Nov 19, 2010


A MINI SAGA is a short story in 50 words. It takes great skill with words to keep to this word limit and to use irony and suggestion to say without saying. The following sagas won the competition held among the A1 Language students. Kudos and congratulations to them!

By Najia Navaid
A1 Group 1

The day Alex got the dismissal letter, he barricaded himself inside his house and disconnected the phone, shunning the outside world.

A week later the office e-mailed him:
"We no longer require your services due to your unprofessional absence"

He looked at the first letter again.

It was not his.

By Muhammad Saad Hussain
A1 Group 2

Amy uttered a shriek of pain as she tripped and sprained her ankle. She lay immobilized in the forest for hours.

A menacing growl and the cracking of twigs drew her attention. She looked up and started screaming.

The pack of wolves enjoyed a rare delicacy that night. 

By Alisha Sethi
A1 Group 1

Knowing what each colour represented, she slammed the car brakes. Cars behind honked impatiently.
 Fed up of the stubborn red a motorcycle sped away. 

It was surreal yet not surprising.

A truck, a motorcyclist and the splashes of crimson coloured regret.

Sirens were wailing.

She had seen too much red for a day.

By Marium Ibrahim
A1 Group 1

She could not stop the scene replaying in her head. 

The blinding headlights, the deafening crash, the agonizing scream next to her.

'Sara, come outside and eat something,' her mother pleaded from outside the door.

'I will', she thought, looking at the small white pills in her hand.

Nov 16, 2010


by Zaariyah Bashir

If there’s anything I’ve learnt this past year, it’s that time is a tricky little bugger. It takes almost an entire lifetime to make memories that ultimately define you and just a couple of months and one diagnosis to sweep them all away.

I remember the day you were diagnosed. It was the day I learnt what senile dementia really meant – loss of brain function with old age. That was the way the doctor so sweetly put it. It hadn’t sounded particularly pretty.

I was right. It wasn’t pretty. I remember how you forgot your own name and then mine and eventually mum’s too. I remember the look of genuine bewilderment that spread across your face as you struggled to recall them. I remember watching you trying to figure out how to use a fork and knife at dinner, looking like a helpless child. I remember realizing, at that point, that it was time to put you under proper care.

Often, mum wakes up in the middle of the night calling out for you, only to realize that you’re not there. We come to see you a lot at the hospital, mum and I. We’re not sure if any of it makes sense to you, but we take consolation in the fact that we can still talk to you. You’re not completely gone, right? Sometimes you ask me why I’m crying, endearingly, like you did when I was little, when I sit beside you, only to watch you have a panic attack at the sight of me because you think I’m the ‘nasty nurse trying to poison you with sedatives.’

It only gets worse with time. Now you’ve lost motor control and can’t even lift your hand to hold mine. The other day, you forgot how to chew and almost choked on your own food.

I’m not completely sure if you would understand any of this if I said it to you. I think you lost that ability somewhere along this unfortunate ride. I know you’re still there somewhere, where every word I say makes sense to you. I sincerely hope that, in that place, in your disoriented head, you are happy and I hope happy is the way you go. I’m not pessimistic. I just know that time plays mind tricks because time does not heal. It remains only as the constant reminder of what once was.


by Nimrah Nadeem

The bedroom was chilly. Well, it was late November. What did you expect? Jeanette sat
at her desk, tapping the pencil on the paper anxiously. Tick, tick, tick. Her wristwatch
was too loud. The room was quiet. Almost too quiet, Jeanette thought.
She glanced at her paper again, frustrated at how little progress she had made.
“This must be what ‘artist’s block’ feels like,” she muttered, looking glumly at her
unfinished pencil sketch. Her portfolio was centered on a particularly morbid theme:
insanity. Ghastly reference pictures were tacked onto a softboard, some depicting
haggard men with hollow eyes, some of people with expressions distorted in pain. There
were some of children recoiling in terror. Jeanette’s research was quite thorough, but now
that she finally had to pout her ideas down on paper, she felt blank.
The lamp on the table cast a cold light that barely illuminated the rest of the roon.
Jeanette pulled up her collar. The room was unnaturally cold. She looked at the pictures,
and they seemed to leer at her with their cold eyes. They seemed almost alive in the
loneiness that cold November night.
Jeanette felt a chill run down her spine. She was never one for ghost stories, but there was
something particularly eerie about the room that night. It was a clear night, she noticed.
If she didn’t have so much work to do, she would probably be out somewhere. The
room seemed to close in on her, the walls edging closer slowly the way they do in those
horror movies. It didn’t help that the paint on the walls was a dark maroon-ish purple, the
clolour of congealed blood.
Jeanette felt an uncomfortable nagging in the pit of her stomach. Something was wrong.
The silence was deafening. It roared in her ears like a feral animal, hurting her ears,
making her head throb.
Oh, God. Not another migraine, she thought. Her muscles were tense, and her hands
were shaking. She turned the reference pictures over. She was getting a bit unnerved by
the silence. There was no sound from the dorms below. It was as though time had stood
still. Even the tick-tick of her wristwatch had stopped. Jeanette got up slowly, and winced
as the chair scraped loudly on the floor. She froze, waiting for some unknown horror to
swoop down upon her without warning.
Scolding herself for being so superstitious, Jeanette went to wash up. She gasped as the
ice cold water hit her hands. As she dried them, she studied the face in the mirror. A pale
girl with grey eyes stared stonily back at her. Her hair was tied back, but a few strands
has escaped her chignon. She pushed them back and was about to turn and go back to
her desk when she froze a second time. A white mist was snaking across the glass of the
mirror, slow and almost spiderlike. It was unnatural, eerie.
Jeanette felt her musles tense up again. She thought she saw something dark flit inside
through the window, and she tried to scream, but al that came out was a choked sob. The
fine hair on her arms stood up, and sheer terror ran through her veins.
With one hand clamped over her mouth, Jeanette ventured cautiously out of the
bathroom, her heart thudding frantically against her ribcage.
Her room was exactly the way it was before: nothing was amiss. But still, she felt the
unnerving presence of an alien being. As she walked to the open window to shut it, her
head started throbbing again. Pain shot through her skull. She thought she saw smoke

roiling upward in an oily haze, and her vision faded to black.

When Jeanette came to, she was on the floor. Little bursts of agony still wracked through
her head, and she could see nothing through one eye. She got up slowly and flexed her
fingers that were numb with cold. Just a dream, hmm? She thought.
Then, as she walked to the bathroom she saw the shattered mirroe. Black lines were
interlaced together within the glass, like some sort of horrid fungus.
In the sink, lay the pictures of the convicts, drunkards, and the like, all immersed in dirty
rust coloured water. And, in the middle, lay a picture of Jeanette, one that she had never
seen before.
As she looked at the girl in the photograph, an inexplicable horror clawed its way up her
throat, and she screamed in the silence, drowning out the unbidden whispers in her head.

A Few Helpings of Oatmeal - Irony

Taken from The Oatmeal

The Fateful Encounter

by Saad Hussain

The warm, golden rays of the setting sun filtered down through the tall trees of Murkwood Forest. Various
rustling and chirping sounds could be heard as animals and birds returned to their homes and prepared to settle down for the night.

John Barrows knelt by the base of a tree, inspecting the ground for signs of the herd of deer he was tracking.
Finding some fresh hoof prints, he stood up and brushed the dirt off of his worn, patched tunic and coarse
trousers. He stealthily followed the herd’s trail, always making sure not to step on a twig or brush against
some bushes; in the now silent forest the sounds of his movements might alarm his prey.

John found the deer in a small clearing. Running his eyes over them he selected the one which he wanted
to kill. He grabbed his bow and fit an arrow into place. Manoeuvering himself into position, he fired the arrow
and watched it sail through the air towards the stag. Just as it was about to hit its mark there was a flash of
light, a whoosh of air and the crumbled remains of his charred arrow fell to the ground.

The explosion caused the deer to flee. They galloped into the darkness and soon faded from sight. John warily stood up, glancing around for the source of the energy blast. His tall, lean body tensed, wondering if a fight was about to take place. John had the looks of a brawler; his broad shoulders, thick muscular arms and ever-present scowl were enough to make most people stay away from him.

He slung his bow onto his back and drew his sword. Stepping into the shadows he pondered what he should do next. Suddenly a voice called out to him, “Welcome john Barrows. You need not fear me. Come out into the light so I can have a good look at you.”

Even though the voice that spoke to him was completely unfamiliar, John’s instincts told him that this unknown
person meant him no harm. Slightly relaxing his grip on his sword, John stepped out into the clearing.
Immediately there was a flash of light and a fire sprang into existence just yards away from him.

The light from the flickering flames was reflected off of John’s eyes. His eyes were his most unique feature;
they weren’t brown or blue or even black, they were pure golden in colour. As John blinked a few times to adjust to the sudden light he saw the figure of an old man approaching him.

To say that this person looked strange was an understatement. He was of average height and build but
radiated an aura of power. He wore flowing robes made of a coarse, green fabric. His face was very wrinkled and his eyes extremely wise but those were the only things that belied his true age. His walk was that of a young man and his voice was strong and deep. His face and arms were striated with a red paint or bloodlike substance. On his head was a strange headdress.

“Who are you and how do you know my name?” asked John.

“I am Sazabi, the Oracle,” the old man replied. “The spirits told me you would come. Aah this is a great day
for me. I am in the presence of an Arcadian.”

“What did you call me?”

“I said you are an Arcadian. Your golden eyes are proof of this fact. Arcadians are the only ones who are blessed with those eyes.”

“I’m sorry but what the hell is an Arcadian?”

“Aah I forget that you are still young. Right now you cannot even comprehend the powers that you possess.
Come, let us eat and I shall explain everything to you. It was no coincidence that you came to this clearing. My house is just beyond those trees.”

As John and Sazabi sat eating vegetable stew in Sazabi’s hut, the oracle spoke. “Arcadians are people with
extraordinary abilities. They appear throughout time whenever humanity is in peril and needs a champion to
defend it. Arcadians are almost always accomplished warriors but usually also have latent magical talent. They
are destined to help shape the future of the world.”

John suddenly burst into a fit of laughter. As soon as he regained his voice he said, “I’m sorry but that’s the
biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. I may be a lot of things but I am definitely not some mystical hero. Besides, there is nothing wrong with the world right now so if I was an Arcadian there would be no reason for me to exist.”

A flash of anger crossed the old man’s face but disappeared almost immediately. “Ah, the arrogance and
foolishness of youth. There is much in the world that your untrained eyes do not perceive. You are a wanderer
are you not? You travel from place to place searching for a purpose in life but never finding it. Look in your
heart. You will find that all I have told you is the truth. I am offering to train you, to help unlock your hidden
potential. A great evil is coming and this world will soon need its champion.”

John pondered over Sazabi’s words as he lay in bed that night. The logical part of his mind said that everything he had heard was just the rambling of a senile old man. His instincts however, told him to trust Sazabi and do as he said. By morning he had his answer.

“I may not believe everything you told me but my gut tells me that I should listen to you. I will stay here and
let you train me,” John said.

“Excellent. This world might yet be saved,” replied the oracle.

The Gangster

Chapter One
by Najia Navaid

The room was dark, and the only source of light was a crack under the door which let in a sliver of diffused sunlight. It illuminated the dust motes in the air and caused the man's eyes to gleam in the darkness. He could judge by the patter of feet outside, the frantic activity that was going on. He smiled in satisfaction.

It was time.

He got up from the armchair in one fluid movement and adjusted the collar of his leather jacket. He unlocked the sideboard with a set of keys that an onlooker could have sworn had not been in his hand a split second ago.

Someone knocked twice on the door, a code. He felt excited; he could feel his pulse quickening. He picked out a revolver from the sideboard and fingered it tenderly, with the caress of a lover. He slipped it inside the folds of his jacket.

There was another knock and the door was opened. He could see the outline of a man, silhouetted against the door frame.

He nodded at the intruder, and the door was shut again. He knew they were all surprised at his unexpected instructions. He rarely got involved in such matters himself, he had far more important matters to attend to.

But this one was different. She was a pure rebel and he wanted to see her with his own eyes. He wanted the exhilaration of finishing this one off himself. His nerves tensed at the very thought.

He opened the door, and walked outside, without even blinking at the sudden brightness. He was a tall man and well built. He was handsome, no doubt. But there was something curious about his good looks which the men could not quite put their finger on. His hair was raven coloured and coarse, and the skin of his palms was callused. But the most remarkable thing about him yet were his eyes. They were dark, intense, the eyes of a killer. He could reduce his men to jelly with just a look: the look a tiger gives when it is about to pounce on its prey.

He strode down the corridor without even sparing a glance for the men hurrying to keep up with him. he sensed that they were almost tripping over their own feet in their haste to comply. His eyes grew hungry and suddenly he could wait no longer. His companions sensed the shift in his mood, the dangerous energy he was radiating. They glanced at each other nervously.

A tired sun hung above the horizon, just about to set. It was the perfect evening for a murder.


If he doesn't get here soon, I'm leaving, she thought angrily, as she sat at a table looking out into the street. It was getting chilly and the seat opposite her was still empty. I look like a fool, she thought viciously, tapping her nails impatiently on the table; they were fire engine-red, with all the bells and whistles. she had already memorised the whole menu, including the 'Today's Special' and he still hadn't made an appearance. She glanced at the clock. It was pointing at six.

"Preposterous," she muttered to herself. She let out an irritated sigh and leaned back in her chair, her heels clacking the floor at regular intervals.

The cashier glanced at her curiously. After all, she had been sitting alone for the past hour. Not that it was a bad place to be sitting in. It smelled like vanilla and caramel. The walls were coffee coloured and the wall around the counter was a soft pink. Bright lamps cast a warm glow around the room and made her hair gleam like polished mahogany. Her eyes were large and clear. There were cheerful paintings hanging on the walls. And yet they had not affected her mood. She looked grumpier with each passing minute.

There was a tinkle as the door opened and a man entered, bringing in with him a blast of cold air. He was quite tall and wore a black jacket. There was a scar running down the side of his face; it intrigued her. He sat down in the booth adjacent from her and opened up his menu. She sighed and looked away. The street was throbbing with people, as they hurried home with their shopping.

Maybe he isn't coming after all, she thought. She could feel the man over there looking at her. She could feel the heat of his gaze. She turned and glared right back, trying to outstare him. But apparently he was not to be intimidated and held her gaze boldly.

Annoyed, she got up and prepared to leave. It was no use waiting any longer. She scooped her bag up and headed for the door. As she was leaving, she cast a glance back at the man. He had put his menu down and was staring at her without any reservations. She felt a thrill, and the shock of recognition.

But she made no attempt to go up to him, and it appeared as if he had not recognized her yet. She shook her hair back and flounced out. I can't believe it! she thought excitedly and an involuntary giggle escaped her lips as long forgotten childhood laughter sounded in her ears.


Inside, the man sat in the booth, content. His men should have prepared everything by now.

Now I have glimpsed her, he thought. Let the game begin.


Chapter 1

by Lynette Rorigues

“CHIRR-PP” sung the small red-feathered bird, perched on the chocolate brown branch of the maple tree. It moved its head from side to side as it sung, following the constant commotion which was going on beneath its branch. The daisies too seemed to sense the bird’s feelings for they swayed from side to side
with the crisp cool morning breeze, to the soft polka music that filled the air.

“Mummy, where are you?!” exclaimed Danny as he ran into the garden of their cottage in San Allans, “ I drew a picture to give to Daddy when he comes back! Do you th-ink he will like it?”

“ Of course honey,” came the reply from the rosy cheeked woman at the other end of the garden. Now Mrs. Carax was a delicately featured woman in her late thirties. At present she wore a flowery knee-length dress and a beautiful heart shaped necklace of sapphire given to her by her husband the day they
got married. Her blonde ringlets gently cascaded around her shoulders as she stretched out her slender hand to tie the poster stating, “ Welcome back Henry!” around the tree trunk. “Oh how beautiful Danny! Daddy will surely love it.”

“ You think so?” asked Danny with a shy smile as he sat at the table covered with scrumptious looking food items. Strawberry tarts, bourbon chocolate soufflé, black magic caramel, blue berry cakes with ice-cream courting decorated the three small tables that had been placed on the luscious green lawn in the Carax’s

Mr. and Mrs. Duncan entered the garden from the kitchen door as well to celebrate with their next door neighbours the return of Mr. Carax from the war. They entered the exquisitely decorated party area, amazed, wondering how such a fragile woman could have created such an extravagant looking place all by
herself, for of course, the son only five years of age could not have been of any help.

“ Oh good morning Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, how are you today? Isn’t it just such a glorious morning! Just beautiful! Perfect!”

“ Yes it is,” came the warm reply from the voluptuous figured Mrs. Duncan as she went towards Mrs. Carax to help her arrange the coloured buntings across the white picket fence.

“ William! William” shouted Danny, “are you in the kitchen?” The small neighbourhood boy appeared, scruffy and chocolate covered, then laughs and runs back in again.

“ Haha, Mummy look at William!” says Danny running friskily after his best friend. “ William wait, my daddy will be here soon!” 

Mrs. Carax laughed looking at her child wondering how she was ever able to raise him alone for a year. “No matter, Henry will be here soon,” she thought singing to herself in a happy, dreamy voice. “I must get everything ready before that though.”

Just then the doorbell rang.

“Henry! Henry!”

But alas there stood an officer instead, but not her Henry.


By Souha Khan

The gravel crunched under the car tires as it pulled up to Devil’s Point. Regret washed over me. Why had I agreed to come here with my friends?
Everyone got out of the car, a look of excitement clear on their faces.  It had no effect whatsoever on me. We climbed up the rocks and sitting down, legs hanging over the edge, I saw two little girls, running around on the beach collecting shells. The sight took my thoughts back to one very similar day.
The sun had been shining bright as my sister and I had collected shells to see who got the best one.
“Look!” she exclaimed jumping up with joy, “I see a white one right there!”
We darted towards it, splashing the water on our way. I reached it first.
“It’s the prettiest of them all!” I gasped in amusement bending over to pick it up.
However the smile on my face disappeared the minute I turned around. The shell slipped through my fingers as I looked at the man standing behind my sister pointing a gun at her. He motioned for me to come to him and without objecting I obeyed. He dragged us to the rocks where there stood another man holding a gun to my mother’s head. They snatched the car keys from my father’s hands and forced us to get in the car. I felt the man’s fingers digging into my arm as he held it. He had turned to me and had placed the gun to my temple. The metal had felt cold against my skin much like the breeze felt right now.
“What’s wrong?” asked one of my friends, concerned.
“Nothing” I replied, looking at the girls joyfully collecting shells on the shore.


By Yusra Abbasi

As one walked through the newly varnished mahogany door into the huge embellished room; the fragrant stirring scent of red roses permeating through every nook and corner of the suite-like bedroom bedroom welcomed you with an alluring warmth.
A s you walked inside,your feet sank into the warm, fuzzy beige carpet strewn with crimson red rooses.You could almost hear the velvety material wrinkle under your feet.
A small shimmering chandelier hanging from the ceiling flooded the room with golden light. It appeared as if the room was bathing in the warmth of sunlight.
On the right stood a maroon dressing table with beautiful intricately designed floral patterns in gold and silver. On the table dusted with face powder lay a beautiful gold jewelry set outside its red box. Atop it was ahumongous mirror displaying the grandeur of the room.
At the other end, against the off-white walls was placed a four-poster bed with a crimson red, silky bed sheet covering the mattress which still had fresh impressions imprinted on it. A pillow with half of it's silk cover off of it lay on the carpeted floor, besides the bed.
Above the arched mahogany bedstead was a medium sized picture in a rectangular gold frame, exhibiting a young tanned woman on a chair with almond-shaped, azure blue eyes. Clad in a gold-sequined dress and adorning a beautiful gold necklace; her intriguing eyes seemed to be sobbing about an emptiness inside. Her thick luscious red painted lips were curved up into a subtle smile. Beside her stood a handsome white man, in a long off-white silk shirt with his wrinkled face adorning a full tooth smile.
On the left besides the curtained window, fixed on a wall was a sophisticated woode wardrobe. On one of it's knobs hung a hanger holding a golden sequined dress.
The beige carpet was polluted with spots of red, leading to the bathroom door from where the sound of water overflowing coinciding with the thumping sound of clothes being washed.
Right outside, on the beige carpeted floor was a  white mass in a pool of red. 


Topic: Write two monolouges (300 - 450 words each) about two characters who are in love but cannot express it to each other.

  By Jaza Aquil

He is my son. Of course I love him, I love him more than I love myself, more than my own father loved me. Of course I love him. Except he fails to see that, he fails to understand that I love him, much, much more than his mother. She thinks she knows what is best. She believes herself to be some philosopher, fancies herself psychic, she is nothing but an emotional fool! He is my son; I know what is best for him. Art and literature is no future for a man. I am but an old man. Have I not all my life worked day and night, hour after endless hour at the office? I paid for his education not just in money but in blood and sweat. How can I let my son, my only son die of poverty, starvation after my death? All I ask is for hi future. All I ask is for him to be successful. To be an engineer, to be what I had always aspired to be. Destiny took my ambition from me. It snatched my father’s money leaving us on the roads. My father forced me to abandon my studies to work in that tiny cabin, he called his shop. I sold the dingy room, the minute he died! Now I was wise. I invested in the right places. Saved enough. All my life I spent and allowed my wife and son to spend only as much as was necessary. So what if all his friends had a fancy car? So what if his sister wanted extravagant clothes? They weren’t needed. The old car and her plain clothes, served the purpose just as well. Was it not wise of me to not relent under their pleas that we can “afford” it? I saved that money for his college tuition money. I saved that money so my son would get a university education, make me proud and become an engineer. And now what do they want? All three of them, him, his mother, his sister want me to throw all those dreams I have for my son and let him study art and literature. Nonsense! Rubbish! That’s what it is. What good is all this bullshit? Will it help him earn a living? Will it able him to place bread on the table? No. a waste of time it is. All this love and war, and grief and nature and oh what not! And when I refuse they say I don’t love him. Of course I do. I cannot hug him or cry to show my love. Such displays of affection are a sign of weakness. And I am a man. And I love him like a man does his son. I should not have to go say it to him.

I cannot believe my father. All I ask from him is the right to do what I want with my life. And he calls me ungrateful. Says I am not thankful to him for all he has done for me. He says I take him for granted. It is appa who aspires to be an engineer not I. it is she who is ambitious, who wishes to study physics and chemistry and math. Ugh! I shudder at the very thought of them! I cannot do these subjects. It is not that I don’t wish to make him proud. He is my father and I love him. Possibly more than he has ever loved me. I understand him more than he does me at least. What sort of love is this? All our lives I have seen my mother, my sister and myself sacrifice little joys of life. Even when we could afford the second hand car I wanted he refused to give it. Why? For the future he said. What future? Whose future? I cannot pay him back for all that he has done for me by forcing myself to do something I am bound to fail at. It is appa who wants it. But he wouldn’t give it to her. Why? Because she is a girl. All our lives I have sacrificed to make him happy. Nut not this. Not this I won’t. Writing is my passion and I am actually good at it. I won’t have time for it at an engineering college! And I love him. I want to tell him I love him. But each time I look up to him to say thank you for all that he has done for me; he shuts me out with his stony eyes. His harsh words, despising any expression of love and gratitude. His so called ‘manly’ ways force me to swallow down my love and emotion for him. I have always been a disappointment to him, I know I have. Appa should have been his son and me his daughter. He is my father and I love him. But if being an engineer is the only way I can tell him I love him then I had rather not. I hate hurting him. But all my life I have sacrificed and will not now. He is my father. I love him. I wish he loved me just as well.

24/7 Inn

Qs. Create a setting that conveys a certain mood and atmosphere (300-400 words)

     By Alisha Sethi

The visitors of the dilapidated building were greeted with blaring Bollywood music and the odour of cheap perfume.The true rundown condition of '24/7 Inn' came in full view when the moon felt courteous enough to cast it under its spotlight. Upon entering the site little quivers of excitement,like needles,would run down the back and under the soles of all those in search of a quick hour or night of pleasure.One could choose,like out of a menu,where you consider not only the description of the dish but also how tight it stretches your wallet.

On a busy night,the occupancy rate would go as high as ninety five percent. Physically they were were all more or less the same but some,' the favourites',were classified to be more skillful,more crafty,more appealing. Huge cleavage,blood red lipstick and powder clad faces were not enough to grant you an upper hand these days.

The musty corridors were dimly lit with white tubelights and one of the corners of the worn out carpet was damp,being subject to the leaking roof. The pungent smell of the hallway,seared all those who walked through it. Trails of muddy footsteps ran along the carpet,each ending at a different room. Ah,the rooms. Each room displayed the tastes of their owners. Each room had its unique elements,the elements their respective owners thought would seduce the hungry beasts into coming back for more.Aromatic rose water and incense were found in some and often aided in putting their paid lovers in slightly more easy to please moods. The men particularly appreciated the sound of clinking anklets and the show that their entertainers put before them.

These uncouth occupants,which the decrepit building housed,would begin each day pondering about how lucrative their bodies would serve to be that particular day. They were almost always right with the figures,the figures which determined their life. Beneath all the nylon and flashy artificial jewellery lay souls as vain as peacocks. Each thought themselves to be better than others.

Slithering over heaving,eager bodies was the reality of their existence. None of them grew up with this as their childhood dream but life wasnt fair,they knew. Out of every Tom,Dick and Harry they knew about the ugly twists of fate better than anyone else.


By Sarah Fariduddin

Like an eel slipping through the sparkling ripples of the sea, the breeze sweeps through the flapping white blinds that loosely cover the large windows between the terrace and the cafe. Clinging to the fresh wave that swings across the narrow open kitchen, whiffs of buttery pancake and sweet cinnamon burst over the wooden tables. The crisp ends of the neatly laid magazines flap and overturn restlessly under the hit.
Compactly protecting its contents, the newly polished bookshelf is supported by the central pillar that divides the room. On one of the white-washed walls, monochromatic images of a peaceful harbour or a stolid Lennon beside his Yoko, gaze out at the occupants of the spacious chairs. In one corner, the nifty carem board leans casually against the red-bricked wall. Planking the terrace door, the two-tiered tables carry board games like ludo and a faded, torn blue box of Monopoly.
The buzz of the customers hovers in the air. Supporting his chin with one hand while circling the fingers of the other over a slick, gleaming notebook, a French bearded, young man ruminates, listening the argument of the woman across. A giggling young bunch huddles only few tables away, munching and gossiping. Their whispers are overlapped by the grave discussion of the formally dressed gentlemen settled in the center. Gracefully rising from her seat, a shabbily dressed woman approaches the bookshelf. The musty smell of the yellowing pages of tattered books escapes as she browses through the limited collection of Urdu poetry.
The heavy wooden door is hurled open by a tall, casually dressed teenage boy. The head of one of the two servers pops out to take his order as he eyes the colorfully chalked-out menu with little enthusiasm.
"A plate of peanut butter cookies," he quips and walks across to the mahogony guitar leaning in a corver, beside colorfully beaded cushions. Within a moment, the chatty buzz is accompanied by a soft, almost soothing tune of the acoustic. Seated comfortably in one corner, his fingers strum over the delicate strings, emitting a lyrical romanticism in the air. The pleasant round lights fitted in the ceiling enliven the sole animated wall. Lurid shades of orange, blue and green startle the beholder with its dreamy images, that finishes with the touch of a graffiti. The famous 'eject' symbol, a scarlet, emboldened arrow, concocted by the late Asim Butt is tacked onto a pistachio coloured soft-board where light does not share equally. Scattered unevenly, colourful pamphlets reading of revolutionary adages or pictures of the 1947 Women's Movement evoke the thinker.
The mixed soft sounds make the ticking clock inaudible but the hand sluggishly moves to point at nine. Outside, the starry, twinkling sky hangs peacefully above, contrasting against the tavern-like, red-bricked entrance, escaping the honk and screech of a bustling metropolis. 

V Files - Chapter 5: The Lab Chase

by Sama Khawaja

Destiny quickly grabbed the rusted ladder rung and twisted one foot around another to steady herself. If she hadn’t acted fast, the sinister darkness would have been the end of everything. But it seemed that the tunnel had no end. What if it just went on and on? A never-ending centipede? What if-
Her heel suddenly made contact with a metallic floor and instantaneously, a neon green glow bathed the room. Well, more like an enormous high-ceilinged cave completely bare save for an oblong glass tube in the middle surrounded by control panels. Destiny slowly strolled up to the tube and placed a hand lightly on one of the panels.
‘Amazing, Alicia!’ came a sophisticated voice.
With a sharp intake of breath, Destiny looked up to see Alicia and Samuel on the other side typing away at a keyboard protruding from the tube. And floating in the orange liquid that now filled it was…
‘Destiny’s abilities have no limits,’ Samuel murmured in awe which echoed in the cave.
Destiny blinked and suddenly, everything vanished: the scientist, the liquid, the figure in the tube…
Puzzled, Destiny turned to walk away.
‘Is that a good thing, Samuel?’ echoed a worried voice.
Destiny swiveled around fast, her heart beating a tango and shuddered as she saw her lifeless body floating in the glass tank once more with a gas mask covering her face.
‘She needs to be controlled, Alicia,’ Samuel assured Alicia. ‘We don’t want to fail. The October Report is by far the most accurate. We need to continue down that path.’
‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ Alicia choked as she stared, mesmerized, at Destiny. ‘Shears is…mad…’
‘You know what’s at stake if we don’t,’ Samuel said gruffly but his voice was beginning to crack.
‘DESTINY!  A little help here!’
Chi’s voice broke the spell and the memory trickled away like grains of sand. Destiny stretched out a hand to the now empty test tube as if trying to will it back. Then, on second thought, she withdrew it and turned heel towards the ladder. Her team needed her. This will have to wait.
Upon reaching the surface, the wall opposite her suddenly collapsed as Tito came hurling through it.
‘Where’ve you been, fool?’ he thundered and sprang to his feet to glare menacingly at the hissing gaggle of deformed mutants on the other side. The GroundUnders.
‘I’m here now, aren’t I?’ Destiny snapped as she whipped out Ebony and Ivory, her twin Browning FN HP-DA automatic pistols that fit snugly in her hands as if their extensions. She stepped through the hole and crossed her arms to shoot incessantly. A battle cry was heard as Chi jumped up from the crowd to hopscotch on their heads and then somersault to Destiny’s side.
‘So what’s the plan?’ she panted and took on a fighting stance.
‘Get out of here alive!’ Destiny snapped through gritted teeth as she slammed a nearby mutant in the face with the butt of her gun.
‘Did you find the file?’ Tito hollered over the brawling as he smashed two GroundUnders together.
‘Not yet!’
‘Maybe now would be a good time!’
Without hesitation, Destiny sprinted to the upturned filing cabinet and scanned the files spilled across the shabby floor. Her eyes suddenly spotted it. Upon grabbing the November file, her eyes wandered to the file underneath and froze. She unintentionally allowed her hand to ghost the cover of the faded file.
‘The October Report is by far the most accurate,’ Samuel’s voice echoed in her head.
A window shattering cut through her thoughts and she glanced up to see a sleek Fenrir motorcycle purring like a kitten in the middle of the room.
‘’Bout time you showed up, River!’ Tito rooted and hurled a GroundUnder out the window.
‘Where’s Destiny?’ River asked calmly as he unsheathed his gigantic blade from his back, his sea-green eyes hardened at the sight of the GroundUnders closing in on them.
‘Here!’ Destiny called, the file clutched tightly in her hand as she swung herself onto the back of River’s bike. ‘Move! Move! Move!’
River whirred the bike to life as he spun it 180 degrees to shoot out the way it came in. The rest of the group followed suit and at the same time, Tito hurled a grenade from his vest at the summerhouse. One minute, it looked solid. The next, a mushroom explosion was sending pieces of it flying everywhere. The team skidded to a halt to watch it smolder away in the cold gloom of the night.
‘Pretty,’ Chi commented and placed a hand on her hip. ‘Think they’re still in there?’
‘The more the better,’ River muttered and turned to Destiny. ‘Want me to take that?’
‘Huh? Oh, sure,’ Destiny said, still dazed as she handed him the file marked ‘October’. 

Cemetery of Desire

By Lynette Rodrigues 

The orange red rays of light pushed themselves through the wreath of liquid copper that enveloped the ever sleeping city of San Gabrielle’s in the early hours of the morning.
The light quickly consumed every path it touched, searching for something it never seemed to find. As it passed the marble houses, its fiery red light pierced the shadows that luxuriously sprawled over every home present. These bungalows, once colourful and lively with picturesque flowers daintly  swaying in the breeze to the polka music that was always heard from the “County Mayonette’s “ bar was now deserted. A ghost town it seemed to be.
Not a sound, not even the squeak of a tiny mouse could be heard. The breeze too was so afraid of these quiet graves that it diverted its path away from this lonesome city, allowing the stale stench of blood and depression to sit on the houses forever.
As the red bathed city stood still waiting for the end, which it felt to be inevitable, a blue light emerged from the eastern end of the city where the railway tracks began of the train called, “Cemetery of Desire.” The light, at first a small spiral woven loop of intricately designed fabric appeared in the centre of the railway station’s platform, throwing its brilliant light on the narrow stone benches and stairs built in this eerie place. The light slowly grew larger and larger consuming a greater area of the void of emptiness that it needed to feed upon to exist. The light suddenly grew so big that it stopped, afraid that it would cause itself to burst into oblivion.
An image slowly began to materialize out of the hole suspended in midair. Distorted shapes made out of dots that were disjointed pushed themselves out of the light and onto the ground. They began to take form.

The Gangster

Chapter 1
by Misal Shujjat

“What should I do with you?” Tyler asks, his voice threateningly low as he regards the girl whimpering under the point of his blade with a dark look.

The pale light of the moon makes the scars on the back of his hands stand out ghostly white against his skin. There’s a long gash running from his forehead to his chin, cutting across his lips and nose and when he speaks, it makes his face seem mutilated. It’s a reminder of a particularly fierce drunken encounter with the members of the gang Al Capnico. An encounter, in which he had knocked two men unconscious, stabbed one of them and lamed another in the process. These scars are Tyler’s pride and the reason he’s nicknamed Scarface by his fellow gangsters.

The blonde girl sobs, “Let me go...please...just...just let me g-go...”

The sirens of the approaching police cars suddenly rip through the silent night; loud and predatory. Tyler is familiar with the sound and rather than frightening him,
it sends a rush of thrilling adrenaline through his veins.

He turns back to the girl and tilts his head in a moment of contemplation. Is she worth it? Should he let her go?

His mind answers for him; naah.

It’s too easy. After years of practice, all it takes is just one swift, calculated motion of his hand and the girl’s falling forward, choking and suffocating on her own blood.

Shame, she really had been quite pretty.

Stuffing the bloodied blade into his pocket, Tyler breaks into a run. He jumps over the low walls of the connecting alleys, putting a quick distance between him and the police cars. The sirens slowly fade in to the distance and Tyler slows his pace.

He’s barely walked a few steps before a hand spins him around shoves him into yet another darkened alley.

“What the-” Tyler exclaims as his head is slammed against the brick wall. Tyler struggles against the iron grip of this man, whoever he is; he knows how to hold a person down. There isn’t an inch of space for Tyler to move, his hands are pinned at his sides and his legs pressed at an angle that he can’t budge and it’s becoming increasingly hard to breathe.

“That girl you just slaughtered back there? She was my sister...” the man twists his arm painfully and Tyler holds back to the cry of pain-it’s a sign of weakness he will not show.

“So I killed her.” Tyler snarls, “What of it? You gonna kill me too? Hand me over to the police?”

“I don’t have to. I am the police,” the man replies, his voice going menacingly soft. “That’s Officer Howard to you.”

Tyler freezes. Through the darkness of the alley, he can only make out some of the features on the face of this man. Is he bluffing? Is he one of the newest recruits of Al Capnico and just messing with him?

Or is he telling the truth?

Either way, Tyler is trapped. If he can just reach his blade somehow...

He flexes his hand and Howard jumps on the move, giving his arm another twist, “I could kill you now...” he says, his voice tainted with something akin to madness. “If I arrest you, they’ll put you on might have a chance to get off without facing a death penalty...and I can’t have that. I could kill you here and say it was self defence...”

Tyler begins to panic just a little but his exterior is carefully controlled. “Go ahead then, why don’t you? I bet you’re too scared. You’re too scared after you saw what I did to your sister. Died so easily didn’t she?”

Tyler knows he’s pushing Howard’s buttons. He can almost feel the steam pouring out of his ears with his anger.

“Shut up!” Howard roars pulling him back and slamming him against the wall again and now Tyler can feel the cold metal of a gun pressing against his forehead.

“Look man...” the graveness of the situation begins to dawn on him and he struggles to find a way out.

“I said shut up.” Howard spits. The sound of police sirens picks up again in the distance. “I’m going to make you beg for mercy like you made my sister beg,” Howard continues, his hand trembling slightly with emotion, “I’m going to make you get down on your knees and plead with me for your life...”

Tyler feels flames of red hot anger lick his insides. No one makes him beg. And no one gets away with trying to make him.

Howard is holding him back with only one hand now; his other hand holding the gun and Tyler uses all of his strength to duck out from under his grip and brings his elbow down on Howards head with an echoing crunch. Howard doubles over with pain and falls to the floor.

Tyler wants to finish him off but the sirens are getting louder, closer and he knows he has to run. He aims a kick at Howard’s shin for good measure, revelling in the sharp cry of pain and breaks into a run.

He only gets as far as the end of the alley before the gun shot sounds.  

Nov 2, 2010

Q: Write a story where two unusual or eccentric characters meet for the first time.

By Megan Wanda

Francois lumbered into the sidewalk. He had been walking for days now and he needed food and rest, but New York was a concrete jungle and he hated being here. He hated this country. The country that called rock-hard bins croissants and soggy fried bread French Toast. As if the French would ever come up with something so… inedible. His face betrayed him. In vain he tried to get rid of all the gunk on his face, but faint traces of costume paint were still visible between the crevices of the wrinkles that were not supposed to be there. His long bony arms swung lethargically by his side as he trudged along the sidewalk. He began to take in his surroundings and realized he was in a much quitters place in New York. He actually heard a bird chirping! He saw the huge white gate in front of him and he thought of the fortress back home. He scuffled forward.

Lucille sat in her garden fanning herself delicately with the fan Charlie bought her from China. Her other small chubby hand rested on the arm of an elaborate Victorian-style chair, with a footstool to match. Her arms were short and rather fat and seemed to connect with her double, triple chin that hid her neck. Her large, rather pouty lips were painted a bright, glossy orange and her eyelids were heavy with heavy make-up over her crystal blue eyes. Olivia, the Chartreux, sashayed into the garden and Lucille squealed, “Oh! My beloved! Come,” she patted the numerous thick folds of her stomach, “let me pamper you!” Lucille propped her legs onto the footstool and Olivia jumped on. The doorbell reverberated like a gong in a monastery and Alice, the maid appeared out of no where and scampered across the garden to open the white gates.

Francois could not believe the size of the garden he just entered. She sat like a splodge under a large yellow umbrella, surrounded by at least twenty purring cats. Two of which, his sharp brown eyes noticed, were pregnant. She beckoned him with her fat little finger. He obeyed silently. Upon reaching her, some of the cats encircled his feet and began to rub their bodies along his long trousered legs. “Ah, it seems my darlings have accepted you!” She said in her thick British accent. Francois’s eyes widened. He had never met a fellow immigrant before. All those at Barnum and Bailey’s were staunch Americans.
Oui Madameoiselle…?”
“Charleston,” she replied haughtily.
“Ah! Madame Charleston! I am so ‘appy to be meeting a fellow European!” he said kissing her pudgy outstretched hand. She blushed and said, “The pleasure is all mine, love! Do sit down. You’re as tall as the… Eiffel Tower!” she said, pleased with herself. Francois looked around for a chair but couldn’t find one, so he sat on the evenly mowed grass. That was when he really saw her. She looked so exquisite sitting there, soaking up the Mid-September sun.

“So my darling, what is your name?” Lucille asked the young man in front of her
Ja m’applle Francois.” The man said  distractedly. Lucille was observing him, noting every inch of his body and dividing it into parts she liked and parts she didn’t care for.
“What are you doing here, Francis?” she asked fondling Juliet, the Persian’s, ears.
“Madame, I was working at ze cirque du Barnum and Bailey, but now I ‘have run away. Five years, Madame! It was too much! Zay torture me, leave me hungry, refuse to pay me! I wanted to bad to go back ‘ome to Nice, to Mamma, but I ‘have no money!” tears began to well up in his eyes. Lucille shook her enormous head disapprovingly.
“Oh, my love! I understand. I’ve never been to those of course. Horrible, horri…”
Francois interrupted her, “Madame, you ‘ave such beautiful félin… uh, CATS!”
“Yes. Forty-five in all, Franco!” she puffed up proudly. “let me tell you their names: here’s Napoleon, and Juliet oh, and there’s little Olivia, isn’t she adorable! And over there…” but Francois was not listening. His eyes were fixed on her eyes, her blue blue eyes. She stared at him unblinkingly.

“ Madame! I cannot stay ‘ere much longer! I must go.
She appeared alarmed, “Oh no, Frankie! Love, stay for a bit longer, wont you?
“I cannot. I do, uh, ‘ave one request.” He asked sheepishly, his eyes fixed on his frayed shoe-laces.
“Of course, my darling. Anything you need.”
“Madame, ze winter, it is coming soon and I ‘ave no clothes for ze cold. Do you ‘ave any old…”
She didn’t wait for him to finish, “Alice, dear, get one of Charlie’s trench coats from the wardrobe.” Alice materialized, seconds later, staggering under the weight of a heavy black trench coat with many pockets. Francois’s eyes shone. It was perfect. “May I per your cats before I leave, Madame?”
“Oh, of course, my love!” she chuckled. He bent down, and in one swift movement he began to retreat. He kissed Lucille’s hand and walked away. Mission accomplished.

The gates closed behind Francois. He looked left, right and behind. And then, from his trencoat, he took out the blue eyed Chartreux he had been admiring. “I will call you Michelle, he said lovingly to the purring animal, “after my mozzer. No more Olivia, Zat is an UGLY name. Ahhh, Meeeshelle.”

The Gangster

By Lynette Rodrigues

Thunder booms from the ashen skies shattering the peaceful veil of the sleeping city. A silhouette, five
foot seven, stealthily entered the narrow deserted alley of Montiago, pulling along with it a black leather
bag with the imade of the grim reaper printed on it. The figure disappears through the broken window
of the abandoned opera house at the end of the alley.

‘THUD!” the sound of the heavy rain startled him as it had been doing so far for the last five minutes.
“ I must find some shelter,” he thought.

He frantically hurried through the lonely street, his scarlet scented tail coat swishing behind him as
he went. He could feel his asthma getting the better of him and stopped, fragile and lethargic leaning
against the stained soddened wall. As he was about to continue on his walk he noticed a dim flickering
light coming from the end of the seemingly deserted alley. In his desperation he forgot his fear and ran
towards it. The light was coming from the inside of the window with broken bits of glass dangling at its

Upon entering the opera house, the figure crept along the wall, finding her way. She lit a candle and
sunk down besides it. Red hair crept out from under her black cap and as she removed her rain-soaked
jacket, tattoos of different horrendous species could be seen covering her arms. Slowly she got up and
began removing the contents of her black bag.

As he entered the room through the window his leg hit something in the darkness. Possibly a vase for it
fell down with a crash and broke. The sound of the thunder however smothered the sound of it. After
the shock of the crash wore out he stood up and began feeling around for something to hold on to. Then
he saw it. The flicker of the light that had first attracted him seeped through the cracks and into the
room again. He followed it as though it was his only hope.

She sat up suddenly erect, her senses taught. Soft footsteps could be heard approaching the room she
was sitting in. She listened. Then rushing to the table she blew the candle off, leaving the room in utter
darkness. She could hear the footsteps fumbling uncertainly in the adjacent room as though unsure of
which way to lead themselves. She crouched in the corner of the room ready to pounce on anyone who
dared enter.

Slowly he opened the wooden paneled door of the opera’s backstage room and entered, unaware of
what was to come. The light he had thought he had seen was there no more, instead darkness engulfed
the room like a never ending void of emptiness. Suddenly a figure leaped at him. He felt a hard punch in
his stomach and someone pushing him against the wall. He stumbles trying to get away.

The thunder and rain had stopped by now and a thin silver ray of moonlight crept its way into the dark
room. The moonlight as though trying to make amends for all the cruelty in their lives, softly touched
her. Danny saw it, he saw her- the famous Phinx from the feared ‘Devil gangster’ group of the area.

Although she quickly moved away from the light, one second was enough. Memories suddenly reeled
through his mind as though a broken recorder had been fixed.


“ Pe-n-n-y, Pen-ny, Danny, Danny,
Mummy, Daddy, don’t be weary,
We’ll be together even as faries!”

The Gangster

Q. Write the opening chapter of a novel titled “The Gangster”, where you will introduce two characters who do not know each other but will do so later.

By Zainab Akhtar

The world was gray and deserted on this cold, bleak day in December. The sky was dull and mist shrouded the lofty buildings of Drewbury Street. From afar, the deep rumbling of thunder was heard, followed by the distinct screeching of a cat. Oblivious to the ungodly hour, or his clammy surroundings, the tall, dark and enigmatic stranger walked briskly; undeterred by the discomfiture any one would have felt while strolling in such a place. He was of an immaculate appearance, clad in a remarkably fine, black suit and wearing a matching and beribboned hat with the initials “J.G.” threaded in gold.

Upon reaching a slate gray stoned structure, the man suddenly halted and dropped suspiciously to his knees beside the entrance. He was not detained for any more than a moment and was soon on his way again; the only difference an observer would have noticed was the slim, intriguing package which was now tightly gripped in his hands. A sharp clap of thunder resounded through the empty street followed by a torrent of rain.The wind, which had begun to whip mischievously, blew the stranger’s expensive hat off his head, causing him to quicken his stride. The hat blew straight into a murky alley way and the stranger, huffing and panting with the exertion of chasing his belonging, proceeded into the narrow alley way without wavering or pausing to see his reflection in the grimy puddles that were fast appearing on the ground, his eyes being fixed determinedly on his hat.

But perhaps through an ironic twist of fate, his hat landed abruptly at another person’s feet. Startled at seeing another human being appear almost magically, he stopped, one hand frozen in the act of reaching for his hat. The howling of the wind, the pitter patter of the rain and the deafening crash of thunder were all suddenly mute as an eerie silence filled this lone alley way. After what seemed like forever, the gentlemen in the suede coat bent with deliberate slowness and retrieved the stranger’s precious hat which he silently accepted and firmly put on his head again. The two men eyed each other solemnly as several minutes passed by in unnatural tension. Both men had the same questions running through their minds: “Who is this grand stranger?” “Is he on the same arduous journey as myself?” and most importantly, “Can I trust him?” Finally, the gentleman in the crisp suede coat cleared his throat and said in a gruff voice, “It’s raining quite ferociously and if my predictions are accurate, it will continue to do so for a fortnight, by which time, I believe this entire street will be quite thoroughly flooded.” Not liking his dry and irksome tone or his self confidence, the man with the hat curtly nodded and remained silent. “Look,” said the other with a note of impatience in his voice, “I cannot stand here all day staring at you. I have important activities to engage in but far be it from me, to shun my duty as a human and leave my fellow brother stranded in this confounded alley way! Allow me to introduce myself, Darvey Farnham, at your service. If you would willingly accept my offer to escort you to your destination, it will greatly ease my conscience.”

Charity, however, was the last adjective that could be attributed to Mr. Farnham for he was renowned in his native country to be the greatest fraud and swindler of all time. His long hair which continually flopped onto his forehead, the close set of his eyes, the straight bridge of his nose and the ruthless slash of his mouth, all contributed towards an image of a highly disagreeable sort of person. However, what he lacked in looks, he
amply made up for in brains for he had the marvelous gift of shrewdly assessing any situation at hand and acting accordingly. Lying his way smoothly through any hitch in his plans, he had always managed to escape the police. Gazing now with deceptive innocence at the loathsome man before him, a hundred options whirled through his mind as he contemplated the possibility of the stranger’s identity and his involvement in what was to be the greatest crime ever recorded in history. A grisly, gruesome crime of violence and bloodshed which Farnham’s close accomplice in France had organized with his help, a plan that would lead either to their deaths, or successfully make them millionaires. “No,” he thought now in alarm, “I can’t take any chances. After all, my friend was arranging for a man in black clothing to meet me here in this alleyway. A man whose name was to be John Gregory. J.G.” Dubiously glancing at the man once more, he raised his eyes quizzically and enquired in a charming voice, “Your name good sir?”

Harry Farlow had always been taught, ever since childhood, not to give his name to a stranger. Through adolescence and his twenties, that habit had stuck with him and now in his thirties, as he met Mr. Farnham’s inquisitive gaze, he quickly recited the first two names that popped into his head, remembering in time that the hat perched on his head which he had found by chance discarded outside an inconspicuous cottage near his house in Turnbridge County, read “J.G.”, “Ha-John Gregory sir. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Farnham grinned in delighted alacrity, as he silently congratulated himself in finding John Gregory with such ease while his French friend had been so doubtful of this venture. “That’ll show him never to underestimate me again!” he sneered triumphantly to himself. He repeated his offer to give Harry a lift which Harry accepted after a slight hesitation. Leading the way to his Volvo, neatly wedged between two other cars, Farnham got in after Harry and victoriously turning on the ignition, sped off into the forbidding rain.

Back in Turnbridge county, the shabby, inconspicuous cottage lay abandoned except for the horrific, mangled and bloody corpse of the real John Gregory, which was sprawled across the wooden floor and warm with the tell tale signs of a murder just committed and a crime which had barely begun…

All They Wanted

By Rida Baqai

The frivolity with which Mehtab sat in the Nadia Coffee Shop at The Marriot in her skanky red sari
earned a scorn or two from the passing ladies. Little did the ladies know that their husband’s enjoyed
scantily clad Mehtab’s sight as much as they hated it. She clutched her bag: a fake DKNY peeked
inside the pockets and then ordered a glass of limewater. Her calm countenance faded as her phone
kept ringing .Her eyes scanned the men at the shop, separating the suitable ones from this lot. Her
reddish brown hair curled at the tips, it was so long that it covered her cleavage at times, whenever
this happened she would toss her hair back. And she never forgot to hurl a flirtatious smile at men who
smelled of money. All she wanted was fame and fortune.

Karim Mani was just up for a midday stroll in his own hotel, The Marriot. He walked slowly. he seldom
raised his eyes to watch where he was going which were glued to the floor. On his way, he struggled in
ignoring all the salaams he received from his employees. He took out his personal cell phone from his
DKNY pouch for the tenth time in the past, half an hour but the mobile screen stared blankly at him. His
eyes fell upon this young couple who seemed intensely hung up in each other’s company, too busy to
notice the world and envy gripped him for a few seconds .Immediately he wanted to look away ,so he
moved his eyes to the left .What he saw spellbound him. This delicate, ethereal beauty dressed in red
sat, poised on one of the tables in the coffee shop .He knew he wasn’t dressed to kill. His white shirt
and blue diesel jeans did not look that impressive but he knew that he wanted to talk to her .He moved
towards her table quickly. All he wanted was love.

Tired of covering the press conference of a B grade singer in the boardroom of The Marriot, Ahmed sat
in the waiting room agitated. He gave the actress’s pictures a cursory once over then put his camera on
the table. Next to the camera lay the menu: untouched. Hunger pounced on him every now and then
but he couldn’t do anything more than just stare at the menu. He loosened his DKNY belt, the one he
had picked from a thrift shop in Karachi, to ease himself but hunger couldn’t be satisfied by anything
except food.

His mind searched for a story which could make headlines the following day. Anything from a scandal,
rumor, trivia, gossip, politics, affairs, sports, simply anything. Anything that would give his wallet weight.
Enough weight to sufficiently provide for his wife’s needs. When he checked his phone there were
several texts from his wife, he replied to her in Urdu telling her that he would be late. All he actually
wanted was money.

Three long hours had passed ever since and Mehtab was yet to come across someone with who she
could lead a life of fame. Her dreams of leading a life of a celebrity seemed very surreal to her all of
a sudden. It seemed that she couldn’t bid farewell to the world of a struggling actress after all. Her
back still ached of the long bus ride but she straightened up because she saw this decent looking man
approaching her. She could read a man’s interest in her from miles, one of her few idiosyncrasies.
Although the man who was approaching didn’t show any signs of fame or fortune but Mehtab thought
she would just take the benefit of the doubt.

Kareem pulled the chairs next to the lady. He introduced himself, small talk followed. Kareem could not

resist staying away from his Goddess. He had contained himself for a good one hour. He couldn’t do
it any further. He rubbed his hands on Mehtab’s thigh back and forth .His left hand reached her lower
back and he worked his way through .For he was offered with no resistance ,he moved forward and
kissed her, her lipstick smeared all over his face.

As Karim spoke to Mehtab, Mehtab couldn’t help noticing an I-phone and a Blackberry in Kareem’s
lower pocket. As Kareem moved closer and closer, Mehtab got a better chance to sniff Kareem’s cologne
which sure as hell was very expensive. When his neck bent forward she saw gold chains jangling with
diamond pendants. He then kissed Mehtab and she offered no resistance for the diamond piercing in his
ear, conveyed wealth, rather she kissed him again.

Suddenly, The Marriot blared with camera flashes, as if a journalist somewhere had stooped on the
city’s biggest scandal. As soon as Ahmed learned that the frivolous man and woman he was seeing was
none other than the owner of the International Chain of Hotels, he wasted no time in trying to make it
the next day’s headline. Ironically neither did the scantily clad women nor the hotel owner refuse for
pictures rather they comfortably posed with one another.