Author Topic: Writing Challenge FiNALE 2018-2019: Endgame  (Read 259 times)

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Offline Vision

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Writing Challenge FiNALE 2018-2019: Endgame
« on: August 21, 2019, 07:29:32 AM »
Halo, akhirnya jumpa pada saat akhir dari kepengurusan saya ya. Hehehe. Sebelumnya saya mau meminta maaf atas keterlambatan post ini karena hal yang di luar kendali saya sendiri.  :(
Jadi menyambut versi FiNALE ini, maka tema writing challenge dipilih oleh pemenang dan honorable mention dari tantangan-tantangan sebelumnya.  :cool:
Temanya adalah BUNTU.
Sekali lagi, terima kasih atas partisipasi selama setahun ini. Sampai jumpa pada kesempatan berikutnya.

1. Gang Sempit | Warning! May be mildly not safe.
Spoiler: ShowHide
Semuanya terjadi begitu cepat dari waktu kami pertama kali bersua, dan kami telah menemukan tempat yang tepat untuk melakukan hal itu pada sore ini. Sebuah gang buntu di tengah kota, yang diapit oleh ruko tiga lantai dan lapak minuman dingin serta rokok. Suasana di sana memang sepi dan temaram, namun justru suasana seperti inilah yang kami inginkan untuk melakukan hal itu.

Aku membeli sebungkus rokok sebelum memasuki gang tempat kami berjanji sebelumnya. Seperti ekspektasi kami, tempat tersebut selengang biasanya. Selain kami, hanya ada seekor kucing lokal yang tengah memamah tulang ikan; mungkin rampasan dari makan siang sang penjaga lapak.

Dari tasku, aku mengeluarkan sleeping bag sebagai alas tempat kami akan melakukan hal itu. Setelah aku selesai menghamparkan sleeping bag-ku di atas jalan gang, ia mengeluarkan perkakas-perkakas yang akan kami pakai untuk melakukan hal itu.

Aku menatapnya, seakan bertanya untuk terakhir kali tentang kesiapannya untuk melakukan hal itu pada sore ini. Ia balas menatapku dengan sorotan mata yang dipenuhi keyakinan. Aku menghela nafas lega.

Aku menurunkan tasku dari punggungku. Ia juga menurunkan tasnya dari punggungnya. Aku melepas alas kakiku. Ia melepas alas kakinya. Aku melepas jaketku. Ia melepas jaketnya. Aku melepas T-shirt-nya. Ia melepas kemejaku. Aku melepas celananya. Lalu aku lepas kutangnya. Kemudian ia melepas celanaku. Lalu ia lepas kutangku.

Kami berhenti menggerakkan tangan kami sejenak. Kami berhenti untuk melihat tubuh satu sama lain. Tubuh kami yang polos, suci, nyaris tiada satu benangpun yang menghalangi.

Kecuali kain terakhir kami, yang masih kami pertahankan; setidaknya untuk saat ini.

Dengan sedikit malu-malu, aku memintanya untuk membuka kain terakhirnya. Entah kenapa ia bersungut dan menolak, serta menyuruhku untuk membuka milikku terlebih dahulu. Kami lalu terjebak dalam pergumulan kecil, yang semakin lama semakin membesar seiring meningkatnya zat yang tersembunyi di balik kain kami.

Akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk membuka kain masing-masing secara bersamaan.


Kenapa miliknya lebih dari milikku?

2. Dewdrop Crystal
Spoiler: ShowHide
Dewdrop Crystal

As a being of divine heritage, the first memories I had was bathed in warm light. Soft whispers of sacred melodies came next, sung in a tongue lost to humans when they were banished outside the garden. A pulse, a flash, a dazzling rain of a thousand stars. It was at the point where I was for all purposes started to 'exist', though the concept itself was to us different than to typical earth-dwellers.

I was soon enamored to this world in its array of colors and multitude of wonders, consumed as they flooded into my senses. I wonder if everyone experienced the exhilaration of 'being alive', because it was such an undescribable feeling, none I could imagine in the cloud of light. But it was my first cycle, so perhaps it was just the whimsy of everything fresh and new.

My sentience dawned on me gradually, but eventually, when I learnt of my purpose, that early excitement had plummeted into grief. Dark, black pulpit us beings of lights shouldn't have known.

I'd asked around, but amidst them who had gone through thousands of cycles, I'd only heard the same thing over and over.
"It will be worth it."
"That is the nature of our existence."
...was it really?
Further inquiry was met with disapproving gaze and pitying confirmation of my deepest fears.

In dread, I escaped.
Aided by a pair of wings and the ability to materialize and dematerialize into burst of light at will, travel was no problem. I visited all the most beautiful sites this world had to offer, and fell in love with the world even more.
At dusk, exactly 28800 seconds after my arrival into the world, I laid eyes on the most barren moonlight orchids on earth.
It would have been a beautiful sight had it been in full bloom, but whatever disease had afflicted these pitiful stems had robbed the garden of its glory.

My bewilderment didn't last long, for it was soon clear I was not alone.
A human girl, approximately 122640 hours in age, appeared before me.
Her pale skin glowed under the moonlight, her slender fingers seemed like porcelain dolls as she caressed the dying orchid stems. Her hair, white as snow, appeared in silver sheen. I would have mistaken her for one of our own kind, for she emitted an ethereal nature around her, but there was something unmistakably human in the way she smiled.
I found beauty in the world, and this human would also be part of it.

I had stayed too long, and lingering around a decaying garden was not a good prospect. As a parting gift, I sent spirit fireflies to gather round the sweet child.
Human would find it fascinating, I was sure.
But I was wrong. She didn't stand there mesmerized at my creation as I expected. Instead, she seemed to be surprised, and turned round to face my way, ignoring the fairy lights completely. As a second surprise, she opened her lips.
"Hello, there."
At once, I was held in place transfixed.
"I'm sorry. There's someone around, yes?"
"You can see me?"
"Funny you should say that. I can't, for the record, but I know you're there."
She did it again. Head lulling left and right. A searching arm, palm grasping out into the air. It just hit me that the young girl was blind.
Then how did she--
Even a normal human would not be able to perceive me.
Or perhaps, my long tour had deprived me of the energy needed to maintain my glamour.

"We don't have visitors often here," she tried again, this time with a bit of quiver as if she couldn't quite believe she wasn't hearing things. But she was hearing things .I shouldn't be close to corporeal.
"I'm just... enjoying the scenery."
It was a lame, albeit true, answer.
She sounded amused.
"Usually wilted garden came off as creepy."
"You know it's wilted?"
"'It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye'.  Remember, I know you were there."
She sounded proud and triumphant.
However, those glassy eyes looked down quickly.
"It was... it used to be my mom's garden. The most radiant, most beautiful garden in the world, she used to declare."
"What happened?"
"We had an accident. Mom passed away at once. I survived, but my eyes were gravely injured. Day by day, my sight worsened, until darkness finally claimed them. Father found everything too saddening, and he stopped coming. Couldn't bear looking at these flowers. Without anyone to tend them, they wilted away. I was lucky to saw them bloom one last time before I was completely blind."
Leaves fell under her fingers, the dried roots around her shoes went 'crack crack' as she moved.
"You're unusually cheerful for such a story."
"I have come into acceptance. If I cannot laugh at your life, I cannot laugh at anything else, you know.""
How peculiar.
"Why are you here at these hours? Or rather, why are you here at all?"
"I'm giving my regards to the flower fairies. I'm leaving tomorrow."
"Flower fairy?"
"Yes! If they do exist, they would be a creature of exceeding beauty, don't you think?"
"Perhaps. They're a being of light, anyway."
"You're a curious one. Even my housekeepers tend to laugh at that notion."
"At fairies?"
"Mhm. They aren't as popular as they used to be in this age. What a shame, no?"
"Perhaps nowadays people have so much more to believe in."
"They do, but I still like to think they're out there. If they do, I have a wish I hope they could help me fulfill."
"These eyes of mine... I would have a transplant. I would be able to see very soon. But we will leave after I return from my operation, to a country far far away. I would like to see these flowers bloom once again.'
"A laughable prayer, a terribly childish dream, yet I couldn't help but hope."
I was not sure why she would tell this to me. Perhaps it was true that beings of such a long lifespan would feel loneliness difficult to bear.

"Do you want to hear a tale?"
"Oh, entertain me. You have entertained me so, funny stranger."
"The fairy world is complex and orderly. Everything has parts and roles in the larger life, and they keep the universe gears turning."
"Go on."
"They make rain falls and foliage grows. They herald upon streams of water and spin the dirtbeds. Among them is the dewdrop fairies."
"Tell me how they look like."
"They are born from light, and will return to light. Composed of memories and gratitude and everything warm, they have but one purpose: imparting life to the blooms that would remind people of what they were made of."
"Are they flower fairies?"
"They are not the same. The dewdrop fairies, as their name suggests, have just enough life force to last 86400 seconds, after which they would become dewdrops on the flowers of their choice, which would bloom majestically on the completion of their deeds."
She pouted. The downcast look was back. "That would be sad. Should they be born only to die?"
"It was their purpose. Their whole existence revolved around their single purpose. Then they would return to light and be reborn into another dewdrop fairy. Over and over, bringing happiness wherever they go, or so I was told."
"May one's existence be meaningless, then, if it would mean their ensured health?"
"I'm afraid it doesn't work that way."
"It was such an interesting setup to a story too."
"It is, I suppose. Say, why don't we meet again tomorrow after you'd regained your sight? Just make sure you stop by this place before you depart with your father."
"Sure! I'm curious what kind of chap is willing to hear me out in these hours."
I bade her goodbye, and to the garden I returned.
I was still unsure, but deep down something stirred, and I thought that perhaps I had learnt a bit.
"Do you feel good?"
"Yes, I am, doctor. Honestly, I feel giddy."
"I bet. Now, let's take off the bandage. I hope this goes well."
"Ah, could I ask a favor? Could my father take me out and do this elsewhere?"
"Have something you prefer as the first thing you see?"
The old doctor chuckled. He had heard this quite a lot.
"Alright, but not so far. You'd have to return. Formalities, you see. I have to finish the checkup."
A nurse came in to wheel her out as he had given an approval. Her father received her in relish, though confused because her eyes were still covered.
She gave the request. He, though at first resisted, eventually gave in. So the three made their way to the abandoned garden, where she told her father she would be meeting a peculiar person.

"There's no one here."
"Perhaps they're late."
"Would you want me to take off the bandage? You ready?"
"I am."

Light flooded in shuttered windows. Images came in blurs, and before her very eyes, the wilted flower garden was no more. Fireflies rained down, and the blossoms opened in all color but black. It was an ocean of light, a sea of stars right on earth. Drops of dew glistened under the solemn heavens. Furtive gasps turned into bated breath, while tears started to fall.

The curtain had fallen.

And far, afar, a tiny wisp of light shattered into thousand little sparkles, each more glorious than the sun itself.

I love this world so much
so I hope those eyes would travel far.

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

3. Stuck
Spoiler: ShowHide
Sudah, lupakan. Lebih baik aku pulang saja.

Kubilas wajahku dengan air dingin.
Aku tidak boleh goyah.

Sambil berjalan, aku terus mengulangi skenario dalam kepalaku. Ruang kelasnya, jadwal kuliahnya, cokelat favoritnya.

Pintu terbuka.

Aku rasa dia tampak seperti bintang, dia pusat percakapan dan perhatian mereka. Aku mengandaikan diriku bergaul dengan mereka.

Aku memberanikan diri untuk memanggilnya.
"Halo, perkenalkan saya-"

Tidak ada reaksi.

Kugigit lidahku dengan rasa malu.
Mungkin dia tidak mendengar.
*Atau mungkin dia mengabaikanmu*

Aku bersin.
Tuhan, mengapa bersinku keras sekali.

Aku merasakan seratus pasang mata menatapku.

Lalu aku mendengar tawa.
Aku berlari, tak tahu mau kemana.

4. Cara untuk Sengsara Sesegera Mungkin
Spoiler: ShowHide
Jam menunjukkan pukul satu siang saat Ali sedang asik bekerja sembari menyeruput kopi hitam kesukaannya. Ia sedang menyiapkan sebuah presentasi besar terkait purwarupa suatu produk yang telah ia rancang sejak bulan lalu. Nilai proyeknya tidak main-main; bisa digunakan untuk stok mie instan seumur hidup andaikan digunakan demikian. Proyek inilah yang akan menjadi puncak karirnya.

Pukul dua siang, tepat 45 menit sebelum presentasinya ke klien. Meski sedang semangat-semangatnya, sepertinya kondisi saluran pencernaan Ali saat ini sedang tidak dapat diajak kompromi. Kentut hadir dengan bunyi-bunyian yang harmonis, sesekali turut menghadirkan sedikit cairan yang tak elok dipandang. Ia harus segera ke toilet sebelum segalanya semakin parah.

Bergegaslah ia ke toilet. Larinya kencang sekali, bak kuda yang dicambuk tanpa henti. Janda muda di sebelah ruangannya yang biasanya selalu ia goda setiap lewat pun tak ia acuhkan. Setibanya di depan toilet, tak berhenti ia menggedor pintu sembari berharap orang yang di dalamnya tidak sedang merasakan hal yang sama dengannya saat ini.
Setelah menggedor tanpa henti selama tiga setengah menit, tersadarlah ia bahwa tidak ada orang di dalam. Dengan segera ditanggalkannya celana serta segala aksesorisnya. Ia duduk di atas toilet dengan mantap, siap untuk melakukan defekasi. Segala isi perutnya ia keluarkan, baik dalam bentuk cair, padat, atau kondisi apapun di antaranya.

Entah setan jenis apa yang sedang hinggap di pikirannya. Setelah puas mengeluarkan isi perutnya, ia malah memutuskan untuk merancap. Diraihnya ponsel yang ada di kantong celananya, kemudian dibukanya situs esek-esek kesukaannya. Sambil menahan konaknya, ditelusurinya berbagai genre film biru. Akhirnya dipilihnya sebuah video amatir yang pemerannya, menurut alam bawah konaknya si Ali, mirip dengan Jujum, si janda muda yang disebutkan tadi.

Sayang, rancapannya siang ini harus berhenti ketika ia menengok jam. Tersisa 10 menit lagi untuknya pergi ke ruang rapat untuk persiapan presentasi. Namun karena sudah kepalang, ia putuskan untuk menuntaskan dahulu rancapannya. Benih kehidupan milik Ali memenuhi telapak tangannya. Ia akhirnya meletakkan ponselnya di saku celana, kemudian dibukanya keran untuk mencuci tangannya. Satu masalah: tidak ada air. Begitu pula dengan reservoir toiletnya. Tisu yang biasa ada di toilet juga habis.

Si Ali panik bukan main. Ia berkali-kali berteriak, berharap ada satu jiwa yang baik hati untuk memanggilkan OB agar keran airnya menyala; atau sekadar membawakannya tisu toilet. Hasilnya? Nihil. Sudah lima menit Ali berteriak tanpa henti dan tanpa hasil. Sebuah horor yang nyata. Tidak mungkin ia berani datang ke presentasi dengan keadaan penuh aroma tahi dan tangan berlumuran benih kehidupan. Di saat ia berpikir inilah titik tertinggi karirnya, ia justru dihempaskan ke titik terendah hidupnya, dihinakan sedemikian rupa. Buntu. Tenggorokannya lelah dipaksa berteriak. Andai tenggorokannya bisa protes, ia pasti minta naik gaji.

Ali memutuskan merenungkan nasibnya sambil duduk di toilet yang terasa bagai kursi penghakiman baginya. Ia menyesali keputusannya untuk langsung melaksanakan hajatnya sebelum memastikan segala kebutuhannya ada. Ia menyesali keputusannya untuk merancap. Ia menyesali keputusannya untuk makan geprek level sepuluh di warung pinggir jalan yang patut dipertanyakan kebersihannya.

Renungannya dipatahkan oleh bunyi dering telepon masuk di ponselnya. Bosnya marah betul, jam sudah menunjukkan pukul tiga, sudah lewat waktunya untuk presentasi. Akan tetapi, dering itu pula yang menyadarkannya bahwa ia bisa memanggil bantuan.

Ia menyesali keputusannya.

5. When The Cicadas Cry
Spoiler: ShowHide
When The Cicadas Cry

The late evening breeze swept in as the clouds in the sky began to slowly recede, making way to the darkness to come. As I sat on the porch, a teacup on hand, the world seemed to come into a standstill. I could only process two images in my mind, one being the tranquil little garden my mother had worked so hard on, and a freshly dug grave. Only the rythmic swing of the bamboo water fountain reminded me that time was, indeed, still passing.

Thud. Thud. Thud. I took a sip of my tea. Dianthuses tucked away in the corner. Cosmoses and crysanthemums flaring in colors otherwise too garish to belong in this house. Then the small patches of red spider lilies strewn about.

My mother had arranged the garden to her liking, as what amounted to perhaps the only freedom she had ever had. The red spider lilies had amazed, shocked, scared many a guest. Mother refused to accept that these blazing blossoms had association to death, and she tended to them with the same care she showed all her flowers (perhaps, that statement included me, a lanky blossom whose stem was a bit too long and whose sepals and petals lack gracefulness of all the surrounding blossoms, growing wild in all the ways it hadn't been able to fit in. But I was hers all the same).

I didn't hear the sliding door open. Suddenly, she was there, wrinkles on her tired face and bags underneath her eyes. She had always seemed exhausted, but I didn't remember her this old. She had changed out of the mourning attire. I suppose what few guests we had had left (they mostly come for her anyway, not him).

"Are you tired, dear? Come in early and get some rest. Don't you have to depart tomorrow?"
I flashed her an awkward smile, avoiding lingering my sight on her a second too long. That old face was painful. I was still not entirely sure what I was about to say, but my course of action had already been decided.
"I have called for an extended leave to the office."
I swallowed.
"I would help you sort his belongings."
She tried to read my face, but I had been a champion in masking my feelings. All these years living with him prepared me for this.
Perhaps she gave up, for she stopped looking at me. She closed her eyes and placed her own cup by her side, the thin hairline starkly visible as she moved, the strands falling in all the wrong place it looked like a tangle of withered red spider lilies...
Finally, she said, "Thank you."

For a moment, it seemed like nothing had changed. I was a kid coming home from school, grumpy that the summer holiday had ended and work piled up. I sought refuge in this garden of hers after a long day of classes and extracurriculars and extra extracurriculars I'd taken so I wouldn't have to be in the house with that man. She would appear from the sliding doors, pinched my cheek and made a joke with a tray of refreshments and traditional sweets on hand (recipes taught to her by her mother who was taught by all the mothers in the family before her). I would have made a snarky remark, or two, before accepting the consolation prize (they were always delightful, not a single crumb to be wasted). She would have a seat, and lectured me on all her flowers over the cry of cicadas.

It was just always the two of us here. I didn't see why today would be different.
But today was different. A man's life had been taken off this world, and his absence had affected his surroundings in ways his existence hadn't.
My mother took my hands in hers, and I saw it again. The signs of aging all the way too early. I was jolted aghast and made my way in hurriedly, the sliding door hitting the frame loudly.

"I-- I think I'm going to refill the tea."

It was the funeral day for a man the world had forced me to acknowledge as my father.
We had no more guest the following day, although mother said that she expected some letters to come from his correspondences. It was of no surprise, because even though he was only legally dead five days ago, as far as the world was concerned he was already dead for years. I doubt mother had any idea who to send the news to, as he barely had any friend, locking himself all the time in this study. Even those who come were largely the neighbors, out of concern for my charmingly friendly mother.

The study was well-kept as usual. Not a single speck of dust was to be found, so I suspected mother made her rounds here even during the wake. She was the only one he trusted enough to take care of this sacred place of his. Not even our trusty housekeeper might take a step in (though, in a mix of foreign and familiar feeling, I realized that he had never objected me coming in. Not that I did it often. I had no reason to). Books, neatly stacked wall to wall, reaching high to the ceiling, supported by solid oak shelves that could've been sold for a fortune when we struggled to make ends meet. Documents in classic binders, all labeled in red. A solitary desk, classic solid wood to complement the shelves, full to the brim with paper scribbled with arcane equations. I wonder how much these amounted to. Perhaps it was the single most expensive room in the house, and I couldn't help but laugh.

That day, she found him here while delivering his supper: slumped in his desk with his favorite pen still in his grip (they didn't manage to pry it loose, so the trusty pen went with its master into the casket. It was just like him, unwilling to depart without making sure he would have reams of paper and something to write with as he crossed the river).

This study was the only remnant we'd had from that man.
Somewhere in the corner of that study was our family tree, extended upwards to the 14th century. I'd heard the story from mother over many summers. My great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather met his success in the Silk Road, and finally saved enough money to return to his hometown and started a family. From there, generations upon generations added to this building, and while age had clearly shown on the dilapidated roof and creaking tiles, for the most part our house was a sign of splendor from afar. Only from afar, because to me, it was a memento of a faded glory.

My grandparents were strict, my mother said. The family fortune had mostly ran out at this point, but they took care to provide their son with the best education money could buy. It was, in my eyes, a foresight that led to our downfall. They passed away fairly young, and left everything in the hands of their only son who had just married my mother. That man.

He kept most of the rooms as is and didn't add anything to the house. In fact, in his time, he had greatly diminished the legacy. The land and the building, while keeping us from being homeless in dire times, came with hefty inheritance tax that almost robbed us of our dismal savings. We'd sold parts of the house and kept only the main building. (Though in a way, that saved my mother great labor. Tending to an old house was tenuous.) We weren't rich enough to keep the servants, so not long after I was born they were all let go. Only an old housekeeper, swearing that her family had been around for great many years for us, held steadfastly and refused to leave my mother. She took another job to ensure we wouldn't have to pay her too much, and lived with whatever meager salary my mother could provide (most of the time though, they all went back to us, in the form of fruit baskets or threads for the new year's clothes).

I looked at a row of sepia-colored photographs lining the wall, looking down to the desk. I wondered what they, heads of the family for generations past, had to say about their last successor who'd squandered everything they'd ever had for the sake of a line of half-completed equation.
I hadn't been around for quite some time, not since I graduated. Everything in the house reminded me of my hatred, and so I'd spent many years trying desperately to get away.

I'd hated him for being nonexistent. When parents would show up in the annual sports day, father's day, or any family gatherings the school could come up with, my mother would always come on her own. Sometime my teachers, in their misguided sympathy, would try to talk to us, and there was nothing more humiliating than telling your teachers and classmates that your father was technically around but not.

I'd hated him for his dismal income, leaving it to mother to make them all manageable for a family of three. She'd worked so hard the skin of her palms turned rugged, her face sagged with weight, but he wouldn't so much help her ease the burden. Perhaps at this point I should just be grateful he even worked at the very least, because once mother's humble home cooking business flourished, he stopped. From then on, I would see all the neighbors more often than I would see him. A rural village teacher wouldn't make much, and I resented him because I knew he could have done some more in his career if he would just make an effort.

He'd had everything.
Born to a privileged family, furnished with education to the highest degree, and what did he do? Why should we go through all that hardship for him?

The drawer was locked. I thought of what he might store in there, and my best guess was another set of mathematical journals. He had these delivered every few months. I never knew who paid for the subscriptions, and for the love of gods I sure hope it wasn't mother. I snorted, giving the handle one last shake. It rattled in a different way, so I took another look. The drawer wasn't locked like I thought it was. It was simply stuck, and the lock was a toy lock, the cheap kind you could buy in a one-dollar hardware store. Technically you're supposed to enter four digit password in, but its plastic hinges wouldn't hold more force than a kid could muster. I couldn't remember his birthday, so I entered mine as a joke. I could just break it off anyway.

To my surprise, it opened. Perhaps the shoddy mechanism was so old it would just open no matter what combination I keyed in.

The contents of the drawer spilled out once I pulled out the box that had made it stuck. They were not math journals as I had expected. Instead, an avalanche of recreational mathematics puzzlebooks entered my view, crowded occasionally by children picture books. I nearly laughed. This was what that old man kept? Doing this all day in and out, that's almost sad.

I picked a few, noting Sam Loyd and Martin Gardner among those I could recognize. However, what welcomed me in those pages weren't his handwriting, annoyingly flowy and hard to read, but untidy child's scribbles. Those books weren't his. Those were mine. I had forgotten that back, way way back, he used to bring me these books to pass evening by, laughing in amusement whenever I encountered particularly difficult problems.

"What's so good about mathematics, anyway?"
"Hmm. It's a world on its own, I must say. A beast to be tamed."
"They look confusing."
"They're just like your puzzles. You like them, don't you?"
"I do. Do you know how to solve this one?"
"I can give you a hint..."

...Was that scene real, or unreal?
All this time I'd thought that he's always been trapped among the rationals and irrationals, wandering between the finite and infinite.
He used to make me puzzles, I heard the back of my mind whispering betrayals. Drawings of all kinds of geometrical shapes.

I stood up, dizzy.

"Can you see them, the stars?"
"They're beautiful, aren't they?"
"I don't know you like stars, dad. You're always cooped up in your study."
"Ahaha, I suppose I am. I feel sorry for your mom, she has it rough."
"Well, good that you're aware!"
"To think that you're already old enough to scold me. You grow up fast."
"Why are you looking at me like that, dad? It gives me the creeps."
"Ah, sorry. It's just... Sometime...I'm afraid that...if I look away, suddenly I won't know you anymore."
"Well, maybe if you would just look at me more often..."

A jolt. A chilling breeze down my spine. I had fallen asleep, though if my watch were to trust, I passed out for a mere fifteen minutes. The puzzle books scattered around me. They must have escaped my clutch when I lost consciousness. Old as they were, some of the hinges gave way and the loose pages hung limply on their sides. I had no idea why that particular memory would resurface. I must be pretty young then, because I couldn't remember the two of us talking past sixth grade. He'd been totally gone by then, deep in the dark well of his obsession.

Now, I realized the purpose of my return to this house.
I had never asked my mother everything I had always wanted to ask, and I needed closure.
My mother, perceptive as she had always been, must have guessed me correctly, for a tray of refreshment and traditional sweets --exactly like it had been in my childhood-- was prepared on the table by the time I went back to the living room. She waited there patiently, a proud lotus on her throne. She didn't ask me why I didn't rest, or why I appeared from the room I had despised most during my lifetime here.

"Why did you marry him!?"
"Why are you so patient!?"
"Why wouldn't you leave him for neglect!?"
"What... why..."
"Why didn't you hate him?"
The questions that had been buried in me for twenty years flooded all at once, and I grew choked by each passing second.
The dam had been broken.
"Have a seat."
She breathed deeply. Inhale, exhale, and finally the curtain of her bangs parted as she opened her eyes. I watched mesmerized as she rummaged the drawer. A diary? A journal? Or perhaps a letter?
"I would ask the sculptor to carve this on his headstone tomorrow. What do you think of it?"
I slapped the paper away, and it rolled to the foot of the table, stopping in a pitiful thud. Disappointment was evident on my face. What was she doing?
"I should warn you that the dead could speak no longer."
"He could've spoken when he was alive."
"But would you listen, then?"
"Can we just get straight to the point? I'd waited for so long!"
She sighed.
Outside, the sky was set ablaze, and the odd autumn scent mingled with the faint trace of formalin. The wake had been held here in the house, and now I could see his ghost permeating every corner with his presence.
That must be the reason I kept getting flashes of images.

Finally, my mother averted her eyes from cosmoses and crysanthemums, but when she spoke her voice sounded like it was from another time altogether.
"I met him in the heights of our youth. Our future seemed boundless, and we would be engrossed in the field our hearts had taken to. I in Botany, and he in his Maths, with all the wrinkles and creases that came with it."
"He'd been working in the same research even then. See, statistics and applied maths were on the rise, promising everyone the holy grail of a comfortable life. Afterall, the modern world was said to be ruled by numbers. But this fellow, he had his eyes set on something else instead."
I tried to hold my protest back as she calmly took a bite of black bean pancakes. Tried to see what she was seeing, tried to see beyond the wild hatred that had grown between the thorny years we'd spent apart. I'd tried to get her away many times, but she wouldn't budge. Her whole being, she told me over and over again, had rooted deep to the home and its soils, where she had pledged herself to protect. But protect from what? Protect for who?

"The unsolved problems. The honey trap for mathematicians worldwide. Young and old, people from all walks of life had attempted these, but many of them never see a solution emerge for hundreds of years."
"Eventually, it became some kind of a self-defeating belief that the only people who would be able to provide the solutions are the elites, the chosen genius, and everyone else should just stay away."
"He was having none of that, and he worked feverishly."
The ghost in her voice unnerved me, and slowly I lost my own conviction. What was the purpose of my asking all these now? What was I looking for? Was it redemption, for him? Or...

"You see, fate has a cruel joke. People shine the brightest when they're doing and talking about what they love. We like the ethereal qualities that they seemed to exude."
"You asked me if I have ever hated him for neglect. The answer is no. That was why I fell for him in the first place."
"But therein lies the trap, you see, for people like that don't have much interest in the ordinary life. They have something to chase, something to seek. That pot at the end of the rainbow, the light at the end of the tunnel, that's all they were capable to see."
"He told me he wouldn't take me, because he feared that one day he would be lost, never to return."
"Well, I was having none of that as well."
"I assured him that everything would be alright, that he would be able to work undisturbed."
"Perhaps I was more than a bit too overconfident too. I held hope that maybe I could be his anchor, maybe I could keep him tethered in this world."
She laughed, as if the summer had never left. Why would she laugh?
"You see where that confidence had brought me."
"But I made my choice, and I regret nothing."
"And he had loved me enough for what little space he had for everything else in his heart."
Again, that faraway gaze, as if she would disappear in a fraction of second, caught in the past that had reached far into the future.
Was I, perhaps, looking for a justification for her? For all her suffering, for all her patience... but she wasn't the one having objection. I was.

"You ever notice that he had the same inscription for all his epigraphs?"
She handed me a paper. His name was written as the first author out of three. I was not aware he had time for collaboration. The notion that he might have talked more with everyone else but us made me sick.
"What does this mean?"
"It was our little joke. He'd call me his Queen Artemisia, the bravest in all of Persia."
I wish I could laugh. That was so... impeccably childish. Unbelievably sappy, like something out of afternoon soap opera. It was exactly the kind of story that would get my eyes rolling if my co-worker ever confided in me.
"And that's enough for you? Three letters in dusty journals nobody read for all you'd done?"

Yet in the back of my mind many things were swelling and nagging, threatening to burst apart at the seams. All those chilled untouched cup of tea because I was too busy with my countless school projects, the half-eaten dinner I'd left in favor of a sudden meeting with a friend, the lunch offers I kept declined from weekend to weekend because coming home paled in comparison to spending the day in town, the calls and messages I left unreplied because they came after office hours and I was exhausted.

What was it I was looking for?

("This is one awesome queen. You have more stories like this?"
"That I agree. Unfortunately I can't read you another. Maybe tomorrow?"
"I hope she doesn't end up with some weak King and has her kingdom fallen."
"I don't know, but I think the King would be most grateful for her."
"How are you so sure?"
"Hmm, that I wonder...")

"I don't expect you to understand."
"Don't you have a dream of your own?"
"But I have it here, all fulfilled."
She looked at her garden, vibrant and immaculate.
She looked at me.
I felt the bile rise to my throat again.
(Perhaps I too had been running. Running from him. Running from my mother. Running from myself.)

"But he failed. He's going down in history as just another nameless researcher. All his life, his works, all for nothing."
A footnote, a scribble in the margin, if he was fortunate.
"All for nothing?" She raised her eyebrows. "His works gave him joy to keep living. You put meaning in achievements, kid. Perhaps that's the right way to go in this cruel world. But for me, it doesn't work like that."

(A stormy winter night. A pot of floral tea. A picture book. A disgruntled child.
"The dragon isn't slain. The princess doesn't marry the knight. Don't you think they make for an unsafisfying story?"
A sad smile. An awkward attempt to console, and an even more frustrated child.)

"What do you mean?"
"It means a man was allowed a life in pursuit of his desire. And he doesn't need to be remembered by anyone. I, for one, will remember."
"We human are always in the quest of immortality, don't you think? Fame and glory is just the modern form of the philosopher's stone. Or mercury. Or what you may," she paused, giggling at her own joke. "I think they're all futile. It's just a matter of luck whether the next generation will remember you or not."
"Perhaps you won't understand. I don't expect you to. See, this is where we were fallible. Before we were your parents, before all else, we're just two people trying to do what we wanted. See, that's highly egoistical. We brought a child into the world, a child that had no idea to be involved in this and was unfairly treated so."
My mother, in her ever-patient countenance, smiled.
"I wish you would find it in you to forgive us someday."

For a moment that seemed like it lasted forever, I was stunned.
I understood nothing, because mother had seen him more than a man of numbers, but such man had been long gone from the world if he had ever existed.
Then slowly, it dawned on me what she meant to carve on his tombstone. Sure enough, the image on the headstone sketch I discarded so violently was:

A lemniscate.

In the silence that followed her last statement, I thought I heard voices in the breeze once more.

"Aren't you lonely in there?"
"I'm not. I know your mother is always there for me. And you."

As she looked into the setting sun, the sunrays bathing her in ethereal glow, I thought that for a moment she was entirely content--
--and dare I say it, more than a bit proud.
She looked at me, a queen of an ancient country, and rose.

(her kingdom might have crumbled to dust, but her dignity wouldn't rust)

6. Di Tepi Senja
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Di Tepi Senja
Mataku memandang langit senja sembari aku berdiri di bibir pantai dengan tak seorangpun di sini. Mentari sedikit demi sedikit memendamkan dirinya dari horizon, menyisakan sedikit pancarannya sebelum sepenuhnya sirna. Semburat kemerahan mulai menghiasi langit. Malam akan segera tiba, waktu bagi pekerjaan untuk berakhir dan raga untuk beristirahat. Namun tidak bagiku.

Sukmaku masih menolak datangnya malam. Ibarat buntu geraknya di senja hari. Segala kegelisahan, segala kekacauan, segala duka dan nestapa, semua berpesta-pora seenaknya dalam benakku. Belum saatnya bagi ragaku untuk rehat. Isi kepalaku mulai berhamburan dan berlarian kemana-mana. Berandai-andai. Andaikan begini, andaikan begitu. Andaikan aku bisa menebus kesalahanku, andaikan aku masih bernafas esok hari. Andaikan aku bisa hidup hingga esok hari.

Apa tujuanku hidup? Entahlah.

Mengapa saat ini aku belum mengakhiri hidupku? Entahlah. Aku tidak tahu. Beberapa orang beranggapan bahwa jika pertanyaan tersebut ada jawabnya, jawaban itulah makna hidup bagiku. Namun apakah hidup sebatas itu? Apakah justru hidup memang tak perlu tujuan? Entahlah. Berapa banyakpun tumbuhan yang kuwawancarai, tak ada satupun yang tahu jawabnya.

Kupikir, mungkin absurd mempertanyakan tujuan hidup. Andaikan hidup tak punya tujuan laten, lantas kenapa? Sapi akan tetap memakan rumput, ayam tetap akan bertelur, gulma tetap akan tumbuh. Mereka tak peduli pada tujuan hidup. Banyak orang mati-matian mencari tujuan hidup. Cara-caranya beragam, mulai dari yang elok hingga yang agak kurang sedap dipandang. Kalau begitu, kenapa aku masih mau hidup? Entahlah.

Gemuruh ombak memecah lamunanku. Senja astronomis sudah lewat, pusat geometris matahari telah berada 18 derajat di bawah horizon. Langit kemerahan telah berganti biru gelapnya langit malam. Sinar bulan juga mulai mendominasi, setelah sebelumnya cahayanya tersapu mentari. Sedangkan aku, masih berdiri di sini, seorang diri.

Kutanyakan lagi pertanyaan pada diriku sendiri. Mengapa saat ini aku belum mengakhiri hidupku?


Yang aku tahu, di tepi senja ini, aku masih melihat satu hal.

Mari hidup satu hari lagi.

7. Randomizer Alasan
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8. Sebelum Kiamat Mikroba Dimulai
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‘Masa kejayaan telah tiba, kota ini akan hancur untuk menjadi suatu kota baru yang akan menyelamatkan kalian semua dari kesengsaraan dunia.’ Pesan tersebut muncul dimana-mana. Video tron, televisi, radio, bahkan notifikasi smartphone memunculkan pesan tersebut. Tiga hari pesan tersebut beredar, dan keadaan mulai terlihat kacau. Namun tepat pada hari keempat, pesan berisi pesan yang berbeda. ‘Hari ini, kota akan hancur’.

Sesaat setelah terdengar suara ancaman dari deklarasi organisasi tak dikenal tersebut, seorang profesor, Profesor John, melihat gejala aneh terjadi di sekitarnya. Semuanya tampak berair, kelembapan mulai meningkat dan temperatur udara mulai meningkat. Profesor tersebut langsung bergegas untuk pergi ke laboratorium pribadinya.

‘Gejala ini… data… DATA, dimana kamu data!?’ gerutu Profesor John sambil mencari dokumen percobaan yang pernah dia lakukan. Keadaan sekitar mulai makin aneh, muncul bisul-bisul pada permukaan tubuh profesor. Setelah beberapa menit kemudian, profesor tersebut menemukan dokumen yang menunjukkan kegagalan eksperimen sebelumnya.
‘T-tidak mungkin…. Percobaan ini telah diuji gagal sebelumnya… Mengapa bisa?’.
Profesor tersebut terus membaca dokumen tersebut terutama di bagian kesimpulan yang dihasilkan dari percobaan yang gagal tersebut.
Tiba-tiba terdengar ketokan pintu, ‘Permisi profesor…’ kata seorang asisten profesor, Mary. Mary baru saja mengetahui situasi buruk yang sedang terjadi. ‘Profesor, apakah tidak ada solusi untuk menghentikan situasi buruk ini?’

Profesor John langsung berdiri dan teriak ‘AMRONN! MENGAPA KAU MENYALAHGUNAKAN PENGETAHUAN INI?!’. Mary tersentak mendengar teriakan sang profesor dan langsung jatuh ketakutan. ‘Mary, sudah tidak ada jalan, buntu sudah. Kita semua sudah mati.’ Profesor John kemudian melihat Mary dengan tatapan putus asa.
‘P-Profesor, tenanglah dahulu. Pasti ada jalan keluar jika kita memikirkannya dengan baik’. Mary mencoba untuk berdiri sambil mendekati profesor.

Keadaan semakin aneh, Profesor John dan Mary berkeringat sampai basah kuyup. Segala perlengkapan besi mulai kehilangan bentuknya. Mary melihat keadaan sekitar tersebut dengan sangat takut. ‘Sudah terlambat Mary, kita sudah habis’ kata Profesor John sambil berjalan menuju sebuah laci yang berada di ujung ruangan.

Profesor pun membuka laci tersebut dan menarik sebuah pistol. ‘Mary, mari ikut aku’. Profesor pun menembak Mary tepat di kepalanya, dilanjutkan dengan kepala profesor itu sendiri. Ruangan pun menjadi senyap, keduanya tergeletak di lantai.

Beberapa menit kemudian, laboratorium tersebut runtuh, segala perabotan mulai menjadi cair. Semuanya mulai hancur, tidak ada lagi yang berbentuk sampai menjadi rata dengan tanah.

Begitulah permulaan kiamat mikroba ini… Apakah kejadian yang telah berlangsung ada hubungannya dengan deklarasi organisasi misterius tersebut, tidak ada yang tahu. Namun kota tersebut sudah tidak terlihat lagi…

9. The Lost Girl

10. Five People In The Darkness and What They See
Spoiler: ShowHide
Five People in the Darkness (and What They See)

For a reason not yet known, I kept stumbling into this place time and again.
I would wake up, a sliver of hope fluttering in a heart that had since long died, to find myself floating in the sea of fog. My eyes adjusted quite easily and I made out vague silhouettes, though sometime I entertained the thought that perhaps, in their exhaustion, those eyes had pulled my leg and there was actually nothing out there.

At first, I tried to grasp what I could. Lost like Alice freefalling into the hole in the woods, just without any handle to latch on. The fall extended indefinitely, on and on, until I couldn't make head or tails of it. Was I going up or down? Left or right?

At times, I would be jolted back into consciousness, and saw the world like it had always been -- bright, buzzy, a carousel of words and dreams and ambitions and goals and successes and failures-- then they flashed again. Back here. Back to this place.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps those images were the dream. I had always been here, falling, falling, falling...

Resistance was futile.
I let myself sink, slowly, until it swallowed me whole.

I'd waded through this ocean one too many times, but I'd never deciphered its secrets.

Whenever it's become too cold for my liking, I'd lit paper lanterns. They'd emit gentle light, rows and lines of them, that would remind me of the path home and evoke within me both sweet sorrows and hopeful happiness. I was sure that somewhere in this vast nothingness was a blooming flower, its petals glowing in the same gentleness of the paper lanterns, waiting for someone to eventually discover it.

I was not sure what drew me into this in the first place, but darkness was a fine companion, and it had lent me silence -- a gift so rare to encounter nowadays, and so in its embrace I could truly be comfortable. Sometime I would sing, my voice echoed in the space reaching out to nowhere and everywhere all at once (I was never sure which one it was). Sometime I felt as if I was utterly, completely alone, but other times it was as if someone was also here, or perhaps we were all sharing a presence in this shadowy land, blind to each other.

I hope they had at least liked the lanterns.

Darkness spoke to me in ways the light couldn't, coaxing me to give out in soft intoxicating whispers, almost reverent. It promised me I would be understood, that here I wouldn't have to relent, that I would be happy, if the word carried a meaning at all. I'd let tears fall down here, for here no one would call out my weaknesses or saw me possessing one. It was a crime, a sin, a fatal flaw to crumble, because everyone else toughed it out so why couldn't you.

I would have been quite content in here, but they kept calling me out. They wanted to erase the darkness, but light would have made me blind. I did not belong.

I'd grown to fear darkness early on. It had robbed me of everything I'd once held dear. I would like to scream, to yell, to shout, to beg. Someone or anyone, please let me out. Please please please please please, but they left my throat in mum.

I run run run run run run until my legs gave out.

No one was there. No one would come to my aid, pat my head, hug me whole, tell me it's alright.

If I would sit still and look down, would it let me out?

It's always too loud in here. The faces, the voices, they could never stop shouting, and I could do nothing but listen in the corner. Once upon a time they were soothing, another time they were encouraging, but for the longest time they were distressing, frightening, endlessly infuriating me into things I would later regret. I wish they would stop.

The terrains had vastly changed over the years. It had not always been this dark. Rain had claimed the sky for many months without sign of stopping, and so the ground had now turned into an ocean, glistening in a warning glare whenever the lighthouse faraway would dare to shine a spot. I used to dance here, had a tea party with them. But it was Before.

Light was a treacherous temptation. I had made my rounds in this pitch black world. Somewhere at the edges, you could see small circles of light, warm and inviting. It made neat rows in beelines, as if someone had carved a path out of this. As if I could find myself not alone at the end of the road. But that, you see, was a trap. The Desolate Lighthouse, as I had come to call it, led nowhere (maybe also everywhere. Here was The End, so everywhere else should also be The End, right?). The light dissipated, and once again I was left with the loud voices, back where I started.
Five was an arbitrary number. It could be seven, or one, or ten, or a million. After all, there was no shortage of them in here, but when I stopped to think what in this world was not arbitrary, a creation of whim, I found only the jagged lines of the darkness, once again calling. It did not discriminate, and so five merged into one, and one split into five. It was the darkness all the same.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 06:14:14 PM by requiem »
Remember to always smile.

Offline Vision

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Re: Writing Challenge FiNALE 2018-2019: Endgame
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2019, 07:38:20 AM »
11. Tubes yang tidak Selesai
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Vision's note: Let's just say I didn't know whether it's supposed to run or not.
Silakan mengakses entri ini pada link berikut :

12. Pelajaran Mencacah
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Pelajaran Mencacah

Saya saat ini sedang bingung hendak menulis apa. Biasanya saya akan berkaca dari dunia di sekitar saya sebagai sumber ide untuk menulis. Namun, saat ini saya merasa benar-benar buntu. Oleh karena itu, saya tuliskan saja catatan saya saat sedang belajar mencacah angka. Semoga pemirsa terhibur.

enam ribu sembilan ratus enam puluh sembilan
Mohon maaf ditruncate, intinya menghitung dari 1 hingga 6969. Karena tidak muat jika dituliskan semua.

13. Pulangnya Romel
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Pulangnya Romel
Dua puluh tujuh bulan setelah Romel resmi terdaftar untuk menjalani masa wajib militer, ia akhirnya mendapat tiket pesawat untuk pulang ke pulau asalnya. Dua puluh empat bulan setelah Romel mengecup pipi istrinya di depan barak militer sebagai tanda perpisahan, Romel mengantri di counter check-in maskapai yang akan menerbangkannya pulang. Dua puluh satu bulan setelah Romel menyelesaikan pelatihan dasar sebagai kadet wajib militer, Romel menyerahkan koper kecilnya ke petugas maskapai di counter check-in. Delapan belas bulan setelah Romel resmi diangkat sebagai tentara cadangan negara, ia dipanggil untuk memasuki pesawat yang akan membawanya pulang.

Lima belas bulan setelah Romel diposisikan di pasukan penjaga perdamaian negara, Romel mendapat kursi yang menghadap jendela pesawat. Dua belas bulan setelah pasukan Romel ditugaskan di daerah konflik luar pulau, pesawat Romel lepas landas menuju pulau tempat lahirnya. Sembilan bulan setelah bom pemberontak menewaskan setengah pasukan Romel, pesawat yang ditempuh Romel akhirnya menjejakkan rodanya di pulau asal Romel. Enam bulan setelah Romel tersabet katana milisi lawan, Romel dengan tertatih-tatih menjejak garbarata penghubung pesawat dan gedung bandara. Tiga bulan setelah pasukan Romel yang tersisa ditarik dari daerah konflik, koper Romel telah diantar conveyor belt di ruang pengambilan bagasi.

Romel keluar dari ruang pengambilan bagasi, menuju area kedatangan bandara. Riuh-redam para penjemput penumpang pesawat yang ditumpangi Romel menyambutnya. Dari kertas-kertas yang dipegang para penjemput, Romel baru menyadari banyak orang-orang penting yang menumpangi pesawatnya tadi. Dari turis asing, mahasiswa berprestasi, hingga pejabat negara. Akan tetapi, baginya hari ini tak ada orang yang sepenting Viana di area kedatangan ini.

Ya, Viana. Dua puluh empat bulan, delapan musim, seperlima dekade sudah ia tak berjumpa Viana. Pembalut luka di hatinya saat ia sekarat setelah disabet katana milisi pemberontak saat penggerebekan kantor pimpinan milisi tersebut, enam bulan lalu. Penyemangat dirinya saat ia tak kuasa melihat setengah temannya bergelimpangan dihajar bom pemberontak di acara pernikahan ketiga pemimpin lokal, sembilan bulan lalu. Penghibur dirinya saat ia tiba-tiba ditugaskan di daerah konflik, dua belas lalu.

Ya, Viana. Wanita yang ia selamatkan saat pelipisnya berdarah setelah dihajar jambret saat menjelang masa ujian akhir sekolah. Wanita yang menyembunyikan wajahnya di gorden rumah saat ia ajak ke bioskop kota untuk menonton film bersama. Wanita yang tersipu malu saat ia lamar saat senja di pinggir pantai kota. Wanita yang lebih tersipu malu saat dibawanya bersanding di pelaminan, tiga bulan sebelum ia mengikuti wajib militer. Wanita yang matanya sembab karena terisak saat melepasnya di barak militer. Wanita yang tabah dan selalu memotivasinya untuk bersemangat menjalani masa wajib militer. Wanita yang membuatnya bisa bertahan selama ribuan hari di kehidupan kemiliteran.

Dua puluh empat bulan setelah Romel berpisah dengan cintanya, Romel dan Viana kembali bersua di area kedatangan bandara.

 Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia menjumpai Viana. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat melihat Viana membawa dua anaknya; satu berumur sembilan bulan, satu berumur enam bulan di kandungan. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia menatap wajah anaknya yang baru ia lihat; bagai pinang dibelah dua dengan Viana. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia mengelus perut Viana, yang baru pertama kali ia lihat membuncit.

 Betapa bahagianya Romel.

 Betapa bahagianya.


Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia kembali ke rumah asalnya di gang buntu di pinggir kota. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia kembali melihat hal-hal yang sudah lama tak ia jumpai di rumahnya. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia dimasakkan Viana nasi goreng kesukaannya. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia diajak makan malam berdua, sembari membicarakan hal-hal yang ia lewatkan selama di dunia kemiliteran. Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia memamerkan pisau Swiss Army buah kenangan kawan sepasukannya, yang sudah menghela nafas terakhirnya di medan konflik.

 Betapa bahagianya Romel saat ia menghunjamkan pisau tersebut ke pelipis istrinya. Persis seperti saat ia mengenal Viana untuk pertama kali; seperti itu pulalah Romel ingin mengenal Viana untuk terakhir kali.

14. Tiga Babak
Spoiler: ShowHide
Tiga Babak
Bagian 1 – Kelahiran
Tiada satupun dari kita yang pernah meminta untuk dilahirkan. Setidaknya, begitu pikirmu. Biarpun begitu, kebanyakan orang menerima saja kenyataan bahwa ia dilahirkan ke dunia ini. Toh, apa boleh buat? Ingin protes pun ke siapa? Segala yang terjadi sudah terlanjur. Kamu mau mengeluh bagaimanapun juga, tak akan membuatmu masuk kembali ke vagina ibumu dan kembali menjadi sel telur yang menanti untuk diluruhkan saat ibumu menstruasi.
Yang sudah terjadi, biarlah terjadi. Sekarang, yang lebih penting adalah bagaimana kelanjutannya. Kamu tumbuh sedikit demi sedikit, meski sebagian besar hidupmu kau isi dengan menangis dan tertidur lelap saja. Selang beberapa bulan, kamu mulai bisa melangkah sendiri. Awalnya kamu terjatuh saat mencoba berjalan. Mungkin itu adalah kegagalan pertamamu. Tak apa, masih banyak kegagalan lain yang akan menantimu ke depannya. Caramu berucap juga sedikit demi sedikit mulai lancar. Kamu sudah mulai bisa memanggil ibumu, entah dalam bahasa apa yang diajarkan padamu. Lambat laun, kamu mulai mengenal objek-objek lain di sekelilingmu. Kamu juga mulai mengenal tulisan dan bagaimana caranya menulis. Sedikit demi sedikit kamu menjadi serupa dengan orang-orang lain yang lahir sebelummu.
Terkadang kamu terpikir, apakah sebelum lahir kita ditanyai dahulu ingin dilahirkan atau tidak? Mungkin beberapa agama dan kepercayaan menjawabnya dengan ceritanya masing-masing. Namun jawaban seperti itu tidak pernah memuaskanmu. Rasanya seperti ada yang kurang. Entah apa, kamu tidak tahu. Mungkin kamu saja yang anomali, karena toh banyak orang di sekitarmu yang oke-oke saja dengan penjelasan seperti itu. Setidaknya yang ada dalam pikiranmu, andaikan dahulu kamu pernah membuat pernyataan bahwa kamu ingin dilahirkan, kamu ingin membaca lagi segala terms and condition yang ada.
“Apakah kamu menyesal pernah dilahirkan?”
Kamu tak tahu jawaban untuk pertanyaan itu. Apakah kamu menyesal pernah dilahirkan? Entahlah. Kamu tidak tahu alternatifnya akan seperti apa rasanya. Toh, hidupmu juga belum lama. Kamu belum tahu nilai dari kehidupanmu dan apakah nilainya akan lebih besar dibanding tidak pernah ada sama sekali.
“Seperti apa rasanya menjadi tiada?”
Pertanyaan yang bodoh. Jika kita tiada, tentu tidak ada yang namanya perasaan. “Merasakan menjadi tiada” itu tidak ada.
Daripada berpikir aneh-aneh, toh kamu juga sudah terlanjur dilahirkan, lebih baik kamu menghabiskan segelas kopi yang ada di hadapanmu saat ini. Suasana senja hari terasa tenang, diiringi semilir angin, mengelus lembut rambutmu. Tak lama kemudian, ponselmu berdering.
“Mas, anak kita sudah lahir!”
Terdengar suara istrimu dari ujung sana. Andai saja kamu bisa menyaksikan kelahiran anakmu. Andai saja kamu bisa pulang bulan kemarin, mungkin kamu bisa melihat anakmu secara langsung saat ini.
“Syukurlah. Semoga aku bisa segera pulang ya”
Kamu akhiri telepon singkat itu dan melanjutkan merenung, hingga kamu tersadar bahwa kopimu telah habis.
“Selamat datang di dunia, nak. Kamu mungkin tak pernah minta dilahirkan, tetapi kuharap kamu bisa menerima fakta tersebut dan menjalaninya,” ucapmu dalam hati.
Bagian 2 – Kehidupan
Kamu kurang suka dengan pengandaian kehidupan adalah kapal yang tengah mengarungi samudera, terlebih karena kamu juga bekerja di kapal. Berbeda dengan kapal yang sebagian besar waktunya bisa dikomandoi dan dikemudikan, menurutmu hal serupa tak berlaku bagi kehidupan. Alih-alih kapal yang mengarungi samudera, bagimu kehidupan lebih terasa bagaikan sungai yang mengalir ke lautan. Ia terus mengalir dari hulu, melalui lintasan yang penuh liku, menyusuri tebing-tebing, menerima segala sampah dan lumpur, hingga akhirnya berakhir di lautan. Mengalir begitu saja. Segala kendali yang ada hanyalah kendali semu; pada akhirnya kan terbawa mengikuti arus juga.
Awalnya kamu hanyalah seorang anak yang polos, tidak tahu apa-apa tentang dunia di sekitarmu. Kamu cukup beruntung diajarkan untuk selalu berbuat baik pada sesama dan orangtuamu juga selalu berbuat baik padamu. Kamu pun mencoba untuk selalu berbuat baik pada orang-orang di sekitarmu. Terkadang kamu sampai menangis ketika meminta maaf gara-gara telah melakukan perbuatan yang tak mengenakan. Entah berapa lama waktu yang diperlukan untuk membuatmu tersadar dunia tak sebersih yang kamu kira. Di usia sepuluh tahun, kamu mengeluarkan kata makian pertamamu. Kamu kesal atas ulah para perisak yang memanfaatkan kepolosanmu. Melihatmu naik pitam dan melawan, mereka mundur. Setidaknya untuk kali ini.
Di masa SMA kamu mulai mengenal apa yang kamu pikir sebagai cinta yang sesungguhnya. Kamu dan dia sama-sama saling membangun. Merencanakan masa depan bersama, saling mencarikan solusi atas masalah hidup, dan hal-hal sepele lainnya yang merekatkan kamu dengannya. Sayangnya kamu sepertinya memang belum siap untuk melanjutkan hubungan tersebut. Dirimu kala itu masih sangat naif dan tak banyak tahu tentang dunia ini.
Tak terasa sekejap kemudian kamu duduk di bangku kuliah. Kamu mulai mengenal pahitnya realitas. Setelah lima tahun berjuang setengah mati, kamu berhasil lulus. Kamu kini resmi menjadi seseorang nirkarya, seperti layaknya kebanyakan orang lainnya di usiamu. Hidup luntang-lantung seorang diri, mencoba mengais rezeki. Meminta pada orang tua sudah bukan pilihan lagi. Bukan karena takkan diberi, tetapi rasa malu yang teramat perih menjagamu dari melakukannya.
Bertahun-tahun dalam kepelikan dunia, menjalani hidup penuh ketakpastian, kamu akhirnya mendapat pekerjaan tetap. Bukan sesuatu yang kau impikan sejak kecil, tetapi setidaknya menghasilkan uang. Toh, idealismemu memang sudah lama mati. Kamu telah memutuskan untuk berpisah dengan cita-citamu sejak lama. Apa yang penting adalah bertahan hidup. Sebagai awak kapal pesiar yang masih melajang, kamu bisa hura-hura dengan penghasilanmu. Kamu tak perlu khawatirkan keluarga yang menunggu di rumah, karena memang tiada yang menunggumu. Orangtuamu sudah rela melepaskanmu pergi, memilih jalanmu sendiri.
Selang waktu berjalan, kamu akhirnya dipertemukan dengan pasangan hidupmu. Kali ini kamu sudah bukan remaja naif lagi. Hari pernikahanmu berlangsung khidmat dan tenang. Kamu memang sengaja tidak mengundang banyak orang. Kamu tahu betul kamu tidak suka keramaian. Sangat disayangkan momen bersamamu hanya berlangsung sekejap. Baru sebulan sejak pernikahanmu, kamu harus kembali berlayar. Biarlah, pikirmu. Yang penting kamu akan segera mendapat uang untuk istrimu.
Kehidupan memang penuh dengan liku. Selama di pelayaran, tak henti-hentinya kamu memikirkan istrimu. Apakah ia baik-baik saja? Apakah ia saat ini sedang bahagia? Senyum manisnya terbayang dalam imajimu. Memberimu alasan untuk hidup satu hari lagi, entah seberapa keras realita memukulmu jatuh. Fakta bahwa kamu ada untuknya dan melihat senyumnya memberimu alasan untuk bangkit. Ibarat sebuah plot cerita klise, tetapi biarkanlah.
Sampai akhirnya datanglah sebuah penyesalan terbesar di hidupmu. Kamu yang sedang nun jauh di sana melewatkan hari kelahiran anakmu sendiri. Air matamu yang sudah lama tidak keluar akhirnya tak dapat ditahan lagi. Kamu hanya bisa berharap dan berdoa, entah pada siapa karena kamu memang tidak pernah percaya pada sosok Tuhan manapun, agar anakmu kelak bisa hidup tanpa penyesalan sepertimu.
Masa pelayaranmu yang seharusnya segera berakhir terpaksa diperpanjang. Perjalananmu tertahan akibat perompak yang sedang mengganas di jalur yang akan kamu lewati. Lebih baik memutar lebih lama daripada mati, begitu kata pimpinanmu. Kamu mengiyakan saja, toh memangnya kamu bisa apa? Begitulah hidup. Kamu bukanlah pemegang kemudi, hanyalah air yang mengalir di sungai bersama sekawanmu, pasrah mengikuti arus hingga sampai ke lautan. ¬Kamu hanya perlu menunggu hingga waktumu tiba di lautan. Namun, setelah itu apa? Kamu memutuskan untuk tidak memikirkan lebih lanjut. Setidaknya tidak saat ini.
Tiga bulan berlalu sejak kelahiran anakmu. Kamu belum sempat sekalipun melihat wajahnya, hanya sesekali mendengar suara tangisnya via telepon. Sesekali kamu juga menyapanya, meski hanya suara tangisan yang kau dapatkan sebagai balasan. Tak apa. Mendengar suaranya saja sudah membuatmu bahagia. Begitu pula dengan mendengar tawa kecil istrimu. Rasanya ingin cepat-cepat pulang.
Belum genap empat bulan sejak kelahiran anakmu, kamu mendapat dua kabar. Kabar pertama, kamu akan segera pulang. Kamu diperkirakan akan tiba di rumah dalam satu atau dua minggu lagi. Kabar kedualah yang membuatmu hancur, ibarat beton yang dihajar dengan hydraulic press. Anakmu saat ini sedang kritis. Demam tinggi beberapa hari membuatnya terpaksa dirawat inap di rumah sakit.
Kamu ingin pulang secepatnya.

Bagian 3 – Kematian
Kematian adalah sesuatu yang tak terelakan bagi segala yang hidup. Tiada kekal segala yang berkondisi. Setelah timbul, semua akan lenyap kembali. Tiada perlu berduka atas kepergian seseorang dari dunia. Tiada perlu takut atas kepergian dari dunia. Semua itu adalah hal yang pasti. Kemelekatan pada hal-hal yang sementara itulah yang melahirkan duka.
Pikiranmu tak bisa tenang. Tak henti-hentinya kamu mengkhawatirkan anakmu. Kabar terbaru mengatakan kondisinya sudah agak membaik. Namun kamu tetap tak kuasa berhenti untuk khawatir hingga kamu bertemu dengannya langsung. Pertemuan pertamamu dengan anak kandungmu sendiri.
Pada suatu malam, pikiranmu mulai menjadi-jadi. Ngalor-ngidul dengan dirimu sendiri, sebuah percakapan intensif dengan keragu-raguanmu. Sekejap kemudian keraguanmu memudar, berganti dengan pertanyaan-pertanyaan retorik.
“Andaikan surga dan neraka benar ada, kira-kira manakah yang pantas untukku?”
Kamu mencoba menjawabnya dengan membagi kasus terlebih dahulu.
“Andaikan aku masuk neraka, lalu apa?”
Mungkin Tuhan memang menilaimu tak layak. Entah atas standar apa. Yang kamu pikirkan hanyalah menerimanya saja. Lagipula, kamu juga tidak mungkin melawan kuasa tuhan yang memutuskan untuk menghukummu. Mungkin neraka tak jauh berbeda dari dunia, pikirmu. Sama-sama tak minta untuk dimasukkan ke sana. Sama-sama tidak boleh keluar sebelum waktunya. Sama-sama penuh penderitaan. Mungkin kamu pada akhirnya akan terbiasa dengan neraka, pikirmu.
“Andaikan aku masuk surga, lalu apa?”
Ada banyak gambaran tentang surga dari pelbagai kebudayaan dan kepercayaan. Yang ada di imajimu, surga adalah tempat kamu bisa mendapat jawaban atas segala pertanyaanmu. Dengan demikian, tak ada lagi keraguan ataupun ketaktahuan. Keduanya adalah sumber penderitaan yang nyata. Kalau memang surga begitu, pertanyaannmu sudah jelas: kamu ingin bertanya pada Tuhan mengapa Tuhan menciptakanmu, melahirkanmu ke dunia, memberikanmu penderitaan, lalu membawamu ke sini. Jika kamu bisa meminta sesuatu, kamu sangat yakin akan meminta untuk ditiadakan. Menjadi tiada begitu saja, selesai. Tiada kehidupan abadi penuh kebahagiaan kamu dambakan. Bagimu hidup sudah terlalu melelahkan.
Pada akhirnya kamu tidak mendapat jawab atas pertanyaan aslimu. Alih-alih jawaban, kamu malah melahirkan pertanyaan-pertanyaan baru untuk dijawab kemudian hari, entah kapan. Di dalam hatimu kamu masih berharap bahwa tiada kehidupan setelah kematian. Yang ada hanyalah ketiadaan. Dengan begitu jiwamu bisa tenang, memutus mata rantai eksistensi yang penuh duka dan penderitaan.
Tak lama, kamu merasakan sakit yang luar biasa pada dadamu. Seketika itu pula kesadaranmu berangsur-angsur pergi. Tubuhmu terbaring di dek kapal malam itu, tiada seorangpun yang ada di dekatmu. Waktumu untuk pergi sudah tiba. Entah berapa banyak sesal yang masih kau simpan, kini semua telah terlambat. Jalanmu sudah buntu.

Dari semesta aku berasal,
dan pada semesta lah aku kembali.

Kini tiba waktuku pergi,
meninggalkan dunia yang penuh kemelekatan
pada yang fana.

Tiadalah kekal segala yang berkondisi.
Setelah timbul, segalanya akan lenyap kembali.

15. Deadlock
Spoiler: ShowHide
I had been seeing the same kind of dream lately.
It was a dream where I ‘wake up’ in a white space, which will eventually warp around me, changing its shape and colour.
Typically, the space forms something that I’m familiar with, such as my childhood’s bedroom, workspace, even the restroom of a certain convenience store near my apartment.
However, at times, it takes shape of abstract, bizarre places I’ve never seen or experienced before. Rooms filled by random furniture in jarring colours, a church with walls fully plastered by random people’s mugshots, or an empty space coloured like Van Gogh’s paintings are just a few examples of various odd areas I ended up at.
Nevertheless, no matter what appearance the space takes, the next thing that happens is always the same: I wander across the vicinity, in which at certain point I find a screen, showing an episode of my memory. It either screens recollections related with the place where I’m at, or just random pieces of both my recent and old remembrance. After the screening ends, my surrounding blackens, and I find myself waking up on my bed afterwards.
It was not like I dislike seeing the dream or something. Instead, I was curious of how I saw the same dreams repeatedly. Was it connected with my subconscious, or was it a message from deity? Nevertheless, I relished the dreams and somehow made it into a thing to entertain myself. Remembering your stupid, past self is quite fun, wasn’t it?

And that day, once again, I’ve awoken in the same white space.
I didn’t really remember the time I fell asleep, nor arriving at home. I guessed I was so tired and ended up falling asleep on my work desk, even though I felt like I’ve proceeded to go home. It was usual for humans to not remember any moments before they fell asleep though, so I shrugged my thoughts off. Also, it was rare for me to be conscious in my dream, so I might as well enjoy this new experience until I wake up.
As what I expected, the space around me warped soon after. I never got used to this tingling sensation around my body that I feel every time I experience these dreams. I shut my eyes and prayed that this thing will end soon. A few moments later, after I couldn’t sense any weird feeling around my body anymore, I opened my eyes and gazed at the scenery in front of me.
Unexpectedly, it was another white space. Or not. It was just a wall a few meters in front of me. I looked around, and realized that I had been surrounded by white walls: up and down, sides, and behind, making me thought I was in another white space at first. Upon a careful inspection, the only way to proceed is a pathway to the right just before the wall that I first saw. I swallowed my spit and walked, following the path.
After walking for a few ‘minutes’, I realized that the structure I was in is similar to a maze. I had encountered several path branches, and arrived at dead-ends several times. I tried to remember the paths I had taken and hadn’t, but ended up lost in the maze instead. In the end I managed to reach another dead-end with the usual floating screen I always found in my dreams.
Relieved, I approached the screen and watched what was showed in it. It screened my earliest memory: a moment in my childhood when a kid stole a candy from my friend, and I hit him with my punch. I was scolded by my teacher later, but hell was I really proud of the fact that I manage to oppose the bully. I smiled a little watching my childish antics as I waited for my sight to blacken out. But, to my surprise, after the episode ends, I didn’t collapse; instead, the wall in front of me did, revealing a new branching path. I was astonished to the fact that I didn’t wake up, but maybe I was just too tired and need more sleep. Seeing that there was no other thing that I could do, I sighed and began my stride through the path in front of me again.
The process repeated several times. I treaded around the maze, found a dead-end with a screen that showed an episode of my memory, the wall in front me collapsed, exposing a new path, and back to the beginning. Another thing was the recollections that I saw were in chronological order, with most of them were events that I considered significant in my life, for example, family vacations, contests, hanging out with friends, first kiss, graduation, job interview, promotion, and else. Though I liked to see them more than those random snaps I often saw in my past slumbers, a question rose in my mind: How much of these screens must I watch until I wake up?

Time passed, and I watched a lot more of the screens. Slowly, its content changed from my past memories to the more recent one. The time when I was dumped by my girlfriend, caught in a fraud, company’s bankruptcy, parent’s death, the hardship and bullying I went through in my new job… All these traumatic things I recently experienced around the past one year hit me consecutively. My mood darkened and I grew anxious, panicking as I rushed through the maze’s paths.

Don’t show these to me!
Let me forget! Let me forget them!
Stop! I don’t want to see these!
Let me out! Let me out!!!
I screamed.

What seemed to be several hours passed. It had been quite a long time after I encountered my last screen, which showed a clip of the time I found my friend’s dead, hanging body in his apartment. A hopeless feeling grew in my mind and gut, making my body hard to move. I had almost given up, wanting to lie down on the ground as I wait for my real body to be awaken. The only thing that kept me going was the fact that I had never waken up from my dream at any other occasion beside after I had finished watching the screen.
In front of me was a one way path, a turn to the left. I walked slowly and turned, where I saw a long, straight path, with a single black dot at what seemed to be its end. My eyes widened, and I started to run. My feelings couldn’t be wrong. This must be the end of the road. The end of my long journey.
I ran and ran. In my vision, the long path seemed like a way to heaven, a way to freedom. I stumbled in my way several times, falling down to the hard wall under me. But I didn’t give a care. I stood back up and proceeded to run again.
However, no matter how long I ran, no matter how fast, the black dot didn’t grow bigger. Even though I couldn’t see the wall that blocked my way behind anymore, I still couldn’t see the end of the road clearly. It didn’t go nearer; instead, it felt like it began to move further back if I stopped. I grew desperate and cried. I ran faster, fast enough that I felt like I will sever my tendons if I suddenly stop.

After my desperate measures, finally, the black dot grew bigger. I sprinted faster, and in the end, reached the end of the path. The black dot turned out to be a strong wooden door. While catching my breath, I reached the knob of the door and twisted it. Beyond it was a white room, with the usual white walls that I grew accustomed to. In it is a floating screen.
I closed the door and reached the screen. The screen lit and showed an image of me in my new workspace, working like usual in front of my computer. My colleagues sneered at me and my work, perhaps because I was looking so stupid with the thick instruction book of an application in front of me. Sometimes they intentionally bumped to my desk, probably in hope to make the book fell. I ignored them and focused on what I’m working at.
Slowly, people left, and I ended up alone in the room. I looked at the nearby wall clock that showed the time. It was 9 p.m, way past the usual time I went home. I was quite surprised at myself and my focus in working that I didn’t realize it was getting this late. I shut down the computer, packed my things, and went out of the building.
I saw myself walking on the sidewalk. My apartment was not far from my workplace, so I didn’t need to take any kind of transportation besides walking. I wondered what did I think about as I walked that day. I couldn’t even remember the date of when this memory happened, even though it was seldom for me to go home this late. But, the moments in this memory was very familiar. Perhaps it happened very recently, I thought to myself.
I saw myself approaching a nearby zebra cross to cross the road. And at that moment, I remembered when this memory happened.

It was ‘today’.

I walked on to the zebra cross. And, as I saw myself standing in the middle of the road
I heard a loud horn
and the screen went black.

I stared at the screen. I looked behind, realizing that the door behind me had disappeared.
The walls of the rooms changed its color slowly to pitch black. The screen vanished when I diverted my sight from it.

As my surroundings blackened, I felt the tingling sensation again. The space had once again warped around me, and it will never stop.
I closed my eyes, falling into the darkness, sighing.

“This is the exit.”
Life is like a maze in which you try to avoid the exit.
-- Roger Von Oech

16. Buntu
Spoiler: ShowHide
Kita sama-sama tahu sejak awal yang lalu. Kala itu kamu lebih dulu mengajakku. Gagasanmu menarik tak sekadar hanya karena kau karibku. Bahkan bisa dibilang aku lebih bersemangat dibandingkanmu. Aku pula yang saat itu menjadi perencana karena kau dan acara organisasi masih saling belenggu.

Tibalah hari itu. Baik aku maupun kamu sama-sama mengorbankan waktu. Kau habiskan jarak tiga kali lipat dan malah tiba lebih dulu. Sedangkan aku meninggalkan acara keluarga yang tak jelas ujungnya dengan terburu. Ini masih awal tapi sebenarnya kamu sudah tahu. Akupun juga tahu. Sayangnya tidak ada di antara kita yang bilang-bilang soal itu. Malahan kita lanjut sampai mulai mencatat yang dikira perlu.

Kian hari kita semakin ketipisan waktu. Sekali lagi kusebut kamu sebetulnya sudah tahu. Namun hari itu seolah baru tercetus olehmu kenapa tidak tanya aku. Mana aku tahu. Tiba-tiba kondisinya tidak menentu. Lebih-lebih ini masalah restu. Aku sudah menduga tapi tetap saja aku terkejut ketika kudengar ada getar di suaramu. Sehebat apapun prediksiku tetap saja hatiku ngilu.

Lama kau tidak menganggapku. Hingga tiba hari di mana usiaku ditambah satu. Barangkali menurutmu waktunya tepat dan biar terdengar lucu. Sejak itu kita bicara lagi walaupun jalan kita sudah buntu. Setidaknya kita tidak perlu berjalan untuk bicara ini-itu. Mau jalan kita buntu, digerayangi sosok masa lalu bernama hantu, atau sibuk persiapan jadi calon menantu, kau tetap temanku. Mana ngaruh lah si waktu.

17. Satu Jam Keabadian
Spoiler: ShowHide
Pagi itu terasa sangat sunyi, tidak biasanya. Tiada hembusan angin yang biasa menyapa dan menyapu dedaunan yang gugur. Tiada suara kucing bermain di halaman depan. Tiada suara kincir angin atau deruan mesin yang biasa mengisi suara latar, bak orkestra yang tidak dikomandoi dan tiada henti. Kesunyian pagi itu hampir paripurna. Hanya satu suara yang terdengar. Sebuah suara yang hanya dapat didengar empunya. Sebuah suara yang berirama dengan kecemasan dan pengharapan yang meningkat eksponensial. Suara hati yang berharap akan kebebasan. Suara hati yang berharap akan kepastian masa depan.

Tanpa kau sadari, kau terjebak dalam khayalmu. Tak berhenti kau melamun, memikirkan segala jalan yang mungkin. Meski kau tahu betul kau tak pegang kemudi. Meski kau tahu betul kau tak tahu apapun tentang jalan manapun yang mungkin. Kau hanya menari-nari dalam khayalan, terpisah dari realita. Mencoba menerawang dalam gelap dan ketidakpastian, kau hanya berharap tiada dahan atau akar yang menjegal tarianmu di dunia khayal.

“Ah, Tuhan memang senang bermain dengan hambanya”, itu yang kau pikirkan. Sebuah absurditas yang lahir dari pengharapan, meski kau tak percaya eksistensi Tuhan. Kau gunakan segala eufemisme dalam pengharapanmu. Berharap segalanya akan baik-baik saja. Buntu dalam realita, kau berlari pada hutan gelap pengharapan yang tiada berhingga.

Kau lihat pohon-pohon besar di dalam hutan itu. Daunnya sangat lebat, menutup segala cahaya yang mencoba masuk. Rumput-rumput yang tinggi menghadang pandanganmu. Kau hanya berputar-putar tanpa arah hingga kelelahan. Tubuhmu terhempas dan terkubur dedaunan. Pandanganmu menghilang sedikit demi sedikit. Hitam mengisi segala sesuatunya.

Sejenak kemudian, kau melihat setitik cahaya. Pandanganmu mulai kembali. Hutan pengharapanmu mulai menghilang, luntur menjadi debu. Keraguan yang telah menguasai hal ihwal hatimu, membolak-balikannya bak tumis yang biasa kau buat, sedikit demi-sedikit memudar.

Puan hadir dengan sebuah lentera yang mengusir gelapnya keraguan. Kemudian kau ditariknya keluar, kembali ke realita. Ia yang selama ini kau khawatirkan, kini ada di hadapanmu. Membawakanmu sebuah burung dara, pembawa kabar baik.

Satu jam yang terasa abadi, terjebak dalam khayalmu. Kini kau dengar angin mulai berhembus. Kau dengar lagi deruan mesin yang senantiasa mengisi keseharianmu. Kau telah pulang ke realita. Segalanya terasa tenang. Segalanya baik.

18. Mereka yang Tersingkirkan
Spoiler: ShowHide
Tepat delapan tahun setelah hari berakhirnya Perang Besar Raja Setan, nasib ribuan pengungsi mantan anggota Pasukan Setan masih terombang-ambing tanpa kepastian. Reporter kami Schilla dan Michaelo melintasi perbatasan negara untuk melihat langsung kondisi pascaperang.

Sonnelliese, Kekaisaran Suci Gran Lucis –

Sebelum perang, Pruflas tinggal bersama orang tua dan lima orang adiknya di Lingkaran Kelima, Neraka. Kedua orangtuanya bekerja sebagai petugas kebersihan sungai Styx. Panggilan wajib militer mengharuskan Pruflas - yang saat itu baru berusia 328 tahun - bergabung ke Batalyon Administrasi Logistik Pasukan Setan.

Pruflas menjadi anggota termuda di batalyon yang menduduki kota dagang Sonnelliese tersebut. Pada musim dingin 1532, Pasukan Aliansi merebut kembali Sonnelliese dalam salah satu pertarungan paling berdarah sepanjang perang.

Para penyintas Pasukan Setan dijadikan tawanan perang. Pruflas ditahan dalam sel kecil yang diisi puluhan setan lain. Hingga pada tahun 1535 Konvensi Yungrheim mendeklarasikan tentara di bawah umur sebagai pengungsi perang.

Kini Pruflas tinggal di pemukiman semi-permanen di pinggiran Sonnelliese yang didirikan oleh para bekas tentara. Rumah tempat ia tinggal berdindingkan seng dan dilapisi kain terpal. Setiap malam, Pruflas berkeliling kompleks perumahan warga untuk memulung sampah dan menjualnya ke pengepul. Biasanya ia bisa mendapat 8 hingga 13 gilden setelah berjalan puluhan kilometer mengarungi malam.

“Cuma satu ini yang dari perang,” ucap Pruflas sambil mengelus bekas luka diagonal yang tertoreh di lengan bawah orc muda tersebut. Sekujur tubuhnya dipenuhi bekas luka sayatan dan luka bakar. Tepat di atas moncongnya terdapat sebuah noktah hitam seukuran kacang.

“Kalau yang ini dari sundutan sigaret. Terutama pas awal-awal [saya] mulai memulung, warga sering menangkap dan menghajar saya. Untungnya sekarang sudah jarang yang begitu. Biasanya mereka pura-pura nggak lihat saja.“

Pruflas mengeluarkan secarik surat dari tas kulit kecil yang tersampir di pinggangnya. Dia mencondongkan tubuhnya dan dengan anggukan sendu mempersilakanku membaca suratnya. Dengan bantuan penerjemah, aku membaca guratan kasar huruf orcish di atas perkamen yang mulai rusak: ayah Pruflas terkena stroke dan kini ibu Pruflas menjadi tulang punggung keluarga demi empat orang adik Pruflas yang masih mengenyam bangku sekolah.
“Itu [surat] terakhir yang saya terima sebelum akses [ke Neraka] ditutup. Setiap hari saya nabung untuk bayar penyihir penyelundup yang katanya bisa mengirimkan surat saya ke Neraka. Saya juga sekalian mengirim uang kalau ada untuk membantu ibu saya. Saya memang tahu nggak bisa dapat jawaban untuk sekarang, tapi…” Pruflas menyimpan kembali surat kenangannya dengan air mata yang menggenang.

Saya hanya tidak mau menyesal jika kelak saya bisa pulang ke rumah.”
Markas Organisasi Pelita Antarras (OPAS), Federasi Cordiana Selatan

Sebagai pendiri dan ketua dewan OPAS, nama Nanette Baptistine dikenal sebagai sosok yang kontroversial karena usahanya memperjuangkan hak-hak penyintas Pasukan Setan. Wanita berusia 61 tahun itu menyambut hangat kami di kantor pribadinya. Sayup-sayup terdengar suara anak-anak yang bermain di halaman. Markas OPAS menempati bangunan empat tingkat yang juga merangkap sebagai panti asuhan.

“Saya dulu dibesarkan di panti asuhan. Tempatnya persis di sini. Dulu namanya Rumah Pelita. Ibu pengurusnya, Bu Fiora, mengasuh anak-anak dari berbagai etnis dan ras, padahal waktu itu masih zaman segregasi. Bahkan ada satu anak dari ras gnome, Arden namanya. Dari situ kami belajar hidup dalam toleransi.

Sayangnya, keragaman ras itu justru membuat panti kami dijauhi. Kedutaan elf tidak ingin mensponsori panti asuhan yang menampung anak dwarf, dan begitu pula sebaliknya. Sehingga pengurus panti mengambil pekerjaan cuci baju dan menjual hasil sayuran demi menambah penghasilan.

Sejak 20 tahun terakhir toleransi antarras memang membaik, karena itu saya sangat terkejut dan kecewa akan sikap main hakim masyarakat pada sisa Pasukan Setan. Konfliknya kan sudah selesai, kenapa malah menambah masalah? Karena itu saya dan teman-teman Yayasan Pelita urunan membeli bangunan rumah kami dulu dan menjadikannya tempat pengungsian bagi penyintas Neraka yang menjadi korban kekerasan.”

OPAS saat ini memberikan layanan penyuluhan hukum, pengobatan gratis, dan pemberdayaan bagi ratusan mantan pasukan Setan. Dana didapatkan dari sumbangan donatur dan hasil berbagai badan usaha yang dijalankan Yayasan Pelita.

“Konvensi Yungrheim memang melindungi serdadu yang di bawah umur, tetapi tidak memberikan kejelasan ke pengungsi lainnya. Bahkan istilah ‘pengungsi’ juga masih menjadi perdebatan. Padahal nyatanya Pasukan Aliansi lah yang menutup jalan pulang mereka. Tetapi pemerintah malah tutup mata terhadap nasib mereka.

Saat ini kami sedang bekerja dengan rekan-rekan dari lembaga hukum untuk memperjuangkan agar semua sisa Pasukan Setan dapat diakui sebagai pengungsi dan diberikan perlindungan yang seharusnya. Tujuan akhir kami yaitu memulangkan Pasukan Setan ke tanah air mereka atau memberikan status warga negara dan kehidupan yang layak bagi mereka yang mau tetap tinggal di dunia ini.”

Reporter kami menceritakan nasib Pruflas dan penyintas muda lainnya yang terpaksa hidup dalam kondisi tidak layak di Sonnelliese. Raut wajah Nanette yang lembut seketika mengeras.

“Kami memang sudah mendapat laporan mengenai pemukiman kumuh nonpermanen yang didirikan penyintas. Sayangnya karena tidak ada data resmi dari masing-masing pemerintah, daya gerak kami sangat terbatas. Terlebih lagi beberapa negara, termasuk Gran Lucis, cenderung menutup-nutupi keberadaan pengungsi karena jika mereka mengakuinya, maka pemerintah terpaksa harus mengurus mereka. Sehingga LSM seperti [Yayasan] Pelita juga tidak bisa berbuat banyak saat ini.

Kalau kita berdiam saja menghadapi diskriminasi yang sistematis, sama saja kita menghabisi nyawa mereka dengan tangan sendiri.”
Ochre, Kekaisaran Suci Gran Lucis

Kota kecil Ochre yang menjadi perbatasan menuju Portal Neraka sempat dibumihanguskan oleh Pasukan Setan di fase awal invasi mereka. Kini, Ochre dipenuhi dengan turis dan peziarah yang mengunjungi tonggak granit putih Monumen Kemenangan yang didirikan hanya beberapa ratus meter dari Gerbang Neraka.

Pengamat mengestimasikan dampak ekonomi dari ledakan arus pariwisata Ochre telah menjadikan populasinya kembali ke tingkat populasi praperang. Penginapan, restoran, toko suvenir, dan agensi tur memenuhi setiap ruas jalan. Dalam dua tahun terakhir, harga tanah meningkat berkali-kali lipat.
Salah satu oknum yang mengeruk keuntungan dari adalah Y, seorang penyihir lepasan yang membuka jasa pengiriman barang satu arah menembus pengamanan Gerbang Neraka. Y hanya bersedia disebut inisialnya demi melindungi identitasnya. Saat kami temui, ia menggunakan mantra pengubah suara dan jubah pengabur pandangan.

“Bahkan dari hari ketiga setelah Pasukan Aliansi menyegel Gerbang Neraka, udah banyak nyoba nembus tabirnya. Kebanyakan memang dari Pasukan Setan yang mau buka jalur logistik lagi, tapi juga banyak warga Ochre sama anggota Pasukan Aliansi yang nyari sanak keluarga mereka yang katanya diculik Pasukan Setan ke Neraka buat dijadikan budak. Mereka mau nyoba buat misi penyelamatan.

Tapi kan pasukan penjaga masih ketat banget awal-awal, jadi semua usaha nembus Gerbang pasti gagal. Habis Pasukan Aliansi bisa mukul mundur Pasukan Setan, petugas pengaman mulai dipanggil ke garda depan. Di situ saya mulai bisa menembus tabir di saat-saat tertentu [Y menolak menjelaskan waktu dan metode yang ia gunakan].  Sekarang sih pengamanannya udah hampir semuanya otomatis menggunakan mantra pelindung dan cuma dua orang penjaga. Jadi lebih mudah diakali.”

Dari dalam jubahnya, Y menarik keluar seikat tebal surat-surat dan sebuah bungkusan kecil.

“Tapi ya memang mantra pelindungnya spesifik banget. Barang-barang berbahaya pasti nggak bisa tembus. Memang di awal-awal banyak yang mau coba ngerusak, ngeledakkin tabirnya. Kalau sekarang yang dikirim biasanya hanya surat, uang, atau kado-kado kecil. Terutama di tengah tahun, karena ada hari besar di Neraka sana.

Sampai sekarang juga pengirimannya cuma bisa satu arah. Nggak ada yang bisa mengirim apa-apa dari sisi sana. Kalau dari pengamatan sihir saya pribadi, penyihir Pasukan Aliansi juga nggak bisa ngebuka segel yang ada di sisi sana. Mungkin maksudnya mereka biarin tabir sisi sini lebih lemah supaya mereka bisa nyerang satu arah kalau perlu.”

Y menyimpan kembali barang-barang yang akan dikirimkannya. Ia mengamati matahari di langit, seakan mengira-ngira waktu yang telah berjalan.
“Saya nggak terlalu peduli apa maksud dari pengirim [yang memakai jasa Y]. Selama mereka membayar. Banyak juga yang mencoba mengemis-ngemis karena tidak bisa mengumpulkan uang, atau berjanji mereka akan membayar kalau menerima balasan dari sisi Neraka. Saya bukan badan amal.
Kadang ada yang mencoba menyerang saya. Bukan dari sisa Pasukan Setan, tapi dari warga sipil atau Pasukan Aliansi. Mereka menuding saya membantu Pasukan Setan untuk membobol segel…”

Kepala Y sedikit merunduk. Walau kami tidak bisa melihat wajahnya, postur Y menggambarkan kesenduan.

“Dulu istri dan anak pertama saya dibantai Pasukan Setan. Mereka baru pulang dari sekolah pas Gerbang Neraka terbuka. Makanya pas saya baru mulai pekerjaan ini, saya cuma menerima uangnya. Suratnya saya bakar kalau dari Pasukan Setan. Tapi pernah sekali saya nggak sengaja baca salah satu suratnya. Bahasa orcish. Yang ngirim nanyain kabar orang tua dan adik-adiknya, ngedoain.

Langsung saya merasa bodoh. Yang mulai perang itu petinggi militer dan negara masing-masing, tapi yang berantem malah kita-kita yang di lapangan. Saya udah capek ngurusin anak sendiri, nggak perlu buang energi lagi buat ngebenci orang.”

Y kembali mendongak untuk menandai matahari. Tanpa banyak berkata-kata, ia pamit dan menghilang dari gang gelap tempat kami mewawancarainya.
Hanya beberapa langkah dari ujung gang, rombongan wisatawan memenuhi bagian depan Monumen Kemenangan. Tukang foto dengan sigap mendekati mereka dan menawarkan jasanya. Penjaja makanan dengan heboh mengiklankan berbagai jenis panganan dan minuman, dengan harga bersaing.

Tonggak Monumen Kemenangan berdiri teguh, menyimpan mereka yang tersingkirkan dalam bayangnya.

19. Cut Off/Stumped Hands
Spoiler: ShowHide
Untuk mengakses resource full, dapat mengakses pada link berikut :
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20. Prelude to Disaster
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Untuk melihat dengan format asli yang lebih baik, silahkan mengakses pada link berikut :
Prologue: A Hunter’s Happiness
Moonlight illuminates the hallway, allowing me to appreciate the decor of this mansion. It’s a nice place, not too gaudy, but not too humble either. Seems like the owner is the type to know they’re above others and see no reason to flaunt it.
Speaking about decorations, my favorite got to be the blood trails spilling from this woman in front of me. When people got stabbed, they usually scream, fight back, or beg for their lives. This is the first time someone ignored me and stubbornly walk away with a knife stuck on their body.
“That long as I can get there...”
There we go, the reason why I erased my presence and followed her instead of just stabbing her heart after her initial reaction. I’m curious on what this place she’s talking about. An armory? A secret weapon? Something else entirely? I can’t wait to see what trick this headstrong woman is hiding.
Man, I’m glad I volunteered for this mission. I got to kill a bunch of people, and even meet an interesting prey. Sure, some of those men in black are being taken care of by my subordinates instead, but hunting together is always more fun than hunting alone anyways. Oh, my prey entered a room. Let’s see what you got...
She approached a bookshelf and took out several books, opening a panel behind it that housed a button.
“With this, the way to the Safe Room should be open...”
“How boring.”
Before she could pressed the button, I threw her across the room and tossed two knives lazily at her. Her yelp of pain is music to my ears.
“I thought you’re a strong woman, you know. Ignoring my knife in your stomach like that. I was hoping you got more spunk. But nooooo, you got to be boring and just want to go to a Safe Room. What’s in there anyway?”
A glare at my direction is her answer. Impressive, to think that she can still glare while dying. Unfortunately, only attitude won’t help her.
“Let me guess, something that will make a woman not care about their own life and be protective about...your kid?”
“Don’t you dare touch them!”
“Kids? Well, I’ll be damned. I got two more preys now. So sorry, I’m ordered to not let anyone live ya know.”
“As’re sorry...”
“Aww, you’re dying. How cute.”
“If you dare...push that”
“Hahaha, you’re losing coherence there!”
Now, time to take care of the two extras~
Humming cheerfully, I ignored the glare coming from a dying woman and pushed the hidden button.
There was a flash of light and-
Chapter 1: A Father’s Failure
I woke up lying in a dark alleyway. Why am I here? What happened?
I rose to my full height, desperately trying to remember.
I was going home from work, and then...
I can’t remember.
I can’t remember anything after that.
I stepped out of the alleyway, looking at my surroundings to know where I am.
“A Monster!”
Ignoring the activities of people around me, I look around for clues.
“It’s just...standing there...?”
Fortunately I know where I am now, and how to go home.
‘Time to start walking back home.’
Turning to the right, I started my walk to my home.   
“It’s moving again!”
“Calm down, I already notified the military!”
I am angry.
Why am I angry? I feel as if a group of someone has slighted me.
I grumbled a bit.
“It’s growling!”
“Stay back!”     
I am sad.
Why am I sad? I feel as if I lost something precious.
I let out a sigh.
“Look, the military has arrived!”
Could it be about the twins? Maybe something happened to them. No, that’s impossible. Aside from me and Misora, only Misora’s parents remember the twins. There’s no way I’ll be angry at a group of people about the twins. Unless it’s at Misora’s parents, which is impossible. They’re kind and warm. As expected from the ones who raised the love of my life.
 “All troops, ready your weapon!”
I wonder if Misora knows anything about this? Whenever I think of her, I feel sad and angry for some reason. Wait, I can’t feel my wedding ring. Did someone make me lose my wedding ring?
“Don’t attack. Just make way and follow it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I sense no hostility from it.”
“I assume that’s not the only reason?”
“I have a gut feeling that it will be a clue to last night’s incident.”
“Alright, I trust you Rock Hound.”
“Thank you, Adachi-san.”
Oh no, what if it was true? Should I buy something first for her? No, that would just make it worse. She never liked spending money on things without practical purposes. Maybe if I asked Adachi for advice? He always knew what to say despite being younger than me. Well, that’s for later. I have to go home first.
 “It’s heading towards the mansion. Rock Hound, your gut feeling is correct again.”
“Sir, what should we do?”
“Open the barricade, let it enter the area.”
“Sir, yes sir!”
Oh, I’m almost home. Now, how should I apologize to Misora about the wedding ring?
As soon as I passed the gate, what I saw shocked me. Rather than the sight, the lack of it is what shocked me. What was once a mansion is now nothing but a scorched earth.
I stumbled into the edge of the burnt ground. And then, as if I’m a puppet whose string has been cut, I collapsed.
“I believe, Adachi-san. We found more than just a lead.”
‘What happened? Why did this happen? Who did this? Misora. Misora!’
“We found a witness.”
Questions upon questions floats upon my mind. I don’t know the answer to them, but what I do know is that I have lost my family. I punched the Earth.
And I roared.
Chapter 2: The Girl’s Guilt
As I heard the roar filled with anger and sorrow, I couldn’t help but think of what it could possibly be.
It is a hulking figure made out of darkness. It’s like a silhouette of a bipedal being with claws and a dragon’s head. The only thing not made out of darkness is the glowing red eyes it has.
It has a strange behavior, not deigning humans any acknowledgement, only moving to a destination single-mindedly. The moment it arrived, it collapsed. I then have the suspicion that it was shocked at seeing the state of the place, and that it knew something.
And then, a slit opened in its head and it roared. I know, right there and then, that this creature must have known Misora-san directly.
“Rock Hound, what do you mean by a witness?”
“Exactly what I meant, Adachi-san. That creature has a similar magical energy as the one we sensed around the mansion. As much as I’d like to question it, it collapsed in exhaustion already.”
“And the reason you don’t think it’s the culprit is?”
“Because the source of magic we sensed are different.”
The one who answered in my stead is a girl wearing a pirate outfit. On her right arm is a giant crab pincer.
“Ocean Crab, what do you mean by different source?”
A girl landed behind us from the sky. It’s a perfect silent landing, as if she didn’t dive from the sky at all. The girl wore a scarf, an aviator helmet, and a flying suit.
“Different species have different sources, while a species have the same source. It’s highly unlikely for different species to work together.”
“And do you know how the mansion exploded into nothingness?”
“Well, that’s the thing. We don’t know how it exploded.”
“I managed to scry several things. The enemy attacked in a squad. They employ the same source of magic.”
“Same source? So one species...good job Ocean Crab.”
Amazing. As always, Ocean Crab managed to get valuable info. Meanwhile, the only thing I got is a gut feeling. It doesn’t even help last night. If only I-
I felt someone yanking my hat down.
“Stop it, you’re brooding.”
“I’m not brooding!”
“Yes you are, stop it. It’s not your fault.”
“But it is my fault! Last night, I visit Misora-san! I should’ve stayed the night instead of going home! Then she might still be alive!”
“Or you might be gone too.”
“At the very least, then you guys will know some-“
I was slapped.
“You idiot!”
And then I was hugged.
“Don’t you dare make light of your life again! I don’t want to lose anyone again...”
Right. Right, we did lose someone before didn’t we?
“Sorry...Air Eagle...”
“As long as you promise.”
“Okay, I promise to value my life. And that of my comrades’.”
Okay, enough depressing thoughts!
“Air Eagle, Rock Hound, Ocean Crab. What do we know of this new enemy?”
“They have the same magic source, so they’re a species.”
“Could they be Nightmares?”
“Not possible, we exterminated them three years ago.”
“We managed to last for three years from being invaded again, go us~”
“So we got another invasion coming from a new species.”
I was hugged by Air Eagle and Ocean Crab.
“Relax, the three of us together can surely defeat them. Also, now we got the support of the military.”
“Indeed. The military will support the three of you. We won’t let what happened three years ago to be repeated.”
I’m a bit scared, but...I feel like everything will be okay...
??? Chapter: A Kaiser’s Knowledge / A Researcher’s Record
“So Veda failed.”
“Yes, my Liege.”
“Well, no matter. This just means we have to deal with the three little girls directly. Prepare the troops. We’ll tire them out.”
I gazed upon the Earth from my throne.
Soon, soon enough we will have a new base for our Empire.
I laughed from excitement.
“Um, is this thing recording already? Oh, it is.”
A woman in a lab coat is shown on a screen.
“Right, right, my name is Misora---“
The screen glitches several times.
“My husband Makoto---“
A man wearing a suit.
“For our Daughters---“
Two babies.
“The Twins---”
Smoking, ruined district.
“Kanade---Nightmares---materials---to live---”
A girl suspended by wires near a black creature.
A girl suspended next to machine parts.
“Procedure---Risk---Hail Mary---“
The woman and man on the screen again.
“We love you, Kanade, Hibiki.”
In a dimly lit lab, two hands clasped each other in front of the only lit screen. They turned to face each other, they put their forehead together, and communicate silently.
A conclusion has been reached, a decision has been made.
They will find the ones who made their parents unable to be here.
And they will eliminate them.
Prelude to Disaster~END~
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 12:18:31 AM by Vision »
Remember to always smile.

Offline Vision

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Re: Writing Challenge FiNALE 2018-2019: Endgame
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2019, 08:25:19 AM »
21. Tak ada Jalan Keluar
Spoiler: ShowHide
Drap drap drap drap drap!

Derap langkahnya kian dipercepat.
Laju larinya kian bertambah.
Dengan napas yang kian memburu, serta keringat yang kian mengucur, sang gadis bergerak menyusuri lorong dalam hutan gelap tersebut.

Seandainya dinding dari semak belukar dan pepohonan ini punya telinga, mereka pasti dapat mendengar bagaimana jantung sang puan memompa dahsyat hingga rasanya mau meledak. Rambut coklat yang semula terikat rapi membentuk ponytail, kini telah terurai di belakang punggung, tertiup angin malam yang menerpa saat ia melesat. Baju yang ia kenakan khusus untuk menyusuri pegunungan bersama teman-temannya hari itu, kini tak lagi serapi sebelumnya—terkoyak ranting di sana dan di sini, juga kotor akibat debu dan lumpur. Wajahnya tak secerah kali pertama kakinya menapak lembah. Rautnya yang masam bercampur takut pun membuatnya terlihat lebih memprihatinkan.

“Hah… Hah…”

Napasnya tak teratur. Kedua tungkainya tak lagi mampu. Ia berhenti, meski sadar bahwa ia masih harus berlari, mencari jalan keluar dari maze yang mengerikan ini, dengan segala hal berbahaya di dalamnya.
Lebatnya hutan menghalangi pandangannya. Ia hanya bisa mengandalkan lentera di genggamannya—satu-satunya benda, selain ponselnya yang rusak, yang berhasil ia bawa serta.

“Ke mana… ke mana… arah pulang…?”

Ia menoleh ke segala arah, mencari jalan yang aman. Ia menoleh ke belakang, memastikan tak ada yang mengikutinya. Tak ada apapun. Dengan begitu, hanya tersisa dia dan dua jalur di hadapannya.

Panik sudah menguasai akalnya. Ia bimbang, memilih jalan setapak di kanan atau kirinya. Keduanya sama-sama tak terawat, dengan rumput tumbuh menutupi jalannya.

“Ke mana ya~?”

Suara bernada tinggi seolah menyuarakan isi pikirannya, namun dengan alunan yang sama sekali tidak terdengar ramah. Suara yang memekik itu terdengar dari balik punggungnya.

Tapi suara siapa?
Tak ada yang tinggal di hutan, selain hewan liar. Barusan pun, ia yakin tak ada siapapun di sana.


Merinding sudah tubuh sang gadis. Ia membeku di tempat. Udara terasa lebih berat dan dingin sekarang. Kedua matanya membulat, terutama karena sadar bahwa ada sosok lain di baliknya. Sepasang mata yang menatap ia dari kegelapan. Manusia atau bukan, ia sudah ketakutan setengah mati, tak berani memeriksa. Tak ada manusia normal yang dapat muncul begitu saja seperti itu. Selain itu…

Bau darah.
Tercium jelas sejak suara itu pertama berbicara.

Ia merasakannya. Sosok itu mengulurkan lengan, hendak menyentuk pundaknya dan…


Memecah hening sekaligus takut, sang gadis berteriak sekuat tenaga. Ia kembali berlari, mengambil jalur kiri tanpa pikir panjang. Saking takut ia, hingga lupa lelah yang terasa sebelumnya.


Sang gadis berlari secepat mungkin, menjauhi sumber suara. Menjauhi aura dingin yang merayapi punggungnya. Menjauhi jemari yang nyaris menyentuhnya. Cahaya lenteranya membantu ia berlari tanpa tersandung, kemudian membantunya menemukan kenyataan kejam dari pilihan yang ia ambil.
Jalan buntu.
Sebuah dinding berdiri tegap menutup jalannya. Pepohonan di sekelilingnya begitu rapat antara satu sama lain, seolah menghalangi sang gadis untuk menghindari dinding tersebut.
Bersama dengan henti langkahnya, jantung sang gadis pun seolah berhenti memompa. Pada dinding tersebut, terdapat cermin datar terpasang rapi, seolah baru dipasang. Cermin mengkilap, di tengah belantara.

Ia kini sedang menghadapnya. Bayangnya terpantul. Terlihat…

Sosok mengerikan, tepat di belakang punggungnya. Kepala dari sosok itu sedikit menongol dari balik bahu sang gadis, menampakkan refleksi mata merah yang menatap tajam dan seringai selebar jarak kedua telinganya, seolah kedua bibirnya robek dari ujung ke ujung. Rambut hitam legam yang jatuh hingga tanah menghiasi paras pucat dengan tulamg pipi menonjol itu.

Sebuah tangan ramping terlihat meraih bahu sang gadis. Kukunya panjang, tajam tak terawat. Dingin. Sentuhannya membuat bulu kuduk berdiri.

Sang gadis pucat pasi. Tak ada jalan lagi.

“Ups. Jalan buntu ya? Hihihi. Mau kubantu keluar dari hutan? Akan kuantar ke tempat yang lebih menyenangkan…”

“…Neraka, misalnya?”

22. BF Zone
Spoiler: ShowHide
Rasanya seperti memaksakan diri untuk terus berjalan padahal tahu kalau ada tembok yang tinggi di depan.


Tak ada jalan.


“New, makan, yuk.”

Aku mendongak menatap orang yang tiba-tiba datang mengajakku makan. Sebenarnya tanpa melihat pun aku tahu itu pasti Tay. Aku sedang mengerjakan tugasku bersama dengan beberapa anak elektro lainnya dan orang ini seenaknya saja mengganggu. Ayolah, ia anak fakultas ekonomi. Untuk apa jauh-jauh ke gedung teknik?

“Gak bareng Singto?” tanyaku sambil mengembalikan atensi ke tugas yang tengah kukerjakan. Kadang aku heran, ia punya banyak teman dari berbagai jurusan tapi kenapa selalu aku yang harus menemaninya.

Tay menggeleng, “Tadi dia udah keburu disamperin Krist.”

“Jomblo sih jadi ditinggal pacaran terus sama temennya,” celetuk Namtan sambil tertawa. “Padahal ada yang nungguin, tuh.”

Aku menginjak kaki gadis yang duduk di sampingku itu sambil menatapnya dengan garang. Bukannya kapok, Namtan malah semakin menertawakanku.

“Buat apa punya pacar kalo udah ada New,” ucap Tay sambil duduk di sebelahku. Tangannya merangkul pundakku dengan seenaknya. “Ya ‘kan, New?”

“Si New punya pacar baru tahu rasa lu,” ucap Off sambil merapikan buku-bukunya. “Gua duluan, ya. Udah ditungguin Gun.”

“Seriusan, deh, Tay. Kalian berdua tuh udah kayak pacaran. Ke mana-mana bareng, kalo ada apa-apa lapor ke satu sama lain, dikit-dikit ngomongin satu sama lain padahal orangnya gak ada. Kenapa gak pacaran aja, sih?” ucap Namtan dengan nada jengkel. Setiap hari disuguhi bullshit-nya Tay, siapa sih yang tidak muak? Ya kecuali aku karena aku bucin.

“No, no, no. Kita tuh BF. Best friend. Sahabat. Gak boleh ya pacar-pacaran,” terang Tay dengan bangga. Ingin rasanya kupatahkan lehernya.


Salahku yang selalu memaksa untuk maju. Sampai tua pun rasanya takkan ada perkembangan dari hubungan ini. Selamanya kami akan terus berada di zona BF.

Tunggu, BF bukannya boyfriend?

There is more than what meets the eye.
Remember no matter how hard life hits, you will have the power to live on. There should be no literal dead-end. Signing off, V.
The 22 works featured here can be seen at 2019's Open House Unit on August 24th, 2019.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2019, 01:36:48 AM by Vision »
Remember to always smile.

Offline Vision

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Re: Writing Challenge FiNALE 2018-2019: Endgame
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2019, 08:27:28 AM »
Will be coming in November 2019.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 06:58:43 AM by Vision »
Remember to always smile.

Offline code_number

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Re: Writing Challenge FiNALE 2018-2019: Endgame
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2019, 10:11:13 PM »
Mau pasang tempat buat komentar juga umu)
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Strip off everything
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