Friday, July 31, 2009

Dear God...


...what's with all the people dying?

Michael Jackson. Henry Surtees. Yasmin Ahmad.

And now Sir Bobby Robson. Though he has been unwell, the word 'shock' cannot even begin to describe my reaction.

I just don't know what to write anymore.

Farewell, Uncle Bobby. May you rest in peace.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Endure


Endure.

What was it Alfred had said about enduring?

He leaned forward slightly, stopped only by the pain in his back. His muscles screamed with pain, a reminder that no matter what he thinks, he is only limited by his humanity.

Humanity.

Is that why his heart is hurt so?

He leaned back, and closed his eyes. He concentrated, focused...hard, on his own body. There's a broken toe somewhere on his right foot. He wasn't sure; his right leg felt almost totally numb from fatigue. The suit, its rubber stretched slightly by the constant exertions, singed with the burns from the explosion.

Explosions? There's no way there was only one; the flames were high and tall, as angry as a tiger roused from its sleep.

Explosions.

Of course there was more than one.

His heart burned, now with the realisation that there was definitely more than one explosion.

The one that killed Rachel...

His eyes opened in shock. His breathing, heavy, became laboured, but...no. No.

Endure.

He closed his eyes once again. Shutting it tight, holding back the tears. He could almost feel the eyelashes bumping against each other, top and bottom. He balled his fists, breathing in laboured breathes, but...slowly...slowly...endure.

He opened his eyes, this time of his own volition, and stood up. In one, single movement, he walked towards the windows, and looked out towards the city. His city.

His father had built the city up. His family had done so, ploughing their money into an endless cesspool of crime, of hatred, of greed and corruption. He gave no less an effort, albeit in a slightly different direction.

"I've prepared a little breakfast."

Alfred had came in, unnoticed, but not unwelcomed. The old man had practically become his father over the years, replacing a father made real only by the memories that became more vague, more distant. In the past.

But memories are not real. Memories are the mere abstract of that which had already happened, something which could be manipulated, twisted, and changed into one's own accord. Memories...

...memories are the one causing the pain.

"Alfred?" he started, unsure. Hesitant. Not to talk to Alfred, but to...articulate the hurt. The pain. The loss. His body is screaming for rest, for a moment of break from all of that, but his heart, though crushed, is still in one piece, and begging for an outlet, any outpouring of emotions that would let it...

...let it endure.

"Did I bring this on her?" Pause. He closed his eyes, and opened them again. This time, he didn't see the city, but his own reflection. He saw his face, a small cut above his right brow. The blood had dried, but the wound remained open.

Harvey wasn't so lucky.

"I was meant to inspire good," he continued. His voice, though hoarse, is noticeably stronger in conviction. "Not...madness. Not...death."

"You have inspired good," Alfred replied with equal conviction. "But you spat in the faces of Gotham's criminals. Didn't you think there might be some casualties? Things were always gonna get worse before they got better."

"But Rachel, Alfred..."

"Rachel believed in what you stood for," Alfred cut him off. "What we stand for." A momentary pause; he believed Alfred added it deliberately for dramatic effect. He did like his Shakespeare, the old Etonian. "Gotham needs you."

"No." Now his voice became stronger. He felt as if an invisible hand had gripped his heart... "Gotham needs its true hero...." the grip tightened "...and I let that murdering psychopath blow him half to hell."

"Which is why, for now, they're gonna have to make do with you."

Bruce couldn't help but smile, on the inside. The grip subsided...slightly. Momentarily. The moment passed too soon for comfort. "She was gonna wait for me, Alfred. Dent doesn't know."

He shifted his gaze slightly, looking at Alfred's reflection. Indirect, but it was there; for the first time in the conversation, their gaze met and locked. Then Alfred took something from the tray, and slipped it into his pocket. "What's that?" Bruce's curiosity was aroused.

"It can wait," was Alfred's reply as he put the tray of breakfast down on the table (he had been holding it the whole time). He turned sharply, almost on his heels, and started to walk away.

"That bandit in the forest in Burma," it came suddenly, the immediacy of Bruce's voice even catching his own surprise. "Did you catch him?"

"Yes."

"How?"

Alfred didn't turn to look at him, but Bruce could nonetheless imagine the old man's face scrunching in consideration, figuring out, even in the short moments before he answered, the best way to put it. He could, however, see Alfred's body let out a sigh; he had given up. The best way to put the answer is the only way it can be put.

"We burned the forest down."

Alfred walked out of the rooms, his steps metronomically echoing loudly across the empty hallways. It has always been so.

And now, no matter how much he would endure...it will remain empty that way.

Forever more.

*A re-imagination of a scene from 'The Dark Knight'.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad 1958 - 2009


"What wisdom descends when I pause to listen to death?

Nothing really.
Except, my beloved’s eyes dance
when he tells me about his day,

and I must remember to kiss them
before they finally close."

*Taken from "Like Clockwork" by Yasmin Ahmad. I also wrote about her here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

His Father's Son


"What should I do?"

The rain lashed the Samsung Hospital, showing no signs of letting up whatsoever. I had recently arrived a few moments ago with some other friends, and met one of my classmates at the entrance.

My friend took a drag of his cigarette, and threw the remainder down unto the ground, stubbing it out with the bottom of his sole. He was smartly dressed in black; tie, pants and jacket complementing a white shirt. On any other day, one may well have accused him of being an FBI agent.

"Just do as I do. I am not a Buddhist either, I am a Christian, so don't worry. We'll just pay our respects in our own way."

However, today was no ordinary day. Today is one of three days that is a part of the Korean funeral ceremony. Today is one of the days when my friend, Hyun-ho, and his family would host a number of people to come and say farewell and pay their respects to his father, who passed away the day before. Today, I will go over to him, and shake his hand, and do my best to console him.

I was initially confused as to how I should react; should I bow as everyone else will? What do I do? What do I say?

What do I say? To a man.
Who lost his father.

The enormity hit me hard.

****

My friends and I stepped into the memorial area. Hyun-ho stands to the side, flanking his mother along with his sister. He is dressed in the accepted uniform for familial mourning: black suit and pants, with yellow stripes momentarily sowed on across the bicep area. He looked up, at us, and at me.

I was initially scared. His had always been a playful, somewhat happy face. His mind always seems to hide a mischievous thought; the kind to always tease and joke around with the girls as much as the boys. He is also one of the few who took delight in my terrible Korean, but not in a bad way; he always teased me about it. "Yah...Fikri," he called out to me on the set of our friend Hanna's film last year. "It's not 'weehom saram', it's 'weehom-HAN saram'. Otherwise it'll just be 'danger person', not 'dangerous person'." Hell, I was on set with him just four days prior; once again, he was up to his jokes; he made me laugh so hard I nearly interrupted a rehearsal session.

Today, however, I was scared. His eyes were red, the rings suggesting that sleep was a companion not much seen these past few days. He looked at me, at all of us, but perhaps at me with a small hint of surprise. I nodded, to him, thinking that now is not the time for words.

He understood.

We all took one of the stalks of flower on offer by the side, and went up to the altar, one by one. We placed it alongside the picture, or as close to it as we can; there's already quite a few flowers there. We backed up, and lined up together in a row. We looked at the picture of his father, surrounded by the flowers, and bowed our head in reverence. Then everyone else, went down, on their knees, before prostrating themselves on the floor. Stood up, looked at the picture, and repeat.

I didn't intend on doing it; this was the part I had mentioned earlier, about not knowing what to do. Could it be that this would not be acceptable by Islam? I do not know; my knowledge and experience of my own religion is far away from what I want it to be.

But I did it anyway. I bowed, just like everybody else, and I prayed deeply in my heart for Allah to comfort my friend and his family as best as he can in this time of need. I pray that he will be able to seek the strength and courage to deal with this situation. He is the leader now; Korean society, like much of Asia, places great importance on the male and age hierarchy. Thus, as the thought hit me in my state of prayer, he is the de facto head of the family.

We bowed our heads for the final time, and he introduced us to his family. I dare not speak more than a few words to his mother and sister; who am I to them? But they seemed grateful nonetheless for our presence. "Where are you from?" his mother asked me. "From Malaysia." "Thank you very much for coming."

Afterwards we were led to the eating area. Food and drinks seems to be associated with almost all aspects of society; funerals are no different. We joined several other friends who arrived before us, and had already paid their respects. Fifteen minutes later, more of my classmates arrived; Hyun-ho is a very popular figure.

Soon enough, the time came for me to leave; there is another film meeting for me to attend.

We shook our hands, tightly. Our eyes locked for more than a few moments. And in those few moments, I wanted to say to much. To hug, to console him, to comfort him. To tell him a joke. To...do...anything.

But I couldn't. The words which I had presumed would come didn't really come. Not the ones that I wanted. I mumbled my apology and condolences, and then there was still a little silence.

What do you say to a man who has lost his father?

He smiled, almost as if he could read my mind. He give my hand another, tight shake, and thanked me. "See you later."

I stepped outside of the hospital with Hanna. In the corner, Ji-hyun and Sang Beom were already enjoying their cigarettes, along with other mourners from other funeral services. The rain had ceased slightly, though a slight haze remains.

"Just take the cab to the station," Hanna told me. "I think I could do with a walk," I replied. "It's not far, I think." I said my goodbyes, waved to the smoking friends, and set off on my way.

My heart felt more than just a little sad. It felt what you feel when you want to say and do something to benefit someone close to you, but couldn't because of...what? Circumstances? People? Merely because what you want to say couldn't really be expressed with mere words?

I don't know. People die, after all. Everyday. But the feelings doesn't hit you until they do. I certainly can only think, not even imagine...think of what it must have been like for Hyun-ho and his family. What it must have been like for Tan Beng Hock's family. For John Surtees and his family. What it would be like for me when the time comes. What it is like for other for whom the time has already arrived.

I thank you, God, for the rain.

It wasn't enough to get drenched, but it did well enough to hide my tears.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bleeding Heart


Sometimes, it is just a matter of things getting out of hand.

It's an illusion, a false statement, a fake belief to even think that we had the power to begin with.

That things were in hand right from the start.

And it's not so much a matter of the spiral that threatens to get out of control. It's not a matter of the mistakes made, or of the second chances to be given. It is, in fact, something to do with power.

More specifically, the lack of.

When there is pain and hardship, when there is hurt and confusion, the initial reaction is to stand up and be counted for. To fight against that which you think is wrong, that which you think should not be. An unnatural state of being. Certainly a most undesirable one.

But undesirable for whom? The question lies not with the what, but with the whom. As in: I have the gun, and it is loaded. But who do I aim the gun at and fire? In which direction should the gun be cocked?

Is having the gun the right answer to begin with?

It's not your fight, you tell yourself. You're there, you're the pillar, you're the strength to be relied upon...but it's. not. your. fight.

But it is, the heart screams. The ones close to you are hurt! The ones you love are in pain! Do something!

It yells, non-stop, unimaginable until the burn that it feels scorches everything else that lies in its path. The heart yearns for vengeance, a thirst that is borne out of protection. For in spite of its negative connotations, it is a feeling that came from love.

Love.

An empty word, filled with so much promise, so much hope, so much more that should be given rather than just the word that it is, a four-letter prison that confines within it the most sacred of of the most fragile of trusts.

It is from this fragility, from the bond, from this love, that the hurt seeps no longer through the other. It starts to permeate our body through the veins. These veins, they have seen and carried many. Drugs, blood, medication, toxic, poison...

...life, hope, dreams, joy, happiness.

Love.

Oh, love.

What a bitch you are.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Joy Division



I can't help it.

For all of its flaws, I've seen 'Transformers 2' twice now (click here to read someone else who also saw it twice), and I still get my kicks out of it. One of the reasons for that is the soundtrack. Watching it in the cinemas, I find myself thinking how similar it is to the first one. Not that it is a bad thing, no, but I figured that perhaps there would be a bigger progression between the films.

As I watched it, I kept thinking of Hans Zimmer and the Pirates trilogy. The first two films sounded really, really similar, but the third shot into stratosphere (to this day, I still listen to 'I Don't Think Now's A Good Time' for my scriptwriting stints). Upon closer inspection, I realised that the OST really comes into its own...on its own. I suppose the film version was a lot more uniform than I thought, but each track on the new OST really stands out and have its own identity. The structure is the practically the same...

...but I digress. This is not about the OST per se, but it is about the song from Linkin Park.

It has, of course, been out for a while before this, but while the tune was catchy enough, I never did actually listen to the lyrics. As the credits rolled up on the screen for the second time for me, I couldn't help this time but pay a little more attention to it, and it sounded...good.

While Linkin Park never really dropped off the radar for me, it's been a while since they've truly caught my attention. Looking back, I realised that it was way back on the much-maligned ReAnimation album that their song captivated. 'Pushing Me Away' was already rather good on the original 'Hybrid Theory' album, but the remix version moved it up a couple of notches. Slow build, with a big, angry climax, it was also the lyrics that grabbed me and wouldn't let go. It speaks to me, somehow.

'New Divide' moves me in the same way. It's different, of course: the tempo's a lot more consistent from start to finish, and you could almost hear the Hans Zimmer of 'Black Hawk Down' mode. The lyrics, however, were the big winners; a catchy tune will tap my feet all day long, but the right lyrics will make me think. Perhaps more importantly, it will make me feel. Mentally and logically speaking, the song is a call for understanding, repentance, forgiveness, redemption, and a new start. But that's the part that made me think.

The part that made me feel was the second line of the second verse:

"There was nowhere to hide / the ashes fell like snow"

For some reason, a reason that I can't articulate, it struck me as beautiful. Ashes fell like snow. You can see it, you can imagine it right here, right now, even as you're merely reading it. Some lines really stick, and this...I can't just get the song, tune, theme, lyric out of my head, but I find the image it inspires to be absolutely irresistible. You can check out the acapella version here; the mark is 1:23. Also in this version, you hear every gasp of air that Chester takes. It's heavily mechanised, but you can feel the gulps of air that goes in. It makes you realise, in a way, how much this takes from him.

But it still doesn't beat "the ashes fell like snow." I don't know why. It has a familiar ring to it, and perhaps it has existed before in some other form, but not like this.

It's haunting, it's arresting, it's striking, it's beautiful.

Dammit, it's art.

I wish I had thought of it first...

"My Name is Amir."


I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. The air inside the room had been slightly stuffy, though it was cool; the air conditioner was powered to the tilt. It was cool, but somehow it wasn't as conducive to the mind as I had thought.

It was a Korean class for foreigners, held at the mosque in Itaewon. Itaewon itself is a strange creature, the holiest site in Korea for me and my fellow ummah is also one of the most famous places for people looking for their taste of Korean flesh. A stone's throw down Hooker Hill line a bunch of gay clubs, filled with men on the prowl every other night, their bodies chiseled to the max.

It is also in Itaewon that I was privy to a truly, most interesting moment that stayed with me until now.

"Here's your coffee," said the instructor, coming back hurriedly as he tried to minimise the falling rain on his head (that's one peculiar thing about the Koreans; I can understand not wanting to fall ill, but the slightest, slightest hint of rain, and out comes the umbrella quicker than a quicksilver). I had not insisted upon it, but upon my enquiry, he had rushed into the other building to fetch each of us a cup of coffee each. "Thank you," I replied, "it was most kind of you."

As it is a break, conversation turns towards the personal. I quizzed the Tajikistani a little bit about his country. The capital city, total population, major religions, etc. The other guy in the class, Irwan, looked on, intercepting at intervals to get clearer answers about certain issues. Soon enough, I turned my attention back to the instructor. I asked for his age, before shamelessly asking for his name once again; I didn't quite catch it well enough to remember it half an hour ago, but for the sake of not disturbing the class, I let it slide.

"Amir," he replied. "Ah, are you a Muslim?" "No."

What?

"Then why do you call yourself Amir?" I managed to somehow drag that out. "You mean you used to be a Muslim or something like that?"

"Well, no," he sipped his green tea. Irwan, by the side, long drag of the cigarette. "There is just something about it."

"About what?"

"I just like it. I am interested in Muslim culture."

"Really? Islam or Arabic culture?" I wanted to get to the heart of it now. I know of Koreans who have converted into Islam, but I had not considered the possibility of someone taking on a Muslim/Arabic name for reasons other than that.

"No, well...I like it. I study it at university, and I find it interesting."

"You study Islam at university?"

"Religions, really."

"So why did you pick Amir? Because you liked it?"

"Yeah. I think it's a nice name, and it's easy enough for people to understand, so I went for it." That, for what it's worth, is true; despite having only three syllables (for the most part), for some reason Korean names don't stick well at the first, second, or fifth time of asking. Not for me, anyway.

"So you like Islam, but you're not a Muslim, and yet you picked the name Amir for the sake of it?"

"Yeah."

Wow, I thought to myself.

Soon enough, it was time to get back in. I hung around a little while longer on the outside, finishing off my coffee. It was hot, but that was not discomfort. What was a slight discomfort was the fact that Amir's reasoning totally caught me off-guard. I have seen people pick names, but they tend to be Christian names. You don't have to travel far if you're in Malaysia for this; you'll find plenty of Christian-named Chinese people with monosyllabic last names who aren't actually Christians within a stone's throw in Damansara. For the longest time, I'd accepted it as the norm, that when people pick a name for non-religious purposes, it would most likely be a Matthew rather than a Muhammad.

For my part, I've never really bought into that; your name is your name, after all. Fikri doesn't exactly roll off the tongue for a lot of people, either, but that's OK. It merely makes it easier for me to get fikri@mail.com, rather than frank@mail.com.

I've often thought of myself as an open-minded person, one who is able to look, watch, and learn as time goes by. But something as simple as this, as someone picking a Muslim/Arabic name for the sake of a name, it has never, ever crossed my mind. Never. Ever.

But why?

I couldn't really think of the answer for that, as I finished the coffee that time, and as I sit here, with Linkin Park blasting my eardrums into oblivion. There's still more of the world I can learn, I guess. But I do know that the question shouldn't really be why.

It means 'commander' in Arabic.

Amir.

Why not?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Internal Affairs

Sometimes, words really can't describe how you feel.

No, it cannot describe it accurately. But by golly, no one has stopped trying before.

So what is it that I feel right now?

It is an inordinate amount of pain. Inordinate, partly because it is not my pain. Not my battle, not my war. But pain, because it beats away at your chest. I was tempted to say smack, but that word hints at the sound, rather than the act, the effect rather than the process.

Beat. Numbed. Enraged. Sad. Despair, even, somewhat, all rolled into one.

There is always a desire to do something when such emotions do their own version of the War of the Roses. Perhaps even more than that; a desire to change the outcome is definitely on agenda. That does not change when that war is not your own. When it is one that is being fought not by your goodself, but by someone close to you.

They go into battle, fully armoured, suited and booted for battle. But bit by bit, slowly but surely, pieces fall off into the ground, the granites stomped at their foot grows its fangs and takes hold of it, the helmet protecting their head comes flying off, burning away in the atmosphere like the ashes of dead men.

Dead people.

And then they are slain, one by one. Not a quick, painless one. The sword is brought down with might and grace, skinning them here, slicing them there, until all the blood that their heart can pump is nearly drained out from the body. Their cold eyes looks at you, a million questions all asking the same thing.

Why?

It is a question to which you don't know the answer.

You don't know anything. You can't do anything.

All I can do is watch.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birthday Cake

SCENE 13 – INT. CHAN-WOOK'S ROOM/MORNING

Chan-wook is already sitting down comfortably in his own bed, twisting the newspapers between his own fingers. He rolls back and forth, without a care in the world.

Ji-sung enters, bringing his guitar with him. He sits down on the floor, in front of Chan-wook. Chan-wook stops his moments of self-actualisation upon realising that his brother is already there. He focuses, smiling his silly grin, in great expecations.

Ji-sung position his guitar, and starts to pluck it softly, looking for the right tuning. This simple movements caused Chan-wook to giggle. Ji-sung looks at him, somewhat perplexed, but pleasantly surprised. Simplicity is key. Less is more.

Satisfied with the tuning, he stiffens his body, looks at Chan-wook, and starts to play 'Rasa Sayang.'

Halfway through the song, Chan-wook reaches out to Ji-sung, his palms wide open, fingers stretched. He wants to do the high-five with him. Ji-sung, realising what his brother is doing, shuts his eyes, basking in the eternal warmth that envelopes him right at that very moment. The moment is momentary, but its glow will last. Then he continues.

When he finishes, there is a round of applause from the doorway. Ji-sung turns to see SEUNG-WON (36) standing at the door. She is tall, slender, and experienced; though rugged by life on the outside, her eyes smiles a glimmer of hope and happiness.

CUT TO:

*For Abs.

Back to Basics

It was a moment that happened somewhere and somewhen in the recent past. In the middle of regurgitating once again the script that is to be my graduation project, I find myself floating the thought in my head that this is not exactly what I want to be doing at that moment. Further reflection revealed itself to be something that was a little more vague, though as much as I can deduce, I was still on the right path. I still want to read, to write, the watch, and to learn as much as I can, while I still can, the intricacies of not just films, but life as well.

Slowly, but surely, then, the truth of the matter revealed itself to me. I wondered, often, how it was that Nabi Muhammad had managed to get through a lot of what was given to him. He was, after all, a mere mortal, a man, who would not have been able to absorb, as he did, much of the information handed down to him by the Angel Gabriel himself (who, of course, in turn, received the said knowledge from the Almighty).

At that least, that's what I believe.

I mention this, because I suspect that the moments must have been somewhat as miraculous as mine was. Not that it was any sort of miracle, but then again, how do revelations work? Is it something that hits us with the force of a hammer strike by Thor himself? Is it a slowly, burning sensation that seeps its way through our veins, slowly, and subtly, reinforcing its presence within our very being? Is it something that has always been there, awakened only from its slumber by something external, like a lock that could easily be picked, or a safe that would be...well, unsafe, once the door is opened?

I don't know what it was like for him. But for me, it was...the second one. The slow, burning sensation. I say burning, to describe the impact it had on me.

And that realisation is I haven't written anything new. I haven't read anything new.

The weapons of a writer, if it seems less obvious to some, is to read and to write. It has eternally been my father's most consistent advice; no matter how different his political conclusions may develop, his analysis of films may evolve, his understanding of religion may advance, at the end of the day (in some cases, literally as well), it is the act of reading and writing that fuels the imagination of the writer. More importantly, it gives me the fire with which to burn that imagination, to set it alight with words, comprehension, images, illusions, mirages, sentences of abnormal length, or mere simplicity of the emotions expressed in an unspoken word.

I have, of course, written regularly enough. There is this blog, and another blog, which I try my best to maintain on a regular basis. There is also the rewriting of scripts and translations of the rewritten scripts into something to be comprehended by my classmates. It is not always perfect (the writings and the translations), but there is writing.

However, what I merely have been doing all this while was working on something that isn't new. I've written a lot, but I've not written that which has simmered in my heart and expanded in my mind. Hearts and minds, that is what we aim for. But what was in there, wasn't being expanded into the wider world.

So I sat down, and listed almost every single idea I had over the past year (a year! Three hundred and sixty five days without original material! What the hell was I thinking?). And I realised that I had enough workable ideas for at least five short films, four feature films, and (at least) one documentary. All this while it has been shut up inside of me, like a great secret that was to be kept safe from the intruding enemies of without.

How the ideas got there to begin with was a mystery as well, because I haven't been doing much reading, either. I should clarify: I've been reading like a madman. But what was it that I've been reading? Newspapers, magazines, film books, biographies, reviews, football updates, political analysis...and more film scripts. But I've not read fiction for such a long time. While the rest are all good, nothing feeds the mind more than seeing for yourself with your own eyes how other people, who had other ideas simmering within them, express themselves. They pick up the pen, turn on the computer, burn the midnight oil, and...write.

Writers are writers because they write. But they cannot write without having read to begin with. We ourselves cannot communicate without understanding how such communications are made. The rules, the regulations, the conventions...this are all essential ingredients of any piece of work. This, and the decision to discard them. To break the rules, first you must know what rules there are to break.

I have not read. And I have not written. I have not been inspired.

It may not work in the exact same way for everyone else, but that's what works for me. Reading and writing. In chasing after the bigger dragons, the more material achievements, I have neglected the two biggest things that enabled me to pursue my ambitions to begin with. I hope this won't be neglected for much longer.

For everyone in the world starts at the same point. Somewhere on the blank page.

And without the inspiration to write, to start on this blank page, I am not a writer, merely a re-writer.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Galaxy: The Sixth Sense

Kye woke up, sitting erect in his bed, sweat almost dripping from his forehead. The shock had not worn off, not just yet, his heart beating a million miles a minute. It took a moment for him to come to his senses, and realised that his lips are quivering. It took him another to compose himself down, before he was able to quieten them down. They resisted, initially, but eventually he managed to firm his lips.

He swung his legs out of his bed, sweat beads dropping from his forehead. He realised how...how, sweaty he was. He wiped it with the back of his hand, the side you're supposed to know so well, even if you're not actually sure what it is that you know. And sometimes what it is that you know...it may never be enough. He stood up, and walked to towards the big window, sliding it open and stepping out gingerly unto the veranda.

Kida, despite being roused by his movements, didn't let on that she is awake. She observed him, looking on in silence, almost like a panther waiting in the darkness. But he is no prey, certainly not for Kida. If anything, he is a prey of himself, a target for his own mind, body and soul to aim at. There will come a day when he will die, and at his funeral, they will eulogise of him and his perfectionist traits. Not one of them will know that it is borne of his streak of extreme self-criticism. No one, except for Kida. No man looks in the mirror more than Kye, to look and seek for the truths and reasons that lies within.

For it is exactly the sleeping dogs that preturbed him. Kye leans over the railings, looking on at the night traffic fly by. They're so close that he could almost reach out and touch them. In fact, he could, if it wasn't for the protection shield that bubbles them in safety and silence from the cacophony of sounds and noises of life outside.

Life outside. These are not matters that concerns him not. For deep within him, a burning question remains. In truth, it is not a question, but more of a statement: I dream of dead people. And I don't know why. The truth, though lacking the symbol of a question, led merely to more questions.

He was going down on the escalator. It was at the BV, which is the most ironic of things, since he has no use for malls. He hates people, he hates the crowds, and none more so than those who turn up to do nothing more than walk around in circles, looking at things that they will never buy. That, and he also hates the people who walk there actually buying things, the rich upper class predators who siphon the money from public reserves, before using them to buy expensive gifts like Earth-gold necklaces and watches made from the Nualnian mines that do nothing more than glow in the dark. He had always hated the upper class, and its not just because he's not a part of it.

He was at the BV, going down on the escalator, and he saw the two of them going up, in the opposite direction, right next to him. He did not see them at first. He knows Dallas well. They had been together at the academy; Kye always scored near the top, but Dallas was never far behind. His charms carried him through more than Kye's ever did, but somehow they got on well. Dallas was never blessed with money, either.

So why was he there?

Why was he on the escalator, going up, leading up to the point of almost insane, bright, mind-blinding whiteness of heaven?

Why was there such fury in his eyes as he leaned over to Kye?

Why did he say, "You'll be the death of me, Kye Toran," in a way that belies that very furious fire? It was calm, and to the point, without a hint of malice. To the point of piercing his heart with his own malice, his own poison, banging the gavel down and saying, "Yes, I am guilty. I will indeed be the death of you."

His hands gripped the railings, squeezing them tightly with all his might. He looked straight on, at the blue Airtune V3 almost crashing into another; a hovercar accident at this time of night wouldn't be out of place. He looked straight at it, but he doesn't see it.

What he did see, at the moment, is Kida hanging on Dallas's arm, like there's no tomorrow.

He turned to see her, as she looked at him. A million other questions floated in his mind and heart, but for now...

...for now, he will let sleeping dogs lie.

He let go of the railing, and went back in.

*Read Galaxy: Homecoming.
*Read Galaxy: Vs.
*Read Galaxy: The Journey.
*Read Galaxy: Tears of the Son.
*Read Galaxy: Across The Stars.
*Read Galaxy: The Prodigal's Return.