Sunday, September 30, 2007

The lizard in the sink

When Yule went to the sink, she spotted the lizard. It was patchy off-white. Yule did not dare look at it. She screamed for her husband. "There's a lizard in the sink!"
"Is it dead?" He asked. He was still watching the television.
Yule prodded it with a chopstick. It moved lazily. Its beady black eyes appeared to be staring back at her.
"YES. Yes it is!" She said. She backed away from the sink.
"I'm going out. Get rid of it!" She said.
She left the house, not even casting a look at her husband in the living room. It was evening. She went to the supermarket and did her best to shop. The thought of the lizard clouded her mind. After buying her groceries, she called her husband.
"Have you gotten rid of it?"
"Gotten rid of what?"
"The lizard."
"Oh. I will," he said, and hung up.
She shook with anger. She wanted to go back and smash his face. It was going to rain soon, and the meats she bought would require refrigeration. She took a taxi home, fuming.
When she went in the front door, everything looked the same. The television was still on. She called for her husband. He did not respond. She thought that he must be asleep. Her arms were tired from carrying the groceries. She went to the kitchen, avoiding looking in the kitchen sink. The memory of the black eyes looking at her was still etched in her mind.
When she had put the groceries away, she looked at the sink, but did not dare approach it. She waited for a few minutes, then took a step forward, leaning in to look.
The lizard was still there. It was trying to crawl out, but it had changed. Now it had two tails. A smaller tail came out of the end behind its rear legs. Its twin tails flicked about desperately on the silver surface. Yule jumped back. Wanting to scream.
She went to the living room. Her husband was not there. She did not feel like eating. She tried to watch television but the thought of the lizard flooded her mind. The rain was starting to come down heavily, washing against the windows. The thought of the lizard scampering again and again on the smooth aluminum sides of the sink flooded her brain.
Eventually she fell asleep without changing out of her clothes. When she awoke, she thought she heard a thudding sound again and again. She looked for her husband; he was not there. She realised it was coming from the kitchen. Was it an intruder? Had someone come in? She took a paperweight and moved slowly towards the door. She pushed it open, and turned on the lights. The thudding sound was coming from the sink.
I need to know, she said.
She looked into the sink. The lizard was still there, but now it had a multitude of tails; four or five of them, all flicking about desperately. She screamed, and bought the paperweight down on the lizard. She crushed it again and again. Grey blood seeped from the wounds, but the tails of the dying creature continued to flick desperately.
Her husband woke up from her screaming. He rushed down. She was crouched on the floor, the paperweight on the ground. Two tails still clung onto it, desperately swinging around. Tears emerged from her eyes.
Her husband pulled her away, then used a plastic bag to remove the remnants of the lizard.
"Why did you wait so long?" she screamed. "Why?"
Her husband could not respond. Through the translucent skin of the bag he could still see the desperately flicking tails.

The ognarch

The creatures were discovered in parts of Northern Borneo, resembling floating jellyfish that floated on air, while dropping a set of tentacles down to capture passing animals or birds below. An enterprising man discovered if one covered their beaks, the tentacles that dropped down could be trained to caress the face in soothing motions. An industry around the newly discovered beasts soon arose, as they flourished in massage parlours all over the world, their long muscular tentacles claimed to be able to soothe and remove signs of aging. Manicure parlors would offer the services of these Ognarchs, as they were called, to their customers, and a fad begun. The mouths of the creatures would be covered, so there was no risk of them consuming their clients. However, it was inevitable that one of the coverings would come loose, and one of the creatures, which had not been fed for weeks, dropped down to consume the head of an upper middle class matriach. Her screams was captured on digital camera and seen on the web, and soon the Ognarchs were removed from duty and declared a menace. Their bodies were left in rubbish dumps and some were left out to roam, feeding on rats and small dogs, before being hunted down.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mr Lim

They took him to the factory, and made him sign the forms. Work had been hard to come by.

"You understand, Mr Lim, that this means that for ten years, your personality will be reduced? In exchange for double the usual pay? Emotional detachment is necessary, as accuracy is a must. "

He nodded. He needed the money, or his children did. Having three kids in the new century required it. The thick smell of oil and iron from the factory floor wafted up to the room.

The supervisor nodded, thumping the clipboard. They placed a bowl-shaped device on his head with a whole host of tubes and dials. He felt an electrical current surge through him, but not much pain.

"Very well then. You can start work immediately," the supervisor said, giving him a wrench and pointing him to a spot on the factory floor. Mr Lim didn't think of anything as he started his work, nor notice the thousands of others on the factory floor.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The attic creature

When Thomas returned home, he found his children huddled in the kitchen. "It took mother," Samuel, the oldest son said.

"What did?" he shot back. There was something very, very wrong.

"The monster. It was black. With tentacles. She was going upstairs. Then it grabbed her," Samuel said.

"You're lying," Thomas said. He rushed to the top of the stairs. He turned on the lights. There was nothing there. He looked at his bedroom. There was a suitcase on the floor. She had been packing, he thought to himself.

He looked up at the attic. It was open. "Jin?" he shouted. There was no reply.

He climbed the ladder into the darkness. He used his handphone as a light. In the attic were boxes where they had kept their books from university, as well as old clothes and photos. It was dusty, but there was nothing else more terrifying than some spiders and silverfish.

He crept down, shoving through the rooms shouting her name. They had been happy. He had an affair three years ago but had broken it off. She had not found out, as far as he knew.

He went down to his children. "What monster?" he asked. He separated and asked them individually. Min, the middle daughter, had her eyes closed, and Jin, the youngest, could only nod to every statement Thomas said.

That night he slept downstairs, with the children on the floor. He slept soundly, better than he had ever slept, and the children didn't even wake up. They were resolved that their mother was gone.

When morning came, he called the police. They investigated, but found no trace. The suitcase was half-packed, but her passport was still in the safe, along with most of the cash. The police took down what the children had seen, but could only nod glumly. Thomas knew he was the prime suspect, but he had nothing to say.

Weeks passed, and then months. They decided to abandon the house. As they drove away, following the van, he thought he could see something moving in the attic, but kept quiet, as he left the house behind.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


The bars of Pattaya are seedy, filled with woman who would pull any man in, during the off-season. James was bait, and the bargirls were biting voraciously. He could be torn apart. Pity that he was really out of money. He had stayed there as long as his American dollars could last him, whoring and drinking and smoking pot. It had lasted about seven months. It could have been a year if he hadn't had his wallet stolen by one of the whores he hired.

He pushed the girls away. What was he to do now? He could hardly even afford the bus ticket, let alone a flight back. He had cleaned out his bank accounts in the US in search of a year of bliss. He was dying anyway.

The touch of one of the girls caught his attention. It was different from one of the others; soft and smooth. He turned to the owner of the hand. It was a pretty girl with long hair; she looked fresh, unlike the worn, overly made-up faces of the other bargirls.

He let himself be pulled. She was leading him down dark alleys, filled with incense and pot smoke. She pulled him past a bead curtain, up a staircase, opened a door and into a room lit by red.

"James," she said. "You know me." She said, smiling. Her teeth were pure white, and her skin really felt like porcelain. Her features were definitely Thai, but there was a hint of other blood in her. "Lie down James," she said, pushing James onto the bed.

"What are you?" he asked.

"You know who I am. With me, it will be the end of your waiting to die. I am an opportunity James. Do you want me?" she said.

"Yes," he responded.

She took off her robe, revealing a lithe, perfect body with round, firm breasts. She ripped off his clothes with her hands, evidently stronger than he thought. She mounted him, and he felt himself be gripped by her. Their lovemaking was hungry, as her moans were wild and hungry. James grabbed her by the shoulders, and realise he could not move his hands. He kissed her, and his mouth was stuck. He looked down; their skins were gelling together. At first he tried to pull away, but surrendered himself to the pleasure of the experience. As their tongues joined, he felt himself hear many other thoughts. She was one body, but inside her were many. His skin was merging with her gradually even as they continued their lovemaking, and he realised he would become part of her. He stared inside her darkness, as he found himself drowning into her. The skin was now coming together, and he would be absorbed into her, as so many other men have been before. He could see their souls within her like stars in the night sky, but there was more going on, as the voices within spoke and wailed and discussed and cried. He would be part of this throng, this Legion.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The spider

The boy caught the spider in the matchbox. Born poor and stayed poor, the spiders were his hobby. His mom could not work, and often asked if it was raining, because she seemd to be detaching herself from the world, unaware of what was happening around her.

He would feed spiders and train them, and enter them into fights with other schoolkids. But some of the other schoolkids were rich, and made their fathers buy them exotic fighting spiders that looked like they carried crystals on their backs, with poisons that killed. But the boy knew the spider he had just captured was special. He fed it, and it spun beautiful webs within the matchbox. The first match it ran towards its opponent and bit it. The opposing spider curled up like a closing flower. It was over in a few seconds. The spider climbed up the ladder, beating all challengers. The rich kids started to take notice of the scruffy boy and his plain brown spider. It was getting bigger. Soon, it won the right to challenge the champion spider, which had a black and red back, resembling a face.

"It can't win," the champion said.

The boy was silent. He let the spider out from its matchbox. Its opponent was five times larger and lived in a glass cage, where it fed on finches and mice. The plain spider appeared to watch its opponent, feeling the air, then it raced forward. It bit the red spider on the back, the side, the legs; everywhere it could. The boy laughed, as though the whole affair was a joke. The red spider collapsed, its limbs beginning to twitch. The boy was victorious. He opened the matchbox, and the spider obligingly crept in. The rich boy fumed. He grabbed the matchbox.

"You cheater!" he shouted.

"Give it back!"

But the rich boy didn't. He ran off to his car with his bodyguards blocking the way. The boy screamed at the theft of his spider.

The next day, the rich boy didn't go to school. They found him on the floor of his bathroom, an open matchbox beside him. He was not dead, but was paralyzed for two months.

The boy saw the spider again in the forest, and would occasionally bring it finches and mice to eat. The spider waited, and spun great webs, but the boy never wanted to capture it again. His mother turned to him one day, and asked if it was raining, and he said a great storm was coming, even though the sun was burning hot.

The Giant

Nobody knew why the Giant headed to the rundown block of flats in AMK. They called the army and the police, but they couldn't stop him before he reached his destination. He put his ear to the balcony of one of the flats on the 9th floor, stooping down. Within the apartment Sulin was crying. The neighbours were afraid, but they had fired guns at the Giant and it had bounced off his skin. The Giant told Sulin to speak, to tell him her sorrow, and in need of a good, listening ear (and a large one at that), she did. When she finished, the giant nodded, and went off. Sulin wondered why the giant was so interested. The Giant came back every week, and Sulin was feeling better. She played songs and recited stories for him, and the folks around the apartment left him alone. He rescued cats from trees and helped to repair television aerials and hung up christmas lights, which made the children adore him and the adults view him less suspiciously. But the General was planning the weapon that would take the Giant down. Sulin told the Giant he should stop visiting, but the Giant shook his head. He had been alone for too long, and had heard her crying.

The next week when the Giant came, he found Sulin gone. He was confused. He roared out in anger. Then the planes came. They shot him with missiles, they bombarded him with shells. The Giant toppled to the ground and was captured.

They locked the Giant away, saying he was a danger. Sulin had been taken away, and was told never to see the Giant again. The Giant wasted away, unwilling to listen to anyone else sing or read stories to him, and they say its bones still lie somewhere inside his prison.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The satyr

The satyr was the secret of the village women, and they went to him when they were not able to find satisfaction with their husbands. They kept him locked behind an iron gate, and he could not escape. He loved to watch television and cooking, and made the women bring ingredients in exchange for his favours and listening ear. He had to have a schedule, as the women often came at the same time, but soon jealousy arose. The word spread to the men, and one day they came down to where he was kept, ready to burn him down, but he was ready. Before he died, he prepared a feast for everyone, and they ate well. The woman cried to see him burn, but he laughed as the flames took him, relishing his freedom.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Joseph had heard about the old man from the local tavern. "Go to him. He can get rid of your pain."

When he entered the old man's shop, which was stuffed with odd items such as the preserved foetus of an armadillo, bones of a dodo and the preserved body of a narwhal, he knew this would be the place. Joseph found the old man in the back room, mulling over his records. He wore a thick coat, and was quite heavyset. He peered at Joseph from behind horn-rimmed glasses.

"What do you want?" The old man said.

"I hear you have a cure for me," said Joseph.

"I am not a doctor."

"It is not medicine I need. I seek a way to end the pain in my heart," Joseph said.

The old man looked up from his book. "Come with me," he said. "Sit down."

Joseph sat on a heavy mahogany chair, wiping the dust away with his hands. The old man put down his book.

"It was a girl?"

"Yes," said Joseph. Speaking about it bought a stab of pain in his heart. "She chose another."

The old man nodded.

"Can you make it stop? Can you?" Joseph said, his voice pleading. "I have not had a good night's sleep. I have destroyed all my pictures of her yet she is etched into my mind like a brand."

He sighed a long sigh. Then his hands moved to his chest, and he unbuttoned his shirt.

"Look," he said. Upon his chest was a odd looking thing; a mechanical bug. "It has rested here, for thirty, forty years."

"I was like you once. My heart was cursed, destroyed by another woman. But once I had taken the bug from its previous owner, I felt no more pain. No pain, no feeling of any sort. It has helped me become a reasonably successful businessman; empathy is a weakness, as well as love," he said.

"So can I have it?" Joseph said.

"On one condition. Find out what has happened to the woman who made me wear this for decades. Once I know, I will turn it over to you," he said.

Joseph nodded. The woman's name was Mary of Astoria. She would now be almost 60. After many months, Joseph tracked her down. She was now residing in a small town, raising cattle. She had borne four children, and her husband was a physician. She looked happy, and Joseph guessed as much. She mentioned the old man's name, and she did not remember it.

Joseph went back to the old man with what he had discovered. The book keeper nodded. He then opened his shirt, put his hand on the bug, and extracted it. With his hands shaking, he held the bug out for Joseph. Abruptly, the man started to cry, shedding large fat tears.

Joseph took the bug in his hand. It still dripped blood from its metallic teeth. He held it up to the light. The old man was collapsing. The grief was too much; crushing him. The motors in the beetle clicked urgently. Joseph opened his shirt. He was about to bring it closer, when suddenly his palm closed, crushing the beetle. The engines within it whirred in protest as thick grey liquid seeped through his fingers. The old man sighed one last time, and died. Joseph looked around the shop, threw a blanket over him, and left, even as the rotors of the bug turned one last time.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The bookworm

The bookworm now just ate the words, and left the page itself untouched. When killed, the words would spew out, in a fountain, and one had to put them back together again to reconstruct what had been eaten. One must exercise extreme care when dealing with bookworms that have resided in encyclopedias and romance novels for a long, for there is the danger of being gravely injured by words such as 'superfluous' and 'inenebriated'. One bookworm exterminator was decapitated by the word 'triskaidekaphobia', by a particular fat bookworm that had lived in a psychology professor's shelves for more than two decades.

The stallion

The horse-thief had been watching the black horse for hours. It was a magnificent animal, with hair as black as night and the finest he had seen. He approached cautiously. It was wild and untamed, of that he was sure. It would fetch enough for him to drink for at least three months at the inn.

He approached slowly. The horse did not move. He jumped on it and grabbed its mane. It let out a mighty neigh, almost a roar. It twisted and jumped wildly, and the thief barely managed to hold on. It turned, and he could see its wild eyes. There was intelligence in them.

The stallion buckled, and it started to run. The thief held on as tightly as he could, his knuckles were almost white. The horse was charging and covering ground at a faster and faster pace. It went past Kiev, where he had spent his many days at the taverns. Then to a small village near just outside, where he had met the woman who had broken his heart. It sped faster. The trees and stars and snow were a blur. Then it was at Moscow, where he was getting his first job, where he was full of optimism, and life held all possibilities.

It was going faster. The thief thought it was familiar, but didn't quite recognise the countryside. Then he realised he was at the village he was born. The horse stopped and threw him off. He rolled on the ground and tried to grab it. But too late, it was running away. He looked up, and saw that he was outside the hut where he was born. There was an odd feeling in him, and he looked at his hands. He was shrinking. He felt his face; it was becoming smoother. Even his hair was growing back. The horse had bought him back, not just to his home, but to the start, for him to begin again. He looked up at the sun, and let it warm his unblemished face before he forgot the last of his future.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Beneath the ocean it slept, waiting for time to be called again to destroy the city by the sea. It remembered when it had done so; back when the humans could only throw rocks at it, and after that, arrows, and then bullets. But the city always came back, and the damage it did could never stop the inexorable progress of humanity. One day it would arise and be defeated, it knew, but it did not worry. So be it. Maybe then the humans would learn.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The typewriter

Samuel couldn't write. For half an hour, the blank piece of paper had sat in front of him, mounted on the typewriter. The urgency seemed to increase by the moment. Samuel fondled over the keyboard of the typewriter, then started to press a key. A. That was a good start. He pressed it down. It was a start. Then another letter appeared on the paper. But his fingers weren't moving. The typewriter was doing the work. He was astounded. He read what the typewriter had produced. It was an essay in his style. He checked the facts against his notes. It was correct. He pulled out the piece of paper and faxed it to the office. Thirty minutes later, he received a call from his editor saying it was a nice piece of work.

Soon, he let the typewriter do more of the work. He had more time to himself. He took long walks. Drove out of town. Went to movies in the afternoon. The typewriter just wrote. He just had to have the idea, sit in front of it, and it would frantically type away, occasionally waiting for the change in sheets.

But as time went, he noticed small things. The typewriter seemed fond of censoring, or obscuring certain issues. He shouted at it as though it were a disobedient pet, but it never retyped the material. Samuel submitted it anyway, as his efforts to write by himself were still futile.

As time went by, and he just fed the typewriter sheet and sheet of paper, he realised that the writing was increasingly dull and safe. The editor still accepted it, but never praised him. Samuel could not take it anymore; one day, after returning from a walk, he took a hammer and swung it at the typewriter. The metal keys flew apart, the ribbon unwound. He smashed it again.

The keys lay everywhere on the floor. Samuel sobbed. He went to sleep on the couch, still clutching the hammer.

He was woken up by the sound of typing. He opened his eyes. On the floor were not just one keyboard, but several. Each separate part of the original typewriter had grown into a duplicate of the original, but with modifications. They could feed their own paper now, and they had leg-like appendages that allowed them to move around. They were arranged in a row in front of him, typing away, mocking him. He already knew the words that were emerging from the papers, even as they flew up into the air.

The trains

The operator cannot believe it. The train system has shut down, but there it is. Crawling like a centipede on the tracks, going down pathway C. He presses some buttons, but there is no way to stop it. He looks through the cameras and sees the derelict train, starting to move. It had been decommissioned long ago. He calls his superior, who comes down, and they think it must be some pranksters, but there is no one in the front carriage driving the train. Then another series of lights begin to move on the switchboard; another old train is starting to move, and roars forth, shaking the room. It happens the next night, and the night after, and no one can explain it. Soon the operators decide to keep it quiet, and let the old trains have their way, criss crossing, tumbling, pushing down the track, the rails once again theirs.

The sleeper

I sense it on the floor next to me. It is a dog-like creature, white in form. Every night it comes to lie on the old rug, it bears a gift from my past. An old button from a ill-fitting coat my mom made me wear, a love letter from an old boyfriend I thought I would marry, a pretty pink mobile blown away by the wind one day. I put these items away in a box, though they made me shudder everytime I remember them. Soon I am used to its company. My hand goes down to stroke its rich white fur, and I wonder what it can be. The spirit of an old boyfriend? My mother? Grandfather? I know I value its companionship and the gifts it brings, and I wonder when it will have nothing left to give, and if it will disappear then.

I wake up and stare at it, and realise it does not sleep, but just watches me. It stares out at the moon and howls, as if to say it knows what it means to be alone.