Finite Creatures: The Evening of the Storm (A Short Story and Ink Drawing of a Sinner)

The Evening of the Storm

(A Short Story)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”

I can’t really remember when I first discovered that our lives were finite, so I’ll take refuge in fiction and tell you the story of a girl who wouldn’t die.
 
It had happened on the evening of the storm. The townsfolk still remembered that evening. They talked about the storm and the brave truck driver who died that night.
“He died trying to save her,” said her grandfather, pointing a knobby finger at her.
“Not a drop of gratitude,” said her grandmother, adjusting her bifocals and looking across the room at Leah.
She tried to drown their voices by turning her attention to the storm that was brewing outside. Lea hated her grandparents who whiled away their time recounting events that had turned to dust, except in their minds.
She had trained herself to ignore them but she knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, especially tonight. This treacherous night looked a lot like the night that they were talking about. Before she could steel herself, the stormy night colluded with her grandparents’ conversation and pulled the plug. Memories tumbled in.
Terrible memories. Of the storm, and of death.
Leah was returning from school when the skies had turned dark. She was just a hundred yards away from home; she just had to cross that wooden bridge across the river and she would have been home. 
But at that point, right before the bridge, her memories slowed down – they turned into a series of snap-shots.
First, the cold steely feel of the knife on the skin of her throat, then the violent shove; little later a familiar smell riding on a hoarse whisper, “come with me.”
Then it all turned into a blur.
A blur of rain, the sound of clothes being torn off, a raspy voice, an unbearable stench of sweat mixed with that of rotting teeth, and throttled cries for help…
That was all she remembered of it. But the memory of the pain still made her clench her teeth and cross her legs, really tight.
It must’ve lasted an hour or more – she couldn’t remember, but those bruises were everywhere.
Later, he lay satiated on the rotting floor of the log-cabin and said in his slimy, wheezy voice, “Don’t tell anyone, or you will die.” She didn’t know then, what dying meant, but she nodded. And then it happened. A strong gust of wind was all it took. The last thing that she remembered was that the cabin shook wildly and then rotten logs under him gave way. They crumbled, then cascaded down into the wild river. The logs were swept away, but he wasn’t. She saw him impaled upon one of the jagged rocks. The overhang was all gone and she lay on the edge, face down, watching his body twist and turn as the water hit it.
She was found two days later. She didn’t tell anyone. She was eight and she thought that if she told, she’d die too. She didn’t want to die.
Leah turned and looked at the pictures on the mantel.
They were all there. Her mother, her father, and he. All three. All dead.
Caricature Cartoon of a sinner - angry mad man with a guilty conscience - fire of hell.

The Sinner

 

The Genesis of this Post:
When Lydia and I discovered that we had both used the Photo-prompt for our blogging assignment, we decided to do the assignment once again, with the correct prompt this time. So we set ourselves a time-limit of one hour for the post, in which we had to think about the prompt, crystallize our thoughts, and make the post. I overshot it by 10 minutes 😦 She was in time with hers 🙂 Please visit her blog here.

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Breaking News – The Caricaturist Turns a Writer! Read the Story, “An Archaeologist’s Nightmare!”

Breaking News! —  Breaking News! — Breaking News! — Breaking News!

The Caricaturist is now a Writer! You don’t believe it – do you? Well…here’s the proof. I wrote the following story for Vivienne Tuffnell‘s Short Story Contest. Read the story and leave your comments – I am desperately looking for alternatives – so let me know if I could  consider writing as a possible option! (Well…everyone I know is a writer these days, so I might want to be one just to fit in:))

Note: What you see in green (in teal, to be precise) is the stub – using this stub, you need to write a story. Give it a shot – it’s fun:)

Breaking News! —  Breaking News! — Breaking News! — Breaking News!

Well…

The Story begins…

An Archaeologist’s Nightmare!

Many years ago while Alex was a student, he spent some weeks one summer helping on an archaeological dig. The weather was fine and while the work was quite boring, the other people were pleasant and he found he was making friends.

One afternoon, he was kneeling in a ditch with the sun beating down on his back. He was slowly uncovering something buried in the earth but when the piece of pottery came free, so did something else. Looking down with utter horror, Alex saw poking out of the mud a piece of bone. He wasn’t expecting to unearth bones around here – especially in this part of the dig. But then, nothing was impossible.

Finding a bone was as irregular as it could get at the dig, and all the junior archaeologists, even the summer interns knew that if any irregularity popped up, they were supposed to call others. At the dig, every new day was exactly like the previous one – and so an irregularity was a break in the monotony – everyone wanted to be a part of the excitement.

Alex’s call brought everyone at the excavation site including Laura, his supervisor to his corner of the ditch. When Alex had started his summer training with them, little had he realized that he’d have to use all his ingenuity to ward off her advances! Unfortunately the task of avoiding her wasn’t easy as Laura was very attractive, and also very persistent. Alex’s billionaire father had warned his only son again and again, about just this kind of women!

Within a few minutes a new hierarchy was established for excavating Alex’s find. The task was quickly taken over by his more experienced colleagues but as the finder, he was given the opportunity to help. Randal, a Junior Archaeologist took over the task of brushing the dirt from the bone, and carving it out without causing any damage to it. It clearly was a piece of a human clavicle – but there was something other than the centuries old dirt that was pulling it back…something that looked like a chain.

After a lot of coordinated effort, the clavicle, the neck sans the head, and the chain, all came free. At the other end of the chain was a pendant, which looked like it was made of gold and which had an inscription on it. Randall carefully separated it from the bone to let the pendant fall into Alex’s outstretched palm…and it was then that it all began…

The moment that pendant touched Alex’s palm he felt that he was pinned down to his place and couldn’t move. The people who either sat or stood around him began to turn hazy and then disappeared completely, while the hot afternoon transformed into a cool night. The dig around him disappeared and Alex found himself standing in a lovely, well-kept garden. He looked around. In the north, where they hadn’t begun to dig yet, stood a magnificent palace. The broken walls of the fort seemed have mended themselves and they stood erect and proud, with sentries at the posts.

“Isn’t the night beautiful?” he heard a woman’s voice. He didn’t like the voice. It reminded him of something, or someone…but he couldn’t recall what or whom.

Ah well…whatever it is – I have to play the game, he thought.

“Yes, it is,” Alex said and turned to face the owner of the voice. The woman’s face was beautiful but cold – a little like her voice. She was slim, and she wore a gown that went out of fashion about 500 years ago. Suddenly Alex had the urge to look at himself; he looked down at his hands – what the heck? He was wearing rings. Alex hated rings! On his chest, over the brocaded tabard lay a gold pendant with an inscription, which read “Sera and Zareb”! He could read the inscription and understand it! This was a different world.

“I am glad that you are safe. I was worried. Your brother came back three days ago, and he thought that you might not come back at all, until he received that message from you.”

For some reason, Alex felt a stab of pain in his heart. He couldn’t place the reason – but he had enough sense to know that it was a dream – and he knew that all he could do was play the part. As he didn’t know what he was doing there or who he was, it was best that he kept quiet. So he smiled.

“I can see that you are happy to be back, and so am I, but nobody knows that you arrived tonight – isn’t it?”

“Zareb knows, just him – nobody else.” Alex said and shocked himself. How the hell did he know that his brother was called Zareb? He felt drawn towards this cold but beautiful woman, and he didn’t know why. He knew some answers but he didn’t know how he knew them!

“My dear husband, give me a hug. I’ve been alone for so many months… and I’ve missed you so much!” she said with her arms outstretched.

Alex felt a warm rush of affection towards the woman – he loved her! He stepped forward and took her into his arms. It was nice to be home.

Before he could kiss her, he felt something odd – his head snapped back…away from her face! Before he could understand it, he felt a red-hot pain at the base of his neck…and before he closed his eyes, he saw his own body fall sideways with blood spurting out of his neck, and then as he sank gratefully into the painless unconsciousness, he heard the cold cruel laughter of the two people who mattered the most to him!

Alex regained consciousness in his tent. He looked around. There was nobody there, except Laura who was sitting on a stool at his bedside – not a hair out of place, not a crease on her blouse – it was a wonder how she looked so beautiful and so…

“I am glad that you are safe. I was worried,” she said, in a voice that Alex had just heard, in another world, in another time… and her face was so beautiful and yet so cold!

Caricature/Portrait – A Dirty Old Man, An Octogenarian Lecher, and An Odorous Sleazebag!

You know what I’d like to have done to him?

I’d like to have him paraded naked on the most crowded road in the city.

A Caricature bordering on a portrait, of a dirty old man, who ogled at women and followed them around.

Mmm...slurp...Don't they look Delicious!

So…
What is he?

  1. An Octogenarian Casanova?
  2. A dirty old man?
  3. A Don Juan?
  4. A Romeo in his debilitating eighties?
  5. A Pious man sampling debauchery before packing up!
  6. A Gigolo unsuccessfully trying to hide his true vocation because he’s now old?
  7. A lech, caught in the act of leching?
  8. A philanderer who can’t afford to philander and has switched to ogling?
  9. A knocking-at-the-doors-of-hell playboy?
  10. A rake raking up some last moment memories?
  11. A reprobate with neither the inclination nor the time to change?
  12. A swinger who has lost his swing but not his will?
  13. A degenerate trying to vicariously regenerate?
  14. A sex maniac with his equipment out of order?
  15. A pervert hiding behind an avuncular mask?
  16. or…
  17. A leaky odorous sleazebag?

There goes…
the venom is finally out of my system.

The guy you see in this picture is real and very much alive.
About 10 years ago, when I’d commute to office by a chartered bus, this man (he must have been about 60 but looked like he were 70,) would sit in the driver’s cabin, so that he could ogle at the women sitting in the front seats of the bus! He was a genius at ogling. He had that smile (that you see on his face in his caricature,) a newspaper that I bet he didn’t read, and he’d try to catch your eye. In my country, when you age you become an uncle or a grandfather to everyone younger to you, and you are then beyond reproach…and so there was no way to get rid of this character. Almost all the women would try to avoid looking at him.

Unfortunately for me, he would alight the bus at my stop, and then he’d follow me at a distance of about six steps. It made me very uncomfortable, but accusing this avuncular looking fellow would mean being branded as a woman who deliberately invited men to ogle at her (for the old are pious and pure…) and so I thought of an idea. I’d stop at different places randomly – at a flower-vendor, or an earthenware seller, or at times, just to re-tie my shoelaces…and then because he couldn’t stop six steps behind me (it would be dead give-away) he would walk on, and now I would be behind him. Because he knew how I hated him for his lecherous inclinations (I’d give him the dirtiest looks I could muster,) he began feeling uncomfortable, and then he gave up on me.

I’ve been faithful to my memories and this is a caricature with a very good likeness!
So…

Ladies (and Gentlemen of the genteel kind,) do you recognize him?
Have you ever met an ogler who should have given it up long ago?
Share your experience!

(I know that every woman on this planet would have at least one such experience to share.)

May we live to see a world devoid of oglers and lechers!
(If we did, we’d live forever!)

Shafali’s Caricatures…The Story So Far!

It’s been quite a journey. I started this blog on December 11, 2010. The reason was simple – It had been a while since I had felt happy…and so I picked up the pencil and began to draw. I drew and smiled…and then I drew some more…and then, someone who I’d trust with my life said that I should share what I drew.

So I did, hoping that when people visited my blog, the smile on my face would hop on to theirs:) I think my wish is coming true.

The first caricature that I had created for this blog was of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean fame. The two mice climbing his braided beard, trying to find the cheese that they hoped to find hidden behind his ears…they just happened. And then, the jokes went on happening. I’d look at face and read about the person behind the face – and the story would emerge.

I’ve been drawing ever since I remember. I’ve been having this light-dark kind of affair with drawing for a long time…and I often wonder whether this is my calling.

Until tomorrow then, when I shall post the other half of Brangelina, Ms. Angelina Jolie. (View the caricature of Mr. Brad Pitt as Achilles here.)