Simplicity and Chaos

­­­”Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?”

Mark bopped his head slowly, in time with the strains of Against Me! floating into his ears. His brothers would judge him for listening to what they called poser music, but that had never bothered him.

His life philosophy was – if it makes sense to you, do it.

Simple.

It was when other people got involved that things got complicated. No matter how closely an ideology matches that of another, there will always be points of friction. Small things that people disagree on, small things that start off as sparks and can turn into raging forest fires.

It was hard to avoid conflict, for conflict is an eighteen wheeler on the highway of life, and you’re a bug trying to cross the street.

Chaos.

It was for that very reason that he had chosen anarchy. As a confused seventeen year old, he had run away from home, with all the bravado and the invincibility of youth. Within three months, he had found himself out on the street. The first person that took pity on him and gave him something wasn’t what he expected, however – it had been another hobo, simply passing him a book. The hobo, who styled himself Genie, had given Mark the book to burn, in order to keep warm. But one look at the cover and the strange word on it – Shantaram – had given him pause. He opened it and started reading.

One line said “There is no philosophy that loves humanity as much as anarchy”. It had piqued his curiosity, propelling him to read more and more until he was convinced that he was an anarchist. It made perfect sense.

Simple.

It had also allowed him to find his brothers. The group that called themselves Beatification, for the process that the church followed to elevate people to an almost saint-like status. It allowed people to intercede on behalf of others after their death, and that’s exactly what the Beatified planned to do. They planned to take down the government, the corrupt institutions that had oppressed people for centuries, the rich growing richer and the poorer dying because they had nothing on or in their bodies.

They weren’t going to reduce the wealth gap. They were going to blow it to smithereens.

Chaos.

He jerked as the bus stopped, realising almost too late that this was his stop. He ran to the front of the bus, jumping off just before the doors closed. He paused in front of the restaurant, looking up at the name of the place. It was ironic that they had chosen a place named Commerce for the meeting. This was to be their final meeting before they parted ways, each of them armed with a mission, a purpose and enough explosives to send their targets to kingdom come. Words were ringing in his ears as he stood outside the restaurant.

Their pledge. “As sons of the Beatified, we swear upon our lives to uphold this creed, to bring justice to the downtrodden and the oppressed, to find inequality and correct it, to fill the world’s mind with the thought of self governance and the beauty that it can bring.”

Simple.

But those words were not the ones coursing through his mind. The words were the ones he had overheard, the ones that he had witnessed, secretly, spoken by the oldest and supposedly wisest of the Beatified. “They’ll never know what hit them. The Federal Reserve, the World Bank, Fort Knox. They’ll all be empty by the morning. But we just have to make sure that the brothers know their responsibility and carry it out. By morning, we’ll be the only ones left, to build the new order”. There had been embraces, their purpose as clear as his had been completely destroyed. He had no evidence, no one would believe him even if he told them.

His mind, after that conversation, had been in the sort of turmoil that he scarcely believed possible.

Chaos.

He pulled it out of his bag and strode into the restaurant, taking in the wide eyed looks that he was attracting from the patrons. He smiled at them and walked forward, his face set but his eyes gentle. He had nothing to do with the civilians in the restaurant, and he had nothing but love in his head for them. He walked purposefully, his gait never wavering, straight towards the private section in the back where he knew his brothers were congregated. Sometimes, cutting the head off the snake isn’t enough.

He pushed open the door of the private area, the smile still playing on his lips. “My brothers” were the only words that left his lips.

He hefted the rifle to his shoulder, the weapon turned to full auto.

Simple.

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Work To Be Done

He opened the door quietly, and shut it quickly behind him. He turned on the light in his living room, and walked across to the fridge. Damn it, just one beer. He’d need to go to the store at some point. But not right now. He had more important things to do.

He walked over to the door next to his bedroom, and took down the apron hanging from the peg there. He took his shirt and pants off, and donned the apron over his boxers. Next, on went his gloves. He had always been a neat freak, and there was no way he was handling that stuff without some covering.

He walked down the stairs to the basement, and clicked on the light. There, spread before him, was the (almost) final result of months and months of hard work. To the average person, it looked like a whole lot of dirt spread out on clean white sheets. But to him, it was more.

SO much more.

He fished the remote out of the pocket of his apron, and clicked play. Soothing strains of Louis Armstrong wafted over the basement, calming him down and making him smile. Not that he needed more reasons to smile today.

He walked over to the corner and picked up the small stack of boxes that he had painstakingly collected over the last month. They were the key to the final stage of his plan. A few of them were marked and branded, but one contained two hundred small cloth bags. He sat down next to the sheets of supposed dirt, and began to put small amounts of it into each bag.

He had practiced this hundreds of times over the last few months. But now that he was so close, he was getting more and more excited. So much so that his hands were shaking a little, making it difficult for him to work his heat sealing machine. And when the bags were so small, you had to be delicate. Couldn’t risk the entire thing on someone noticing a bad sealing job, could he?

He sat there, through the night, working his fingers to the bone. It didn’t matter that he was exhausted, it didn’t matter that he could barely keep his eyes open. Not even the pain in his hands could deter him.

He was so close, and nothing was going to stop him.

He arrived at work the next day, his prized cargo in tow. He walked over to the pantry, full of people. Just as he had expected. Not that it mattered, they had stared him into oblivion anyway. They wouldn’t notice even if he put a bullhorn to his lips and proclaimed his message. He reached into his bag slowly.

And took out four boxes of green tea. He placed them slowly on the pantry counter, and backed away.

He hung around, though. He knew what was coming.

The Great Lord had told me. He had appeared to him in a dream, telling him exactly what he needed to do. How he had to complete a very special job for Him. He told him that the tea was the best way. No one would even notice the tiny flecks of white within the green leaves. Not until it was too late, anyway.

He watched as an office boy walked over to the boxes and picked up all four. It was Tuesday, and a lot of green tea had to be prepared.

He smiled.

Touch The Horizon

“Mama? Are you awake?”

She stirred, and turned feebly towards him. There wasn’t much strength left in her, and she used whatever she had carefully and sparingly. Time, the greatest enemy of youth, had robbed her of everything but the sanity of her mind. Thank God she had her boy, though. Even though there was an army of nurses and doctors that her vast wealth had given her, she couldn’t bear it if her little boy wasn’t around.

It was almost time. She could feel it in her bones, see it in his eyes. Here today, gone tomorrow. She was treating every second as if it were her last, and she was determined to be holding her baby’s hand when the time finally came.

“You have it, yes?”, she wheezed.

“Hush, mama. Yes, I have it.”

He held up the scrap of paper, torn from her notebook all those years ago. It was her one regret, not being able to travel. As a little girl, she had stared out of her window and wondered what the world beyond her town was like. She used to yearn to run until she could touch the horizon, and then see what happened. Would the world end, and would she fall into a bottomless abyss? Would she be carried up into the starry heavens?

When she had the desire, she didn’t have the means. When she had the means, she wanted more means.

They say that every person with wealth wants only one thing – more.

So she had devoted her life to amassing wealth, never thinking that she wouldn’t make it to her retirement age. Never understanding that nothing in life is certain, even for the uber-wealthy. Never anticipating that the slow rot of her cells would rob her of all the time that she had set aside to see the world.

But never mind. If she couldn’t see the world in life, she would see it in death. Her boy would make sure of that.

That’s what was on the scrap of paper. A travel route that would take him around the world, with her ashes. He would take her everywhere she couldn’t go, show her the world. Ibiza, Vietnam, Belize, Bali. She would see it all with the one she loved the most.

She would touch the horizon with his hands.

“You do have it, right?”

He didn’t answer this time, just held the scrap up in front of his face. He had been carrying it everywhere for years now.

Her smile was weak. Then it faltered, and disappeared altogether.

The paper parted down the center, torn in two by hands that she had been holding just a moment ago. And as the halves parted, she was staring into the hardest, coldest eyes she had ever seen.

She didn’t have the strength to protest, but her eyes asked a thousand questions.

He didn’t answer with words, but simply turned towards the door of her hospital room. It opened slowly, and a person walked in.

And the bottom fell out of her world.

It all came rushing back. The secretary job that she had landed. The little whispers in his ear, the malicious little lies that she had told about people. The eventual seduction, and the affair. Finally, the papers that she had slipped into his folder one day, hidden amongst invoices and payment slips. He trusted her so blindly that he hadn’t even looked at what he was signing.

She took his empire and tore it apart, terminating jobs and wrecking lives with a ruthlessness never before seen. And considering she was on Wall Street, that’s saying something.

From the burning embers of his empire had risen the phoenix that had become her world.

Her son’s voice brought her back to reality with a jolt.

“I’m going to spend every last penny that you’ve willed me righting the wrongs that you’ve caused. I will not rest as long as there is a breath in my body and a cent in my pocket. And I may not know the future, but I can tell you one thing. Your disgusting remains will not see a single place, other than this room and the nearest morgue.”

Tears streaming down her face, she choked out a few words.

“My….dying wish…”

He stood up, eyes cold as ice. He extended his arm, and scattered the pieces of the notebook paper over her hospital bed. He then leaned over and brought his mouth to her ear.

“As far as I’m concerned, MOTHER, you died a LONG time ago.”

 

Wide Eyed Return

I’m running, but getting nowhere. The rug turns into a slide, and I seem to be slipping backwards. Ever backwards. I never fall on my ass, and slide with glee. I fall on my front, and get inexorably sucked backwards. Like there’s a giant creature there, waiting for me. Like I’ve been running, as a fool does, on its tongue all along. And it’s leering at me from a hundred yards away. I’m in a cartoon horror movie, where I’m suspended in mid-air – only in trouble if I look down and realize that I’m not standing on anything. I turn around, and he smiles. His teeth are lamps, flickering yellow horrors. Just before he swallows me whole, I wake up. Breathe a sign of relief. As the final bit of air escapes my lungs, I realize with horror that I can breathe no more.

Continue reading “Wide Eyed Return”

The Devil

I’m trying something new. Something I’ve never done before – a multiple-part piece.

All the pieces in this series will be categorized under the “The Devil” category.

This, more than anything I’ve ever written, needs your feedback and criticism. Help, please.

 

Cheers,

Nikhil

The Migraine

He hunched over in the alley, relishing his prize. It had been a long, hard hunt, but it was so worth it. Every single minute that he had spent planning it, playing out every possible scenario in his head, seemed like a breeze. It had taken him an entire week, but he had finally got what he wanted.

The headache. The headache was what had started it all.

He woke up one morning, with a splitting migraine. They had plagued him ever since he was a child, but this one was particularly bad. And there was a sound, something that seemed to hammer a nail into his skull every few seconds. It was a yelling, a yapping, something that his sleepy brain couldn’t comprehend. He shook his head, wincing at the shards of pain. It cleared out the cobwebs, and then he understood.

It was the dog. The neighbour’s dog.

The poor thing had gotten three of his teeth removed, and had been in agony for nearly a week. Every few hours, he would howl in pain. And even though everyone hated it, they had known that dog for nearly a decade now. But as he considered the racket, he realized something.

He didn’t care.

He spent the entire day thinking about the dog. And the more he thought about it, the more the anger grew. A night’s sleep. So much pain. He had suffered, and quite a bit at that. And the worst part was that he had suffered alone. He had writhed in agony, while the rest of the world slumbered on. And that dog yapped.

That was the thing he hated the most. No one shared his pain.

But as he planned and plotted, he grew happier. He knew that he was working towards a goal, one that would bring him satisfaction.

And then the day dawned. Glorious and bright. He had another migraine, and oh, how he hated the sun.

He walked into the neighbour’s yard, where the pug’s doghouse was. He put his hand out, letting the little thing sniff him. The dog wolfed down the cookie faster than he would have imagined.

The ADHD medication worked even faster.

He put the sack over the pug, and put him into the camping bag that he had brought along. He then walked towards the skate park. There was an alley where he knew he wouldn’t be disturbed.

He dropped the sack on the gravel, relishing the soft groan that emanated from it. His thirteen-year-old arms were aching from the strain. He never had been as strong as the other kids.

He took his father’s scalpel out of his pocket, and a length of rope out of his backpack. He bound the dog’s limbs firmly, and drew one length of rope across its mouth. He tightened it, opening up the dog’s mouth and and forcing it inside like a bit. He kept tightening, grinning wider as the skin started to tear.

Flesh, he discovered that day, was surprisingly pink.

He picked up the scalpel, and went to work.

When he stopped for breath, there was no skin left on the creature. Of course, he was no surgeon. There were scraps of flesh missing where he had cut too deep, and there were tiny patches where he missed. But he was satisfied.

He lifted the entire bloody carcass in his hands, and started towards the drain. Nearly at the culvert, he stopped and pondered for a second.

And then sank his teeth into the soft flesh of the dog’s belly.

Flesh, he discovered that day, tasted even better uncooked.

He tossed the dog and everything else into the gutter. The backpack, the sack, even his clothes. He changed into the fresh set he had brought with him, and trotted back home.

He slept like a baby that night.

The Devil Is In The Details

Truth be told, I can’t be sure that they were all dead first.

The very first one was a young blonde. I met her at a bar, and she really seemed to like the suit. I told her that I was in town on business, and was looking for a wild night. Something to offset all the important deals that I had been making. She was very, how do you say, enthusiastic. She didn’t seem to mind the slaps, and seemed downright excited about the paddle. She liked it right up to the point where I whipped the nail gun out from under the bed. Four went into the hands and feet before she could move, nailing her to the plywood underneath the mattresses. The next one went vertically through her lips, shutting her up. And then I took my time.

Her skin was the best I had ever tasted.

I met the next one at a gay bar. I gravitated towards him, transfixed by his neon clothing. He said he was doing something called sarging, and that he was the best one around. He could even get gay men to sleep with him, despite being straight. I started talking to him, and he began by giving my backhanded compliments. “Not everyone can pull off such greasy hair” was the first one. My retort was “I’ll blow you in the bathroom”. As soon as we got in there, I turned him around and blindfolded him with the silk tie in my pocket. He grinned, and nibbled on my hand that was in his mouth. The knife cut so deep that I could feel it grinding against bone.

The rhythm matched the beat of the music.

I used to go running with her. The sweat, the energy, the burn. It was my new high. I wanted to get my body in shape, because I had a new obsession. I wanted to see if I could get a woman into my apartment without saying a word to her. I wanted her to follow me in after just looking at my body. I didn’t mind how vacuous or stupid she was. If she followed me based on my body and the look in my eye, I would be satisfied. She wanted a drink of water, because someone had stolen her bottle.

I have three bottles of her blood in my cellar, and I intend on sharing it with the next one.

I went straight to work on the horse. It was the stupidest thing I had ever done, buying a goddamn horse. What was I thinking? But it was the most magnificent creature I had ever laid eyes on, and it was defiant. Thank God I learned how to restrain beasts like that. A tranquilizer, a few pulleys, some tape and a lot of rope. I hacked it apart, one limb at a time. It didn’t smell as bad as I would have imagined.

The pieces hung from my ceiling for four days.

The goth was just begging for it. You can’t go around dressed like that, not in front of me. So I planned something special for her. I put a cast on my arm, and told her I needed help carrying my books. Being the soft-hearted child that I knew she was, she walked straight into my apartment. Boy, a cast full of rocks can really pack a punch. She woke up with hooks in nearly every inch of her body. Every time she’d talk or scream or beg or cry, I’d link a chain into a hook, and pull. By the end, I was pulling every time she breathed.

Stripping her skull would have been easier if she hadn’t been thrashing.

I dissected the next one using a scalpel. I think that speaks for itself.

Call me when you get this. My pizza is here, this may take a while.

Pencil Kitties Beastie

Yes, they would be exactly where she left them. She wanted them to be positioned perfectly, things always went wrong when they weren’t. Why didn’t they believe her when she said it would happen?

Stumbling over the cat. Stupid cats, her babies, the cats. They were always getting in the way, she would have to get them out of the way. Get them out, get them away. Away away away away. She clawed at her hair a little bit, came away with a Cheeto. She liked Cheetos, they were cheesy and crunchy and funandtasty.

Mmmmm. Cheeto.

Where had she put that pencil? Somewhere on the desk. But which desk? The oak one, the teak one, mahogany one, lots of ones. There were dollar bills strewn everywhere. But they were no good. They didn’t write.

She needed a pencil, she had to write a note.

They’d find the note, they’d know what had happened.

Letter from the Council. “No, we don’t believe that will happen. Precautionary measures will be taken nonetheless”. Rubbish. They couldn’t prepare, they had no precautions.

When it would come, it would come.

The Beastie.

But she had to write the note. Thenotethenotenotethenote. That was all that mattered right now.

Peering at the machine. The monitor. The needle and paper and jumpy lines and whoopsie daisy, down she went. Up, up and away. Get up, look back. She looked at the machine, and it was steadily building. There wasn’t much time left, itwould be here soon. Not much time, have to write a note. And the kitties. Silly kitties lovely kitties.

“Dear people who finds me”

Write, come on. Write, damn you.

Her arm shaking. Her arm was shaking. Her body was shaking. And her body was making the table trembled.

She smiled.

Not her arm. Not her body.

Grin.

“I told you this would happen, but you didn’t listen. Oh no no nonono. Now it is too late. Goodbye.”

She looked out of the window. The entire landscape was shaking, trembling like God himself (herself?) was shaking it from side to side. In the middle distance, the big bridge was shaking. The Golden Gate, they called it. Why? It was red, not a gate. A big bridge.

It was going to happen all over again. And worse.

She smiled.

“Hello, Beastie.”

Twenty Things I Want To Teach My Children (Parenting Lesson #2)

1. Not only is it okay to be wrong, it is IMPORTANT to be wrong sometimes. If you get something wrong, don’t be afraid to try it again. And never, NEVER shrink away from something because you might be wrong.

2. Do not judge people. There might be a God for that, but it isn’t your job anyway.

3. Money isn’t everything in life. It’s important, but it isn’t the most important thing.

4. The only things you should incur debt for is to buy your dream house and to travel.

5. Treat your body well. It’s the only one you have (unless they invent futuristic consciousness-transferring technology, then you’re okay).

6. People are going to hurt you. And that’s the best part – you’ll learn more from the hurt than you ever will from the joy.

7. Be grateful. If you have money in your pocket and a little extra in the bank, then you’re among the richest 8% of the world’s population. No matter how bad things may seem, there’s ALWAYS someone who’s worse off than you.

8. You don’t deserve a lot of things you get. And you deserve a lot of the things that you don’t get.

9. Sometimes, the very people you want to help will be the ones holding you back.

10. Respect everyone just as much as they deserve to be respected.

11. Read. Read. READ READ READ READ READ READREADREADREADREADREADREAD.

12. There are worse problems in life than not being allowed to go to a party.

13. There are too many people in the world, and too little love. Every chance you get, be nice to someone.

14. As they were, so you are. As they are, so you will be. Treat your parents well.

15. You’re means you are. Y-o-u-r means your.

16. Every day, make sure you wake up thankful to be alive. No matter how crappy the day ahead might be, start it well.

17. As Chris Gardner said, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you want something, go out and get it.

18. Never stop asking questions.

19. There is no such thing as useless knowledge. If you can learn it, do.

20. Don’t EVER give up on love and people.

21. Even though the rules might say that you can only do A, sometimes it’s okay to do B.