Mala's Tale Of Terror
Mala's Tale Of Terror5 mins 604 5 mins 604
Personally, I would never make the mistake of accusing Mala of being imaginative, for that would be the most criminal understatement of all. But then again, I have seen her horrid story play out till the bitter end.
As far as bright-eyed and bushy-haired students go, Mala was the brightest, and her auburn curls - the bushiest! Her parents, her teachers and even her fellow lackeys at work would describe Mala with a new adjective every time they were asked - not one of which contained the slightest hint of disdain.
Born with what I know now to be the cause of her grim demise, Mala’s imagination ran rampant in her dreams and often during the long mundane hours of the day. Her imagination would quietly fester in the back of her mind, winding up the toy car of possibilities and eventually bursting forward as sporadic bouts of daydreams.
At night, Mala would run away in her sleep and dream of paradise, of undiscovered lands and cities unbuilt. She would usually take on an omnipotent role as the architect of a magnificent dream city - one she had been building since she was no taller than a golf bag.
The towering city Mala dreamed of was moulded from clay and blocks of Legos; mismatching architecture, bright hues of green and yellow, and layers upon layers of physically impossible shops, theaters, candy stores, parks and that one giant twenty-foot chocolate statue of Dora greeted Mala as she cruised Fizzy Plaza.
Fizzy Plaza lay at the heart of her city, and hovering magically in the air - miles above the bubbling blue Gatorade fountain, was a crisp hardwood sign that bore the name of her city in large white macaroni shells - Moupa.
I wish someone had offered Mala a warm cup of coffee that night, to stave off the horrors that waited for her in Moupa. But as Mala felt the cool embrace of her goose-feather pillow, her imagination had already begun to pool behind her drooping eyelids, darkening them in their dangerous vice.
For whatever ill-conceived reason, Mala decided to drop her ephemeral form that night in favour of a more physical one. She roamed around the beaten clay roads in the form of a young woman, sporting knee-high boots and a raven black dress which mirrored her uncharacteristically straight hair.
She felt the lukewarm breeze on her exposed arms as she made her way through the plaza. The air hung thick with the smell of candy-coated corn and carried her forward towards the card deck escalator.
As she stepped onto the queen-of-hearts-shaped step, the card began to ascend carrying her upwards and higher through the pearly white cotton candy clouds and past the flying edible pancake saucers. The escalator had no rails and showed no signs of stopping, not that Mala needed it anyway. All around her hung thick-tarp umbrellas ready to lower her safely back to the ground – all she had to do was grab on.
But she didn’t. Mala kept riding the card escalator higher still, eager to witness her paradise from the heavens above.
This is when he entered the story. Trust me when I say it isn’t a happy one.
Jaru tore off the crusty black-tops of the bitter-tea chrysanthemums that sprouted in the shady patches under the card escalator. He pocketed the nub like flower tops and angrily stamped on the soft red path under his bare feet.
Blissful in solitude, Jaru would go days and even weeks without speaking to another soul in Moupa. He reveled in the feeling that bubbled in his hollow chest every time he tore the blacktop off a flower.
The tops gathered in his pocket, coating the lines of his pockets as this odd habit turned into compulsion… still gathering… as he spent days chasing the shade looking for chrysanthemums to tear... his pockets overflowing.
Then at night, Jaru would sneak into Fizzy Plaza and climb up onto the Gatorade fountain to dip his dirty shoes in the water, the fizzy liquid engulfing his short legs and drenching his pockets, turning the contents into a pungent black tar.
I believe that is how Mala smelt him.
When he arrived at the escalator in his perpetual search for the tops, he saw that it was moving, the cards changing face. Curiously he looked around – no one.
But the wind betrayed Mala that day. Even through the sweet cotton cloud scent, Jaru’s fox-like nose caught the whiff of someone new, a stranger.
He stepped onto the only wild card in the escalator, zooming past the graying clouds. As he drew closer Mala’s scent grew stronger, flooding his mind and engulfing his senses. He didn’t feel the flying pancake slap his face, unconsciously pulling it off his rabid face and tearing it in two.
Turn around Mala.
So close to the very top of the floating stairway, Mala slowly noticed the violet sky around her turn darker; redder; her shoulders got colder. She smelled a sharp and bitter odour, burning her nostrils and making her face cringe.
She turned around just as Jaru reached the zenith of his leap, flying towards her with his smudgy hands and broken nails ready to sink in and tear her like a flower. Mala reacted swiftly, falling to the floor as the man flew past her.
He flew over the edge of the card, his nails clawing at the ends and splitting apart as Jaru fell of the escalator. Panicking, Mala jumped from card to card, rushing to the top.
Jaru would have fallen to his certain death had it not been for the murky black umbrellas floating in the crimson air. But the umbrella was leisurely carrying Jaru down, away from his prey. He grabbed on to the handle and swung around wildly, turning the umbrella over, propelling it upwards instead.
This time Mala didn’t see him coming. Barely three cards away, Mala felt a sharp pain sketch into her ankle. Looking down Mala saw what remained of Jaru’s nail digging into her ankle as he grabbed onto the leg, black tar dripping off his palm, stinging and eating away at her skin.
She tried to move but couldn’t. The tar held her in place. She saw the light at the top of the last card inviting her welcomingly but impossibly far away.