Friday, March 30, 2012

The drive

“Ravi, drive slowly, you’re going way above the speed limit,” Parul said, looking at the speed counter on the display.

“Relax, baby,” Ravi said, chuckling.

The open highway always gave him a high. And he never drove below 120 kilometers per hour. This time he decided to tag her along.

“But why do you have to go so fast? See, the other cars are enjoying the drive. We’re supposed to enjoy it too, right? What sort of a…?”

“Hey, it’s ok – this is what it’s all about. The adrenaline rush. I just love the way this thing handles,” Ravi said, whistling as they negotiated a steep curve in high speed.

Parul closed her eyes, praying silently. He looked at her and laughed.

Just then his cell phone rang and he answered the call. Parul shook her head. Not now.

“Hey, Venky…how be you? Hmm? Yeah, yeah..Oh yeah. It’s cool, man. Yes,” Ravi said looking at the speedo on the display, “…150 now. Awesome or what. Ok. Ok. Oh, 220, huh? Let me try on the next stretch.”

Parul was mouthing “no, no, no, no…”. Ravi just smiled at her.

He forgot he had a cell phone in one hand. With his other hand, he tried to ruffle Parul’s hair.

It was all over in an instant. The car careened off the road and hit a tree. Parul screamed but her voice was drowned in the loud noise of metal meeting the bark of the tree, and the car burst open like a paper bag, the bonnet folding back and shattering the windscreen. Parul, on reflex, ducked for cover. She opened her eyes after a few seconds, and looked at Ravi. He was an unrecognizable mess and she had no way of getting out of the mangled remains herself. She tried to open her door but her limp hand just won’t come up. She fought hard to breathe, her eyes rolling all over the place helplessly.


Parul tried pressing the knob a few times, and then gave up with an audible sigh, throwing the joystick away.

Ravi was looking at the screen, mouth open.

“Sick,” Parul said in disdain. “See what you did now. What kind of a game is this, Ravi? Where did you pick it up?”

He was still looking at the screen. “Wow, what a crash. These virtual characters behave just like real people.”

He then took off the wire connectors from his hand and absently got up from the couch, to get sandwiches.

He returned, munching on his and handing one to Parul.

“Borrowed it from Venky. Cool, isn’t it?” He said.

He tilted his head, looking at the screen, “Shit, is that how I’ll look if I crash in real life?”

He then took a bite. Parul whacked the back of his head with a folded newspaper, making him spit his sandwich out.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

A (not so) tall order...

This was my very first 55-fiction, about seven years ago.


He stood behind her in the elevator, a good four inches shorter. His hands accidentally brushed her bag, dropping it.

“Oops,” he said

“It’s ok,” she said, smiling.

He smiled back, and swiftly wound the metal string round her neck, tightening the noose until she slumped on the floor, still smiling at him.

Lovely eyes...


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Starting from scratch

Shikha walked into the kitchen, sleepy-eyed, switched on the light and opened the windows. The clock in the microwave oven showed 5 am. It was still dark outside.

Yawning, she absently pulled out the percolator. She poured the coffee powder and water into it and switched it on. Rubbing her eyes, she looked at the cabinet above her and was about to open it when she felt an itch in her back and before she could reach her hand behind, she felt Anish's hands, gently scratching the place.

She moaned and chuckled at the same time. "Awww, baby...thanks."

She closed her eyes, savoring the moment. It felt so good. They'd moved into this new flat a couple of months back, and things had been just perfect. Anish had taken a few days off just help her set up their love nest. Theirs was a fairytale wedding, and sometimes she couldn't believe life could be so good.

It was perfect. Almost. The scratching continued. She giggled. And knowing Anish, she knew what was going to happen next, and she smiled at the thought.

"You're a bad boy, you know that?" She purred and turned back to drown herself in his arms.

There was no one behind her.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good morning, luv...





“Huh, huh..?” Vishwanath awoke and turned.

“Hey, Nammu.” He said, sleepily. Namitha was his college sweetheart who’d often drop by.

She waved.

He chuckled and turned back to sleep. Nice dream.

Then his eyes flew open. But mouth quivered.

“Vishu,” Namitha said...again.

Namitha had died when they were in college.


Monday, March 12, 2012

"It's mine..."

Ridhi sat at the dining table and looked around.

Feels good to be alone after a long time.

The house looked squeaky clean – the walls had been white-washed and repainted, the floors re-polished and re-carpeted. Every nook and cranny looked sanitized. Ah, what a feeling. what you call a home.

She looked at the windows. Those lovely curtains from the Chindi bazaar would look lovely there. The morning breeze slowly making them sway, as she sat with her morning cuppa. Bliss.

She walked to the kitchen and looked at the attic above the cabinets. Wow, nice space there. And oh, what's that? A doll! Wonderful, just what I needed...

Just then she heard the front door unlocking.

“This way, ma’am.”

It was the damn broker. Oh, nice…kids. She loved kids.

The two kids ran in first, shouting…laughing at their own echoes in the empty house.

“Mama, mama..the house is big no?”

“Shhh, Aniruddh…Sanvi, come back here..”

The little one came running into the kitchen and stopped. There was a table by the attic. She climbed up and peeked. She let out a whoop of joy and pulled something out.

“Mama, mama..look what I found.” She had a dusty doll in her hand.

“Sanvi, throw it away, right now,” her mom commanded.

Sanvi patted the dust away from the doll and looked at it. “It’s mine,” she said, groaning. “Aren’t you, dolly?"

Yes, I am, sweetheart…and I will be with you…always. Heheheheh...


Sunday, March 11, 2012


This too...wrote in 2005

They sat at the kitchen table. She munched. He sipped. They didn't speak. Just munched and sipped. She was hungry. He was thirsty. Jussst...munching and sipping. Neither spoke.

She wiped her mouth with the napkin and cleared her throat. He looked at her. Kept looking.

She bit into her food again. "Mmmhmm, mhhmm?"

He placed the glass down. "Sorry?"

She swallowed hurriedly. Boy, was she hungry.

"I'm sorry. What I meant was, Do you want more?"

He shook his head.

She nodded and went back to her munching. He was done sipping.

He rose.

She sat watching.

He wanted to leave, obviously. He just raised his hand, but didn't wave.

She smiled through her mouthful. "Mm hmm," she said.

He gently stepped out from the open window. She munched some more. A few moments later, she went to the window. He was there on the street. He turned at her one last time. His eyes had welled up when he rose to leave, she recalled. Now he waved... and disappeared into the darkness.

She looked down at her bulging tummy and waved her palm on it. The baby moved. She looked into the darkness again. It was their first baby on foreign shore.

She wondered if she should tell her sister about the Indian burglar, who didn't have the heart to rob them, after seeing her condition. After all, this was a country foreign to him as well. Poor guy. She thought about her husband, snoring inside in the bedroom. Should she tell him?

Ah, let it be...

For now, she wanted to rob the entire kitchen off all the goodies. Boy, this guy's one helluva eater, she thought, looking down again.


Thursday, March 08, 2012


Sandeep was watching the late night edition on a news channel, completely engrossed in it to notice the quick movement behind him, across the hallway, towards the bedroom.

He was changing channels occasionally to catch something interesting.

It was then he heard it. A distinct giggle. He muted the TV. The neighbor’s kids sometimes created a din late in the night. But this sound was definitely coming from inside the house. Impossible, since he was alone at home. His wife and daughter had decided to sleep over at his in-laws’ place tonight.

“What the hell…”, he muttered and turned. “Hello. Who’s there?”

Ha..Sandeep, this isn’t a movie. Come on. He felt dumb.

He turned to the TV and increased the volume.

The voice, again. This time it was a full-throated laugh. He jumped from the couch and rushed to the bedroom, checking all the doors along the way. There were two, one beside the kitchen near the sink in the dining area, and one toward the rear, across the lobby.

There was a slum nearby – you never know, some kid might’ve gotten curious and tiptoed in. But this was ridiculous. He reached for the switch in the first bedroom.

“Come out,” he said, in a commanding voice hoping to scare the kid.

Silence. It was obvious that there wasn’t anyone here. He walked across the room and pulled open wardrobe doors and knelt down to check under the bed. Nothing. Nobody.

He stepped out. Then he made out the silhouette against the hazy moonlight in the kitchen. It was a kid. Sandeep slowly walked to the kitchen, his eyes steadfast on the child, and switched on the light.



He woke up with a start, sweating. He was breathing heavily. His wife, Malini, turned to him in her sleep, and absently threw her hand across his chest. He held her hand and looked up at the ceiling.

It was a dream? Hell, he could’ve sworn it seemed real. He swallowed, and then got up, gently lifting his wife’s hand and placing it by her side. His throat was parched. He staggered out of the bedroom and headed to the kitchen.

Huh? The TV was on. He rubbed his eyes.

And there was someone on the couch, watching that same channel. His heart racing like a sprinter now, he slowly walked to the couch and saw. It was him watching the channel, just like in the dream. What the...? But he was too sleepy. He just stood there, absently watching himself for a few seconds, his eyes drooping again, slowly. Dream, dream, he kept on repeating in his head, waiting for the other guy to disappear, and the TV to be off. Then - Oh, yes. Water. He was about to turn when the guy sitting on the couch turned to him.

“For me too.”

Sandeep almost fell back.


He awoke with a start, in that slouched position, his neck resting on the couch cushion. A political debate was playing on the TV. He lay there and opened his eyes wide, wetting his lips with his tongue and looked around. Shit..This was crazy.

It was a dream? Hell, he could’ve sworn it seemed real.

Then he heard it. A distinct giggle.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Slippery business...

He preferred killing in public places. One cyanide-laced prick. Safe. Non-messy. Effective. He spotted his contract walking a few yards ahead, busy on the cell phone.

He was now 20 feet away. 10…5…

A banana peel came flying from a passing car, and landed right in front of him.

He didn't even remember jabbing himself.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Ένα παράλληλο σύμπαντος (Part 4)

Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

“So…what are you going to do to me, in this…HRP?”

“In HRP we normally re-assign cosmic energy to waiting recipients. Unlike your planet where you do away with the physical entity after death…we don’t. Because we know how the transfer happens. On your planet, you haven’t yet figured it out. So we do it for you. Which you don’t know…”

Vikas was feeling like a retard in front of this lady now. And we thought, iPhone and the Internet were our greatest achievements.

She went on. “We check your details and decide whether or not you can stay here. Whether your energy qualifies for the transfer, even. There are a whole lot of parameters we check, based on the type of life you’ve led back there.”

Good karma, bad karma. Yeah, bring it on.

“We’ve already done the analysis, in your case. You need to go back. But not before knowing what triggered your arrival in the first place. It helps in our research.”

Vikas was relieved beyond explanation. “Oh, thank you so much, your highness.

“We need to take you to the research facility now.”

“Uh, ma’am…will those two bozos also be there?”

“Yes,” She said and held his hand. She placed some kind of cap on his head. What the hell was this? Suddenly he felt an odd sensation in his whole being…like a mild electric shock, only this was very comforting, like a massage. He closed his eyes, and an involuntary smile escaped his lips. Did she also smile? She looked the other way.

When he opened his eyes, his jaw dropped. They weren’t in her room. They were in a lab. Or at least it looked closest to a lab. Scrubbed and sanitized, the faint buzz of the air conditioner. Some things still weren’t as evolved as the lady boasted, he smiled. Then he realized it wasn’t the AC.. something else. He looked above him, around him. Where were the AC vents?

“We have a way of conditioning the very air we breathe, right here inside the room. We don’t need an external conditioner, or vents that blow in the conditioned air.”

There she goes, reading my mind again. But how did they arrive here? This was so ‘Star-trek’kish, he almost giggled like a kid.

There were a group of people waiting for them. He shook hands with all of them. They had the same look of awe and affection people have when they went to shop for pets. His morale took a beating again. He smiled sheepishly.

“Now then, Mr. Vikash, this will be easy,” Said a plump gentleman, who was dressed like a doctor, white coat, stethoscope etc.

He could almost hear him say, “This way please. And lie down here.”

But nothing of that sort. He was just asked to step on a circle in a closure. The moment he did that, a glass cylinder dropped around him, covering him.

Great. I think all those sci-fi movie directors got their energies transferred from here.

He saw the old lady smiling. She laughed at his joke. He smiled and waved back. Suddenly the lights went out. It was pitch dark. And silent.

Now what.

When the lights came on again, he was back in her room. She was sitting at another desk now, reading something from a monitor, which was transparent and seemed like a veil in the air. Obviously. Steven Spielberg was reborn right, from here?

His vision was still a little blurred.

“Uh..why’re we back here?”

“Because the project is over.”

“You mean..”

“Yes. We found out the problem area. But we had to analyze every little data from your brain, every little thought. It was like…how do you say – fixing the insides of an out-dated car? We had a hard time.”

He fumed. What the hell. At least he was alive.

“So I don’t have to wait here for a quarter era.”

She looked up and smiled.

“Actually…it took a little longer than that.”

“What?” His jaw dropped again.

“Yes. You were at the facility for almost 8 years…your time.”

“Gosh. You mean I was knocked out for 8 years. What did you do – pickle me? Boy. And now you expect me to go back to my planet, 8 years later? They might’ve even done a funeral for me by now.”

“We have a workaround for that, don’t worry.”

“You’re going to alter time? How?”

“You won’t understand if I told you, son.”

“Try me,” Vikas said, his jaw tightening, and fist clenching. “I’m not that dumb, you know.”

“Yes. You aren’t. But you are stupid.”

“Damn. So…what time does my flight leave?” He chuckled. She wasn’t amused.

“Your ‘bozos’ will arrange that for you.”

“But…hey, but at least tell me, what you found. How did I land here? You know…’cross-over’.”

She looked at him, long and hard. And then continued.

“If I were to put it in simple terms. Your coming here didn’t just happen.”

He waited with bated breath.

“You were ‘brought’ here. Meaning, your mental energies were pulled here. On purpose.”

“You mean, someone here..?”

She nodded. “It’s an offense actually. We’re not supposed to make contact that way. I would normally know if this sort of a thing happened. Our transmitting stations are very powerful. I seriously wonder how they missed this transmission.”

“Ok ok..wait. You’re telling me, that someone on this earth knew that I existed…on that planet. And wanted me to come here? In my original form?”

“Something like that. Yes.”

Vikas whistled. “That’s cool.”

“No, it isn’t, Vikas. It’s an offense. What we call ‘an inter-galactic breach’.”

She then went on. “Look, you might’ve heard of things like séance, calling the spirits etc..”


“That’s your earth’s way of somehow making contact with their loved ones, who’re dead. It’s very primitive. So they can’t make contact with the whole being. They just call the upper layer of the source, the cosmic energy. During that time, the same person, who’s already taken the form of another being here, won’t even know a part of him or her, is making contact outside the planet.’s …it’s very complicated.”

“So, you’re saying something similar was done here on this planet?”

“Yes. And that’s why it’s an offense. Because we have the capacity to not just make contact with a previous energy, we can bring in the entire form, along with the physical substance, here. It’s unpardonable. I didn’t mention this to you earlier…”

“You seem to’ve skipped a lot of parts from the brochure…granny,” Vikas said, not very amused now.

The old lady was unsure for a minute, didn’t know how to react to that addressal. She composed herself almost instantaneously. “I’m sorry. This shouldn’t have happened.”

“May I know who this person is, who…or even that’s an offense?”

“It’s not disclosed. Normally. But I’m going to make an exception in your case.”

“Who’s it?”

“My grandson.”

Deafening silence for a moment.

“Your grandson…you mean…”

“Yes. Your replica, of this planet. The one I showed you.”

Vikas sat and ran a hand over his hair. Then he looked at her.

“But why?”

Another voice answered this time.

“Because my secondary source is flawed. And I’m not going to last long. I wanted to see you. Meet you. Transfer my source to your body and live on that earth.” It was his duplicate.

“Mxniv, you’re not supposed to be here,” the old lady said, her voice a weak protest now.

That was some name – mxniv. Vikas couldn’t even pronounce it. The 'secondary' source was the heart, he presumed. He could sense an emotional moment now here, between the two.

“But isn’t that right, mama? My 2nd source is flawed. Just like nya and nyi’s.” Vikas was dumb-founded. He was talking about the parents obviously. Kids called their grand mothers ‘mama’?

“They died in an accident, pinu.”

Pinu. Sounded like a spelling error of pinku.

“No, they did not. You made that accident happen. So that you could justify their death. And get an entry into the elite force. But I want to live. Maybe in a lesser planet, but I want to live.”

“That’s not how it happens. You can’t put this boy’s life in danger.”

“He won’t. He won’t even know when that happens.”

“Uh…excuse me,” Vikas interrupted. They both turned to him.

“Thanks,” he said, having got their attention. “May I know…what exactly happens to me, if, you know, I agree to this ‘transfer’.”

The old lady was about to speak, but the grandson spoke instead. “You’ll live longer, on that planet. Only that person will be me, not you.”

“But why would you want to live my second innings? Wouldn’t you want to live young? I mean..I might die when I’m almost…”

“No. You will leave your body much earlier. You’ll live longer, but as me.”

“Damn,” Vikas said.

“But, I assure you, the transfer will be complete. You won’t even know it’s me. I will sync my energy with you in a way that I’ll become you. How do I say…ummm…it’s like a file replacement when you copy a file with the same name. But I’ll retain my source. So you’ll be a sharper, more intelligent being. And of course live longer.”

Vikas wondered if all those age ‘record-breakers’ back on earth were products of such devious crimes by guys from here.

That made sense. “Cool. Let’s do the transfer. Now?”

“No, that did not make sense…and nothing’s going to happen now,” the granny said. Vikas cringed, having forgotten about the mind reading for a minute.

“I’ll have to arrest you, pinu…,” She suddenly made a strange sound, and three huge aliens appeared on the scene. Vikas gulped. They looked more hideous that the other ‘letters’ of the alphabet.

They threw out some strange laser from their bodies. Mxniv was all tied up. You couldn’t see any rope, but you could see he was tied. He was unable to move his hands or legs.

“No mama.. please..don’t do this. I want to live. I want to live,” the guy protested like a 5 year old.

He was taken away.

Granny sighed and blinked her eyes a couple of times. The screen in front of her disappeared. Awesome. He sighed for a different reason. Wish he could do that. Kick some solid ass back in the office. He could’ve done that if that ‘transfer’ happened.

Damn. What’s with these old folks anyway? They’re the same, in any planet.

“Now what?” He said.

“We wait for your bozos.”

“Uh, will I get the window seat in the flight? You know…just look around the galaxy, stuff like that..”

She glared at him. He raised his hands in surrender and mouthed ‘sorry’. She didn’t seem very interested in jokes now.

Just then the thumping returned, and A and B appeared.

“Where were you guys? Let’s check-in,” Vikas said.

A said something to B, they both spoke to the lady, making all those funny noises like a transmitter, and then outstretched their hands towards Vikas. He reluctantly held them.

And blacked out.


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 literally jumped out of his chair and stood up. He looked at his watch. 8 pm. He felt the dial again. It was his good old watch – everything in place. There was no static sound coming from anywhere. The lights of his office were back to normal. Bright and sharp. His laptop was open, on his desk. The familiar screen-saver was a comforting sight. Also comforting was the familiar hum of the air conditioner.

He saw a few guys milling around, talking shop. He heard laughter from another cubicle. He felt his breast-pocket. His cell phone was there. He sat down and laughed loudly.

“Hey Viks, shut up and go back to sleep,” Rajesh said from across the room. He then mumbled something inaudible. Vikas smiled and placed his elbows on his desk, his hands grasping his head.

This has got to be the craziest dream ever. He tried to jog his memory, but his head hurt. He could faintly remember stuff like meeting some robot like folks, an old lady talking to him. Man, it was bizarre. But he didn’t remember anything else.

Dreams. They could get weird.

He chuckled, and then laughed again, shaking his head. Then, logging on to his laptop, he saw what he was working on. The cursor was blinking at the last line of code. He smiled. Damn. Yes, this was it. This particular module had been tough to code. He remembered everything now. Sheesh, he had just one day to hand it over to the reviewers. As he put out his fingers on the keyboard, he felt an odd sensation in his head. Something like HRP was buzzing around in his head.

He turned at his white-board, and did a double-take.

Written there, in big letters, were the words –

Ένα παράλληλο σύμπαντος

What on earth was that? He hadn't written it for sure. Then he read the fine print below that. It was in English. The translation, he assumed.

A Parallel Universe

The End