Crossing On A Thin Line

Crossing On A Thin Line

by Anuar Tahir

Chapter 2: The Calm Before the Storm

An invigorating aroma from a piping hot cup of steamed milk permeated Arnold’s lifeless and cold bachelor’s room. There were towering stacks of books; namely theoretical books such as “Take Command” by Kelly Perdew. His old brown journal and exercise books were strewn across the four corners of his messy room.

His mother; Zoey had reminded him umpteen times to get his act together by cleaning his room like a real man should. She stared at Arnold who had his laptop switched on the whole night. He had slept in front of his laptop as the words “Genesis” caught Zoey’s attention. She sighed heavily and left the room with the hot drink in his room.

“Always with his science and logic….he should wake up anytime now” Zoey thought to herself as she closed to door.

Dawn was approaching. It was still dark.

“Look I have to go now. Thank you Arnold” Eynn walked away from the alley in a hurry

“Wait! Can we meet aga..” Arnold let out a soft whisper as he felt something pull him away.

By now the torrential rain has stopped. The tattered-clothed beggars in the district hurriedly picked spots in the old Terry Park to receive sympathy from onlookers. The distinctive brown wooden benches, the old pine trees and the dazzling array of colorful daisies made it one of the best tourist hot spot in South Westminster.

Eynn sat down on a worn-out bench in her bright yellow office wear. She loved that spot; it was situated between two old pine trees and the daises were in full bloom most of the time. It was where her boyfriend proposed to her 4 years ago. Eynn was reading a book as she was patiently waiting for her boyfriend to meet and send her to work.

“Where is he now?” She looked at her watch and her phone vibrated in her black Chanel bag.

“Sorry darling, I cannot make it today. I have to attend a very important meeting in the morning. You go ahead first ok?” she scrolled the message down on her piano black iPhone4.

“Sure. I’ll go first then” She gave a fast reply to her boyfriend.

Eynn let out a disappointed sigh and placed her book inside her bag. It was not the first time her boyfriend did this to her.

“Might as well walk slowly then. I’m still early for work.” Eynn walked off slowly to admire the scenery. She plucked one pink daisy to cheer herself up.

The sun was up. It was morning.

Arnold was still asleep in his disorganized and messy room. His mum had left for work and the steamed milk was still hot.

“Can we meet again!?” Arnold stretched out his hand trying to reach Eynn. He felt something pulled him back from the reverie. He was dreaming.

“Oh crap!” Arnold shouted in angst.

The steamed milk had spilled all over his theoretical notes on “The Machiavellian Moment” The notes were important to him. He had been using the notes as references to write his thesis. Arnold had his eyes locked on his batman watch; it read 7.45am. He gathered all his notes and shut down his computer as fast as he could.

“I’m late! I’m sure this will be the last straw for me” Thoughts swirled in Arnold’s mind as he tried to dry his notes.

Arnold quickly grabbed his mum’s hairdryer to dry the notes clean. He placed the hairdryer adjacently to his notes; to dry it without his supervision. He took his towel and zoomed straight to the toilet. He had no time left to waste.

Arnold had forgotten to switch on his water heater. The cold water trickled down his small-framed body and he shivered violently. He can never take cold baths in the morning or else he’ll get a mild hyperthermia. He washed himself up and didn’t have the luxury to spend any more time longer in the bathroom. He took no longer than a minute to brush his teeth. It was a record for him. No less than ten minutes and he was done.

Arnold went back to his room to check on his notes.

“Great! At least I can continue using them. I’m sure go get an extra long lecture on being late by Mr Jenkins” Arnold saw an angry bearded man with his arms in akimbo looking down at him in his imagination.

Mr Jenkins was a respected lecturer in Dunston High. Arnold had no choice but to face the music sooner or later. He took his black sling bag and stuffed his laptop, notes and a Davidoff perfume in it. He took a good look of himself on the full-body mirror. He was ready for another day at school.

“First, it was that incident in the alley. Then there was the weird dream. Now I’m going to be grilled dead” Arnold thought of a million ways on how his lecturer will do to him later in school.

He drank whatever that’s left of the steamed milk, took the house keys along and left the house for school.

“Wish me luck!” Arnold wished himself to face a great day ahead of him.

©Anuar Tahir. The story is the work of fiction. Any ideas and characters in the story are wholly owned by Anuar Tahir. Do not republish it under your name.

Download the PDF version here. Remember to click “save as” or “save link as”

Crossing On A Thin Line

Crossing On A Thin Line

by Anuar Tahir

Chapter 1: Maelstrom

The south Westminster district was filled with a familiar cry of anguish. Beggars filled the streets. A scruffy-looking old man in his sixties with a tattered red and black blanket warmed his frail body. Beside him, a young girl in a grey worn-out sweater cuddled beside the old man. She wailed at the top of her small lungs as she shivered under the coldness of the night. The night was relentless. It was raining heavily.

Amongst the deafening thunders and cold shivers, a young man pondered about the meaning of life. Sitting on a desk chair with his ivory laptop on his desk, Arnold typed out a 2000-word long thesis. He had been writing it down for the past 3 days and the rain wasn’t helping him. He twirled his pen around and dropped it on the dark parquet flooring. As he tried to pick it up, he saw a crushed note below his desk.

He unfolded the note and read…

“From Jane.  I have fallen in love with you. Please give me a chance to be with you. I’d give you my life, my body, everything you wish dear”.

Arnold cringed and crushed the paper back to its original form. He hadn’t had the time to entertain measly distractions of life such as love.  He has vagaries of his own perception on subjects that touch matters of the heart.

The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love” Arnold thought to himself as he typed his thesis on “Genesis” furiously.

Arnold was given the task to write a thesis that encompassed what it was like being human. He was on a stumbling block; he cannot find a suitable argument to support an idea on love.

“It’s a logical fallacy” Arnold thought.

He tried to get the idea of out of his head and just focus on finishing his work. He had to hand in his thesis to his lecturer by school’s end this year.

“Remember, remember the 5th of November” he looked at his calendar intently.

He switched his gaze to his black batman watch; a treasured birthday gift that was given by his dad 10 years ago. “11.11pm” it showed.

“I am a man of reason; of logic and rationality. In order to succeed in life, I would need those principles. I don’t have to think of feeble things such as love, hope and fate. It is all bullshit” Arnold re-affirmed his views on life as he thought of his idol; Bruce Wayne/Batman. He was the fictional man who helped shaped Arnold be what he is now. __________________________________________________________________________________

Across Arnold’s block, a petite girl with a black-brownish hair walked out of a convenience stall. The rain continued to pour heavily. She took out her pink polka-dotted umbrella to shield herself from the rain. As she walked on the concrete pavement, she saw a young girl with and old man cuddling one another. Her heart sank. She approached the couple and handed two bars of chocolate Éclair to the young girl and the old man.

Unbeknownst to the petite girl, a hooded man with a knife in his hands crept up slowly to her. The young girl screamed loudly to warn the danger that loomed.

Arnold heard the scream and looked out of his window. He scanned around to pin-point the exact source of the scream. A few years in military school taught Arnold some basic survival instincts and he has developed a good sensory of perception of his surroundings. He saved his work and closed the lid on his laptop. He left his apartment and donned on his poncho.

The petite girl knew something terrible was about to happen. She turned behind and saw the man who could take her life away.

Arnold was drenched in cold rain as he ran blindly by instinct towards the source of the scream. As he approached a dark alley, he heard a muffled sound. He tried his best to remain silent. The old man and the young girl saw Arnold. The hooded man had his hand clasped on the petite girl’s mouth.

“Do not make any sound and I will spare you your life, just give me whatever you have in your bag” the hooded man spoke softly in the petite girl’s ears and licked it.

The petite girl flinched and tried to remove whatever she can find in her bag.  As she was rummaging her bag, a photo of her boyfriend dropped on the floor. All she could do now was to think of her boyfriend.

Arnold hid behind a big green trash box and devised a plan to save the girl. “I can use the stealth approach and take him out slowly but that would require co-operation of the young girl and the old man” Arnold thought to himself.

Arnold placed his fingers on his lips and winked to the couple. The couple nodded ever so slightly in unison to assure that they understood Arnold’s gesture.  Arnold had his hands ready for a counter-attack. All Arnold wanted to do now is to execute his plan. Any deviation and it’ll spell trouble. He knew all too well to stick to plans.

“Let’s do this” Arnold re-assured himself

Arnold position himself to execute a sweeping kick on the hooded man’s scrawny legs. He had his hands ready to grab the knife away from the assailant.

The petite girl tensed. She couldn’t take it anymore.

Arnold did a sweeping kick across the assailant’s legs and grabbed the weapon as fast as he could.

“You son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing?”The assailant shouted.

“Doing the right thing” Arnold whispered.

The assailant fell to his knees and Arnold planted a devastating blow on his face. It knocked the living daylights out of the assailant. The assailant had his back faced outwards and his legs were spread apart. Arnold called the police. He did not want the assailant to suffer the coldness of the night alone. He knew how it feels to be alone.

Arnold scanned around and saw the mess around them. Both of them collected the petite girl’s items and looked into each other’s eyes.

“Here you go” Arnold picked up the items and quickly returned them to the petite girl before it got wet any further.

He passed the items to the petite girl and looked into each other’s eyes.

“I bet this is your most treasured possession” Arnold passed the picture of a handsome man to her.

“Yes it is, thank you” the petite girl replied.

“I’m Arnold, May i know what your name is?” Arnold asked

“Eynn” Eynn smiled.

The old man and the young girl had their mouths agape to see how calm the two strangers were after what had happened. They expressed their gratitude to Arnold by thanking him. Arnold offered the couple to stay in his apartment for the night but they refused. Arnold couldn’t bear to watch both of them shiver and tremble in the darkness. He removed his poncho and gave it to the young girl.

Arnold turned around and looked at Eynn. Her demure look gave Arnold an impression that she was traumatized by the nightmare. She was beautiful as the moon. Arnold couldn’t help but look at her sparkling almond-shaped eyes.

“Well then, it’s getting late. I think we should get going now.” Arnold said.

“Yes we should” Eynn said.

“Till we meet again?” Eynn and Arnold spoke those exact words at the same time.

“Yea…wait” Eynn picked up her ringing phone.

“Look, i have to go now. Thank you Arnold” Eynn walked away from the alley in a hurry.

Arnold had the urge to know more about her somehow. The thesis was still in Arnold’s mind. Both of them made their way back. The rain subsided. The old man and the young girl slept peacefully under the shine of the moon.

“What a night…” Arnold thought to himself

The maelstrom was over.

©Anuar Tahir. The story is a work of fiction. Any ideas and characters in the story are wholly owned by Anuar Tahir. Do not republish it under your name.

Download the PDF version here. Note: Right-click and “Save-target As” or “Save Link”