Spirits of the Dark Alley: City of Opposites

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As an inky blue shadow pushed the sun out of sight, ending the day, the city of Mumbai rose from its drowsy state. Lights flickered to life in a chain reaction. People of all kinds, from everywhere, of all ages rushed to their homes in desperate need of some peace. Everyday in a city that fast was a challenge. Noises began to grow louder as traffic brimmed on the roads, overloaded local trains whooshed past, and people flowed out on the streets.

Their were all kinds of voices in the air. Happy and sad. Frustrated and hopeful. Carefree and burdened. Dreamy and heartbroken.

There was one more voice in the crowd. Nervous and scared. The girl was pushing through the crowds with a brown paper packet clutched close to her heart. She had a rather worried frown on her pale face. Her black hair flew from one side to another as she pushed through. Her black leather jacket, so out of sync with the coastal city, got scratched as she roughed her way across a guy wearing studded steel bracelet. Even so, Naina didn't slow down. She didn't even glance back at the man shouting at her in anger.

The darkness had set. Naina was way past her deadline!

He's going to be furious, it's way past his limits... I'm late!

Next to a dingy building, away from the blingy market place, Naina slipped in a dark, dirty alley. There were garbage bags lining the alley. Rats scurried around. the stink soaked her clothes and touseled hair. It was as though she had lost all senses; she did not notice the rotting smell.

There were a few rooms in the alley, at some distance. Most of them were dark. only a few rustling sounds could be heard. A few had a little light, dangling bulbs or flickering tube lights, that showed people laying formless on the floor. Some were seemingly unconscious on chairs, their arms dangling almost lifelessly. One of them was crawling towards a table, growling in pain and tapping it's legs. Naina gasped, her heart breaking her ribcage.

'Oh no... I'm here!'

Naina rushed towards the man. He was built up sturdy, had tattoos on his whitish arms and shoulders. He was in a black vest and pants, writhing in the pain of withdrawal. His eyes were red with bluish bags under his eyes. he was breathing irregularly. the moment Naina came close enough, he snatched the paper bag and cut it open with a knife. He sniffed the white stuff right of the packet.

'Michael, that's too much! You can-

Suddenly, everything went blank and she could stars whirling around her. When she opened her eyes, she was facing the rugged cement floor. Something warm trickled down the side of her forehead. She lay aghast.

'You Bitch! you are late!'

Only a few seconds later, she figured she had been slapped head first to the ground. She wiped her cheek and saw blood, shivering as she did.

'I am the only one in this whole city who puts up with a slop like you, who can't even prove useful, out of pity. Without me, you will have no job or money to keep that old bat alive. You better remember that every second of your sorry life! You fuck me up again, and I swear you will live on the streets, eat off the garbage bins. You are nothing but a worm in the gutters of his city without me.' he pointed at her with an insane fury. Then his breathing abated, he sniffed some more of the stuff, and rolled his reddish eyes at her.

'The man arrives at 11pm, the usual hotel beside the beach. And today, you will not only escort them to the hotel, you will also stay and pour us drinks. And you know, please him.'

'Wha...' Her lungs collapsed in fear. Michael had blackmailed her all the time. He made her do illegal things, dirty things. But this was way beyond her tolerance, her dignity. The next thing he would say is that she has to sleep with all his clients...

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