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Chapter 26. Write a Novel Challenge.

Chapter 26. Write a Novel Challenge.

by Mishal FarazJune 4, 2020

And time was ticking away…

Neina knew she had to break through this labyrinth before it engulfed her and reduced her to a mere shadow of what she used to be. The girl who dared to dream against all odds. The girl who challenged conventions. The girl who made it.

Time was ticking away…

Neina struggled to open her eyes. Her eyelids felt like sandpaper. She could hear voices – unintelligible, hushed, concerned.

Her still incoherent senses caught snippets of conversation –

“It’s exhaustion…pushing herself too hard …”

“The past few days have been tough …”

“Post-trauma stress disorder …”

Neina struggled to get up and a pain seared through the back of her head. The pain helped… it forced her senses to be jolted out of the tranced state. Bewildered, Neina attempted to lift her head up and propped herself up on her elbows. Blinking in the light, her eyes trying to adjust to the transition from the murky, looming darkness of the Mors World to whatever this was. After all the hurtling through one reality to another- some plain grotesque, others eerily comforting, Neina wasn’t sure how much more of this she could endure. This had to stop…

“STOP!!!!!!” she called out.

“Neina!! Neina!” An orange blob hovered over her…

The mist finally lifted. Everything looked so clean and orderly. As she tried to lift her hand to the aching spot at the back of her head, something tugged at her arm. Neina gingerly turned her head to see a tube running into her arm. She was hooked to an intravenous drip. The strong, pungent smell of disinfectant hit her nostrils and the beating of a heart rate monitor became louder.

Time was ticking but what she heard were, actually, her own heartbeats.

She was in a hospital room.

As her vision focused, she saw Charlotte’s face, her red hair glistening in all its glory. Neina felt her heart burst with relief. All the pain she had endured trickled from the corner of her eyes.

“Neina… Can you hear us?” said a deep voice. Frankie.

“Oh thank goodness, you’re awake!” Charlotte cried out.

“Wha…What happened?” Neina managed to whisper, her throat dry and parched.

Another figure appeared, “Hello Neina, I’m Dr. Craig Davis. You passed out in your office”, turning to Charlotte and Frankie, “If you would please step out for a few moments?”

Charlotte and Frankie nodded. Charlotte gave Neina’s hand a squeeze and walked out with Frankie following her.

“We’ve run tests, Neina”, Dr. Davis said, “You look good except for a mild concussion you endured when your head hit the floor. Nothing to worry about. Your friends here told me about your loss. I’m sorry about what happened to your mother.”

It all came flashing back to Neina now. The brutal death of her mother which had made international headlines and ignited a movement which was set to change the course of history. How she had thrown herself into work to drown out the pain that threatened to tear her heart apart. That afternoon, when Frankie had called her to his office and told her that a young fresher named Isla Islington would be working with her on all future projects because of “her fragile mental state”. How she had stormed out of his office. That muddled afternoon at home… Mors world, deafening screams, blinding lights, grounds slipping under her feet, falling through one vortex to another.

She recalled how she had found a sudden strength within herself and marched up to Frankie’s office and told him –

“I don’t know whether you believe me to be an important asset to this company or not, but I am, and I can work without Isla’s aid …”

And then Isla entered, her lips curled into a smile. And that was the moment Neina’s world had blackened out.

As the psychedelic images of the “Mors World” assaulted her memory, Neina felt hot tears running down her cheeks.

“Neina”, Dr Davis said in a soothing voice, “I understand that you need rest. We can have a talk when you feel up to it.”

“No!”Neina exclaimed, “I need to tell someone about what’s going on before I get sucked too deep into it and I can no longer make out what’s real and what is not.” Taking a deep breath, she continued, “I’ve been having visions… of an alternate world, green skinned monsters, supernatural, unworldly beings, my childhood home…my… my mother…” her voice trailed off, “It all appears so real…”

Dr Davis took a deep breath, “ I’m not surprised, Neina. You have been through debilitating trauma and it can manifest itself in various ways.”

“I… I am not going mad…am I?” Neina’s voice was laced with anguish.

Dr Davis shook his head, “Look Neina, I know what you’re thinking . And I don’t blame you. That’s how the thought process of the masses have been conditioned for generations. When one is not feeling well physically, we try to unravel the reason behind it. But if someone is not feeling well mentally or emotionally, words like crazy, mad and deranged are used without a moment’s hesitation. The brain is just as much a part of the body as any other organ is and we need to treat it as such without attaching uninformed, obsolete stigmas to it.”

Chapter 26 Novel Challenge illustration of hospital staff staring down at Neina deciding on potential brain injury

Neina swallowed, “Will I be okay?”

“There is no reason for me to believe that you will not be okay”, Dr Davis smiled, “We’ll discuss it all in detail once you’re physically stronger. You can be on your way home after a 24 hours observation. Of course, I will be detailing out some therapy sessions that will help you process your thoughts. If you need medications or not, we will decide in due course. But the fact that you can actually recall the visions – and acknowledge the fact that they are actually visions, is a promising sign. I’ll be back in a couple of hours. Try to rest now.”

Neina nodded as Dr Davis walked out of the room and closed the door behind him. Almost immediately, the door handle turned, and Charlotte and Frankie rushed in.

Frankie spoke, “Neina, I can understand that you need a break. Please take time off from office. Isla will take care of your projects”

A fire grew within Neina, “Frankie, stop patronizing me! It’s high time you stop taking advantage of the situation. Yes, I’ve been through a lot. But I’ve been a fighter all my life just like my mother was. She taught me to dream. She taught me to believe in myself. I will not insult her memory by giving it all up. Remember one thing Frankie, the Prophecy Tower is my project. I have been working on it for two years and, now that everything is laid out perfectly, I am not going to give it to Isla served on a platter!”

Prophecy Tower- Neina’s project which was touted to change the London skyline and become a global icon of modern architecture.

“No one”, Neina spoke with steel in her voice, “No one takes away my dream from me.”

© and 2020. All rights reserved.

For further information on the Write a Novel Challenge by and, please click here

To read Chapter 1, click here.

To read Chapter 2, click here.

To read Chapter 3, click here.

To read Chapter 4, click here.

To read Chapter 5, click here.

To read Chapter 6, click here.

To read Chapter 7, click here.

To read Chapter 8, click here.

To read Chapter 9, click here.

To read Chapter 10, click here.

To read Chapter 11, click here.

To read Chapter 12, click here.

To read Chapter 13, click here.

To read Chapter 14, click here.

To read Chapter 15, Click here.

To read Chapter 16, click here.

To read Chapter 17, click here.

To read Chapter 18, click here.

To read Chapter 19, click here.

To read Chapter 20, click here.

To read Chapter 21, click here.

To read Chapter 22, click here.

To read Chapter 23, click here.

To read Chapter 24, click here.

To read Chapter 25, click here.

For our independent review of The Winchester School – Jebel Ali, click here

For the official Winchester School – Jebel Ali web site, click here.

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About The Author
Mishal Faraz
Mishal Faraz is Indian, 13 years old and a Year 9 student at The Winchester School - Jebel Ali, in Dubai. She writes:"I cannot express how thrilled I feel to be a part of this very innovative challenge which is a brilliant exemplar of collaboration between students from all over the UAE. The past few weeks have seen some absolutely fantastic writing and I feel honoured to have been passed the baton. What has really intrigued me about the proceedings in the story is the potential it has to become a social documentary about some profoundly pressing issues of our time- ethnicity based discrimination, the crushing effect it can have on minds, rivalry in the corporate world - as well as the stigma attached to mental health and well-being. I’ve kept the language very simple without going into imagery or metaphor because I wanted to utilize the word limit to put an end to the dichotomy between reality and illusion. Our Neina is now back in the human world and I’m excited to see how the future authors shape the story. All the best..."

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