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Written by Amardeeps

An Evening In China Town

"So what exactly is wrong with you, Mister....", an aged man with a dull brown coat matching the evening sky above the Chicago market station asks a jacketed fellow next to him.

"Oh this, you mean", the man points at his head. "Just an old war time wound".

The aged man opens his coat to reveal a variety of jewelry and watches in deep pockets.

"Interested in anything?" , he says.

"Yes. No......wait yeah I wait", the jacketed fellow fidgets through his pockets with a confused look to search for some pills until a lustrous badge falls out.

The aged man flees the scene once he notices it.

Bruce Spanner, the badge read. It's owner was having a hard time standing straight and seeing right. Maybe the  bruises on his head weren't just war time wounds.

He could feel an impulse being sent from his brain commanding his legs to walk ahead, but there was a delay.   

The market square was full of commotion. People, mostly bachelors adorning trench coats and bowler caps here to have their end of the bargain swimming through the streets silently. Bruce popped out a pill, the last one and joined the crowd with a mindless demeanor, with no idea as to what he was looking for.

Then it occurred to him. His partner. Paul Phillips. A top of the class detective who was gunned down a few days ago. He left him a letter to search for his killer. Why he never gave the letter to the department was beyond him. He took it out of his pocket.

"Dear Bruce", it read. "You ought to know that the jig is up. The Harold Brothers were able to buy out the commissioner. I'm trying to gather as much evidence to build a case against them. If I don't return assume that I'm long gone. The man we're after is Tom 'The Tuna' Siligo who hangs out in Chinatown fish market near the gondola. Take care of Lorna and the kids for me."

There was a murky scent of blood in the air which Bruce assumed to be the stench of meat produce being cut nearby. He headed closely in that direction with the intent to find some answers.

"Peaches", a woman cried out handing them to unsuspecting pedestrians. "Lovely peaches, good Sir. Great for getting up early and strong enough to get through the day", she said handing them to David.

"The last time I had peaches lady, my M...", he stopped in between looking perplexed at the woman. Those words reminded him of his dear Mother who was keen on making her son eat peaches from the tree outside their suburban home when young.

"I'll take two", Bruce took hold of the box in her hand as she scrounged for it to give him the best two.

"How much do I owe you?", he asked

"None dear. I think you need them for that head of yours. Here have this bottle of milk."

Bruce couldn't believe her generosity as he saw her walk away. Suspecting the milk to be poisoned, he hesitated at first, then kept the cold bottle to his head. The transparent glass turned red and he could see tiny bubbles sprout out.

He saw a stone bench placed at the center of the courtyard near which hecklers were busy betting over a rooster fight. He took a seat as the pain began to spread to his spine. He could see the men slam down their shouts but grew slightly deaf with each scream. The evening was soon to die with the acacia trees showing their final cycle of life- shedding away mystically in the night sky.

"Beautiful isn't it", a voice sprang in his ear close by. He looked back and saw a tall, red haired dame of a woman. She held a small umbrella and a handkerchief close to her face concealing what he saw was a small mole. Like a crater on the face of the moon, she was as beautiful.

"I see you're having quite some fun with that", she said pointing to the bottle which was now white as snow with no blood stains.

"Not really. Just have a real raging headache. I'm here looking for someone. Miss?"

"Miss Roberts. I'm here looking for my husband actually."

"I'm afraid I can't help you at the moment Miss Roberts. But I assure you he must be here and near. What does he look like?"

"Well that's the strange thing he looks quite like you only."

Bruce wanted to move away from her to focus on the investigation but was mesmerized by her beauty.

"Is that so? And why did he leave you all here alone?", Bruce inquired.

The woman takes away the bottle from Bruce's hands and applies her handkerchief to his head, clearly showing a lipstick mark.

"He said that he had to discuss some money issues with a certain gentleman named Tom Siligo."

Bruce was now all ears. He could feel his visions get bleaker and bleaker. The pain felt a little sharper to his face.

"Really? You know what? I might just help you find him? Can you give me any noticeable details about his appearance?"

"He's wearing a long brown leather jacket with a crimson tie and a grey hat."

"Got it." Bruce gets up to leave and says," A word of advice Miss, beautiful women like you should think twice about marrying men with a penchant of meddling into the affairs of questionable people."

"And men better ought to know not to bring their wives when carrying out such rituals", she replies back. Bruce looks at her enraged face in some strange fascination until she starts smiling. They both share a laugh.

When he gets up, the world suddenly felt a little lighter. Maybe it was the weather. He begins to chomp on the peaches when suddenly his left leg collapses and he falls. Expecting the woman to help, he turns back and sees that she disappeared. He could feel his eyes getting heavy and the sky getting darker and darker.

Somewhere out there in the market garden there happened to be a doctor who eyes caught Bruce and he rushed to him.

"Let me help you there, fella."

He didn't feel like he needed help but decided to give in eventually. The doctor half dragged half walked Bruce to his clinic at the opposite end of the market.

There inside he treated him with some analgesics and painkillers.

"Feeling better now", he asks Bruce.

"Yes a bit. Thanks for the pills, doc.Listen you wouldn't haves seen a man in a brown jacket walk here or anywhere in the market square."

The doctor laughed, "You're describing half the people here, my good man. And why is this man of any particular importance to you?"

"I'm the lead investigator in a case here to find some answers. You sure you haven't seen anyone with a crimson tie and a grey hat?"

Not that I can recollect.

The rooster fight outside had died down. Bruce looked at the clock on the doctor's wall. It struck fifteen past six. It was getting late. Over the clock he could read with some blurred difficulty the words- 'Memento Mori' written.

The doctor could make out that Bruce was having some difficulty reading and suggested- "Maybe you would be interested in some spectacles, Good  Sir?"

"No not really. My eyes are well balanced. What do those words mean exactly?"

"Why it's Latin."

"Latin for what?", Bruce asks.

"Remember one day that you are going to die."

Bruce looked at the time again and then remembered his duties.

"I must leave. What do I owe you?"

Just as he had asked him about the money, a tall lanky man had entered the premises. He fit the description that Miss Roberts had given him. This could be it. Bruce proceeded to hide behind a cupboard shelf with chemicals and took out his gun. The old doctor just looked away and welcomed Mr.Roberts inside.

"Good Evening. What brings you here, Good Sir", the Doctor welcomed him.

"Was The Tuna here? I need a little something-something for him, if you know what I mean."

"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean Sir", the doctor replied.

"The Harolds have called. They want him out. I need that little 'thing' that you've been working on."

"But my good Sir that is only a piece of aconite. What would you possibly want from it?"

Roberts slammed his hands on his desk and let a roar, "Now listen here wiseguy. I don't want any funny business. Get the aconite solution. Don't tempt met to use my anger, you buffoon."

Bruce clutched for his gun but decided to remain silent.

Roberts had lost his temper. He slapped down the Doctor and then ransacked through the cabinet desk to find what he was looking for. He looked around and then drugged the Doctor with chloroform.

Then he locked the main door with key he took from the Doctor's breast pocket.

Bruce shoved down the cupboard to revive the Doctor but accidentally steps on to some unmarked vials with acids and bases. His skin burnt. He knew what Roberts was about to do. Bruce shoots down the lock on the door, and then proceeds down the alleyway where he sees the same singular commotion all over.

His eyes grew weary as he searched for a grey hat for nearly an hour. His heart was racing as fast as ever. Over street animals, buskers, street vendors and homeless people, he saw one couple- a man and a woman with an umbrella.

It was him. They were near the very same gondola that Bruce's partner had described. The man kissed her and whispered something in her ear.        

The woman walked away after which the man proceeded down a narrow passage behind the gondola that led to a totem pole with a hut. Bruce raced through the crowd, he could see Roberts walk down the gravel road and could feel his steps drop down in energy every second. Was he too late?

Tom 'The Tuna' Siligo was a homeless busker. He was outside his hut smoking a shabby pipe with no one around with his face turned to a wall, taking a leak. It was Chinese New year, no one would notice a murder in a small alley.

Bruce fires a shot through the air to steer the crowd away. Roberts hears the shot and so does Tom who eyes Roberts with a gun behind him. Both men wrestle for the gun.

But before he could make it, Tom presses on the gun while he battles for his life. The shot misses Roberts but he decides to finish things in his own way.

He takes out a butterfly knife and tugs it deeply inside Tom running it furiously through his chest. Bruce arrives in the nick of time and points his gun at Roberts, his back against him.

"Why?", Bruce shouts.

Roberts turns around and fires a shot at Bruce, going right through his frontal lobe. But he stuns himself looking at Roberts.

"Paul, it's you?", he looks at Roberts," but but how?"

"Try recollecting Bruce. Try remembering all that happened. The headaches. The peaches. The woman who sold them. Miss Roberts. The doctor. See a connection, Bruce."

The pain was back and so was his mind. The fruit seller. His Mother. The dame. His wife. The doctor. Paul's coroner.

"I'm not in China Town, am I?"

"This is your mind trying to recollect the final events that transpired. Roberts shot you, Bruce. The bullet is still lodged in your brain."

Bruce blinks and the world fades before his eyes as he wakes up and sees Paul's body on the same gravel road under a puddle of blood. His Mother and wife were there holding him. The bullet in his head moved a fatal microscopic distance. It wouldn't give him nightmares anymore. 

       

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Written by Amardeeps
An Evening In China Town
"So what exactly is wrong with you, Mister....", an aged man with a dull brown coat matching the evening sky above the Chicago market station asks a jacketed fellow next to him.
"Oh this, you mean", the man points at his head. "Just an old war time wound".
The aged man opens his coat to reveal a variety of jewelry and watches in deep pockets.
"Interested in anything?" , he says.
"Yes. No......wait yeah I wait", the jacketed fellow fidgets through his pockets with a confused look to search for some pills until a lustrous badge falls out.
The aged man flees the scene once he notices it.
Bruce Spanner, the badge read. It's owner was having a hard time standing straight and seeing right. Maybe the  bruises on his head weren't just war time wounds.
He could feel an impulse being sent from his brain commanding his legs to walk ahead, but there was a delay.   
The market square was full of commotion. People, mostly bachelors adorning trench coats and bowler caps here to have their end of the bargain swimming through the streets silently. Bruce popped out a pill, the last one and joined the crowd with a mindless demeanor, with no idea as to what he was looking for.
Then it occurred to him. His partner. Paul Phillips. A top of the class detective who was gunned down a few days ago. He left him a letter to search for his killer. Why he never gave the letter to the department was beyond him. He took it out of his pocket.

"Dear Bruce", it read. "You ought to know that the jig is up. The Harold Brothers were able to buy out the commissioner. I'm trying to gather as much evidence to build a case against them. If I don't return assume that I'm long gone. The man we're after is Tom 'The Tuna' Siligo who hangs out in Chinatown fish market near the gondola. Take care of Lorna and the kids for me."

There was a murky scent of blood in the air which Bruce assumed to be the stench of meat produce being cut nearby. He headed closely in that direction with the intent to find some answers.
"Peaches", a woman cried out handing them to unsuspecting pedestrians. "Lovely peaches, good Sir. Great for getting up early and strong enough to get through the day", she said handing them to David.
"The last time I had peaches lady, my M...", he stopped in between looking perplexed at the woman. Those words reminded him of his dear Mother who was keen on making her son eat peaches from the tree outside their suburban home when young.
"I'll take two", Bruce took hold of the box in her hand as she scrounged for it to give him the best two.
"How much do I owe you?", he asked
"None dear. I think you need them for that head of yours. Here have this bottle of milk."
Bruce couldn't believe her generosity as he saw her walk away. Suspecting the milk to be poisoned, he hesitated at first, then kept the cold bottle to his head. The transparent glass turned red and he could see tiny bubbles sprout out.
He saw a stone bench placed at the center of the courtyard near which hecklers were busy betting over a rooster fight. He took a seat as the pain began to spread to his spine. He could see the men slam down their shouts but grew slightly deaf with each scream. The evening was soon to die with the acacia trees showing their final cycle of life- shedding away mystically in the night sky.
"Beautiful isn't it", a voice sprang in his ear close by. He looked back and saw a tall, red haired dame of a woman. She held a small umbrella and a handkerchief close to her face concealing what he saw was a small mole. Like a crater on the face of the moon, she was as beautiful.
"I see you're having quite some fun with that", she said pointing to the bottle which was now white as snow with no blood stains.
"Not really. Just have a real raging headache. I'm here looking for someone. Miss?"
"Miss Roberts. I'm here looking for my husband actually."
"I'm afraid I can't help you at the moment Miss Roberts. But I assure you he must be here and near. What does he look like?"
"Well that's the strange thing he looks quite like you only."
Bruce wanted to move away from her to focus on the investigation but was mesmerized by her beauty.
"Is that so? And why did he leave you all here alone?", Bruce inquired.
The woman takes away the bottle from Bruce's hands and applies her handkerchief to his head, clearly showing a lipstick mark.
"He said that he had to discuss some money issues with a certain gentleman named Tom Siligo."
Bruce was now all ears. He could feel his visions get bleaker and bleaker. The pain felt a little sharper to his face.
"Really? You know what? I might just help you find him? Can you give me any noticeable details about his appearance?"
"He's wearing a long brown leather jacket with a crimson tie and a grey hat."
"Got it." Bruce gets up to leave and says," A word of advice Miss, beautiful women like you should think twice about marrying men with a penchant of meddling into the affairs of questionable people."
"And men better ought to know not to bring their wives when carrying out such rituals", she replies back. Bruce looks at her enraged face in some strange fascination until she starts smiling. They both share a laugh.
When he gets up, the world suddenly felt a little lighter. Maybe it was the weather. He begins to chomp on the peaches when suddenly his left leg collapses and he falls. Expecting the woman to help, he turns back and sees that she disappeared. He could feel his eyes getting heavy and the sky getting darker and darker.

Somewhere out there in the market garden there happened to be a doctor who eyes caught Bruce and he rushed to him.
"Let me help you there, fella."
He didn't feel like he needed help but decided to give in eventually. The doctor half dragged half walked Bruce to his clinic at the opposite end of the market.
There inside he treated him with some analgesics and painkillers.
"Feeling better now", he asks Bruce.
"Yes a bit. Thanks for the pills, doc.Listen you wouldn't haves seen a man in a brown jacket walk here or anywhere in the market square."
The doctor laughed, "You're describing half the people here, my good man. And why is this man of any particular importance to you?"
"I'm the lead investigator in a case here to find some answers. You sure you haven't seen anyone with a crimson tie and a grey hat?"
Not that I can recollect.
The rooster fight outside had died down. Bruce looked at the clock on the doctor's wall. It struck fifteen past six. It was getting late. Over the clock he could read with some blurred difficulty the words- 'Memento Mori' written.
The doctor could make out that Bruce was having some difficulty reading and suggested- "Maybe you would be interested in some spectacles, Good  Sir?"
"No not really. My eyes are well balanced. What do those words mean exactly?"
"Why it's Latin."
"Latin for what?", Bruce asks.
"Remember one day that you are going to die."
Bruce looked at the time again and then remembered his duties.
"I must leave. What do I owe you?"
Just as he had asked him about the money, a tall lanky man had entered the premises. He fit the description that Miss Roberts had given him. This could be it. Bruce proceeded to hide behind a cupboard shelf with chemicals and took out his gun. The old doctor just looked away and welcomed Mr.Roberts inside.
"Good Evening. What brings you here, Good Sir", the Doctor welcomed him.
"Was The Tuna here? I need a little something-something for him, if you know what I mean."
"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean Sir", the doctor replied.
"The Harolds have called. They want him out. I need that little 'thing' that you've been working on."
"But my good Sir that is only a piece of aconite. What would you possibly want from it?"
Roberts slammed his hands on his desk and let a roar, "Now listen here wiseguy. I don't want any funny business. Get the aconite solution. Don't tempt met to use my anger, you buffoon."
Bruce clutched for his gun but decided to remain silent.
Roberts had lost his temper. He slapped down the Doctor and then ransacked through the cabinet desk to find what he was looking for. He looked around and then drugged the Doctor with chloroform.
Then he locked the main door with key he took from the Doctor's breast pocket.
Bruce shoved down the cupboard to revive the Doctor but accidentally steps on to some unmarked vials with acids and bases. His skin burnt. He knew what Roberts was about to do. Bruce shoots down the lock on the door, and then proceeds down the alleyway where he sees the same singular commotion all over.
His eyes grew weary as he searched for a grey hat for nearly an hour. His heart was racing as fast as ever. Over street animals, buskers, street vendors and homeless people, he saw one couple- a man and a woman with an umbrella.
It was him. They were near the very same gondola that Bruce's partner had described. The man kissed her and whispered something in her ear.        
The woman walked away after which the man proceeded down a narrow passage behind the gondola that led to a totem pole with a hut. Bruce raced through the crowd, he could see Roberts walk down the gravel road and could feel his steps drop down in energy every second. Was he too late?
Tom 'The Tuna' Siligo was a homeless busker. He was outside his hut smoking a shabby pipe with no one around with his face turned to a wall, taking a leak. It was Chinese New year, no one would notice a murder in a small alley.
Bruce fires a shot through the air to steer the crowd away. Roberts hears the shot and so does Tom who eyes Roberts with a gun behind him. Both men wrestle for the gun.
But before he could make it, Tom presses on the gun while he battles for his life. The shot misses Roberts but he decides to finish things in his own way.
He takes out a butterfly knife and tugs it deeply inside Tom running it furiously through his chest. Bruce arrives in the nick of time and points his gun at Roberts, his back against him.
"Why?", Bruce shouts.
Roberts turns around and fires a shot at Bruce, going right through his frontal lobe. But he stuns himself looking at Roberts.
"Paul, it's you?", he looks at Roberts," but but how?"
"Try recollecting Bruce. Try remembering all that happened. The headaches. The peaches. The woman who sold them. Miss Roberts. The doctor. See a connection, Bruce."
The pain was back and so was his mind. The fruit seller. His Mother. The dame. His wife. The doctor. Paul's coroner.
"I'm not in China Town, am I?"
"This is your mind trying to recollect the final events that transpired. Roberts shot you, Bruce. The bullet is still lodged in your brain."
Bruce blinks and the world fades before his eyes as he wakes up and sees Paul's body on the same gravel road under a puddle of blood. His Mother and wife were there holding him. The bullet in his head moved a fatal microscopic distance. It wouldn't give him nightmares anymore. 
       
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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Simon & Schuster

A Fallen Man

One moment the banality of life seems so clear and the next moment it’s altered by an unexpected change. This plane was a hulk of steel soaring into the skies like a free bird. Now it’s hurtling dangerously downwards, losing altitude. In a few moments, it’ll be losing its passengers.

Ah the people. Such delightful, colorful faces who go about their lives making short lived relations on a transit flight. Never to say hello or even ask with a fake laugh, “So what do you do for a living? What about your family? Do you think we’re ever going to make out of this doomed plane alive?”

The left wing of the plane banks towards the left and sends a shockwave of shouts and terror across the galley. The pilots and the staff run from section to section, reassuring the passengers that everything’s going to be alright.

But we all know what’s going to happen. There’s a troubled young man seated next to me. He told me about his unruly relationship with his parents. They enrolled him in a college that wasn’t close to his best choices. In the end, he adopted the silent treatment and never answered back to them.

He sits by his seat, nervously fidgeting his phone, thinking whether he should call them one last time or not. Coward.

The woman to my other side, a young starlet somewhere in her mid twenties. She reminds me of a mindless drone who shot away all her happiness just to be alone with something that was never going to make her happy. Kathy Miller, a Yale graduate and a business tycoon. She spent the entire length of the flight coughing down pills to cure God knows what illnesses her job gives her.

Even now you can hear her talk over the phone with people shouting in the background. ”Yes, yes. Cancel all my appointments. I’m afraid there’s something wrong with the plane. Shift the meeting to some other day.”

Kathy seems blind to the fact that she won’t be making business meetings for a real long time now. I nudge her shoulder and ask, ”Why not call your loved ones?”

She just looks at me with a puzzled look as if she was born without a family and says, ”I beg your pardon. Can’t you see that I’m busy here?”

Alright Kathy. I won’t disturb you any longer. Just don’t start agitating like the gentlemen to my left when the thought of your apparent death dawns on you.

The plane just banked to the right and revealed the blue sea right below us. Some of the food trays and the plates roll to the right and injure some passengers. It is almost daytime and while I want to experience one last breath of fresh air, here I am enclosed in a pressurized chamber. The air hostesses are beginning to look timid. Those poor souls couldn’t afford to get into a decent modeling job, so they use their looks to appease to the lowest rung in the service industry. Rude and obnoxious frequent flyers.

I asked one of them while getting a cup of water-“What would you do if you were given the choice to change what you’ve become? Not all journeys have to end the way you expect them to”

She began laughing and a tear rolled up her eyes. “This is my destiny”, she said. The response from the other attendants was more or less the same. These people had lost all control and hope over their lives. What a crying shame?

I’ll be leaving a negative review for this flight if I ever survive this.

In times like these, my mind craves for some serious discussions. I tilt my head to the back and see a man stuffing food down his throat, crying and battling for the last piece of the entrée. At least he’s doing what he loves in his last moments.

The plane returns to its linear orientation and I can feel the oxygen levels depleting. The front is taken up entirely by a family who are praying on their knees. They look like middle class sub-urban folk who met with an unfortunate accident on their first flight. In the mayhem of the moment, it occurs to me that I’m strangely calm throughout the chaos.

Why? Maybe it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to all such tragedies. Never had I felt so anxious while being seated in my doctor’s office. Yesterday, he simply called me for a routine checkup and told me something that was going to change things forever. He showed me an x-ray report pointing towards a large abnormal outgrowth, shrugging his shoulders. He put his hand over my shoulder and said, “I’m sorry. But there’s nothing that can be done.”

So this was it. The end of the line. For the first time in so many years, I was acquainted with how close I was to death. It’s funny how you squander away every moment thinking you’ve got all the time in the world to do what your intends, until death comes knocking. I was living my life like I could always get another one at a bank.

And I realize now, man plays by the rules and follows the journey he thinks life has laid out for him thinking it’s all going to be fine. That as long as he keeps afloat, he’ll get by. There’s no need to rebel, complain or pester yourself by thinking, “What if I started living differently?”

I was no different than many of the other hapless souls on this flight. First in my batch, had a balanced social and family life. I was more or less the family disappointment for years until I landed a job. Material wealth and money are the surest paths to harmony and peace. That’s what I learned. I know it’s not right but as age falls on to a person, a few crooked truths about life brim to the surface.

And being rich was the best way to win people according to me. But now I want to do a lot more. I wanted to start a company, travel the world, rekindle old relations, apologize for my mistakes and take some control for my life. Learn a musical instrument, see a play, and act like a totally free soul.

All through the walk of life you suppress the voices that act out and don’t seem fit. Then you get slapped with a full stop and feel time slipping through your fingers.

The pilots just came out of the cockpit and a screen of smoke follows them. The blank faces on the passengers have suddenly gone awry and panic has started to set in.

It had been years since I had been to my hometown and seeing the ambiguity of my mortality, I needed to have one last visit.

Have you ever had the feeling like you were no longer swimming with control but floating with turbulence. This is what the passengers look like now. All hope seems lost.

I remember the words of a revered priest who once surmised, “Imagine if everything in your life was jotted down in a book and given to you, everything you’ve done, are doing or will do. Would you go through the pages with complacency of what you’ve done? And will you dare to look at the final page and see how the thread of life ends?”

But that’s the thing. Once the pages in life’s books have been filled, erasing and changing those pages is a hurdle that blinds you of the future.

“Life is a linear journey but it has its curves and stops”, the priest pronounced. Those who spent their lives fixing the damages and regrets of the past lose sight of how much time they’re losing.

My ears seem to have become deaf to the cries as we take a deep plunge. I take a notebook and start writing down a last message addressed to the forgotten faces who still had a place in my mind. I see the troubled minds doing the same-making calls, shooting their videos and whatnot.

Man feels the need to leave some legacy to the world no matter how small he might have lived. And when you start comparing those legacies with what others have carved, you feel small and insignificant.

We ignore the signs and threats that surround us. The ones that remind us of where we’re headed and the regrets we’ll cry over once the journey is complete. Right now I’m sharing that journey with a cabin full of people from all walks of life.

They have their joys, prides, victories, failures and unfulfilled wishes. But somewhere on the long road to the end, they too developed a shortsightedness.

My pen stops and I put the paper in my pocket as I try to tell myself there’s always a tomorrow to make amends. Just don’t react when the candle burns at its final length.

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Simon & Schuster
A Fallen Man
One moment the banality of life seems so clear and the next moment it’s altered by an unexpected change. This plane was a hulk of steel soaring into the skies like a free bird. Now it’s hurtling dangerously downwards, losing altitude. In a few moments, it’ll be losing its passengers.
Ah the people. Such delightful, colorful faces who go about their lives making short lived relations on a transit flight. Never to say hello or even ask with a fake laugh, “So what do you do for a living? What about your family? Do you think we’re ever going to make out of this doomed plane alive?”
The left wing of the plane banks towards the left and sends a shockwave of shouts and terror across the galley. The pilots and the staff run from section to section, reassuring the passengers that everything’s going to be alright.
But we all know what’s going to happen. There’s a troubled young man seated next to me. He told me about his unruly relationship with his parents. They enrolled him in a college that wasn’t close to his best choices. In the end, he adopted the silent treatment and never answered back to them.
He sits by his seat, nervously fidgeting his phone, thinking whether he should call them one last time or not. Coward.
The woman to my other side, a young starlet somewhere in her mid twenties. She reminds me of a mindless drone who shot away all her happiness just to be alone with something that was never going to make her happy. Kathy Miller, a Yale graduate and a business tycoon. She spent the entire length of the flight coughing down pills to cure God knows what illnesses her job gives her.
Even now you can hear her talk over the phone with people shouting in the background. ”Yes, yes. Cancel all my appointments. I’m afraid there’s something wrong with the plane. Shift the meeting to some other day.”
Kathy seems blind to the fact that she won’t be making business meetings for a real long time now. I nudge her shoulder and ask, ”Why not call your loved ones?”
She just looks at me with a puzzled look as if she was born without a family and says, ”I beg your pardon. Can’t you see that I’m busy here?”
Alright Kathy. I won’t disturb you any longer. Just don’t start agitating like the gentlemen to my left when the thought of your apparent death dawns on you.
The plane just banked to the right and revealed the blue sea right below us. Some of the food trays and the plates roll to the right and injure some passengers. It is almost daytime and while I want to experience one last breath of fresh air, here I am enclosed in a pressurized chamber. The air hostesses are beginning to look timid. Those poor souls couldn’t afford to get into a decent modeling job, so they use their looks to appease to the lowest rung in the service industry. Rude and obnoxious frequent flyers.
I asked one of them while getting a cup of water-“What would you do if you were given the choice to change what you’ve become? Not all journeys have to end the way you expect them to”
She began laughing and a tear rolled up her eyes. “This is my destiny”, she said. The response from the other attendants was more or less the same. These people had lost all control and hope over their lives. What a crying shame?
I’ll be leaving a negative review for this flight if I ever survive this.
In times like these, my mind craves for some serious discussions. I tilt my head to the back and see a man stuffing food down his throat, crying and battling for the last piece of the entrée. At least he’s doing what he loves in his last moments.
The plane returns to its linear orientation and I can feel the oxygen levels depleting. The front is taken up entirely by a family who are praying on their knees. They look like middle class sub-urban folk who met with an unfortunate accident on their first flight. In the mayhem of the moment, it occurs to me that I’m strangely calm throughout the chaos.
Why? Maybe it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to all such tragedies. Never had I felt so anxious while being seated in my doctor’s office. Yesterday, he simply called me for a routine checkup and told me something that was going to change things forever. He showed me an x-ray report pointing towards a large abnormal outgrowth, shrugging his shoulders. He put his hand over my shoulder and said, “I’m sorry. But there’s nothing that can be done.”
So this was it. The end of the line. For the first time in so many years, I was acquainted with how close I was to death. It’s funny how you squander away every moment thinking you’ve got all the time in the world to do what your intends, until death comes knocking. I was living my life like I could always get another one at a bank.
And I realize now, man plays by the rules and follows the journey he thinks life has laid out for him thinking it’s all going to be fine. That as long as he keeps afloat, he’ll get by. There’s no need to rebel, complain or pester yourself by thinking, “What if I started living differently?”
I was no different than many of the other hapless souls on this flight. First in my batch, had a balanced social and family life. I was more or less the family disappointment for years until I landed a job. Material wealth and money are the surest paths to harmony and peace. That’s what I learned. I know it’s not right but as age falls on to a person, a few crooked truths about life brim to the surface.
And being rich was the best way to win people according to me. But now I want to do a lot more. I wanted to start a company, travel the world, rekindle old relations, apologize for my mistakes and take some control for my life. Learn a musical instrument, see a play, and act like a totally free soul.
All through the walk of life you suppress the voices that act out and don’t seem fit. Then you get slapped with a full stop and feel time slipping through your fingers.
The pilots just came out of the cockpit and a screen of smoke follows them. The blank faces on the passengers have suddenly gone awry and panic has started to set in.
It had been years since I had been to my hometown and seeing the ambiguity of my mortality, I needed to have one last visit.
Have you ever had the feeling like you were no longer swimming with control but floating with turbulence. This is what the passengers look like now. All hope seems lost.
I remember the words of a revered priest who once surmised, “Imagine if everything in your life was jotted down in a book and given to you, everything you’ve done, are doing or will do. Would you go through the pages with complacency of what you’ve done? And will you dare to look at the final page and see how the thread of life ends?”
But that’s the thing. Once the pages in life’s books have been filled, erasing and changing those pages is a hurdle that blinds you of the future.
“Life is a linear journey but it has its curves and stops”, the priest pronounced. Those who spent their lives fixing the damages and regrets of the past lose sight of how much time they’re losing.
My ears seem to have become deaf to the cries as we take a deep plunge. I take a notebook and start writing down a last message addressed to the forgotten faces who still had a place in my mind. I see the troubled minds doing the same-making calls, shooting their videos and whatnot.
Man feels the need to leave some legacy to the world no matter how small he might have lived. And when you start comparing those legacies with what others have carved, you feel small and insignificant.
We ignore the signs and threats that surround us. The ones that remind us of where we’re headed and the regrets we’ll cry over once the journey is complete. Right now I’m sharing that journey with a cabin full of people from all walks of life.
They have their joys, prides, victories, failures and unfulfilled wishes. But somewhere on the long road to the end, they too developed a shortsightedness.
My pen stops and I put the paper in my pocket as I try to tell myself there’s always a tomorrow to make amends. Just don’t react when the candle burns at its final length.

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Written by Amardeeps

Down And Despondent

Some days are tougher to live with than most

And some truths more bitter than I can boast

But all that puts away these deformed creations

And drops down the melancholic elations

Is the remission of a fright so strangely cold

Of what would things be if weren't so bold

Just slogging away at the corner of our beds

Until the world would confirm to our trends

Wouldn't be a life worth living till the final curtain

All that we would hold and believe would be uncertain

Only by getting up and questioning our written fates

Slamming against the predefined universal rates

Twisting the channels of luck to our desired shape

And stepping outside the comfortable cave

Can a broken soul find some centre of peace here

 Otherwise there's a life ahead to live in total fear

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Written by Amardeeps
Down And Despondent
Some days are tougher to live with than most
And some truths more bitter than I can boast
But all that puts away these deformed creations
And drops down the melancholic elations
Is the remission of a fright so strangely cold
Of what would things be if weren't so bold
Just slogging away at the corner of our beds
Until the world would confirm to our trends
Wouldn't be a life worth living till the final curtain
All that we would hold and believe would be uncertain
Only by getting up and questioning our written fates
Slamming against the predefined universal rates
Twisting the channels of luck to our desired shape
And stepping outside the comfortable cave
Can a broken soul find some centre of peace here
 Otherwise there's a life ahead to live in total fear
10
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2
Juice
34 reads
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Fiction

The Rate Of Reality

I knew a man once by the name of money.

Worshipped by all, but quite canny.

He never found people the same,

Respecting some and others he shamed.

Drove the destitute to a wall of bricks.

The sight of the poor would make him sick.

His business was truly all about people and people alone.

And wherever he went, he found people carrying his clones.

But like any modern being full of right and wrong.

His love for the smaller didn’t last long.

Some would bring his unnatural bias to the law,

But they found the jurisdiction under his claw.

Wherever ran the privileged and the elite.

His presence was always at sight.

And when I asked him about the rest of the world,

He dismissed them and called them at his dearth.

Too many, just so many, who annoyed this man.

Always begging for alms, as much as they can.

As the world had grown to its present state.

The truth was the man aged millions of times in haste.

He remembers himself as a boy quite spry and young,

Whose role amongst the people’s the lives remains unsung.

He recites his internal wishes, the ones that are true.

Without a hint of happiness and no sense or clue.

“An idea in my mind thrives,

That when the future shall arrive.

Bringing with itself a wave of predictable turmoil,

One that cannot be controlled or soiled.

People shall look upon their lives.

And question the riches and the chives.

Realise full well there is no good, no bad

But a clear mix of unprovoked circumstance.

Some born in wealth and some born in squalor,

Some born cowards and some taller.

The truth is that you humans are all bound,

Not by sights, thoughts or your sounds.

But by a chaotic system which seems unfair,

Some who cannot forbear and some who can bear.

A prejudice not on colour, place or time.

But whether filling pockets is a crime.

To worship money alone is wrong.

Money, just isn’t happiness, not for long.

But truly look within deep and to your conscience ask,

If it were no object, then how does it really last.

How it brings a frown among those downtrodden,

And brings envy to those who earn solemn.

Why is it that a man who bids farewell and departs,

Prevails in the present, by the size of his pocket and not his heart.

Then do tell me, humankind why does it still exist.

And tops people’s priorities in all lists.

So dear human, money is not just a sole object.

It is a lot more, no matter how people object.

It is a music, written meticulously in cotton and linen song.

Whose tune has enslaved industries, empires and the world for long.

It is a coin with sides of a nation’s future and past,

Which wouldn’t be so bad, if I had let it last.

It is your rate in your time and day.

A rate of your reality, a dream so far away.”

6
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Fiction
The Rate Of Reality
I knew a man once by the name of money.
Worshipped by all, but quite canny.
He never found people the same,
Respecting some and others he shamed.
Drove the destitute to a wall of bricks.
The sight of the poor would make him sick.
His business was truly all about people and people alone.
And wherever he went, he found people carrying his clones.
But like any modern being full of right and wrong.
His love for the smaller didn’t last long.
Some would bring his unnatural bias to the law,
But they found the jurisdiction under his claw.
Wherever ran the privileged and the elite.
His presence was always at sight.
And when I asked him about the rest of the world,
He dismissed them and called them at his dearth.
Too many, just so many, who annoyed this man.
Always begging for alms, as much as they can.
As the world had grown to its present state.
The truth was the man aged millions of times in haste.
He remembers himself as a boy quite spry and young,
Whose role amongst the people’s the lives remains unsung.
He recites his internal wishes, the ones that are true.
Without a hint of happiness and no sense or clue.
“An idea in my mind thrives,
That when the future shall arrive.
Bringing with itself a wave of predictable turmoil,
One that cannot be controlled or soiled.
People shall look upon their lives.
And question the riches and the chives.
Realise full well there is no good, no bad
But a clear mix of unprovoked circumstance.
Some born in wealth and some born in squalor,
Some born cowards and some taller.
The truth is that you humans are all bound,
Not by sights, thoughts or your sounds.
But by a chaotic system which seems unfair,
Some who cannot forbear and some who can bear.
A prejudice not on colour, place or time.
But whether filling pockets is a crime.
To worship money alone is wrong.
Money, just isn’t happiness, not for long.
But truly look within deep and to your conscience ask,
If it were no object, then how does it really last.
How it brings a frown among those downtrodden,
And brings envy to those who earn solemn.
Why is it that a man who bids farewell and departs,
Prevails in the present, by the size of his pocket and not his heart.
Then do tell me, humankind why does it still exist.
And tops people’s priorities in all lists.
So dear human, money is not just a sole object.
It is a lot more, no matter how people object.
It is a music, written meticulously in cotton and linen song.
Whose tune has enslaved industries, empires and the world for long.
It is a coin with sides of a nation’s future and past,
Which wouldn’t be so bad, if I had let it last.
It is your rate in your time and day.
A rate of your reality, a dream so far away.”
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Written by Amardeeps in portal Comedy

End of the World

If the world was ending and governments had plans to evacuate, you would probably be their least and last priority.

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Written by Amardeeps in portal Comedy
End of the World
If the world was ending and governments had plans to evacuate, you would probably be their least and last priority.
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Write the funniest insult you can think of.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Comedy

[Insert Expletive Here]

Humans were moving ahead on the evolution chart until you came.

Doctors should study your life. If you've got one. 

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Write the funniest insult you can think of.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Comedy
[Insert Expletive Here]
Humans were moving ahead on the evolution chart until you came.
Doctors should study your life. If you've got one. 
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I want you wonderful prosers to write a ghost story in rhyme (or prose), but it should start with the following line: "A house stands upon a shady hill..." let's see who can run a chill down my spine! Please tag me (@fortbruce) in your story/poem so I can know you entered into the challenge. Good Luck!!
Written by Amardeeps in portal Paranormal

Home Is Where The Horror Is

A house stands upon a shady hill

That sounds much like a ghastly mill

Where echoes of ground bones occupy the streets

And the char of skulls fill all its bed sheets

And at night when the town slumbers aloof

An unknown figure stands peeking from its roof

Who appears at the rapid flick of its finger

And exits to bring malice like a harbringer

Rarely do people venture in this eerie place

Except wandering children and those of grace

Who enter the retreat with some hope of shelter

But their bodies are found all over helter skelter

 Like little Suzy who ran quite far in deft

While playing hide and seek, blind and heft

Until she locked eyes with the figure so revolting

That sent her soul screaming and bolting

 And of the menial farmer Bruce who tended sheep

One that wandered in its gardens to sleep

But old Bruce died of an unknown danger

They found him dead, his heart alone in the manger

And of the mayor who wanted to appear so proud

By arguing no ghosts did reside or could be found

Slept in the moors for a night to affirm his claims

Until he was found stripped and dead with a dame

No one shares the truth behind the house

Infested with numerous pests and louse

That the municipality ordered for a demolition

Until the workers were found at the grounds of cremation 

Do not be fooled by its peaceful and facsimile exteriors

For an inexplicable force runs within it, quite ulterior

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I want you wonderful prosers to write a ghost story in rhyme (or prose), but it should start with the following line: "A house stands upon a shady hill..." let's see who can run a chill down my spine! Please tag me (@fortbruce) in your story/poem so I can know you entered into the challenge. Good Luck!!
Written by Amardeeps in portal Paranormal
Home Is Where The Horror Is
A house stands upon a shady hill
That sounds much like a ghastly mill
Where echoes of ground bones occupy the streets
And the char of skulls fill all its bed sheets
And at night when the town slumbers aloof
An unknown figure stands peeking from its roof
Who appears at the rapid flick of its finger
And exits to bring malice like a harbringer
Rarely do people venture in this eerie place
Except wandering children and those of grace
Who enter the retreat with some hope of shelter
But their bodies are found all over helter skelter
 Like little Suzy who ran quite far in deft
While playing hide and seek, blind and heft
Until she locked eyes with the figure so revolting
That sent her soul screaming and bolting
 And of the menial farmer Bruce who tended sheep
One that wandered in its gardens to sleep
But old Bruce died of an unknown danger
They found him dead, his heart alone in the manger
And of the mayor who wanted to appear so proud
By arguing no ghosts did reside or could be found
Slept in the moors for a night to affirm his claims
Until he was found stripped and dead with a dame
No one shares the truth behind the house
Infested with numerous pests and louse
That the municipality ordered for a demolition
Until the workers were found at the grounds of cremation 
Do not be fooled by its peaceful and facsimile exteriors
For an inexplicable force runs within it, quite ulterior
6
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Give us a little piece of your wisdom. Create your own proverb or quote. This is the quote you'll be remembered by, the quote that will go on fortune cookies and quote books, so make it a good one. 50 coins for the winner. Happy quoting!
Written by Amardeeps

Something a wise man once told me

The complacent man lives with a heap

He doesn't eye any change or sow to reap

But those flustered who refuse to be content

Shall always lead the away and surely contend

Unlike those satisfied, dying small like nameless figures

Never to be heard again, never seen as people bigger

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Give us a little piece of your wisdom. Create your own proverb or quote. This is the quote you'll be remembered by, the quote that will go on fortune cookies and quote books, so make it a good one. 50 coins for the winner. Happy quoting!
Written by Amardeeps
Something a wise man once told me
The complacent man lives with a heap
He doesn't eye any change or sow to reap
But those flustered who refuse to be content
Shall always lead the away and surely contend
Unlike those satisfied, dying small like nameless figures
Never to be heard again, never seen as people bigger

5
2
0
Juice
36 reads
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Written by Amardeeps in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Before You GO GO

A million distances span between us

As the days get bigger and older

When conversations shorten to greetings

And we forget the symmetry of our faces

Until all that's left to shock us now

Is a phone call from a much-forgotten source

Of how you went away and will never return

All the things we wanted to say and do

Just faded phases locked away in our minds

So if you do call me if your heart contents so

Remember me not for the silence I bring tomorrow

But of the craziness that I shared yesterday

For the silence would only grow stronger

Until you've moved away forever

And I forget what it meant to have someone else 

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Written by Amardeeps in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Before You GO GO
A million distances span between us
As the days get bigger and older
When conversations shorten to greetings
And we forget the symmetry of our faces
Until all that's left to shock us now
Is a phone call from a much-forgotten source
Of how you went away and will never return
All the things we wanted to say and do
Just faded phases locked away in our minds
So if you do call me if your heart contents so
Remember me not for the silence I bring tomorrow
But of the craziness that I shared yesterday
For the silence would only grow stronger
Until you've moved away forever
And I forget what it meant to have someone else 
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Write a poem with the beginning line....I sat down by the river Styx.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Poetry & Free Verse

The Patience Of The Dead

I sat down by the river Styx

Having spun my last round of tricks

Awaiting by the waters for the light

Carried by the ferryman that most fright

A hull that holds battered souls so strained

Colder than the blood long ago that drained

The ghast waters ripple in deadly placidity

As the boat stops with some calamity

I inspect my pockets for some change

For the final fare after a life so deranged

But Charon only grins like a devilish ghoul

And says "You've to finish some chores, you fool"

"Your time has yet not arrived, O tempered one

But it is certain to come, O immortal one."

So he banished me away to roam again in rage

And wait for the final call brought by age  

   

  

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Write a poem with the beginning line....I sat down by the river Styx.
Written by Amardeeps in portal Poetry & Free Verse
The Patience Of The Dead
I sat down by the river Styx
Having spun my last round of tricks
Awaiting by the waters for the light
Carried by the ferryman that most fright
A hull that holds battered souls so strained
Colder than the blood long ago that drained
The ghast waters ripple in deadly placidity
As the boat stops with some calamity
I inspect my pockets for some change
For the final fare after a life so deranged
But Charon only grins like a devilish ghoul
And says "You've to finish some chores, you fool"
"Your time has yet not arrived, O tempered one
But it is certain to come, O immortal one."
So he banished me away to roam again in rage
And wait for the final call brought by age  
   
  
6
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Juice
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