I’m On The Highway To Hell

The man is sick
the good hand on the wheel

the other digging into his pockets
coins clashing, 120 on the highway

the man is sick
he coughs, he burps
he mumbles, he chokes

the man is sick, wheezing,
if death had a passenger
that would’ve been me
digging nails into my seat

the man is sick, I swear,
as he points a finger
to the barren street
manages a groan

What does he see
that I will not

What does he feel
that I must not

What does he hear
that I dare not

The man is sick
and so is the belly
of this cursed taxi
smells like vomit
and cattle’s piss

the man is sick, I swear
he is driving like it is his last
occasionally wheels lift off the ground,

floating, a fraction of eternity

The man is sick
he does not understand that
I have a bed to return to
poetry to write and a body to love

I tell him to stop
I pay the fare, bid him goodnight
he replies: Good morning
technically yes, but the scenery’s all wrong

The man is sick, I swear
his gods have abandoned him
coffined in machine and disease

does he truly see the light of day
or the fires of hell?

like a cornered animal
dangerous and risking
the sick man
is a mad man
void of reason
willing to die, let go
at any point in time

The man is sick, fading,
may his test end,
may he find refuge
from this wheel of fate.

 

© elancharan

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Siren’s Call

Siren’s Call

by Anand Gautam

EXT: SEA

It is dark in the night. The sky is moonless with dark blanket of black thunderous clouds. Down on the sea surface, there is a sea fret. The winds are howling as if a storm would commence.

A boat – slowly coming out from the fog. MALCOLM rowing it, amidst the fog and the wind.

MALCOLM, aged about 35. Tucked in a white linen shirt and a trouser.

 

MALCOLM (to himself, grunting while rowing the boat):

Damn this fog and damn this sea! If only the utterly foolish captain took my suggestion seriously, I would’ve been on the ship. If only my warning had been taken seriously, the ship wouldn’t have been wrecked and I wouldn’t have been a lone castaway on this boat, floating amidst the goddamn fog-filled sea. It could pour down any time. Bilge rats every one of them!

MALCOLM grunts rowing the boat. The sea seems calm now, here in this place. He sees ruins of a huge arch. His eyes become large in awe. His mouth agape.

MALCOLM (to himself):

Good Heavens! What in the midst of the sea is it?

 

The boat enters the ruins. MALCOLM turns his head around to see the gigantic broken arch.

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

Two old men, MAGORR and BORACHH, having a conversation over their night watch, facing the sea.

MAGORR:

This is no time to speak of the wilderness of the sea, me-hearty, Borachh. As ye speak, the sea rumbles and rages in no time.

BORACCH:

Ah! Ye think too much, don’t ye, Magorr? The sea seems to be rather calm. It’s just the fog.

MAGORR:

Aye! But it only calms for a while, then it hits stronger and wilder than ye can imagine.

BORACHH stares at MAGORR, puzzled. MAGORR turns his head towards BORACHH.

MAGORR:

Don’t take its silence for granted, me-matey. It implies it only gathers its energy to come back with a hurricane. I have seen what you haven’t. Oh, this is no ordinary sea!

BORACHH:

Perhaps ye imagine too much. Too much of rum, isn’t it?

MAGORR:

Have ye forgotten the last storm this soon? The one that brought with it the carcasses in plenty, afloat on this very surface of the sea?

BORACHH:

Aye! But what the hell we could do if the storm hits? It’s a storm and it hits and goes. And the poor sailors succumb to it. They must watch for the weather before they venture.

MAGORR:

Oh, don’t take the name of hell here. I am here since before ye and I have seen what one wouldn’t see and shouldn’t see. I have never told ye ‘bout it, but this sea encompasses many dark tales at its abyss. Sailors come here with a hope and greed, but no living sailor had ever touched the treasure or seen it.

BORACHH:

I wonder why.

MAGORR:

For dead men tell no tales. And I read their spirits are enchained at the bottom of this sea. There lurks a bigger evil that none could possibly imagine in their wildest dreams, and its desire for spirits is insatiable; I learned from the books. Every knot of this sea is a mystery in itself.

BORACHH:

Blimey! Ye give me goosebumps. Better stop this talk and look to the sea.

MAGORR (nod with intense look):

Aye!

BORACHH (mumbling to himself):

No doubt, too much of rum.

 

Brief silence. BORACHH takes to the telescope. Sound of sea and wind continues.

 

BORACHH:

Magorr, is it a boat that’s coming towards us?

MAGORR:

What?

MAGORR takes the telescope.

MAGORR:

Shiver Me Timbers! Borachh, send signals to the sailor. Signal him to go back.

 

BORACHH runs to the beacon and signals the light to MALCOLM. MALCOLM doesn’t notice the signals.

 

BORACHH (yells at MAGORR):

What’s wrong? Why can’t he see us?

 

BORACHH runs back to MAGORR.

 

BORACHH (gasping):

Why can’t he see us?

MAGORR:

Because he is being called.

BORACHH:

By who?

MAGORR:

Can’t you listen to the song, my-hearty?

BORACHH (wide eyes):

Oh no, not the siren from the castle.

MAGORR:

But it is.

BORACHH:

We must help him.

MAGORR:

We can’t. We are late.

 

EXT: SEA

The song of the siren drags Malcolm towards the SIREN’S castle. Malcolm under the spell of the SIREN.

 

MALCOLM (rowing his boat towards the castle):

Oh, how beautiful! How beautiful the song is! Whoever it is, I want to make her my wife and be drowned in her voice – forever.

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

 

BORACHH (waving his hands):

Ahoy there! Ahoy there!

MAGORR:

He can’t see us. It’s a futile attempt. We can’t help him.

BORACHH:

What do ye mean we can’t help him?

MAGORR:

None could help the haunted. He’s in a spell. It’s the siren’s call that he must attend.

 

EXT: SEA

MALCOLM (rowing the boat faster):

I am coming dear. I am coming to make you my wife. I am coming.

 

MALCOLM surpasses the lighthouse without noticing it.

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

MAGORR and BORACHH helplessly stare at MALCOLM.

 

MAGORR (crossing his hands):

May God save the poor soul.

BORACHH:

Ye don’t believe in God. Pirates don’t believe in God, do they?

MAGORR:

We are pirates no more, don’t ye see? We’ve come for the treasure chest. We all buccaneers were as greedy as we could be. It’s the nature of us, pirates, but what did we get in the end? All our mates were fed to the fish and perhaps dwelling in the dark dungeons at the very bottom, as the slave-spirits. Jus’ ye and I, hanging here in this lighthouse with a purpose. We are the night-watchers, me-matey. And the night is frightening.

 

Brief silence. MAGORR and BORACHH look at each other.

 

MAGORR:

Now, better keep a watch on the sea. If God listened to my prayer, this poor soul would come back. Which is hardly possible, of course.

 

 

EXT: SEA

MALCOLM anchors the boat at the castle and goes in.

MALCOLM:

I am coming my dear. I am coming to you.

 

INT: CASTLE STAIRS

MALCOLM walks in the dark, following the song.

MALCOLM:

I don’t need any damn light to get to you my darling. Just your song. I just need your nightingale-ish lilting. I am almost there.

MALCOLM climbs the stairs hurriedly, falling and getting up.

 

INT: CASTLE TURRET

MALCOLM enters the turret and sees the SIREN in white, laced sleeveless transparent gown facing her back to him. The lilting stops.

MALCOLM:

My darling! Sing for me again.

The SIREN turns. Elegant and beautiful. Her curvature clearly seen from her gown as it hugs her body.

 

MALCOLM:

Adorable! How beautiful you are! But your voice is much more. I want to hear it. Again, and again, and again. I want to be with you forever. Who are you, my lady?

The SIREN stares intensely into MALCOLM’S eyes.

MALCOLM:

Enough, my darling, enough! I will be here with you unto my death. Don’t titillate me so quick! Give me death, but in bits.

SIREN:

Then I shall –

MALCOLM:

Huh?

SIREN (intense and seducing whisper):

– Give you death in bits. As you like it.

SIREN laughs lightly.

MALCOLM:

Ah! The voice. It’s enticing. The laughter – tempting. Am I in a wonderland?

SIREN (walking towards MALCOLM):

I’ll see you to your quarter, my love. You’ve come a long way. You must rest.

MALCOLM takes the siren’s hand.

MALCOLM (bewildered):

You’re so cold, my darling.

SIREN:

Oh, but it’s the sea.

MALCOLM:

But a cold this bitter?

SIREN:

You’ll get used to it, my love. Come with me.

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

BORACHH:

I wonder what would’ve happened to the spellbound sailor?

MAGORR:

Oh, he must be enjoying right now – her beauty and the plush comforts in the castle, and once the spell enslaves him completely… (Pause) Jus’ keep yer eyes open, me-hearty. If ye find anyone or anythin’, yell for me.

BORACHH:

Aye!

 

INT: CASTLE. MALCOLM’S QUARTER

MALCOLM sleeps on the plush white bed. A faint sound of weeping disturbs him and wakes him up.

MALCOLM (to himself):

What is it? Who’s crying?

MALCOLM gets up from the bed and searches his quarter for the source of the sound. It comes from a wall.

MALCOLM (to himself):

Sound from a wall?

MALCOLM knocks on the wall. It sounds like a stucco

MALCOLM (to himself):

Oh, it not a wall.

MALCOLM uses his strength to push the wall. After a few attempts, the wall moves and paves way for a small, dark room. MALCOLM holds a candle and walks in. An acrid smell surrounds him. He walks in with suffocation. He sees dismembered organs, and bodies of men and women. He comes out of the SIREN’S spell.

MALCOLM (whispers to himself, feeling nauseated):

What in the hell is this?

MALCOLM hears a cry. He follows suit and sees a man crying in pain. His limbs mutilated, and he looks weak and terribly bloody.

MALCOLM (astonished and terrified):

Who are you?

The CRYING MAN is in a pathetic state. He shivers, cries, blabbers and doesn’t even look at MALCOLM.

THE CRYING MAN:

Run away or be eaten, run away or be eaten, run away, run away, run away.

 

MALCOLM walks out of the acrid room and enters his quarters, not believing what he saw.

 

MALCOLM (whispers to himself):

Is it a lady that brought me here with her lilting voice, or is she…something else?

 

MALCOLM goes to the SIREN’S quarter, light on his feet. He stands at the door of the SIREN’S quarter and peeps inside. He sees her, facing her back towards him. The SIREN rips flesh with her mouth from what seems like a limb – a human hand perhaps – raw and blooded. MALCOLM in shock, walks to his room and tries for an escape.

 

INT: MALCOLM’S QUARTER

MALCOLM is nervous, walks hither-tither in his quarter.

MALCOLM (to himself):

God! Where have I come? What should I do now? I must escape from the dreaded castle. How? How? I need a rope. Yes, I need a rope and I shall climb down this window.

MALCOLM searches for a rope but there’s none.

MALCOLM (to himself):

In all my luck, I only have this velvety bed linen for my escape. (Crosses his hands) God save me!

MALCOLM ties all the bed linen. He throws it down from the window. It reaches only about half the height of the castle.

MALCOLM (to himself):

Dear God! I rely on my faith in you.

 

MALCOLM climbs down and reaches the end of the rope.

 

MALCOLM (to himself):

That’s it. It’s the jump of my life. One, two, three.

EXT: SEA

Splash! MALCOLM plunges into the sea. His head hits a rock and bleeds, but he’s still conscious.

 

INT: CASTLE TURRET

The SIREN comes walking briskly and menacingly to the turret and sees MALCOLM escaping.

SIREN (enraged, yells):

You cannot escape me.

The SIREN starts her lilting again (harsh voice this time). MALCOLM closes his eyes and ears tight. His head hurts, but he wouldn’t budge.

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

BORACHH:

Magorr, do you hear the sound again?

MAGORR:

Aye. Another victim passing by?

BORACHH (excited):

No, someone’s leaving back

MAGORR:

What?

MAGORR jumps from his chair and takes the telescope.

MAGORR:

Ho! It’s that same poor soul. God had listened to us, me-hearty.

 

INT: CASTLE. TURRET WINDOW

The lilting augments and enrages. The sea starts to get rough.

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

MAGORR:

Blow me down! She’s enraging the sea.

 

EXT: SEA

Sea goes into depression. A maelstrom is on the rise.

MALCOLM (struggling to control his boat):

Oh, dear God! What on the seven seas is happening?

 

INT: LIGHTHOUSE

MAGORR:

Jus’ get out of these ruins poor soul and ye will be safe.

BORACHH:

Will he be?

MAGORR:

It’s hard, but willpower goes against all odds; and if he gets out alive, he will tell his tales in his old age.

BORACHH:

Or?

MAGORR:

Or he will die in the maelstrom and will join our company in this lighthouse of the dead.

 

THE END

 

Bio:

Anand is an aspiring writer and a poet residing in Hyderabad, Telangana State, India. After studying Life Sciences, he went on to work as a techie to earn his bread – a tiny day-job in a corporate giant. In his free time, Anand wears a different hat and writes poems and stories. His poems were published in GloMag, a monthly online poetry and prose magazine.

 

© Anand Gautam

A Formal Affair

The satin isn’t thick enough to keep the wine from perspiring through the seams at the creases between my fingers.

And I try to ignore the stickiness seeping near the pads of my fingertips.

He seemed annoyed when he asked me to remove my gloves and I just smiled nervously and said nothing.

I was too embarrassed to tell him why I reached so deep into the bucket.

That I had made a mistake when I thought I saw a treasure I lost so long ago

And now my hands are stained with the telltale color of reaching for something that my mind told my eyes to see.

 

Bio:

Emily Schiavone is a graduate student at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign studying Materials Science and Engineering.

© Emily J. Schiavone