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Writings > Short Story > Fantasy

Strangest Memoir

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a case of being selfish

Recently I had a chance to visit one of nature’s best kept secret, the reserve forest of Papan in Perak, some 30 kilometers from Ipoh. Tucked away in the humble town of Papan, at the far-removed foothill of an almost unknown district, it boasts almost untouched natural resources, and the waters that flow through the heart of the place sparkled like any proud diamond would. Who would’ve though that this near to the historical city of Ipoh was a virgin forest almost unknown to men? At first I was skeptic – this sort of virgin forest barely 30 km from Ipoh – it seemed a little farfetched. I admit it freely, that I am a skeptic, and living in concrete jungle for a major part of my life had severed my perception greatly that within such small radius of a big city a beautiful piece of green can still survive. The thought of forests teamed with skyscrapers and steel structures looked and sounded so wrong. When they say that KLIA was an airport amidst garden, I can still accept that. If anyone dare say it was an airport amidst forests, I will be the first person the go against that notion…so you can say how sever my perception was, can you? So, somehow, meeting Papan’s virgin forest somehow proved my belief and perception very, very wrong.

            Do not take it wrong, though. I do not, in any way, hate forests, greens, what else nature. In fact, I loved them, every single aspect of it. It was just that…all the development in the city, the corrosion of nature, the depletion of greens, and of course, not to mention pollution threw my mind and thought toward that pretty negative one-way road. It was unbecoming of me for having such mind set, I know, but oh well. Different person have different conception, don’t they? (trust me, though, when I say its just an excuse, LoL)

            So, how do I get here, to his hidden emerald? Initially it was intended to be a presentation. My lecturer was a bit of the eccentric sort – combining two very…something that sounded very wrong together…it was a presentation, done in Microsoft’s Power Point, in the middle of a forest? My mates, celebrating the unusualness of the idea decided to make it a very memorably piece of study-holiday-adventure-get-together. So they slotted in a moment of enjoyment by setting up a little gathering with the lecturers. Before I know I, I was requested to handle the technical part – order the projector, the screen, and the PA system. I did my part, although I was still in a doubt as I fill the form, as I dropped by to pick up the projectors and the screen and the PA system. One of my concern was, well…trivial enough to say…was…where on earth do you plug these things into? Crazy, wasn’t it? I truly underestimated the facilities provided. Even when my lecturer assured that there will be power sockets to plug the equipments in, I still decided to let my selfish thought continue…

            And so, on the fated day, off we go to greet and visit this little piece of hidden emerald…

            Barely seconds upon entry into the secluded half of Papan, my perception changed dramatically. The sight of the clear, untouched, and free-flowing stream changed my belief that there will never be such ludicrously luscious greenery around 100 kilometer radius of a city, what else a historical urban settlement such as Ipoh. I blushed silently as the Kancil my friend drove cruised smoothly along the winding, narrow road sitting among, and surrounded by trees that spoke of contentment. Although it was pitch black, the occasional turns and curves had the headlight directed at the stream, and always, upon contact, the water would shine beautifully and amazingly, like diamonds, greeting the intrusion of us outsider, at the same time smirking at my skeptical standing.

            It took us around half an hour of driving before finally arriving at the Taman Herba’s facility, consisting of an office, two pavilions perched along the hill, a canteen with a simple stove made of bricks, an open air hall for gathering and such as well as a musolla and, yes, a toilet that was located far removed from the rest of the structures. I was in awe when I saw the pavilions, of course, because although extremely plain in sight, the thought that we will have to sleep in those bewildered me. Of course, I don’t really mind sleeping in the wilderness, in the woods, but in those…well, simply saying, I was delightfully stunned. Though knowing that we have not much of any choice, I decided to keep my smile as brilliant as I could and my mind positive.

            My lecturer greeted our entourage of three with single teasing welcome since we arrived a bit late considering the task we were supposed to complete for the sake of every attending soul. The night lasted until quite late, right into midnight, when rain began falling first as a drizzle but later on as angry droplets. The girls scurried, afraid of getting wet, to the pavilion. Although the floor was very much dirtied by earth’s dusts, they happily covered the place with mats and blankets and giggled merrily as one by one lay down on the mats, next to each other, with duffle bags set as their makeshift pillow. Some was quite daring, decinding to change into their sleeping garment, but few felt insecure enough about loosening our clothes and choose to sleep in the garments we wore from the college. I was among them, who refused to remove my jeans and my sweater. As the clock draws well pass midnight, the rain began to recede and one by one of our little camaraderie member closes their eyes, until in the end I was left alone. For some unknown reason, my eyes just won’t close. No matter how many times I tossed around and grunted, I still couldn’t sleep, although fatigue had come to plague every inch of my being. In the end I decided that maybe if I take a walk along the stream it’ll cure me off my short stint with insomnia.

            That was when I spotted a figure moving along the trees, just a few meters from the girl’s pavilion. At first I thought it was one of the girls, but then I realized that all of them were asleep in the pavilion. That figure moved slowly, threading the ground with careful steps, his face turned to look here and there. The reason that I am not convinced that it was someone or something supernatural was because each of his steps did make the dead leaves and twigs rustle and break. Only humans will make such a noise while he walks. When I eyed the person a little longer however, I realized it was not a member of our crew. Of course, the first thing I felt was rage, because there he was trying to spy on the girls sleeping in the wall-less pavilion! What a brave fellow! Little did I waste anymore time when I practically jumped off the stairs of the pavilion and ran toward him, who, of course, greeted me with such shocked experience that could not be described with words. However that expression did not last long when he sighed and, well, began ignoring me again. That, of course, nearly breaks my nerve as I pulled his shirt and forced him to look at me.

            “What are you doing here?” I asked, trying to strike a conversation, with enormous attempt at trying to keep myself and thus, my voice, sounding calm while my eyes tried to perceive the face of this offender.

Oh. It’s a he. Great. A he with…oh no are those eyelashes?

That person…that guy…of course, he was shocked, for the second time, having me pulling his shirt that abruptly. His eyes peered down on me as of he just saw a talking slug, and his mouth gaped open. In overall, his expression spoke of pretty disgusted sort of shock and THAT annoyed me somehow…

“I am asking you, what are you doing here!?” I repeated myself, which obviously slapped him out of his own dilemma and thought. He blinked twice, took a deep sigh and bit his lips.

“Patrolling the forest?” he muttered, part of his voice giving off a kind of unsure tone as looked down on me. I gasped. How tall can this guy be? He stood before me like a tower, and he was peering down at me with what I will gladly refer to as confusion and a sprinkle of irritation. Previously I was quite confident of my height but in front of him, I felt so small up to the point of being a miniscule creature. Against such pathetic, indirect psychology attack, my self-defense flared up and my senses quickly switch on to alert mode.

“Who are you really? Are you a ranger?”

Well, a ranger wouldn’t look like…this…I mean, he’s on the scale of being…pretty? My mental image of a ranger had always been the rugged sort, roughened up by nature with skin teased by the sun…

When he shook I found myself calmly processing the reaction I am getting.

“Then, what are you doing here?”

A short moment of silent passed us by. I was at my calmest moment yet, but when he sighed in annoyance that balance was immediately thrown off and the fire of anger began its initial ignition process.

“If you're not a ranger, who are you? I thought this place is sealed from outsiders by midnight?” I took the liberty of restarting the hanging conversation. He turned around to look at me and sighed deeply, his shoulder slumping as he bit his lips. When he positioned his body sideways, I had a feeling that he was trying to leave.

            “I…really…don’t think you’d believe me if I tell you anyway,” he said, a small ‘forgive me I gotta go’ sort of smile blossoming on his lips. That once sentence tried my patience and ultimately snapped the tipsy balance of stormy calmness.

            “Hey, isn’t that a bit too early to make such assumption? You haven’t even tried!” was what I barked at him, forcing him to turn around and face me properly. For the third time, his face assumed shock, most probably shock of being yelled at, I suppose. I was about to resume my sentence given his stunned reaction, but something else escaped my thought. Something trivial.

            “You can speak English?”

            That man rolled his eyes.

            “Duh, I’m not some dumb dude living inside a glass cage…or in this case…’katak bawah tempurung’? Here’s a piece of advice, miss.”

            Ah, that little phrase, that little gesture…he effortlessly made it onto my nerve. I honestly could’ve strangled him if it weren’t for the fact that I barely knew him. As angry as I am, the thin line of sanity left in my head prevented from going totally nuts. This man, this unusual man with eyes the color of the forest, with amazingly clear skin that could make me jealous, with hair like it was spun of the most exquisite silk…with that kind of nature he should’ve been a woman! I couldn’t have thought of anything more insulting about him as of then!

            “You should give ways to a little possibility. Don’t just block your head with your petty assumption,” he said, as he spun around, trying to leave. I was alarmed and angered at his nonchalant attitude that that thin line of sanity snapped and I unknowingly kicked him as hard as I could. The sole of my trekking boots landed on his knee, given the amazing difference of height between us, that he screamed in pain and turn around with such confused face. Looking at his face trying to contain the pain was funny and really painful. I realized that I was brimming with triumph as I looked down at him, as he had been reduced to a tangle of limbs sitting on the forest’s floor, his hand cupped on his knee. “Have you lost your mind?!”

            “That is for intruding this section!” I hollered at him, arm wrapped around my body.

            “What section?”

            “Can’t you see?! This is where the ladies sleep. I know it’s someplace very open…like a kandang or something but that doesn’t warrant you any rights to take a peep!” I added, no longer caring at the volume of my voice. So what if I will wake others? I couldn’t care less. It would be better if my voice woke the boys up, because I am pretty sure he’ll beat this guy half to death for trying to do something explicit to us girls. “Say whatever excuse you want

            “As if I’d be tempted to peep at you sleeping. Might as well go look at those wild boars in their lair,” he sneered in what sounded like a harsh whisper he was trying to keep to himself yet unconsciously trying to tell me that I am not even half as tempting to look at compared to the wild boars. So, okay, not to say that I liked being looked on while I sleep, but comparing me to wild boar was just too much for my half-cup sanity to handle that I unknowingly kicked him again until he fell onto the forest floor. I have no idea where my kick of fury landed, as I spun around 180 degree, grabbed a dried branch with dead leaves still on its stalks and started hitting him. His ouches and pleas failed to stop me, until the whole branch fell apart and I ran out of breath. And him – he was reduced to nothing but a pathetic mess of sphere seated on the floor, with dead leaves all over him, and that looked, to me, like he was trying to protect his precious pretty face from getting hit by the branches and the twigs. How pathetic this guy can get? First, he acted nonchalant although he was caught walking along the pavilion us girls were sleeping in. second, when I asked for his identity he somehow purposely trying to avoid answering my demands. Thirdly, he simply tried to leave without a single explanation or, well, at least apology. Fourth, he likened me sleeping to wild boa…oh wait, he didn’t really say it like that, but there was some comparison between me and the wild boars. And look, I don’t even know his name!

            “Are you MAD?” he hollered as he jerked up onto his legs in such amazing speed, his voice emphasizing the word MAD. My first reaction was to wipe my face, because I could feel his saliva splattered on my face. Of course, about to erupt again, I was about to scream at his face when he took the liberty of screaming into my face. “That is no way for a lady to act! I’ve never met anyone so barbaric in these day and age! What else a woman!”

            BARBARIAN!

            “THAT IS TOO MUCH!” I screamed, sanity snapping off again as I threw myself at him and pushed him down, until we both came crashing onto the forest floor. A loud ‘thud’, a loud ‘kuk’ and a very loud OUCH followed, to which I quickly brought myself up, only to find myself sitting on him. Realizing at the odd position we were in, I quickly collected myself and…well…in that amazingly awkward situation I still subconsciously managed to kick him as hard as I could. “Take that you pathetic pretty boy!” I managed to scream at him while he rolled on the ground, his hands on his head as he hissed, probably in pain. Somewhat satisfied I ran all the way back to the pavilion, across the stream and…

            “You’re one strong little girl, aren’t you?” a voice asked out of nowhere, and before I could react to it, a firm grip wrapped around my wrist, pulling me toward the source with such amazing force, followed by a another firm grip around my waist. My reaction was, of course, to scream, but somehow my voice didn’t come out. Suddenly my surrounding went blindingly bright, with a swirl of greens and yellows. There was something very lean behind me, like…flesh. I looked down. The grip was that of a hand. That wristwatch looked familiar! I spun around and was shocked out of this world to see that pretty boy was the very one whose hands were wrapped around my waist. He was smirking, and I could feel my head spinning out of confusion as of then. My head, being at its highest end and capacity limit, tried to process the sequent of event. Didn’t I just leave him rolling on the ground just now? The last few seconds before my feet touches the bottom-most steppe of the ladder, he was still rolling on the ground, in pain. Split second later his hands were already around my wrist and…arghhhhh! None of it makes sense, and my head started to feel hot and unstable. Before I knew it however, a strong gust of wind blew into my face, I screamed, and everything went blank. Don’t ask me what happened because I can never answer you!

 

            Of course, I don’t expect anyone to believe this either…but well…

 

            A strange, very tranquil sound of water flowing was what woke my senses up. I didn’t remember what happened, of course, and since I was lying down I thought I am already asleep next to my friends in that ridiculously open-air pavilion. But I don’t remember the pavilion being this comfortable…even more comfortable than the comforters back in my house. The surface was so soft and…

            Wait.

            What sort of timber flooring could be this soft?!

            Of course, at that one thought I opened my eyes and jerked up, to find myself lying on a sofa, overlooking the jungle...the forest, with a stream running in front of the house. The floors are marble slabs! What the heck?! And the walls were white, with countless pots of potted flower and herbs lined by the wall, arranged in tiered shelf. Apposite of the plan-filled shelves was ceiling-high stack of books, all labeled with something to do with plants and forest. And the blanket in my hand was obviously not mine, because it was made of fur!

            Authentic fur! What kind of person would use animal skin for his blanket?! He’ll surely be an enemy of PETA. Those pro-PETA actresses will probably hate that person if they knew about this…   

            “Aren’t you pathetic, little girl? Fainting at that much of dimension change…” a voice, a very, vary familiar yet hated voice echoed inside that very simple room. Like a jackknife I turn to the source of the voice and saw HIM walking toward me, his face projecting the amount of despise he, perhaps, felt toward me, in his hand…what? It was a cup that looked too much like the ones sold in IKEA! And under the glorious, whitish sheen of light that penetrated the room from the full-opening glass window overlooking the stream, his skin sometime glowed green. Wait. GREEN?!

            When he nudged the cup to me, I seriously think he was going to kill me by making me drink some kind of poison knowing how much he could’ve hated me after all the things I’ve done to him. I was terrified. When I did not take the cup from his hand, he nudged me for the second time. For the first time in our short encounter I was terrified (perhaps it was because I’m now in his territory…). That was when I regretted all the beatings I gave him earlier. If only…

            “It is NOT poison,” he said in annoyance, as if he could understand my thought when he took my hand and placed the cup into my fingers. The water was the color of amazing amber, with swirls…what looked like…petals. “Drink it. That will make you feel better.”

            I still refused. Why were there petals in my drink?! Could they be some kind of drug? Was he thinking of doing something despicable to me? Well, I know I’ve won the confrontation earlier, but I’ve also exampled his strength when he grabbed my wrist and later on, my waist. His strength was manly enough, to say the least…and that…did not fit his pretty face at all. Damn. I hated it when I’m in this kind of pinch. I sincerely wish it was all just a dream! And as tempting as the drink looked and smelled like, my conscience was even stronger than my desire.

            “Just drink it for God’s sake! Those are just jasmine tea! With wild honey, of course,” and when he saw my reluctant face, he grabbed the cup and drank what looked like…half of the concoction. “Look, it is NOT poison!” he said, “I’ve told you before that I have no interest in you, so don’t worry, I won’t take advantage on you or something.”

            At that notion, I found my temperature raising a notch higher. Before I knew it, my crazy temper overtook my sanity as I snatched the cup from him and gulped the rest of the tea down. I was amazed the moment the liquid touches my lips, and then my tongue, before entering the rest of my system. It was refreshing! But I have a certain ego I needed to hold up against him and I forced myself not to show a sign or whatever that I was smitten by the lovely tea. “Thank you for telling me that, twice! Are you happy now?” I asked as I placed down the cup to the side table with a loud ‘kinggg’, to which he panics and snatched the cup from the table’s surface.

            “Can’t you be a little careful?! It’s not everyday I could go to IKEA!” he barked as he held the cup in his hands, his fingers wrapped around the slender glass body like countless protective cushions. Oh. So the cup really came from IKEA…

            What the heck?!

            There was a long, considerable silence. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything, as my eyes devoured every pixel available to look at, every sign and gestures. He had his eyes fixed on me, eyes empty, but his presence failed to appear before me as the machine in my head began to run its analysis. That almost forgotten swirling white, green and yellow light came to my mind. I remembered him grabbing my wrist and then my waist. There were so many things, too many thought, that my head overheated and I went kapoof. When I woke up…it was already midday…or was it…? Wait. I couldn’t seem to comprehend the logic here.

            Just a while ago it was…midnight. And then…his normal-sometime-greenish skin…that river and forest…and…

            “WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING HERE?!” I found myself screaming out of nowhere, to which this hated pretty guy laughed so hard, so very hard, that to the end of his laugh it turned into a painful-looking cough and his face, from looked like something merry projected such crude pain as his hands were wrapped around his stomach. First, it annoys me, but then I felt a tinge of pity when I saw small cotton taped to his hair when he had to bow down to contain both his laugh and his pain. However, when he looked up again, he was smiling with such ease. That smile angered me that I feel like punching him. I didn’t, anyway, because that little bruise on his cheek looked bad enough. I wouldn’t want to go and make it worse just because he was smiling with such ease, especially when that one simple gesture didn’t seem to contain within it even a tinge of malice.

            “I know that you’re annoyingly short-tempered with perhaps the strongest reinforced-concrete on earth as your head, but I never knew you’re this slow and blur…and…funny,” he muttered, small cough lacing his words here and there. His face was red from all that laughing, and there was small pearl of tears at the corner of his eyes. As much as I would want to prevent it, I could really feel my anger slowly seeping away, and my mood stabilized. “Anyone would’ve noticed the first thing they open their eyes…”

            “Where am I?”

            “That took you approximately 9 minutes and 17 seconds to ask me that.”

            I was surprised. Damn it…he didn’t have to do that even if that wrist watch of his was from the digital sort! Counting the time up to the seconds! For once, I felt stupid, and my little egoistic world saw some crack on its solid, shiny wall. Damn it!

            “Couldn’t you just answer me?”

            “My abode,” he replied, split second, and very simply. He was looking at me with that smirk on, calmly and somewhat teasingly. I could’ve beaten him again, but my head was busy thinking about….

            What the heck!

            “That is unbecoming of you…! Oh my God it’s already noon I…!” I found myself saying as I rose from the sofa and to my feet. “Which way is the exit?!”

            He smiled.

            “No exit.”

            Jaw dropped. He chuckled, as if enjoying himself looking at me panicking. I couldn’t help but to think that he must’ve thought ‘its payback time’ to himself in regard to all the beatings I’ve given him earlier.

            “What do you mean no exit?” I asked, as I ran to the door that seem to be the main door. I turn the knob around, and the leaf opened. Damn him, it was an exit. How can he say that there was no exit? I ran down the deck that connects the entrance to the ground floor. The very green grass felt so soft under my soles. In that frantic moment of realization I noticed that I was shoeless, but couldn’t careless because I am more concerned by the fact that I need to get back to the pavilion A.S.A.P! However, when I reached the stream, I realized that there was not a single sign that could lead me back to where I came from. It was another horrifying shock that I stood there, my feet submerged by the cold waters of the stream and my senses half paralyzed. Worry started to flood my system and my head was spinning. What do I do to get back to the pavilion?! Who will look after the precious equipments that I borrowed from the college?!

            “Hey careful! Its slippery ther….whoa!!!” and followed by the sound of water splashing. Everything went dark, just for a split second, though, because I only closed my eyes and when sensation returned to my senses, I could feel the coldness of the water enveloping my body, every inch of my skin…and the soft surface that I am laying…on…

            Of course, at the sight of that annoying guy lying flat on the riverbed, with me on top of him had me scrambling trying to find my footing again. The area was obviously very slippery, I admit, because it felt like, although with my sneakers on, it felt like I’m standing on a stretch of marble floor spread with soap. Trying to find my footing, my eyes caught the sight of that guy, who’s still lying on the riverbed. I waited for a while for him to get up, but I saw no reaction. His back was still firm on the riverbed, his face looking up, his eyes closed, and part of his face submerged by the water. After sometime has passed and I received no respond at all, curiosity began to fill up my veins. I see not a single movement, and as time passed by, my worry grew that up to one point that I refused to wait and choose to near him.

            “Hey,” I said, nudging him on his shoulder. Still, no answer. When it was getting a little bit troublesome, I nudged him again, this time with stronger force. “This is not funny. Wake up, come on!” was what I yelled when I received no answer. Panic quickly followed, and the moment I moved his head, a piece of cotton dropped off his head and drifted away with the current, followed by what seems like trails of dark red blood. That heightened my biggest fear and as of that instant I realized that he had somehow accidentally lost his consciousness when he was trying to…um…rescue me from the slippery stones? What I did next was something I’d never expect to do in a zillion years, but I did it anyway, and I was actually quite surprised that I did that…

            What did I do, you ask?

            Well…

            Lets just say…I rescued him.

            How?

            Um…

 

            Much effort was called for remedying the mess that was the green guy. He was bleeding, well, although not profusely, was constant. I couldn’t bear leaving him just like that, knowing he will eventually die if I leave him half-submerged in the river, so with my little might set against his gigantic structure, it was quite a challenge dragging him into the house. I could only bring him to the sofa where I laid on earlier, and in my attempt to stop the bleeding, the first thing I did was tore the place apart in search of suitable medicine, utensil and tools. I trespassed into his kitchen, his bathroom, his…bedroom even, in search of those. Among the trivial things that crossed my mind then was…how meticulously neat can this pretty boy get? And the fact that most of his stuff was from the ‘white’ range nearly freaked me out.

            Spending some yard of bandage, a quarter of cotton and nearly half of…well, Dettol antiseptic as well as nearly half an hour of attempt, I managed to get his wound under control. It was an attempt full of effort and for once, I thank God that I once took First Aid courses during my freshmen year. He did not even twitch although my effort was obviously quite rough, with my fingers and palms bumping here and there on his head. Even after I was done wrapping his wound, he slept the hours away very soundly. I wanted to wake him up because I had been itching and worrying about leaving for long, but his pained expression actually stopped me from shaking him awake. He, however, merely regained his consciousness after nearly two hours of sleeping off. His consciousness merely returned when I accidentally kicked the side table which caused the antiseptic bottle to drop, creating much noise.

            “…could you stop being careless…?” was what he said the first thing he saw me ducking on the floor, collecting the antiseptic bottle. Of course, that statement, without a single attempt, my rage flared. What I did was stomp toward him and stared at him in his eyes.

            How DARE he say that to me? After all that I’ve done to save him?! “I saved you, excuse me, and do you not realize how heavy you were back then, do you know that?!” was what I yelled at him in respond to what he had noted earlier. He was obviously shocked, but his ego was quick to launch. Flares of disagreement and dispute began to ignite and I could feel my defenses springing up and the veins in my neck stiffen. It was a sign of whirlwind about to come between me, and this…green guy. But this guy…although he seemed to have relit his ego-barrier, he still appeared somewhat calm and still quite composed.

            He sighed, and said, in his defense; “If you didn’t beat me that much back then you wouldn’t have to come here or carry me back to…ouchhhh!” of course, I was about to throw in a word-vomit fit, but didn’t at the sight of him cringing to the pain in his abdomen. Guilty quickly crept all over my veins.

            “Don’t move! You’ve a nasty bruise down the…”

            What stopped me, you ask? If you saw his face you’d probably forgot everything you were trying to say earlier. That face was something that projected extreme horror, as he instinctively pulled the fur blanket over his exposed chest with his jaw dropping dramatically, his eyes rounded that you can really see his entire forest green eyes.

            “You looked!” he said, in a very convincing way, as he looked down to…er…his…well…there. I was shocked beyond relief that my reaction was to punch his abdomen with all my might and totally ignored his cries of pain. “It was…a joke…” he muttered, with great difficulties as he wrapped his arm around his stomach, trying to overcome and contain the pain. I couldn’t possibly tolerate such a thing…though, it made me shiver, and such action was the manifestation of my extremely severe reflects reaction. 

            “No thank you for such nice joke,” I hollered at him which, to my surprise, induced a round of laughter. My face felt red looking at him laughing, for whatever reason, to which he reacted with more laugher.

            “Aren’t you a little shy person? Even a joke of such nature managed to get you acting all…messed up,” was what he commented. I couldn’t argue. All I did was turn around and walked to the kitchen with the tray that I used for fixing his wound. When I returned back to the living room, he was already dressed and offered to send me back to the realm of reality. Surprisingly, he was kind enough this time, that when he did the dimensional leap he asked for me to specifically close my eyes should the event became unbearable. We arrived safely, and to my surprise, it was still midnight there at the Taman Herba’s facility. I was so shocked that I failed to say anything, and he, he just turn to look at me and smiled. After a brief thank and a goodnight wish, he disappeared again into thin air, and I trotted the path up to the pavilion and lay down next to my friend. His images, the dimensional leap, his eerily and meticulously neat abode…all swirled in my head for the rest of the dark hours, rendering me sleepless. Even when the sun rises, I still couldn’t close my eyes, and the thought about that strange encounter flooded my memories. It was strange. I would’ve liked to treat it as my mere dream but it was too real to ignore. The dampness from the result of falling into the stream somehow certifies that I, indeed, have visited another realm unknown to everyone. It was a memoir I could not entrust to anyone but myself, and him; he will be my strangest encounter in my lifetime!

 

Notes;

-          The Papan Sanctuary (Hutan Belum Papan) truly exists, in Perak, along the Ipoh – Lumut highway, a little bit before Tronoh. It was tucked around 20 minutes of cruising after the junction; where you’ll be taken pass the small town and a myriad of old buildings. The stream was crystal clear and the forest was exquisite. And of course, no Maxis, Celcom or the orang kuning can reach you there.

 

-          The facility of Taman Herba could be rented for about MYR100 per day (if I’m not mistaken) and is a perfect place for organizing family days. Apart from the amazing pavilions, the facilities are reasonable and electric supply is available in most structures.

 

Epilogue

 

            The next day…I received a message on my cell phone from an unknown number. The short message reads like this;

            ‘No thanks for yesterday’s beatings. My boss practically chopped my head off when he saw the bruises. He accused me of being careless…so as a punishment he laid me off for the entire month, not until all the bruises heals.’

            Of course, I sort of know from who did that message came from, but my sanity and conscience was hell-bent on telling me that it couldn’t have come from that person, so in the end I ended up completely ignoring it. A few hours later, another message came in, from the same mysterious number.

            ‘Are you going to ignore me just like that?’

            And when I ignored it for the second time, a few hours later a gust of wind suddenly blew my way, out of nowhere, when I was actually driving alone with windows closed. I nearly lost control of the car when a strange yet real sensation crept all over me. When I turn to look at the front passenger’s seat next to me, I saw…him. Of course, my reaction was to pull over very abruptly by the roadside, inviting angry honks by cars tailing mine that he, to a part of my satisfaction, banged his head on the dashboard surface.

            “When will you stop doing that…” he asked as he rubbed his forehead. “If this goes on I might never go back to work. Every time I see you I’ll always come back with at least one bruise!”

            WHAT SELFISH THOUGHT. “Hey pretty boy, is it really that fun appearing out of nowhere like you just did? Be thankful you only escape with a bruise because what you did just now could cost you your damn life!” I hollered to him, and I, for once, was surprised to find him not talking back. Instead, he had his eyes fixed forward. Silence followed, and before I knew it, I’m already wheeling the car toward the road, about to rejoin traveling the path.

            Little that I know that our encounter in Papan will not end just that, and this encounter will not be our last. 

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Iasa

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