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About Warrior1

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  1. Things should always be concise and precise. Meaningless details that don't contribute meaningfully to the story should be discarded. We don't need to know every little detail -- sure if they add to the plot, helps in developing the characters, or provide information, or add to the tone/mood of the story, or is amusing, then fine. But useless details that don't add any value to a story, but only put because the writer thought of it, should be discarded.
  2. Responding to the edited comment: It was meant to be chapter one of a novel ... but at this pace, it might take 100 years to finish this off, lol. I was ignoring it, not finding creativity or words to add, and this chapter had remained for years in this form without me adding anything else to it. So I thought, why not just add a twist/climax, and just turn this into a short story instead? That's what I did. Maybe somedays I will continue it... let's see.
  3. Thank you soo much for the kind words and giving the first like too! Actually it's a short story, and that's ... all. I know the ending is abrupt but that was intentional, ya know. I want to keep the ambiguity so readers can make their own interpretation about what happened and what is going to happen afterwards...
  4. [1] "You sure you don’t need any help?” Nick asked the passerby for the second time, only to be greeted by the same blank look and obtrusive silence. The boy shivered at his question, as though human sound was alien to him. Nick took a long, deep puff and held the smoke inside, burning hot and suffocating him. He then threw the burning cigarette into the ground, where the snow extinguished the last remaining source of light left in this part of the world. Holding his breath, Nick dashed out of his car, and walked slowly to the silhouette ahead. Matt could hardly stop his legs from shaking as he saw the scruffy man get closer and closer. Aside from his violently thumping heart, his whole body felt numb. Matt’s eyes did what his semi-paralyzed body could not, traveling as far as his sight would permit him to reach. Darkness engulfed the world in its realms, and it was a testament to the power of the human eyes that it could still peer into what’s ahead in this condition. There was no sign of life anywhere, save him and that shadowy figure; not even a stray cat or dog nearby. No houses, inns or even a streetlight turned on. The snow fell harder and harder, and in the nearly impenetrable darkness, it gave the woody landscape a strange, eerie appearance that haunted Matt even more. The dazzling fairyland he remembered seeing in the morning was suddenly transformed into a foreboding and ominous looking one. Something a little warm and greasy touched Matt’s arm. His eyes widened at the appearance of the boy in front of him; but, as he felt a hot, almost toxic air wash his face, he immediately had to close his lids again. He coughed, and with that, some part of the horror seemed to just spill out of his chest. He felt a burning sensation in his eyes, and the toxic odor shot through his lungs and head and it ached further there. And yet, Matt felt his whole body come strangely alive as the stranger got into close proximity. The snow didn’t feel so cold anymore and the feeling of being lost subsided for a moment. Yet, he felt weak. He held tightly onto the man’s arms; his legs were now almost surrendering to the pressure it had been under for several hours. “Oops, I am sorry, I am. Should not have blown it on your face like that,” Nick said, realizing how he had so unpleasantly puffed the smoke directly at the struggling boy’s face. As Matt’s eyes fluttered open, Nick felt a bit uneasy inside: it wasn’t an unpleasant emotion, but an unfamiliar one that took hold of him suddenly. Helpless, languorous eyes stared widely at Nick, and Nick quickly took hold of the boy’s other arm. “Hey, it’s alright. I wasn’t…” Nick stuttered a bit, not finding the right word of solace to give to the boy. “I was just asking if you needed any help.” The boy was unstable, shivering badly, and the helpless look in his eyes reduced the confidence that Nick had with him. There is only one thing to be done, Nick thought, because two bodies can probably ease what one cannot. But it happened mutually – Matt had his head in Nick’s chest before Nick had the time to pull him in. Matt found himself slipping easily into the woolly, comfortable thing that brushed his face now. He realized his brain was now slowly registering signals, because he could smell the provocative scent of some playboy perfume and nicotine there. A heart was beating, much like his, and someone was blowing something funny on his snow-covered hair, and it produced a ticklish feeling, and it was deeply comforting, enthralling and – “What the hell!” Matt almost shrieked, but what came out was a murmur. “I…” The comfort he felt a minute ago dissipated as he stared wide eyed at the boy before him. What just happened he could not remember, except this boy was here in front of him and … suddenly Matt was in him. For an instant, Matt wanted to run, now that he had the strength to carry him; but the boy’s playful eyes held Matt’s gaze, this time his senses being paralyzed by the sheer beauty of them. But where should I run, Matt thought. And why should he, anyway? Not everything that talks and walks gonna bite. He gathered himself with great effort. “I … I am sorry. I – I…” Matt stuttered. Sensing that a broad smile or even a friendly chuckle could potentially scare this kid, Nick cautiously kept his smile from widening too much. “Are you new here?” Nick asked. “Yes. Yes, we arrived today, and I was out for a walk. And I –” “Lost your way around here.” “Yeah, something like that.” “It happens, here roads are very confusing. Even I get puzzled despite living here for the past seventeen years. Get in the car. We will figure something out.” “Umm, what?” Matt asked. “Do I have to?” “Hmm, let’s see.” Nick tried to look very thoughtful. “We can stand and talk here for the rest of the night until … until next day when the police find our bodies from beneath the layers of snow…or you can get in the car and we can find our … your way pretty soon.” And then he grinned. A playful, mischievous grin. A small smile broke into Matt’s face too, though Nick noticed it was painfully shy and constrained. Though the vulnerable look did not completely leave him, the lopsided smile did light Matt’s face, and some of the paleness faded away in an instant. Nick felt his confidence return. Nick led the way, quickly getting inside the car. He knew if he let any more time elapse, the boy might change his mind. “Quick,” Nick said. People do give in under pressure; it’s either now or never. Matt, however, stood there, his head in a turmoil. All the happenings of the last twenty-four hours came buzzing inside his head, like fast-forwarding through the exciting, shocking bits of a movie. He was troubled not so much with the fact that he now faced a dilemma between going out with a complete stranger or finding his way alone on a snowy night, as much as with the fact that the stranger’s proposition barely bothered him. He barely knew the person now playfully steering the wheel. Should he better not exercise caution? Was he making a further mistake, one that could very well claim his life like it did nearly a while ago? But isn’t baseless negative attitude towards the world and others just as bad? Come what may, Matt thought, as he walked towards the car. Gradually, as the speed increased, and there was less jerking and jolting, Matt felt unusually calm. The slight change in temperature felt so exhilaratingly good that, it was now the comforting warmth of the car that seemed alien to his body. He was still shivering slightly from the lingering cold, but overall, the combination of the warmth, the woolen seat and the air of confidence that this stranger had brought with him made Matt feel lightheaded. Matt gave an audible sigh. Nick knew well enough to distinguish between the various unintentional vocalizations that people make under different circumstances. This one was a positive sign, and an encouraging start. Nick felt a fluttery feeling inside. It was time to poke the boy for some answers. “So, what’s your name?” Nick asked. “Umm, what?” Matt was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts. Images of running inside the dense woodland dissolved, as he turned to face the boy driving the car. “You have a name, right? People call you something? Or…not?” Nick asked with a cheeky, lopsided smile on his face. Matt mimicked the sound that people give when they chuckle. “Yeah, I am Matt. People call me Matthew too.” “And close ones call you Matty?” Nick asked. Matt’s heart stopped suddenly. “How do you—?” “Read your mind, ‘it was easy.” “Err… what?” “Relax, kid. Most Matthews are shortened to Matt’s, and most Matt’s are called Matty by their friends.” “Heh. Silly Me,” Matt said, finding it hard to believe that his hesitations have subsided so much in so short a span. “And you have been mugged?” “How—?” Shock rose in Matt again. Was he really reading my thoughts? “No need to panic. Not stalking you or anything like that. This was easy too. My country has a history of mugging late at night. Your parents should not have sent you out at this hour. If only they knew…” Nick said. “So what did they take?” “Mobile…” Matt said, feeling his empty pocket. “The most precious thing to lose on a snowy night,” Nick said. “And they did nothing else?” Matt could feel the penetrative glare. No you can’t read me anymore, whoever you are. I am not going to let you do it to me again. Matt put his head down, as though averting the gaze would protect his thoughts from spilling out. Unconsciously he bit his underlip, and nodded his head slowly. The sign was clear to Nick. “This needs to be reported, though to be frank law-enforcement is completely useless here. And I need to know if they did anything that have scared you to – I mean, you can tell me.” Matt sighed again. This one sounded different from the one that prompted Nick into starting this conversation in the first place. Nick felt concerned. “No … They did nothing more than ask me for my mobile, and I handed it over…that’s it,” Matt said, keeping the rest to himself. Nick nodded very slowly as the impact of the words hit him. Matt was partly lying, and Nick didn’t feel the need to inquire into Matt’s eyes to sense that. Though the darkness was overwhelming, he was positive that there were no visible signs of physical abuse – if anything really happened, it ran much deeper than that. Nick was suddenly overwhelmed by that strange, almost unfamiliar feeling that the sight of Matt’s eyes evoked in him a while ago. He suddenly felt the desire to put an arm over Matt’s shoulder, but immediately decided against it. That would be inappropriate, it would. But why would it be? I do that to nearly everyone. Without pushing the issue any further and deciding that they both needed a bit of cheer-up, Nick looked for the crumbled packet of Benson and Hedges. It was there, within his reach, and yet he asked: “Help me.” “What?” Matt asked innocently. “You see that Benson and Hedges packet there? There is, if we are lucky enough, exactly two cigarettes left. Give me one.” Matt hesitated, but did as he was told. He pulled out a cigarette from the packet, and almost unconsciously, began rolling it back and forth between his thumb and index finger. He almost became fixated by it before it occurred to him that it was not a plaything: he directed the cigarette at Nick. “Hey, tuck it in.” Nick felt the good old goose bumps return. He suddenly felt playful, mischievous. “What?” Matt asked, dumbstruck. Nick sighed. “It means you put it in my mouth, while I keep driving this unmovable car for you…” Nick’s hand went in and out as the lighter emerged from his pocket. He dropped it on the V-shaped space in Matt’s thigh. And then he grinned broadly at Matt. The warmth inside the car vanished in an instant. Matt’s heart was pounding again, though now with an emotion very different from the one before. He still felt lost but not so much on his destination, but in an emotion he couldn’t fully comprehend, one that didn’t seem very familiar to anything he had felt before, and yet there was a bit of a nostalgic, homesick longing attached to it. It is time, Matt thought, as he hastily tucked the cigarette into Nick’s eager mouth, carefully avoiding Nick’s eyes as he did so. A ticklish, gritty, almost forbidden sensation on his palm. “Thanks. Now I just need this damp piece of pipe to burn a little at the edge, ya know?” Nick said, giving a chuckle. “There, the lighter. In your hand.” Matt looked up at the stranger, whose mouth was now forming a small ‘o’ around the cigarette. From time to time, he looked expectantly at Matt, unblinking and firm. Nervousness gripped Matt again as he felt the presence of this unexplored object in his hand. For a couple of seconds, Matt tried desperately to activate the lighter: he repeatedly pressed the button at the end, rolled the circular thing that just rolled around his fingertips, shook the lighter and the liquid inside it. Exasperated with his effort, he gave up and looked down at his feet. Matt could feel the heat rising to his cheeks, and that same shudder of embarrassment growing within. He remembered that incident very well, when he was laughed at by his classmates – he would not amount to a thing, they said. That he was a daydreamer, and unworldly and naïve. All because he couldn’t light a lighter. And they were right. He never observed, never bothered learning a thing as simple as this because he was too busy living in his own thoughts. Instead, avoid, avoid, and avoid such a situation, Matt had told himself. Because once you can avoid them, the problems are gone, or hidden. If only… Nick didn’t bother stifling the chuckle. “Oh dear! You don’t know how to light a lighter!” “No I don’t.” I don’t pollute my lungs with poison, thanks. “How can you not—? Always had a clean company with you, did you?” Nick asked. “You are a queer one Matt. Well, don’t mind me…Here. You. Go.” Matt shuddered a bit, but kept himself uptight. The touch was unfamiliar of course. But the warmth was familiar, and so was the greasiness. And the friction and the heat and the urgency. Nick’s fingers worked simultaneously with Matt’s: swish, swish and then – Woosh, and a flame burst out. Matt’s eyes flickered with the flame for a moment, before it went out just as soon as it came. Matt blinked; the darkness was back but now it has darkened even more. And yet, as Matt blinked again and again, half-formed, sudden, and random images kept flashing before him: eyes dazzling in the golden sunshine; his own smile broadening into a wonderful, cheek-to-cheek grin, which, he then realized, wasn’t his grin at all; shiny and thick strands of hair dissolving with the mysterious woodland beside. But they were his fantasies, baseless thoughts that just diverted him and took him way. He shooed them out, and was back in the impenetrable blackness. Matt gripped the only thing he could feel was present and alive. Slowly, he worked his way to the tip of the lighter – it needed less assistance from Nick than it did on his own fierceness. Once, twice, thrice – and the flame came to life, burning for a little while because Matt wouldn’t just let it go. Fire has always allured him, but now it was what the fire ignited that he found enticing. With great effort, Matt leveled his eyes to the boy’s. Some of the random images weren’t so random, after all. Shiny, thick strands of hair hung all over the boy’s face, some running as low as his eyes. He had a rather prominent jaw, with large front teeth, and a gap in between them where the upper part of the cigarette was pushing in. But his smile was indeed as far as it could widen. And his eyes…the flame went down in an instant. With a quick sideway glance, Nick too took the liberty to view Matt in the fleeting amber glow. There was something so innocent about the way the boy looked at him that he couldn’t help but smile, and keep smiling. “There you go. Thank you, mister,” Nick said, as Matt hastily light his pipe. “Now I am gonna smoke, as you can very well see. And I am not gonna ask if you would. Because I reckon you should.” “No, I don’t smoke, as you can see too,” Matt said, matching Nick’s words, and resisting the smell of nicotine. “I don’t either,” Nick said. “More of a social smoker. But I am now. And you should, too.” “What? You don’t?” Matt asked, surprised. “No, this is just to keep me warm. My friend was in this car before I dropped him at his house, and he left the cigarette packet accidentally,” Nick said, inhaling and exhaling. “He reckons a smoke warms you up in a night like this. I don’t know how much truth there is to it, but hey, I am enjoying it.” And sure enough, Nick took the second cigarette out of the packet, and before Matt knew it, it was sitting gently inside his mouth. Were his lips forming a similar ‘o’ that Nick’s lips were? Matt reddened at the thought, but once Nick light it, he sat relaxed, smoking in and out a little, trying his best to suppress the cough. Sheltered by the car, the weather seemed very serene now. Either Matt’s vision had adjusted very well to the darkness, or some source of light was secretly illuminating the surroundings. Outside, the wood had a silvery sheen, bringing a stark contrast to the golden woodland that was dazzling in the morning sunshine right here. The trees ran deeper and deeper, steeping upwards towards the sky on the crest of the hills. No moon was visible, but the stars were there in thousands, scattered everywhere, and seemed extraordinarily bright. But beyond the twinkling stars, the sky was darker than the ground. Tap, tap, tap: the snowflakes hit the car and the road, and for a while that was all that could be heard. Matt took a few fleeting glances at the stranger from time to time, whose attention was now focused entirely on the road, which spiraled out in strange fashion. Matt looked intently at the burning end of the cigarette on the boy’s mouth, coming closer and closer to his lips. Was his cigarette coming to its end, too? Because he, too, had been smoking for quite a while. He would barely let the smoke get into his lungs, so he entertained it in his mouth before letting it out secretly. But when it did get in, really in, his insides burned with more than just the smoke. Matt felt dizzy. He shouldn’t be smoking, because even without that, his senses felt tampered. The snow, the journey, the cold, the warmth, the panic and then the comfort… He was on the verge of falling asleep when it hit him – how could I not ask? “So-what’s-your-name?” Matt blurted out. “Wow, finally!” Nick exclaimed. “I almost forgot to mention I too have a name. It’s Nick. And I think a handshake is on the way.” Nick was pleasantly surprised as Matt immediately took hold of his arm and shook it vigorously a number of times. Nick smiled, and Matt did too. Nick didn’t have to look sideways to know it was the same constrained smile he’d seen before. For some strange reason, the sight of Matt’s smile stretching into an ear-to-ear grin on a beach under the glaring sunshine buzzed through Nick’s head; it was as though the job was his to make Matt smile, truly smile. Must be the nicotine, Nick thought, and wondered if Matt was having such inappropriate thoughts too. Once more, Nick smiled, and Matt did too. Again, it was with the same closed lips, and again Nick knew without looking. Matt realized there was nothing in Nick’s lips. But at least he’s talking. And smiling. And, almost with an awkward feeling, Matt realized there was nothing in his lips either. Cautiously, he rubbed his lips with his tongue feeling the unknown taste of something bitter, maybe a bit salty lingering there. How long had he been sleeping, unaware of his surroundings? “So … we are to cross this endless road first, and then see where we can go from there. Tell me your location,” Nick asked. “I – I don’t really – we just arrived today and I didn’t –" “No need to be shy about it,” Nick responded. “You are new here. And that aside, the weather is crazy and my land looks completely transformed now. And the roads are a puzzle here, too.” Matt nodded, and with that, the sudden realization that he had been away from home, and for so long, hit him hard. In the beginning, he thought of himself and his miserable luck and his incapability to fight back, and maybe even – for a little while before his senses were wiped out – about how he’s to get out of this situation. And now he was riding his way back to his place of comfort, without once thinking how his parents were feeling. Yes, he did think of his parents; at one point he wanted nothing more than to have his father’s protective hand on his shoulder, and his face on his mother’s bosom, but had that not been to merely assuage the dread that he felt then? Did he once think of how they felt? What were his parents doing now anyway, wandering down the streets, taking solace in prayers, or unable to move or even think straight? Matt knew his heart would have sunk with the guilt, if it was not for the unexpected rush of anger that suddenly burst through his system. But they deserve it, those old cowards. This is the least they deserve for locking me up every day, every night, every minute of my precious life in their little bubble, keeping me under their examining eyes all the time. And then, guilt hit him again, and then the anger, and the homesickness could not have been any greater … “So, we are almost done with this road, but then…” Nick said, his face shining brighter than he actually felt. “There must be a police station nearby where you can stay for the night. They’ll call your parents, and then …” Matt nodded again, realizing he wasn’t very long from reaching home. Aside from a few dramas that he is bound to encounter, he knew it would be a soothing night. And if he’s too lucky then maybe just one hug from his mother without the additional melodrama he’d rather not have to deal with. And he would be gone from this cold of a night wandering in this unknown, eerie and dreamy landscape… Nothing much happened for a while as the car journeyed with full force, zigzagging its way through endless lanes. Nick wasn’t sure if it was the car that was running out of fuel or his body that was riding on the last edges of consciousness. His vision was losing clarity, his hands were shaking and his insides were craving for basal needs. But worst of all were his muddled-up thoughts. Matt woke up more often than he remembered sleeping. Visuals of abandoned cottages and frozen lakes and other rural sites, as though caught up in a dark spell, flashed before him every time he opened his eyes. Slumber seized him and wakefulness dragged him back, over and over again, like a rope being pulled from both sides with equally ferocious force. And suddenly Matt saw it. It seemed to be glowing on a road that was almost entirely engulfed in darkness. “Nick—something, something’s there—” “Hmm?” Nick’s voice was distant, aloof. Matt’s heart was racing fast, but not so fast as this car, as it bumped and collided with twigs and trunks and who knows what, and if Nick does not slow down— “Nick, I think I can see something up there. You need to slow down because if you don’t…you need to slow down anyway.” Matt tilted his head to the side before suddenly, like almost with a force, he twitched it to his front. Matt suddenly longed for the darkness to consume them all. His vision should not have adjusted so well in the dark, because he dreaded to look into the gloominess, the obscurity, the radiance and the shadows. Suddenly he was scared to look at Nick, or the boy who called himself that. What did he expect to see there? Those playful eyes suddenly blood red? That mischievous grin twirling into an evil sneer? Vampire teeth sticking out and those pouty lips coming forward, stinging him, biting him and – Oh goodness, stop it. Why would these peculiar thoughts appear out of the blue, overtaking his judgment? But truth be told, Nick wasn’t speaking, wasn’t speaking at all, and nor was he making any noise. And it is even more dreading, because it seems there is no one there, no one driving this damned vehicle… “Oh Nick…” Matt croaked, suddenly seizing a handful of something really slippery and bushy. Matt’s hand traveled below, and almost dragged Nick by the collar before they found themselves once again overcoming the darkness and gazing into each other’s eyes. Nick felt ashamed. Those helpless, vulnerable eyes were looking up to him for assistance, and he could give nothing back in return, because fatigue and weariness just overwhelmed him now … and how he was driving the car in this condition, if he was driving it at all, he did not know… “Matt, I am sorry, I just suddenly feel very sleepy and exhausted.” The paleness in Nick’s eyes worried Matt. Nick looked drained out, lost for words. Strangely, even in such a short encounter, Matt felt he had known Nick long enough to find Nick’s sudden change of behavior uncharacteristic. Nick forced a wide but close-lipped smile to let Matt know they were doing fine, even though the bumpy and directionless ride said anything but that. And then Matt saw it again. It was strange because it was the only thing shimmering in a sea of darkness. Branch-like horns stood up, firm and distinguishable from the actual branches scattered everywhere. And its eyes…Matt felt a sudden rush of affection for the creature because it shone just as vulnerably as Nick’s eyes did at the moment…A curious smile played on Matt’s face as he started to follow its movement, and it was quite easy because it moved concurrently with his eyes, but it was walking funnily, and it was getting bigger and bigger, and— “NICK! Slow down, there’s someone there, I can see it, I think—” “Hmm, what?” Nick asked sleepily. “Ain’t here nothing but darkness, trees, and ghosts. No one would ever put a foot here.” The words strained their way out of him. His throat was raw and his mouth dry, and every inch of him was fighting the sleep that has begun to possess him now. But Matt was right, there was someone there, drawing closer and closer, and for a moment it was like staring into the depths of Matt’s eyes, and how he couldn’t see it before – stop the car, you drunk bastard. Just stop it! He hit the brake hard, but by then the damage was already done. Nick felt the blow of the crash echo in his stomach, as though something had just lurched on his insides. The car jolted, bumping both their heads against the front. The horror of what he’d just done – and the impact of it – hit him hard. He froze for a second, and his eyelids dropped shut easily, shielding his vision from knowing the outcome. But that moment of avoidance lasted merely a second, as he almost startled Matt by the aggressiveness with which he grabbed Matt’s shoulder. “Matt! …are you hurt?” [2] “No, I am OK. It’s … nothing big,” Matt responded. But he was hurt. Matt was rubbing his temple, forcefully first, and gently later. Instinctively, Nick took Matt by the chin, and slowly turned Matt’s face to him. His hand substituted Matt’s, as Nick stroked the skin on Matt’s forehead: small and smooth, except for the slightly bulgy part that palpitated on Nick’s fingers. “I am sorry, I ... I just lost control,” Nick said as a pang of guilt shot through him. “It’s – It’s okay, it’s nothing big,” Matt said. As Nick’s hand brushed against him, Matt was glad to realize there was no major injury. “I am fine too,” Nick said, only realizing a second later that he, too, was slightly hurt. It would be among the many bumps and cuts on his face. Before they had the chance to throw out their arms in exhaustion or at least put themselves together, a shrill, piercing wail stabbed their ears. They were both shocked out of their wits when they shouldn’t have been, at all. We couldn’t be the only victims of the crash, Nick thought. We crashed because someone else was crashed by us… “Matt, could you sit here for a while, while I check this…this…thing out?” Nick didn’t even try to hide the nervousness from his voice. The sooner the better. “I…can I come with you?” Nick scrunched up his face momentarily, but that was soon replaced by a look of understanding. “Alright, if you want.” Once out, they stood on their spots for a few seconds, each eyeing the other from the opposite side of the car, as the snow splattered them everywhere. The immediacy with which they dashed out vanished as confusion overtook their curiosity. “Ouch!” Matt looked surprisingly at Nick to figure out the source of the sound, because he could swear he didn’t let the sound escape him. But Nick was gone in an instant, vanished into thin air. There was only the cruel snow now, nibbling at every part of his body, and it felt colder than it did before the car journey. “Nick?” “Yes…Matt, take a look here.” “What is it?” Two seconds of silence, and Matt stared blankly into the woods. “I can barely see anything, can you? But I think it’s a deer...yes, I can see its horns, I can feel … yes, it’s a deer. And it’s…” Nick’s voice was surprisingly calm. But it was this coolness that troubled Matt more. “Dying?” Matt’s eyes were now fixed on the woods, trying to figure out how deep they ran, and wondering if he really saw a bird fly there: a black crow against the black leaves against a blacker sky. Nah, must be my imagination... “Hmm, we gotta try save it or else…” And now Matt looked down, carefully, slowly. He could no longer avert Nick’s gaze, but he made sure his eyes did not run faster than he willed. Their eyes met, and Matt shuddered; something had apparently died in the place that housed Nick’s eyes. It was no longer glowing playfully at him. Instead, it looked just as vulnerable as the thing that lay dying on his arms, bloodied and gasping, and gurgling and clutching at Nick’s chest like babies do to their mothers. “Matt come here, and help me. Help this out. Or else, we will have to…” The alternative ran fiercely on Nick’s mind, and a shudder ran through him. He was revolted at the thought, and disgusted further that his own hand would assist him in doing it. But he had done it so many times, albeit for a reason unlike this, so truly what difference does it make? “Matt?” The tone of Nick’s voice intensified the confusion in Matt’s mind. Why were they here in the middle of some godforsaken road in a freezing snowstorm waiting to be killed? The damage was already done, so what was the point of risking more precious lives in the process of undoing what is irreversible? Matt looked around to make sure the car is within a close distance from them; at that moment he wanted nothing more than to get enveloped by the warmth in the car, which, he noticed for the first time, lacked a headlamp. But when Matt moved, it was towards the dying animal clutched in Nick’s arms. Nick looked thoughtful and hopeless. Matt’s hand automatically went to the furry, wooly, comforting texture, which he caressed with his fingers and then with his hand. A little wet but it was … Matt jerked suddenly as something grabbed his hand. Surely the animal is… well what am I doing mindlessly stroking the animal? “There’s only one thing we can do to help it.” Nick didn’t let go of his clutch on Matt’s arm. “Yeah?” Matt asked, wondering if it involved clutching any other part to stop the flow of blood. “Kill him.” “Yeah,” Matt said, and then thought immediately, Yeah, what? He didn’t hear Nick properly, of course, and the last thing he wanted was to hear Nick properly. In his absentmindedness, it didn’t occur to him that the thing he was caressing a while back was not his furry blanket, but real fur on a living animal, which was on the verge of taking its last few breathes. And the wet sensation on his hand wasn’t water… “Yeah? You are not revolted? Scared?” Nick asked, smiling weakly. “No objections even?” “I…” Matt stuttered. He couldn’t quite grasp what Nick was getting at, or maybe he didn’t want to grasp it. “We have no other way. It’s…he’s not going to survive in this condition, and there isn’t anywhere we can take him at this time. More than half of his neck is already cut open, and …” “But…” Matt interrupted. Nick cleared his throat, and continued: “He will die sooner or later, and sooner than we can reach for help. And I think his condition is beyond helping now. There isn’t much we can do except let him go – quickly and minimizing the pain. Or cower and leave him to suffer before he meets the same fate. What do you say?” Matt felt suffocated. His mind wasn’t working, and though he barely heard Nick, he could still feel the gravity of the few words that entered his consciousness: Not survive…neck...help…no help…suffer…choose… Suddenly, he was back on the street, lost and scared out of his wits. The dilemma which he thought he’d solved by trusting Nick – whose arm now formed a knot with his over the dying creature – was back. “Yeah,” Matt uttered again. Did I just say yeah? “Do me a favor. Look at my eyes while I do…this.” Nick winked at Matt, and then released the clutch on Matt’s arm to put it beside his other arm on the deer’s bleeding neck. It was obvious to Nick that Matt had never witnessed the cruelties of nature or the darker sides of the glorious dishes served to him. And though Nick wanted nothing more than to break that sheltered exterior, and show Matt life as it is, he knew this was not the time for it. Nick also had the sudden desire to take hold of Matt’s unruly hair and ruffle it a bit, a feeling he could excuse to his subconscious mind trying to normalize a situation as this one. But as Matt stared wide-eyed at Nick – confusion and understanding glowing simultaneously from the depths of Matt’s eyes – he had to wonder if it was really Matt who needed this diversion or him. Matt stared. And he stared unabashedly. Even if there was anything awkward about staring so nakedly at another person’s eyes, he only felt tranquil inside. And maybe he was imagining things or being hypnotized, but he had the impression that Nick’s eyes were coming closer and closer until they were the only things visible, and then … Snap. Matt jumped with a start as a large quantity of liquid splashed over him. He instinctively rubbed his eyes, and used his other hand to massage his throat, though he knew very well that his throat wasn’t the one that was snapped. He pulled the deer towards him to shield himself only to realize, again, it was not he who needed protecting. Almost unconsciously, he took the head of the deer to his hands, and pressed it to his bosom in a posture mimicking Nick’s. And then he realized it was just the deer’s head in his hands. What the hell. You just killed him. Matt said, but he didn’t say it at all. He simply stared at the marbles resembling the eyes that a moment ago belonged to someone alive and pleading for help. Matt was being reflected in it too or so he thought. Suddenly Matt felt nauseous, more nauseous than he had felt that whole day, and the hideousness of the evil in his hands felt overwhelming. As though a curtain had just been swept off from his eyes, he looked at Nick with a new gaze. “Matt, I…sorry, but it’s done,” Nick said, closing the deer’s eyes. “Let’s get in the car. And…” “Who are you?” Matt said suddenly, a new emotion overtaking him. It was fear, but it wasn’t just fear. In all the conflicting emotions he experienced in the last few hours, this was by far the strongest. He knew the emotion: he experienced it when he realized the beautiful world of religion wasn’t so beautiful after all, and he felt it time and again when he realized his faith shattering all around him. But why would I feel that way about someone I barely know? What was his name again? Matt took a few steps backwards. He wanted to run. As Nick’s other hand was nearing the collar of Matt’s shirt, Matt felt a revolting sensation in the pits of his stomach, that just intensified as Nick got into closer proximity. Matt took a deep breath and pushed Nick with as much force as he could master. In an instant, Nick fell to the ground. “What the hell!” Nick shouted. “What’s wrong with you?” “And what’s wrong with you? Who are you anyway?” Matt asked, trying to raise his voice to the level of Nick’s. “Oh I am so glad you asked. I thought we got acquainted more than an hour ago.” Nick was struggling to get up. “Fuck you. I wanna know. Who are you?” Matt kicked whatever twigs or snow there was in front of his feet with ferocious force. Where this anger was coming from he did not know, but he was quite glad he had the guts to spill it out. It would have been one thing to harm him; but it’s another matter to hurt him. “You know what, Matt, I’d have been glad to know that you are capable of taking charge and raising your voice too, if only I wasn’t lying on the ground with an injured ankle and these shitty twigs and some deer blood splashed all over me.” Nick was babbling just as ferociously. “You killed a deer. And then tried to reach my neck, just like…well what were you planning?” Matt asked, massaging his neck. “You are an idiot, that’s for sure. Not that we all aren’t, but you are making your hyperactive imagination take you far off.” Nick said. He pushed his hand forward in Matt’s way, even though he was fully capable of getting up now. “I…I don’t believe you,” Matt said. “Don’t believe what? I haven’t said anything,” Nick said, now thoroughly exasperated and in no mood for more arguments. But despite the cold, he was determined to not get up unless it was Matt who raised him. Nick decided to play with Matt a little: he pushed his lips in a sad pout, made an impression to get up to fall down again, and then scrunched his face in an expression resembling a grimace. It worked magic: Matt’s expression softened, though he still looked hesitant. Matt looked below: Nick was lying on the ground, very near to the headless corpse of the deer. Trust, the most precious thing in the universe. Difficult to gain, but more difficult to let go. In a split second, Matt made the decision to help Nick. He raised Nick by the arm and then stared intently at Nick’s eyes for a few seconds before dropping his gaze. I am bad at reading expression, so why bother. Matt felt defeated, but he wasn’t going to be used. He turned his back on Nick and started walking. “Hey, where are you going? We haven’t finished yet,” Nick shouted. He was having a hard time keeping his anger in control now. What started out as misfit cutesiness was now growing frustrating. Under different circumstances, he might have found Matt’s erratic behavior amusing, but not tonight. Matt didn’t bother answering. He felt like shouting, cursing, kicking and hugging something, but he wasn’t going to give in. He didn’t know what was bothering him, save that it was bothering him. “Fuck you, come back. Please,” Nick shouted, pulling the car door open. “Look Matt, I can explain my actions if you give me the time to …” But Matt’s gradually shrinking form was now merging with the shadows … Nick ran a few steps and grabbed Matt by the collar, and pulled him into a hug from the back. Matt needs it, Nick reassured himself, and then smiled knowing it wasn’t quite true. Matt struggled for a second or two before turning back and reciprocating it. Matt hated surrendering, much less to the thing that was beating and thudding and saying something to his ears … but it was difficult to feel anything but bliss at that point. “Look, I can understand your situation. You seem unstable …” Nick said, realizing he will have to, quite uncharacteristically, use carefully chosen words if he wanted to get along with Matt. “I mean, after everything you have gone through, I know how you feel. But you are not making any of our situations better by constantly …” Nick paused again, recognizing the futility of his words as he saw Matt backing out once more. How difficult must it be for a person to live his whole life with such low self-esteem and inability to trust someone? Nick gave another sigh and continued: “You know we can continue this banter once we are inside the car.” “Why need that?” Matt muttered. “Err, because we are in the middle of some godforsaken woodland and you don’t even know where your house is from here!” Nick barked back. “I’ll … I’ll find my way.” “LIKE HELL YOU WILL!” Nick roared, and heard a whimper accompany it. The anger instantly turned into pity. “Look, it seems I am doing something wrong – though I can’t say what it is – that is having a bad influence on you. Maybe I am too untidy and gross or look like a vampire or maybe I said something offensive, I do that quite often. If we can find the police station and they will call your parents and then …” Nick was taken aback by the gentleness in his own voice as he said: “You trusted me for quite a long time. How about you do that for a bit longer? Please.” Matt had a sudden impulse to cry. And if he did so, he knew it would be less for all the pent-up frustrations and confusions and more for the emotion that what Nick said – or rather, the way he said it – had brought out of him. The prospect of Nick being a kidnapper or one of the bad ones was frightening. But Nick resembling those heroes from the harlequin novels he read as a kid was even more intimidating. That same feeling he had learned to repress, control, divert, just came flooding back. But suddenly in that moment, he knew in his heart the truth even if his mind couldn’t. Nick was surprised beyond belief as Matt slowly walked towards the car, but he was glad nevertheless that he did not have to use force or coercion to settle the matter. Nick started the engine and then immediately groaned: “Shit!”. His beaming face turned into a scowl instantly as he realized the car was not moving. Either it was the impact or the snow or simply Matt’s curse… But try as hard as he did, the car stayed there, stuck in the middle of nowhere. He tried for a couple of times before realizing the futility of his attempt. “Is it … has it stopped?” Matt asked timidly. Nick gave a frustrated sigh and looked down. “You know what … I think we are pretty close to the police station from here anyway. It is no longer snowing that hard and I think the storm is manageable now. We will take a walk. It’s quite long a walk if you go through the road, but it’s not very long if you take the shortcut through the wood.” “Alright.” “Al-what?” “Alright. I mean, we can —” “Really?” Nick asked, flummoxed. “No arguing or bickering this time! I almost made up five come-back lines.” Matt smiled meekly, but it spoke volumes to Nick. “You Matty are a queer one, I tell you,” Nick said, as they walked out. *** Even in the darkness, woods have a distinct appearance, Matt thought. The black leaves contrasted against a blacker sky, their features indiscernible, but their mystique and aura shining vividly through the wood’s infinite depths. The smell of the trees – and the many woody things that make up a wood – provided the strongest sense of place in a world where colors were absent. Matt breathed in the therapeutic air. And he breathed out, billowing out a cold December air, and watched his pent-up frustrations and fear fly away to a location unknown. And he wasn’t the only one: Nick’s breathes were ferocious, louder than the wind and strangely felt more intimate than his own. “Just checking out the place,” Nick said cheerfully. “It might sound silly, but when it’s dark, you can sense the place through its smells and scents. Notice how the texture changes as we move deeper?” “Do you live here?” Matt asked, realizing immediately how silly that question sounded. “Of course! Deep in the jungle, I have a haunted mansion where I am taking you.” Matt laughed, and felt shocked at the sound of his own laughter as it echoed throughout the woods. Nick was shocked too, for this was the first time Matt had caught the sarcasm in his tone. Leaves rustled underneath, an owl hooted above, and the roar of some far away creature rocked throughout. The harsh and fierce wind also chimed in, howling then and whistling now, and always perfectly synchronized with the tunes of nature. The creatures of the deep dark made their presence known – that they were not to be cowered from their land by the cold or intruders walking on their shore. "Beautiful, isn't it?" Nick asked. "I-It is," Matt answered, trying to fight the cold. "You have good sensibilities. Most would just find this dark and eerie." "It is dark and eerie. But it is also very be-beau-beautiful." "Bleak beauty. First time on a place like this?" Nick asked. "Uh-huh," Matt said, not mentioning that he was a first-timer to pretty much everything that unfolded tonight. "Must be the reason why the place feels so serene, must be the thrill of seeing it first time." "Uh no," Nick interjected. "It is always like first time to me, too. You see nature – the wild side of it at least – is always evolving and growing. I've been here so many times, but every time the smell is different and so is the texture of the grasses underneath." As the twigs snapped underneath their restless feet, Matt realized his childhood dream of visiting a forest was finally being fulfilled. The forest was in him, seeping into and permanently housing itself into his consciousness. Though it maybe a wood and not a real forest, it felt just like one. In his heart he was sure he had known this place longer than life itself. And now the only stranger was the cold. Matt’s clothes lay useless against the sudden gust of winds as they penetrated deep inside, like a thousand needles cruelly tormenting him. And once the shivers started, he found it difficult to stop. "Matty, are you alright?" Nick felt alarmed. "Yeah..." "No, you aren't.” "Yeah ... I've-never-witnessed-cold-of-this-extent," Matt said through gritted teeth. Nick stopped. Why didn’t it occur to me before? "You know what..." he said, "It's better if you wait in the car while I go look for help. Silly me, should have realized it beforehand." Matt felt something more powerful and ominous than the cold pierce through his heart. "Can't I ... come with you?" Nick felt his heart fluttering. He was once again lost on those languorous eyes that filled his mind. But he knew better. "You, Matty, really are a queer one. All over me one moment, can’t stand me the next. But seriously, at this rate, the cold will kill you before we reach the station." "But...you..." The words stopped at Matt's lips as Nick’s piercing gaze held him in a trance once more. Nick's eyes – darker than the night – shone with a ferocious intensity. "Oh don't you worry about me," Nick said, shocking Matt. "This is nothing for us – wait till you get thirty degrees under zero – this will seem like Spring to you." "Can't it wait?" Matt asked, exasperated. "I am afraid no ... we are in the middle of nowhere on a cold December night. Our car might get submerged under the snow by the time the sun comes up. If the police station really is nearby, then ..." "How f-f-far?" Matt asked, the cold getting unbearable now. "Not very far, I think. Can you smell the wildflowers? It shouldn't take more than twenty minutes from here, if my calculations are right," Nick said. "But th-th-then..." Matt started, hopeful. But the stuttering gave away any hope he had. "No but and no then. Let’s get you back to the car and I’ll be back in a heartbeat," Nick said sternly and with an air of finality that Matt knew it was no use arguing. *** Every now and then, the thunder forced the ominous darkness to disappear and occasional flashes of shimmering greenery, slanted trees and snowy leaves greeted them before dying out in an instant. Soon Matt had to shove aside the twigs and branches which grew heavier and more voluminous by the minute. Suddenly, something caressed him on his neck. Sensing it to be a touch different from that of the trees, Matt turned around to face complete darkness. “N-Nick?” Save the wind howling, there was no other sound. His heart leapt frantically before his restless eyes finally found the hazy silhouette of Nick there. "Thanks for showing me the way. But I think we need to steer right. The car should be in that direction." Nick said. "Huh?" Nick chuckled. "Did you notice that you were the one on front while I lagged behind you this time?" Nick asked. "Oh!" The interjection could not hide how flustered Matt felt at that moment. "For a moment, I thought I was lost ... again." "You need to be careful. Getting lost is bad enough. Getting lost twice would be something else, altogether." And they both laughed, and walked side by side as they found their way back to the car. *** "Nick..." "It's okay. Just don't go out ... If I am in the wrong place – if I can't find it – well, I will be back in less than half an hour. Just hang tight and wait for me." Unable to think of any alternatives, Matt only nodded. “Count the stars while I return,” Nick said. "Au revoir, Matty." “Au revoir, Nicky,” Matt replied. And in a flash Nick was gone. Like the thunder which one moment illuminates all there is, and goes away faster than it appears. Like the sudden gust of wind that is always there but never here. Snippets of stimuli overpowered him: smiling eyes here, dimpled cheeks rising there, a forbidden touch somewhere, and his smell everywhere. He'd felt scared before tonight; he’d been confused, agitated and what not, but for the first time that night, Matt felt alone. [3] Nick had the distinct impression that someone was staring at him. Shooing it away on his hyperactive imagination playing tricks, he kept on striding, searching for that elusive sign of civilization in the wilderness. The storm was blowing with full force now, snapping branches, uprooting shrubs and assaulting him with more than just the cold wind. But despite that, Nick felt a strange calmness settle inside him which was undisturbed by the calamity outside. The cold, as harsh and rough as it maybe, had assaulted him for so long, that it felt like an intimate part of him now, indistinguishable from his own skin. Suddenly something sharp and excruciatingly painful pierced him from the back. He felt wobbly, as he crushed onto the ground. Just a twig got into me, Nick thought, and forced the thought to stay with him as he struggled to get up. Finding his arms paralyzed, he tried to combat whatever was attacking him through his mind. Get up.... get up ... he told himself. It’s just your body losing the energy. And it's the thunder roaring. Nothing else. His consciousness was flickering, fading away slowly … or expanding into everything. Slowly, the pain subsided, and what bolted in was sheer ecstasy. His senses were magnified, and he felt his mind merging with all there is … Matt's languorous eyes shot through his mind as he felt himself transgressing into the unknown. I’ll be back, he had promised. *** One…two…three… Matt lost count and started again as he waited for Nick. He held the cosmos in his eyes, and with a slight sway of his iris, he hopped from one world to another, from one era to the next. He read it somewhere that the stars we see are actually the light of the stars that were there thousands – maybe even billions – of years ago. Their lights took eons to travel the vast realm of the cosmos to reach us. And when we see them twinkling, they may have already left us long ago. The stars were not merely a light from an ancient past; they were a light from Matt’s past. When he was very little, the stars were a constant source of wonderment and mystery. Through his window, he’d stare and stare, until then when all the stars were swept out by the gradually growing light of our home star. What they were, or what sheer power they possessed over him, he did not know. Maybe it was there, through his window, where his notion of eternity began: he saw the stars and the endless depth of the cosmos representing the unanswered questions of life. As he rode through his early teenage years, the stars were a source of escapism. He wanted to fly away to the distant worlds, where things were different, and maybe a little better. And today, the stars were a solace. Once he finishes his count, Nick will return. Wait for me... Nick had said. And I am. I am waiting.
  5. Two strangers. One night. A dead deer. A million snowflakes. And the profound darkness. They all tell their stories, through their words, sighs and silences. Newly arrived in town, a naïve young boy loses his way on a cold December night. When a stranger offers him a ride home, will he take it or pass it away? Can a single night change the course of a lifetime? Come, experience a once-in-a-lifetime tour into a dark abyss, where the only thing that shines is love.
  6. Jusr one more question, it's a short story, so let's say everything happens in one chapter. Then how am I to post it? As they are asking for chapter number/name etc. Is it possible to post everything there?
  7. Thank you so much !!! Just one more question, when you publish your story, can you edit it later if you find a mistake or something? or is the option not there?
  8. It might sound incredibly silly and juvenile but ... I don't know how to submit story here. I clicked on the "Create" icon above, and then clicked "Add a chapter", and then it asks you to add a title of the story. I wrote a title and pressed enter. But then it gives the same form, asking me to post a title. I do that again, and it asks again and again. And it goes on. I tried a different browser, and then tried from my mobile. Same problem. It's my first story here and it's a short story. Am I doing it wrong? Please let me know. Thanks.
  9. Genre: Romance, mystery, horror, drama, psychological Length: slightly over 9000 words Written in: MS Word What I want: - Grammar correction as English is not my first language - Punctuation (especially in dialogues) - Pointing out inconsistencies, bloopers, plot holes, etc - giving me input on what to cut, add, modify etc (like redundant phrases or words) So it's more than grammar that I need corrected. Basically, someone who can see through all my flaws and find ways to enrich my story even more. Here's a short excerpt (1st page from MS Word) to give you an idea about it: Please let me know. Regards, Warrior
  10. I read it that first drafts are supposed to be the bare bone, and then you add all the details as you go in your second and third draft, but for me it's the opposite: I write as much (including all the descriptions) in my first draft. Then go on to edit the story, to make it more streamlined, correcting things etc.
  11. Yeah I have my first draft, and now working on the second draft. So the earlier writings are there lol it's just that the final product mahy not have all the writings.
  12. Initially I wanted to write a novel, which I soon realized is pretty futile (at this rate I'll take like 50 years to finish even the first draft, lol), so turned whatever I have written into a short story / novella. Anyway, that's not the point. Now that it's over, I'm editing it, and I see editing is just as much difficult and laborious a job as that of writing it. What I find the most difficult about editing isn't correcting grammar, moving a part here to there or even fixing plot problems etc: it is the very act of cutting the words I so laboriously wrote. When I read books, I don't like authors just filling pages upon pages with meaningless details and unnecessary scenes. I like books which are tightly paced and have been considerably edited, where all the ramblings and unimportant side stories or excessive descriptions are deleted to produce a coherent story. So with my own writing, too, I am trying to do the same. I am cutting so many lines here and there, that nearly 1/3 of my writing I feel has to go if I want to make it compact and tightly paced. But it's difficult. Each line took so much care and thinking and dedication to write. It pains me to think I will have to delete so many things, but really it's for the betterment of the story. The 'kill your darling' phrase was made up for a reason after all. So just wanted to know you writers' input. Does it bother you when you need to cut down many aspects of your writing? Not just in case of editing, sometimes when rewriting, like changing third person POV to first person, you will have to cut down others POV etc. So does it distress you to shorten your words -- words which we once so lovingly crafted onto the paper?
  13. Fairytale romance: Just a Question of Love North Sea Texas Realistic: Out in the Dark Weekend Erotic: Free Fall
  14. Warrior1

    Chapter 28

    I literally lived through this story and fell in love with them.
  15. Warrior1

    Goodbye my Love

    I take Mirtazapine, which might be a milder antidepressant than the SSRIs. So my emotions, sex drive and overall personality is still intact, and now that I am on a lower dosage, I feel my emotions more strongly than before. At least my personality hasn't been permanently damaged.
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