Monday, October 25, 2010


Strolling through the woods, in the cool, pleasant breeze,
She reached for the apples, up on the trees,
She tried assiduously, from the morn' to the nigh',
But her legs were too small; the branches too high.

They were happy, she knew, for she watched them chat,
Alone in the corner, by her books, she sat,
Whenever their eyes met; she'd blush, he'd smile,
And then she'd be lost in her dreams for a while.

She sat on the bench, alone, by the creek,
Day after day, week after week,
Waiting for the day he'd notice she cared,
All the time hopeful, all the time scared.

Maybe he'd never see, maybe he knew,
Problems, she had many; friends, but a few,
In her crazy world she was lost, hoping for a guide,
On his shoulders she'd rest, in him she'd confide.

Like a free bird, in the springtime, once she flew,
What happened to her since, nobody knew,
She was being held back; to many a restraint, she was tied,
When asked what was wrong, "I'm fine", she lied.

She controlled her feelings, and hardly spake,
But spent countless nights in bed, awake,
She wouldn't eat anymore, she'd lost her appetite,
She tried to stay strong, "Dont let go, just fight."

But it was never enough, hard as she tried,
So she locked up her room, and endlessly cried,
Alone, she thought, stroking her hair,
Just maybe (perhaps), life isn't fair.

Walking by the sidewalk, as if under a spell,
Her foot missed a step, and acutely she fell,
She writhed in pain, a leg she broke,
She'd stumbled upon something, 'twas a tree- an oak.

Someone came over, and gave her a hand,
He helped her up, as she managed to stand,
She was about to thank him, and gave him a glance,
And at once, she knew- there's always a second chance.

The Lost Key - Part IV

I rushed to the spot where she lay.

"Lily? LILY?", I asked, shaking her frantically.

But she seemed too frail. Chris came over and helped carry her outside. Once we got into the safety of the car, I tried to wake Lily up again, refusing to believe my eyes.

As I sat beside her, holding her hands, I was lost in her memories. The day we first met. They way she smiled even though she didn't want to. Her laugh. There was something about the way she got angry, too. And the way she cried. But those moments were gone forever. Nothing could bring them back.

And then the millions of things I wished I'd told her when I still had the chance began rushing to my head.

In the meantime, the leader of the team in black tried to help our understanding of the situation. He introduced himself as Mike. He was an undercover agent who worked for Area 51. He went on to explain how Luke had hacked into the database of Project Sandstorm, thus giving him access to highly classified information about the Lost Key, as well as on me. And that was how he was able to trace my every move.

But I had lost interest by now. Nothing seemed to matter anymore --

And then Chris put his hand on my shoulder. The three of us had been through all of life's up's and down's. And he understood me well. Better than me, and almost as well as her.

As I drew myself away, my hands felt something in Lily's pocket. I took it out. It was the package. It was badly crumpled up now. On it, were written just two words, in Lily's handwriting-

For you.

I turned it over to see what was inside. The moment I opened it, I could see that it was a powdery substance. But due to my carelessness, it slipped from my hand, and the entire contents were spilt- upon Lily. I quickly tried to collect some of it back, but it was too late.

For, suddenly, all of it had disappeared magically. And the place where it was became aglow with fluorescence. Something was happening. Chris looked at me and I saw that we were equally clueless about the unnatural phenomenon taking place.

And then, unbelievably, Lily's hand twitched. I rubbed my eyes. I must have been hallucinating. And then it happened again. It was subtle yet noticeable. And slowly, Lily rose. Then she hugged me, and started crying. And for the first time in many years, so did I.

As she wiped a tear off her cheek, she managed a smile-

"So, what did I miss?", she asked jokingly.
"Nothing out of the ordinary", Chris grinned.

And she hugged him too, still sniffing.

"So what was in the package?", I asked.
"Well, it was a gift from my mother. It contains nothing. But has the ability to transform to whatever the bearer really wants, as long as he doesn't want to use it."

Mike and the others came over to witness the miracle, but at the exact same moment, Chris had a flash of insight-

"The riddle -- it's supposed to mean something. Mark as equal each and every sine. Of course! The Trinity Dunes. The angle each dune makes to the normal is equal. Now it seems so obvious."

"Yeah, except, not for 'normal' people like us", Lily said jokingly.
I chuckled too, but quickly tried to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

Apparently, it was not too distant, and our only hope was too head straight towards the place.

"Just a minute", Chris said. And he went back into the caves for some reason. When he came back, he had a flaskful of the red liquid with him. "This ought to come in handy for my experiments", he said.

Upon reaching the place, we realised that it was quite, um, deserted. We did a bit of digging around, and stumbled upon an ancient sundial. It bore Mayan characteristics, but seemed too advanced for its time (pun unintended).

"Do you notice anything special about it?", I asked.
"Nope. It seems pretty ordinary to me", Chris replied.
"Then it must have something to do with sundials in general"

"Thats it! The sundial reaches its peak at noon. And then it starts decreasing -- running out of sands of time. It makes sense now", Lily said.

And it did. So we ripped off the attachment on its 12 o' clock position, and saw a metallic disc underneath.

Having no clue as to how we were supposed to proceed, I looked at Chris, hoping he knew something I didn't. Apparently, he did. He opened his flask, and began gently pouring its contents on it. I watched as it effervesced. But that was it. Nothing happened after that.

"Hmm, that's strange. The Elixir is supposed to dissolve all metals. I guess its missing something", Chris said, perplexed.

Lily and I looked at him in silence. And then --

"What's with the grin?", he asked.

"By any chance, is it supposed to contain porcelain?", I asked.
"Let me check."

And he flipped open his PDA, looking for information on the web.
"By golly, it does! How did you know??", he exclaimed.

I just reached into my pockets. And there it was- the missing piece of the puzzle- the cup. I put a piece of it in the concoction, and watched as it turned from red to vermillion, and then to a beautiful crimson.

I decanted the liquid once again. And this time, the metal quickly vaporised.

"Nature's true form- sublime", Lily smiled.

And the ground beneath us split apart to reveal a staircase. We made our way slowly into its depths. Once we reached the bottom, we saw a chamber. And there it was -- adroitly crafted, ornately studded, and safely hidden among the rubble for centuries --

The Lost Key.

the end

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Lost Key - Part III

As the plane screeched to a halt on the runway, I was still lost in thought. Looking back at all that had happened- The dream. The signs. The shootouts. All the time fighting the adrenaline rush. Excited. And scared. It was beginning to get overwhelming now.

"Sid? SID?", said Lily, waving her hand in front of my eyes in an attempt to grab my attention, "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine", I lied.
She wanted to say something, but chose to have her feelings heard by simply giving me the look through the corner of her eyes.

We were interrupted by Chris, who by now had nearly finished unloading the luggage, calling out to us.

As we entered the city, the first thing I noticed was that it was among the best places I'd ever seen. Every aspect of the city reflected their rich culture in one way or the other. The buildings, the streetlamps, and most importantly- the people. Bustling about on the dusty streets, there were people of all occupations, and personalities. Some looked busy. Others cordial. Some dressed in plain white. Others in vibrant splendor. Some laughing. And some sitting quietly in the corner.

Chris managed to spark off a conversation with one of the men, someone who was hooded in black, and glanced suspiciously towards my general direction once in a while. Chris knew roughly where the place was situated, and was inquiring about how to get there. The man recommended that we travel by car, as the roads were pretty rough for a traveler. It was accompanied with a warning to stay away from the place, as legend foretold of grave dangers for those seeking the treasure. Chris then thanked him for the information, and they shook hands as we parted. The hooded figure hurried off into the crowd.

We began our journey towards the Lost Point. As we reached closer, the skies seemed to get murkier, but maybe it was just me.

Upon reaching the place, we were amazed to see the majestic works of art carved on the ornate doors of the structure. I was astounded. And speechless.

I was still gaping at the architectural wonder, when both Lily and Chris indicated that it was time we entered the caverns. As we made our way through the winding maze, it was apparent that numerous attempts had been made to look for the lost treasure. There were marks on the walls and a few of the structural trinkets looked damaged.

As we got deeper into the cave, it became more difficult to breath. We noticed a few arcane symbols and runic figures on the walls in a few places. It seemed like words written in an ancient language in an attempt to convey a message- a warning, perhaps. And suddenly, we reached a dead end.

"This is it", Chris remarked "The place that all adventurers have come to and failed to find any treasure for centuries"
"Let's hope we have better luck than them", I said, breathing deeply.

We started looking around for anything that could hint us towards what to do next. After what seemed like hours of futile effort, Lily stumbled upon something.

"Look at this", she said, pointing towards something drawn on one of the walls.

Among the many symbols that we came across, this one was different- it was exactly the same as the one on the Key. Suddenly, I felt a surge of excitement flow through me. I hurriedly took out the key, and confirmed that the symbols matched.

But we had no idea how to proceed from there. We tried pressing on the symbol, tapping the wall for a secret brick, and even made the Key and the wall coincide exactly, but to no avail. Just as I was about to give up, Lily made another astonishing discovery. Most of the symbols seemed to be facing towards the east, north or south. This was the only one that faced west.

"Brilliant! But what could that signify?", Chris asked.
"I don't know. Maybe we should see what it's looking at", she replied.

And we tried to look for any aberrant feature on the wall directly opposite to it. There was nothing except a few simple shapes etched on it- squares, circles, and the like. We tried to make something happen with the new set of symbols, but it seemed hopeless.

And then, in a spark of genius, Lily said, "The riddle!"

"What about it?", I asked.
"The first line- it translates to- when you need to cross the line"
"Well, haven't we already?"
"No, you silly. The line! The one on the wall. Cross it out. Do it now!"

And we rummaged for a sharp object, and made a cut across the line, crossing it out. In a few seconds, the adjacent wall caved in, revealing a secret passage.

"Lily, you're a genius!", Chris exclaimed.
She looked at me and we just exchanged a brief smile.

And then we proceeded towards the secret passage.

"Very clever, but I'm afraid this is as far as you'll get", a sharp, cutting voice spoke.

We turned around, and were shocked to see who the voice belonged to- Luke. I wondered how he managed to track us down, but my question was answered immediately, as I saw the man in the hood who gave us directions to the place, standing in the background.

"Now be good kids, and hand over the Key to me", he said, coolly.
"No way!", Lily said, eyes bloodshot with anger.
"How sweet, but unfortunately, I get to decide what you can or cannot do", he said, forcefully grabbing the Key from my hands.

We watched helplessly as he approached the massive gates of the chamber, and began unlocking it with the Key. But he couldn't.

"Is this some kind of a joke?", he raged. "This is not the right Key. Tell me where you are hiding the real one"
"Honestly, this is the Key. The one I saw in the Dream", I said, shaken aback.
"Do you think I'm a fool?"
"Well, you definitely look like one", I wanted to say, but didn't. Instead, I gave him a cold stare.

He ripped something from the wall and flung it in disgust. It bounced off the wall, and landed into what seemed like a pail of reddish potion. It then started bubbling, and within seconds, it had dissolved completely.

"That must be the Elixir of Quathemuc", Chris whispered into my ear, "it can dissolve any metal known to man, and has many other magical properties"

"The boy lies. Lock them up until he decides to tell the truth", Luke hollered.

His henchmen tugged at us forcefully, and began dragging us towards the exit. As they reached the end, we saw a group of people clad in black overalls making their way in. Before anyone could react, they opened fire on the thugs, and we crouched for cover. Luke and his men took out their guns as well, and there was an exchange of bullets.

"Go. We'll cover you", said one of the men.

And we dashed towards the exit. I looked back to see what was going on in the melée. I heard a muffled gunshot. And watched as a body gracefully fell towards the floor in slow-motion.

Lily was dead.

to be continued

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lost Key - Part II

We found ourselves in a desolate area. It had a contemporary feel, as well as a rustic charm, at the same time. Chris was driving. He was our good friend. Emanating an aura of calmness, he was simply a genius. He knew something was amiss for a while now. And when he got to know that the heat was on, he came to our place right away.

"Nice timing", I said.
He simply smiled.

"Will someone tell me what the hell is going on here??", Lily asked.
"I'm sorry I had to keep you in the dark, dear, but I assure you, that soon, it'll all be clear"

So once we got to his room, I began narrating my story to both of them. Although I could not remember everything clearly, I told as much as I could remember from the dream-

"I was walking in a garden, surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful flowers. A light drizzle was pouring intermittently, the entire experience being truly surreal, as a whole. Just as I began admiring the beauty of nature, the clouds suddenly parted, the garden disappeared, and I found myself in the middle of a desert.

I walked around for what seemed like hours, looking for any form of life, and more importantly, for any signs of water. As the little remaining energy was drained out of me, I collapsed into the sands.

As the light before my eyes slowly began to fade, an old man seemed to materialise out of the dust. I looked up at him, shielding my eyes from the glare of the sun, and then he spoke-

When you are forced to overstep the line,
And you start running out of the sands of time,
Mark as equal each and every sign,
To reveal nature's true form- sublime.

And then he turned into a crow, and soared away into the distance"

Then I summarised what had transpired during the day. Apparently the guy chasing me was a guy named Luke, a renowned hacker and a criminal mastermind. When I finished, Chris asked me to show him the Key. I took it out from my pocket and let him examine it.

"You see this?", he asked, drawing our attention to some sort of mythical creature etched onto the key, "this is the symbol for Xia'n, one of the Gods that the Mayans worshipped- it's a Raven- and that's what you saw in the dream"

"Everything you've told me hints towards the Lost Point. Legend has it that there exists a place deep in the Mayan lands, that is said to contain unforetold treasure. He who seeks to find it, will realise that his efforts shall bear no fruit, unless God himself conspires to hand it over. Xia'n had been banished from the land for trying to oppose the law that had stood the test of time for eons."

"This place is now somewhere in the middle of Phoenix Islands. But the exact location has remained a mystery ever since. Now all we have to do is figure out what the old man's riddle means."

Lily, who was good with puzzles, tried to analyze all that she had heard. After a few silent minutes, she said, beaming-

"Well I may be wrong, but I think I know what it means"
"Go ahead, tell us", I said, hopeful that she had some solid theory.

"Well the first line probably refers to the fact that you were forced into this situation, out of your home. The second line says that you are short on time, which is true because that Luke guy is out to get you. The remaining parts just say that you must consider all the clues, and pay equal attention to all details, to reach the treasure you are looking for!"

"Good theory, I said, but can it really be that simple?", I asked, skeptically.
"Well it's your best bet", Chris interrupted.

After a moment of silence, he saw that we all passively agreed.

"So I guess Phoenix Isles it is. Let's make a start", Chris said.

"Are you serious? You wanna go chasing after some unknown treasure based on some random dream I had?", I asked, still shocked.

"Well, technically, it's not random" he replied, with a smile.

At that point I knew exactly what he meant, and we set off on his chartered plane to Mexico.

to be continued