Thursday, 6 April 2017

29. One Hundred Years



People watching could be a hobby that Sean has picked up many, many years ago. But it's a real skill, watching people and foreseeing their innate adrenaline response upon a hint of danger - whether they fight or take flight - and Sean's got it.

He takes in another deep puff of his cigarette, closing his eyes, savouring the nicotine high rushing to his brain, before sending grey smoke billowing out between his lips.

As a lady in black sandals walks past him, he notes the subtle eau de feminine emanating from her. "Good," Sean thinks to himself.

She's wearing her usual perfume today, which means it's just another ordinary day, and she's going about her schedule like she does day in day out.

Sean has everything up in his head, he can easily enumerate everything the lady has done since she woke up this morning.

But just to push himself further, he leans on the wall a little while longer with his eyes peeled on the lady's back to see if she makes the right turn at the end of the alley.

And she does.

Sean chuckles, entertaining his own ego for being right at predicting the lady's movement.

He drops the cigarette off his fingers. Smiling as he's cognisant of other members of society darting hither and thither, he sets out on a small jog towards the end of the alley and turns right to a narrower alley.

Unlike the previous one, this alley is littered with a lot more trash, bereft of any human beings, apart from Sean himself and of course, the lady in black sandals. Sean can't see the setting sun from where he is now, but weeks of religiously watching & following the lady tells him that in a few more minutes, the sun will fully retreat and the street lamps will light up.

He continue pacing down the alley at a more or less constant distance from the lady whose head hangs low, engrossed on the rectangular screen she cradles in her hand.

The minutes tick away. The glorious orange-crimson sky overhead has now been replaced with a starless black canopy. The street lamps are alight.

Sean takes a lungful of air and picks up his pace.

In no time, he's next to the lady in black sandals, grinning. "Hey,".

The lady looks up. All colour drained from her face as it finally sinks in that she's not alone at the alley.

Sean takes it up a notch to overtake her. Now he's in front her, impeding her way to the end of the long alley to her apartment. "I said hey," his voice comes out raspy, the offended undertone deliberate.

The lady seems to have lost the function of her voice box. Beads of sweat adorn her forehead, glinting in the white light of a street lamp above.

"What's the matter boo? Can't you just say hey back to a man?"

The lady refuses eye contact, but she attempts a shaky "Move over,".

Sean guffaws at her pathetic attempt. He grabs her by the chin forcefully. His malicious eyes staring right into hers; her widened eyes are like an open window to her brilliantly dilated pupils. Ah, Sean knows that at that very point of time, her adrenaline is in full gear.

And Sean is positive that her response is definitely not fight.

She swiftly breaks Sean's grip on her chin and turns around, charging at full speed towards the alley she came from, the alley where there were human beings, the alley where she can seek help from. But not 5 steps has she taken before she trips over Sean's leg which has mysteriously appeared between her running feet.

There's a pounding pain on her head upon impact with the ground. Blood gushes out. "HELP!!!!!" she cries with what's left of her energy.

Sean gives her a large blow on the head. His eyes remain transfixed on her as her lids drooped and closed completely. Unconsciousness gradually envelopes her, stifling any further screams and movements.

Suddenly it seems like her face contorts into something familiar.

A wave of deja vu washes over him like the ebb and flow of tide at the beach shore. The euphoria he felt just minutes ago has magically evaporated. Flashes of visual disturbance come attacking, but Sean quickly shakes them off.

A deep sigh escapes him.


Hours later, Sean finds himself in a basement room sparsely decorated with several chairs and a large stainless steel table. On the table is a massive black plastic bag. Directly above the table hangs a solitary lamp shining its glorious fluorescent light.

"Where the fuck is Banu?!" he roars. "He should be here hours ago!! I fucking told him that we have no time to waste!".

His feet send a chair flying across the room, just inches shy from where Lisa is standing, arms crossed in front of her chest.

"Jesus Sean, you almost hit me," Lisa spits out her exasperation. "And can you chill? He said he's on his way,"

"Yeah from where, Africa? He should be here by now!" Sean barks back.

Lisa rolls her eyes. She knows it's impossible to try to reason with Sean's temper. She walks over to Luke, who's sitting in one of the chairs, and deposits her gluteus in his lap.

"What about Jen Wei?"

"Yeah I did what you asked, told him we're completely out of clean supplies,". Everyone knows by 'supplies', Luke is referring to sterile equipments and tools. And everyone knows that Jen Wei is the supplies guy.

"And??" Sean prompts, his brows raised to the power of infinity as he tries but fails to suppress his irritation. Nothing's going the way he wants today.

"I don't know man, haven't heard back from him." answers Luke.

Sean kicks another chair.

Lisa's head shakes in disapproval. "Will you give it break, Sean? Bloody hell. There's no point if Jen Wei's here with the supplies anyway if Banu's not here."

"Shut your trap,"

"No, you shut up and sit your ass down and stop breaking things," a feisty Lisa continues pouring gasoline on Sean's inferno.

Luke is at a loss as of what to do. He knows full well he's of very little value to the situation. He knows the most sensible thing to do now is to not say anything, yet his friendly ass can't help from talking. "Who is it this time?" his lips point to the black plastic bag on the table.

"Ooooh! Let's open the bag," Lisa hops on her feet and quickly makes her way to the table.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Sean glares at Lisa, almost challenging her to proceed with what she's about to do. His patience is running low with that woman.

"Getting her ready so that at least by the time Banu and Jen Wei get here, we'll already have a head start, dumbass," Lisa's hands work seamlessly ripping open the black bag, revealing a lady with black sandals still strapped on her feet. "Pretty thing," she comments.

Luke glances at an indifferent Sean. He gets up to see for himself.

"Pretty, but poor thing," Lisa adds to her commentary, still vigilantly examining the lady who's breathing slowly, but otherwise still and unconscious. The lady's still alive, but she won't be for long.

Luke's finger continuously taps the table surface. "I feel like I've seen her face before...," he muses.

Lisa rummages through the other contents of the black bag. There's a small purse, must be the lady's. She unzips the purse and turns it upside down, pouring notes and coins and cards. "No donor card,"

Sean breathes heavily at Lisa's statement. He's not surprised, he shouldn't be surprised. It's been years, he shouldn't be emotionally affected by it, yet here comes a pang of melancholy hitting a secluded place in his psyche. Good thing he's always been good at not expressing his emotions outwardly.

"Ahaa! I remember now!! She looks a bit like that girl - the picture in your wallet, Sean, that girl! Don't you think, Sean? Yeah man. Come here, come look at her!!" Luke exclaims a little too excitedly. But his burgeoning excitement soon dies down, strangled by a deathly stare by Sean.

Lisa clicks her tongue, dumbfounded. "Who is this girl that you're talking about?"

"None of your business,"

"Uh, hello, in case you don't notice already, I'm part of this whole business,"

Sean doesn't respond, he doesn't feel like it.

Lisa looks at Luke, who offers no better response.

"For fuck's sake, why isn't anyone telling me anything? Why am I the only one being left out?"

"Because it has nothing to do with you, bitch. So it doesn't matter,"

"Of course it matters! I'm in this, Sean, I'm in this goddamn organisation. Of course it matters!" Lisa's voice climbs up an octave.

"What does it matter?"

"I wanna know who is this girl you guys are talking about. What, is she someone from your past? Is she the reason we're doing this... this... This whole business? She is, isn't she? I'm right, right??"

Sean smirks. "You think this is a fucking movie where the villain explains his motives and shit? No, Lisa. I don't owe anyone any explanation. And I certainly don't need anyone's approval to do whatever the fuck I want. You're either in this or not, Lisa. If you want to leave, then please, by all means, get the fuck out of my face. No one's stopping you. But if you want to stay, don't expect me to explain anything to justify your choice. That's just you feeding your ego,"

Before anyone answers, Luke's phone vibrates in his pocket, resulting in a fit of ticklish giggles. He fishes out his phone. A text from Jen Wei. "He said he's here with the supplies, in front of the door,"

All three of them exchange puzzled looks. "Why don't he just come in..?"

Sean rushes to the door and yanks it open.

There, a box as tall as his nipple level stands before him.

But Jen Wei is nowhere in sight.

Sean tilts his head to the side. "The fuck is this?"

The box suddenly shakes and erupts and out comes a very Asian Jen Wei, arms outstretched spreading confettis in the air. "SUPPPPPLISEEEEEEEEEEEE-"

BAM, a smack right across his face.

Lisa hurries to catch a stumbling Jen Wei, panicky and at the same time furious at Sean's lack of sympathy. "Jesus christ, Sean, what the hell was that for?!". She slings Jen Wei's arm over her neck and gestures for Luke to assist from the other side.

"That was for making Asian jokes at the wrong time," Sean replies sternly. He's not showing any remorse, but he actually feels pretty bad because admittedly that was, actually, a hilarious joke. However there's a time and place for everything, and now is not the time to be comical. Sean tries to regain his composure, to not lose focus.

"God knows how long he waited inside the box. Must have been uncomfortable for his fat ass," Luke says while empathetically caressing Jen Wei's monolid which has now turned a deep shade of violet.

"Good that I punched him then, now he's slipped into something more comfortable. A coma,"

Lisa shoots Sean an insolent stare, then shifts her gaze to Jen Wei who's clearly out of it now. His overweight body habitus is like ten times greater when he's passed out like this.

It's about 40 minutes later that Banu finally arrives, bustling into the room in a whirl of apologies trying to dampen Sean's anger. If not because of the fact that they are terribly behind time, Sean would have gifted Banu a purple eye as well. Alas, he knows that's not the number one priority right now.

If Jen Wei is the supplies guy, Banu is the executor. If this was America, Jen Wei loads the gun, Banu pulls the trigger.

Sean lets them do what they're best at. He's not interested in the meticulous manual labour, his expertise lies in the transaction. Just as he's about to light a cigarette, his phone rings.

"What's up?"

"My temperature,"

The voice on the other line breaks into a small, apologetic laugh. "Oh come on, Sean, relax. Everything's going as planned," he says reassuringly, to which Sean doesn't reply.

A clearing throat on the other end. "Have you done the cross matching?"

"Yeah, did it as soon as Banu came. Lisa's working on it so results should be out soon. Banu and Jen Wei are harvesting the parts now,"

"How're things looking?"

"Good, I guess,". Truth be told, Sean is in no mood to hold a decent conversation with another human being now, especially vis a vis a human being whose painful demise is guaranteed and happening in the very room right now.

"Ahh...," the other guy muses. "She's a good one, that girl. Last time she came her bloods were in tip top condition, everything within the normal ranges. She doesn't even drink, can you believe it?!"

"Uhuh,"

"I mean, it is pretty rare in this economy to find someone who doesn't down 10 pints in a week from work stress or whatever. Mental. And her LDL too!! Good Lord her liver must be beautiful. And her kidneys, man, her kidneys. There's someone in the waiting list now that I know personally. Wonderful soul, but poor chap, not like he did anything wrong in his life to get cystic kidneys, you know? He's just born with it. Saw him probably more than ten times this year because the cysts kept getting infected and every single time he tells me he just wants a fair shot in life, man, and I want to give him that. Man deserves it,"

Sean's lips quiver a little. The very mention of the genetic condition of Polycystic Kidney Disease sends all sorts of signals to the part of his brain where his memories reside.

"Hope he gets it. And remember the girl with AML you told me about couple of days ago? Hope this one's a perfect HLA match," Sean manages to swerve lane in the conversation.

"Yes, YES, the AML girl. Brill! Ahhhh, can't wait! I knew everything with this one is gonna be wonderful when I met her for routine check up last time. Bless her,"

"But she didn't register," Sean replies matter-of-factly.

There's a brief silence on the other end before the reply comes, "No, she didn't. I offered her, alright, but she just brushed it off. Said she can't afford to bear the medical costs involved and she feels like I want her to die early if she registers,"

Sean's hand balls into a fist. "Bullshit."

"Exactly. When people will realise that the cost is not on them, God knows. And come on, if I really wanted her dead, she'd be dead ages ago,"

"People are just ignorant,"

"Ignorant by choice, that is. It's not like we haven't done our part in informing them. It's them. They don't care,"

"Until they or someone they know ends up in a waiting list," and spends the remaining of their lives hoping against hope that they get to live another day, Sean adds in an internal monologue.

The man on the other end sighs. "Okay I gotta go now, I'll let you know once the transaction is done,"

"Sure, Dr. Miller," with that, Sean ends the phone call. As he returns the phone back into his pocket, he feels the weight of his wallet, so he pulls it out - his grey, dilapidated wallet.

He opens it.

A warm smile greets him, almost like saying Hello.

Sean smiles back. "The girl looks just like you with her eyes closed," he whispers. "You must be disappointed in me,".

"Don't be silly, of course I'm not," Sean knows his mind is playing tricks on him, yet he can't help it. This time, he just wants to play along, he just wants to buy the premise that the woman is in fact present, alive, interacting with him.

He bites his lower lip. His hands are trembling now, a tear drops on the woman's picture, his heart breaks into a million pieces.

"I know you are, you must be, even I'm disappointed in myself. But I have to do this, it's the only way to teach them a lesson,"

"So is this revenge?" the woman asks.

"If they'd helped you back then you needed them, I wouldn't be here doing this today. They made me who I am today," Sean's voice falters in defence.

The woman's face softens. "Sean, honey, you can't hold someone accountable for your own actions. You can't blame the circumstances for the end result,"

"If they'd given you a kidney when you needed one, I wouldn't have to do this. And you'd be here, Mum, you'd be 70 this year. You'd probably live up to one hundred years, or forevermore even. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

"Hmm, one hundred years?" the woman repeats, probably just realising the prospect.

"Yes, one hundred years,"

"Oh the things that I'd do if I get to live one hundred years!". The joy in her voice and eyes is impossible to mask.

Sean wants to continue talking, imagining, wishful thinking, confiding in the woman whose presence he's been craving for years, but something else grabs his attention. A sudden ruckus. 

He looks up to see the door flying open and a troop of men in uniforms barging in.

What the-

"STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND DROP EVERYTHING!" a voice of authority rises over the clamour, commanding respect and obedience.

To hell with that, Sean's respect isn't given, it's earned.

And he certainly doesn't need anyone's approval to do whatever the fuck he wants.

He drops his wallet and as quick as he can, swings his arm to his back. He never wants to resort to this, but desperate times call for desperate measures, he reassures himself. His long fingers wrap the grip of the handgun as though they're a match made in heaven. 

In one rapid movement the barrel is now out, pointin





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Hi everyone! So I wrote this.....

Yeah.

I don't know. It's almost 11 p.m. and it's way past my bed time (I sleep at 9.30 p.m., I know, I'm a baby) and this is a raw draft and I know it's shitty but I'm to sleepy to double check and edit anything so I'll probably do them tomorrow but I just want to say a few things before I hit the sack.

First, I got this idea while revising the Organ Donation lecture few weeks back. I had the strongest urge to write then, but I knew I had to get my exam out of the way first before I commit to any kinds of writing.

Second, I've always cringed at stories where antagonists reveal their rationale themselves.

Third, I've always wondered what it's like to read a story from the point of view of an antagonist. Specifically, an antagonist who doesn't survive. That's why the story ends abruptly, Sean gets shot.

Fourth, I want to put forth the question : do the ends justify the means? 

Okay I'm really really really sleepy now I'll edit this tomorrow bye bye goodnight.

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UPDATE : Okay, hi again, everyone! :)

It's 3.38p.m now.

First and foremost, organ donation. Why is there a need for organ supply? Simple, there's demand for it. I wouldn't be here writing a short story about organ donation if the demand and supply of organs are in balance, thus cancelling each other out, I'd be writing about other things. Unfortunately the demand and supply of organs are not in balance. There's a gap between them. Whatever I wrote up there is my measly attempt to bridge the gap. 

Sure, it's fictional, but I'm telling you there are real stories out there of real people who've lost their loved ones due to (lack of) organ donation. 

I understand that people have an array of different reasons as to why they choose not to donate their organs, be it on religious grounds or cultural or even personal preferences, and I fully respect their decision. What I don't respect, however, is misinformed decision. So if there's anyone reading this who has a certain set preconceived beliefs or doubts about organ donation, I implore you to educate yourself.

Google.

Read up.

Ask.

Be informed.

And see if the notions you had previously are proven to be fallacies.

And then only make your call. After all that hard work, if your decision remains unchanged, then okay. You're free to exercise your right, your prerogative as a human, and honest to God, I have nothing against you.

But if you've decided to donate your organs, though, then I ask of you another little favour.

Register yourself.

Pledge to donate.

Most importantly, communicate your wishes to your family members.

Spread the information on organ donation.

Raise awareness. 

End of rant about organ donation.

Next up, antagonists/villains. Ahh. Villains hold a certain appeal to me for various reasons, all of which can be filed under: they drive the story forward. 

They set the puzzle, the authorities/police solve it. They're always one step ahead, always more resourceful. They're free-er to do as their hearts desire which opens up to a myriad of possibilities to explore. Maybe that's why in most stories, the villains are always more interesting and better crafted as characters compared to the good guys. The antagonists almost always have more flesh, more layers to peel back, before we arrive to the core of their characters - the reason for their antagonism. But I cringe whenever I see a villain setting up the stage to explain themselves and the rationale underpinning their behaviour, so I thought about what it'd be like to navigate a story through the lens of an antagonist. Though technically I didn't actually write the story from Sean's first person point of view - I wanted more freedom to elaborate on the other characters - but I ended the story when Sean's life ended. He wanted to pull the trigger, but the police was quicker in doing so.

Can we agree that if Robin Hood's a classic who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, then Sean's a modern version who steals from the selfish and gives to the needy? But do the ends justify the means? Do good intentions excuse bad decisions? If we can't judge a person based on his/her actions because they aren't necessarily representative of their inner moral compass, how else then? What other parameters do we use? What do you think?



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