Crimson Everywhere

Entry Writchal #1

Theme: Droplets of Time

Crimson Everywhere

By P.C.


“It’s cloudy again. Soon the roads will be filled with red.”

I stand beside a junction, watching cars rush past me. I look up, waiting for the traffic light to turn red so I can cross. Standing here made me realise, this is the second time I’ve been to this junction. The first time, it was….

“No. I don’t want to remember that,” I said to myself. “Not again.”

The cloud grows darker and people start to put up their umbrellas.

I hold back the tears in my eyes. “I really don’t want to, but I’m cursed to relive it, every day.”

Holding the pain of the past, I put my hand on my chest. The sky starts to cry. I look up and a droplet touches my eye. My sight fades to white as memories flow back to me.


We’re a family, but not the normal kind.

“Graham, can you come here?” asked Mother Shaista.

“Coming Mother,” said the oldest child, running to the mother’s room. “How can I help you?”

“Heal my neck pain. I must’ve slept wrong last night.”

“Okay, Mother.”

He climbed to the bed and put her palm on mother’s neck. A faint yellow light glowed underneath. As power drained out of his body, he looked across the newly changed room. There’s a brown wallpaper, mixing with the wood furniture. A crimson carpet was placed between the bed and a table.

“I feel much better now. Now go to your room and take care of the plants,” said Mother Shaista, shushing him away.

Graham fled the room and closed the door. He went back to his room like usual. Mother Shaista stood up and looked at the mirror. She plucked out a single strand of white hair, put lipstick on, and fixed her make up until everything was perfect to her.

She went out of her room, looking disappointed. She stared at something in the middle of the room.  There’s a huge flower wreath decoration that seems to appear overnight.

“Troy! Go here quickly,” called her to the room across her bedroom.

A silent boy walked out of his room.  “What is it, Mother?” said the middle child.

“What’s this ugly thing doing in my house?” belittle Mother Shaista. “I don’t want flowers rotting in my house.”

The ever so small smile vanished from his face. “It’s a decoration I made. I thought it fit here.”

“Change it to something better. It ruins the atmosphere.”

The boy looked down. “Okay, Mother.”

He raised his hands. Red light shined brightly from inside the flowers. Smoke bloomed inside out like a slow explosion, covering the whole decoration with its crimson glow. The organic matter turned to marble and hardened in the shape of Mother Shaista. He fell to his feet, sweating like rain after using a lot of his power.

“That’s much better,” said the mother. “Now, change the wallpaper too so it fits better.”

“Yes, Mother,” said the boy, still catching his breath.

Mother Shaista left for the kitchen and boiled some water. Red light dimly glows behind the wall. She stared blankly at the wall, smoking a cigar she picked from her pocket. Puffs of smoke flew up. Blue wallpaper crawled out of the old one as the water boiled. After finishing her cigar, she poured the water to make tea.

She drank the steaming Chamomile tea. “Finally, a good wallpaper.”

Mother Shaista turned her back and looked at the steel covered window. The youngest child peeked from behind the kitchen door. When she finished her tea, she went back to the main room, ignoring the child.

The youngest child followed by her side. “Mother, can I help you today?”

“Get away Fatiha, your power is as useful as that trash over there. I don’t want to be near your cursed power. Why don’t you be helpful and pick that up.”

Fatiha stopped. “Okay, Mother.”

The Mother entered back her room and slammed it closed. Fatiha walked slowly to the trash, keeping her head low. 

“Why am I cursed with this power? Why did mother hated it so much?” thought Fatiha to herself.

Graham saw everything. He went to her side. “Are you okay, Fatiha?”

“I’m fine. Just got to do some cleaning again,” sighed her, picking up trash with spite.

He caressed her hand. “Hey, seeing the future is not useless nor cursed, okay? No power is useless. You have to remember that.”

“I know, it’s just…,” she stopped. “Why does Mother act like this?”

Graham was about to speak when they heard something. From the other side, there’s sobbing from behind the walls. Exactly in Troy’s room. Fatiha and graham looked there, then to Mother’s room. She still hadn’t come out yet.

“What’s she doing in there?” pondered Fatiha to herself.

“That’s Troy crying. I’ll take care of him. We’ll continue this talk later.”

Graham ran over to Troy’s room.

Fatiha went back to her room, right next to Troy’s. “I shouldn’t help him; I can’t help with anything. I’ll even be a hassle for them.”

She sat in the room, listening to everything. Graham opened the door. Troy’s crawled up on the bed. Tears fell off his chin like rain, creating a flood inside.

The oldest sibling swiftly moved to his side and hugged him. “Troy, are you okay? Talk to me.” 

He’s still sobbing. The water rose yet it didn’t leave his room. Crimson glow flows around the room, slowly changing the wallpaper and shelves. Everything in the room is turning into a chaotic blob of mess. Nothing is differentiable anymore.

Graham pulled Troy’s hand. It’s bruised and bleeding. “It’s okay, I’m here,” told him while healing Troy’s wound. He used his powers while looking at Troy. “You need to control your power. Just take a deep breath and let the air flow out.”

Troy took a deep breath and breathed out slowly. He did that a few more times while holding back his tears.

Graham caressed the now healed hand. “That’s it. Breath slowly. I’m here to help.”

All the crimson smoke and chaotic mess turned back into its original form. The flood subsided into the floor. Troy was still sobbing, but had relaxed his body.

Worry filled Graham’s face. “Tell me, what’s wrong?”

Troy released Graham’s hug. “I just used too much of my power and lost control. That’s all.”

“Are you sure? Where did you get that wound?”

Troy backed away. “I accidentally cut my arm with my own power when I sleepwalked last night. Nothing to worry about.”

“Okay then. If you need any help, you could call me. I will always help everyone,” said Graham. He patted Troy’s back. “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”

Fatiha listened through all of Troy’s suffering. She knew something wasn’t right and it needed to be solved. She pondered about using her power, but that will invoke the wrath of Mother Shaista.

All of that chaos made the siblings forget about time. Soon it was night. Everyone had dinner and it’s time to sleep. All of the siblings were in their room. Graham had slept deeply as his snoring could be heard throughout the house. Troy is just being silent inside, like usual. Fatiha on the other hand couldn’t sleep after what happened to Troy earlier. She wanted to see what happened, but Mother Shaista will blame her again if anything went wrong in the future.

“I have to see what will happen, no matter the cost. I want to help for once in my life.”

Fatiha picked a bowl of water and imbued it with a blue glow. The water stirred around, turning the water to a glowing blue liquid. She looked up and dropped a drop of liquid to her eye.

Her sight faded and turned to a new scenery, something she had never seen before. The sky is filled with blue and blotches of white. A huge black line stretching from one horizon to the other, patterned with a few white lines. Another of that black line crosses it right next to her. Huge mirror-like blocks stand tall one next to the other. Lamps glow from a tall metal pole nest to the black lines, few have red, yellow, and green lights. Then she sees Troy running. Soon after, her vision is gone and she’s back to her bedroom.

“What did I just see?”

Fatiha’s mind is cluttered, trying to remember every detail of her future sighting. “I’ve never seen a place that big before. I don’t even understand anything I see except for Troy. What is my brother doing in my future vision? Argh.”  This is the first time Fatiha couldn’t understand the future. “My vision couldn’t make up something false. Then, where did my future sighting take place?”

She was awake all night, staring at the metal covered window. “There’s a possibility that there’s something beyond these walls and windows. Is that where my future vision takes place?” 

Her wandering thoughts were disturbed by something behind her door. There’s a crimson light just under the door slit.

“Troy must’ve been sleepwalking again. I’ll wake him up.”

Fatiha stepped down from the bed and peek through the keyhole. Troy is walking to Mother’s room. She held the door handle tightly that it creaked. Troy instantly turned his head and looked directly to Fatiha’s room.  She backed away from the door, turning her back against it.

“He’s not sleepwalking. Then what is he doing?”

As soon as she looked back, he’s already gone. Troy is not sleepwalking and a vision that doesn’t make sense. All of that made Fatiha’s mind tired. She climbed back to her bed and rested until the next day came.


The day started as usual, with the shouting of Mother Shaista about her neck pain. Graham healed her and went back to his room. Mother took a stroll to the kitchen, judging every corner of the room. Troy is standing at his door frame, waiting if Mother will call him to change anything.

Fatiha walked to the kitchen door. “Mother, do you need any help from me?”

“Get away child. I’m not in the mood for your useless power blocking my path,” said Mother Shaista, pushing her away while holding her tea. She fell to the ground. “You’d better stay in your room than make trouble for everyone else. Why do I even waste food for you?”

Fatiha tried to hold back her tears. Mother Shaista didn’t look back at her and entered her room as usual. As soon as the door was closed, Fatiha ran barging to her room and cried on her bed. 

Graham ran to the room and sat next to her. “Fatiha, are you okay? Why are you crying?”

“I’m just very tired of Mother calling me useless, a waste of space and food. I just wish she would appreciate my power just once.”

He patted her shoulder. “I understand, but no one can change Mother’s mind. She’s too dense. I’m sorry.”

Fatiha cried louder. “You can heal anything, right?”

“Yes. Are you hurt? Where’s the wound you want me to heal?”

She looked at him and pointed at her heart. “I don’t want my heart to hurt again. It’s been too long that my heart is left dusting, hurt, bleeding from Mother’s sharp tongue that keeps hurting me every single day.”

Graham sighed. “You know I can’t heal that.”

Fatiha calmed down, still filled with tears. “I don’t even want to be liked. I just want her to think of me as her child.”

“Fatiha, I know these are hard times and I’m always ready to help.”

“Then why don’t you help me when Mother pushes me away? Why don’t you stand up for me as the oldest sibling?” asked her.

Graham looked down. His heart stirred with regret and sadness. “You’re right. I should’ve been there for you, for all three of us. I just stay passive and help when asked, not when I know other people need my help.”

Graham hugged Fatiha tightly.

He released her. “The only way to stop your pain is to end the source itself.”

Fatiha stared seriously. “You didn’t meant murder, right?”

“Well, I meant it, as if it would do anything. Mother can literally revive from the dead. Killing her will only make her hurt all of us.”

She was at a loss for words. Her tears stopped in shock. “You’re the one with healing powers, why are you so okay with murder?”

“You get used to demented stuffs when you’ve seen a lot of bad things.”

Fatiha just kept watching in awe. She shook her head and remembered something. “Let’s just not talk about that again. Also, I think something is wrong with Troy.”

“Why is that?” asked him.

“You remember always seeing a red light pass the main room and Troy always said that he was sleepwalking?”

“Yep. Apparently, he always accidentally activates his power when he sleepwalked.”

“Well, what I saw last night isn’t it. He was fully awake.”

Graham looked at her. “That’s it?”

“No of course. He was heading to Mother’s room. I can feel something is wrong and my feeling is proven by my future vision.”

“You used your power yesterday? But Mother will be angry if she knew about this.”

“Yes. Can we just check up on him?”

“You used your power because you wanted to help Troy. I should’ve done the same,” said Graham in regret. “We have to tell him your vision.”

Graham opened the door and peeked at Mother’s room. She hadn’t come out again. Fatiha followed right behind. He knocked Troy’s door.

He came out looking more tired than ever. “Graham, Fatiha, what are you all doing here?”

“Can we talk for a bit?” asked Graham.

Troy sluggishly opened the door fully. “Sure.”

All three of them sat on the bed, closing the door shut.

“What were you doing last night, Troy? Walking in the main room,” asked Fatiha.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I must’ve sleepwalked again.”

“Really? Then why did you look at my room when I made a sound? Your sight is completely normal.”

“Fine, you caught me. I was taking food from the kitchen.”

Graham moved forward. “You’re lying again. You’re heading to Mother’s room. What are you doing there?”

Troy stayed silent.

Graham touched Troy’s shoulder. “We’re here to help you. You can say anything to us and we will do anything for you.”

“We want to help you, but we can’t do it if you stay silent,” said Fatiha.

Troy looked back. Slowly water was rising from the floors. Red smoke started to spew out of Troy.

Graham hugged Troy. “Troy, hold your powers. Calm down, we’re here for you.”

Fatiha moved forward and hugged him too. “Troy, we care about you. Please take a deep breath.”

“I’m trying,” said Troy, still crying. “I must control my power.”

Troy’s hand is gripped tightly. He took several deep breaths while holding back the tears in his eyes. Soon the crimson power vanished and the waters subsided. They released their hug.

“Troy, please tell us what’s bothering you. We want to help.”

Troy shook his head. “I would be punished if I tell you anything.”

Graham placed his hand on Troy’s shoulder “We will protect you. You won’t be hurt.”

“Okay, I trust you,” said Troy. “If you want to know, you have to see it for yourself, tonight.”

“It’s in Mother’s room, isn’t it?” asked Fatiha.

“Yes, see you tonight. Don’t be seen by Mother.”


It was night. The three siblings walked out of their room. Troy walked first, opening Mother’s room. Fatiha and Graham watched from behind, holding the door so as to not make any sound. Troy rolled the red rug beneath, unravelling a trapdoor with wooden stairs. Fatiha and Graham raised their eyebrows, but couldn’t speak about it. They must stay silent.

Stepping down the creaking stairs, they found an opening. There’s light from the inside. Troy nodded and went in first. Fatiha and Graham peeked inside. Mother Shaista was here, standing in a small room filled with candles and an altar. Clotted blood filled the top of it. 

“There you are, Troy. What takes you so long?” asked Mother Shaista.

“I’m sorry.”

She sighed. “Whatever, just do your job.”

Crimson light swirled around Troy. It poured down on the altar, forming something solid. His body was shaking. Slowly the light turned into flesh, creating something that looks like a goat. Its scream filled the room. Troy fell, exhausting his power. Mother Shaista picked up a knife and slit the goat’s neck.

Fatiha and Graham watched in horror. Fresh blood flew down the altar, filling the cracks on the floor.

“With this, the ritual to renew our power is completed,” said Mother Shaista.

Graham thought to himself. “I can’t believe Mother has been using Troy to sustain our power. But why?”

“She must’ve used Troy’s power so that she can keep using her power forever. Is that why she doesn’t care about me? Because I’m useless for her,” thought Fatiha.

Fatiha stepped back, moving away from the ritual room. She stepped once more, accidentally stepping on the creaking stairs. Mother Shaista turned her head instantly, glaring at the entrance. Graham’s eyes widened.

Mother Shaista held up her knife. “Why are you two here? I will kill you for knowing this secret!”

Fatiha and Graham ran away in panic, stumbling a few times up the stairs.

Troy with his weakened state screamed. “Mother, stop!”

Fatiha and Graham ran past the doorway, into the main room, but Mother Shaista was quicker. She stabbed them multiple times. Graham tried to fight her back while healing both of their wounds. Troy walked up while still recovering his strength.

Troy stood at the doorway. “Mother! Stop hurting my siblings.”

Mother Shaista stepped away from Fatiha and Graham. “They already know my secret. Besides, what are you going to do about it?”

Troy frowned. “I’m going to end you.”

“Go ahead and try. You know I’ll be revived over and over again. You can’t do anything about it,” bragged Mother Shaista.

Troy stood still, thinking what to do next.

“See, you’re nothing. You have no power over me.”

“Maybe I don’t. But what if I end the source of our power?”

Mother Shaista looked to her room. “I’m not letting you touch that altar.”

“Who said I’m talking about the altar?”

Mother Shaista looked back. “No, you won’t get past me.”

Troy shot out a red light, pushing away Mother Shaista. He ran to the steel-covered window and poured out his power. Mother Shaista stood up quickly and chased after him. Fatiha and Graham followed not far behind, trying to stop her. The steel was slowly melting. Light shone from behind it, brighter than Troy has ever seen.

“Stop there,” screamed Mother Shaista, trying to grab him.

It was too late. Troy blasted the steel, blowing away everyone else. Blinding light shone on Troy, making him just a silhouette.

Fatiha was stunned. “How is there a bright light? This is night time.”

“Finally, freedom,” said Troy, smiling.

He ran past the light. Mother Shaista woke up and chased him again. Fatiha and Graham watched the blinding light in awe, following behind Mother. They looked at the long black line with white lines on the side, it crosses right next to them. Tall glass blocks stood tall beside the black line. Lamps with red, yellow, and green light stood on where the black lines crossed.

Mother Shaista won’t give up. “I will catch you. You’ve ruined this family.”

Blinded by light, Troy kept running from Mother Shaista. “Freedom at last.”

Loud sound roared from Tory’s side and soon he saw darkness. A huge metal box crashed into him, splitting his body in two. Troy screamed in pain as he tried to hold the pain. Mother Shaista was petrified as she watched her only power source was losing a lot of blood quickly. Graham sprinted to Troy’s side, shining yellow light on him.

“Troy please hold in there. I’m trying to heal you,” cried graham

He spent all of his power but the wound wouldn’t close. Fatiha stepped forward in fear.

“I’m the one who sees this in my vision. I’m the one to be blamed again. I knew I shouldn’t have used my power again.”

Troy kept screaming, blasting away every single power he had in his body. Graham tried to stop him from using his power, but nothing worked. Crimson blood spew out like rain, spreading across the black line. Nothing can stop this from happening.

Crimson light blasted out of Troy’s scream, filling the air in fear. It stroked Graham and Fatiha, slowly draining them of their life. Mother Shaista backed away and she watched in horror. Graham and Fatiha grew pale and not long after, they are already skeletons. Troy was still in pain. He cried out loud before his own power killed him. 

All of the sudden, everything is silent. Mother Shaista’s body is silent, not a single muscle moved. The sky suddenly turned grey and it started raining crimson everywhere.


My sight fades back and I’m back to my reality. I couldn’t hold back my tears. My body weakened and I fell to the sidewalk, right in front of the crossroad where all of that horror happened. That all was my mistake.

I was too evil to all of my children. I was too prideful to think that they couldn’t do anything without me. Thinking that as the one who gives power to the whole family, I get to do anything I want. I was sorely mistaken. I was the one who ruined my family.

Now, I’m cursed to relive that moment every day of my life. Reliving the nightmare I was being a long time ago. Ever since that moment, it has rained red every day. Every drop of it is filled with power from my children, making me see the past, healing every wound I have, charging up my own power so I can’t die even if I want to. I’ve tried to do it many times, but all failed. I was left hopeless in a powerless world.

I get a hold of myself and walk forward. Across the road, there’s a destroyed building. I could still see the wallpaper that I used to complain about. Broken beds sit under heavy steel. The trapdoor to the basement is destroyed, buried forever in stone and dust.

Dust sweeps away as I walk to a piece of a wall that’s still standing. “Oh, how I had wronged you all. How bad of a mother I was.”

My arm caresses the dusty wall with torn wallpaper. A Graham-like figure appeared from behind it. His body is transparent and skinny, almost skeleton-like.

“Oh Graham, is that really you?”

He doesn’t respond. His sight is soulless, as if he’s not here.

“I understand that you don’t want to talk to me. I was wrong. I put too much pressure on you as an older brother, putting too much work on healing everyone. I shouldn’t have been that demanding of you.”

His body floats away from me, walking towards someone who looks just like him. Fatiha flies apart from me. She’s looking down, holding her hands together. I walk closer but she moves away, hiding behind the only piece of wall.

“Poor Fatiha. I treated you very badly. I always thought your power was useless and wasting energy out of the altar. But now I know, you’re the one who can warn me of the bad things that could happen. I ignore you and here I am, living miserably in the world that’s moving forward. I’m so sorry.”

She’s mute like Graham. Her soulless body just floats away. Soon Troy appears, walking from the crossroad he was killed at.

“Troy, the one who I treated the worst. I used your power just to infinitely power the altar. I’m just using you as a tool, not as a son. I was too scared of losing my powers, now I have to live with it forever because of my greed. I deserved to be punished like this. You deserved a better life from me. I’m so sorry.”

Not even a movement from him. I understand that. Being abused your whole life, it’ll be very difficult to forgive them, or even face them. I was the evil one and I understand why none of my children will talk to me.

Even though nothing can change the past, I’ve finally had the courage to say sorry to all of my wrongdoings to my children. Even though they’re no longer here, I can feel a slight weight has been lifted off me. All of the things I did in the past, have changed the present. And with that, I must learn to live in the moment, facing the future with hope.

I walk away from the crumbled building, facing the crosswalk again. The crimson rain subsided. Clouds go away, revealing glimmering crimson sky everywhere with golden sun setting on the horizon.

Writer: P. C.

The Only Child

Entry for Writchal #4
Theme: Unexpected Sibling

Snack’s ready, me laying in this dirty bed for the last time, and the TV remote by my side. Finally, after a week full of exams, I can have my holiday. My lovely parents will pick me up this evening and I will get away from this choking uncared boarding house. There’s only a small desk with a TV on top cramped in front of the bed. I don’t even get an AC here. As an only child, I can live peacefully back at home. I can lay on my comfy bed, watch movies on the TV, and enjoy dinner together with my parents. I miss them so much. 

I turn on the TV and start to watch a murder documentary as there’s nothing more interesting on this old TV. Hour by hour my eyes get more tired from watching documentaries of entire families being killed mysteriously. I yawn before placing my head on the pillow and turn off the TV. Slowly I close my eyes as the sleepiness spreads to my whole body. 

Suddenly I was awakened by the loud banging on my door. I was having such a calm time. Why can’t I just rest in peace? This is still the afternoon, whoever is knocking is not my parents and I don’t care about it. I go back to sleep and close my ears with pillows. That person keeps on knocking, louder and louder. With a fuming head I slam open the door. 

Behind it is a little girl. Her dress is torn. Her shaking hand is holding an old teddy bear with lots of stitches. She wipes the sweat off her dirty forehead and smiles. “Hello,” says her. 

“Who are you?” 

“I’m your sister.” 

“No, you must be mistaken. I’m an only child. Why are you knocking on my door?” “I want to meet you, my brother.” 

I roll my eyes then smile. “Once again, I can’t be your brother. The brother you’re searching for is not here. Do you want me to help you find him?” 

“No, he’s right in front of me. I love you brother.” 

The girl hugs me. I try to release her grip and move her back a bit. 

I squat down. “Hey, I’m not your brother, okay. Hope you can find him. I’m sorry but don’t knock on my door again, okay?” 

She starts to tear up. “But I am your sister.” 

Soon after, she starts crying. 

“Hey, please don’t cry. I’m sure you’ll find your brother soon. I’m sorry that I can’t help you now. I’m really tired.” 

I slowly close my door. The little girl’s cry can still be heard, but not for long. After a few minutes, the cry fully stops. Well, I hope she finds her brother. For now, I better get back to sleep. I keep yawning before I lay on the bed and close my eyes. 

Loud banging awakened me again. I wipe my face and look at the door with pain in my eyes. Is it that little girl again? Why is she knocking this door again? She’s being too loud. “Abie, please open the door,” says a familiar voice. 

That’s not the girl, It’s my mom. They’ve arrived. I quickly run to the door and open it with a smile. Mom is standing behind it with a frown. The same little girl stands behind her, holding her teddy bear tight.

“Abie! Did you just leave your sister here alone? How dare you?” screams Mom. “So she is actually my sister?” 

“Obviously, I gave birth to her. Now pick your stuff up and get in the car,” says her while leaving the building, bringing the little girl with her. The girl keeps looking at me with teary eyes. 

Mom seems very pissed. I shouldn’t waste time then. I pack up my stuff with haste, though I can’t stop thinking about that little girl. How can she be my sister? She looks like a 7 year old, yet I’ve only been in this boarding house for a year. This just doesn’t make sense at all. 

I zip up my bag and lock the door. I give the room key to the owner and head to the front of the boarding house. Mom and Dad are already waiting in their car. I miss seeing this car. I walk closer and find the little girl is already asleep in the back seat. I put my bag on the back and sat next to the girl. Dad Starts the car and we’re on the road back to my home. 

Something is not right with that girl. I look closer at her and don’t find any resemblance with my parents. Her sharp nose is very different from my short and large nose. Her pale skin doesn’t match my skin tone nor my parents. Not only that, her hair is light brown, very different from anyone here. There’s no way she’s my Mom’s child. I should ask MOm about this. 

I place my head on the front seat. “Mom, is she really my biological sister? Her looks are very different from ours.” 

Mom sighs. “Just because she is different doesn’t mean she is not my daughter. You don’t know how much sacrifice and pain I have to endure to give birth to her.” “But she looks like a 7 year old. Why didn’t I see her at all before I went to the boarding house? Are you hiding her from me?” 

Dad looks at me. “Please keep your voice down. I’m driving.” 

I look down. “Sorry. So, why?” 

Mom looks at me. “She was at home even before you went. Don’t tell me you don’t notice your sister at all.” 

“Impossible. I’ve been an only child since birth. You even said it before I went to the boarding house.” 

“What are you talking about?” says Mom, looking at me weirdly. “Oh I see what’s going on. You just hated your sister, didn’t you?” 

“No, I don’t hate her. This just doesn’t make any sense.” 

Mom looks away. “Well you’re the one not making any sense. Don’t talk to me anymore, I want to rest.” 

This definitely isn’t right. I must know why they want to lie to me about the little girl. She’s clearly not my sister. 

“Dad, why—” 

“Shut up. I’m focused on the road,” says him with a raised voice. 

My parents don’t even want to talk to me anymore. Dad used to love talking anytime. Mom likes to joke about everything. What is happening? Why are they so different now? I don’t feel good about any of this. I can’t even sleep anymore, I’m too confused by all of this. Something is definitely wrong with that little girl, but I don’t know what. Whatever is making my parents think that girl is my sister, I must find it out.


I arrived at my home. Finally I’m back to the place I love, after a year being away. The little girl jumps out of the moving car and my mom quickly follows her inside the house. My dad parks the car in the garage. I step out and go inside the living room, bringing my bag. 

A half circle sofa stands in front of an LED TV. Small coffee table stands between them. A smooth rug stretches from one side of the room to the other side. My favorite bat from my childhood stands beside the TV. This room should be bringing me comfort, but now I just feel uneasy knowing that little girl is here. I walk up the stairs behind the TV and go to my room at the end of the hallway with floorboards. My back hurts from bringin the heavy bag. I step on the creaking floorboard outside of my room. A year away almost made me forget about this. Then, I open the door only to find that the little girl is jumping on my bed. 

I drop my bag. “Hey! This is my bedroom. Get out of here!” 

She stops jumping and starts crying on my bed, closing her face with her teddy bear. Mom runs up the stairs and bumps me while running to the girl. 

“Why do you shout at her?” says Mom while patting the girl. 

“This is my room.” 

“Your sister doesn’t have a bedroom yet. Let her sleep here tonight. She needs rest.” “Well I need rest too,” complains me. “Where am I going to sleep tonight then?” “At the sofa. No more talking and don’t ever shout at her again. I have to make dinner,” says Mom. 

She leaves the room while scratching her head. I’m worried about her but I’m too mad at the moment. I left the room, bringing my bag with me. I throw it to the sofa and lay there to rest my back. There’s nothing weird with that girl so far. She seems like a normal kid. Then what makes my parents turn against me? I have to watch that girl’s behavior more closely. 

Dad just left the garage, holding a rag he used to clean the car. 

“Dad, can I talk for a—” 

“No!” shouts Dad. He sighs. “I’m sorry. I’m just really tired now. We’ll talk tomorrow.” He walks angrily to the kitchen, passing Mom who’s setting up the dining table. I walk up to her. 

“Mom, do you need help preparing dinner?” 

“Sure, set up the table for me. I’ll bring dinner in.” 

She leaves the dining room while I tidy up the table cloth. I set up plates, placing them one by one. Then I place the fourth plate for the chair that no one ever uses. It feels weird that this seat will be used. Then, I place the glasses as Mom brings in plates of dinner. “Dinner’s ready!” shout Mom to upstairs. 

The little girl runs down the stairs while still holding the teddy bear then sits on my usual seat. 

“That’s my seat,” tells me. 

The girl looks at Mom. “But I want to sit here.” 

Mom pushes forward the girl’s chair. “Let her sit here. You sit there,” says her, pointing to the unused chair.

“But I always sit there.” 

Dad comes back from the kitchen. “Stop with the chit chat. I want a calm dinner.” I’m forced to sit on the unused chair. Mom and Dad sit on their usual chairs. Soon after, we started eating. I devour the food on my plate. It’s been so long that I haven’t tasted home cooking. I keep on eating while observing the girl’s behavior. She seems normal, even after dinner is finished. 

Soon it was night. Everything has been tidied up and now everyone is asleep, except for me. I’m laying on the couch, watching my phone as I’m used to sleeping very late. As it reaches midnight, I lay my phone on the coffee table. I yawn then pull up my blanket. My eyes are closed, but then I hear footsteps from upstairs. 

I wake up and don’t think about it much. It’s probably someone going to the toilet. I go back to sleep, but there’s more ruckus. The footsteps now sound heavier. “There’s definitely something wrong up there.” 

I pick up my bat next to the TV and walk up the stairs. I glance to the hallway but there’s nothing. Where are those footsteps coming from? 

There is more sound coming from my bedroom. Something like an old woman speaking, but I don’t understand anything she’s saying. Is there a burglar there? I walk slowly to my room, holding my bat tight next to me. Peeking into my bedroom’s keyhole, there’s a bright light blocking my view. I step forward to look closer, accidentally stepping on the creaking floorboard. The sound stopped. The light dims out in a flash. I open the door only to find the little girl sleeping on my bed. I look around but there’s nothing weird about this place. The window is locked. I don’t see anything that can make a light just like the one I saw. Whatever it is, it has to do with this girl and I’m going to find out. I will check this again tomorrow. 


Tomorrow has come. Mom is preparing dinner. Dad is cleaning his car. That little girl is in my bedroom the whole day. I go to the dining room again. 

“Mom, do you need help preparing dinner again?” 

She doesn’t answer me. She doesn’t even look whenever I talk. 

“Mom?” I ask again. 

She doesn’t budge and sets the table without acknowledging me. It’s like I don’t even exist to her. 

“That’s it. I’m confronting the girl now.” 

I walk upstairs and look at the keyhole again, avoiding the creaking floorboard. There it is. The same light I saw yesterday. I bash open the door and instantly petrified by what I see. It’s a bear with an exposed skull and rotting skin. Maggots crawl out of its mouth. Red circle glows from beneath it. It stares at me with its empty eye sockets that spew out black goo. The girl sits next to the monster, but she looks so disgusting. Her skin is pale and flabby. Seems like she’s drained out of her blood. The same black goo drips from her eyes. Her teddy bear is nowhere to be seen. 

“Kill him,” growls the bear.

I run away before they even move. I jump down the stairs and pick up my bat from the side of the TV and hold it tight. All I hear is nothing. There’s no sound from upstairs. Mom or Dad is not seen anywhere. What is happening? 

Then I hear a knife being sharpened from the kitchen. 


She pushes the door, hitting the wall. Her hand holds a knife steadily. Her look is empty, staring at me. 

“Mom, are you okay?” 

Dad steps out of the garage, holding a wrench. He looks as weird as Mom. Whatever monster that I saw must be controlling them, but I don’t know how to stop it. The girl steps to the top of the stairs, looking back to normal. She holds the teddy bear again. 

“Mom, Dad, there’s a thief! Save me,” cries her. 

Mom charges forward, pointing her knife at me. I dodge to the side and hide behind the TV. 

“Mom, please wake up. This is Abbie, your only son.” 

She doesn’t say anything. Dad strikes the TV, pushing it to me. I fall down with the TV on top of me. Mom runs to me. I manage to push it away in time and get away with my bat. “Dad, wake up, please. Don’t listen to that monster.” 

They both attack me. I hit the wrench out of my Dad’s hand with my bat, but Mom manages to cut my arm. I run away to the back of the sofa while tears drop from my chin. “Please remember me. I don’t want to hurt you. I love you.” 

They keep attacking me but I try to not hurt them and keep evading away. “Mom, Dad, remember me please.” 

“Oh, poor you,” says the girl. 

The constant attacks made me forget about the girl. She’s now standing at the base of the stairs. 

She giggles. “Seems like they don’t remember you anymore. Just give up.” I dodge Dad’s punch and jump back from Mom’s knife. 

“Stop controlling them. Give them back.” 

She laughs. “Why would I do that? I’ll live a happy life with them. While you…” she laughs again. “You’ll be dead now.” 

Mom lunges towards me and cuts my leg. I cover my wound while screaming in pain. I move away from her. Dad punches me straight in the chest and I fall down. I can’t keep dodging everything. I must attack back if I want to survive even though they’re my parents. 

I hit my attacking Dad in the arm and knock him down. I stand up but instantly get attacked by Mom. She tries to stab me. I hit her in the head. She fell, hitting her head on the floor. 

“Mom, I’m so sorry.” 

I look back at the girl. 

“You! You made me hurt my parents.” 

She walks happily over the fallen TV. “I didn’t do anything. You hurt your own parents.” 

“No, you force them to attack me.”

She sighs. “It’s not me dumb dumb. I’m just a weak little girl with wonderful parents. I wonder how much fun we will have after you’re gone.” 

“I won’t let you take them from me.” 

I run to her and bash her with my bat. She fell over. Her teddy bear fell out of her hand. “Abbie, what’s happening?” says Dad from behind me. “Why does my arm hurt?” “Dad, are you okay?” 

I run to them, putting my bat on the coffee table. My mom wakes up from the floor, holding her head. 

“My head really hurts. Abbie, did I fall on the floor?” 

I hold my Mom’s hand. “Mom, I miss you.” 

“Why am I holding a knife?” asks her confused. 

“It’s because of her,” says me pointing to the girl. 

She stands up, holding her wounded face. She’s back to her disgusting self. “How dare you do that. You will suffer now,” screams her. 

She runs to her teddy bear and picks it up. Her skin smoothed and went back as a normal child. All of the sudden Mom stabs my arm. I jump back and get hit on the back by Dad. I kick him and get waya. As soon as the girl grabs that teddy bear, my parents get controlled again. That teddy bear must be her source of power. 

I grab back my bat, holding the pain of blood flowing on the handle. I will end this. I run towards her but Dad blocks my path. I hit him as hard as I can but the girl runs away. Mom screams from my back, running towards me with a knife. I strike her. She loses control and ends up stabbing Dda right in the guts. 


The girl laughs. “Oh look what you do now. He wouldn’t be hurt if you just give up.” “You monster!” 

She picks the knife from Mom’s hand and attacks me. Another swing, another cut. I try to attack back but she manages to cut me several times. I move back then swing hard. She dodges it as Mom strikes me. My head is spinning. I swing back and forward randomly and manage to hit the girl away. I fell to the ground. My bat rolls away to where the girl fell when I hit her. 

“No. Mom.” 

The girl knife was deep in Mom’s neck. The girl stands up with shaking legs, holding her bloody teddy bear tight. I try to move but I have no more strength to pull myself up from the puddle of my own blood. 

She picks up my bat and laughs. “I will end this now.” 

She hit me in the head with the bat. I blacked out. 


Suddenly I was awakened by the sound of a hammer hitting wood. I try to move but my whole body is roped up. My mouth is sewn together. I look at my surroundings and realized that I’m in a coffin, right at my home’s back garden. The moon is shining bright above. The little girl shows up with her teddy bear and a wooden board on her other arm. 

“Oh look. You’re still alive,” says her smiling. “Well that won’t be a problem soon.”

I try to speak back but that only hurts me more. 

“Isn’t it sad being forgotten by your own family. The ones you trusted the most.” I try to scream, the string slowly rips my lip. 

“Don’t panic. I will let you see them one last time.” 

She puts down the board and snaps her finger. Both of my parents show up then sit next to her. Dad’s gut is spewing out. Mom’s neck is almost fully decapitated. They both hug the girl with their lifeless body. 

I keep trying to scream, ripping my lips even more. 

“That’s it. you’re being too loud.” 

Slowly I rip my lips just to say something but it was too late. The girl throws the wooden board over me. I scream in pain as tears run down my cheeks. 

I heard the girl say one last thing before she buried me alive. “I’m the only child in this family.”

Writer: P. C.

Life Cycle

Entry Writchal #3
Tema: Hidup-Mati

I switch on my bedroom light. 

My vision is filled with a thick fog. I walk across the bedroom while rubbing my eyes. As  my consciousness grows, my vision becomes clearer. I look at the broken mirror in the bathroom.  My face appears on it, but it seems weird. I splash water on my face and rub my eyes again. Now  all I see is the normal me, the sad normal me with my work shirt on. 

Behind me, I can see my wife, Fidelia standing in front of our bed. Her flowing hair blocks  the morning sunlight from the window. Her smile shines brighter than the sun itself. She enters the  bathroom while bringing my tie. Her hand moves my head to look at the mirror, preventing me to  look at the bedroom’s cracked wall. I try to smile as much as I can while looking at her reflection.  She ties my tie and then rests her head on my shoulder. 

She holds my hand. “You look perfect, my love.” 

“I could never be as perfect as you, love. 

I’m not even kidding whenever I said that she’s perfect. She’s born to rich parents and  quickly become a model in her teens. She has a lot of money, yet somehow, she vowed to be my  wife. Every single aspect of her life is perfect, except for me and this run-downed apartment that  I can rent. Why did she even want to stay with me? 

She puts her head up. “You should smile more. Let’s eat breakfast. Don’t be late for your  job.” 

“What’s our breakfast today?” 

“Just a normal jam toast. We don’t have much food left until your next payment.” I turn around and look at her. “It doesn’t matter what we eat as long as you’re here with  me. I’ll work hard for both of us.” 

She smiles. “I know you will. Now, let’s eat.” 

We hold hands while walking out of the bathroom and through the bedroom. Fidelia had  already plate the toast on a small dining table that’s only fit for two people. A lone burner is placed next to it, located next to a cupboard that we use for storing anything. Everything here just feels  so crowded that it’s choking me. 

The toast Fidelia makes is still warm out of the toaster. It smells delicious but it doesn’t  excite me. All that I can think of is my life and the future. If I keep going like this, how am I  supposed to live my life.

The chair creaks as I pull it. I sit on the old chair, opposite of Fidelia. The jam tastes bitter  as I munch on it even though everyone says that it’s supposed to be sweet. Fidelia holds my hand. “Hey, you don’t smile when you eat today’s breakfast. Is there  something wrong with the toast?” 

“The toast is as good as it’s usually is. I’m just sad I’m not able to be as perfect as you. Why do you even want to be a person like me?” 

She grips my hand tight. “You’re already perfect the way you are. I know you work very  hard for the both of us and that’s enough reason for me to stay with you.” 

I look down. “I’m very sorry for our condition now. I’m so sorry for not being able to fulfill  any of your dreams, living in a house with a swimming pool, supply for food, or even a status to  be looked upon.” 

“Look at me.” 

I stay still. I can’t look at her after I have failed her multiple times. She’s perfect and I’m  not. I couldn’t let her live with me. 

She holds my chin and points it to her face. “I say look at me. Those are my past dreams,  dreams before I meet you. With time flowing, I realized that this is the life that I’ve always  wanted,” says her while extending her arm to the whole room. “I realized that the only thing that  I’ve been searching for this entire time is living a happy life with the person I trusted the most.  Nothing can change how I feel about you, no matter how much imperfection we have.” 

“Oh, my love Fidelia. What did I do to deserve a wife like you? You deserve a much better  life and I’ll work hard for that.” 

She smiles even brighter. “Stop being so hard on yourself. Sometimes you need to relax  and concentrate on living on the present. The future is unknown but we can face it together. If only  you could see yourself through my eyes.” 

A ringing starts from inside our bedroom. I instantly look at it. There’s no more time to  waste then. I must go to work now or I’ll be late. 

Fidelia releases my arm. “You should go now. I’ll handle the dishes.” 

The chair creaks as I stand up. I rush to the door and pick my coat from the rack. My hand  busily checks my pocket to make sure I didn’t forget anything. 

“Goodbye, my love. I’ll be patiently waiting here until you come back the evening,” says  her.

“I’ll see you too.” 

I close the door and look out of the apartment. The two-floored apartment I’m standing on  is old. All the paints are cracking and the pipes are rusting. Beyond the floor railing, opens a  parking lot with a single car on it, my work-car. That dusty machine reminds me of my past dreams,  forgotten and uncared for. 

I walk down the stairs, holding to the rusty railings. The farther I get away from my  apartment room, I feel worse about myself. Leaving Fidelia makes me remember the hardships of  my life. The constant cycle of waking up, working, and sleeping every day makes me feel dull. I  don’t feel anything beyond the warmth of Fidelia’s arms. I’m so tired of my life that I almost forget  that I’m still a living being and not a robot. But I shouldn’t think like that. I’m still alive, I must  stay alive for Fidelia’s happiness. 

I enter my car and start driving to the highway. The sun rises higher to the sky. Vehicles  starts to fill the highway, more than it usually is. I start to worry as cars in front of me slows down.  The highway is the quickest way to my workplace. Going to any other route will take much longer  time. This can’t be happening. I’ve always come on time my whole life. I can’t just break that  record. There has to be something that I can do to pass this traffic jam. 

I stomp the accelerator pedal but it was too late. Two cars have closed my path and slowed  down drastically. My fingers busily tapping on the driver wheel while I look at the time on my  car’s dashboard. No, there’s no way I’m getting there on time now. Why can’t I be perfect at  anything? 

Half an hour later I arrived at my workplace, the Microbiology Testing Center. With my  tired hands, I tidy my name tag with the title “Virologist” written on it. A dull grey building stands  behind a huge parking lot with lots of cars. Wall surrounds this place, expanding to the back of the  long building. Not even a single window in sight. I remember inside there, eternal hours of work  under artificial light. Not even a single plant is allowed inside that building. 

I step outside of my car. In front of the double-door, I can see my boss smoking his usual  cigarette. He must be waiting for me. 

I walk to him while looking down. “Good morning, Boss, I’m so sorry that I’m late.” He puffs a cloud of smoke. “I expected better from you. The corporate wants everything to  be perfect since we can’t make a single mistake here.” 

“I’m so sorry for failing you. I won’t do a mistake again.”

“You better be or else the corporate will force me to fire you,” he says while pointing a  finger at me. 

“I understand. I’ll go straight to work.” 

“Good. I’m just going to remind you once again. Make a single mistake and you’ll be fired.  I’ll head back to work or else they will fire me too.” 

Boss stumps his cigarette and goes inside. I walk right behind him. He enters his room,  right in the corner of the long main hallway. Before he closes his door, he nods at me. I head  straight to the lab I work at, passing multiple identical lab with huge glass window in front. When  I arrive, my lab partner, Treone is already inside, preparing the equipment for today’s observation. 

He smiles at me when I enter the lab. I take my lab coat and mask then step inside the air  chamber between the lab and the dressing room. I stare at the lab with no passion. I still remember  the first day I work here. I was really nervous and proud to be assigned in this lab. But working  with the same thing over and over again have eroded me. I no longer feel any passion left in my  work. 

“Good morning. You look as tired as always,” laughs him. “Do you want a coffee?” “No. Just head to work and finish this day.” 

He continues to prepare the equipment. “Work will be more enjoyable if you’re happy  about it. We can joke for a bit you know.” 

“No. This job is very important to me. I can’t just lose it because we joked while we work.  I expect you to be serious about this job too.” 

“I’m sorry then. I thought that since we’ve been lab partner for years, we might want to  know each other better,” he says while putting the last equipment in place. “We can talk another time, but for now we have a job to do. How’s our specimen condition  today?” 

Treone opens the cooler and pulls out a tray of virus specimens that I’ve been working for  years. This is my life work, if this fails, then I’m just a failure. The specimens must succeed.  Treone put the tray on the table while I’m checking the electron microscope. He walks away to  pick up our lab journal. I pick up one of the specimen vials. 

Treone touches my back. “Don’t forget to be careful.” 

I instantly push his hand away. “You almost made me drop the specimen. I’ve been doing  this for years; I know what I’m doing. There will be no more mistake.”

“Okay then. I’ll make sure I won’t bug you. I’ll observe from here.” 

I look away from him and focus on the vial. I open the lid and quickly put the specimen  under the microscope. I look at the computer and observe it’s RNA. There’s no change in this  specimen. Another day of failure. With this sample, I don’t think the other specimen is going to  change too. 

“False again,” I say to Treone. 

“That sucks. But we still have to check every single specimen. There may be a mutation in  one of the other specimens.” 

“I’ve lost hope for years of not finding anything. I’m just doing this observation for  payment. Have you written the observation yet?” 

“Oh yeah. I almost forgot,” he says then quickly write on the journal. 

I look back at the microscope. “I need you to be more serious.” 

I take the vial out of the electron microscope and put the lid back on. My hand moves  quickly, swapping the vial with the new one. I open the lid, observe the specimen, see more failure and close the lid again. I do the same thing over and over until my shift is over. No mutation is  seen today. 

I’ve been trying to find a virus mutation that can replicate DNA strands to produce selected  cells instead of making more virus bodies. With that kind of mutation, it will be a breakthrough in  the medical field. A lot of people can be healed. Another benefit that I can’t ignore is the income. With that breakthrough, I can finally have enough money to buy the house I and Fidelia have been  dreaming of. I can finally be happy. But it doesn’t seem that it’ll happen soon. It’s been years and  all I got is mutations that’s not what I’m searching for. My time is running too quickly. Maybe I  won’t find the mutation until I die. 

Treone touches my back. “Hey, our shift is already over. It’s the evening. We should clean  up now.” 

I keep observing each vial. “You can go home. I’ll stay here.” 

He walks closer. “We can continue tomorrow you know. You haven’t even taken a rest  today.” 

I brush his hand off my back. “Just go. I’ll clean up everything when I’m done.” “Are you sure you don’t need any help?” 

“No. Just go,” I say loudly at him.

“Okay then. Just be careful,” say him while closing the door to the air chamber.  The air chamber blows Treone’s outfit and then he hangs the lab coat and put down the  mask. He waves at me one last time before closing the lab door. I look back at the specimens, my  failures. 

“One of you must mutates. For my family, for the world.” 

I check another specimen, but there’s still no mutation. Why can’t I just get my happy  ending? 

I put back the vial to the rack then I slam the table. I’ve been doing the same thing for  hours, but to no avail. There’re only a few specimens left to check. I have to do check it now. I  can’t rest without knowing what could be inside one of those specimens. 

My shaking hand take a vial and open its lid. I put it inside the electron microscope with  no hope left in me. My eyes widen as I look at the monitor screen. There’s a mutation in it’s RNA. “Please let it be the mutation that I wanted.” 

I put some bacteria samples on a petri dish then I drop a few specimens on the same petri  dish. I put it on the electron microscope and I observe the screen. The virus starts to dig into  bacteria and get near its DNA. Something weird is happening. The virus is not attacking the DNA,  instead it’s copying the DNA substance. This is it. Now to test if it will give the DNA to another  cell. 

I take a cancer cell and put it in another petri dish and mix it with the virus with bacteria’s  DNA. Under the microscope I can observe everything. The virus digs through the cancer cell  membrane and meet with its DNA. But something bad happens. The cancer cell took over the  DNA and the virus die with it. 

I slam the table. “Why is this happening to me? I was so close to my breakthrough but it’s  another failure. Why am I so useless to everyone? What’s even the purpose of me living if I’m  going to fail for my entire life?” 

I quickly put the vials to the rack and put it inside the cooler again. I clean up every  equipment but suddenly my head starts to spin. A headache rushes into my head, slowing down  my movement. I’ve probably worked myself too much, I need to go home now. I quickly finish cleaning up and head out of the lab. On the front door, I see my boss leaning to the wall, smoking  another cigarette. 

“Another rough night shifts?” asks him while puffing a smoke cloud.

“Yeah. Still no progress on my project today.” 

“Don’t you worry. Your life will soon change for the better.” 

“I’ll leave now, boss. If you don’t mind.” 

He puffs another smoke cloud. “Call me Mort.” 

“Okay, Mort. I’ll head back now.” 

He nods. 

I head to my car with a growing headache. It feels like something is growing inside my  head. I try to ignore that pain and drive straight out of the building. The night fog has come again,  covering much of my view. I drive through an empty highway, but still, I have to focus on the  road. Pain surges come as I drive. I try to hold the pain back, but I fail. I lose focus a few times  before I get out of the highway. 

I slap myself on the face. “Focus on the road. I’m almost home.” 

The pain come again, even stronger this time. I hold my head in pain as my other hand try  to grip the steering wheel. Why is my head like this? 

I’m a few meters away from my apartment. A surge of pain strike my head and I lose  control of the steering wheel. I try to hold back the wheel while stomping the brake pedal. I manage  to stop but I hit something hard. I can’t see much beyond the night fog. All I can hear when the  collision happen is a woman screaming. 

I walk out of my car to check while still holding my head. 

“No, oh no” 

I come running to the victim. There lay my beloved wife, Fidelia in a pool of blood next to  the apartment building. 

I hold her head up. “Fidelia, my beloved wife. Talk to me. Please stay awake.” “Hello, my love. I thought I’ve lost you,” she says with her bloody mouth. “What are you doing out here?” I ask as I try to hold back my tears. 

Fidelia rubs her cold hand on my cheek. “I was searching for you. You said you’ll be here  by the evening.” 

I hold her hand tight. “Oh, Fidelia. I’m so sorry for everything. Sorry for not keeping my  promise. Please stay awake for me. I’ll call an ambulance.” 

“It’s too late now for that. I can feel my consciousness slowly losing its grip,” she says  while looking away from me.

I point her face at me. “Please, don’t leave me.” 

“Don’t blame yourself, my love. I will always love you forever.” 

Blood spew out of her mouth and her eyes close on me. I cry out a scream of pain as tears  pour down from my chin. I can’t feel her breath, her veins, nor even hear her heart beating. She’s  gone forever now.  

I scream. “Why am I like this? I can’t even fulfill my promise to my own wife. Why must  I be so useless to this world?” 

This is all my fault. I’m not ready to let her go. I still want to see her. I don’t want her to  go like this. I haven’t fulfilled her dreams. I haven’t been a good person. No matter what I do, I  always fail in the end. I’m tired of always failing over and over and over. There’s no more thing  that held me back from getting off this world. 

I let go of Fidelia’s bloody hands and walk upstairs, to my apartment room. Everything  feels empty. The air is cold, there’s no Fidelia’s warm hug to greet me, there’s no more joy in this  place. I walk to the cabinet, picking up a kitchen knife as I look at a cold dinner prepared for me.  My feet walk on itself to the bedroom that’s still the light still on. My headache strike again and I  accidentally bump the lit stove and an oil bottle fell on it. Fire starts to spread fast, but I was too  dead inside to care. 

I enter my bedroom. The bed sheet is clean and empty. I open up the window next to the  bed and look up at the foggy night sky. I can’t even see the beautiful stars on my death day. I’m  such a failure

My headache keeps growing until I can’t take it anymore. I hold up the knife in pain. The pain surges and I scream out all of my lungs. I can’t handle it anymore. 

“Fidelia, we will meet again.” 

I strike my throat with the knife, ending the endless sound of my scream. Blood gush out  of my throat as I fell to the floor. My vision is slowly fading. I start to lose everything in my  memory. 

The fire keeps burning through the apartment, entering the bedroom. I can vaguely see the  fire climbing up the wall, burning everything in its path. Soon it hits the lightbulb. The fire switch off the bedroom light.

Writer: P. C.


Entry Writchal #2
Tema: High School Romance



The citizen of Malfesan City hurries inside their homes as the biggest storm of the year arrived once more. It’s not an actual storm, but something so powerful that it will determine  everyone’s future. The sky goes dark and the bellringers start shouting. 

“Prepare for the first day of autumn. The High Day has come again!” 

The bellringers keep shouting as they pass every single home in the city, from the honorable  Top Row, through the industrious Middle Row, and end at the dreaded Bottom Row. Some might  say the High Day is the best day of their life. But to some, it’s a living nightmare. 

“This is very bad. I forget that the High Day is almost here again,” says a disgruntled  middle-aged woman. 

A maid comes to wipe the woman’s sweat. “What happened at High Day?” “I forgot that you’re new to this city. It’s the day that the High School of the Top Row will  send invitations to their school.” 

“What’s so terrifying about that?” 

The woman keeps fidgeting with her fingers, walking back and forth in the living room.  “You don’t know how awful that school is. It’s a school for future assassins that’ll work for the  Top Row. Only a few managed to get accepted inside and even less managed to get out of there  alive. I’m very worried that my daughter will get invited there.” 

“Can’t you just refuse the invitation?” asks the maid, following her. 

“You can, but with a great price. The High School is the most honorable school in this city.  The price of denying their invitation will cost a fortune. Even as a Middle Rower, I’ll be forced to  move to the Bottom Row if I have to pay that much of a fine.” 

“And what happen to those who can’t pay it?” 

The woman sighs. “The teen will be killed.” 

The maid is petrified, she stares in unbelief of what the woman says. “But why is that law  even allowed here?” 

“I don’t know. The law is made by the Malfesan City Council. Every single one of its  members are a Top Rower. I don’t know what happens up there.” 

The woman looks at her and then turn her back, staring outside of the window. She looks  at the tram station that connects all three rows of the city then stares at the huge High School above the mountain, just located slightly above the High Row. The school is made out of black stones of  the mountain that it’s built on. A few lamp shines dimly at school’s steel gate. “What’s that crater beside the mountain, Madam?” asked the maid. 

“That’s what’s left of this city’s war before my husband and his friend sacrificed their life  for the peace of this city.” 

The maid looks down. “I’m sorry for your loss.” 

“I’m just worried that I would lose my daughter, like my husband,” says the woman,  tapping the window frame. 

“Don’t worry, Madam. I’m sure this family will be just fine at High Day.” “Thank you for the positive words, I really needed that,” says the woman. “There’s only a  few minutes until midnight. Let’s hope the High School will ignore this family.” The woman talks to herself. C’mon, Margaret. Have hope in yourself. Nothing will ruin  this family. 

Margaret sits on a sofa, looking at an antique grand clock. She blankly stares at the moving  pendulum while tapping her hands. The clock hand keeps ticking until it hits midnight.  Suddenly all light in the city turns off. There’s ruckus from the streets. The High School is  sending all the invitation now. Not long after, all the lights turn on again and the ruckus are gone.  It’s dead silent now. 

“Madam.” says the maid shaking. 

The woman looks at her and suddenly went pale as soon as she saw something changes in  her house. There’s an unknown mail on top of a table. 

“No, no, no…, that can’t be the invitation mail,” stuttered the woman. 

The maid walks closer to Margaret with fear. “Should I bring it to you, Madam?” The woman nods slowly then rested her head on the sofa. The maid picks up the mail and  give it to the woman’s cold palm. Margaret sighs as she saw the High School’s stamp on the mail. “Oh, how could this happen to me? Why did fate have to choose my family?” complains Margaret. 

“So what do we do now, Madam?” asks the maid. 

Margaret looks down. “I have no other choice than paying the fine.” 

“But that would mean…”

“Yes. I must sell this house, fire you, and move to the Bottom Row. I’m really sorry but I  have to do this. I won’t let my daughter to go to that place.” 

The maid looks down. “It’s okay, I understand.” 

“Would you mind getting this letter far away from me?” 

“Sure, Madam.” 

The maid was just about to throw away the letter when she hears something from the door. “Mom, what is that?” 

Margaret gasps and quickly looks at the door. There stands Sam, her daughter in a red  dress. The maid instantly hides the letter behind her back. 

“Why are you here, young lady? Aren’t you supposed to be asleep?” asks the mother with  a straight face, trying to hold her demeanor. 

Sam looks unimpressed. “It’s the High School invitation, isn’t it?” 

“I will not let you to go to that school. It’s a school for bloody assassins. Your life is always  at stake. Why don’t you think of that?” 

Sam walks forward. “We live at stake every day as a Middle Rower. One day we’re  enjoying the drinks, the next day we’re gone to the Bottom Row. If I succeeded on that school, we  could live in the High Row where everything is safe.” 

“We’re not at stake. We’re save here.” 

“It’s only an illusion of safety. Every day, people are being killed mysteriously. That killing  didn’t happen in the Top Row. I want to save this family, like my father who saved this city from  the ongoing war,” says Sam angrily. 

Margaret raises her voice. “You will stay here no matter what. I’m not letting you to  become an assassin. You’ll be dead if you go there.” 

“Then if you rejected that invitation, we would live in poverty in Bottom Row. Isn’t that  the same as losing our live? There’s more murder down there,” says Sam while still walking. “Such impudence! Go back to your room right now!” says Margaret loudly, pointing at the  opened door. 

Sam stops walking. “No.” 

“This is the last warning, young lady. Go back to your room,” threatens Margaret. Sam glances at her surrounding then looks back to her mother. “Sure.”

She snatches the letter from the maid’s hand and get away. She slams the door, running  through the hallway filled with paintings. Margaret and the maid try to chase her but Sam has  already locked herself in her room. 

Margaret repeatedly knocks the door. “Open up and get out, young lady. You’re in a great  trouble.” 

“You told me to go back to my room. I’m in my room now.” 

“Fine then,” says Margaret as she stops knocking. She turns back to the maid, “I want you  to guard this door. Don’t let her get out of this room until next day comes.” “Okay, Madam.” 

Sam overheard the conversation from behind the door then thinks to herself, Why can’t my  mom just understand how I think? It’s much safer in the Top Row. 

From the crack under the door, she sees a shadow of legs standing in front of her bedroom  door. Sam couldn’t get out anymore now. She walks to her paint-stained bed while looking at the  invitation mail. The invitation letter falls out of the mail and lands on her bed sheets. Sam leans  on the wall and starts to read it. 

“No, that can’t be. The acceptance ceremony is in the evening and if I don’t go there, the  High School won’t accept me anymore. That must be why my mom told the maid to stay in front  of my room. This means I must go now. I must be a part of the High Row, for the safety of my  family.” 

Sam looks at her surroundings. There has to be a way out of here. 

She stands up and slams her hand on the window frame. Her brain is fizzing out from  thinking a way out. She looks down, staring at the ground two levels below her, then looks up at  the High School that starts to glow brightly from the inside. Smokes are up in the air as the tram  busily delivers the new High School students. I need to catch one of the trams before it’s too late. 

She looks to her surrounding, looking at the window, multiple canvas drawings in the  corner, then the curtain. I think this is the only way out. 

Sam pulls the curtain out, trying to make as little noise as possible. She keeps looking at  the bedroom door as she keeps pulling until the curtain’s chains are broken. The maid doesn’t  notice anything happening inside. Sam pulls all of the paint-stained curtain and ties it together to  form a rope, connected to the bed’s leg. 

She was about to throw it out the window when there’s somebody walking to her room.

“Sam, I’m sorry that I yelled at—” Margaret stops herself. “What are you doing? Don’t  you dare go out of that window!” 

Sam holds the curtain tight. “Why won’t you understand me? This is for the better of our  family!” 

“You becoming an assassin doesn’t make this family better.” 

“This is the only chance we can live savely on the High Row.” 

“If you go out of that window, then you’re no longer a part of this family,” yells Margaret. “Fine then.” 

Sam throws the curtain out of the window then jumps down. She holds the curtain and  lands on the ground safely. 

Margaret screams from the window. “Get back here!” 

It was too late for Margaret to chase her. Sam’s already halfway to the tram station when  Margaret opens the front door of her house. 

Sam walks through the streets of Middle Row. Lamp shines on the cracked cobble road.  Houses stands tall beside the streets. Every house looks the same except for the wall colors. The  cold winds of the night strike her but Sam is determined to get to the tram station. That night,  everything is just cold and silent. 

“Everybody must’ve left to the High School. Hope there’s a tram still active now.” Sam breathes out a gush of cold air as soon as she hears someone yelling from the tram  station. 

The tram machinist shouts to the air. “Everybody up the last tram of today. Once again,  last call for the new High School student to come aboard.” 

“Wait for me,” yelled Sam. 

“Come quick then, young lady.” 

The tram is filled with people roughly the same age as Sam. She quickly hops onto the tram  and nudges a person with a blue cloak. 

“I’m sorry,” says Sam. 

The person spits. “Damn Middle Rower.” 

The machinist closes the tram’s door and drives the tram up the mountain. Sam stands near  a window and stares outside as the tram goes from the Middle Row to the Top Row. “Studying at the High School will be the best thing that has ever happen to me.”



“The High School invitation!” I say, holding up the letter. “Mom, I did it! Are you proud  of me?” 

My mother smiles with her wrinkly face. “Of course. I’m so happy my son got accepted at  the High School. I’m so proud of you.” 

I smile at her. “I won’t let you down. We can finally get out of this cursed Bottom Row.” “Quickly open the mail. When’s the ceremony date?” 

“It’s this evening. I have to go now.” 

My mother smiles widely. “We should go now. We don’t want to be late to the tram  station.” 

I fold the letter and slip it in my pocket. My mother picks up the only clothes I have—a  torn dirty blue cloak—and gives it to me. I wear it while looking at my home for the last time  before I head to the High School. The scrap metal roof that creeks every night, the thin wood wall  that separates us from the noisy neighbor, and the cracked pipes that always leaks to my bed. I  won’t miss this place once I brought my family to the Top Row. 

My mother smiles as we head outside of our home. From the outside, my house looks like  an unstable stack of woods that could topple at any time. This is the best house my family could  afford in the Bottom Row. Most of Bottom Rower even says that my family is quite fortunate to  get this house. But sadly, this is nothing compared to the houses on the Middle Row, or even better  ones in the Top Row. Maybe in the future, as a Top Rower, I can change the Bottom Row for the  better. Hopefully this wish will come true. 

“Wait I forgot something,” I says. 

“Quickly get it then, we don’t want to be late.” 

I run back to the house and pick up my flute from on top of the broken stool. This is the  only thing my father gave me after he died not long ago. I still visit him sometimes, in a form of a  statue just outside of Malfesan City. Will I even have a chance to meet his statue once I’m in the  High School? 

I run out of the house and closes the door. “I have everything. Do you want me to play  Dad’s favorite song before we go?”

“Don’t waste more time. Quickly now,” says my mother in a hurry. 

My mother keeps saying that I’ll be late to the tram station if I stay here, but I know the  real reason she wants to get away from the house quickly. The biggest problem down here isn’t  drugs or crimes, but tax collectors. Those Middle Rower always finds a way to make our lives  feels like hell. Those money-hungry hounds always find the worst day to make people’s day worse,  including during the High Day. But if my mother and I can get to the Top Row before they do,  then we’ll be safe forever. Those Middle Rower can’t do anything against the Top Row. 

We run through the narrow and disorienting streets of dirt. Beside it, houses are stacked on  top of each other, supported only by fragile wood pillars eaten by termites. Most of the windows  are broken. The woods keep creaking throughout the streets. Everything looks like it could topple  someday. Drug addicts fill the streets with bad odor and smokes. I couldn’t see much ahead  because of the drug’s smoke. 

Suddenly the Bottom Row news teller appears in front of us and stops us. “Yo, Mama  Hostia, why are you running?” 

The news teller is a tall man with a clean-shaven face. He wears a torn brown coat and an  old navy cap. 

“Emori, I can’t stop right now. Alex here got accepted to the High School. We need to go  to the tram station quickly,” says my mother while sweating heavily. Seems like age took a toll on  her body. She wasn’t this weak a few days ago. 

“Slow down there, Hostia. I heard the news that the last tram is going late today because  of a problem so you don’t have to worry.” 

My mother sighs. “Okay then. Do you have any other news today?” 

“Just the usual drug gang wars on the other side of the Bottom Row. Also there’s another  murder on the slaughterhouse near the city outskirts.” 

I talk spontaneously. “Another one?” 

“Yes, Alex. Seems like the serial murderer of the slaughterhouse got another victim. Good  thing it wasn’t us Bottom Rower that became the victim.” 

That murderer can’t seem to rest. Another week, another victim. But it’s just another day  in this crime-filled city. A murder a week is nothing compares to the other problem this city has. “Well, goodbye then, Hostia. I will always be here if you need me,” says the news teller.

“Thank you, Emori. I will visit you, but I must go now,” smiles my mother. “Let’s not  waste any more time.” 

We continue running through the streets, turning left and right through shortcuts to get to  the tram station as fast as possible. My mother tries to keep up, but she looks very tired. “We’re almost there, Mom. Just a few more corners,” I say, holding my mother’s hand. We turn to another shortcut but the path is blocked by someone. All of my happiness is  suddenly gone. It’s a woman dressed in formal clothing accompanied by two muscular brutes  armed with bat. 

“Well, well, well. I wouldn’t guess I would meet you two here,” says her while smirking. I stare at her seriously. “Trija, I’m definitely happy to see you here.” 

“Well, why are you here? I’m quite sure it’s not to pay the tax, right? Do you get accepted  at High School? Nah, that can’t be. You’re just a poor boy in the Bottom Row. How sad,” mocks  her. 

“My business is my business. Now, get out of the way,” I say loudly. 

“I’m afraid I can’t. You two haven’t pay the last tax. Well, you better pay up or you two  will be in miseries,” smiles Trija. 

“I’m already living in miseries down here. Mom, take my flute and go to the tram station  without me. I’ll handle this,” I say while handing my flute. 

My mother takes it. “Take care, my son.” 

She runs as quickly as she could, going to the tram station on another street. Behind the  fragile walls of the stacked houses, I still could hear my flute singing in the distance. I take a stance. “Now there’s only me. Let’s start it already.” 

Trija smiled. “As you wish.” 

She waves her hand forward. The brutes run to me but I’m very ready to fight them again.  I won’t let them beat me like the last time. The first brute swings his bat. I dodge it and  counterattack with a punch to the arm. Shit, I didn’t hit his face. 

The second brute punches and hit me in the guts. I elbow his jaw and he falls down. The  first brute hit me in the back. I fell and hit the ground hard. Beside me, the second brute is fainted.  I pick up his bat and swing it to the first brute’s shin. He screams as I hit him in the face. His body  fell to the ground. 

I spit out the blood from my bleeding gum. “Guess, there’s only the two of us, Trija.”

She backs up slowly. “Wait, we can talk about thi—” 

I rush to her and punch her in the face. “Now you’re the one in miseries.” 

I drop the bat and run to the tram station. In front of the rusty tram station, my mother is  standing anxiously. She’s not smiling when she sees me. Something is wrong. “Mom, let’s ride the tram. The brutes are not going to pass out for long.” 

My mother shakes her head. “I’m sorry, Alex. You must go alone.” 

“What? Why?” asks me surprised. 

A tram machinist comes to me. “Only a person with permit can get inside the tram. That  means only a person that have the High School invitation mail that can go to the Top Row.” I look at my mother. “But, that means….” 

“Just go, Alex. The High School is more important for you.” 

“No, I won’t leave my family alone.” 

My mother pushes me. “Just go!” 

I fell into the tram and the door suddenly closes. I quickly stand up and look outside. My  hand is busy knocking on the glass while looking at my mother outside. 

I scream out my lung. “Let me out!” 

“I’m sorry. Once you’re inside the tram, you can’t go out until you reach your destination.  It’s the work protocol,” says the machinist on the control panel. 

I slam the glass once more before I give up. I promised to bring my mother to the High  Row. I didn’t want to leave her at all, not with those tax collectors that’s still down there. They  will hunt her down like hounds. 

From the outside, I could hear my mother whispers to me. “Goodbye, my son. I love you.” The tram starts moving. Now I know there’s no way back to my family, except if I survive  the High School. I keep staring at my mother who watches me from below. Then, from one of the  streets, I saw one of the brutes running with a bat in his arms. I keep knocking on the tram’s  window but my mother won’t realize that he’s there. 


The tram keeps going up and moves behind the stacks of building. I didn’t get to see what  happens down there. I just stand there, staring at the blank background, remembering the Bottom  Row where I live since I was born. Why must I leave my mother at the worst time possible?

I keep staring at the window as the landscape changes from the murky view to an organized  neighborhood. There stand rows of houses with the same style. Lamps lit up the streets made of  stone. On the outskirts, I could see a bunch of factories that spews out smoke and waste. This must  be the Middle Row. This place looks way better than I thought. 

The tram stops at the next station and picks up a few Middle Rower. Then, there’s silence  throughout the streets. The Middle Row is way more silent than the Bottom Row. Must’ve been a blessing to live here. 

The tram was about to leave again when a girl with red dress runs to the streets. She hops  to the tram and hit me.  

“I’m sorry,” says the girl 

I spit to the floor. “Damn Middle Rower.” 

She then just stands near the window and stares outside. Middle Rower are worse than I  thought. Can’t fight, can’t do anything right, yet they control the factories and ruin the lives of  Bottom Rower. What a bunch of hypocrites. 

The tram starts moving again, this time faster. Up above, I could see rows of tall modern  buildings with the same style, same colour, same decoration. Everything in the Top Row seems so  monotone, so perfect, so boring looking. The tram goes past it and arrives at a tram station near  the High School. 

The High School stands tall against the mountain peak. The walls of black stones filled  with carvings of many people throughout history. Lamps glow brightly from behind the golden  curtains. The huge metal entrance door opens with its might. the door hides a huge hallway filled  with lamps and carpets. Golden cloth decorates the entire ceiling. Paintings and Statues fills the  hallway’s side. Music echoes through the hallway, filling my ear with beautiful notes that I’ve never heard before. 

I follow the carpet and arrive at the grand hall. It’s full of other people like me. Row of  tables are set. The smell of foods fills the air from inside metal containers. On the other side, there’s  a huge stage with golden curtains covering it. 

Speakers start speaking from each corner of the room. “Everybody please takes a seat. The  opening ceremony will start soon.” 

I took a chair in the middle of the room and look at the stage. The curtains open and reveals  the headmaster of this school dressed in a red robe. I’ve seen him multiple times from in the newspaper, the mysterious headmaster that’s also a member of the Malfesan City Council. Nobody  ever knows the reason he created this school or how this school become so popular so quickly. The headmaster picks up a microphone and taps it a few times. “Welcome my beloved  students to High School. I’m glad we could gather here this evening with a bountiful food that’s  been prepared for you all.” 

Everyone seems busy talking to one another. 

The headmaster continues his speech. “My name is Headmaster Fideli. Here in High  School, we value those who have loyalty, teamwork, and most importantly passion. Everyone will  be assigned to different sector of the school based on your hobbies that we have evaluated before.  There’s the Visual Art Sector, Music Sector, Literature Sector, Crafter Sector, and Performance  Sector. On every sector, there will be dorms that’s filled by two people each, no more, no less.  Now, let’s enjoy a performance from your seniors while we eat.” 

The headmaster walks down the stage with cheers from the other students. A drama starts  on the stage as the metal containers opens. There’s a lot of delicious-looking food, from the grilled  meat to the fried foods. I instantly took most of them and starts eating. Man, I haven’t eaten a food  as delicious as this since I was born. These Top Rower live like in heaven. I can’t wait to be a part  of the music sector and enjoy everything here. 

There’s a few more performance after most of the students finished eating, a few group  bands, dances, and poetry between those performances. After all of that is finished, a group of  people enters the room. They wore the exact robe the headmaster wore except that it’s white. They  give a piece of paper to everyone in the room. One of them gives me a piece of paper and I quickly  open it up. 

“Dorm room 555.” 

The speakers start speaking again. “Everyone, after you got your dorm number, please  leave the hall and go to your own dorms. Everyone is free to do anything for the rest of the day.” Everyone swarms the hall door. There’s lots of chattering and footsteps from the hallway.  I still sit on the table, waiting until the hallway is not crowded anymore.  

A few minutes pass and the hallway seems empty enough. There are a few students in the  hall when I leave. I hold my flute tight as I follow the directions on the wall. There are still students  talking in the hallway. A group of fancy-dressed Top Rower laughs at everything they could see. “Look, there’s a Bottom Rower.”

“Look at how awful that cloak is. Where do you think he got that from?” 

“The worst place at the Bottom Row, duh.” 

“How many drugs do you think he used down there?” 

“Isn’t drugs illegal here. He should just be kicked out.” 

I walk past them without saying anything. I need to hold my rage and use it when it’s  needed. Those weak Top Rower got nothing against me. I will prove it when the battle here starts.  I walk through several hallways and finally find my dorm room. Room 555, exactly as written in  this paper. I can’t wait to finally meet somebody else from the music sector. We will have lots of  fun together. 

I open the door and find somebody is already inside. She smiles to me with her bright red  dress while sitting on one of the beds. That dress seems familiar. 

“Hi, there. Are you my roommate?” asks her. 

“Room 555, right?” 

“Yes. My name is Sam. What’s yours?” 

“I’m Alex. Nice to meet you,” I say as I look at the modern dorm room. “It’s a nice room,  isn’t it?” 

“It really is. I don’t have this amazing of a room in the Middle Row.” 

“Middle Row? I came from the Bottom Row.” 

“Oh, that’s interesting,” says her unsure. “What it’s like down there?” 


Sam is fidgeting her fingers. “Oh, okay….” 

I throw myself on top of the bed and stare at the golden ceiling. “Can’t wait to play music  with you.” 

Sam stands up. “Music? I can’t play any musical instrument. I can’t even sing.” Wait, that couldn’t be right. This is supposed to be the music sector. Something is not right. I instantly stand up too. “You can’t play any music? This is the room 555, right?” “Yes this is room 555, exactly as what’s written in my paper.” 

“Then what sector are you from?” 

Sam speaks softly. “The Visual Art Sector.”



“We’re from different sectors. We weren’t supposed to be in the same dorm room,” I say loudly to the headmaster at his office. 

Alex slams the headmaster’s table. “I won’t accept this mistake!” 

Headmaster Fideli crosses his arms. “There’s no mistake in this school, except for those that the students made. You two are in the same dorm room because there’s an odd number of  students in the Visual Art and Music Sector.” 

I sit back while Alex keeps debating with the headmaster. This room doesn’t feel like a  normal headmaster’s office. There are weapons on the wall. The shelf behind Headmaster Fideli  is filled with random items that doesn’t make any sense to be here. There’s a sheep figurine, a fake  brain inside a jar, and even a black straw doll. Some people do say that Headmaster Fideli is quite  eccentric, but I didn’t know how weird he actually is. 

Alex slams the table and stands up. “I don’t want to be in that dorm, no matter what.” The headmaster crosses his fingers. “Well, if you don’t accept this situation, then I could  just expel you and force you two to pay the fine.” 

Silence strikes the room. Alex looks surprised and then sits again. If I don’t accept my  situation, then I’ll have to pay my fine by my own since I’m no longer a part of my mother’s  family. I have no choice but to stay here, but my choice won’t matter if Alex still insist on leaving  this school. He’s so stoneheaded, maybe I could plead him to stay. 

I was just about to open my mouth when Alex starts speaking again. 

“Fine, I’ll stay here.” says Alex. 

I would never have guessed that he would agree to stay here. Alex do seem very hesitant about that choice. He doesn’t even look at the headmaster again once he says it. “Wise choice,” says Headmaster Fideli. “Now, kindly leave, I have other things to do.” Alex storms off to the door and disappear to the branching hallways. I walks outside,  glancing at the headmaster that’s sorting out files. Why do I have to suffer on my first day here? What does headmaster Fideli choose me of all people to be in the same dorm with Alex? Alex even  comes from a different row than me. All of the other people I ask is with someone from the same  sector. Why can’t I?

From behind the dorm room, I could hear a faint sound of flute whistling. I open it only to  find Alex is already there, playing his flute under the moonlight from the window. “Why are you playing that? It’s already night. You’re going to wake up everyone else.” He shrugs. “I’m just bored.” 

“Well, you better stop. It’s time to sleep.” 

“Fine!” scream Alex as he puts down the flute. 

I walk to my bed and lay down, staring at the ceiling. I rest my arm on the smooth bed  sheet and breath calmly. Alex stands up and walk to the light switch. 

“What are you doing?” I asked. 

“Turning off the light switch, duh. You say that I should sleep.” 

“Well, sleep. Not turn off the light.” 

“Oh what’s wrong with turning off the light? Are you scared of the dark, Middle Rower?  Well, I’m sorry that you Middle Rower sleep with lights on,” mocks Alex as he turns off the lights. “Why do you need to turn the lights off? Is it because you Bottom Rower always live in  the dark?” 

Alex seems offended by what I just say. He lays on the bed and stare at the wall. I close  my eyes and think of all of the happy memories I have to help me sleep. I’m not used to sleeping  in the dark before. Then, I hear Alex whistling beside me. It’s the same note as when he played  the flute before. 

“You can have the lights off, but could you shut up? I’m trying to sleep” 

“Fine!” says Alex slamming his head under the pillow. 

I face the other wall. What an awful day this has been. I mean, this is only the beginning,  right? How badly can this go. 


Tomorrow comes fast. The sun is already shining bright in the east when I open my eyes. The speaker in the hallways sings a tune that wakes everyone up. 

The speaker stops playing the tune. “Every new student, go to your own sector’s hall and  wait for the next instruction.”

Alex storms out of the dorm room, bringing only his flute. I stand up from the bed and  follows the group of students in the hallway. Everyone is wearing unique clothes, from the rough clothes of the Bottom Row to the fancy robe of the High Row, but they all are excited for what  will happen today. I can’t wait to see what this school have to offer me today. 

I follow the direction on the wall with curiosity, entering the Visual Art Hall with  happiness. A lone podium stood inside rings of gilded chairs. The ceiling is painted with realistic  paintings of divine beings. A teacher in white robe stands alone in the heart of the podium. 

“Welcome everyone. Please take a seat,” says the teacher with a welcoming face. Everyone rushes to sit in the front row. I walk slowly and take a seat in the middle. When  everyone is inside, all light goes dark and the hall door is closed. A beam of light shines from the  ceiling onto the teacher. 

“Welcome to the visual art sector. I’m Purla and I will be your mentor here. Let’s enjoy a  little show before we do anything.” 

Several screens come up from the side of the stage and starts playing an animation. It’s a  story about a High School student that just got accepted. He picks up a brush and starts painting.  Stroke after stroke, the paint turns redder. The paint turns into blood splotches. The brush turns  into dagger then there’s murder everywhere. At the end, there’s only that student left on screen,  everywhere else is drowned in red.  

The screens go down and Purla is still standing on the podium. “It seems that most of you  are shocked even though you shouldn’t be at this point. I’m disappointed.” Everyone goes silent. The hall now only echoes of the teacher’s voice. Now, she doesn’t  sound as welcoming as she was a few minutes ago. 

Purla sighs. “Turn the lights back on.” 

The lights go back on automatically. Everyone is looking down. I too don’t have enough  courage to look at Purla. 

“This is the High School. Everyone inside is taught on transferring our passion into perfect  assassins. Murder is like a measly bug here. You all should know on how to prepare for this school  before you even think on entering this place.” 

The room feels uncomfortable. Everyone is tense and so is Purla. 

“I think we have an understanding here,” says Purla. “Bring out the supplies!”

Several people with the same white robe as Purla barges in front the door. They each brings  a platter of different art supplies. The teachers stand circling the podium. 

Purla jumps down the podium. “Now, I want everyone to pick your passion so I can know  you better. Then, you can go to the arena to do your next program for today. Let’s start from the  front.” 

The first person walks shyly to the ring of people and chooses a brush. He then goes to the door, following signs on the wall. The second one rushes to the circle and hold proudly a pencil.  Everyone then goes one by one until it’s my turn. I choose the brush and walk out before anyone  else sees me. I enter the arena and wait there like the others. 

The arena reeks the smell of sweat and blood. There’s even a fresh blood stain on the wall  next to me. There are racks filled with melee weapons on the side. Purla is waiting in the middle  of the arena once every Visual Art student enters the arena. Then comes more student from the  other sectors with their teachers. 

As soon as the last student takes a seat, five teachers shout in the middle of the arena. Purla  is one of them. There’s no way to differentiate what sectors they’re from because they’re wearing  the same robe. 

“This is the arena. This is the only place where violence is not prohibited,” says a teacher  with a melodious voice. 

“At the end of each semester, there will be a battle here. You will fight together with your  dorm roommate and battle to find out who shall stay in this school. Those who loses will be killed,  if you didn’t get killed in the battle that is,” says another teacher. 

Purla steps forward. “There will be a battle tomorrow to test out your starting skills. Don’t  worry, there will be no killing tomorrow. Now, everyone can go back to their own dorm room.  Your supplies and battle equipment are already waiting. There will be a training dagger and  uniforms. We’ll be here if anybody wants to train for tomorrow.” 

Everyone storms off the arena, making a ruckus on the hallway. I stay back, waiting for  Purla to stop talking to the other teachers. The arena is quiet and there’s only a few people left on  the hallway. Purla stops talking to the other teacher and sees me, inviting me to come. 

“Start talking, lady. You look like someone who’s really eager to ask something,” says  Purla.

I walk to her. “Well, I want to ask more about the training here. Why is there no long ranged weapons here?” 

“How did you not know about the rules of Malfesan City? Long-ranged weapons are  banned in this city. Even as assassins, we have honor to follow that rule,” says Purla proudly. “Is  there any more question?” 

“I have no more question.” 

“Then go and open up your equipments. Don’t forget to prepare for the battle tomorrow.” Purla walks away from me and start setting up training dummies with the other teachers. I  leave the arena and run to my dorm. When I go inside, there’s a box with my name on my bed. Alex is there too. he must have opened his box because I don’t see it anywhere. I quickly open my  box and sees the art supplies I like and battle equipment inside. I take it and swiftly wear the  uniform. The training dagger shines dimly under the room light. I can’t wait to start training with  this weapon

Alex starts playing his flute again, leaning back at the wall. 

“Why aren’t you training? We have a battle tomorrow. Do you want us to lose?” “Well, unlike you fancy Middle Rower, I live in the Bottom Row where fighting is a  necessary to live.” 

“Okay then. But if we lose, I won’t forgive you.” 

He looks at me seriously. “I won’t lose anymore.” 

I leave him alone and head to the arena. The arena is already filled with students training  under the teacher’s guidance. On the other side of it, I can see Purla watching over the students. I  walk past everyone and comes to her. 

“Look who’s back here again. What is it, lady?” asks her with a welcoming voice. “I want to be trained. I want to be the best assassin here.” 

“Very optimistic, that’s good. Okay then, I’ll teach you.” 

I train as hard as I can under Purla’s guidance. She teaches me so many fighting techniques.  When the dawn came, I trained by myself on a dummy. hours of hard work have made my body  exhausted and I lose my guard. I fell to the ground, accidentally scraping my knee with my dagger. The few people left in the arena stare at me. I quickly take my dagger and walk back to my dorm  room. 

I barge right in and lay on my bed. Beside me, Alex is still playing his flute.

“Look who’s hurt themselves in training. Looks like we will lose tomorrow’s battle  because of you,” mocks Alex. 

“Could you at least shut up,” I say as I try to find a bandage inside the box. “Hurry up and cover your wound then. It’s already time to sleep.” 

“I can’t even calm myself down by painting for a bit?” 

“Not a chance.” 

Alex turns off the lights as soon as I finished covering my wound. He hums again but  quickly shuts himself. I spend the rest of the night in silence. 


“Wake up and prepare yourselves. Today is battle day,” says the speaker not far from my  room. 

I and Alex quickly rush to the arena that’s already half full. The battlefield seems different.  There’s barrels and boxes scattered everywhere. A teacher stands in the middle, watching as every  student enters the arena. 

“Welcome again everyone, “ says her. “For today’s battle, everyone must fight another pair  that’s randomly chosen. The battle will only stop if one person surrenders. Understandable?” Everyone nods their heads without saying anything. 

“Good, let the battle begin.” 

The teacher goes off the battlefield. A screen pops up, showing the first two pair that’s  going to battle. The two pair steps down to the battlefield and fights awkwardly. Neither of each team seems competent at attacking. One by one the students fight until it’s my turn to battle. 

I and Alex steps down to the battlefield as I watches my enemies. They seem fierce. This  won’t be an easy battle for me, especially with the wound I got yesterday. The battle starts and I quickly hide behind one of the barrels. Alex is standing in the open  alone. 

“What are you doing? We need to hide and make a strategy first,” screams I. Alex shrugs and drops his dagger. “That’s too slow.” 

He runs towards the enemies and punches them in the face. They attack back but Alex  manages to dodge half of it. I walk to the side of the battlefield, hiding behind the boxes. Alex almost gets knock out by one of the enemies. Then he punches the enemy and knocks him out.  With one of them petrified, I strike from the back and cuts his leg. He manages to cut my leg too  but he soon pleads to surrender and my battle ended. 

I grasp Alex’s arm and brings him outside of the arena. “We need to talk.” “About what? About how useless you are in that battle?” 

“Well, we should’ve made a strategy first so you wouldn’t call me useless.” Alex looks away from me. “Strategy is useless in the battlefield. It’s all about instinct and  adaptation to the enemy.” 

“Look at what your instinct does to us. You almost get beaten and I get hurt.” He looks back at me. “Well, we won, right?” 

“Yes, but we wouldn’t be hurt this bad if you listen to my plan first.” 

“Why are you always so slow in the midst of battle?” 

“Why are you so brash about everything? Are you that careless to everyone?” Then there’s a silence between us, broken only by cheering from inside the arena. Another  students must have won. 

“I’m done here,” says Alex while walking away from the arena. 

“Why are you leaving? There’s rules here you know. We must follow the schedule.” He shrugs. “Who cares.” 

“So you’re just going to leave me alone in the arena?” 

Alex looks back at me. He frowns his forehead, trying to look intimidating. “I will always  leave you every chance I got. Goodbye, enemy.”



Snowflakes has stopped falling behind my room’s windows. The snow is already starting  to melt today. I remember the chill wind of winter that seeps inside, but that’s nothing against the  heat that made me angry all the time. 

Sam is complaining to me again. “This is almost the end of the semester and you never  trained in the arena. We were almost beaten in the beginning battle. Do you know how much better  the other rivals are now?” 

I lay on my bed, putting my flute down. “How good can those fancy Top and Middle Rower  can be? I will win this fight for us.” 

“Would you at least listen to my plan this time?” 

“Keep talking about your plans even though you know nothing of what the battlefield will  look like now. All we need is quick adaptation.” 

“And how quickly can you adapt to disadvantageous situation?” 

“I live in the Bottom Row. I will adapt no matter what. We will win.” 

Sam sighs. “We need a miracle to win this battle if you keep doing this. I don’t want to  lose my life just because of your stupidity.” 

“Says the one who can’t stab people properly.” 

She looks pissed. “Fine then. I’ll go to the arena now. But if we lose, I will hunt you down  in the afterlife.” 

Sam leaves the dorm, slamming the door. I look away from it and pick up my flute again.  “Middle Rowers. Always talking but can’t do any shit that’s meaningful.” 

I start to play my flute again, whistling songs to calm myself down. I miss the time when I  don’t have to deal with this shit. My head still holds the memory of when I and my mother still  spend time together, when I visit the statue of my father not far from the city side. But I must stay  strong here. I will win this battle and be the best assassin to save my mother from the Bottom Row.  It’s sad that I can’t visit her now. No one can escape from the High School, but I might know a  way to visit my father’s statue again. I just can’t do it now, there’s a battle that I must win.  

I play my flute while walking to the arena. The arena is almost full when I arrived. Something has changed, the battlefield is shrouded in mist. I can’t even see anything inside it.  What kind of battle that’s going to happen today? 

When all the students are already sitting, a spotlight lights up, shining on Canya, my teacher  of the Music Sector. She stands proudly on a podium with her white robe.

“Welcome everyone,” she says with a melodious voice. “Today is battle day. Soon, you’ll  know if you fit in this school or in a coffin. The rule for today is the same. Your team loses even  if one person surrenders. But if you lose and you’re not dead yet, you’ll be executed. Please, do  your best today.” 

Another teacher walks to the spotlight. “Today’s battle is themed around sneaking and  using all of your senses. The battleground is filled with thick mist. You only have about one meter  of vision radius. Good luck everyone and do your best.” 

I can feel dread spreading through the other students. I don’t know the battle is going to be  like this. Why is this battle not the same as the battle at the start of the semester? I’m not ready  for this kind of battle. I can’t sneak around. 

I couldn’t see anything on the inside of the battleground. Two pairs of students come in,  there’s screaming inside, then only a pair comes out. The students who surrenders are put to a  room next to the arena. I can only guess what will happen to them. Soon, it is my turn to fight. 

Canya calls out my name. I and Sam goes down and enters the battlefield. There’re so little  things that I could see. How can I fight in this situation? 

The battle bell rings. I swiftly move to the side, hiding behind a box, aiming my dagger to  the unknown mist. From afar, I can hear footsteps moving behind the mist. They move quickly as  I walk around the battlefield. There’s a bang then the sound of footsteps moves faster. Daggers are  clanging from the other side of the battlefield, that must be Sam. Where’s the other enemy? 

Someone steps from the mist and attacks me. I dodge the first attack but she manages to  slice my legs on the second attack. I retreat to the mist, holding tight my dagger. She attacks me  again. I try to counterattack and manage to scrape her arm, but she cuts the side of my stomach.  Blood seeps out of my shirt. Shit, I will bleed to death if this continues. I’ll die no matter what, so  it’s better to surrender just to get a little more time being alive. I’m sorry Mom. 

“I surrender!” screams I. 

The battle bell rings again. Canya finds me and pulls me to the room next door. Sam is  with her too. Inside the room, I see all of the student that surrenders today. Everyone is sitting  alone, waiting for their time to end. 

“Thank you so much for the help, Idiot. Now we’re going to die because of you,” says  Sam. 

“Yeah, sorry about that.” 

“Oh now you’re sorry. That’s a great news at the perfect time,” says Sam pissed. She sits  on the floor, looking down. “It’s too late now. There’s nothing that we could change.” 

I sit next to her. “I’m really sorry, Sam. Maybe you have some words that are right.” She looks at me while slightly moving away. “Some?” 

“Yeah, some words.”

“You never learned anything do you?” says her while looking away. 

Canya barges in. “Alex and Sam, come out of this room.” 

“What is it, teacher Canya?” I ask. 

“You two didn’t lose the battle,” says her while she closes the room. 

“But how?” asks Sam. 

Sam’s teacher comes from the other room. “The other pair has been caught to be cheating  and breaking the law. By that, they are disqualified and you two are safe.” 

Sam walks to her. “Is that why I hear a bang, teacher Purla?” 

“Good observation. Yes, they use a long-range weapon. You two should already know that  it’s illegal to use those kinds of weapons.” 

Canya talks to me. “It’s a very rare occurrence that this happens. I think you two now  knows how hard it is to fight against other students, some you can even call rivals. If you two  keeps fighting against each other, you two will fail on the next battle.” 

Purla steps forward. “There won’t be another miracle for you two. Learn to understand  each other or else, you two will be dead next time. Now, go back to your dorm and talk about this. I have to watch over the next battle.” 

Canya and Purla enters the arena, leaving the two of us behind outside. 

All of this is too overbearing for me. My head start to spin and my heart is beating fast. I  need to calm myself down. There’s only one place that could calm myself. I walk from Sam, to a  place that I will never forget. 

“Hey, Alex, the dorm is this way. Where are you going?” asks Sam 

“Somewhere to calm me down.”



“Why is he so stone-headed all the time? Now I almost lose because he surrenders,” I says  while walking to my dorm. 

I bash the door and jump to my bed. I throw off my shoes then stare at the ceiling. My head  is fizzing out. It’s heating up every second I remember what just happen in the arena. I pick up my  canvas and brush, then start to draw. Only one stroke drawn and I can’t focus anymore. Out of  anger, I throw the canvas and stares at it blankly. What is happening to me? I need to calm myself  down or else I’m going to destroy everything here. Well, there’s only one place where I can calm  myself down. 

Just outside of the city, there’s two statue of people who save this city from destruction.  One of them is my father. Whenever I’m at that place, I feel calmness and happiness. But to go  there, I must go down to the Middle Row and walk outside the city barrier. I used to use my  mother’s money to pay the guards to allow me to go there. Maybe now I can use my assassin skills  to beat them. 

“I must go there, even if I have to break a little rule.” 

I rush out of my room, leaving my student uniform behind. The hallway is empty and  completely silent. The teachers must’ve been still preoccupied by the battle. It’s a good thing I  get to go out of the arena early. I open the school gate slowly and run towards the tram station. 

The tram machinist stops me. “Hey, stop there, lady. Why are you here?” 

“I’m told to pick up school supplies from the Middle Row.” 

“The school supplies are usually picked up at the Top Row. What’s with the change?” “The school wants to get it straight from the factories. It’s cheaper that way,” I argue. 

“Huh, even Top Rower still tries to get the cheapest price. Okay then, hop in,” says the  machinist, opening the tram door. 

I walk in and closes the door. The machinist turns on the machine and the tram moves  downward. 

The machinist talks again. “I feel save to finally get a sane person as a passenger today.” “What happened?” 

“A huge dude comes to me and beats me up. He told me that we’ll beat me up if I don’t  send him to the Middle Row. With how he acts, he fits to be in the Bottom Row, not the Middle  Row.” 

“That sucks for you. I hope you’re okay.”

“It’s fine. I get threatened everyday whenever I get to the Bottom Row. It’s a usual  occurrence if you work this job,” says the machinist. He steers the tram and stops at the Middle  Row. “There you go, the Middle Row.” 

“Thank you once again for your help.” 

He leaves the station as there’s no other passenger in the tram station Now, I’m in the  Middle Row. I can’t visit my mother because I’m no longer a part of her family. I no longer have  a home here. My memory of the path to the statues is vague, but I can still recall some of the streets  I have to go through. Some people stare at me while I walk to the gate. Must’ve been because of  my clothes that I got from the Top Row. I should’ve change to my old clothes before going down  here. 

I lost my way a few times but I manage to get to the city gate. The gate is a big metal door  with reinforced frame surrounded by thick walls, but something is not right. The gate handle is  warm and there’s no guard in sight. I look over the guard’s post and see them all knocked out.  What happened here? 

Outside of the gate, there’s only grass plains and mountains. No snow to be seen as spring  has already starts. No one is found to be alive beyond the walls. Someone from the inside must’ve  caused this. But who will do this? 

I walk beyond the gate and follow a path to my father’s statue. There are footprints here. I  think the person that caused the chaos at the city’s gate is at the two statues. I pull out the dagger  from my skirt and hold it tight in front of me. My feet steps slowly to the statue that’s surrounded  by sand. My father’s statue is chiseled perfectly except for a few mosses growing, meanwhile the  other statue’s face is now missing. When I was a kid, that statue still have its face. 

There’s someone sitting at the bench next to the two statues. I step slowly but he turns his  head. Hold on, that’s— 

“Oh, c’mon. Why can’t I get away from you Middle Rower?” says Alex, punching the  bench. 

“Alex? What are you doing near my father’s statue?” 

He stands up and points at my father’s statue. “That’s your father?” 

I step forward. “Of course he is. What are you doing here?” 

“That’s my father,” says him, pointing at the other statue. 

“Your father is a Malfesan City’s hero too?” 

He sits down again. “Duh, how do you think I manage to have a bearable house in the  Bottom Row?” 

I look down. “I didn’t know that.” 

“Of course you Middle Rower won’t care.”

I look back at the two statues, remembering it’s perfect condition when I was still a kid.  The two statues are a symbol of peace and change, now it’s abandoned outside of the city it saves. I sit on the bench. Alex moves away to the other end. 

“I’m sorry that your father’s statue is missing its face now,” I say. 

Alex looks down. “Now? I’ve never even seen his face on this statue, only from an old  photograph that’s gone now. I miss him sometimes.” 

“I still remember his face. Do you want me to draw his face?” 

He springs up to joy. “You can?” 


I stand up and look around. There’re a few sticks lying around. I pick it up and start to draw  on the sand. Alex stands up from the bench and walks towards me. 

He squats next to me. “How did you do that?” 

“I’m in the Visual Art Sector. I have passion for drawing and painting.” 

“No, I know that. How did you remember the details on his face?” 

I stare at him. “I don’t know. I just let my hand move and it fills all of the detail itself.” “That’s so amazing. I don’t know you could do that.” 

“Well, you never asked.” 

Alex stands up and sits back at the bench. He pulls out his flute and starts playing a tune. I  remember those notes. 

“Alex, is that—” 

“My father’s favorite song,” says we together. 

I sit next to him. 

“Yeah,” says Alex. “It’s the war song about the hardships of our father to reach peace for  this city.” 

“I don’t know it’s you father’s favorite song too.” 

He keeps playing the flute. I get so lost in its melodies that I forgot almost an hour have  passed. We spend time talking about our father and their journey to reach peace. It’s the most fun  I’ve ever had since I get inside the High School. 

Unknowingly, Purla is walking to us. 

“I’ve been searching for you since the last battle finishes. What are you two doing outside  this city?” asks her.

Alex seems nervous but I talk before he could say anything stupid. “We’re just talking.  You told us to understand each other, right?” 

Purla raises her eyebrow. “Well, I guess that’s true. At least there’s a good thing that comes  from your act today, but you two are still getting punished.” 

“For going out of the city?” 

“That and for beating up four city gate guards. You sure have a talent if you manage to  beat them.” 

Alex stands up. “That’s my fault. Don’t blame Sam, she’s not guilty.” 

“Don’t you remember. Everything in the High School must be done in a pair. If one of you  did it, you two must bear the responsibilities that comes afterwards. C’mon now, don’t waste more  time. A punishment is waiting for you two,” says Purla while walking away. 

We follow her, taking the same path back to the High Row. 

While on the way, Alex whispers to me. “Do you want to train together after the  punishment is done?” 

“Sure,” I answer gladly.



Years have passed since the time Purla punishes us to do paperwork for getting out of the  city without permission. I spend more time with Sam, training, talking, even eating together. Our  relationship is getting stronger day by day. We manage to beat every battle with an almost excellent  teamwork. We’re undefeatable. 

Now, it’s the time for the final battle. The heat of summer won’t weaken me today. The  ones who pass will finally be an assassin of Top Row. With this title, I can finally bring my mother  to the Top Row to live here. She will be proud of me and I won’t let her down. 

I look into Sam’s eyes. We wear the same purple clothes. She smiles, moving my head to  the arena. The arena now feels so much emptier than the first time I come here. most of the people  that used to sit here are now dead. It feels haunting to sit in this arena, knowing that thousands of  people died fighting in the battlefield. There’re only a few rivals left on the arena. They all sit far  away from each other, whispering in their pair’s ear. With the amount of people left, there should  be only eight pairs of people left that will be an assassin. 

Canya stands on the arena. “Welcome my beloved students to the final battle. If you  manage to reach this point, that means you’re the best students on this school. It’ll be sad to see  half of you die today, but the High School only takes the best from the best.” 

Purla stands next to her. “Good luck everyone. Let fate brings you to victory. Let’s start  the battle.” 

The list of names appears from a screen. I and Sam will be the last pair to fight. This will  be interesting. We watch the closed battlefield when the first two pairs come in. There’s nothing I  could see beyond this cover. Seems like the teachers don’t want us to know anything about the  battlefield today. 

“Are you worried?” asks Sam. 

“No. I’ve trained together with you. We’re undefeatable as long as we stay together.” “Glad to hear that. Don’t be the same idiot that surrenders years ago.” 

I laugh with her. “And you don’t be useless like the first battle we did together.” She laughs louder. “I promise I won’t.” 

A few battles past. This time, there’s no one that surrenders. There’s only corpses and blood  that comes out of the battlefield. The victor goes back to their seat, looking at everyone else. Now  it’s time for me to fight in the battlefield.  

Sam nudges me. “You ready?”

“Exactly as you planned. I will meet you in the battlefield and we’ll make a plan together.” “Now you understand. Let’s fight our best down there,” says her smiling. 


The teachers put a blindfold for me and guides me until I’m inside the battlefield. I couldn’t  hear anyone, not even Sam’s voice. What’s inside this battlefield? 

The battle bell rings. I quickly opens my blindfold and find metal walls everywhere I could  see. My dagger stands steady in my grip, pointing at the endless walls of steel. Is this a maze? 

I swift through the maze, searching for the enemy. This time, there’s no mercy for them.  My grip strengthens every step I take. I haven’t seen anyone, not even Sam. Everyone is so silent.  No one wants to reveal their position. My arm hair is tingling from the unknown presence of the  others. Where are everyone? 

“Alex! Help me.” 

That’s Sam’s voice. I run as fast as I could, turning left and right to reach her. There’re  multiple footsteps running towards her too. This isn’t good. 

An enemy blocks my path. She runs to me with a dagger steady in her hands. She lunges  forward and cuts my leg. I manage to counterattack by slicing her in the back. Her movement is  quick, she strikes back and I almost can’t dodge it. I’ll be in trouble if I fight her alone. I need  Sam’s help. 

I run past her and straight to where I hear Sam’s voice. She’s fighting in the corner with  the other enemy. I run and stand next to her. 

“Finally you came,” says her annoyed. 

“Another enemy blocks my path.” 

The enemy I fought comes to the same corner.  

Sam readies her dagger. “Great. Let’s not lose this.” 

The two enemies charge forward. We step away and dodges it. I strike one of the enemy  and Sam attacks the same one. She quickly fell to the ground, dropping her dagger. I fight the other  one but get distracted by the enemy that wakes up again. I clash with the enemy in front of me. He  dashes and slashs, but I protect myself well enough to find his weak spot. I duck and slash upwards,  slicing his neck. His body drops to ground. 

“Alex!” screams Sam from behind me. 

Sam is laying on the ground. Her dagger is thrown away to the side. The other enemy runs  to her. I rush forward, readying my dagger. I leap forward. The enemy looks at me but it was  already too late. I slice her in the stomach. She falls, holding her stomach as blood gushes out to  the stone floor.

Sam is still laying on the ground. “I thought you’re just going to leave me. You know that  I’m capable of beating her alone.” 

“I will never leave you and yeah, I know.” 

I help Sam to stand back up and leave the battlefield as the teachers pick up the dead bodies.  No one cheers as we sit back on our seat.  

Purla steps up to the podium. “Congratulation to everyone here. You’ve come so far.  Please, go to the headmaster room now to sign the contract as a High Row assassin. Welcome to  the family.” 

Everyone rushes to the headmaster’s room while we walk slowly. It’s fun to talk with Sam  while on the way. We have to wait for a few minutes before everyone finishes their turn inside the  headmaster’s room. The headmaster calls our names and we enter the room. 

“Ah, Sam and Alex. You two are very impressive,” says headmaster Fideli. “Thank you, sir,” I say. 

The headmaster crosses his arms. “How do you two have the best teamwork out of all the  other students? Are you two besties?” 

Sam smiles to me while taking a seat. “We’re more than that.” 

“That explains a lot of things,” says the headmaster. He slips up a contract. “With this  contract, you will finally be official assassins.” 

I take a pen and signs it. “Thank you, I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life.  C’mon Sam, you’re so slow.” 

“Fine,” says her before signing it. 

Headmaster Fideli quickly puts the paper back to a drawer beneath his table. “Now, I will  give you your first mission.” 

I look at him. “Wait, we can’t have a holiday? When can I bring my family to the Top  Row?” 

The headmaster looks for a file in a drawer next to him. “You can after you finishes the  first two missions. It’s a standard job requirement.” 

“I see. That makes sense,” says Sam. 

Headmaster Fideli puts down a file filled with papers. “So, this is your first mission.  Assassinate a tax collector that have misused her power. She’s from the Middle Row and she has  no bodyguard. This will be easy for you two.” 

I stand up while taking the file. “That’s great. I’ll go right away. Right, Sam?”

She stands up too. “Yeah. Headmaster Fideli, we won’t disappoint you.” 

He smiles. “I surely hope you won’t. Go now, your future awaits. Don’t forget to pick up  your assassin robe on your way out.”



I and Alex stands in the tram, looking down on the Middle Row, tidying the assassin’s robe  we just got. Trees stands tall and their leaves turns golden as fall have come again.  

“You miss the Middle Row?” asks Alex. 

“Not really.” 

“Why? Isn’t this is your home?” 

I look back from the window. “It used to be my home.” 

“What happened?” 

“I just don’t want to remember it. Could we just don’t talk about this anymore?” Alex looks away from me. “Sure.” 

The tram stops at the station and we get out. The polluted air fills my lungs. This place still smells of factory smoke like the old days. We walk through the empty streets. I look at the mission  file headmaster Fideli gave us and sees at the location. 

Alex peeks at the file but I stop him. “Oh, c’mon. You’re not even going to let me peek  just a little bit?” 

“Sure, after we’re done.” 

Alex smiles. “Being mysterious, eh? I like that.” 

We step into an abandoned neighborhood. There’s trash on side of the streets. The lamps  are broken. Not even a single house window that’s not broken. Behind it stands tall factories that  spews out smoke and waste. 

“Wow, I never thought Middle Row could look this bad. This reminds me of the Bottom  Row,” says Alex walking in front of me. 

“I never thought of it too. I didn’t realize this part of the Middle Row even exist.” “So where’s the place?” 

“Just at the end of that road.” 

We stop next to the house and peek inside. There’s a woman eating alone at the table. Alex  looks weird. I bring him away from the house. 

“That’s the target,” I say. 

“Wait, I think I know her.”

Alex steps back to the window and peeks again. The target looks to the side, showing her  side profile. He almost gasps then quickly walks back to me. “I remember her. She’s Trija, my  family’s tax collector. But if she’s a tax collector, why do she live in a place like this?” 

“That’s not important. What important is that we need to finish this mission.” “That’ll be easy for me.” 

Alex rushes to the door and bashes it down. Trija jumps out of her seat, dropping a spoon  she was holding. I aim my dagger at her. 

“Hello again, Trija. It seems that fate has met us again,” says Alex, gripping his dagger. 

She smiles with hesitation. “Alex, nice to meet you too. That robe, so you’re an assassin  now? And seems like you got yourself a partner. Let me guess, the Top Row is sending you to kill  me?” 

Alex smiles. “Of course. I want to get rid a rat like you.” 

Trija laughs hysterically. She grips her hair while banging the table. After all of that, she  smiles creepily. “Oh you poor people. You’re too stupid to know what’s happening.” 

“I’m going to kill her before she does anything bad,” says Alex raising his dagger. I hold his arm. “Hold on.” 

“What are you doing? She’s our target. Don’t you love bloodshed?” 

“Yes, but I want to hear what she has to say.” 

“Alex, your partner is wiser than you. Still the same stupid kid from the Bottom Row,”  laughs Trija. Then, she stares at me. “You see, the Top Row don’t care about you.” 

I step to Alex’s side. “What do you mean?” 

“The Top Row hires assassins to kill whoever opposes them, including me. I used to be a  tax collector, a sheep to the higher up, but I’m no longer that. We all are just effigies used by the  Top Row for their own benefit. Once you’re no longer a part of their system, you’re dead, like an  effigy that will burn up in flames.” 

Alex nudges me. “Sam, she has talked to much. We need to kill her now.” “Wait, let her talk a little longer.” 

“Thank you, whoever you name is,” smiles Trija. “You still have time to get out from the  Top Row. Don’t let them use their power to control the masses. Be aware he who comes from  the—” 

Alex slices her throat quickly. Trija falls to the wooden floor, grasping for air. Not long  after, she lies dead with blood gushing out of her neck. 

I scream at Alex. “What are you doing? I didn’t fully hear what she said!”

“I’ve heard enough,” says Alex while cleaning his dagger. “What happened to you? You  aren’t the ruthless assassin I know from the battlefield.” 

“Nothing has changed from me, okay. I just feel there’s something important on her  speech.” 

Alex shrugs. “Nah, Trija just speaks like that. Don’t let her words affects you. You need to  be careful on your next mission.” 

“You’re probably right. Let’s head back to the High School to report this mission.” 

We go back to the tram station and wait until a tram comes down. I look up to the sky,  looking at the Top Row above. Could what Trija said be true? No, it can’t be. I know the Top Row  is too prestigious to do a dirty job like that.  

“Hey, are you okay? You’re losing your focus,” says Alex. 

I blink a few times then look at him. “Yeah, just feels weird doing my actual first mission.” “Look the tram is coming.” 

An empty tram comes down to the station. We get in and wait until it reaches the Top Row.  I can’t stop looking at the Middle Row, right at the street where my first mission is.  

Alex nudges me. “Hey, we have reached the Top Row.” 

I snap out of my own thinking. “Oh, I didn’t realize it. Let’s go as quickly as we can.” 

We hop out of the tram and run to the High School again. A few other rivals that have just  been assassin is seen running through the hallway. Everyone must be busy to finish their first two  missions. We enter the headmaster’s room. 

Headmaster Fideli smiles at us. “How is it?” 

I hand the mission file while sitting. “It wasn’t a big trouble. Alex did most of the thing.” Alex sits next to me. “So, what’s the next mission?” 

The headmaster takes the mission file and checks it. He nods then put the file in his table’s  drawer. I look at his room again, staring at the multiple things in his shelf. It hasn’t changed a bit,  but I feel different about it somehow.  

Headmaster Fideli brings out another file. “Here’s another beginner level mission.” 

“Couldn’t we get a more interesting mission?” asks Alex. “The first mission is too easy for  our skills.” 

I nudge him. “Alex, we shouldn’t brag, but I do think a harder mission would be more  interesting.” 

“You two are very passionate about this. That’s very good,” says Headmaster Fideli. He  puts the file back and picks a thicker file. “Here’s a good one. Your target is an ex-con for destroying the Top Row. He’s armed and is trained in close combat fighting. There’s a lot of  rumors that he will attack the Top Row again. He’s last seen in the Middle Row.” 

Alex stands up. “Now that’s an interesting mission. Sam, let’s go.” 

I pick up the file. “I’ll go now, Headmaster Fideli.” 

Alex leaves the room first. I walk out slowly, looking at Headmaster Fideli inside. He looks  at his shelf and picks up the black straw doll I saw the first time I’m in here. 

Alex pulls me forward. “C’mon, you slug. I’m already pumped up with this mission.” I pick up my pace. “Okay, I’m running.” 

We hop back to the tram and go down to the Middle Row again. Alex seems more excited  on this mission. Is it because of the difficulty level or because he can almost bring his mother to  the Top Row? 

Once the tram stops, Alex runs to the streets while holding my hand. We run to the target’s  location near the city’s border. The smell of smoke is stronger as we come closer. The factories  stand tall near the city border, the target must be inside one of these factories. 

I sneak to the side of the factories, leering inside. There’re only gears turning and machines  running. No more than a sound of metal bashing. I look back at Alex who’s leaning on the wall,  holding his dagger. 

He looks at me. “You found something?” 

“Nothing. It’s just a normal factory.” 

“Are we in the wrong location?” 

I look back to the file. “No. This is the right place.” 

“Maybe we should split up to seek the target?” 

I put back the file. “No, that’s a bad idea. We stay together, okay?” 


We are just about to search another factory when someone stands in our way. He has a  muscular body and brass knuckles on his hands. It’s the target. 

“Looks like the Top Row send another effigies to me. Seems that they can’t stop ruining a  man’s life. Okay then, let’s fight,” says him, spitting to the wall. 

He rushes to us. Alex readies his dagger while I run to the side. The guy attacks Alex but  he dodges it. I strike from the side but he deflected it with his brass knuckle. Alex stabs him in the  gut. He retaliates and knocks out Alex with a punch. I back off, fixing my grip.  

The guy smiles while holding his stomach. “I’ll fight all effigies of the Top Row until the  day I die.”

He attacks me but his movement is getting slower. I evade to the side and slice his neck.  He holds his neck, grasping for air before falling to the ground. I rush to Alex who’s still laying.  He’s bleeding and his nose is broken. 

“Wake up, Alex.” 

He growls. “Do we win?” 

I help him stands up. “Yeah, the target is dead.” 

“Great. Since we’ve done two missions, that means I finally can get my mother to the Top  Row. Let’s get back to the High School as quickly as we can.” 

“We need to treat your wound first.” 

Alex starts running. “Ah who cares. I can take care of it in the High School.” 

“Wait. Just don’t push yourself too much. You can take care of your family but you must  take care of yourself too.” 

“Fine. I’ll walk.” 

I carry him over my shoulder and walk to the tram station. The machinist looks shocked at  Alex but didn’t seem to care. We head back to the High School and meet with the headmaster. 

Headmaster Fideli looks at Alex weirdly. “You need medication. Go to the nursery now.” Alex turns back and go out. I walk behind him. 

“Not you, Sam. You stay here and report on the mission,” says the headmaster. 

Alex closes the door. I take a seat and hand him the mission file. “Here’s the file. The  person is taken care of.” 

He smiles. “Great work. He’s hard to beat, right?” 

“Yeah, harder to beat, but I’m sure he won’t be the hardest mission we’ll get.” He takes the file and organizes it. “Of course. You’ll face even bigger threat in the future.” I move my seat forward. “Can I ask you a question?” 


“Why is all the target saying that we are effigies?” 

Headmaster Fideli laughs. “It’s just something that the betrayer of this city calls us. They’re  just jealous of the position we held.” 


He stares at me. “You’re not affected by the words they said, right?” 

I smile. “No, not at all.”

“Good,” he says. 

The headmaster is searching for a file in the cabinet. I look at his shelf again, but there’s  something different. Something is missing from that shelf, but I don’t remember what. The  headmaster picks up a file and puts it on his desk. I stare away from the shelf to look at the file. 

Alex comes back from the nursery with a bag of ice. His nose is already fixed. “What’s  that file on the desk? Do we get another mission without rest?” 

The headmaster puts his hand on the file. “Of course not. You can choose to do every  mission whenever you wanted as long as it doesn’t goes past a full week. I know you’re very eager  to bring your family to the Top Row.” 

Alex smiles. “Of course. I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life.” 

“Well, what a coincidence the next mission is on the Bottom Row. You can bring you  mother here while you finishes this tiny mission,” says the headmaster as he hands me the file. 

“Thank you, sir. We’ll get back here as fast as we could,” I say. 

“Great job everyone. Remember loyalty, teamwork, and passion. Don’t forget that, okay?” Alex is ready to leave. “I won’t forget that, Sir. Sam, let’s go.” 

We leave as fast as we could. Alex is more joyous than he ever been, but somehow, I feel  uneasy. I can feel something is wrong with the Top Row. The whole idea of a school that teaches  childrens to become perfect assassins is sort of wrong. All the target that I’ve been given were all  someone who hates on the Top Row. Maybe the one who’s wrong isn’t the targets, but the Top  Row itself. How do the Top Row even know who to kill or not? 

Alex brings me to the tram. The landscape changes from the prestigious Top Row to the  horrid Bottom Row. Everyone down here seems so miserable. Small houses are stacked on top of  each other. The streets are still made of dirt. There’s so little light source down here. The smell of  sewage punches my nose instantly as soon as I’m halfway to down there. There’s like no rule down  here. The drug addicts fill the streets. Thugs beating up everyone on their way. This isn’t the  Malfesan City that I know. Why would the Top Row let people live in misery like this? They’re the  ones who control everything in this city. 

I open up the mission file and look for information about my target. It says here that he  spreads fake news about the Top Row to the people down here. He’s well known across the Bottom  Row. It’s another person that’s doing bad things to the Top Row. Maybe the previous targets are  right after all. I need to know the truth. Maybe I’m wrong choosing to become an assassin. 

The tram stops. Alex leaves the tram and looks at me. “Sam, are you okay? It’s because  you’re not used to the smell of Bottom Row, isn’t it?” 

“No, it’s not that.” 

Alex walks back to me. “Then what is it?”

“I really need to go back to the Top Row,” says I as I hand him the mission file. “I think  you should do this mission alone for now.” 

“But why? Aren’t we supposed to do stuff together? We should always stay together.” I look down. “I’m going to quit as an assassin.” 

Alex gasps. “Why would you do that? Isn’t being a part of Top Row is all you wanted this  whole time?” 

“Yes, but things have changed. You can quit with me if you want. But if you don’t, then I  understand. The safety of you family is the most important thing right now.” 

“Why do you want to leave me? You know that I can’t leave this job. Without it, I’m going  to suffer. Why do you want me to choose these choices when whatever I choose, I lose?” 

I push the file forward. “I’m really sorry, Alex. I have to go.” 

Alex seems upset. He’s holding his grip very tight. The tram machine starts running again.  

The machinist steps between us. “Do you want to enter or not? Everyone in the tram is  going to be late if you keep standing there.” 

Alex steams up. He grasps the file and takes it with force. “Fine. I’m not working with you  anymore then. Goodbye.” 

He runs to the streets, gone behind the wall of smokes. The tram moves up again. I didn’t  want to leave him, but this is the best choice for the better of this city. I shed a tear as I look up to  the Top Row. 

“It’s too late to change my choice.” 

The tram stops at the Top Row. I hop out and run to the High School. I rush to the  headmaster’s room. 

I open the door. “I quit.” 

Headmaster Fideli looks at me. “That’s quick of you to quit from being an assassin. Sure,  just follow the procedure.” 

“What procedure?” I asks. 

“The one in your contract. Wait, let me get it for you,”  

He opens the drawer next to him and picks up a stack of paper. The papers shakes his table  when he puts it down. He checks the paper one by one, searching for my name. 

“Found it,” says him while giving the paper to me. He points to one of the lines. “There  you can see to cancel this contract, you need to do one final mission alone.” 

I didn’t read any part of that contract, Alex must’ve distracted me from it. I’m usually not  this careless. 

I sit in front of him. “So, what’s the mission?” 

He picks a file from the bottom of his table’s drawer. “This is your last mission. There’s a  serial killer that’s been killing a lot of people. He kills once a week. No police ever manage to stop  the target. The location is at a slaughterhouse in the Bottom Row.” 

I take the file and stands up. “I’ll kill this serial killer. Don’t you worry.” 

“Oh, I’m not worried. I’m sure you can handle it. Bring back the file after you’re done and  then you can quit.” 

“I’ll go now.” 

I quickly left the room and ride the tram. The sun sets as I stare blankly at the sky. There’s  only this mission in my head now. 

So it’s a serial killer and it’s been killing a person every week for multiple years. This  won’t be easy, but I know I can beat it if I’m careful. I’ve beaten a lot of enemies that’s strong.  How strong can this person be? 

I arrive again in the Bottom Row. Nothing has changed since I was here a few minutes ago.  I look over to one side of the row. Alex is there, doing his mission. The slaughterhouse is right on  the opposite site of that. Too bad I won’t meet him here. 

Everyone down here looks at me while I was walking to the slaughterhouse. They express  disgust, fear, and hatred. But the closer I get to the slaughterhouse, all of their emotion turns into  one, sadness. They must be thinking that I’ll just be another victim of the serial murderer, but I  won’t be. I must survive no matter what. But I do have to agree that this will be easier if Alex is  here with me. 

The slaughterhouse is big, filled with silence. It seems more terrifying because the sun has  set fully. I can feel the souls of hundreds of the people that’s murdered here. The dread of the lost  souls fills me with determination. If killing this serial murderer can bring peace to the whole city,  then I must do it. 

I open the creaking rusty metal door. The inside is quite empty. There’re only a few  machines for processing meat. Hooks hang from the ceiling, swinging lightly from the winds of  the open window. I walk inside, watching every corner of the room. The smell of rotting body is  strong in here. Smells like it’s coming from the basement door. The floor is still stained with blood.  I walk past it and enter another room. 

The room looks drastically different. This looks like a place that I would call home. The  floor is made of polished wood. A stairway is located on the side of the room. A chandelier stands  on top a table decorated with beautiful tablecloth. A set of dining equipment is set on top of the  table, complete with the napkins, but there’s no food here. Why is there plates and glasses if there’s  no one that will eat here? 

I walk past a cupboard, circling the dining table. A rope trap sets off from on top, trapping  me before I could touch my dagger. I fell to the table and hit a few glasses. My hands tried to reach my dagger but the trap won’t let me. Whoever created this must must’ve known on where the  assassin’s dagger is located. I’m facing a smart enemy and that can’t be good. I try to move but  my legs are hold tight by the trap. 

Someone steps down from the stairs. I hear at his voice. He laughs while clapping along  the way. He lights up the chandelier next to me, revealing his face. 

“Hello, Sam. We meet again.” 

It’s headmaster Fideli and he’s pointing a gun to me.



“Why does Sam want to leave me alone? Does she not love me anymore?” 

I step away from the tram station, walking to my old home with a convoluted mind. My  hand grips tight my mission file. I really think that I will meet my family together with Sam, but  that doesn’t seem like a possibility anymore. Why does she change her mind so suddenly? Is there  something that she knows that I don’t? 

I wipe my tears as I steps closer to my home. I tidy up my clothes, combing my hair with  my hand, smiling to stretch my stiff face muscles. My mother will smile wide when she sees me  with these clothes. She will be happy of me. I will be a hero to my family, just the same as my  father. 

My hand is shaking while holding my house’s door. The handle is cold and rusty. I peek to  the window but there’s no light from the inside. I quickly open the door only to find nothing inside.  There’s no furniture at all. I can’t even see a single cloth. The floor is filled with dust. The only  living things inside this place is me and the colony of bugs on the ceiling. Where’s my mother?  Did she move? 

I run outside and ask everyone that I can see, but none of them know where my mother is  now. Some say she’s been gone for years from this home; some argues that she moved to the other  side of this row. Why can’t I get my happy ending easily? 

If there’s someone who will know my mother’s location, that’ll be the news teller, Emori.  I venture through the streets of Bottom Row, searching for him. I ask multiple people but none of  them wants to answer me. I used to be known in these streets, why does everyone suddenly act that  I can’t be trusted anymore? 

My legs are burning from traveling across the Bottom Row. I can’t find my mother nor  Emori. I end up in a location near my target. I might as well do the mission. The file says that he’s  inside one of these empty homes. 

From the outside, I could hear noises from inside one of them. Sounds like someone is  trying to get away from me. I rush inside and finds a mysterious man under a coat running through  the back door. I jump over the stack of furnitures and go through the back door. There’s a hidden  street that leads to the main road. He drops boxes of metal bars to the ground, then turning left. I  rush through the fallen metal bars, chasing him as fast as I could. I stand in the middle of the road,  looking at the target that’s entering another street. I remember that street leads to the tram station. 

“I know a shortcut to that place.” 

I run to the side and enter another street. I jump through the trash that fills the road, dashing  right to the tram station. The target is visible again. He realizes that I was coming near and he runs away in the opposite direction. I chase him on the right side of the road, leading him to turn to a  dead end. 

The hits the dead end and looks at the ground. “Please, don’t kill me.” 

His sound shocked me. I’ve heard of that voice before. “Emori?” 

He raises his head. “I know that voice. Is that you, Alex?” 

“Yes, this is me,” I say while putting back my dagger. 

“You wear an assassin’s robe and you chase me. If I’m one of the Top Row’s targets, then  please don’t kill me,” says him. His hands are shaking. 

“Why are you here? Where’s my mother?” 

His jaw drops. “You don’t know it yet, do you?” 

“Know what?” 

“She’s dead.” 

Feels like a dagger just stabs me right in the heart. I hear a metal canister hits the ground.  Something burns my eyes, forcing me to cry out tears. My body feels empty. My leg weakens and  I drop to the ground. My body is petrified. I can’t even move a muscle. My sight fades away into  the darkness. Everything feels empty. Somehow, I can hear a voice from far away, whispering to  my ear. 

“I’m sorry, Alex, but I don’t want to be killed today.” 


I woke up from a deep slumber and instantly stands up. I wake up on the same streets that  Emori stands on. He isn’t here anymore. I look up to the sky. Why is he scared of me? Is my mother  really dead? What makes him rather choose to drug me than telling me the truth? 

All of this is just one big mystery.  

The sun is setting and my body hasn’t fully healed from the drug’s effect. I should get back  to the High School and stay there for the night. It’s unsafe to life in the Bottom Row if no one  trusts me anymore. 

I head to the tram station and ride a tram to the Top Row. Everyone from the Bottom Row  looks at me weird as the tram raise slowly. Seems like everyone forgets about who I am, even  Sam, the one I trusted the most leaves me. It feels like I’m close to know why she wants to leave  me, but I just can’t reach it in my mouth.

The tram stops at the Top Row. I open the High School gate with hard feelings. I won’t be  able to see Sam behind this door again. Somehow, I already miss her even though she has only left  for a few hours. Where can she be now? 

I enter the headmaster’s room to report on my mission currently. “Sir, the mission you gave  me is—” 

The room empty, but it’s unlocked. Files is scattered on top of the table. Stuffs from the  shelf is now on the ground. It seems that Headmaster Fideli has leave in a hurry. I shouldn’t mess  with his stuff. I should just leave. 

My eyes glances over something interesting while I was about to leave. It’s my mother’s  photo, slipped under one of the files. I quickly stand in front of the table and take the file. I drop it  as quickly as I opened it.  

“No, this can’t be. My mother is one of the High School targets.” 

I pick it back up and read it thoroughly. It’s said here that she’s a beggar that fights against  the Top Row. This mission starts a few years ago. My heart finally drops when I see the  headmaster’s signature on the back of the file, signing that this mission is done. How could the  High School do something this horrible to me? 

All the time I spent here is worthless after all. They keep training me just so they can use me as a tool to kill someone else that opposes their views. I’m just an effigy of the Top Row to  them. How cruel can Headmaster Fideli be? 

My body fell. I manage to sit before my whole body fully collapses. My sight is blurry  from my tears. I wipe it using my bloody robe. This robe means nothing to me anymore. 

I remove the robe and throws it to the corner of the room. My eyes catch something  suspicious at the wall of weapons. There’s a slit between it now. I slip my dagger between it and  pulls it apart. 

The wall opens to another wall of weapons. No, this is wrong. There’re two holders for a  gun and one of the is missing it’s gun. Headmaster Fideli have been hiding illegal weapon all this  time and it seems that he will use it. But, to who? 

I flip over all the files, looking at the headmaster’s signature on every one of them, except  for one. I flip it again and open it up. 

“No, no, no. This is no longer a mystery, but a nightmare.” 

Inside it, there’s a picture of Sam. She’s said as a traitor to the High School. This mission  started just a few hours ago, almost the exact same time when she leaves me. The location of her  assassination is at the slaughterhouse in the Bottom Row. I remember that place, it’s where a serial  murderer lives. Could it be that Headmaster Fideli is the serial murderer all this time? 

“No, I can’t let this happen.”

I grab the one gun left on the wall and rush outside to the tram station. The tram arrives at  the Bottom Row. I hop out and run as fast as I could to the slaughterhouse. The cold wind of the  night doesn’t bother me anymore. I crash into several people but I kept going.  

A tear fell off my chin. “Please. Hold on there, Sam. I’m coming.”



I’m trapped and Headmaster Fideli is poiting a gun to me. How am I going to get out of  this situation? 

“Oh look how pitiful you are. You betray the High School and now you must pay the price,”  says the headmaster grinning. 

I retaliate. “Release me you psychopath.” 

“I’m the psychopath? You’re the one who likes killing, not me. I’m simply just a member  of the Malfesan City’s Council that will bring justice to those who betrays the High School.” 

“I didn’t betray anyone.” 

“Oh yeah? Do you remember the school’s motto? Loyalty, teamwork, and passion. It seems  that you’ve left your partner behind, so you’ve failed two of those motto. And I’m not even sure  that you have passion anymore.” 

“Stop trying to manipulate me. I didn’t leave Alex. He just really needs this job for the  safety of his family. I don’t have a family anymore, so I don’t care about this job.” 

“Well, seems like that didn’t end well, because his mother is already dead,” says him  laughing. 

“How could you do that? Alex spends his entire life in the school just to save her and yet  you just kill her. How is that funny?” 

He pointed the gun at me even closer. “Irony is funny. Too bad you have to be with the  other bodies in the basement now. You’re such a good student.” 

I need to find a way out of here before he pulls the trigger. There has to be something in  here that could release this trap. I look to the table, looking at the broken glass that I crashed into. My hand slips it to my back. 

I talk to Headmaster Fideli to buy time. “Whose bodies are down there? Is it other assassins  that knows about your plan?” 

“Very clever. You’re always good with your brains.” 

I keep on cutting the rope trap with the shard of glass. “Why did you own a gun? It’s illegal  in this city. You made that rule.” 

“Oh how sad. I made that rule so no one can own a gun, except for me.” 

“Why did you have to do that?”

“It’s easier to control a mass that has less power than you. Without a gun, the citizens can’t  do anything against my will.” 

I manage to cut a few ropes, my arm is free. “You send your will through the assassins of  your school, don’t you? Without a gun, the citizen can’t kill any of your assassin easily. They’re  just your puppets and I won’t be a part of them.” 

“I could see that you’ve realized that, just like all of the dead bodies in the basement. I’ll  admit it then, I do use you poor assassins as effigies of the Top Row for my own benefit. Guess,  I’ll have to kill you now.” 

“Not yet.” 

I free myself and knock Headmaster Fideli’s gun out of his hand. He strikes me back. His  kick is too quick for me to block. I crash to the table again and hit the side my stomach hard. I  quickly grab my dagger, but Headmaster Fideli kicks it away to another room.  

“If I can’t use a weapon, so do you,” he says, preparing his fist. 

I grab a chair as he punches me. He hits the chair and breaks it in half. I throw the pieces  to him and run to the other room. It’s a big living room with carpeted floor. My dagger lies on the  carpet, beside an antique grand clock. I jump there and grabs it before Headmaster Fideli had a  chance to shoots me. The only chance of me winning is if I can get the gun and use it myself. 

He shoots the ground beside me. I jump out of the way and hide behind a sofa. My heart is  pounding. My sweat starts running. Headmaster Fideli walks closer. I push the sofa and knock him  down. His gun is thrown on the ground. I run to it but he grabs my leg and makes me fall down. I  kick him but he manages to snatch my dagger away. 

“Now this will be fun,” he says maniacally. 

He cuts my left arm. I hold my wound tight while still walking to the gun. Headmaster  Fideli frees himself. I pick up the gun but he’s already beside me. He slices my right arm. I scream  in pain as he kicks me to the ground. I try to get away but he’s too fast. 

He cuts my legs and I fall to the ground. I’m already losing so much blood. My body is  weakening every second that passes. I stare at Headmaster Fideli as he drops my dagger and picks  up his gun from my hand.  

He laughs hard and point the gun at me. “I gotcha, useless effigy. Now it’s time for you to  join the other bodies.” 

I close my eyes in terror and the last thing I hear is a loud bang. A body drops on top of  me. I open my eyes only to find myself still alive. What happened? 

My head turns in pain and see a shadow of someone at the other room. Is that— Alex runs to me. “Sam, are you okay?” 

“You come back for me?”

“I will never leave you again. Not in forever.” 

I try to talk with my bloody mouth. “How did you defeat Headmaster Fideli?” He holds up a gun. “Let’s just say I’m not good at following rules.” 

I laugh with difficulties. 

“Your whole body is bleeding. I need to get you to a doctor now.” 

He picks me up and carry me on his shoulders. He runs as fast as he could to the tram  station. Everyone in the Bottom City looks at me surprised, some run in fear, and some fills with  dread as they know my fate. He brings me inside the tram and the tram goes up slowly. My body  is losing blood too quickly.  

“Machinist, can’t we go faster? I have an emergency!” says him in panic. 

“I’m sorry, but this is how fast this machine could go.” 

Alex lays me on the tram’s floor. “Sam, please hold on. I don’t want to lose you again.” “It’s too late to get to the High Row,” I say, holding his hands. 

“Then where do we have to go?” asks him in fear. 

“The Middle Row. Bring me to my old home.” 

“But why?” 

“Just do it.” 

He carries me again and quickly hops out as soon as the tram stops at the Middle Row. We  past the streets filled with dim light and arrive at my old home. From the inside, my mother and  her maid come out in panic. 

The look of my mother is pure horror. “What happened to my dear daughter?” 

Sam walks inside as the maid opens the gate. “She’s bleeding a lot. A serial killer tries to  kill her.” 

“Quickly bring her inside,” she says. She points to the maid. “Quickly bring the medication  kit.” 

Alex lays me in my room then stands back. My mother rushes in with the maid who brings  a medical kit. 

I try to talk with the rest of my energy. “Alex, please leave us alone for a bit.” He leaves and closes the door. The maid quickly tries to heal my wounds. 

My mother rubs my cheek and sheds tears. “What happened to you my dear daughter?” “I thought I’m no longer a part of your family.”

“I’ve made a mistake. I shouldn’t have said that. Every single second that you’re not here  is a torment for me. I’m not ready for you to leave me again.” 

“I’ve made a mistake too, Mom. I shouldn’t have left the family in the first place. But at  least we’re together now.” 

She cries loudly, trying to wipe her endless tears. The maid works fast but not fast enough.  She looks at my mother and shakes her head as a sign that I can’t be saved anymore. My mother  cries louder, putting her palms on her face. Her body quickly weakens and she falls to the ground.  

I look at the maid. “Please, bring Alex inside. I want to talk to him. You two can leave  now.” 

“No, I’m not leaving you,” says my mother, holding on tight to me. 

“We must respect a dying person’s wish.” says the maid as she releases my mother’s grip  and brings her outside. 

Alex runs inside. “Did they manage to heal your wounds?” 

I shake my head. 

“Please Sam, look at me,” says him, holding my face. “I need you here, please don’t go. I  promise I won’t leave you ever again but please stay here.” 

“It’s too late. My sight is already starting to fade away.” 

“There has to be a way to heal you better.” 

“You must move on, Alex. There’s just some things in this world that you can’t change.” “Please, no. I love you.” 

“I love you too.” 

I fully lost my sight. Now, I’m staring at a dark abyss. Alex’s voice dims out in the distance.  I can no longer understand any of his words. I can see a hoard of assassin’s that died fighting  against Headmaster Fideli. They welcome me with open arms. I’ve fulfilled my dreams to be a  savior of this city, it’s time for me to go. I walk forward and with that I become one with the other  bodies in the basement of the slaughterhouse.

Writer: P. C.