Darkness gnawed at her insides, suffocating her soul. She tried to adjust her vision and groped around for a candle or anything that could help illuminate her surroundings. Finding nothing, “This place seems to have been abandoned long ago,” she thought to herself. She highly doubted the existence of any window in the tiny enclosure and had there been any, it would be futile, as the moon too was curtained behind thick, dense clouds. The stench that filled the room was making her nauseous, and she found it hard to draw a single lungful of air. Not aware of where she was in nor what sort of place this was, she gave up on the thought of finding a source of light and decided to wait for the rain to cease.
“If there was a way in for me, there has to be a way out too,” reassuring herself, she tried searching for the door from where she had stepped into the cottage, but to her greatest astonishment she couldn’t find it.
Was it even there in the first place? Or had it, by some miracle, vanished as soon as she stepped in?
Before long, she sank down to the floor she’d been firmly standing upon, and not long afterwards she heard the creak of a door opening and she was hit with a fresh gust of air.
Melisa was on a hiking trip with her friends. As the evening approached, they set camp in a small clearing they discovered in the vast forest. Melisa opting to fetch water, picked up a torch and left the camp, alone – the iron lady that she was, but as luck would have it, she lost track thanks to the heavy downpour.
She would have found her way back to the campsite had it not been for the rain which had washed away the directional arrows she had marked on the tree trunks with a neon-glow chalk. Now she had to trust her instincts to get back to her crew, so regardless of the heavy rain, she started walking – every step a carefully trodden mistake. After about twenty minutes, she reached not her welcoming calm, but an old cottage – clinging to sorry life, but standing strong against the beastly downpour like the mausoleums of Pharaoh stood against the desert storms.
Forget whatever condition it was in, she decided to enter the cottage as it was her only escape from the horrendous weather. She approached the wooden door and knocked it thrice. Hearing no response from inside she decided to open it herself; the door seemed locked for years, in the dim light of her torch she could make out the rusted hinges. It felt as if some force from the inside was pressing it hard, which was why it took Melisa a grand effort to jerk it open.
As she entered the cottage, grave darkness stood welcoming her with open arms. Something crept over her feet which made her lose her balance, and along with it, her only hope against darkness too – the dimly lit torch.
The door closed for darkness to reign back on her realm. Melisa didn’t move an inch from where she was sitting, not even to grab a lungful of air. Whatever existed in the cottage, other than her, was breathing hoarsely, as if it had travelled a long way without a break to reach this place. A purple glow came from a spot on the body of that creature. She couldn’t make out what it was. She tried to make out the source of that glow, but before she could come to a conclusion, the creature turned towards her. And what Melissa saw was a yin-yang tied in the form of a locket around its neck – which looked more like a tree trunk shaped to form a neck. She moved her gaze a little upwards, following the trails of radiance and saw a face that shook her out of her skin.
It wasn’t a human face but a combination of flesh, bones, blood, and wood, amalgamated to form the features that reminded her of the Netherworld. She smelled danger and wanted to flee from the place. But the hypnotic effect of the yin-yang glow, grew deeper on her as the creature approached her with a sharp weapon and with one distinct move slit open her throat. A pool of blood gushed out of her jugular vein, and life lost all its colours to that occult night.
“Melisa, Melisa. What is wrong? What happened? Why were you screaming? Are you alright?” Sandra shook her, trying to bring her back to her senses.
“Nothing. Nothing. It was just a nightmare, I guess… I am okay…” Melisa looked at the open entrance flap of their tent that fluttered because of the air outside and wiped the sweat of her forehead, asking;“Why is the flap open Sandy?”
“Oh! I guess I forgot to close it; you don’t worry now. Go to sleep. I will close it,” Sandra moved towards the flap to zip it.
“Ok…” Melissa whispered under her breath and lay down staring at the roof of her tent, tucked in safely in her sleeping bag; she felt a little weight over her collar bone, and as she moved her hand over her neck, she felt a chain with a locket clasped round her neck.
“I never wear lockets, then where did this come from,” she wondered.
As she lifted the pendant in her palm, an illuminated yin-yang gave out a purple glow.
A glow that left her existence questionable for life…
Written by: Mahnoor Naseer
Edited by: Husna Thaslim
My favourite person got interviewed ❤
“When you write, reflect who you are. This is the respect we should give to our writing” says Sonia Mukhtar, an author, and a practicing Counseling Psychologist.
1. Tell us about yourself?
I do believe in operational definitions and that if we can define ourselves, we might be able to get on the journey of ‘know thyself’. I am a practicing Counseling Psychologist by profession and by person I am a disciple of minimalism and functionalism in body and soul. I am a practitioner of mindfulness with meditation especially sketching, Yoga and Gyan Mudra. I am a motivational trainer usually conducting workshops and in groups. I am a debater and a writer of essays, poems, short stories, novels. I believe in climate change and nature taking its course. Nature offers serenity to me: greenery of forest, blueness of sky and water, darkness of mountains and airiness of breeze freely touching…
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Maham Syedain clinched the Silver Prize while Arooha Arif secured the Bronze Prize at the short story writing competition conducted by US Magazine of The News.
MOI Writes talks to these two amazing writers in this exclusive interview!
“Writing is not just something I am fond of, but something that I believe resides within me as an instinct”,says Maham Syedain
“I do not find the inner peace to write. I just write. Peace itself finds its way in my mind and heart”, says Arooha Arif.
Arooha Arif (Left). Maham Syedain (Right)
1. Tell us about yourself?
Maham Syedain: This is Maham Syedain. I am a 23-year old student studying Clinical Psychology, from the University of Karachi. Besides studying Psychology, I am a passionate writer, poet and an avid reader, who has written and contributed ample amount of literary pieces to different literary magazines/e-magazines. I am a regular reader…
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If I close my eyes,
And think of you,
Come visit my dreams forever?
The promise of You and I,
That I made to myself,
Will you help me fulfil?
I won’t ask you to stop
For a long while,
Just in the minute instances
When I sit at my corner table,
Near the window —
My pale face bathed by the Moonlight —
Sipping a warm cup of tea
And a book in hand,
The moments when
I lose the sense of the real world,
Explore the possibilities that
Could connect me to you,
Can you be with me in those?
If I plead you to
Come out of my book of dreams
Stand real, in front of me?
So that I could touch you,
Like a blind person
Trying to outline the features of someone —
To learn and memorise them,
Will you allow me to touch you?
To touch my forlorn dream,
Because people say
I am a lunatic –
What do you think?
Am I an Imbecile
Or the world?
Who wishes upon the broken stars,
Destined to meet the dust
And not reach the skies.
For once step outside my dreams,
To show the world
How my static stars yield,
Just live for a night
And return me my sanity.
And then go back or stay,
As you wish,
But if you do choose to leave,
Then take with you my hollow dreams.
Thought to just sit down
And write how you were
How you looked like?
How those eyes smiled?
You know what
Today, I did and realised
I am forgetting it,
All of it.
Your tanned Asian face,
Your handsome hunk smirk,
Your long lashes,
And dark hair.
I cant picture anymore,
Memories have blurred now,
Maybe because I am getting old.
I don’t remember,
Do you remember,
The first day I held you in my arms?
You cooed, maybe?
Because I don’t.
I bled red then,
I bleed grey now,
You are no more.
I am forgetting my child,
When tears drop down my eyes
And run through my calloused hands,
I see a face —
A tanned Asian face,
A handsome hunk smirk,
Long lashes and dark hair —
Whose? I don’t know.
I see the gravestone in my yard,
And try to memorise that name,
It’s difficult to remember.
Whose grave it is?
Why it is here?
Maybe, it’s not my house,
Maybe, I am lost.
I am just old
“You take a step back from me, and I promise you, I will turn into someone you never knew. Someone you can never recognise.”
I promised you this, then you took that step and honey, here I am, there you are; messed up in your thoughts, thinking what has become of me — a demon, a stranger or a pointed shard of glass?
You are searching for the person who cared for you, you deny it, but I know you do and it is driving you mad because every path now leads you to a dead end. Why don’t you stop?
Because you think of the same me – vulnerable me – who can fall a prey to your cheesy tricks, but oh no! I won’t, not this time, never again. Why?
Because I promised you;
“Take a step away from me, and I will step miles away from you, miles that end at infinity.”
And Infinity, do you think it has an end?