All posts by reagan2808

Hide

Frozen, tensed in the binding glare of a stark white room. My vision focuses as my eyes adjust to the all-encompassing white of the cramped room. Shifting uncomfortably, I notice I have trouble moving my arms. Straining against my newfound bonds, a deep unease begins to stir within me and cold traces a burning trail down my back as I feel movement behind me. A disembodied gaze blankets the room.

Assessing my surroundings, I am suddenly aware of the conspicuous lack of cover or shade from the searing heat of the light above me. Instinctively I attempt to raise my hands before stopping short as my sturdy bonds stop me short. Looking down, I see a cocoon of white cloth, only the feeble movements within betraying any difference to my oppressive surroundings.There. I feel someone else behind me again. Whirling around, I see a wall, devoid of shadows. The sudden movement is almost nauseating, and I supress a gag as my stomach churns. With what I am not sure as I can’t recall as I’m not sure when I last ate. In fact, I’m not sure of anything. All I know is that I am being watched by an intruder. One who speaks with no voice, sees without eyes and whose touch is ephemeral, a fleeting hand I cannot feel.

I afraid of the dark. In the dark, there lurks malevolence, suspicion or even succour from the eyes of watchers. But the white is nothing but an unmarked page; a thought unformed; a blinding light. In the white, there is nowhere to hide.

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A Day in the Life of a VCE Student by Reagan Tao 11E

I fear I’m losing myself. Everyday is a trial as I struggle to force some happiness, some meaning into what I have done for so long. The fire that burns inside of me seems to flicker with every obstacle that presents itself. I no longer have the strength to fan the flames, and instead pad on coatings of pity, hoping every day that this makeshift wax does not dribble off, allowing the slender weakness of the candle to be exposed.

There is little left for me to aspire to, and although I can not keep it burning, the flame seems to thrive when I arrive at the hearth and satisfy it with puerile tasks. Tasks which thrive on my own selfish desires. I live on, knowing that I am needed for my purpose, despite all the tortures which await me. Perhaps they are my penance for forsaking myself.

Within my soul, the tears I shed now pool, edging ever closer to being frozen as the candle dies. I know that in the midst of my darkest desires, there lies a match which can melt the frost, melt my anguish away. One day, this cold feeling will subside. One day, I will fight to tame the inferno rather than desperately shielding the sparks which remain. I fear this day more than the chill. Rather than being trapped in the glacier, I will burn, the blaze which warms my body threatening to set alight everything around me. Everyone around me. I am the candle, and I pray that soon I will melt away.

Turning away from the truth- Reagan Tao 10C

I stood on the balcony, staring out at the carnage. Houses burned. People screamed. Fires raged throughout the kingdom. It was still impossible for me to believe. To think it would take this destruction to convince me, to show me what I had been unwilling to believe. What I had turned my back on. I walked back into the room fingering the fine silk quilt of my bed. The way it shone so slightly in the moonlight, the beautiful dragon pattern woven into it so delicately, everything about it seemed to open my eyes the longer I looked. How much blood had been shed to buy this blanket? How many lives lost for my sake? If only I had faced this sooner, maybe my heart wouldn’t ache so much. I knew reality would catch up with me in the end….

My father, the ruler of a large province in Afghanistan was a well-loved figure. I was watching from the balcony that day as well when he’d been mingling with the crowd, touching babies and showering rose petals on them. People called him a good kind ruler, one who had abolished the lawlessness which his predecessor had wrought. As I stared, my chest seemed to swell with pride every time a person screamed his name or wished him a long life. He looked back, seeing me on the balcony and grinned, waving to me. The whole crowd followed his lead, crying out my name now, raining blessings upon me. The son of their ruler, it brought tears to my eyes. My mother had passed away long ago so I had no one else. To me, he was everything. I idolised my father.

Later in the day, he took me for a walk, laying an arm on my shoulders as we walked, flanked by a crowd of men in suits I’d always known as his “friends.” As we waved and gifts were thrust upon us, an old man broke out of the crowd and began screaming. The profanities that spilled from his mouth were so filthy that Father covered my ears. Before that however, I’d heard many odd things. In his stream of frenzied abuse I’d heard him say that my father was wicked, that he was a murderer and he would rot in hell. I wrested free from my father’s grip, ready to defend my father against this insolent man, but felt a wet glob hit my face. I felt the warm spit dribble down my cheek. “Spawn of evil. Your father did worse to my son,” he said.

I was drawn back by my father, whose face was now drawn and white with rage. He hissed something under his breath and the men in suits closed in around the old man. I was pushed to keep walking as I asked father what had happened. He answered me shortly by saying the old man was insane. He would be taken to hospital. I believed every word. To men, his words were fact. It never occurred to me that he was lying. However, that night when I went to sleep I heard the screams. I’d only heard it because I was lying on the floor. The slightest sound had escaped through the floorboards of the mansion. I’d fallen as I turned in my sleep and I could hear the agonised moans when I pressed my ear to the wooden planks. I remember that I had went down into the basement, the only part of the house where the noise could be coming from. I was met with a terrifying sight. The old man who had spat on me was prostrate on the floor, blood weeping from a dozen cuts on his back. I saw a number of men holding cruel barbed whips. Evan as I watched they mercilessly lashed the old man’s back, drawing a small groan from him. He was too weak to do anything else.

I opened my mouth to tell the men to stop, but before I could I was bundled up and brought back out into the upper house by a grip. I knew only too well. My father. He stood there smiling at me, and I sat numbly in the kitchen as he made me a cup of hot chocolate. He placed the mug in front of me and I regarded him with terrified eyes. “Why didn’t you make them stop Father? Who are those men?” I asked.

He continued to smile, urging me to drink before he talked. He nursed his own cup has he spoke, his words turning my blood cold. “Son, sometimes there are people who disturb the peace. It’s never good to leave these people be. All you need to know is that  if I’m happy the people are too.” That was the end of the discussion. I couldn’t bring myself to go on. His approval was too important to me. But I had never been fooled. There was an unspoken message in those words. I spent the next few nights with my ear pressed against the floor to listen to those screams, but I heard them in my mind for years to come.

Whenever I walked into the market I would notice things I’d never seen before. The way people smiled but never met my gaze. How they begged my father to touch their children, but never let him hold them, as if he would snatch them away the second the children left their hands. The acrid stench of fear hung in the air and every time I walked through the streets I felt hatred bore into my back. Rebellion hung in the air and we all knew it. Maybe that’s why when we were close to it, my father took every precaution to make sure I was safe. He became frantic, forbidding me to leave the house lest I be kidnapped or harmed. But it was no use. The people refused to stay quiet any longer. I could only guess what crimes he had committed over the years, how many people he had destroyed. However, the one thing I was sure of was that the luxury of this mansion, the lifestyle we lead and the bodyguards who escorted us had been paid with countless suffering. Nothing in the mansion was clean. Including me.

When the revolt started my father ran out, but before he left he’d given me a quick smile and told me that everything would be all right. I had nothing to worry about. I watched him leave and knew that it was a lie. I went to the balcony to watch the chaos as people burnt down buildings and overwhelmed the police. Years of anger and resentment had been unleashed and I saw my father being subdued and beaten by the people. Turning away, tears streamed from my eyes as I waited on my bed. There was no hope that I could ever have escaped this and when my father died, I heard his final scream as it echoed across the town and the sobbing didn’t stop, my hands shaking as they gripped my legs and my body shaking desperate for some comfort. The real pain was to come when the cheering started. My nails bit into my legs so hard that my pants were soaked. I finally had blood on my hands. When they came to arrest me, I didn’t even fight back. Reality had finally confronted me and I hated it. “You don’t have to tell me anything,” I said quietly. “Please just kill me.” My last tears blurred my sight, but they opened my eyes.

Desperate Fantasy- Reagan Tao 10C

I stood at the glass window, fingers barely touching it. Such was the cleanness and sterility of the hospital that no sooner had my fingers left a mark did the cleaner wipe it away. I stepped back to let him continue his work, surveying the scene before me. Arthur lay on the bed, dressed in a white robe. The room itself was padded, devoid of any other furniture aside from the bed. I sat and clasped my hands to stop them trembling from rage at the injustice of it all. It terrified me how far people would go to delude themselves, to indulge in their own fantasies…

Not long ago, we had been in a hospital not as patients, but as workers. We had been fellow doctors, but whilst I was a run-of-the-mill doctor, more prone to assisting than operating, Arthur was truly the rising star of the hospital. He had the charm, heart and ability to become the leading surgeon of the hospital. That was why this fate was so degrading, so unfair to him that my heart ached when I saw him prostrate on that bed. A patient had arrived at the hospital. The fact that I even knew this was unusual. In such a crowded environment, patients were usually identified by how severe their injuries were before we had time to find their identity. But naturally, as soon as the mayor arrived, the whole hospital focused on him.

Apparently, he had suffered a heart attack, collapsing in his flat. The mayor was a popular figure in public office. Few people had issue with him and he had introduced a number of reforms to benefit the under-privileged in his time. Many people considered him to be an almost saint-like figure. Honestly, I had always felt somewhat intimidated by him. To be such a powerful figure and to be so well-loved, it was terrifying to think what would happen if he was ever harmed. The effect on the people would be devastating. People cared for him too much. Arthur was one of these people. He often expressing his admiration of the man since one of his student plans had helped Arthur afford the fees for his education. As such, upon hearing about the mayor, the terror I saw on his face was almost palpable. He immediately insisted to be the surgeon in charge for the operation. Coincidentally, I was the assisting doctor and we moved swiftly to the operating room. It wasn’t a complicated procedure. A basic operation had him in a stable condition within minutes.

However, after the surgery, I decided to take a look at his medical history. Arthur had collapsed in a heap after performing the surgery and I felt responsible to determine whether the mayor’s life was in any danger. I found it curious that he had no history of cardiac disease, or of any medical problems whatsoever. I remembered that the police had demanded a blood test to be done on him and I rushed to check the results.

I walked through the corridor, flipping through the report. My blood ran cold as my eyes raked over the sheet of paper. His blood was filled with a number of drugs, all of them highly illegal. Every drug was one he had fought tooth and nail to be prohibited. We had saved the life of a man who was playing an entire city for fools. I met with Arthur, showing him the blood test report. I expected a burst of outrage, devastation, grief as the colour drained from his face. I saw his upper lip tremble and his eyes begin to water. The last thing I expected was to have the report torn apart before my eyes.

Before I could protest, he was screaming something at me about how I had fabricated the results, how I was trying to destroy a wonderful man. I began to get angry, screaming back and I turned on him, ready to get another copy of the report when I felt a blow smash into the back of my head. I whirled around in shock. Despite the pounding in my head, I could see now with blinding clarity how transfixed Arthur was by the mayor. How far he would go to protect a man he believed to be a virtuous person. Of how he wouldn’t allow this image to be tarnished no matter what. I faded away as he continued to rant, my last sight before I lost consciousness to be of him regarding me with disgust.

When I came to, I was handcuffed to a table with a man on the other side of the table asking me questions tentatively. Did I know who I was? Why did I interfere with the blood test? Did I know the mayor personally? My mind was too foggy to process any more than that, the feeling of being interrogated so surreal that I couldn’t even answer. The man pursed his lips when I finally managed to tell him my recount of what had happened and he motioned to a guard at the door. The guard handcuffed me completely and lead me out where I was met with a truly heart-wrenching sight.

Arthur was writhing on the floor with two guards attempting to restrain him. He continued to scream “I’m not crazy!” in a demented manner, refusing all attempts to pull him to his feet. “Mayor, please save me, I just wanted to help you! Please!” The cries were not unlike a child in a pool crying for its mother, before slowly weakening and drowning into the depths. Tears streamed down his face, liquid dripped from his nose and his cries were becoming incoherent, becoming almost a gargle. He eventually stopped moving, allowing the guards to heave him up, while my guard stood there shaking his head sadly.

I turned to him, my tone low and pleading. “Do you believe me?” He shook his head before urging me along. “You’re not right in the head. The mayor wouldn’t do something like that,” he said.  It wasn’t said with malice and there was no trace of ulterior motive. All I saw in his eyes was devout belief. The mayor’s image couldn’t be a lie. The city’s fantasies were fact. We were simply some crazy doctors who suffered a sad fate, cooking up a story for ourselves to excite our lives. A few days later, I was allowed to view the mayor on television. He was sobbing inconsolably, extending his thanks to the “kind doctors” who had saved his life and their families, wishing us a swift recovery and hoping that one day we could meet again as friends.

He had visited us only hours earlier, laughing at us from behind the screen like a child would at a circus animal. It was an act. The city and Arthur still believed that the mayor was a good man. Even as the mayor could be seen mocking us, Arthur pawed at the window begging for help. Even when the mayor walked off in disgust, sneering at the man who had saved his life, Arthur smiled happily, confident that he would come back to set him free. No one would ever be allowed to know about the mayor’s dark side so I knew we would never leave. The fantasy would continue, unbroken since there was no way people would be able to accept the truth. Reality was something people would not accept, and who could blame them? The fantasy was so much kinder than reality.

The One who Watches-Reagan Tao 10C

I always knew your touch, whether filled with sorrow, or with mirth.

When I was yet to take my first breath

Before birth

After death

 

We are intertwined.

When I first stood up,

You were there, close to heart, to mind.

When I drank, you held the cup.

 

Between us tears poured like rain

Bond loose and broken.

Red haze descended, such was the pain.

Kindness given, just a token.

 

Looking back, turning the clock

I see my faults.

My realisation. My world it rocks.

For a second, a lifetime my world halts.

 

For your love was boundless,

That I know now.

The things that I owe you are countless.

To bring you back, how?

 

However, I know now we will never be separated.

For you are my mother

Before birth

After death

Inspiration – By Reagan Tao 9K

I stood on the peak of the hill overlooking the city and vast mountainside that stood behind it. In that moment, as the magnificent sunset tinged the sky with a molten glow, the warm glow of nostalgia gradually engulfed me like a summer breeze, drawing out memories hidden in the recesses of my mind. It had not been long ago when I had stood on a mountain peak, not dissimilar to this one with the person who inspired me more than any other: my older sister. She was always the kindest and most virtuous in a very crude world. In the past, my life had been set alight by greed, anger and corruption, but my sister was the only spark which could illuminate the darkness.

Having no parents of our own, we were raised by a distant aunt who constantly managed to find a number of caretakers for us, all of which shared the same cold, gloomy disposition. Whenever I had attempted to show any affection to these stony-faced guardians, I was met with a baleful stare that left me cold for hours on end. My aunt was exceedingly rich so I was sent to an elitist school full of braggarts and idiots who I loathed for their upstart attitude towards those who did not share the same privileges and knowledge as them. Naturally, I was their primary target, turning my life into a living hell. Having found my life bitter and depressing, totally void of almost any form of kindness, my sister Annette was truly the only love I had ever known. Even as I search for words to describe her I falter, for I know that any words I could muster, however heartfelt, could never do justice to the image I wish to portray, for although my life was difficult, Annette shouldered so much more.

The aunt who gave us a home was family by the loosest definition. We had only ever seen her once when she came to tell us about our parents’ passing, leaving even before the tears could well up in my eyes. Annette looked after everything from cooking to washing, our custodians acting as mere watchdogs.

It was only when Annette turned eighteen that the house we lived in was given to us to look after. Suddenly, all of our needs were paid for out of Annette’s own pocket, and our aunt and cold-hearted caretakers vanished out of our lives forever, leaving without so much as a whisper or a word. However, Annette persevered, her fortuity of spirit filling me with fervour unlike anything I’d ever experienced. She was adamant that I should continue my education, disregarding all other issues as she urged me onwards. In spite of her galvanization, seeing her work her fingers till the knuckles bled harrowed my heart to the point where it bled just as her fingers did. All of these acts were selfless beyond imagination, but it was the fact that she would still exert herself further to help feed the poor and assist the elderly that truly depicted her as a model of virtue unsurpassed by any other in my eyes and all those who beheld her.

Many years passed and finally, after completing my arduous education in law, Annette took me hiking up onto the peak of this hill on a steep, winding trail as a reward. After the agonising hike I had playfully named the hill Heart-Attack Hill, wondering how the blazing fire that burned my lungs could be considered a reward. Nonetheless, reaching the peak was truly worth the pain it had cost. The journey had truly been breathtaking in the most literal sense of the word, but the sight of the sunset was breathtaking in a way that was impossible to articulate. While the sunset I gazed upon now turned the cloudless sky a molten red, the sunset on that day seemed to colour the sky with thousand different shades of red and orange, reflecting off every cloud to create a myriad of spectacular golden jewels in the sky. When compared to that sunset, even an aurora’s beauty seemed paltry and flamboyant in comparison. Though an aurora is majestic and scintillating, its beauty is ethereal, almost alien, as if we were given a glimpse of heaven itself. This sunset was different. Although not as ostentatious as an aurora, its allure lay in its simplicity and power, seemingly lighting up the core of my being and letting the warmth spread throughout my body in a unique way that could not be rediscovered.

However, the true reason for the feeling of ecstasy that coursed through me on that day was in the sense of triumph I underwent. The journey was finally over! I had went beyond my limits, both physically and mentally, standing on the brink of success and in the end I went hand in hand with the person I cared about most. The mountain and Annette had inspired me. Annette had been the person who pushed me through my life, being the anchor that held me in place whenever I was washed away by the current of despair. Now I had reached the summit and the clouds tinged with gold by the sun were the golden steps that I would walk on to ascend to greater heights. It was all thanks to the people, places and things that had inspired me and there would never be a way which I could repay the debt I owed my sister. In my heart I know that I would sacrifice everything for Annette, but for me, she would give up so much more.

Macabre Family- Reagan Tao 9K

The wind whistled sharply, sending sand flying in every direction. His surroundings were barely discernable through the sand and dust blanketing the area. His eyes were gritty from lack of sleep, most of his clothes reduced to rags from his trek across the desolate wasteland. However his trench coat was sturdy enough to withstand the harsh climate so he continued, hoisting a sack which rattled with each step. The work had to be finished and apart from that, nothing else mattered. However, his mind did dwell on three figures despite his efforts to forget. His beautiful daughter and son were remembered with love and affection, but that woman filled him with a far different emotion. It was at that precise moment, with the rays of the blazing sun beating down and the sweltering hot air howling around him that an old memory gradually engulfed him like a thick fog, obscuring everything but the feeling of nostalgia that overwhelmed him, and these memories were tinged with the flavour of bitter hatred

The day off like any other, with him heading off to work after bidding the family a tense farewell. Life had always been peaceful for his family and they had been happy together. This was why he could not fathom how a single quarrel had turned into this. He had rarely lost his temper back then, but occasionally there were… incidents, which he would awake from without any memory of, as if shaking away a nightmare. But the fact was that this nightmare did not end.

Even now, he could recall little of the events of the night, but one thing was clear. When he had awoken from his stupor, fear was present in the looks of both his wife and children as they nursed a bloody wound on the side of her face. Despite all this, there was nothing which could have ever prepared him for the sight that awaited him at home. Work had continued late into the night and when it was finished, he returned home to find an empty house. His wife and children were gone and anything which would have shown they existed had vanished without a trace.

Anger tore through him like a hot blade, slowly plunging him into the depths of despair. His whole life had been unravelled by an event which he could not even remember! However, after he had gathered himself, he sold his house and all his possessions, ridding himself of the weight of the past. Work became more than just an outlet, it became his life. As a puppet-maker, he had always had passion for his work, but now every one of his creations was not a mere object, it was a person. The losses left scars in his heart which he did not mend. Instead they were used to put more humanity into his work. When the money he had gained from selling his possessions ran dry, he turned to friends to provide him with the funding necessary to continue his craft.

However, it was only when you were at your lowest point that people showed their true colours. They had turned him away with excuses about money, or family troubles. However, he had seen the looks in their eyes. It was the same look of fear that he had seen in the eyes of his wife before she left, taking away everything that held any meaning in his life with her. As for why, he could not imagine. Anger had merely been a response to his loss, and before the tragic incident there was nothing he had done to deserve such treatment. Showering her with gifts and affection now seemed foolish as she had taken them with her but left him behind without a thought. There was nothing which would stop him. They would soon come back to him and before that inevitable outcome; he would finish his masterpieces. As long as his creations were completed, friends, lovers and even family were but bumps on the road to perfection. After all, what he did now he did for his children and they would soon thank him for it.

Coming to an abrupt stop outside of his workshop he smirked. Fate had truly smiled upon him when gifting him with this workshop. The structure was flimsy, resembling an average shed while the inside was spartan and dank, but it had been cheap and it was robust enough to hold all his work so he was content. Frowning at the sudden headache that had taken a hold over him, the man withdrew a tube of medicine from his grubby pants and shook a handful of the pills into his hand, not even bothering to look at them before tossing them into his mouth. The doors to the workshop slowly creaked open.

The sack was dropped onto a work bench as he looked around marvelling at his own work. The faces of the puppets mirrored the faces of people in almost every way. Indeed, had he not crafted them himself he would not have been able to see the difference. In fact, they were almost better. They did not feel pain and they could never betray others like that woman had to him.

Whenever one was finished, elation would surge through him, but in truth, they could not yet be called perfect as they were but paltry imitations of his final goal. The masterpieces that stood in the back of his workshop were his crowning achievement. What were humans or puppets when separate? The two could only shine when put together into something that could truly be called mechanical perfection. Combining the beauty of humanity and the passion of puppetry could only be achieved by him: the one who had stood on the precipice between them and survived. This was why these magnificent dolls could not be matched by any of their predecessors.

The door of the cupboard slowly swung open without a sound, silent as a grave. Inside it stood the three wonders which had taken him so long to complete. A mother and her two children, more lifelike than anything he had ever imagined. They were held erect by wires that were threaded through their joints, but their skin was pale and their figures too thin for his liking. Oil leaked out of where the wires were threaded, which shone a dark crimson and their expressions did not reflect any of the bliss he had felt while forging them. Nevertheless, they would still change expressions when needed and their realism could not be doubted. He sighed heavily.  It could not be helped. They would have to be improved. The doors closed with an ominous boom which was accompanied by the barely heard sound of weeping. A satanic smile lit up the man’s features. After all, they were his family.