The Tunnel (an overhaul on “Gravel”)

Well, now I’d done it; It took a lot of reasoning and perhaps incredible bouts of stupidity, but the consequences of not doing it will have far outweighed the benefits.

As the sun sank towards the horizon, casting long and numerous shadows on the greyness of the concrete floor, the trees above whistled and scraped and the shadows they casted also bristled and shook, almost like the actions of an insane man who felt that he had been wronged by the world. I found myself focusing intensely on the brightness of the light and its golden tinge, desperately restraining myself to look inside the dark yawning mouth of the tunnel, which spanned the hill, having been drilled through the mountain. However, it had been claimed by ruin, by years of misuse and decay, so that it was unsupported and so no longer safe. To prevent members of the community from entering, the council had decided that the sides of the tunnel would be blocked with concrete, so that entrance would be impossible. However, according to various newspaper reports at the time, the council had backed out of its proposal, and the blockage was never finished; and because of an accident in the tunnel, some of the workers had been crushed to death, under the strain of the heavy rocks which fell from the ceiling, their cries of despair and mortality echoing off the stone walls and reverberating out.

Out into the loneliness.

Again, I resisted the urge to look behind me, to be enveloped by the darkness, for it to make me its own; all my nerves were on edge and I felt panicked, nauseated by the pricking feeling on the back of my neck. My legs were exposed to the bitterly cold air from the tunnel’s core (like the breaths of a living being), and I had trouble forming rational thoughts; any thought turned to screams and howls to run, to leave, to abandon the entrance, as the tunnel was now a place of death and abandonment.

A cold whisper of air whirred around my jacket, stirring up a lone leaf that had fallen off a branch, making it spin, slowly at first, then rapidly faster, as it rose into the air, spiralling in the darkening sky; a piece of rope, twisted around a thin branch, swivelled around and around unceasingly, as the wind slowed: twisting and twisting.

Funny, I thought suddenly; the rope did not match the place it was in: it seemed like someone had deliberately draped it around the branch, and tied a thick knot at the end, securing it on the branch, so the end swayed in the wind, as if it was played upon by invisible hands and fingers. A thick, strong rope… a hangman’s noose???

The crack of a nearby (bottle? can?) pierced the air like the sound of a bullet, and I started, as my legs started to shake uncontrollably, unceasingly, along with my hands. The sound of my heart quickened and intensified, until the beating was almost unbearable; it deadened any outside sound, and it almost deafened me, filling my thoughts, making me inhuman: Thump, thump, thump…

“Dissemble no more! Tear up the planks! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

…thump…thump…thump…

This is all a prank, I thought hopefully, as I resisted the urge to scream, to a (deserted?) area where no one will be able to hear me: The bullies at school knew that there was no threat in the tunnels, and so they are now playing tricks on me to scare me into running away from their dare, just because I refused to give them my lunch money!

But, in my heart of hearts, I knew this to be false. It was, however, interesting that I could still think of hope when in the midst of despair and doom.

From the surrounding landscape, or from the heart of the tunnel itself, a slow, steady scrape had started to overlap the silence of the night, slowly, slowly intensifying into a continuous sound that approached my position…

There was something watching me.

The workers are coming to seal the tunnel now…

slowly, slowly, slowly…

I tried desperately to open my mouth to scream.

But there was nobody to hear me.

(nobody????!)

thump… thump…scrape……………………………………………………………………..

No!

an icy hand gripped my heart. Time to go, I thought quickly; I could barely see the road from which I came from, but I had a torch. Slowly, my hand reached into the pocket, slowly fumbled around in its depths, and found some calmness in the coolness of the metal covering.  I gripped the torch like a flaming baton, as I stumbled around the mountain, crying softly to myself. I didn’t care whether the bullies gave me hell the next day; I just wanted to leave.

He had been going for the boy.

As Tony Gallor slowly scraped out of the mouth of the tunnel, his mouth bleeding and a horrible gash on his shoulder, he knew that he would have to walk all the way home, all the way out of the mountain, past the train station, since he did not bring a ticket, and into his house in the suburbs, a distance that would be hell on foot, especially when his left leg was injured; that bicycle crash had been a bad one, and he was forced to spend the night in the depths of the tunnel. And guess what? That boy had the cheek to leave before he even told him the time!

Cold and Numb

The world was cold and dark, and Steven screamed silently as he sank into the icy darkness. His hands clawed desperately through the water, slowly pulling himself upward as his lungs began to burn. Finally his head broke the surface, spluttering and choking as he drew in great ragged breaths of the freezing air. The cold cut into him like a knife but he didn’t care: he was alive, and not drowning. He treaded water desperately as he looked around, searching for any sign of the kayak, or at least the shore somewhere close. No luck there, but he spied a boulder half-submerged around ten metres to his left and began to swim towards it, willing his freezing limbs to make the final effort. The current didn’t help either: it kept dragging him downstream to the left, and it took all of Steven’s strength to maintain a roughly straight course towards the rock. Finally he reached it, and his numbed fingers scrabbled desperately on the slick surface, searching for any crack or lump he could possibly use. His probing fingers found a small crack, and with the last of his strength Steven pulled himself up onto the rock, icy water cascading off of his soaked clothing in miniature waterfalls. Drawing his knees to his chest Steven huddled in a small bundle and took in his surroundings: thick banks of pine trees all along the shore, with a turbulent, angry river surging all around him. No sign of Jess or Will, or of the bright yellow kayak. Shivering again, Steven curled up even tighter, trying to conserve what little body heat he had. He knew he was going to die of hypothermia if he didn’t find shelter soon, but it was so cold. He didn’t want to swim again, not any more.

It was so very cold.

————————————- 

Hamish Tso 11L

The World Within

He flies in his dreams.

In his dreams he soars in the heavens, twisting and turning through the blackness of the night, free to roam high above the confines of the streets as he spins and whirls in the air, laughing with glee as the restraints fall away and he can go higher, and higher.

In his dreams he is invincible, and infinite; nothing can affect him, the sadness and hatred of the small ant-people below, he is free from them, free to soar and glide as he pleases, free to move and dive, free to say and do whatever he wants and no one is going to stop him, even if they were able.

In his dreams the world is no longer a prison, but a playground, nothing can stop him from going down the slides of the waterfalls or climbing the rocks of the tallest mountains, he can jump from the tallest peak and simply fly away, never touching the hard, unforgiving ground.

In his dreams there are no restraints, no white walls, no harsh lights and no strong hands. They cannot touch him, push him down or hurt him anymore. He can spread his arms and cry out with joy, the pure happiness found only in those who are truly free. He is untouchable, a spirit in the world of the living.

In his dreams he is content, far more than anyone else.

————————————- 

Hamish Tso 11L

A walk along the sky (unfinished?)

A walk along the sky

There were Venn diagrams in the puddles.

A bird lies on the grass.

Where did you go, little worm?

Where were you going?

Where are you now?

 

Strewn across the tarmac,

Strewn across the sky.

 

A bird lay in the grass.

Curled like wallpaper,

peeling at the edges.

Fading like wallpaper:

The end of a song.

 

Won’t you sing again?

 

A bird laid with the grass.

 

The soil is soaked,

sunk

sunken

 

A bird sinks into the grass

A bird sank into the grass

The bird sunk into the grass.

Where did you go?

Where were you going?

 

Won’t you sing again?

The Little Blue Marching Band

There’s a tiny marching band in my head.

They wear little blue hats and play little blue drums that go a-boom boom boom and a-clap clap clap. And on the little blue hats are little blue rats that snap to the beat, they a-snap snap snap; rat-a-tat-tat. And the little blue men, they stomp stomp stomp, they clomp clomp clomp; and the little blue rats, they a-chomp chomp chomp. “Ouch ouch ouch!” shout the little blue men, as they clomp and they stomp and they stamp and they clap. “Please stop chomping, that chomping, that awful chomp chomp chomp, or we’ll snatch you up and a-stomp stomp stomp, all over you tiny little rut rut ruts, until the ground is a-soaked with your gut gut guts. But the ruts, they don’t listen to those ouch ouches, those shout shout-es, they just bite bite bite, full of spite spite spite, as the men a-cry-a and a-sigh-a at their plight plight plight. And so the men snatch up the little rut-a-tat-tuts, they snatch them, yes they snatch them all uppity up. And the ruts, they a-wriggle, they a-jiggle, they struggle and scut, but that doesn’t help them; they’re snatched uppity up. Now they a-cry-a, they a-sigh-a, they shout ouch ouch ouch: “Oh please don’t stomp us, please don’t clomp us, please don’t gobble us up! We won’t chomp, we won’t bite, we won’t snap or clap or rat-a-tat-tat! We’ll even stay off your little blue hats!” But the men, they don’t listen to those ouch ouches, those shout shout-es, at the ruts’ plight plight plight. They won’t sigh or a-cry, they’re full of spite spite spite. And so they snatch snatch snatch the little rut-a-tut-tums, and throw throw throw them onto their little blue drums.

And the rats go snap: snap snap snap.

And the marching band wears their little blue hats, and play their little blue drums, that go a-boom boom boom, and a-clap clap clap.

Valentine

Walking out of the cake shop, Mary smiled as she glanced at the colourful cylindrical cardboard box she was holding; inside, sat a beautifully cake that she had specifically designed over the internet dedicated to her husband on Valentine’s day next week.

On the road adjacent to Mary, a dark blue Mazda was speeding its way down the road, avoiding the vehicles on the way. The tyres screeched as it swerved to the left at the corner and continued to accelerate.

Mary halted in front of the road and watched the cars pass, waited until it was deserted, then crossed the road. What she didn’t take notice of was the blue Mazda a hundred metres or so at an incredibly fast speed approaching her. As she crossed the road, she heard the angry rumbling noise of the car engine metres away from her. She froze in place and screamed.
Her scream had brought the drunk driver out of his unconscious mind and he made an attempt to brake the car, but it was too late.
Its momentum had sent Mary back into the air and onto her back. The cake flew away from her grasp and was completely destroyed landing on the concrete nearby.
The driver did not choose to claim his responsibility to at least help her but instead, he reversed his car and fled away.

Sitting on a violet cushion by a table near the window, Alex raised his cup of coffee and took a sip in delight at the sudden burst of energy the Cappuccino had provided him over his exhaustion.
He could hear the faint jazz music coming out from the band in the far end whilst the audience cheered and laughed in the background. Outside, the sunny day was blurred by droplets of rain that started to drum softly on the window pane.
There was a familiar ringtone coming from an object vibrating on the table. Alex picked up his phone and answered,
‘Hello?’
‘Are you the husband of Mary Jackson?’
‘Yes, what about my wife?’
‘I am sorry sir to inform you that your wife was hit by a car. She was sent to our hospital moments ago and her condition is now temporarily stabilised. She will be undergoing a diagnosis soon to determine her injuries. Our hospital is located in Boxhill, the 8th of Flour Street. Best of luck to your wife sir.’
Alex gasped and dropped his cup of Coffee, spilling it onto the floor.
He dropped a few gold coins on the table and rushed out of the bar to where his car was, and drove to the hospital.

At the sight of a tall white building with a Red Cross on it, Alex immediately knew that that was the hospital. He parked his car and leaped up the stairs three steps at a time and crashed through the door.
Inside the hospital, Alex felt the chill of cool air from the air conditioners nearby that had also brought along a smell of antiseptics. Walking towards the end of the hallway, a middle-aged man with a pair of smart-looking square glasses in a white vest stood behind the receptionist’s desk, who greeted at the sight of Alex. It did not take Alex long to inquire the location of his wife.

After dodging through a busy traffic of patients on wheelchairs and hospital beds, he came to a halt in front of room T17. Alex gently pushed open the door and saw three doctors surrounding a hospital bed with a heart monitor next to it beeping consistently. The doctors seemed to be in a deep discussion, then one of them finally noticed his presence and waved him out.
Outside, the doctor pulled off his gloves and spoke,
‘Well I believe you are the husband of Mary Jackson,’
Alex only nodded in tears,
‘She was involved in a car crash that has unfortunately severed your wife’s abdomen and damaged both of her kidneys, has resulted in kidney failure. A kidney transplant is required in order to save your wife’s life.’ the doctor handed Alex a contract form,
‘The sooner the better. Whilst we search for a donor, you can have a read through this contract, and give it in along with your payment as soon as possible.’
‘Thank you very much!’ that was all Alex could say.
‘Good luck to your wife!’
The doctor turned away and walked back into T17.

Alex sat silently in his car, staring into the night-sky through the glass pane of his sunroof. The chill of the night air was cold. There were numerous stars strikingly bright in the distance, each of them glistened in their own unique way. Hope, he thought. He turned on the ignition of the car and headed for home.

On the second night, Alex brought the signed form along with the payment to the reception. Then he gently pushed the door of T17 and saw his wife on the hospital bed with several long, thin tubes attached to her arm that connected to a container hanging down a stand. Despite of the oxygen mask that had nearly concealed her entire face, Alex could still see Mary’s pair of crystal blue innocent eyes staring at him in delight and could picture her grin from beneath. Pulling a chair from the other end of the room to Mary’s bed, Alex sat beside her and held her hand whilst telling her how much he loves her and holiday plans after she had recovered to cheer her up. As the night slowly passed, Alex uncontrollably slumped back and fell into sleep.

On the third day, the doctors and Alex were getting impatient and anxious because no donor had turned up yet to Mary’s aid. Mary’s conditions were worsened and weakened her as she could no longer grasp back Alex’s hand and her heartbeats were slowed.

On the fourth day, Alex had bravely decided to donate one of his kidneys to save his dear lovely wife. He knew it was her only chance of surviving, and he could not let her go. He told doctors of his decision and after going through a scan, his kidney was fortunately able to match the requirements for it to function well inside Mary’s feeble body.
They had set to an agreement for the surgery to be performed the next day to in order to provide sufficient time for both Alex and the surgeons to prepare, which the kidney transplantation would follow up and be transplanted into Mary to stabilise her condition and to start recovering.

On the fifth day, as arranged, the surgery began in the afternoon.
Alex laid on the surgery bed as instructed. Staring at the lights that were angled over his body whilst the surgeons pulled over an oxygen mask and gave him a dose of anaesthetic, he fell into thoughts of how the surgeons would slice his abdomen and how they would take his kidney out and put it into his wife’s body, and had unconsciously fallen into sleep.

The surgery was successful and the Doctors assured Alex that Mary was recovering well and that at this rate, she was expected to be recovered by next week with much rest. Meanwhile, Alex planned a surprise for her.

On the day Mary walked out of the hospital, Alex gave his thanks to the doctors and drove her straight to their apartment, where he blindfolded Mary and made her sit on the sofa whilst he cooked for the very first time from a cookbook dishes he knew Mary would like. When the daylight fades out, he switched off all the lights, lighted the candles and helped Mary to the dining room then took the cloth off her eyes.

In the dark, Mary saw the most beautiful candles lit that brightened the table full of dishes such as: a roasted chicken that sat on the centre of the table in a beautiful golden brown texture, a plate of spaghetti in a rich mixture of sauce, a large bowl of pumpkin soup and many other delicacies that seemed like a surplus even for two of them.
‘But Alex…’ Her complaint was immediately rejected by a finger from Alex,
‘Shhhhhh, this is all dedicated to you my love, just enjoy your meal.’
When dinner was over, Alex held Mary’s arm and together they walked upstairs towards the apartment roof, when Alex blindfolded Mary once more.

Whilst Mary waited in patience, Alex walked towards a light switch and switched it on, then removed the cloth from Mary’s eyes.
Standing without the cloth, tears of happiness flowed down Mary’s jaw as she stared in awe, the whole roof was covered with neon lights that resembled the words of ‘Happy Valentine’s Day!’
Her memories were suddenly recalled from the car accident where she suddenly realised she lost the cake.
The look of worry from her face was easily interpreted by Alex, who knew what she needed,
‘Don’t worry my wife, just enjoy,’ he assured her as he gestured towards a picnic mat on the floor nearby, where two wine glasses stood with a bottle of wine.

‘Happy Valentines my dear!’ In the distance, fireworks were shot into the air and splayed into a dance of colours that illuminated the starry night sky, represented Alex’s hope and love for Mary.

The crash

Something had suddenly triggered an explosion from the front of the corridor, presumably near the control room. The blast had sent of a sudden violent jolt that vibrated throughout the entire plane and fear was soon spread among the passengers of the plane; infants broke into tears as they screamed for protection in their voice for the comfort of their parents. The distress among those young voices, sounded like sirens and the screeching that only grew harsher and louder.

The plane descended and twisted without warning, a sickening feeling of this sudden dreadful event was clutching my guts for comfort. I was in my seat with my seat belt secure, whilst it had caused many to unexpectedly stagger down the corridor; some had fortunately managed to clutch onto seats whilst those of unfortunate continued down the corridor, where the fuselage no longer existed but of emptiness revealed the menacing blue ocean deep below awaiting for their arrival.

The plane head now spun one-eighty degrees as it now faces the clear blue sky. There was no anticipation as to when the sudden impact of hitting the water surface will be. As anxiety grew, I recalled a brief video played earlier to inform passengers in many different dangerous scenarios; one of which was an orange life vest that can be found under every seat. With a stretch under my seat, I found what I was looking for. I fumbled to release my seatbelt and hastily put the life vest, then clicked the seat belt back into place.
Soon there was an impact upon the surface of the ocean and all was lost under the sea.

In the deep blue ocean, I struggled to release myself from my seat, and when I finally did, it felt like I was ascending into heaven, where god awaits for me at the top, a bright light of haven lay above the surface of the water, or rather, I was floating my way past the rows of seats of innocent victims out of the plane and eventually, I found myself out of peril and I was breathing again. I took a deep breath and dived back into the chill of the ocean in an attempt to save others, but the plane had already sunk into darkness, out of sight. I floated back to the surface and found comfort of a large piece of the plane’s debris where I seated upon.

Days drifted past at the only sight of the vast ocean. For days I shivered in coldness and I seldom stumbled upon the luck of a sea turtle or a reckless fish swimming so close to me that I can catch easily. I wondered when hope will finally greet me as my chances of survival were diminishing.

Then one day, that day, was when I had heard a familiar sound of something chopping through the air, and I found myself staring at three helicopters flying towards me to my rescue.
I am, the lone survivor of the plane crash, owe my life to the passengers of that flight and therefore, I have decided to spend the rest of my life to help rescue further endangered lives.