Tag Archives: short story

Flash Fiction (Part two)

The scent of lavender was overpowering. A scent he was quite familiar with. She had always worn the same perfume even when he had first met her. She was 45 years old now, and looked just as charming as she had when he fell in love with her. He had always enjoyed looking at her while she continued with her work. He looked at her as she went about putting her book shelf in order. He smiled when she couldn’t reach the top shelf, but of course, she was a trifle short, with deep brown eyes and dark brown hair which reached a little over her waist. He stared as her visage cracked. The same smile that had entranced him from such a long time. He smiled at his luck.

Short-sighted, the word replayed in his mind. He was never good enough. It was still fresh in his memory, the constant insults, belittling and slights.

He would exact his revenge.



Filed under Flash fiction, Stories

Flash Fiction (part one)

The room door swung open, letting the muted sunlight of early morning bathe the interior. “Shut the door and bar it,” shouted Aastha. Her mind was pacing and her head was pounding. Ankush entered the living room his eyes moist and red.

She remembered waking up contented and happy an hour back. Following the monotonous routine she headed towards her father in law’s room with a steaming hot cup of tea. Aastha entered the room waiting for the customary blessing he disinterestedly uttered every day.
Her father in law lay lifelessly near the bathroom door. “Ankush, Jyoti, Rohan…” she squealed.

And here on her nightmare began.

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“To Be Or Not To Be…”

I knew it was time even though I was still partly conscious. I could hear fuzzy voices of doctors who sounded panicked. It had been a painful journey but I had fought…all in vain. “There’s nothing that we could’ve done” one of them said, “she was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer which spread to her ovaries…a krukenberg tumor.” There were some more voices but I couldn’t make much sense of them. Everything seemed muddled. Then one of them said, “just let it go I don’t give her more than ten minutes, we’ve tried everything. I was ready too, it had been two years and I had fought hard, but I was exhausted now. I seemed to lose sense of time and space.
I was bombarded with memories my life rewinded itself in my minds eye. I was not sure if I was moving back in time or imagining.

The last two years of pain and suffering flashed before my eyes. The aggressive treatments, the side effects and the resultant loneliness. And then suddenly there was a radiant me. How did this happ…oh this was before I was diagnosed… I was dressed in red, celebrating my twenty fifth anniversary with my husband. Oh! it was a gorgeous day. Everything became hazy just as it does with bad T.V reception and then…  I could clearly smell the newly painted walls, see the layout of the place, feel his fingers entwined in mine. Yes, this was the first house we had bought together.

After inderteminate lapse of time there I was again much younger. I was attractive but I had been crying for sometime which seemed to take away from my looks. Facing the doctors room, I was crying while my husband stood at a distance refusing to meet my eye. The doctor had declared that we wouldn’t be able to have kids. Soon after there was an image… I was going around the pyre. I was getting married. The dominant feeling was exhaustion…it had been a hectic day.


And then I was walking down the aisle of my college auditorium. I was being awarded for my academic performance. My head pounded, there was a barrage of images, hues, sounds and odours. My entire childhood unfolded before me. It seemed to be a happy one barring the loneliness stemming from being an only child.
Life had indeed been a mixed bag. My eyelids began to feel heavy, breathing became strenous and slowly the pain ebbed.
I felt light as if my body was absolutely weightless. “Time of death 12:45 p.m, 3rd Feburary 2013,” a doctor called out.
I floated across the room seated myself and handed over the thick glares back to the assistant.

He asked me, “Ma’am have you made a decision yet I need to make arrangements accordingly?”
I had made a decision, “No, please inform the authorities that I have decided against being reborn. Hand over the documents so that I can sign them”
I hereby declare that I was given all the necessary details about how my life had been panned out and have made an informed decision to not take birth. I have read all the terms and conditions and want my membership from the human race to be recalled with immediate effect.
Yours Sincerely

I handed over the signed documents.

Next,” yelled God’s P.A.
Another figure floated in the room and took a seat

“Good afternoon, you will be shown a short film covering all the milestones of your life. I request you to pay close attention so that you can take an informed decision regarding ‘Whether you’ll like to take birth and live this life.’ Any queries?”
“Okay wear these glares and enjoy seeing the life planned for you,” the assistant handed over the glares.


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The Otherside

Their eyes looked at the sky above , seeing only darkness. They watched some lightning strike far off in the distance.  It was pouring down to where the line of sight was more obstructed by the constant thick mist of rainwater rather than the darkness that the storm always brings with it, clouding what little sun was left in the remaining hours of the day. They knew they shouldn’t have come here. The elders had warned them…

“Come on don’t be such a wuss. Are you actually scared?, ” one of them asked.  They were slightly tense. Something didn’t feel quite right.  She couldn’t put a finger on it but she didn’t feel good about the place. The silence added to the now palpable tension. The fear made her head hurt as if a hammer was pounding the inside of her skull.” Do you think there is a reason why we’ve been banned from coming down here?,” She asked. “The elders would say anything to prevent us from venturing out and exploring,” came her friend’s pat reply. They walked down the  slippery muddy path soaked in rain. The wind was piercing cold.  It became too dark. The weather was playing truant. They could barely see each other. It was impossible to go further without a flashlight or a lantern to guide their stumbling steps. They settled beside a fallen log to rest until daylight.

They leaned against each other. Both of them shivering. They were feeling scared now. Their imagination had run wild.  “Is it just me or are there shadowy figures on the left side?” What if what the elders had told them was true? The wet clothes made them uncomfortable, and they missed home. They heard muffled voices nearby. They clung to each other in fear. “I know they don’t come here after dark so stop trembling.” “But what if they did today…”

There were wild animals around but that was hardly a worry in comparison to…

“Do you know there is ancient legend about them that the elders told me once.”


The sounds became louder and they leaned closer to eachother. This fell in the realm of fiction. It couldn’t happen.

“I forgot the details. I don’t remember how exactly this came into being. I didn’t pay attention because it seemed quite implausible.”

They could now hear footsteps. If this was ‘them’ then they were quite close by. It wasn’t possible to run away from them. Their only option was to remain calm and to hope for the best.

“W-w-whhat seemed implausible?”

They could hear them talking, smell they’re closeness, feel their presence and would soon see their worst fear.

“It’s probably not them. It’s some wild animal.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Seriously, I don’t think they exist.”

“Me neither. Could you tell me about the legend. Stories are strangely comforting.”

They came in a group. That was what everyone said. They had a strange need to be in groups ever since their origin.

“I don’t remember the details. If you find stories comforting then I shall tell you because this one will surely make you feel better.”

According to what they had heard from the elders the entire earth had been infested by now. They had been advised to be careful. There was no safe place. No escape. Just the lurking fear of being one of the other things that they’ve destroyed.

“Please, tell me, please. Tell me anything that will make me feel better. I don’t care if you make it up.”

“Well, legends are made up anyway. This one in particular is the most unconvincing story I’ve ever heard.”

They could see light from a distance. Was it a forest fire or was it them?

“No, don’t worry. Look at me and concentrate on the story. It might be an attempt on the part of the elders to make us seem brave but there still might be an iota of truth to it. We must believe. We must.”

The little ball of fire they spotted at a distance came closer and closer and the footsteps louder.

“I don’t think they can see us. Some of them might feel our presence or can they see us? Nobody is sure.”

“According to the legend they’re scared of us. Powerless as we are the legend holds that they fear us.”

“WHAT? Why would they be scared of us? They are the living. They have a soul. They are powerful, They…

The group of humans stood right in front of them. They lit a fire and placed their mattresses close to the fire. “Yay! camping,” one of them yelled.

The two ghosts settled besides a fallen log clung to eachother. They weren’t superstitious but their worst nightmare had come true. Humans actually existed. They trembled in fear.


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Man Proposes…

They were going to celebrate the occasion. Nothing compared to the excitement that enveloped all of them before this event. It was a show of their creativity, hardwork, of what they had learnt from their previous mistake. It was a new beginning. It was New Year’s eve . 2012 was about to begin. There is something so refreshing about a fresh start. To be able to begin from scratch. To see an opportunity to correct what went wrong. They had decided to launch their project on 1st January 2012 as a mark to a new beginning.

The food had arrived. It was being arranged on the unusually long table. Everyone’s favorite dish had been cooked. They ate nervously. New projects bring with them a blend of anxiety and excitement. They were to launch their project at sharp 12. They engaged in cryptic conversations to rid themselves of the fear.

“Do you think this would be a disaster like last time.”

“No, nothing can beat that. It was unstoppable and destructive.”

“Wouldn’t have happened had we not added the extra element by mistake…”

They all gorged on the delicious food, and simultaneously went over the pros and cons. They had lost too much of peace owing to their last creation. Hopefully this one would be better. These decisions are tough as one has to live with them for quite some time.

The weather was stormy. Surprisingly it was similar across all continents. Everyone was out to party on New Year’s eve. Girls looking their pretty best, young boys engrossed in their attempts to charm and young children busy listing their resolutions. Everyone enjoying and pretending that a change in date would change their lives.

They had eaten their food. The clock struck 12. The beautiful cake was put on the table. They dug the knife into the cake…

The storm became unbelievably violent. It was beyond normal. The storm swept away everything with it. It was a matter of seconds. There was nothing left on earth, absolutely nothing. The cold winds lead to a dramatic drop in the temperature. The entire planet was encased in a sheet of ice. There was no life, no vegetation. Just rock and ice.

They were glad about how neatly the entire process went about. Each person enjoying the cake. It was a beautiful beginning indeed. Soon a meeting of all the Gods would be called to decide after how many million years the new species shall rule on earth. Hopefully it wouldn’t be as destructive as their last accident- humans. They all rejoiced.


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The Verdict

She covered her eyes to protect them from the piercing light. It was uncomfortably bright. Why was this place so well lit? Why couldn’t she spot a single source of the light? Was she dreaming? No, she had to tell the truth. There was no option except that. Never had she thought that she’d be answerable for everything she’s done. She was gripped by a sense of unreality.

A part of her was glad to unburden itself. The entire experience was surreal  or was it something else? Each step felt strange. She stood in the witness box. She felt the truth pouring out of her. As if she was helpless, not in control and not herself. Her entire life  replayed itself. She was overwhelmed and choked. They administered her a oath. She promised to stand by what was true. Why were they putting her through this when they seemed to have all the answers?

The tall man with a vacuous look stood up. The lack of emotion was mildly disturbing. He bombarded her with a string of questions.

“You lied to your mother? You did that for money? What about your siblings? The certificates you used were fake? You cheated him all the while or after he fell sick? Did you hit his old mother? Did  you steal credit for that promotion? Was the plan to steal your sister in law’s jewellery premeditated or were you suddenly overcome by temptation? Did you cheat in all your exams? Did you abort your child and feign an accident in front of your family? Have you always been so jealous and vengeful? Have your thoughts always been so ugly? Did you…”

The two men and the strikingly beautiful woman discussed her answers. The truth has different flavors. They tried to reach a consensus. How immoral? How bad? How harmful? Both the action and the intent .The thoughts had to be taken into cognizance. As if that was quantitative. They communicated their decision to a man, fully clad in black. He was making something akin to tally marks or God knows what.

“I don’t remember having a dream as bizarre as this”, she thought to herself. Was she up or was the reigning confusion apart of her dream as well. This didn’t seem real at all. It seemed a lot like a court- was she actually in a court? She wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had filed a case against her. She had wronged so many people and was despised by many.

They wouldn’t ask her about cheating in exams or her thoughts, in court, or would they? This had to be a dream. Why couldn’t she end the dream? Something was eluding her or was she reluctant to see the reading on the wall? Her guilt haunted her, rendering her helpless. She had had such dreams before. Dreams in which she had a chance to confess… Yes confession was the key.

Was she hallucinating? This must be a figment of her imagination!  Her therapist could be right. All this while she was sure she had felt, seen, heard and smelt everything her therapist claimed was just a product of her mind. There could be a chance that she was ‘queer’. This was what her relatives called her – queer. She must call up her therapist. “I should have taken my medicines”, she said aloud.

Suddenly she felt refreshed, startled, more alert than ever and in complete control. The feeling was akin to being douched in cold water.

The man in black put the last tally mark. Closed the huge book. “Hell”, he gave his verdict.


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In the future

Aaram sat in the corner going over the pros and cons of his decision. He was not convinced about what he had got himself into, but there was no going back. He was traveling far, yet there was little  that he could take with himself. He sat there mulling over his decision and waiting for the cab to arrive. He had studied abroad and had spent little or no time in his home country. With a height of 6’4,  fair complexion and a broad built he didn’t seem like a misfit amongst his western counterparts yet he wished that there were more Indians traveling with him.

He heard the sound of the horn and picked up his small bag. He tried to work on looking convinced and enthusiastic. He couldn’t communicate his misgivings about the plan to  others. They wouldn’t understand. Nobody would take it kindly, specially Mark. He went and sat next to Natasha. It was going to be a long journey, largely  because of the awkward silence.

The office was hectic with activity. Stuart had ordered the entire team to check everything once again. He couldn’t afford any glitches in his dream project and was determined to see it completed. The problem of  exploding population needed to be addressed immediately and he would ensure that it was.

There was excitement all over and why wouldn’t there be? Finally there seemed to be a solution to the problem of an ever growing population, the space crunch and the resultant shortage of resources. Science had so far  failed to solve the problem it had created. Stuart had been one of the staunchest supporters of the movement aimed at  immortalizing people and putting the aging process on hold. The issue had been hotly debated due to its possible repercussions. Scientists had boasted of being able to reclaim the dead , provided traces of them could be found in the form of energy. How would more people be accommodated? Would it be ethical to keep people away from those they love if the possibility of  bringing them back existed ? No, they couldn’t afford to give a green signal to this project, unless Stuart and his team are  successful.

As soon as Aaram, Natasha, Mark , Jonathan and Kewin arrived, Stuart sent them for debriefing. Everything had been planned. They were going to leave soon. Aaram’s attempt  to speak to Stuart met with resistance . His doubtful eyes met others composed ones. His eyes lingered momentarily on Natasha’s beautiful hair which offered a sharp contrast to her otherwise no nonsense looks. He then went and sat in the shuttle and everyone else joined him. Jonathan and Kewin were  engrossed in a mundane conversation. Mark maintained an aggressive and hostile stance and Natasha was her usual quiet self. Everything was just as it had been for  the past five years. Suddenly the shuttle lurched with a thudding sound  leaving  them startled. Its sudden acceleration made everyone look visibly tense and excited. The  feeling was comparable to that of hurtling down in a joy ride.

“It is strange to even imagine that we’ll land on a gas giant…”, scribbled Aaram. He always wrote in his diary when tense. He mentally went over all the statistics for the nth time: diameter, 75000 miles; mass, 95 times that of earth; distance from the sun, 886 million miles; rotation period, 10.5 hours; temperature at cloud-tops, -310F; main composition, hydrogen and helium; known moons…

After the mass deaths on Mars despite all the precautions this project seemed to be the next most viable option. No other celestial body would be able to support life. It’s hard to imagine a planet less hospitable for life than Saturn. The planet is comprised   mostly of  hydrogen and helium, with  traces of  water ice in its lower cloud deck, but its moons could. They had never traveled such an astronomical distance before and the uncanny resemblance of the composition of the moons with the  earth made Aaram shudder. The thought that the planetary bodies closest to earth were not inhabitable, but   Titan, the moon of one of the members of the gas giants offered possibilities was vaguely disturbing. The risk involved was too high. Aaram brushed aside these thoughts and went to join Jonathan and Kewin for a game of cards. Mark bestowed on them an icy stare and resumed sending updates to the office.

A visibly enthused Stuart  addressed the media. He informed them about  the plan  to explore Enceladus and  Saturn’s icy moon, Rhea once Titan had been examined because these two moons also had a breathable atmosphere. The media was in a frenzy and infused the public with similar excitement. Models of Saturn, aliens and Titan were being manufactured and bought across the globe. Stuart was in high spirits. The only thought that nagged him was, how he would face all of them. He was sure of their forgiveness. He could bank upon their understanding once they were back safely.

Mark informed everyone that they’ll first send updates when they’re near Saturn and only on further instructions would they leave for Titan. Nobody questioned, they all nodded. Doubting and questioning were not an option when Mark disseminated information. Two months had elapsed. The excitement that had been replaced with fatigue returned as they neared their destination. The shuttle was abuzz with discussions and  numerous possibilities. On a particular day when the heated arguments had turned ugly, Natasha dissipated the tension by saying, “Now we can make the phrase in another world come true.” Everyone dissolved into a laughter even Mark’s visage cracked. Even though the shuttle maintained status quo , the fact that they had reached was thrilling. The office gave them permission to leave for Titan.

Guilt overcame Stuart but he thought he was doing them a favor. His team wouldn’t understand right now.  He thought for a while and finally communicated  his message. The fact that he told them first and not his team made him feel remorseful. “Sometimes you have to see the bigger picture”, he thought to himself.

Jonathan and Kevin would go first as per the plan. They were to inform others if everything was fine, before they stepped down. Thirty minutes had elapsed, tension was palpable, you could almost slice through the silence. The unspoken question was, What could’ve happened? They were just supposed to step down and inform everyone. A tentative  Aaram said,” Should we brief the office?”. Natasha concurred. Stuart had to be informed. Just as Aaram began to establish contact with Stuart, Mark thwarted his efforts and pushed him aside roughly saying,  “They’re probably having fun at our expense. Those assholes are upto some prank.”

After ten tense minutes, Mark decided that they should go down and look for them. He ignored their suggestion of informing the office. They were  enveloped by a sense of unreality  yet driven by their purpose which in part was propelled by fear. But for the difference in gravity which was only one-seventh of the earth’s, the two places were quite similar . Sound carries farther on Titan than on Earth, or even Mars or Venus. They screamed their names but to no avail. They observed the river-like channels that seemed to be tantalizingly similar to the  dry streambeds in Earth’s deserts. Jonathan and Kewin couldn’t have gone far. If only they knew in which direction…

They could hear a murmur.” Yes, we’ve found them”, said an awed Aaram. They walked towards the shadows.

Stuart sipped his coffee and leaned back comfortably. His eyes gleamed with joy when he thought of the fame that awaited him and his team. There was a twinge of unease. He hadn’t received any message from them yet. He dismissed the feeling.

“Let me go, just let me go”, sobbed Natasha. She couldn’t remember anything. She stared at the blood trickling down from her left arm and started sobbing again. It was dingy and dark. She banged her fists against what seemed like a metal surface. She was haunted and daunted by the thought of being abandoned on this hostile and ‘alien’ land.

His head was throbbing and the abrasions on his body stung. The smog around was too thick. Mark started walking aimlessly until he was arrested by a shrill scream. Was it Aaram? Yes. He looked dazed and pathetic. He was relieved to see Mark. They stared at each other vacuously for a while. Neither wanted to voice it, but finally Aaram broke the silence, “We’re not the only ones here.” They should’ve considered the possibility. Titan’s atmosphere  consisted of compounds similar to those present in the primordial days of the Earth’s atmosphere. There was a fair chance that…

“Oh! So this was Stuart’s big secret. He had dropped some hints about hiding something from us on a few occasions,” said Aaram. He hadn’t mentioned anything about exotic life on Titan. Mingled feelings of fear, excitement and a sense of betrayal surged in them.  Aaram screamed in disbelief, “How could he do this to us ? “After a brief lull, Mark reasoned,”If Stuart planned it this way, there must be a reason for it. I’ll go and look for the others, you wait right here.”

Mark walked away at a fast pace towards the shuttle to inform Stuart. Others could go to hell, after all, who remembers the second person who stepped on the moon.

Aaram stood there reminiscing about the last five years. No, he couldn’t remember a single pleasant moment. For a minute he thought about Natasha but she too had always ignored his advances. He was going to look for whatever/whoever was here. It had to be intelligent, whatever it was, nothing else could explain the condition in which they had found themselves. Shiver ran down his spine at the thought of being the first one to see extraterrestrial life. Consulting others would divide the glory. The dice had been cast.

Stuart smiled to himself hugging the book close to his chest. He was warmed by the thought of the pleasure his team would derive at the inclusion of their name in his book. He hadn’t taken their permission but he knew they would forgive him. He hoped they hadn’t guessed the surprise. This was his big secret.

The realization of how dangerous these people could be dawned on Mark as he moved towards the shuttle. After all they had assaulted them. He reached the place where the shuttle had landed.

On reaching earth, they were inundated by unimaginable affection and attention. The small loss was forgotten. This was the  discovery of the millennium. Their names would go down in the annals of history. They were interviewed and their face splashed all over the news channels and the internet. Hollywood sensed a new sensation in them. Soon they would visit Enceladus and Rhea. They basked in the glory and fame. The one person who was happier than them was Stuart.

They attended the meeting which discussed the possibilities of bringing back those who had died recently.” Maybe they still existed around them in the form of energy”, thought Kevin. He was  guilt ridden about what they had done with the three of them. To have assaulted them and abandoned them. It was a sure death. His grouse won over his conscience,” but they had never given him his share of credit”, he mused. Jonathan and Kevin signed the various papers. Everyone was talking about them. They were NEWS. They had finally got their due.

Mark sat their famished, cold and near death. At the same place with a huge burnt patch where their shuttle once stood. Death would be a relief.

Jonathan and Kevin returned from the meeting which discussed the possibility of bringing back the dead.” I hope traces of their energy are not found”, joked Jonathan. But they could only hope…


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