Misadventures Past Bedtime

It was a dark and stormy night when our intrepid explorer, seeking the forbidden repository of confections, plummeted head-first down the cascading thoroughfare to the vaults and landed at the feet of the nefarious beldam dubbed “sitter”, inadvertently uncovering every toddler’s nightmare: a “time-out”.

Shoutout to Margaret Shafer for helping make this purple prose happen! 

Advertisements

The Last Case of PI Gordon

I often dreamed of dying.

Head bashed in by a horse hoof, bleeding out in the Thames, and falling – those were the deaths my dreams chose. They were fitting ends to my tale – poetic almost. The folks at Scotland Yard had bet I’d end up getting shot in some alley. Everyone thought my Final Problem would end with a bang, not a pop. No one imagined it would end like this.

My client stands by my window, probably looking out for the non-existent back-up. I knew Miss Tyler was trouble the second she stepped into my office. Red dress, dagger-sharp heels, everything about her screamed money – dirty, most likely – and danger. A smart P.I. would have passed on this case. But business is slow in Hackney, especially when you’re a woman. Cash up-front trumps common sense. And I could never say no to a pretty face.

My soon-to-be killer steps over me, his shoes filling up my vision. There’s blood on the silver toes – mine. If Miss Tyler’s the femme, then Jacob Orwell is the homme fatale of this story. He’s a typical Casanova, loves mixing pleasure and business, and more than once, his work had made him my business. I didn’t care though. Returning clients never hurt. Until now.

It made sense that they knew each other. High-class like her always find me through referrals. She’s in love with him. I can tell by the way she’s come running to him, not caring that her six-inch stiletto digs into the palm of my hand. I want to scream as she grinds her heel anxiously, but I can’t. The cabinet is crushing my throat along with the rest of me. That won’t be what kills me though. It won’t be the fire she’s suggested either. What will kill me is also the only reason I’m still alive – the two-inch fang buried in my back.

That damned fang is the reason I’m in this mess. Missing items cases were usually a no-brainer but when she showed me the picture of that one-fanged bronze snake, I knew there would be a catch. I just never anticipated that catch being poisoned and ending up buried in my spine.

They’re arguing. They know I don’t have long but she’s afraid someone will link my death back to Orwell. Like I said, she’s in love with him. That makes her more dangerous than he’ll ever be.

He’s less keen on stabbing me again. In the few glances he spares me, I spy feelings I’m all too familiar with.

Guilt.

Shame.

Remorse.

He doesn’t want me to die. I didn’t realise he cared. Miss Tyler’s noticed his conflict as well. And she’s not happy.

She’s saying they should have grabbed the fang and left a long time ago. She’s right of course. I would have bled out by now if it weren’t for the bronze. But the bronze isn’t what made that snake valuable to them. It’s the venom currently in my system.

Jacob wants to walk away. The venom’s gone. There’s no way I survive that dosage and he knows no one’s coming for me. I work alone. Miss Tyler’s sceptical. She believes my lie about back-up. She’s not thinking clearly anymore. She suggests a fire. Again. Make it look like a gas leak, take down the whole building, she says. He’s starting to realize that there’s no line she won’t cross. Suddenly he’s afraid. I’d laugh if I could. He’s trying to appeal to her humanity, telling her that everyone will assume it was someone I pissed off – not entirely wrong and I have a reputation for doing just that – and move on. He’s asking her to show me mercy. She’s no longer listening. She looks at me with such loathing that I know her motive’s changing. Jealousy was not her colour.

My vision’s going dark, but I can still hear them. He’s trying to reason with her, prove his loyalty. He points out that he stabbed me for her, which is an excellent point. She asks him to do it again. He hesitates. She’s had enough. She screams.

Crash. I think she’s thrown herself at him.

Slam. A body’s hit the wall. The sounds are fading fast.

Crack. Someone broke a bone.

An echoing scream.

A whispered shout.

Silence.

 

I feel my shirt soaking through. Oil, blood, I don’t know.

All I know is Darkness. Silence.

 

 

 

I often dreamed of dying. Never imagined it would be like this.

The Fire Keeper

She paced the stall anxiously, resisting the urge to bite her nails. She hadn’t seen him in months, not since the keepers had left. Back then, she had been confident that time apart was all she needed to forget those warm, laughing eyes, that slightly crooked smile, and that unruly mop masquerading as hair. Time was supposed to make you forget. Clearly, the rules of normalcy didn’t apply to him.

A loud banging on the door broke her out of her reverie.

“Just a minute!” she yelled as she sat back down on the covered toilet, groaning internally at her ridiculous predicament. She thought she was cooler than this. Cooler than hiding in the bathroom of some random cafe. Her opinion of herself tanked further as she stood up on the toilet to sneak a look at the source of her dilemma through the grimy, overhead window. Standing across the street, he looked exactly the way she remembered, and yet, different. He had grown, not just in height but also as a keeper. He looked so at ease as he held the fireflies in his hand and whispered to them. Words of comfort, she guessed, reassurances that they could do it. Or maybe she was projecting. The voice in her head sounded a lot like his after all.

“Lady, are you okay?”

She turned sharply, nearly slipping in the process. With horror, she realized that the stalls were open at the top, and her peering head, was clearly visible to the high school girl doing the funny jig outside her stall door.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m totally okay.”

“Raaight… then, can you get out and watch the show from somewhere else? I really have to pee.”

Face flushed, she mumbled an apology and exited the stall. Once again, she had to remind herself that this was unlike her. Feeling nauseous, she pushed through the crowd in the cafe to ask the barista for a paper bag – just in case she threw up. The shop, like every other shop in a two-mile radius, was packed with people who had come to watch the show. Nothing could unite a city quite like firefly season. As she reached the counter, a large stack of cupcakes caught her eye. She marveled at how the icing colors captured the various shades of the keepers’ fires. No two keeper flames were alike, and neither were the fire-cakes. She scanned the pile, looking for a familiar shade of scarlet.

“Wow, you’re really going all out,” she joked, picking two that came closest to his flame.

The barista shrugged. “The Irish have their leprechauns. We have our keepers.” She thanked him and headed out to the street, nausea replaced by a growing sense of excitement.

The keepers were already in position and the sun had long set. She made her way up to the corner of the street and sat down at the foot of a signal. From there, she had a clear view of the only keeper that mattered. She found her eyes following his every movement as he knelt to pick up the flies preparing to breathe his fire into them. His arms bore more scars than before – souvenirs of the fires he’d lit along the way. She looked at her own unblemished hands, wishing the flames had chosen her so she could have been by his side instead of watching from afar as the singing began. The bugs in his hands glowed scarlet with his fire as they slowly drifted up and into sight. They danced past neon signs as the lights of the city turned off one by one, and the fires of the keepers took to the sky. The crowd cheered as the keepers’ song ended and the festivities began.

“The Irish have their leprechauns. We have our keepers.” She muttered, reaching up to touch a passing firefly.

“What did you say?”

She turned to find him standing behind her. His warm, laughing eyes – just as she remembered – were fixed on her and suddenly her ears felt as red as the bugs. Embarrassed, she shook her head as he sat down beside her and helped himself to a fire-cake.

“Will you be staying long?”

He shrugged. “Only as long as the bugs do.”

“And then?”

“Wherever the bugs go.” As he spoke, she watched the lingering glow on his hands fade. She didn’t notice that the matching tint in his cheeks persisted. Above, the fireflies danced in the sky. Their season had officially begun.

Alexa makes a Grocery List

“I don’t understand,” she said, furiously flinging the cursed fruit across her room. “The plan was perfect! How could she say no to such a delectable, red, juicy apple? What’s greater than apples?!”

The blue halo flickered as her fairy godmother spoke.

“Would you like to buy Avocados instead?”

(Written in response to the YeahWrite Microprose Challenge but uploaded too late because I still don’t understand time zones.)

The One Where They Write Names

The odds of winning the Powerball are more than that of stumbling across a person who knows what anime means but hasn’t heard of this one. For most, it serves as the gateway into the eccentric world of both Japanese animation and Japanese comics, and is easily in, if not at the top of their list of favourite anime of all time. With good reason too.

 

What’s the noise about

So here’s the sales pitch: 15-year old finds a book belonging to a god of death and uses its power to successively kill off the people he deems as the worst scum on the face of the earth. The book comes with its own set of rules, the first one being, “Whoever’s name is written in this book shall die”. True genius that he is, Yagami Light uses the book to reshape the world in his image, doling out death sentences to those he pleases, as he pleases, when he pleases. But a killer is a killer and soon enough, the brilliant and eccentric young detective ‘L’ makes it his goal to catch the murderous vigilante. The two find their ultimate rivals in one another, and one of the greatest cat and mouse chases ever written, drawn, and animated ensues.

 

During and after-thoughts

Death Note is definitely one of the least clichéd or stereotypical anime ever created. It’s charm lies in the mind games and psychological battles that the two protagonists engage in, and can also be termed as an un-anime-like anime, which makes it extremely appealing to first time viewers since its theme and tone can be well compared to a gritty Netflix or cable channel show. It lacks frivolity and is heavy on the tension, keeping you on the edge of your seat, waiting to know what happens next. It’s a show you’re guaranteed to enjoy. That is, of course, if you’re not me.

 

Before fans jump down my throat for saying this is not the most amazing anime ever, hear me out. Imagine you’ve been digging through the bookshelves at your favourite store looking for that bestseller that you’d missed out on when it was fresh off the press. It’s been a few years since it was out and you know you’re late in jumping on to the bandwagon. You finally find the book, and with a sense of triumph, head out to the counter to pay your dues and get on with the book, hoping to finish it in a day. You step out of the store when your friend, who’s driving you back home, notices the book in your hand and goes, “Oh, I love this book. I felt devastated when Gary died in chapter 10.”

 

All it takes is one spoiler to effectively ruin it. You try to read the book but all you can think of, right from the moment you meet Gary, is how he’s about to die. And you only begin to actually enjoy the book once the event of Gary’s death is over and done with, because hey, you don’t know what’s coming anymore.

 

That’s what happened with DN. People will tell you that the series is absolutely brilliant before and starts to mellow after the crucial spoiled event, but for me the series could only be truly appreciated once I no longer knew what was about to happen. Knowing the episode number just made it worse, because I’d catch myself counting down the number of episodes to that fateful event, and instead of racing through the show, I let it drag for days, scuffling my feet, unwilling to watch the next. It also took the surprise elements away and resulted in this series ranking far lower in my list of good anime than most people would forgive.

 

The brilliance of the show though, cannot be denied. The writing is crisp and compelling with characters like Light, L, and M, who’s unparalleled intelligence is to be admired and feared. Their personalities and clashing philosophies are half the reason this show works. Coupled with a masterful soundtrack – special mention to L’s Theme, which is so iconic and unique you’ll always remember it, –  the clean direction makes for good viewing. I do dock a few points for Light’s sexist attitude and lack of strong memorable female characters. While Amane Misa is memorable, she is far from capable of holding her own against L and Light. The one character who I thought would hold her own turns out to *spoiler* and I can’t even remember her name (the fact that I’m unwilling to google the name says a lot to0). Even characters supposed to be strong women of society appear to turn into naïve idiots around Light which was positively nauseating to watch. The show is so overpowered by L’s and Light’s personalities that even characters like boy genius M don’t pack the same punch. The gods of death make things fun with their contrasting and unique personalities. Rem is the closest thing to a strong female character, but I’m not even certain she (do shinigamis even have genders?) counts.

 

Things you should know

The show’s only 37 episodes long and makes for a fast watch. I almost always recommend the subtitled version over dubbed versions, but I cannot stress it more for this one. It makes no sense for our very clearly and obviously Japanese protagonists to talk in English and with this anime in particular, things are lost in translation. Fun fact for everybody: When the killings first start, Light’s character is christened ‘Kira’ by the general public. This is derived from the English word killer as Japanese does not have a syllable for ‘-ll’ thus making Kira a pretty logical name choice for the omnipresent invisible murderer of criminals. Guess what the explanation offered by the dubbed version is for the choice of name. None. I’d give the show a rating PG-15, mostly because it requires a certain maturity to understand the show and its messages, and only partly for its dark themes. Should you watch it? Most definitely. If you like psychological thrillers, crime dramas and good old Sherlock Holmes, this one’s for you. Just don’t let anyone ruin it for you.

1116

There’s not much that I have to say in this post. A new year is here, and for some reason I can’t shake the feeling that life is going to be very different here on out.

 

I don’t do resolutions too often because I have a track record of not sticking to them for longer than a week and I doubt I’m going to be making any now. But in the spirit of different, I’ve decided to start branching out from my usual fiction writing and begin dabbling in reviews.

 

Naturally, the question that arises is what shall I be reviewing. If you’d asked 15 year old me this question her answer would have quite simply been “books, duh.” But between now and then, things have changed drastically and I find that the number of books I’ve read in the past two years has been shockingly too few to review. So I turned to my other hobbies and there was a rather obvious answer staring me right in the face: anime.

 

There’s plenty of reasons why I’ve chosen to start anime reviews. A few weeks back, I found myself pitching multiple anime to my juniors and explaining the brilliance behind those shows. There’s a pretty large number of people on campus who enjoy this form of media and after coming to college, I found myself re-entering a world I’ve known ever since I discovered Cartoon Network. It’s also recently been brought to my attention that I’ve seen over 35 anime and while I still wouldn’t call myself an otaku, it gives me enough experience to safely start sharing my spoiler-free opinions. And since I’m pitching these shows to people and trying to convert them all the time, I just figured it’s time I started putting them down on paper (or webpages if you must) as well.

 

I’ll soon be kicking that off with almost everybody’s introductory and favourite show, so do look out for that.

 

I guess once and more importantly IF I get done with this, I’ll pick something else up and give that a whirl. I’m not much of a food reviewer though. I either like the food or don’t and don’t exactly have a sensitive palate that can truly appreciate delicacies, especially given my limited diet choices. So foodies, I’m afraid I must disappoint you there. I will however still steal your food if you don’t eat it quickly, so be warned.

 

Well that’s all there is for now. As the few people who’s still in the middle of finals (I know, I’m horrified too) I must head back to my prep now. In other news it’s my birthday tomorrow and then I have three papers back to back day after on so it’s going to be a fun week. I’m also starting a new job in 10 days and that’s something I’m really looking forward to. A new chapter thus begins and 2016 is going to be one hell of a ride.

 

Happy New Year everyone. I hope it’s a good one.

 

– Soon to be Birthday Girl