Crossing On A Thin Line
by Anuar Tahir
Chapter 1: Maelstrom
The south Westminster district was filled with a familiar cry of anguish. Beggars filled the streets. A scruffy-looking old man in his sixties with a tattered red and black blanket warmed his frail body. Beside him, a young girl in a grey worn-out sweater cuddled beside the old man. She wailed at the top of her small lungs as she shivered under the coldness of the night. The night was relentless. It was raining heavily.
Amongst the deafening thunders and cold shivers, a young man pondered about the meaning of life. Sitting on a desk chair with his ivory laptop on his desk, Arnold typed out a 2000-word long thesis. He had been writing it down for the past 3 days and the rain wasn’t helping him. He twirled his pen around and dropped it on the dark parquet flooring. As he tried to pick it up, he saw a crushed note below his desk.
He unfolded the note and read…
“From Jane. I have fallen in love with you. Please give me a chance to be with you. I’d give you my life, my body, everything you wish dear”.
Arnold cringed and crushed the paper back to its original form. He hadn’t had the time to entertain measly distractions of life such as love. He has vagaries of his own perception on subjects that touch matters of the heart.
“The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love” Arnold thought to himself as he typed his thesis on “Genesis” furiously.
Arnold was given the task to write a thesis that encompassed what it was like being human. He was on a stumbling block; he cannot find a suitable argument to support an idea on love.
“It’s a logical fallacy” Arnold thought.
He tried to get the idea of out of his head and just focus on finishing his work. He had to hand in his thesis to his lecturer by school’s end this year.
“Remember, remember the 5th of November” he looked at his calendar intently.
He switched his gaze to his black batman watch; a treasured birthday gift that was given by his dad 10 years ago. “11.11pm” it showed.
“I am a man of reason; of logic and rationality. In order to succeed in life, I would need those principles. I don’t have to think of feeble things such as love, hope and fate. It is all bullshit” Arnold re-affirmed his views on life as he thought of his idol; Bruce Wayne/Batman. He was the fictional man who helped shaped Arnold be what he is now. __________________________________________________________________________________
Across Arnold’s block, a petite girl with a black-brownish hair walked out of a convenience stall. The rain continued to pour heavily. She took out her pink polka-dotted umbrella to shield herself from the rain. As she walked on the concrete pavement, she saw a young girl with and old man cuddling one another. Her heart sank. She approached the couple and handed two bars of chocolate Éclair to the young girl and the old man.
Unbeknownst to the petite girl, a hooded man with a knife in his hands crept up slowly to her. The young girl screamed loudly to warn the danger that loomed.
Arnold heard the scream and looked out of his window. He scanned around to pin-point the exact source of the scream. A few years in military school taught Arnold some basic survival instincts and he has developed a good sensory of perception of his surroundings. He saved his work and closed the lid on his laptop. He left his apartment and donned on his poncho.
The petite girl knew something terrible was about to happen. She turned behind and saw the man who could take her life away.
Arnold was drenched in cold rain as he ran blindly by instinct towards the source of the scream. As he approached a dark alley, he heard a muffled sound. He tried his best to remain silent. The old man and the young girl saw Arnold. The hooded man had his hand clasped on the petite girl’s mouth.
“Do not make any sound and I will spare you your life, just give me whatever you have in your bag” the hooded man spoke softly in the petite girl’s ears and licked it.
The petite girl flinched and tried to remove whatever she can find in her bag. As she was rummaging her bag, a photo of her boyfriend dropped on the floor. All she could do now was to think of her boyfriend.
Arnold hid behind a big green trash box and devised a plan to save the girl. “I can use the stealth approach and take him out slowly but that would require co-operation of the young girl and the old man” Arnold thought to himself.
Arnold placed his fingers on his lips and winked to the couple. The couple nodded ever so slightly in unison to assure that they understood Arnold’s gesture. Arnold had his hands ready for a counter-attack. All Arnold wanted to do now is to execute his plan. Any deviation and it’ll spell trouble. He knew all too well to stick to plans.
“Let’s do this” Arnold re-assured himself
Arnold position himself to execute a sweeping kick on the hooded man’s scrawny legs. He had his hands ready to grab the knife away from the assailant.
The petite girl tensed. She couldn’t take it anymore.
Arnold did a sweeping kick across the assailant’s legs and grabbed the weapon as fast as he could.
“You son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing?”The assailant shouted.
“Doing the right thing” Arnold whispered.
The assailant fell to his knees and Arnold planted a devastating blow on his face. It knocked the living daylights out of the assailant. The assailant had his back faced outwards and his legs were spread apart. Arnold called the police. He did not want the assailant to suffer the coldness of the night alone. He knew how it feels to be alone.
Arnold scanned around and saw the mess around them. Both of them collected the petite girl’s items and looked into each other’s eyes.
“Here you go” Arnold picked up the items and quickly returned them to the petite girl before it got wet any further.
He passed the items to the petite girl and looked into each other’s eyes.
“I bet this is your most treasured possession” Arnold passed the picture of a handsome man to her.
“Yes it is, thank you” the petite girl replied.
“I’m Arnold, May i know what your name is?” Arnold asked
“Eynn” Eynn smiled.
The old man and the young girl had their mouths agape to see how calm the two strangers were after what had happened. They expressed their gratitude to Arnold by thanking him. Arnold offered the couple to stay in his apartment for the night but they refused. Arnold couldn’t bear to watch both of them shiver and tremble in the darkness. He removed his poncho and gave it to the young girl.
Arnold turned around and looked at Eynn. Her demure look gave Arnold an impression that she was traumatized by the nightmare. She was beautiful as the moon. Arnold couldn’t help but look at her sparkling almond-shaped eyes.
“Well then, it’s getting late. I think we should get going now.” Arnold said.
“Yes we should” Eynn said.
“Till we meet again?” Eynn and Arnold spoke those exact words at the same time.
“Yea…wait” Eynn picked up her ringing phone.
“Look, i have to go now. Thank you Arnold” Eynn walked away from the alley in a hurry.
Arnold had the urge to know more about her somehow. The thesis was still in Arnold’s mind. Both of them made their way back. The rain subsided. The old man and the young girl slept peacefully under the shine of the moon.
“What a night…” Arnold thought to himself
The maelstrom was over.
©Anuar Tahir. The story is a work of fiction. Any ideas and characters in the story are wholly owned by Anuar Tahir. Do not republish it under your name.
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