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Monday, May 9, 2011

The daily special

    Groggily I woke up from the deep sleep whose tentacles refused to let go. My arm crept out from under the bed sheet and groped from the alarm. The radio alarm blared out some song as the faceless voice moaned about the changing weather patterns and sudden storm which might hit the town in the night. Missing the snooze button, I stuck my head out and looked at the world through my bleary eyes. Not liking the world view, I hid back under the sheet and hoped that it would get better the next time I stuck my head out. The constant chatter of the radio jockey started to push the bone deep sleep ever so slowly away. The voice droned on and on about everything under the sun and I really seemed to enjoy the monologue which consisted of how awful the weather was, the food joints, who bashed whom last night at the bar and how much the sea side town had changed in the last so many years.

    Getting out of the bed, I wandered around as if in a daze trying to shake the cobweb called sleep from my mind. Nursing my only constant companion these days, I lifted the coffee mug and took a long sip. Looking out the window, I see a vast forest that seems to stretch for miles upon miles. The sheer beauty and utter quietness takes a person to a different world. There are no trappings of modern life here and life moves in its own pace. Sometimes I venture into the wooded path for long treks as it offers me an opportunity to get back in touch with nature, see what secrets it holds and discover something new every day.

    As I sit by the window, drink my heady brew and look out, I see that the forest is dead quiet. Yet the activity in the small trading town some distance away is in full swing and I can hear the dim voices of men in the street. As my gaze drifted to the wide body of water in the bay, I see a ship had pulled in sometime back. Huge wooden barrels, grains and other stuff were being unloaded and some crates being uploaded. It is a huge ship that brings all types of items to this God forsaken island in the middle of nowhere. It seemed like it had dropped anchor at dawn and will probably leave soon on another journey back to the mainland. I guess I will be heading down there sometime late in the afternoon to see what new activity was happening and see what kind of haul I’ll get this time.

    The whistling sound of the tea kettle broke me out of the daze I was in. The steaming hot cup of coffee in front of me was now just lukewarm. Taking a sip, I grimaced and threw it away out of the window. It tasted so lifeless and awful that I decided to get a new cup. Going up to the kitchen, I thought of making something to eat besides having a fresh cup of coffee before I start my day. Looking out the kitchen window as I ate my sandwich and drank a fresh mug of coffee, I could see smoke black dark clouds on the distant. What was once calm and clear sky was starting to cloud up and the wind was picking up just a bit.

    The early morning sun was starting to peek over the forest and through the tree tops. Getting ready, I stated to head out the door and reach the pier before the storm overtook me and made moving around next to impossible on the rocky dirt roads. The torrential storms always turns the firm dirt tracks into muddy pathways where the person sinks in never to be found again.

    A short time later, a pier loomed ahead. The ship which I had seen from my home loomed ahead and I stopped momentarily to marvel at its huge size. Anchors were being pulled in and it was being untied from the dock. The crates and barrels for the outward journey were being tied down and the crew was in a mad rush to leave before the storm hit the island. A whistle and then a holler broke the spell and I hurriedly walked down towards my own ship. The crew was in full force and someone hollered for me to hot foot to the cabin as the ship was pulling anchor and heading out of the bay. The waters were getting choppy and the ship was swaying and heaving even though the crew tightened the ropes and tightened down the goods. A storm was brewing and the harbor offered no safety. Anchors were raised and final calls were made. The sails soon caught the easterlies and became taut. As the ship start to move away, I felt my lungs draw a deep breath of the salty air and I felt alive once more.

    Time passed by and the land we left behind became a distant memory. The ocean stretched from one horizon to the next and there was no land in sight. Looking upwards, I could see nothing but a few stray clouds as they floated past the bright sun which seemed to blind me with its light. The screech of the sea gulls which ebbed and rose seemed never ending, yet seemed to break the deadening monotony. The ship rose and fell as it tried to ride out the storm and the creaking sounds from the hull below my feet made me wonder if it would last this storm.

    Lightning flashed in the distance and one could hear the gentle booming thunder even over the waves which crashed against the hull. The bright sun lit sky slowly turned jet black and the worst storm of the century seemed to be in the making. The rolling and churning clouds made their way from one end of the horizon to the next. Standing there hypnotized, I stared at the shapeless wisps of smoke which descended down towards the ship, whispered strange hypnotic words and melted into nothing once more. I really don’t know how much time passed by, yet when I came back to my senses I noticed that the wind had died down. There was utter silence all around. A sailor in the crow’s nest was hollering while the sailors in the sea water swept decks were barking and cursing in return. It was still pitch black outside and it started to rain heavily. The sudden downpour soaked me to the bone and I started to panic wondering if we will reach a safe harbor before the ship splinters into a thousand pieces.

    Minutes turned into hours and not even a speck of god forsaken rock appeared on the horizon. Looking up, I saw a pale yellow moon appear on the horizon. It seemed to notice a wayward ship plying the sea lanes and started to glare at us through the clouds and the reflection off the water started to grimace and turned blood red whispered some dark thoughts which caused me to hastily retreat into my cabin. A strong salty ocean smell wafted over the ship and the sound of seagulls turned into shrieks. Startled I looked up and the dark forbidding sky gave no clue to what might happen next. Turning around, I made my way to the cabin for a shot of whiskey to still my beating heart which seemed to beat so hard as if it wanted to pop out and seek shelter elsewhere.

    The rain died down as quickly as it had started, yet it seemed like there was another storm was brewing which seemed worse than this one. One could feel the static build up in the bones. Upon entering the room, I flipped the lights on. Total darkness prevailed yet my hand persisted in flipping it back and forth hoping the lights would come on. Down below, I felt the generators kick in and the intercom blared that the hull had been breached and the pumps are on. I felt the ship tilt to one side as it struggled to regain the balance yet failed. I lit the hurricane lantern and shed my wet clothes as quickly as possible and hung them in the corner. The fireplace in the corner seemed to draw me. The fire had died down long ago yet the ambers still smoldered under the ashes. Throwing a hand full of twigs and some straw, I stirred the ambers and kept fanning till the twigs and straw caught fire. Bit by bit, I kept adding the logs till it was a roaring fire and I sat near it to dry out as I wandered around to find a clean dry set of clothes. Feeling a little better, I flipped the intercom on, asked for a status update and the future looked grim.

    The door shook violently and broke me out of the thoughts I was in. I wondered who it was as I walked towards the door and started to turn the handle. The door opened just a bit and I saw wide granite steps led downwards to what seemed like a great distance and I saw a dimly lit pier near some ocean. Reddish glow could be seen emitting from it and a foul stench, barking of hell hounds and shrieks of souls being ripped apart till eternity filled the room. An empty boat was floating by on its own and it stopped at the edge of the pier as if to wait for someone to board or disembark. Torches hanging on tall wooden poles lit themselves casting a blood red glow. The boat shook a bit and I heard heavy boots coming up the steps. The sound of the boot came closer yet I could not see what was approaching. My eyes wandered to the wall and I saw a shadow which wavered back and forth with the flickering light. I must have been imagining and my eyes are playing tricks on me I thought. My eyes wandered back to the steps and all I saw was a pair of flaming eyes intently staring at me before it started to rush at me.

    A large burly man stepped up to the chair I had fallen in, yanked me off and started to drag me out of the room while I was wildly thrashing. Throwing me over his shoulder, I flew down the stairs and landed near the foot of the stairs. A soft hiss and then a slithering sound from deep within the reddish mist brought me back to my senses. The body ached and it felt like every bone was broken and I let out a loud moan as pain shot through my body. Light spilled onto my face from the high intensity torch as one of the foul smelling creatures who stomped impatiently on my chest once more to hiss at me before I felt a sharp kick and the shadows seemed to solidify and move in the shadows just within sight yet could not be seen.

    As I regained my senses, my eyes focused on the heavily bearded man staring at a mirror while combing his beard with a comb. He seemed to sense me in the room and turned his head towards me. I felt hypnotized and drawn by the deep dark well of darkness that lay within his eyes. Squirming backwards, I started looking for an escape till I reached the very edge of the room. The only sound I heard was harsh laughter and a snarl. Not being able to back any further, I started to push myself up with my back towards the wall while grimacing in fear. Like a lion on the hunt, the distance drew smaller and smaller. Something seemed to slither and tighten around me as I lost consciousness.

    The darkness began to clear as I groggily regained my senses and claw back from the nameless horror pits which I had been dragged to. I woke up after what seemed like many eons with every inch of my body screaming with pain and I slowly started to sit up. I was wondering where I was and what happened to the ship. Everything seemed so heavy and I felt like there was a great weight on me. It took some effort to stand up and for some reason everything seemed to move in slow motion. Looking up I saw a round ball of flickering light which seemed like the sun yet it seemed really weird looking and dimmed. Lights flickered above and one could feel the disturbed water currents all around. There was utter stillness around as if all creatures had found some hiding place to seek shelter. A sunken vessel with debris around it drew me as if I was in a trance. There were small school of fishes and at times a lonesome shark swimming in and out of the open port holes As I near the deck, some memory ignites and I realize that this sunken ship looks like my own. The ship which was once proudly sailing the seas was now lying on the bottom of the sea, its sails tattered and torn, its hull breached and the crew dead. As I floated around, the cabin door which had the company emblem gently swings on its in the currents as if inviting me to enter. As I swim past, the dead crew seem to look out wanting an escape which they’ll never get doomed to be trapped in this watery grave till eternity.

    Flapping my arms and legs propelled me higher and higher. It seemed like I was nearing the edge though I couldn’t see well. I grimaced as I ran into some wall which I couldn’t see. Rubbing my head to clear the pain, I inched forward once more. The smooth invisible wall was still there though I felt it with my hands. Running my hands back and forth I saw it extended upwards and all the way downwards as far as I could see. Pressing my face against it, I gasped at the sight I saw. Startled, I started to flay my arm wildly and floated backwards away from the nightmarish image which seemed to leer at me.

    A small water filled globe sat on a table in a room which seemed as ancient as time itself. A large bearded burly man sits on a chair on one side of the table. Getting up, he walks up to the wooden shelves on one side of the room and pulls out an old weather beaten book. The pages are yellow and starting to tatter at the edges due to aging and use. Not finding what he’s looking for, he puts it back, wanders around the room and stops at the window to stare out of the window at the dark stormy sky. He seems to be lost in his own thoughts as he yanks his own beard and curses under his breath every so often. Getting tired, he finally makes his way back to the table and sits down. Looking down at the small water filled globe, a sparkle comes into his eye. Raising his fingers, he knocks on the glass, startling the being inside causing it to flap backwards wildly.

    Looking around the bearded man spots numerous cans. Pushing many aside, he spots one he needs. He takes a pinch of powder and sprinkles some into the aquarium and the hidden being suddenly appear and go into a feeding frenzy. Taking a small strainer, the bearded burly man dips it into the water bowl. After some effort, it comes out leaving a being gasping for breath as the water starts to cascade out. Sound of a matches being struck to the striker was heard. The clang of a frying pan and the sound of oil hissing were heard above the sound of water rushing out of a faucet. A shriek was heard, yet it was cut short as a heavy knife sliced the daily special a number of times on the cutting board. Throwing the freshly cut items on the sizzling hot frying pan, the burly man started to stir it quickly with a large wooden spoon. A satisfied look came over his face and he emptied the contents on a lettuce lined plate and put a few slices of tomatoes, onions and lemon next to it. The dish was shoved out of the window for the waiting customer who was demanding to know why his lunch was late.