The Kingdom

The old cat’s gaze darted trough the crowd in the hall. Everyone is shouting, howling, roaring and spewing insults towards him. He cringed when he heard ‘pussy’ amidst all the usual maligns like ‘human lover’ and ‘human master’s pet.’

Razor sharp claws extended from his paws. The famous black tail of his, well known for providing him balance and agility in combat, puffed and angled downward. It’s because of his magical tail that BlackStar could still retain all of his nine lives. Not only have the others harbored resentment towards his kind because of the gift, but the fact that the human practically worshipped these cunning felines exacerbates things.

Both feline and canine families suffer the same prejudice and judgmental treatments from the rest of the kingdom.

General Rhino, one of the most aggressive assets in His majesty’s army, short-tempered and overzealous, lurched forward. He grabbed BlackStar’s chest plate and pulled him closer to his snout.

‘You want to save your precious human masters, Pussy?!’ Rhino stressed the word ‘precious’ and ‘pussy’. He wanted to humiliate BlackStar in front of everyone, especially in front of His Majesty.

‘How dare you defy the King’s order?’

‘Get your dirty hooves off my armor you one horned oaf!’ BlackStar hissed, revealing his pearly white fangs. Both of his paws snatched Rhino’s rock hard fist and buried his claws into the thick grey skin.

‘Let go. Or I’ll shred your skin.’ His whiskers glinted in the lights, looking as sharp as his fangs and claws.

‘Go on then.’

BlackStar was about to unleash his fury on Rhino’s fist when a thunderous bellow shook the hall.

‘Stop this at once!’ A towering bull, clad in steel and leather armor broke them off. His mighty hooves grabbed the young generals by the neck and pulled them away from each other.

‘We don’t butcher innocent lives, Rhino. It’s against the law!’ His voice boomed again, making every mammal, amphibians, reptiles, birds and even insects shrunk inside.

BlackStar struggled free and walked away, and so did Rhino. But he changed his mind midway and made a quick turn.

‘We shouldn’t show mercy to these vermins! You, of all the generals in this room should’ve known better. They’ve been slaughtering your kind by the billions and you still want to give them a chance?’ Rhino gathered some momentum and courage before lashing out another blow, a critical one.

‘No wonder they use your kind as a symbol of stupidity.’ The war room gasped and an awkward silence followed.

Every soul in that brightly lit chamber could not believe somebody insulted one of the oldest generals in the kingdom. Not just any insult, Rhino called General Torr stupid in front of His Majesty. The bullet has been waiting in the chamber for a very long time. Some of them laughed silently, to themselves, agreeing with Rhino.

He felt something fluttered in his belly. Then it turned into a hot sensation, rising from the centre of his torso and rushed to his head. Rhino is ready for battle. It felt like as if a big boulder had been knocked off his back.

The old bull turned his head to the mighty and wise lion, King Cecil, who has been awfully quiet since the beginning of the meeting. His majesty was slumped down in his golden throne with one elbow leaning on the armrest and his chin lazily resting on top of his palm. His gaze wandered far outside the balcony, reaching the sea of pines and firs, beyond the great lake and into the infinite horizon.

Torr turned his head back to Rhino.

‘Ready yourself.’

‘What?’

He raised his battle hammer over his head, over his curved horns. Rhino bent his knees and put up both his hooves; ready to parry the attack.

‘Torr!’ The Earth-Shaker, Torr’s legendary war hammer, stopped almost halfway down. Deep down, Rhino was glad somebody stopped Torr before it could get worse. He knew Torr’s blow will not kill him; merely just to teach him a lesson, but he couldn’t face the humiliation. And besides, Rhino was afraid of the Earth-Shaker. Torr didn’t name his hammer Earth-Shaker for nothing.

An owl flapped its wings on top of a giant slab of rock served as dining table. He was one of the court’s most brightest and brilliant advisors to King Cecil. A Tasmanian Masked Owl known as Willowspeak. His black eyes, as black as onyx, soulless and piercing anyone’s soul who brave enough to gaze into them. Willowspeak gestured his tiny beak towards the throne.

The mighty lion had one paw up, demanding his generals who had been bickering like younglings to stop and focus on the matter at hand. His gaze was still lost in the horizon. After contemplating for a while, the king stood up and walked down his throne. Just like a recently victorious gladiator, King Cecil strode with solemn steps towards the silent crowd. Every council member bowed his heads.

He summoned General BlackStar and General Duke, of the canine family, to come closer. BlackStar already arrange the right words to say to His Majesty in his head before he joined King Cecil and General Duke.

‘Forgive me Your Highness, I didn’t mean to stir things up, but we need more time to save the innocent ones. I only asked for a postpone of the invasion, not voting against it, Your Highness.’ Between BlackStar and Duke, the fuzzy black cat is the most outspoken one and often got his and sometimes Duke’s tail as well, into trouble.

King Cecil leaned closer and with a silvery voice, he spoke. ‘Time is not a luxury we can afford. You can’t save all of them.’

The rest of the council looked on, anxious to know the heart of the matter that was being discussed privately between the three of them.

‘Go. Save as many as you can. You know what to do.’

BlackStar closed his eyes and sighed. His heart felt cold, like some invisible hand had clutched it and the insides of his belly churned; he felt helpless. He knew what is coming. He knew His Majesty has made his decision. General Duke put his paw on BlackStar’s shoulder. ‘Let’s do this, brother.’ His heavy heart felt as despondent as BlackStar.

BlackStar sighed for the last time before turning to King Cecil. He put his paw on his left chest and bowed. Duke did the same thing, almost in unison with his old friend. “Long lives The Kingdom. Long live King Cecil.’

The King responded the salute. ‘Long lives The Kingdom.’ He watched on as his two generals plodded from the chamber.

Finally he turned around to greet his anxious subjects. Everyone is gripping his weapons tightly. Besides their own claws, talons and hooves, they brought swords, axes and war hammers. Their hunger for battle couldn’t be contained much longer. Every human they can find will pay for all the atrocities committed against the kingdom. A long time ago, they made a pact with one of the ancient human kings, King Solomon. The humans broke the truce first when they started killing citizens of the kingdom for fun, not for food.

‘Any news from the sky kingdom?’ He inquired Willowspeak.

‘His Majesty King Garuda is waiting for your word. Their army is at full force and ready to deploy.’ The wise owl reported with confidence in his jubilant voice.

‘And our neighbors in the waters?’

‘Lord Kraken has placed his armies at various key positions and ready to land. His Killer Whales division has encircled various enemy sea fleets across the globe and ready to move in.’

With the last information digested, King Cecil nodded and his gaze wandered back into woods beyond the balcony. He closed his eyes and inhaled a lungful of air, trying to clear his head and thinks about the oncoming battles ahead.

He looked at his own horde, eager and ready.

‘Assemble the army.’

Thunderous roars, bellows, grunt, howls, and screeches echoed through the chamber. Sharp and shiny metal weapons clattered above their heads. Some stood on their hind legs, others flapped their wings frantically.

Everyone chanted the one word they have been waiting to scream out loud since the first crime was committed against them – war.

The retiree

Razak can only moan and hum with his mouth taped shut. The rope that tied his arms to the chair starts to hurt his wrists, same thing happened to his ankles. The last thing he remembered was answering the front door of his cheap flat house where he shared with a couple of no good friends.

Slowly, the vision came back. He remembers now, it was the police.

The man was not in his uniform but his badge was held up to Razak’s face, making sure the kid knew he’s a cop. Razak distinctively remembers the man’s menacing sunken eyes and thick grey mustache.

“Abdul Razak bin Yahya?”

He felt a cold hand grasped his heart when he heard his full name. Razak had to think of something to squirm his way out.

“ohh…ummm…He’s at work.” Razak knew he sucks at lying, especially under pressure. All he could think of is dashing out the front door but the big scary policeman was in the way.

“Can I come in?” The trembling kid looked around his living room before letting the man in.

His living room looked as normal as any other living rooms occupied by a group of disgusting young men. Worn out cheap polyester sofa riddled with holes sits facing an old tube TV. Various magazines and Styrofoam cups were strewn about on the coffee table. The police officer noticed an old soda can served as ashtray, knocked over by the coffee table. A few buds spilled out. He grimaced at the unpleasant odor of stale cigarette and dirty socks. “These people live like savages.” The police officer kept his thought to himself.

“What is your name?” He turned to Razak.

Razak’s eyes glanced at his friend’s sneakers before answering. “Umm…Shahrul.”

“Can I see your Identification?”

In a split second Razak darted towards the front door, but his guest, a well-trained police officer whom had busted a lot of scumbags in his career, extended his left arm. The poor sod crashed into this strong cloth line and stumbled backward. He landed hard on the marble floor. Before Razak could contemplate what was going on, another hard strike came from the left side of his face. The officer’s right hook knocked the daylights out of him.

Razak couldn’t tell how long he was out. He struggles with the rope, while the officer watches.

“20th July 2012, Kelana Jaya, 9:03 am. Ring any bells, Razak?”

Gallows and two gravestones flashed trough Razak’s mind.

“Let me refresh your memory.” By that, the officer reads something from a piece of paper in his hands. Razak listens to it carefully, realizing the horror that is unfolding before him. By the time he realized his fate, it’s already too late.

“A pregnant woman was killed during a snatch theft on that exact time, date and place. The culprits got away with her handbag, which contained a lousy 50 bucks. She was killed, I mean, they were killed over chump change. She suffered severe head trauma and died on the scene. Her baby followed its mother a few seconds later.”

Razak’s eyes bulge in disbelief. He struggles harder. When he read it in the newspapers a few weeks ago, not only he recognized her face, but also the color of her maternity dress. He recalls how the poor woman screamed and wrestled her handbag from Razak’s hands. The final hard tug from Razak pulled the woman tumbling forward and cracked her head open on the asphalt. They sped away from the scene without looking back.

“I’m here to do God’s bidding Razak. I’m on a very important mission.”

The officer slowly folds the paper and stands up. He moves his head closer to Razak’s face.

“I am here to punish you. On behalf of the innocent lives sacrificed by the likes of you. It is clear that money is far more valuable for you. Human lives don’t matter anymore. Now, I’m sending you back to God.”

Razak could see himself lying on his back, cold and lifeless. His mother is wailing besides his wrapped body. No, this is not how he wanted it to be. He wants to die as an old man, surrounded by family and friends. Not like this.

Razak is moaning, and sobbing frantically. He can’t offer him money; a petty theft like him never has enough cash. Razak never felt fear as horrifying as this. All he could think of is his mother. What will they tell her? His old mom can’t know about his crimes. It’ll break her heart.

The officer takes off the tape around Razak’s mouth.

“Please, let me go. I promise I won’t do it again! It’s an accident! Please Mister! Give me a chance.”

The old officer looks Razak in the eyes. He sighs, and trying hard to fight the urge of letting this piece of filth go. But he has a promise to keep. The innocents and the weak must be avenged. Justice must be swift. There’s no room for mercy and tolerance.

“You should’ve thought about that before you killed that poor woman.” With that, he taped Razak’s mouth shut again and pushed the sobbing scumbag closer to the balcony.

“Scumbags like you deserve to die.”

The fall was quick. Razak’s fragile body, still tied to a dining chair, smashed like a ragdoll against the cold hard concrete. One could not tell the difference between the sound of the broken chair, or Razak’s bones breaking. In less than a minute, people gathered around the mangled body that once was Razak.

The officer turns around.

Farrah wore a light blue ankle length maternity dress on that fateful day. Her radiant and glowing complexion has been replaced by freakishly white skin, almost bluish. He can see dried blood all over her dress.

She smiles at him. “Thank you.”

Her whispery voice croaks, with a hint of sadness in it, like she’s been thirsty for a very long time. Her smile vanishes, with her pale face, and the dried blood all over her dress, into thin air. If only her passing was as calm as this. He walks trough the emergency doors, to avoid the elevator. The lobby of the building is now bustling with onlookers. Camera phones are now feasting Razak’s gruesome remains.

“Can you help me?” Another whispery voice stops the old officer in his tracks.

He looks behind his right shoulder. An old Indian guy, maybe in his late 50s, stands a few steps above him. His throat was wide open. The old officer sighs, and leans closer.

“You want me to find your killer?

Break Free

Spoken like a true illiterate
Evil words that can annihilate
Who need common sense?
When we can rely on voices of power
The four walls will kill your mind
Kill our generation, and the next one

The Holy Books say be kind to others
Fuck it, let’s listen to our warlords

The lord of the white temple
An army of men and machines stands behind him

Far in the desert of black gold
After generations of bloodshed
Almost came to a conclusion

This is not the victory we hoped for
Your systematic eradication makes me sick
Sympathizers lined up demanding war
I weep for the blinds, oblivious to the Devil’s trick

Ready, take aim, fire.
And smile for the camera
Shiny blade, feeding on flesh
Hold the head by the hair, and praise God
Meanwhile His unwanted child dances

The army of the damned grows stronger
Final hour is just around the corner

Great Prophets died in vain
If only we could feel the pain
Men of God perished for nothing
The fires of hatred still burning

People of the books, go back to the beginning
Then we will see, and they will re-educate us
Fuck that shit, they know they’re losing

Hypocrisy, tyranny, cruelty
The engineers of our demise
People of the books, be wise
Freedom of thought is the only privilege we have left
Don’t lose it.

Hassan locked the front door and removed his shoes. He grimaced at the smell of his own socks. It’s almost seven in the evening and he couldn’t wait to unwind under a hot shower. Then he’ll sit down and have dinner with his wife. The thought of Farrah’s world class cooking made his mouth waters. She promised him spicy sour Siamese soup tonight. Hassan’s dinner should be about ready by now, if Farrah hasn’t spent her entire afternoon deciding on life decisions on the couch. An empty tea cup sits by an ashtray on the coffee table.

Hassan saw two crushed buds in the crystal ashtray. The living room smelled of stale cigarette smoke, Farrah’s subtle perfume and his own socks, no smells from the kitchen tonight. His wife looked at him with puffy eyes.

He sat down on an armchair in front of her, and looked right back into her troubled eyes.

“What’s wrong, hon?”

“Let’s have a baby.” She answered. That answer has been in the chamber for quite a time, she waited too long to say that.

“Owh…” His eyes quickly scanned the ashtray.

Hassan picked up one of the buds and smelled it.

“I didn’t touch your stash.” She sighed.

“You have your own stash?” Hassan was surprised.

“What? No…I mean..Ugh! It’s just a cigarette.” Farrah explained.

“Owwwhh…” This time it’s longer and Farrah can almost detect frustration in it. “You’re sober.”

“Of course I’m sober. I really mean it, babe. I think we’ve waited too long.”

Hassan loosens his tie before standing up and walked into the kitchen. He needed a drink. Images of crying babies flashed through his mind. Lucy, their striped kitten, greeted him. The annoying mews made it worse. Hassan gulped half carton of milk from the fridge. Usually Farrah would scream into his ears reminding him to use the glass but tonight, she was too occupied to care.

“Are you sure, hon? I mean, what’s wrong with our old baby? Did you feed her today?” He gestured his head to the purring fur ball at her feet.

“I’m serious, Hassan.” Farrah picked Lucy up and cradled it onto her chest. She grabbed a small packet of wet cat food from the overhead cabinet. “I know we’ve decided to wait, but it’s been almost four years now.”

…to be continued.

Who do you want to follow?

Ulama’ – religious teachers and clerics bestowed with the responsibility to guide the Ummah (the community) towards prosperity. True to the Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) teaching, promoting peace and unity in an inter-religious country. The mission should be spreading the basic fundamentals of Islamic values, forgiveness and tolerance, ensuring a good relation between Muslims and their Non-Muslims brothers and sisters. (We all come from the same father and mother) Unity is not just between the Muslim communities but to all because God is One, and The One is for ALL. Guide us on how to improve our relationship with The Maker, be humble and not pass judgment to others. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

*Ular-mak (ular dalam semak = snake in the grass) – Men bent on political goals and total control over the sheep flocks, sly, cunning and their words are filled with poison. They can strike at any moment. They’re inflicting more damage and confusion rather than doing any good. Their words do not reflect the teachings of Islam, insensitive especially towards the Non-Muslim communities, but at the same time promoting unity as well. Their words are the absolute law, any kind of debate or dialogue proposed by the so called “enemies of Islam” is irrelevant and should not be discussed at all. They pass judgment indiscriminately, the old, young, Muslim, non-muslim, no one is safe.

We have an abundant supply of the latter in my country (Malaysia).

*Malay language