Imagine you are in your bed, tucking your blanket over your chest and shut your eyes for a bit. Then you have that eerie feeling that something was hanging up on the ceiling like a crawling creative was about to lunge at you in the dark. So you sit up straight to turn the light on from the wall switch. You look around the room and rubbed your eyes to get that itchy away. It was not so scary anymore.
You see that that was when your brain plays trick on you. You thought that you were about to be attacked by a bloodthirsty spider from the ceiling but it was just a segment of your imagination.
But what if I tell you that your imagination isn’t fake. The thing that you thought you were seeing in the first place was in fact real. It’s just you don’t agree to what your subconscious was trying to inform you. You were too afraid to get rid of it. You know it’s not real. But you still want to think it wasn’t real.
As a horror writer, I constantly receive hate messages from my realistic brain that things that scare you isn’t something that can earn you income in the future. My right brain, the smart one of the two brain sides, is constantly reminding me to stay away from creative writing. It’s not sustainable and it’s not going to help me earn a living someday.
But I believe it’s not something you can let go. When you have something scary to tell your readers, it’s that desire to scare the shit of them give you the thrills and satisfactions.
After all, as you are reading this piece, do you suddenly feel an itchiness from your watery eyes? Do you feel like you want to rub your eyes? Please do. Because once you rubbed your sleepy away, you will see me standing right beside your bed tonight as the red blob from the cut my dead friend gave oozed out from my forehead. I will make you watch how the red blood glistened in my bleeding mouth as my tongue sticks out to reach for your kiss.
They said that if you heard someone screaming from a distance, it means that there is ‘this unseen creature’ standing near you. The voice will sound like a lady seeking for help or a child playing around the playground or an old man at the retirement home missing his children. But that’s just stories. It can’t be a ghost. I don’t believe in ghost. It’s stupid to believe one.
It was just last night that he heard something strange in his bedroom. The strange creak noise on his bed. The noise that stopped when he turned to look. The strange eerie sound of someone jumping on a bed in the middle of the night. The noise that gave goosebumps. The rusty sound of a spring bed in a haunted house.
“It’s really strange Lik,” said Zak, sipping the glass of cold ice lemon tea. The chilling sensation washed the tension of work down his throat. His friend, Malik Hussin looked at him with worry.
“It’s been a few months after that incident man. You’ve been acting strange. You remember the things we did right?” said Malik.
Zak looked at his work colleague. He wanted to tell him about the crumbs on his chin, but decided otherwise.
“Yeah I remember that incident. Yeah…I do,” he said.
Silent sat between them until a waitress came with Zak’s Lemon Chicken Rice.
It was lunch time. It was like an ordinary time. Sitting on a wheelchair infront of the desk all day, nothing but work. Zak didnt have a social life. He did before. When he was unemployed. He had time going out with his friends, although some of them already have jobs at the time. During that unemployed years, he was positive that he would find jobs later. Now he’s working, he didnt feel the same way like he used too. It seemed too good to be true.
Life in the office was somewhat different to what he initially thought. He occasionally had time to himself. The hours he spent was not fun. He hardly had fun. He did not know how to spend his money. He wanted to go out for vacations, but with no family members left to spend with, it was impossible to live. He wanted to be a true man like having girlfriends or trusted friends, but again it did not make any sense. Let alone to find girls to accompany him, it was nothing but a dream. He wanted to pursue life other than work. And again, he always thought that no one wanted to be with him who was just a computer engineering spending two-third of his life in either his room or in the office.
He was almost finish with his programming called the Implementation of the Portal Management Procedure when his boss, Mr Tan interrupted his thoughts.
“You are fired,” said Mr Tan.
Zak looked up to his boss who stood in front of him, with a USB drive in his right hand. Mr Tan dropped the UBS drive on his desk and spoke at him with harsh words. However, the words did not enter Zak’s mind. His focus was on the USB drive.
“I already checked inside the USB. I have no idea what you are someone who would do such as thing. I thought your dad was a trusted man,” said Mr Tan.
Zak sat upright to his seat, nothing to say in his mind. He wanted to say something. But it was no point. The secret of him being a fraud was already known. There’s no turning back.
“Pack your things. I don’t want to see you anymore,” said Mr Tan.
The news of him being fired spread. Ibrahim heard about it. He saw him sitting by himself in the cubicle behind a large see-through window. The sadness of his friend could be felt by the orange skies behind him. The silhouette of his friend made a hole in the building of his dismissal.
“I heard Mr Tan knew about it,” said Ibrahim.
Zak’s eyes were on his laptop, but his minds were somewhere else.
“I think the things we did in the past would haunt us in the future. What’s next?”
Zak leaned back and took a deep breath. He sighed it loudly and buried his face in his palms.
Come to me where I awaits. Just come. I am waiting for you Zak. Come the night where the moonlights shine and the water flows beneath. Come, I will be your company. I want to see you. I miss you. I want to be with you.
I know it. I can feel it. Even when my eyes focus on the screen, I can feel that someone is standing behind me. But when I turn my head, I see my own reflection in the cabinet mirror. The me inside the mirror stares back at me. I know the one inside the mirror is me. Somehow, I also feel strange about it. I don’t look right in the mirror. It looks a bit too ‘happy’.
Zak Hamed works for the Microsoft Brunei Sdn Bh. It’s been a year now. Yesterday was his one year anniversary. He celebrated the joyous moment with his work colleague at the nearest restaurant eating fried food and sugary drinks.
But just like any other day, the day has to turn the page from evening to morning.
He is not a morning person. He dislikes waking up early before 6am. The history behind it was dated back to when he was unemployed for three years after graduating from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam in 2033. His Technology and Computing Degree certificate that he obtained costed him 5 years in student loan with the Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD).
His mother, when she was alive, used to remind him to take care of his two younger brothers.
However, the death in the family caused him dearly.
When we are no longer here, make sure you and your siblings take care of each other.
The clock turns 4pm. He looks at how the time goes by. Head Manager Chris Tan told him to upgrade the security network coding requested by the Ministry of Communication. The programming stage has to be completed by next week. The project was handed to him three months ago. Although he has completed the third and fourth stage of processing the Cyber and Web Security Network, he procrastinated the last stage of Implementing Portal Management Procedure. He works closely with his work colleague Ibrahim Akim.
They complained on the work hours and the pay. They said that their salary did not cover the working hours they had to sacrifice. But they could not do anything. They have to work and work endlessly, doomed in the world of employment.
Frustrated over deadlines, he has to work long hours in his bedroom at the Flat Permaisuri located 30 kilometers away from the capital, overlooking the Sg Kebun Bridge in the capital.
His family business comprised five oversea hotels, 10 local eateries and 12 apartments across the Sultanate made him and his three siblings a fortune. However, his uncle took all the wealth in a single case proceeding which caught international uproar when he was 15-year-old. Now he is 35-year-old, the memory still resides in him.
This was apparent when his three brothers died in a tragic train wreck happened three years ago.
Family Death of Mukim Mentiri left eldest on top of a hill – The Headline in the front page of The Brunei Times dated March 5 2013. The news brought to a standstill when police investigation running low.
It is a mystery to the general public. But it was a tragedy to Zak. His past made him to become a computer engineering because that’s what his brother wants. To be able to create a video games. Playstation 4 had just came out in 2013. But his 10-year-old brother left him along with the rest of the family.
20 years passed in a glimpse of an eye.
Now he is sitting at his desk working on this programming.
The moonlight shines through the curtain. The dark night whispers wind against the window. The sound of the soothing water by the river can be heard from the land. Wild dogs howling from somewhere down the lane. The music of nature has always been the reason for him to be able to focus on work.
Until he heard a squeaking noise behind him.
He turned. He swore that the the squeaking noise came from the bed.
The room was dark. She pushed the blanket aside and jumped out the bed.
Stretching her arms to scratch her back, she yawned towards the chilly wind of the night.
Few minutes to Christmas, she thought, looking at her digital clock on the bedside table.
A brown envelope sat beside the digital clock.
The sound of a stray dog barking somewhere in the street woke her up. She slept early at 7 in the evening because of the work yesterday. She had to stay in the office to finish up her presentation tomorrow.
She stood on the soft carpeted floor and lit a cigarette.
She pushed the sliding window and let the breeze inside and blew the smoke out.
Her mother always reminded her not to do that. Her mother used to remind her when she was a kid. Now she is a successful film director at one of the prestigious Publishing Company in the country. A busy woman at work, she seldom visited her mother, who is now at the age 76 at Great River Village in another country.
Living with three brothers, she had to cope life with penises. She never had a penis and always wondered how it felt like to have one when she was at the age of 10.
At 31, unmarried, she consummated with a number of men in the past few years. Single, sexy and financially stable, she did not wish to live like her mother who having to depend the salaries of $3,000 a month from a civil servant husband.
Now her mother lives alone in a small house, far away from a city with a maid, paid by her. She only visited her once or twice a year, in the past 5 years. Since she became a famous film director who had produced three feature movies in Asia, she seldom had time to mingle with her other siblings and her mother.
Her father passed away when she was 20. She always blamed his death as a way to escape responsibility to take care of his children.
The phone vibrated. It vibrated, moved and slide off the bedside table and dropped down the carpeted floor.
She looked at her bed. A young man in his 22 laid under the blanket. She could see his shoulder, hard with muscle and a wide back like cobra. Thinking about going back into the bed made her shudder with excitement. This was her fifth young man in a month.
The phone vibrated on the carpeted floor. She looked at it. The caller was Izzam.
That was strange because Izzam was laying on the bed sleeping, she thought.
She pulled the blanket towards her, but it was heavy. It was as if her young boyfriend was made of stone.
Izzam wake up, she said. There was no response.
She pulled again. This time the blanket showed the bare skin of his back.
Slowly the bare skin of the man’s back grew wings crawling out of his spine. The wings came out like skeleton prying out the grave that sounded like two bones stretching one another.
At first she did not notice the bones crawling out like worms coming out of corpses. But when the man stared at her, the moonlight showed a man’s face with ripped mouth that looked like it was being stretched by pliers and eyes popping out of the sockets, with dark red blood oozing out of every holes on the face; eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
She screamed and clasped her hands to her mouth.
The man stared at her and said help.
Help me….Help me…
She closed her eyes and called out for help.
She tripped back and fell down the floor.
The man on the bed now moved towards her. He seemed in pain by the looks of his struggling effort to grab her.
Help me….Help me…
The flashing digital clock showed midnight. It lit flashing lights across the ceiling and showed the ugliness of the man’s face.
You are not Izzam, she yelled.
The zombie boyfriend found her and lurched towards her. She jumped aside. The man hit the lamp and the brown envelope.
The brown envelope dropped on the floor and exploded.
A blaring light came out of the brown envelope that sent the lunatic boyfriend away.
She now sat on the carpeted floor in a dimly lit room alone. The man was no where to be seen.
Slowly, she opened her eyes and sat quietly in the room.
She was shivering and scared. She did not know what to do.
She climbed herself up and stood. She heard a snore of a man on the bed. It must be her boyfriend.
Was it a dream, she thought.
The dream reminded her of the recent box office film that she directed.
Then she remembered the brown envelope on the bedside table. She approached it with caution and opened it.
This is mom. I have always wondered where is my only daughter right now. Your brother tells me that you are now one of the best film director in Brunei. That is just wonderful dear. I am so proud of you. However, I haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been up to?
I really really miss you Lin. I really really want to meet you. When are you coming back to meet your mom? I don’t need your gift. I need you Lin. I miss you so much.
The letter was dated 2011. It was sent six years ago.
Another letter dated few months ago was written in bold.
The letter was sent by one of her brother.
Tears slipped down her cheek when she read mom has passed away written somewhere in the fourth paragraph of the letter.
The man on the bed moved. She looked at him. It was the same face as before, but now with red eyes staring at her.