The Big Bad Wolf

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Nazkal has always been split off from the rest of the world. Living under the shadow of the great Himalayas meant there was abundant scenic landscape, but fewer eyes dared to appreciate it. What if the Grey Wolf found them?

Living in Nazkal had once been mostly about getting used to living with the Grey Wolf. It came when one least expected, so naturally, the people of Nazkal had learned to expect it all the time. Over this last decade, it’d stopped being as much of a problem though. All one had to do was wash every room in their home once every fortnight with holy water from the Ganges. Water blessed by the goddess of the moon would keep away her beast, or so they believed. And it worked, for the most part. Occasionally, a tourist or a bored youth would try to disprove this superstition and end up barely being more than a pile of bones.

But, no tourist has come to Nazkal in over twenty years. This tiny village was all but forgotten by the rest of the world now. When people shunned religion as nothing more than superstition, and instead chose atheism, fewer people came all this way for their holy pilgrimage. The Nazkalian people still scrub their floors with holy water, but the younger ones scoff when the elders mention the wolf. ‘The beast existed only in fairy tales,’ they would say to belittle their aged parents.

If only that were true… If only I was just a fairy tale…

The wolf lived in me, like a parasite within my blood. It coursed through my veins and flowed into my heart. It lived through me, growing angrier every day. Even as I write this with the last of my sanity, it’s there, snarling in the back of my mind, lying in wait for a prey fall into its trap; my mind is his to play with now.

I wish I hadn’t been so foolish in my adolescent years. How could I ever have thought this was a boon? The wolf has made me stronger, my eye sight shaper; in a village, on the edge of the Dark Woods, those qualities mattered most. I stood out amongst my peers and finally made my parents proud. I thought I was finally in control of my life. I thought I could keep the wolf sated with sheep and lamb when all it craved was man flesh.

My sanity and soul were his price for these gifts. For every heart I pierced, every neck I snapped and every life I took; I’d given away pieces of both to the wolf until one day I was myself staring at the twinkle-less eyes of my husband’s head, torn away from his neck. Blood has oozed all over this room. My floor had been scrubbed clean, but my hands were forever dirty.

Today, as I write this, I am more wolf than a woman. Finally, at the ripe old of age of fifty, the weight of those souls I stole surpasses my will to survive. When you find this letter, beside my slit throat, be safe in the knowledge that the big bad wolf your mamma tells you about finally can do you no harm.

With Love,

Your Granma.

 


This story was first published for storieo.com

BookTube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I decided to take part in BookTube-a-Thon this year. My days didn’t feel busy enough with just Camp NaNo and having an internship, so why not add more?

BookTube-a-Thon is a week-long readathon that takes place from the 24th to the 30th of July. Ariel Bisset, a BookTuber on YouTube, hosts it every year. There are reading challenges, video challenges, photo challenges and twitter sprints. Check out this video for more information if you are interested in participating too. It’ll be fun to read alongside millions from across the world and share the experience.

So down below, I’ve listed the reading challenges and the books that I hope to read during the event:

Read a book with a person on the cover.

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That’s a handsome face, right? Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is a story of a young ‘gentleman’ on a grand tour of England. It is his last chance to have some fun before joining his father’s business. He also has a serious crush on his traveling companion. I heard that it’s best to read this book without knowing too much, so that’s all I know, but from the reviews, it sounds like an amazing story. Can’t wait to read it.

Read a hyped book.

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Eliza and her Monsters‘ by Francesca Zappia is another book that I don’t know much about, but so many people I follow on Booktube have been raving about it. Guessing it’s got something to do with a girl named Eliza who is an artist. I can’t wait to find out more about what the fuss is all about.

Read a book in a day.

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Look at that gorgeous cover! The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman is a combination of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with some dark magic. I love Gaiman’s writing. It is so calming, but still very evocative. Also, it’s a short novella, so I’m sure I can finish it in a day. It’ll help keep me sane this week.

Read a character who is different from you.

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Again, I’m going into this story completely blind. (Let’s just assume that’s the theme for this readathon.) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda got a lot of hype a couple of years back. For some reason, I never picked it up back then. However, Becky Albertalli published another novel recently called The Upside of Unrequited, that I badly want to read. Just thought, I’d use the readathon as a good excuse to catch up on the former before I jump into the latter.

Read a book because of the cover.

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For this challenge, I chose Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor even though it is technically a re-read. But, it’s so brilliantly written that I want to read it once more. It might be my favorite book of 2017. Also, that’s a freaking gorgeous cover. It’s the only book I’ve bought just for its cover. I’m usually content with e-books because I have limited shelf space. So, this is also one of those rare books where I feel compelled to buy the physical copy. That sounds a little wrong, but you know what I mean.

Read a book completely outside

Read seven books.

I’m going to randomly pick up a book for these two challenges, firstly because I can’t think of a book that I’ll be able to read completely outside. Also, I want to be able to switch to a new book if I’m bored with any of the above books. So, these two challenges are like my free passes. If you have any suggestions leave them in the comments below, and I’ll check those out.

That’s my plans for the next week, what are yours? Are you taking part in BookTube-a-thon? If so, what do you plan to read?

 

Under a Carmine Sky

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There are many rules to a safe life in a city. Don’t stay out later than the sun. Avoid the narrow alleys and stick to the broad streets. Blend into the surrounding, never wear anything bright or colorful. Still, anyone experienced with assault would know, daylight does not guarantee one’s safety. Crimes don’t always happen in the middle of the night. Nobody plays ominous background music as a forewarning of what’s to come. Criminals don’t always wear an all black ensemble, nor do they have tell-tale tattoos. Sometimes, their body was just a plain canvas, clothed in a vermilion dress to match the evening sky.

Twilight tinted the world red like a filter on a photo. Although the sky looked like a pretty blush, the city itself took a turn towards Carmine.

Regretting the impulse to take a walk, Anna clutched her handbag closer to her chest. As usual, she slipped a pocket knife in the back of her boots, checked for the pepper spray in her bag, pushed her dark sunglasses up the bridge of her nose and picked up her pace. Ten minutes later she stepped into the Ivory Island Hotel and headed straight for the reception desk.

“Hello, I’m here to meet a guest.” She said to the receptionist who was a bored young lad, no older than sixteen. From her bag, she pulled out a thin satiny black envelope. The note inside had nothing more than an address on it, written in silver, slanted cursive calligraphy. “He’s supposed to be in room number 196.”

“Ah, Mr. David Taupe, this way ma’am, let me take you there.” He said, with his eyes fixed on her bare calves.

“No, that’s fine. Just tell me where to go?” Anna said, her voice shaky with nervousness, and he squished his eyebrows to form a straight line.

“First time is it? I thought Mr. David wasn’t into that.”

“Yes, it’s my first time. Could you just tell me which floor I’ve to go?

“Alright, it’s not my business.” He said with a slight shrug. “It’s the room on the third floor and the lifts are through here,” he said pointing to his left.

At the third floor, she got out and walked to the apartment at the end of the corridor straight ahead, knocked thrice in quick successions, and stepped back.

“Took your sweet little time did you.” A man’s adenoidal voice sounded from behind the door along the clanking of the door’s chains. “Good thing the wife is gone for a long trip this time, or you wouldn’t make a single buck.” The door opened to a man wearing a crisp gray suit that seemed ready to pop with the effort of covering his enormous belly. There was a faint hint of gray in the roots of his hair, and despite being an arm’s length away, Anna could smell the strong citrusy scent of his cologne. He didn’t wait for her to come in. Instead, leaving her to shut the door behind her, he climbed on to the king’s size bed.

The whole ordeal was over in less than a blink of an eye and a flash of silver. White, over-washed sheets turned crimson. The gray suit colored black as blood oozed from David Taupe’s abdomen and lungs while the knife stayed lodged firmly in his heart. His cheeks and neck bore marks when she’s muffled his screams.

Walking back in the darkened city half hour after leaving the cleaned hotel room, Anna thought to herself,

Pretty good for the first day at work. 


This story was written for the website called Storieo. Do check it out if you want to share your writing too.

When Dreams Come True

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The countdown to the new year had begun. He searched for her frantically, even as his stomach churned. At last, when he felt bold enough to give words to his feelings she was nowhere to be seen. It took him until the eighth count to find her.

The world had now stopped existing around him. Time stilled, and the music was barely more than background noise. Instead, he heard his heart thumping loudly. Seconds turned to hours as slowly, one pair of eyes looked up as the other peered down. Lips previously smiling in mirth turned solemn as they touched. Hands sneaked up to curve around the neck and waist. In the darkness of the party, tongues dared do things they would never have otherwise.

But that night, his heart also broke, because his dream came true, just not to him.

 

 


 

This scene was inspired by reading Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor. She mentions in passing about a God who punishes by making one’s wishes and dreams come true, but not for that person. I shall be posting a more in-depth review of the book soon, but needless to say, I was absolutely in love from the first moment I set eyes on it. I especially loved the writing style and would be very happy if I could, one day, write half as good as her.

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) | Book Review

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo, #2)The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m never disappointed with any of Rick Riordan’s books based on the Greek/Roman mythology. The Dark Prophecy is no exception. In fact, it is one of those rare books that I like much more than the first book in the series.

In the Dark Prophecy, we continue on the quest with Apollo to free his oracles and restore the power of prophecy to the world. Meanwhile, he must also find and save Meg, a 12-year-old demigod who also happens to his Master. This time, his visions lead him, Leo and Calypso to the state of Indianapolis.

The book is action-packed as it is a plot driven novel. So much happens in this book that I never had a boring moment while I was reading. Each scene added to the story and helped the plot progress further.

However, it is the characters that steal the show. Apollo is still as funny, snarky, selfish and obnoxious as he was in the first book. He is a whiny and self-serving character, although since he was once a God, it’s understandable. He is still getting used to not being immortal anymore and not having other people who would do his job for him. Nevertheless, he is also much more empathetic this time around. He now understands the danger involved in going on quests and why demigods were not so keen on them. It is also really endearing when he acts as a big brother and constantly worried about Meg.

I also love Leo and Calypso in this story. Their relationship is better explored, and I liked that not everything was picture perfect between them. They still have little moments of insecurities. Adding Leo to the story had another bonus too. Between his one-liners and Apollo’s internal monologues, I was laughing my socks off till the very end. There is so much dry humor in this book that it makes my sarcastic heart very happy.

The writing style, as usual, is funny, fast-paced, and very easy to read. For inexplicable reasons, I feel like this series is a tad darker than his other books. I also admire the way he handled Apollo’s bisexuality in a ‘matter-of-fact’ fashion where it was just another part of his personality.

All in all, this is a fabulous book, perfect if you are in the mood for some light entertainment. Pick it up if you are a fan of the prequels, the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of the Olympus series.

P.S: There is a mention of Indra, a Hindu God, and I freaked out a little bit. Now, all I want is for Rick to write a series featuring the Hindu Pantheon.

View all my reviews

Relic of the Past

9423267This internet is a strange place. Who knew that all it would take is the ding dong of my phone to bring you back to my life? Years have gone by since the day I realized you were toxic to me and walked out of your life.

However, today, here you are on my timeline, almost a decade later, looking slightly different, yet still achingly familiar. Like a relic from times gone by, your picture brings back memories; of days I’d spent trying to bring out the smile that seems to come to you so effortlessly today, of the hours of sleep I’d lost texting you, of those dark days when you’d confirmed all my darkest fears.

And most of all, it brought back the questions that had plagued me all these years.

Was I too hasty in judging you? Should I have held on a bit longer?

Perhaps it had been both our immaturity that crumbled a friendship that was to last a lifetime, but with a practiced hand I press the ‘X’ and decide not to build back a burnt bridge.

 

Beautiful

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The sounds of the creaking bed and their moans changed to racing heartbeats and heavy panting. He had now moved to the right side of the bed. Even as she stared hard at the ceiling, struggling to bring her pulse back to normal, she felt his gaze and the slight upward turn of his lips.

When she felt a bit more under control, she turned towards him. He was still staring, but as she turned his smile grew wider. A full curve now; and once again her fingers ached to trace it.

‘Maybe even sneak a quick taste. The night’s still young after all.’ She thought, looking at the inky black sky through the window behind him.

“Do you love me?” he asked.

She stiffened, wondering if he knew the truth, but he just looked earnest. So she too smiled and replied.

“Nah, I just think you’re beautiful.”