Ruby Eyes

Graphic by Sumit Kumar

Pitter patter. The rain fell with an eerie harmony. He opened his eyes to a room dimly lit by the fluorescent streetlight nearby. Mildly disoriented, it took Akim a minute to realize where he was. After dumbly staring at the translucent grey curtains until he could finally open both his eyes, he found it fit that his next step would be to check the time. The bright phone screen, now fully charged, blared 8:03 pm and Akim let out a noise of annoyance. What was meant to be a quick afternoon nap had evolved into a full-fledged three hours rest.

He had made extensive plans to explore the city of Bangkok. Being a precise man, every minute detail was given consideration and was written down meticulously by him. Now his entire schedule had been derailed and this upset him quite a bit. He crawled out of bed in a disconsolate manner and made his way to the bedroom door. His faithful notebook was in the living room and he decided that he must come up with a plan to recover from this mishap as quickly as possible. “Think of this as a challenge,” he thought to himself. He tried turning the doorknob but it wouldn’t budge. He rattled it a few more times but it was adamant in staying in place. The door was jammed shut and Akim was away from his precious notebook. He could feel his frustration multiply, but being a sensible man, he called up Rai for assistance instead of letting himself stew in anger.

Instead of lodging at a hotel, his mother insisted that he stayed at his estranged uncle’s home. After all, what was family for? Being an adventurer, the uncle was seldom home and left his domain under the care of Rai Amarin who was the caretaker. Since Akim was to stay in this house for a week, Rai used this as an excuse to go visit her family.

Rai answered after five rings and apologized for not having informed him earlier that the locks on the house were very old and were not to be used. She promised him that she would call the locksmith over and that he would be out of the room in no time before hurriedly ending the call. 

Akim sighed and felt the wall for the light switch. Once he found them, a blinding white hospital-like light struck his eyes suddenly. Adjusting to its brightness, he found himself staring at the most fascinating object on the floor. It was an antique-looking chest lined with gold. He must admit that he hadn’t examined the room when he first entered it that afternoon – being so wearied by the journey he had leapt into bed without a second’s thought. The room was enormous, holding a king-sized bed, a writing desk fit for an office, two spacious closets, and a potted palm tree right next to the chest.

A sudden urge overtook him and he bent down to open the chest. With no resistance, it obeyed Akim’s will and unlocked easily. “If only the room door would do that” he murmured to himself. Inside there was a great number of trinkets messily placed, contrary to the rest of the neatly kept room. He resisted the urge to grab a piece of cloth and wipe down the layer of dust that had collected on top of each object. Now seating himself down on the floor, Akim inspected the first object his eyes fell on. It was a metallic statue of an elephant, around half the height of his mobile. It had a dark grey sheen to it and its eyes were deep-set with rubies. It looked magical, almost as if it was sentient. Setting it aside, he found a large piece of parchment paper, tightly rolled up. Unfurling it, he realized it was a map. It seemed to have been hand-drawn having smudges of ink in certain places. It was very old and delicate, however, he could not ascertain what place this was a map off as all the words were written in a language foreign to him. He carefully put it alongside the frigid elephant and laid his eyes on a rectangular glass container. 

The glass container appeared to be empty but while picking it up Akim could hear a rumbling sound emitting from it.

Curious now, he pried the lid open with his nails and within it, he found a moonstone. It was large, almost the size of his palm. He found it strange that he wasn’t able to see it before. He pulled it out of his case and stared at it. Frankly, he couldn’t seem to pull his eyes away. It was the most gorgeous thing he had ever seen. The way the light bounced off the silky surface mesmerised him. For some reason, he could hear whispers within his mind. They were quiet and melodious, like what the Sirens of Greek mythology may sound like. He could not understand the words that he was listening to, but it was enchanting and drew him further into the stone’s spell. His eyes had become glassy and all he could see were flashes of images of the elephant statue. Although now it was significantly larger, its leg being twice Akim’s height. In place of rubies were a dark red pair of eyes staring malevolently at nothing in particular. The eyes of the elephant seem to get closer and closer to Akim until…

The room door burst open startling Akim enough to drop the stone. He blinked blankly at the people who stood in front of him. It was the Rai and locksmith.

“What happened to you! Why didn’t you pick up the phone?”

Akim picked up his phone and sure enough, there were four missed calls from Rai, but more astonishingly, the time showed 9:18 pm. Akim had been staring at the stone for more than an hour.

“I was starting to get worried that you had died from starvation or something,” Rai joked. “But honestly, why hadn’t you picked up?”

Akim was dumbfounded and reached out to the floor to show Rai the stone, but his hand was met with the cold marble floor. He looked at the spot where he had left the elephant and the map, but it was nowhere to be found. The chest was sealed shut as if it had never been opened.

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