Daniella was a serial killer and was standing right in front of Angie, a seventy-three-year- old woman. In the darkness of her mind, Daniella had a conflict on her shoulders. Why should I kill this poor old lady, after all? Do I want to kill her for protection or food?Or do I lack empathy? Maybe my emotions have gone cold and dark. Is this a true depiction of a human being within me? Daniella was having difficulty with keeping what she was feeling in her mind. She could not contain the agitating insanity of her brian. She was having a hard time keeping images of insanity out of her thoughts as she stared at Angie, tied uncomfortably in her bed. “If you are just one, then why are there TWO shadows reflected on the wall directly in front of me?” Angie asked, trembling in fear. “The one closest to you is probably the instigator, I guess. It's responding to the pain I'm going through because I don't really want to kill you.” “And...the other one?” “It's probably the shadow of reason,” Daniella clarified with a frown. Both shadows were unique and served a purpose. Daniella wanted to murder very quickly, but she didn't. The shadows were battling to gain predominance. Each shadow had a distinctive response to Daniella's serial killer actions. They were causing needless mayhem. Daniella had put the murder on pause. “If both shadows are coming from you then why is one shadow darker than the other?” Angie's lips quivered and her legs fidgetted. The pattern of darkness made both shadows different even though they came from the same person. Each shadow had a different personality and emotion. Angie tried to scream. Daniella stood there quietly, unflinched, listening and watching Angie squirm. Angie wasn't even attempting to free herself. Daniella had a sharp, serrated knife, angled in such a way as if ready to stab Angie. Suddenly Daniella started to scurry towards Angie as the darker shadow started shouting profanities which only Daniella could hear. The lighter shadow tried to block the commotion. Angie stopped moving and fidgeting as she witnessed the difficulty Daniella was experiencing. “What is stopping me? Why do I feel so odd inflicting the killer blow?” Daniella muttered. Daniella was listening to the shadows, but still watching Angie, with the knife set for destruction. The serrated knife was ready to rip apart the flesh in Angie's body. Daniella was exercising herculean patience. The darker shadow looked more determined, with the intent to kill. It grew larger and darker than before and covered the entire room—the whole perimeter engulfing the lighter shadow. The shades of darkness kept propping in and out. Daniella started to visualize an arching fountain of blood beginning to fill the room. The lighter shadow seemed to have given a glimmer of hope, before disappearing into the darkness of insanity that was the killer's mind. The lighter shadow was carrying a little light of the killer's consciousness. Though infinitely small and fragile in comparison with the powers of darkness, it is still a light, killer's only light. But eventually got completely discharged, and rendered useless. _________________________________________________________ Author's note: This story is my interpretation from my inner belief of India's three terms describing sainthood: Sat, Chit, Ananda. Sat is the existential stuff of life(mostly the left side of the balance); Chit is the ideal capacity(mostly the right side of balance); Ananda is the bliss, joy, ecstasy of enlightenment—the fulcrum of the seesaw.
When I woke up this morning I didn't think today would be any different from yesterday. I awoke to the same soft white sheets, the same pillow under my head. The same mess of long black hair in my face. But when I stood up and felt something brush over my feet I froze. My heart at a complete stop while I waited to see what would happen next. Nothing did happen and I ran out of my room as quickly as I could. That was my first mistake. I should've never left my room this morning. I should've at least checked what was under the bed first. Maybe then I Wouldn't have been so startled when I went to the bathroom. I stood in front of the sink, my hand slowly reaching for the faucet, and my reflection following everything I did precisely. I let the cold water run over my hands for a moment, the rush of frozen ice bringing me back to reality. There couldn't have been anything under my bed is what I told myself. I cupped my hands under the tap and watched as the water filled my hands, I watched as the water poured over the sides of my skin, making its way back into the basin. The mirror hanging on the wall in front of me, still keeping up with every single one of my movements. I bring the water in my hands to my face, and before splashing myself I hold my breath. I don't know why, but I've always done that. Without the sound my breath filling the dead silence I have to wonders....whose is then? I can hear it right behind me. The sound of someone breathing. Each breath louder and heavier then the last. When I spin around to my surprise no ones there. I let out a sigh in relief as I turn back to the mirror. I stare at my bitter reflection, my skin pale and sickly, my long hair in a tangled mess, my grey eyes drawing nothing but boredom and plainness. Then it happens. I jump back from the mirror, knocking into the cabinets behind me. Before I can catch my footing, I slip and fall backwards into them. The cabinets and I hitting the floor with a loud crash as my heart beats out of my chest. I know what I saw. There's no way that didn't happen. I replay it back in my head.....and every time I replay it, it's the same. I'm standing there, staring at myself in the mirror. Then the mirror slips up. It does something I don't do. It blinks. I know the safety of my closet won't save me forever, but at least it'll keep them out longer. It'll keep them out while I try to think. But the only thing I can think about is seeing myself blink.
Well, it has been a crazy year for us all, but in the midst of all the madness, I was able to get my third book finished for my crime thriller series. Alone in the Woods will be published February 17. In the meantime, the audiobooks for the first two books in the series are available, and the paperback edition of All His Pretty Girls is finally an option in both the UK and the US, so despite everything, good things have also been happening for me. If you're interested, here's the link to my website where you can find the links to any of my books. https://www.charlycoxauthor.com Here's to a happier, brighter, and healthier 2021 for everyone!
The night seemed shorter than expected just like any of the good times ever before you realize, it just fades away. Danni, the less drunk of the trio, drove Mina and Ema back to their residence where they planned to call it a night and all were off to bed. When Ema woke up the next morning, she saw Mina was getting dressed up and Danni had already left perhaps. She was having a bad hangover, so she went to the kitchen to make herself some lemonade. Mina apologized, “Hey Ema, sorry, I am a bit in a rush, need to headway to the office,” “But it's only Sunday, “exclaimed Ema. “I know I know; my editor wants me to submit the pictures and the draft for the article from yesterday, it needs to go for publishing in the Sunday evening today. I need to get the prints developed and drop it at the office, so will catch up a post that, “informed Mina. “Sure, do grab some coffee and breakfast on the way,” advised Ema. “Sure!”, rushed Mina out the door, the uber was already waiting! Ema slowly finished sipping her lemonade and was making some more back coffee to get over the hangover. She started browsing through pictures from last night on her iPhone and couldn't stop laughing at the fun time they had. After browsing through some pictures, she suddenly realized that Danni wasn't in any of them, “How strange! She was with me all night, she should have been in all the selfies and pictures I clicked on my phone”, she thought to herself. She slowly started to get spooked. “Did Danni edit her out of the pictures before she left? No not possible, “she explained herself. As she finished watching all the photos, she realized something was extremely strange. Either someone was trying to joke with her, or it was something spooky. She tried dialling Danni again, the phone was ringing but no one picked up, and she realized Danni told her had lost her phone yesterday. She quickly got dressed and drove her car to Danni's apartment. The room was locked and didn't seem like anyone was home, She had the spare keys so sneaked in. The house was speck clean, without a trace of anyone been there this morning, “Perhaps Danni came back home, cleaned the house, and left for the hospital? But she had a day off, maybe an emergency case?”, Ema wondered. She headed her way to the hospital and while almost near it she saw a huge gathering and a police barricade. She stopped and parked the car to ask the standby people as to what was happening. “Yesterday, a nurse was brutally murdered early morning by the man who had run away from the asylum and later committed suicide. Their bodies were found in the forest by a woodcutter this morning”, responded a bystander.
“The last globally visibly full moon on Halloween was in 1944 during world war 2 and now after 76 years my first Halloween is on the full moon.” – I read in the news article on the web and couldn't have been more excited. What should I dress up like? Dracula's partner? But I have no Dracula to accompany me. Perhaps A witch? Nah. Oh gosh! It is my first Halloween, and I want to be my best! Thought Danni to herself. Danni was super excited about her costume and first Halloween. Having grown up in Istanbul and moving to Brasov only last year, and although always excited to see Halloween party pictures, she never had the chance of attending or being a part of one. She wanted to dress up like Harley Quinn after her recent breakup but later gave up the idea as many of her friends already had that on their minds as well. Tada! Suddenly an awesome yet cost-effective idea struck her, she could use her nurse's uniform and make use of some creepy makeup; YouTube videos being her make up tutorial guide for free. She was all set and even told her best friend Ema about it and bother were looking forward to the awesome time. It is now early hours of Saturday morning and Danni's Friday night shift has come to an end. She would usually take the nurses bus drop from the hospital to her place, but today she was not planning to go home, rather crash at her friends for the upcoming big night, her 1st ever Halloween party that too at Bran's castle. She ditched the bus and rather started walking towards the pay & ride cycle stand a couple of hundred meters away from the hospital. “Let's take a short cut through the forest. This opens up right in front of the bike stand on the other side of the road”, she told herself before disappearing into the thick forest. “Why are you so late”? I have been calling you all morning! Weren't you supposed to be hereafter your shift, and we get ready soon? infuriated Ema at the sight of Danni at her doorstep. “I took the short cut through the forest behind the hospital and”, replied Danni, only to be cut short by Ema again, “But why did you not call or answer my phone.” “I lost my phone, “answered Danni. “Oh gosh!” its too late now to get a new one for you, lets order one tomorrow, don't worry about the pictures, my new iPhone is awesome for night pictures” “C'mon. Look at yourself, you have all dressed up already! Ain't fair, anyways let me get dressed up quick. Meanwhile, could you also help me with the treats for the kids?” “I am making these bloody candies for the neighbourhood kids. Found the recipe on Pinterest”, proudly explained Ema. “Sure, I can help.”, came a soulless reply, and Danni went to the kitchen to package the candies on the spooky wrappers. In an hour, Ema comes out dressed as a runaway lady from the asylum, soaked in blood. Danni freaked out at her sight, she looked pale as snow. Ema burst into laughter, “Do I really look so scary! WOW, I am proud of myself! I was so unsure of what to dress like, and then I saw this news last evening of this person run away from the asylum, and thought it was absolutely a great idea” Danni only looked at her with widened eyes but didn't utter a single word. Ema then started to put out the candies outside the door in a big pumpkin cut out with some fake silicon spiders on top of it and left a note for the little kids. “Take them if you dare” And they left in her car to Bran's castle where the grand party was underway. As they approached nearer to the venue, they noticed a huge crowd, dressed up in all sorts of creepy as well as some funny costumes walking towards the different party zones nearby. It was undoubtedly a treat to the eye. Danni was somewhat relieved to see so many people around. The drinks were pouring, the music was spooky, rock and loud. It was the time of the year, which was looked forward too by many seen more than the new year. People flaunting their costumes and makeups. Some spent a fortune to get the right costume, hair-do, props and many of them even flying or driving from different parts of the country to be there at Bran's castle, which was now nothing short of a legend. In fact, this year due to the rapid social media presence, there were many reporters walking around, taking footages and interviewing people. Amongst them was Mina, who was a writer for a lifestyle magazine herself and she was there to capture an article on this year's Halloween. She had her office provided Sony camera for taking pictures for the magazine. “Only the close ones of the ghost and the weak and troubled mind see ghosts”, explained Mina, “my granny told me”. Mina was Ema's friend from college and now one of Danni's closest friend as well. She was dressed up as Medusa, one of her fav characters. It was nothing short of a crazy atmosphere out there.
Tony Carpenter loves Karina. It doesn't matter that they're only fourteen, because when they're together, they forget about their abusive homes. So they run away, leaving a trail of murder in their wake. Until one day, Tony's caught and sent to Secret Harbor School, a boy's home on a remote island in Washington State's San Juan's. Run by corrupt staff, with no accountability to anybody who cares about the abuse administered daily to its residents, Tony learns that Secret Harbor School is among the state's best kept secrets. But he has no intention of staying. The first chance he gets, he plans to escape. To do whatever it takes to get back to Karina. Even if it means more people have to die. Secret Harbor is a dark, fast-paced, psychological thriller that will make you laugh, cry, and scoot slowly toward the edge of your seat.
How Would You Feel if: When you opened your eyes, the sunlight was beaming through the window. You suppose it is an early afternoon since the sun was pounding down. You took a glance at the ceiling; it was a cream color and there was a lamp shaped like a teardrop; the walls were an apricot color with some rural pictures hanging. Your look was fixed on them for a brief while, then, you simply opened your eyes completely; a lock of hair was in your eye; You gently scraped it out of the way with your finger. You felt something moist when you touched your face. When you glanced at your hand, it was drenched with blood. You sat up in bed, surprised, and you saw him alongside you— a young man with short hair, dull skin, eyes shut, his face and chest secured with blood. He had a stream of blood hanging out of his mouth, however, it was solid-dry by then. You didn't comprehend what was going on- thoughts and questions had started to fill your head- Why is there a wounded guy next to me and where has he come from. You nudged him with your finger to wake him up— he was cold. His skin was bone-tweaking cold. This is what happened to Camryn, though. To find out, Read part 1B.
“Alas, you are becoming very sleepy…,” I hum to the man laying on the table onstage. He, Jimmy Nelson, flutters his eyes, as per usual, and attempts to visibly show his muscles relax. The whole performance is so routine, I accidentally allow my mind to drift as my muscle memory takes me through the motions. Oo's and gasps flow through the audience. Hypnotism fascinates many, particularly the gullible; today's group is no exception. “And now, young man,” I hear myself saying, "Listen to my words very carefully. You are going to awaken, but when I snap my fingers, you will go back into an even deeper sleep.” I wave my hands over his lifeless body as if to amuse a child during a magic show. Tim better be paying me extra for this… “Now, arise!” Jimmy sits up, opens his eyes, and stares blankly ahead. Man, he's good. Better than our last actor. The audience is dazed… suckers. “Now, back to sleep,” I say with a snap of my fingers. Jimmy's head drops. An unsettling hush falls over the audience. Instinctively, I look out to their mass of bodies. Each of their heads have dropped as well. This isn't unusual, sometimes Tim likes to play practical jokes on me during the show. “Alright, very funny, everyone. I know this was Tim's doing. You can stop pretending now,” I announce with more hostility in my voice than intended. No reaction. “I'm going to continue with my volunteer, so, please, join us when you get bored.” As I turn my attention back to Jimmy, I realize the spotlight is no longer focused on centerstage, but has fallen to the base of downstage. I look up to see that the lighting crew have fallen immobile as well. Dang, this is an elaborate prank. “Hey, uh, Jimmy?” I whisper into his ear, “What exactly are these guys trying to pull?” No answer. “Jimmy?” I say louder. “Jimmy?!” I'm practically shouting now, “Wake up!” An electric current shoots through the room as every individual regains consciousness. “Really, guys, this isn't funny,” I announce. No response, only a field of blank stares. “Okay, this is absolute bull. I want to speak to Tim right now. Security, go find him now!” I say with a snap of my fingers. The audience drops their heads again. Wait, there's no way. It's not possible… No. I won't believe such absurdism. “Fine,” I declare, “you caught me. I'm a fraud. I'm just a show woman trying to make a living, is that what you want to hear? Fine. Don't answer. I don't care if you never wake up.” The heads lift once more. I've started shaking violently- uncontrollably. Just as a test, I snap my fingers. Sleep swarms the room again. Holy crap. “Um, okay, I want you to raise your right arm…” Everyone in sight is now raising their arms high above their heads. Holy crap. “Uh, release,” I say as I watch their hands drop. I feel my heart pounding now. I need to find Tim. I'm running. I'm running as fast as my legs can handle. I'm running like a maniac. I will not stop until I reach the box office on the opposite end of the building. Another auditorium door is open, and I think it may contain a shortcut. I dart in and freeze in my tracks. It is filled with people, both standing and sitting, with their heads all dropped. Oh, hell no. I rush back into the hall and straight toward the box office. I think that's where Tim said he would be. Yes, there he is. I think he is looking down at his phone. I rip the door open and march straight up to him, intending to grab his shirt collar, but then I see… he doesn't have his phone in his hand. He isn't holding anything. Out of breath, I manage to sputter out, “Tim, I know this was all you, and I want you to call it off. I'll give you points for being so elaborate, sure, but this is getting irritating. Stop sitting there like an idiot and say something!” His body remains motionless, even as I stand screaming into his ear. This is dumb, but worth a shot. “Crap, ok, uh, well, I am going to awaken you, and when I do, you will tell me a memory from your childhood,” I say in hushed tones, “Wake up.” Tim sits upright, and opens his mouth. He says, in a way that sounds rehearsed, “My dog's name was Prince. Grandmom didn't like Prince. She used to say…” I hear soft chatter behind me and turn to look. Both of the box office attendants are reciting memories in the same fashion as Tim. “Bad idea, this is creepy,” I say, “Stop.” They stop. I snap my fingers and they all go back to sleep. “Okay, I'm going to wake you all up again, but this time you're going to go back to your normal…,” I stop. This is real. It has to be. Why should I release everyone just like that? Leaders have been known to ‘brainwash' people before to get what they want, why should this be any different? If I could control, say, an entire population, I could eliminate our enemies and be a hero. A hero. That sounds nice… No more staged hypnosis shows, no more struggling to make rent, fame, fans, money… “I am going to awaken you, but when you arise, you will do exactly what I, Nezra the Great, command...”
I have been living at the place of BioPage's co-founders for the past three months. Now, I believe it's time for me to find a place that I can call my own. Finding a house in Hyderabad isn't like walking in a supermarket to buy a shampoo. That is hard but finding a house is harder. More than options you have obstacles. I'd like an option of a balcony for my plants and like to be visited by birds but here balconies are a luxury, it is hard to even find a washroom that has a working shower. It was an entirely fresh experience for me to research on this great city. The city is divided into old, new and contemporary Hyderabad. The old one is where Mughals have built a Charminar and a lot of emporiums which is located at a place called Laadbazar. Then there's the new one where India's millennials reside. IT Parks, BioPage Headquarters is somewhere in between, a place you stop by to shop or party or experience art. Every area has its variables like budget or your gender but they all have one thing in common, they hate bachelors. Only PG (Paying Guests) owners absolutely love cramping bachelors in a small room and overcharging them. The mattresses in PGs are not tall-people friendly but the food is cockroach friendly. If you are a woman, you pay extra for the pseudo-security. I hear my fellow female colleague moving from PG to PG with a hope of finding a place that has a reasonable curfew time and a Wi-Fi that doesn't just exist for namesake. I have walked from area to area on foot. From Paradise circle to Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet. Searching for something that will fit in my budget and not make me feel claustrophobic but I haven't been able to find any such place. All that I have found is prejudice. My religion, my relationship status, my gender, my caste, and my food preferences matter more than whether I can pay the rent on time or not. Websites like Wasteaway or 99problems are not helping either. They are everything your parents warned you about the internet. Nevertheless, food delivery apps such as Swiggy, or Uber Eats are lost in maps to find location towards me and the house hunting with running rats in your stomach is much worse than ever imagined. Hyderabad is a great place to live if you own a house and a vehicle. It is neither middle-class friendly nor introvert-friendly (unless you are rich). You have to compromise in one way or another. Live next to a graveyard or a noisy bridge or open sewage or stay on the fifth floor without a lift or just live in a society where you can't wear shorts outside or cook non-veg. I believe the only house hunting hack to take care of in Hyderabad is making sure your home is walking distance from the office, otherwise, you know what the infamous Hyderabad traffic does to you. Finding a house is like finding the right sized shoe or as my female colleague says the right sized bra. But mental comfort is not affordable in Hyderabad. If you have found a good place it is probably on the outskirts like Madhapur or L.B.Nagar. Living in these areas means giving away half of my earnings to Metro or Ola or just the petrol pump. The only good thing about the city is its weather, which is pleasant but it is deteriorating. It will soon run out of water. It is already the victim to climate change. Ultimately, Oyo or Goibibo have lifted up their rules and regulations to check in to the rooms. And while I want to do my part to save this city, I can't even save a spot where I can rest my feet at night. A lot about our experience in a city, especially a new city that we have recently moved to, is decided by the house we live in. Cities can be scarred in your mind if the house you rent end up giving you water, electricity or landlord trouble. The quintessence of a home is the beholder of peace. If I have to define my home, it will be the place where I put my head to sleep every night. If a home doesn't provide me peace, I won't be able to sleep and the house misses its most basic characteristic. One part, of course, is hunting the right house, the other part mostly is what we get acquainted only after we move. Neighbors, I leave most neighbors for some other letter, but I seriously hope you are happy and able to sleep at peace in the house you live in. Only then should you consider calling it home. I'm sure we all have had terrible house-hunting experiences. But few end up living in private hostels, even though you need to adjust with your unfavorite food served to you. This rebuke phase we have all encountered at least once in our lifetime. When it comes on my part to suffer under the hot sun on foot to hunt for a house in each and every street is an unbearable experience to carry along. Finally, after an exhausting day, I rested my self sitting next to an old dargah and pinged to my co-founders to convince them to tolerate me for few more days to live in with them otherwise I'll curse I mentioned. And guess what, my house-hunting turned up into a new job-hunting.