Just outside my window, bathed in the magical flush of a very European sort of [it’s always European-bordering-on-English-fantasy, isn’t it? Enid Blyton was an imagination-grabbing fascist, I’ve decided] eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-spring-but-with-autumnal-trees, a gay bunch of butterflies floated about dreamily. For some reason they were all disguised as something else. Bits of flaking window sill, shavings of bark and leaves mostly, of every colour.
A filmmaker friend was droning on about his sabotaged project at my elbow, as I leaned out of the window taking in the sight and light, feeling very blithe and ethereal like a dreamy princess. For the first time since I’ve known him, I turned to him to say “look I’m not interested in listening to you. I’ve had enough of your whine. Let’s hear the story you want to tell”.
Instantly, we were plunged into a very edgy thriller. There were five of us. Two young women and three men, two of whom were young and handsome and the third, a middle-aged loner. Everybody was shadowy [except, of course, for me] and we were running, trying to escape… from something.
Like with most high-intrigue-spy-vs-spy dramas that are set against larger murky political webs of deceit wherein the plot is singularly unrelenting, I was a bit muddled. Somebody very desperate and very very dangerous was chasing us, presumably to bump us off; is all I was capable of assimilating in this wrought-with-tension situation. Of course I could’ve argued that I had absolutely no clue of what I was being hunted down for; I had missed the plot entirely and there was really no need to get aggressive and adamant about killing me, because I was quite innocent and deplorably stupid even, if you’d [nebulously they’d] insist. But, when you’re running for your life, you don’t really think of motives, arguments and counter-arguments. You just bloody run. And so we did.
At some point we arrived at a deserted beach house. By this time, there were only two of us [obviously handsome young man no. 1 and I]. We’d got separated from the rest of the group for some inexplicable reason. Now, put deserted house, beach, handsome young man [even if shadowy] and young woman [blithe, ethereal and princess-like] together, and what do you get? Not an ordinary romance. A kind that’s absolutely pulsating with drama and passion because you don’t know if you’re just about to shove your tongue down the killer’s throat. But just as we were getting to the good part, we sensed lurking danger [which is always very ominous, especially when in italics].
The killer was on the prowl and had followed us; by which time we had also deduced that the killer had to be one of us five, but now obviously not shadowy lover and I. [Logic can be so simple and beautiful, na?] So off we went, with a non-kiss hanging in the air, galloping towards the sea, which isn’t the smartest thing to do while attempting to outrun a killer, because there’s only so far you can go on a pair of wobbly-with-unrequited-passion legs on a limited strip of beach.
Many twists and turns later, once again, we found ourselves running towards the sea.
*Digression begins* An unconscious [as differentiated from 'subconscious'] leitmotif is the unmistakable sign of good story-telling [however headless], I’m told. *Digression ends*
This time we were on a tar road, headed towards a docked luxury cruise-liner where we were supposed to meet with the others. There was very little time. We kept running. Or trying to; our legs had become leaden and very heavy; it felt like we were running through molasses. The killer was fast closing in on us. An overbearing sense of doom was settling.
Just as I was ready to give up and start crying, a bunch of cheerful street children appeared and whispered something in our ears; which cheered us up immensely because the next thing I know is we grew arms like baboons and aided our run to the ship with powerful forward thrusts on all fours.
The feeling was euphoric! It’s like flying on your own wings – a revelation of power that you wonder why you haven’t explored before in your waking life, because it’s so extraordinarily simple to grow baboon arms.
One swing. We were on board.
And then, we discovered who the real killer was.
“So that’s the story, huh?” I tried to sound unshaken, bored even, as a bird twittered cheerfully on a nearby tree.
“And what was that unexplored bit between the young woman and the handsome young man? I mean what happens to them afterwards? Did they, didn’t they?” But I didn’t ask him. I didn’t feel like letting him know that I thought his story had a glimmer of a chance, even if not as a thriller.
But then seeing him all withered up in a corner, the unrestrainable churning kindness in my bosom flowed over. I took his arm in mine and dragged him along for a walk, by the seaside.
Damn. This was beginning to get spooky. Not without some sense of foreboding, I stepped out on a narrow path that led to the sea, which turned out to be a riverbed that was heavily silted over. I picked my way through slimy stones. By now, my friend had disappeared. Inexplicably, as usual.
After walking for a bit, propelled by fear and that thing that drives all scantily clad sexy starlets on 70mm into exploring things-that-one-would-shudder-to-explore-in-a-group-on-a-sunny-bright-morning in the dead of the night, all alone with a flickering torch that’s about to die, I arrived at an abandoned old temple surrounded by more slimy silt covered rocks. The floor was dusty, like it hadn’t been swept in centuries.
As I walked down the main corridor, I experienced [to say ‘heard’ wouldn’t be entirely accurate] the faint thrum of some sort of chant. Following it, I reached a room at the far end, where two men in white dhotis [a single piece of cloth that’s wrapped deftly around legs and crotch to form a tentative pair of roomy, airy breeches] were praying to an ancient image of Her.
I stood there gaping [perhaps even stupidly], as they turned to look up at me with wild eyes that seemed to say that they’d been expecting me. That’s when I noticed, through their unkempt beards, two sets of glistening fangs.
He didn’t smile, the younger of the two, though it seemed like he had.
At that moment, a familiar feeling flooded my head. I felt like I had come home.