Room

Hello Guys! It’s story time! This time I’ve tried a different genre and concept, so do let me know if it makes any sense!

***

Her eyes fluttered open suddenly. Her head seemed heavy but she felt alert. It took her a few minutes to realise she was far away from familiarity.

She sat up, resting her back against the wall. She was in a strange place. Nothing threatening or dangerous. In fact, nothing. That was what scared her.

Just four white walls around her. The ceiling was high and white. The floor – immaculate and white. A door faced her on the opposite wall – white again. There was an empty white steel table in the middle of the floor. Apart from that, there was only her.

She gasped as she brought her palms in front of her eyes. Her lovely ebony complexion had faded to a pale off-white shade. Her nail paint, once a bright red, was still discernible due to the slight beige edges where it had chipped off. She pondered over her hands like an infant who makes interesting discoveries of the functionality of his fingers.

She soon realised that her entire body had become pale. She wondered what her eyes looked like. Were they red like an albino? Or were they white as well, making her look like a ghost? Suddenly, the possibility hit her. Was she a ghost?

And as if kicked by sanity, she got up to try the door. Her legs felt a bit rubbery but she was able to walk. She trudged towards the door slowly. What would be there on the other side? Would there be someone else? Will they be nice? What if there are monsters or ghosts or aliens?

She felt cold draughts of wind slap her naked body as she approached the door. It was howling in through the thin gap between the floor and the door.

Her heart sank as she realised the door had no knob. Shivering, she gave it a push, mustering all the energy she had. It came as no surprise that the door hardly budged. But still, she tried pushing it for another four times – all in vain.

She slid down to her knees (which felt more like jelly than joints) and carefully slipped her baby finger through the crack. She half-expected a ferocious dog to take a generous bite off her phalanges and leave her bleeding. Smiling to herself, she thought the blood would at least bring some colour to this room. She chided herself for thinking so wickedly and wondered how such thoughts were so unlike her.

But nothing happened.

She gave up after a few minutes. Not only was she freezing, but her finger pleaded for a reprieve from stinging numbness. She put her head down and tried to peep through the crack. She already had an idea what she would see. And she was right. White.

She stood up and walked to the centre of the room. The table was as white as ever and if not for the blessing of the third dimension, it wouldn’t have been visible. As expected there was nothing on it.

She was going through the situation in her mind when she realised she hadn’t screamed. Why hadn’t she? Anyone in her situation, especially herself, would have brought the whole Police Department to her location through her screams. But she hadn’t. Oddly enough, she still did not feel the urge to scream.

Her head was in a muddle. Too many thoughts were crisscrossing through her synapses.

“I ought to put a traffic signal up here.” She laughed to herself.

Was her hair white as well? She touched her scalp, only to discover that she had been tonsured. Her hair had meant the world to her but now strangely, it seemed so trivial.

She sat back where she had woken up. She tried to remember what had happened last. How had she ended up in this strange place?

Memories seemed as faint as the monsoon winds of the desert. It was like as if they had a life of their own. They were running away from her, breaking free. She tried to rein them back in, put the bridle on and bring them to her stables. But she could only grope for them. Ironically, the white of the room had blackened her mind and she was able to catch hold of only a few of her memories.

She had had a brother – or was it a sister? Anyway, she was sure they were younger than her. She was in college, studying design – or was it commerce? The fog eluded her but still, her perseverance had not been erased. She beamed the torch of her thought through the mist and even though it was weak, it lit the path for her.

Her efforts finally paid off when the fog cleared up a little – only a little, to reveal a few penultimate memories.

Yes, she had been coming out of college. She was walking home alone, thinking about the surprise party she had planned for her brother (or sister). The cake had been ordered for (banana walnut crumble, their favourite), the magician had confirmed his presence by six-thirty today evening and the return gifts (GoGirl pencil pouches) had been gift-wrapped and neatly hidden under her own bed. But the biggest surprise was…

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a movement in the corner of the white room. There was a potted plant. White of course, but it hadn’t been there before.

She crawled towards it and touched one of its flat leaves gingerly. They felt cold, unlike the table. She was puzzled but decided not to waste her energy on figuring it out. She would rather recall her memories and seek a way to get out of this strange place.

She sat beside the plant and boarded her train of thought again. Ah yes, the surprise.

She had arranged for the creator of the insanely popular GoGirl comics to make a surprise cameo. (A new thought crossed her head – am I repeating the same words over and over?) She herself, like most of her classmates and the rest of the world, was a huge fan of the comic series. The eerily realistic caricatures of the characters of the comics were a huge hit. Even the background characters, say in market or concert scenes were drawn to the detail.

Again, some movement. This time, it came from where she had been woken up earlier. A bed, plain as vanilla, had appeared. There were bedsheets and pillows that had been thrown over it. The bed looked very inviting. They beckoned her to enjoy the comfort and warmth they provided.

She crawled as fast as she could towards the bed and hauled herself over it after a painful struggle. The bed wasn’t actually warm but it had a placebic effect on her. She slipped under the covers, a move welcomed by her unclothed body. As she lay on the pillow, she mined into her mind further.

The party was going on well. Her brother (no, I’m pretty sure it was a sister) was pretty stoked and excited. The joyful toothless smile on their face was all she could have ever asked for. After the cake-cutting… what had happened after the cake-cutting?

A cat appeared at the foot of her bed. It was curled up in a ball and was snoozing, blissfully unaware of its surroundings. She did not care for the sudden materialisations of the things anymore. It had become normal.

With the tips of her toes, she tickled the hind leg of the cat. It was cold again. Not to mention, it was white as well.

An overwhelming feeling of peace overcame her. Here was another living creature to give her company in this strange and lonely world (she had already begun to think of this room as her ‘world’). Perhaps, she had been like it too – dozing without a care in the world before she came to her senses. Or she probably never came to her senses.

She tried to think back her memories, but now they were too faint. Only whispers remained. Ever played Chinese Whispers? It’s a game where participants sit in a circle and pass on a message by whispering to one another. A sentence like “apples are red,” is heard by the final participant as something like “haphazard.” Her brain was something like Chinese Whispers now – minus the innocence of the original game.

As she was lost in her thoughts, she watched vacantly as a cloud appeared. Not a proper cottony cloud that appeared in the sky, but this one was more like a balloon – a big white balloon that was somehow tied to her head. Inside it, were small black things. She thought some of them looked like letters.

Things kept on appearing – on the table, near the door and across the walls, with an increasingly feverish speed. Chairs, carpets, paintings and more chairs. All the while, her mind blanked further. She was losing her identity. Heck, she couldn’t even remember her name.

And then, the door opened. Curious, she peeped out of her blanket and saw that it was another white room with white furniture. She did want to explore it, but her body begged her to stay back. She decided to take a small nap and then pay a visit to the other room. The desire to sleep was overpowering.

As her eyelids closed, she saw colours fill the room. In the span of time it took to shut her eyes, she saw the room around her become a canvas. The cat was becoming ginger, the walls were flooded with pink, the bedcovers were turning teal and a hole gradually expanded to become a window. The next room, however, had only specks of colour here and there.

She wanted to see more, but her eyes were too tired to open again. So, she shut them.

 

***

A huge queue was snaking its way past the door and into the parking space of the mall. In this long line, there was a young girl who was impatiently tapping her left foot to no particular rhythm. Her tiny pocket protruded with the cash it carried. Her cap was askew – a hasty effort to mask her uncombed long hair.

Just then, the doors of the shop opened and the people flooded in. The little girl was almost crushed under the weight of the curmudgeonly old man behind her, but she kicked him where it hurt the most and ran under the people. It was a good thing to be short, after all.

Having made her way into the shop, she grabbed what she wanted and hurried to the cash counter. She flashed a puppy-smile which allowed the cashier to give precedence to her. As soon as it was paid for, she ran away to the nearest park and found a secluded spot.

She hid the comic under her jacket lest someone else steal her latest copy of GoGirl. She flipped through the pages eagerly and began devouring it. The first scene was a girl sleeping in a bedroom with her cat.

“That’s funny. She seems very familiar to me!”

But she did not bother to think further.

Who was telling the story? And whose story was it anyway?

The words fluttered and flew in the wind.

***

In the general ward of St Mary’s Hospital, a girl of about twenty was lying on a steel bed. Her eyes were closed and except for an occasional knee-jerk or hand-flailing, she did not move. She seemed to be high on drugs – specifically psychedelics and hallucinogens.

“Where was she found?”

“By the train tracks, doctor.” The nurse replied.

“Has anyone come for her?”

“No, doctor.”

“Like the others?” He rubbed his chin slowly.

“Just like the others.”

Room

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