Sensory Stones - Part I

Once there was a man who simply would not die for good. He would roam around looking for answers and find himself killed, by accident or deliberately. Then he would simply wake up again on a slab in some morgue forgetting everything there is in this world, including himself. But most of all, he always wondered what made him immortal in the first place.

He did not know what previous incarnations have done and how closer they are to the truth. Sometimes he stumbled upon the kindness of his previous self, and sometimes he discovered the horrible deeds his cruel self had done. Nevertheless, he made it his personal quest to find the truth.

One day he came upon the Public Sensorium while exploring the city he always find himself awake in. The Sensorium held 'sensory stones' - magical stones which held specific feelings and experiences of those willing to share them for visitors of the Sensorium to experience. These stones appeared like normal rocks, apart from the familiar glow they emit, and they are set on waist-high pedestals.

The man approached on the stones. They title card on the pedestal read: 'mind-numbing tedium'. He placed his hand on the surface of the stone and closed his eyes.

The experience couldn't be more than a few minutes long, but hours seemed to pass... a long, boring lecture in the driest, dustiest hall in the University of Chalm. I looked about the vast hall, hoping to catch someone's eye to pull a face at - but the other students were either asleep or staring listlessly into space. I dropped my quill pen, picked it up, and dropped again... just for something to do. I considered stabbing myself in the eye with it, just to see if my sense hadn't been wholly numbed by the incredible boredom...

Perhaps there was some benefit in not remembering, an immortal's years must include long stretches of tedium.

The man touched the experience 'bitter loathing'.

Venomous tears of pain brimming in my narrow yellow eyes, I gathered the tattered remains of my small, scaled, red wings off the floor. I humbly backed out of Groba's studyy, gritting my needle-like teeth beneath sealed lips.

Sure, I was only a spinagon - least among devils - but that was no cause for Groba to tear my wings off because he didn't like the message I had brought him! What would my master do, now? He certainly couldn't say anything to Groba, and what use was a spinagon without its wings? I would probably get cast into the Pit of Flame for "incompetence"!

Vengeance out of the question, there was little to do but shake my clawed fist and hate, hate, hate Groba with all the loathing my hard little black devil's heart could muster...

Besides the many the immortal man had killed in his lives, there must have been others, the friends and lovers of those he killed, anyone who stood in his way, who had loathed him.

The experience 'pure glee'.

Dancing and leaping about in a rhythm with the wood elves' bouncing festival music, I and a dozen other dancers spun through the forest clearing like a whirling dervish, smiling and laughing like mad. As the cheering forest dwellers whooped, clapped and danced alongside me, fairies careened through the air above our heads, leaving sparkling trails of coloured light...

The man was in a rare good mood for some minutes after this experience.

The experience 'consuming impatience'.

I stood debating with Amnas the Horribly Slow, who is the keeper of the Lion Key, as to whether or not my quest was important enough for him to relinquish the key into my care. The whole experience was an exercise in sheer torment... each and every one of his words was followed by a significant pause; each and every point he made was reiterated time and again before he let me speak. I presented an argument... then waited, and waited, and waited while he made his counterpoint. To which I shot out a snappy counterpoint of my own... then must wait yet again for another of Amnas's drawling, meandering, seemingly endless counterpoint. It was everything I could do not to simply lop his head off and snatch the key from his corpse...

This reminded the man of his frustration at not being able to read the language in which the journal he found was written.

The experience 'horrible regret'.

I stood on the deck of my flagship, the Divine Hammer, as it floated over the continent of Agarheim, held aloft by the winds. The very landscape roiled and shuddered beneath the bombardment of my fleet, one thousand ships' cannons and bombards hurling their sorcerous fire down like vengeful beings. The shockwaves had begun to hit my ship only minutes ago - a constant vibration that sent shudders through the whole of the ancient craft and moved my very bones - accompanied by a constant, rumbling bass. As the land's mountains began to sink and the seas that surrounded it began to boil off  into the atmosphere, my first officer came to stand beside me.

"My Lord Admiral... permission to speak freely, sir."

I nodded my acquiescence, my stomach sinking as I guessed at his question.

"My lord... forgive me, but how? What gives us the right? A billion lives..."

I spoke without turning to him, unable to take my eyes off Rhumos, the nation's vast capital city, as it vapourised into a cloud of super-heated gasses twelve miles across and growing ever-wider. "If you only knew the full treachery of the Agarites, First Officer Felm, one which is beyond most any man's comprehension... then you would know. You would speak of our right to annihilate them? We've no right to let them live."

"But... sir? Traitors, all of them? Surely, among the hundreds of thousands. How many innocents--"

"Silence! Speak of it no more - our king has spoken, His will be done. The task set to us is a horrible one, not fit for contemplation or questioning. There is no room for pity, no room for remorse - only duty."

The two of us stood silently for a time, watching the last minutes of Agarheim. At long last I sighed... a low, stuttering exhalation that sounded as if something had broken inside me. Beneath the brazen plate that covered the ruined half of my face, my dead eye began to weep...

"Falm... my friend... I would have you understand. I know now, as I look down at what I have wrought here, that were I to think upon what I have done... what I have truly done... I would be struck mad. A deed such as this... the anguish would overwhelm, destroy me. So, First Officer Falm, it must be that there are no innocents in Agarheim... no mothers, no children, no people. Only traitors. Vile, cunning traitors, who deserve no less than the full brunt of our King's wrath. Do you understand this?"

"Y-yes, m'lord."

"Good. Now go... I wish to be alone, here."

"By your command, Lord Admiral." Falm bowed his head and returned below deck, leaving me to stand over the end of a civilisation.

The fact that this experience was here at all in this hall indicated the admiral must later have had second thoughts. The crime committed was horrible, awful, almost inconceivable, yet the man wondered whether he had done worse.

(image credit: Rachel-17 @ deviantART)  
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Short stories

I - The Aging

Once came a man  who had experienced the most beautiful thing in the world. It was his intention to place the experience within on the sensory stones - magical devices which held feelings and memories for an eternity, leaving them for others to partake of.

But he thought about it: wouldn't it being shared dilute the experience? So he held it to himself, precious thing that it was, and aged with the memory. But as he aged, the memory became tarnished and beaten, and he could no longer recall the glory of the experience.

II - The Execution

Once, a murderer roamed the streets, a black-hearted man by the name of Kossacs. He had been blessed by his fiend mother so that no one could strike him with an intent to harm or they themselves would die. He revelled in his blessing, using it to start fights and murder anyone who crossed his path.

During one of his murderous rages, he was captured by the Harmonium Order with nets and brought before the Guvners. The trial was short, final, yet Kossacs laughed at the proceedings, knowing that no one among them could harm him without dying horribly. At the final day of his trial, he was proclaimed guilty and sentenced to death.

Kossacs's sentence proclaimed by the Guvners was this: 'Confinement for thrice thirty days, during which time you shall give up your life, be declared dead, and your body removed when all signs of life cease.' Kossacs laughed and dared any of them to try and harm him, yet the court was silent.

The Harmonium lead Kossacs to their prison and locked him in a dark, empty cell. There was no cot, no lights, and the only door was a steel grate in the ceiling.

As they lowered him into the cell, the Harmonium told him, "In the corner of your cell will you find a chalice. It holds poison. Your death will be swift."

"Aren't you going to execute me?" Kossacs snarled at the guard.

"No one shall lay a hand on you with intent to harm," came the Harmonium's reply.

"Then I spit on your cowardice!" Kossacs laughed, feeling for the chalice in the darkness, then hurling it at the wall and shattering it. Its poison dripped from the walls and dried, until it was no more. "Come then - you will have to try and kill me now."

But there was no response from the grate in the ceiling. It was then that Kossacs noticed the cell had no cot. No lights. And no food and water. All that remained was the chattered chalice, the poison gone. And for the first time, Kossacs knew the icy touch of death's approach.

In thrice thirty days, the grate opened, and Kossacs's body, now cold, was taken from the cell. It had given up its life, and the execution had been carried out.

III - Three Wishes

An elderly man was sitting alone on a dark path. He wasn't certain of which direction to go, and he'd forgotten both where he was travelling to and who he was. He'd sat down for a moment to rest his weary legs, and suddenly looked up to see an elderly woman before him. She grinned toothlessly and with a cackle, spoke, "Now your third wish. What will it be?"

"Third wish?" The man was baffled. "How can it be a third wish if I haven't had a first and second wish?"

"You've had two wishes already," the hag said, "but your second wish was for me to return everything to the way it was before you had made your first wish. That's why you remember nothing; because everything is the way it was before you made any wishes." She cackled at the poor man. "So it is that you have one wish left."

"All right," said the man, "I don't believe this, but there's no harm in wishing. I wish to know who I am."

"Funny," said the old woman as she granted his wish and disappeared forever. "That was your first wish."

IV - The Parched Land

Once, a large village was struck by a terrible drought. A farmer journeyed to the Worshipping Stone, and again implored it as to the cause of the drought. He asked the Stone why it did nothing when the fields were parched and dying, why the animals and the people suffered while the Stone did not a thing.

"Have we not given enough offerings?" the farmer asked, begging almost upon his hands and needs. But the Stone did not respond; it merely sat, and cast its shadow.

(image credit: l2ebis @ deviantART)
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Malignant Monday #1

As part of my ambitious resolve to blog more consistently, I introduce you to a weekly series of stories of how Mondays generally hate me and are scheming behind my back to destroy me. What Monday doesn't know is that I hate it more than I hate doing my laundry. And that is the highest possible level of hatred in this world.


I know you didn't know so let me just tell you this first: I'm pregnant.

(long silence)


Yes, really.

Oh, wow... um, congratulations? Hope you'll get a plump, fat, healthy baby.

Oh, that's very nice of you, you naive idiot.

But actually, no, seriously, I'm really not pregnant. But I might as well be. You see, I'm a clucky man. I generally love kids, especially the not-throwing-the-tantrum kind and babies. Aww, babies.

I'm doing my paediatrics rotation at the moment. So far, I've done four week of it at a hospital and have been absolutely disappointed when my imaginations were shattered by the brutal reality that only a handful of kids are in the wards and newborn babies sleep like ALL THE TIME.

Translation: I couldn't show off my natural charm with kids which means I could make paediatric physical examination anything but a nightmare, and also I couldn't play with babies because otherwise I would be chased out by the nursery nurses flailing pins in their hands (not the rolling kind, but the prickly ones) for waking up a baby they've just put to sleep.

Four weeks I've endured that unbearable suffering of not seeing kids enough. But no fear, today I continue my paeds rotation at another bigger hospital. I shall see and play with kids all I want.

That was at least what I thought when I woke up this morning a la Disney Princess with bright optimism and sunshine. I hate you, Monday.

See, I start off with my paediatric emergency department (ED) roster this whole week. As I was walking off to the hospital, noticing bouncing squirrels and singing along with colourful birds, I imagined myself being so happy and all high in the ED tending to kids coming in one after another. The excitement of paediatric emergency was palpable.

Then the orientation told me only two students are allowed in the ED at any one point because otherwise "it would be too crowded" when there are seven of us in my roster group. Now I know exactly what Maleficent was feeling like when she wasn't invited by the royal king and queen to attend Aurora's birth celebration when other fat fairy godmothers get to come and eat the cake. (Oh, wait, the green one isn't that fat, but she's a cake gobbler just as well.)

God, I hate Monday. And Disney Princesses. Go Team Disney Villains!

We, seven of us, divided the shifts each of us could go to and I get to be lucky one - I didn't manage to get any shifts until 1 p.m. tomorrow. Just when I was already psyched up for ED for a long time.

In my angst, I went down to the staff cafeteria to get some free hot chocolate to cool down my inner fiery dragon. Little did I know Monday had been scheming with all the three vending machines to deny me of free hot choco. I could almost hear a voice saying, "IN YOUR FACE!".

Feeling guilty of not doing anything on my first day, I went to the library to study, which I did for a hour before deciding to walk back home and vent my frustration on food (read: lunch), wait around until about 4 p.m. when I have a lecture at the hospital. After lunch and practising on my acoustic guitar for a full hour, I felt really tired and quickly decided to take a quick nap.

Turns out Monday purposely woke me up at 5 p.m. to spite me.

And my hair's messed up.

P.S. As much as I am clucky, I'm both not that clucky or even ready to have my own babies. But I'll steal your baby anytime.
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