Into the Dark Depths of Discovery

Written by: Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4) and Lye Jae Vir (22-I1)

Designed by: Alexia Teo (22-U1)

The sun’s rays, illuminating the world below; nature’s thalassic secrets revealed, its knowledge made known to men. The rays permeated the shallow deep, bouncing off the vast array of wildlife around me as I descended. Gradually, the ocean’s denizens grew to be more defined from the homogeneity of the deep blue, the animals and plants becoming more visible. 

Sagittaria sagittifolia, Hippoglossus stenolepis, Eriocaulon aquaticum! 

The familiarity of these entities warmed me, the ocean was my domain and its inhabitants were my subjects. 

Soon, I hit the seabed. My diving suit was attached to a thick lengthy tether supplying me power from my boat above. I would be underwater for some time, and the gear I used required more power than any portable battery could provide. 

Tugging the tether along as I swam, I started the survey. Familiar life-forms of all shapes and sizes, popping up as blips on my radar. The survey area was divided into sections and I had only just embarked on the first one. Rock formations resembling humans and objects from my life greeted me while I stuffed squirming fish into glass jars for their required analysis. 

The Lamp, The Microwave, The Misshapen Fist!

Truly, I was in home base. 

The fish, aptly named Nemo for his distinctively orange hues, had been around for almost every survey since it started a decade ago. The analyzer was still buzzing and Nemo was being prodded at by lasers and needles. Despite being long past his appointed hour, Nemo still had the virility of youth. Although I regarded Nemo as an old-time friend, his memory of only a few hours made it hard for me to establish any deeper connection—albeit being a deeper connection than most I shared with others. Similarly, virtually none of the local denizens were unbeknownst to me. Each one had been meticulously tagged and colloquially named, and any change in the area’s population would not go unnoticed. Every nook and cranny, jotted down and mapped for posterity. 

I looked down at the jar I had kept Nemo in to release him, only to realise that it was devoid of its intended inhabitant. While I was on my internal monologue, Nemo had somehow escaped out of the jar. Checking my radar, a tiny blip with his tag showed up. He was barreling across the area, out of the safe confines of the canyon and off the continental shelf, straight into the recesses of the deep. Horrified, I grabbed my tether and equipment, making my way off to grab Nemo before it was too late. The data was incomplete and Nemo had to return. 

The tether grew tauter as I zipped through the sea. Nemo was almost beyond the shelf and any strong current risked his sure demise. Swimming with all the veracity a middle-aged researcher could conjure, the tether forced me to stop in my tracks. I had stretched it to its fullest limits and it could yield me no further length. Determined as I was, I unplugged the tether – my sole power supply –  relying on the small batteries I had with me. It would only be for a few moments, Nemo was just within sight. 

Now completely independent of any restriction, I continued my mad rush to salvage the survey. Nemo appeared dazed from the distance, ostensibly from an overdose during his time in the jar. Lunging, I grabbed Nemo and stuffed him into the jar once again, ensuring that it was sealed tight. Triumphant, I tapped the jar and the survey resumed.

My mind now free of my former pre-occupation, I took in my surroundings. Alien rock formations, caverns and canyons. The sun’s rays barely penetrated this area, its secrets and knowledge refusing to be let known to the world. 

The Fish with Sharp Teeth, The Bones and Carcasses of Unknown Origin, The Chilling Bellows of the Deep! 

The world around me exuded an eerie aura, the faint glow of the sun only revealing the silhouettes of entities untagged and unlabeled. The creatures and rocks here beckoned not to me, they bore no intimacy and name to the researcher from afar. 

In my desperation to save Nemo, I had gone off the shelf and into the deep ocean. 

Suddenly, a large blip appeared on my radar. It was entirely unknown to me and the database, appearing only as question-marks and a blip confirming its organic existence. Even for the deep ocean, a species this large being undiscovered was almost unheard of. The radar bore no data about it, this creature was genuinely alien to mankind. Checking my power supply, the portable batteries I carried could only yield an hour or two of strenuous use. However, such an opportunity rarely presented itself, even to the researcher with multiple lifetimes. 

With a sigh I opened the jar, “Sorry, bud.”

I nudged a sober Nemo out. His body was not suited for higher pressures.

“I’ll see you again later.” 

But Nemo was well on his way home by the utterance of the last word.

And so, in the name of scientific inquisition, I took off into the abyss. 

The surface was getting further away like a distant sky, but still I went deeper. I had to. Near the surface, bathing in light and illumination, everything had already been discovered; carefully examined, studied and classified. But down here, in the deep, who knew what revelations could possibly emerge. And so down I went. Down into the deep, dark recesses of discovery.

My radar sensor pinged a constant red on the inside of my helmet visor. The distance between me and the creature I was tracking never seemed to shorten, no matter how hard I swam. It was almost as if it was deliberately keeping just at the edge of my sensor’s radius, luring me to it. No organism I had studied ever exhibited such behaviour. It had to be a coincidence. But the alternative gnawed on me. I was so curious.

All the while, my suit’s pressure gauge was steadily rising and its power bar was falling. My oxygen metre flashed. I got tired of keeping track of it all. My full attention was only focused on the creature. 

My arms clawed through the water towards the creature, as if they were pulling on a watery thread, trying in vain to tug the creature closer. My legs kicked furiously, maximising the momentum of my heavy suit. The residual light from the surface had thinned out until I was trapped in an inky suspension. 

I tapped on the headlamp affixed to my helmet. A white beam carved through the darkness like a searchlight. 

The water shone a subtle greenish hue. The rock formations had thinned out into long spikes, geological appendages that twisted and cracked. Strange, bioluminescent polyps grew across and inside their surfaces: red, yellow, purple, orange variations that even my  vast knowledge could not ascribe names to. 

For all their vibrancy, however, they were shrivelled up, and sparse.The deep sea seemed dead. Other than the polyps, neither my eyes nor my sensors could detect any other traces of life. With the exception of it.

In this emptiness, and with the aid of my headlamp, I could finally just barely see it now.

For all my eyes could tell, the creature was a muddy silhouette that deceptively could have been either two or twenty metres away. My suit’s sensors helpfully informed me that it was in fact thirty metres away. Thirty? With this level of turbidity, and in this darkness, being able to visually discern something at that distance… 

It had to be extremely big. The thought alone sent my mind racing with excitement, making me forget the dull numbness aching within my skull.


Shrill cries emanated from the hunk of metal that cared for my body’s safety more than I did. But the suit wasn’t alive. It had never experienced truly living, like I was now. I was in a greater position to decide what I wanted to do with my body. And I decided to go deeper.


The beeping was sounding faster and faster, matching pace with my thumping heart. Just a bit more. Just a bit further. I had to see it.

The first thing that failed was the headlamp. Its light flickered and died, plunging me into a faceless void. I could only listen to the sounds of my own breathing echoing within my helmet, and the mute sloshing of water around my suit.

In a few minutes, my sensors shut down too. With no sight, no direction, I continued swimming. I didn’t need my sensors to track it. I knew it was down there. I just had to keep moving.

In time, my movements began to grow sluggish, as resistance pushed against my arms and legs. The suit’s hydraulic motors had ceased functioning, so I was now keenly experiencing the opposing force of the wall of water enveloping me. Even as I was forced to slow down to a crawl, I kept moving.

I had no idea how much more time passed in that faceless abyss. I had no idea when I first noticed its presence. But at some point I felt a sudden disturbance in the fluid ahead of me. Then I heard it reverberating through the metal suit, drilling into my skin: a low rumbling. 

It was pitch black, but I had to see it with my eyes. My own eyes. Unfiltered. My hands reached for the base of my neck. My fingers pressed in—SNAP—and my helmet was removed.

I see it. I’ve discovered it. I’ve finally gotten what I wanted.

And so did it.

Harry Shelby: A Personal Murder Case

Written by: Rebecca Yap Jia Xin (22-O1), Tan Le Kai, (21-I4)

Designed by: Alexia Teo (22-U1)

Harry Shelby was a name that everyone knew and loved. Dubbed the greatest detective of his time, Shelby was hailed by all as the epitome of justice. There was never a case he could not solve. Headline after headline praised him as England’s finest bloodhound, a man who hunted down criminals relentlessly once he caught their foul scent and tore them down in the name of justice.

And one such game just happened to be afoot.

“My God, I can’t believe they came at my Lizzy! My lovely wife!” He seethed as he stood at the heart of the crime scene. The victim’s body lay face down motionless in a pool of blood in the middle of their residence, surrounded by a flurry of stray papers as well as furniture that was knocked over. The curtains were torn and the windows were smashed in, setting up the obvious break-in point of the murderer. 

The victim’s blood had seeped into the carpet below them, causing Shelby to scrunch up his nose in disgust as a misplaced step of his led to a sickening squelch. The furniture around the room was strewn about, indicating the panicked struggle of the victim, which Shelby pointed out to the attending policemen. He methodically combed the scene, taking bloodstained prints from the windowsill as well as taking note of the slashes on the body that showed the weapon used.

He crouched around the body and examined the floor for traces of the elusive murderer when something shiny caught his eye. 

“How are you able to stay so calm, sir? Surely the death of your wife must affect you somewhat.”

Just as the evidence had come to his attention, Shelby glanced towards the side of the room where a young policeman came forward, clutching his hat in his hands in respect. Shelby’s face softened and for a moment he looked more like a grieving widower than a confident detective. Shelby plucked his own hat from his head with heavy hands.

“I miss my wife dearly and with all of my heart,” the widower shook his head. “But I must do what justice calls me to do—that is to do my upmost best to catch the blasted murderer so that I can save England from the same fate my poor wife suffered.”

The policemen nodded in respect and Shelby smiled, placing his hat back on his crown and shoving his hands in his pockets. The young policeman proceeded to salute him.

Unbeknownst to the two officers, Shelby thumbed the rim of the small button he had fetched from the ground earlier.

It was about a centimetre and a half wide in diameter and had a dull grey colour. His mind leapt into action, browsing through his mental catalogue of years of fashion magazines and passersby’s clothing before stopping abruptly at a single article of clothing.

Not even ten minutes after he had stepped out of the crime scene, he already knew where the killer’s haunt would be.

Factory 7”, Shelby uttered, having arrived after a short trek down to reach just before sunset. He had been very careful to ensure that the policemen had not followed him along. He needed the killer all to himself. Illuminated by evening light, Shelby discerned a man sitting perfectly still in the warehouse, which had long been out of function, alone.

“So you’ve found me, Shelby,” the man said in a nonchalant tone. 

Shelby was unfazed by the comment as he walked into the warehouse with an air of arrogance, strolling straight towards the killer.

“Oh the old detective’s walk! How delightable! It’s a perfect crime!” the killer banters light-heartedly. 

Shelby walked on until he was no less than a foot away from the man and reached into his pocket, startling the man slightly, who appeared to wince subtly and reached into his own pocket as well, eyeing Shelby intently. As the man drew his pistol, Shelby drew his iconic pipe and began to smoke as the man burst into hysterical laughter and sets his pistol aside.

“You’re classical as always Shelby! You never fail to delight me! How about you tell me, good sir, how did you solve the crime?” mocked the killer. 

“Well, for starters, it was easy to plug myself into the case of my own wife, a case that in all circumstances will appear to any person as one of great concern to me, easily drawing sympathy to allow my access to the crime scene. Hence, it was easy for me to collect all the evidence I needed. Or should I say, the only evidence I needed. Here, I have the iconic factory worker’s pin, and from the pristine condition of the pin, it was easy to deduce that the worker must not have done much dirty work, which led me straight to Factory 7, the packaging section of the factory.”

The killer, understandably, was annoyed, both by the cigarette smoke Shelby was puffing out and his rambling. He, however, did not want to interrupt the detective and reached into his pocket to smoke along with the detective. It was rude to interrupt a detective’s moment.

“However,” the detective continued. “It is far from a perfect crime. For a perfect crime will have no loose ends hanging, especially not one desperate for cash and is shown to be a cold-hearted killer…”

There was silence for a moment.

Then, like a chain reaction, a spark went off in the killer, the instinctive motion where his right hand reached into his left jacket, feeling for something, something he desperately needed…

Alas, he dropped down, slumped to the floor. A bullet had pierced the killer’s chest.

“You were my Watson. Dumb and impressionable, but most importantly unquestioning, doing as I said. Your only fault is that I am too cautious of a man to trust anyone. Perhaps, down the road, I will see you in hell. But, for now the greatest detective alive has got unpleasant work to do,” Shelby declared, staring straight into Watson’s eyes.

Watson stared back, his eyes betraying his soul, showing mixed emotions of anger, betrayal, guilt, sadness and regret… before silent acceptance of his fate, as one bullet after another was fired, until four bullet holes covered the man’s face. Putting his gloves on, Shelby carefully removed all the bullets from the man with his tool kit, along with the man’s gun, keys and ring. Finally, he pushed a large shelf onto his torso and head, hearing intently for the sound that was distinct to the sound of a cracking skull. He enjoyed that sound, the killer had disrespected the great Shelby afterall.  After a simple clean up, Shelby took a black trash bag out of the warehouse, tired after a day of detective work and ready to go home for a hot shower. 

After all, he would have to appear in front of the press yet again as the brilliant detective Shelby tomorrow morning.

Kaleidoscope: slices of life – The Gatekeeper

Written by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Nigel Ng (21-A3)

That fateful night… 

I lifted my gaze and focused it on the hideous figure that stood inside the mirror- Thick overgrown, ebony black hair covered its raven black eyes. Its crimson red lips parted to reveal a row of gnarly teeth. ‘Why must you be such a freak?’ I glowered. 

Growing up, the world taught me a cruel lesson, ‘Fit in or don’t.’- I was, unfortunately, part of the reject pile from day one. I was born on 13th November 1997, a Friday, in the dead of night amidst a raging storm. I came into this world, red-faced and bawling at the most ungodly hour- 3:00 A.M. Yet, the peculiarities of my existence were only just being discovered. It quickly became clear to all in the delivery room that night this was no ordinary child. As the nurses swaddled me in the washcloth, they couldn’t help noticing the stark contrast between my mother and me. There wasn’t a hint of Mum’s traits in me- Her blonde hair and aqua blue eyes never translated to her child. 

Needless to say, my childhood was abnormal. There were so many strange phenomena I experienced throughout my early years that I could never quite reason out. It started with small things like the allure of the darkness, then it quickly escalated into something more sinister. I started hearing voices and seeing people walking that aren’t there. Anything I touched seemed to die shortly after, from the flowers in the garden to the neighbour’s dog. Yet, the most bizarre of all is the recurring nightmares I have every night:

In a world bathed in darkness, a powerful man sits on a throne of skulls. This man is tall, with stately features. He has unruly Vantablack hair and a menacing gaze, clad in a sweeping black rob. His world is loyally protected by his pet, a three-headed dog-like creature. Then a thunderous sound erupts as a bolt of lightning flashes- suddenly, the man is no more. All hell breaks loose as spirits, demons and many more subhuman entities escape the dark realm to reach Earth. The world is in an apocalyptic state as shadow spirits roam the Earth, searching for human victims. Humans become possessed at the sight of the entities, and mass suicides occur…

I remember vividly the first time I had this vision, and since then, I slept with a dreamcatcher over my bed, but the nightmares never left me- even to this day. 

The incident left me traumatised, and I was never the same again. Then, it became clear to me ‘different’ wasn’t celebrated in this world; it was something outcasted, which my family became. At times, it felt so isolating- just me and my Mum against the rest of the world, but there was strength in the knowledge that we were together. 

“You’re special, son. I mean it.”, “One day, you’ll find your place in this world and realise the destiny you were born for.”, Mum once told me. At the time, I thought Mum was just saying to make me feel better. Yet, it was really the beginning of my journey to manifesting my fate. 

That fateful night…

“Zach! Time for bed!” Mum hollered from the kitchen downstairs. I instantly spun on my heel, tearing my gaze from my reflection in the mirror. Flipping the light switch, I raced to my bed, diving under the covers. Fatigue soon took over me, I fell into a deep sleep.   

In a world bathed in darkness, a powerful man sits on a throne of skulls. This man is tall, with stately features. He has unruly Vantablack hair and a menacing gaze, clad in a sweeping black rob. His world is loyally protected by his pet, a three-headed dog-like creature. Then a thunderous sound erupts as a bolt of lightning flashes- “ZACHARIUS!”, the last word that escapes the man’s lips before he is no more.

A searing agony shot through my body, jolting me awake. “AAHHHH!” I cried like a banshee. Then, a wave of blistering heat wept over my body, singeing my skin. In the struggle, I fell off the bed and saw it; Fern-like patterns of blue-black cutaneous marks sprawled across my arm. 

“…WH..WHAT?!!”, my gaze was fixed on the horrifying sight. A flurry of thoughts ambushed my mind.


Suddenly, the world purpled down into darkness, and the ground beneath my feet trembled with rage. The tremors grew in intensity, building up rapidly to a crescendo before the land was ripped into two. Then, shadowy figures started creeping out. I felt a dull ache as the feeling of déjà vu descended upon me. ‘THIS ISN’T BE HAPPENING! THIS ISN’T BE HAPPENING!!’, my mind screamed. Suddenly, a black void materialised before my very eyes, and an unseen force shoved me into it. I let out an ear-piercing shriek as I fell through what seemed like a dark, bottomless pit. 

Suddenly, the unseen force overpowered me and gently lowered me to the ground. I awoke in a world bathed in darkness. It was the place I saw in my nightmares. “WHERE AM I? WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE!” I yelled aimlessly at the darkness. A moment of silence ensued before an unseen voice whispered, “Let me show you.” Suddenly, a pair of hands reached out from behind me and covered my eyes- I started seeing visions. 

The powerful man in black robes affectionately strokes the pregnant belly of a woman- his wife. His family disagrees with the union; the man fights furiously with his older brother clad in white robes. The powerful man’s wife is banished from his world, sent back to live amongst the mortals on Earth. Her face was revealed as she turned back to look at him the last time- MOTHER. 

“NO!” I screamed. “IT CAN’T BE!” I struggled to free myself from the unseen hands. 

“It is. You know it yourself. The childhood you had, your life experiences were by no means a misfortune. You are no ordinary boy; you are the son of the Divine. A half-blood prince, gifted with the abilities possessed by your late father”, the voice boomed.

“THIS IS NOT REAL!”, my hands flew to cover my ears. I shut my eyes tight. 

‘What about now?’, the unseen voice whispered in my head.

My eyes flew open in horror, ‘HOW?’ 

‘This is real, Zacharius. Believe it.’

“What do you want from me?” I croaked.

“It is not what I want from you. It is what your father would have wanted from you.”

“My father..”, my thoughts lingered on the mention of my father- the biggest enigma of my life. 

“Tell me what you know.”

“Very well. The man in your dreams is your father- you are the son of Hades, God of the Underworld. By loving your mother, the King of the Underworld went against the rules of Olympus- Loving a mortal. Their love was forbidden, and Zeus, your uncle, banished your mother to Earth. When Zeus found out about your existence, he was ready to end your life. Your father tried to stop him, but nothing stands in Zeus’ path.” the unseen voice echoed once again. 

A stubborn lump formed in your throat, “So he killed him”, my voice trembled with silent rage. 

“Zeus couldn’t afford a half-blood succeeding a God. It would disrupt the order of our universe- The Gods above and mortals beneath them, no exceptions. The sanctity of Olympus was at stake.”

A long, painful silence ensued as I tried to let reality sink in. A flurry of emotions plagued me, choking up my throat as I forced the words out; “The pain…I felt when I saw…when I saw the visions… of his death….”

 “A part of Hades resides in you; when Zeus’ bolt struck him, you felt it too. A part of you died that day.”

Those words set me ablaze, ‘A part I will never get back.’

“Those dreams you had since childhood are not nightmares- Like your abilities, they are no coincidence. They are visions of the prophecy you are to fulfil when the time is right. That is your fate. From birth, you were destined to avenge the death of Hades and bring salvation to mankind by taking your father’s place as Gatekeeper to the Underworld.”

“That time is now…” the rage that seethed within me built up to a fever pitch.

“I am ready for Zues”, every syllable dripped with contempt. 

“Not so fast Zacharius, battling Zeus is not a simple task. Drink the ambrosia from this urn; it will give you the strength to fight Zeus- God to God.” 

I could vaguely make out the silhouette of an urn by my side. Grabbing it, I brought it up to my lips, hastily wrestling the lid off. I titled the contents of the urn into my mouth and swallowed it in one gulp.

My body started morphing, “AAAHHH!”. My bones stretched as I grew to a colossal height, towering over the lands. My wounds healed, the Fern-like scars gone. My palms glowed an ominous grey as my pupils enlarged to fill the whites of my eyeballs. 

‘Are you ready to feel the wrath of The Gatekeeper?’ 

Kaleidoscope: slices of life – Love, Furniture and other delusions

Written by: Chen Jiulin (20-E1), Hana Razali (20-I1), Leia Ong (20-U1)

Designed by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)

An empty, dark stage. Spotlight on a single chair in the middle, with TOMOKO, a teenage girl wearing a school uniform, standing behind it in darkness. As TOMOKO speaks, the stage lights gradually go up, illuminating her surroundings. 

TOMOKO: I used to live, once. I used to live… everyone did. But no one else has lived since then. Some sort of plague, probably, that had made you die, and grow cold and unfeeling and steely. And everyone had died. No one laughed, no one sang, there were no voices because no one was kind anymore. I could not find you. I could not find you in this mess. One morning I woke up and everyone had become a piece of wood, some electrical appliance, some household item. Some thing.

No, no, this will not do. You — have to save me. Show me that you… still have a heart. You can’t expect me to be okay. You can’t expect anyone to be. I am drowning in a sea of bloody furniture. The world is like an IKEA store, and I can’t find a way out.

Can you believe it? No one ever says what they feel. I feel claustrophobic. They are not living, are they? Everyone is too courteous. Too lifeless. And please tell me you realise that, because I would be disappointed otherwise. 

A pause. Someone taps TOMOKO’s shoulder and she turns. It’s a human boy, also in uniform. 

TOMOKO [Aside]: Well, except for this guy.

Stage lights go up fully. TOMOKO and the boy, SOSUKE BOSUKE, stand in a school corridor in the early morning. Numerous pieces of furniture litter the stage, moving and talking.

SOSUKE BOSUKE [panting]: What’s good? I almost made it on time, but then the prefect at the door blocked me. Darn.

TOMOKO [knowingly]: That umbrella stand. Awful piece of work.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko, you know that’s not true. 

TOMOKO: Laugh away, Sosuke. I’ve been trying to tell you for weeks, but you know they have changed. You’re just in shock from everything that happened.

SOSUKE BOSUKE [sighing]: No, no. We’re not starting this again. Please, no one’s turned into furniture

A pause. They stare at each other: TOMOKO unrelenting, SOSUKE resigned. 

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Whatever. Anyway, did you hear about the assignment Ms Fan asked us to do?

TOMOKO: What! Well, to be honest, I couldn’t tell if it was her or the teacher’s table speaking, so.


Still bickering, they enter a classroom. It is filled with twice the amount of furniture and household appliances than usual. 

Someone catches Tomoko’s eye — a tall and good-looking figure sitting at the back of the classroom.

TOMOKO [dramatically]: Oh! Oh. He’s here.

Spotlight on the figure. It is revealed to be a tall and good-looking refrigerator.

TOMOKO: Fridge Kun. 

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Stop calling him that, you know his real name’s— 

TOMOKO: Fridge Kun. God, Fridge Kun. [SOSUKE BOSUKE rolls his eyes, exasperated.]

TOMOKO goes over to the refrigerator, clearing her throat. 

FRIDGE [falsely pleasant]: If it isn’t Tomoko Chan. How’s it been, a month or so?

TOMOKO: Fine, I guess. I mean, after the break-up, I was hoping we could still stay— 

FRIDGE [interjecting smoothly]: Friends? Of course. 

TOMOKO: That’s nice, that’s… great. [Her eyes dart around.] Who was that other… person who was with you the other day? I saw you across the street, opposite school— 

FRIDGE: Oh. She’s my girlfriend. It was a real heat-of-the-moment thing. [He laughs.] She’s great, she’s really caring. Too soon?

TOMOKO [laughing uncomfortably]: It’s fine. I actually… just got together with someone a week ago, too. He’s… really mature. I’m a little naive so it’s great to have him by my side, I really… respect people… like him. [Aside] He’s gotten hitched already? How dare he?

FRIDGE: [chuckles politely] Wonderful. No hard feelings, I hope.

Pause. FRIDGE goes back to reading his textbook. TOMOKO doesn’t move.

TOMOKO:  I don’t… understand. How are you — why are you — you’re still different. You are not who I knew you were. You really have… died, too. You are a refrigerator, and your heart is cold like any other empty… fridge.

Stage lights down as TOMOKO and FRIDGE are spotlighted.

FRIDGE [coldly]: Tomoko, I don’t follow.

TOMOKO [increasingly agitated]: Stop. Stop coming here and showing your face when this isn’t even your homeroom, when you just want to see your stupid new tool! What’s her name, now, huh? Daikin? Mitsubishi?

FRIDGE [controlling himself with an effort]: Tomoko, please. It’s Dyson. Besides, I have every right to be here. My next class is here; this has nothing to do with you.

TOMOKO: I don’t care. How can you come for class early — knowing I’m here — and not expect me to get mad at you? Especially after you rub it in my face that you—  You know we made a pact to never see each other again. How could you break that?

FRIDGE: We made no such pact, Tomoko. 

TOMOKO: Well, I just did, at any rate. And so should you. How can you just — sit there like that all cold and smug and lifeless, knowing what you did to me? And so quickly get attached again?

FRIDGE: Tomoko, it was for the best. We are clearly incompatible. Look at us. Now please honour your pact and never speak to me again. Good day.

TOMOKO [exclaiming]: How was I supposed to know that when we first met? I wish I’d never met you — no, sometimes, I feel like pulling your plug!

Horrible silence in the homeroom. The furniture-students have turned to stare at the altercation. TOMOKO whirls around. 

TOMOKO: Yeah, you heard me! All your plugs, I’ll pull them! I’m insane! You’re plastic! [She laughs maniacally.]

SOSUKE BOSUKE: [going over] Tomoko, that’s enough! 

They exit the classroom together, SOSUKE BOSUKE bodily tugging TOMOKO outside.

TOMOKO: Sosuke, why did you stop me?

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko, you can’t just say stuff like that! That was nuts and mean and probably socially unacceptable on every level. You’ll go viral for that.

TOMOKO: Why? They won’t care. They don’t even have feelings. They’re furniture!

SOSUKE BOSUKE: They are human people

TOMOKO [in distress]: Not like you and me! You don’t understand! They’ve never been!

SOSUKE BOSUKE stares at TOMOKO, who is breathing heavily, and shakes his head.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: No — you don’t understand! What’s with the ‘us’ or ‘them’? There is no ‘us’ nor ‘them’! Please, can’t you try to be normal! Can’t you try to agree with me, just once?

A pause. SOSUKE BOSUKE laughs defeatedly.

You know what? You’re right. I don’t get it, and I don’t think I ever will. But now I don’t want to understand anymore. I can’t be friends with someone who says things like that to other people. You’ve gone too far.

SOSUKE BOSUKE turns around, back to TOMOKO. 

SOSUKE BOSUKE: This is it. Bye, I guess. It was good while it lasted. [He picks up his things and walks off.]

TOMOKO stands alone in the hallway, silently watching SOSUKE BOSUKE disappear. As he nears the end of the corridor, he is replaced by a chair, moving in the same direction.

TOMOKO [whispering]: All of them, the same.


Some months have passed.

SOSUKE BOSUKE stands alone on a dark stage, a chair beside him.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: You really left. I didn’t think you would actually transfer out. I had kept hoping that that day had been an — an anomaly, that you were still the bright, imaginative Tomoko I used to know, but in the end I guess I really never knew you at all.

That day, I had hoped that that ‘you’ would return the next day. And yet… and yet… in the morning as I had gone for class, silence had wrapped about me like a virus. You never came back. Nothing had changed at all.

And I can’t say that you were wrong either. Everybody had indeed gotten colder after that day — though seeing them as furniture might have been going too far. If I ever saw you just once, I would make amends.

Stage lights up, revealing SOSUKE BOSUKE and TOMOKO standing in a train cabin, and the chair to be a passenger seat.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Tomoko. It’s been a while. How’ve you been?

TOMOKO [shocked]: Sosuke. 

A pause. The train jolts.

I’ve been… great, actually! After I transferred out, you wouldn’t believe how many desks and stools I’ve become friends with. Everyone there is so studious, so quiet, and they love to listen whenever I talk to them.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Listen, about last time— 

TOMOKO [interjecting]: You know how there’s a new movie coming out? I’m in it.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: What movie?

TOMOKO: The new movie, you know? I’m acting in it.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Really? What’s its name?

TOMOKO: Well, I mean, I’m playing a side role. Not that spectacular, but still commendable if I say so myself, considering I’ll be the only human in it.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: …So what’s the name of the movie?

TOMOKO: Okay, maybe not a side character. An extra, but still… 

TOMOKO’s voice fades away as the lights fade out, leaving SOSUKE BOSUKE alone onstage again.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: You haven’t changed, either. I wanted to make amends, but you’re not the Tomoko I knew before, before you told me people had turned into chairs. You’ve been so caught up in your own world, that I don’t know how to talk to you anymore. I feel so… distant. 

Talking to you is like talking to… a piece of wood.

A few more stage lights go up, revealing a chair in front of SOSUKE BOSUKE. TOMOKO has disappeared.

SOSUKE BOSUKE: Well, I guess this is… farewell.


Kaleidoscope: slices of life – the bittersweet pub

Written by: Ashley Koh (21-A1)

Designed by: Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)

Five drunk guys walk into a bar, and the bartender gains catharsis through her reconnection with one of them. 

Glasses clink. Chatter rises and falls in volume. Drunken laughter fills the air. Chairs and stools squeak as people, inebriated, shift uncomfortably in their seats.

Dawn sees all of this as she calmly wipes a drinking glass. The towel in her hand is rough and caked in dirt, passed down by generations of bartenders. But though her eyes scan the bar, her mind isn’t here. 

The harsh words her boyfriend yelled at her this morning still echo in her mind, and she winces as she recalls the equally piercing words she screamed back. He left their home in a huff, slamming the door and leaving Dawn to sob by herself. 

Since then, it’s been radio silence from him. 

She checks her phone again. No messages. Sighing, she slips it back in her pocket and continues to absent-mindedly wipe a glass. 

“Dawn!” Her coworker, Tyler, calls. “Help me bring these bottles out.” 

She places the glass next to the sink, and hops back into the inventory room. 

“You got it?” Tyler asks as he carefully loads a few liquor bottles into Dawn’s arms. Focused on not dropping the bottles, she can only nod. 

As she leaves the inventory room, she hears the bell attached to the door ring. 

“Welcome to the Bittersweet Pub! I’ll be with you in a second.” Drunken shouts greet her words, and she sighs once more. There’s maybe about five people here. Carefully, she places the bottles down, then turns around to face the counter. 

“What can I get you-” She stops. 

No. It can’t be. She thought she would never see that face again.

“My buddy Kenny’s getting promoted! It’s his last night as a mortal man! We want everything on the menu!” 

She thought she would never hear that name again. 

“Stoooppp,” one of the men slurs drunkenly, swiping at his buddy’s shirt aimlessly. 

And though his words are muddled by alcohol, she never thought she would hear that voice again. 

“R-right. What, uh, what would you like to start with?” She furiously tamps down the feeling of panic, and her customer service smile smoothly slides onto her face. “May I recommend the Portuguese Water to start? It’s gin-“ 

“Anything’s fine, lady. Just get us drinks and keep ‘em going!” She nods wordlessly, then turns behind the counter. 

Internally, she’s screaming. The last time she saw him, she was seventeen. 

And he was her first boyfriend. 

Kenny Rodriguez seemingly had it all. Student Council President, head of his CCA, popular among a vast majority of the school. And he was Spanish, which made him even more alluring to most of the school. 

Dawn wasn’t a nerd, nor was she *unpopular*. But Kenny’s popularity reached superstardom, while she preferred mingling in small groups. 

They were never supposed to meet, let alone hit it off. But when they attended the same woodworking workshop as part of the Sabbatical Module, something between them clicked. 

They were friends at first, but quickly their relationship evolved into something more. In each other, they found the best friend they never knew they needed.

At the start, everything was perfect. Both were head over heels for each other, and even thinking back to then 10 years later, the level of attraction her 17-year-old self had towards Kenny still makes Dawn’s heart pound. 

But slowly, she realised that dating a guy with so many commitments in school spells trouble, inevitably. 

They had dinner dates on Thursdays, and went out together on Saturdays. But gradually, she had to wait more and more for him. 

Minutes turned to hours, then days. He always came back, apologising profusely and like a fool, she always forgave him. 

Then one day, four months later, he sat her down and broke up with her. 

“You deserve someone better, who can give you the things I can’t give.” That was the line Dawn remembered the most. When she soaked her pillow in tears and screamed into her bolster for nights afterwards, she latched onto that line like a toxic lifeline. It sustained her rage and her resentment, and gradually she grew to hate him. 

But a part of her also hurt, because she dug out such a big hole in her heart for him and now there was nothing left to fill it. 

For months and years after that, she dated a whole string of guys that were so obviously wrong for her, just to feel something close to what she felt before. 

It always failed. And ten years later, that failure has come back to haunt her as she sees him sitting, drunk, in front of the bar counter she works at. 

All night, Dawn serves them drinks. She’s glad that even inebriated, they are civilised enough to keep their hands to themselves. Unfortunately, she isn’t saved from drunken leering and them egging each other on in front of her. 

‘It’s just another day of work.’ Dawn reminds herself, ad infinitum. Not just to have the patience to deal with the men, but to have self-control as her eyes hover over Kenny’s face again and again.

When the clock strikes two, it seems a switch has been pulled. Phones vibrate, ding, and even ring. As the men open texts and pick up calls, the only one still sitting down at the counter, nursing his drink, is Kenny. 

One by one, they file out of the bar, and Kenny waves goodbye to each of them drunkenly. 

The last to leave, presumably his best friend, murmurs, “I’m not that drunk, so I can still drive you home.” Kenny waves him off, and the other man laughs. 

“Suit yourself, idiot.” Then he looks at Dawn, then back at Kenny, and a look of understanding slowly appears on his face. He winks, then laughs and leaves the bar. Dawn’s jaw clenches, and she focuses on pouring away the rest of the drink in the glass. As the door slams, the realisation sets in her. 

It’s just him and her now. 

“So, promotion, huh?” Kenny looks up blearily at her, then nods his head slowly in response to her comment. “What position?” 

He takes a while to think, then murmurs something too soft for her to hear. 


“I said, Assistant Manager.” He says more loudly, sounding more annoyed than drunk now. 

“Sorry,” Dawn says, palms up in surrender. “What company?” 

“Redwood. It’s a…law firm.” Dawn smiles. Somehow, even though he was so busy, she always expected him to go down the traditional Asian route. He loosens his tie, then places it down on the counter. 

Then he coughs, as it was choking him. Under his breath, Dawn hears him swear. 

“Y’know, I never wanted this promotion. I was happy. Happy to stay where I was and just toil away. 9 to 5 suits me. All I need to do is keep my head down, do my job, and mind my own business.” He rests the cold glass against his forehead, and when he pulls it away, rivulets of water chase each other down his forehead to his cheeks. 

“But now, I need to care about what everyone wants. It’s exhausting.” Kenny sighs, and lays his head on the table. 

Quietly, he murmurs, “I had enough of that in JC.” Dawn stiffens slightly. 

“Uh, what did you do in JC? That made you so tired of leading people?” At this point, Dawn is pretty impressed with herself for only calmly wiping glasses and not throwing them down and sprinting out of the bar. 

“Everything. Council, CCA president…” He begins to slur drunkenly, then shakes his head. “I did all kinds of stuff, ‘cause I thought they would…look good on my resumé.” He scoffs. “Turns out none of that stuff matters in Uni. Or when you apply for a job.” 

“But you managed to get into a law firm! That’s pretty impressive.” What is she doing? Consoling him about his own insecurities? Where is the hatred she felt? 

“Yah, after struggling like hell. Honestly, I only got in because I’m best friends with the Manager’s son. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even have had a chance to go for an interview.” 

He sighs deeply, then lifts his glass for another drink. Dawn moves to the liquor bottles, but something in her says no. 

“You can have tea instead. I’m sure you have work tomorrow,” She pushes his glass away. His reproachful look only earns him a firm stare, and he backs down.  

From beneath the counter, she fetches a dusty old kettle, and begins to boil water. As she pours the water into a tiny jade tea cup, Kenny starts to speak again. 

“There was a girl. Who I dated for a bit at the start of JC.” Here it is. Dawn swallows nervously, and carefully places the teacup in front of him. 

“What was her name? Diana? Danielle? Daphne? Wh-“ 

“Drink it while it’s still hot,” Dawn quickly interjects. Her eyes glance downwards. To her horror, she realises her name tag has been pinned to her uniform all this time. Hastily, she unpins it and shoves it in her pocket. 

“Thanks.” Kenny mumbles, oblivious to her hurried movement. In one swift movement, almost like taking a shot, he gulps down the tea. Afterwards, he shudders and shakes his head vigorously, almost like a dog getting rid of excess water. 

Eager to escape the situation she’s found herself in, she stands up and steps in front of the counter. “Come on, you should go now, it’s late. I’ll get a cab for you.” 

He staggers up obediently, and nearly collapses on Dawn. Luckily for her, she has quick reflexes. Almost immediately, she catches him by the shoulders, and turns him around towards the door. 

“This way.” She steers him out of the bar. 

Outside, as Dawn calls for a Grab, he plops down on the pavement next to her.

“It should be here in about ten minutes. Can you wait?” 

He smiles, and nods his head. She returns the smile, and moves to head back into the bar. 

“Thank you, Dawn.” She stops in her tracks. 

“It-it’s nothing. All of those in the service line should put their customers first.” He probably just remembered her name from the name tag. 

“And I’m sorry to you for what I did all those years ago.” Oh. It wasn’t just the name tag. Hesitatingly, she sits back down on the pavement next to Kenny. 

“I was a mess.” Even though her first instinct is to reject that statement, Dawn knows deep down it’s true. 

“I didn’t handle things well, and I took on way too much, just to prove I was worth something. But you were the only one who ACTUALLY made me feel I had value, and that there was someone who wanted me around.” In response, Dawn’s throat tightens. “I was an idiot. I didn’t value you enough. Or maybe I just couldn’t back then. I don’t know if this is enough, but I truly am sorry for what I did to you.”

He wipes his face, and with a start, Dawn realises he’s crying. Kenny Rodriguez, former shining star and untouchable school icon, is breaking down in front of her. 

“You DID deserve better, but I shouldn’t have used that as an excuse. I was just being a coward.” Quietly, he sniffles. 

“Afterwards, I missed you so badly. I did everything I could to put you out of my mind, but I just couldn’t. I kept asking about you, until all of my friends knew I wasn’t okay, that I was heartbroken. I kept wanting to go back to you. But it was too late. I saw you, slowly moving on, becoming a star in your own right.” Quietly, Dawn laughs. That’s how he saw her? Wow. 

They sit in silence for a bit, then abruptly, he turns to her, and catches her hands in his. The look he gives her is both blood-shot and absolutely desperate. 

“Please, I messed up all those years ago. If you can, please, let me try again. With you.” 

Dawn’s breath hitches. Isn’t this the second chance she wanted all those years ago? To feel how she felt about Kenny again? 

She wants to say it so badly. Her seventeen-year-old self is screaming at her to say it, to just say yes. What are you waiting for you absolute idiot? 

And yet, she can’t. Surprisingly, a larger part of her doesn’t want to. As mad as she is at him, her current boyfriend’s face floats into her mind. 

“I’m sorry. But that was 10 years ago. And I think what happened in the past should stay in the past.” 

He looks crestfallen. 

Guilt is beginning to swallow her up. Did she make the right choice? Should she have said yes after all? But he stands up, wobbling a little, and Dawn shoots up next to him. 

“Okay,” he says, looking at her with still blood-shot but now earnest eyes, “okay. I get it. But I’m still sorry for treating you that way.” She smiles. 

“I appreciate it.” She pauses, then continues. “And you should know that you have value. You’ve always had value, because you work hard for what you want.” 

Blearily, he grins at her in thanks. 

Bright lights shine onto them from a distance, and tires crunch on gravel as a yellow taxi pulls up into sight. 

Kenny staggers into the taxi with Dawn’s help, and settles heavily onto the back seat. 

“Get home safe,” she tells him as she closes the door. Kenny nods, then takes Dawn’s hand and kisses it through the open window. 

“Goodbye, Dawn.” He says, grinning. 

“Farewell, Kenny.” Dawn murmurs as the taxi drives off. Slowly, she caresses the spot on her hand where Kenny kissed, then drops her hand completely. 

Her phone pings. 

BABE I’m sorry for what I said this morning. And for disappearing. Let me make it up to you. 

BABE Where are you? I’ll come pick you up. 

She smiles. 

DAWN I’m still at the bar. 

DAWN And it’s okay. I shouldn’t have said what I said either. 

DAWN I love you. See you soon. 

She tucks her phone into her pocket, and looks up at the sky. It looks bright. The stars are out, and Venus is particularly luminescent today.

Kaleidoscope: slices of life – that woman stares at me

Written by: Nigel Ng Ngan Siang (21-A3), Tan Le Kai (21-I4), Zuo Yuning (21-A1)

Designed by: Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5)

The power of any mirror lies in the fact that you can see yourself in it. 

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

The princess took a bite from the apple,

Destined, she fell into a lifeless slumber. 

Motionless, she laid for eternity,

A prince she awaits, desperately

Till the day he came along,

Courageous, charming and rich,

He saved the princess from the witch.”

“Aren’t you the next Eminem?” His mother complimented, ruffling his long, unkempt hair.

“I may spit sick bars, mother, but unlike Eminen, I love my mother very much”. He said, staring at his mother with his deep, dark, naive eyes.

“It’s bedtime dear. Take your medicine and go to bed.”

“Yes mother.”

The next day, the boy and his mother went to explore the sleepy town. It was a quiet, remote town that remains relatively unknown to the outside world, apart from occasionally winning giant pumpkin contests. When they first moved in, the duo had travelled an hour of dilapidated road to reach the town. The boy wore a white shirt with vulgar words printed on it. It was slightly larger than his size, clearly not made for a child. Then there was his mother, a young woman who seemed to have no style. Her outfits were always a mere rotation of what was found in her closet, and it did not take long for the townsfolk to notice that her wardrobe selection was limited. Everyone in town knew everybody, so it was not long before the town folks took notice of the fresh faces. It was not long before the conservative town came to view the mother negatively. They noticed her drinking habits and questioned the choice of clothes for her son.  

The duo had moved into a house. A plain house. The house had been abandoned for a few years after the death of its home owner.It must have been sold by the government because the previous homeowner led a lonely existence.  The house was just as unmaintained as it was when it was sold. The lawn was overrun with tall grass and the structure of the house remained just as flimsy. 

From the early mornings to the late evening the mother would leave the house. The boy told the townsfolk that his mother was out for work and the townsfolk accepted his narrative. There was not much to do in town, and one had to move out of town to find decent work. The boy was instructed to stay home at all times, which he obliged. That was until curiosity got the better of him. He ran down to where the old people were found, where there were barely any children around. The old people were nice to the boy. They offered him candy, which he quickly accepted. He told them stories which utterly captivated them. This was where the town folk were first captivated by the narration of the pumpkin man. “He was tall, very tall.” the boy said. “ He wore a pumpkin for a head and is not from this town. He is from my hometown I think. I remember him as a child. I always see him in the mirror.He stands over me.”

At night, the mother returned with dinner. The boy was starving, but he imagined himself full. He stared deep in the mirror and saw himself with his belly full. The two convened over their day over dinner. The boy went on about the neighbours. Before bed, the mother and the son brushed their teeth. The boy stood in front while the mother stood behind. Through the mirror, the son looked like the mother. After that, the mother would tell the boy one of her stories, and tuck him in, not before he took his medicine. 

It was that night where things took a turn. The night was dark, but through his window the boy swore he saw the eyes of a man, who moved away upon being spotted. The man was on the lawn. The boy woke his mother up immediately, as repeatedly instructed. His mother hurried down, grabbing the key under the mat of her bathroom and unlocking the drawer. It revealed the gun that the boy had seen before. The mother stood in front, ten feet from her front door while the boy cowered silently behind her. 

It was a ghastly scene when the police arrived. It must have been stenched for days because the neighbours who reported it have smelt it from far away. The police would have confirmed two days later that bullets were fired, but only from the mother’s gun. It however would be definitive, confirmed by the police, that someone had broken in. It is however most peculiar that the stench was from a dead boar, those that frequent the woods around the small town, and to a lesser extent rotting pumpkins. Further investigations reveal footage the boy had bought the pumpkins himself from the store himself. Despite the disappearance of the boy and his mother, there was no evidence suggesting foul play so they were simply reported missing. Not except the note left behind by the boy, which included a detailed drawing of the pumpkin man as himself with a pumpkin on his head, with a note which wrote: Happy Pumpkin Day! We are going down the yellow brick road to see the pumpkin man! Good bye!

kaleidoscope: slices of life – The Final Trip

Written by: Aaron Wong Jielun (21-I4)

Designed by: Leanne Soh Li En (21-E6)

“She’s dead. Chloe is dead.” 

I begged the universe that whatever was transpiring was just a horrible, cruel prank. That her mother on the other end of the line would simply laugh it off, and say, “Oh, I was just kidding. Chloe is fine. She’s right beside me now. Why don’t you say hi to your friend, Chloe?”

The television screen in front of me displayed—like a tasteless elegy—the words: Breaking news! Tragic train accident. No survivors.

The phone I was holding to my ear dropped to the floor. 

My throat tightened. My hands wrapped around it and my fingers clawed at its unyielding flesh, trying to wrestle control away from the contracting muscles. I couldn’t breathe. 

Then, I remembered the power that I had. 

My throat relaxed, and I took in a few deep breaths. My eyes refocused and locked onto the television. As images flashed across the screen, bits of information burned into my retinas. Train ran along the Blackwell line. Accident occured at 1.23pm. Suspected train fault. 

Now that I had all the information I needed, I squeezed my eyes shut, and thought about the past. I pictured my childhood. A memory took shape: a little boy, playing with a little girl. Both of them smiling and giggling together, as if laughing at some joke only the two of them in the whole wide world could understand. The boy chasing the girl around a playground, never reaching her, always just barely out of arm’s reach. The blurry outline of her back, fading away along with the sound of her voice as her laughter slowly died away…

My eyes opened. The television in front of me had vanished, replaced by a looming oak tree whose shade neutralised warm, early afternoon sunlight. The cramped surroundings of my room had been replaced by the expanse of a park. 

I shot out my left wrist and hastily scanned the expressionless watch face affixed to it. 1.04pm. I had about 19 minutes to save her. I would just barely make it. I silently cursed the arbitrary restriction to my power—I could temporarily travel back to the past for at most one hour, but I could only travel back in time by three hours. Because of that, I didn’t have the option to travel back any further. Those 19 minutes were going to have to count.

Furiously whipping out my phone from my pocket, I dialed her number faster than the digits could appear on screen. My heart sank as the ringing tone continued for an excruciating few seconds. 

Please, pick up. Please…

The ringing tone abruptly ceased, and muffled noises sounded. Then, I heard barely audible background noises; a cordial announcement, played over a speaker, and the steady thrum of a train in motion. A chirpy voice soon drowned out those sounds.

“Hiya Max, it’s cool to hear from you! How’ve you been?”

“Listen, Chloe, you have to get off that train.”

“Uh yeah, I plan to, once it reaches its next stop in about half an hour!”

“No, you don’t understand. You have to get off, NOW. In 18 minutes, your train is going to get into an accident down the line, and everyone is going to die. You need to alert the crew. Or you can break a window, jump out, then-”

“Haha, I’ve always liked that dark sense of humour of yours.”

“No, I’m not kidding you, Chloe, I swear. Please, I beg you, get off the train now!” My voice had begun to crack like fissures on a sculpture, my commands reduced to desperate pleas.

“Wow, Max, you’ve really polished up your drama skills, haven’t you? Listen, the train’s coming up to a tunnel real soon, so we’ll lose connection, but I’ll call you back afterwards! I can’t wait to hear the second act of the great Shakespearean tragedy, Maxbeth! Talk to you later, bye!” 

Before my shouts could leave my lips, she had already ended the call.

I never got the return call. 

My surroundings shifted once again. I was back to the confinement of my room, its four walls trapping me in on all sides. Back in the present.

“She’s dead. Chloe is dead.” 

The same few words stabbed deep into my chest for a second time. Things could not end this way. I had to change everything. I would change everything.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I travelled back to the past again…

…where I ended up failing once more. So I travelled back again. Then, I failed. So I travelled back once again. This mad cycle continued on endlessly like an eternal purgatory. 

Not giving up, I tried every single method that I could think of. Across many different attempts, I called the police and also contacted the train service. I told them the truth. I told them lies. I spun them every single story I could concoct—family emergency, bomb threat, terrorist attack, and every other reason why a train would possibly want to halt. Across all the attempts, I was greeted by a mixture of disbelief, ridicule, and strained patience. Despite the variation, two conditions always remained constant: the train could only ever stop at its next station, and the train would never reach its next station.

Calling Chloe never ended well. Her warm, vibrant energy only dragged me deeper down a spiral of despair each time I heard it. Her playful voice, brimming with enthusiasm, was always oblivious to what was to come. It tortured me. 

She’s dead. Chloe is dead.

The words echoed in my mind for what was the… hundredth… no, thousandth time? I had lost track ages ago. Not that it mattered at all. Nothing that I did mattered. My power was meaningless… it couldn’t accomplish anything.

I hurled the phone in my hand towards the television as I yelled a disgusting, bitter cry. The phone crashed against the screen. Images and lights flushed away, leaving a shattered, black surface. I saw a face staring back at me from within the black void of the screen’s reflection. Disfigured by thready cracks, the pathetic face possessed blank eyes, its facial muscles contorted into a mask of raw, visceral pain. On its cheek was the unmistakable glint of moisture. I sucked in a shallow breath. Shut my eyes.

Okay. One last trip. 

I appeared back in the past. Slowly, with a shaking hand, I pulled out my phone. I dialed her number with greater difficulty than usual, my finger trembling with each tap. As her answer came close, my hands gradually became steadier. My rapid breaths stabilised, and my heartbeat slowed to a crawl. I knew what I had to do.

“Hiya Max, it’s cool to hear from you! How’ve you been?” 

Despite our physical distance, her excited voice enveloped me in a warmth that burned hotter than any fire. But underneath that warmth, I also felt a cold sadness. 

“I’m… doing fine, Chloe.” 

“That’s good. ‘Fine’ is good!”

I imagined the smile that she had on her face at that current moment. I also wished to smile, like her. My face relaxed, and the tension melted away. At last, the corners of my mouth perked up barely perceptibly. I had managed a weak smile, at least.

“Chloe… I have something I want to tell you.”

“Well, just say it, Max!”

“Chloe, you’ve been a great, dear friend to me all this while… You have always been at my side, even during the times when I didn’t realise I needed your support… I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world… I want you to know that I’ll always remember you… even after a hundred… no, a thousand years…”

Tears streamed down my face. I paused, as much to collect myself as it was to give Chloe a chance to reply in confusion or jest. However, the other end of the line remained silent. She was waiting for me to continue, as if she was somehow expecting what I was about to say. 

These were the last two words I was ever going to say to her. I had made my choice. There was no going back after this.

“Farewell, Chloe.”