Dreamcatcher

She woke up with flailing limbs and clothes covered in sweat, even as new beads of perspiration took form on her brow. Gasping for air, she looked around wildly, surveying her surroundings for any sign of the monsters that might have followed her back to reality.

Leaping off the bed, she ran to the window and looked out, searching for the moon to bathe her in its calming, embalming light. She sighed once and shook her head, shaking off the worst of her fears.

But the window pane glimmered as if the glass was fluid and she let out a piercing scream. This was unreal, she realised, staring hard at that surreal glitch. She closed her eyes and accepted that she was trapped within a dream.

Continue reading “Dreamcatcher”

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Who goes there?

When you’re in the clutches of fear in the middle of the night and feel someone approaching, while you cannot resist the urge to go check for shadows lurking in the dark, it’s the most adrenaline-fueled, anxious experience one can ever have!
Read the succinctly narrated, gripping tale shared down below and relive the sensations of strange visitors knocking at our doors.

Coffee and the Wallflower

She had a coffee mug that read, “Don’t ask until I’ve had my coffee”. Very practical, very true and, of course, her favourite. She kept it at a very prominent place in her cubicle so that the message would never go unseen.

She had a scary aura around her. It was not just because she came across as stand-offish. There was this subtle kind of otherworldly tinge in her overall demeanor that screamed for her to be left to herself. No one bothered her much. No one stopped her in her path. Despite all this, she was still held in high regard and was the unanimously approved go-to person whenever someone was in a pickle at work. She will help you, no questions asked and she was never a credit monger. A few colleagues often wondered out of pure concern as to why she kept everyone at bay. She’d join them for office parties, sure, and for drinks after a hectic day at work, yet no one could say with confidence that she considered them her friend.
That’s just the way things were and everyone around had accepted it wordlessly.

Till one day, a new character entered their little drama of an office life. He was the official trouble-shooter and as such was supposed to work with everyone, without being restricted to any particular department. Further still, he was a partner. So he poked and prodded, then offered genuine advise. Soon becoming the favourite of the herd. They’d laugh and joke around him, completely at ease. If it unsettled her, this sudden change in dynamics, this new cog in the wheel, she never did let it show. She took his appearance in her stride and deftly worked around him. It did not escape anyone’s notice, however, that she’d never yet approached him.

After about three weeks of waiting, he walked up to her cubicle.

“So, have you?”

He asked nonchalantly.

“I’m sorry, what?” She asked, slightly disconcerted.

“You know, had your coffee yet?” He replied with a pointed glance towards her mug.

She was now entirely flummoxed. No one had ever dared take her up on the challenge before.

“Well, yes. Did you need something? You could have simply emailed like always.” She said while trying to get her bearings.

“So can I ask now?” He said with a hint of a smile playing at the corner of his lips.

“Wha-what?”, She was now very confused.

“I get to ask my question now, don’t I?” He smiled smugly.

“Ah, yes. Please go ahead.” She said with a roll of her eyes.

“Go out with me, will you?”

“Excuuuuuse me?” She almost shouted while standing up to pin him with a glare.

All activity had stopped around them. No one even tried to hide their interest in their conversation.

“I said, will you go out with me? Or do you need more coffee before I can ask you this again?” He enquired with all the calm of a quintessential cat.

“I, eh, well, er, umm, y-yes” was her fumbled reply. It was accompanied with a blush so deep, she had to avert her gaze and stare at her feet till the heat from her cheeks died down a bit.

“Alrighty-o then, I’ll wait for you in the parking at 7, if that’s alright with you?” He asked with the most dazzling smile. Of course, she could not see the smile because her footwear had suddenly become very interesting for no apparent reason.

“Okay” she managed to reply in a small voice after two attempts at clearing her throat.

People were staring at them with gaping mouths. The ice queen had melted in front of their very eyes. Men were internally curing themselves while the women were staring daggers.

All it took was a man bold enough to tear down her defences, truly look at her rather than what she projected and simple ask her; Voila! She was almost human again.

The Truth About Romance

It’s a lazy Sunday morning and she has decided to break her rule of not cooking on weekends. He is sitting patiently on the kitchen counter, waiting for the result of the storm she appears to be cooking up when something sticking out from between the folds of the newspaper catches his eye. 
Snatching it up, he proclaims, “Oh look! It’s one of those advertisements of a perfume called romance with a quiz to check your love quotient.”

“Throw it away”, she murmurs, clearly disinterested in such tomfoolery while squinting at the frying pan, willing the stuff inside to change colour like it should have around ten minutes ago.

“Ah, let’s see! How would you express/profess your love to your significant other?” He asks, clearly enjoying himself. 

“I wouldn’t”. 

“C’mon! What made you ask me out all those years ago? Was it my dynamic personality or my irresistible charm?” He asks, wiggling his eyebrows for extra effect.

Finally, she turns around. “Let me recall, I think it was the allure of your Magnetic obliviousness to flirtation and your endearing cluelessness that required me to ask you out twice, even though you said yes the first time, just because you didn’t understand what it entailed. How’s that for an answer?” She smirks.

Not one to give up, he continues undeterred, “Tell me, what would you do when someone made you catch your breath or made your heart skip a beat? What would you do about those butterflies fluttering in your stomach, eh?”

“Digest them”, she deadpans.

Bursting out laughing, he cannot help but move towards his wife.

Needless to say, the questionnaire soon finds its rightful place in the trashcan right next to unrecognisable charred pieces of what could have been edible food.

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For the Love of Thunderstorms (Ceraunophilia)

One fine, Sunny and sultry summer morning, she whined, “You know what, it’s too hot to function around here!”

He, while hurriedly checking weather forecasts for her city, replied, “Well, it does show rain and thunderstorms for the coming ten days. You’re all set for some pleasantness.”

Two days later – “It’s not raining! The feels like temperature is 49°c and I’m just a melted puddle! To add insult to injury, it’s been pouring heavily in this other city just 500kms away! Not fair!”

“Hmm”, he ponders, “Feel like packing up your bags and chasing the rain?”

Honestly, he should get full points for trying. She is very trying, after all.

“No! What I feel like is having a stare down with a grey cloud to see who’s eyes start to water first!” She fumes.

He, very secretly and would not be caught dead saying it aloud, thinks she looks cute as a button when she stomps her feet even over video chats. He’s also pretty sure his woman could take on a mountain and emerge victorious by force of sheer grit.

“I’ll book the colloseum then, honey?”

Yep, he’s a good egg.

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The Thing About Metaphors

She forwarded a meme to him with an audible giggle. It was a pensive image of the animated batman captioned “Me looking at the menu even though I’m going to get the same thing as usual”.
He rattled off her favourite food order in response.

She suppressed a smile and stated, “When I like something, I like something. What’s the point in browsing and speculating what could be nice when you already know what’s pretty, damn amazing? I’ll stick with that choice through thick and thin. Loyalties, ya know!”

“Yes Ma’am, duly noted”, he replied with a knowing twinkle in his eyes.

“Well, that’s settled then. I guess we’re both off the menu.” She was grinning from ear to ear now.

So, you see, that’s the thing about metaphors.

Hiraeth

“Hiraeth, a Welsh word with no direct English translation. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for one’s home. But it is not mere homesickness. It is a longing for a home you cannot return to, or maybe, one that was never yours.”, read M.

“Hiraeth”, he repeated, savouring the taste of it in his mouth. Something snagged at his heart as he lay back to close his eyes and let the meaning seep in.

Unsurprisingly, he envisioned that beautiful face again. Fringed by those naturally, wavy hair. The shade a kind of brown that ignites with a golden glow when sun rays fall on it. Those carved lips inching upwards in a smile with a soft, feline curve. And those eyes, those soulful, lively eyes, twinkling and flickering.

He remembered every single detail about her appearance. He knew nothing about her. Yet, she was the most familiar person on earth to him. He used to see her everyday, after all, which was more than he could say for his closest friends and family. Everyday, like clockwork, he saw her having lunch while he collected his coffee on his way back from lunch. He had never approached her or talked to her. But he adored the lilt of her voice when she spoke to her friends or placed her order. He loved hearing her talk. It had been months since he’d seen her though.

Rising from his couch, M wondered what she was up to. Where she went. Probably moved to another city or changed her office or something, he mused. He knew he’d still be keeping an eye out for her everyday.

Hiraeth, he thought again, as he lifted the newspaper he had been reading to carry with him to work. His eyes came to pause for a moment at the word that he had doodled. “Lisa”, he read, as he smiled and went about his day.

(To read Lisa’s story, please click here)

The Other Woman

She saw her today. Even though on waking up this morning, she’d been quite happy and content. By all accounts, there’d been nothing to foretell how the day’s events were going to unfold. There had been no breaking of coffee mugs, no news of natural calamities, no stumping of toes. For once, she’d even left home on time to make it to work without having the fear of being reprimanded for tardiness hanging over her head.

Yet, she saw her today.

It was a patchwork of glimpses, really. You see, she saw her through the windows of a bus passing by. There she was. Standing on the sidewalk on the other side of the road. In all her carefree abundance. Ready and raring to go who knows where.

She was unknowingly turning her world upside down, yet, Lisa could not take her eyes off of her. Her face was one that she wouldn’t forget till her she had any memory left at all. Somehow, with great, superhuman strength, she got herself to move ahead, trying to forget what she saw.

However, she saw her again. While having lunch break at her favourite deli just round the corner of the block. Nothing seemed out of place. Her burrito was perfect. Yet, she looked up from her meal and saw her. Rather, Lisa saw her reflection passing by the window, dressed in yoga pants and carrying a rolled up mat. For quite some time after, Lisa kept staring at her plate, unable to eat another morsel. The window, to her, still had a few traces of the reflection lingering behind. She dared not look up again.

Getting through the remainder of the day at work was not easy now. Her mundane, humdrum affair of a life had just taken an about turn. No matter how much she tried, she just couldn’t get that women out of her mind. She even attempted to convince herself that she was mistaken. Mirrors play tricks, don’t they? Bus windows, cafe windows, of course! It couldn’t possibly have been her! It couldn’t have been what she thought she saw.

Yet, Lisa had a nagging feeling of uneasiness even after returning to the warm comfort of her home. Her mind kept envisioning every possible scenario. A voice inside her kept screaming it was her! It’s got to be her!

Right when she was about to conclude she must either be living this day in a dream, needing to wake up soon or has officially become a loon, she glanced at her phone and was taken aback. There was that face again, staring right back at her from her phone’s screen under the section of “people you may know”.

Recounting the incidents of the day, slightly disoriented, slightly confused, slightly dazed and slightly scared, Lisa finally fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion of the mind.

The next morning, she did not wake up.

Her last internet search query showed “Doppelganger“.