About the Author
Shams was born in London and was brought up in multi-cultural Britain. He considers himself a staunch British Muslim. He works in the Broadcast and Media Industry managing Software Development Teams and Project Delivery and he lives in West London with his wife and three children.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
This year, unlike the last few years is definitely going to be a memorable one for the Wright family. Don't ask me why I know this but as that catchy song from the Black Eyed Peas goes `I gotta feeling'. You know, the kind of feeling you get when you just know something is about to happen and then moments later, it actually does. Well that's the sort of feeling I have about 2011.
On Monday 15th September 2008, our world had come crashing down with an almighty jolt. Lehman Brothers had failed to be sold to another bank over the weekend and as a result had filed for bankruptcy. And with that confirmation, my world, just like that of the 4,000 or so of my colleagues, changed dramatically.
For several months I tried in vain to find a new job but either I was too senior for the manager positions or lacking experience for the director ones. For two months we tried to make ends meet on Sarah's income and our savings.
Finally we decided to bite the bullet and that I should take a year out to do an MBA. It was a tough decision which meant that we had to re-mortgage the house. We secured a £50,000 refinancing package to cater for all the family expenses and to pay the extortionate MBA tuition fees.
The relief that I got when I passed in the summer of 2010 was immense. I succeeded in securing an incredible job as Head of Business Development reporting to the CEO at the electronics firm, KCG plc.
The impact I made was instantaneous as I set up a fantastic £30 million pound deal for my new company. I proposed that by acquiring a small business, our company would be able to gain an international foothold. The CEO was so impressed with my efforts in researching and finalising the deal that he approved an immediate £200K bonus for me. I took that as a real vote of confidence in my abilities.
Immediately we were able to repay all our loan debts and credit card bills and even had enough deposit to upsize our property.
Late last night after everyone else had gone to bed, I was sitting on my favourite armchair watching TV when the whole living room seemed to shake. I felt my stomach turn like it does when you go over a steep hill in a car and then suddenly all the lights went out.
I was now in pitch darkness but I was no longer sitting in my armchair in the living room. I reached with my feet but was unable to feel the ground beneath me. I waved my arms around but there wasn't anything to hold onto. I seemed to be suspended in mid air.
I was straining from the heavy chain that had appeared around my neck. I looked up to see what it was connected to but it was totally unattached at the other end. It was stopping all the blood circulation to my head. I peered down to see hot steam rising from a dark sea below me but there was something on the surface that looked like large shells.
I tried to focus my eyes by opening them as wide as I could until I could finally make out what it was.
I could now see that the boiling sea was actually filled with human skulls floating on its surface, as far as the eye could see. There were literally millions of them packed against each other in the steaming sea. A few skeletal arms popped up out of the water and it dawned on me that these were not just dismembered skulls but people, stripped of their flesh, writhing in anguish.
I suddenly felt a burning sensation on my face and the front of my body. I screamed in agony to find myself now lying face first upon a torrent of burning lava, while being pulled forward across it by the chain around my neck. The skin from my face was peeling off into thin black strips and dissolving on contact with the lava. I couldn't bear the pain any longer and prayed for it to ease. All my skin had almost melted off me but then suddenly it was restored and I was experiencing the painful torment again.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I felt like I was once more being suspended in mid air. I opened my eyes and on my left were thousands of long-necked, gigantic snakes. I could see their long tongues swirling towards me. I swayed away from them to escape their venomous tongues only to find that I was now within reach of something equally horrific.
On my right were a multitude of giant scorpions that were waving their stinging tails towards me. I pushed in the opposite direction to evade them but now I was back within the reach of the snakes. I twisted and rocked from side to side to avoid these attacking terrors.
I suddenly found myself swaying from side to side back in my armchair in the living room. The lights were shining down on me and the TV was still playing in front of me. I must have nodded off and had this most vivid nightmare. I don't usually have any kind of dreams but this felt so real and so distinct that I seriously considered whether I had just been transported to this hellish place and then brought back abruptly. All night I shuddered in terror at the thought of what I had seen. I just hope this wasn't a bad portent for the year to come but a reflection of what we have already suffered.
Regardless of this unwelcome, nightmarish vision, I am still looking forward to enjoying my life again and having a wonderful 2011.
Till next time.