I can’t speak for other people because their minds are not on the list of places I had checked into but my own thoughts, I have visited often. Thus, I know the questions that arrive in this desolate place I call my brain. They used to be simpler and consulting a parent, a friend or a teacher sufficed. Yet, they grew complex. I can’t say on which exact date the change happened. All I know is that now, I have queries with no answers.
The people I used to look up to are as much confused as I am. When they had no replies to my wandering abstractions, they silently accepted me as their own.
“Congratulations! You have crossed the threshold of black and white. Welcome to the Grey zone where everything is muddled up,” they informed me.
I cannot turn to them with my pleas no more.
I have learned to ignore my mind, my conscious, and its ramblings but it continues to gnaw and nag me. When the tossing and turning of these contemplations chew away a chunk of my brain, I go to Google. If natural intelligence is failing me, I try artificial intelligence. If nothing else, it kills time. Afterward, I am left with a hundred new types of hopelessness.
The familiar wave of despondency engulfs me. I smile. The exhaustion takes over my senses and I sleep. My brain, however, stays awake bringing me fresh thoughts from the realm of horror to ponder over in my dreams. Sometimes, the audacious bastard brings forth pleasant fantasies of a time to come or a few cherished moments from the times gone past. There is nothing wrong with the latter as long as you are asleep but the moment, the first surge of consciousness hits me, all the niceness melts into a sharp tinge of longing that slowly settles into my mounting melancholy.
The hustle of the day conquers my being and the cycle repeats.
His laughter echoed as the sharp ends of his wits ricocheted back from the hollow walls of the building. Wits were all he had at that moment for his form was reduced to an awkwardly arranged construction of weak bones, confined by means of ropes. However, he didn’t know that, for he couldn’t feel a thing. Every inch of his body was throbbing uniformly and had crossed the pain threshold to the point of numbness. His senses were affected. He could not tell if it was a day or a month, since they had captured him. He felt as if he had not looked at his reflection in a long time. However, he knew it could not be more than a few days though because his chin only had a few bristles. Good, he thought, at least my brain is working even if my body is broken.
The dark room had just a single candle in some far corner. Its light was throwing a bleak ray on the protruding spine of his naked, humped back. His face was lying limp between his small trembling knees, while his hands were tightly secured with a rope at the back of the chair on which he was being forced to sit.
“Bloody pathetic”, the big man said, wiping the spit from his mouth that had found its way there as it often did whenever he got too involved in his duty. Mr. Aubergine was a huge man with a narrow face and shoulders that somehow enlarged into a bulging tummy, giving him the look of an eggplant. He had a reputation of being a bully and was hated by those who worked under him. One of them had once bedded the same woman as him. She ended up sharing a few intimate details about Aubergine’s physiology with him and he, in turn, told his comrades. Ever since then, Aubergine was called ‘the eggplant with no eggplant’ behind his back.
‘Aubergine’ was not his real name of course but real names were not needed where he worked. Undercover names sufficed, and their leader had named the men based on their physiques or in some cases, functions. This has resulted in some ridiculous names. Aubergine’s partner, for example, was called Rhubarb being a thin man with a very red face. “What is he?” Rhubarb had exploded in anger when they were named, “A botanist?”
“His world, his rules” was the reply from his friend.
“Bloody Pathetic”, repeated Aubergine, “They always do that to me.” Aubergine found special pleasure in breaking bones of people-criminal or not! What he did not find pleasing at all was when his subjects entered a state, where pain couldn’t reach them and his forceful movements meant nothing but tiring himself uselessly. What enraged him further was the captor’s nerve to mock him by laughing at his helplessness.
“Not a single man had ever done that to me”, boasted Rhubarb, “And you know why? Because I fucking know when to stop.” Rhubarb was a shrewd man. While he loved torturing people just as much as Aubergine, he never lost control when at it. He would hit them hard but ensure their sense of pain was preserved. Then he would hit again when his subject was least expecting him. He knew how to be there. Always.
Aubergine did not reply to his partner’s jibes. Since the man they were paid to torture was far beyond their reach now, they knew it was time for them to leave. Besides, she would be coming any time now and Aubergine hated her. She was the only person in this whole system that wanted to soothe these rascals. Why can’t she just play by the rules?, he thought for the umpteenth time, and will you just look at that crafty stick sniggering and planning on to make a move on her. He was looking at his partner.
“What does that whore even see in you?” he decided to provoke him but that didn’t work.
“Oh I just know how to keep her awake at nights”, he smirked and added gesturing towards the figure tied on the chair, “That heightens his torture in a manner that’d satisfy every muscle in your body.”
“You are a dirty man”, said Aubergine that made Rhubarb laugh. The big man left the room since Lavender’s aroma had arrived.
“This is all very interesting”, said the doctor, “I’d diagnose depression and anxiety.”
“But it hurts me physically”, he was saying.
“Sometimes in severe cases, this could happen”, the psychiatrist elaborated, “However, what I really don’t understand is why would you see depression as some kind of eggplant and anxiety as what did you say it was?”
“Rhubarb”, he reddened.
“What are you, man?” asked the doctor mocking him, “A botanist?”
“No, a vegetable”, he mumbled.
“He knows”, the crowd of intern psychiatrists gasped in unison. The subject of their experiment was not brain dead!
Once upon a time, sharks flew across the sky and what a sight it was!
Hue — the painter produced the finest painting of his life while Click — the photographer captured an inspiring shot. Bard — the poet crafted the most memorable couplet of his life.
Finally, Cloe decided that something must be written on the beauty of this view as well and Cryptr was hired to write an awe-inspiring piece on the magnificent scene.
In short, everyone was so busy in imprisoning the moment that they failed to notice the happenings that unfolded next. Had it not been for a small girl standing on the shore, the vanishing act of the sharks would have remained a secret. However, as it so happened, Zaph — a 6-year-old, inquisitive girl witnessed and reported the incident.
“MYSTERIOUS VANISHING ACT OF FLYING SHARKS, REPORTED BY A KID”
The headlines of the newspaper next day were definitely far from routine.
“Mommy, where did they go”, asked the little girl from her visibly shaken mother.
“Now, now dear”, her mother had replied, “Sharks do not simply vanish into thin air. I wish you had not inherited that ghastly imagination from your father’s side. Sometimes you talk exactly your Aunt Muriel and God forbid she is 26 and unmarried. What a disgrace!”
Hogwash, thought the little girl, the sharks had definitely gone to some place fun and mommy just simply do not want me to go there. I will find the place though.
20 YEARS LATER at THE SHARK’S CLUB
Shuh shuh shuh
A woman with a perfect hourglass figure was swimming in a corridor that was full of water. Suddenly she stopped in front of a room as a tingling sensation engulfed her. She inhaled and an acrid metallic smell welcomed her nostrils.
Blood… raw blood. She realized.
I will probably just throw up, she thought but she could not give up now. She had waited and worked for 1.75×10^5 hours to prove to her mother that all of it had been real and she was not going to let it slip through her hands now, even when what she saw was more disturbing than her mother’s demeanour. The scene was shocking enough to rob anyone of their senses — a group of sharks were playing poker in one corner while the others were tangoing. The dancing made them look even scarier than their usual appearances.What really made her hair stand on end was what they were eating — steaks — human steaks! She knew this was the place the mysterious sharks had come to when they had vanished 20 years ago. She could see a portal in the room and every now and then, sharks were zapping in and out of it..
She fumbled with her shapeless bag for her digital camera and found it after a while. It was waterproof. Holding tightly on to it, she took several shots. Some were vivid enough to serve her purpose and satisfied by her efforts, she decided to call it a day and swim away from the lair of danger. Her oxygen/nitrogen mixture was depleting fast and she knew she must hurry up to reach her crew in time in order to avoid detection by the shark bodyguards protecting this mysterious underwater club.
However, before she could so much as take a step, she saw 50 rows of teeth. She was tempted to swim right inside her.
Is that a smile or…? Her thought just trailed off as she heard the deep manly voice.
“Henrie I smell a human”, declared the most handsome Shark sitting on the throne, “Catch the prey, bring me some fresh food and do not forget to play with the prey!”
She was caught and tied soon. You cannot out swim a fish, for god’s sake.
“We are about to eat you, Miss”, said one of the sharks.
Now they are stating the obvious, thought Zaph. Finally, they told her to sign a document, which was written in proper English. This was an educated lot. She read the document. It was an undertaking:
Dear future Homo sapiens,
I, a breathing human of my time, confess to have brought the wrath of nature upon you and myself. All your miseries are a direct manifestation of my careless liberties with the Mother Earth. Now all the creatures are raging a war on you because of my atrocities. I pray you lose.
A loathsome human.
Zaph blinked in disbelief.
“I’m not like the others, Sir”, she began but had no idea what name to use for addressing the gigantic shark sitting in front of her. He bared his teeth giving her a clear view of his power. Struck by inspiration she said, “Sir Mighty Fangs, you are the owner of the best and the sharpest cutters in the world. May all the fine edges of the strongest swords turn blunt in the face of your fangs. Please, let me go and I promise I will work for your cause.”
There was a pause.
“She is a human and they are naturally shrewd and cunning creatures”, counselled one of the sharks.
“You should not mind planting a spy among my kind.”
“You must return our photographs”, said one of the Keeper sharks and snatched away Zaph’s life work away from her.
Reluctantly, they relented to let her go.
“Look at how your double chins are showing in this picture, boss”, chuckled the Counsellor shark as he commented on one of the photographs captured by Zaph.
That was the last she had heard of the Shark world.
A FEW YEARS LATER
“Zaph dear, eat some. It is just fish you know.” Aunt Muriel was saying.
She replied with a “No, thanks.” It has been a while since she had been declining such invitations. Every time when she even pretended to dig into any form of meat — red, white, or any other, her knife would break. Apparently, the curse was real.
Dissuading her Aunt, however, was not easy, she realized after being tempted to relish the seafood for the third time.
Zelda — a Venus flytrap was growing nearby but Zaph did not notice its presence even when it caught a spider and emulsified it with its digestive juices. The vicious plant communicated something to the cultivar thriving nearby. The news broke fast.
“So she thinks we’re delicious?” said the old Mr. Elm.
“I would love to show her my delectability”, said the Cactus.