Waiting, Phase One

It had been a while since they had parted ways, her body touched by no man ever since. But the warmth of his touch still lingered and there remained the bruises, causing a sensation that ceaselessly crawled under her skin, writhing to come out – poking at her veins from inside.

It was the last rainy season that she had met him, now the next season of rains was about to come – and this time she was all alone. She stood on the rooftop, gazing at the clouds gathering in the west that looked like muddy waters being swirled by a giant invisible straw. There was no wind yet. The hot, humid and stuffy air around her seemed to heave on her, pressing down on her as if to squeeze the sweat drops out of her pores – underneath which the sensation still crawled, biding its time, waiting to come out.

Then the wind started to blow, a cool and gentle gust that seemed to caress her skin and brush her hair as it moved past her. A soothing touch of cool wind on her warm skin, she felt this was all she needed at the moment. But the wind brought with it a thousand different memories, in the form of smells and sounds that it carried from all across the city. It brought from the streets the aroma of roasted corn, the smell of heated oil in which chilli and sliced potatoes were being fried, and the inexplicable smell of wet earth from far ahead. The sounds, too, were unmistakably vivid – of cackling children on this late afternoon, a dull din of bells ringing in distance, faint sounds of vehicles and general rush of people who had anticipated the rain and were rushing towards their homes.

All of it, the mundane commonplace smells and sounds and sights that one witnesses during the rainy season, they held a strangeness to them this time. They brought the memories of the last year. They seemed to flood her mind and break the doors behind which she had kept her memories locked shut – and released them in the open.

..and then she remembered.

She remembered his unflinching hands moving all across her body, feeling her up and his fingers poking into her, his ruthless touch crushing her skin and her innocence along with it. She remembered his mirthless smile and the vicious grin that had glared at her every time he had held her captive in his arms, and she remembered that strange and deeply unsettling joy in his eyes which always looked at her whenever she was hesitant or afraid. A sadist growl, a hum of satisfaction, a chuckle at her naivety was all he gave. And she remembered how she had surrendered herself to him, with only so much as a feeble protest or a disapproving moan. She remembered how he had violated every inch of her skin, every crevice, every pore.

And he had poured this sensation into her which still bothered her, made her want to rip apart her skin and let it bleed through.

He had hurt her body, her mind and her soul…

Memories engulfed her mind, and the clouds engulfed the sky with multiple shades of grey and muddy whites in formless swirls that brew the raindrops in them, ready to drop it over the land at any moment now. Raindrops shot down from the clouds, as if they were in a hurtling race down to the ground and to see which ones would reach there first.

She felt the rain incoming and lifted her face, as the sensation rose to her head and leaked out of her eyes in the form of two fat teardrops. Rain dropped on her body, one by one, and then all of a sudden – washing down the tears that didn’t seem to stop.

But the cool onslaught of rain had relaxed her body, it seemed to wash away the warmth of the monster from her skin. The bruises on her soul and on her mind would take a while to heal, but the bruises on her skin didn’t hurt anymore as the rain seemed to enter her pores and rinse the filth out of them. The sensation kept crawling up to her head and rolling out fat tears, being washed away and falling into the concrete roof.

It would eventually go away, she knew. In the midst of rain that seemed like frills of cold molten silver hanging from the sky and dancing around her, she would heal. She cried her heart out, she let the sensation bleed itself in the form of fat salty tears, she let the soothing rain wash over her.

It would eventually go away, she knew. And she waited.

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The Night of Nightmares

A caterpillar crawled up to her and said, “Oh, what the hell goes inside your swollen head? I don’t believe your tears don’t burn your eyes, stop telling yourself that you do not and would not cry. So tell me girl, what is the darkness in your heart that eats your soul? What is the void in your mind swallowing you whole?”

And the caterpillar peered into the abyss where he shouldn’t have…

…Falling. With her eyes closed, she thought she was falling. When she opened her eyes, she found herself amidst pitch darkness, a blackness deeper than vantablack. And nothing ever changed around her, the dark surroundings stayed the same. Nothing ever changed. So with her eyes open, she wasn’t sure that she was falling at all.

Was it a dream or a hallucination or reality, she wasn’t so sure. She closed her eyes again.

She felt a hand touching her, a coarse touch of thick fingers pressing on her flesh… A giant humanoid figure appeared in front of her, a buff man with a striking face that had strange buffalo-like features, and two horns protruded from the sides of his head. And that’s when she realized that she was seeing him with her eyes closed.

She opened her eyes in gasping horror, the man with horns was towering over her, giant and looming; his liquid black eyes glaring at her, a wide toothy grin as he licked his lips with a red forked tongue.

She closed her eyes to this abomination, but she couldn’t break free from his grasp. He could be seen even when she clenched her eyes tight shut, the sensation of his hard skin even more vivid.. and a strange smell of wet cow from his body, gross and nauseating. And he could be seen when she opened her eyes – as he looked at her, his vision seemed to pierce her skin, and the touch of each stubby finger of his seemed to pour a mind-numbing toxin into her veins.

It was a horror she could not close her eyes to, a brutality she could not escape from. So she lay there, fragile and numb – as the man with horns feasted on her happiness, her cheerful spirit, her self-esteem, her self-worth, her self-love, her hopes, her dreams…

And then he left her alone in the darkness, a pile of flesh and bones with a barely beating heart.

And now she looked at the caterpillar, with hollow swollen eyes and a blank face that seemed drained out of all its lifeblood – so the caterpillar looked at her, reached out for her hair that were all over her face, picked one of the strands and held it with his tentacles…

…and the pain shot through him; even though the worm could not feel pain, he understood the excruciating self-loathing that she had. He was overwhelmed by it, and as he looked into her eyes to see a reflection of himself – a round fuzzy head, dark eyespots, a series of pudgy lobes that made up his body, crisscross stripes and spiky tendrils on his back… He was able to share the self-loathing she had – Oh! What a hideous figure he was!

Her eyelids closed slowly, and opened again.

“Girl, it seems like you haven’t slept in ages. Since how long have you been awake?” he asked her as he clambered up on her hair.

“I don’t know,” she said in a dreamy drowsy voice, “I don’t know how long I have been here in the darkness, and it’s hard to tell the time where nothing ever changes. I haven’t slept ever since I stepped in this dark.”

“Do you mind if I helped you fall asleep?” asked the caterpillar.

“I would love to sleep more than anything else,” she replied as her eyes closed slowly, and opened again.

“So I’ll put you into a deep, relaxing, dreamless sleep,” said the caterpillar, and he whispered into her ears a charm that only magical caterpillars knew. And he sent tiny little sparkles of light that floated in front of her as her pupils followed them – soon her eyelids became heavy, the turmoil inside her mind subsided, the storm in her head died down.

As she slept with an apparent calm on her face, the caterpillar began to wince and writhe. Surprisingly, he was feeling pain in a body that hadn’t even evolved to feel pain. And he saw her pupils moving under her closed eyelids, an indication that she was dreaming…

…Rising. She was passing through a tunnel, her eyes were open and there was a sensation of rising that she was sure about this time. A source of white pearly light peered at her at the end of the tunnel, and she rose into it, shone into it – and floating like a weightless butterfly in the air, she spread her arms.

There was a man floating in front of her, with white feathery wings and a golden halo above his head. He looked at her with tears in his synpathetic eyes, and without saying anything he beckoned her to move along with him. So she followed him to his abode where he offered her everything she was robbed of – all of her happiness, her cheerful spirit, her self-esteem, her self-worth, her self-love, her hopes, her dreams… each of them packed in small glass bottles.

She stood there, at a loss of words, as she composed and organized the whirlwind of questions in her mind.

“How did you get all this here?” she asked finally.

“I made these. For you. I know you need these,” he said in soft voice with a beaming smile, uncorked a bottle named Hopes and handed it to her, “Here, take this.”

She took the bottle, and stood examining him with a skeptical expression. He floated in front of her, his wings swaying gently, his halo gleaming with a resplendent sheen, and his beaming smile and the obvious pride on his face about his creations.

“Who are you? How can I trust you?”

“Did you ask the same question to the man with the horns? Did you ask him anything at all?” He seemed wounded with the question. And before she could answer him, he scooted closer to her and poured the bottle inside her mouth.

She didn’t resist. It felt good to be cared for, even without asking. So she let him feed her all his potions of hopes and dreams and self-esteem, followed by the cheerful spirit and the dose of happiness.

All manufactured spirits and emotions filled her up to the brim, and she sat with a delirious ecstasy as he nursed her wounds.

She noticed the surroundings, pearly sheen of golden light came from all around. It was exactly the opposite of stark blackness she had been in, this was abject whiteness with the only similarity that depth and perspective made no sense here as well. There was no sense of zenith or horizon, just a formless white engulfing her in a warm embrace. She felt at peace.

So her stupid dream continued as the caterpillar found himself inside the cocoon he had been weaving without realizing it, a warm and comforting alcove where he felt at peace.

But peace was not to last long, as the cocoon began to crush on him and he sensed a strange sensation running through his body. It seemed as if each and every tissue of his body was twisting itself, tying and untying the knots within him that began his metamorphosis.

And the girl in her dream puked all her potions over the man with the halo, as there was heard a knock and a rumble coming from all around… the glorious white sky was torn asunder from outside as giant hooves and claws entered their clement world. The man with horns was here.

Now she saw him in his true enormity, the buffalo-like human face was more buffalo-like than it was human-like. The giant horns protruded sharp and wide, his wide furry chest glowed with an eerie black light, as he walked completely naked towards them.

And the man with the halo looked meek and small in front of him, just a normal humanoid dressed in a flowing cloak, swaying wings and a long forked tail that now emerged from his behind and he shook it. She noticed that it was the same tail that the man with the horns had as well.

“Bee,” the man with the halo spoke, addressing the man with the horn.

“2Bee,” replied Bee in a deep rumble that seemed to come from below the Earth. It was not even a human voice, just a deep bass that sounded like it.

2Bee’s halo now gleamed in the hue of deep bloody red.

“A sense of alarm, perhaps,” she thought, and she thought of running. Her feet didn’t move, she was in the middle of nowhere where two most bizarre men she had ever known were ready to battle. She had everything to run from but nothing to run to. So she stood there and closed her eyes.

But she could still see them, two men with their horns and halo locked together, as Bee suddenly leapt and grasped 2Bee by his tail and swung him, hanging him over his open mouth. 2Bee gazed into the abyss of his liquid black eyes, as the abyss gazed back into him…

Suddenly 2Bee’s wings ripped themselves from his body and came flying to her, they picked her up and threw her across the blank sky – her body spinning and tumbling through the space, she could not see the battle, but could only hear occasional crackles and thumps and rustles and growls and groans. And a sudden sound of flesh being ripped, with loud booming echo as if the sky had been ripped into half…

And she stopped spinning, the wings had come to take her back. There was a bloody mess, splashes and splotches of ugly red flesh and blood were all around, and the horrible stink of wet bloody cow was in the air.

Bee, the man with the horns was dead.

2Bee, the man with the halo loomed over the corpse, he had grown in size and his previously golden cloak was now a bloody crimson. Bee’s horns were missing from his deformed face, and were stuck into 2Bee’s cracked halo.

As the wings brought her back and set her down, 2Bee saw her and gave her a devilish grin, a maniacal laughter, and he leaned and dug his teeth into Bee’s skull, ripped a piece of brain dangling like a pink worm from his jaw as blood dripped down his face.

He looked at her this time again, and his eyes were liquid black…

She woke up with a loud scream, and opened her eyes to the darkness she had been in.

And she wept. She wept as if weeping was the only thing she wanted to do, the only thing she had ever wanted to do, the only thing she would ever want to do. Inky black tears rolled down her cheek, as if all the darkness had been in her eyes all this while.

She wept and bled away the last of darkness within her, as a butterfly with crumpled wings emerged out of the pupa that was stuck to a strand of her hair.

She took the butterfly into her palm and touched his wings.

“No!” exclaimed the butterfly, “Don’t touch me.”

“But I’m only trying to help.”

“If you help me, then I’ll die,” said the butterfly.

“Why?”

“My wings wouldn’t be strong enough to carry me. I need to do this on my own.”

She thought about it for a moment and then remembered something.

“Are you the same caterpillar who was here earlier?”

“Yes. But I’m not the same,” replied the butterfly as he stretched his wings.

“But you put me to sleep and I had this strange dream..”

“This is also a dream,” said the butterfly, and flew up towards her face, a gentle smack on her forehead as if it was a kiss, and the butterfly flied away.

“Wait!” she exclaimed, “If this is a dream, then aren’t you going to help me get out of this?”

“If I help you, you’ll die,” replied the butterfly, “I can only quote Dumbledore and tell you to remember to turn on the light.” And the butterfly scuttled away into the darkness.

She remembered she had been in her room all this while. She reached out and flicked a switch, and the room was awash in white florescent light. She picked up her phone, where The Nostalgia Factory by Porcupine Tree was playing st zero volume.

..and there lay a man with a buffalo-like quality to his face, right next to her in her bed. It was her boyfriend.

Of course, it was.

Tonight he had forced himself on her again, like every other night. She had never been able to resist him or stop him, such was the force he contained within himself. Her psychology had twisted beyond her control ever since she had met him. She had no answer to why or how was that.

“This might just be another nightmare,” she told herself, “I’ll find my way out of it.”

He woke up at the moment, looked at her with his dark eyes and he grinned at her. He reached out with his thick hand, grabbed her thigh and moved towards her vagina, he pinched her labia, twisting it and pulling her towards him.

..and for the first time she gazed into the abyss of his eyes, as the abyss gazed back at her…

His grin suddenly disappeared at her devilish and maniacal laughter, and she leaned and dug her teeth into his skull, cracking the skullcase with the ferocity of her attack as she ripped a piece of brain dangling like a pink worm from her jaw as blood dripped down her face.

She looked up this time and her eyes were liquid black…

The room was dark once again.

She reached out for the switch, but it wasn’t there.

Poet and the Prostitute

I fell in love with a prostitute. I don’t remember when or why or how I fell in love with her, but fall I did.

Well, prostitution is just a profession like any other. In every profession, we sell a part of our body. We sell our arms, our legs, our minds, our sexual organs – it’s no big deal. But one thing is common in every profession and you’d understand if you have ever worked a job – that in every profession we sell our souls, we sell ourselves.

I am a poet. Poetry is not a profession, it’s art. You don’t have to work an 8-hour daily job at the office of poetry. You do poetry when you feel like it, and the poetry does you when she feels like it. But the same way the money goes, comes in and leaves when she feels like it. So at the end, I’m a poor poet, fallen hopelessly in love with a prostitute.

I remember our earlier days. On a late summer morning, I had seen her sitting under the orchard and feeding pigeons. I had scooted near her, and had recited a line from my poem – “..and time falls asleep under the shadow of her hair..”

And she had smiled at me. We got to talking and after a while she had invited me to her place, and I’d be lying if I say that I had the best sex ever. It was my first sex ever, it was perhaps the best and the worst that I have ever had till now.

Why the worst? I’ll come to that.

We started meeting often, under the orchard. She fed the pigeons and I recited my poems. I started writing poems about her, and whenever I recited the lines to her, she would give me the smile that could just stop my heart. Her innocent smile and the sparkle in her eyes were just irresistible.

One morning, I didn’t find her under the orchard. So I went ahead to her place, to see if she was alright. I couldn’t enter her house, I didn’t know her family and I didn’t even know who all lived there. So I climbed the window ledge and entered her room on the first floor.

She was there in her room, standing naked in front of a mirror, dabbing her skin with loads and loads of talcum powder. It gave her the look of a statue made from coarse granite, only that it was a perfect statue no sculptor could have carved in a billion years.

And I noticed a portly old man, butt-naked and hairy as a ferret, sitting and smoking in her bed.

I was completely frozen there. Explosions going off in my brain, a wild pang of jealousy and rage shooting up from my heart and yet my blood ran cold and slush through my veins. I couldn’t move.

The old man threw a wad of notes on her bed and walked away.

“Babe, this is not what you think, please let me explain,” she had said. And then she had hugged me, kissed all over my face and cried in front of me..

And then she had admitted that she was a prostitute. She had asked me if I could still love her, with her expectant tear-filled eyes looking up at me.

Oh, how could I have said no to those eyes I so dearly loved?

Oh, how could I have said no to that face about which I wrote countless lines of poetry everyday?

So I agreed to love the woman who was desired by all but loved by none. I felt like her saviour, her hero, her knight in the shining armour by committing to the act of loving her.

And I loved the prostitute then.

And I love her still.

I stand in front of the mirror in her room. Looking at my portly frame, my receding hairline, my misshapen jaw, the sausage-like arms – and I wonder why does she even love me.

She comes out of the bathroom, the talcum powder washed off her skin.. and there are bruises, scars, cuts, scratches and bite marks all over her skin.

With every night’s earning she earns new bruises and scars on her body. Those who leave more money, leave more bruises.

And every morning I come to see her in her room, and I love her.

Of course, I can’t have sex with her. She’s too tired and too sore down there – I don’t want to hurt her any more than she is already hurt. So I bring my inkpot and my quill, and start doing what I do best.

I write poetry on her.

I write it on her.

I dip the quill in ink and trace it along her skin, starting with writing my name on her nape I glide it down her back, down to her butt – a poem ends. I dip it in ink again and trace it along her arms, one stanza on each arm and the bridge of the poem on her stomach.

Then I keep the tip of the quill on her nipples one by one, letting the ink drip down and cover her sore nipples in blue ink. I start again from her toes and my poetry flows through her ankle to her calves and upto her thighs.

Often I get overly sentimental and I write her name along with my name in cute little hearts all over her breasts.

She sees it as my way of marking my affection for her. Little does she know that I try to cover her scars with my words. My lines twist and turn all over her skin, covering all her scars and bruises and cuts and bites and scratches – the blue ink as a testament of my love over the red-brown marks of misogynistic lust.

Every night she gets ravaged by a man with money in his pocket. Every morning I reclaim her with nothing but ink and quill in my pocket – and a whole lot of love in my heart.

As I stare at my repulsive frame in the mirror, I also see her reflection – the gorgeous body and smooth glowing skin, marked by scars here and there like the spots on the moon.

She is getting ready for a special party with some special clients. She pulls up a little black dress, and I think it’s because a little black dress is also easier to slip off the body or just lift it up from below when they give it to her.

But what do I know, I have never had sex with her again after our first meeting. Every morning she wakes up with an ache and I have it my duty to soothe her. I can’t hurt her any more than she’s already been hurt.

Sex is her business and I have no money to invest there. I’m just a poor, struggling poet.

I’m supposed to go with her today, to the party where many rich and influential people will be. She says she’d introduce me to them and it’ll help me in getting my poems published. They owe her some special favours, she says.

So I put on my best suit, grab all the collection of my poems in one arm, while she clings to another arm. And off we go to a distant town with hopes of a new future where I’ll have enough money to save her from any more scars.

She introduces me to them as her pimp, and I stand there aghast as ugly old rich brutes grab and grope her in front of me. She looks at me with a weak smile and guilt in her eyes, it seems that she’d have to earn some more favours as they pull the strings of my future.

I don’t like the guilt in her eyes, not one bit. I know she does it because she loves me. So I swallow my tears, swallow the bile of rage choking up my throat, and I brave a smile.

All is well.

She is in bed with them as I bring snacks and drinks for them. I don’t want her out of my sight for one minute. She’d been hurt every night without me, but this night she’ll not gain one new scar. She’ll not.

So I stand there in the room, my girl clasped in their arms and my poetry thrown across the room. They don’t need to read my poetry, they say. She has earned enough favours and will earn some new ones tonight for my poetry to be published, they say.

I let them do whatever they want. She lets them do whatever they want.

Tonight, I have truly become a pimp for my poetry.

Tonight, she is prosituting herself for my poetry.

And as one of them finishes off in her and tears a page from my poetry to wipe his dick, the other begins to hurt her.

And the cold and slush blood in my veins gets suddenly lit up with raging fire – I clock them, bludgeon them, kick them in the balls, and after they collapse to the ground I keep hitting one of them with a metal rod till his skull cracks. I move over to the man who wiped his dick on my poetry. I slice his dick off and stuff it in his mouth.

She’s horrified by my brutality but she understands.

So we run away, back to our town hoping that no one will suspect us. Thankfully, no one does. No police comes to our town to search for us.

And life resumes its usual course.

I’m still a struggling poet. She’s still a successful prostitute.

We have no other choice. Things go back to the way they were.

Every night she gets ravaged by a man with money in his pocket. Every morning I reclaim her with nothing but ink and quill in my pocket – and a whole lot of love in my heart.

..and the scars they leave every night are permanent, they never truly heal, they just fade away slowly with passing months. But new scars take their place till the old ones are gone.

..and the poetry I write on her body is temporary, it washes away every day and I have to write a new poem every day to fit the new pattern of scars she gains every night.

Their hate and lust cover her body in permanent marks that last for many many months.

..and the marks of my innocent love wash away every day, every day.

..every night she gets ravaged by a man with money in his pocket. Every morning I reclaim her with nothing but ink and quill in my pocket – and the new poem that I write with a whole lot of love in my heart.

..every night she gets ravaged by a man with money in his pocket. Every morning I reclaim her with nothing but ink and quill in my pocket – and the new poem that I write with a whole lot of love in my heart.

..every night she gets ravaged by a man with money in his pocket. Every morning I reclaim her with nothing but ink and quill in my pocket – and the new poem that I write with a whole lot of love in my heart.

..every night..

…And She Dances

Barefoot on the broken floor, she takes her steps one by one. The coarse touch of powdered concrete seems to penetrate her soles, while the cold dust and ash brush against her warm skin – she has a vivid realization that this is not a dance floor indeed. Not the one where she desires to walk.

She looks around the room, it is quite a big room, with crumbling cement walls and the roof so far high that it might as well be the night sky. A faint beam of sunlight pours through a window on the eastern wall, the only source of light here – faint pearly white sunbeam that shines like a spotlight on her, the rest of the room still engulfed in darkness.

A deep breath, cool air fills up her lungs, blood rushing through her veins, each muscle and each sinew quivering and pulsating – all of her body, the whole of her being, ready to dance.

..and suddenly her ears are filled up by a thunderous applause coming from down the memory lane, the broken floor is a stage, the dark walls are not dark anymore – there could be seen a crowd or an audience…

She remembers.

Dance was the only thing she had ever loved. Dance was the only thing she was passionate about. Dance was what she thought, felt, breathed and lived. Still a young amateur, when she took to the dance floor, she was not just a dancer who performed the steps – she was a fluid and transcendent being, each movement of her in its gracile elegance was lit up from the passionate fire within, every fiber of her being made to dance, lived to dance.

She remembers.

The stage. Her parents in the audience. A competitive performance. A chance to prove herself to the world. A pathway to bigger opportunities, a bigger stage, a louder applause.

It was an opportunity which she had gotten with extreme difficulty, despite the immense talent, it had taken her father to pull a lot of strings throughout the management to bring her onto this stage. And oh, how, oh how she could have let him down.

She remembers.

She had danced and danced and danced.

She had performed out of her skin, pushing herself to the limit, her face convulsed in resolute determination, and the look of a promise in her eyes that she’d do her best. It was a one-time opportunity and her best here would have to be extraordinary for her to get a next chance.

And did she her best. But it was not enough. Her proud parents had stood and applauded. But it was not enough. They patted her back, hugged her tight, and took her out for dinner. But it was not enough.

Whatever she could have done, she had done. But it couldn’t get her to the stage for a second time.

She left dancing and got busy with her life.

She remembers.

And now the memory subsides, the thunderous applause dies down and only the sound of the wind coming through the window remains. Ghosts of the audience sink back into the dark walls. There is no one here.

She stands here alone, with dance in her blood ready to pour itself out with each movement of her body.

So she moves.

Each twist, each turn, each swing shoots a pain through her body, a bittersweet pain of memories and hope. It seems that she had forgotten to dance, her mind has let it slip out and away from her. But her body remembers, her each muscle remembers – every step and every motion in its perfect order, in its flawless harmony.

She moves like a hummingbird flitting from branch to branch, she leaps like a cheetah on the prowl – raising and lowering each limb in a fluid motion, she floats like a huge butterfly scuttling down a spiral stairway, she lands like a rose petal spinning and falling through the air.

She does not know how she looks. She does not need to.

She does not know how good she dances. She does not need to.

All she needs to know that she can dance, that she does dance.

..and as the pain shoots through her body, she knows that her body has fallen out of habit but it has not fallen out of its destiny. Not yet. Never.

So she glides through the air, drags her feet on the broken floor, raises dust and ash through the air. She flicks and flips and swings and sways, only to know that the dance still lives in her – and that she lives through it.

She dances only to know that this is the moment when she feels truly alive.

The Tell-Tale Story

..and she closed her eyes.

Their lips were locked onto each other in a mindless frenzy of passion, her arms around his neck and his hands squeezing on her butt – as her tongue entered his mouth, and a gratuitous amount of saliva dripped from their mouths to the floor. Their tongues kept exploring each other’s mouths, as their bodies were pressed hard against each other, the warmth of the flesh and the warmth of their breaths exchanged bodies.

They broke the kiss, and looked at each other. She smiled big and wide, looking as beautiful as ever he had seen her. But suddenly two drops of tear were seen in her eyes, filling up to the brim and then rolling down her cheeks even before her smile could disappear.

He grabbed her again, with her cheeks between his palms, “Hey Chloe, what happened to you?”

“I’m scared, Barry,” she said, “the last few days with you have been really beautiful, and I’m scared that they’ll come to an end.”

They were standing at the deck of the spaceship, gazing through the panoramic glass window at the iridescent gas clouds outside. They had been here together on this ship for a while now, and had formed a connection they didn’t think was possible before.

They stood on the edge, admiring the spectacle of vibrant nebulae and constellations, as the spaceship moved through the inky blackness of interstellar space that was lit up by the neon greens and vivid oranges of the luminous gas clouds.

He reached out and kissed her eyelids, wiping the tear away with his lips, “Why does anything have to end? You know a few days ago, we didn’t even think we’d ever have a kiss. Few days ago we were just fellow travelers on this ship who liked each other’s company and now here we are.”

“Yes,” she smiled softly and hugged him tight.

“You know what I do when I feel scared?” he told her, “I tell myself a story. And I feel great again, in fact it’s one of my superpowers.” He chuckled.

She giggled and raised her eyebrows, “Superpower? Are you sure?”

“Yes. See, stories take you into a fantasy world, where you can be whoever you want to be, you can be a hero and you can do whatever you want to do. In your stories, you are the hero who can find solutions to every problem. Then you come back to real life, and it just seems a bit easier, because you know you have done it in your story.”

“So.. my superhero, what’s your fantasy about me? About us? What are we gonna do?” She smiled and brushed her nose against his, still holding him tight.

“I’ll tell it to you in a story,” he handed her a piece of equipment that looked a bit like old-time clunky headphones. As she put it on, he took out his own pair and settled it around his head.

“Now, give me your hand and close your eyes…”

..and she closed her eyes.

13th CE.

She opened her eyes.

“Where are we?” She asked him, the surroundings looked cold but she didn’t feel a thing. There was only a slight chill under her skin and she moved closer to him.

He put an arm around her, “We are on Earth, somewhere near the arctic circle.”

“Did we just come here?”

“No, we’re in a story. See this.”

They stood on the deck of a sailing ship, as the icy waves of the Arctic rocked it back and forth. There were a few men and women on the ship, huddled together under a bearskin trying to keep themselves warm, as the piercing cold chilled their bones and the rime frosted their faces. The sail flapped violently in the blizzard, as a crackling stroke of thunder ripped apart the steel grey overcast sky.

“Look at these people,” Barry said, “They are here, travelling through hail and thunder, to the edge of the world, to the Americas, where they hope to find treasure, shelter and a new world, a new life.”

“Many of them will die on this quest, but the only thing that keeps them going is a story they carry with them. The story of a powerful being in the sky, Thor the God of Thunder. He drives their boats forward, he makes way for them through the icebergs, he brings them rain, and he drives fear into the heart of their enemies. He gives them hope.”

There appeared a young woman on the deck, with a folded sail in her hand and suggested to her folk that they wrap it around the bearskin blanket for heat insulation. An elderly man got up, snatched the bundle from her hand and threw it under the deck. It seemed that he was telling her that she had lost her mind, that it’d fly away in the blizzard and she’d make them lose the extra sail they had for the rest of the journey. He shouted and shouted at her constantly, nothing could be heard in the fierce wind.

The man told her to stay put and didn’t allow her inside the bearskin. The young woman, with her blue eyes and her red freckled face, stood aghast in the biting wind, her damp blond hair fluttering along with the flitting snowflakes.

“What is she gonna do? Should we help her?” Chloe asked and moved forward.

Barry reached out, grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “We can’t help her, Chloe. She’ll find a way to help herself once she knows who she really is. We should get out of here..”

Suddenly a thunderbolt hit the sail, ripped it apart and pushed the boat forward. The sail, electrically charged, dragged itself along the polar wind at incredible speed towards an iceberg, impact imminent, a certain death – and Chloe and Barry found themselves fallen among the waves, before they could teleport from there.

..and they sunk into the ocean, holding each other’s hands – delving deeper and deeper into the stark darkness, relying only on each other to find a way. They reached a geothermal vent, a watersprout, the rarity of nature that came as a gift to them and it launched them out of the ocean high into the sky.

With their hands still clasped together, they floated in the air – then with a click of his fingers, they disappeared.

2500th CE.

In one of the human-inhabited towns on a planet named Inexakt, there lay a girl in her virtual reality rig. She sat naked in a VR chair with her eyes closed, just an electrode cap stapled to her shaved head, her eyebrows were shaven too, and she had long curly eyelashes. Her breasts were small and infirm, and her skin seemed to have a dull sallow tinge that gave her a look of a lanky wax statue hurriedly made by an artist who had been given a tight deadline.

Both of them appeared near her in her room, with a loud gasp of breath and a sensation of falling as they had teleported to a strange planet from the Earth sky within a flash.

“Hey, where are we? What about that girl on the boat?” Chloe exclaimed as she caught her breath and noticed the girl in the rig and the room around them.

Room was lit by a faint red light coming from all the walls. The girl lay peacefully, but her eyeballs seemed to move quickly under her closed eyelids. Her body quivered, and tiny sweat drops appeared on her skin. Her hands moved in a mechanical motion and she grabbed her own breasts and started to squeeze them.

“We’ll get to her later, see now we have reached here just in time. See, this girl is having sex in her virtual reality,” Barry went closer to the girl, placed his hand on the top of her electrode cap.

Suddenly, both of them were inside a crystal dome with hanging disco balls flickering to the beat of disturbingly catchy electronic music that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere. There were thousands of people inside the large dome, moving about and dancing, some of them naked and some of them dressed ostentatiously – in a corner there was an orgy going on.

“What are you doing now? And how are you doing this?” Chloe asked in exasperation.

“What do you mean?”

“You just touched her head in that room, and suddenly we are here in this place. What is it? A story inside a story?”

Barry chuckled, “Yes, yes, it is. It is the story this girl tells herself. You see, this is the virtual reality of these people, this is a whole different world. This dome is only for sexual stuff. Come, I’ll show you,” he held her hand and took her towards the orgy.

There was a girl there, looking strangely similar to the girl in the rig. But here, she had black flowing hair and round supple breasts, and her skin had a golden sheen that was pleasant to the eyes. She was bent over on a couch, riding a dick in her pussy while another guy stood behind her and fucked her ass, she had two cocks in her mouth at once and she shook another two with both her hands. She moaned loud, and the wet sounds of dicks moving inside her holes was loud enough to be heard over the music.

“Is it the same girl? I think it’s the same girl,” Chloe remarked.

“Yes, it is her virtual personality,” said Barry. “You see this is a sexually repressive world, here everything related to sex is a taboo. And the girl over there,” he gestured Chloe to move closer to her and peer at the girl’s face, “in her real life she is a shy silent girl, with insecurities about her sexuality and low self-esteem about her body. She thinks she is not attractive and perhaps would never be desired by a man.”

“So she tells herself a story, in this virtual world. Here she is no longer an ordinary-looking shy girl. Here, she is a sexy diva, here she is desired by thousands of men. Here she has created a story where she is the hero, the master of her own sexuality. Her story gives her the acceptance of herself.”

“But that doesn’t mean anything,” said Chloe, “This is a virtual world, what happens here wouldn’t really improve her life. What is her salvation?”

“She’ll find her salvation once she knows who she really is,” answered Barry and moved forward.

While Chloe and Barry talked, the orgy reached its climax. All the guys drained their cum inside her and left the place, without giving her as much as a gesture of gratitude or even a second glance. Suddenly she noticed Barry coming closer to her.

“What do you want? I cannot do anything with you right now. Come later,” she said.

“It’s okay, I’m only here to tell you a story,” Barry placed his hand on her head, “Now close your eyes..”

..and she closed her eyes.

She opened her eyes.

She found herself in his arms, in the middle of a deep, passionate, wet kiss… with a vivid memory of being together with this man for a last few days aboard a spaceship. She saw that she was standing on the deck of the spaceship, misty-eyed and sad, telling him that she’s scared about their days coming to an end.

She felt his hands holding her cheeks, kissing her tears and telling that they’ll find a solution. She heard him saying that he tells himself a story whenever he feels scared, and that he was going to tell her a story. She took a headphone-like device that he handed to her, put it on her head as he told her.

..and she closed her eyes.

She opened her eyes.

She was on a boat, and she saw her family near the deck of the ship, huddled under a blanket of bearskin as frigid cold wind slapped across their faces. On the other side of the ship, she saw a strange man and woman dressed in plain blue jackets, they didn’t seem to be cold, and they were talking to each other but nothing could be heard in the fierce wind.

A sudden thunderclap, and the wrath of mighty Thor rained down on them, ripping apart the sail as the broken mast hit her and flung her to the side. She saw her reflection in the icy water – blue eyes, red freckles on her pale face, her damp blond hair dangling into the water.

She got back up, the strange couple was gone. The ship was heading towards a formidable gigantic iceberg that stood tall and looming near a volcanic island, impact imminent, certain death.

The thunder struck again, driving fear into the hearts of those who worshiped the God of Thunder. They went down on their knees, cried in fear and asked his forgiveness – the only one standing was the young woman they had cast out of their blanket. She stood stern, partly because of defiance and partly because she was trying to find a solution.

Suddenly the rudder of ship hit against something hard, the sailors cowering further in fear, when she went forward and peered through the mist. The water was shallow here, and sharp outcrops of igneous rock protruded from the ocean bed, most of them submerged under water. But enough of them were out in the open that they would rip the ship apart even before the wind could slam the ship into the iceberg.

And the thunder struck again, illuminating in a brief flash the complete view ahead of the ship. She rushed forward and grabbed a bundle of rope, “Come on, everyone. I know what to do.”

“You brute,” the elderly man got up again and scowled at her, “Thor’s vengeance is upon us, and you choose to defy him instead of accepting your judgment?”

“I did nothing to die like this,” she said, “Thor might be the deciding your fate, but not mine.”

She beckoned to the young men and women, who came forward despite the moans and grunts of disapproval from their older folk.

“What are you going to do? What can you do?” of them asked.

“We’re doing a bootleg turn,” she shouted.

“What the hell is a bootleg turn?” shouted the elderly man.

“Never mind what it is. I know what I’m doing. There is a tall pointy rock coming out of the water, we’ll put this rope around it like a lasso and turn the ship around it. Then the wind will drive us away from the rocks and the iceberg.”

..as soon as the ship turned away from the perilous path, she heard her name being hailed by all her shipmates as they welcomed her into the blanket that they soon layered with the extra sail for insulation. She clambered inside it, it was warmer than before… and suddenly a vision of the strange man flashed before her eyes. He seemed to speak to her inside her mind, he said to her that he was here to tell her that she can come out of this story, she has already discovered who she is…

She felt dizziness take over her as she curled up inside the blanket, a sudden oncoming of sleep, and she closed her eyes.

She opened her eyes.

She was in a strange room, illuminated by eerie red light. A strange man had his hand over her head and the woman with him stood behind him, looking at her with an expressionless face.

“Who are you?” she asked.

Barry withdrew his hand from her head, “I’m Barry, and she is..”

“Wait, I remember. You were there in my VR, you came to me and you said you were going to tell me a story. You touched my head and then everything went in a haze, I can’t remember anything. What did you do?”

“I did nothing,” replied Barry, “I just logged you out of your VR.”

She got up from the chair, took her electrode cap off, and walked around the room looking skeptically at Chloe and then at Barry. “Now it’s all coming back to me, I was on a spaceship and I was kissing you, man. Who the fuck are you? What did you do to me?”

“I’m just a storyteller. You want to know what I did? I logged you out and then I took you into the spaceship and then…”

“And then to the boat, I was the girl on the boat. It was going to crash into ice. My family was there too. They made fun of me and underestimated me, and I showed them. There I did the bootleg turn I studied in my engineering class here. How did you make me do that?”

“I did nothing,” smiled Barry, “I only put you in a story. Everything you did, every choice you made, it was all you. Even the problems that you faced were materialized from your own subconscious.”

“So I just knew how to sail, how to handle and turn a ship?”

“It was your story and you were the hero of the story. You could have done anything you wanted. You could have flown into the iceberg and shattered it. You could have picked up the ship and dropped it on the shore of America. You could have dueled with Thor in the clouds. You could have done anything. But you did the most difficult part.”

“What was that?”

“It was something most people cannot do, even in their stories. You stood up for yourself. You stood up for what you believed in.”

The girl stood there in awe, looking at this strange man in his outlandish blue jacket telling her bizarre things. But she believed him, and in a difficult motion of facial muscles she made an expression that could have been called a smile – it seemed as if she had forgotten to smile, until this stranger showed her true self to her in a story.

She stood in front of the mirror in her room and gazed at her naked body. Strangely enough, she didn’t feel any shame in being naked before them, it just didn’t matter. She looked at her smooth shaved head, long curly eyelashes, small pointy breasts, and the pearly glow of her skin that she often described as sallow. Maybe it’s not so bad after all, she thought; and behind that beautiful frame there was a beautiful mind, she knew.

And perhaps for the first time in a long long while, her lips curved themselves, her jaw loosened itself and her eyes squinted, and there was seen a glint of joy there – she smiled the most genuine, the most beautiful smile ever.

“That was a nice thing you said to her,” Chloe smiled and held Barry’s hand.

Barry smiled back at her, “Our job here is done, let’s get out of here.”

And they disappeared.

As the girl in front of the mirror moved towards her bed saw a vision of the strange man flash before her eyes. He seemed to speak to her inside her mind, he said to her that he was here to tell her that she can come out of this story, she has already discovered who she is…

She felt dizziness take over her as soon as she got into the bed, a sudden oncoming of sleep, and she closed her eyes.

She opened her eyes.

She saw Barry in front of him, she was Chloe. She took the device off her head, and sat down on the floor – at an utter loss of words. Barry sat next to her and put an arm around her shoulder.

She exhaled loudly and exclaimed, “What the hell was that? All those stories, were they playing inside my mind?”

“Yes,” he said softly.

“And.. and all those girls, every girl in every story, it was me?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, you truly have a superpower, don’t you?”

Barry chuckled gently and stroked her shoulder, taking her hand into his other hand and kissed it. “It’s not specific to me. Everyone has it. People tell themselves stories all the time, they just don’t realize it. At our heart, we all are storytellers. It is our greatest source of strength, hope and inspiration.”

“But that doesn’t answer our question, does it bae? What are we gonna do about us?”

“The stories have already shown it to us. At the heart and soul of every story, there is one very simple idea – that you can be the hero of your story, that we can be heroes in our own lives.”

“Oh you wizard of words, you still didn’t answer my question,” she nuzzled into his face.

He gently stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. “I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that, sweetheart. I’m scared that’s why I told you those stories. We are still in a story right now and we can only find a solution once we know who we really are. And I’m telling this story because I’m scared.”

“Don’t be scared, bae,” she kissed his eyes, and hugged him tight, “We’ll find out. Come let’s sleep.”

They got up, moved towards their sleeping pod. There was no vision that flashed before their eyes.

They felt dizziness take over them as soon as they crawled into their pod, a sudden oncoming of sleep, and they closed their eyes.

He opened his eyes, logged into wordpress and started typing the words –

“..and she closed her eyes.

Their lips were locked onto each other…”

She opened her eyes. And she read this story.

Interstellar: A Retelling of the New Space Odyssey

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt.”

 

As said by Coop (Mathew McConaughey), the protagonist of the Interstellar, these lines have a prophetic poignancy to them as if they were telling the story of humanity. And that has been the truth indeed, we worry too much about our place in the dirt, living lackadaisical lives as pegs of the worldly clockwork that keeps moving but takes us to nowhere.

Come to think of it, when was the last time you had looked up to the stars with even the faint ruminations of awe and wonder and curiosity?

Interstellar is set in near future, in a post-truth society where most of earlier technological advancements have been rendered obsolete due to disuse and lack of understanding that fostered in the world that no longer believes in the Moon landing.

Earth has become a dying world, the crops are infected by blight that turns produce to dust, and fierce sweeping sandstorms overwhelm the people to extent they are forced to migrate from one place to another, never to find a safe haven that is as tranquil and clement as the Earth of old.

Out of such gloomy prospects of a world bound to take a plunge into the abyss of destruction, there rises a story of hope, of desperation, survival and revival of the most triumphant of human emotions: love.

Christopher Nolan is a master filmmaker and he has proved his mettle several times and again. In Interstellar, his characters rise from dilapidated ruins of their world and head out towards the stars to find themselves a new home and grant a whole new meaning to the existence of humanity.

Professor Brand (Michael Caine) is a scientist at NASA, who is working at the Lazarus Project. As the name indicates, it is a metaphorical connotation for the redemption and reincarnation (?) of humanity.

A small wormhole has appeared near the moons of Saturn, with a size that’s just enough to allow small ships cruise through to a galaxy far away swarming with habitable planets. But the wormhole isn’t big enough to allow the passing of large passenger ships.

Professor Brand’s Plan A is to find a Unified Theory of the Everything, that would allow him to create a large enough wormhole to help mass emigration of people from the Earth to faraway habitable planets, but he doesn’t have sufficient data to complete his research.

If only Professor Brand had the Unified Theory of the Everything, he could figure out how to create and sustain a wormhole that humanity needs.

On the other hand lies the terrible and ingenious Plan B, to jettison off a set of 3000 fertilized embryos on those habitable planets with the means to sustain them. In the plan B, probably all of the humans on Earth die but their descendants would seize their chance at life and thrive on the worlds millions of light years away.

There are three emissaries sent out through the wormhole and they find three worlds as the potential future worlds for humanity. Coop follows along with Dr Brand (Anne Hathaway) and two other scientists and a series of events lead them to be trapped in a time-dilation near a black hole that slows down time for them while decades pass on Earth.

Coop’s daughter Murphy has grown up and takes over the search for the Unified Field Theory. While Coop has a duty to find the most suitable planet as the frontier outpost of humanity and he also has a promise to keep that he made to his little daughter when he left Earth. He is out there in the void, frantically searching for a place as a future abode of the children of humanity when his own children are growing old back on Earth. He seems to have plenty of time in his hands, but it’s slipping away as fast as he tightens his grip to get hold of it, like a handful of sand seeping through a clenched fist.

 

Between the scientific realism and the poignant emotionalism, Director Christopher Nolan and Writer Jonathan Nolan weave a story that is equal parts touching and thought-provoking.

It shows the splendid spectacle of swirling strands of starlight being bent in the black hole, or the eminent grandeur of the other side of the universe as seen through the wormhole, the ever enigmatic Saturn and its magnificent rings, the tidal waves of the Miller’s planet rocketing to the sky-puncturing heights and frozen clouds of Mann’s planet that hang like weightless mountains on the edge of the skyline. Cinematographer Hoyte von Hoytema and his visual effects team have achieved a feat that’s sublimely complemented by the surreal background score of Hans Zimmer.

Arguably the magnum opus of Christopher Nolan, Interstellar is an emotionally inundating and visually pleasing retelling of a new space odyssey, a homage to the future of humanity as envisioned by Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan and Arthur C Clarke. It is an ode to the ongoing endeavour of life that started when the first fish crawled out of the sea onto the land: and found that in life there is desperation, there is struggle, there is the dread of loss but a way has always been found and it will be found again.

Because there is hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Night

Last night, the stars fell out of the sky
No one saw where they went

And the gibbous moon, shone lonely and steadfast
In the sky that was getting emptier every moment
Shooing away the clouds, she howled at the wolves

Then called out to me and said, “Find out!”

And I raced to the horizon to peer over the edge
Tumbled into the meadows of stardust
And caught the falling stars in my chest pocket
A handful of sparkling twinkling little balls of light

Last night, the stars fell out of the sky
And now I keep them beside me in a glass jar

They tell me their stories and I tell them mine
The earful of stories I have always wanted to tell
To a world that does not and would not listen to me

So we listen to each other, eager and curious

We talk all night, of the world that has changed
Of the empty roofs in the night, and the illuminated skies
Of the lonely moon in the empty sky, crying silently
Pale and fading under the orange glare of the city lights

Last night, the stars fell out of the sky
No one misses them, no one wonders where they are

And the moon gazes silently to the empty rooftops
To the medley of lights in human settlements
At the people busy in their electronic chatter
With their necks craned down into their blinking screens

The wolves no longer howl back at the fading moon

Last night, the stars fell out of the sky
The world did not notice.