HOLEYBALONEY

Me, and the World

You are who you are

No imitations found thus far

To social norms although you fold

Your true self you forever must hold

 

I am probably the last person to talk about individualism vs conformity, especially since I can’t seem to make up my mind. On one hand, I can be individualistic to the border of selfishness, yet at the next turn you find me the most rule obeying person ever to live on this earth. For that I blame my zodiac sign for a Gemini duality. #BornThisWay

Friends often admit that they find me confusing in the initial stages of our friendship, simply because they can’t seem to get a consistent read on me. How I react to similar situations could vary, and things they thought I would go crazy over would just get a derisive snort in return. That meant they felt I was intimidating, not because I’m fierce, but they couldn’t predict with 100% certainty how I would react. However, being around me is usually fun and entertaining, simply because I’m unpredictable, so they never know what I would say next. And I make links and comments to topics that are so off the charts that it’s hilarious, especially delivered most nonchalantly. That, and my constant resting bitch face.

It used to bother me, hearing my friends admit that they found me scary. For a while I used to go out of my way to be chirpy and always upbeat, finding things to talk about whenever there is a silence in the conversation. It was tiring, and unsustainable. I would go home from catching up with friends mentally exhausted and just wanting to avoid human interaction for a couple of days. I got more irritable at work and at home, and struggled even more to suppress that rising annoyance at every little thing. During the time, I was playing a Massive Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) and I started being mean to the players from opposing teams, saying nasty things to them, and generally being an online troll.

Then a couple of years ago I changed company and met a bunch of co-workers with whom I felt a great connection with. I realised that you can be yourself, and be loved for your individuality. They celebrated that I’m a little out-of-this-world and quirky. We can discuss a wide variety of topics from socio-politics, to the latest fashion trends. The variation of characters and personalities in the company is wide enough for me to find someone with common interests in almost every aspect, be in health and fitness, to weekend partying, and serious business discussions. They don’t just tolerate the weird part of me, but embrace it with a greater fervour than I’ve ever experienced. A couple of times I was taken aback, because sometimes they seem to understand me better than I do myself. Rarely do I find folks who can catch the random comments I make, and field them back, much less continue the same random conversation thread that keeps everyone else in stitches.

We all still play by the rules, and conform to conventional social norms, and behave. We are not radicals, forever out there fighting against the institution or against the rules. We might scoot awfully close to the edge, but always within, never crossing the border.

Despite that, we are our own person, in this current time and space. That, in my recent epiphany, is the only thing that we need to truly hold on to. Never should we give up our own true self to bend to any social norms or rules.

Be yourself, and the Universe will find you a place you belong.

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5 reasons to watch Muse live

 

There are certain acts that you have to watch at least once in a lifetime, and Muse is most definitely one of them. They are not one of those typical bands who sound pretty much the same as the CDs, with very little imagination and showmanship. They are also not the band that comes on stage and takes your breath away by just playing. Muse comes on, and puts on a show. And a god damned good one at that. You’re not going to, at any point, be closing your eyes to let the music wash over you. To go to a Muse concert means you are ready to get your groove on and work those calves and vocal cords like you have never worked them before.

5 reasons why Muse performances are awesometastic:

1. Superior technical skills

It is a given that, for all great bands, there is at least one member who is extremely skilled in their instrument. The gem here is that all 3 Muse members are crazily talented in their own area of expertise.

Matthew Bellamy. He is a man entirely in his own world. And I think he enjoys it way too much. Multi-talented with a ridiculous vocal range and crazy guitar skills, the only thing that could go wrong with him would probably be his fashion sense. Or lack of one. Thank heavens that he was only in a simple black shirt and pants, and not one of his crazy get-ups. I didn’t get to hear Supremacy which would have totally made my night, but though you don’t hear every single word, his voice carries the emotion through perfectly.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme picked up the instrument only in the early 90s to be able to join Muse, and for a guy who used to play drums, he gone on to be voted top bassist of all time in 2011, a mere 14 years since he first started learning. Watching him play, you would have thought he was born with a bass in his tiny baby hands. His ability is sound, and his groove is always spot on. Just listen to Hysteria. I don’t think I need to say any more than that.

And who cares if your drummer cannot carry a tune, if he can control the beats as well as Dom. His drumming is super creative, probably due to the lack of any formal training. No rules for Dom! Even though he was hidden from my view by Chris, you can feel his energy and his passion, holding the band together as one.

 

2. Insanely energetic performance

90 minutes through the roof energy and song after song, non-stop. Not a moment’s break at all for this trio. No chit-chat to catch their breath, no long breaks in between sections, no moving off-stage except once when Matthew went off-stage for the drum & bass interlude. I honestly have no idea where these guys get their energy from, the adrenalin must be coursing through them by the end of the night.

When you look at the set list, you have pretty much rocked through Psycho, Dead Inside, Hysteria, Citizen Erased, Supermassive Black Hole, Uprising. And ended the night with Knights of Cydonia.

How can you beat that?

 

3. Solid rock out audience

When the show starts with the MV opening for Psycho and fans start screaming, you instantly know that you are in for an incredible show. There simply cannot be a better way to open a show than 9,000 fans screaming ‘A Fucking Psycho’. And guess what? It didn’t stop at just one song. Fans knew the right lines to sing (or scream) for almost every song! Being part of the moshpit meant that I was at the core of the action, but a look around the stadium, there wasn’t a soul not head banging and rocking out to their songs.

One last thing, UPRISING SINGAPORE!!!!!!

 

4. They don’t kiss ass

Great bands don’t need to talk too much. Just deliver the goods, over and over again. Never once during the whole session did they introduce themselves, I mean, all of us were there for them, why should they bother to do self introductions? Not a word of how they love Singapore, or how they miss playing here and all that ass kissing shit. Just straight up rocking out all night. The entire duration, I suspect they uttered about 10 words in totality. Maybe even less.

The changeover from their supporting band took almost 45 mins, and they didn’t care that we were waiting. Nothing to apologise for! Some performers love to wait a lifetime before coming back for the encore, but Muse was just gone for less than 5 mins, not even enough time for a smoke. After the final song, it was a quick bow and then off they go, techs come up and stadium lights come on.

 

5. Balloons

Every. Single. Show. It’s as if they are in love with those damned balloons. Though I have to say, it injects an insane amount of joy and entertainment during the last song. Queuing up for 7 hours, and making it to first row in the standing pen was absolutely worth it. I’d do it again in a heart beat.

To the next Muse concert!!!

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Blogging Ten

firstblogpost

Another anniversary today! 10 years since I’ve started blogging! I’ve changed so many blogging platforms over the past 10 years, bought my own domain, my posting frequency waxing and waning constantly…

Even though I don’t blog as much now as I used to, I can never let it go completely. It’s the first platform I used to put a little tiny blip on the World Wide Web, and it’s definitely not something I can easily give up, not when it is this meaningful.

So, here’s to another ten good years!

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7 years of Twittering

2014-02-20 21.40.26

On this day (and time), 7 long years ago, I signed up for a little application called Twitter. Social Media, social networking, microblogging were not terms that were popular in those days and it was Twitter’s explosion at SXSW in 2007 that caught my attention and made me decide to try it out. It was an odd thing to use, as it forced users to be much more succinct than blogging, and you were not essentially communicating to any specific person like SMS services.

I was here,

  • Less than 1 year after the official launch on July 2006.
  • Just a little over 1 year from their founding date of March 2006.
  • One month after their wild popularity at SXSW in March 2007.

My Very First Tweet! #notmymostintelligenttweetunfortunately

firsttweet

Tweeting now is a lot simpler, cheaper (to non US / UK residents) and more meaningful than it used to be back in the early days (for me, at least). As an early adopter of this service, I’ve seen how Twitter can impact our daily lives and our social interactions, especially how it changes the way we accept how information is shared with us.

  • SMS shorthand

Unfortunately, I’m going to start with one of the annoying things that I believe is in part correlated to how users adapt to Twitter formats. Many of the newer users may not be aware that the reason why you are restricted in the number of characters in each tweet really goes back to how it was during the early days. There were 2 ways to send a twitter (as it was called in those days), via the web / via SMS to a UK based cell phone number. The 140 character limit that Twitter has is largely due to the restriction of characters in SMS. It had to be short to be able to be sent via SMS. This brevity means that if you want to say something a little longer than 140 characters, you had to get creative. So ins8 o typin in eng, u typ in shrthd so u cn put mre in a twttr dan norm. n typ lol so u cn luff.

[rant/] I remember I spent quite a bit of moolah on Twitter then, as we had to pay (~S$0.60) to send a tweet as it could only be sent via SMS to a UK number! For folks living in US or UK it was cheap, as they had local numbers to send to, but for all overseas users, each tweet actually cost us physical dollars. Plus, you get an SMS every time someone you follow tweets. So if you follow 10 people, and each person tweets 5 times a day, you would get 50 SMSes a day! It was so annoying that I even remember tweeting something like “People who twitter 3 times in a row needs to have a life.”. Imagine how invasive Twitter used to be without these mobile apps. [/rant]

  • Popularising of URL shortening services

This is definitely a result of Twitter. Even though URL shortening services were already available (Remember TinyURL?), their use was very much limited to sharing on IRC or for easy remembering. With the character limits of Twitter, if anyone wants to share links, it will be impossible to comment, as some article links just take up the full character limit. Thus services such as TinyURL became extremely useful. Why I believe Twitter is a mover in the URL shortening service world is really because TinyURL was launched in 2002, many years before Twitter, and it monopolised the URL shortening service ‘industry’. It had no competition, because usage was low. Then Twitter came about and with the character limit, the need for such services grew so much that many more blossomed, each domain getting shorter (bit.ly) and shorter (t.co). This is basic economics of demand and supply. Without Twitter users’ demand, TinyURL could be the sole supplier for more than 5 years, until that product could no longer satisfy the users’ needs (TinyURL’s shortened URL is 25 characters, yet bit.ly is 14 characters).

  • Instant information

What I mean by this is that before Twitter, we got opinions from blogs, news sites, forums; we got social updates from friends by texts, emails, phone calls, and meetups. With Twitter, there is instant updates about every thing they are doing, from what they are eating, reading, or watching; where they are going to; how they feel about the last meal they had… In the beginning, we didn’t know what to do with Twitter, so we over-shared.  It became a platform for regular people to be ‘famous’ by shouting out to the world. Then regular folks started getting into conversations with people they followed. People started sharing news and information about the things that are happening around the world. 2009 was an incredible year for Twitter. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) realised the brand enhancing power of Twitter and ballooned to 1M followers. Barack Obama won the US Presidential Election. Michael Jackson died. These news were spreading like wildfire and for the first time since the launch, Twitter found itself a new path. Even the company realised it, and changed the question asked to “What’s happening?”, instead of the previous “What are you doing?”

Whatever the type, these are all information. News, gossip, sightings, tips, all information that we can get as soon as the incident happens. There is no waiting a day for the newspapers to write it up, or the bloggers to draft a post analysing the situation. Everyone can be a reporter, posting updates on the fly. If you didn’t read it on Twitter when it happened, you would be getting ‘old’ news, because everybody else would have (I’m exaggerating, of course). This is sometimes to the point if you hear a rumour on the streets, your best bet would be to search Twitter. If it’s word on the streets, you bet it was tweeted first.

 

In any case, with this Anniversary, I became curious about how Twitter has grown over the years and their major changes and milestones. I can’t say I’ve watched Twitter grow up, as the cost put me off a bit, till I got a smartphone & Twitter got an app; but then work piled up, and the excuses went on… Now that Twitter has grown to the mammoth it is right now, and I’m back more actively in various forms, I went back in time to see what everyone else is saying on the internet. 

Dr 4ward posted a really interesting infographic of Twitter since it officially launched. I’m a bit curious why his number of registered users state that it’s 1.3M registered users in March 2008, when my Twitter ID seems to be #3,189,741… I’ve assumed that the Twitter ID is allocated sequentially, but a variety of possibilities could account for Dr 4ward’s numbers, such as deleted / suspended accounts, engineering test accounts etc. Though I have to say, the numbers are quite massive. Possibly Twitter did a major account wipe-out of dead accounts?

Matthew Panzarino (@panzer) from The Next Web created a new Twitter account to look at Twitter from an entirely new light.. I absolutely agree with what he says about handles deviating from the person’s names. When we were first asked to create a handle, all we could think of was just using our names, or variations of our names.. There were a lot of @jack @crystal @mhofner around.. Nowadays, you get more complicated handles

Newsweek hits the nail on the head back in 2007, when the article discussed Twitter, the lure and the potential.

More history of Twitter infographics on Mashable (@mashable). I love infographics!

Ah.. the good old times…

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[ONE SHOT] End of the Road

He is at the point of no return. This is the end of the road for him. In another couple of hours, it will really be THE END. All because of a decision he made. The stupidest decision he has ever made in his entire life.

Right now, all he wants to do is to write everything down. The consequences don’t matter anymore. He just wants to write. So he asked for pen and paper, no food and started writing.

This is his story.

Eight months ago, he had the perfect life that every man wanted. A hot wife, a promising career and mind-blowing sex with the minx that was his secretary. That did not last. Not at all. He got greedy. He wanted more. More money, more power. He started buying stocks, believing more money will naturally bring him more power.

His dream was shattered five months later, when the World Trade Center crashed to the floor and brought the entire world’s economy with it. He lost millions in that one day. US$18.6 million to be exact. His wife left him, her last words to him were full of contempt and disgust. His mistress dumped him, running into the open arms of his supervisor. His company gave him the pink slip. In that one day, he was left with nothing.

He took to sleeping on the streets. What choice did he have? His house had to be mortgaged to pay off the debts. He had nothing to eat, nothing to wear, he couldn’t even bathe. People he knew scurried away when they saw him. People who used to kiss his ass spat on him. He was really in the dumps.

That’s when he met Mouse. Mouse was a fellow squatter, they once fought over the prime sleeping space under the bridge. Mouse won, but had shared the space with him. He was grateful. Mouse told him, over a dinner of scraps and leftover food scoured from the rubbish chutes, that he was once rich and famous. But he went down after making a wrong investment decision and cost his company billions of dollars. He felt as if he met a soul mate. A soul mate in the same predicament as he was. He poured his entire sob story to Mouse, bursting into tears every so often.

Mouse was a great buddy to him, taught him how to scrape for food, how to beg and most importantly, how to fight for the best sleeping spot. He hated his life like this, and yearned to be back in the office building, shouting orders at people and having young female executives wanting to have sex with him just so they can rise up the ranks quickly.

A couple of months after his unfortunate predicament, Mouse came running up to him excitedly, and without saying a word, dragged him along the street, away from the cosy sleeping spot.

“What the hell are you doing? That was the warmest spot to sleep!” he shouted at Mouse.

“Oh shut up! I’m bringing you to meet this guy who can make us rich again,” Mouse hollered impatiently.

He couldn’t believe his ears. Someone who could make him rich again? Could that really be true? Was that believable? Mouse dashed past cars on the busy streets, ducked underneath laundry in a back lane, and turned corners into dark alleys. It was hard to keep up with him. But he managed. About a hundred metres away, he saw Mouse stop beside a parked Mercedes and knocked on the window. He quickly dashed up to join Mouse.

The window rolled down to reveal a posh leather interior and a huge man in a tailored Giorgio Armani suit. He knew how much that cost. He had wanted it for the longest time. But that was before he was bankrupted.

“Boss Yan, I’m Mouse. Remember I said I’m bringing you another man? This is Zhong Ze.” Mouse pushed him forward.

Boss Yan looked at him, deadpanned with eyes full of absolute disdain and scorn that he automatically looked down at his feet in shame.

“Get in the car. Both of you. I may have work for you.”

He looked at Mouse in shock. Did Boss Yan just say what he did? Mouse didn’t answer him, but immediately scrambled into the car, thanks and praises never stopping. He decided to follow Mouse’s lead. He had nothing to lose anyway.

The entire trip was made in silence after Boss Yan told Mouse to shut up. Fifteen minutes seemed like an eternity to him. They dropped off at a dilapidated warehouse and he and Mouse were practically dragged out of the car and shoved into the warehouse. The warehouse interior was dark and smelled of rotten food.

“Mouse, what is going on?” He was starting to get afraid.

The lights suddenly went on at this moment and he saw that Mouse had disappeared. It was only him and Boss Yan in the warehouse.

“I heard you are in debt Mr Zhong. And very serious debt.”

“Yes,” he squeaked.

“I am not a long-winded person so I’ll go straight to the point. I have a proposition to make. A proposition that can possibly earn you US$10 million. I just need you to do one thing for me. Something that you definitely can manage.”

He gawked. US$ 10 million? That would pay off any of his remaining debt and leave him more than enough to start all over again. He was all dizzy from the thought that he could go back to his previous life and how easy it would be, just by doing one thing for Boss Yan. He agreed, without thinking, without any hesitation at all.

“Good. You are to kill this man for me. Simon Cheng of the Cheng Corporation. Everything has been planned out for you. All you have to do is execute the plan and kill him. Simple as that. And you will get your US$ 10 million immediately credited into a newly created bank account. I have to warn you first. Do not try anything funny. I have you watched. If you do not execute the plan you better cover your ass, ’cause I’ll come after you. Dead or alive.”

With that, Boss Yan strutted out of the warehouse. And that is when he saw Mouse, rushing to light the cigar that Boss Yan took out. He felt betrayed. He was targeted right from the beginning! Mouse had entrapped him in this deadly cage! He had to do it. There was no other choice. If he didn’t, he’d die a horrible death, even worse than being caught by the police. But if he succeeded, he would be rich again. He could start all over and be where he was.

In exactly three days, Simon Cheng was to be history. He was the man to ensure that happens. For three days he studied the plan, committing important information to memory and prowled the vicinity of the Cheng building. He needed to make sure he did not get caught. He needed the money.

That faithful Tuesday night, he came to the Cheng building, finding the emergency exit wide open as the plan said it would. Simon Cheng’s office was on the 72nd floor and he was to take the lift from level ten up to the 68th floor and climb the rest of the way up. Every last Tuesday of the month, Cheng worked late to prepare for his the next morning’s board meeting. At about 11pm, his mistress would arrive downstairs and Cheng would pick her up from the main door. That was his chance to enter Cheng’s office without him noticing. He was to crouch at the corner of the room just behind the door, waiting. Waiting for his only chance. Once the two sneaking lovebirds, rather bed-fellows, get into Cheng’s office, they would make a beeline to the sofa bed. Caught up in their passion and fervor, neither would be able to notice him crouched at that small corner. Instructions were to head for the kill and stab him when they are both at their peak of their intercourse. The very moment when he shoots into her.

That very moment seemed to him like an eternity. But he had enough sex to know that Cheng was coming, even without their terribly loud moans, grunts and occasional shouts of pleasure. At the right moment, a bout of energy seized him and he pounced on Cheng, stabbed him in the back and once more in the heart when he fell over on the floor in pain. The mistress started screaming, but he silenced her by slicing her throat. All according to plan.

According to the plan, he is now to run out of the building, running down the entire 72 floors to the ground level, via the stairs. The guards know not to disturb Cheng when they saw him pick up his mistress. It would be another hour at least before they find anything amiss. More than enough time. He was supposed to head to the warehouse after that and burn the clothes that he was wearing over his full-body swimsuit. There should be no skincells or any way his DNA can be found. And he would be free.

What the plan didn’t say, was that he would never be able to obtain the money. Because the very next morning, he woke up to a battalion of police officers and SWAT members surrounding him in the warehouse he was sleeping in. He was caught. Boss Yan had never intended to give him the money. Fragments of evidence were planted in Cheng’s room, leading the police straight to him. Overnight, he became the jealous lover of Cheng’s mistress and a furious ex-employee of Cheng Corporation who was fired on unfair grounds. Documents of his apparent schizophrenia appeared out of nowhere, so did his alleged psychiatrist. All of a sudden he had a history of violence and brutality, he had relatives who said he used to mutilate and kill little animals when he was a kid.

He had told the investigators too many times that everything was a lie. Everything was made up by Boss Yan. He was just a pawn in a huge chess game. He screamed, he shouted. He cried and cried. But all that he did just made the investigators convinced that he was mad. “Totally out of it,” was what he heard one of them describe him as.

So he gave up. He gave it all up and admitted to the crime he was supposed to have masterminded and executed. He agreed with anything and everything that the investigators said. He only wanted this to be over. It was over for him at that point anyway. Nothing he says would have made any difference. It only made it worse.

So here he is. Sitting here, in this cell, with his pen and paper. Writing. Writing everything that happened. Someone will believe him. Someone. Someday. But he will face his death like a man should. It was all his fault anyway. If he hadn’t been so greedy, he wouldn’t have dabbled too much in stocks. If he hadn’t been such a nose-in-the-air freak, he would have had help when he was down. If he hadn’t been so proud, he would have had the guts to start out from the bottom. If he hadn’t.

“Zhong Ze! Its time. The priest here will say a final prayer for you and you are to come with us to the room.”

The guard led a fatherly figure into the cell where he stood, back facing the exit, eyes closed. He has nothing to say anymore, only to give the priest what he had just written.

He then steps out of the cell, following the prison guard to the end of his life.

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[Story] RYAN — Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Ryuichi, aka Ryan, sauntered out of the office, not even bothering to pack his things on his desk. He truly and really didn’t care. What’s there to care? With his brains and his academic record, he can go anywhere. Even without the academia benefit, with his charm and his way with words, nothing has ever stopped him. He’s decided he will not work in such a boring 9-to-5 job again. Makes it difficult for him to plan his little escapades, his little fun murders. Rather, to him, they are not murders. He is sending these people straight to heaven. Prematurely. They get to enjoy the benefits of paradise early, courtesy of him. These girls should thank him.

Feeling extremely proud of himself, he roamed the roads of Vegas. Popping into a casino here and there and played some easy games of blackjack and roulette, he was there to cruise for his next target. They had to be of the same – what was that word the profilers used – type. They thought they had him down pat. So they thought. He was laughing so hard when they labeled him tall, white male in his mid-thirties. Well-educated, possibly victim of a single-mom home child abuse. Good looking (that part he liked), and eloquent. They would be looking for the wrong person! He was short and asian! Mid-thirties? He’s not yet 30! A few more months to go, that’s the real truth. Maybe he ought to help them a little. That star thing obviously wasn’t much help. They thought it was a trademark. Part of his Modus Operandi. What a joke. They need more education. All of a sudden, he knows what he can do to help them along.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

“Inspector Kim Ji Hon, please come to the reception counter. There is an urgent package for you.”

“Urgent package?” Kim was curious about the intercom announcement looking for her. She let her boys take a break and hurridly headed down to level 1, where the reception was.

Receptionist Ursula saw her and quickly waved her over. “Inspector Kim, this is for you. The delivery guy said it was super urgent and had to be delivered to you immediately without delay so I had to intercom you. Wasn’t sure if it is dangerous so I took the liberty to call Bomb Squad as well.”

“Woah Ursula. That was detailed of you. No problem. I’ll wait for them to come before I open this package. Look, there they are,” Kim became wary after hearing Ursla’s words.

“I thought I’d better be careful. We all know what case you are working on,” Ursula said while the bomb squad investigated the package.

20 minutes later, the squad announced that there was no danger of anything going off. The package was deemed ‘clean’. Kim decided she should open it in her own office.

Inside the box was a simple envelope. A plain manila envelope. And a Jewish text. A copy of Eshkol Ha-Kofer, one of the oldest Jewish text. One page was bookmarked.

Kim opened the envelope and slipped out a few pages. It was a printout from Wikipedia. It was an article on the number ‘seven’.

She flipped to the dog-eared page of the text and it was the section where the Star of David was mentioned.

“Seven names of angels precede the mezuzah: Michael, Gabriel, etc. … Tetragrammaton protect you! And likewise the sign, called the ‘Shield of David’, is placed beside the name of each angel.”

This particular line was hi-lighted, with the word ‘seven’ especially underlined. Kim took out the Wikipedia print-out and found the section which mentioned about the Judaism relevance of the number seven.

“A highly symbolic number in the Torah, alluding to the infusion of spirituality and Godliness into the Creation.”

Without a doubt, this package was from the killer that they have been tracing for so many months. Kim sent the contents of the packages for analysis, with a short report on the people who might have touched it, therefore leavivng fingerprints or trace.

After that, she fell into deep thinking.

What did the killer mean by sending her these things?

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[Story] RYAN — Chapter 1

Chapter 1.

Summer 2004.

The sun shone brightly outside, a strong contrast with the damp dark surroundings that he was in. The room was small and stuffy, reeking of urine, blood and something else, and water had gathered in puddles in different parts of the room, still, as if watching his every move. The ceiling fan groaned and moaned with every pained movement of its arms. The windows were boarded up, the planks of wood amateurishly nailed to it.

He lay on the bed, not moving. He never moved a muscle. He didn’t even blink. He just lay there, staring at the ceiling. His body was covered with red streaks. Blood was trickling out of those red streaks. Flies buzzed around it, sometimes landing on his wounds, feasting on his blood and laid eggs in his open wounds. But he never made any attempt to swat them away. He just lay on the bed, not moving. Not moving a muscle, not batting an eyelid.

But how could he? He was anything but alive. In fact, he had been dead for over a day now. His body had begun to rot and a dreadful stench greets anyone who enters the room.

But who will enter? Who will venture into a dilapidated hut, buried in a thick forest in the rural outskirts of the country? Who will enter when a certain eeriness and dread enveloped the hut, even in broad daylight?

His body was going to be left there, as food for the maggots. His body will decompose and one day be returned to Mother Earth. He is already forgotten, long lost in the memories of his friends and family. He was alone in both death and life.

Voices were suddenly heard outside. People were coming. The living. What are they doing here? Had they come for him? Was he not forgotten after all? Was he loved?

“There it is! Inspector Kim!”

“I see it. Prepare your guns, just in case. We can never be too careful with him as our target.”

“Yes Ma’am!”

The group of five made their way to the hut carefully. As if afraid to wake him up. If he was alive and saw this, he would have laughed and sneered at their stupidity. But he wasn’t. He’s dead.

Suddenly the door burst open. A flood of sunlight steamed into the old hut. Four men and one woman entered guns first and quickly scanned the place.

“Inspector, it’s clear.”

“Alright. You two check the room on the right. Jackie, you take the kitchen. Sam, we’ll take the left room. Ok. Let’s go people.”

The five split and went quickly to search their respective rooms. Inspector Kim burst into the room and saw him. She immediately told Sam to call for the others. With her gun still pointing to him, Inspector Kim moved closer to him. Inspector Kim took one look at his eyes and decided there was no life in him anymore. Without turning back, she spoke to the others waiting at the door.

“He’s dead. Get the forensic.”

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[Story] RYAN — Chapter 2

Chapter 2.

Inspector Kim was tired. She had had a long week and the forensic pathologist’s stupid corny jokes didn’t help. She’s always wondered how he could crack such jokes in front of the dead. And with them as the subject of the joke. Is it some kind of occupational trait that most pathologists she’s met love to crack such morbid jokes?

“Argh! Glad this case is finally to be closed. Will just have to record that girl’s testimony and I’m done. Finally.” Kim though wearily to herself.

Inspector Kim Ji Hon, 31 years-old, is one of the best criminal profilers in Asia. Born in Korea but raised near the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City, she was tough and street smart. She learnt to hide her emotions behind an icy cool façade, never once allowing anyone to break that exterior. Her seeming calmness helped her in many ways, most importantly; it gave her team sense of control and steadiness. She was a great leader and often motivated her team members in ways she didn’t even know she did. They could learn heaps simply watching her work.

“Inspector! The girl’s awake and the doctor says we can interview her now.”

“Thanks Sergeant Toby. I am on my way.”

Inspector Kim dragged her tired body out of the chair and decided to head for the ladies to freshen up before interviewing the girl. Arriving at the police hospital where the girl was being treated for her wounds and psychological trauma, Kim couldn’t help but pity the girl. She was only 19. She had a long life in front of her and yet she had to go through this kind of shit. She definitely deserved better. The doctor saw Kim and motioned to have a word with her outside the ward.

“Inspector, I hope you will be kind to her. She’s very severely distressed. I must warn you that Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is no joke. I have already led her through the first step towards recovery but she still needs more time. I pushed for a delay in interviewing but I understand we have a time constrain. I just hope you take note. I will be at the side to give her confidence and security. Also to inform you, I might forcibly stop the interview whenever I deem necessary. But then again, inspector, you probably already know what to do.”

“Thanks Doctor Watts. You were just doing your job. Rest assured I will take exceptional notice of it. It’s been a really tedious case and I really wish to let my men go for their well-deserved break. Anything else that I need to know about the girl? What’s her name again?”

“Mandy. 19 years-old. Very intelligent from what I gather from my therapy sessions with her over the past few days but very vulnerable. Too vulnerable in fact. Good luck.”

With the doctor by her side, Kim pushed the door to the ward open. Mandy sat on the bed, hugging her knees and staring at her toes. She still had that blank look she stumbled into the station with. But the hysteria in her eyes was lessened. Kim heaved a silent sigh of relief. She hated dealing with witnesses still in hysteria. She hoped this lessened hysteria is not just temporary and would come back with her first question.

“Hi. My name is Kim and I need to ask you some stuff ‘k?”

The girl nodded.

“We’ve found what you told us we’d find in that old hut. You know what I am talking about right?”

She nodded again.

“Ok. So you were the one who cut him?”

Another nod.

“Why did you do it?”

Silence greeted Kim. She knew she bordered on stepping over the line.

“Ok. If you don’t want to talk about it, next time then. We’ll just call it a day.”

Kim sighed and got up, casting a knowing look at Doctor Watts, the resident police psychiatrist which says, “Call me when she’s ready” and left the ward.

Outside, it was bright and sunny. Sunlight almost blinded Kim and she had to blink a couple of times before she could see properly again. Thinking that there was little to do but to wait for Mandy’s recovery, Kim sauntered down to the nearest Starbucks for a quick chocolate Frappucino. It never failed to make her feel better.

Armed with her frappucino, she headed back to the station and called for a meeting with her team. When they streamed into the meeting room, she could see fatigue written all over their faces. She loved these men. They helped her tackle many cases since her promotion to Inspector.

“Well guys! It’s another job well-done. We’ve all worked our asses off this case. Time to relax and take some time off for our families. As a reward, I have applied for one week leave for all of you. Paid leave. Beginning tomorrow. But today, you can have the rest of the day off. Now scram!” Kim raised her voice jokingly.

Shouts of cheer and laughter filled the tiny room. Gone were the lethargy in their movements and they found sudden bouts of energy. Kim lay back in her chair and smiled. A smile she’d never put on for many months.

“Oh man! Didn’t I just say scram? Now scoot all of you! Your holiday officially begins NOW! If I see anyone of you left in the room by count of ten, holiday’s off! Get out!” Kim closed her eyes and began counting. By the time she counted to five, there was complete silence in the room. Kim peeked and true to her guesses, the room was empty.

She smiled. Again.

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[Story] RYAN — Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Grabbing her unfinished chocolate frappucino, Kim headed back to her office. She set the cup on the coaster and collapsed into her armchair with a ‘plonk’. By god she was tired. She closed her eyes and massaged her temples. She slurped her chocolate frappucino, took one look at the thick folder on her table, gave herself two light slaps on her face and flipped the folder open to the first page. A mug-shot and a profile were staring right at her.

Ryuichi Takemori, Ryan to his friends. 33 years old. Thrice divorced. Twice for beating up his wife and once for marital infidelity. Graduated from Harvard University with a Masters degree in Marketing Communications. Worked in Circle Productions as their Public Relations Manager for the first 3 years. Was asked to quit after a major PR mess-up which apparently cost the company a few million dollars to cover up and repair the damage. Unemployed since.

Kim closed the file and thought about the months she had spent on this case. Too many months with too little sleep. There was only so much her body could take further. She lit a cigarette and puffed deeply, letting the smoke flow down her throat and feel it travel to her lungs before exhaling. She knew she shouldn’t smoke too much. But the temporary relief was too tempting. Leaning back into her armchair for a little shuteye, Kim felt relieved that the case was finally to be over.

While Kim was catching some forty winks, Doctor William Watts was busy taking Mandy through her road to recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Recovery seemed very positive and at a good pace in the beginning but suddenly Doctor Watts seemed to have hit a blank wall. Mandy was no longer responding to his therapy. Something is not very right and Doctor Watts was worried and puzzled. It was as if he was facing this huge, blank wall with no end on all four sides. No way could he get over it. The only way is to break it. There has to be something he could use to break that wall. The wall of silence.

The worst thing is that nobody has any idea what happened to her when she was caught by Ryan, why did she stumble into the station badly injured, and why did she stab Ryan. Without this information it will be difficult to cure her of her PTSD. He didn’t know how to continue. Looking at his watch, Doctor Watts decided it was time for the session to end. He patted Mandy’s hand, smiled and left the room with a sigh. While walking back to his office, he is reminded of another case four months ago, where a sophisticated and intelligent 30-year-old woman was so afraid of this same person. Ryan.

Mandy, despite appearance of stupor, heard and saw all that was happening around her. She knew she was causing both the smart inspector and the handsome Doctor more troubles and holding them back. She didn’t want to do that but she was scared. She was scared even though Ryan is already dead. She was not just scared, she was terribly petrified. She couldn’t help it, but every time she closes her eyes, Ryan’s face pops up. She remembers the hut and its dead and bloody inhabitant. She remembers every word that Ryan has ever said to her. She remembers. Everything.

And she hates it. She hates how she shivers with fear every time she thinks of him. She hates how her heart beats ten thousand times faster when she hears the name Ryan. Such a common name yet it causes such misery and pain to her. She knew she had to get out of the rut. She could not and should not continue to live in his evil shadow.

Three different people, three different stories. One man.

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[Story] RYAN — Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Winter 2001.

It was Christmas and the house was decorated brightly in red and green. The roof was buried in snow but it was warm inside the house. Two huge golden bells hung on the mahogany front door which called out sprightly whenever a visitor enters. The living room was cleared of all furniture, replacing the sofa with huge cushy beanbags and mats. In the balcony was the buffet table, where a crowd gathered. Some were assessing the quality of the food, some piling their plates with different quantities of the dishes, and some were simply gathered there to chat for a while. A DJ table had been set up at the leftmost corner nearest to the bar and the DJ was spinning great, pumping dance tracks hour after hour. The hired bartender was up to his neck serving drinks after drinks to the crowd of party-goers. All over the house people were dancing and grooving to the beat. All this while, the host was busy making small talk with all her guests and ensuring everyone was having a great time.

Eliza wanted and needed a break. This Christmas party her best friend organized was great but it was too much drinking and dancing for one night. She walked to the second level where the bedrooms were, hoping she could rest for a while. She reached for the knob of the first door but before she could open it, she heard moaning coming from inside the room, followed by shouts of pleasure. She frowned and silently berated these people for not having respect for the host.

“Fancy having sex in someone else’s house. Goodness.”

But she soon realized that all the bedrooms were occupied in such manner. Cursing her bad luck, she decided to make a move and leave the party. She weaved in and out of the crowd, trying to find her best friend but after half and hour of futile search, she gave up and simply walked out of the house, closing the door behind her and shutting out the noise.

Little did she know that someone had followed her out of the house. Little did she guess that tonight would be the last night she ever lived?

It continued to snow and Eliza pulled her coat closer around her body. She regretted not wearing a beanie that day. Her scalp was almost freezing even with the hood of her coat up. Eliza walked faster. At the main road, she tried to catch a taxi home but there was none in sight whatsoever. She was starting to feel the cold and stamped her feet to work up some heat.

“Damn. Where’s a cab when you need one.” She muttered under her breath.

“Sorry miss, are you waiting for a cab?” A deep voice sounded behind her.

Eliza was startled.

“Woah! You gave me a shock. But yes. It’s difficult to wait for one now, it seems.”

“Do you want a lift? My car’s just beyond the small forest.”

“Erm, well, it’s really ok. I will just wait a little while more I guess.” Eliza was unsure if she should accept this stranger’s offer.

“But it’s really difficult to flag a taxi here. Plus it’s snowing and you might freeze out here if you don’t get home soon. I mean no harm miss.” The stranger put up both his hands as if in surrender.

“Oh. Alright. I guess you are right.” Eliza felt the stranger’s sincerity and charm, deciding then to take that ride.

Little did she know that ride will take her straight to her death.

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