One Hundred and Sixty One

*fzahra7860 this one is for you!ย ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’•


As narrated by Meez:

“The bullet wasn’t meant to kill her. It wasn’t even meant for her.”

I look at the boy I see countless times in the school hallways always dressed in branded clothes, hands stuffed in his pockets.

Zishaan – that’s his name.

He looks unrecognizable.

Disheveled hair, sandy clothes, an arm covered in scratches and a bruised face – I can’t seem to pull my gaze away.

His usual mirth-filled eyes are dead. Completely and utterly dead, terrified, lost.

“It was for Faizal,” he says, bitterness lacing every inch of every letter he speaks. “But it wasn’t meant to kill him either – it was just meant to hurt him. No matter how much I hate him, I would never kill him.”

“But you loved Lubna and you killed her,” I blurt out before I can stop myself.

He looks up, meets my eye.

Oh shit.

“Shut your mouth, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says.

His voice – low, deadly, tinged with lunacy – sends a shiver down my spine.

Dad shoots me a warning look and I quickly look away, a prick of fear settling in.

He’s in denial.

And if we don’t watch what we say, we could trigger him.

“Why don’t you tell us the story from the beginning,” says Uncle Sulaimaan.

Zishaan looks at Uncle Sulaimaan, considers for a moment of eternity, then starts talking again.

“Faizal and I had been friends since the first year of high school. Lubna and I dated for 5 months before she decided that it wasn’t what she wanted,” he says, talking briefly. “Only a couple of weeks thereafter, rumors of Faizal and her being together started going around. I asked Faizal whether it was true, but, he knew I loved her, so he lied about it. I obviously didn’t know at that time. And when I seen him with another girl the next day, I was at ease. But he was just unsure in the beginning, that’s why he was still messing around with other girls. But then I saw Lubna and him together more and more often, so I cornered Lubna this time. She confirmed that they were dating and she was certain that Faizal was the one for her. And that obviously was the turning point in Faizal and I’s friendship. Today was his 21st birthday and I knew it was gonna be big. It was my best chance. I just had to do what I needed to, and then get away unnoticed.”

Too bad I noticed you.

“But seems like that didn’t go as planned,” he mutters, glancing around at the white walls of the empty room we’re in.

“What happens now?” he asks quietly after a long moment of silence.

He’s scared.

No, terrified.

I can hear it in the way his voice trembles.

I can see it in his eyes, alight with stark terror.

I can sense it from the way he sits; tense yet defeated.

His fear is so evident, so overwhelming, that I can even smell it.

It smells like the cold metal of a gun; like a blade covered in blood.

It smells like the sweat of a convulsing animal fighting the jaws of death.

It smells like flashes of hot electricity and burnt flesh.

It smells like a deserted dungeon.

And even though I don’t want to feel sorry for him, even though I want to hate him with every fiber of my being, somehow – impossibly – I don’t.

I can’t.

Because it’s painfully heart-wrenching.

The whole situation, it’s unfair and horrible.

He’s to be blamed, yet how can he be blamed?

God, he’s barely even an adult.

All he did was fall in love – his only crime was falling in love.

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*****

Sitting down in the corridor of the police station, I lean against the wall and close my eyes.

Breathe.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

Slipping my hand into my jeans pocket, I pull out my phone, grateful that I had taken of my HP robe; the party seems like a long, long time ago..

A sleepy voice answers.

“Zee. Bro. What’s up?”

A long moment of silence follows.

Then…

“What’s up?!” he groans incredulously. “Da heck you mean ‘what’s up’?!”

I wince.

“It’s bloody… what… 1 in the darn morning!” he says, more like a question.

I check my watch.

“12:26,” I say.

“Exactly,” comes Zee’s muffled reply. “And what do we do at 12:26 pm? We sleep!”

I don’t say anything.

“Well, I do at least,” he says, starting to sound a little more awake. “What’s up?”

“Nothing much,” I say nonchalantly. “Just chilling at the police station. You know, usual Saturday night routine.”

Silence.

Then…

“Don’t mess with me, Rameez,” he says humourlessly.

I sigh.

“What the freaking frikkadels is going on?” he asks, sounding very much awake now.

“Can I pick you up in 10?” I reply with a question of my own.

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*****

Almost a whole hour later, after answering a dozen of questions at the police station, then going back to Faizy’s place to see if everything had been taken care of, Uncle Sulaimaan stopped at Zee’s place, picked him up and then dropped the three of us home. But it was only after we filled mummy and Zee in and drank a cup of steaming chamomile tea which she insisted on that we got to go to bed.

Rubbing my eyes, barely able to walk straight, I climb the stairs slowly and head to my room; Zee following close behind.

I pull off my dusty, bloodstained T-shirt, kick off my shoes and collapse onto my bed.

Exhaustion kicks in full force and I bury my head into my pillow, my limbs and muscles aching.

“Why don’t you take a shower?” Zee asks quietly. “You’ll sleep better.”

I grunt in response, unable to give him more of a decent reply.

“Do you want me to open the sliding door or leave it closed?” he asks.

But I’m already fast asleep, my body succumbing to the massive waves of tiredness, allowing itself to be pulled under into darkness.

My body sleeps, but for my mind, there is no rest – only troubled illusions.

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One Hundred and Sixty

As narrated by Rameez:

โ€œTHERE!!โ€ย I yell again, pointing. โ€œDAD,ย GO!!ย THAT CAR!!โ€

Without hesitation, dad is once again moving, as quickly as he stopped.

All the tiredness and shock evaporates, leaving me wide awake and alert.

“Seat belt!!” commands dad, as he rapidly closes the gap between our car and the Merc.

I lean a little back, hastily pulling the seat belt across my chest.

My eyes never leaving the car in front of us, I try to buckle it into place.

“Dammit,” I mutter, unsuccessful.

Forcing my gaze away from the road for a second, I clip my seat belt into place, then lean forward in my seat again.

“There’s only one person,” I point out, squinting.

“And he knows we’re following,” I add a moment later, as the Merc suddenly picks up drastic speed.

“Go, go, go!!” I yell, my hands gripping the edge of my seat.

The X6’s powerful TwinPower turbo engine roars above the sound of the racing E-class Mercedes in front of us. Unleashing its concentrated power of 330 kW, the needle on the speedometer slowly inches closer to its top speed.

“HE’S GONNA TURN!!” I yell at the exact moment the Merc suddenly takes a turn at breakneck speed.

Yelling above the scream of the tires, I grab the handle on the inside of the door to keep myself from flying out of my seat as dad barely breaks before taking the turn.

Adrenaline coursing through my blood, my heart beating almost as fast as we’re going, I don’t let go of the door handle.

“He’s heading for the highway!” I yell as we drift around another turn, barely missing the side barrier.

“I know!” replies dad, his voice tight with concentration. “Don’t yell!”

Dad’s hands are clasped so tightly on the steering wheel, trying to control the magnificent power of the beautiful beast, that his knuckles have gone white.

A thrill rushes through me as we take another turn, the squealing tires now accompanied with the smell of burning rubber.

And then, we hit the highway.

Well lit and fairly quiet, this time, dad doesn’t hesitate in pushing the X6 to its limits.

But neither does the driver of the Merc.

Dad floors the accelerator and I hold on tightly to the door handle, despite the way it hurts my hand.

Couple seconds later, we’re right at his tail.

And then, finally we’re alongside him.

“Dad you have to get him to stop!” I say, unable to see anything through the illegally dark tint.

Dad scoffs, then laughs briefly.

I look at him, slightly surprised.

“Seriously Rameez?” he asks. “And how are we suppose to do that?”

“I don’t know. Can’t you run him off the road or something?” I ask, turning to look at the car beside again.

“Can’t,” comes dads curt reply. “Not at this speed. We’ll all die.”

We fall silent, just about managing to stay alongside the Merc.

“So now what?” I ask, my heart beat a little more controlled now.

“Call Sulaimaan. Tell him to come with back up,” replies dad.

But I barely hear him, the gears in my mind suddenly spinning with an idea.

‘Don’t be mad, Meez!’ warns a voice in my head.

‘It’s worth a shot,’ argues the other voice.

‘Don’t you dare, Meez!’ the first voice speaks again, dead serious.

‘Just do it,’ urges the second.

And so I do.

Hitting the button, I will the window to roll down faster, before dad realizes what I’m doing.

But he’s already guessed.

“RAMEEZ!!!” he shouts, turning to look at me and almost losing all control of the still speeding car under his control.

“STAY ALONGSIDE HIM!!” I yell back, ignoring his warning.

Standing slightly, I turn my body and reach out through my open window, praying desperately that his doors aren’t locked.

“RAMEEZ, DON’T!! GET DOWN!!” screams dad.

My fingers briefly touch the shining silver door handle of the Merc before the driver moves his vehicle away, out of reach.

My heart racing, blood pounding against my eardrums, I ignore the voice screeching in my head.

I lean further out the window and grab the Merc’s door handle.

Without thinking further, I pull with all my strength.

The door flies open and I’m sent sprawling back.

Dad screams as I knock into his arm, snatching his control on the raging X6.

Hooters blare but the loud sounds seem soft and distant compared to my thumping heart.

Fighting to gain control again, dad yanks the wheel to the right, hard.

Much too hard.

The whole world spins and I close my eyes, screaming.

A moment later, my whole body is jerked forward, then, too quickly, to the side.

Lifting my hands in front of my face, I scream again.

Pain shoots through my shoulder as it slams into the door.

“RAMEEZ GET DOWN!!” I hear dad shout.

The sound of glass shattering follows and then the car comes to a dead stop.

Ignoring dad’s command I lift my head, slowly moving my arms away from my face.

I turn to dad, praying he’s okay.

But, before I can say anything, he shoves my head down roughly.

From the corner of my eye, I see him duck too.

And then, it’s raining glass.

I feel a sting of pain on my neck as a piece slices my skin.

My nose touching the leather seat, I feel a tight knot forming deep in my stomach as realization dawns.

This guy just killed a girl not too long ago.

And from the looks of it, he doesn’t mind writing two more names on the rest of his bullets.

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*****

Once again, ignoring the voice screaming in my head to think straight, I reach for the button to unlock the doors.

The adrenaline pumping through my veins overpowers the pain I should be feeling as I push the door open, jump out and run straight toward the guy.

My body collides into his sooner than I thought it would, and an audible oof sounds from him as he falls.

On top of him, I punch his face, trying to buy myself time to get the gun out of his hands.

But, he barely feels the punch it seems, because he sits up underneath me, throwing me off his chest.

Elbowing him in the stomach as he tries to get away from me, I grab onto his hand holding the gun, struggling to keep it pointing away from me.

Unsure where my sudden strength is coming from, I wrestle with the strong man.

“DAD!” I yell, wondering why he isn’t yet helping me.

My arm burns as my opponent twists it, forcing it behind my back at an odd angle.

He raises his gun.

Stretching my neck at an agonizing angle, I reach for his wrist….. with my mouth.

Biting hard, I release all my anger, pain, and grief through my teeth.

I hear him shriek loudly before his fingers uncurl, dropping the gun.

“DAD!!” I scream again, kicking the gun out of the killer’s reach with my foot.

Finally, he is there, casually picking up the gun and removing the chamber before tossing is over his shoulder.

I scream in pain as my opponent’s fist smashes into my jaw while twisting my arm tighter behind my back.

My vision blurs and my stomach churns as everything spins in front of me.

And finally, just as I think my arm is going to snap and my head is going to explode, someone pulls him away.

“Breathe!!” a voice shouts in front of my face.

I obey, wincing in the pain it causes.

I breathe deeply again before sitting up.

Sirens wail, getting closer by the second.

I look towards the road, which we are now a couple of meters away from, and see blue lights flashing.

Knowing the night is far from over, I push aside the pain, stand up, and head over to where a small crowd has gathered around my dad and the killer.

My mind discerns the fact that I somehow have still not registered his face at the exact moment my eyes connect with his.

I swear under my breath, my eyes widening in shock as my mind places his familiar face.

“No way, no way!” I mutter, moving closer.

“IT WASN’T ME!!” he’s yelling, trashing under dad and another person’s hold.

The police car stops, its siren still blaring deafeningly.

But somehow, I hear him above it.

“I SWEAR ON MY LIFE I DIDN’T KILL HER!! I WOULD NEVER HURT HER!!”

A cold feeling of despair washes through me as I shake my head, terrified at how abnormally loud he’s yelling.

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME!!”

“Stop screaming,” dad says, his voice calm, controlled.

“I DIDN’T KILL HER!! OH GOD, PLEASE, YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME!! IT WASN’T ME!!”

Everything about the way his pleading – almost as if to convince himself – contradicts his words.

“I know. I believe you,” replies dad.

He doesn’t.

But I do.

Of course he didn’t kill her.

After all, he is the only one who loved Lubna almost as much as Faizal did.

Sneak Peek

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola.ย ๐Ÿ˜€

Hope you guys are having a fantastic Friday!ย 

So because I’m so excited about tomorrow’s post (Thank you NWO68 and T!ย ๐Ÿ˜‚โค) but I don’t want to put it up today, here’s a sneak peek. Enjoy!ย ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’•

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. โค


“RAMEEZ GET DOWN!!” I hear dad shout.

The sound of glass shattering follows and then the car comes to a dead stop.

Ignoring dad’s command I lift my head, slowly moving my arms away from my face.

I turn to dad, praying he’s okay.

But, before I can say anything, he shoves my head down roughly.

From the corner of my eye, I see him duck too.

And then, it’s raining glass.

I feel a sting of pain on my neck as a piece slices my skin.

My nose touching the leather seat, I feel a tight knot forming deep in my stomach as realization dawns.

This guy just killed a girl not too long ago.

And from the looks of it, he doesn’t mind writing two more names on the rest of his bullets.

One Hundred and Fifty Nine

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola.ย ๐Ÿ˜€

GUESS WHAT, GUESS WHAT?!?!

Today marks exactly two years of Troubled Illusions!!๐Ÿ’ƒ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽˆ๐Ÿ˜€

JazakAllah, shukran, thank you, dankie, gracias, merci, vielen dank to each and every one of you who have made this journey such an awesome one. You have no idea how much your support means to me and I cannot aptly describe it to you but please always remember, that from the bottom of my heart,ย I truly appreciate it.ย โค๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’œ

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With that being said, here’s a post to celebrate!ย ๐ŸŒธ๐Ÿ’•

I couldn’t seem to get the flow right in the first part of the post but I hope you’ll enjoyย  it nonetheless. Bold writing is thoughts and parts in italics are the characters speaking in their heads.ย 

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. โค


As narrated by Lubna:

“Well, your night is only starting!” Shiraz laughs cheekily, winking at us.

I feel my cheeks colour and glare at him.

Faizy grins, pulling me closer to his side.

He turns to look at me, his eyes shining.

My face heats up more and I duck my head shyly.

A second later though, a squeal of tires rings through the calm night, grabbing my attention.

I feel myself falling and then everything turns upside down.

The world is in black and white, moving slower than usual.

Silence falls for what seems like eternity and a prick of panic prods me, unsettling me.

Why is it so quiet?

‘Faizal??’

‘Shiraz??’

A moment later I hear Faizy’s voice and immediately I wish the silence had stayed instead.

Filled with heart-wrenching agony Faizal is screaming my name.

Why is he yelling?

‘Stop yelling love, what’s going on? I’m right here, ssshhh.’

Ignoring me he calls me again, a little softer this time.

‘What is it, love?’

And then, something touches my cheek.

Faizal’s hand.

I know his touch for I have memorized every inch of his skin.

He says my name again but this time I barely hear it.

It reaches my ears slow and dragged, a faint whisper as if he is far, far away.

Where is he going?? Why is he leaving me?? Why can’t I see him??

‘Faizy, love!’ I call, reaching for him.

But my hand refuses to obey my command and opening my eyes, heavy as lead, feels impossible.

‘Faizal!’ I call again, desperately this time.

He doesn’t answer, causing a wave of panic to wash over me, snatching away my breath.

God, what the hell is happening??

A burst of adrenaline accompanies the panic and a fleeting moment of energy enables me to open my eyes.

I almost laugh out aloud.

My brain doesn’t register the desperate look of panic and shock in Faizal’s eyes. It doesn’t question why everything it still in black and white. It doesn’t register the fact that he’s leaning over me. It doesn’t question why his lips are moving yet I can’t hear what he is saying.

It simply registers that he is there.

Faizal is right there, right in front of me, his eyes staring into mine.

‘You’re such an idiot,’ I say to myself. ‘He would never go anywhere without you. He would never leave you behind. Look, he’s right here.’

Using every ounce of my energy, I lift my hand to touch his face.

God… why… why am I… so… tired…

He takes my limp hand in his, squeezing it hopefully.

‘What’s going on?’ I try to ask, one more time, but I don’t know if her hears me or not.

Darkness pulls me into its embrace and my eyes flutter close.

And then…

nothing.

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Third person narrative:

Uncle Ismaeel swallows his mouthful of food before swiping his finger across his phone screen to answer his son’s call.

“Dad,” says Rameez, after replying his father’s greeting. “Please can you come to fetch me?”

Something about the tone in his son’s voice makes Uncle Ismaeel stand up immediately.

“Where are you?” he asks, reaching for his keys.

Rameez gives him the address before taking a deep breath and adding, “Could you bring the police and paramedics too, please.”

Briefly explaining to his wife, Aunty Aadila, the situation Uncle Ismaeel rushes out.

Buckling his seat belt into place, he floors the accelerater and puts his phone to his ear.

“911, what is your emergency?”

Speaking rapidly but clearly into the phone, Uncle Ismaeel explains what little he knows.

A long blast of a hooter screams as he skips a red robot, but he barely hears it.

Removing his phone from between his ear and shoulder, Uncle Ismaeel taps in another number.

“Ismaeel. Assalaamualaykum boss.”

“Wa’alaykum Salaam. Listen, I got a code red emergency which involves the little man.”

“I’ll be right there.”

Uncle Ismaeel states the address before cutting the call.

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As narrated by Uncle Ismaeel:

“What happened, Rameez?” I ask.

He looks at me blankly.

I shake his shoulder before repeating my question.

“Focus,” I say, gently but firmly. “I need to know what happened.”

“Someone shot her,” comes a voice from behind.

I glance up at all the fancy theme dressed youngsters.

“Nobody is allowed to leave,” comes a loud, stern command.

I breathe a sigh a relief.

“You’re here,” I say, turning around to shake Sulaimaan’s hand briefly.

“What the jeepers happened here?” he asks, looking around.

“Trying to figure that out myself,” I say, shrugging.

“Right. Listen here, buddies. No one is allowed to leave. I want you all to gather there,” instructs Sulaimaan, pointing to a spot away from the bleeding girl and safely away from the road. “Stay put. Am I clear?”

Some nod solemnly, while others begin walking to the instructed spot. The girls lean to the boys for support and robotically they do as they’re told.

“Aren’t you going to help her?” comes a choked voice.

I look at the speaker.

Her make up is smeared from crying and her eyes look terribly afraid.

“You’ll can help by following instructions,” Sulaimaan says, not answering her question straightforwardly.

Rameez speaks then, his voice an empty whisper.

“She’s dead. She can’t be helped.”

The only sound that can be heard is sobbing.

And sirens.

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*****

“The person who shot her is unknown. For all we know the subject might strike again. You need to move away from here,” Sulaimaan says kindly to the shell shocked young man.

Faizal, his name is, according to one of the fellows.

He doesn’t seem to hear.

A group of paramedics rush forward and Sulaimaan is left with no choice but to move the young man away himself.

“No heartbeat,” I mention as the paramedics crouch down.

One man looks up, a questioning frown showing that he is slightly annoyed at my remark.

“Doctor Ismaeel Varachia,” I say, notifying him who I am.

He nods in apology before concentrating back on his task.

“NO!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!” comes a yell, as they pick up the girl’s limp body.

I rush over to Sulaimaan where he struggles to suppress the trashing young man.

“NO!!” Faizal screams again, pushing Sulaimaan away with raging force.

Stumbling over his own feet, Faizal makes a dash for Lubna.

Sulaimaan grabs his collar firmly, tugging slightly.

Swearing, Faizal jabs his elbow backward, but Sulaimaan sees it coming.

Stepping backward to the side, he pulls at Faizal’s collar again, successfully dropping him this time.

“LEAVE HER ALONE!!!” Faizal screams as he falls.

In a flash Sulaimaan is on him, but against the young man’s blinding rage, he’s a moment too slow.

I pull his hands forcefully away from Sulaimaan’s throat, entrapping them strongly above his head.

“LEAVE ME ALONE!! I WILL F#%@&$* KILL YOU!!”

“Doc!!” I call to one of the staff, cupping my hand in front of my mouth.

“GET OFF ME!! I WILL KILL YOU, I SWEAR!! DON’T TOUCH HER YOU #@$%&^*!!!” he screams hoarsely, fighting against mine and Sulaimaan’s hold.

Two men hurry over to us.

“PTSD,” mutters the one as he holds down Faizal’s arm.

Expertly the other pushes a needle through his skin, holding it for a second before withdrawing.

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*****

“What about witnesses?” asks the slim police officer.

“Those kids over there,” replies Sulaimaan, indicating to the group of young adults.

“Don’t know if they’ll be very helpful though. They seem pretty perturbed,” I say.

“Usually there is someone who handles everything better than the others,” Sulaimaan says, looking at me.

“I work in the medical field, not the brave guys field,” I say, shrugging.

Sulaimaan grins a little.

I follow the three policemen, walking some space behind them so as not to get in their space.

We reach the group of youngsters and I see that some of them have fallen off to sleep, some are still crying, some are silent, and the rest are talking quietly to each other.

I spot my son sitting a little away from them all, his back against the wall, knees drawn to his chest.

His head is leaned back, gaze focused on the sky, a blank look on his face.

I watch him for a moment, knowing exactly what might be going through his mind, knowing how much harder this must be for him than the rest of the kids.

I walk up to him, slightly unsure as to what would be the best way to deal with the situation.

“Rameez,” I say.

He looks at me.

“Dad, please can we go home?” he pleads desperately.

I sigh inaudibly.

‘Sulaimaan is not going to be happy about this,’ admonishes a voice inside my head.

‘I’ll deal with him later,’ I reply to it silently.

“Come on,” I say, offering Rameez my hand.

He takes it, stands up and runs a hand through his hair tiredly.

Couple minutes later we’re in the car.

Strapping in my seat belt, I drive off.

Rameez doesn’t say a word at all.ย He simply stares out the window, dumb silent.

That’s why, when I take a turn and he yells out, abruptly breaking the silence, I startle considerably.

Slamming the breaks, my heart skips a beat.

“THERE!!” Rameez yells again, pointing. “DAD, GO!! THAT CAR!!”

Post Update

Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola.ย ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ve got some not so great news. But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do and this is one of those times.ย So I’m just here to let you guys know that there won’t be any posts till I don’t know when (probably just for the next two weeks) because I need to study and meet my deadlines and goals for this year. I feel so bad to do this (honestly yall have no idea) but I’ve really got to. I hope you guys will understand and anticipate my return patiently. Please remember me and all those writing exams in your duaas.

Much Love,

Troubled Illusioner. โค

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