I’m sorry I haven’t been around for a week or so. It’s just that I’ve been working on a new project. Um…it’s not a big group project or anything. It’s just that I’d thought I’d let you guys read about it first.
Just a few days ago, I’ve had this short writing prompt and pretty wild ideas came to mind. I started writing and after a few rewrites, I thought, “Maybe I’d start writing fiction and stuff.”
I’m going to check and see if this would be the start of a great idea, or just another one of the many “great” ideas I’ve had throughout the years. Now, I am not a writer, nor do I want to be a full time one. I just write for fun, but if this little writing idea gain some traction, I may continue to expand on this idea.
Mind you, this is just the prologue, so if there’s things you can’t keep up with, I hope you will understand.
So without further ado, please. Enjoy.
Hello, I’m a Main Character
Rays of sunlight shine past the thick, dense canopy of the tropical rainforest and onto my face as I carefully navigate the rugged terrain of the forest floor. I quickly shield my eyes from the blinding beam using my hand and with my other hand, swat a pesky insect hovering just inches from my ear.
‘Annoying insects,’ I mumbled to myself as I hopped over yet another huge chunk of tree roots in front of me.
I hear another incredible roar into the distance and a faint rumbling in the same direction. How many stupendously loud roars have I heard just today I wonder. It’s been three hours since I have crash-landed on this mysterious island when my plane was attacked by a mysterious winged beast. I have no idea where am I but I am sure that this is not a good place to be right now. I had heard many rumours about a place like this.
Originally, there was a top secret laboratory on this island, funded by a megalomerate company to revive cold-blooded creatures of old. That company constantly denies such rumours and reports of terrible winged beasts and vague silhouettes spotted on satellite images on the island, and the fact that no one in the mainstream media actually said anything about those rumours probably means they have been bribing the media too. And to think that I am now witnessing something like this firsthand: it is actually quite exciting.
Another ray of light penetrated through the thick canopy above and temporarily blinding me, once again forcing me to shield my eyes with my hand. Increasingly frustrated by the discomforts of the tropical forest, I reached towards the backpack on my back and fished out a bright yellow cap that had the words “Devon Corp.” sewn in red on it.
I started to adjust the slightly flattened cap when I heard faint rustling behind me. I stopped in my tracks, focusing instead on the origin of the sound. There were plenty of false alarms before this, but there wasn’t any actual contact with living monsters of any sort, it was usually just falling twigs and branches. This, however, felt different. The rustling was a little muffled, meaning someone or something seems intent on moving as softly as possible. Avoiding detection, perhaps?
After a few short and tense seconds, I hear another even softer rustle, this time to my right.
‘It’s fast… Wait, no, it can’t be that fast… Maybe I’m being surrounded?’ I thought.
I started to look around me. “I’ve noticed you, now then what are you going to do?” I whispered softly, as if speaking directly to these creatures lurking in the shadows.
In this instance, three possible scenarios floated into my head. The most plausible scenario would be that they would search for an opening, waiting for me to drop my guard and lunge at me. This is a favourite strategy used by a great number of predators that work in teams. Hyenas do it. Wolves do it all the time. Animals can be a great deal more patient than humans, and this could work to their advantage but if I have a faster reflex than they do, I could turn the tables on these predators. I could even pretend to drop my guard, luring one of them to attack me, then immediately stunning it with a quick strike at its eyes, soft underbelly or even the joints on its limbs.
They could also reveal themselves to me, hoping to size me up. I am after all, a foreign target that could be hiding an ace up my sleeve. Animals would obey their survival instinct, and even great white sharks tend to nudge or nibble targets that its not familiar with before going in for the kill. The last possible scenario, the least plausible but yet, the most dangerous one, would be that they would all lunge at me at the same time, leaving me with no room to escape and no chance to fight back. I shudder at the thought.
However, what they don’t know is that I am the main character. Nothing can happen to me, the main character of this whole situation, so this gamble will pay off. It will definitely pay off.
With a quick glance, I surveyed my surroundings, taking note of the few odd clusters of roots on the ground. I sure as hell don’t want to trip and fall on one of those during the imminent skirmish. That would be embarassing, not only tarnishing my reputation as a reliable main character, but also losing the faith of my audience. That would also mean certain death, but as a main character, I know that won’t happen.
I drop the cap I have been holding and slowly started to take off the backpack I have been carrying throughout these 3 hours. My back feels a little sore, but I relinquish the thought of being able to duke it out with these unknown, fearsome predators of old.
They are taking quite the amount of time waiting, they must be waiting for an opportunity to strike. The first scenario I pictured earlier must be coming true. If so, I must cut short this unnecessarily long, drawn-out scene and give them a “opportunity” to strike.
I calmly unbuckle the straps keeping the backpack firmly on my back, swung the backpack to the front and drop the backpack at my feet. “Come on, take the chance. My back is completely unguarded. Come on, attack me.” I whispered, to myself.
And for the cherry on the cake, I slightly drooped my head. To a normal human being, this slight gesture wouldn’t mean anything at all, but to animals and experts in body language, this meant that I have dropped my guard. For the predators surrounding me, it meant an opportunity, a chance. It meant dinner is served, but to me, it meant they have fallen into my trap. The one and only me.
Within few hundreds milliseconds, the crescendo of rustling began behind me. The sound of a run-up signifying the imminent attack and the beginning of the end. For them, of course. Within that few hundred milliseconds, I too started to prepare. I pushed my heels outside, bent my knees slightly lower and tightened my grip on the strap of my backpack.
“Here it comes.”
I spun around and in that brief, tense moment, I saw it. The monster’s outline resembled that of a raptor. I have seen creatures like those in encyclopedias and in a few movies about dinosaurs. In fact, the local newspaper had a featurette about dinosaurs just yesterday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national museum. I’ve been there once, and it reeks of dust, old books and boredom. Now, if only the dinosaur skeleton were alive, maybe I would gain more interest in that derelict place.
Ahem…back to the story.
Anyway, the dinosaur lunging at me had a wide, gaping mouth that was large enough that it could fit my entire head in it. It also had large claws on its shorter forelimbs and as I suspected, a white softer-looking underbelly that wasn’t covered in scales. It had a murderous glint in its yellow reptilian eyes and those eyes met mine. I couldn’t help but grin. I’ve won.
With a sudden heave, I swung the backpack as hard as I could at its giant head and felt it make contact with a thud. The backpack must have weighed at least 15kg or so, and my swinging added just enough force to change the raptor’s trajectory just slightly to my right. I would imagine a raptor would weigh about as heavy as a fully grown grisly bear so I was prepared for this huge bulky creature flying through the air at me. I wasn’t aiming to launch it into a tree or anything, my only goal was to stun it, nothing more.
I dodge to my left, making sure not to trip over a giant cluster of roots there, while unholstering the army knife at my side. Holding the glintering knife blade-first, I darted at the raptor that had just landed on its side, stunned by my previous attack. The creature is undoubtedly stunned, however it still had its animal reflexes and when it caught me running up at it with the corners of its eye, swipe its claws at me. With a quick dodge, I evaded its half-baked attack and sunk the blade all the way into its chest. Without a moment’s hesitation, I dragged the knife across its exposed underbelly, splattering its internal organs and entrails all over the forest floor.
In a few brief seconds, the raptor was dead and I now stand victorious over this fallen creature, covered in lukewarm, purplish blood of this extinct cold-blooded predator. I look around and saw its comrades surrounding me. They look confused and lost, torn between whether to continue to hunt this foreign target for food or to flee after witnessing the death of their comrade. I’m not about to leave things to chance, so I quickly let out a shout, as loud as possible.
Now this is a gamble. This group of raptors will most definitely feel threatened or challenged by my shout of victory. Depending how high up the hierarchy this dead raptor is, the group may decide to flee or to attack in response to the challenge. I would prefer the former a lot more, but I don’t know which side the coin will fall on: heads or tails?
One of the raptors began cawing loudly, and soon, one by one, the rest of the raptors started cawing as well. Then, it dawned upon me: they are part of a larger group and they are calling for help.
“Daniel! It’s time to go to work!”
Mum’s loud voice woke me up from my daydreaming and I look at the digital clock hanging on the wall above the door. It reads, twelve past twelve at noon. “Sugar Honey Iced Tea,” I mumble under my breath as I heaved myself of the bed while putting away yesterday’s newspaper and my smartphone.
I chuckle at that subtle reference to the obscure Madacasgar joke I just made. My life would probably make a great book, or TV series or even a film. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty average stuff get turned into entertaining shows, or novels that were quite popular. I mean, The Big Lebowski wasn’t exactly the most intriguing of stories and Lebowski “The Dude” isn’t a character that is extraordinary in any way at all, yet he and his film rose to great fame. My goodness, that monstrously lazy slacker of a character even inspired a religion. A religion! Would you look at that! I swear, Mr. Strickland would see McFly in an entirely different light if he took just one look at The Dude.
I fumble for the keys to the office on my table, and after a good thirty seconds of putting away DVDs, stationary utensils and newspaper cuttings, I find them hidden behind a handwritten list of GTA cheats.
“Man, I’m gettting old,” I said to myself as I crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it at the wastepaper basket near the door. “Guess I won’t be needing that anymore. I have Google now.”
I stuff the keys into my pockets along with my wallet, which was lying on the ground by the table, and my phone on the bed. I skip down the stairs into the dining hall where Mum was getting ready to holler one more time at me. I pat her on her shoulder, and she spun around, wide-eyed.
Mum stands at around one fifty centimeters, which is pretty short even for a Chinese like herself. Despite that, she can be pretty darn fierce when she wants to. I do still remember all those years ago when I would cry and cry whenever she forces me to practice the piano. Her hair was black with a shade of brown and her face was wrinkled, worn out by the unforgiving nature of time and parenthood. God knows how much she has been through, taking care of the bratty child I used to be.
Her lips parts slightly and I immediately pat my pockets where the keys are, emitting a ringing sound. “Couldn’t find the keys,” I said.
Seemingly satisfied with my answer, she gestured at the bathroom to her right. “You’d better go take a shower,” she said, with a hint of frustration still in her voice. “You’re not early, you know?”
“Alright,” I mumble at her, as I stride past her and towards the bathroom. I try to slide the bathroom door open but it was locked. “Mum,” I raised my voice, so that she can hear me. “Someone’s using the toilet.”
“It must be your dad. Go do something else.” was her reply from the kitchen.
I walk towards the living room and launch myself at the couch. I look up at the analog clock hanging on the wall above the 42 inch LED TV. The minute hand was pointing towards the space between 2 and 3, and the hour hand at 12. It’s 12.15 already, and I haven’t bathe. Not that it matters, I’m sure Mrs. Yeow wouldn’t notice me being late five minutes or so. She never does, since she won’t be there till at least three in the afternoon.
I hear the sound of the bathroom door sliding open, and I roll off the couch, only to drop to a push-up position and do 3 push-ups before rising to my feet. Gotta maintain my fitness after all.
“Dad’s out of the bathroom already,” came my mother’s voice again, this time echoing from the kitchen through the hallway.
“Coming,” was my reply.
The loud and constant clattering sound of me typing on the keyboard shatters the eerie silence of the office. There is no one around yet at this time. I glanced at the time displayed at the corner of the computer screen. It read: 1:48.
“Only nine minutes before this place becomes noisy, huh?” I said to myself. “Better enjoy this silent ‘alone’ time then.”
I lift my eyes from the keyboard and rest my head on the armchair. I begin spinning the chair slightly around and I hear a creaking sound coming from beneath the chair. The shaft of this cheap armchair must be increasingly worn-out. It’s already wobbly and if I don’t support it with my own two legs, it will tilt slightly to the sides, which makes things even more uncomfortable for me.
I remember Mrs. Yeow telling me how this chair is not worth the money because its quality is terrible and wouldn’t last more than a year. Well, she is the boss of this small tuition centre and has a stable income of about ten thousand caps per month. She could have at least splashed a little more cash on an armchair for the part-timer that helps her deal with obnoxious bratty highschoolers, ever changing schedules of the tuition teachers and the chores of managing the accounts. A proper good-quality armchair that could easily last five years would cost a hundred caps at most, which is probably only ten caps more expensive than this cheap armchair she bought online.
“Well, there’s no point in crying over spilt milk.”
I look around at the small, narrow office. The walls are painted with a nice cheerful blend of bright green and yellow and is separated by walls and a sliding window from the hallways leading to the classrooms. Even the office table and cabinet are green and yellow in colour, which is a far cry from the drab, dreary white and brown colour schemes of the hallways. Despite its bright and cheery colour scheme, the office is a terrible workplace. It is narrow and uncomfortable, not to mention that people could peer inside through the window and look at what I am doing.
I pluck my phone out from my pocket and “slide to unlock” the phone. The time, according to my phone, is 1:55, then out of habit, I glance sideways at the time displayed on the computer and it read, 1:53. Sorry, computer. The only time I trust is the time on my phone.
“It’s about time, huh?” I grumble softly as I stand up to prepare the rooms for the classes. This tuition centre is a hotspot for students whose high school is a five minute walk from school and has free Wi-Fi. Some come here to wait for their tuition classes to start, some come here to meet up with friends and some others come here to just lounge around at the lounge room which is open to all students.
It’s been four months since I’ve graduated from the high school near this centre, and three months since I’ve started working here. And since then, everyday is the same. I wake up and after breakfast, relax in my room, watching anime and Youtube until noon, then get ready to go to work to earn some extra cash until nine at night. Then I head home, watch some TV then sleep at ten something. Sometimes, eleven.
I’ve always look at my life as a story and I am the main character of this story. And every good story must have few things: a fascinating plot, relatable characters and intriguing settings. So, if my story is going to be a good story, I would need to escape this hellishly boring cycle of a life I now have. But how?
My phone rang and a notification popped down my screen. I read the notification and became confused with what I just read, or rather technically speaking, what I didn’t read.
That notification was blank. Blank, white, empty.
I started to think about all the things that could go wrong if I tap on that notification. Tapping on it may transfer me to a online HTML page that could link me to a Trojan Horse virus that could corrupt my phone and cost me hundred of caps worth of repair fees. Or it could be a new form of bank fraud that would send my banking details to a hacker who would wire all my hard-earned money to his or her account.
But… my phone’s data roaming is off and I am not connected to any Wi-Fi network. There shouldn’t be anything like this if I am not connected to the Internet. And the notification still isn’t going away after five seconds. What does that mean? A virus? Bank fraud? What is it?
I stare intently at this white blank notification that appeared just five seconds ago. What is going on?
The logical thing to do is to lock the screen and leave the phone alone. To go turn on the air conditioning in the classes. To go turn on the microphone and the sound system in the classrooms for the teacher. But, deep down, I want to tap on that notification and see what happens. My heart yearns for something to happen, though deep down, I do not think anything fantasical will happen. I mean, what could possibly happen if I tap on that notification? This is not an anime, this is not Harry Potter, this is real life. You won’t get whisked away into a magical faraway land. You can’t. I’ve got a lot to lose and nothing to gain.
I looked at the time again. It’s 1:54. I don’t know exactly how much time has past, but it sure felt like an eternity. Why? Why am I drawn in by this strange blank notification?
“You know what?” I said to myself.
“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your, opinion.” I put down the phone.
I’m sorry for the cliffhanger, but I’m still toying with the idea and see how it goes. I myself don’t what’s going to happen, and if I get a good enough response, maybe I would write some more. I don’t want to feel like I’m fishing for support from the Internet, but this idea is still in its infancy. It may not feel original or it may not make sense at once, but I hope if I continue, I can produce a great story. Right now, I’m contemplating whether to develop this into a story like Re:Zero, or to stick with realism, or even better intertwine the two possibilities and blur the line between reality and fiction.
Just in case you didn’t, I’ve also hid few elements while writing, mainly references and clues to how the story will progress. And if you have ideas you’d like to contribute or suggest, feel free to comment below. If you like and enjoyed this, do spread the word of mouth and I hope you will visit again.
Till the next one, cheerio.