The Calamity - HIDE

You have to help me, help me get to my parents. I don’t know where I am, but I do know why I’m here…Miriam…I’m going to tell you a story, I need you to believe every word, because if you don’t - I’ll be trapped, forever. This is the story of how I tried to hide, the story of how I died.

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1. What happened...

The Calamity

 

HIDE

 

You have to help me, help me get to my parents. I don’t know where I am, but I do know why I’m here…Miriam…I’m going to tell you a story, I need you to believe every word, because if you don’t - I’ll be trapped, forever. This is the story of how I tried to hide, the story of how I died.

 

 

 Borders of Afghanistan: August15th1979
 

 

Vibrations erupted beneath the ground. It wasn’t far.

“Mina!” mama hollered, grabbing my arm and flinging me towards her. The whole house was shuddering. My instincts screamed at me to run. My heart felt fit to cry or scream or both. There wasn’t time. Mama had lifted me up and placed me outside

“Stay.” She instructed and ran back inside. I waited. The house roared with agony. I stared at in disbelief, my home, my past. She came back outside carrying a full bag.

“Shelter” I knew what to do from there, get into the shelter, put on the gasmasks, unlock the gun cases and load the rifles. Mama came in moments after I’d put on the gasmask, she shut the metal door to the underground compartment and smiled .She looked a lot like me when she smiled. Her eyes were big and black like mine and her eyebrows were permanently tilted upwards in a forever worried expression and we both had cherub rose lips. Her names Nadia Asa Khan, we have similar middle names, I am Mina Ara Khan, I am 7 years old, mamas only 30 but she has a few grey hairs and wrinkles round her eyes. Theres a battlefield a few miles away, the others are trying to cross the borders to my country, Afghanistan. The war started last year, 1978. Every day a bomb reaches the end of our lane, every day my home shudders however only once in a while do we have to come to the village shelter, it reeks, of ancient arid puddles of urine and the creepy whiff of old folks, worse, putrid decaying sewer – rats and cold cat sick…

 “Okay, Mina, stay here I need to see if Mrs Maariya and Selena are okay.” She whispered, while slipping on her gas mask. Mrs Maariya’s husband had gone to war, like my papa and Selena was looking after Mrs Maariya because she is almost as old as mama.

“But mama, the bombs?” I asked anxiously.

“Mina, Mrs Maariya is too old to run and Selena is too young to know when to abandon her mother.” She said grasping the handle above our heads the only entrance and exit in the whole shelter. She slowly opened the metal door and peeped outside, still staring out into the distance she said

“If I’m not back by the time you count to 100, ask papa why.”

“But papas in the war mama!” I exclaimed. She stole a momentary look at me and sighed.

“He had enough of fighting so he went to see the angels and fairies; if I don’t come back I’ll go to papa…”

“How do I ask him?” I asked intrigued by this magical land of angels and fairies.

“Use the Ouija board. Bye bye Mina…” with that and not another glance back she swiftly climbed out of the shelter and shut it tight.

 

…97…98…99…100. I opened my squeezed shut eyes; I rapidly blinked for a few seconds waiting for my eyes to refocus.

“Mama?” I murmured. Nothing. I waited a few more minutes, then after being reduced to utter boredom I remembered the Ouija board. Of course I’d seen mama operate this sinister looking board before, she had talked to grandmamma and papa from it after grandmamma  had gone to visit the fairies and a few months back once she got a letter from the general about papa, she spent ages locked in the attic talking to papa the day later. She’d never let me use the Ouija board and all I could tell back then was that it was a one player game, a one living player game.

 

 One of the greatest faults of humanity is curiosity; Pandora’s Box, or the story of the curious monkey, like all the others before me, whether there stories were passed on through generations or forgotten about the next day, I had an exhilarating urge to see what the intimidating game worked.

 

 I grabbed the wooden Ouija board and heart shaped counter out of the large bag. I leaned against a wooden stool and placed the board and the counter on the floor. So, how did it work?

 

An Ouija board is a dangerous game board, it’s a perilous game to play if you’re not an expert and know all the tricks in the book, it helps you to talk to the dead. Spirits, not all spirits want to talk. Not all can talk, and only the ones that aren’t resting - and hadn’t meant to die can talk to the living. The board has a sun on the left top corner and a crescent moon on the right. In the middle there are the letters from A-Z and the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0. And at the bottom, ‘goodbye’. The thick, wooden, heart shaped counter had a circular hole in the middle. Of course I didn’t realise how any of this worked then.

 

“Errrmmm, hello papa.” I whispered looking around; I picked up the counter and squeezed it tightly to my chest, remembering what mama had said last year about papa always being in my heart. Suddenly the counter shook in my hand, I gasped and let go then the counter flew up, hovering in the air. It slowly floated down and placed itself on the board. In the circular gap one capital letter presented itself. M, then it slowly slid to, I – R-I-A-M, and as dramatically as it started it stopped. Miriam.

“Hello Miriam” I whispered to the ‘empty’ space around me. Again the counter came alive, A-N-D-C-A-L-L-U-M, ‘and Callum’.

“Hello Miriam and Callum, do you know papa?” I asked.

“NO-HE-IS-WITH-THE-FAIRIES-LIKE-YOUR-MAMA-SAID-YOU-LITTLE-BABY-HE-IS-DEAD”

“How would you know, you evil little witch!” I yelled.

“BECAUSE-I-AM-DEAD”

“Then why aren’t you with the fairies like papa?”

“THERE-ARE-NO-FAIRIES-ITS-CHERUBS-AND-ANGELS” a small arrogant voice, almost a whisper gnarled at my heart, the words had a voice, the voice had a speaker and the speaker was in me.

“Why aren’t you with them then?” ignoring my screaming conscience.

“BECAUSE-I-WASN’T-MEANT-TO-DIE” the smug voice was clearer, I no longer needed to rely on reading the letters of the Ouija board.

“Everything happens because it’s meant to happen!” I murmured, abruptly feeling an intensely cold wave of solitude.

“BUT-THERE-ARE-ALWAYS-ACCIDENTS-LIKE-MY-DEATH” the voice, now easily recognized as a young girls’, not much older than I was getting irritated and angry.

“What about Callum?” I asked, fearing the other child was as ruthlessly, unpleasant as Miriam.

“HE-WAS-MEANT-TO-DIE” Miriam snarled.

“That’s horrible.” I sobbed, it was hard trying to hold in all the fear, I could hardly breathe with the huge lump at the back of my throat, I was utterly isolated.

“NOT-REALLY” Miriam replied, casually as if we were discussing our opinion of the latest fashion rather than the life of another’s ending.

“DO –YOU-WANT- TO –SEE- WHY -HE –WAS- MEANT- TO -DIE?” she gloated, a self-satisfied little laugh ringing in her eerie voice.

 I said “y…y…yes” not because it was the right thing to say but it’s the answer I felt she expected, and I felt forced to work how Miriam expected, she was superior… A blurry figure started materializing in front of me. A girl. Tall and gaunt, basic shapes were forming themselves around a pale white haze, dirty rags, everything about the figure looked faded and transparent then after a few seconds a girl was standing in front of me. She grinned, a haughty sneer the only colour on her face was her dry, thin blood red lips and her heavy black rimed eyes with great bags underneath them. She had eyes like slits and long, ebony, greasy hair that stretched down like a piece of cardboard to her knees. Her eyebrows swiftly burrowed and her waxy completion turned ever paler. She was an Afghan like me, a girl like me and only a child like me. But there was an aura of danger about her, the same as a murderers or serial killers’. She lifted her arm and pointed one bony finger at me, no, behind me.

 

A little American boy with crossed eyes crouched in the corner, he was also pale but he was scared and weak, and Miriam knew it.

“He is your enemy” she spoke, authority cascading in her voice.

“The child of an American, an American soldier that killed thousands of us” her voice filled with poison and hatred.

“You are a bully!” I screamed at Miriam my fear vanishing, how she dare bully that little innocent boy! Miriam’s face softened and was amazed to see how pretty she actually was, her voice as pure an sweet as honey suckle nectar she whispered

“Do you want to play a little game Mina?” transfixed by her eyes, I was rooted to the spot, Callum was hugging his knees to his chest and was rocking back and forth muttering to himself

“No, no, not again.”

“Yes Miriam” I drawled, hypnotized. Callum squeezed shut his eyes, blubbering to himself. She held my hand and I felt faint, like falling, I begged her to let go but she had iron grip, I fell deeper and deeper, for years falling.

 

I saw a vision as I fell, the Ouija board was glowing and the wooden counter had gone to the bottom of the board, inside the hole it said, goodbye.

 

And now I’m here. There are no fairies in this land – just me; I’m so confused and lonely. Can you play with me? Let’s play Ouija.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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