100 Words

I received an email earlier this week asking writers to submit a 100 word continuation after the first 100 word story starter provided. Here’s mine:

It’s only ten minutes later that she’s flying down the highway, rain coming out of the dark straight towards her. There’s that creamy scoop of moon, somehow definitively clear in the corner of the windshield, staying there, statically, even as she rips another sudden swerve. If only the radio worked. If only those noises would stop coming from the boot. That damn voice. There’s another factory up ahead, abandoned but still lit up strangely. It’s nearly too late when she sees the group, huddled in the middle of the road, all their eyes turned towards her. She jams the pedal.

The wheels scream into the night, cutting the dense silence and bleeding onto the bitumen. Long black lines mark out in burnt rubber, the stench overwhelming, disgusting. Still fixated within the glare of the headlights, the huddled group stands metres before the bonnet. Light tendrils of steam snake into the cold air as raindrops quench the tyre marks. She chances a glance at the corner of the windscreen where she knows, even before she sees, the moon still hung, taped onto the glass. Silence from the boot. Her composure creeps back slowly, ushered by the rhythmical squeaks of the wipers.



The Door

Inside a relatively unremarkable spectacle store uncreatively named Antonio’s Spectacle Store, towards the back of the building, stood a Door. It was, much like the shop, relatively unremarkable, unadorned save for a large mirror that was attached to its face. The owner of the store thought it was quite useful for allowing the customers to admire their potential purchases. But there was something strange about this Door. It didn’t seem to have a handle. On the smooth alabaster wood where a handle might have been on a regular door, there was only a slight circular imprint, as if someone had sawn off the handle and painted over the place where it once stood.

Actually, that was only one of a few peculiar observations one could make about the Door. There was the way that the mirror had the strange property of tinting everything reflected from its surface an oddly sinister yellow colour. There was the way the Door felt cold on hot days, and hot on cold days. There was the way it tended to creak suddenly for no apparent reason, even though it had not been opened for the entirety of thirty years (the owner had no idea if it had ever been opened- how do you open a door with no knob?). And finally, there was the fact that the Door led nowhere. The wall that it was attached to was the end of the building, and on the other side of the door was just bricks and mortar. The wall was too thin to hide a second room, and the bricks on the other side cancelled out the possibility that it was just a façade.

But Antonio, the now aging shop owner, did not let all of the peculiarities about the Door bother him. Sure, when he had first acquired the dinky little shop, he had pushed and pried at the Door like nobody’s business to try and unravel the secrets of what he perceived as his new toy, but after the first year, he soon gave it up and just passed the mystery Door as a silly prank played by the builders. He came to feel that it was part of the shop’s charm, like one of the unique characteristics often found in the wonderfully odd stores depicted in books and films. He had now worked in the store for over thirty years, making and selling glasses to the people that came through the timeworn mahogany doors. He and his wife, Bianca, had commandeered the little enterprise alone ever since they had arrived in this country, still flushed and overjoyed from their whirlwind marriage.

Now, Antonio reflected, it might be time to invest in some employees, or an apprentice at least. His eyesight was very obviously worsening, as was his wife’s. He kept bumping into the display shelves and cases- whose idea was it to make the bloody things out of glass, anyway?! Even wearing a pair of his most powerful glasses, he could only barely see the fiddly little screws that he used to attach the wire frame together. And he knew Bianca, too, had trouble seeing even the relatively large forms of the customers she regularly conversed with over the counter. Yes, it was definitely time to hire some new blood.


His name was Thomas. He was 17 years old. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and liked to dress in dark clothing. His favourite colour, though he’d never admit it, was pink. He had dropped out of school last year, because he didn’t focus on his studies. He had instead opted to working part-time, and looking for a permanent job. His father hadn’t needed a thorough education, and neither did he (completely disregarding the fact that his father, although managing to get by, was only barely getting his family over the poverty line). Unfortunately, this attitude transferred itself over to his school behaviour and willingness to complete tasks set by the teacher. Needless to say, he was soon asked to leave by the school, and he did so willingly.

After that, he became almost independent from his parents (who never really cared about him in the first place) and started to look for work, the ‘real work’ he envisioned that would allow him to eke out a reasonable income, which he could live off. The spectacle store turned out to be a real treasure mine. The old couple, Antonio and Bianca, were practically blind, (probably due to eyestrain caused by focussing too much on the miniscule screws and pins needed to construct a pair of glasses), but were kind enough, and paid well. The shop, though also old, was in fairly good condition, and very clean. All in all, Thomas thought it was quite lucky that he had found employment in this little out-of-the-way business. That is, until the Door mysteriously came alive.


 Thomas glanced up from where he sat, diligently trying to direct the tiny head of the screw he was holding into the hole on the frame of a pair of dark glasses. He took short breaks like this frequently now, looking into the distance about once every hour or so. Now about one month into his employment, he had noticed that his eyesight was starting to deteriorate. A quick internet search revealed that the cause was (probably) eye-strain. The small business utilised the antiquated method of hand-crafting glasses- which while probably fine for a few pairs- mass producing several would soon start to take a heavy toll on the manufacturer’s eyes, like it had evidently done with Antonio and his wife.Thomas blinked a couple of times, trying to get his eyes to focus on the back wall of the store. It was a bit of a struggle, as the aforementioned orbs seemed to be locked into the default position of ‘ready to fit a screw the size of about a pinhead into a matching hole apparently two millimetres smaller’.When Thomas finally exerted enough control over his rebellious sensory organs to get them to centre on the opposite wall, he gave a start as he saw a dark figure glaring balefully back at him. Unfortunately, as he was currently rocking back on his chair to alleviate some of the stress on his cramped muscles (as well as it being a bad habit from his school days) while he did this, he tumbled back onto the ground, landing quite heavily onto his arm and letting out an explosive ‘oomph’.He hissed as he rolled over and extracted his limbs from where they lay tangled in an incomprehensible heap together with the chair legs as well as each other.
“Ah, Thomas,” a kindly voice remarked, “Anything the matter?”
Thomas looked up- it was Antonio, the storeowner. He raised his non-crushed arm to point weakly in the direction of the back of the store.

“Back there- there’s someone over there. Did you hire anybody else that I don’t know about?”

“Ah… Thomas? There’s nothing there…”

Thomas stood up slowly, rubbing his back. He glanced over to where he had seen the figure, and immediately pinpointed the answer to the confusing situation.

“Oh… ha ha. Sorry Mr Antonio- my mistake. I just saw my reflection in the mirror over there- got a bit of a scare, too. Sorry for bothering you,” he said, abashed.

The grey-haired man squinted at the back wall in a puzzled fashion, before waving it off with an understanding smile, walking back to his own workstation.

Thomas dropped his own sheepish smile and looked into the mirror once again. His yellow-tinted reflection stared sinisterly back at him, the dark eyes expressionless.

Man, he thought, do I really look that creepy? I really need to get a haircut… and introduce some new colours into my outfit.

He grinned briefly before getting back to work.

Beyond his line of sight, his reflection stared at him, before also breaking into a large smile, almost as if it were a delayed recording. That is, if recordings smiled in ways completely different from the way their actors did.


Antonio smiled as he shook his head in mirth. That new employee, Thomas, was really a laugh a minute. Making up a silly excuse just so he wouldn’t be seen as a clumsy oaf… really, there wasn’t even a mirror on that wall…


A couple of days after the incident, Thomas was straightening up some of the display cases that were standing in the middle of the room after a busy day working. As he bent to adjust on the little paper slips that had the prices written on them, he felt something wet touch his hand. Drawing it back, he saw that it had some sort of red liquid on it. His first inclination was to conclude that it was blood. But as he felt and massaged his palm with his other hand, he couldn’t feel any wound or pain. So it was either some other liquid like ink or paint… or it was someone else’s blood.

His heart jumping a little, Thomas reached over with trembling fingers and turned the sheet over. On it, in scrawled but legible red letters, was the message, ‘PLAY WITH ME’.

Thomas’ skin crawled. He turned around to tell his boss, but he realised too late that Antonio had already left, the roar of his car something that his brain had heard but not yet registered. He turned back, and saw, in the transparent shop window, the same message, childishly scribbled in what seemed, in the fading light, to be definitely blood. ‘PLAY WITH ME’ it demanded, stark against the setting sun. This time it covered the entire window, and drips of the liquid were sliding down the glass and settling onto the floor.

If Thomas was thinking clearly, if it had been earlier in the day, perhaps, he might have taken the time to inspect the message, and analyse the time period at which it had been delivered, judging by the distance travelled by the liquid drips. And he would have found it had been written in the 5 minute interval between the departure of Antonio, and Thomas discovering it. A period of time in which no-one but Thomas was in the store.

But all Thomas’ terrified brain could latch onto was the fact that because of the liquid slowly settling on the floor, it was all too obvious that the message had been written from inside the store. So, the question was… who had written it?

Thomas rushed over towards the door, neglecting to even pick up his bag. He had his keys in his pocket, and that was all he needed to get the hell out of this place as quickly as possible. He would clean up the mess when he came back the next day. Not even the thought of his boss’ wrath could persuade him to stay another minute more than he had to.

But as he wrestled with the lock of the shop door, which stubbornly remained closed, a cold shiver down his spine made him look to the right, to the wall. And there, staring him in the face, disturbingly close, was his own panicked face, literally nose-to-nose with him. He almost screamed but years of practice of not screaming (for anything) for fear of ridicule from his male classmates managed to stop him. He knew, without a doubt, that the creepy Door with a mirror wasn’t supposed to be there. It was supposed to be on the other side of the room!

As he wrenched helplessly at the doorknob, his eyes fixed steadily on his reflection, he nearly jumped out of his skin when it leaned forward, something he certainly didn’t do, and mouthed three words at him. Play… with… me…

At that moment, the lock gave, and Thomas exploded out of the shop like the hounds of hell were after him, only pausing to slam the door shut, and not bothering to lock it. He then charged to where his car was, afraid to look back.


Meanwhile, back in the shop, the reflection, which no longer had an owner, dropped into one of the chairs in which Thomas was straightening before he was interrupted. Smiling enigmatically, the figure remarked to nobody in particular, “I can wait.”


Antonio glanced at the door anxiously. It was already 11 o’clock, and Thomas still hadn’t shown up. The boy was usually pretty punctual, but today he was nowhere to be found. He bent over to squint even closer at the young girl whose eyes he was examining. He turned to the girl’s mother.

“Actually, ma’am, your daughter’s eyesight is fine. She isn’t short-sighted, there is probably just some dust in her eye. Maybe you should take her to the doctor?”

“Oh, thank goodness for that. Thank you so much!”

Antonio blinked, ignoring the silly woman’s exclamations of joy. Because he was seeing something that just couldn’t be right. Behind the woman, on the wall, was a Door. An awfully familiar Door. A Door that should have rightfully been located on the opposite side of the room. He squinted and adjusted his glasses, as if making it clearer would prove it was just a fake. But his gut feeling told him that it was altogether very real, and something very eerie was afoot.

He turned back to the woman, snatched the proffered plastic card, and began to punch in numbers into his keyboard.

“Sir,” murmured a soft voice, coupled with a persistent tug on his arm.

Antonio looked down. It was the young girl.

“Yes, dear?” he asked kindly.

“Why won’t you play with him? Why won’t you play with that boy?” she asked plaintively.

“What boy?” asked the confused Antonio.

“He says you’re too old. Too old. Too old… not like that other boy… Tommy, Tommy, Tommy,” she trailed off, no longer really talking to Antonio anymore, “Why won’t you play with him, Tom? Why won’t you play with the boy in the mirror? Play, play, play with him… he’s so lonely. If you don’t wanna play with him, Tommy… he’ll cover you in blood…”

Antonio felt cold fingers pressing deep into his spine. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Not because of the obviously insane girl with the strange gleam in her eyes, but because he could clearly hear the strange creaking of the Door that never opened, and it was, unmistakeably, coming from right behind him.


Thomas shuffled through the doorway of the little shop, rubbing blearily at his eyes, which now bore dark bags that contrasted sharply with his pale skin. He blinked as he saw a dark shape lurching towards him, and recoiled instinctively. As well as deteriorating rapidly, his eyesight was now having extreme trouble focussing on things, and most things now just seemed like a blur of colour.

“Thomas!” greeted the familiar voice of Bianca, “What happened to you these past few days? You look like crap!”

Thomas ignored her and staggered over to a chair and slumped into it. He reached almost drunkenly into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. Peering at it short-sightedly, he stared at it for a while before tentatively touching it. Feeling damp liquid on his fingers, he discarded it carelessly before reaching back in. He repeated this procedure several times, before finally pulling out a page that was dry. He wobbled over to where Antonio was watching in mute shock.

“Boss,” slurred Thomas in a hushed whisper, “Sorry about this, but I wanna quit. Need to quit. Don’t wanna play no more. Leave me alone… ”

The old man reached over to gently prise the piece of paper out of his employee’s hand, ignoring the man’s soft ramblings that pierced the tense atmosphere.

In an extremely shaky hand, the note succinctly summed up the gist of what Thomas was saying: ‘I resign.’ But under it, curiously was a single word, scrawled even less intelligibly than the rest. After tilting his head, Antonio finally deciphered it to originally have read ‘Please.’ The entire note was smudged with red smears and fingerprints, as if Thomas had tried to write with his hands covered in crimson paint.

Shrugging, Antonio placed his hand on Thomas’ shoulder. The young man span around as if he had been stung, leapt back, stumbled, fell over, and scrambled back on all fours like some sort of strange crab.

Blinking in surprise, Antonio stepped forward slowly, his hands raised in the air to show he didn’t hold any sort of weapon. He dimly noticed his wife watching silently in his peripheral vision. He didn’t know what caused Thomas to become like this, but maybe it was better if he did stop working, even for a few days. Heck, even he was considering retiring now. He was starting to hallucinate or something… maybe it was dementia or one of those fancy mental diseases that were being discovered all the time, he thought idly. Strange, he thought, all these hallucinations all seem to revolve around the Door at the back.

“Thomas, ah… I understand. I …um…accept your resignation, but I just want you to know that if you ever want to come back and work, you’re welcome to. Just one thing… if you don’t mind, can you come back at 7 o’clock tonight? I need to give you your final pay-check, and I’ve also got a surprise for you,” he said finally.

Thomas looked blankly at him, before shuffling back to the chair and collapsing into it. From that defeated looking posture, he stared unblinkingly at nothing, seeing something that just wasn’t there.

Antonio glanced nervously at the youth, before turning around and shaking his head swiftly. “Okay… I guess you can stay there until 7, if it suits you… You want something to eat?”

The body in the chair ignored him, and Antonio idly noticed that the fingers lying limply on the mahogany armrest were stained a fresh, wet, red. He turned around once more to man the counter and nearly let out a girly shriek. The hallucination of the mirror on the Door, which now seemed to take it upon itself to move itself around the shop, was staring him straight in the face. But what startled him was that behind his reflection, the soulless gaze of Thomas’ reflection bore into his soul, a menacing grimace that completely changed the normally cheerful boy’s entire demeanour. Antonio whirled around, and saw that the real Thomas was just where he had left him, sitting in the chair and facing the doorway in a 90˚ angle from where he had been shown in the mirror.

Antonio abruptly changed direction and headed towards the workstations, steadfastly refusing to look at either the boy, or his reflection.


Thomas slowly slid one blood-slicked finger back and forth along the wood grain on the armrest of the chair. His eyes slowly tracked across the room, seeing countless copies of the same mysterious Door. One Door close to his left creaked threateningly, and his eyes darted nervously towards the doorframe. It inched open for a second, before creaking back shut. He redirected his gaze in front of him as a Door tilted slightly to allow his reflection to look directly at him. It opened its mouth; an action mirrored by all its fellows throughout the room, and licked its lips slowly.

Thomas shuddered, but apart from that, displayed no visible reaction. During the past few days, he had been starting to see the weird Door from the shop everywhere, even at home in his apartment, at first only occasionally, but later with alarming frequency. His roommates didn’t seem to notice, and Thomas had begun to find endless notes identical to the one he had found from that one day when it all started. He could no longer sleep at all, as the invasive creaking in addition to the thought of the empty stares observing him while he slept defencelessly was unnerving enough to keep him awake even though he was so tired that he couldn’t even muster up the strength to fix up a meal.

Now they had seemingly multiplied, and the reflections have started to move independently of each other, each behaving more and more sinisterly. Only a single theme seemed to tie their actions together- the desire for him to ‘play’ with them.

He half-heartedly glanced at the Door to his left again. It was incidentally where the Door had originally been standing when he had begun to work here. This time it creaked open a little more. Enough for Thomas to catch a glimpse of what lay beyond. And instead of the expected red wall of bricks that should have been there, Thomas saw only darkness, and the reflected light off a gleaming white skull.


Antonio rubbed at his eyes blearily. Glancing at his watch, he dimly registered that it was 6 o’clock and he needed to go and get Thomas’ ‘surprise’. The ‘surprise’ in question was actually a pair of glasses. Antonio had realised that the youth’s eyesight was starting to worsen, and had secretly constructed a pair of spectacles specially tailored for Thomas’ eyes. With a sinking feeling, though, Antonio remembered that he had left the gift at home.

“Bianca dear,” he called, “Would you mind the shop for a while? I need to pop down back home to pick up Thomas’ present.”

Bianca smiled warmly.

“Sure, dear,” she replied.

Antonio strode over and gave his wife a large hug. As he snuggled deeper into her comforting embrace, he noticed, with a growing sense of horror, that he was staring straight into the eyes of one of his ‘hallucinations’. And this one was smiling in a distinctly unfriendly manner.


Bianca wiped her brow tiredly, glancing back at Thomas to see if he had moved from where he had sat for most of the day. He hadn’t. She picked up a broom and began to sweep the room out. She glanced anxiously out the window, and noticed that it was beginning to go dark rather quickly for an autumn afternoon. She soon forgot about the idle thought and occupied herself by sweeping the floor. She moved behind the counter, but abruptly stopped as she heard the distinctive rustle of papers being disturbed by the stiff bristles of the broom. She looked down in curiosity, and realised that the sound was being made by the numerous scraps of paper that Thomas had dropped in the store earlier. She had hurriedly swept them behind the counter in order to prevent potential customers from seeing it and leaving because of the mess. It had left a wet red stain on the ground, but Bianca had quickly wiped it up with a wet rag.

Bianca looked quizzically at the papers littering the ground. She could have sworn there was a lot more papers now then there had been earlier. She glanced at the borderline mountainous heap of paper, and after a moment of deliberation, bent down to inspect it. Reaching down, Biance slowly peeled away a single sheet from where it lay stuck to its neighbour. Turning it over, she read the message smeared on it, face impassive.

Finally, she stood up and started walking briskly to where Thomas sat, resolve clear on her face. She knew he was in danger. Horrible danger.

Brother… she thought nostalgically.


Thomas watched the Door in front of him with a sort of passive interest. His eyelids felt like they weighed ten tonnes each, but he didn’t dare close them. He knew if he closed them for longer than a few beats, then the nightmares would start up again. At least, he thought they were nightmares. He wasn’t quite sure anymore. Horrific images, violent murders, scenes from someone else’s perspective.

He watched, patiently, uncaringly, as the Door opened in front of him. It creaked threateningly at him, as the hinges groaned under years of disuse and neglect. Thomas idly wondered how the Door even worked. Right now it seemed to open from thin air- a mysterious doorway in the middle of the room. But even as Thomas shifted his gaze aimlessly, he counted at least 6 other Doors, identical to the one around him, scattered around the room. Some were affixed to surfaces while others, like the first one, simply stood straight up from the ground, without any support whatsoever. Strange, Thomas thought. He was staring into the mirror of one of the Doors where stood at a 45˚ angle from him. The reflection showed him staring at himself, like always, tinted yellow and looking vaguely sinister, but for once not moving independent of himself.  But the strange thing was that the reflection did not show the back of the Door that stood in front of him now. He could see the counter that he knew was behind him, but there was nothing out of the ordinary in that reflection. No extra creepy Doors, nothing else. Nothing except an emaciated, weary boy staring at himself, jumping at things that didn’t exist.

Slowly, Thomas once again directed his line of sight back at the Door in front of him. It had now opened fully, and a dark gaping maw stared him in the face. So this was what lay behind the Door, he thought with finality.

Then, out of that terrible void, a single finger stretched out and beckoned. It was a hideous finger, full of dark promises and premonitions. In terms of appearance, the finger bore a great resemblance to a human index finger heavily into the process of decaying. In many places, dull white bone could be seen, and mere scraps of worn flesh and muscle held the individual segments of the finger together.

In a daze, Thomas stood slowly, his bloodstained fingers pushing away the chair. Hesitatingly, he stepped forward, his feet crunching on more blood soaked notes that he couldn’t remember ever getting there. He moved forward until he stood, precariously, a few centimetres from the threshold of the darkness, which loomed there, a terrible presence that lurked at the edge of his conscience.

He glanced at the horrific remains of the human arm to his right, before he stepped inside. The mangled caricature of an arm slowly withdrew, bending around to clasp the boy in what seemed to be a welcoming embrace.

Meanwhile, the Door slammed shut with a somehow sinister decisiveness, before slowly fading from view.


Bianca rushed over towards where she had last seen Thomas, her heart beating rapid-fire as she ran. She turned around the counter, and then slipped on some of the blood-streaked paper. She fell heavily onto her side and let out a violent curse as the wind was driven forcefully out of her lungs.

Wincing, the aging woman gingerly picked herself up, taking note of the crimson carpet of paper littering the ground and the many Doors that stood around the shop, creating countless identical reflections that stared at her in sinister tandem.

She gave a rueful chuckle.

“Will you never grow up, Marco? The Bloodstained Pages, the Door that Moves, all of these are just stunts you pulled when we were still living in Italy. You… Marco, talk to me, face to face. Brother to sister. Like we did… before the ‘incident’. You can’t keep hiding behind these parlour tricks, fratellino,” she said in a conversational tone.

She then, lightly kicked one of the Doors that stood near her. It abruptly swung around and faced her, the mirror on its face gleaming strangely. Suddenly the image of a boy, around the age of 10, faced her, with an odd smile on his face. He was short, with light brown hair and hazel eyes that sparkled with enigmatic light. He had the same slightly elongated nose as Bianca, and sported a birthmark on his left cheek, something Bianca also shared, albeit on the other side.

“Bianca. How nice to see you again! It’s such a coincidence that we meet again. It’s been what? Forty, no fifty years or so since I died, or something? No, really, it’s so amazing that you came to work in the same shop I was haunting!” the boy cheerfully remarked.

Bianca growled in exasperation.

“Don’t give me that! You know that it was no coincidence! That Door- it has followed me ever since I left Italy. I always suspected it was you- I saw flashes of shadow in the corner of my eye, illusions and glimpses of nothing concrete. That Door. It has been everywhere. Dodging my steps, watching my every move. This has to stop now! Leave my shop alone! What did you do to Thomas?”

The boy’s smile only grew wider.

“Tommy… Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. Tommy is my new friend. He plays with me. Why are you so interested, anyway? You want to see him? Go ahead,” he murmured maliciously.

He reached back, in the reflection, to one of the Doors that stood- a reflection in a reflection, and opened it. Thomas, emaciated to looking like a mere sack of bones, collapsed out of the dark Door-shaped void. Marco, on the other hand, ignored the obviously unhealthy (to say the least) state of the boy, and reached out, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck.

Despite being much shorter than Thomas, Marco then dragged him over to the edge of the reflection, until he was basically face-to-face with his former employer.

The soulless gaze of what used to be a perfectly normal boy stared at Bianca beseechingly, before mouthing two words, perfectly distinguishable even to Bianca’s deteriorated sight. ‘Help me’.

“You… monster…” she grated through clenched teeth, “the ‘haunted’ door inside the laundry… the door with the painting with the strange people…it was you… the noises, the ‘accidents’, the ‘disappearances’… Nana… Benedict, Angela… oh my god, even Bruno! Our dog, Marco, our dog! He loved you!”

Marco shook with laughter.

“Yes! It was all me! Everyone wanted to play with me! It was their duty to play with me! I just… hah! Helped them along,” he admitted with a deranged grin.

Bianca had started pacing in horror, her hands clawing at her hair as she started to connect the dots.

“But if you were inside the Door, the Door inside the laundry, where did you put them? Nana and the rest? Where? Oh… no. No, no, NO! Not… the painting!” she cried in denial.

Marca cackled in maniacal glee, exclaiming, “Got it in one, sorella! This Door, the Door which has followed you all throughout your life, once stood in the laundry in our house in Italy! And this mirror… guess what the reverse side is?”

Slowly, horrifically, the door began to creak, a slow grinding sound, like a whetstone being driven slowly over a chalkboard. Abruptly, a resounding crack was heard as the mirror swung from one side of the Door like a demented cupboard door, before breaking off and dropping to the ground.

Bianca stared at it in horrified confusion, silently debating whether or not to turn it over. Finally, curiosity got the better of her and she bent down and, with a heave, flipped the large mirror over.

As Bianca stared at the painting that once stood on the wall at her house, she felt her dread mount for each passing second. What used to be a lovely panoramic watercolour depicting the house and the surrounding landscape had been heinously changed. The inherent brightly coloured brushstrokes had been smeared with grime and soot, ruined after years of neglect. It also looked like someone had crudely redefined some of the features, outlining some and smothering others, with what seemed to be a stick of wood or other rudimentary tool.

But what was most disturbing was the number of small figures dotting the landscape, standing stationary like silent sentinels. These, unlike the rest of the art piece, were in full colour and were constructed with minute detail and precision.

Bianca sucked in a silent breath and let out a quiet sob. She half expected this, but to see it outlined in vivid detail and undoubtable evidence was quite a blow to her. She slowly tracked her eyes over the painting, slowly remembering every single face, all known to her, all gone. Tears slid down aged cheeks as she stared at the youthful smiles and pained grimaces that lay side-by-side, entombed in paint and canvas.

“They played with me for ages,” remarked Marco, without a hint of remorse, “But they were all mean. At first, they didn’t want to play with me at all. ‘Let me out,’ they said. ‘Why am I stuck in this painting?’ they said. But I made them play. They didn’t want to play, so I had to make them play. They were my toys, my playthings. But they were so boring. Always crying, always wanting to leave, wanting to go back. But you can’t go back. Never… ever… ever. But I got tired of them, because they were so boring. So boring. So boring. I stopped playing with them. But they kept yelling at me. Pleading with me. Talking to me. ‘Why are you doing this, Marco?’, ‘I cried at your funeral, Marco, honest!’, ‘I was always nice to you and your sister Marco,’ ‘Marcus! As your teacher, I order you to let me out!’… blah, blah, blah. So I kept getting new toys, and they were all mean. So I broke them, to shut them up. But I was lonely, and wanted someone to play with me again. Then I thought of you, sorella! I followed you all throughout your life, but you were always suspicious of my Door, the Door that looked like the one from our house in Italy, and you never gave me any chances. So I waited, biding my time, gathering my strength, and watched. Play with me, Bianca! Like we used to when we were young. PLAY WITH ME!”

Bianca stared at the painting, only half-listening to her brother’s monologue. She stared at the two figures that stood, with the warm smiles she knew so well, next to the dog, Bruno. She stared at the representation of the two people who had meant the world to her when she was young, the two people who had symbolised safety and love. Tears fell without resistance or any inclination of slowing.

Mama! Papa!Fratello… no… you don’t deserve that title- …Marcus… you are out of control. You need to be stopped,” murmured Bianca, through her tears.

She twisted and whipped out Antonio’s Beretta Cheetah from the pocket of her dress and placed it squarely on the forehead of the half-rotted corpse that had lunged out of opening of the Door where the mirror had been. The decaying fingers stretched out, only inches from her neck.

Bianca quickly gripped the top of the gun and pushed harder against the skull. The maniacally grinning mouth chattered restlessly, repeating a raspy machinegun chorus consisting of repeated ‘play with me’s.

She racked the gun, yanking the slide down, and fired.


Antonio walked through the open door of the dark shop, absentmindedly wondering why Bianca had left it open. He blinked in surprise as he saw his wife watching him in surprise, a smoking gun (his smoking gun, he realised in some small corner of his mind) in her hand.

He stepped forward to embrace the teary-eyed woman in his arms when he crashed into something very solid. He glanced at it in surprise and with an eerie feeling of unease, squinted at it short-sightedly.

His reflection, seemingly next to his wife, stared back.

-Kevin Tang 10F

(Feedback would be nice!)

POEM – INTO THE NIGHT – Nathan Nguyen

Be still.

Winter, the lifeless mocker of loss.

 The houses all stare at starry skies. An assortment of flats,                                                                                              townhouses and apartments embellish the street.                                                                                                                                   In the midst stands like a lone ranger a deserted warehouse.                                                                                                          Sub-streets branch out like tributaries, comparable to veins in a human body.

 Listen to the hearts beating as one.                                                                                                                                                           Listen to the hearts that race, that hurts, that bleeds.                                                                                                                           Close your eyes, be still and listen. Listen.

 Heed to the trees talking tall, the neighbours’ voices blaring though walls.                                                                                   Hear the dogs and cats that play games of murder.                                                                                                                    Listen to the tenderness of an infant sucking on a dummy. Welcome                                                                                           the mother’s delicate croon for the infant to go to sleep.                                                                                                                    Wait and listen. Wait for the baby to drift away in ecstasy.

 Observe the street as it falls fast asleep.                                                                                                                                    Listen to the death that night has carried to the street.                                                                                                           Eavesdrop on the husbands’ snore; the wives’ silent weep about her pain                                                                       and the children drifting into a world of fantasy, a world where                                                                                                    limits and boundaries don’t exist. The young boys’ dream hungrily                                                                                                  of a world of battles, battles for victories while the girls’ dream                                                                                               of how they imagine love to be. How they think love feels and how it appears.                                                                But only you know how love feels.

 Look at the glorious colours and faded yellows that                                                                                                                 adorn gardens in the random. Only an avid gardener can see and hear                                                                               the birds twitter amid the clatter of noises made by the intrusion                                                                                           of a reckless hoon. See the polluted dust rain over fairies pirouetting in the moonlight.                                                 The moonlight is the only light physically ominous feature in the swallowedbydarkness street.

 Peer out the window. A single woman living in a house receiving streams of                                                                                       male visitors cause gossip wondering what’s up. Speculate that other building,                                                                the one with varnished doors and veneered brick walls.                                                                                                                           See the personalities being exhibited on sleeves and faces. It’s personalities                                                                                              that tangles between violence and brawls, fights that snatch attention.

 The caged doors hold secrets and fears.                                                                                                                                              Fears of rejection, dejection and imperfections. The windows                                                                                           conceal other’s hidden pain. Houses are the only safe-deposit boxes of the street.                                                                 Yet, though it must always be darkest before the dawn,                                                                                                                         light can be lit even in the darkest of places. Because,                                                                                                          let me warn you that magic is not just in fairy tales…

 Take control of the night, because you have the supremacy to do anything. 

Nathan Nguyen Year 9 

Matt Lyons – Imaginative Piece (yr 10 Eng)



A locked door, a wooden frame separating myself from a horde of crazed people. They begin to thump their palms, pale as the moon, upon the door. As an extra precaution, I drag a wardrobe over to fortify the entrance, though I can’t say I’m brimming with confidence.


I lay my back against the wall, checking my handgun’s magazine. Twelve rounds left, and no remaining stock to reload. I curse quietly, for I’d already spent four several minutes before on two men. However, they can’t really be called men, nor any of the others that are after me. They’re more animals than humans now, but of course, my briefing a month ago said nothing of the sort…


Many children would leap at the chance to become a spy or a secret agent. The reality is a five-figure sum salary for either trying to keep a principle alive or going on a crazy mission like this. At least, that’s how I, Dante, U.S Secret Agent, thinks of it.


There’s a motto that the Secret Service follows. The less the agents know, the less they have to feel guilty about. I was ordered to fly to an island off the coast of Venice with Ryan, my fellow agent, and investigate any suspicious activity. I was also informed I could expect hostility from the ‘locals’. What the report lacked was letting me know that the term ‘locals’ no longer applied to these…monsters. Their eyes glow crimson, and they run at speeds which would shame an Olympian. Not exactly an ideal opposition.


I remember writing the story of one of my previous missions on my laptop in my New York apartment, when my phone rang to offer me this undertaking. Of course, I could’ve continued typing how I’d managed to raid a house used as a heroin mill without backup. But, as a secret service agent for the U.S government, I made a pledge like all the others to serve this country. And so, I picked up the phone. Not a good idea.


However, logic wouldn’t save me here. Several arms rotted with decay puncture the door, while their owners spit colorful curses at me. One of them is armed with a hunting knife, and I experience a moment of weakness. That knife had sat in a sheath owned by Ryan. He was a loyal friend, and we had shared over 10 campaigns together in our careers. Unfortunately, when we arrived here, we were ambushed by them, and Ryan was killed.




However, mourning would not bring him back, and so I run up the stairs of the house and into the building’s master bedroom. I swiftly pull a dresser over to block the door, and then creep to the room’s window. With care, I look over the sill.


The monsters are still attempting to break through the door, and I feel some relief that I might live a bit longer. However, the feeling is extinguished, when two others come running, both armed with medieval crossbows. I retreat from the sill, cursing the lack of detail in my briefing.


From my documents, I was told the ‘locals’ had been altered, that their physique had been improved at the cost of intelligent thought. What it should have also said was that they would attack on sight with the same fervor sharks employ to kill their prey. I clutch my handgun tighter. Another reason these abominations need to be sorted out.


CLUNK! A crossbow bolt embeds itself into the window sill. A rope is attached to it, and it bends with the weight of the same monster with Ryan’s knife. It climbs into the room, and the crossbow bolt falls from its perch. It sees me, and snarls, knife at the ready.


Not hesitating, I fire three shots, two to the chest and one to the head. The chest shots seem to do nothing, yet the head shot blows it clean off. The body crumples to the ground. Breathing deeply, I retrieve the knife. Then, the body decomposes into a foul liquid smelling of rotten flesh, before being absorbed into the tartan rug.


I judge my situation. From the groans outside, I am faced by many monsters, with a gun with only 9 rounds left, and a serrated hunting knife. At that point, if I were a betting man, my money would remain in my pockets. I walk to the window sill, and face the horde.


They’d killed Ryan, and looked and fought as though they were from a depraved nightmare in a horror movie. Now, this was no longer a mission. This was a time for fighting for a friend’s memory.


I leap through the window, landing onto the cobblestones. I turn and face what is most likely my end. Saliva drips from the maws of them as they stare hungrily at me. I look at them calmly, yet my heart is a motor, pumping adrenaline through my body.


Even if I fall to them, I’ll make sure it will only be so if they work damn hard for that outcome.


I stood in the peaceful bliss of the forest edge. The moon, cold and bright hung in the pitch black sky. And on a perfect night like tonight, only a breeze could disturb the silence of the night. And as the low branches swayed in the darkness, I came to ponder why is it that I had arrived at this very spot in the wilderness.

I was born into wealth, being the only son of wealthy investors. I detested my life, which was one of being perpetually harboured from the social life I so desired. After my parents passed away I moved on to become an entrepreneur, which was only due to my parents’ will. Before I knew it, I was a mirror image of them; arrogant but fragile, I hated myself for it. Quickly rising to fame, I thought the world recognised me. However, that was when I became confused.

Society did not recognise me. Rather, they recognised the products I churned out for them in a never-ending cycle of innovation and production. I quickly grew cynical of society, knowing full well now why my parents didn’t dare let me fraternise with those below me. Steadily I grew richer, yet despite my elaborate spending, my reserves of money would not deplete. My occupation kept my funds growing to the point of incredibility.

In a final attempt to stop the flow of money become recognised, I donated large portions of my wealth to charity organisation I would have cared nothing for. Despite my ignorance, my premonition of going by unnoticed was proved to be irrelevant. I barely even had the mentality to realise if I had been recognised. These charities, with the help of my wealth, made headlines worldwide about being able to develop past any expected point. It was then that I realised I didn’t even need to be noticed to feel good about yourself. These people were leading better lives because of me, and I couldn’t have cared less about being noticed or not. The role you play in the world only goes as far as your desire it to be.

I soon became intent on making the world a better place rather than take advantage of its desires. Slowly, my revenue started to diminish, and I saw the world around me expand beyond imagination with the absence of my products. I had abandoned that ambition long ago. When I realised that I had lived well and truly long enough, I retreated into the wilderness that I now live.

It truly is peaceful here, away from the dramas of life. And this is where I will be resting, knowing full well that the world has turned me from a life of isolation and hate to a life of charity.

(Just something I decided to write for my English assignment)

Heart of Darkness and Cultural Decline



Heart of Darkness and Cultural Decline

NB: This is something I wrote for the Signal Express; the original link can be found http://thesignalexpress.com.au/archives/2359. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

If you’ve ever listened to the voice of the dormant English professor in the back of your head telling you to read more and decided it was time to research lists of the ‘Greatest Books ever Written’, you’d find most list Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness somewhere near the top. Set in the heart of the African Congo during the era of European colonisation, it follows the story of the enigmatic protagonist Charlie Marlow as he works for a Belgian trading company, transporting ivory downriver.

Before I delve into the plot of Heart of Darkness, I would just like to note that the novella was written over one hundred years ago. Compared to many of the action-packed page-turners of today, Conrad’s ‘masterpiece’ may at first read as if it were written in Polish and put through Google Translate fifteen times. It lacks guns, magic, romance and even seems to lack a plot. So why is it considered one of the greatest books ever written, and part of the Western canon?

You’ll have to read on to find out.

The story begins with a number of men sitting on a yawl (a kind of boat) on the River Thames, Charlie Marlow among them. He is the only one of them still a sailor – the only one who “still followed the sea”, the anonymous narrator informs us. Marlow then begins to tell his friends a story about a job he had taken in the past, which brought him to the heart of Africa.

Working for a company known simply as ‘The Company’, Marlow’s official job was to transport ivory via steamboat. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Not quite. Heart of Darkness is set during the Imperial colonisation of Africa, a time during which White people were aiding in the ‘civilisation’ of the Africans. The distinction here is clear – the European imperialists considered themselves superior to the ‘uncivilised’ and ‘savage’ native African. As Marlow travels deeper and deeper into the Congo, he sees external signs of this distinction: agents of the European Company are seen commanding chain-gangs of overworked natives, with brutality and cruelty never too far away.

To add to this, Marlow quickly hears about an idealistic man named Kurtz, who pulls in “more ivory than all the other agents combined”. A lone Russian Trader describes him as a man who has “enlarged his mind”, but generally Kurtz is shrouded in enigmatic mystery until Marlow arrives at his station to learn that Kurtz is, essentially, a man who has gone insane.

Having convinced the natives he was some kind of god, Kurtz reveals himself to us as someone who has immersed himself in an incredible darkness and savagery. He leads brutal raids on the surrounding territories, engages in “unspeakable rites” and sacrifices and there are drying heads on stakes around his house. Even the natives fear Kurtz, but Marlow and his crew decide to take him on board and depart back towards the mouth of the Congo. Once on board, though, Kurtz becomes progressively more ill, and Marlow is both fascinated and repulsed by him.

So what makes this book the masterpiece that it is? In short, its ideas. Many have considered Heart of Darkness an exploration into the nature and depths of the darkness and evil within each and every one of us. The natives of Heart of Darkness are considered savages, yet in many ways they are no more brutal nor cruel than the supposedly civilised imperialists. Kurtz is portrayed as a man who has embraced the darkness inherent in humanity instead of wearing the façade of civilisation that the rest of us wear, but at the same time he is described as a “remarkable” person who gathers many admirers.

But does a novella like Heart of Darkness have any other place in the world apart from gathering dust on an English professor’s bookshelf, or to torture literature students? A hundred years ago, it may have been considered popular reading, but culture, like fashion, changes quickly.  As a purely academic endeavour, reading Heart of Darkness is like eating a buffet of foreign delicacies – it can be overwhelming, and you may not initially know why the food you’re eating is considered a delicacy, but after you’ve digested it, you can begin to appreciate it. However, compared to many popular novels of today (read: page-turning bestsellers), Heart of Darkness can be described in one word: boring.

Is this sentiment a result of how our culture has progressed from intellectually heavy and rewarding material to the lower-brow obsessions of today? Perhaps. With the progressive introduction of newer technologies we have become increasingly able to access more and more content far more quickly than ever before. As a result, the content that now constitutes our culture needs to be able to grab our attentions and satisfy our entertainment urges more than ever before. Effectively, our entertainment has become instantly gratifying and insanely amusing, but relatively lacking in intellectuality.

Take the continuation of a show such as Jersey Shore, and the discontinuation of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Jersey Shore emphasises elements such as women getting punched by drunken men, a partying lifestyle and the size of particular male cast members’ abdominal muscles. These elements are amusing and attention-grabbing, and allow us to entertain a notion of superiority. But they do nothing for our minds.

On the other hand, Whedon used his space drama Firefly to explore ideas such as human fallacy and the fact that “nothing will change in the future: technology will advance, but we will still have the same political, moral, and ethical problems as today”. Consider the depth of a discontinued show such as this alongside the success of arguably less intellectual shows such as Jersey Shore.

Maybe, in the world of modern technology with its endless amount of ever-present stimulation at our fingertips, only the most interesting, attention-grabbing content survives. If a supermodel walked into your room right now, it’s likely your attention will shift towards him/her, and the conclusion of this article will remain unread. Although this article could provide some form of insight, the supermodel is surely a more attractive focus, and perhaps the same thing is happening in our culture today.

So instead of watching the next episode of Jersey Shore, perhaps it’s time to pull out dust off your copy of Heart of Darkness.

(No Title)

I wrote this poem for one of my english assignments last year, and i purposely left the titile blank. It was supposed to be about a calamity, so i wrote this.


I stare in silence,

At the ice cold raging fury.

Summoning all of its thirst and power,

Clinging on, using its talons, trying to grasp our very hearts,

Ripping them away, flushing them deep through,

Through the deep murkiness of the water.


I stare in silence,

As the great mass, body of water,

Sweeps through the future and forever bleak lands,

Engulfing all of the heavinly beauties.

Taking away our friends, families and homes.


I stare in silence,

On top of the tattered building,

The foundations barely holding from the force of the water,

“Oh why, oh why dear God” i pray,

I wave my lethargic arms towards the approaching helicopter,

Looming colser and closer.

A tear envelopes my eye,

Falling down, down, down,

Into the demon,

That had started it all.

The Official blog for Melbourne High Writing Interest Group (WIG)

%d bloggers like this: