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View Poll Results: Which Story did you like best?

25. Login to vote on this poll
  • A King Without A Crown

    8 32.00%
  • Emotional Abyss

    1 4.00%
  • Blank Paper

    3 12.00%
  • Human Life Is Very Precious

    7 28.00%
  • Rusty

    4 16.00%
  • Ghoul

    0 0%
  • Tom

    2 8.00%
Results 1 to 8 of 8 visibility 7545

Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

  1. #1
    Scimitar's Avatar Full Member
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    Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

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    167p193 1 - Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

    and greetings

    This thread is the home of the entries for the writing contest.

    A massive thank you to those members who participated in this years Writing Competition!

    Please do read what our members have spent time writing for you, and please do vote.

    This thread is to display the entries only, and for voting.

    Entries have been displayed in this thread in no particular order.

    Please Do Not leave comments in this thread - this thread is simply for the entries and your votes.

    For all discussion and comments regarding the competition or entries, please CLICK HERE

    Finally, Do have a read, vote, and then offer your comments in the thread linked above, as I'm sure the writers, having spent time writing their stories for you, would appreciate any feedback you can offer.

    Thank you,

    Last edited by Scimitar; 01-09-2017 at 12:59 PM.
    Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

    15noje9 1 - Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

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    Re: Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

    Emotional Abyss

    Lost in an emotional abyss, …he forgets who and where he is.
    But time leaves him behind, …as the sun sets on the horizon.

    While blinded by the light, …he’s soon engulfed by the lonely night,
    …and has lost the will to fight.

    And through heavy sighs he hides the tears, …of his bleeding heart.
    In essence, …he is falling apart.

    His longing, however, has been lost in translation.
    Since this Majnun is truly a fool, …as Layla, …is just a figment, …of his imagination.
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    Re: Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

    Blank Paper

    The rain drops tap against the window pane with glassy fingertips, as if fleeing from the grey looming clouds from which they had tumbled. The coach lurches forward, a woman in front of me gasps 'Bismillah!' and holds on to her fraying seatbelt for dear life. The upholstery of the seats are so well-used they feel like concrete - and the spluttering coach seems to deliberately swerve in the direction of each pothole and mound in the street. When it comes to a stop, I can already feel the bruises forming on my thighs and the back-ache I will have when I wake up tomorrow.

    Mumbling and groaning, the coach stops besides a worn footpath. This is my stop and it seems like I'm the only one who will be getting off here. Before I have even stepped off the coach, it lurches forward, engine spluttering, and I stumble into a murky brownish puddle - so much for looking presentable.

    It has been raining since last night. But even the dismal weather and the equally dismal journey isn't enough to suppress the eagerness I can feel within me.

    I soon fall into step alongside the general current in which the people around me are travelling. I allow myself to be swept along by the eager murmurs and tide of anticipation. One of the most well-known writers of our country, by no doubt a national treasure, is launching his most recent novel - there are rumours it may become a feature-length Hollywood film by the end of next year. In my hands there is a copy of that very novel clenched firmly within my ink-stained fingers.

    I am hoping -inshaAllah - that he will sign this copy. What more could a literature student want, I think, then to have a copy signed by the most renowned writer in the land? I walk a little faster, in pace with the leaps my heart is making in my throat.

    The forest of people is becoming denser. I'm young and a head taller than most of those around me, I weave through as quickly as I can, the morning fog creating a hazy, dream-like atmosphere. It is 6am, I have come early to be certain I can finally meet the master of words, the interpreter of dreams, as he is called. I also want something more. In my hands lies an empty notebook - it is empty, just blank page upon blank page. I long to write, and yet when I look into that white nothingness lying before me, the words just fail to come. It's like those blank pages are a white vacuum. I want to fill them. I want him to teach me how. How to bring an end to that white silence.

    So close. Just so close-

    I step into a clearing in the dense forest of coat-clad trees. I stop and feel my mouth drop open.

    The lines lead from the door of the book-signing office to the far end of the street, and then back towards the door, and then towards the end of the street, and back and forth, looping one after the other. There must be at least four-hundred people. I look around in disbelief. An officer whose face is greyer than the clouds indicates to me my place at the end of the line. He must have been forced to wake up early in anticipation for the large crowds - he glowers at the book in my hands, the culprit. I slip it into my coat. The murmurs of the rain become more audible - splashing against the pavement, the cars, the solitary huddles of people, looking distant and ghostly in the wavering fog.

    And I wait.

    And wait.

    And wait.

    The rain is roaring in my ears, the clouds have become darker, brooding silently, watching. I am soaked to the skin. The looping line of people has almost doubled in size. I feel lost in the black-clad figures. But also excited - soon, soon I will have his name signed on my book. I can't wait to show my friends.

    He has finally arrived. I am on the far end of the street but I could recognise him anywhere. He is two hours late - maybe he was stuck in traffic? A doorman holds an umbrella over his head, and the writer disappears behind the glass doors of the office. It's another hour before the first of the line of people are allowed inside.

    I shuffle forwards at a snail's pace.

    Another two hours pass by - the seconds are warping and stretching, the time a gaping ravine between me and those glass doors. I can hear the seconds tick painfully slow on my watch, a loud yawning tick-tock which somehow swells above the howling rain, the dissenting murmurs, the rustle of pages -

    'Come on in!'

    There is an elderly man standing before a door, just a few metres ahead of where I am standing. He is looking somewhere in my direction. He's wearing sandals despite the late-December weather, his windswept white hair as curly as the fist-length beard framing his face. I idly glance around, shifting my weight from one aching foot to another.

    Then I realise.

    He's talking to me.

    'Come on!' He isn't smiling as he says this. He has a serious, intent expression on his face.

    By an impulse I have no idea why I am following, I tell the man next to me to keep my place for me and I make my way to the old man. Before he leads me into the dark interior of his shop, I have enough time to glance at the sign, it is in a flowing antique script: Bookbinders.

    At his insistence I gratefully sink into a chair besides a small electric heater, accepting the chipped, steaming mug of coffee he presses into my hands. I take a sip and cough. It's strong. Books are surrounding me, piles of them. They spill from the tables and shelves and rise here and there like frozen waves in a stormy sea. It smells like ink and paper. Like books.

    'So you're here to have that book signed.' He has noticed the book I am holding.

    I can't help but notice the sarcastic lilt to his voice. 'Yes,' I say a little defensively.

    He smiles. He lifts a couple of books, glances briefly at their covers, and places them on another pile. It swerves dangerously but stays put. 'You'd think an Oxford graduate will have offered his guests some tea and cake.' He waves vaguely in the direction of the line of people outside. It hasn't even moved.

    'He's busy....he's a writer.'

    'Aren't we all.....' he murmurs softly.

    We sit in silence for some time. Five minutes? Ten? The inside of this room seems strangely timeless. Not quite in touch with the world outside. As does the man.

    'So you want to be a writer as well,'

    'How do you know?' I can't keep the surprise from my voice.

    'You're ink-stained fingers. And glasses,' his eyes are bright, 'You look like a writer already,'

    'I'm going to ask him to teach me,' I say, 'Teach me how to write like him.'

    'He can't teach you how to write,' the old man whispers so softly, as if he is speaking to himself, 'He can't teach you to unravel and weave words to form a tapestry - you have to learn that yourself.'

    I am not sure what to say, 'I've tried to write, and I can't. I need him to teach me.'

    'Why from him though?'

    For some reason I feel a little irritated, 'Because he's the best! Would you be able to teach me?'

    'If you want me to.' He seems to have taken me seriously.

    'Okay then.'

    He picks up another book, places it onto another pile. And then he picks up the empty notebook which I had placed upon the table. Before I can protest, he tears out a page and gives it to me. It's white and empty. It's blank.

    'It's strange, so many of us are frightened of things which are blank....empty. A blank mind. A blank wall. A blank paper. We force ourselves to fill it with something - anything, as long as it is full. But why? Why are empty things, blank papers so terrifying to us? Why can we not consider it to be what it truly is - a paper of infinite possibilities.'

    I start, he seems to have read my thoughts. Or perhaps he is reading his own thoughts out to me. I don't know.

    'But it is empty, how can anything that is empty contain anything?' The old man intrigues me, he seems to be intimately connected to the books around him in a way I haven't seen anyone else. The long line outside the window shuffles forwards. But I don't mind.

    He leans forward, his eyes alight, 'Rather than staring at a piece of blank paper, desperate to fill it up as quickly as possible, why don't we appreciate it as a piece of art? That paper, in the moments for which it is blank, is capable of anything. A limitless amount of words can be written upon it, an infinite number of dreams can be seen beneath its surface, it is possible of anything and everything. Not like a piece of paper with words - it's now fixed to that idea, to that dream - it has been named and it's identity given. No. A blank piece of paper is so full. It's not empty. It's waiting. Will it be a poem? A love letter? A secret diary? It's a whole universe and more lying before you - if only you wish to see it. Waiting for you to open it up.'

    I am silent, I am staring at the paper in my hands. A blank piece of paper. So precious and unknown. Beneath it's surface a thousand ideas glimmering, a thousand dreams flickering uncertainly.

    'A blank piece of paper is a circular square,' he smiles, 'A circle of infinite possibilities.'

    'Or a circle within a square,' I murmur.

    'Don't be frightened of emptiness - it's only in the emptiness that something new can come.'

    Outside, the line shuffles forwards by an inch, perhaps two. They are so still, like trees. A forest of trees, made of wool and pashmina and linen, damp in the veils of fog.

    I glance again at the blank piece of paper. It's yawning whiteness no longer daunts me so much. It's doesn't have to be filled up, it can just be white, and nameless, until it finds its name for itself.

    A circular square. Infinite.

    Already, I can see some of the ideas, some of the dreams, within the blank paper becoming distinct,

    The old man is again rearranging the books. They loom around me. A forest of paper and ink.

    'I'll go,' I say.

    I receive no reply. I glance around, and I find him hidden behind a few towers of books, he goes down upon his knees, places his forehead on the ground. I silently leave the shop. And the old man. With his books. And his prayers.

    I step into the line of people, but I don't stop there. I walk on, and look back. It is too crowded there, too many letters, too many words. I need to go somewhere empty. Somewhere blank. Where there's no words. So that I can fill it with something new.

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    Re: Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

    Human life is very precious
    (This is a true story, the names have been changed)

    Dr. Haamidah a merit student masha-Allah, was very intelligent and hard working person. She was also very religious since her childhood and was extremely sensitive to human pain and sufferings. Her aim was to please Allah Azza wa Jall and to serve people for HIS pleasure. She was in extreme fear of the Accounting in the life Here-after.

    She had just finished her residency /house job when she started her job in the university clinic. The university clinic was special for the check-up and treatment of the wives and children of the university employees. The in charge of the clinic was an aged lady doctor who had been working there as a medical officer since long. She always used to demand another lady doctor for help due to excess of patients and being the relative of the chief, she would get help of other doctors. Now Dr. Haamidah accepted permanent job in that clinic. She thought that she would be able to enjoy her profession within the limits of the Islamic hijab as she would deal only with females and children patients.

    As soon as she started her job, the doctor in charge got two months leave with the result that Dr. Haamidah remained alone to deal with all the patients. But masha-Allah she worked hard and never complained.

    One day she examined a young 12 years old girl. The girl was the only child of her parents and had respiratory tract infection. The clinic mostly gave penicillin injections to the patients as penicillin was very cheap as well as very effective medicine but it had a terrible drawback because it could cause killer allergic reaction. To prevent that, every doctor would give instruction to the nurse by writing on the prescription “after test dose”. That was a compulsory instruction for the nurse to prevent allergic reaction.

    Dr. Haamidah prescribed penicillin injections for the girl and gave the instruction “after test dose” to the nurse. Meanwhile two medical representatives came in and Dr. Haamidah gave them time to show their medicines. While she was busy in seeing some new medicines presented by the chemists, suddenly, the 12 years old girl, picked up by nurses and others in their arms was brought in and laid down on the bed! Most probably, the nurse gave her penicillin injection directly without a test dose and so a killer reaction happened!

    Dr. Haamidah quickly examined the girl, she had no pulse, no heart beat, no respiration! She was like completely dead.

    Dr. Haamidah decided to give her artificial respiration and heart activity by CPR. She asked the nurse to bring oxygen cylinder but sorrowfully, the oxygen cylinder was empty. The two representatives didn’t miss a single minute and at once started their help “the first aid”. One started mouth to mouth breathing. He spread a thin hanker chief on the mouth of the patient and did mouth to mouth breathing. The second one started CPR (Cardio- Pulmonary- Resuscitation). Dr. Haamidah, getting satisfied from this important step, urgently ordered the nurse for important emergency injections. Those injections were quickly prepared and given to the patient. Dr. Haamidah also called her professor and told him about the emergency and asked his advice. He advised her not to worry. All necessary injections were given. CPR was carried out. He told her about one more injection. She also gave it to her. The nurse standing ready to carry out the orders and the doctor praying to Allah Azza Wa Jall and watching closely everyone helping the patient. In about an hour the patient’s heart and lungs started working so CPR was stopped. Her pulse appeared, her BP became normal, and she opened her eyes. Then she sat in the bad, and then she stood up on the ground and went out on her feet!!! Alhamdulillah, this was by the extreme Grace and Help of Allah Azza wa Jall!

    Dr. haamidah was surprised how to pay thanks to Allah azza wa Jall! She was astonished to see that before the Emergency happened, Allah Azza wa Jall sent help to her in the shape of the two medical representatives who were well trained in the first aid and CPR. Otherwise for her alone it would be very difficult to do everything alone. The oxygen cylinder was empty due to the carelessness of the in charge doctor! One of the nurses also did horrible blunder by injecting Penicillin directly without a test dose! Dr. Haamidah was very sad for such behavior of the medical staff. Human life is extremely precious; doctors and nurses must do their best to save human life. According to the Holy Qur’aan saving the life of one person is like saving the whole world and killing one person is like the killing of the whole world. See the verse 32 of Surah Al-Maa’idah, its English translation is here:

    32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land (many of them were transgressors).

    See, she was a young girl of 12 and was the only child of her parents. Dr. Haamidah said, “If today this girl was taken dead from the clinic, I would have discarded my medical profession right away. But Allah, the Greatest and the Most Merciful knows everything of the past, present and future and also knows the feelings inside our hearts. So Allah managed for us everything very well. Four workers, a doctor, a nurse and two medical representatives struggled hard and Allah azza wa Jall gave them the fruit! Alhamdulillah! The dead girl got up again and walked / went out on her feet! Then Allah, the Most Merciful will also give us reward in the Here-after insha-Allah!

    In fact the main signs of life are the heart and lung activity. If these two stop working, the patient will be dead within a few minutes! If blood with glucose and oxygen doesn’t reach the tissues particularly to heart and brain which are vital organs, then the shock becomes irreversible so that no benefit will happen even if lot of blood and oxygen are supplied. Thus urgent action in such cases is extremely essential! Allah Azza wa Jall enabled the staff to do that and Allah Azza wa Jall restored life to the patient! Alhamdulillah again and again. Mankind can never pay enough thanks to Allah Almighty, the Giver of life and death! Cure is in the hands of Allah Ta’ala. What is required from the medical staff is as much sincere struggle as they can up to the utmost of their ability. Then Allah will help them and will cure the patients because Allah is Shaakirun-A’leem. But Dr. Haamidah wanted permanent solution to the problem. She wished that:

    Based on the Justice system of Islam, every Muslim country must have a well-developed Medical Court System in which all judges must be medical doctors as well as scholars of the Islamic Law so that the patients and their relatives can get free justice. If simple Islamic Law scholars are appointed as judges then they can be easily mislead by a sinner doctor. A doctor judge, who has knowledge of the Islamic Law as well as medical knowledge, can understand the whole situation very well. If such courts are not made, then most of the medical workers will feel free in their professional work”! Thus human life will be in danger!
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    Re: Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

    A King Without Crown

    Once upon time far away from here lived a king. His life was perfect; he was richer than anyone in this world, he had marvelous palaces every corner of his country, beautiful wife, smart children, noble horses , luxorious cars and everything what a man could ever wish to get. But still, in the middle of all splendor and richness he many times felt like something was missing from his life. What it might be when he already had everything. Then he realised: he hadn´t a crown.

    All kings and princes he had met had their owns. A lot of gold, silver, pearls, diamonds but he hadn´t. So, he wanted to get the crown.

    He wanted to get the most glorious crown of the whole earth with gold and diamonds, made by the most lighted crystals. It should to be so an unusual and imaginative that nobody hasn´t never seen, something what people could image to see only in the movies or in the heaven. Shortly to say, it sould to be perfect.

    He made an announcement to all goldsmiths of his empire to start to work for his new crown. He promised a lot of gold and luxurious life for the one whose could make to him such of crown.

    When many crowns were ready, the king went to see them. All of them looked wondeful. The king took the first one and tried it to his head. It glistened like a drop of water in the morning sun. It was so heavy of so many pearls that the king hardly could lift it to his head. It looked perfect but it was so heavy that the king couldn´t keep it more than few seconds. He afraided that his neck would break.

    The next one was made of silver that gleamed like the ice. But it was also cold as ice and he had to take it away before his ears would to be frozen. Next one gave his a massive headache, the next weighed his forehead. And the next and the next... None of them felt comfortable.

    After trying every of them, he had to admit that none wasn´t enough fine to him. The king sended all goldsmiths away. He was sad and disappointed. Should he now live all his life without a proper crown?

    After that he couldn´t get any rest from his dreams. Only he was thinking was the crown. Days after days he saw dreams about the crowns and many nights he couldn´t sleep at all as his mind was too full of this one thing: the crown.

    His family became very worried as the king changed such a different person. He had been kind and generous person, telling jokes all over the days. He forgot his all old habits and friends and people around him talked how everything was better before the king started to want his crown.

    His wife was the most worry about the conditions and suggested to the king that he should meet a doctor. But the king became angry, drove her away and threatened to close her to the darkest prison of the country. So, the wife was real worry about his husband´s health and asked advices from all of hers friends. Finally she heard about one wise doctor and went to meet him.

    The doctor listened all story about the king and the wish to get the most glorious crown and said: "I think I can help him." The wife was very relieved when she heard it and demanded the doctor come to the palace at once.

    The king became furious when he saw the doctor but finally accepted to listen him a moment. The doctor said: "This is very serious case and I can´t find any other medicine for this than fulfilment of your wish. Luckily, I know how you can find the perfect crown - suitable only to yourself. But it´s not easy to get it and it takes some time. You have to work hard to get it. Are you ready to try?"

    "I do anything, absolutely anything, to get the crown.", said the king "It´s the only thing what my heart really wants. Just say what I have to do and I am soon ready to go."

    "We have to travel very far, to the farest mountains and live there in a small village. I come with you and I am sure everything goes well. But we can´t tell anybody that you are the king."

    In the village they arrived, was only few houses and they rented one of them. The king had eaten all his life a big meals but in the village he had to eat same like the poor people whose lived in there: a lot of vegetables, no meat, simple bread and olive oil. At the days the king worked on the fields with others and got to know those people whose lived there. The hot sun was shining when they worked outside on the fields, the work was hard and the days were long.

    Soon the king started to change. He didn´t talk about the crown any more, he didn´t even remember it at all. He liked those people he got to know better and better and their simple life style. He took part to everything they did like one of them and shared their happiness and sorrows of the life. He cried with them and laughted with them. He learn to respect old people and kindly guided the young ones. He was always honest and kept the secrets in his heart.

    At one evening when he was sitting with his doctor in their house, the king said: "We have been here now five weeks. I have to say I feel ashame a little. My thoughts and desires about some crown feel now so useless. I now know what is much more important in this life. What put me to want something like it so much that it almost ruined my life? You are a doctor, can you tell me this?"

    "Well, when someone has always got everything he wants, he doesn´t learn to understand the value of life. Gold is not gold anymore when you get it easily. You had to learn how to make work for getting something you urgently need. And about the crown - I think you have already got it."

    "What? I haven´t found anything else than potatoes from the fields. Not any diamonds or gold. Should I make my crown by potatoes?" the king laughted.

    "These people here have got to know you and they have learnt to trust you. They like you as you are. They respect you. Your good deeds here are the crown you so desperately wanted before. Look to their eyes when you talk with them. From them you can realise how they see the shine of your very special crown. It shines more than thousands of diamonds."

    "Remember, when you carry this kind of crown, all your deeds have some influence for it. If you do bad things in your life, you will lost pearls and diamonds, one by one. The shine of the silver will tarnish. Gold may change the rusted iron. But when you do good, nothing in this world can´t beat the glorious shine of your crown. Keep this in your mind, my king, when you carry this blessed crown."

    "This crown will be like a blessing to you and not only to you but to all of your country. You can teach all others too make good for others and live a simple life and then - believe me, you and your crown will remain to the history forever. People after thousands of years of your time will remember you and your country and call it the era of happiness."

    "Now", said the doctor, "tell me, which crown you like more - those ones which the most clever goldsmiths made to you before or this one, what you have earned by your own work?"

    "I think I like this one", said the king (as he, like all the kings always, have wanted to leave their name to the history books) and smiled.
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    Part 1:
    Hal reached the top of the junk pile, the 2 foot battery pack slung over her body jostling. She raised both her hands and pulled down her goggles from atop her brow and panned across the vista of decade old war machines “Got ya!” she exclaimed. A light inside her goggles turned on, alerting to an energy reading.

    As she approached the end of the valley, she saw it in all its glory: An old service full bodied bi pedal tank unit from, as far she could tell, several years before the war. Her heart beat rapidly as she toggled a knob on the left side of her goggles. The left lens protruded a few inches from its resting place, rotated several clicks to the left. She toggled it again until the lens rotated half as many clicks to the right before finally zooming in on the tank unit. The unit was in a kneeling position, a sign of stasis lock. But for Hal, this doubled as another sign; it would be an easier climb up to install the heavy battery pack hung across her shoulder.


    Hal’s hands gripped on the service ladder rungs, they were freezing cold to the touch. She climbed atop the bi pedal tank unit and found a circular battery hatch. As he flipped open the hatch, a small gust of steam jettisoned out into her face. Coughing, she un-slung the battery over her shoulder and slotted it in to the hatch. Seconds passed before a faint emerald green light pulsed out from the seams in the tank unit. She followed them until they lead her to the rear pilot hatch. Hal’s face lit up as she hit the door release.


    The rear pilot hatch popped open and she climbed into the cockpit. A myriad of switches and lights surrounded her as she sat down in the fully leathered pilot seat. She adjusted the seat until she was comfortable, pulled out a key card from her pocket and slotted it into the card recess in the main control panel. It took a few moments until the AI system booted itself up.
    Pilot unrecognised, please state your name’ said a robotic voice.
    Hello Halima
    “You can call me Hal for short. I am your new pilot from here on out. Destination: Outpost Hijrah. System report”
    Systems currently at 10% and counting
    “Good, that means the battery I just put in is actually working, and that in 30 seconds, you will have enough power to move and at least get us as far as my home. I need to stop by for supplies anyhow. What’s your name?”
    I do not have a name
    “Ok, well what do I call you, what’s your designation code?”
    Refurbished class, service tank unit, designation RST 1138
    “RST-1138 huh? Well that’s a mouthful, so how about I call you Rusty for short and you call me Hal” she said as she tuned Rusty’s personality settings to a more playful mode.
    Thank you Hali-
    “Just Hal”
    My apologies…Thank you, Hal
    “No problem Rusty. Let’s get some heating on; it’s almost as cold in as it is outside!” Hal said, as she wrapped herself in her arms, shivering.
    Please indicate ideal temperature, Hal
    “25 degrees”
    Temperature level set
    As the internal temperature rose, Hal strapped herself in, grabbed the control stick with one hand and with the other, pulled down a lever on her arm rest. Rusty’s whole frame shunted forwards as it stood upright on both legs; the behemoth bi pedal tank took one giant step forwards and the two were off.

    Part 2:
    “We’re just coming up to my home now – you see that dome shaped hut?”
    Rusty acknowledged by pulling up a picture on the display unit for Halima to see. Several piles of junk were shown.
    “Very funny. Now wait here. I just need to grab a few things from home” Hal said as she unbuckled from the pilot seat.
    Rusty stopped in its tracks and knelt down on one knee. Hal popped the pilot hatch open and climbed down the service ladder, jumped on to Rusty’s raised knee and slid down the rest of the way.
    Weeee Rusty commented as she miscalculated the drop and fell to a loud thud.
    Hal got up and looked towards Rusty’s brow and sent death glare directly into his optic lens.


    Two dummies dressed in traditional Arabic clothing greeted Hal as she entered her home.
    “Hi mom, Hi dad” She said, before she made her way to her ‘father’. She took out a small comb in his left chest pocket and combed the mannequin’s fake beard. “There, much better”

    She noticed her mother’s hijab was hanging slightly towards one side. As she began straightening it up, she heard a loud hiss coming from outside. Like that of a steam engine.
    “Scrappers!” she muttered under her breath.
    As she headed towards the front door, a familiar voice bellowed from outside: “Come on out Hal, we know you’re in there!”


    Outside, Hal followed the direction of the voice. It belonged to a woman named Jack, self-proclaimed ‘Scrap-lord’ leader of the Scrappers. Jack was a burly woman, sporting a short silver crew cut and dressed in military grade garb, mostly of dark green in colour, with a modified heavy duty triple barrelled cannon slung across her back.

    “Crap-Lord, what a pleasant surprise” Hal said, with all the patronising sarcasm she could muster.
    “You always did have a big mouth” Jack retorted.
    “Still running that protection racket I see?” Hal replied as she walked towards Jack
    “Still dodging your monthly rent? Well don’t worry, your payment is due, and I’m here to collect!”

    “I don’t owe you jack, Jack”
    “I hoped it wouldn’t have come to this; that you would be more forthcoming. But you left me no choice” Jack said, before pointing to her left.

    Hal looked towards the direction and saw Rusty had been clamped down with tow cables – and surrounded by two other Scrappers. The slim one with thick bleached hair, clearly suffering from withdrawal systems, went by the alias ‘Crazy Steve’. He held a rocket launcher, a relic from the war the group had ‘acquired’ on one of their previous scavenging missions. For some reason, he also wore the least armour. And clothes…

    Next to him was Blitzkrieg – the muscle of the group. He wore military slacks and a heavy duty suit of armour that exposed his arms, which were covered in xenophobic symbols. He held a modified jack hammer over Rusty’s back, as the bi pedal tank lay sprawled across the ground.

    Jack sure knew how to pick ‘em, Hal thought as she slowly reached for her modified blaster in her thigh holster. “Collect this” she muttered under her breath, before drawing her weapon and unleashing a fiery bolt of compressed energy directly at Jack.

    Hal’s aim was true and the bolt hit Jack in her left shoulder, burning through her upper garments and causing her to flinch.

    “You bi-“

    Another blast stopped Jack’s sentence and sent her spinning to the floor.

    “I’m coming Rusty, hold on!” Hal said as she rushed towards her mechanical ally.

    Crazy Steve decided this would be the best time to test both his mettle and Hal’s patience. He chose poorly.

    He pulled the rocket launcher upwards, aimed and fired. There was a slight pause before a 2 foot missile spiralled out of the barrel. Halima fell to the ground as the missile flew over her before crashing into her home creating a gigantic fiery explosion on impact.

    Crazy Steve laughed maniacally.

    “That was my home, you jerk!” Hal shouted before unleashing a salvo of blasts his way, many of them connecting on his exposed skin.

    As the salvo ended, Crazy Steve stopped in his tracks, looked down at his brutally wounded body, smoke rising from the charred black holes, and dropped dead.

    This exchange did not go unnoticed by Blitz, who rushed to meet Hal, jackhammer in hand.

    Hal raised her blaster, aimed it in Blitz’ direction and pulled the trigger. A hollow sound generated from her weapon – the last salvo had expended all her available energy and the weapon would need to be manually recharged. She began twirling the weapon around her finger repeatedly, generating as much kinetic energy as possible as Blitz continued to draw near. Every 10 revolutions would produce enough kinetic energy for a single compressed energy blast. She had counted fifteen revolutions so far, and Blitz was as many yards away. With her blaster still spinning, Hal turned around 180 degrees and ran in an attempt to gain distance. Fifteen revolutions soon became twenty. And twenty soon became thirty.

    Hal stopped in her tracks. She saw Jack slowly stand up from the ground, clenching her wounds. Finding herself caught in the middle, Hal took aim and fired another shot Jack’s way grazing the side of her head.

    “Jack fell down, I broke her crown!” she roared, triumphantly.

    Hal knew she didn’t have enough time to celebrate for too long, and quickly turned around to see Blitz had covered amazing ground – he was now only 10 yards away. With only two shots left, Hal took aim. She lowered her weapon until it lined up with Blitz’ jackhammer, and unleased the remaining blasts at it.
    Sparks flew into Blitz’s face as the blasts tore through the jack hammer. He dropped the weapon in frustration and ran towards Hal, right arm raised.

    Hal read the punch and swiftly tilted to her left, narrowly escaping Blitz’s clenched right fist. Unfortunately for her, she did not see his left fist come crashing into her side. She buckled and clenched her now bruised ribs, as Blitz threw an uppercut with his right hand into her face. The punch launched Hal off her feet, sending her sprawling to the ground. Dazed, and bleeding from her lip, she crawled forwards until she was abruptly yanked upwards. Blitz wrapped his arm tightly around her chest and whispered quietly in her ear “I’m gonna enjoy this”

    “I don’t think so” she said hoarsely, as she lifted her left leg into Blitz’s groin. His grip loosened and Hal smashed the back of her head into his face causing him to stumble backwards. She turned around, leapt towards him and drove her right elbow into his nose breaking it with a satisfying and loud crunch.

    Blitz fell backwards to the ground, blood gushing down his broken nose. The last thing he saw was Hal’s boot come crashing down into his face.

    Rusty put both his hands to the ground and lifted his entire frame – ripping through the tow cables that had once restrained him. Free from his capture, he rushed towards a bloody and battered Hal. A burst of machine gun fire pelted at him before he could reach her. He looked towards the direction of gun fire. It was Jack.

    Jack tore off her now hole-filled military jacket and tossed it to the ground, exposing an armoured suit – similar to the one Blitz wore, though somewhat lighter in density and weight. Scorch marks from earlier adorned the black armour. She raised her weapon, took aim once again at the mechanical behemoth, and unleashed a barrage of bullets into it.

    Hal shook her head and wiped the blood from her mouth. She saw a stream of bullets flying from one direction pelting Rusty, staggering him. She ran towards the source of the bullets, twirling her blaster all the way.

    Enraged, Jack pulled the trigger tighter as her triple barrelled rifle began to choke. She was losing ammunition fast, and the behemoth showed no signs of stopping even if it had slowed down. She saw Hal stumbling towards her, twirling a blaster in her hand. She dropped her rifle to the ground, unsheathed a knife from her boot and ran towards Hal.

    Hal looked up to see a raving mad Jack running towards her, brandishing a knife. Still dazed, one hand clenching her ribs, she pulled up her blaster and fired several bolts Jack’s way – all of them missing their mark. She stumbled and Jack gained ground. Before she knew it Jack had unleashed a flurry of swipes, each one drawing Hal’s blood. A final swipe sent her spinning to the ground.

    “You’re dead Bi-“

    A giant mechanical hand slammed down atop Jack’s head, stopping her sentence and crushing her to the ground.

    Part 3:
    Having manged to board Rusty, Halima tended to her wounds using the on board med kit. She pulled down the neck line of her tank top and administered what was left of antiseptic to the laceration just below her clavicle. With her left hand she pinched the wound closed and with her right she began to thread the suture kit through.

    “Last one” she winced as the needle pierced her numbed skin.

    Rusty did not respond.

    “Yo Rusty, you ok?”

    There was a slight pause before Rusty replied.

    I’m sorry Hal. They took me by surprise. I should have…

    “Relax Rusty –this isn’t my first rodeo” she said with a smirk, as she continued threading. “Besides, you were there when it counted. That’s more than what most people would have done. That is, if there were any people left. Look, in my eyes, we’re even.”

    Speaking of which, where is everyone Rusty enquired.

    “We used to get supply drops every month. Then after a while, those supply drops stopped. A private military came in. I remember their insignia – a yellow circle with a thick black thunderbolt symbol in the middle. They were tasked to destroy the place – apparently a bean counter decided killing us all would be more cost efficient than feeding us. I was conscripted, alongside Jack – that moron you splattered – to defend our city against those PMC’s. I guess you could say we won since all that’s left of them was in that junkyard I found you in. But we paid a heavy price – we lost a lot of people, innocent lives: Friends…family.” Hal paused for a moment, before resuming her stitching.
    “With limited rations, those that needed them most eventually all died. Then it was just a handful of us left – myself, Jack and her Crappers and some other families most of whom fled to other cities along with all the remaining transport. I’m guessing the bean counters that be-”

    ‘Bean’ Rusty interjected inappropriately.

    Hal laughed raucously.

    Rusty laughed robotically.

    Hal winced as she pulled the needle through again.

    “As I was saying: I guess they decided that sending any more militia would no longer be cost effective, and those that remain would end up killing each other or leave. Guess they were right, ‘cause I’m the last one, and I’m leaving”

    You’re not alone. I am with you

    “Ah don’t get mushy on me” Halima said as she threaded the suture one last time until it had fully closed the wound. “All done, time to roll out”


    Hal entered the Scrapper’s hover train. It was a long narrow vehicle, and contained most of the Scrappers’ loot – rations, ammunition and an armoury she’d not seen since the war. By the looks of it, the Scrappers practically lived in the vehicle. She made her way to the driver’s seat and quickly found a set of levers on her right hand side and pulled them downwards. The vehicle hummed as energy pulsed through the engines.

    “All aboard!” she said aloud, before checking the rear view mirrors. She saw her towering mechanical friend clamber on top of the vehicle, like an adult sitting on a toy car far too small for him. She was initially awe-struck that the vehicle could support his weight, but the sight was too comical and she let out a raucous laugh instead. Rusty gave her a thumbs-up gesture.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. Please keep your arms and legs inside of the vehicle until we reach our next destination: Outpost Hijrah”

    Azure blue lights burst out of the engines as the vehicle moved and quickly ramped up in velocity.

    Choo Choo Rusty said.

    Hal laughed

    Rusty laughed

    The vehicle thundered through the night sky.

    “The nearest habitable outpost is around three thousand kilometres– with you on board, that should take us around 30 hours or so.”


    Hal looked out of the window – at what was left of her home town. She remembered how the streets used to bustle with energy. How populated the town once was. How rich in vibrancy and colour. Now it was all dark. And empty. As if the town itself and all the people who once resided in it were engulfed in a gigantic black hole, devoid of all light, and life.

    They passed the cemetery – filled with the graves of those who had lost their lives. Hal reached her hand out to touch the window glass, slowly bowing her head down and uttered a small prayer. The vehicle continued to hurtle through the city; passing by destroyed landmarks, chassis of old vehicles and desolate roads. The further they ventured out, the less ruins of civilisation they encountered, until all that was left was Rusty atop the Scrapper’s train, guided by the vehicles front lights, engulfed in the darkness of the night. Exhausted, Hal close her eyes and fell into a slumber.


    Hal tossed and turned. She could hear a familiar voice. It was robotic in nature, but every now and then it was interrupted by a crackling sound – like that of a radio transmission. Garbled messages bounced around her head, and she slowly opened her eyes. Her pupils dilated, and the voice became clearer.

    Wake up Hal!
    She scrubbed her eyes, cleaning the sleet that had developed over night, and picked herself out of the Captain’s chair.

    Rise and shine!

    “Seriously?” Hal replied, still groggy.

    I intercepted a transmission from outpost Hijrah

    “Wait what?!”

    [i]Their scanners have detected a number of hostile mech units nearby. Their insignia matches the one you described earlier – yellow circle with a black thunder bolt through the middle[/u]

    “Oh hell no, we’ve gotta get to them fast!”

    That’s the problem – we’re running low on fuel!

    “How far are we from the outpost”

    I could get you there in half an hour – if we hurry, we might be able to get the drop on them. But we need to leave now

    “The last time I faced these guys, they came in a squad of three units. You think you can take on three?”

    With your help, we could take thirty!

    “Music to my ears Rusty!” she said, before jumping out her seat. She quickly headed towards the armoury and picked up as much ammunition and weaponry she could physically carry. “Rusty, I need a door!”

    Rusty replied by smashing one of his hands through the vehicle’s canopy, and laying it flat for Hal to jump on.

    “Let’s roll out!

    Part 4:

    Atop Rusty, Hal pulled her goggles down and toggled a switch near the right lens. Both lenses whirred outwards and expanded, before focusing in on several objects half a mile away.

    “I’m counting three units in a standard arrow tip formation” she said, before zooming in further for a closer look.

    One Crab mech bought up the right – easily identifiable by its 4 legged appendages. Light weight, agile, and armed with twin flame throwers as well as a light machine gun turret, it could wreak havoc on unsuspecting infantry; or civilians.

    A bi pedal tank - warrior Class, similar in size to Rusty, took the left. It carried a heavy duty rifle with as well as a salvo of rockets – designed to pierce the shielding and armour of opposing mech units; or to level entire buildings.

    The leader class was non-uniform standard; considerably mobile and durable given its size – roughly six and a half metres. With twin ion repeating cannons atop its shoulders, designed for depleting enemy mech unit’s shielding and in some cases, outright disabling them all together. It also carried an oversized blunderbuss rifle, capable of tearing through high grade hull plating at close range. They were the Thunderbolt PMC’s most prized possessions - as powerful and unforgiving as those who piloted them.

    Hal stood atop Rusty, resting a rocket launcher on her right shoulder. It was a long cylindrical shape, with two handles – one with trigger finger, and one on the side for support - and a single magnification scope. Its light weight and ease of use came at a cost – it could only carry one missile at a time, and had no targeting facilities. Hal needed to make her shot count. She looked into the attached scope and panned across the battlefield. Past the crab and Warrior mech, until she had the Leader mech dead in her sights. She targeted the upper rear segment of the Leader’s hull and pulled down hard on the trigger. The rocket launcher vibrated as a projectile blasted through the missile chamber, smoke spewing from the rear exhaust – the force would have blown Hal off her feet had she not triggered the gravity boots she’d looted from the Scrapper’s hover train, keeping her locked into place.

    The missile spiraled outwards and hurled through the bright morning sky until it made impact on the leader mech. Hal didn’t need to use the rocket launcher’s magnification scope, nor her goggles to see the result. Instead, her eyes were treated to a cacophony of colours – bright yellow, mixed with a fiery orange, and dark grey smoke. The fireball expanded to its apex and dissipated around the Leader mech.

    “Rusty, now!” she said, as she dropped the rocket launcher.

    Rusty drew his hand to just above the cockpit, allowing Hal to jump on. He pulled back his arm, aimed at the Crab mech to his right and threw Hal directly at it.


    Mid-air and head first, Hal felt time slowing down – her hair billowing all the way. The dark grey cloud that surrounded the Leader mech was still visible in front of her. Beyond that, lay outpost Hijrah – she could tell by the pillar like structures that broke through the skyline. She took in the view, and all the lights that radiated out from the city.

    The inertia from Rusty’s throw began to fail, and gravity soon took over. Hal could now see the crab mech increase in visibility and clarity as she gracefully descended towards it.

    She tapped the side of her gravity boots, a small exhaust tube on the heels of each boot burst out a stream of gas, easing her landing on to the top of the crab mech’s dome-shamed cockpit. Blaster in hand, she clambered towards the pilot hatch and opened fire, shattering through the cockpit’s glass and pelting the pilot inside. She jumped in and took control of the crab mech.


    Rusty rolled. The Warrior’s missiles flew over him, crashed and exploded into the ground several metres away. Back on his feet, Rusty charged into the Warrior mech, causing it to buckle under pressure.

    Hal locked on to the Warrior class’ legs and opened fire. A golden burst illuminated the Crab mehc’s shattered cockpit as a stream of bullets shot out the mounted machine gun, and tearing through the Warrior Mech’s legs, knocking it to the floor.

    Rusty hoisted up the Warrior in mid-air with both hands, and ripped it in half. A fountain of machinery, nuts and various bolts splintered out of the Warrior, enamouring Rusty for one, single solitary moment. This was promptly interrupted by a slug of shells penetrating his hull sending him sprawling to the floor. Rusty picked up a transmission from the Leader class’ pilot.

    “I’m going to enjoy this!”

    I DON’T...

    “..THINK SO!”

    Hal opened fire and burst of bullets from the Crab’s central light machine gun pelted the Leader class.

    Rusty raised his left leg into the groin area of the Leader Mech

    The combined attack staggered the leader mech, giving Rusty some breathing room.

    The leader mech quickly straightened itself, targeted Hal’s crab mech and opened fire with its shoulder mounted ion cannons. Burst of blue energy splattered across the crab mech’s hull, damaging the internal circuitry and disabling vital systems.

    Hal read out the Crab mech’s system status:

    Primary power offline

    Light machine guns offline

    Flame thrower online

    She shunted the control stick forwards and the crab mech scattered towards the leader. She pulled the trigger and the flame throwers each side of the cockpit streamed out bursts of hot molten fire enveloping and scorching the enemy mech. The leader mech immediately retaliated with a blast from its giant blunderbuss, tearing through one of the crab’s legs.

    Hal slumped to her side, as her crab mech’s left leg shattered. She unbuckled her belt and climbed out the cracked cockpit.

    Atop the Crab mech, Hal could feel the intensity of the firewall she’d created, burning on the ground in front of her. Through the fire and the flames, she could just make out the shape of the Leader Mech, readying to fire its blunderbuss. Hal jumped as a blast tore through the crab mech. One of the shells hit a rear fuel tank and the entire mech exploded, sending her flying.

    Rusty watched his blood soaked friend get blasted into the sky – her grace and elegance lost with every second she spent falling. He scrambled off the floor and leapt in her direction with both arms stretched out, catching her moments before she fell to her death. His optic lens looked deeply at her charred and bloody face, as she slowly opened her eye lids. And for one single, solitary second, the two gazed into each other’s eyes.

    You are not alone…

    “...I am…with you” she replied faintly

    Rusty felt a thousand particles burst in his chest.

    Part 5:
    The serrated silver blade that pierced her friend’s heart was now inches away from her face. It pulled back away, back through the cockpit, and back through her friends’ heart – his internal wiring crackled, as nuts and bolts spewed from the gaping hole in his chest causing the lights in the seams in his chassis to pulse yellow. Tears formed from her blood soaked eyes.

    “Don’t you dare take him from me!” she screamed, before firing a salvo from her blaster at the Leader mech. They all hit, cracking the cockpit and temporarily blinding the pilot inside.

    “Rusty” she said teafully.

    Halima. Forgive me for what I am about to do

    “Don’t!” she stammered, biting her lip.

    “I owe you my life” she admitted.

    From the day you found me, I have owed you mine. We got into a lot of trouble together. We bled precious blood, tears and metal. I have never felt more alive in all the years I have been operational He said, before emptying his clasped hands, and carefully dropping Halima to the ground. It is my turn to repay the debt, so that you may live. Good bye my friend.

    Rusty rose, turned around and leapt towards the Leader mech, wrapping his arms around it. He set off his self-destruct sequence. The lights in his chassis turned bright orange and pulsed repeatedly.

    Run Halima and don’t look back he commanded.

    Rusty watched as his blood soaked, battered friend ran for her life.

    Rusty’s sequence dropped to 4.

    Hal ran past the charred chassis of the Crab mech.

    Rusty’s sequence dropped to 3

    The Leader mech began to struggle fiercely. Rusty shifted his weight forwards and the two bi pedal mechs crashed to the floor.

    Rusty’s sequence dropped to 2.

    Hal had made it to the outpost front gate.

    Rusty’s sequence dropped to 1

    Hal turned around

    Rusty burst into flames and took the leader mech with him. The two exploded into a gulf of explosions.

    The force of the explosion knocked Halima back against the outpost gate, her ears ringing. She scrambled to her feet, reaching her hand out. Hoping Rusty would somehow emerge victorious and answer her call. Deep in her heart, she knew this wasn’t true.


    The dust from the battlefield settled. Halima rushed to the remains of her fallen friend. She picked up Rusty’s cracked and broken optical lens, and rested her forehead against it.

    “You are not alone!” she cried.

    The energy reading on her goggles blinked faintly.
    Last edited by AabiruSabeel; 01-22-2017 at 08:16 PM. Reason: Merging posts
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    Death and life are in the power of the tongue

    --Proverbs 18:21

    Despite the growling behind the door, Marv smiled and knocked again. “Open up, Kat. We won’t bite.”

    “Leave.” Her voice was faint, muffled by door and walls and snarls. “While you still can.”

    Marv turned to thrust a thumbs-up at Hank. “And you thought she wouldn’t be here.”

    Hank leaned against the car, left eye consumed by shadow while amber streetlight illuminated his crooked grin and extended middle finger. “Hurry it up, Marv.” Hank glanced over his shoulder at the parents and children crowding by the houses at the end of the street, the costumed mob lit by the candles of a dozen jack-o’-lanterns. “Let’s get her to Mouse before we’re knee-deep in trick-or-treaters.”

    Marv leaned toward the door. “Open up, Kat. We’ll all have us a nice sit-down and some coffee with you and your mama.”

    “Don’t you talk about my mama!” The growling rumbled closer.

    “What’s in there with you?”

    “Just get away from the door.”

    Instead, he sidled against it. “Now, come on, baby. You know I don’t want to have to break it down.”

    “I’m not your baby anymore. I’m not your anything anymore.”

    “Daddy Mouse wants to see you, that’s all.” Marv ran his hands along the wood grain. “He doesn’t like it when his girls go missing.”

    “So he sent you to find me?” The rumble became a bark. Kat said, “God, I can read you like a book! Can’t you see he’s using you? That this’ll end badly for us both?”

    “Not this time.” His hands became fists. “I’ve got plans, a future. And you’re part of it.”

    “Some future.”

    His fist thumped the door. He told himself it was because he glanced the line of costumed people at the end of the street trick-or-treating their way so close that Hank wouldn’t be able to scare them all off. “Open up, Kat!”

    “Marv, please, go!

    He kicked the door. “Open up right now!”

    Another growl, another bark, and the pitter-patter of four feet.

    “Call off the mutt.” Marv scowled. “Or I’ll flatten it.”

    By the car, Hank shouted for him to hurry. The throng of ghosts and goblins marched down the street, now only a few doors away. Marv said, “Counting to three, Kat.”

    “Marv!” What was that supposed to sound like, panic? “Run!”

    “One.” The barks became a howl as Marv set his shoulder against the door. “Two!”

    Then there was no door.

    There was only crashing and tumbling and sprawling across paving slabs.

    Panting in the entrance stood a hound like a hyena, the grey fur along its head dusted with splinters of the shattered door.

    Beyond the hound stood Kat, stained with red paint and dangling a baseball bat.

    As the dog stepped closer, drooling between bared teeth, Marv processed the Kat behind it – the paint splattered across her pale face, auburn hair and white dress was blood, and the bat she held was a severed arm.

    And before he could ask what on God’s green Earth was going on, the hound sank its teeth into his right thigh.

    (She’ll force a smile, press his thigh with one hand, cup his cheek with the other. Cold. “We’ll get to Mouse. He’ll know what to do.”)

    Marv knew what to do. He’d do it as soon as he finished screaming.

    The hound snarled, closed its eyes and tightened its jaws around the side of his leg, ripping another scream from his throat as his head slammed into the pavement.

    The dog pulled. The ground scraped skin from Marv’s outstretched palms. On either side, trick-or-treaters whipped past, a phantasmagorical zoetrope.

    Teeth gritted, he reached into his jacket, flicked out the switchblade and swung it in an arc of flashing steel homing on the hound’s head.

    A child screamed.

    Multi-coloured rain pelted Marv’s face. Hooked onto the knife was a trick-or-treat bucket which spilled a hail of confectionary, the tip of the blade having skewered a piece of fudge to form a sticky shish kebab that swung down, bounced off the dog’s head, and spun from his grasp.

    The part of Marv that wasn’t yelling in pain and frustration thrust knuckles into the glowing yellow gelatine of the dog’s left eye.

    It yelped and released him, veering into a ghost-child’s white sheet as Marv twisted to a halt. He pushed himself to his elbows. Before him, the boy under the sheet ran for his mother, the dog whipping the fabric away. It sprawled, panted, glared its bruised Cyclops glare.

    Marv gritted his teeth. The hound bared its own and growled, muscles rippling under thin patches of grey fur. It barked. It pounced.

    It sunk its teeth into the flesh of an arm extended before Marv’s face.

    He twisted to see Kat, her hands clasped round the severed arm that the hound gripped like a chew toy. Onto the curb screeched their car, and through its open window Hank shouted, “Come on!”

    Kat swung the detached limb – dog still attached – toward a wall, and dragged Marv into the car. As she slammed the door, Marv glimpsed the hound face them, the arm’s bloody ulna in its maw. Kat yelled, “Drive!”

    Hank yanked the stick and spurred the car forward. “We’re taking you to Mouse.”

    “Good.” Kat tore off the hem of her dress and wrapped it around Marv’s wound. “That’s the idea.”

    “Now you want to come?” Hank shook his head and shifted gears. “Lady, you change your tune like a jazz band.”

    Barks behind them. Marv glared out of the rear window. The hound was a grey speck that drew closer with each howl and bound and bark. “Hank, lose that thing!”

    Above the engine’s roar, Kat’s words: “Doesn’t like strangers.”

    “What is that, your pet?”

    “Belongs to Daddy Mouse. Sure made escaping the catacombs easier.”

    The catacombs? Mouse held her there? To distract him from that pitch-black nightmare, Marv examined his wound through his makeshift bandage, the fabric now dyed red in a jagged circle. “Mouse never told me about a dog.”

    “There’s a lot Mouse hasn’t told you.” She gazed at the passing traffic, scratched the dry blood spattered across her face. On her teeth.

    “What happened to you, Kat?”

    As the car stopped at an intersection, she faced him, red lights illuminating tears in her eyes. “The same thing that’s happening to you.” She forced a smile, pressed his thigh with one hand, cupped his cheek with the other. Cold. “We’ll get to Mouse. He’ll know what to do.”

    “Déjà vu.” Marv pressed his hand on hers. “I knew you’d say that. I saw you say it when that mutt bit me.” He trailed off, because in the window behind Kat was the tip of a bone, smearing blood across the glass. Two pointed ears rose into view, followed by grey snout and yellow eye. Marv groaned, “Dammit Hank, don’t you check your mirrors?”

    Hank cursed. “It was in my blind spot!” He shifted gears, turned the wheel. The engine grumbled, wheezed and died.

    Against the window, the dog struck the bone, once, twice, thrice. Glass burst and twinkled like fireworks. Kat and Marv flattened one against the other, her back against his chest, his back against the door.

    And before them, bone between teeth, climbed the hound.

    Marv tensed his good leg but before he could kick, Kat grabbed his knee. “Wait.”

    The hound paced closer, sniffed Marv’s foot and growled. Kat reached past Marv’s protesting hands to rub her fingers before the dog’s nose. The animal paused, dropped the bone onto the seat. Blood and saliva meandered across the million glass fragments.

    Kat stroked the thin skin stretched across the dog’s head. “Good boy.”

    The animal panted, mouth dropping open to dangle its tongue.

    Kat grabbed the bone. “Fetch.” And spun it out the broken window.

    The animal turned and tensed and leapt out after it.

    Marv blinked panic from his face. “Did that just happen?”

    Kat yelled, “Hank, get us out of here!”

    This time the engine coughed into a healthy grumble that yanked them forward. Inertia pressed Marv against the seat, and Kat’s elbow into his wound. It felt like a detonating cactus. Before the scream could escape his throat, his head snapped backward to smash through the window.

    The blur that used to be Kat cradled his face. The distorted warble that he guessed was her voice cried, “Marv, are you okay?”

    He would have answered had the blurs before him not melted into an ocean of colour whose waves crashed against his concussed consciousness, carrying whale-song resembling Kat and Hank’s voices. By the time Marv mumbled, “No”, the whale that sounded like Hank sang a song whose lilting lyrics Marv’s brain decoded as, “The club’s ahead.”

    The moving watercolour which vaguely resembled Kat cradled Marv. “The dog’s still after us, Hank. And what’s going on up ahead?”

    Marv turned his head, feeling like a goldfish rotating its bowl. Through the smeared reality of the vehicle’s windscreen, a bright pink smudge that Marv’s subconscious recognised as the sign of Mouse's club drew closer. Back-lit by the sign bayed a crowd of monsters which, illuminated by the passing headlights, coalesced into the drunken forms of a hundred costumed party-goers.

    And at the head of the throng stood a familiar silhouette. That wide-brimmed hat, that twirling cane.

    Even in his semi-consciousness, Marv recognised Daddy Mouse.

    Shadows swayed past the headlights – clubbers whose woozy staggers forced Hank to swerve.

    The silhouette of Daddy Mouse sprinted toward them, cane still twirling as he veered for the driver’s side. As the car passed, Mouse sidestepped, leaned back and swung the cane like a baseball bat that smashed Hank’s window, cracking his head sideways. Something warm splattered Marv’s face and Hank howled.

    Crowd cheered, Kat screamed and car crunched into brick wall.

    “That’s gotta hurt!” the silhouette said to laughs from the crowd, then danced around the car, flanked by three shadows which opened the vehicle’s doors and dragged its passengers onto the roadside.

    The blurs sharpened enough for Marv to make out the hound sprinting through the mob to be petted by the silhouette, which sauntered closer. Impaled on the bloodied end of its outstretched cane was an eyeball. The silhouette shouted, “All part of the show, folks!”

    As the crowd cheered, the silhouette flicked the cane into its hand, slid off the skewered eye and held it aloft. “Our friend Hank wants to see what all the fuss is about!” The crowd laughed and the silhouette crouched before Marv, passing its other hand – all gnarled knuckles and gold rings – across Marv’s thigh to settle on the makeshift bandage. Daddy Mouse whispered, “The dog got you, huh?” Chuckled. “You always were useless.” Reflected headlight illuminated the silhouette’s grin as it ripped open the dressing and whirled to the crowd: “Happy Halloween!”

    And the silhouette laughed and drove its cane into the wound.

    (Mouse will place one hand on the wound, squeeze Marv’s chin with the other. “You want the cure? You know what to do.”)

    Marv knew what to do. As soon as the darkness receded, he’d do it.

    A hand stroked his cheek, soft and cool. Kat’s voice: “He’s coming to.”

    He wondered dimly if he’d been having a dream, or a nightmare.

    Or if he’d died and gone to heaven.

    His vision cleared. Drab grey ceiling lit by a solitary bulb bobbing with the faint vibrations of music from the floor above. They must have been below Mouse’s club. By the door to Marv’s right stood a sharp-featured man. Marv dimly recognised him as one of the shadows who’d dragged them from the car.

    Against the wall on Marv’s left a hooded man was tied by his wrists, wrinkled torso exposed. Next to him was a table on which lay an open book and a fruit basket. Ahead knelt Kat, who smiled her sad smile and stroked the hound, which gnawed its bone.

    Beyond them, seated in the centre of the room, was Daddy Mouse, and behind him a doorway to darkness. The entrance to the catacombs.
    Kat stroked Marv’s cheek. “Welcome back.”

    “Jared, leave us.” Daddy Mouse nodded at the sharp-featured man, who closed the door behind him. Mouse straightened his waistcoat and retrieved an apple from the basket. “Happy All Hallows Day. Hungry?”

    In response, Marv’s stomach gurgled like a drain.

    Mouse tossed him the apple. Marv held the fruit with gnarled, cracked hands. They weren’t like that before. Even his wound, the tattered edges of its makeshift bandage dangling from his trouser leg, looked different. Dry. Dusty. “What happened?”

    Mouse sat, leaned forward. “Last night, after the crash, you bled to death.”

    Marv should have felt shocked or revolted or the pure adrenaline-fuelled instinct to turn and flee and scream.

    As it was, he just felt like laughing.

    Mouse’s eyes, shaded by the brim of his hat, seemed bemused by Marv’s amusement. That just got Marv laughing harder. Kat squeezed his hand. “Marv, please. It’s important you understand.”

    “I understand fine. So we have us a merry little chase and end up killing ourselves on Halloween.” He chuckled. “And now what? I’m a zombie?”

    Daddy Mouse raised a finger. “No.” Jabbed it at the hooded man tied to the wall. “He is becoming a zombie.” Pointed at Marv. “You are a ghoul.”

    “Tomayto,” Marv giggled, “tomahto.”

    Mouse scooped up the fruit basket. “Interesting that you mention food.” Strolled closer. “Do you know the difference between a zombie and a ghoul?”

    “Zombies are in more movies?”

    “Zombies feed upon the living, and ghouls, the dead.”

    “Really?” Sitting up, Marv squeezed the apple. “Maybe I’m a vegetarian.”

    “Indeed?” Daddy Mouse smiled. “Perhaps your tastes have changed.”

    Marv wiped the apple, shrugged and took a bite. Eating the dead, what a stupid, ridiculous—

    He gagged. Retched. The apple was like sawdust. Daddy Mouse grinned, reached into the fruit bowl and produced a banana. Eating it was like chewing cement and tasting brick. Mouse offered more fruit, but a bite of the orange squirted vinegar onto Marv’s tongue, the cherries were like crunching pebbles and the pear was ash in his mouth.

    Marv yelled, “Enough!”

    Daddy Mouse set the basket down. “How about something more palatable?” He sauntered to the hooded man, flicked out his knife and carved flesh from the man’s side to lay it delicately before Marv. “Bon appetit.”

    And Marv had to admit, it did look appetizing. Once you looked past the blood, which really just added to the flavour, you had a rare piece of steak to make the most of post-haste, especially with the dog drooling and heading closer while Kat said something about “Not knowing where it came from”, but of course that was ridiculous, it was freshly prepared before you and all you had to do was pick it up and take a bite.

    And bite he did, and chew and swallow and bite again until there was nothing but blood on his hands and meat in his teeth.

    Daddy Mouse chuckled. “Good eating, huh? Didn’t think you had the heart for it.”

    Marv licked blood off his fingers and nodded at the hooded man. “Who is that?”

    “A dead man fortunate enough to know me.” From his waistcoat pocket Mouse pulled a small drawstring bag. “Which reminds me.” He let the hound lap blood from his hands, then strode to the table, flicked through the pages of the book and faced the hooded man. “Time for another session.” Sprinkling powder from the bag onto his palms, Mouse rubbed the wrinkled skin of the corpse’s torso, working his way up the man’s chest and neck, chanting barely above a whisper.

    New wrinkles shrivelled into existence on the dead man’s throat as Mouse stepped back. “Soon he will live again.”

    Sucking the last drops of blood from his fingers, Marv asked, “That how you brought me back?”

    “My cane helped spread the venom, but,” Daddy Mouse pointed at the hound, “you live thanks to its bite.”

    Marv remembered the dog biting his thigh all right, and how the beast had devoured the severed arm’s flesh to gnaw the bone within. Feeding upon the dead. “The dog’s a ghoul, too?”

    Mouse stroked the hound. “According to the Arab who sold him to me, descended from the first.”

    Marv grinned. This was the first he’d heard of his employer’s taste for exotic pets. Or any of this insanity. “So to become a zombie, you need to be revived with your voodoo skills? But if you’re bitten while still alive, you’ll become a ghoul? What if it just decides to rip you apart?”

    Daddy Mouse nodded at Kat. “Ask her.”

    Kat set her jaw and met Mouse’s gaze. “That’s got nothing to do with why we’re here.”

    Mouse flicked through the book at the table. “You used the dog to escape, but it bit you, too. That’s why the beast doesn’t harm you. The venom in your veins makes you kin.” Mouse grinned. “And to kin you fled.”

    Kat stroked the hound’s ears and muttered, “Don’t you talk about my mama.” Louder: “I’m warning you.”

    “Warning?” Mouse pressed his palm against the pages. “What warning did she get? You could control the hound but not its hunger.”

    “Shut up.” Her voice was a trembling, acidic whisper. “Not one more word.”

    “How many words did your mother manage before the hound did its work?”

    Kat spun, her eyes yellow furnaces of insanity like the dog’s, and screamed, “Don’t you talk about my mama!” But she lowered her head, auburn strands stuck to her face, and wept. And when she faced them, her eyes had returned to normal. Hurt. Afraid. “I couldn’t stop it.” She sniffed. “It was just hungry. And vicious. The blood…” She covered her face, knelt and sobbed. The dog lay beside her.

    Marv felt the meat in his guts turn over. That severed arm, the blood splattered on her skin and dress…. Shortly before he and Hank had arrived at the house, the hound had torn Kat’s mother limb from limb.

    Daddy Mouse gazed at Kat. “When you came here, there was blood on your teeth.” He bared his own. “How did she taste?”

    And before Marv had registered the words, rage had pushed him to his feet, thrown him at Mouse and launched a punch at his mocking face.

    Mouse dodged, knife a blurred flash that stung Marv’s arm.

    Marv gasped, grabbed his scratched flesh. Blood dripped dark and lazy between his fingers.

    Daddy Mouse grabbed Marv’s throat. “Careful, Marvin. Anything that can kill a man will kill a ghoul.”

    “Maybe this ghoul will become a man again.” Marv met Mouse’s glare. “There’s a cure. You’ll tell me about it. I saw you.”

    Mouse nodded, fascinated. “Precognition? One possible side-effect of your condition. Visions of what was, what will be, what could have been. They’ll fade in time.” He pressed the blade against Marv’s cheek. “Like you.”

    Kat rose. “The cure.”

    “It’s simple.” Mouse released Marv, strolled to the hooded man and nodded at Kat. “You.” Then at Marv. “Eat him.”

    Marv shook his head. “Or I eat her?”

    Mouse shrugged. “Ghoul must eat ghoul.”

    Kat said, “How about we eat your pooch?”

    “Hot dogs!” Mouse laughed. “Why so squeamish?” He grabbed the corpse’s hood. “You know who you were chowing down on, Marv?” He ripped the hood from the corpse’s head, whose face snapped forward, right eye glassy, left eye a gaping hole.

    And even through the shrivelled roadmap that coursed up the dead man’s features, Marv recognised Hank.

    Mouse winked. “Finger lickin’ good.” From his bag, he poured powder down Hank’s throat.

    Marv suddenly felt very ill. On the edge of his perception, a white blur he recognised as Kat grabbed the book from the table and said, “The real cure’s in here.”

    As she spoke Hank’s shrivelled chest heaved. He coughed. Moaned.

    “It’s alive.” Daddy Mouse beamed. “It’s alive.”

    And as Hank wheezed, Kat fled through the doorway into the darkness.

    Marv caught his breath as Mouse grabbed his leg. “I’d really like that book back, Marvin.”

    “Yeah?” Marv fought a wave of nausea. “How about my humanity?”

    Mouse placed one hand on the wound, squeezed Marv’s chin with the other. “You want the cure? You know what to do.”

    (“We’ll know what to do,” she’ll shout over rushing water and step toward him across creaking boards in the semi-dark. “It’ll tell us everything. We’ll know what to do.”)

    Marv knew what to do. He’d do it as soon as Mouse let go and Hank stopped heaving.

    The hound had walked over and licked Marv’s face. Despite himself, he stroked the animal and muttered, “Hey, boy.” He rose and faced Mouse. “I’ll get your damned book. Then you’ll cure us and let us go. Got that?”

    Daddy Mouse gripped Hank’s convulsing chest. “Go.”

    Marv picked up the hound’s discarded bone. “Sorry, Kat’s mama.” He stepped forward. “I’ve heard stories.” Just a precaution. He’d find her. His premonition assured him of that. Besides, he had the dog to help him.

    He ripped off the piece of Kat’s dress that served as a bandage and held it before the hound’s nose. It sniffed, straightened and paced toward the door. Marv nodded. “Good boy.” He looked at Hank as they drew away. “Sorry, man. I was hungry.”

    If Hank heard him, his only response was a groan.

    Marv looked back to the doorway, the hound waiting expectantly at the threshold. Marv swallowed, gripped the bone. “Here goes.” He stepped through.

    The ground sloped downward. Ahead the dog’s hindquarters bounced in the semi-dark. Marv muttered, “Don’t usually chase this kind of tail.” He glanced behind him. The doorway was a shrinking arc of light in the black through which Daddy Mouse’s silhouette leaned, before turning back to shout, “Jared, follow them!” A shadow slipped out of the doorway.

    Marv looked back at the hound’s tail. “Hear that, boy? We’ll get some company down here.”


    He shuddered and focussed on the hound’s tail. “They say these tunnels web under the whole city, boy. Parts pass over the sewers.” Marv looked around the blackness as if there was something to see. “Interesting, huh? Nice place for Daddy Mouse to send his enemies.” The slope had levelled out. The dog veered to the left. “You know why they call him that, boy? It’s a funny story.”

    The hound darted into the dark. Marv stumbled and grabbed the wall.

    The wall grabbed back.

    Clamped around his wrist were wrinkled fingers on whose joints Marv struck the bone, which snapped and slipped into the darkness that birthed amber eyes in twin gaunt, chewing faces.

    One of them spoke. “We’ll rip the cure from our flesh.” Hissed a laugh. “Unless it’s in yours.

    Marv ran deeper into the tunnel, ignored the jangling of the ghouls’ chains, the echoing of the dog’s barks and focussed on the trickle of water to his left. There was water in his premonition and it was water’s voice he followed through the winding black passageways, each slip and stagger a step closer to the liquid’s source, until it drip-drip-dripped into a gushing crescendo.


    She knelt in the middle of the tunnel reading the book by the light of a distant lantern. Water trickled down the brickwork, past the boards on which she sat to splash into deeper darkness below. The boards underfoot must have been suspended above a sewage pit.

    Kat looked up and smiled. “You made it.”

    He nodded. “Come on, Kat. A lot more stable on this side.”

    She stood unsteadily, still holding the book. “The answer must be in this.”

    “Let’s get it to Mouse.” Marv held out his hand. “He’ll know what to do.”

    “We’ll know what to do,” she shouted over rushing water and stepped toward him across creaking boards in the semi-dark. “It’ll tell us everything. We’ll know what to do.”

    She took another step. The boards moaned and cracked.

    And in a blur, Kat and dog vanished into the abyss.

    The boards shuddered and crackled, shaking dust from the ceiling as Marv turned and ran. He leapt forward and hit stone. Behind him wood splintered. A plank cartwheeled from the dark into his wounded thigh.

    (He’d cover his wound and smile. “I’ll know what to do.”)

    Marv knew what to do. As soon as the pain subsided and the tunnel finished collapsing behind him, he’d do it.

    From the darkness ahead, twin green lights bobbed closer and coalesced into a pair of goggles. The suited man wearing them knelt before him. “Time to go, pal.” He dragged Marv back the way he’d come.

    Marv called for Kat, even as the man lugged him across the basement, up the stairs, through the passage and heaved him out the back door.

    Marv lay in the courtyard and wept beneath the stars.

    Footsteps behind him. Mouse’s voice. “You’re lucky I let you live.” A kick in his ribs. It wasn't worth a reaction. Mouse crouched level with Marv. “Fail me, fail yourself.”

    Marv closed his eyes. “It’s Kat I failed.” Lower: “It’s Kat who’s gone.”

    “And the cure with her?”

    “You wanted that book so bad, why not send Mr Night-Vision over there?”

    “Perhaps, Marvin, I care more about my men than you’d admit.” Mouse scowled. “You and Hank are both alive, no? If I wanted you dead, I need only have said the word.”

    Marv wiped tears from his face. “Guess you’ll say it now.”

    “No.” Mouse’s expression twisted into a smirk. “I could chain you up in the catacombs, but the only way you’ll learn is to live with your failure. To see her face every time you feed on flesh.” He drew closer. “And feed you will.” He cocked his head. Smiled. “Cemetery’s not far. All you can eat.”

    “You know something?” Marv grinned back. “I’ve never liked you.”

    Mouse stood. “Wise.” He gestured to the suited man. “Jared.”

    Jared kicked Marv’s stomach, spraying dust from his shoe, and muttered, “Ruined my suit.”

    Behind Marv, the footsteps receded. As the door closed, a rat scurried past his hand and disappeared behind the broken nose of their crashed car. The rodent squealed. Marv staggered over for a closer look.

    Behind the wreck, a man with shrivelled skin ate the rat like a sandwich. He looked up and smiled with one eye. “Hey, Marv.”


    Hank wiped his mouth and burped. “Eating the living ain’t so bad.” He pulled his dirty coat tighter. “Living outside on the other hand…” He hacked a cough and took another bite. “Heard about Kat. I’m sorry.” Hank’s good eye looked mournful. Just a pity about the rat-tail dangling from his mouth. “You sticking around?”

    Marv looked past the courtyard to the city beyond, lights like candles in the dark. “I’ll take my chances.” He covered his wound and smiled. “I’ll know what to do.”

    Hank nodded, shadow obscuring his good eye while street light illuminated his open palm. “Don’t be a stranger.”

    Marv nodded, waved and headed for the lights, down shadowed streets and darkened alleys whose walls echoed footsteps and laughter.

    Ahead, at the mouth of the passage, a young couple giggled and strolled hand in hand. The boy curled his fingers behind the girl’s raven hair, pulled her close. “Oh, Claudia.”

    The boy stopped. Stared at Marv.

    A part of Marv wanted to run and pounce and tear out the boy’s heart.

    The girl placed a kiss on the boy’s gaping mouth and asked, “What’s wrong, Ted?”

    And the part of Marv not cursed to eat the dead and remember Kat with every bite lowered his head and shuffled him into the shadows until they couple had passed.

    Eventually he smiled. Emotion told him there’d be no more premonitions foretelling his future. Logic advised there’d be no more Daddy Mouse dictating his present. And as for these new dietary requirements? The cemetery wasn’t far. After that trip, Marv was free to do what he wanted with the rest of his unlife.

    And he knew what to do. He’d do it after he’d had a bite.
    Last edited by AabiruSabeel; 01-22-2017 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Merging posts
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    Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread

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    Re: Writing Contest Entries 2016 Voting Thread


    Once upon a time, me and my brother did not have beards.

    A wild old hag appeared offering magic beans for without a price

    We eat them and go to bed

    And then it grew all the way up up up into the skies straight through the roof

    Then we climbed the beards all the way up to the to top

    We saw aeroplanes fly spaceships go by

    A blue flash of lightning and we saw a big giant robot

    We scared all the clowns away

    And then we became the robots freind

    And his name was tom

    The end
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