Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ένα παράλληλο σύμπαντος (Part 2)

Read Part 1

The holograph repeated the same to the two aliens. They spoke back.

“You come here. We no come here. You are alien.”

“Yeah, right,” Vikas said, thinking out loud. “It’s the same with us and dogs, right? Dogs think all humans look alike. And I look like an alien to you guys. What’s so new about that?”

The holograph spluttered and gurgled some more and then replied.


“Did I thank you whackos for anything?” Vikas said. “Yeah, I mean – thanks for invading our sweet little planet, but no thanks. Now will you please go ahead and just unplug yourselves? I gotta be running on batteries of some kind, right?”

“No. You run on battery. We run on the source.”

“And what might that be?”

“Our source.”

“Like that’s supposed to explain it all?”

“You need to be taken to our evaluation center. For study.”

“Great, now I’m a guinea pig? What’re you gonna do? Tear me apart and do an autopsy of sorts on me?”

“Cannot comprehend ‘Autossy.”

Vikas waved his hand. “Never mind. Look, I want to go home. Could you please call the cab service?”

The holograph and the aliens didn’t respond. And then they disappeared.

“Shit..what the..” Vikas kept looking at the four walls, feeling stupid all of a sudden. Was he speaking to the walls?

He quickly headed to the stairway. Light or no light, I’m going to get out of here tonight, he decided.

His mind raced. What was he doing before he fell asleep? He couldn’t remember a thing. He was sure he was working on something important. But he just couldn’t remember what he was doing. He came to the main lobby of the office. The doors were open. Thanking his stars, he bolted out.

The cool night air was a welcome change after the bizarre experience inside. He looked all around. The night sky was clear. He ran to the parking lot in the basement, circumventing the large portico. He didn’t want to go to the basement from inside the building. God knew if there were other aliens waiting for him there. Or maybe these three clowns themselves would appear again.

He wasn’t surprised to see the parking lot empty as well. This wasn’t his night, for sure. But then he wondered if the entire planet felt the same way. He was desperate to see another human being for now.

Get out of here, first.

He heaved a loud sigh of relief when he found his car parked in its usual place. That’s strange, said his sub-conscious mind though. How come only my car is here? But there was not time to think. As he neared the car, the driver side door swung open.

Whoa. He stopped about two feet from the car and looked at it. How did that happen?

He got into the car. The door shut on its own. The car sprang to life, and started reversing on its own. Vikas just sat dumb-founded. The car drove out of the parking lot and headed to the main exit, onto the road.

The car was now heading north of the office. That’s strange. It knew where he normally went after work. Home. He looked at the traffic and relaxed. At least things are back to normal outside. Then he noticed something weird. The traffic looked normal. But not the people inside. A car appeared alongside his, headed in the same direction. Vikas turned and looked at the driver. A girl. She too wasn’t driving her car. But it looked like she knew it and was ok with it. How did he arrive at that? Simple. She was busy talking to someone on her cell phone. And her other hand was placed on the adjacent head-rest.

Well, well, well. At least, the world hadn’t come to an end. He thought of his narrow escape back in the office. What did the aliens mean when they said he was here, and not them? His mind wasn’t functioning all that well. He couldn’t remember a whole lot of things. Important things, he was sure of that. But not all of it. All that running had made him forgot. But now he felt it. He needed to pee. Shit, how the hell do I stop the car?

No sooner had he thought, the car slowed down and pulled up on a service road. The door opened.

“Are you reading my mind?” He said, looking at the steering wheel, and then his eyes roved, trying to locate some sort of transmitting device, a sensor that was probably planted to automate this car. But what sensor read minds?

He completed his work and came back to the car’s open door. He just stood and looked around. Everything seemed so normal outside. How come? He saw a few shops across the road and decided to go check.

“Uh, excuse me…,” he said, approaching a bakery. The guy wasn’t looking at him – continued doing business with other customers. Vikas tapped his fingers on the counter and looked at the others.

“Umm..hello, sir,” he said to the guy standing next to him. But he didn’t respond. Forget responding, he wasn’t even looking at Vikas.

He tapped the man’s shoulder. Still no response.

“Hello. Sir.”

What on earth was happening?

Then on a hunch, he slapped the back of the man’s head. Still no response. Panicking, Vikas looked all around. Then he went to a mirror on one of the pillars of the bakery.

I look different.

Were those aliens playing around with his mind? Was he already being studied somewhere, while this version of him was just some sort of a non-entity roaming the road? Then suddenly, like somebody were flicking switches, the people around him disappeared one after the other. A new set of people appeared. The baker had changed. The place changed, in fact. It was now a jewellery store. Vikas laughed.

He felt like a jack-ass. No wait. He was mad. That was it. This was some sort of brain drain thing happening. The aliens had come and...

Better leave. He turned to go.

“Sir? May I help you?” A man in a suit said.

Vikas nearly jumped. “Can you see me?”

The man smiled sympathetically, like he were a patient in a hospital. “Of course, sir. Were you looking for something?”

"Phew." Vikas looked at the man for a moment. “Umm..where are we?”

“Sumangali Jewels, sir. We’re very well known….”

“I know, I know this is a jewellery store, I’m not blind. I mean, which city..?”

The man opened his mouth, but suddenly made a sound similar to the alien back there.

Vikas looked at him for a minute. He panicked. Shit, this couldn't be happening. He ran out. Only to find himself in a closed room, metallic and drab.

Tired, he just collapsed on the floor, his last conscious thoughts being about his bed back home. Funny, how he remembered that, of all the things.

Read Part 3

Ένα παράλληλο σύμπαντος

Story idea: courtesy - Tongue-Fu-Lady. This one's for you, TFL :)

Vikas opened his eyes. He could faintly make out some diagram written on a white board, but it was tilted horizontally. And the light was dim. He slowly lifted his head up and reality hit him hard. He was at his desk, and the white board was his.

Shit, he was still in the office. He looked at his wrist watch and gawked. What the hell? The dial on his watch had turned a blank white, with nothing on it.

His cubicle was on the far side of the eastern block of his company, housed in building number 3 in the software park where he worked. Damn. He must have fallen asleep. But it had never happened. The lights on the false ceiling flickered between dim and dimmer every minute. A static type noise came from some cubicle nearby. God, that din. It was pretty loud. Like a crackling radio. Some nut had left some device on in his desk.

But Vikas knew that there was nothing to worry about. It was not the first time employees had fallen asleep at work. Especially at night. The security personnel knew this and they seldom woke the overworked guys up. The office was accessible to employees 24/7, provided they had their badges. He yawned and looked for his sling bag. Then he noticed something. Where was his laptop?

Fuck, the laptop was stolen. 250 laptops were stolen from our campus last year. We request employees to be careful… These lines from the HR mailer raced in his mind. Now his laptop was also a figure in the statistics. For this year.

But what struck him as odd was, there was not a single soul in sight. Ok, so he dozed off. Big deal. Happened so many times to so many folks. But the office never got so empty. And whatever was the matter with his freaking watch?

He strode across to the main lobby. Come on, somebody had to be stationed there. That was never empty. But he was out of luck; there wasn’t anybody there either. What the hell was happening? He went to the elevators, but none was working. Damn, damn and more damn. He was on the 10th floor, and the stairway was pitch dark. He ran back to the reception. Maybe the guys at the main lobby could help him out. But none of the phones were on. Every damn communication device was dead. And the lights continued to flicker, to add to the misery. He walked upto the visitors couch and plonked himself. He patted his breast-pocket for his cell phone. Better make that call to his room-mate. But the pocket was empty.


Just then, he heard thumping. Deep and resonant. Steady. Slow, but steady. Like in that movie, Jurassic Park, when the dinosaurs arrived. He looked up and around. Something was moving in the office. He slowly rose and walked to the main block, the working area.

He couldn’t see anything in the dim lighting. But the sound seemed to be getting closer to him. He backed off and started walking back to the reception. The sound followed him. Then when he stood by the reception desk, suddenly out of nowhere two forms appeared, making him jump out of his skin.

“Fuck, you guys scared me,” he said, wondering why he said that. They didn’t look human.

They looked like nothing you saw in those sci-fi movies. But they had a definite form, a mix of something that looked like metal, but had the texture of cloth. Or was it paper? He couldn’t fathom. He laughed when he actually pinched himself. Ouch, that hurt. He was awake.

The form to his left, he decided in his head, to call it A, made some funny sound, a cross between a baby’s gurgle and the grating of a chain-saw. The second form, B, made a similar sound, but it wasn’t the same. Were they speaking to him?

“Uh..look, guys,” he put up his hands, “…I..I’m Vikas,” like it made any difference to them.

“Hi,” he continued. The two forms stood still.

“I..uh..could you please care to explain what this is all about? Is this an alien invasion or something?” His voice quivered. He could mentally picture thousands of such similar looking creatures prowling all over outside, maybe taken all the other employees hostages in the basement or something. Maybe this was it. Doomsday. End of human kind. Might as well die a valiant death. He straightened.

B, in a funny but swift move, whirred, spinning on its own axis and produced something like a communication device. He made another sound, but this time it sounded totally different. The moment he did that, a holographic image appeared and stood beside him. It looked more human. Not exactly human, but close.

Hey, actually it looked like himself, Vikas thought. Did this guy just “draw” his likeness and produce this image? Anything could happen. These bozos looked like they came from some other planet anyways. Cool, they can do these things. Maybe I can ask to be taken to their planet with them. Did they have women there? Gosh, not like them. Please.

Maybe they’ll just pulverize me and gather all my body energy. "Shut up, Vikas," he reminded himself. And then the holograph spoke.

“Greetings,” it said.

“Ah, Thank God,” Vikas said, heaving a loud sigh. “At last, language I can understand. Greetings, greetings..hi, hello. Just what the fuck is this…” he said, blurting it all out at once.

The holograph suddenly made funny and fast noises looking at B. B looked confused. A looked more confused. Was he translating? Maybe he went too fast for them, because they sure didn’t understand a thing. Now, A said something slowly.

The holograph looked back at Vikas. “Please repeat.”

Ah. See?

“Umm..sorry. I was too fast, I guess. I apologize. I meant to ask – what is happening? Who are you…and,” he chuckled at the absurdity of it all, “…why are you here? Where are the others?”

The holograph translated it for them. They spoke something back, which the holograph translated back.

“We not here. You here.”

That’s it?

Vikas slowly nodded. Right.

“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

Read Part 2

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Joint studies

Sreeja hated exams. Especially the finals. But that said, she always managed to get good grades; she didn't mess with that. She didn't want her parents to get upset. She had a life-time to choose what she wanted to do, later in life.

The tea her mother had kept by her table had gone cold. She yawned, picked up the cup and dragged herself to the microwave. She closed the door of the kitchen so the loud beeping of the microwave didn't disturb her parents.

She also picked up a couple of cookies on her way back; her tummy was growling mildly. She didn't bother switching on the lights in the living room, the tiny glow of the study lamp guiding her.

She stopped at the door to her room, her heart almost leaping to her mouth. She gasped, dropping the cup.

There was a girl hunched over her books. Hearing the sound, she turned slowly. And smiled.

It was her own self.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Sporting Spirit

The Centenary block of the hostel had a huge sun-roofed quadrangled portico, which led to the ground floor. On either side of the portico were table tennis courts. The way through these courts led students to the continuing dorms on the first floor. So, essentially if one had to go to the other dorms from the Centenary block, they had to pass through the table tennis courts. And everybody did that.

Except at night.

Especially after midnight. No prizes for guessing why.

Suhaas was up till 2 am copying last minute notes from his chaddi-buddy cum Aapath-baandhava (Friend in distress), Naresh. Naresh was away in the other block, copying somebody else's notes. Great brotherhood of notes-copying they had. Of course, Suhaas had been warned about the TT table ghost, because he was from the Centenary block and had to get back after copying the notes. Truth was, it was mostly Suhaas telling stories about the ghost and cooking up numerous anecdotes, with himself a hero, in the midst of it all. Always scaring away the ghosts, never the other way round.

"Man, if the ghost invited me to a match, he'd lose," He'd say, cackling at his own joke.

Now Suhaas was humming happily, notes up-to-date and all geared up for the exams next week; until he came to the TT court. He was around the corner when he heard the ball going 'tok-tok tok-tok' across the court. The lights were off, and he had to get to bed, on the opposite side.


Suhaas started humming a little louder. As he neared the quadrangle, he could faintly make out a fluorescent shape flitting back and forth on the court.

Well, he was up for more than three hours straight - his fingers hurt and his eyes were all fuzzy. He could be seeing things. But then he could even become the subject of the same spooky stories the next day, at school. Or worse, the headlines - "SSLC student found dead beside the TT court with his (finally) updated notes." What a time to get the appreciation of his friends and teachers. What a shame. Most of all, what an embarrassment.

But he straightened up. "I'm Suhaas. Ghosts get their asses kicked by me. What the fuck.."

He was now passing by the court. He stopped for a moment, squinting his eyes. No ball. No sound.

Then the ball appeared out of nowhere and started hopping around on the table.

Bloody hell.

Suhaas gasped loudly and staggered back, only to miss his step and land on his back. He scrambled back up and ran. The laughter and 'tok-tok' continued. Suhaas started muttering the Hanuman Chaalisa (all wrong of course), and ran for his life.


Nithin took off the black blanket from his head, and the fluorescent ping-pong ball attached to a string. He was still chuckling. Naresh emerged from behind the pillar, turning off the 'night-mode' from his handycam.

"Hey, how'll this title be for the youtube video - Suhaas, the ghost-buster, busted?", Naresh said, putting the handycam back in its bag.

"Perfect," Nithin said, laughing.

"Yeah - I'll upload it for the vacations."

They were headed towards the dorms when the game on the other court began.

Tok, tok, tok, tok...


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gone today, here tomorrow

Ramesh came out of the restaurant.

“Shit, the bike’s gone.”

Just then his elder brother called.

“ Ramesh, how much did you fill the bike for?”

“I don’t know. Somebody’s stolen it now; it’s gone,” He said

“Are you drunk?” His brother said.


“You took the car today, idiot. I have the bike.”


Friday, February 24, 2012


Damn, these flights.

Anand headed to the restroom. Occupied. He looked at his watch. 1 am.

He looked around. Most of them were asleep. *Ding*. The 'occupied' turned to a green 'vacant'.

He couldn't hold much longer.

"Come out, damn you," he whispered.

The door opened. But there was nobody inside.

"Sorry," a voice said and the door closed.


The air hostess appeared from inside her cabin. "Sir?"

He was still looking at the closed door. But she was looking at the puddle on the floor.

"Sir? Sir?"


Picture Purr..fect

The tiger seemed asleep.

Gullu took his camera out. The beast looked at him with a half-opened eye.

“So. Just one picture. What say? For my facebook page."

"Facebook, eh? This had better be good," said the tiger, felling the puny lock of the gate with one sweep of his huge paw, and stepping out.