Please read the previous chapter here
Name of Author 3 : Arjun Charles
Note on Author 3 : I put letters, words and sentences to satisfy personal ego and glorify recent experiences.
Please read his blog here
Garden of thorns
“Fucker’s finally opening his eyes.”
The pain had mutated and travelled from the back of his head to his right thigh. Eyes spinning and flickering, he could make out the hilt of a knife – the sharp edge of which was sticking in the thigh. He looked around. He was sitting on a wooden chair, his hands tied in front with rope. He was in a tarpaulin tent. He was naked except for his loincloth. He turned towards the source of the abuse.
“By the beautiful Hibiscus on my eyepatch! The great Ox seems to be in a spot right now!”
He recognized that voice. Squeaky and loud. Like a chick being put through a grain mill, but only a teeny bit tougher. But all this had nothing to do with him being called the Spider.
“I never understood your name. Ox. Ox – as in the great Ox who helped plough our lands once? Or Ox – after the vizier and governor of Egypt?”
“Now now, if you’re an Ox, I’m the Spider. And a poisonous spider’s bite can stun a fucking fat Ox. So, be a cutie, and tell me why your name is Ox!” And he twisted and pushed the knife deeper.
Searing Pain. And a succumbed scream. And a gravelly voice grinding out from clenched teeth.
“It’s…not…Ox…It’s 0x. 0x45…”
“0x45…Hexadecimal notation for the decimal 69…”
“Tried 68 times…to find an alternative for my given name…Didn’t like my primitive given name…And decided on 0x45 finally…Over time, came to be known as 0x…and finally Ox…”
“Oh my Ox, you a brainy one. I’ll stick to Ox. You’re too knowledgeable for me. Too intense.”
He could finally open his eyes fully. His tormentor stood before him. Wearing a red tunic that extended till his ankles. An eyepatch with a drawing of a hibiscus over it. Auburn hair. A scar over across his nose. Whenever he breathed, it looked like air expunged through that scar. “Ugly bastard”, Ox thought to himself.
“I am a simple man, Ox. Her Highness orders, I execute. And in this case, She has requested that I direct all my attention to you. So, either you tell me where your goddamn sister is, or you face the Hibiscus’ wrath.”
“Hibiscus?” A sly smile escaped his lips.
“Her Highness’ royal emblem, you fucktard! And don’t make me show what that knife in your thigh can do, once it’s right up in your eye socket. Fucking insolence.”
Ox closed his eyes. He tried not to think of water. And drowning. Deep inside, he knew what he had done.
As Sara dropped the note onto her cell floor, she heard thunder. Or was it thunder? She was not sure. The lone cell block suddenly, started to feel damp. The smell brought back the haunting memories, the convulsed screams, the blinding darkness, the familiar pain. She hugged herself. “Drown.” “Drown.” “Drown…Drow…Dro…”
The walls cracked. “He really meant what he wrote”, she thought.
So many experiments. So many calculations. He was really determined. However, he had failed to notice that essential flaw in his plan.
Butterflies can’t swim.
“Can you swim, Ox?”
“You see that lake there? We usually toss our prisoners alive into that thing. Bound and gagged. Would love to see how you would whimper around that.”
Ox looked up. The squeaky voice was near his ear. Whispering, but firm.
“I know that you freed your sister by flooding the cells. And I know that you’ll live if you tell me where she is right now.”
Ox looked at his thigh. To his right was a table. And on the table, was the glass bottle using which he had initiated his final plan. Near the rim of the bottle, were the initials “S.A.” in brown dye. He looked around. Spider was his only company.
“Like a Butterfly caught in a Spider’s web, alone. Tell me Spider, aren’t you interested in the name of my sister?”
“Why would I?”
“Sara. Didn’t think it was peculiar?”
“Didn’t think there was more to it?”
“And why didn’t you ask me about the bottle?”
Before Spider could understand the weight of Ox’s questions, Ox grabbed the bottle with his tied hands. In one swift motion, he brought it right to Spider’s head. As the glass broke, Ox shiv-ed the bottle right into Spider’s eyepatch.
“YOU FUCKER!” the Spider howled as he clutched his blind eye. “GUARDS!”
Ox used the broken bottle to cut himself free. He ran towards the exit of the tent. The guards had just heard the Spider’s wail. Ox turned and ran to the back of the tent. He climbed atop a truck containing oil barrels and hid himself amongst them. He could still hear the Spider’s voice.
“Find him, you worthless fools! Find him!”
As his mind raced furiously over the consequence of his actions, he chanced upon the lake.
Butterflies can’t swim, but oxen can.
Flooded cells and frantic swimming. Sara wasn’t ready for this, but she had to do it. Fighting the water, fighting the dark thoughts and fighting the experiments that her brother had performed on her. As she struggled through the icy currents, she felt her arms and limbs weigh her down. “No, not now!”, she feared. Trying to reach the surface, Her vision slowly became unclouded as she saw sunlight above. She heaved and ascended.
As her head popped over the surface of the water, she gave in. She gave in to the experiments that her brother had performed on her. She transformed, slowly. Her limbs were brown wings, her body thinned and shrivelled. Her eyes compounded. The water slowly shook itself off her. She took flight. But not for long.
A bottle containing the initials “S.A.” enveloped her. The lid popped tight, and a weary pair of eyes gazed at her.
S.A. Sara Alexandra. Alexandra Birdwing. The Butterfly.
Holding the bottle, Ox was succinct in his thoughts. “The Spider and the Hibiscus won’t know what hit ‘em.”
The next author to be nominated soon.