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Mystery Blogger Award Nomination

I have been nominated for this award by: Tales from the mind of Kristian and MutedMouthful.

Head over to their blogs for a bunch of nice reads! 😀

This was my first ever nomination on WordPress. Thank You, you two! 😀

I really do apologize for such a late response.

 

About the award: “The Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

Okoto Enigma

 

On to The Rules (which are meant to be bended and broken):

1) Thank whoever nominated you and include link to their blog (Aye Aye)

2) Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well (Aye Aye)

3) Tell your readers 3 things about yourself (Uh huh..things other than the stories I tell)

4) Answer the questions from the person who nominated you (Gonna take on the combined ten questions! )

5) Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award.  (Wow! That’s a huge number indeed. Will cut that short.)

6) Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice with one weird or funny one (That’s a lot of questions!)

7) Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog (Aye Aye)

 

Three Things About Me:

1) I love soup. I can have any soup at any time of the day, or night! 🙂 If you have any stories revolving around soup, I definitely want to read them!

2) I love playing football!

3) I am obsessed with Star Wars!!

 

Q & A:

1) What has been the most unexpected benefit you’ve found in Blogging?

The community support. Not just compliments and suggestions, but the active participation at creating and answering prompts are all amazing things that let me evolve continuously along with the community.

2) What type of jokes do you find funny? Tell one of your favourites.

Any kind of jokes. It is really easy to make me laugh most of the times. I am partial to Double entendres. Here is a funny joke I heard:

My dad sent me to a psychiatrist for wearing his bra again.

If you guys have any jokes or stories revolving around puns, again please share them with me.

3) Would you choose a holiday/vacation to a hot beach or a cool forest?

An island that has both – a hot beach and cool forest.

4) If you were stuck on a desert island, what book would you like to have with you?

I dunno if this comes across as a cliché, but I would love to have the book – Robinson Crusoe with me.

5) The Wolf.

 

1) What has been the highlight of your week so far?

Food! 😀 😀

2) What inspires you to write?

The power of words. They can transport you from your reality to a different one. I love writing to transport readers, making them imagine new things.

 

3) If you had to live underground for a month, how would you prepare?

Under the ground? Would probably need to develop night vision! XD

4) What is your favorite word?

Puggles! 😀

5) What is one of your favorite jokes or puns?

Heyyy! This one seems familiar. I’ll give you another funny one I know:

Sarah goes to school, and the teacher says, “Today we are going to learn multi-syllable words, class. Does anybody have an example of a multi-syllable word?” Sarah waves her hand, “Me, Miss Rogers, me, me!” Miss Rogers says, “All right, Sarah, what is your multi-syllable word?” Sarah says, “Mas-tur-bate.” Miss Rogers smiles and says, “Wow, Sarah, that’s a mouthful.” Sarah says, “No, Miss Rogers, you’re thinking of a blowjob.”

My nominees:

  1. https://kallistipassionandchaos.wordpress.com/
  2. https://lionaroundwriting.com/
  3. https://thinkingclearly483645316.wordpress.com/
  4. https://wideeyedwanderingspoonie.wordpress.com/

 

Questions to my nominees:

  1. If you could write only one novel in your lifetime, what would be the genre?
  2. Why and when did you start blogging?
  3. If you could have a drink with any fictional character, what drink would it be, which character, and why?

If any of you chooses not to respond to the nomination, absolutely no issue with that! 🙂

Cheers!

Happy Reading! 😀

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

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

Whodunit? Part-2

Bruce sat along with his guests in the living room. There was a deathly silence in the room. No one was uttering a word from their mouth. The guests’ eyes moved back and forth, trying to catch each other but trying to avoid Bruce’s piercing gaze. After Alfred had been declared dead, Bruce had activated the lockdown again. He had made it clear to his guests that no one was leaving until the murderer was caught. His guests had been wise not to protest. Bruce had led them to the living room and asked everyone to take a seat. He sat in his armchair and tried to decipher if his guests were involved in the death of Alfred just by looking at their faces. He soon realized this would not work and he decided to break the silence.

“Now, if any of you had any hand or even a finger in the murder of my butler, I want you to confess right now. I promise I will simply hand you over to the police. But, if I decipher it later, there will be no police and no justice. It will be just you and me, and nothing will stop me.”

L gave Bruce a smirk.

“Mr. Wayne, I understand how you must be feeling right now. But, you cannot hold us here as prisoners, you know.  I can make one call from my cellphone and have the cops come here.”

Bruce looked L straight in the eye.

“I knew that was a possibility, so I have already jammed your phones. You cannot have any contact with the outside world until the killer is caught.”

L held Bruce’s gaze evenly. Sherlock cleared his throat.

“Bruce, there was a lockdown that was initiated here previously this evening. Only you or Alfred could have initiated it, since there is no one else here. Definitely not one of us. Now, Alfred is dead and you would not have initiated a lockdown for no reason. So, we could continue being suspicious of each other or accept the possibility that there is another person in this house. The person because of whom the lockdown was initiated and the person who killed Alfred is still somewhere in this house, trapped with us.”

Shaggy laughed nervously and whispered to Scooby.

“More like, we are trapped here with him.”

Sherlock ignored the comment and addressed the detectives in the room.

“We are all under suspicion here, even you Mr. Wayne. Anyone could be an accomplice to the killer here, or maybe even the killer himself. So, if we work together, we can keep an eye on each other and solve the murder case as well. What say?”

Everyone nodded in agreement. Bruce got up from his place.

“Very well, we shall work together. But, since you know my secret I think we should all be on level ground here. I have been keeping a tab on all of you. Let me start with you Sherlock. Wasn’t Irene Adler just a red herring for Watson? You never wanted him to suspect that you had the hots for him and have been jealous of his wife.”

Sherlock turned a deep shade of red. Without waiting for a response, Bruce continued the expose.

“L, you have been known to aid various police departments in apprehending criminals by solving unsolvable cases. But, you also have cut a lot of deals with the criminals, keeping the truly dangerous ones hidden away, until a case carrying renown turns up, and only then you miraculously solve it and apprehend the ones you shielded yourself.”

L sank back into his chair, pinching hard on his lower lip and gazing into distance. Bruce turned towards Inspector Clousseau.

“Now, my French Inspector. You managed to prevent the robbery of the Pink Panther on multiple occasions, even managed to recover it several times. This made you a hero in the eyes of the French population. But, what they do not know is that it was not you who managed to pull off these feats. There were others who did the hard work, but you managed to steal their glory and take all the credit, taking harsh steps to silence the ones who did their duty.”

The French Inspector began fidgeting with his fingers and turned his eyes away from Bruce. Without stopping, Bruce turned to Shaggy and Scooby.

“You are both renowned paranormal investigators. You claim to see ghosts and communicate with them, this the general populace knows. But, do they know that these ghosts and apparitions you have claimed to see are actually hallucinations? Hallucinations caused by those Scooby Snacks you keep munching on.”

Shaggy and Scooby hugged each other as their shivering resumed. Satisfied with the effects his words had on his guests, Bruce got up from his seat.

“Now, I think we are all in a position to work together. Everyone knows each other’s secrets, so we now have leverage over everyone, and hopefully some trust as well. Let us study the crime scene, there are bound to be clues there.”

Everyone murmured in agreement. All the guests were shocked after listening to their hidden truths. With their masks torn off, they felt naked in the gaze of everyone. But, they found their courage in the fact that everyone was in the same boat, and the only way they could get out of this situation, was by working together. They made their way to the scene of the crime. Bruce was not wearing his bat-suit and knew he could not access it without leading the others to the bat cave. He realized he only had his raw-detective skills and smarts to depend on. His huge array of gadgets, save his scanner, were of no help here. Sherlock took the lead while entering the room. He hated other people defiling the crime scene. As he entered, he noticed the body was lying as it was, but there was something new at the crime scene. A page was lying next to Alfred. Sherlock gingerly picked it up, not to touch the dead body. He saw that the page had a note scribbled on it.

Greetings great Detectives,

I hope you are enjoying your evening in Wayne Manor. I wanted to join in on the fun. So, consider this dead old butler my invitation card to your party. Well, it is also a challenge. I am here in this very manor. Prove to me that you are indeed the greatest detectives alive (for now). You have the entire night to solve this challenge. Figure out who I am, and I shall concede defeat.

Yours Sincerely,

Chuckles

PS- Don’t let your guard down, that would be a fatal error.

PPS- Let me give you a hint – We have met.

 

Sherlock read out the message to the others and passed it around for everyone to read. While people took their turns reading and observing the note, others tried to find clues on and around the body. After looking around for a good fifteen minutes, the detectives decided to take a break. Inspector Clousseau wiped his brow with his handkerchief.

“Eet eez not pozzible. Zere waz no cloo we could find.”

Sherlock shook his head sideways.

“Gentlemen, I think we have been directing our efforts in the wrong direction. Clearly, the murderer is smart. He wants us to play the game his way and purposely left the note next to Alfred. That would mean there is a clue in that note.”

L held the note in one hand and pointed at it with the other.

“This name, Chuckles. Does it ring any bells?”

The Hill

Books have been called a great many things – best friends, keys to wisdom’s treasure and a great deal of other titles. This is because of their ability of fueling imaginations. They have a tendency to warp our sense of reality. But, what if books managed to warp reality itself? What if they took you to new places in earnest?

Being a typical Sunday afternoon, Jon was lazing around his house. Not really in a mood to go outdoors in the summer heat, he decided to indulge in his favorite past time – reading. Jon went to his room and opened up the drawers inside which his many books were neatly arranged. While going through his books and trying to pick one, he found a book he hadn’t seen before. Its tattered look and yellow pages told Jon that the book was rather old. The book had no title on it. Jon opened the book. Instead of a title page, the page had a very peculiar message on it.

Please place your finger on the symbol below. It will seal the bond between book and reader.

Jon scoffed at the message. He figured it must have been something of a trend in the older generations. He decided to play along. He placed his right index finger on the symbol. However, the second he did that he felt a static shock on his finger. He pulled back his hand in reflex and dropped the book. The slight shock on his finger soon transcended into a deep throbbing. His head began to hurt and his eyes began to lose focus. Jon started losing his center of balance and blacked out.

When Jon came to, he realized he was lying on something soft. He thought it was his bed. But, when his eyes gained focus, he realized he was lying on something green. He blinked several times, allowing clarity to return to his vision. He realized the green he was lying on, was actually grass. He got to his feet and brushed off the grass clinging to his body. He looked around and noticed that he was standing at the base of a grassy hill. He thought that he was dreaming, because the last thing he could remember was fainting in his bedroom. He tried willing himself to wake up, but it was to no avail. He then remembered the weird message on the book. He knew that something was fishy, but he had no information to work on. He decided to explore the area.  As he took a few steps forward, the sound of approaching people reached him. He hid behind the bushes. Peeping out, he spotted the approaching people. They turned out to be a pair – a guy and a lady. Their clothing was outlandish. Jon had seen this style of clothing in one of his encyclopedias. It was common clothing during the medieval times. Jon decided to tail the pair. He could barely listen to what they were discussing. The accent was heavy, but he could make out what they were saying. The pair was a married couple. The wife was carrying an empty pail and the husband was carrying a hunting dagger, tucked in his waistband. The wife was complaining about climbing the hill.

“Why did you suddenly want to go on a walk together today? Did the deer you chase around every day, finally get tired of you?”

“Hahahaha! I just wanted to spend some time with my lovely wife. Did you have any other plans?”

“No! Nothing like that. I love spending time with you. I just don’t get why you want to go to the top of the hill right now?”

“It is an ideal spot. Besides, we need to get water too, we are almost out.”

“Very well, but let us not speak while climbing up. It is too tedious.”

The husband guffawed but remained silent. I followed them, making sure my presence went unnoticed.

After a climb of ten minutes, they finally reached the top. The top of the hill was quite rocky, unlike the grassy sides of the hill. At the center of the hill was well. The couple approached the well. Jon hid behind a small bush. He had to crouch low in order to conceal his presence. The wife placed the pail near the well.

“Now, why don’t you draw the water out?”

“Now my dear, what is the hurry? Let us enjoy our time. So, tell me. What are you usually up to when I am gone on my long hunting trips?”

“Well, I tend to our cattle, complete the daily chores, have a chat with my friends, ….”

“…and fool around with mine? Sleep with them?”

Her husband’s statement had clearly shocked the lady. Jon could feel her voice tremor.

“What are you saying, dear?”

“Stop playing dumb. Do you think I wouldn’t find out?”

Growling these words, the man drew his knife. The wife started backing away. With the large knife held in his left hand, the man rushed forward. The woman screamed, but no sound escaped her mouth, for the moment she had opened it, her head had been cut clean off her shoulders. Her head fell down, rolled and stopped near the bush Jon was hiding behind. He could see her wide eyes and open mouth clearly now. He stuffed his hand into his mouth, to avoid making any sound. The hunter had picked up the body of his wife which was still gushing blood. He dropped the body in the well. As Jon heard the splash, he realized the husband was walking towards him to retrieve the head of his wife. Jon’s heart began to pound as the man got closer to the bush. As the man bent to pick up the head, Jon felt as if his heart would give in explode inside his chest. However, nothing of that sort happened and the hunter started walking back to the well, head in hand. When he had reached about halfway, Jon felt that similar tingling in his right index finger. It soon turned into a shock and Jon gasped. The gasp was pretty audible. The hunter turned and his eyes narrowed down on the source of the sound. Jon broke cover and started backing away towards the edge of the hill. The hunter held the head in his right arm and his knife in the left. He charged at Jon, determined to end the witness to his heinous act. Jon’s head was already throbbing. His body had stopped responding. As he saw the hunter get closer, Jon gave up all hope. Groggy-headed, he watched the hunter trip on his own feet near the edge of the hill. The hunter fell down and hit his head on a rock, splitting his head open. Due to the motion of his fall, he continued tumbling down the hill. The head of his wife had fallen out of his hand when he had tripped. It started rolling down the hill as well, following her husband. Upon seeing this, Jon’s eyes closed as he blacked out for the second time in the same day.

Jon woke up to find himself in familiar surroundings of his room. His head was still throbbing, but it was quite mild. He noticed the book lying open, next to him on the floor. The page read

 

 

 

…..And Jill came tumbling after!

 

Image credits:  https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-3473861-stock-footage-aerial-shot-of-antelope-running-on-grassy-hill.html

Insane

“Minnow’s Home for the Mentally Challenged.”

I read from the board put up next to the main gate. Yes, this was it. I was at the right place. I pushed the gate open and went inside the building. I made my way to the reception desk. The place was too quiet. I smiled at the receptionist, who smiled back at me.

“May I help you, sir?”

I told her I had an appointment with Dr. Schmith. She nodded and proceeded to make a few clicks on her laptop.

“Yes, sir. Go straight down the hallway, fourth room to your left, room 101. The doctor will be with you shortly.”

I thanked her and made my way down the hallway. The receptionist had deep blue eyes. They reminded me of Sue. I counted the lefts in the hallway. Four. Yes, here it was – room 101. I entered the room. The room had light azure walls with wooden flooring and light green couches arranged near the side opposite the door. I sat myself down in one of the couches. This place was exactly like my friend had described to me. Minnow’s was a private institution that housed mentally challenged persons and provided treatment. They also provided psychological counseling and therapy sessions. That was precisely why I was here. I needed someone to look into the inner workings of my mind, and oil the cogs that made it function. As I sat in the couch looking around at the room, I heard the door swing open. I turned around to see a man in a white coat enter the room. He had beads of sweat running down his red face. He smiled at me and closed the door behind him.

“Hello, Mr. ?”

“Jones. Good to see you, Dr. Schmith.”

“Very well, Mr. Jones. Sorry, for the delay. I was rushing about today. Too many tasks at hand.”

I told him it was not an issue. Dr. Schmith sat down in the couch next to mine and furnished a handkerchief from his coat. Wiping the sweat off his brow, he peered at me.

“Tell me now Mr. Jones, what has been bothering you?”

I ran my hand through my unkempt hair. People say that I do it all the time while talking. Sort of a habit, I guess. I told Dr. Schmith what was on my mind. How the last couple of months had been horrible for me. I told him how my wife, Sue, had walked out on me to be with some other man. How she had told me that she did not love me anymore and that she wanted nothing to do with me. I told him how those words kept playing in my mind, all day and all night. I told him about me losing my job because of the economic conditions of the market. How my company had fired me right after Sue left me. I told him about how I needed alcohol in me before I slept, just so that I could drown my own thoughts in it. I told him how I felt I was in a deep dark hole that kept getting deeper and deeper every day. I felt depressed and I feared that I was going insane. I told him that I needed help and maybe I ought to get myself admitted to Minnow’s.

By the time I was done my eyes had gone red, matching my flushed cheeks, and a trail of water lined my face. Dr. Schmith handed me a tissue. I accepted it and wiped my face clean. The doctor softened his voice as he spoke to me.

“Mr. Jones, take a deep breath.”

I did what he said.

“Now, listen to me. I understand what you are going through. The pain you feel, the sorrow that is clutching at you, I understand all of it. But, you must understand, all of this you feel, the dark hole you are in, it is all something you have created in your mind. Emotions are the things that make us human, but if you let them rule your mind, you are no better than an animal. Life is unfair, Mr. Jones. That’s the cold hard truth. Let me tell you about Timothy. Now, Timothy is one of the patients here. He was declared insane by the court around a decade ago and was admitted here for treatment. He responded well to the treatment and was let out around eight years ago. However, he realized that everyone’s attitude towards him had changed. He could not take it and he flipped out. He was brought back here to continue his treatment. But, it soon dawned upon him, that the deep, dark hole that was in his mind had physically manifested itself into his reality. Minnow’s Home for the mentally challenged had become his hole.”

Dr. Schmith paused and cleared his throat.

“You, Mr. Jones do not have to make the hole a reality. All you need is to light up the hole you are in, and soon a ladder will find its way to you. You are young, and have many good years ahead of you. Hang in there and you will find the light. Why are you afraid of the insanity, Mr. Jones? It is the ladder that takes you out of your hole.”

The doctor’s words comforted me. I felt confidence enter my system. I smiled at the doctor and extended my hand towards him.

“Thank you, doctor. You -“

Crash. The door had swung open yet again. Five men in white coats rushed in and ran towards us. Dr. Schmith got up from the couch and backed up against the wall. The five men went straight for him and tried to hold him down. After securing his limbs and mouth, a sixth man was called for. He rushed in, syringe in hand and swiftly injected it in Dr. Schmith’s arm. The five men proceeded to carry the doctor out of the room.

I was standing with my mouth open, unable to register the entire scene. The sixth man approached me.

“Sir, are you alright?”

I blinked at him.

“Sir, the man you were in the room with, was no doctor. He’s a patient at this institution, a guy named Timothy. He often dresses up like a doctor and roams around, talking to anyone he can find. I am Dr. Schmith, I treat him.”

Timothy. I mouthed back at the doctor.

“Yes, sir. I can see that the experience might have been intensive. Are you alright?”

“Yes, now I am completely alright.”

I smiled at the doctor and turned towards the door. As I made my way outside the front gate, I looked back at the board – Minnow’s Home for the Mentally Challenged and smiled at myself shaking my head.

Maybe it’s not bad to be insane, after all. The light in the deep, dark hole – Insanity.

 

Image credits:  http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/dam/assets/150130155738-millionaires-get-depressed-780×439.jpg

Jingle

It was a pleasant evening and the town market was bursting with boisterous activity. The townsfolk were enjoying their evening in the market- shopping, chatting, and simply relishing the good weather. Amongst this hustle and bustle, a blind beggar made his way to the center of the market.

The aged-blind beggar navigated through the crowded streets using his stick as a guide. Reaching the market-center, he placed the sack he was carrying, on the ground. Feeling the knot, and opening it with his everyday experience, he withdrew a box and a flute from the worn-out sack. He placed the box on the ground and took his place behind it. Breathing in, he touched the old-wooden flute to his lips and began playing. He began playing a melodious tune, which targeted the attention of the townsfolk. As the music reached their ears, most people began noticing the tune and they quieted down to make sure they could listen to the tune well. Soon, a throng of people formed around the blind-man, listening to what his flute was saying. The old man continued playing to the best of his ability, after all his daily bread depended on this. People placed coins in the box, appreciating the tune that was being played. However, the jingle of coins soon stopped reaching the ears of blind beggar. Not being a professional musician, his knowledge regarding music and the tunes he could play, were limited. He hastily switched to another tune he knew, not wanting to lose his chance to have a hot meal.

Pablo neared the market-center. He had spotted a huge crowd of people gathered, and decided to check out what was happening. As he reached the center, a rustic tune hit his ears. He stood his ground and listened intently to it. He realized that the person playing the flute was a simple amateur. He thought this would be a good opportunity to showcase his skills to the townsfolk. He opened his violin case and withdrew his maple-made violin. The brown violin gleamed in the waning sunlight. Placing his case on the ground, he positioned his violin on his shoulder. He exhaled letting the tension from his shoulders slide. Gripping the bow with his slender fingers, he began moving it across the violin’s strings. The mellifluous sounds that were produced were a testimony to Pablo’s skills. The haunting tune coming from the violin soon drowned out the flute’s desperate consonance. The crowd started moving towards Pablo, their ears seduced by him.

The blind beggar stopped playing. He focused on the sweet- sounds coming from across him. After listening for a couple of minutes, he knew he was thoroughly outclassed, and there was no chance of competing with a person of this caliber. His hands dropped in disappointment and head drooped, he allowed the stream of tears that had been swelling inside him to burst out. He sobbed uncontrollably. It was to be yet another hungry night, he thought to himself. As he listened to the steadily increasing tempo of the violin’s tune, he felt anger and sorrow increasing within him. He gripped his flute tightly as he allowed his mind to drift into its memories. The fondest memories of learning to play the flute as a child, laughing gleefully at every little sound that he managed to produce. His mind drifted farther into the darker side – the tumble he had taken from the roof as a young man, landing face first on the ground. He rued that wretched incident that had taken his eyesight away. The blind man stood all alone, surrounded by despair.

Pablo was enjoying the attention from the crowd around him. The crowd had shown great appreciation for the music-maestro as well, filling up his violin case with coins. Pablo decided to finish of his performance with finesse. Steadily increasing the tempo of his tune, he suddenly dropped it to a soft and soothing tune, marking the end of his musical performance. He was greeted with a thunderous applause. Pablo bowed, grinning from ear-to-ear. He loved it when his music was thoroughly enjoyed by the people. After the people had finished clapping and congratulating him, the crowd started clearing up. It was early-night now, and supper time was upon the townsfolk. As the crowd thinned, Pablo noticed a lonesome figure standing still across him, flute-in-hand.

The blind-beggar had noticed the music stopping and had heard the applause and cheers coming from the crowd. He agreed that the brilliant piece of music deserved all of that, but at the same time it dejected him knowing that he was clearly no match. The violin player had come out of nowhere and had stolen the crowd. The old man felt contempt towards him, a pure hatred. Wiping the dampness from his face, the beggar bent down and felt the coins that were present in his box. Seven coins, he counted. That was enough for one bowl of hot soup. He knew that one bowl had to suffice, his cold body needed it. He put his flute away and bent down to lift the box. Just as he had bent, a sudden jingle of coins reached his ears. He traced them to his box. The blind man stood bewildered. As soon as the jingling stopped, a steady tune was heard by the beggar, a violin’s tune. Tears began rolling down the cheeks of the old man as the tune grew softer and softer, trailing into the moonlit town.

Image source –  http://archive.thedailystar.net/beta2/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/COUNTRY-61.jpg

Repentance

The airport transit area- a familiar setting for me. I am a frequent flyer. My job requires me to go out of town at least once every week. It may sound tedious but I really do enjoy travelling and especially flying. There is something about being so high in the sky that gives me a thrilling joy. The wait in the transit area can get pretty long. But I have learnt to while away time by conversing with passengers. I have met and talked to many-a-character over the years. But none who were like him.

It had been a couple of years back. I saw him sitting alone, quite away from the crowd. He was looking at the floor the entire time seeming to be deep in thought. From his appearance he seemed like a man not from my own country, but then again the world has shrunk, so I did not know that for sure. But I did know that he seemed to be deep in thought. Something was clearly bothering him. I decided to go sit next to him. Now, quite-a-few people have said that I am nosy and don’t mind my own business. I beg to differ- I like to know about the other businessmen out there. So, I decided to strike a conversation with this troubled soul.

‘Hey. That’s a nice watch you have there.’

He grunted.

I decided to push on-

‘I couldn’t help but notice something seems to be bothering you.  Is it so? ‘

He looked at me with eyes full of gloom.

‘Yes. Something is bothering me. The wrath of God looms over me. I have done a horrendous thing. I do not think there is any salvation possible for me. No forgiveness. ‘

I was taken aback. The sudden outburst of sorrow instantly kicked in my damage-control instincts. I started consoling him.

‘Hey, don’t worry. I’m sure God almighty will forgive you. I do not think that you will be judged so harshly. God loves everyone.’

He said, looking down to the floor again-

‘No, after what I have done, all love will be lost for me. I repent my deeds.’

I was about to say more to him but a sudden increase in the television’s volume interrupted me. I turned my attention to the TV. A breaking-news was flashing on the screen-

“St. Mary High School Bombed. 495 killed.”

After looking at the dreadful images flashing on screen, a mixture of sorrow and rage filled me. I turned towards him and said-

‘Terrorists. They are truly pieces of shit who don’t deserve to live.’

Without giving me a glance, he said to me in a soft voice-

‘Yes. I know.’

Image source – http://sandiegolimoservicesignature.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/san-diego-airport-limo-service.jpg

Dinner

It was a habitual night at the Nath family’s high-rise apartment. It was 9 pm, almost dinner-time. Mr. Nath sat comfortably on his couch, reading the sports page of one of the many newspapers delivered at their house. Mrs. Nath was in the kitchen, making sure the food was warm enough. Ojas was sprawled on his bed, peering into his mobile phone and making sure his fingers received their daily dose of strenuous exercise.

“Dinner is ready” Mrs. Nath bellowed from the kitchen.

Ojas was the first to reach the kitchen. Spotting the golden fried prawns, he quickly grabbed a plate and piled on as many prawns as he could on his plate. He picked up a couple of slices of cucumber and lettuce and started to make his way back to his bedroom, his very own bat-cave.

“Where do you think you are going mister? Aren’t you forgetting something?” Mrs. Nath asked her teenage son, blocking his path.

“No mom. See, I even took vegetables so that you don’t make a fuss.” Ojas said, trying to sound as earnest as possible.

“Did me a huge favor by eating them.” Mrs. Nath said, her words dripping of sarcasm.  “Today is Friday young man, our weekly family-dinner night.”

“Oh damn. Alright, to the dining table it is.” Ojas said, as he stomped his way to the dining table.

Ojas picked the middle chair. His mother sat to his left and his father took the chair to his right.

“Mmm! Anita, the prawns smell wonderful.” Mr. Nath said, his eyes eyeing the juicy prawns in his plate from behind his glasses.

“Thank you, Sujat.” Mrs. Nath said, beaming.

Over the years, her culinary skills had become her sole source of the compliments that she received from her husband.

“Okay, now I think we should all tell each other how today went for us. You know, a nice conversation.” Mrs. Nath asserted.

Ojas and Mr. Nath looked at each other. They were both men of few words. But, they knew there was no escaping this weekly-dinner conversation, or there would be hell to pay. Ojas nodded his head. His mouth was too full of prawns to manage any reply in words.

“Brilliant. Ojas, why don’t you tell us how your day went? And for heaven’s sake, eat like a civilized human and not a nomadic barbarian.” Mr. Nath said looking at his son and offering him a glass of water to wash down the food in his mouth.

Having swallowed the mouthful, Ojas wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Ojas started his day’s tale.

“Well, okay. My day was normal, you know. I got up- “

“Late” Interjected his parents.

“Well yea, but I did wake up earlier than yesterday. Anyway, I ran to college since I was late. The lectures were normal. Did the same old shit, differentiation-integration all that blah. Then you know, my class bunked and we went and played football at the college ground. It was kick-ass. I scored two goals. Then, post my lunch break, we had free lectures. Apparently my class-teacher Mrs. Desai left during the lunch break. You know, that Mrs. Desai you guys had met in the last parent-teacher’s meeting.”

“Umm, I don’t really recall her, but okay.” Mr. Nath said, adjusting his glasses.

“I remember her. Sweet lady. Okay, go on Ojas.” Mrs. Nath said.

Ojas resumed his tale.

“So yea, she left early for some reason and when she came back after one free period, she seemed to be in a great mood. So, she gave us the rest of the day off. I decided to come home and take the car for a spin with my friends. But, I saw no lights in the house. Mom usually leaves them switched on because it gets dark so early. Had you gone out or something, mom?”

“Yes. I had to buy a few things. You know, for making the prawns.” Mrs. Nath said quickly.

“Ah, well. So anyways, I did not even see our driver, Kailash kaka near the car, so I used the car keys I had and took the car out. I met with a couple of my friends and we took a long drive. Then I dropped them home and came home. Ta-da! End of tale.”

“Okay, looks like you had a fun day. My turn now.”Mrs. Nath said, placing her fork on her empty plate.

“My day was fairly normal too. It began with me getting up and preparing tea and breakfast. Then I saw you both off. After that, I started my preparation for dinner. I had my early lunch while watching my favorite show- Broken Hearts- “

Mr. Nath and Ojas sniggered. Mrs. Nath shot them a killer glance. Both of them fell instantly silent. She continued her tale.

“After that, I called you during your lunch hour, on your cell.” She said looking at Mr. Nath. “But, you didn’t pick up. So I called your office up and they said you had left office. “

“Well, I had a meeting. So I left office early, slightly before lunch time and did not answer my call because I was in the meeting.” Mr. Nath said, and proceeded to gulp down the contents of his glass.

“Oh, okay. So, after that I went shopping. Like I said, there were a few things I needed to buy. I needed beer for making the batter. But, I could find only one bottle. I’m sure there were two yesterday.”

Ojas swept his palms through his hair.

“So, you went to buy beer, mom? “

“Yes. I went to buy a bottle, just in case. Then I came home and started frying the prawns. They turned out really well though. I’m happy you liked them so much.”

“Yes, they were really amazing.” Mr. Nath said, giving a broad grin which he reserved only for the rarest of occasions.

He began his day’s narrative.

“After all the daily morning rituals, I left for office. The roads were lovely today. No traffic. I sorted a few files in the office, nothing much. Then I left for my meeting before lunch.”

“How did it go, dad?” asked Ojas.

“It went really well. The second party was very pleased with what I had to offer.” Mr. Nath said, scratching his beard. “ So then, after the meeting I called you, Anita. But your phone was picked up by Kailash-“

“Yes. I had taken him along to carry stuff and had handed my phone over to him while I was looking at stuff.” Mrs. Nath interjected.

“Oh! That is why he wasn’t near the car. You guys must have gone walking.” Ojas said.

“Bingo. I needed some exercise. Haha.” Mrs. Nath said, brushing aside her hair from her brow.

“Right. So then I got back home. Oh yea, I fired Kailash today.” Mr. Nath said.

“Why?” asked mother and son in unison.

“I found cigarettes in our garage today, around the car.”

Ojas coughed and quickly reached for the bottle of water.

Mr. Nath continued.

“So, I went and confronted Kailash. He seemed strangely guilty even before I broached the topic of cigarettes. He directly started apologizing. But, I know his kind of people does not improve. So, I fired him there right there.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Mrs. Nath in a soft tone.

“That is dinner done then. You guys clean up the table. I’ll get the dishes done.”

Just a regular family-dinner for the Nath family.

Sea of Blood 4

Edwards untied Alain from the bed. He went towards the door and opened it. He looked at his first-mate, Gracht, who had been waiting outside after knocking on the cabin door. On seeing Alain standing behind Edwards, he looked at Edwards quizzically.

“Mr. Gracht, I fear this is no reef that we have hit. Send word to the crew, to get ready for battle. “, said Edwards, giving no explanation about Alain’s presence.

Gracht showed a hint of surprise on his face. But being the loyal first-mate that he was, he did not question his Captain further. He turned and made his way to the deck.

“Alain, let’s go check up on our friend Jach shall we?”- said Edwards, turning towards Alain.

Alain nodded in agreement. They made their way towards Jach’s room. Edwards drew his flintlock as they approached the door. Edwards knocked on the door.

“Jach, are you in there?”

Edwards got no response. He knocked again.

A crew member ran up to Edwards and Alain.

“Sir, Mr. Gracht needs you on the deck.” He said with a sense of urgency.

“We will be there shortly. “, responded Edwards.

He quickly added –

“Have you seen Mr. Jach by any chance?”

“Yes, he is on deck with the rest of the crew.”

Edwards and Alain looked at each other and followed the crewman hastily to the deck. Sure enough, they spotted Jach. He was looking towards the sea. To Edwards, it looked as if Jach almost knew this was coming. His face showed no surprise or fear, unlike the other members of the crew. Jach noticed the captain and Alain walking towards him.

“Ah, captain, I was looking for you. Where were you? “

Removing his flintlock, Edwards aimed it Jach’s face.

“Stow it Jach. I am onto your game.”

Jach seemed surprised.

“Game, what game? Captain, I don’t understand what you are talking about.”

The crewmen grew alert to the situation. Gracht came up behind his captain.

“Captain, what are your orders?”

“Get two men to guard him, right now.”

Gracht motioned to two crewmen standing behind Jach. The moved up next to him, one on each side and held him by his arms.

The ship began quaking again. Edwards addressed his crew.

“Men, we have braved many perils together. It is another peril that we must face right now. In a few moments there are things that are going to attack us. People that dwell in the sea. They are going to be here for blood. I say let’s give it to them. Let us make these waters a sea of their blood. Draw weapons. “

Roused by the words of their captain, the crewmen drew their weapons. Rusted cutlasses, fish pikes, and flintlocks were their weapons of choice. They were all fishermen by profession, but every last one of them, had been tested in battle before. They were no strangers to battles.

Edwards aimed his flintlock at Jach again.

“Mr. Jach, Alain has told me everything about your kind.”

Jach’s face showed genuine surprise.

Edwards continued-

“Now tell me. What have your people got to do with me? Why am I a part of this equation?”

Jach continued looking surprised.

“I really do not understand this question Captain Edwards. What are you talking about?”

Edwards’ face developed a stern look.

“Do not play dumb with me. All your friends from underwater have plans. What are they? Alain told me there is a plan.”

Jach’s face turned pale.

“Alain told you.”

He looked at Alain.

“I get it now. You are with them. You were spying on me. Weren’t you?”

Alain smiled coldly.

“Yes, I was. Captain Edwards, let me kill him now. Before the others arrive.”

Edwards steadied his aim.

“Now Mr Jach, tell me the truth.”

Jach gulped.

“Captain, believe me. I do not know what he is talking about. I only wanted to get to Veluise Islands, which is why I decided to come along with you. In fact, I did not even know the directions. Alain gave them to me.”

It was now Edwards turn to look surprised. He turned around to see a shocked expression on Gracht’s face and long-knife coming out of his stomach. The knife belonged to Alain, whose face had a devilish grin on it, baring his sharp teeth.

Edwards aimed his flintlock at Alain.

“You were the traitor, not Jach. I will kill you now. “

Alain sniggered from behind the cover that Gracht’s lifeless body provided.

“That is an astute observation, Captain. But I fear it is a bit too late now. Kill them all. ”

At that moment, a dozen dark forms sprung onto the deck from the ocean. They had moved so fast, the crewmen had hardly noticed. The deck instantly broke into a battle. The Merfolk and crewmen went at each other with all they had got. Even though the crew outnumbered the sea-men by a huge margin, their larger numbers were easily kept at bay by the amazing speed and skill of the sea-men. It was an even battle.

Amidst the frenzy, Jach broke free of his captors and made his way to the edge of the deck. Alain followed in close pursuit. Alain managed to corner Jach.

“You can stop now Jach. We have you right where we want you. There is no escape”

Alain drew his knife and started walking slowly towards an unarmed Jach. Just after a couple of steps, Alain heard a loud bang, followed by an immense pain in his stomach. He looked down to see blood pouring out of a hole in his stomach. Clutching it, he turned around to see Edwards holding his flintlock, gunpowder smoke rising out of it.

“It would seem you have nowhere to escape, fish-man. “ – Edwards said with a grim look on his face.

Alain rested his knee on the floor, the wound sapping his strength by the second. Satisfied that Alain was of no more threat, Edwards jumped back into the fray.

The battle went on for a good twenty minutes. Bodies lay everywhere on the deck. The dead lay in a pool of blood, human blood as well as Merfolk blood. The Merfolk had been excellent fighters, managing to handle such a large number of people. But in the end, the sheer numbers had overwhelmed the Merfolk. Edwards himself had slain three out of the twelve assailants. Half of the crew of The Titania lay dead. Most of the ones alive had some or the other injury. Edwards ordered his crew to make a hasty turn around.

After the ship had turned, Edwards made his way back to the semi-conscious Alain. He had fallen down, with his back to the floor and had lost a lot of blood.  Edwards reckoned he did not have much time to live. But he couldn’t let him die without getting answers to his questions. He threw some water on Alain’s face and brought him back to full consciousness.

“Fish-man, I have a few questions for you and I am in no mood for long stories now. Make it quick.  I want to know everything. What have your people got to do with me? Speak fast. “

Alain coughed, spitting out blood. He spoke in a breathless voice.

“All you humans are so self-obsessed. You think everything in this world is related to you. It isn’t. The truth is that you were just being used to get us to this location. Jach is one of those human-loving scum. I was indeed spying on him. He had gained information that my people were up to something in the Veluise Islands. He holds vital information about his comrades too. We needed that. So, me and my twelve soldiers, my sworn brothers, decided to capture him and extract the information from him, once he made it here. I gave him the directions to this place. That night, I was truly making sure nothing goes wrong for my men. But you intervened and took away our element of surprise. You, human were only a vessel to accomplish our goals, and we will accomplish them. What you did today, will only delay the inevitable. Your race will perish.”

Alain coughed again, and spit more blood out and lay motionless on the floor. Edwards gave Alain’s body a disgusted look.

“Men, dump the bodies into the sea. We cannot have rotting corpses on our ship. May the souls of our brothers find peace. ”

The crewmen followed their captain’s orders. They said their last words for their friends while dumping their bodies into the sea and following that, they tossed the bodies of the Merfolk. Edwards watched as the bodies sunk into the sea. With Alain’s words still fresh in his mind, he knew he had a lot to talk about with Jach.

The bodies made their way slowly towards the bottom, lending more of their scarlet hue to the blue sea, with each passing moment. The sea soon turned red, sea of blood indeed. The bodies did not sink unnoticed. Hundreds of pairs of red, glowing eyes, peering from the dark marine depths, observed the bodies and the trail of blood left by the Titania.

(The End, for now)

Image courtesy : Rudhika