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Notion Press Singapore Short Story Contest 2017

She Remembered

By Lee Ching Ching in Horror
She remembered the night she became a dragon. She remembered the way the wind rushed between her glittered scales, how it flowed over her sinuous body. She remembered the streams of liquid fire that fell from her great maw onto the endless oceans below, sizzling into billows of steam. She remembered crunching the bones of a terrified ox, feeling the corpse’s hot blood trickle over her tongue. But most of all, she remembered being free. She was unchained. Liberated.She could do anything she wanted - plunder, kill, eat…She opened her bleary eyes to a dull, grey ceiling. For a moment, she wondered where she was. Surely, this was no place for a dragon to wake up...Sighing, she sat up and stretched, blinking groggily at her feet. She frowned. Since when did dragons have round toes? Where were her claws?She headed towards the bathroom, and as she raised her hand for her toothbrush, she noticed a savage bite mark on her wrist. It was clotted with dried blood. Confused, her mouth dropped open and she saw her reflection - it revealed bloodied teeth.Oh.She must have bitten herself in her sleep. Normal thing for a dragon to do.Shrugging it off, she proceeded to clean herself up. But as she was towelling herself off, a sudden panic seized her as she saw her reflection in the mirror once more.Why was a human face staring back at her?She smashed against the ceramic sink in shock, touching her face with probing fingers. Grey eyes, silver hair, pale skin… Where were the scales?Then she remembered.She crashed out of the bathroom and ran towards her bedtable, fingers desperately grabbing for a filthy-looking notebook. She flipped the cover open feverishly, her eyes scanning the page like a demon possessed.‘Your name is Akira. You’re twenty-five years old this year. You work as a clerk in an advertising office, and you like to paint. You’re NOT a nymph. You’re NOT a dragon. You’re NOT a banshee. You’re HUMAN.’Akira relaxed her breathing. She counted to ten, letting it sink in.It was fine. It was just a dream. She remembered who she was.For now.***Akira hid in her cubicle at work, avoiding contact with her colleagues. Not because she didn’t like them. Not because she was shy. Mainly because she did not want them to see her forgetting who she was. Hence, she didn’t have any friends at all.But there was one person that wouldn’t leave her alone. Her name was Shika, and they had known each other for a long time. She had mellow forest-green eyes that seemed a little bit too trusting. She was predisposed to anxiousness, was very timid, and was as flighty as a deer. And right now, Shika was visiting Akira at her office for lunch hour.“Any episodes yet today?” asked the green-eyed girl in a low, subdued monotone.“This morning. I thought I was a dragon,” replied Akira, doodling thoughtlessly on a receipt. “Woke up and saw that I bit myself on the wrist until it bled, dreaming that was I biting into an ox.”Shika flinched.“The blood tasted nice though.”Two clerks walked past, stealing furtive glances into Akira’s cubicle. They saw her talking to the air and scurried off quickly.Akira furrowed her brow. “Why did they get spooked?”“They can’t see me, after all,” said Shika steadily. “I’m just a figment of your imagination. Your childhood imaginary friend.”“I didn’t need you to remind me of that…” groused Akira, turning back to her work.“At least I keep you company, don’t I?” smiled Shika.Akira grunted. When she looked up, Shika was gone.***The sun was beginning to die out. Clouds were tinged pink and gold against a lavender sky. Akira looked upwards and breathed in deeply, free from the day’s work. Her boss had told her off for sloppy handwriting again, but she couldn’t help it. She wasn’t ‘herself’ when writing out those notes. She was a cat, trying awkwardly to hold a pencil in her paws.Akira sighed. Whatever her condition was, it was getting in the way of her life. She had gone through multiple jobs, only to be fired very quickly. She made some friends, but they left once they discovered her problem. The doctors debated between schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, but never came to a conclusion. Needless to say, her parents were terrified by their own daughter, and were glad to see her move out for work.So, she only had-“Shika.”The green-eyed girl appeared by her side like a mist, solidifying into a humanoid shape. “Yeah?”“What if I don’t want to be human anymore?”“You know that you want to be normal.”“I know, but… It’s not happening.”“It’s not your fault.” Shika took Akira’s hand into hers, and Akira felt the warmth from her hand seep into Shika’s. “You can’t help it.”They walked home hand-in-hand, with passers-by trying not to gawk at the weird sight of Akira seemingly grasping onto nothing.***She was a warrior. A beautiful, pale warrior with a deadly sword, and her name was Miria. She stood in a large battlefield of dying and dead people, and before her was a hulking monster, ten feet tall. It had the head of a snake and the body of a crow, with claws of a panther. It had killed all her men, and she was the last one standing.A dancing madness glinted in the snake-crow’s gimlet eyes. It opened its jaws, revealing fangs dripping with venom. Without warning, it lunged for her, stretching its claws out for her throat.Miria swerved her body to the right and dropped down in a roll, sliding under the large beast’s belly. With a fearsome cry, she thrust her sword into its abdomen and ripped through it, spilling its guts and blood. The gore splattered her like fireworks. The snake-crow toppled to the ground, dead.Panting, Miria wiped her blade clean on the beast’s feathers. It was an easy battle. She didn’t know why so many people died fighting it.She was about to walk away when she heard the snake-crow croak something. It froze her in her steps.“A…kira… I…just wanted…to see you… Why…?”No, it got it wrong. She wasn’t Akira. She was…She stomach clenched as she felt her spine turn to ice.She was Akira.All at once, the scene around her shattered into a thousand shards of light, and she was back in her room, at home. The snake-crow shrank into a prostate human figure, face-down, blood oozing from his belly. In Akira’s hands was a butcher’s knife, heavy and bloodstained.What have I done?Akira crumpled to her knees and dropped the knife, in a horrified daze. “Check the body, he might still be alive!” came an urgent voice. Akira knew it was Shika. Hurriedly, she scrambled over to the man and flipped him over. A small scream escaped her lips when she saw the face. The familiar wrinkles around his eyes. The annoying little hairy mole below his jaw.“D-Dad…?”Tears filled her eyes. She couldn’t move.What have I done?!“Check his heartbeat! Call the ambulance! Quick!” urged Shika, thrusting Akira’s cell phone at her. But she knew from her friend’s expression that there was no more hope for the man. He was well and truly dead.“He came to see me, after all these years, and I… I killed him,” choked Akira, a creepy smile tugging at her lips, like she couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. “I killed my own father…”Her fingers closed over the butcher knife’s hilt. She didn’t know how she got it, but since she had it with her…Shika’s green eyes widened in horror. “What are you doing?”Akira chuckled, tears running down her cheeks. She looked at her bloody hands, then at the knife. Her chuckling intensified, and erupted suddenly into a full-blown cackle. Her pupils contracted. Her whole body was trembling. Her fingers were twitching.“You know what makes me mad?” seethed Akira, pointing the knife at Shika’s head, “Is that nincompoops like this general here-” she nodded at her father’s dead body, “just come waltzing in a demand for a hundred gold coins! Who even has that much gold in this god-forsaken kingdom?”Shika blinked confusedly. Her friend had switched again, this time into a maniacal witch. She tried to placate her.“Put down the knife, O’ Mad One. Your enemy is already dead,” she said carefully, not wanting to aggravate the situation. “You’re Akira, not a mad Witch. Calm down.”Akira looked puzzled. She glanced at the body, then at the knife in her hands. All of a sudden she flinched and dropped the blade, clutching at her head with both hands. Sniffles issued from her nose. “I’m a terrible person… I killed my own father. Oh god, what have I done…”But before Shika could take the butcher knife away, Akira jerked again and burst into cackles once more, snatching the weapon away. She shoved it into Shika’s chest so abruptly that the green-eyed girl had no time to react. Shika’s jaw dropped in shock, then she dissolved into smoke and disappeared.Forever.Akira laughed and shrieked, kicking her dead father’s body like a trash bag. She stabbed it over and over again, tears flying from the corners of her eyes. And when her neighbours had finally rushed over to see what was making the noise, Akira was huddled in a corner, her eyes blank, her face like a solid mask, drenched in blood. Her father was a pulp of flesh and blood on the floor.And ever since then, Akira retracted into a world of solitude and isolation, where she forgot her name, forgot her age, forgot everything… and became a lost child, dead to the world.But she remembered one thing.She was human.She remembered it, and it gnawed at her soul, for she knew she was a monster.She remembered it…………For now.

Copyright Lee Ching Ching
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