The Daemons watch from the surface. They gaze through the water of their fountains like it’s a deep ocean.
They lust for flesh, and crave uninhibited violence. They long to consume the souls of the weak and vulnerable.
They puncture the membrane separating the worlds. They are not interested in the clean water where the sharks play, or the dusky levels of healthy quarry; they seek the lower levels. They seek the seabed where the pressure of the entire ocean is contained, where the crustaceans feed on the dirt and the waste. The Daemons transform into human shapes, and as men, they stalk the infinite dark of the Kolkata slums, where children, like me, live in the forgotten squalor of humanity.
My brother, Sai, provided for me since ma and pap passed. He was wise, he knew where we could hide; for the spirits possess so many. They seek boys or girls, they sometimes offer them money, but mostly they just debase us, unchallenged. It is normality that they break children and let their cohorts join in, or watch. Sai, knew all about the Daemons, but talked of angels too. They also come from other places, they float through the city streets, healing the weak, protecting the damaged; children then grow into angels. This is what I dream of when the screams infest my nights, and the voracious dogs and gluttonous rats circle my makeshift bed.
Sai had been talking to new people. They were helpful and kind. The women made him happy, it was nice to see him happy, he had not smiled for many months. But they were slaves for other masters, they were concubines of the spirits.
Sai protected me when the Daemons came. I am in so much pain I can barely see his raggedy and lifeless body. If there is a god, I prey the end was quick and they do not take his soul.
Through the blurs, I see shapes. An angel speaks.
“We will take care of you, my street faerie.”
“Are you an angel?” I ask.
“No. My faith is weak,” she says, smiling, “my name is Anjezë, they call me Teresa.”
As always, the competition is based on the photo prompt. 360 word limit. 36 hours to submit.
Due to commitments, I didn’t have long with this – about an hour spare in total. I would have preferred much, much longer.
The story is set in Calcutta or Kolkata as it should be known. It is based on a young girl living in horrendous conditions, who is at the mercy of those looking to harm children. She is describing a world of myth, trying to make sense of the evil around her.
She talks of angels roaming the streets, and in the end she is rescued by an angel called Teresa (Mother Teresa).
The picture inspired me to think as the man in the picture has is face hidden (why), he is looking down intently (at what), he is leaning in as if studying something (perhaps prey). The story developed from there. I’ve always been drawn to modern myths and the plight of homeless children is close to my heart as I worked closely for a team that helped these children.
Judge is Karl A Russell.
There are a stack of supreme quality stories already in and I know there are more to come.
I’ll update this post with the results when they come out.
Update : I didn’t win anything, but I’m really proud of the entry.
Judge Karl’s comments “In The Street Faerie of Kolkata, the life of an Indian street orphan is recast as epic fantasy, seen through the eyes of a brutalised child. The punishment she receives – for the crimes of being poor and female – are mercifully kept from the page, but in her childish description of her brother’s “raggedy and lifeless body” we catch a glimpse of the horror she has endured. When she is promised respite by an ethereal Mother Teresa, we can only hope that she too will grow to become one of the angels; far too many never make it that far.”