0

Dear Love,

I’ve always wanted to tell you this, but I never have been able to find the right words to say so.

Everyday I’d wait for you to wake up at dawn, and watch in awe as the first rays of sunlight illuminate your beautiful face. On some mornings, I’d sing along with the songbirds, hoping desperately that one day, you’d hear my voice. Even though you never spoke a word to me, I’d listen intently as you whisper silent hymns across the valleys, and I’d smile every second I hear your voice.

On some tired evenings, when you feel dark and gloomy, I’d always hold you close to my heart, hoping that perhaps soon the clouds would part and you’d show that beautiful glow once again. I’d let myself drown in your tears, just to let you know: I’ll always be here. All I’d need to brighten up my day is the thought of you smiling, and from the rustle of leaves and gentle yet steady breath of the ocean, I’d know you are contented.

Whenever I dig myself into despair, I know you’d always be there to pull me back up, no matter the weather. You’d keep me warm when I am shivering, yet still let the gentle breeze waft across my aging skin. I remember every single second I’d spend with you, from our darkest days to the brightest, all whispers from years long past.

Every night I’d watch our star dip below the horizon, and leaving you in the dark. Even then, you’d still be beautiful, as a million galaxies illuminate your eyes. I’d lean my body on yours as you drift off into the blanket of the night, hoping to be engulfed by nothing but sweet dreams. Not even the chilliest of frigid winds could keep us apart, because I know in the end, you’d keep me warm.

You are part of me, as much as I am a part of you. I’d never be able to know if you’ve ever heard my voice or requite my love, but all that you have is enough.

I love you, my home, my world.

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2

Lightyears

*BLEEP* *BLEEP* *BLEEP*

The blast of sound jolted me from my slumber. I groaned as I covered my face with a pillow; arm outstretched and searching for the switch. Failing to do so, I grabbed the alarm and proceeded to throw it out of the room. With a smash it bleeped its last bleep, before I heard the others storming downstairs calling out my name. This is why I hate Mondays.

It was dawn. Our Sun rose up lazily from beyond the hills, painting the sky a familiar pale blue. I longed to see a sunrise ever since I left. The place was cold due to the morning atmosphere, and I shivered as I got dressed for work.

We set off early that morning, to the south this time. The wheels rumbled down the rocky roads and muddy paths leading toward the beach. A pang of nostalgia hit me the moment I saw the clouds above the sea. I thought I could hear the squawk of seagulls, but I dismissed that thought; we had to get to work.

The day went by as usual, in a blur of sameness. Our Sun made its way across the sky, eventually reaching the Eastern horizon. As night drew closer and civil twilight delved into nautical twilight, I returned home. My family greeted me with smiles and hugs, and the kids clambered upon me, asking me about my day. We chattered about and ate dinner for the next few hours.

Rachel asked me to bring her outside tonight. I initially told her I was busy (this was half true, I indeed had a lot of things to do, though none were really urgent.), but after she pleaded for the next 10 minutes, I heavily obliged. Maybe I could use a break tonight, I thought. Just as Rachel packed up her colouring book and camera, her siblings crashed down the stairs, asking to follow. I sighed.

We headed towards the beach. Rachel kept staring out the window, snapping pictures with her camera. Leo and Adam kept quarrelling in the back, and Lyra was fast asleep. Soon enough, they were all quietly dozing off. When we reached the pier, I woke them up and brought them to the little boat tied to the docks.

We sailed out to sea, though never straying too far from the bay. Rachel was enthralled by the stars, and Lyra too had a big smile on her face, though as usual she never said anything. Oh, when that little girl grows up, she’ll have a lot of things to say. I was stunned to see that Leo and Adam were observing the sky intently, instead of finding ways to push each other off the boat. We sailed towards the little island, affectionately named after Lyra. She always loved going there, we could tell by her warm smile and giggles every time we went there.

We trudged silently up the rocks towards the observatory. One by one, I led them up the ladder to the telescope. They all ran towards the telescope, each wanting to be the first to see the stars. After loads of pushing and squabbling, I decided to let Rachel go first. While observing the stars, she smiled sweetly and asked me a question.

“Dad, which one’s Earth?”

Once again, that pang of  homesickness hit me. “There, see the third brightest star? Out in the edge of the Milky Way, yep, there. That’s what I used to call home.”

Home. How I longed to be there again, though I knew I could never return. I knew that it’s been thousands of years since we left, and it would take thousands to go back.

For now, home would always be here.

0

Frigid

It was cold. Oh icy hell, it was cold. The wind bit at my face, howling angrily across the Arctic. Ice crystals bombarded me as the storm blew on. I trudged on aimlessly as my feet sank into the snow, as if being grasped by an enormously powerful wintery creature.

I was sure that I would soon be dead. I nearly cried when I thought about my life up to this moment. They say being dumped during a date is the worst thing in life. Wrong. What’s worse is being dumped in the frozen arctic with only a compass, thermometer and torchlight to stay alive. I searched around for shelter from the blizzard. The soft snow began to feel hard, encasing my feet in a layer of crystals, making my every step feel painfully heavy.  Even though I was covered in layers of coats and jackets, I felt exposed to the howling wind.

A sudden blast of snow blew me over & I rolled backwards a few metres. The wind picked up & the temperature dropped. The compass & thermometer attached to my gloves were the only indicator of the surroundings although he mercury in the thermometer had frozen solid. Somehow, I instinctively followed the compasses needle that led to the North. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I wailed & bawled, my tears instantly solidifying upon contact to the arctic air. Why? Why did this happen to me?!, I screamed, using up all the breath left in my weakened body. My cries transformed into hollow laughter. I suddenly felt ridiculously happy, as if all my cares melted away into the summer sky. All the thoughts crammed up my dying mind -stemming from her, no less- shattered into a billion icicles. My mantra of madness was lost in the wind, never to be heard by any soul. Perhaps the cold had taken its toll on my brain. Perhaps this was the end.

A glimmer of hope came in the form of an icy blast which uncovered a small cave about 20 metres away from me. So close, yet so far. I struggled to reach it. I collapsed on my knees & all my breath was knocked out. Too exhausted to stand up, I was forced to crawl to the shelter. I won’t make it. I couldn’t move anymore. My limp body flopped onto the ice as snow began to pile up on top of it, pushing me down even harder. 5 metres in front of me was the small cave. Although it was barely enough for a polar bear, anything felt like a haven to me now. I’m going to die. The sound of the wind became mute & all sensation of coldness left my numb skin. Through the sheets of ice & snow, I saw my life projected like a slideshow onto the sky. Every frame of it flickered in front of me. I remembered my first flight. Without knowing, I had forced my self forward a bit. An echo from an old film.“You never can tell when you might need a friend.”

I reached the cave. The little warmth from inside managed to get me back up on my feet. I cried, unsure whether out of joy of being alive, or sadness of my imminent death.

The entire place collapsed. Torrents of snow and ice fell in an avalanche of white. I fell unconscious when a block of ice hit me.

0

Saltwater Room

Based on ‘The Saltwater Room” by Owl City.


He opened his eyes. It’s been far too long since he had a good night’s sleep. Looking at the clock, he realized it was midnight. He sighed as he walked towards the window. A burst of cold night air rushed in as he opened it to look outside. It was pitch-black, besides the single streetlight that illuminated the road in front of the house. The stars danced across the sky, singing a lullaby to the planets below. He took no heed of the sight before him, as he was far too tired to care.

Nothing worked. He just couldn’t sleep. The monotony of the world around kept him awake and, in the end, forced him silently downstairs and out the door. There were two paths to take; the first followed the streetlights and led to the heart of the city, the other followed cold iron rails that carve their way through the countryside and eventually meet the ocean. He took the second one.

The fresh night air that blew gently across the hills grew stronger and stronger as he neared the bay. The only sound that could be heard was the soft rolling of the waves, sometimes accompanied by the hoot of an owl nestled in the trees. While walking, he took in all the details of the world around him; the clear sky, an albatross on the docks and moored boats, the running lights of an airship moving across the sky, the old lighthouse that jutted up from the rocks, and the starlight that spilled all over everything.

Finally reaching the bay, he sat down and thought about everything, about the air traffic, about the sea, about love and life. The music started playing in his head and soon filled the port with a blissful ambience. He didn’t notice time passing by at all.

A sigh was heard, but it wasn’t his. He quickly stood up, noticing the girl standing beside him. “H-h-hi?” he managed to squeak. The girl just smiled and continued walking down by the bay. The poor guy was in a state of utter panic; not knowing what to do, he decided to follow her. Immediately regretting this decision, all his words started pouring out.

“Umm, so, why are you here?”. She simply answered, “Staring up at the stars that aren’t there anymore.” They looked up, and noticed that indeed, the stars were fading away as the first few drops of sunlight hit them. Is it morning already?, he thought. They resumed walking until our star was above the horizon, then she began to leave. He opened his mouth to ask her something, but no words came out. They both silently went their separate ways.

He hadn’t even asked her name yet.

The next night was the same, a trip to the bay, secretly hoping she would be there. True enough, she was. They didn’t talk this time, but it felt as if they could read each other’s minds. He heard her asking the same question he had. Soon after that, the Sun rose, and they parted.

The following weeks were his happiest, knowing that he now had a friend. Every night they would meet, stroll down the bay and start talking. As time passed, they talked more and more; commenting about the beach, about life and introversion. The lingering question in both of their heads begged to be asked, but neither had the courage.

The Sun rose once again. Just before they parted ways, she opened her mouth to ask the question they had always thought about. Before she could begin, he answered it with a smile.

“Oh, all the time.”

0

Leather Apron

London. 1888.

The town of London was known as a utopia for many across the world. The centre of a growing empire. Tales of golden pavements and roads were commonplace. In truth, the cobbled pavements and roads were no golder than a blacksmith’s gloves. Many of these roads led to dark alleys and streets which were lined with pubs and bars filled with shady characters. One of these streets was a host to one of the most notorious killers to ever live.

It was about 5 am. A man was standing in the dark just behind backyard.

He was tired and angry. He was poor. Barely enough money to feed him for a month or so. Insomnia ravaged his mind and depression tore at his heart. For the past month, he’d been demanding money from the many prostitutes that infested the streets. He had eeked out a living by threatening and abusing the pub owners to give him their well-earned money. But that still wasn’t enough. He needed more. An urge drove him to do it.

So he did the deed. The man was educated enough in surgery. He was handy with a knife. It was simple really, slicing the woman’s stomach open and dismembering her innards.

His victim lay in front of him in a pool of her own blood. Annie Chapman used to be her name. The killer wasn’t sorry at all. She knew the terms and conditions of their agreement so she should have saw this coming. But no, she had to scream and flail while I carried out my part of it. Can’t people just die in silence?, thought he.

This was his second victim so far. Why did he do it? He didn’t know. What he did know was that he liked it. He enjoyed watching people scream and collapse as their vital organs spilled out to decorate the pavements. He also knew that he needn’t worry anymore about money. Money could only buy a person bread or a place to stay. He knew it well enough that just food and wealth wouldn’t quench his thirst for he craved something else: Life. Or rather, the removal of it. The only thing that could fuel him was a taste for blood.

That day, this man finally realised what kept him alive. That day, his heart stopped pumping blood and instead burned with fire. His blood-stained hands grew cold and his eyes lost all emotion. That day, an icicle froze through his lungs and mind, puncturing all empathy he ever had. A crooked smile colder than the Arctic filled his pale face.

He thought of new strategies. He could frame it on someone else. He could terrorise the streets of London and tear its citizens apart. He would be known as a Ripper.

The killer lay down his signature clothing beside his second victim. He would change today.

He was leather apron no more.

0

Ornithopter

I put down the manual and looked around the room for a while before my gaze settled on the mess of parts in the center of dad’s workshop. It was almost done. All I had to do was to mount the engine, attach the wings and bolt the harness on. I felt proud with myself for being able to build this in 3 days with only PVC pipes, canvas, metal rods, an old engine, gears, and parts from a wheelbarrow- all without dad knowing, too! I almost tripped over a PVC pipe as I jumped about in joy. Back to work.

The last bolt. Being the clumsy oaf I was, I dropped the wrench on my foot. I nearly swore as the pain shot up my ankle. Oh well, no pain no gain, as they say. Soon, the craft was done. I stood up and looked proudly at my handiwork. It was a beautiful thing; it had 2 sleek canvas wings attached to a simple motor that hung above the harness, PVC pipes connecting the tail rudders to the cockpit and 3 wheels beneath the cockpit to support the rider while he was on land. It had the basic design of Da Vinci’s personal ornithopter but the system was of modern 2 pilot flyers. A hybrid, one might say.

I hauled my masterpiece out of dad’s workshop and started my way up the hill. I had asked a few of my friends (Oswald, Emeret, Hal, Leo and Daniel) to meet up there to see the ornithopter in action. When I finally got there, I strapped myself to my ornithopter and put on a helmet and protective gear. Oh, and don’t forget a parachute. The view was stupendous; you could see the entire island from here. I shivered with anticipation.

Ready for take-off. My friends looked on eagerly, excited to see my first flight.

For once, I actually felt slightly nervous. What was the price to pay for flight? I could possibly get hurt, dad would scold me, mum would go hysterical, Miss Anne would be disappointed at her favourite student and that grumpy old Mister Albert will go on & on about how the youth these days aren’t supervised enough. But it’s worth the risk. I’ve always dreamed of flying ever since I saw a gigantic luxury liner airship- The Eclipse (so named because it completely blocked out the sun when it passes overhead) -dock at our island for supplies. Lighter-than-air travel was the norm nowadays since they’re quiet, efficient and luxurious. Despite the success of airships, a few heavier-than-air flyers (ornithopters, gliders) managed to sneak into the air industry as they were tiny and agile, useful for sport and security (unfortunately, pirates generally used ornithopters for plundering). Daniel called my name, snapping me out of my thoughts. It’s time.

Alright. I emptied my head of thoughts. All I needed now was to remember how this thing worked and how to fly it. I said Ok to my friends and they pushed me down the hill. I felt a sudden jolt and the wind blew past my ears.

The wheels cluttered and clunked as they carried me and my craft down the hill. I zoomed down faster and faster, almost enough to get airborne. I turned on the engines so the wings would start flapping. The wheels rattled against the rough ground. Adrenaline pulsed through my body. After a few wing strokes, I felt the wheels slowly easing off the ground. Soon, I was flying. Nose up. Bank left. Increase speed of wing flaps. I was airborne. I left the ground behind and headed for the open sky; I gained enough altitude to start gliding. Cut engines. Switch to manual flight. I tugged on the two handles hanging above me that controlled the wings. My feet controlled the rudders and ailerons. I was on my own now, gracefully soaring above the island, tail and wing under my control.

Looking down, I saw everything. Tiny people scuttling around the roads, houses and forests, sailboats leaving the port. I could imagine soaring ever higher. These continents from overhead look like tiny paper shapes, intricately set in place. I could see an airship in the distance, lazily drifting through the atmosphere towards the island. Wind whipped past me as I glided along with the clouds in the bright blue sky. For once, I truly felt alive. I was living my dream. I didn’t care anymore if I would get in trouble or if anyone would think less of me. It was sure worth it. Nothing could go wrong now, I thought.

Don’t jinx it! Too late, I’m afraid. I was too distracted to notice the flock of seagulls that were straight ahead of my ornithopter. We swiftly collided, one of them clipping the tail and rudder. Immediately, the craft banked to the right before plunging down to the ground. Without hesitation, I switched on the engines to gain lift. The wings flapped furiously, trying to achieve flight; hopefully before we smacked into the earth. Losing altitude. I looked behind to see the problem. The rudder was jammed. I braved myself to unstrap the harness and climb to the tail. With a tug the rudder unfurled and the ornithopter suddenly jolted upwards. I held on tightly, lying on my stomach with my feet faced to the front of the ornithopter.

I had 2 options: climb to the front and slowly strap myself to the craft or control the tail from here. No time to choose. The ornithopter flew dangerously close to the ground towards the town. With a swift maneuver, I banked the craft to the left. I zoomed past an old man drinking his tea, knocking him over. I really hope it wasn’t Mister Albert. I tried to control the thing and land safely in a clearing or field. It was extremely difficult to fly something backwards with your bare hands in case you hadn’t guessed.

Fortunately, luck was on my side as I wasn’t far from the park. I managed to steer towards it and positioned my ornithopter for landing. Unfortunately, luck decided to ditch me right then and there, for as I was about to land, a gust of wind blew the craft off course. Even more unfortunately, the already tired engine began sputtering and coughing before it gave up, stopping the oh-so-important flapping that gives an ornithopter its lift.

My masterpiece spiralled towards the ground beside a pond. Remembering I had a parachute strapped to my back, I decided to let go of my handiwork in favour of dear life. It might not work this close from the ground, but it was worth a try. I let go, then I was in freefall. The ground rushed towards me as I deployed the parachute. My body jerked up as the parachute opened at roughly 40 meters above the ground. My luck returned as I landed in the pond with a splash. The ornithopter crashed beside me, unfortunately missing the pond. It was reduced to a smoking heap of canvas, metal and PVC. I fared better with only a sprained foot, an extremely aching back and cramped arms.

I heard voices and footsteps coming towards me. I climbed out of the pond and took off the soaking wet parachute. Looking up, I saw a few people running towards me. They consisted of Emeret, Daniel, a police officer, a worried woman who might have seen what had happened and a furious old chap with tea stains on his shirt who -coincidentally- happened to be Mister Albert The Grumpy Old Fart.

They all had to speak at once.

“Woah, that was cool!” said Emeret. “Oh my gosh, are you okay?” said the lady.

Mister Albert then spontaneously erupted into a rage. “Why you little rascal! I will call your parents at once for your disgusting behaviour! Don’t you know this shirt-” he pulled it furiously “-is a gift from Paris?! It’s practically priceless! And just what do you think you are doing; flying about dangerously in a crudely made aircraft?! They’re only for trained professionals, do you understand?! Oooh, back in my day, kids like you would be WHIPPED! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!?!?!”

We all exchanged glances, too distracted by the red faced screaming old man to remember why we were even here in the first place. He continued his endless ranting. “Oh, the state of the youth these days! I tell you, every parent must be EXTREMELY STRICT, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!”

The policeman tried to calm him down. “Sir, please calm down, I’ll talk to the boy myself.” Mister Albert The Red Faced Nuclear Explosion settled down for awhile, although he muttered swear words under his breath.

A man came toward us. He was my dad. “Felix Lee Young! Just what have you been doing in my workshop?” Oooh boy, was I in trouble.
0

Astronaut

Here’s an english version of my previous post because I didn’t feel very satisfied about it. Writing in Bahasa Melayu feels awkward and clunky for me…


I stared out the window. Darkness. Silence. Emptiness. Nothing but the stars to light up the backdrop of the void. All my crew-mates were busy doing experiments or research, it was my free time. I sighed while thinking about how lucky I was to be able to experience life above the sky. Countless generations have always looked up to the stars with wonder, dreaming of what it is like to be there. Well, I’m living that dream.

I looked down at the planet below. It was completely dark, save for a few bright light from large cities that dotted the Eurasian continent. Not long now, the Sun would rise above the Mediterranean. Ah, the day-night cycle, a regular mundane phenomenon for us all but for me, it is the most beautiful thing on the planet. The sun rays that illuminate the valleys and hills, the sky that changes from black to yellow and blue, the light that gives warmth to the chilling landscape, the clouds that cast shadows across the backdrop as they dance along the sky.

I thought for a moment about all the people living down there. Every individual scuttling around their tiny homes that look like toys from this height. Tiny. Everything, it seemed to me, didn’t matter. Every war, fight, love, happiness; it all doesn’t matter. We don’t leave any mark to the universe. That’s what we are, tiny. From my cramped module, I saw no mark. No wars, no violence, no hatred. Just silence. Silence stretching for miles and miles across this living planet. If you think about it, we are unbelievably insignificant to the universe. Each lifetime lasting only a blink in the cosmic eye of the 13 billion year-old universe. We. Make. No. Difference.

And yet we are special. Our home is the only known planet to harbour life (as far as we know at least). We are living, thinking, intelligent lifeforms. We have the chance; the potential to change the world around us because every man, woman and child here has something ingrained into our feeble minds. A natural desire to explore, learn, venture, teach, create, help, discover. We can at least try to leave a beautiful stain on this tiny, pale blue dot.

The space station continued its orbit around Earth. The dazzling Sun that I just saw rise above the Mediterranean began to complete its perpetual journey from east to west as it sank behind the opposite face of the planet.

Silence.