Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage – Lord Byron

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
⁠There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
⁠There is society, where none intrudes,
⁠By the deep Sea, and Music in its roar:
⁠I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
⁠From these our interviews, in which I steal
⁠From all I may be, or have been before,
⁠To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express—yet can not all conceal.

                                                 

                                               May God be with you always.

The Postcard Stranger – A Short Story.

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                          ©copyright belong to Arjun Raghu.

The evening was drawing near but they weren’t losing their hang of it. Marli with his friends was watching football in his home. His parents went to visit their relatives so his house became a fan park that day. The match was played by the local clubs and it was a final matchday. They could not afford to miss it. Marli’s football fever was intense, he used to play for their city club but he was ruled out for the tournament and they have reached the finals. So there in his home, he watched it with his friends, enjoying it. It was almost 6’o’clock when the match ended and Marli’s team won the match by a huge goal difference.

“Boy, that was a match,” Gono said to the group. Gono used to play for the college team but never made it to the Club. Marli was anyway happy for the result, even though he could not part with it.

“I forgot to ask, Raghu. Where were you last week? You didn’t come to play” asked Marli.

“Oh! I went to my grandfather’s place. It was fun and mysterious.” Said Raghu with great pride.

“Mysterious?” the whole group wondered at the same time. Raghu felt awkward hearing them say it together. But he smiled and said yes.

“What happened?” they asked again in the same voice.

This time Raghu told them everything his grandfather told him. His grandfather used to be in the police department. He was a fine officer and have received a gold medal for his valor.

“He told me about many of his investigations especially the case of the postcard serial killer”.

“Postcard?” asked Gono. “How can a postcard be a serial killer?”

“The postcard didn’t kill people. It was the name of the killer. He used to send people postcards before killing them. “

Marli was getting a little frightened. He was always afraid of thieves and killers. But was not ready to stop Raghu from completing the story.

“And the best part is he was never caught”. Raghu told with a big smile on his face.

“That would be enough” Marli stopped him. Everyone laughed. They knew Marli was afraid of all these things.

“Don’t worry, Marli. That was a long time ago. Even if he wasn’t caught, he’s probably dead by now” Gono tried to comfort Marli. But Raghu wasn’t ready to drop it. “but, you know, he may be dead. Still, his ghosts are lurking around.” Raghu laughed.

“Get out now” Marli became angry and kicked Raghu out of his house.

“Alright I will go, but be careful you are alone here.” Raghu kept tampering Marli’s thoughts. Marli searched for something to throw at Raghu, but by the time he got one Raghu and his other friends were nowhere to be seen.

“Idiots,” He told himself of his friends, smiling at his own fear. Marli slowly closed the door and locked it and went and lied on his bed with his cell phone in the hand. A little later he heard the doorbell or thought he heard one because he had his headphone on so he was not that sure. Anyway, he went to see if it was true, but no, there was nobody outside. Just his thoughts. But on the way back he saw a small yellow paper that resembled a sticky note. It was lying on the ground where they were watching football. He walked to it and picked it up. It said:

“Hello”

“what is this?” he thought to himself and turned it over and over. There was nothing else just the word hello. Marli knew it was Raghu’s play. He tore away the paper and went back to his bed but in front of his room, there was another card just the same paper he tore away. It said:

“Hello?”

The joke was going way too far. He tore it and walked to the front door and opened it. For his surprise, the door was locked. He tried the keys, but it didn’t open. Pushing or smashing was noway applicable as the door was made of steel. He could only dream of opening it with a push. The night had arrived and darkness spread over the world. Marli went to switch on the light. The light didn’t work.

“What is wrong with all these things?” he asked out loud for he was frustrated with all the jokes. Marli walked towards his bed to pick up his phone and call his friends. This time, on the bed there was a postcard, that was yellow, old and dusty. It bears the words:

“Don’t go out

Was that a threat he didn’t know. He turned it over and a sudden fear groped his soul and was slicing him to pieces. There were blood stains on back. He dropped it and ran out forgetting his mobile phone. Marli knew there was someone inside his home. Was it a prank or not? he was mentally depressed. He was sweating far greater than when he used to play football. His head was feeling dizzy, his hands shivering.

“THUMP!!!!” His heart started to pound even faster when a large noise like a plate falling on to the ground and breaking was heard.

It was surely from the kitchen because there were no plates anywhere else. He hid behind the door and peeped over the sides to have a view of the kitchen if someone comes out. A slight view of the kitchen was available from the room where he was now standing.

“THWACK!!!” another sound from the kitchen was heard, this time like a bang on the door or window. He hid behind the door and stopped peeping out. To his right, something peculiar stood. It was small and yellow. In a second it slowly flew to him and lied before his feet. He didn’t want to look or pick it up. But he couldn’t control his urge. In a swift motion, he picked it up. A dark fear went down his throat when he read it.

“I am not where you are looking”

He ran out to the door and tried to open it. Marli didn’t want to die today, not like this. He really pushed the door out. Nothing would happen, he knew that. Still, it was worth a try.

There was no other option for him. To pick up the mobile phone was out of the question. There was no way he would go into his bedroom. He ran straight to upstairs. There was just one bedroom. That had stayed locked for many years now. Nobody in his house went there. Nobody liked it, that was the truth. Like it or not, it was the only option he had.

He pushed open the door with all his power and it opened with a little creak. As soon as he got in he closed the door and locked it and sat at the far corner of the room. There was nothing else in the room except some old scraps and newspapers, a window opposite the door. Marli sat there for a long time. He was thirsty, but he would not go down. Hours past, the darkness got stronger. There was no source of light in the room. But he needed to try his luck and walked towards the switch, for his delight the light was on and he had a better view of where he was. He slowly came back to the place where he sat. Near him laid a bundle of old newspapers. Marli slowly pulled out a paper on top. It was really old, almost a century old. On the front page, there was a news headline that made Marli go mad. It said:

“The postcard Killing counts 127 and more!”

It didn’t end there, from the inside fell a yellow postcard with two words written in blood.

“Got you!”

Marli’s eyes were staring on to the postcard, his hands were shivering, his shirt was fully wet of sweat. He could have died of fear but his attention was taken by a bang on the door. A loud thumping continued for a long time. Marli knew he was trying to break in. There was nothing he could do to escape. The only thing he could do was pray to God for everything he got in his life. After some time the thumping stopped. Marli rejoiced, there was no more sound or any letters. He sat there for some more time. He thought he must now go to the room and get his cell phone. He slowly walked to the door, but suddenly the lights went out. Marli threw himself back into the newspaper bundle. He expected a blow from the door. But through the window on his back, a red face with black tongue appeared with an ax in hand and said in a devilish voice.

” 128 “

Marli knew what he said, he would be the 128th victim. He screamed so loudly that he fell to the ground unconscious.

It was all black.

Marli slowly tried to open his eyes and saw his phone ring. He looked around not knowing where he was, then it came to him that it was his room, there was a pale sunlight. It was evening.

“Oh! a nightmare” he said himself. He was sweating, utterly thirsty. His heart was beating faster than he had ever known. For one second he went back to his dreams just to make sure it was a dream. He again heard the phone ring.

Marli stretched his hands to take the phone and answered it.

“Hello,” almost a whisper. There came a loud voice from the other side, it was probably shouting.

“Where were you, I have been calling you for an hour,” It was his mother.

He slowly looked at his phone. Yes, there were 19 missed calls.

“Sorry, I think I was just having a bad dream,” he told his mother everything he saw and heard. He heard a mouthful for roaming around with friends like Raghu, he always heard that. His mother never liked Raghu, she says “he is an evil person. Anyway now he knows there was evil around and met him in person in his dreams. He sighed.

That night he went to Gono’s house and went back home only when his mother and father got back.

 

 

A classic – Horatius by Thomas Babington

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
‘To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods,

‘And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?

May God bless you, my friends

Ps: I only took the lines I thought that I needed to share it with you.

Out on a Curfew – A Story.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world, farewell

Thorin Oakensheild (the Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien)

vehicles on road between buildings
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

The door took some time to open, he was really tired and was slow as a turtle. hunger conquered him not helping to take another step. He really needed to get out but that was worse than the hunger. A quick decision was evident, die inside his home of hunger or go out find food and die a warrior’s death. He made his choice as you can guess, he went out.

The man’s name was Rohal, he may look older but was touching the twenties. he lived alone or was made to live alone of some unprecedented reasons. Before telling that I think we should follow him, to find where he will be going. Let me introduce the kind of situation he is in. Rohal lives in the city of Nargal the capital city of the state Garmar. The city was a battlefield a week ago. the rebels of the state killed the mayor of the city and had taken over the state secretary’s office. the government had no other way but to impose a curfew on the capital city. several of the rebels were arrested and killed by the National Security Corps and several innocent people also had to give their lives being in the middle of this mess. Now the curfew remains after one week and is supposed to remain for another two weeks.

Most of the shops were closed, many of the residents had to migrate with strict checking and the remaining few were made to stay in their home from 6:00 pm to 10:00 am. anyone who comes out in this time period is either considered a rebel or an enemy of the state. so I guess you have learned what the situation is so let’s go back to our guy.

He was running low on his supplies and had to take a refill only to find out the shops has not opened for the past week. He thought he would wait till the morning and find some shop or ask some people around if he finds any. He slowly opened the door. he felt a cool and dark breeze on his face. Many a night it has been since he has felt such a breeze on his face. for one second he went back to the time when everything was calm and peace. He used to go out every night roaming around just enjoying the night. But now it was not the time to enjoy, a single mistake would end in his death. Rohal went down the stairs, he lived upstairs in an apartment as we may call it, for him it a pigeonhole not enough space for his huge dreams. And this time he went out through the windows as he thought it may be safer. there was an outpost just outside his building, now he was getting out through the opposite direction and he was sure there were no guards on this part of the building or as far as he can see.

The stairs made a lot of noise, he didn’t bother jumping for he was able to jump really high and make hardly any noise. I told you he used to roam around during the night and roaming around in the night requires some noiseless jumping. the jump, as he expected was quiet that gave him the boost to walk without any sound for the next 10 or 20 meters. the city was so crowded in its older days, as a result, every building stood so close to each other, there was only a little space for one to walk through the sides. Here and there he peeped and rushed, like a cat in the dark. He walked in shadows like DEATH. As soon as he passed the street he could see that every house was either burnt or demolished, the remaining were closed and locked from outside, it was of the residents who migrated, so they could get back to their home when everything is peaceful again not have anything of their property inside being robbed.

The moon was shining over him, giving the guiding light for his adventure but that imposed a serious threat on him. the light will only make him exposed to the soldiers or the rebels who were strolling around. With some effort and time, he was able to get past the series of demolished houses. There at the edge of the road stood four of the soldiers with large guns and an armored vehicle at rest. His heart started to pound really fast, he was afraid if the sound of his heartbeat would give away his position.

“I should go to them and tell them of my need”. He first thought. “after all, they are here to help us”.

He stood hidden beside a waste bin that had almost burnt its 50 percent of its body in the last battle. there he gave serious thoughts to it. His hunger was not compromising with him. the man needed to find out something to eat or he is going down without a fight.

“No I should not” he then told himself “I don’t think they will help me, I have broken the curfew and this place is the main lock town of the rebels. they certainly are not going to treat me good.”

“I guess I will have to find out my own food,” he said and started to look for a way. He was standing at a dead end. the only way was past the guards.

“I can’t certainly ask them for permission to pass.” he tried a joke to ease his pressure and seemed to work a bit. He knew this place, he had walked and jumped and ran all over this place before…. before….

His parents died down the road he was standing. He left that thought and suddenly he found his way. there was a house that was half destroyed in the front, and he could climb up and go past the guards without them noticing.

“Yes that will do,” he told himself. He slowly went towards the half broken house. Every step needed to be taken carefully and swiftly so as the guards should not see him, not even his shadows. Rohal climbed up, it was not that hard, maybe the easiest of all he had climbed. Now he was crawling through the rooftops silently. Even cats would have had their envy on him. The destination was so near, just a few more yards and he could get down still, it was not clear if there were any guards below.

“GET DOWN!!!!!!” a loud scream of a guard below crushed all his opportunities. His heart was now having a rock and roll concert, the adrenaline rush was so high that he had even forgotten of his voracious hunger. Every single nightmare came to him, all the dreams he had, all the years before him, everything was now going down. He knew he won’t give up without a fight. At first, he thought he would give a run, but no now he heard another shout.

“Lay down your weapons,” screaming was the soldier, Rohal was puzzled, he didn’t have any weapons, even if he had there was no way they could have seen it. then there was gunfire and a loud cry. He didn’t dare to look down. that may have given out his position. but he knew one thing, the guards will now look for people streaming around. So he had to either wait there till the guards become calm or make a run for it. For now, the hunger was coming back at him.

“Go, run,” he told himself, for the first time in his life, before thinking anything else, he made a run. And an excellent run too. the Jump was perfectly timed and was able to make it across the street and to the gardens of a lonely home. He didn’t look back he kept walking forward till he reached the backyard of the lonely home. then in the shadows, he turned back to see, there was one soldier with a gun looking around and guarding a man fallen down, there was blood so he must be the man who was shot. the guard didn’t seem to have seen Rohal, that was his jump.

Rohal walked towards a wooden outhouse, the door seemed to be open(as it was not locked from outside). He went to the door and knocked if someone was there. there came no reply. he tried to pull the door still nothing happened. Now with a great effort, he made the pull. it worked. the door was now widely opened and there stood a girl with a knife in her hand. she was about to scream, sensing the upcoming danger Rohal told her not to scream he was a friend and not here to attack. the girl didn’t seem to believe.

“I am really hungry, do you have anything to eat? please,” he asked her. she felt sorry for him. His face showed the trouble he was in.

“Why should I give you anything to eat?” she asked her

“Because I am one of you. please.” and he gave her an account of everything that happened.

She looked like she believed it, but maybe not. anyway, she gave him a pile of bread and a piece of butter. he didn’t leave a second to think. As soon as she handed it to him, he grabbed it like a snake biting onto its prey and started to eat it at a speed she has never seen. He was choking now and then, she offered him water which he accepted very willingly.

Within minutes it was over, now he thought of returning, she asked him to stay for the night as going out may be dangerous. But he thanked her wholeheartedly and was in debt of her forever.

“Farewell,” he said and into the shadows he vanished. She was amazed by what happened, never have something like this happened in her life ever.

Rohal had a long way back, on the way back there was only one thing in his mind to get to the place where his parents died, murdered to be precise. There it was the main road right in the middle. His parents used to work for the City court, They were both lawyers. When the rebels got hold of the State secretaries office, his parents along with a handful of people were brought down here and publicly executed for everyone to see. He never thought something as such a thing would ever occur in his life. but it. He could still see the blood stains on the roads or they were just the part of his mind that played with him. He touched the road slowly and patted it. He still remembers the time seeing their dead bodies. It was cold and unhappy, not the way they used to be. He lied there right in road thinking about everything

“We’ve got someone down here,” said a guard from a distance. they surely meant Rohal. But he didn’t bother. He just lied there. Tiredness slowly groped him squeezing him hard.

Then a group of soldiers rounded him. they were confused about a person lying on the middle of a road. He was still motionless.

“Hey get up.” one of them shouted. there was no response. they walked closer and repeated their question. from a distance, the girl could see everything happening.

When the guards found there was no response they walked to him and everyone aiming their gun at him, one of them rolled him over face upwards. then suddenly Rohal had an idea, he silently, whispered “help”. and lied motionless. the guards thought he was a hostage of the rebels and escaped. they took him and put on their vehicle and rode on. she was watching and was very terrified of what would happen to him.

They took him somewhere.

Two months passed, peace started to roll over the city of Norgal. Rebels were captured. The city was slowly recovering from their wounds. the girl that lived on the outhouse of the lonely home one day was walking through the streets still in the shock of the battles in the city, heard a call from up a building. she looked back puzzled, there she saw that stranger who came to her one night, a guy who was so hungry and would walk to the end of the world to find what he needed.

“Remember me?” he asked.

“Yes,” she told with a smile, not knowing what to say to the man upstairs. he began to climb down and stood before her.

“I thought they took you?” she asked in such curiosity.

“Yes they did, But I had it all covered,” he told her with great pride. the guards thought he was hostage and men of state(as they called the friendly ones) and took him to their camp. After days of close observation, he was permitted to leave. By then the curfew was removed and everything came to order. He explained everything to her without breaking a breath, and she heard him with great interest and walked down the street, Or to their new life together. I don’t know maybe they may live together and tell their stories to their children, who knows? let us leave that to fate or to me!

The letter of life – A short story

brown paper envelope on table
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

The new house was far better than the old rabbit hole down the street. this one was well furnished and I didn’t need to buy anything new to make it home. although it was for rent the house already felt like home. one or two friends from work came across to help me with unpacking and arranging everything. it was almost evening when the things were arranged and cleaned. the house was big enough for me, two bedrooms(as I only need one), one kitchen and a living room. there was a small backyard, where I could do my yoga and exercises.

Oh! I have forgotten to introduce me. My name is Shirley and I work at a newspaper company. Not an editor or a journalist. I am more like an assistant type. So back to the story.

My friends left after tea, they had night shifts at work. I was resting in my couch picking up the newspaper going through it and suddenly my doorbell rang. I stood up thinking.

“guests already”

I didn’t have much friends in this new city nor any neighbors nearby. so I felt curious. As I walked to the door the bell rang again. I opened it and saw nobody. then suddenly I saw the letterbox was almost open, I guessed it must be the postman. but there were no posts after 4pm. I know these stuff I work at a newspaper company. then I went to the letterbox and there was a letter. I picked it up and it was not the type of letter you get every day.

The envelope looked old and rugged like the one we see in epic fantasy movies. I walked inside as soon as I ensured there was no one else around. I opened it and the letter was thesame as the envelope, old and suspicious. it said in black and bold letters:

Welcome, my dear”.

the letter was really weird, it was the year 2018 not many wrote letters, nobody has ever written letters to me and not especially calling “my dear”. I thought the letter must be delivered as a mistake. I kept it where I found it but for my surprise, there was another letter, the same envelope, and everything. I opened it to find if there was something else. it said.

” don’t worry, my dear”.

I became really frustrated somebody was seriously pulling a prank on me but who? there was not many who I was close with. In fact,I have been in this city for just 5 weeks. I stood there for some time to find if someone was going to do it again.

nothing happened for an hour or two. I went back to the house, made my dinner and got freshened up. It was past 7 o’clock and the day had been rough and tough along with those anonymous letters I was really tired. so I went to the kitchen to have my dinner. It was good and my body was really impressed with the food and sleep wrapped all over me. For one last time, needed to see if there was another letter. So I went to the door and slowly looked over to the letterbox. I was startled by the view. there was someone at the gates. A black figure, there were no lights so I wasn’t sure if it was a man/a woman. I looked at it, that thing was like staring right at me, even though I could not see its face or literally nothing.

I thought it was my mind playing with me I closed the door and locked it. that night I slept on the couch with my mobile phone in my hand ready to call the police if needed. but nothing happened. And I slept fairly.

It was 7am,  I woke up late. I had to hurry to the office. I didn’t get my breakfast or my tea but I was able to get there on time. the day was fine and comfortable as I had adjusted to its nature. It was almost 6pm when I got out of the office and took a cab to my house. I was really tensed what if I see the man again? but there was nothing, not even a bird. I got out but I really had to check the letterbox. I couldn’t control my urge and pulled open the box and there the letterbox was completely stacked with letters. not leaving a tiny little space for another letter. I was frightened. I didn’t want to open any of the letters but as you can guess I took out one, just one. the envelop and letter was the same as the older ones, but it had a different message:

“I knew the girl who lived here before, she was very dear to me. I want you to be dear to me as well!”

the last sentence felt like a threat. I needed to call the police, but I thought I would wait this evening. If the guy comes and I will be surely calling the police. I went in and tried not to look out.

the night came and I didn’t open the door or looked outside. I watched tv and ate my dinner but before I went to bed I needed to make sure no one was around.  I slowly went to the door, but even before I could open the door, there outside the door I could hear a loud breath like a bear or something. I looked through the window near the door. there a tall man all in black stood he was looking straight to the door. I kept staring at him. then suddenly he knocked on the door.

I, out of fear made a cry and he heard it. he saw me looking through the window. Now he was staring at me through the window. I went searching for the mobile phone and luckily found it before any mess. I called the police and told about the man. Within minutes the police came. but they were not able to find the person. they asked me everything and I told them everything I knew, they showed me a photo of a person old and stout. it was the man I saw outside. they told me who he was.

His name was Hoarn. he once lived in this house along with his wife. he was a drunkard and one day killed his wife. For that, he was sent to prison and after 10 years got out. And came back to this house only to find out the house was sold to another person. A woman who lived here gave permission for him to live in the backyard as he had nowhere else to go, after some time for some reason he killed her too. he was never caught. And now I live here so I could guess what he was up to.

The story was well enough for me to get out of there, and I did after two days. No one came on those days and I moved to an apartment near to my office.

A year later I saw the man again, in the newspaper. He was caught red-handed trying to kill a man who lived there after I moved away. I could only think of the luck I had. After a few months I married a guy near to my apartment and from then I had never lived alone. But I got a letter one day after a long time. But there was a date and an address in it. It was dated on the date when the guy was caught by the police and it was addressed from the state prison. It said:

“Live, my dear”.