The Unknown

Ahumai hastened towards The City. His team had discovered an unknown, the first discovery in over a decade. It was big news. His team mates – Dalila and Jidlaph followed him, trying to keep up. They were Ahumai’s blood-sworn and were tasked with watching his back. It had been a long mission and they were tired. However, they knew that even though they were out of dangerous waters, they could not afford to ease up. Enemies could be lurking behind any coral, waiting to ambush them. Ahumai was not making their task any easier. He had abandoned all vigilance and was making a straight dash to The City, and who could blame him? The mission had been an astounding success. Clutched in his hands was a safety packet and within it resided the unknown. They had given up trying to slow him down and instead focused on surveying their surroundings to the best of their ability, without losing sight of his swishing emerald tail.

The three blood-sworn belonged to the Selachii Kingdom, one of the many Sea-folk kingdoms. The City was the capital of Selachii Kingdom, and the birthplace of the three.  After a swift and arduous swim through the azure waters of Selachii, the trio finally gazed upon The City. It was city of pale golden colour, masterfully architected with a slew of magnificent minarets towering over each other. A crystal-clear purifier dome separated the city limits from the outer Azure waters. It was truly a sight to beholden, and no matter how many times Ahumai saw it, he always fell in love with its pristine beauty. The three made their way to the city entrance, swimming alongside shoals of persimmon coloured fish. The guards positioned at the entrance saluted the three as they entered. Ahumai was used to salutes because he was the younger Selachii prince, but he had never liked them. However, today for a change he acknowledged the salutes whole-heartedly. For the first time, he felt as if he had earned them. He had after all discovered an unknown.

As soon he entered the city premises, he spotted his older brother approaching. It was difficult to miss his muscular frame. It was even more difficult to miss his bright acid green tail. Ahumai was gleaming with joy when his brother was close enough to look at the safety packet.

“Ahumai, is that an unknown?”

“It sure is, Pachu’a. The first one found in so many years.”

“Very good. Take it directly to the Science Center. I want to know if it can be used as a weapon against our enemies.”

Ahumai hated this about his brother. He was only concerned with warfare. If something did not aid in increasing his own power, it was of no interest to him. He had no inclination towards history at all. In contrast to his older brother, Ahumai loved knowledge. Even the discovery of simple trivial knowledge excited him, and this was an unknown. He was eager to know what stories it held. However, he could not say all this to his sibling. Ahumai nodded.

“Yes, I will take it to the science center.”

Pachu’a placed his burly right arm on Ahumai’s shoulder.

“Good. We need to strengthen ourselves as much as we can, little brother. Our enemies are many and we need all the advantages we can get.”

Ahumai bowed his head. His companions followed suit and kept their heads bowed until the heir to the Selachii Kingdom had passed them. Ahumai turned to face Dalila and Jidlaph.

“Well, as my brother told us, we are going to the Science Center. But, after we meet Grandpa. I want him to see it before the other scientists.”

Dalila shook her head.

“I knew this was coming. You always have to undermine your brother in some way.”

Jidlaph grunted in agreement.

“Come on, it is not about that. At least, not this time. Grandpa always has something interesting to share. I want to know what he thinks before the other war-hungry scientists look at the unknown we found. Are you both coming?”

Jidlaph shrugged his shoulders. Dalila opened her mouth to argue and closed it after a split second. She realized Ahumai was not going to change his mind. She beckoned Ahumai to lead the way. Ahumai smiled to himself.

Making their way through the busy streets of The City, the trio reached Grandpa’s house. The house was ancient, which was quite visible to any onlooker. Before Ahumai could place his palm on the door to let Grandpa know he had visitors, the door slid open. The trio heard Grandpa’s gruff voice.

“Come on in, kids. This house may be old, but I assure you the technology on which it runs is cutting edge.”

The three blood-sworn entered. They swam past the meeting area and into Grandpa’s study. Ahumai held up the safety packet as soon as he saw Grandpa. Grandpa’s jaw dropped.

“My dear boy! Is that an unknown? Did you really find one?”

The trio chimed in unison.

“Yes, Grandpa!”

“Where did you find it?”

“We were scouting the brooding caverns. Found it in a small unclaimed chest.”

“That was mighty lucky. Well then, let us see it. Quickly now.”

Ahumai opened the lock on the safety packet and removed the unknown. It looked like a covering of some kind much like the gauntlets worn by Selachii soldiers, but they were flatter in shape and their material unlike any that had been encountered before. Each side of the unknown was marked by similar markings.

“Have you ever seen this mark, Grandpa?”

“No, I have not. Maybe it is an ancient language.”

Ahumai nodded. To his eyes, the markings looked like the outline made by his thumb and his index finger, when he stuck them both out. Maybe, they communicated with their fingers. Ahumai observed that Grandpa looked pleased.

“Grandpa, what are you thinking? You seem happy.”

“You see, child, I have been working on a theory for many years now. This might be the first proof supporting this theory.”

“What theory is that?”

“I believe that many millions of years ago, the world was not entirely submerged in water. In those times, our ancestors lived on land. They probably had limbs that aided them in moving around on land. This unknown may be a gauntlet of sorts for their lower limbs. And then after some time, due to some reason, the entire world flooded.”

The three blood-sworn gaped at Grandpa. He burst out laughing.

“Kids, it is just a theory. I know it sounds absurd – areas without water and our ancestors living in such areas.”

 

 

 

*The names used in the story, are all connected to water in some way.

Ahumai : A meadow of waters

Dalila: Water bearer

Jidlaph: He that distills water

Pachu’a: Feathered water snake

Source

 

**Those who found the description of the markings confusing, this is what I intended to convey :

RJ62DEg.jpg

 

 

If you like stories related to the Sea you may want to give the Sea of Blood series a read!

 

 

 

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The Antique Shop

“No, no, it is not for sale.”

Lee waved his hands frantically at the customer. The customer, a tall American sighed as he placed his hands on his hips. His sky blue eyes darted between Lee’s red face and his object of interest – a blue and gold dragon scale. It was majestic to look at and had an arcane air about it. The American was in complete awe of its splendor. Lee knew that was the only reason the American was still haggling, even after such a long time. He knew the American wanted it badly. The unblemished polish on the scale’s blue body and the striking gold outline could leave anyone wanting.

Lee puffed out hot air, calming himself down.  They had been at it for around ten minutes now. It was not the longest haggling Lee had done, but certainly on the longer side. He had been in the antiques and souvenir business for many years. He called his shop The Authentic Antiques. Lee had dealt with tougher customers. Chinatown, where Lee’s shop and house was located, saw many visitors of different ethnicities. They all had their tricks and techniques, which had only served improved Lee’s skills over the years. Lee was proud of his family owned shop. His father had handled it before Lee and his grandfather before him and so on. His daughter would handle it when Lee was no more, and so it would go on. He personally arranged and rearranged all the items in the shops with care. Tea cups, daggers, lockets, fridge magnets – any and all kinds of souvenirs could be found in Lee’s shop. The shop interior was lit in a combination of red and yellow lights, preserving the traditional Chinatown vibe. Lee’s shop attracted quite a few tourists around the year, but the sales had been down for a few months now.

The American had entered the shop half an hour ago. Lee could instantly tell he was American from the way he spoke and dressed. Lee had a knack of figuring out a tourist’s country of origin, it was his job. Upon a polite enquiry, the American had told Lee that he was not looking for anything in particular. However, he added that he wanted something whose origins lay in the realm of the mystical. The American told Lee that he was fan of wizardry and divination and had a soft spot for anything to do with supernatural forces. Lee liked this kind of customers. They usually paid more than usual, as long as they were sold on the story of the antique being authentic. The items in question were dubiously authentic at best, although such customers did not mind that. Lee had fetched many-a-item for the perusal of the American. He did not even give a second look to Quan’s Sword and Guan’s Jade tablet. He had spent some time looking at the black necklace of sorceress Wu Li. However, he decided that he already possessed the pendant of Circe, and another similar antiquity would serve him no better. The American had turned to leave when his sights fell on a dazzling blue and gold item lying on wall shelf. He had asked Lee about it. Lee had replied saying that it was a dragon scale and that it was not for sale. Both the statements had served in piquing the American’s interest. He had walked towards it and requested Lee to let him see it up close. Lee had agreed and let the American hold the scale in his hands. The American held it for a good two minutes, simply gazing at it without uttering a single word. When he had handed it back to Lee, his eyes were twinkling.

“Mr. Lee, how much is this for?”

Lee held his palms up and shook his head to the sides.

“Sir, this is not for sale. It is a family heirloom, brings us good fortune.”

The American smiled for the first time, turning on his charm. Lee had seen this trick numerous times. Customers would shoot smiles at him in order to get a better deal, and Lee had seen the most gorgeous smiles over the years. This smile however, did not even rank in the top fifty percent of those.

“I am sure a decent offer would change your mind about it.”

“No, no, it is not for sale.”

Lee waved his hands frantically at the American. The American placed his hands on his hips and stood undeterred.

“Mr. Lee, you can have five hundred dollars for it.”

“Look sir, I showed you the best antiques I have, and I guarantee these are the best in all of Chinatown, entirely authentic. Would you not like any of them? We could negotiate on a fair price there.”

“I understand you, Mr. Lee. However, I only want the dragon scale. It would be the crown jewel in my collection.”

“It may just be a part of your collection for you sir, but it has a lot more value to me.”

“I understand your sentimentality. I really do. And for that I am willing to offer you a hundred dollars more.”

“Sir, I am telling you that the scale is priceless. You cannot just value it at six hundred dollars.”

The American looked disappointed. He fished out his wallet and removed ten crisp hundred-dollar bills from it.

“Mr. Lee, this is my final offer- A thousand dollars, in cash. Think about it. It is a darn good deal, if I ever saw one.”

Lee tapped his left temple and looked up to the ceiling. The American was pleased to see that his offer was being considered. He waited patiently for Lee to make up his mind. After what seemed like ages for the American, Lee extended his right hand toward him.

“Deal!”

The American shook Lee’s hand as he displayed a wide grin on his face. He handed the wad of bills to Lee and quickly snatched the dragon scale. He shook his fist in the air as a sign of victory.

“Sir, please do take good care of it. You are taking a part of my family with you.”

“I will, Mr. Lee. Thank you so much.”

The smile on the American’s face vanished as he turned and left swiftly from the shop. Lee saw him out and checked the time.

“Time to close the shop,”

He announced.

Lee’s shop was connected to his house via a back door. After locking up the entrance, Lee took the back door and entered his house. His wife called out to him from the kitchen.

“How did it go?”

“It went well. Made a good sale today.”

“Ah! The old heirloom story?”

Lee laughed as he proceeded in removing his clothes.

“Yes, the same old story. Always works like a charm.”

She joined in on the laughter.

“You and your convincing lies! Get ready quickly darling, we are having duck tonight.”

Lee was ready to feast on the ducks his wife had prepared for him.

“You know, I really don’t feel as if I am lying. It is the truth. After all, it is a family thing and it is authentic.”

He lay comfortably on the stone floor.

“Darling, before we have our dinner, could you pluck out one more scale from my back? I don’t like leaving the shelf empty.”

“I will, I will. But only after eating. After all, dragons need their food.”

Lee snorted in agreement letting out a small jet of fire from his nostrils. His huge blue and golden form curled up on the floor, waiting for the arrival of the juicy ducks.

 

 

Image credit : http://www.beijing-tours.cn/beijing-shopping/beijing-antique-store.html

 

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

The Song

What a lovely song it was. It never failed to get my fingers snapping and feet tapping. The song was pretty old. Although it was performed first in 1948, I was only introduced to it once I had turned into a young adult a good decade after the song came out. I remember I had heard it for the very first time at the old pub in my hometown. I was sinking down a glass of jack when I heard the melodious voice for the very first time. Some soul with a brilliant taste in music had selected this song on that jukebox. I did not know who he was, but after the song was over, I mentally thanked him. Those were divine five minutes spent with the glass of jack in my hand, and the song on my mind.

The singer of the song sounded so sad. He told us about how he went through great hardships in life : How he lost his parents at a young age, how he was bullied on the streets, how he sang begging for alms. It was a sad song, yes. However, the part that actually hooked me on to the song was the ending. The singer managed to survive through all the hardships and made it in life. It was a happy ending for him. I really enjoyed a good end to every song. As I sat with an empty glass, the barkeeper asked me for a refill. I accepted it. While he refilled my glass, I asked him the name of the song. He told me. Never forgot the name thereafter.  I moseyed to the jukebox, put a coin in and replayed the song. It was a very well spent evening.

Over the years, the song soon became my favorite one. I danced with my soon-to-be-wife on that song on our dates. I got a live band to play it in the background when I popped the question to her. Sometimes I felt that I knew the song better than I knew my wife. Every beat, every tone, even the exact duration of the saxophone solo, I knew it all. I was always quite happy with myself for possessing such intricate knowledge about my favorite song. I passed on the love of the song to my son. He is a teenager now. He has his own brand of loud music he loves blasting on the speakers at home. However, all those times this slow, euphonious track played somewhere in between those other garish tracks, it gave me confidence. Confidence that we had brought up my son right. I have faith that he will keep the fondness I have for the song alive, and pass it on in the future.

Indeed, what a lovely song it was!

It always helps when there is a story to every aspect of you. This song, I never really heard it before they captured me and put me in this tenebrous cell. They keep playing it on loop, every five minutes without a pause. I hear the same thing every day and every night. The only respite from the music I get is when they enter the cell to continue their daily interrogation. I find it amusing to see their reactions when they find out that their music torture has still not broken me. The only way I have remained sane is by building stories about this song. A pub some time, my dad’s favorite song sometime, so many stories I have made up in my mind about why I love this song. I really do not have a choice. I have to continue adoring this song. The moment I start hating it, is the moment they will get to me. This song will never get to me. They will never succeed.

 

Image Credit: http://stmedia.stimg.co/ctyp_81080777bb82a_feature_1840_2.jpg

 

via Daily Prompt: Song

Graveyard Walk

The moon observed the two friends as they crossed the cobbled street. In contrast to the white splendor of the moon, the two were clothed in dull, tattered garbs. They held on to each other for support as they hobbled along. The gaslights were the only source of illumination for the two, in these wee hours. The duo stopped in front of the cemetery.

“We are here, Harry.”

“Yes, we are, Don.”

Harry pushed open the gate. Don could see it was taking Harry a massive effort. He put his body weight against the door. With much effort, the two managed to get the rusted iron gate open. They stood at their spots for a couple of minutes, panting and wheezing. It was to be expected. They were not young anymore. Harry bent clutching his stomach and looked up at Don.

“That took a lot of gas. Shall we make a move?”

“We should. I feel so old.”

“Don, you are old.”

Don caught Harry’s eye and they burst out laughing. They stopped abruptly as soon as they heard their laughter echoing. They continued walking deeper into the graveyard, the ever-watchful moon illuminating the rough terrain in front of them. The two friends continued walking slowly. They peered at the names on the gravestones that lay on either side.

“You know Harry, I don’t remember the graveyard being so big. At least it does not look so big from the outside.”

“Your memory serves you well, old fellow. The war is the cause of the expansion.”

“Oh yes, we live in times of war. Brutal times, claiming the lives of so many.”

“They always have Don, they always have. Wars deplete lives and resources. Wow! All this walking is really killing me.”

“I think it is the lack of walking that is killing us.”

Harry chuckled.

Don placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“Have we reached, yet?”

Harry looked around.

“Nah! These are old graves. The new ones are much further. Quit complaining and keep walking.”

Don grumbled. He hated walking. Harry on the other hand, quite enjoyed it. In all their many years of friendship, Harry had never once heard Don go on long walks without grumbling. So, he was quite used to it.

“Let’s go back Harry. I don’t feel like walking any more.”

“Stop being so cranky. You know this is important for me, important for us. We need to do it. Besides, both of us know very well, that after we reach you are going to think the long walk was completely worth it.”

Don ran his fingers through his white hair. He knew Harry was right. However, he enjoyed complaining to Harry. He found it entertaining. The two continued their ritualistic walk silently, pausing every few minutes to catch their breath. After a good ten more minutes, Harry stopped and looked around with a smile on his face.

“This is it, we are here.”

Don flopped on the ground.

“Finally! The torturous walk is finally over.”

Harry snorted.

“Enough of the complaining, Don. It is now time to enjoy.”

Harry walked to the nearest gravestone, the one to his left. Don got up to his feet and followed Harry. Harry bent down, looking at the gravestone and read aloud:

“Pvt. Timothy Douglas lies here. How does this Timothy Douglas sound like?”

Don rubbed his hands in anticipation.

“Sounds like a real fine treat.”

Harry bent down and began unearthing the grave.

“Well, thank heavens for wars. As long as men deplete each other, our kind will never have to go hungry.”

Don smacked his lips in response.

 

via Daily Prompt: Deplete

Daily Prompt: Froth

Gini placed her glass on the coaster. The Dunkel in her frosted glass frothed intensely, threatening to spill out. Inu gave her a disapproving look.

“How you can like your beer like this, has always escaped me.”

Gini looked at Inu’s glass. Her pale ale was sitting perfectly, its copper hued body showing only mild signs of a white head.

“Yeah, yeah! I can’t help it if you like to have it in an unhealthy way.”

“Hey! If you are going to froth it and waste so much of it, I would call that a waste.”

Gini lifted the glass and took a deep sip.

“Like I always say – To each their own.”

Inu laughed.

“Are you laughing at my statement?”

“Not at all. Just at your choice in growing facial hair.”

Gini realized she had froth around her mouth. She joined in the laughter. Their laughter was quite loud, but this in no way caused any ruckus, for there was no else in the pub. It was just the two of them and a couple of servers. The dark pub was tailored to emulate an olden Irish establishment. The walls and tiles had a grey stone-finish while the tables were a complimentary shade of gingerbread brown. The setup was complete with a fully stocked bar, displaying all its wares on wooden open-top shelves, and a multitude of beer taps at a ready reach for the barkeep. Maroon-cushioned bar stools completed the look.

“But, speaking of beer froth, is this not where it all began for us?”

“Right you are, Gini. Right you are. Fifteen years ago.”

“Wow! Has it been so long already?”

“Yep! The first year in our graduation struggle. Wait, my graduation struggle. You were always among the top-scorers.”

“Come on, nothing like that.”

“Gini Siqueira – honour student and pride of the batch.”

“Let’s not forget – party animal.”

“Oh yes! That is how we met. You had had one beer too many and were gyrating on the table, much to the delight of all the boys there.”

Gini chortled as she took another swig from her glass.

“I agree. I had had a lot I guess.”

“Totally! And I had to drop you home after you passed out, knocking the whole table’s drinks on to me.”

“Come on, Inu. I have apologized for that. Besides, that is how we met for the first time.”

Inu winked.

“No apologies needed, stupid. I am glad that happened. After that incident, we frequented this place. Our bond growing stronger hand in hand with the increasing potency of the concoctions we drained here.“

“Indeed. But, nothing could replace beer.”

“Cheers to that!”

Gini and Inu clanked their glasses together, spilling the brown and copper liquids on the table.

“That was a hard cheer. We need to be careful, Inu. Lest we repeat what we did after our final marks came through.”

Inu chuckled, but was quick to place her glass down.

“I did not even expect to pass, you know. I hated numbers, and accounts, and all that shit. I just did it because my parents asked me to do it. ”

“Yes, I know. I remember you announcing that they were tyrants who dictated every move you made in life.”

“I said too much, I guess. You know there was a lot happening then. My parents wanted to marry me off. I had my own dreams, I wanted to do a lot before I settled down. They just did not get it.”

“So, you just ran off and came to live with me. Very mature indeed!”

Inu took a large gulp of the beer.

“Come on, I was a kid back then.”

Gini stuck out her tongue.

“And I wasn’t?”

“No you weren’t. You were always the mature one. You were the one who convinced my parents to drop marriage plans. You convinced them that it was okay for me to leave my house and seek my own adventure. Well, all that as long as I promised to call them every day.”

“I may have done that. However, I was not always the mature one. You handled me through my multiple break-ups and problems. Anyone wanting to mess with me had to go through you.”

“That is what best friends are for, no? I had every faith in you that you would become a big-shot – minting money every day.”

“I had to live up to my best friend’s faith, no? I was never as brave as you were. I stuck to the status quo. Worked at those boring 9 to 5 jobs and worked my way up the corporate ladder. I simply walked down a beaten path. You are different Inu. You took the road through the woods. I don’t think I would have been able to work at jobs that interested me but offered no stability.”

“Yeah, I did a lot of different gigs. However, I continued saving up and always worked towards my dream. Speaking of which, I need to get to work now.”

Inu drained her glass and walked up to the bar. She took her place behind the bar. Gini followed her, glass in hand and sat down on the plush stool.

“So, barkeeper, can I get a refill?”

Inu laughed as she took the glass from Gini and refilled it at the tap.

“You can froth it up, Inu. Our journey began covered with froth. Now, I see you have finally achieved your dream. I think we can do with more froth – a refill for my glass and a refuel for our journey.”

“Thanks a lot for everything Gini. I owe you my dream.”

“No you don’t. Your dream is yours and you worked hard to achieve it. I just helped my best friend achieve it. The victory is yours.”

“No, it is ours.”

“Cheers to that, Inu. Shall we turn on the lights then? It is opening night after all.”

Inu had tears in her eyes as she nodded.

“Very well, co-owner. The Frothy Beer has now reopened for business. My dream is our dream now.”

 

Image Credit: http://img.webmd.com/dtmcms/live/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/rich_media_quiz/topic/rmq_beer_calories/photolibrary_rm_photo_of_two_glasses_beer.jpg

via Daily Prompt: Froth

https://thedarknetizen.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/stalker-part-2/

Stalker – Part 2

As Darsha waited under the streetlight, her heart pounded in her chest. She continued peering in the direction of the sound. She spotted an all too familiar motorcycle moving towards her. Her heartbeat shot through the roof. She could hear the pounding in her ears. Her stalker stopped right in front of her, removed his helmet and smiled at her.

“Do you need a lift?”

Darsha shook her head from side to side, too scared to answer. His voice was rough. It made her take a step back.

“Don’t be afraid. I only want to help. I can…”

He left his sentence incomplete as he heard another noise coming from the road. Darsha heard it too. She saw a black car approaching them. The stalker put his helmet back on, waved at Darsha and sped away into the darkness. No sooner had the stalker made his exit than the black BMW had halted in front of her. She recognized it. It was Sharad’s car. The window rolled down and Sharad smiled at her.

“Car trouble, Darsha?”

“Yeah, Sharad. My phone is not getting any signal either. Could you please call a mechanic?”

“Sure! I’ll do you one better. I’ll drop you home as well.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Sure, I do. I can do this much for my team.”

Darsha beamed and got into the shotgun seat of the BMW. Sharad started the car.

“Thanks a lot, Sharad. It was really scary.”

“You are welcome, Darsha. It is my pleasure. I am happy that my employees work so hard.”

“Hahaha! Just had a lot of pending work.”

“Yeah, I know! There is so much to do these days. Sometimes I feel more at home in the office than at my house.”

“Why is that?”

“Nothing, really. I have texted my mechanic. Your scooter will be taken care of.”

“Thanks again!”

Sharad smiled at Darsha. She did not want to sound impolite or pushy, so she let his unusual statement slide.

“Darsha, you seem really tense. Don’t worry, my mechanic is quite good. Have some water?”

Sharad passed a bottle to Darsha. She took a few sips of the cold water. She checked her phone. There still was no signal on it.

“Do you mind some music, Darsha?”

“Not at all.”

Sharad nodded and pressed a couple of buttons on the steering wheel. The sound quality of the surround sound impressed Darsha.

“The music system is quite good.”

“Ah! The music is even better.”

For some reason Darsha did not like the sly smile Sharad gave after saying this. After a couple of minutes of the unheard EDM track, Sharad turned down the music.

“Long drives are fun, are they not, Darsha?”

“Yeah they are quite fun. I like..”

Sharad interrupted her.

“Exactly. I used to go on long drives with my wife. She loved them too.”

“She does not like them anymore?”

“Well, she left me.”

Darsha realized the meaning of the statement he had made earlier.

“I am sorry to hear that, Sharad.”

“Don’t be! I have seen you looking at me in the office. I think this works in your favor. Our favor.”

“No! It is not like that.”

“Come on! You don’t have to hide it. You want me. How about right here, right now?”

Darsha felt extremely uncomfortable. However, they were still in the middle of nowhere. She still did not have any signal on her phone.

“No, Sharad. I have no interest in any of it.”

“Well, your take on it does not matter. Why are all you women the same? Even my wife had opinions. She would keep saying no. Then she filed for divorce, even when I had told her not to do anything like that. She just would not listen. So, she had to go – Permanently. Why don’t you women understand? You cannot say no to me.”

Darsha began panicking. Beads of sweat ran down her face. The maniacal look in Sharad’s eyes petrified her.

“Sharad, you are scaring me. Please stop! Don’t do anything stupid. Just stop…”

Darsha felt her entire body going numb. A cold darkness began encasing her vision.

Sharad laughed.

“You feel it now, do you not? That is GHB kicking in to your system. Liquid ecstasy some call it. If I had given you any less of it, you may have felt some euphoria. But, you do not need to feel good. I do. You are going to be in no state to feel anything, anyway. Besides, once you wake up in the morning, you won’t remember a thing.”

Darsha tried protesting, screaming out in terror. She felt the car stop. This was her chance to make a run for it. However, her body had stopped listening to her. The last thing she saw before darkness completely took over her was Sharad’s hungry looking face.

 

Darsha woke up with a dreadful headache. She took a couple of minutes to register that the bed she was lying in was not hers. She sat up. It looked like a hospital. The attending nurse handed her a glass of water and went out. As Darsha sipped on the water, she could hear voices outside her room. In a couple of seconds, a police inspector rushed in. Darsha recognized him- Inspector Singh. He was the officer who had noted down her stalker complaint.

“How are you feeling madam ji?”

“Not too well. What happened?”

“What is the last thing you remember?”

“Umm, I left my office late at night. That is all I remember. Why can’t I remember anything?”

Darsha felt very confused. As if an entire night had been erased from her mind. Her memory after leaving her office was a complete blackout.

“Madam ji, listen to me very carefully. You had been administered with a drug. It causes amnesia.”

Darsha looked at the inspector in disbelief. Suddenly, she noticed her clothes. She was in hospital garb. She burst into tears.

“Inspector, what happened to my clothes? These are not mine. What happened yesterday?”

“We are still investigating. But, you were found with your clothes torn. It was a rape attempt for sure. But, luckily the would-be rapist never did anything.”

Darsha continued sobbing.

“But, madam-ji there is still something puzzling me. The person who brought you to the hospital was the same stalker you had complained about. Since you had already lodged a complaint against him, I arrested him and put him in the lock-up. However, his statement was that he found you in a black BMW and saved you from the driver who was the would-be rapist. However, he could not see the face of the man clearly, nor did he see the license plate number. He said that he beat up that man, picked you up and brought you straight to the hospital. Do you have any idea about a black BMW?”

Tears continued flowing down Darsha’s cheeks. She thought about a black BMW. The only one she knew about belonged to Sharad, and there was no way he would be involved in something convoluted like this.

“No Inspector, I have no idea.”

 

 

 

Image Credits: https://wallpaperscraft.ru/image/bmw_m6_dark_knight_chernyj_les_tuman_perednij_bamper_100117_1440x900.jpg

Stalker – Part 1

Darsha parked her scooter and began walking up the stairs leading to her office lobby. She looked around, and sure enough, she found the blue motorcycle parked at the base of the stairs. She hurried before its owner made his reappearance. However, she was too late. It was almost as if he was hiding behind the bike to catch a glimpse of Darsha. He smiled slightly at her. She would not have been able to tell even if it was a wide smile. His out of print beard covered his lips. Before he could utter a whisper, Darsha strode into the lobby.

Darsha did not know what she hated more, the guy himself or his guts. She had made it clear to him that she had no interest in him by ignoring him. He had refused to take a hint and had continued to stalk her. She had warned him about going to the police. He continued stalking her. She had gone to the police and complained. However, the police had neither managed to catch him nor had their fear managed to stop his stalking. Darsha did not know if it was the inefficiency or the blasé attitude of the police that had allowed the stalking to continue.

Lost in her thoughts, Darsha abruptly realized she had already reached her cubicle. She sighed as she kept down her purse, adjusted her chair and sank down into it. She opened her emails and realized she had a tonne of work for the day. Darsha peeped over her desk to savor the view before she dived into her pile of mental drudgery. Darsha was eyeing Mr. Sharad Patel. She had a crush on him and in her opinion it was quite justified. He possessed all the ideal qualities she looked for in a man. He was always smartly dressed, measured in his behavior, charming, she could go on and on and with the reasons she found him attractive. She knew it was only a crush and was happy to keep it that way. She was clear that she never wanted anything more from it. Sharad caught her peeping and smiled at her. Darsha quickly ducked back inside her cubicle. Her cubicle was not spacious, but it provided cover from all the gazes in the office. Being one of the few female employees made it worse than usual. Sharad’s smile was never unwelcome, but she had no time to indulge in light flirting, which is what followed his smiles. She just had too much work.

 

Darsha stretched her back and looked around. It had been many long hours. She had not even left her cubicle for lunch, opting to order in. The office seemed empty. It had to be since it was already 11 pm. She saved her work and shut down her workstation. She figured she would go home and have dinner. She packed her stuff, grabbed her purse and walked towards the elevator. As she reached the office door, she noticed Sharad’s cabin still had lights on. He must have been working late too. Indeed, he was dedicated. Darsha caught herself before she got lost in any more thoughts. Darsha walked to where her scooter was parked. She quickly glanced behind her back to see if the blue motorcycle was anywhere close by. It wasn’t there. Darsha gunned her scooter in the direction of her apartment.

She felt too tired as she hit the highway. All she hoped for was reaching her house fast, hitting the shower and getting a warm meal inside her. However, her hopes were dashed. Her scooter sputtered to a halt. She looked around. Her scooter had chosen to stall at the most desolate part of the highway. There was no soul in sight. She fished her mobile out of her purse and called her flat mate. No network, her phone read. Darsha decided to wait under the streetlight. She prayed for her signal to return or at least that a friendly person would pass by. As she checked her mobile again for signal, Darsha heard something moving towards her.

With no signal and no means of transport, Darsha had nowhere to go.

 

Image Credits: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/BcT8hZt-BLA/hqdefault.jpg

Signature

I sat back in my chair, massaging my temples. I was tense. It was an important decision for me, one that would shape my future. The source of my tension was sitting on the table in front of me – a piece of paper, the custodian of my coming years.

“All it needs is your signature on it.”

The voice belonged to the man sitting across me. His voice was deep but smooth, authoritative as well as charming at the same time. Dressed in a dapper black suit and red shirt, he sat back in his plush armchair. One of his hands clutched a glass of scotch, which he gingerly sipped from time to time. His other hand toyed with a Gurkha cigar. His entire attire boasted of opulence. He leaned in towards me. His flawless face looked all the more ethereal when the table lamp’s light shone on his face. His deep black eyes looked into mine. He reiterated his statement.

“All it needs is your signature on it. Then, you are sorted.”

His statement had merit. Mr. Olbaid was the top talent manager in the world, the very best. The fact that he had found me worthy of making an offer to, was proof of my talent. As a struggling musician, all that mattered to me, was being recognized. I wanted it all – money, glamour and most of all – the fame. I wanted millions of fans lining up to see me, thronging around me, asking me for autographs. I wanted the world to know me as the greatest musician that ever lived. This paper was the path to all that. Mr. Olbaid could make it all possible. His voice cut my thoughts.

“Dina, my darling. This is a once in a lifetime offer, I gather you recognize that. You have hunger within you, a real desire to be the best. I like that. That is what got you my offer. Do you really want to remain a struggling musician for the rest of your life? You have talent. However, talent is not enough to get you what you want. Sure, you could refuse my offer and try your hand at working hard. I am sure you will get success. But when? After you are old and wrinkly? When you have no time to enjoy your fame? I am offering you a chance to become a shining star, right now. Do you not want to take the chance? I am a patient man, Dina. But, we have been sitting here for more than a couple of hours. I have smoked through four cigars and almost finished my scotch. I am starting to think that your desire is not strong enough to sign.”

Had it been that long already? It was hard to tell the time in this room. It was decorated with antiques and memorabilia – Byzantine Armor here, Hitler’s pistol there. The dark room housed items used by musicians -all artists managed by Mr. Olbaid and his associates. The only time-keeping device in the room rested on my host’s right wrist. It seemed as though it was just five minutes ago that I entered the room, shook Mr. Olbaid’s cold hand, sat down in the plush armchair and gazed upon the contractual paper.

This whole opportunity felt like a dream to me. It was only yesterday that I was performing at the seedy club near my place, performing for an audience of drunkards ogling away at me. I did not mind the attention. However, this sort of attention was not what I would call success. After my performance, a man dressed in black approached me. He introduced himself as Mr. Olbaid and explained what he did. We set up a meeting for today and went our way. I decided to run a google check on him. I found a website. The homepage had Mr. Olbaid and Associates written in large, bold letters that covered the entire screen of my mobile. There was only two other lines written on the page –

You do not contact us, we contact you. If you are worthy, we will find you.

It was impressive and creepy at the same time. Trusting my instincts, I decided to go for the meeting. I had nothing to lose, no body to answer to. Now, as I was sitting across Mr. Olbaid, the same statement rung in my mind. I had nothing to lose. I moved my hand towards the paper. Mr. Olbaid smiled, withdrew a pen from his jacket and offered it to me.

“Please use this pen. You see it has a permanent sort of ink. You can call it a ceremony we follow here.”

I stretched my arm and accepted the pen. It was sleek to hold. I uncapped it, and gazed upon the golden nib. It had some sort of inscription on it, not that I could make head or tail of the red words. I held the pen in my fingers and signed on the paper. The ink was red – blood red. I felt an intense burning on my forehead, as if something sharp had scratched it.

“Good, very good. That was a fine decision, Dina. You will find that you will achieve all your dreams with us. Tomorrow is your sweet sixteen birthday, and starting tomorrow you will begin your new life of glamour and success. As I promised, you will have your eleven years of stardom and eternal fame. And as you promised, you are bound to us forever. Enjoy your life, Dina. Goodbye!”

 

 

The significance of the 11 years : 27 Club

Image source: https://www.videoblocks.com/video/signed-contract-document-hvkpwld

The Pain

I waited impatiently on my bike at the signal, waiting for it to turn green. It had been a long day for me. I had woken up early, prepared breakfast for my daughter and helped her get ready. Then I had dropped my little angel to school and had rushed back home. I prepared lunch for my wife and had then sped to the hospital to meet her.  Having spent time with her, feeding her lunch, rejoicing in the few words she could muster the strength to utter, I had left the hospital. I had to pick up my darling daughter from school.

The signal finally turned green, and I gunned the accelerator. No sooner had I cleared the signal than my eyes fell upon a ragged man standing at the edge of the road, signaling for a lift. I slowed down and brought my bike to a halt a few steps away from the man. He was well dressed in a fashionable denim jacket. However, in contrast to his colorful attire, his body looked thin and his face looked pale. The beard was sharply trimmed, but his eyes were dull and sunken. He looked sick. I looked at him and called out –

“Where do you need a lift to?”

He barely whispered back.

“Where are you going?”

It was a weird response.

“I’m going to St. Carmel’s School. There is a hospital nearby. Do you want me to drop you en route?”

He smiled at me.

“Sure, that would be great.”

I restarted my bike as he climbed on behind me. His reply did not sit right with me. He had smiled, but his voice had no hint of joy in it. I credited that to the fact that he was feeling under the weather. As soon as he settled behind me, I accelerated on to the road. I could feel his breath on my neck. It made me uneasy. I decided to start a conversation to ease my mood. However, before I could say anything, I heard a whisper.

“Thanks a lot for giving me a lift. I was waiting for quite a while.”

“No problem! I think people should help each other out.”

I waited for him to say something. All I got in response was some more cavernous breathing. I chose to ignore him for the time being. It was just another ten minutes. After a minute of trying to ignore him, I heard him whispering to me.

“Hmmm! So, why are you going to St. Carmel’s School?”

“I have to pick up my daughter from school.”

“Oh, nice! How old is she?”

“Aliya is ten years old. What about you, do you have any children?”

“I have no family. It is just me. It has always been just me.”

I felt sorry for him, but I could not detect any sorrow in his voice. He may have grown apathetic towards his condition over the years. So, I thought it best to avoid conversing about this matter. However, he did not seem to think so. He continued to interview me.

“What about your wife? What does she do?”

“Well, my wife is not in the best of health. She has been unwell and has been receiving treatment. The doctors are positive she will make it.”

“Nice. It is always so important to have people around you, no?”

“Yes…”

“People who support you, depend on you. People who are affected by what happens to you.”

It seemed like he was talking to himself. I did not interrupt. He continued his monologue.

“You need people around you to share your sorrows with. Am I not right, mister..?”

“Sunil. And you are right. You do need people to around you to share your pains and sorrows with.”

The pale man chuckled.

“I am glad you agree with me. I see the hospital is here. You can drop me off right here.”

I brought the bike to a halt next to the pavement.

“Good luck. I hope you feel better soon.”

As he got down from the bike, I felt a slight prick on the back of my arm. I assumed it was the man’s nails. He got off and waved at me. The joyless smile made its reappearance.

“Yes, I feel much better now. I feel as if I’ve passed on my pain to you. It is a good feeling.”

I waved back at him and rode away towards St. Carmel’s.

 

The next morning I woke up and as per my daily ritual, visited the washroom for a face wash. I felt an intense itching feeling at the back of my arm, where I had felt the prick. I checked the mirror. I was shocked to see blood at the spot where I had scratched. I decided to get it checked while visiting my wife. I turned on the morning news. The sullen faced anchor was reading soberly off the teleprompter.

Viewers who travel by two-wheelers, are advised not to offer rides to any hitchhikers they may come across. The police have received multiple complaints regarding pin-prick AIDS attacks initiated by a pale hitchhiker. Any suspicious activity should be reported at the nearest police station.

I slumped back into my sofa. The pale man had meant what he had said.

 

He had passed on his pain to me.