Oct 21, 2010

The Bathroom

By Asad Zaidi

The bathroom was large by anyone's standards and the tasteful ingenuity with which it had been designed made it appear downright enormous. White seemed to be the running theme here. The colour lent in the illusion of space.

The floor was all marble and of a shade teetering between pure white and eggshell. It was a warm colour that did not look as if it would chill the skin on contact, even in mid-winter. The floor seemed to melt into the milky walls; corners did not exist in this room.

It was a bright and airy room. There was a large window in one of the walls, partially obscured by a thin, papery veil of a curtain which fluttered joyously in the subtle breeze. Large, rectangular skylights had been cut into the ceiling and crisp sunlight descended from them, bathing the room.

Against one of the walls sat an ivory sink with a cool, metal tap. A vivid, pink bar of soap rested at its edge. Above the sink a large, gleaming, oval mirror clung to the wall, an intricately carved ivory frame encircling the glass.

At the opposite end of the room - contrasting sharply with everything else - was a handsome table of polished mahogany. A gramophone perched atop it as it poured the ululating notes of Mozart's Ninth into the air.

Right in the middle of the vast bathroom stood a large white bathtub, perfect in its unblemished austerity. In it lay a little girl, her skin almost visible through the wet, white shift she wore. Her face was slightly blue.

She was dead.

The man gazed briefly at the girl. He then selected another colour from his palette and turned to face his easel, humming along to the music as his brush swept the canvas.

The bathtub gurgled as the last of the water escaped down the drain, carrying the girl's fiery red hair along with it.

Oct 20, 2010

A Day Planned In The Life Of Superman

By Lamia Fahim

THURSDAY  24th March, 2005

8:00 a.m.  Reach "The Daily Planet; The Newspaper" using super-speed, in my disguise.

9:00 a.m.  Check out Lois Lane surreptitiously.

10:00 a.m  Keep an eye (just one will do, the other one's reserved for Lane-y here)out on the happenings, "evil" might strike.

11:00 a.m. Go to the elevator and change to my awesome supersuit, and go see how things are in Smallville and Metropole.

11:01 a.m. Return to my seat, Lois might be missing me (I bet she secretly loves me.)

12.00 noon Go and "buddy up" to the mayor, he's been looking a bit too frolicky these days.

1:00 p.m.   Go have lunch. And remember, no matter how hot Lois looks, DO NOT ask her out.

2:00 p.m.   Feed the dog back home, maybe save a couple of inconsequential lives, and come back to work. (That place is so boring, I don't know why Lois works there.)

3:00 p.m.   Have coffee, I don't really need it, but I look sexy when I'm drinking coffee.

4:00 p.m.   Log in to "HeroesAnonymous.com" and update my status on facebook, maybe have a chat with Batman (I just want to gloat, Gotham City's in chaos these days.)

5:00 p.m.   Pretend, to leave "in a hurry" and "forget my coat." Those drama classes that I took under another disguise should pay off now.

5:03 p.m.   Rush back to get my coat, ignore Lois as I make a fake call to my "date" and laugh loudly and say: "I'll see you in a few, Sweetheart."

6:00 p.m.   Burn this plan and make a new one.

Fly to the north pole to diss and complain to my dad, Jor-El.
Then fly to The Hulk's place, he's throwing a party at his place tonight (I'll beat him in an arm-wrestling   match this time!) 
Oh, and compare bicep size with Spiderman.
Go out to save the world, just for three hours though, have to wake up early the next day to fly to Lois' window to check her out performing yoga.

Split Personalities

Write a story in which two eccentric or unusual characters meet for the first time

By Saniya Kamal

A buckle, I found him as fascinating as a buckle. He said his name was ‘A Mud’, or at least that’s what
I could understand between all the stuttering. The fat woman had told me his name was Ahmed so he
was lucky I didn’t call him anything else. He was just as I imagined he would be, as if I could ever be
wrong. Weak, boring and pathetic, that was Ahmed, and I could not understand why I had to spend my
precious time with such an inferior being.

Ever since I’ve come to this prison, I’ve heard her rambling about him. Ahmed’s shy, Ahmed’s scared,
Ahmed’s a wonderful writer. What good is that to me, or anyone else, or even himself? He’ll have to
face the world someday, and he’ll have to put on a brave mask if he wants to survive.

“Eat or be eaten.” That’s what I told him, it was very kind of me to give such valuable advice, if he’s half
as smart as the woman claims he is, he’ll listen to me. I’m still not sure why I said that to him though.
What can I say? I took pity on the quivering lips, worrying eyes and sweaty hands. But again, it’s very
likely that he will be trampled in the harsh world, where only people like me can fit in. Come to think of
trampling, he was telling me about accidentally crushing a cat’s tail once. As much as I love the sadistic
nature of the entire scene, what makes me sick is that he ran away like a child when the cat meowed.

So in all, it was a beautiful summers day wasted indoors because the crazy woman insisted I had to have
a ‘talk’ with him.


Me, Myself and I, he knew only those words and I was in awe of him at once. All that he said had so
much weight in it; importance echoed in each word and confidence exalted it to a level of its own.

Sadia had told me about Taha from the day I had set foot in this facility but I could have never conceived
him to be such a fantastic character. When Sadia had revealed that I would meet him, I was thrilled. Not
only did I have an opportunity to meet the renowned Taha, I would also be excused of spending a day

Taha was in a world of his own, oblivious to the feelings of insignificant people around him, including
me. ‘Self obsessed’ she would call him repeatedly, but now I disagreed. After meeting him I realized that
he was a lion, the indisputable king of his land and we were his obedient servants. I was lucky enough to
have gained his attention because he spared me some jewels. But even the word ‘jewels’ seems cheap
because the advice he gave me was priceless. He told me to fight for myself, to stand up for myself, to
stop being doubtful about myself.

Having realized that he was a man of intelligent thought, I managed to gather the courage to recount
a particularly frightening incident when I encountered a ferocious cat. It had screamed and screeched
viciously at me in an attempt to intimidate me and make me hand over the packet of cookies I was
eating. I had fallen victim to its demonic scheme and had ran for my life, the item of its desire slipping
from my hands amidst all the action. Taha told me the cat was probably infuriated because I had
stepped on its tail. I pondered over it and concluded that he was absolutely correct. I felt sheepish in
front of him, how could I not? I confided in him about my fears of being rejected, of not measuring
up to others’ expectations. He laughed, I understood right away that such fears were trivial and that I
should not be terrified of the world.


Two hours earlier

In a corner, well hidden from his sight, Dr. Sadia Ali listened to the unusual monologue of her patient, in
front of a mirror. Before he sat up and left, he had one last thing to say to himself,

“So what is it that she says we have?”

“A s-split p-personality, I t-think.”

The Little Mermaid

By Sana Rizwan

I've been humiliated and disgraced. My life's work has been mocked and insulted. I've
suffered in a way no one has and I've got absolutely nothing to lose now. I did nothing wrong,
I'm simply a prisoner of birth.

I used to be a star, someone envied and applauded. I have been one of the best doctors in the
country, my work was world famous. My reputation was unblemished. All this changed when
the owner of Atlantic Industries chose me as his next victim. He called me into one of the many
hospitals he owns for a job interview and even more recognition of my work around the world.
It was an honor; but instead of the Promised Land I was given a desert.

He gave me a position as a lowly intern and when I objected, he ridiculed me, publicly made
a laughing stock of me and used his influence and convinced my old boss to fire me. He did all
this to eliminate competition. I was the rising opponent and he had to get rid of me. He was
rich-so it was easy for him; I wasn’t- so I had to take the blow. Once you’ve been expelled from
something that elite, no one comes or recommends you to anyone else. I was bankrupt in a
month, all my savings gone and my medical record was erased because of a newfound ‘fault’
in the system- all this because I defied the judgment of a billionaire. My anger on its peak, I
hatched a plan for vengeance.

Triton, the billionaire, had a daughter. She was the definition of a foolish teenager- she’d fall
in love with every pathetic boy she’d meet. The problem was no one would love her back; she
was crippled. Ariel used a wheelchair. I was going to use this against her father and since I knew
what it was like to be rejected for something no one had control over, I would help her along
the way.

I emailed her, giving her the details of an experiment that was illegal, dangerous and very
risky- but if successful, would help her regain control of her legs. I also told her that not many
people could do this operation properly, but I could. I even sent her an article written about me
before her father had slandered me. She replied back saying her father would never allow such
a risky operation but she was interested. I sent two of my most faithful interns to convince her
to come to me. I call them my ‘eels’ because they both are so lanky and flexible that they give
an appearance of those slithering creatures.

Ariel’s father loved her. A lot. Ariel, however, had other interests, one of them to be loved
by someone other than her father. This little multi-million dollar princess had her eyes set on
a prince and she wanted to be with him but he only ever looked at her as a charity case with
those limbs.

Ariel, being more than willing to give me anything I wanted, had her dream so close and within
reach now. I asked her to get me the document her father always carried in his expensive
briefcase, telling her it was something owed to me. She brought it the next day and I began

operating on her. I made sure she understood how dangerous it was and now my conscious
was clear. Also, Ariel had promised to keep this a secret until it was over so I was safe from
How does this story end? Ariel could walk again. She’ll probably be able to dance on her
wedding. But poor Ariel, she didn’t get the prince she had her eyes on. He chose someone else.
I’ve grown fond of that girl, I hope she finds another prince soon, and knowing her, she will.

The document, that was my payment, was the deed to Triton’s entire industry and phone
numbers of his sponsors. I control them now, he still owns them. I didn’t have the heart to take
everything away from him; I’d be exactly what he was then. All I wanted was my dignity and
worth back which he returned to me in a public apology and appraisal that was even published
into the Medical Monthly. Everything I had lost was returned to me. My suffering was almost
compensated for. Almost. Don’t forget, I still control the deeds to Triton’s multi-million dollar

Oct 19, 2010

The 'What-If?' Game

By Lamia Fahim

1.  What if, fish could fly and birds could swim?
     A lame answer to "what's up?"  would be "water". 

2.  What if, a rainbow was made up of another color called "Nymphette"?                                                                                   
     The seven basic colors would have to be welcoming to make room for the eighth.

3.  What if, there actually is a Hogwarts?
     I'd ditch Lyceum and transfer.

4.  What if, the earth started revolving the other way round? Would people start growing younger instead of older?
     The movie "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" would be an epic fail and Brad Pitt would (finally) go out of business.

5.  What if, someone was born with gills?
     Would they choose to live underwater or on earth?
     They'd pick underwater, so that sea-creatures could finally protest about water pollution and their rights,
     and form a Political Water Board.

6.  What if, there was no sin anymore? What would happen to hell?
     It would freeze over.

7.  What if, the world was actually black and white for a day?
     Mimes would finally be recognized and appreciated.

8.  What if, there were blue-colored animals?
     Then the term "earthy" would be in reference to the color blue.

9.  What if, people were yellow-colored?
     What would happen to jaundice?
     And would "The Simpsons" still be as popular as it is now?
     Jaundice would mean turning peach-colored.
     The Simpsons would fit in, but be tedious.

10. What if, N.A.S.A. discovered another planet on which life-forms existed?
      Would people move?

      Hell yes, I would. The Earth's being ravaged anyways.

11. What if, gravity had a switch, and could be turned off and on?
      Then we would literally be able to "fly on over".

12. What if, invisibility, for people, existed?
      Boys would have too much fun and the word "deception" would take on a whole new meaning.

Little Red Riding Hood

By Madiha Shekhani

Once upon a time, there was a girl named little Red Riding Hood. She lived with her parents in a small village. Myths said that the village was once inhabited by witches, however, one sinister Sunday evening, a group of priests got together and tossed in flaming torches. The shrill screams pierced through the village and the pungent smell settled in. The priests believed they had successfully burnt every village down to ashes. But were they so sure?

Every Sunday little Red Riding clutched on to her blood red cape and draped it over her shoulders, as the silken silhouettes gradually sidled on the cape. She hurriedly put her hood on and tucked the golden strand of her that limply hung by her rosy cheeks behind her ears. All set to go, she grabbed the bowl of pie she had baked and head towards the door.

‘Little Red Riding Hood where do you think you are going?’ Her mother exclaimed.

‘Why mother I am going to Gran’s house? See, I baked her, her favorite apple pie.’ She innocently smiled.

‘But do you not know it’s the Witches’ Eve today? I am most certainly not letting you go all alone across the river just to meet Gran. You have heard the myth haven’t you? The witches were torched alive over there today! It certainly is not safe for a young girl like you’

‘But mother please, oh please! Let me go! I promise I won’t take long.’ Little Red Riding Hood pleaded.

Sighing, her mother said, ‘Fine, but I want you back home before the sun sets.’

Ecstatically she skipped out the door, shouting back, ‘ oh don’t you worry mother!’

She happily left behind the tiny bricked cottage, its stoned pavement and very well kept garden. She swung her arms  back and forth and hummed her favorite tune, all she remembered was the first note! As she joyously jumped along the path, suddenly she tripped over a pot hole and fell bare on her knees. Little Red Riding Hood brushed the dirt off her blazing red, scratched knees from which tiny spots of blood oozed out.

‘Oh my!’ She worriedly said, ‘Look what  has happened, all my pie is scattered on the floor! Mother’s new dish is also broken. What will I do now?’ she unconsciously nibbled her nails, trying to work out what to do. As she looked up to the sky, the sun  slowly moved down and the striking shades of auburn and red receded on the sky. Little Red Riding Hood quickly pushed the broken glass aside and the pieces of pie near an ant hole and rushed across the river. Panting heavily, she reached Gran’s house/ The house was situated at the very far end of the area, the land left barren and surrounded by only two or three cottages in the neighborhood. The yellow leaves gathered under the trees and the sound of tiny creatures scurrying around, echoed. She wrapped her delicate fingers around the wooden ring and knocked on the door.

‘Gran? It’s me, are you home? I am sorry I am late and the delicious pie I baked for you fell on the way! And oh it is almost sun down, mother will be furious! Please open the door for I need to hurry back home. Gran?’

she kept on calling out but Gran did not answer. She gently pushed the door, it creaked and to her surprise, opened. Gran’s door was never unlocked. She cautiously walked in. what if there was a robber in the house? Frightened, she thought. Counting each step she tip toed further inside. Her heart pounded against her chest as she stealthily walked on Gran’s finely embroidered carpet. A rush of relief passed through her as she saw Gran sitting in front of the red bricked fireplace. Her back was towards Little Red Riding Hood, and a large pile of books surrounded her. The light from the candles flickered and reflected off  Gran’s white strands of hair.

‘Oh thank goodness Gran! You absolutely scared me! Why was the door unlocked? Was there a robber? Why aren’t the lights switched on? I think you will have to call mother, it is dark and she will be fuelling with anger!’ Red Riding Hood impatiently kept on talking, ‘ I wonder why she was so reluctant to let me stay after dark. Although she did say something about some eve, do you know of it Gran? I’m sure it is just a stupid myth!’

her words seemed to have made Gran flinch and she abruptly turned around, toppling a candle over. She now stood up facing Red Riding Hood. Her face was not visible because of the dim light in the room. She wore a very ruggedly patched and sowed up black cloak. Red Riding Hood peculiarly stared at her.

Gran finally broke the silence, ‘Stupid myth eh? Is that what you ignorant fools are calling that viscous day now?’ she slowly moved towards Red Riding Hood. Her voice kept on becoming more hoarse.

‘Gran..What? I .. I did not mean it. What is going on Gran ? Are you okay?’ she stuttered  But Gran ignored her and kept on mumbling something gibberish. As the light fell upon Gran, Red Riding Hood noticed as Gran’s eyes curled up inside her sockets and blood rushed through them, her face wrinkled up and her lips expanded. Red Riding Hood was left numb, unable to move, unable to find her voice to question or even scream. Gran began to vigorously shiver back and forth and her feet rose off the ground.

‘Today is the day when all the witches are given birth to, yet once again. Today will be the holy day on which we, the witches get our revenge. Today will surely be the day I add another witch to my clan, another Red Riding Hood.’ She snarled.

Red Riding Hood screamed as loudly as her lungs permitted her to. She glared intensely with her blood shot eyes at Red Riding Hood and held her gaze. Red Riding Hood shook with fear, praying and pleading for help. The witch, who was once sweet old Gran, now stood inches away from Red Riding Hood. She extended her skinny and wrinkled hands towards Red Riding Hood’s small throat. Red Riding Hood awaited what ever there was to happen and tightly squeezed her eyes shut.

BAM, The door flew open, with a large gush of air. Two familiar faces stood in the door way. Burning tears streamed down Red Riding Hood’s mortified face. Relieved, she surely was, but she still had a nagging feeling that something worse still awaited. The witch ignited with fury when she both her sons, the famous hunters of the village.

‘How dare you interrupt my ritual?’ She howled.

‘It is Witches’ Eve yet once again and history shall repeat itself, yet once again.’ Uncle Charlie coldly retorted.

With one shot in the arm, she flew back on to the sofa. Red Riding Hood’s Father and Uncle Charlie forcefully held on to the witch as she persistently screamed. They carried her to the fireplace and Red Riding Hood’s father ordered her to close her eyes. But she stood there, too scared to move any part of her. Soon she realized that somewhere inside the witch was her sweet old Gran, who was now inches away from the smoldering fire. She ran towards them, but Uncle Charlie tightly clutched on to her.

‘Gran!!’ She screamed. But her plea was drowned by the piercing sound of blasting fire. She closed her eyes for she knew it would be a horrid sight. Red Riding Hood heard the shrill screams and smelt the pungent smell. Just in that moment she knew, it was not a ‘ stupid myth’ after all.   

Another Untitled Story

Write a complete short story describing a meeting between two unusual or eccentric characters.
By Naima Qamar

The waiting room was full of people waiting to see their shrink. The psychiatrist was very famous, urban legend dictated that her patients were mostly the elite of the city. No one could drop names for she carefully held on to confidentiality. A young man of twenty-eight years sat there holding a book covered in wrapping paper, reading with concentration. It was Steve’s first appointment.
She had been coming to the psychiatrist at least once a month since she was nine. She saw that the receptionist had her file open. Diana clutched the side of her chair, it contained her deepest secret. No one must found out, especially her husband. No one. To everyone else they looked quite normal.
Steve made a mental note to buy his mother some flowers because she was bed-ridden. They were the last ones left in the room. Diana forced herself to go and speak to him. She sat next to him and said: “Hello, pretty busy isn’t she today?”
She had made an effort to ease her nerves. Last night had been pretty bad. Her husband had wanted to kiss her. She closed her eyes at the recollection. She had turned away, complained of a headache and had taken a pill. She tried to shut the memory out by asking, “Have you been seeing her long?”
‘No this is my first visit.’ replied Steve.
“Oh’, she muttered, casting her eyes around the room. She looked younger than her twenty-five years. Young and vulnerable.
He did not want to offend this woman. He’d had bad experiences with women, except with his mother. All his life he had been called a “Sissy” and his last girlfriend was surprised when on their first date, he took her to see his mother and when the old woman approved of his choice, then he asked her, for a second date. So he was a “Mama’s boy”. He’s accepted that and lived with it. His girlfriend found him kissing his mother a good many times and hugging her longer than what was appropriate, unusual. It was why she had left him. She had hinted to Steve, more than once of his having an Oedipus complex. He had come to sort this out today. Consequently, he tried to remain elusive, polite but elusive with this wary-eyed girl.
“I have been coming here, since quite a while,” she volunteered. She gave a nervous twitch and closed her eyes. Memories of her hundreds of visits came to her. She tried to ward them off and began singing:
“Goosey Goosey Gander,
Whither do you wander?”
‘I’m sorry, did you say something?’ He asked.
“No I was, no I was, never mind.”
“I was just trying to relax.” replied Diana.
‘What’s bothering you?’, he smiled at her suddenly interested in this odd girl.
Diana shuddered, suddenly frightened of his smile.
“I think, I will reschedule me appointment, I must go.”
She remembered the smile of that stranger, when she had been nine. He had offered to drop her home and had grinned. It was only a ten-minute walk from her friend’s house but her legs were tired.
She had agreed happily. She had made the wrong choice as children unwittingly do and paid a heavy price. This was when she had lost her innocence.
She gave a little piercing cry, afraid of this man, afraid of how he could hurt her. She picked up her bag.
‘Wait, what did I do wrong, miss? Please don’t leave because of me.’, shouted Steve.
Tears rolled down his face as he began crying silently, begging her to stay.
Diana blinked twice. Her fingers combed her hair till they reached the back of her head. She pulled her hair and sat down, breathing heavily.
“Don’t cry, mister, err mister,” she hesitated.
‘Steve, call me Steve.’ he said as he repressed a sob.
“Steve, I am truly sorry for my behavior. You see this is why I need to come here.” Replied Diana.
He smiled sheepishly at her as he said:’ and I owe you an apology for interfering in your affairs.’
She gave a shaky laugh. Her eyes fell on his book. She picked it up. Steve snatched the book back and his hand brushed her left arm.
Diana got up and stepped away, cradling her arm as if it had been burnt. Her eyes widened.
‘Don’t touch my things. What I read is my business,’ he warned her hastily.
“Well”, Diana spoke slowly, “I have read the book you have there, ‘A Walk to Remember’ by Nicholas Sparks. It’s a sweet book but so unrealistic. It can never happen, love so deep…”
She became misty-eyed at that as she thought of something or someone, he could not tell.
Finding something to talk about he asked, ‘Wasn’t it sad when Jamie died? I just finished the book and I feel so, I feel so upset!’, his tone became shrilly.
Diana came back with a start, “Don’t say you actually believe in this? It’s not true. All lies to amuse us. Jamie married Landon and found happiness before she died, but in life, life either gives happiness or not. It takes away innocence, beauty, love. How can you believe in achieving in true love? Where do you see anyone living happily ever after?”
He began to cry again,
‘But it’s so sad, so sad. I wish, I wish I was Landon and I could love someone as deeply and she would reciprocate my love, someone who my mother approved of.’
Diana tried to make him see her point of view, “Steve you are very, very unusual, so idealistic…”
Her mobile phone rang. She received the call.
“George, yes I’m, I’m at the florist’s shop, yes the florist’s shop, ordering some roses. Yellow ones for your mother. She loves those. Sorry, didn’t catch that, yes, someone’s crying in the shop. I must go.”
The pretence had left her exhausted. She shook her head.
Steve had stopped crying. He liked this girl, she was odd but she was intelligent. He wondered who George was. She was not wearing a ring, so he assumed he was her boyfriend. In any case, she cared about his mother. Would she care about his own mother? Would his own mother approve of her?
‘Miss Diana, the doctor will see you now”, called the receptionist.
Diana gave him a weak smile and walked off, leaving Steve to dry his eyes.
He wondered, ‘I hope mother’s not doing too badly without me.’ 

Mrs. Khan

By Mahin Shamsi
My eyes locked with Mrs. Khan’s. Her exhausted look suggested that she had given up on her daughter-in-law to be. I gave her an apologetic smile, knowing that my boss could also be a handful. Whoever said new brides are shy? This one was completely insane months before the wedding.

Coming to work in the morning I had expected a slow day. Other than Mrs. Khan’s bridal appointment, there were just a few pickups scheduled for Monday. What I did not anticipate was a lunatic bride who would bring out the neurotic side of my boss. Geeti was known to be slightly crazier than most designers, but her odd ways did not change the fact that she was very talented. But if the events of that afternoon got out, Geeti’s reputation might not be redeemable.

Mrs. Khan walked in promptly at three as promised. Poised and charming as ever, not a single strand of her gray hair was out of place; which is why when I saw the bride I knew immediately that it wasn’t an arranged marriage. The girl who followed, beautiful as she maybe, was nothing like you would imagine Mrs. Khan’s daughter-in-law.
She walked awkwardly because of her height, and being as thin as she was, it made her seem gangly. An untamed mane of dark curls framed her heart shaped face. Her kohl rimmed eyes scanned the room, judging. She had an air of confidence even though she looked completely out of place in her skin tight denim and loose fitting tunic.

I greeted the women and ushered them into the studio. Once they were seated I asked them if they would like tea. The girl rolled her eyes at me; I ignored her and looked at Mrs. Khan who politely refused. As I took my place on the desk and switched on the computer I saw her glance at her watch and sigh impatiently. I hadn’t even been five minutes I thought to myself.

Geeti walked in exactly five minutes after I had seated the clients. This was no coincidence, rather a practice. She believed it made her client think she was a very busy and sought after designer. But she would tell everyone she did this so they would appreciate the setting of the studio, which she changed each month. Geeti was an amusing person, never boring to work for. I struggled to keep up with her.

But today Geeti’s client was already impatient and Geeti despised impatient clients. She sat down and pulled a pencil out of her hair, auburn locks spilled onto her shoulders. The color of the week was ‘cinnamon honey’ but to me it just looked a shade lighter than last week.

“Mrs. Khan, so nice to see you again!” She said Khan with two syllables. Geeti went to art school in Canada, she made sure no one forgot.
“And this must be your son’s bride,” she continued facing the girl.

“Yes, this is Mina,” said Mrs. Khan.

“What a beauty she is!”

Mina returned Geeti’s compliment with a forced smile.

“So glad you finally found the time to join us,” Mina said with bitter sarcasm in her tone.

It was the respect for Mrs. Khan that made Geeti ignore that, and it was uncharacteristic of her to do so.

“So what occasion are we placing an order for today?”

“Aren’t you optimistic Geeti,” Mina smirked, “Can we see look at some designs before we start placing orders?”

I saw Geeti curl her fingers into a fist and slowly breathe out. It had been two minutes, now this was a record. Mina was a spoiled little snob and Geeti was equally impatient. It was like clash of the Titans. I was surprised they both managed to agree upon a color palette and cut without pulling each other’s hair out.

Mrs. Khan now seemed ashamed, as was I. Geeti’s attitude was becoming very unprofessional. She would make faces at Mina’s suggestions, it was downright childish. Mina would snap at Geeti and maintain her snobbish attitude. I knew this appointment was going nowhere.

After another half hour, Mina had enough of Geeti’s excuses as to why she couldn’t get what she wanted. And Mina’s constant complaining made Geeti pull out a cigarette.

“Aunty I’m sorry,” said Mina throwing her hands up, “this woman does not want to work with me, what kind of professional acts the way she is acting?”

“My apologies for not tolerating brats” said Geeti calmly as she exhaled a cloud of smoke.

“You’re a crazy woman, throwing away a bridal order like this,” Mina snapped.

“I’d rather not take your crap, please leave and don’t ever come back,” Geeti said coldly. Then she turned to Mrs. Khan who was furious and ashamed. “Mrs. Khan, I have the utmost respect for you and hope to see you again soon, little word of advice, cancel the wedding, this girl will eat your son alive.”

 “Thank you for your time,” Mrs. Khan said. I could understand her emotions as she followed Mina who had already stormed out. Her head was held high, but she was infuriated at both Geeti and Mina, disappointed about wasting her afternoon but mostly tired and desperately in need of a cup of tea.


By Ayesha Haq

It was a cold dark night and the girl with golden hair shivered as the cool winter breeze
touched her. The sounds of howling wolves echoed in the huge forest. The moon was
playing hide and seek with clouds casted an eerie shadow of the tree she sat against.
Shuddering from fear and cold, Goldilocks hugged her legs to keep herself warm. She
came to collect wood with her mother in the forest and had gone too far playing, ending
up losing her way. She was hungry since then and had given up searching for way back

Just as she had convinced her brain to ignore her rumbling stomach, a wonderful aroma
of roasted beans filled her nose. The smell hit her brain so hard that, not caring about the
scary forest or wild animals, Goldilocks began following it.

Deep in the forest, hidden among the ancient trees she saw a house. She knocked on the
door hoping to meet some kind people who would give her food and help find way to her
house. She kept knocking and waited but to her absolute misfortune no one answered.
Not being able to resist any more hunger, cold and fear she ignored her morals and broke

It was the strangest house Goldilocks had ever seen. Almost a dozen candles kept in
skull shaped candle stands lit the entire room. An unpleasant smell dominated the thick
air of the room. A triangular mahogany table at the centre took all her attention. The
food on the table looked fresh, hot and was surprisingly unattended. Goldilocks dashed
towards the table and dug into the biggest bowl of roasted beans she had come for. As she
munched on them, she sensed taste of blood and almost vomited. It seemed like someone
had topped the beans with thick warm blood. She tried the next bowl and couldn’ t find it
eatable either. Tempted with hope and inevitable hunger, she then tried the smallest bowl
and not finding it exactly delicious, she took it as a blessing anyway and ate it all.

Even after the cluttering of utensils and noise when no one came into view, goldilocks
concluded that she was alone in the house. The hollow eyes of the skulls pierced into
her soul and wherever she looked, they were there. Exhausted, she walked towards the
fireplace where three chairs of different sizes were kept. Goldilocks sat on the biggest
chair and felt her back burn. She shrieked and got up instantly. It felt as if someone had
set the metal of the chair on fire. She touched the second chair and pulled her hand away
as it too, was burning hot.

Goldilocks then sat on the smallest chair which to her utter surprise was warm and
comfortable. Just as she relaxed, her chair started swinging and broke, dropping her hard
on the floor with a loud thud. It seemed as if someone had deliberately pulled out every
leg off the chair. Scared, she moved back and hit the candle stand which fell on the floor
and the flame put out by hitting the plush red carpet. Goldilocks could not go back to the
forest and no matter how spooky the house was, she had to stay.

Looking around, she saw a staircase tiled with black and white checks, resembling an
enormous zigzagged chessboard. She ascended the creaking stairs. Landing at a narrow
passage, she entered a room and sighed with relief at the sight of three beds she could

sleep on. She jumped on the biggest bed but sprang up as a sudden twitch ran down her
spine. She felt as if she had been poked by a hundred needles all at once. Goldilocks was
sure of something being wrong with the house. Recalling the beans and the chairs, she
skipped the second bed and jumped on the smallest bed. As expected, it was comfortable
and in no time she drifted off to sleep.

Goldilocks had hardly been asleep when the chill from the cool wind coming in
through the window across the bed woke her up. She hadn’ t noticed it before she slept.
Wondering if there was an evil spirit in the house that kept scaring or her tired mind was
playing games with her, she shut down the window and tried to sleep again.

As she laid thinking of excuses to tell the people of house for her intruding and hoping
them to be nice enough to forgive her, the noises coming from outside the house
interrupted her thoughts. She went to the window and saw three hooded figures chanting
something in unison walking towards the house, they varied in sizes exactly as the beds,
chairs and bowls had suggested.

Walking in a demented way, she saw the biggest of three figures dragging something that
looked like a dead animal. The air smelled of blood and goldilocks felt nausea as it filled
her nose. She was now sure of them not being so nice.

The people and the house now made perfect sense to her. They were occults and would
definitely not like an intruder. She had read about them. Gripped with fear, not thinking
how high, she jumped from the window as the hooded figures disappeared in the house.
She ran in the dark forest which now looked much less spooky and kept running till the
house was out of sight. She just could not be happier at the big save of life.
Qs: Write a story in which two unusual or eccentric characters meet for the first time.

By Marium Ibrahim

The little boy cowered, hiding behind his mother as they stood in front of the playground.
She gave him a gentle push towards the sandbox, and with a cheery “ Go play,” walked
off towards the benches where all the other mothers were sitting.

He looked around with apprehensive grey eyes as he took a few tentative steps forward.
Children all around him were running, jumping, screaming and playing. He did not know
any of them, which made him feel afraid of them. He missed his friends at the park near
his old house.

Suddenly, another, much bigger, boy ran right past him, causing him to lose his balance
and fall into the sandbox. His eyes started to well up when a small figure popped into
view and pulled him up.

She was dressed oddly, all in black, with a black bandanna tied around her head, a few
wisps of dark brown hair peeping out from underneath. Her brown eyes shone warmly as
she asked him bluntly, “ Who are you?”

Sniffling, he shook the sand out of his light brown hair and replies in a small
voice, “ Adam.” He was slightly afraid of her and her strange choice of attire.

“ I’ m Sara,” she told him, not put off by his short reply. “ You’ re new. Where are you
“ My old house,” he replied in his timid voice, to which she nodded, accepting it as a
satisfying response.

“ Why are you wearing that?” Adam blurted out, his timidness seemingly overshadowed
by his curiosity. Sara grinned, putting her hands on her hips and sticking her chin out
“ I’ m a Ninja.” She told him proudly.

Adam frowned, furrowing his eyebrows. “ Ninjas are mean. They hurt people and they’ re
“ No they’ re not! Ninjas are cool,” she replied, pouting, “ My brother said so. And they
help people too! They kill all the bad guys.”
“ I guess so,” said Adam, “ I don’ t like bad guys.”

Sara suddenly grinned brightly and her eyes lit up. “ I know!” she exclaimed, “ Lets play
Ninjas! You be the bad guy and I’ ll be the Ninja and kill you.”

“ But I don’ t want to be the bad guy. And I don’ t like fighting. I’ ll get hurt.” Protested

“ But I’ m already wearing the ninja clothes so I can’ t be the bad guy, and we’ ll only
pretend to fight, so you won’ t get hurt. It’ ll be fun!” Sara insisted.

“ Let’ s both be ninjas then,” Adam compromised.

“ We can’ t!” cried Sara. “ My brother said you can’ t fight with imaginary people and if we
don’ t fight we can’ t be Ninjas!”

How does your brother know so much about Ninjas?” Adam demanded, with his arms
“ My brother knows everything. He’ s twelve years old,” She informed him importantly.

“ He doesn’ t know everything. Your brother is stupid!” he shouted, unfolding his arms.
“ No he’ s not! You’ re stupid1” Sara screamed shrilly back at him.

Furious with him for saying anything bad about her brother, she scooped up a fistful of
sand and threw it at him. His face immediately scrunched up and his eyes welled up with
tears. “ You’ re just a big baby.” she told him snidely, before storming off towards the
jungle gym.

Hanging upside down from the jungle gym, however, her anger seemed to have
dissipated and seeing him sitting, sniffling, alone at the sandbox made her feel

Jumping off, Sara yanked the black bandanna off of her head and made her way over to
the sad looking boy at the sandbox.

Adam looked up at hr warily through teary eyes and she smiled warmly back at him.
“ Do you want to build a sandcastle with me?” she asked in a friendly tone.
Adam wiped away his tears with the back of his hand and smiled.” Okay, and then we
can pretend to be the prince and princess of the castle and live happily every after!” He
brightened up at the prospect.

“ I have a better idea!” Interjected Sara, “ Instead, we should pretend to be evil dragons
and crush the castle and keep the princess as prisoner!”

“ But that’ s not how you play castle!” whined Adam.
“ Yes it is!” Sara replied heatedly. “ My brother told me so!”

The Three Little Pigs

By Adeel Raza

“Be safe boys! And remember to call me at least once a month” a teary eyed Mrs. Pig said, as she waved
goodbye to her three not-so-little children.

“We will Ma!” they replied in unison.

“It’s not like we’re going to Africa anyway!” joked Bruno, the youngest of the three.

“Yeah Ma, we’ll be in touch. Don’t you worry. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen huh? Some
big bad wolf might come along and decide he’d like some bacon for breakfast?” Trey added. Mrs. Pig
threatened to burst into a fresh stream of tears at that before Drew intervened.

“Oh God Ma! Don’t listen to those two numbskulls. You know I’ll take care of us all.” The other two
seemed on the verge of a retort but managed a weak “Ow!” as Drew nudged them both hard in the ribs.
Glaring at them, he jerked his head toward Mrs. Pig. With that, the three of them hugged her goodbye
and set off.

“Freedom, freeeedom, FREEEEEEDOM! Yea –“

“Oh would you can it?” Trey cut into Bruno’s tone-deaf rendition of a famous soul song. “We’re not
leaving home to enjoy ourselves.” The afternoon sun burned down on the three pigs as they trundled
along the countryside road, their possessions bobbing up and down on their shoulders, neatly packed
into bundles.

“Jeez Trey, I’m only trying to lighten the mood here. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. What’s on the
agenda D?”

“Ah, I thought you’d never ask. Behold boys. Our guide to independent life.” said Drew, producing a
leather-bound book the size of a brick. “For generations past and for those to come, this book has been
a source of guidance to all pigs entering the real world. Only those who have come of age may gaze
upon the sacred information held within!”

“Alright, alright. Enough with the melodramatic mumbo-jumbo. What does it say we have to do?”
Trey interjected; multiple depressions in the mud already showing where he had started kicking dirt in

“Aren’t we just the cool cucumber?” Bruno piped back, ducking to avoid Trey’s onrushing fist.

“Cut it out you two. This is no time for childish antics. Now, gather round. This is going to be legen-wait
for it….DARY!” Drew’s pudgy digits slid over the rich blue cover of the text as the other two held their
breath in excited anticipation.

“BLANK!? How can it be blank? This doesn’t make any sense!” Drew cried. The three of them had taken
turns leafing through the entire book end to end, but the fact of the matter was, the book was as blank
as your average Joe in Chemistry class.

“What a sick sense of humor this-“

“Wait! I found something.” Bruno interrupted Trey’s angry mumbling. “It says: Find your own
destiny….Oh, and always remember to look behind you. Peace out”

“Behind us?” the three of them exclaimed, perplexed by the ambiguity of the message.

“Oh hello boys.” A fourth, much heavier, throatier voice responded. The dark undertone in the way he
said it was enough to leave the pigs in momentary arrest. None of them had the nerve to make eye-
contact with what was probably the only real thing their mother had warned them about.

“Now, now. There’s no need to get so…uptight. We’re all friends here. Such wonderful friends. Friends
with – dare I say – benefits!” said the wolf, falling into a fit of villainous laughter, the kind only ever seen
in movies.

“E-e-e-excuse me Mister Wolf Sir. That was a very good evil laugh you laughed there Sir. But could you
please –“

“SILENCE!” the wolf boomed over Drew’s trembling voice. “You liked my evil laugh did you? Wait till you
see my evil plan unfold. The one where I….take you all home for dinner!”


“Psych!” The wolf cried, falling into another fit of laughter, though not nearly as sinister as the first
one. The wigs watched, puzzled, as the wolf doubled over. “You boys still don’t get it do you?” the wolf
continued, wiping tears from his eyes. “Oh boy, you should have seen the looks on your faces; classic.
Okay, let me explain myself. How very rude of me not to in the first place. See, I’m not your average
wolf. I got a destiny-nonsensical book just as you did. All mine said was that I had to blow down pig
houses around the country and yell: ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down’, when those
poor pigs wouldn’t let me in. All so I could eat them. How messed up is that!? I’m a vegetarian for God’s
sake! And how exactly one blows a house down with merely their breath is frankly just beyond me.”


“It’s like I’m talking to myself here boys. What, you still don’t get it? Damn, you pigs are stupid. No
wonder my entire pig-eating kind is so full of brutes. Complete lack of dignity and class. Civilized wolves
prefer their food green, like moi. Anyway, nice meeting all of you. Cheerio!”


“Freedom, freeeedom, FREEEEEEDOM!”

Oct 15, 2010

Party! - An Onomatopoeic Poem

By Hadia Piracha

splish! splash! whoosh!
this is so much fun! 
pitter! patter! pitter!
the rain washes away the sun!
yeay! yeay! yea!
we're partying so hard
boom! boom! boom!
blaring music and no guard
la! la! la!
come sing along too
dum de dum dum.......
sits alone you
buzz! buzz! buzz!
chattering like bees
thud! bam bam!
go crashing bodies
pwaan pwaan pwaaan..........
the music shuts down
oops! oops! whoops!
mum interrupts the showdown
uh oh! oh no!
everybody moan
you weren't even partying
and still you groan..........


Q/. Think of a piece of music, describe it and talk about the emotions it evokes in you.
By "One Republic"

By Lamia Fahim

  The song precipitated with a symphony of violins; two to be exact: there's the main one, in the forefront, playing at a faster rate and the one in the background, moving at a much slower, mournful pace. Both sing as if they are melting, fusing into one another, the way glass shattering in slow motion would fall into a pool of water; there would be ripples but they would become invisible after a few moments.
  The music gives the impression of fake harmony as it starts, but it can be judged that it is building towards a sudden eruption; like a balloon being filled with water incessantly until it suddenly bursts and breaks out into drums beating like hearts, somebody clapping and tapping to the rhythm of the piano that joins the song, sinuous and flowing beads rolling over gravel. An instrument plays up irregularly, unsuspectingly, like an alarm clock being wound up.
The guitar's jarring, which was background, suddenly jumps in between the song, in between the singer's voice singing the lyrics in a peaceful, tranquil mood with his soft, earnest and throaty voice, and catches a person by surprise.
  The lyrics of the song are beautiful, especially as the singer's voice is like a gasp, a rhythmic sort of crooning, a heartbroken bird's song. The lyrics talk about pain, the kind of hurt inspired when a person sees a stunning glass statue of an angel shatter, showing that it was all a lie; that it was pretense. He sings about being "ten feet off the ground", connoting a spiritual reference, and about how he can hear what "the" person is saying, but he "just can't make a sound": this is controversial, he is singing. 
"Fire turning blue"; it is as if the fight, the passion has gone out of him, but his melodramatic huskiness contradicts this fact.
  The song makes a person realize acceptance, and makes them see that hurt has too many faces. It is as deep as a bottomless pit and as soulful as an ancient graveyard.It is mellow and it reminds a person of rain falling slowly, as if each and every droplet is visible. It also makes a person visualize ballerinas spinning incessantly, their eyes shut in concentration or figure-skaters circling an ice-rink's border, cycles repeating themselves, time's hands going round and round.
The song is silent passion, a bird knocking continuously against its cage, searching for escape, or a fire blazing and cackling in a hearth, threatening to go out. It is a voice weeping; a hard-surfaced cake melting away to reveal the soft center.
  The instruments, lyrics and the singer's voice all sew themselves up together to form a comfortable quilt that is spread out over the listener ; the quilt is a hue of grays , like ash blowing with the wind, light-browns, like a tawny owl flying off with a ruffling of its feathers, and yellows, like the sunrise over the sand dunes in a desert.
The song leaves a bittersweet aftertaste in a person's mouth as it beats like a dying heart towards its climax, galloping like a black stallion over lush-green rolling hills, racing against the wind, knowing it has to reach the end.
  "Apologize" has the capacity to make a person cry if they really listen, or to make a lethargic person get up and start tapping and dancing to the rhythm. 
The way the song ends... It's as if two rivers were rushing towards each other, eager, anticipative and in a hurry, and when they finally collide, it is a supernova giving way to a black-hole, leaving a person's head, or in some cases, their heart, pounding faintly.


By Marium Ibrahim 

Her long manicured fingernails tapped impatiently on the window ledge as she stared
out at the world beyond the tower with troubled blue eyes. Her hair, so long that it could
easily be wrapped around her slender frame twenty times, was neatly braided and shone
like gold where it was hit by the sun’s rays.

“Sister!” she called, and a hurried scuffling sound was heard before a hunched figure
emerged from behind the wooden door. As the figure stepped into the light, it was
obvious she was a witch, with her pale, sickly yellowish green skin and bloodshot eyes
and her every pore oozing a slimy substance. Crooked teeth so yellow that they were
almost brown showed when she parted her thin, dry lips to reply.
“What is it now?” she screeched, “can you not see that I am busy?”

The girl, was seemingly unperturbed by the sight and sound of the witch. “I am
hungry! You told me this kingdom would be filed with delicious handsome young
men. Yet, we’ve been here days and I’ve seen none!” She shouted back in a curious
breathy voice that contradicted her tone. “And why must I always play the part of
the damsel in distress? This stupid voice I have to speak in absolutely sickens me!”

“Dear sister” replied the witch, “do not worry. I have fair proof that this kingdom is filled
with delicious young men desperate for attention, even if the last wasn’t. I have already
sent out word that a beautiful princess named Rapunzel ,you, has been trapped by an
evil witch, me, in a tower, and any moment now some airheaded human male is going
to try to climb up your hair in an attempt you rescue you.” Here, she paused to cackle
loudly before continuing, “And we both know that you are the only one strong enough to
drink the “pretty potion” every few hours. Besides, pretending to die when another prince
shoves a sword into your chest isn’t very easy either.”

Prince James Clearknight the Third was considered the most handsome man in the entire
kingdom. His jet black hair came down to his neck and his eyes were the perfect shade
of blue. He was very wealthy and only wore the grandest clothes. He smiled flirtatiously
at very maiden he saw, who often giggled coyly back. His only flaw, however was that
he was immensely arrogant and thought a great deal of himself, so of course, when he
heard of the beautiful princess held captive in a tower, he knew that he would be the one
to rescue and marry her.

The prince had, of course heard of the princess’ long hair, and had decided this was the
way he was going to climb up the tower to get to the princess, and was very pleased with
himself for thinking of it. (He had not, however, though of a way back down). He had
also had the Royal poet think up a short verse that he could recite to Rapunzel when he
finally reached the tower.

As he entered the gate to the tower, the prince mounted off of his white steed and,
tightening his grip on his sword, made his way on foot towards the tower. All of a
sudden, the most hideous creature he had every seen, with slimy green skin and hair
resembling dead snakes, came up in front of him, seemingly out of nowhere. Heart racing
with fear, he summoned up all of his courage and plunged his sword into the heart of the
witch, who let down a dramatic yell and collapsed, lifeless by his feet.

Prince James shuddered, repulsed at the sight of her, and stepped gingerly around the
body towards the tower. He could see his beautiful princess sitting at the window, and
his heart skipped with joy. He cleared his throat and started to recite the now well versed
poem he had memorized for this occasion.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair, so I can climb the golden stairs”

Up in the tower, Rapunzel rolled her eyes at his attempt at poetry. “Oh my Prince! You
have come to rescue me at last!” she replied in her usual breathy voice as she threw her
hair out of the window.

The Prince, after a lot of slipping and many painful tugs on Rapunzel’s scalp, finally
made it to the window, and looked very pleased with himself when he finally managed
to get inside, but as he turned around to look at his beautiful bride to be, the smug smile
slipped off of his face and was replaced very quickly by an expression of pure horror.
Something dreadful seemed to be happing to her, and all the prince could do was to stand
and stare, paralyzed with fear.

All her golden hair was falling out of her head, replaced by hair that was murky green
in colour that which was very thin and missing in a few places. Her once perfect white
skin became a sickly, slimy green with a large prominent wart on her chin. She seemed
to shrink, and grew hunched over, and dark yellow teeth protruded from her mouth. The
most gruesome thing about her though, was her eyes. One of them, shaped like a normal
human eye, but a pale yellow colour with the iris so translucent it was barley visible. The
other eye, was small and beady, darting around, watching everything.

The prince still stood staring, transfixed with horror. This witch was even more horrific
than the last and he sight of her made him feel nauseated with revulsion.
“No where to run, my handsome savior.” She cackled.
The first witch he had seen suddenly came up from behind him. He jolted, had he not
slain this witch only a while ago? Apparently, his trusted sword was useless to him.
They both smiled evilly at his sweaty face and bewildered expression.
“You were right sister,” said Rapunzel, “There was a decent catch in this kingdom after
all. Now I believe I had promised you the first bite...”

The Prince and the Swordsgirl

Q: Write a short story in which two eccentric characters meet for the first time.

By Misal Shujjat

The sweltering heat of the sun became more pronounced as the day wore on. Despite it, Prince Altholas remained stern faced and determined throughout his training session with his knights.

He pushed forward with calculated strength, swerving the oncoming swing of Benedict’s sword and succeeded in throwing the unsuspecting knight off balance. He fell to the ground with a resounding thud and a round of laughter from onlookers.

With the point of his blade still carefully resting under the young knight’s chin, Altholas pulled of his helmet, the sunlight catching the red curls of his hair and the small drops of perspiration that clung to them.

“Not in your best form today are you, Benedict?” The mirth in his brown eyes betrayed the chastising tone of his voice. 

“Apparently not, sire.” He replied. Altholas returned his sword to the sheath around his waist and offered him a hand, remembering quite clearly when he had been a knight in training, no better than Benedict was now.

“Take a ten minute break and exchange weapons.” He turned to address the other knights, “I want all of you back on the field in your sharpest.” The men hurried off instantly.

“You there!” a female voice called out. Altholas turned around to see a girl no older than nine years stalking towards him, raven color hair flying. She came to a stop in front of him, hands on her hips.

She was dressed in men’s breeches, a gray cloak fastened about her shoulders and black worn, leather gloves adorning her small hands. To his surprise, he saw a scabbard and a blunt sword hanging from a belt around her waist.

“May I help you?” Altholas asked politely despite the crudity of her address to him.

Wordlessly, the girl tugged at one of her gloves and threw it at his feet where it landed amidst a puff of dust. “Yea. You can help me. I demands a battle with ya.” At this, Altholas couldn’t help but laugh heartily. “Who you laughin’ at?” the girl asked, a crease forming in her brow. “I ain’t no less than them knights o’

“I’m sure.” The Prince kneeled down so he was eye level with the girl and picked up her glove. “What is your name, young one?” he asked softly.

The girl thrust out her chin and said in a confident voice; “Jacquelyn,”

“Jacquelyn,” Altholas repeated with a broad smile, “That’s a pretty name.” The girl’s cheeks coloured with the compliment. “But I will not fight you, Jacquelyn.”

Any trace of a smile vanished from her face and she narrowed her eyes at him. “Is it because I’m a girl? Me mam says girls don’t go ‘bout fighting with swords but I’ll show her. I’ll show all them boys back home after I’ve beat you! And then the Prince will hear of what a brave girl I am and will offer to marry me
and I will become Queen. That’ll show ‘em!”

Altholas was highly amused by the girl’s rant. She was evidently not from
around the castle for she seemed oblivious to the fact that he was the Prince she spoke of. He
let the knowledge pass and said, “Be assured it is not because you are a girl. I am merely scared of embarrassing myself in front of my people. I fear I do not have the skills to take on someone as capable as you.”

Jacquelyn’s face glowed with pride for a moment before she regarded him with a suspicious look. “Are you jestin’ with me?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t dare jest with you.” Altholas replied. “Now, perhaps, when I am a little older, I might be brave enough to accept your challenge-but not today.” Altholas reached for her hand and slid the glove over it, fastening the string firmly around her wrist. “Is your mother with you?” he asked.

 “I…I ran away from her.” She said, ducking her head to avoid his eyes.

“That was a very bad thing to do Jacquelyn, not very noble of a swordswoman.” Altholas said sternly.

“But she wasn’t lettin’ me come here! Said I was outta ma mind for thinkin the Prince would ever talk to a commoner like me! I had to leave her in the market!”

“Look here Jacquelyn.” Altholas said, tilting her chin and forcing her to meet his eyes, “I will have the guards take you back to your mother and you will apologize to her for leaving her behind in such a manner and you will swear to me that you will never do such folly again. Do you promise?” Jacquelyn nodded solemnly, sniffling. “Good.”

Altholas stood up and motioned for the guards. “You never told me your name.” Jacquelyn said suddenly, squinting up at him in the bright sunlight.

Altholas smiled at her, “My name is Altholas Montfort.”

Jacquelyn’s eyes widened with surprise. “You mean…you mean PRINCE Altholas Montfort?” He nodded and her face lit up with glee. “I MET PRINCE ALTHOLAS! Wait until Hadrian and Simon hear about this!” She allowed herself to be led away by the guards but kept throwing him awed glances behind her shoulders.

He stood and waved farewell at her bouncing form for a moment before turning back to his assembled knights. “Right, we’ll start with defence tactics. Ulric, you’re up first.”

Hansel and Gretel

By Fatin Nawaz

The Fae were creatures of great evil, renowned for their beauty and deception. They were brilliant shape-shifters as well. Created through dark rituals, the young Fae were taught how to morph into other beings. Most importantly they learned how to transform into those despicable humans. To adopt their loathsome way of interacting and that rather repulsive skin color so perfectly.

Balthdred and Lanfear were two young Fae. They were mates, dependent on each other. Humans would have called it love, but the Fae believed in no such thing. Like all the young Fae, they were given to another pair to be taught the Magiks, deception and how to increase their powers. Except this pair defied the rules of their society.

The female counterpart, with her ever growing thirst for dominion, decided to steal the orb of Lanfear and Balthdred's power. Seducing her mates with grand promises she never meant to fulfill, she carried out her scheme such that it seemed the young Fae had gone awry on one of their trials, to be never seen again.

She sent these now powerless Fae to the human planet. Desolate, confused and burning with anger, Lanfear and Balthdred found themselves on a terrestrial plane.

'Atleast it suits our mood.' Balth grumbled, trying to find some way to make better of the situation.
He needed Lanfear to be the proper kind of angry. Right now she seemed to be furious enough to burn down the whole planet. She had yet to learn, it was just as well their powers were gone.

'Lanfear dopling, these burnt down surroundings do compliment your beauty quite well. And I do love the additions to your clothing.' He leered.

Lanfear grinned at him, appreciating his efforts. Th churned smoky trees, the color of ebony, did flatter her luscious plum skin. And her blood red garb clung to her skin fetchingly. The journey had left it torn and frayed which added to it's appeal.

'Alright, alright, we're at some forest by the name of Sanleh, as you can see, it was destroyed. Probably by one of us.' She said with a roll of her eyes.

'Sanleh?' Balth exclaimed, 'Oh that foolish brute! She could not have chosen a worst place to dispose of us. She shall be so very very sorry. They both will be.'

Lanfear tapped her foot impatiently, waiting for his cackle to die. Those eyes, the very color of fury, demanded an explanation. One came forth soon enough. Sanleh was the home of a cannibal woman. A witch expertizing in the Magiks.

A sinister smile spread across Lanfear's purple cheeks, biting her red mouth, she asked how the woman was to be contolled. Balth explained that out here in the woods, she did not get much human meat. She was probably craving some.

'Ready to morph dopling?'

Long grape limbs shortened to olive colored arms. Perturbing bones were covered with skin. Gnarled nails shortened to neatly clipped ones. Lanfear's exotic curves disappeared into the body of a young girl. Balthdred's muscles transformed into a round little boy.

'I want us to be siblings, the idea seduces me.' Lanfear purred.

'You and your forbidden love fantasies,' Balth smirked, admiring his handiwork, he said, 'I'm quite good aren't I?'

'Hmm what shall we name ourselves?' Lanfear pondered.

'Well I'll be Hansel.'


'It is an acronym of Sanleh, sounds like the name of a fat delicious boy.' Hansel smiled.

'Then I'll be Gretel, the affectionate sister.' Gretel winked. They set out to find the house supposedly made of chocolates and candy, to appeal to children and adults alike. Humans has a sweet tooth.

It was not all that hard to find a glade. The Fae failed to understand how anybody could be gullible enough to fall into that trap. These humans.

In the sacrificial manner they dribbled their teal blood in the pattern of an octagon around the house. The energy points were ready. It was time to scare the cannibal woman.

Strolling to the candy house, Hansel and Gretel gobbled down chocolate and candy. The witch soon opened the door, pretending to be charitable and tender. With those misshapen rags she called clothes and that disfigured nose, they could not believe that humans, frightened little creatures they were, did not run after taking one look at her. How strange were they?

Masquerading to be naive children they entered the house, but hearing the snicker of a ghoulish doll, the witch turned to them with shallow brown eyes filled with fright and revulsions.

A trigger had gone off. The witch knew they were Fae. It was all she needed to know.

'The vorlex is set, begin the Magik and you will be spared a petrifying death.' Hansel spoke flickering between his true self.

'As you wish Fae! I will do as you please, how you please.' The witch stuttered.

'Just start already.' Lanfear was already back.

Bobbing her head like the half wit she was, the witch got a pot, donating some blood into it. Lanfear proceeded to lick the wound, already thinking of how those who had defied her would suffer.

Beauty and the Beast

By Najia Navaid

There was once a young man who was in love with a beautiful young girl in his village. The girl, known as Beauty, also loved him very much. One day, the youth embarked on a journey, and decided to bring back a white rose for Beauty, since they were rare in those parts.

On his travel, he came across a trail of white rose petals. Remembering Beauty, he followed the trail and came to a barren land. In the centre stood a humongous black castle with tall turrets and spindly towers. On either side of the gates was a looming statue, black as a shadow.

The man approached the gates warily. Somewhere across the wasteland, an owl hooted and a bat flew across the moon. Inside was a garden of utmost beauty, full of white rose bushes. It was the Garden of Temptation.

But in order to pluck a rose, he had to sell his soul, which he did readily, for the magic of the Garden was upon him. No sooner had he plucked the flower that his appearance began to change. His skin wrinkled, his eyes bulged out and darkened to yellow; his hands and feet enlarged and his nails thickened and turned a dirty yellow. When he tried to cry out, a long slimy tongue rolled out of his mouth, coated with filth and spotted green, like mould.

The youth was now trapped, he could not leave the castle. His heart yearned for his former life and for Beauty, whom he used to watch in despair in an enchanted mirror everyday.

The man wandered around as a soul-less beast. In order to keep himself alive, he devoured the spirits of beautiful maidens. He fed on hope, but it was his own hope that kept him from completely turning into a monster.

One day he decided to summon Beauty to him. He turned a magic ring thrice upon his finger. With that, Beauty became a prisoner of the castle as well. But she knew that there was something sinister within the castle, which drained her of her energy. Little did she know that it was the Beast, unwillingly feeding on her soul.

For seven days, she remained there, alone. One night she decided to search the castle. She came to a door and went inside. There was dirt on the bed and she thought she saw movement. She went closer and then choked back vomit. There were maggots crawling over the bed and on top of them lay a monster. A monster so revolting, with yellow nails and slime oozing from its body, that even from a distance, she shuddered, feeling nauseated.

She was frozen to the spot. And then... the monster slowly opened its eyes and fixed her with a stare so dangerous that she recoiled. The Beast lifted a rotten hand and touched her, and she cringed, running out of the room.

She ran to the rose garden, heart racing. She swallowed back bile. Even though she was alone, she could feel eyes on herself and an unknown threat drawing close. She started sweating and trembling.

Then she saw the monster approaching; half-gliding, half-slithering. Beauty's knees gave way and she fainted. When she regained consciousness, the Beast lay dead. An enchanted mirror lay at its side. She stood still, paralyzed.

Suddenly, in the mirror, she saw the face of the man she had loved. Overwhelming grief and bitter love rose inside her. Suddenly there was light, and the beast stirred. As she watched, with a thrill of fear, it slowly peeled off its skin, like an itching costume. She felt repulsed, horrified. The creature made a horrible gagging sound and its tongue rolled out, covered in bile and mucus. Beauty choked back a vomit for the second time. Just watching the beast made her feel impure, filthy.

Before her very eyes, the beast started to shrink. Its form became more human and its skin became smooth, the eyes receded back into their sockets. She watched in horror as the creature changed back to the man she loved.

All around her, the white roses turned red. The young man sat up in joy and Beauty ran to him. He told her that her repulsion of him had killed him. But the love that had risen within her heart for him was what had recalled him back to life.

They were married in the rose garden and lived in the castle till the end of their days. And everyday, a single red rose was found in the bedroom. Who kept putting it there, no one knew. Perhaps the castle itself was remembering its enchantments.