The Others (Short Story)

February What if Challenge question 2: What if you discovered a lost civilization? 

I knew I was different since I was small. I could see people in a crowd others couldn’t see. They stood out like a burning candle in a sea of darkness. They were not like the others; they had an air of confidence not seen in the slinking shoulders of an average man. They had delicate features with blue markings on their face and carried long spears that evoked respect more than fear.

I learnt to keep this secret to myself, lest people think I was not quite right up there. I often wondered myself if I was crazy or just in the wrong place. These “other people” only appeared in crowds and I never saw them on their own.

The first time one of them looked me in the eye was the day I turned sixteen. That day my life changed forever.

I awoke that day with an excitement I attributed to my birthday. When I went down for breakfast everything was routine and my family hadn’t bothered to remember what day it was. I was off from school and I decided to go to the mall.

I was walking along a street when some distance away I saw him. He was looking straight at me with a gaze that pierced the soul. I stopped and stared. It was as if time had stopped for me. Around me the sea of humanity went about their business, but there I stood as he walked towards me. He stopped in front of me and motioned me to come with him. I followed mesmerized.

He walked to the end of the road and stopped. He turned to look at me, then took a step and disappeared. I followed him and suddenly the road, the cars and the people melted away. I was in a different world.

There were bluish grey mountains as far as I could see with dwellings dotted all across. Below us a raging river meandered through the rocks. Men and women worked near what looked like a mine. I saw some carts with a bluish rock that glowed. Children noiselessly scurried along the mountains playing hide and seek with each other. I could feel many eyes on me as I made my way slowly and a little out of breath to one of the dwellings.

A group of elders sat in a circle. One of the elders rose as I approached. He spoke in a soft assuring voice.

“Welcome! You must have known in your heart that one day we would come for you. This is where you truly belong. We are a small race but we are more advanced than the other humans. We have built our own world away from the cruelty and selfishness of the others. It is a great day when young blood like you joins us. We will celebrate the induction tonight.”

My heart raced. It was true what he had said, I had known that I didn’t belong in the other world but this was so sudden. I had so many questions about this new world I had been brought to. As if he had read my thoughts he said,

“Don’t worry, we will answer all your questions one by one until you are satisfied.”

My heart lightened and my worries were replaced by excitement. I knew at last I had found my right place.

There’s a space-ship in my neighbor’s garage

This is the winning post for the Jan 2014 What if challenge (link given below).

What if you discovered a space-ship in your neighbor’s garage?

I was coming home from my afternoon walk when suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks. There in broad daylight was a shiny white space-ship parked in my neighbor’s garage.

“I knew it” I thought to myself, “I just knew it”. I always knew there was something strange about the neighbors. They had never returned my calls or thanked me for the cookies I sent them nor the chocolates on New Year. And then their two boys were so odd because they never made any noise. I mean how strange is that? I never saw them playing in the garden or heard them shouting or laughing.

I giggled to myself. So my neighbors were aliens. I wondered what they actually looked like. Did they have green skin and one eye in the middle of the forehead? Mrs. Jones always looked so prim and proper with not a hair out of place. But I must say they were being very daring, not even bothering to hide the fact that a space-ship was parked in their garage.

I was just opening my front door when I heard a voice behind me.

“Hello there!” It was Mrs. Jones standing in my driveway in a neat little blue dress.

“Xertang from Mercury is here to see you. They landed in the wrong house and asked if they could keep their space-ship in my garage. I told them of course, what are neighbors for?”

I swore. My secret was out.

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If you had your own personal stealth mode spy drone with unlimited range, how would you use it?

Yes, yes, yes, I really need this! I would not spy on my husband or on my bosses (I’m unemployed), but on my husband’s bosses. And that’s because my husband who works in a chocolate company has been told by his bosses that he will be switching to a new position soon but nobody bothered to inform him of what and where this mystery position will be.

As days and weeks pass by the tension is getting to both of us. How can we plan anything if we don’t know where we’re going to end up in a couple of months?

So coming back to the spy drone, I would adjust the setting so that wherever my husband’s name crops up in his company, I could record and hear the conversation.

“N is an asset of the company. We cannot afford to lose him. We should send him to Timbuktu.”

What? Timbuktu?? Is that even a real place???

“The pet care business is in a crisis. We need to move N there.”

From chocolates to pet care? We don’t even have a pet. I like chocolates though!

“What about our business in Afghanistan? Would N move his family there?”

No he would not! Do not even think about it.

This spy drone business is not getting me what I wanted. I need to hear about Europe and promotions. Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all. Can I switch it with something that hypnotizes people and gets you what you want?

What If Writing Challenge

Another me?

What if you could create a clone? Would you do it and if so what would you make your clone do that you don’t want to? What if your clone ends up better at doing things than you are?

If I had a clone I would make her do the groceries for me. Oh, you said clone and not servant. I see, but still come on surely she could help out. I mean I HATE doing the groceries.

First of all you don’t find parking; you have to hang around until somebody leaves. Once you’re inside you have this long jumbled up list that you have to go through. Vegetables and fruit first, stand in queue to have them weighed. Then bakery stuff, then on to the meat section. The meat! I have the chicken cut up, “Skin off, 16 pieces and 4 equal packets”, I tell them. How hard is that, but they always get it wrong. Next is the frozen stuff which is usually out of stock. And then comes the hundreds of cans of diet coke which my husband has added to the list. Then on to everything else, well, you get the picture.

I’m sure my clone would be better than me at getting the groceries; I always seem to go in each aisle twice. But wait! I need to get the stuff for my son’s snack/lunch myself; she wouldn’t know the right things to get. I guess I better do it myself.

How about the driving? I could ask her to chauffeur my son around. Since she’s my clone she would obviously be careful. But that would mean that I wouldn’t be picking up my son from school and I do love hearing his stories on the way back. So, maybe not.

Maybe I could make her go to tiresome parties I get invited to. But what if she doesn’t have my diplomacy and answers back to one of those meddlesome aunties? It will be even more awkward for me the next time I meet them. No, that won’t work out either.

OK I know. I could ask her to watch over my son while my husband and I go out for a late night dinner and movie. That would be fun. But what if she wants to go the next time with my husband? Would my husband even know the difference? No that is NOT fun! That would be so weird.

Actually the whole concept is weird. Having a clone. What would it be like? Hearing what you sound like and seeing your mannerisms. And what would she be to my son? Would my son consider her his mother too? Or his aunt? No, No this is too weird, I don’t like it at all.

After all, who needs a clone anyway?

What if you could clone yourself?

The Day the Earth Shook

8th October 2005 8:27am

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 strikes near the city of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir. International donors estimate the death toll at about 100,000, with an additional 138,000 seriously injured, and 3.5 million displaced.

Abdullah and his younger brother Farooq walked to their school clutching their bags early in the morning as they did every week day. Abdullah was the oldest of 4 siblings and the pride of his father. He loved learning at school and his favorite subject was English. Every year he would get a special prize from his teacher for getting outstanding marks in this subject. He could fluently read the English newspaper to his father who couldn’t understand a word his son was saying but would listen with great pride. His father had only studied till grade 5 and Abdullah was very grateful for the opportunity that he was getting.

His mother used to call him Shahzada (prince) and would sit with him and his younger brother while they ate their breakfast. His sister had not yet started school and the youngest brother was just a baby. Their father worked as a guard in one of the nearby offices and made enough for the family to get by. Abdullah’s schooling was being paid by a government scholarship and they were hoping the other children would follow suit.

The two boys joined their class fellows in the morning assembly. They said their prayers to start the day and some important announcements were made. Then they were escorted to their respective classes by their teachers.

They were halfway through their first class that the ground began to shake.  Abdullah was jolted out of his seat and on the floor. The blackboard fell down and the children started screaming. Along with the screaming and the crying was a strange humming sound. The sound of the earth cracking open. A few minutes passed like an eternity. The ground shook as if a giant hand had got it in its grasp and would not let go. The whole building of the school collapsed.

The screaming and crying stopped and was replaced by an eerie silence more terrifying than even the humming. The silence of death.

Abdullah had crawled under the teacher’s desk and when the walls collapsed around him something fell on his leg trapping him there. It was actually a blessing since if he had moved from there he would surely have been killed. There were no survivors from his class. He drifted into unconsciousness.

When he awoke he was in pitch darkness and he could hear the muffled sounds of people calling out. He tried to answer but his throat was so dry he could hardly utter a sound. Hours passed. He could not feel his leg anymore. He started dreaming. His mother was calling him “Shahzada, Shahzada wake up”.

He woke up with a start. Someone was pulling him out. They put him on a stretcher and carried him to a army helicopter. A man was asking him his name and his address. He couldn’t answer. He didn’t have the strength.

This time when he gained consciousness he was in a hospital. His leg was bandaged at least what had been left of it. Looking around he didn’t Continue reading

What if you scared me?

Some years back my husband was posted in the Frontier province of Pakistan. The colony where he was working was in an area known to be haunted. It had been built in a place which had once been fields where the farmers buried their dead.

And so it happened that I did not move with him there. Not just because the place was haunted but because at that time I had a very good job which I didn’t want to give up. My husband lived there for two years till he decided that he had had enough and got a job in Dubai.

He told me about several instances where he would lock a door of an unused room and find it open the next morning, women talking in his backyard in the middle of the night and unexplained noises. There were scarier moments but I’m glad he didn’t share these with me.

One day some friends were having a meal at a colleague’s place in the same colony. This colleague was a bachelor and his friends were making fun of him because it was well known that a “girl” ghost haunted his house. While they were all laughing at him a big vase on the table in the room moved of its own accord and crashed to the floor. Nobody made fun of him again.

Just goes to show that ghosts have feelings too.

Writing Challenge: What if you scared me?

A Day in Paris

What if you let your dark side take over?

An unfortunate event has allowed the Devil to own your soul. He has decided to give you a chance to get it back but to win it you must bring a smile to the Devil’s face with your actions. He allows you to have one full day in which you can do anything your heart desires without fear of consequences, retaliation, retribution or prosecution.

The alarm rang at 7:15 am at the usual time. But something was different about today. As I opened my eyes I noticed that my son had not wriggled his way into my bed in the middle of the night. I felt incredibly rested.  I made my way to the toilet and almost tripped over an open suitcase lying in the way. It had my best tops and my Dior shoes neatly packed in it. “That’s odd” I thought to myself as I didn’t remember packing anything.

Something on the table caught my eye; my camera lying on the table and underneath it my passport and a return ticket to Paris. “Paris!” My heart skipped a beat or two. I pinched myself. “Ouch that hurt!”

I heard water running in the toilet and saw my son standing on his stool and brushing his teeth.

“You don’t have to go to school today.” My own words surprised me. I looked in the mirror. Same old me.

When we came downstairs I saw the maid reading a list of instructions for the day. Today she was going to look after my son and I was going to Paris.

On the airport somebody escorted me through immigration and within minutes I was in the plane. In the first class suite on the new A380. Now I was really beginning to think I had sold my soul to the devil.

At Charles de Gaulle I was met with a handsome young Parisian who was to be my tour guide for the day. He showed me around the city like I had never seen before. At night we had dinner near the Eiffel tower and I wore my Dior shoes and my best top and felt like a queen.

I took the last flight home. When I reached home my son was still awake. He was waiting for me. “I missed you Mama!”

“You’re my real hero! I said as I put him to sleep.



9/8/2013 Writing challenge. What if a dragon attacks?

What if your hometown is attacked by a monstrous, flying, fire-breathing dragon?

Everyone is screaming and running for their lives. An emergency has been declared in the city. Plans to combat the monstrous creature are being formulated.

But wait, is it really monstrous, or has it just been misunderstood? How lonely it would be to be the only one of your kind. And what has it really done to make it monstrous? It flies because it has wings and breathes fire because it can. All it needs is a good talking to. “Stop scaring these good people otherwise some trigger happy person is going to try to hurt you”. And then you know what? I’ll just bring the poor homeless, misunderstood creature to live in my backyard. My son would love it. He could take rides on him; he’s always telling me he wants to fly. We’ll just need a seat with a seat belt. And the fire, well, will just have to be controlled. But it will come in handy with the upcoming BBQ season.

A dragon is just a giant serpent. And my son is great with snakes. They had Animal day in his school and when I came to pick him up the Principal told me he had been roaming around with a python around his shoulders. Which adult would do that? He’s not going to be scared by the dragon. Just a bit overawed perhaps. But I think they would make good friends. Much more exciting than the fish I got him. And if I ask him what he would name him I have a feeling he would say “FIREFLY!”