towards the source. It sounded as if someone was being tortured. I feel myself getting really close to it. I hear a soft striking sound before everything vanishes.
“Amal, honey wake up. You’re getting late for school.” I heard my mom say.
“I’m up.” I told her.
A dream. Just a dream I thought to myself. My heart was still beating really fast. Being grateful for it to be over I get out of my bed. School. It was gonna be a long day. I felt something soft touch my feet. I looked down. Patches, my cat, purring loudly.
“Hey girl”, I scratched her ear before heading to the bathroom.
After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I changed into my school uniform and tied my long, black hair into a messy bun. Grabbing my bag and hiding my iPod in it, I went downstairs. We weren’t not allowed to bring any kind of gadget to school. But rules are made to be broken, right?
Landing on the last stair, I looked up to find my brother, Hassan and sister, Adan eating their breakfast. Dad was already off to work. Mom was making sure no bit of food is left in anyone’s plate. Wasting of food was not allowed in our house.
I was the eldest of the three, which pretty much sucked. Being the eldest, I was held responsible for everything my younger siblings did do and everything they didn’t do. We had our breakfast. Mom drove us to school. I saw my friends waiting for me. Waving mom goodbye, I went towards them. We group hugged a little longer than usual because we were seeing each other after three months. The bell rang. We were going to have fun since it was the first day of a new year at our all-girls school. We entered the classroom together. I saw many new faces. We got seated at the back of the room and started talking about the new girls.
I didn’t like many of them at the first glance. I don’t like changes much. It takes some time for me to get used to them. Aqsa, my friend, a skinny girl with long dark brown hair, put her hand on the chair in front of her with a thud. The girl sitting on it gave us an ice cold look and said, “Get your hand off my chair.” And went back to talking to a girl. Aqsa stared at her for a second and then looked at us and we all started laughing. Then the teacher entered and the new girls introduced themselves. The teacher told us to take out our books.
After what seemed like years I whispered to my friends, “It’s just the first class and I am already bored as heck.”
I’m the mastermind of everything evil that we do. I came up with an idea to kill boredom. We made notes saying, “You will die in 7 days.”,”You’re in bad luck today” or “I’m behind you” and many more and threw them at random people whenever the teacher turned her back on us. One of the notes went in the bag of that rude girl in front of us. We were laughing quietly, anxiously waiting for her to read it. The bell rang and she started putting her belongings back in her bag. Seeing the note, she picked it up and started reading. Her expression was priceless. She actually got scared. We tried our best not to laugh but failed. She looked at us and we pretended to be laughing at something else. The bell ran again and we said “Thank God” loud enough for the people around us to hear it. The first day was pretty dull but we lived through it.
I got home at around 3 ‘o clock. Literally throwing my bag at the corner of the room, I went down to raid the fridge. Yeah, I’m a foodie. Mom asked me about my day and I asked about hers while we had lunch. Hassan and Adan were upstairs taking a nap. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’. As the evening set, I went out to play badminton with Haania. She’s been my neighbor and best friend since as long as I can remember.
“How was school?” I asked, picking up my racket.
“You have no idea. We have this really weird teacher who related bonding to Indian movies”, Haania laughed.
“I would have paid to see that!” I joined in on her laughter.
We played our usual casual game of badminton. We would always play in the evening and talk about things ranging from our day at school to preferences in socks. It was getting dark so we stopped.
“See ya tomorrow.” I said to her and went in.
Dad was home. We ate dinner and he told us about a new contract he had gotten and that we were gonna celebrate it by going to our favorite restaurant on the coming weekend. After having eaten God knows how much mac and cheese I couldn’t move an inch. I felt very tired. It really was a long day as I’d expected and I wanted nothing more than to sink into my soft warm bed.
“I’m so tired I might sleep for ages.” I told my mom as we did the dishes. And so I did until I found myself walking down that dark street again……
Saja Ali and Zoha Hidayat For Beyond Sanity Publishing
See it here: Wattpad Link