Cuddles and Serial Murders

The situation I’m in right now is a perfect setting for a serial murder. A stormy night. Current out. Girls’ hostel.

I sit with my eyes wide open, not that I can see much, anyway. I stand up and peer out of the tiny ventilator window before me. I could figure out the whole block had a blackout as they were no visible lights anywhere. A second later I get my proof when a streak of lightning pierces through the sky. I cower at the sound that follows, my hands tight over my ears.


A feeble whimper escapes my lips. Thunderstorms and the dark are not a combination I prefer. The rain is relentless; it roars as it batters everything it touches.


I had sneaked out of my room a while ago since Tabi had one of her annoying friends over. I climbed up to the topmost step on the stairs to the terrace, the door to it locked by security. I sat there with my music on full blast and doodled my pages away.


‘I knew it was a bad sign to come here! I tripped twice while getting out of the room!’ I think.


The sane part of my mind coos, ‘You speak as if you never tripped over the laptop wire before.’


I ignore it.


I check my phone to see the time was 1:37 AM. I sigh, realizing I lost track of time again. I turn on the flashlight and gather my things as I gather my courage. I have to get down 3 flight of stairs and walk the entire length of a long ass corridor to get to my room. No biggie.


I clutch my phone tight to my chest, a poor protection against the horrors of the night. I make my way down, step by step, jerking at every odd turn of my shadow. It’s frightening and fascinating how the dark turns even the brightest of objects into scary unidentifiable figures.


My journey down the stairs is almost complete, and I have encountered no Casper-turned-evil yet. I have three steps left when I hear a sound from the corridor that makes me freeze mid-step. A weird click-plop of footsteps.


‘What is that? A one-legged pirate? What if it’s a one legged clown sporting a long sword? Oh God, I’m dead. I’m so dead. I’ll be stabbed with a red-nosed ice pick and then hacked to pieces!’


As my brain finds it difficult to even put my foot down, the click-plop grows louder by the second.


Click-plop.


Click-plop.


Just as the killer clown turns towards the stairs, I brandish the only weapon I have on me. I close my eyes tight and flash the light in its face. Hoping my one silly theory, about light making their makeup melt and hence leaving them too embarrassed to fight, was true.


“Goddamnit Pri! What’re you doing?” a familiar voice shouts. I open my eyes to see Tabi, in her shorts and a tee, shielding her eyes from the light.


“Oh, it’s you!” I exclaim, happy to see my comrade.


“Give me that!” she snaps and grabs the light I am still pointing at her face. She holds the light towards the ground and massages her forehead above her eyes. I would feel guilty, but something else catches my eye.


“You know, I agree I am weird. But that is damn weird for even me,” I say, pointing at her footwear. She has a 2-inch wedge on one foot and a flip flop on the other. Both for the left foot. Now I understand where the sound was coming from.


She rolls her eyes. “I was sleepy. Couldn’t find the match.”


“What happened to your phone?”


“I couldn’t find that either,” she scratches her head. “I was worried you were cooped up some place fighting imaginary ghosts.”


“Aww,” I coo. “You were worried about me?”

I go up to her and clutch her arm like a happy Koala. She gives me her usual deadpan expression.


“Yeah, and I’m regretting it too. Come on,” she says. She takes off her footwear and holds them instead. She moves towards our room. I follow, much braver now that Tabi is with me.

I have a tight grip on her sleeve and she’s moving slower to keep pace with my shaky steps. Halfway down the corridor, a loud clang rings from the broom closet we’re passing by. We both jump at the sound. We stare at the closet for a second. I’m half sure the killer clown is going to pop out of it.


“Something must have fallen,” Tabi murmurs, unsure. As if to prove her wrong, a series of clunks and clangs follow from inside the closet. I’m surprised nobody else have woken up at the sounds.


“What if it’s a boggart?” I whimper, referring to Harry Potter.


“Do you want a giant cockroach to come out of it?”


“Nooo,” I whine, clutching her sleeve tighter. A faint scratching sound ensues from the closet now.


“Hold on, that doesn’t sound right,” she says.

Of course, it doesn’t! There is a probably a tiny monster dying to get out,’ I think, but too scared to voice the thought.


Tabi goes to open the door. I stand there with my hand over my eyes, hoping against all hopes that a zombie goblin will not pop out. I peek through my fingers as she slowly opens the door.


“What the…?”


She bends down to pick up something. I slowly take my hand off my face, assured we were not in danger as she hasn’t been mauled yet.


“This the boggart you were talking about?” She turns around showing what’s in her hand.


“Oh my gosh! It’s a kitty!” I take the kitten in my arms, pushing the stuff I’m holding into Tabi’s hands. All thoughts of monsters and ghosts wiped out of my head. The kitten, barely a few weeks old, moves around a little and quickly settles into the nook of my arm.


“What do you know? The cat likes the scaredy cat,” Tabi says. I just poke my tongue at her.


“He’s so cute! Can we keep him?”


“Well, I don’t kn-,” her voice gets cut off by the sudden light that surrounds us. We scrunch our eyes, adjusting to the brightness.


“See, he’s a good omen, he even turned the power back on” I conclude. She looks amused and doesn’t protest anymore. She knows I won’t listen anyway.


“Fine. But what’re you gonna name him?”


“How about broom? Since he came out of the broom closet,” I suggest, smiling brightly.


“No.” Back to the deadpan expression. I get ready to whine but get distracted as the kitten nuzzles his head on my arm and purrs.


“Aww, look at him cuddling,” I say. The kitten meows for the first time since we saw him. I smile up at Tabi.


“You like that? Cuddles?” she asks. Cuddles meows in response.


We giggle at that, unanimously deciding on his name. We finally go to our room and get Cuddles settled in.


And that’s the story of the night, Cuddles prevented a serial murder from taking place.


Project MIMI – Doomsday Edition

Mimi was laid on a metal bed; the kind used in hospitals. She couldn’t open her eyes as they were programmed to stay shut. In fact, her whole body was programmed to stay immobile. Her hearing and sense of touch were still active hence she could hear the frantic whispers of the men beside her bed.

“It’s a failure John! It failed way too many trials, we cannot present this. I won’t allow you to,” Harry said. She could sense he was making wild hand gestures through the changes in the air.

“We don’t have a choice,” John said, stressing every word. “The deadline’s tomorrow, there is nothing else we can do.”

“Well, there must be something! Postpone it. Make up excuses. Anything! Anything other than this.”

“No. We have already extended the deadline twice. Doing it again is asking for a death wish,” John said moving away from him to the other side of the bed.

“Presenting this would be a death wish. They won’t hesitate to kill us,” Harry said, dejected.

“Then it’s a gamble we have to take,” John said; unyielding. He stared Harry down, the reason for their argument in between them.

“I—,” Harry pauses; having choked up, “I can’t. I have a family.”

Silence.

“I know, that’s why I took this job remember?” John sighed, slowly walking back to his side.

“John—,”

“No, it’s alright Harry. I–I truly do understand. I couldn’t be there for my family; I can’t have you suffer the same thing,” he admitted as he patted Harry’s shoulder. “Go; I’ll take care of this.”

Harry knew he had had to make this decision; he was going to leave John when a possible death was facing them. He has been thinking about it ever since the project started to fail. He couldn’t just die as he had a family to care for. And John knew that.

Swallowing back sobs that threatened to wreck his body for betraying his best friend, he hugged John. He drew back and moved around the room; gathering all his stuff. All the while he muttered a string of thank you’s and sorry’s which he hoped would lessen the betrayal. 

He stopped in front of the door. He couldn’t look at John in the face so he faced the door and whispered the words he wished would convey the desperation inside him.

“I am truly sorry,” he said and quickly exited the room.

“I am too,” John said to the empty room. He dragged himself to the chair beside Mimi’s bed and collapsed on it. He knew Harry has always been a coward but he never backed out. Imminent death was his breaking point. It was anyone’s breaking point; except his.

If he had only learned to back out, he wouldn’t have been all alone right now. He lost everything. His wife, daughter and now his partner. Mimi was all he had left.  

“You can move now Mimi.”

Her body recognized his voice command and the invisible force keeping her from doing anything disappeared. Mimi opened her eyes; the bright light above her momentarily blinding her. She took a second to gain the control over her body again, then slowly got up. She hesitantly turned her head towards John. Her neck protested a little as the circuit there got damaged during the trial, but she paid them no heed.

John was slumped in his chair. He had his elbows on his knees and his fingers lazily interlocked as he stared at the empty space between his shoes.

“I’m sorry Papa,” Mimi said in a small voice. “It’s entirely my fault.”

“You heard?” he said.

“You didn’t deactivate my hearing,” she replied.

“Of course,” he mumbled, mentally hitting his forehead for not realizing the obvious. He dragged his hands down his face and looked up at her, plastering a small smile on his face. “It’s not your fault Mimi. It’s mine and mine alone.”

Mimi shifted her body to face him, dangling her legs off the bed to lessen the strain on her neck. She silently fidgeted with her clothes, John hasn’t spoken for a while now and she was bursting with questions.

“What is going to happen?” she finally asked.

“I don’t kn—Wait, deactivate?” John said, his eyebrows crinkled as if he realized something and he suddenly sat up. Mimi mutely nodded at him; not understanding where this was going. “That’s it! I must be going senile as I’m not even remembering the basic stuff,” he chuckled.

“You are too young to go senile Papa,” Mimi commented.

John got up and got his tool box; he set it beside her and asked her to turn around.

“I’m fifty Mimi it is plenty possible for me to go senile. Anyway now shush while I repair you. I got an idea for tomorrow.”  

He explained to her about how he is going to deactivate some of her abilities so that they won’t interfere with the ones she is used to. He left out the part where showing them less than what he promised might cause problems. He didn’t want her to worry about that. He told her to go to sleep to rejuvenate and left the facility after making sure her chamber was locked.

Mimi listened to the usual ritual her papa goes through. She listened as he double checked everything was locked and got into the lift. She could hear the elevator music as it descended for a few floors, after which she couldn’t hear him anymore. She estimated the time that will take for him to get into his car and drive away, she didn’t move until then. She waited an extra five minutes just to be safe.

Confident that he was gone she sprung up from her bed and tiptoed over to the drawer that contained her collectibles. They were no treasures. There were little things like a pony shaped eraser, color pencils, a collection of fairytale books and such. To her, they mattered a lot. She took out the candle and match box she obtained from her previous visit to John’s house.

Her Papa had warned her about the dangers of fire, even though she was equipped with the ability to shoot missiles. She carefully struck the match against the rough surface of the matchbox. Then brought it over to light the candle she placed on her study table. The candle made a slight hiss as the fire greedily lit it up. A faint buzz could be heard from the candle that human ears wouldn’t have caught.

She watched as the flame danced in front of her eyes; constantly moving. Mimi was always fascinated with fire. She couldn’t exactly describe what she felt about it. Her feelings towards explosives were the complete opposite. During the trials when she was ordered to shoot targets, her body went into a state of panic at the sight and sound.

It might have been her brain that thought so. Her brain was not her own and she had a ghost heart. Electricity flowed in her instead of blood. She felt lost; like she felt every day.

A thud outside made her jerk up, in turn knocking the candle over. On instinct, she grabbed the candle before falling, but at the fire. She flinched as pain waves flowed through her hand to her brain. The fire was doused but her artificial skin had a slight charring when she examined it. She swiftly put the candle in the drawer and crept into her bed; listening for any movement. Nothing.

Feeling assured, she relaxed and brought her hand up. Running her thumb over her charred palm, she tried to push down memories the burn brought up. Bad memories. Memories she didn’t want to look into.

********

The next day John did notice the burn on Mimi’s hand and the match box she left behind. He berated her for playing with fire even though he warned her not to. Mimi quietly listened upset that she worried her papa. The time for testing was here; just a few more hours.

John’s mind was filled with dread. He couldn’t let anything happen to Mimi. 

The organization’s leader showed up. He was a strict guy and he didn’t take shit from anybody. John greeted him with a stoic face and a firm handshake. Mimi was already sent down to testing arena while the spectators watched from up above; safe from harm.

The tests were going fine. She was performing alright, or so John thought. He hoped that they wouldn’t notice it was less than what they bargained for but luck was not really on his side.

It happened way too quickly. They started accusing him that this was not what they asked him for. The speed was not enough; the explosives were not powerful enough. Mimi watched as John got into a fight with the leader and she could hear everything that was happening even with the soundproof wall separating her from it. She hesitantly walked towards the wall unsure if she should help.

Suddenly blood coated the glass. One moment they were arguing and the next moment, the leader bought his gun out and shot John straight through the heart. She was paralyzed with shock unable to believe what she just witnessed. John staggered a few steps back; his gaze clouded over and he fell on his back. He closed his eyes and never opened them again.

An onslaught of memories attacked Mimi at once. Memories not her own. All of which belonged to John’s daughter, the one her brain belonged to. A storm of emotions enveloped her. With all the anger, sadness and fear she could see clear no more. With an abandoned sense, her body released a force field so strong, it shattered the glass separating them into a million pieces.

She activated the jetpacks in her feet and flew up to the man that killed her father. In a flurry of emotions, she attacked everyone surrounding her, friend or foe. Her mind didn’t process sense anymore. All that she bothered about was to kill. To destroy everything that took her father away from her. Blood spilled everywhere. Even as she was drenched in all that blood and gore, she couldn’t stop. She had no control. No remorse.

By the time she came about, she was no longer at the facility. She had no idea where she was. She was floating in mid-air surrounded by clouds and water below. She couldn’t think straight. Her mind saw red and revenge clouded her; destroying any sense left in her. Even after all the bloodshed of those responsible for the death of her only reason to survive, all she craved was for more blood and death.

So she gave up. Let go of the little sense left in her. She turned her back on all that was good and drifted away towards destruction. 

Happy

I see 

a sole red leaf 

in a swarm of greens. 

I see it float 

to the ground, 

slower than rest

savoring the wind. 

I see it settle 

on the lone puddle

In the middle of a busy street. 

Ripples rise 

and the puddle is alive. 

Two tiny sparrows notice. 

Use the leaf as a boat,

Quench their thirst, 

They flit away and I realise-

I’m happy