My page on About.me

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After ages of waiting, I finally get my page on about.me !

About.me is a website which allows the user to register and make a completely customizable dynamic profile splash page which along with info, also contains links to the users content around the web.

The wait for my page was quite a bit after registering but its totally worth it !

Check out my page :

about.me/arjunchatterjee

[In no particular order]

7

(L-R) David Gilmour, Mark Knofler, Steve Vai, Robert Plant, Angus Young, Bruce Dickinson, Steven Wilson, Maynard James Keenan

Click to Enlarge

I will now proceed to enter 150 of what in my opinion are some of the most awesome songs I have heard. I am sure there will be several I will miss out and when I remember, I will add them to the list. In this list, you’ll find classic, alternative, progressive, psychedelic and grunge rock. There will also be liberal doses of metal and maybe a few instrumental.
I listen to a wide variety of music and being a vocalist, look for inspiration everywhere. But there is still a very heavy chance that you may not find a song of your choice in here. Especially not of the ‘Beedi’ or ‘Himesh’ variety.
If you do not find a song you believe should be in there, don’t lose it and go “This sucks. Every song on this list sucks. I rock. Tera Surooor”
Give it a read. Give the songs, at least some of them, a listen. You’ll see what I mean.
The list is in no particular order. Just noted as remembered.
P.S. There aint no hip-hop in here Dawg.   ..|..
  1. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd
  2. The End – The Doors
  3. Arriving Somewhere but not Here – Porcupine Tree
  4. Coming Back to Life – Pink Floyd
  5. The Pot – Tool
  6. Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
  7. Shoot to Thrill – AC/DC
  8. Laid to Rest – Lamb of God
  9. Trains – Porcupine Tree
  10. Layla – Eric Clapton
  11. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
  12. Alive – Pearl Jam
  13. The Noose – A Perfect Circle
  14. Like a Rose – Meat Loaf
  15. Cowboys from Hell – Pantera
  16. November Rain – Guns n’ Roses
  17. Schism – Tool
  18. Hey Soul Sister – Train
  19. Snow(Hey Oh) – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  20. Roadhouse Blues – The Doors
  21. Rooster – Alice in Chains
  22. Trooper – Iron Maiden
  23. For the love of god – Steve Vai
  24. Revelations – Audioslave
  25. Jaded – Aerosmith
  26. Brighter than Sunshine – Aqualung
  27. With a little help from my friends – The Beatles
  28. You give love a bad name – Bon Jovi
  29. Broken Soul – Breaking Benjamin
  30. Speak to me (Breathe) – Pink Floyd
  31. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
  32. Great Gig in the Sky – Pink Floyd
  33. Hotel California – Eagles
  34. Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  35. Jambi – Tool
  36. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles
  37. Fear of the Dark – Iron Maiden
  38. Tornado of Souls – Megadeth
  39. Phobia – Kreator
  40. Blackest Eyes – Porcupine Tree
  41. Cocaine – Eric Clapton
  42. Are you Dead yet? – Children of Bodom
  43. Set to Fail – Lamb of God
  44. The Scientist – Coldplay
  45. Time – Pink Floyd
  46. Hallowed Be Thy Name – Iron Maiden
  47. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Cover) – Children of Bodom
  48. Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
  49. Unforgiven II – Metallica
  50. Black – Pearl Jam
  51. Black Dog – Led Zeppelin
  52. Break on Through – The Doors
  53. Sweet Child of Mine – Guns n’ Roses
  54. The Reason – Hoobastank
  55. Through Fire and Flames – Dragonforce
  56. Lazarus – Porcupine Tree
  57. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix
  58. Big Wave – Pearl Jam
  59. Imagine – John Lennon
  60. Imagine (cover) – A Perfect Circle
  61. Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  62. 10,000 Days – Tool
  63. Yellow – Coldplay
  64. Freak on a Leash – Korn
  65. Tender Surrender – Steve Vai
  66. Radio/Video – System of a Down
  67. The Outsider – A Perfect Circle
  68. Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
  69. It’s my life – Bon Jovi
  70. Firestarter – The Prodigy
  71. Bring me to Life – Evanescence
  72. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
  73. My Generation – The Who
  74. Redneck – Lamb of God
  75. Needled 24/7 – Children of Bodom
  76. Blood Brothers – Iron Maiden
  77. Burning Bridges – Pink Floyd
  78. Symphony of Destruction – Megadeth
  79. Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
  80. Time Flies – Porcupine Tree
  81. Money for nothing – Dire Straits
  82. Eulogy – Tool
  83. Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  84. Wickerman – Iron Maiden
  85. Breaking the Law – Judas Priest
  86. By the Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  87. Echoes – Pink Floyd
  88. The Pretender – Foo Fighters
  89. Walk of Life – Dire Straits
  90. Home – Dream Theater
  91. Dream On – Aerosmith
  92. Like a Stone – Audioslave
  93. Ansthetize – Porcupine Tree
  94. High Hopes – Pink Floyd
  95. Jumping Jack Flash – Rolling Stones
  96. Turn the Page – Bob Seger
  97. Astronomy – Metallica
  98. Judith – A Perfect Circle
  99. Here Without You – 3 Doors Down
  100. Blinded in Chains – Avenged Sevenfold
  101. Shesmovedon – Porcupine Tree
  102. Smack my Bitch up – The Prodigy
  103. Sixpounder – Children of Bodom
  104. BYOB – System of a Down
  105. Bleed – Meshuggah
  106. But it Rained – Parikrama
  107. Man Who Sold the World – Bob Dylan
  108. Rockin’ in the Free World – Neil Young
  109. No Excuses – Alice in Chains
  110. I am mine – Pearl Jam
  111. Freebird – Lynrd Skynyrd
  112. Animate Inanimate – John Petrucci
  113. Who Says – John Mayer
  114. Bad – Micheal Jackson
  115. Walk – Pantera
  116. Master of Puppets – Metallica
  117. Raining Blood – Slayer
  118. Plush – Stone Temple Pilots
  119. Jethro Tull – Aqualung
  120. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
  121. Follow me – Breaking Bejamin
  122. Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams
  123. Hand of Blood – Bullet for my Valentine
  124. Same Direction – Hoobastank
  125. Living Dead Beat – Children of Bodom
  126. Bullets – Creed
  127. Wither – Dream Theater
  128. Christmas in July – Zero
  129. Mama I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
  130. Godsmack – Alice in Chains
  131. Paradise City – Guns n Roses
  132. The Evil that men do – Iron Maiden
  133. Kickapoo – Tenacious D
  134. Highway to the Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
  135. Highway to Hell – AC/DC
  136. Road to Hell – Chris Rea
  137. Open Car – Porcupine Tree
  138. Painkiller – Judas Priest
  139. Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits
  140. Rosetta Stoned – Tool
  141. A Toute le Monde – Megadeth
  142. Sound of Muzak – Porcupine Tree
  143. Achilles Last Stand – Led Zeppelin
  144. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  145. Omerta – Lamb of God
  146. Rockstar – Nickelback
  147. Brain Damage – Pink Floyd
  148. We Will Rock You – Queen
  149. Halo – Porcupine Tree
  150. Shine on you Crazy Diamond – Pink Floyd

Go through this entire list and I promise you will see life in a new light.

And for those of you who have heard every song on this list, hats off my friend.

\m/

Title Image Edit : Avalon
Pictures from Google

Revelations

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Graduation.

There have been movies made on it, books written on it and every now and then a kid writes about his or her own experience.

Some days ago, I got up from my seat, handed in my final paper and walked out of the room. Before doing so, I glanced up at my classmates most of whom were furiously scribbling away into their papers. A few glanced around, whispered among themselves and a few could only stare at their papers with glassy eyes.

I took it all in and realized that eventhough I may see this scene over and over again in my life no matter how many times I sit for an exam, this would be the last time I would see it played out by these characters.

The characters who made four years in a no-idea-how-I-landed-up-here college worth it.

I did not see many of them again.

Sometimes, it’s better that way.

Back at my apartment, the atmosphere was celebratory but something was amiss. Between throngs of baked laughter and mindless smiling, someone or the other would say it.

This is the last time.

It wasn’t. But nonetheless, emotions flow a lot easier when 12 stories high.

And the decleration would stop the coversation as everyone would descend into a well of their own thoughts. Reliving memories, recalling laughter and feeling the tears flow again.

And it hasn’t changed. Close to a month later, when I hear a song that I like and I can imagine the ‘others’ will like too, I automatically make a mental note to play it in our next…sitting. I feel automatically the familiar tinge of expectation of that…sitting. Then I remember…like the icy cold water of reality dousing the flame of  expectation….no more.

No more shall we laugh together everyday. No more will feats of madness be attempted everyday. No more will I wake up in the morning to find someone who doesn’t live with me, crashed on my sofa. No more will I try desperately to wake up, only to find everyone else asleep and give in to my pillow’s seduction. No more will the perfect circle form everyday.

No more. Not everyday.

Later that night, everyone headed over to a friends place to party. To celebrate. Before heading out, I made a customary stop at another friends place. Us and an orange pillar of immortality. Porcupine Tree’s ‘Trains’ washed over me, sinking into the deepest recesses of my flying mind and the happy notes filling me with some kind of hope. Hope that each of these moments could be relived. Every year, every month, everyday.

But reality is a bitch. She will claw at your balloons of happiness with her talons of truth until all you’re left with is a tattered memory which is cast aside.

I got up, my mind still whirling as we decided to leave. The rickshaw ride from there to the party cooled me down a bit. At the end of the day, maybe its all like this rickshaw. You just have to get from one place to another, you’re controlled by people you hardly know and no matter how bumpy  the ride, you end up paying him for it.

We reached the party and a wave of noise hit me as I entered.

Asmita.

The Drunk Haven.

I smiled. Like I did evertytime I entered this holy house during a party. Here, in this large group of people were all my dearest friends. You could find scientists, musicians, managers, engineers, designers, environmentalists, philosophers, gamblers, teachers, psychiatrists, madmen, sleepers, insomniacs, giants and midgets.

A world within a world.

Each one of these many people had influenced me these past few years. In a big way or small, it didn’t matter. If at anytime, this era is ever scriptured, my chapter will have a line from each of them.

A drink was thrust into my hands and whether I liked it or not, this was done again and again and sometimes not totally as a friendly gesture.

But the mood was different today. It had not been called the Asmita Breakdown for no reason. By this time, at the very least, a piece of furniture, a glass and maybe a nose lay broken. And if some people had their way, maybe a shirt lay torn too.

But today, it was less…violent. Something was amiss, people stood in corners in small groups talking about things they had experienced in these few years.

They seemed to have flown by. We spoke about professors, friends, enemies, partys, fights, exams, love, life, songs, movies, habits, the future and more.

In a span of a few hours, we relived 4 years. I remembered so many things that had been lost in the recesses of my mind. And no denying, the copious amounts of alcohol was helping.

But all this recollectin was having a visible effect on us because as we ran through each memory the mood became more and more somber as the reality hit us all.

No more.

I looked around me. Is this what we will be reduced to? Silent, sober beings with only thoughts and memories to desperately clutch at while we would walk through a mundane existence? Will the last look I will see in my friends eyes be one of sadness?

And then the music started. The kind of Punjabi music that you only heard here. At Asmita. And as one my dearest friends, a fat egg of a guy, stumbled into the room balancing a glass on his head and singing “My english very risky, I love scotch whiskey, but I get only desi tharra !”, the somber mood of the occupants of the room evaporated in an instant as people began to dance wild drunk dances and sing in their slurred, unnaturally loud voices.

I was quickly engulfed with the brightness of it all and as I looked around, I realized this cheer would not die. No amount of distance, changed lifestyle or excuses would kill this spirit of the people in this room and the bond they shared.

The last thing I remember before blacking out was the 3 of my friends laughing and dancing together.

And as my eyes finally closed on the last day, I realized that graduation was many things, a time of happiness AND a kick in the nuts. But more than anything else, it marked then end of one era and the beginning of another.

Cheers to both.

* The name of this article is inspired by an Ausioslave song which happened to be playing while I typed.

The Elementals : Chapter 4

2

Kor

The rain splattered down on the lush green forest. He crouched under a tree,  his massive, dark body somehow camouflaged.

At over seven feet tall he could still move as silently as a cat and as gracefully as a lion. From his extremely broad back, hung an axe. An axe large enough to suit a man of his size.

He peered past the cover of the leaves and bushes looking for his prey.

The rain had washed away most of the tracks. But this was no ordinary tracker. He knew things no other hunter could know. His father, the leader of the tribe, had started teaching him to hunt when he was only 6. He loved the forest. Almost more than he loved Kaila.

Kaila.

He smiled to himself when he thought about her. Her large, beautiful eyes. Her lovely smile. The passion in that petite body was unbelievable as well. He smiled again in anticipation of what awaited him in the village.

Laurels at killing the monster which had been terrorizing the village for many months now and a night with Kaila.

The monster in question was a lion. But like this man, this was no ordinary lion. At twelve feet tall and as many across, this was a giant among lions. And a vicious one at that. Over the past few months, it had slain several villagers and injured many as well.

Then one day, the tribe leader, his father had called him into the chief’s tent.

Do you think you are ready?” Asked the Chief.

“I am” His voice was deep. Like it came from the mountains itself.

“Find it then. Kill it. Let the mountains be safe again. May Kardha bless you.”

And he had set out. Alone. To find the beast. And kill it.

——-

“Where are you?” He murmured to himself.

He bent and touched the earth before him, then smelt his fingers.

He listened to what the birds sang.

And then…

“I’ve found you.”

He started running. The speed was unbelievable. His wet muscles glistened under the light of the torch he was carrying and his legs were a blur. With his other hand, he reached for and pulled the axe from his back. A task which would have required most men two hands and maybe another man.

He didn’t slow down. He ran faster and faster and finally skid to a hault at the mouth of a cave.

“Come out beast !” He shouted, his booming voice echoing over the forest.

“Come out and pay for all those you have slain ! I swear by Kardha, I will use your skin as my cloak or die trying !  Come ! Come and face me !”

He waited. And not long because a low growl rumbled from the cave.

——-

A great roar ripped the silence of the night.

It came from the mountains.

“It has begun” Said the Chief of the Ndoto tribe as he gazed up at the mountains where he knew his brave son was battling the monster.

A petite, pretty young woman came up behind him and hugged him.

“Will he return?”

“No. He will die. The beast is too strong.”

“Then…?”

The Chief looked down at the woman and kissed her on the lips.

“Then there will be nothing more to worry about Kaila”.

They retreated into the darkness of the tent.

——–

He leaned against a tree. Or what was left of it.

He was breathing heavily clutching a deep wound on his broad chest. Blood flowed freely from several other parts of his body. Another man would have long fallen. But this man was standing. Injured, bleeding, broken. But still standing.

The battle had been fierce. The lion had the strength of many elephants and was consumed in white hot rage.

But he knew this. He had anticipated this. His father had too. And he had sent him. His son.

His bleeding chest swelled with pride at what his father would say.

But first, he had to get home.

——-

The roars had stopped. The mountains were quiet.

“It is over”.

The Chief and all the tribe stood around a great fire. They were all looking sorrowfully at the Mountains.

They all knew he was dead. The greatest warrior of the tribe.

Then the Chief spoke.

“He was great man. And a proud man! He was my son and he has died an honourable death at the hands of a fearsome foe ! Let his sacrifice not go forgotten!”

The villagers cheered and clapped until the Chief silenced them with a gesture.

“He said to me before he left…’Father…if I do not return, take care of Kaila.’ And I shall honour this wish! I shall do what he wanted! I shall love Kaila like my own! I will marry her! Tonight!”

The villagers were silent.

They all knew how much he had loved Kaila. And of course he asked the Chief to look after her. But is this what he had meant?

Kaila looked nervously at the silent villagers and then at the Chief. If the old fool’s plan didn’t work, she would never get to be the Queen of the tribe.  She would never have enough power.

The Chief’s son was just a vessel to reach the Chief himself. And seducing the old man had been easy. He was so in love with her that he was willing to sacrifice his own son.

But the son had to be dead. Or he would tear them both apart. His anger was legendary. As a boy of only twelve, he had killed a full size elephant with nothing but a small spear and broken the tusk with his bear hands.

She shivered at what his anger would be. Thank god he was dead.

The Chief spoke again.

“Will you not speak my people ! Are you not going to aid me in fulfilling my son’s dying wish?”

That did the trick. One by one, the villagers snapped out of their thoughts and doubts and started to clap and cheer.

“The wedding shall be tonight! Make the preparations !”

He smiled lustily at Kaila.

And she smiled back.

———

He was almost back to the village. He couldn’t move very fast because his left knee was shattered. He also had trouble getting the axe out of the creatures mouth. He had buried it in there with all his strength and speed. The killing blow.

He could see the light from the village fire’s now. And he could hear drums. Music.

He smiled to himself. They were celebrating his return. He knew it. They had never doubted that he would return. As he limped closer he could hear the Chiefs voice.  He couldn’t make out what he was saying yet.

He limped closer….and he heard the words.

And froze in his tracks.

He could now see his father and hear his words clearly. And they chilled him to the bone.

The Chief held Kaila close to him and Kaila was smiling clinging to the Chief like a lover would.

“And to honour my sons dying wish, I hereby proclaim Kaila my wife and the queen of the tribe!”

The world seemed to slow down. He felt like a million arrows were tearing him apart. And then…he felt the anger. The anger he had taught himself to repress. The anger that he knew would take over him and blind him. The anger that he knew would wreak destruction.

He fought it.

“This is a dream….a nightmare.” He frantically thought with closed eyes.

Then through the cheering of the villagers rose the Chief’s voice.

“You are mine ! My own ! My Queen !”

He opened his eyes and saw Kaila and The Chief kiss. A deep passionate kiss.

And a black curtain fell over his eyes.

——–

The Chief enjoyed the taste of the woman. He was successful. He had her.

He broke away from the kiss and raised his goblet of wine.

“And thus lies fulfilled my son’s dying wish !”

The crowd raised its hand to clap and opened there mouths to cheer when a voice as deep as the growl of a faraway avalanche carried over their heads.

“I made no such wish father.”

They all turned and saw him.

The warrior. His body covered in blood, slick with sweat and dirt. His massive fists were clenched into hammers. But the scariest were the eyes. And they looked straight at the Chief.

He saw the man. The man who had trained him, raised him….betrayed him.

And he saw the woman. She had loved him, cared for him….lied to him.

He saw the fear in their eyes as they looked at him and it pleased him.

He felt no love. Only hatred. And only one burning desire fuelled by the hatred.

Vengeance.

Something strange was happening to him. He could feel the earth under his feet. He could feel it move and somehow, he knew he could move it too. He felt one with it.

His only friend in this world of betrayers.

His arms moved of their own accord

The veins on his neck stood out at his large mouth opened in a roar. A roar that even the monster he had killed would have whimpered on hearing.

He reached into the earth. He could feel its heart.

He would consume them. He would bury them all !

His entire body shone like a star and the earth started to rumble beneath him. He could not stop screaming.

Then there was pain. Pain unlike anything he had ever felt before which rose as the earth beneath his feet began to quake.

Then it happened.

The ground in front of him cracked. The crack grew larger and larger  going across the whole village in seconds. The villagers screamed trying not to fall into the endless abyss. The crack expanded even more, consuming the village as trees, huts and people fell into it falling into the never ending darkness below.

Kaila ran trying desperately to avoid the abyss but the earth beneath her feet shook too much and she could not run. She slipped and fell scrambling to get up but the ground fell away at her feet as the crack grew wider and wider and scrambling for life, she fell in, never to walk the earth again.

Women fell. Children fell. Elders and cattle screamed as they scrambled at the shaking ground. And they too fell.

Screams, wails and smoke filled the air.

And then it stopped.

He fell to the ground.

——-

He didn’t know how many hours later he woke but when he did, all he saw before him was a veritable wasteland.

He could smell the death in the air. He saw the vultures circling the sky.

A single tear rolled down his face.

“What have I done?” He whispered. “Are they all dead? Father? FATHER? KAILA ?”

And then he heard a groan. From under a large rock near the edge of the abyss.

He was on his feet in a second and sprinting towards the rock.

He reached it and lifted it like a child lifting a kitten.

The man underneath was on the brink of death and half of his body had been completely crushed.

Blood ran from his mouth. He was barely alive. Barely.

He looked at his fathers face. And at that instant, he remembered what had happened.

The betrayal.

“Is… that you..my son?” spluttered the chief through a mouthful of blood.

“I am no son of yours. And you are no father. For no father would send his son to his death.”

“Save me….”

“Save you!” He threw back his head and laughed. “I feel sadness for what I have done here. I feel sadness for all the dead people. I shed tears for the all but you. You and Kaila.”

His eyes softened for a moment as he spoke her name.

The Chief smiled tauntingly.”She did not love you. She used you. She just wanted to be queen.”

He looked down at the dying old man.

“Then she got what she deserved. And so have you. May Kardha show you mercy in the next realm old man. Good bye.”

“No !” The Chief yelled aware suddenly that this man was his last hope. “Don’t leave an old man behind. Please ! Please ! PLEASE!”

He spoke without turning around.“Old man? Thanks to you I have no love left inside me. Only hatred and distrust. Thanks to you, I have the blood of hundreds of innocents on my hands. You are no man. You are the Devil. ”

As he walked away, he heard his father scream his last plea for help.

“No! Don’t leave me…”

And then, the old Chief whispered his last word. His sons name.

Kor…

The Elementals : Chapter 3

4

Fier

Rain splattered down on the massive multicoloured tent.

The large wrought iron gate about 50 metres from the tent had twisted words worked into the metal.

‘Circus Maximus’ it read.

Most people recognized the name as that of the great Roman stadium where chariots raced, gladiators fought and the audience had their breath taken away from them.

But no one who had seen this Circus’ final act could deny that it had earned the right to name itself after the legendry roman Circus Maximus.

Because the final act not only left you breathless, it burned itself into your mind.

That was why, even on a rainy and depressing day such as this, the Circus Maximus was filled to bursting.

On the ground, right in front of the audience, clowns made faces, pulled things out of each other’s noses and behinds and had the people in splits.

Far above, trapeze artists and acrobats performed impossible feats of flexibility and agility and the people gasped, ooh’ed and aah’ed.

Blindfolded men flicked knives at each other and caught them just as deftly. A small asian twisted his body into grotesque shapes and a magician pulled himself out of his hat.

Fierce jungle cats twice as big as the biggest man in the tent, giant gorillas, trumpeting elephants and roiling snakes all controlled by a single man as the people could only watch in macabre fascination half hoping the animals attack.

This was the Circus Maximus.

But this was nothing. Not yet. The final act. It was almost time.

As the performers bowed their way out of the tent to tumultuous applause, a portly man in a velvet top hat walked onto the massive stage in the middle of the tent.

And now ladies and gentlemen ! For the final act ! I give you…

———-

She waited under the stage with her head in her hands.

The pain was almost unbearable.

The cheers from the people above were only making it worse.

She rubbed her head again.

It will be over soon. I can do this.” She thought.

Ten minutes. I can control it I have done it for so many years I can do it again.

But she knew something was wrong. Something had been wrong for the past few weeks. The headaches, the pain and the never-ending feeling that something was closing in.

She had talked to Carlos the ring master and head of the circus. Explained to him that she had almost lost control during the last act.

Nonsense! You are just getting nervous that’s all ! You’ll do fine !” He said, twirling his enormous moustache.

I’ve been doing this act for eight years Carlos. Do you think I will be nervous?” She asked testily.

Carlos backed away. There was something about her eyes which burnt into you.

I..I only meant….Look. There are important people coming tonight. Some politicians I hear. Do they come for me? Or the silly acrobats? No ! They come for you! For your act ! The great final act of Circus Maximus! Do it tonight I beg you. Then take a week off.

She sighed his drawl only worsening headache.

Fine. But this is my last act for a week.

No more. For a week. She had thought about this whenever the pain got too harsh. But now, just before the act, it was beyond anything she could imagine. It was all she could do to not fall. She would have to finish this quickly.

Then, from above her she heard Carlos’ voice.

And now ladies and gentlemen ! For the final act ! I give you… La Reina del Fuego ! The Queen of Fire !

————-

The crowd screamed with delight.

This was what they had come here to see. Not the clowns, animals, performers or magicians. But this. The final act of Circus Maximus. The Queen of Fire.

————-

The podium beneath her feet rose slowly as a rectangular portion of the performers arena  slid apart.

Now !” She thought and raised her hands above her head.

She felt the heat rush up her arms and erupt from her fingers in massive roiling waves shooting right out of the empty portion of the arena.

————

The audience gasped as an enormous pillar of fire erupted from the centre of the arena and rose high above stopping just short of the roof of the tent.

Several children screamed and covered their eyes. So did several adults.

The flames were still far enough to avoid burning the tents roof.

The audience gazed at the pillar of flames feeling the heat scorching the air. But the most amazing thing was, the pillar of fire was rectangular. Exactly the shape of the panel of floor that had slid away.

And then, it disappeared.

For a moment, no one moved.

Then somewhere in the audience a child yelled.

Look mommy !

And mommy looked. And so did everyone else. For now, where the massive pillar of fire had stood, stood a beautiful woman with her arms raised.

The Queen of Fire.

———-

Her head was spinning as she tried to stand still. The pain in her skull was killing her. It had taken a lot of effort to maintain the shape of the fire. And that was nothing compared to the act. The final act.

She was weak and wanted to collapse.

But she would not. She would do the act.

She would stand tall and beautiful for these people.

She would show them The Queen of Fire.

———–

The crowd cheered madly. Most of the men were speechless. The woman was beautiful beyond anything they had seen.  Her long burgundy hair shone in the light of the flames and her body was sculpted to such perfection that she could have been a goddess.

But there was something about her. Her eyes.

Even at this distance, every member of the audience could see the wild flames in them. Beautiful and dangerous.This was not a woman you wanted to get angry.

She raised her head and looked at the people.

There was instant silence.

And then she spoke. The words were not screamed. Just spoken. Yet they could be heard by each and every person in the tent.

I am the Queen of Fire ! Fear me! Revere me ! For even the guardian of the gates of hell is but my pet ! Behold ! Cerberus ! The three headed dog of hell !

———-

The speech was useless. And she knew it.

But the people ate it up.

But that didn’t concern her at the moment. What did concern her was the blinding pain in her head which like the audience cheers had risen to a deafening crescendo in her head.

She held on.

Have to… finish…

Even as all this crossed her mind, she finished her declaration and held up her arms again feeling the heat rise up her arms.

———–

The Queen raised her arms to the heavens and closed her eyes.

The audience waited with bated breath.

Then suddenly, thick ribbons of flame burst out of each hand.

————

She was sweating now.

I won’t be able to control this…have to….stop..” She thought desperately as the pain consumed her.

But she knew it was too late.

She was too far gone.

———–

The snake like flames twisted and twirled over the audiences head forming a massive ball which hung above the Queens head like the sun.

The audience stared at the ball. Mesmerised.

———-

Have to….stop….

But her arms worked on their own. Manipulating the fire.

———-

The   ball suddenly twisted and bloated forming a shape. Then a nose. No. A snout.

Teeth, paws and then…eyes. Red eyes.

Three pairs of them.

———-

Her eyes rolled into her head. She had lost all control now. Her muscles were tense against her sweat drenched clothes.

But she had to stop. Or else…

———–

The ball had transformed. Into a three headed dog.

Cerberus. The watchdog of hell.

The audience gasped trying to move further behind in their seats as the massive hound roared at them.

It was easily as big as 10 elephants.

It roared and howled and the flames that were its body blazed hot enough to scorch the hair off some eyebrows.

Most of the children were crying. Some men and women were so terrified; they couldn’t even look at the flaming beast. But many could only stare in what could only be called a combination of horror and reverence at the gigantic beast of hell.

———-

She lost control.

Her mind went blank and her fingers went limp.

And the fire went unchecked still rushing through her veins and out of her fingers.

———-

Suddenly, the dog’s body was twisting and contorting. Flames shot out in every direction. The massive shape was disappearing as flames shot everywhere.

Some of the smarter people rushed towards the exit. But most of the audience sat entranced still thinking it was a part of the show.

Until one of the snakelike ribbons of fire flew straight into a woman in the third row.

Then the screaming began.

———–

She heard the screams. Heard it as if in a dream. The pain was not there anymore.  But something was wrong.

Why was everyone screaming?

Was everything ok?

She opened her eyes.

And saw hell.

———-

The fiery arrows shot everywhere. And burning bodies surrounded the arena. A child wailed alone in a corner, a burning pillar falling dangerously close. A woman ran past her thrashing her arms and covered in flames screeching so hard her throat might tear.

Old men fell to their knees praying for forgiveness and a man ran around screaming his lovers name.

The tent  was aflame. And everyone inside it was trapped like a rat. A rat in a volcano.

The heat was unbearable.

They were all going to die.

And it was all her fault.

She stood there, mortified at the scene in front of her eyes.

“What have I done?”

But then, instinct took over.

“I have to stop this. Pain or no pain.”

She closed her eyes and raised her palms and breathed the smoke filled air deeply. In her mind, she sang to the flames like she would, a lover and slowly, the roiling coils of fire moved together forming the same ball.

In a moment, she stood again with the massive ball of light above her. And then, it all seeped into her fingers in one furious second.

She looked around her. The crying child was safe. Alone, but safe. Someone would find him. The old man was crying out prayers of thanks at surviving and the man and his woman embraced each ther with tear stained faces.

But the burning woman lay dead. Charred beyond recognition not more than a few feet away.

“Dead.” She thought.

“And so many more…..I am a murderer.”

——–

The blaring sirens of police vans and fire engines ripped the night air.

The officer in charge surveyed the burning bodies as his partner threw up on the ground.

He looked around and noticed a man sitting in a corner. His clothes, or what was left of them, suggested he was the ring master of the circus. His enormous moustache hung limp and he looked into nothingness.

The officer walked up to him.

“Are you Mr.Carlos?”

“Yes.”

“Sir, I am very sorry for your loss. But could you tell me how this happened? And how such a huge fire suddenly went out?”

The man was silent.

“Sir. I asked…”

“She did it.” He said abruptly.

“She?” Asked the officer interestedly.

“Yes. She did it. She burned my circus.”

“Who? Who is ‘She’ ?” The officer was getting impatient.

“The witch. The fire witch.”

The officer lost his patience. He took Carlos by the shoulders and shook him.

“Who? Who is she? Give me a name man !”

And Carlos looked at him with eyes filled with darkness as black as the smoke in the air.

“Fier.”

The thick black smoke swirled in the air.

———-

The Elementals : Chapter 2

2

Vane

The rain still splattered down.

The dirty little girl peeked around the edge of the grimy wall behind which she was hiding.

She could still hear the men yelling for her. She could hear the anger in their voices.

She clutched the loaf of bread closer.

She peeked again and there was no one.

Now.” She thought and made a dash.

She was wrong. One of the men heard the girl splash through a puddle and yelled for the others.

She heard him coming and panicked. She ran faster.

The dirty lanes seemed to be closing in on her as she darted left and right but found no place to hide.

I’ll get away.” She thought desperately.

Stop you darned thief ! Stop !” She heard him yell.

He’s alone. I can outrun him.

But she knew this to be a lie. He was closing in fast, his big feet thumping and splashing on the muddy ground.

“Stop you little runt!”

She ran faster.

Stop thief! I’m going to kill you !

She heard the words. And stopped.

She slowly turned around.

The man skidded to a halt in front of her splashing mud on her already grimy face. He was a big man. A dark, dirty oaf of a man out of breath with all the running.

He looked at the petite girl in front of him and saw that beneath all the dirt and mud, there was a beautiful young woman.

His face cracked into an evil smile.

I’m going to have fun with you.” He said grinning through dirty yellow teeth.

I’m going to punish you for stealing my bread. And then…

Then what?”  Said the girl suddenly. Her voice was calm. Not breathless like the man in front of her. It showed no fear. It was…cold.

Then what?” She asked again.

The man was taken aback by the sudden boldness of the girl. But he quickly recovered.

He leaned towards her, his breath fouling the air in front of her face.

Then I’m going to kill you.

He didn’t notice the girl’s eyes go dark. He didn’t notice the wind rising around him. He just threw back his head and laughed like a fool.

He didn’t understand.

His voice seemed to echo in the girls head. Reminding her of another man. As big and as dirty. He used to come home and beat her Ma. He used to beat Ma and then beat her. And he used to say the same thing.

I’m going to kill you.

And one day. He did. Her Ma lay still and did not hug her like she did when the beating was over. She hated that man who left her to rot on the streets. She hated him so much.

Now she was older. And this man in front of her transformed before her eyes into the monster who killed her Ma.

And she was angry.

The wind grew faster and heavier.

She was so angry.

The wind started lifting the litter off the dirty ground.

He wanted to kill her? No. This time, she would kill him.

The wind grew sharper and stronger.

The man stumbled.

What the…” It was all he could get out before the gusts of wind seemed to wrap him. Tight and sharp. The wind was like blades tearing at him. At his flesh.

He looked down in horror at the skin on his hands watching it tear before his eyes. He tried to scream but could not. The moment he opened his mouth, the razor sharp gusts around him cut his tongue. Again and again. His stomach was slashed open and bits of his innards fell out.

His skin was being slashed at from every corner. He was dying. A horrible and merciless death.

Then it stopped.

He fell to the ground. Or what was left of him did.

Miraculously, he was still alive. With a great effort he looked at the girl who had calmly watched the whole spectacle.

Who…?” Was all he managed to get out.

The girl looked down at the torn, dying body.

Vane.

And she walked away into the rain, still clutching the bread.