Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Other

An attempt at writing a short story...

The Other

He was alone.

Sitting there under the stars, he realized how alone he felt. No, not even the night breeze would be with him that moment. Not even an insect or a mosquito or an ant dared disturb him as he sat there on the rocky, river bed at midnight. The river was long dried up as it had been a long, hot summer and whatever pools of water remained were stagnant and reeked of rotting fish. However, he was unperturbed. Nothing bothered him now. Nothing would bother him for a long time. Not after what he had just done.

This was bound to happen; the day was bound to come. He had warned about it for a long time. But they wouldn’t listen. Now pay, you bastards. And pay they did, heavily. With their blood and bones. Every last one of them.

He could still hear their cries stinging his ears like an army of ants on a vengeance, when you stepped on their hill, biting into your flesh, trying to get even with you for trampling them. He tried shutting his ears but to no avail. That was one thing that perturbed him. No, not just perturbed him, but disturbed him, scared the living daylights out of him. Those petulant cries, those whining pleas as they begged for mercy. He couldn’t stand that noise. It was overpowering him. Though they were dead for the better part of an hour, he could still feel their guttural moans washing over his mind like a thick sea of blood. And no matter what he did, it just wouldn’t go away.

That was when he realized he was no longer feeling alone. That monster that had taken over him was suddenly aware of a small gleam of consciousness starting to come to life. It was time to say goodbye and run away to those dark realms of horror where the monster lay resting till it was time to come back. Back for blood. The light of awareness was slowly increasing its glare. The monster knew he had to leave right now. He had done his work. The deed for which he was born. The birth-right had been claimed and HE was pleased with his handiwork.

Now if only, all the days were like today. That would be fun, wouldn’t it? Every night, a new kill. And not every night you got to kill small children as they slept in their teeny-weeny flowery cots, sucking on their thumbs, clutching to their dolls. Yes, he was really pleased with his good deed for the day. And now it was time to rest and let the other deal with the rest of it. Pity he would miss this part. How he longed to see this phase. When the other realizes what has been done. Now, that would be a sight wouldn’t it. His mind jumped like a gleeful little boy jumping in the first puddles of the rains. But no, “Be patient”, he warned. There would be time for that later. But now, he had to get back.

The light at the top of his head was gradually becoming brighter and brighter. He hated it. Boy, how much he wished it would be dark always. Dark like it had been for the last few hours. Dark like his wretched lair at the depths of his mind, where he had spent most of the time, lying hungry, waiting to come out and sate in the glory of death. His time was running out fast, the light was now brighter. He fleetingly remembered what he had done and silently chuckled to himself. Yes, that was good work.

That would suffice for some time. It was a hard day’s (night’s) work. And he longed for the rest that he so richly deserved. Yes, he would rest now, for some time at-least. Until it was time to come out again. He saw the lair opening, dark and cold, beckoning him with open arms into its evil clutches. That was his sanctum, his place of rest and recuperation, the place where he hid and regained his strength. He realized he was getting stronger every time. He also realized the time spent outside the lair was also increasing with every outing. That was a good sign. Some day would definitely come when he wouldn’t have to go back in the cold dark lair, ever. He would forever be out, doing what he most pleased to do. Doing, what he was born to do. Yes, that day would come. That day, when he would finally be free. Yes, it would.

But now, it was time to go back. So that’s what he did. He slowly entered the lair and closed its opening as the glaring light finally took hold of the stupid other, waking it up. But he was safe and it was time to sleep. A deep, refreshing, restful sleep.

RJ woke up. It was slow at first, a gradual rousing. His eyes were still closed but he could sense that dull throbbing pain in his head. Yes, that pain that always came to him whenever he woke up from those black-outs. He had been having them since childhood. Not frequent, but yes they did happen sometime. Maybe once every few years. His mother used to say, it was nothing to worry, it was just a fainting spell. He believed her. But there had been times he had been really scared after waking up from these blackouts.

Especially the time, when he woke up at dusk, in the dried river bed next to his home, and had seen Tibby, his pet cat lying cut open in front of him. His hands had been covered with blood, and there was daddy’s razor lying nearby. That too, covered in blood. Tibby’s blood. He was 12 at that time and Tibby had been his pet cat for almost 2 years. But now it was no more. He didn’t know what had happened, but he was not going to let anyone know about it. Not his parents surely. They might send him off somewhere. Somewhere far. So scared out of his wits, RJ had hurriedly buried the remains of Tibby in some hole he dug up next to the river bank, and washed off his blood drenched hands in the small pools of water, which were the last remnants of the river during that long hot summer. He had also cleaned off daddy’s razor and put it in his pocket, reminding himself to keep it on daddy’s bathroom shelf (He couldn’t throw it away as daddy would realize it was gone.) and slowly walked home, shaking like a leaf.

Luckily his parents hadn’t noticed his absence and he replaced the razor back where it was and went off to bed telling his mother that he wasn’t feeling too well. He didn’t want his dinner, he just wanted to sleep. No one bothered him that night and though the next day they noticed that Tibby was nowhere to be seen, they never questioned him about it. “It was, after all a cat.”, his daddy said, “They sometimes leave you. Tibby too must have gone off somewhere, somewhere exploring.” But RJ knew, the only exploring Tibby was doing, was in the small hole were he had left him for the ants and other creatures of the soil. And that was the end of it. The black-outs never happened after that. Maybe RJ’s shock at what he had done to Tibby stopped them and they never came. He soon forgot about them. And his parents did too. And Tibby never came back.

RJ grew up. Fell in love. Got married. Had kids, two lovely little twin daughters, who looked just like their momma. His father had died and mother had been sent to the old peoples’ home, where she would be taken care of. RJ and his wife and his 2 year old twins still lived in his parents’ old house and he did the same thing his father used to do. Farming his ancestral stretch of land. And his wife did the same thing his mother used to do. Look after the house and kids.

It was the same life that his parents had lived. And their parents had lived before them and so on. Yes, it was the same life, but this one, the one that he was living, was decidedly different from anyone else’s, he realized right now. Right now, as he woke up with that dull throbbing pain. Still sitting with closed eyes, he understood that he had had one of those blackouts.

Those damn blackouts, that he thought had gone for good, had suddenly crept from behind him and returned with startling dismay. All those memories of that fateful summer, a good 15 years ago, suddenly jumped on him as a pack of blood hungry hounds. He could sense and feel everything from that fateful day with frightening clarity. As if it had happened just yesterday. He could smell that sick sweet smell of fresh blood. He could feel the clotting, drying, stickiness of it on his hands. He could see Tibby lying down in front of him, cut open, his entails out there, for the world to see. It all came back flooding to him and he opened his eyes slowly.

It was dark outside. Dark and very hot. A typical hot summer night. No breeze, only a silent lull. He was sitting on the rocks on the dried river bed next to his house. There was a full moon tonight and it was shining bright right over his head. RJ looked up and felt the moon wickedly smile back at him. As if the moon knew what he had done? As if the moon knew he'd had done something. Something very bad.

This thought jerked RJ back and he hurriedly looked at his hands. It was just the same as that evening 15 years ago. He was sitting on the same rocks as 15 years ago. It was the same dried river bed. It was the same summer as 15 years ago. His hands were soaked in blood in exactly the same way as 15 years ago. Everything was just the same except for a few changes.

This time, it was night, not dusk like the last time around. By the full moon overhead he deduced it was midnight. The other change was there was no daddy’s razor lying around. Instead, there was an axe. His new axe, bought at the village fair a few months back. His shining new axe, with the super sharp blade and polished wooded handle was lying there in front of him, covered with blood and stuff he couldn’t quite recognize. But he thought he saw some traces of wet bloodied strands of hair stuck to the blade and the wooden handle.

The last and most important change from the scene 15 years ago was the absence of Tibby. 15 years ago, there was Tibby lying there. spread eagled, but now there was nothing.

That’s when it struck him like a sledge hammer. The entire enormity of the situation and what he had done came screaming at him. He knew, that today, just like last time, he had killed something. But it was no Tibby. It was not even an animal. And not even one.

He was again alone. Very alone.