She woke up once and then again. Both times with a start. Eventually, all her senses were with her. It took a few minutes to gather herself though. Every once in a while, she drifted so deeply into sleep that in her sleep, she was asleep. And in that sleep, she was dreaming of another world. When she woke up from this series of dreams, she never remembered any of them. All she recollected was the experience of being air borne two consecutive times. She was left with a feeling of commotion, though. She was overwhelmed by the movements of the world she existed in. It was quick, fast and artificial. It unraveled at a hurried pace. So fast that a part of her questioned if it was reality or was she dreaming this up too? She then had to go over in her head the moments before she opened her eyes. She blinked herself senseless. But answers eluded her. Sometimes these answers led to logical memories of falling asleep promptly. Some other times, she couldn’t remember anything before the moment she was dragged back to the present. Those times, her mind was wandering in space, time and truly believed that the past did not exist. In those brief fleeting moments, neither did the future. In fact, even the present went by in a blur as she hovered in limbo for a while longer. Unattached and untainted.
Escaping others was easy. In fact, I had mastered the art. I didn’t care what they said, felt or the way they acted. I was snooty and I flaunted it. Ironically, I couldn’t escape myself. Somehow. I found that the more I tried, the deeper entrenched I got in my selfish ideas. This caused me far too much agony. It obstructed normalcy, whatever that meant. I needed to find a way out though I wasn’t willing to put an effort into the search. The repetitive circle I had drawn was the opposite of simple to absolve myself from. Truthfully, I was drowning in quick sand which further weakened me.
But the weakness drew me close. It promised me companionship. It whispered intimate things in my ears. I drew vicious pleasure out of remaining in that fate. There seemed no other way to quench the pain. I felt an ache reaching out to me and I caved. I heard its voice and I rushed to its side. I am tempted once in a while to take a giant leap of faith in the future and set myself free of this bad habit. The sadistic part of me gripped my mind; I lingered as I waited for the masochism to leave me. I effectively did nothing to make it leave. I just watched it eat at my spirit inch by inch.
I couldn’t escape yet.
He walked in, shut the door behind him and sat down across from Mr. Sameer.
“Mr. Sameer, where were you around 8 o clock last night?” he asked.
“At home. Asleep,” came the response.
“Is there anyone who can vouch for you?” he continued.
“No. My cat hasn’t developed the skill to speak,” Mr. Sameer smirked.
“It is not the time or place for jokes Mr. Sameer,” he said.
“Pardon me but I find all this a little foolish. I have done nothing I don’t usually do,” Mr. Sameer responded with a shrug.
“Is it usual for you to break into your neighbour’s house?” he asked.
“No,” was the reply.
“Is it normal to steal a diamond bracelet?” he continued.
“No,” Mr. Sameer repeated.
“Is it alright to break the cupboard door?” he persisted.
The answer was still no.
“Furthermore, is it unusual that all the mirrors in the house intruded on are now broken?” he questioned.
Mr. Sameer smiled as he shook his head.
“Then, we have a problem on our hands Mr. Sameer,” he said.
“But I didn’t do any of that,” Mr. Sameer protested.
The policeman got up and studied Mr. Sameer’s moves closely. He wasn’t sweating nor was he nervous. He was calm, composed and completely at ease. He was almost cocky. The cop walked around the table twice before he slammed out of the room. He needed more evidence to place him at the crime scene. Evidence he did not have. He ordered for Mr. Sameer to be watched and went to speak to the witness.
The witness looked nervous and eager to leave the police station. “Thank you for waiting Mr. Rakesh. We need you to answer a few questions.”
Mr. Rakesh nodded meekly.
“Do you know Mr. Sameer?” he asked.
“He lives in the building opposite mine and we have bumped into each other at the local grocery store,” Mr. Rakesh replied.
“Where were you last night when you spotted Mr. Sameer?” he asked.
“I was standing in my balcony smoking when I heard a series of loud noises. Following which, I saw a head in the window holding a large object and ramming it against something. The curtains were open and I could make out it was Mr. Sameer,” Mr. Rakesh stated.
The answers seemed satisfactory enough for the cop. “I just need you to pick Mr. Sameer out of a line up and then you can go back home,” he said finally.
Mr. Rakesh nodded politely. The policeman arranged for a line up. Mr. Rakesh spotted Mr. Sameer from the line of 10 men without any difficulty. Mr. Rakesh was sent home to his relief. Mr. Sameer adorned a smug expression all through.
The lack of any motive or connection to the victim made this case very difficult to tie down. The cop paced around the room and finally arrested Mr. Sameer. The cop tried his luck again and asked Mr. Sameer for his alibi. Mr. Sameer, however, threw his head back in laughter as he spoke to the cop, “Some moments are better left unexplained, cop.”
Mr. Sameer was far too hysteric to provide any logical response. He served time as the case was put to rest. The cop however never could bury the mysteries of that case.
She peeped outside her window to see if anything had made its way from the river to her door. To her surprise, it was all silent. Until, she heard a feeble knock. She looked through her window to notice the same hand that had attempted to grab her knocking on her door. Only, it was just a hand. Suddenly, she was less intimidated by it but she was terrified enough to not open the door. She waited for the hand to grow tired and venture back into the river bed. Time passed and the hand continued to knock. The knocks were well spaced but after a while Shantha noticed a rhythm and urgency to them.
Desperately, she called out, “What do you want!”
A voice escaped the hand, “Leave this house!”
She cowered behind the door in silence. The hand began to pound on the door. Her rescue team was nowhere in the scene. She couldn’t be frightened by a bitsy albeit ugly hand. She threw open the door hiding a knife behind her back. There were slits and funny enough the hand looked like it was frowning. The more she looked at it, the more it resembled roots of a very old tree. The brown curly bits of its tips were bent and strings of hair were present. The thick part of its body wore a cruel expression. The eyes and nose disappeared and appeared from view based on the frown. It seemed to Shantha as if the hand could only frown. For its size, the hollow, sober voice did not comply.
In one swift motion, Shantha bent down and jabbed the knife into the thickest part of the hand. A bark like fluid emerged from its body. There was not a sound from the hand anymore. Its limp body lay on her foot mat.
Emergency services arrived a while later. Shantha had nothing to show them so she merely said, “False alarm.”
She lived in a large house by the river Lyson. The house looked in shambles from the outside. It kept annoying kids and teenagers at bay. From within, it was magnificent. The rooms were old fashioned with fading decor. The high ceilings demanded a chandelier in every room. The doors were wood, furniture was wood. The rooms were huge and the house itself was enormous for one inhabitant. It took her months of sleepless nights before she got used to the house. A timid maid, Leena, helped her keep it clean. As expected, the house gave Leena the creeps. She rushed in each morning, cleaned at a massive pace and ran out.
Shantha found Leena’s behaviour amusing. Old houses were always regarded as haunted. With creepers growing along its walls, the house looked like one from a horror movie. But from the inside, it was warm, pleasant and made Shantha never want to leave. A thin lane led her from her backdoor straight to the waters. She had placed a bench there to sit and watch the birds that came by.
She walked down the rickety path and relaxed on the bench as the clouds gathered above her. The formerly blue sky was slowly turning grey. Shantha ran inside for cover anticipating the rain. And the rain arrived minutes after she shut the door. The wind bellowed in the background. The sound of thunder drowned the whistles of the wind. For a few hours, the lightning and thunder exchanged limelight. She sat by the window and stared at the havoc being created outside.
When it died down, she ventured out gingerly. She was aching to see the river after that storm. She was riveted as she couldn’t believe her eyes. The river was parched. The grass in her garden was soaked but the river bed was cracked and resembled the desert. A puzzled Shantha walked closer to the edge and bent over. As she placed her hand out to touch the surface of the river bed, it opened up. Long, hairy, brown claws creeped up to grab her hand. She withdrew her hand hastily and ran back to the house screaming. She dialled emergency immediately.
Her house was kilometers away from all civilisation. By the time a rescue team arrived, the creature from the river would have consumed her whole.
She was faced by a predicament larger than her; it was larger than her life too. She stood grasping for air in the chaos of her mind. Regardless of who else is to blame, she was responsible for the mess she created with each decision. Caution was elusive. Reason evaded her. She avoided confrontations that taxed her. She wanted to erase crisis and be incognito. But she wasn’t that lucky despite her lust for secrecy. Her life lacked lustre and structure. She was part-broken.
Additionally, she was calm, collected and resourceful. Decision making and problem solving were her forte. She was a lone sentinel, a warrior. She stood gracefully tall in troubled times. She handled catastrophes with class. Life was mediocre and boring. Her speech was free of masks and lies; she spoke with honesty. She was part-whole.
She felt the friction at the juncture when the personalities switched. Though, each of the contradicting personalities fit her with equal ease.
She thought she was empty. On the other hand, she had it all.
She didn’t prolong the silence. Her patience was thin unlike Eve’s.
And so she began to speak:
The night you are forcing your mind to recollect was the night we were made. Our powers though similar at times are very different. Unlike you, I don’t have too much force with my hands and you lack my morphing powers which I have discovered are marvelously useful. We both share the powers of our mind and that of our eyes. Along with the person who created us. Her name has still not revealed itself to me. But I would recognise her anywhere. She was crazy, mad scientist of her times and no one took her seriously. She predicted dark times ahead; human would debilitate and crush another human in a struggle between power and greed. She had hoped that her colleagues would help build an army to release into the world for its safekeeping. Everyone failed her.
In her lone struggle to prove a point, she set on the path of creating you and me. Our cores were similar and pieces of her. Her compassionate side was given to you and her angry side to me. She built us from her imagination and deepest parts of her soul. In the attempt that like her we would not be stranded alone, she put in a chip for us to be connected. This would trigger once we acknowledged the other’s presence. Hence, I am able to peep into your mind and you haven’t had that opportunity yet; it is an endeavour to tune the other voice out but I am sure you will find a way. This is how I knew you were being haunted by those dreams. This is why I am here.
When she finished, Eve couldn’t take her eyes off her. Her mind grappled with the burden of information she had just received. She picked up her drink and sipped it slowly.
“Don’t read my mind for a while, Throttle,” was all she said.
Throttle respected her wishes.
She woke up drenched in her sweat. Her palms faced the ceiling; they were positioned for an attack. She had reacted to a vision in her dream. Again. This wasn’t new for Eve. Often, she struggled with her superpowers interrupting her already disturbed sleep. Due to the voices around her, she found it difficult to drift into deep slumber. Sometimes images from her past flashed in her dreams as discontinuous pieces. Mostly, it was visions of the same dark room and she was lying on top of a cold metal table. Only today, it was different. She could see faces of those working around her. Some of whom were old men; some others really young women. Their voices were unclear and she couldn’t make any sense of the conversation. She noticed another table a few feet away from her. A sleek female body lay on it. All she remembered was the flaming red hair. As she reached over to gulp down some water, she tried to recollect where else she had seen that exact shade of red hair. It didn’t take long for her to make the connection. Unfortunately, she had no clue how to get in touch with Throttle. Last time, Throttle had found her. Were they aligned somehow? Would Throttle be able to furnish her with some details about her past? Or was she fumbling around in the dark as well?
She wouldn’t know unless they spoke again. She, however, couldn’t waste anymore time on this. She needed to get to the gallery; she had a full day shift. She bathed, pulled on slacks and a loose shirt to suit her spaced out mood. She checked herself in the mirror before heading out. The dark circles under her eyes made them look browner than usual and even a little depressed. She dabbed some make up to mask them. She tied her dull brown hair into a bun with a chopstick. The entire day at work she stayed distracted and was unable to convince any of our customers to purchase a piece. She otherwise sold many artifacts, paintings or art pieces each day. As she packed up for the day, a slim, pale woman walked in. Her hair made her stand out. Eve had to pull her shocked self together.
“We need to talk. In private,” Throttle murmured as she walked past Eve to casually look at the paintings. After a while, she smiled politely and headed out. She waited by the gallery’s door for Eve to lock up. Once she did, they walked together to a quiet bar a few minutes away. They ordered drinks and sat in silence. Eve knew her suspicions had been confirmed. They were indeed linked. Either that, or Throttle had some superpowers she was just going to learn about.
She needed to find a weapon and develop it to her preference. The following night she wore her suit and went hunting for a place to buy blades. Blades suited her personality and she felt motivated to embed it in her costume. As a last resort, she could use it. But first, she would need to locate the material to make this weapon that would be hers. As she jumped from roof top to roof top, she surveyed the streets to find a metal shop. The rest of the work could be done in the confines of her room. When angered enough, her eyes spewed fire rays.
Several jumps later, she found a tiny hardware store. She used her vision skills to see the produce in the shop. Finally, she located the necessary material to purchase. She flew to a isolated lane to shed her suit and fitted it into a tiny pouch. She marched into the shop and bought pieces of metal, screws and some gum. Just as she was paying for the goods, she noticed an elastic wire rolled up in the corner. She stopped midway as a brain wave hit her. A royal purple lasso for her other hand. She could use it to draw the criminals close to her and even rescue the victims. She grinned as she paid for the wire as well as a jar of purple paint. It must have been the weirdest assortment of material ever purchased in one go; she was content.
She walked back to her apartment and was on lock down till she finished. She applied for leave from the gallery and began working on the new additions to her costume. She formed a ice wrap around her work station before she focussed her efforts towards directing the fire within to melt the metal. Many failed attempts later, she built two sharp blades. She pulled out her suit to modify the boots for the blades to get tucked into them. Meanwhile, she let the now purple painted lasso dry. Hours of tedious work behind her, she crashed on her bed for a few moments of shut eye. The few moments spun into few hours and before she realised it was night again. She wore on her modified suit before she soared away. She roamed the streets routinely looking for trouble makers to silence. She spotted a boy, oblivious to his surroundings, wandering the streets. She flew down to him and asked him where he lived. Frightened by her appearance, he ran away screaming. She hesitated to go after him and watched him from afar. She knew he needed help so she approached him again and this time she used her lasso to pull him towards her. The boy blinked at her before confessing that he ran away from home; he was tired of watching his drunk parents break bottles around the house. Eve picked him up in her arms and flew to the nearest children’s home. She couldn’t imagine escorting him back to that unsafe space. The home would take it forward she thought. She dropped him off at the centre, rang the bell and whispered, “If you are afraid, just mutter Eve thrice firmly. I will come to you.” The boy waved as he watched her take flight.
She sat down amidst her thoughts and stared at the city lights. This city had become her life. Dedicating her life to saving it was magnanimous but she couldn’t remember exactly why she had done so. She needed to find a way to do more, even as she spent less time on the job. Her moist eyes continued to gaze over the people of the city as she accepted that even heroines can sometimes falter.
As she continued to be seated with her guard lowered, she heard a rustle approaching her. She raised her hands, ready for a fight. To her surprise, it was a blue tiny bird that halted in mid-air in front of her. Just as she was about to relax, she sensed thought waves emanating from the bird. Her hands in position, she remarked, “Show yourself.” The bird rose into the air and came crashing down with high speed. With a pop, a woman in orange boots, blue suit and flaming red hair stood before her. She transferred her weapon, a three pin blade, from one hand to another before offering her hand. Eve shook it in bewilderment. “Throttle,” she said, “is my name.” Eve was speechless. She could sense energy vibes from other bodies and Throttle’s vibe made her cautious.
“I have been watching you stealthily for a while. Our rhythms are very different. I, like my name, am violent. I finish the business I start, usually. We won’t get along well but I have seen you struggle. I just had a suggestion to make. Get yourself a weapon. You will need it,” Throttle said.
Eve fixated her vision on Throttle as her mind analysed her environment over the past few weeks to match the current vibes. She was able to detect a few overlaps. She cringed that it escaped her scrutiny. The vibes were distinct, potent and paralysing. Throttle smirked at the unease her presence was causing. Eve finally spoke. “Thank you for the intervention. Perhaps I have been sending out helpless message into the universe.” “Yes, you are. Frankly, I find it pathetic,” Throttle responded.
She stuck out her hand again, shook Eve’s and sped up into the sky. With a similar pop, she morphed into a bird and retreated into her universe. Confounded by her emotions, Eve began her flight back home. On route, she received visions of a man being threatened. The attacker had a gun and the victim was blubbering helplessly. She was less than 2 minutes away. She couldn’t let the man die. Not on her watch. She raced to the spot and released her magnetic ropes from the palm of her left hand. The ropes bound themselves around the leg of the attacker. A shot fired. The bullet grazed her thigh as it sped past her. She released more rope that tied him up like a mummy. With a swish of her hand, the knots were tight on the rope. She ordered the man to call the police. She didn’t wait for the police to show. She took to the air and made her way back to her room. She had a wound to nurse. She took off her suit and cleaned it up. Her metal body couldn’t feel much pain. But the wound impeded her movement.
By then, her mind was burdened with voices from the street. She needed to find a sword. Her fighting would have to be turned up a notch. Before she injured herself anymore.