Kaleidoscope: Slices Of Life #1 – For The Sake Of Humanity

What if aliens invaded Singapore? In this scenario, this short story explores what would happen.

Written by: Chen Jiulin (20-E1)

Designed by: Jolene Leow (20-E1)

The consistent beeping of the phone line was discordant with my beating heart. Not that it was irregular, I wasn’t having a heart attack, it just went a lot faster than the almost melodic tone. Still, was I really going to do it? I couldn’t be serious, could I? Or perhaps I was. As if I was standing on the edge of the roof of a high rise building, sweat built up in my palms. It only struck me a while back how short I had lived my life, and that I had numerous regrets left. Not that it mattered, since— 

“Well, are you going to talk?”

Drowned in my thoughts, I didn’t realise the phone call had gotten through.

“Mummy ah? I’ll be…going out for a bit.”

“Huh? Going where? Have you done your Econs yet?”

“I’m…going to be away from some time.”

“Until what time? You coming back for dinner, or not? Where are you going?”

“I might not be able to.”

“Eating out with friends ah?”

I did not know how to answer. A stifled confirmation was all I could offer.

“Don’t anyhow spend your time ah, you don’t want to retain another year, right? So focus more on your studies a bit.”

Again, a basically silent whimper of agreement was all I could let out. 

“Mummy, I…still love you.”

“Aiya, you only say that when you want something from me.”

She hung up. It was beginning to rain outside. When I realised how much time I had wasted being hesitant, the sound of raindrops was reverberating throughout the entire house. I looked out the window. The whole of Singapore was eerily quiet, prepared for some sort of disaster. I couldn’t tell if I was happy or scared for what was to come next.

Everybody should know what would happen next, because literally every news outlet would have covered it in the past week or so. Some kind of vague, alien invasion. It was a little bit disappointing when you thought about it. It wasn’t some all out war, some ominous asteroid approaching Earth, it just…appeared out of nowhere, a conventionally domed, smooth-rimmed, metallic UFO. 

The UFO had appeared, hanging forebodingly above Marina Bay Sands, as if it had always been there before. The saucer floating above the boat had no name, or did not name itself. It just hovered over the modern landscape of Singapore, a modern…contraption in itself. Quite frankly, it would become quite the landmark had it stayed there motionless, staring out onto the cityscape. But it just had to be belligerent. Or at least believed to be. The most boring approach to the most boring outcome. Yet it was because of their mundanity that it was scary, because it was not hard to imagine the result of it if they succeeded. Obviously, the most likely reason for an invasion was because they wanted to experiment on humans; and we are at serious risk. The entirety of humanity was at risk. Of course, I was going to put a stop to them, I figured. I fathomed they were probably attacking because of me. This wasn’t some far-off, narcissistic assumption, though, they were really going to raze the entire earth to the ground because of me.

Because I had failed my A-Levels, I needed to retain another year, everybody knew that — my friends, of course, knew that. I had stopped contacting them after receiving my results. Maybe I hated talking to them, now that I was the martyr of failure, or perhaps I was relieving them of the trouble of talking to an idiot. Maybe I just did not want to talk to them. Either ways, I had completely ignored them for up to a year, which was why I had been surprised that they had showed up at the same hawker centre I had been eating at. It wouldn’t come as an intentional visit, since they did live close by, yet I could not throw the fact that they had come here to talk to me…or really, who was I kidding, they were here just to eat. I was just another bystander in their lives. Was that a dark way to look at things? I was just…surrounded by dark thoughts then. Perhaps in the corner of my mind, I had come to the realisation that I had no place left anywhere in the world. Because I had retained, no one I knew was in my class, and I had become alone. And I was never good at conversing- or really anything. Maybe that was why I had failed in the first place. 

And because I did not know how to communicate, my only choice of action faced with people I did not fit in with was to run away. I had never been good at physical activity, obviously, given my subpar grades, but still my way of running was so slapstick it could be considered a comedy act of its own. I slipped and fell, was what I meant to say. From what I could tell, there was a graze on my knee, and blood was starting to ooze out from the now damaged pores. I had run all the way to the garbage disposal outside the hawker centre, so no one was in my vicinity. My leg wasn’t brutally smashed or any of the like, it really just hurt overall. I got up.

“Good vibrations, human. I am Barbatos, what you humans call an alien.”

I turned around. Some kind of blue skinned cosplayer had struck a pose behind me. She had antennas on her head, a tight fitting green outfit, and a green visor. I pretended not to notice. To think! That Singapore had started to run amok with such weirdos! 

“Ah, no, young man. I was but greeting you. Please do not leave.”

I really wanted to get out, given my previously mentioned lack of conversation skills, as well as the blatant lack of interest in involvement.

“Your leg.” She nodded in the direction of my leg.

“Thank you, I can tell that is indeed my leg.”

“Nay, it has swayed from its path of harmony! Come quickly! This dissonance has to be patched! Yes! Indeed! In spite of your imperfection, I love you humans more than I can bear! Therefore, I invite you onto my ship, my UFO, as you people call it, to receive the appropriate treatment!”

Just as she had said that, a silver object phased into existence. Gradually, some sort of silvery metallic circle had materialised above our heads. She was…really an alien.

“I…have to go. I respectfully decline.” 

Of course, I was both weirded out and scared. I might just have become the first human in contact with an alien.

“Ah! But a pity! I pity your shrinking away at the gravity of your dissonance, yet I am extremely pained, and extremely disappointed!” She perked her head up. “Then! I shall impede you no more. Farewell, disappointing human.” With that, she was beamed up onto her ship, and as gradually as it had appeared, it disappeared.

I had…insulted her, probably. By declining her offer. That was what I gathered. A day after I had met the alien, the UFO had sent out a shockwave, disabling any electronic appliance in a radius. The next shockwave would surely send Singapore reeling. It was the most boring way of invasion, yet I felt the chills approaching it. With my sling bag plastered against my sweaty back, wallet in hand, I could not bear to glance up at the baleful dish in the sky. If I surrendered myself up to the aliens, walked into their ship and followed them onto their planet, they would surely leave Earth alone. 

I couldn’t help but feel a sort of excitement welling up inside me, or was that fear? Either way, I wouldn’t be able to tell once my brains had been splayed open on their operating table. Or was the thought of death exciting to me? I could not comprehend my feelings. I was doing a great deal of good to society at large, by doing this. With that said, it wasn’t like I had fit in at all, so maybe this really was the best solution for both myself and the world. Either way, I was saving the world. This was for the sake of humanity.

I took a step forward. I froze. But still, completely saying goodbye to this world…I had some reservations. One couldn’t be expected to be completely brave about this, can he? And yet I feel so inclined to walk to my death. I steady myself, and tell myself something comforting. It wasn’t as if I could have gone anywhere with myself. I lacked will and drive, those were things I was bad at as well. I would have been better off dying in a ditch somewhere than be a burden to society. That was just sad. I thought about my parents. They would be disappointed, probably, if I had continued going on. Perhaps this could be something in a way of atonement. I wouldn’t be able to live my life fully anyway, so this wasn’t a punishment, this was a solution. This was more merciful. After a whole ten minutes of struggle, it seemed that going on the ship was the best option for me after all. I couldn’t help but sigh.

This was for the sake of humanity.

I took another step towards the hotel. I did not know how I was going to go in, but if I had to, I’d shout their greeting of “good vibrations”. I was sure they’d hear — I had finally been able to look up at the UFO, but…where was it? Had it activated some sort of invisibility cloak? That wouldn’t help much in intimidation factor, would it? 

I rubbed my eyes and looked up again. It really had disappeared. Mired in confusion, I asked someone walking by.

“Umm, excuse me, but what happened to the giant UFO in the sky?”

The pedestrian looked confused. “UFO? Sorry, I haven’t seen such a thing.”

Did the aliens…leave? Had they had enough fun tormenting the nation of Singapore? Or humanity in general? I took a good look at the sky and the sun burned my eyes. For some unknown reason, tears began to stream from my eyes. I did not know if they were of joy or to shield my corneas from UV light. 

I should have been incredibly, incredibly relieved that I would be able to live another day, but — I had some reservations. Maybe some residual part of me had wanted to board the ship; maybe, I didn’t know why, but maybe. I was unable to look at the sky any longer and cast my gaze downwards. I knew I would have to go back home, but I paced around aimlessly on the walkway. I would go home, and take a shower, and eat dinner together with my family, and sleep to get ready for the next day. 

Although I was not staring at the sun anymore, I couldn’t help but cry for a selfish reason that had nothing to do with the fate of humanity.

Kaleidoscope: Slices Of Life #1 – Dear Diary…

The Origin*’s maiden venture into the world of short fiction! Starting us off is “Dear Diary…”, a meta story about having faith in oneself.

Written by: Soh Iwin (20-E5)

Designed by: Jolene Leow (20-E1)

“Dear diary, today I signed up to be a part of Eunoia Junior College Press’ Kaleidoscope Committee. Over here, we write stories that will be posted on The Origin* (EJC Press’ website) — it sounds pretty cool, right? But, but, but…the issue is that I have just received my first committee assignment and I have to write a story! I mean, sure, I love writing stories! However, my slow brain just cannot think of a creative story right now! Help!” 

As I wrote in my diary, I chewed on my pen cap fretfully. What should I write about? No, I didn’t want to pluck a narrative topic out of thin air and expand it into a story — no, I didn’t really want to write about fantasy — no, I didn’t want to invent new stories…

Soon, a sense of discomfort rushed within me as anxiety and self-doubt overwhelmed me, crushing my discouraged spirit in a merciless fashion. You know, it’s a helpless feeling where you are enthusiastic about something, but don’t know where to start. After all, I am not a writing genius! After collecting my thoughts and emotions, I decided to browse through the committee’s shared folder to see what my committee mates had written. Hopefully, I could find some inspiration… 

“This is stellar work!” I marvelled, as I scanned through their stories. This positive remark was followed by a starkly worrying and negative one. 

“OH NO! What am I supposed to write to match up to my committee mates’ standards?” I muttered, my mind in a haphazard mess. Thinking deeply, I started to consider what I truly wanted to write, to make the most out of the experience. I want to try out a new writing style, I want something inspirational, I want to write about an experience, I want…

Eureka! I could write a diary entry on a life lesson that I recently learnt! After all, a diary entry is still a narrative, right? Scrambling back to my diary, I enthusiastically picked up my pen to start writing. Words flowed out with ease onto my paper, as my pen ink neatly stringed the words into sentences.

“Dear diary, I am back with a story! Today, I wish to share with you more about how I initiated my very first event in school – Euphonia, a Model United Nations and Press Corps conference!”

Wait a minute, is writing about this a silly idea? The devil of my thoughts questioned me. My thoughts were about to spiral into a chain of negativity tempting me with the prospects of giving up when another voice in my head interrupted me. 

Stop! it said. If you give up now, you will never know whether it will become successful! Let’s give it a shot! Boy, would anyone expect such a tiny jolt of impulsiveness to boost my confidence to try again. 

Okay, diary, so how did I start this event? Initially, I craved a sense of contribution to something meaningful, a new initiative, and a new challenge centering my interest in writing and attending MUN conferences! It was also my dream to initiate an event that others can participate in! I chose to work on an initiative because I felt that instead of waiting for opportunities to appear before me, why not create opportunities for myself? This could make my experience more meaningful! Thus, organising a Press Corps and MUN conference sounded like a good fit. 

Thereafter, I asked myself, ‘But — how can you make this meaningful and ensure that more people, not just avid student journalists and MUN-ners, can benefit from this experience?’ That’s when I thought of making students debate on issues that are closely related to their humanities syllabus. This way, learning and the application of concepts would be more interesting! 

Wow… did I sound like I was wholly confident of this idea? Of course not! Initially, I found this idea silly, as I thought, “Who would approve such a wild idea!” But boy, was I wrong. As I pitched the idea to my fellow friend (while being amused at myself for foolishly hoping for him to express tiny bits of support), I was surprised that my friend was interested in working on it with me! 

‘Okay, let’s write a proposal before we ask the teachers for their opinions and approval! We can call this event “Euphonia” since we want our participants to have a clear voice and stake in the event!’ he said with deep ebullience. I agreed, and as I wrote the proposal, I perpetually questioned the plausibility of it being approved. The chances seemed so bleak, and I was ready to be slammed with the idea of rejection by the time I submitted it to the teachers. After all, this idea was merely the product of a random brainwave, so why would the quality of the idea be good? The only string pulling me back from losing hope was none other than my passion for writing and MUN, which recurrently reminded me that I should still try and give it a shot to prevent myself from regretting in the future.

However, surprise, surprise! After a week or so, I received a pleasant surprise —  the teachers had expressed approval for it! Euphoria bubbled within me as I savoured the joy I received from the good news. And so, here I am, starting to embark on my first steps on a new initiative I would not have imagined myself doing! 

This is the story that you and I are now reading. Of course, your sharpness and observant nature may have prompted you that I eventually wrote two stories in one story, to share one common message on tackling one’s self doubt. Yes, this story may come from a plain student who only did a small project, which may seem small and insignificant; however, the overarching message is that courage brings you to greater heights. A small sprinkle of faith in yourself can spur you on to try out something that may have always seemed impossible — who knows, maybe you will succeed! 

Additionally, the very fact that this story started from nothing and became something testifies the notion that everyone has the potential to handle something new and possibly do great things. Yes, things may appear daunting when we first meet them. Yes, an idea may seem unfeasible or overambitious. But if you are fraught with self doubt, just like how I initially was for my story — and Euphonia — would you take your first step in giving yourself a chance to prove yourself? Would you erase the doubt and be willing to venture into a new adventure?

Dear diary, today I wrote my story based on my faith in myself!