Random Tales

The Final Moment

There are times when I feel that death is a difficult choice and not the easy option everyone talks about. It’s true that once you die, there is no burden left. However, the moment between your death when you have taken the plunge, both metaphorically or actually, stretches long and you get to see all the realities that are possible. Your mind gives you solutions to the problems you had been struggling for years and shows you the paths it had buried deep inside. Perhaps, it shows this as a last-ditch effort to save itself, not knowing that it’s too late. In that blissful and terrible moment, you see all the people who would miss you, all the people who would be affected by your life, a life you considered fruitless, futile, and frivolous. This is the moment that makes death hard.

Yes, it’s easy to die but death doesn’t come easy to anyone, least of all to people who actively seek it. You can’t escape the pain allotted to you and if you try to cheat, if you try to reduce the pain over the years, it will all come concentrated in that single moment. The good thing is that it’s a single moment, right?

Maybe. But knowing that things could have been better, if only we had thought harder, fought harder, even ran away and then come back stronger, is perhaps the greatest regret of all time. The pain might end after that one second, but experiencing all that pain isn’t a choice, it’s life.

Now, please take a step back so that I can experience that single moment.

Said the man in glasses to the audience before jumping off the roof.

Random Tales

Family Members Only!

I was fifteen when my father died. Luckily, it was cancer. Now, I know what you are thinking. How can it be lucky? In a contorted way, it was lucky because it gave us time to prepare. We shared some wonderful moments and he imparted his wisdom on me.

Two years have passed since then and I take his words as gospels.

  • Never break someone’s trust.
  • Always be kind, even if you can’t be nice to someone.
  • Never wear a crumpled shirt.
  • Always follow the rules on your first day at work.

…and so on. I know the last one might be hilarious for you but in his view, one should always follow a rule until one understands why it exists. Once you understand a rule, you can decide whether you should break it or not.

Yesterday, I was almost forced to break one of his rules but I can proudly say that I didn’t. I hope he’s proud of me.

I started a part-time job in a hospital. My badge said night-attendant but in truth, I was a glorified guard outside the ICU – the Intensive Care Unit – where all the critically ill and terminal patients were kept. I was to ensure that only the family members of the patients are allowed to come inside their respective rooms. Apparently, it was usual for other patients to come in these rooms due to better facilities and sometimes, stronger drugs and I was there to stop that from happening.

I didn’t believe it for fifteen minutes of starting to work. Then, the first guy tried to enter the ICU. He was around 50 years old and while he seemed on his deathbed himself, I realized soon that it was an act. Ten minutes later, a woman, in her 20s tried to enter the ICU. I had to stop at least 10 people in a span of a few hours from entering the ICU.

No wonder that I couldn’t recognize the tall hooded creature when he tried to enter the ICU. He wore a brown-black robe which covered all of his head and his thin and bony fingers were barely visible from the arms of the robe.

“Sorry, sir. You can’t enter. Family members only,” I said to the hood and he promptly ignored me and continued towards the door.

“Excuse me, hooded man. I’m talking to you. You can’t enter,” I said and placed my hand in front of him. He turned to me and whispered in a shocked voice.

“You can see me?”

Anger surged through my body at the idiotic question but I pushed it down.

“Yes, sir. I can see you and I don’t think you are one of the family members of these patients. This means you can’t go inside.”

The man lowered his hood and a tall man with a smirk was looking at me.

“But can’t the rules be bent a little,” he said with a grin on his face. “For special, ah… guests.”

“It’s not up to me to decide that sir.”

“Of course. Perhaps this would help me persuade you to break the rules today.” The man said an fished his hand in his pocket for what I presumed was a few green ones. Not the first person to try this.

“With all due respect, money won’t work.”

“No… No… No… Not money. This,” he said and brought out a six inches rod. He gave it one jiggle and it turned into a large scythe. At the same time, his face started to turn white. No! Scratch that. The skin on his face started to dry out and the white skeleton started to show.

“Oh.” I said.

“Oh indeed.”

“Can I enter now? I have an important appointment with one of the patients. It’s a matter of death and death.”

I took a deep break, closed my eyes and opened them again to find the figure standing tall in front of me. My heartbeat was increasing by the second and panic was taking over every fiber of my body until the image of my father dawned over me.

“I’m sorry sir, Mr. Death. I can’t let you in. It’s the hospital’s rule and I can’t break it. Not today.” I didn’t know why Death was entertaining me. I was sure that it could take me out with a single swipe. I could see in Death’s face that it was also considering that option. But I couldn’t care less. The initial panic and fear was nowhere to be found now. It was replaced by anger and hatred. Death must have come for my father as well. It was because of Death that I became fatherless at the age of 15. It wasn’t cancer but the creature standing in front of me who caused my father’s death.

I won’t let him have another one today.

“I can see your mind. You’re angry.”

“Mr. Death. Please leave, family only.” I reiterated controlling my fury.

The man smiled.

“Ahh… Yes. I remember you. Two years ago. You were crying, holding your father’s hand. I’m sorry I had to do that.”

I felt my eyes welling up.

“Family members only,” I said mustering as much force as I could in my words. They were still feeble. I could see the nurse looking at me weirdly. She was probably seeing a man standing alone fighting back his tears, whispering and mumbling some words to an imaginary friend.

The man smiled once again but there was a strain in his smile.

“It’s very interesting that I can go through any wall but I can’t kill someone whose time isn’t up. Neither can I cross someone who can see me. I don’t know how the rules work but for me to complete my work, you have to move,” he said with a menacing rumble. I realized a moment later that I had indeed shifted a bit just by the strength of his words.

“NO!” I said once more. “Family members only.”

Death looked at me, deeply and then passed through me. I felt a shock run through my whole body.

He had a grin on his face.

“I thought you couldn’t pass me.”

“I can’t pass you to the ICY but I can pass through you, find out what you want so that I can change your mind,” Death said.

“You can’t.”

“Definitely not today. Your father’s gospel run strong in you. But maybe tomorrow?”

“Never.”

“Now… Now… Don’t be hasty. Let me make you a deal. If I keep my end of the bargain, will you break your promise tomorrow?”

I didn’t say anything but he continued talking. After a while, he left. That was yesterday. Today, I’m waiting for him.

My father said never to break a rule on the first day of the job. I kept my promise. I hope he is proud of me when he sees me today.


This story was from a Reddit Prompt and can also be read here – http://bit.ly/2UTw4GY

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Goodbye Vinya

Vinya looked at the mirror and pulled her cheeks. She looked below and squeezed her breasts. She didn’t know what to make of it. Doctors had told that the symptoms for her disease would start with her having a shattered body. It had not begun yet but she had started to feel it internally. She had some discomfort moving around and she was getting tired sooner. Her body however, was still in impeccable shape.

“Maybe the doctor was wrong.” She said to herself and smiled at her own denial.

Vinya turned to her clothes and wore a burgandy dress that was gifted by Vivan to her. She had to tell Vivan that she was dying. It won’t be a pleasant experience but he deserved the truth. She was also happy that he was with her. She didn’t think she would survive this alone.

“Hey!” Vivan said sheepishly getting up from his seat. Vivan was always ahead of time. This meant that Vinya was always late. Vinya’s face lit up looking at Vivan. He was such a calming presence in her life. However, Vinya knew that the news she was about to deliver would change that for the both of them.

“You wanted to discuss something important?” Vivan asked while passing Vinya the menu.

“Yeah. I had been thinking this for a few days. I thought it is time I blurted this out.” Vinya said unable to meet Vivan’s eyes. It dawned to her at that precise moment that she was pulling him into a miserable situation and she wasn’t sure if she wanted that. She looked at Vivan and he was looking expectantly. He had a faint smile on his face as if awaiting a good news. Vinya didn’t wanted to shatter that. Yet, she was halfway through.

“I just wanted to talk…” Vinya said when she was interrupted by Vivan’s phone.

“Just a sec.” Vivan said and picked up the phone. He turned away a bit farther from Vinya and she could see him talking furiously. Vivan was agitated as only work could make him. He came back and sat down in a different mood.

“Something wrong with work?” Vinya asked putting her hand on his. Vivan looked at her dazed before coming back to reality.

“No. Not work. Vinya, we need to talk.” Vivan said and Vinya’s heart sank.

“Yes, Vivan.” Vinya said barely able to contain her emotions.

“I have found someone else. Her name is Neha and we met a few days ago. We have been talking since then and I have felt a connection I have never felt before.”

Vinya felt that she would burst. Maybe she had burst because her innards felt hollow. She just looked at Vivan expressionless. The two sat there for minutes like that.

“I am sorry.” Vivan said finally.

“Huh! No… no… it’s alright. Even I was thinking on similar lines. Perhaps we don’t have a long-term future.”

“Really!” Vivan said, his smile broadening. “I thought you would say something like that when you said you had been thinking.”

“Oh really!” Vinya said realising the source of Vivan’s faint smile.

“Yeah. I don’t want to break your heart Vinya but Neha… She and I are perfect.”

“Good for you Vivan.” Vinya said as a sharp pain shot in her chest. Doctor didn’t tell her that heartbreak could enhance her symptoms. She thought and laughed.

“Wow! You seemed really relieved.” Vivan said seeing her laughing. “I mean, we weren’t that bad, were we?” Vivan said grinning now.

“No. We weren’t. It’s just that things had proceeded so well for the both of us. I didn’t imagine it happening.” Vinya said and tried to give her most genuine smile.

“Awesome! Thanks Vin.” Vivan said and gave her a hug. Vinya hugged him hard, once last time and then turned away.

It had been six months since Vivan’s wedding. He had indeed found the one for him. Vinya looked at the mirror and smiled. Her body had started deteriorating the day Vivan and she broke up. Her face survived Vivan’s wedding, in which she was invited. She never talked to Vivan after that.

Today, however, she was unrecognizable. Today. The day she shifts from her home to the hospital. It was also the day when one year ago, she and Vivan broke up so it seemed apt to her to have another big change in her life on this day.

She had a couple of months left which she knew she would be spending in pain and possibly alone. She could never muster up the courage to tell Vivan her reality. Maybe he will never find out. Vinya thought smiling. The wrinkles on her face cracked and her chaffed lips started to bleed.

“Goodbye Vinya.” She said to the mirror and turned her back forever to it.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Lapse

It was a momentarily lapse in judgement but it was enough for the whole life to go on a spiral for Raj.

The car swirled wildly as he tried to save the dog that had come in front of the car — a dog he didn’t see earlier because he was looking at the message he had just received.

In what seemed like a lifetime of fifteen seconds, Raj was sitting in car that was standing still but looking the other way. He tried to remember what had happened in the past few seconds.

The dog had come from the divider on to the road barking at the car. Unfortunately, Raj saw this only at the last second and swirled to the left. The car, which was going at over 50 mph was out of Raj’s control and edged towards the end of the road. Only then Raj saw that the road ended in a deep ditch. Raj pulled the steering with all his force and the car moved towards the divider like a drunkard.

Raj realised that even in this state of panic, he was able to keep his cool enough to make the right choice. Either that or he was lucky that this choice turned out to be right. Instead of turning to left again, Raj swirled the car even more and the car twisted a whole 180 degree and came to a standstill.

The dog was looking at the car uncertainly. Raj kept sitting in the car for a few minutes. It was an empty road. If something had happened, no one would have been there to save him. Luckily, this also meant that no other car bumped into him while he was in this frenzy. That would have been lethal.

He turned the car slowly and was now driving at 20 mph. His heart rate was higher than he had ever experienced. But it was all fine.

At least that’s how he liked to remember the story. Even though the slight blood on the tyres was a bit difficult to fit in this story. And so was the fact that sometimes he had nightmares where the dog would turn into a 5-year old kid.

But in his story, it was all fine.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Alive!

Swapnil picked up the diary and started reading a random excerpt.

There will always be something or the other than bothers me. Life isn’t about having a cool life but about having troubles of the mind. I do realise that I have more peace when I am single and when I am not chasing after romance. I am more able to look at myself and improving myself. However, no person wants to live alone. No one wants to have a life that is not shared.

The social animal in me roars for a company. The human in me detests it. I don’t know what is the solution to this problem but I am assuming that the solution is going to be simple.

Swapnil was intrigued by these words. The victim was a curious person and if he would have been alive, Swapnil would have definitely wanted to talk to him based on his diary excerpts. However, it was not so and all Swapnil could do was find out what actually happened.

The most likely theory was that he committed suicide. He was single, alone and according to the neighbours, a quiet and reserved person. Most people living around were more surprised to know that he still was alive than by his death.

Swapnil had made a habit of reading this diary for the past three days. The material gave him insights about the person and he hoped to find some clue in those insights. Swapnil was also enchanted by the word flow and the quality of writing. It seemed that the person was a habitual writer — a professional even. Unfortunately, Swapnil couldn’t find out his profession yet. Other than the fact that he was rich enough to afford the place he was living in, the guy had little possessions.

An old television set, a pair of headphones and a laptop. This was his entertainment. Add to that three sets of clothes and it was no wonder that barely anyone ever knew him. This man never wanted to go outside.

These facts made the diary all the more interesting. The diary implied that he wanted to go outside and there was a fight between the social and unsocial part of him.

“Somehow, he thought that the unsocial part of him was human.” Swapnil spoke out loud. Everyone around him started to look at him. He sheepishly grinned and went back to the diary.

One thing I have understood about life. Whether alone or among a million people, life is beautiful.

Swapnil read it and his mind started to race. This man wouldn’t commit suicide. At least the man in the diary.

“You seem a bit too engrossed for an open and shut case.” Arpita said patting Swapnil on his head.

“This man doesn’t make sense at all. The diary shows a man who loved life and while he was a bit antisocial, he was also not a socially awkward person. On the other hand, he has barely any possessions, no one knew about the person in the building and no one seems to know him outside either. Heck! We haven’t been able to find his profession yet.”

“Now that you mention it, another thing is very interesting.” Arpita said looking through the photographs.

“What?” Swapnil asked.

“He is physically fit. Extremely fit per the medical report.”

“So.”

“You can’t maintain this kind of fitness level without a regime. You need a gym and a trainer or you need to have equipments at home.”

“There were no equipments at home and no membership cards etc. were found. No one ever saw him exercising as well. But I will check the nearby gyms.” Swapnil said.

“You still don’t understand. He was too physically fit and he was doing this without anyone finding it out. It’s almost as if he was preparing for a fight.” Arpita said with a glint in her eyes.

Swapnil looked through the reports once again with this new perspective.

“Oh no!” Swapnil said and ran.

“Wait! I’ll come.” Arpita ran after him.

“What happened Swapnil?” Arpita asked as the two moved towards the victim’s flat in his car.

“The flat wasn’t his house. He was meeting someone there. Someone with whom he was going to have a fight.” Swapnil said in one breath.

“This means there must be some other place where he lived.”

“Yeah. I have told Jacob to broaden his search to the whole city.”

“But someone was living there. Otherwise people would have said it was empty.”

“I know. There is one wild explanation I have but I can’t prove it right now.”

“Care to share.”

“What if everyone’s lying?”

“The whole building.”

“What if they are protecting the murderer. The person who actually lived at that place.”

“Yeah, it’s a crazy idea alright.”

Swapnil and Arpita reached the flat and started looking around. Arpita didn’t know what she was looking for but assumed that anything different from the last time would be good.

Swapnil moved around with fervour as if possessed.

“Yes.” Swapnil said and turned towards Arpita.

“It’s a photograph.” Arpita said disappointed.

“Yes. Now look at it.” Swapnil said shoving it in Arpita’s hand. It was a photograph of the victim.

“What’s the big deal about it? It’s the victim’s photo before he died.” Arpita said.

“Check the date.”

“It’s 2 days before his death.” Arpita said. Swapnil smiled like a maniac.

“Now, look at his physique.” Swapnil said.

“Oh my God!” Arpita said and dropped the photo.

Swapnil picked the photo and kept looking at it.

“Something crazy is going on. The guy who died can’t get this physically fit in 2 days. We are missing something crucial.” Swapnil said.

“What are you saying?”

“I am saying that I will solve this case.” Swapnil said.

A knock on the door woke up Graham. He moved shabbily towards the entrance. He opened the door and a look of shock filled his face.

“Happy Birthday Graham! You didn’t think we would forget your birthday.” A teenage girl squealed and entered the house, followed by half the building.

Graham looked at them grumpily. He hated socialising but didn’t want to avoid it either. He did wish he looked better so he could actually ask someone out. As far as he could see, building people were more courteous to him than caring.

He did hope that he would be able to change all that with the research he was working on. Hidden in his other room was his creation that he believed would change the way he lived.

“How’s your work coming along?” Jennifer asked. Graham’s heart elated. No one actually knew what the research was about but they still asked how it was moving. And Jennifer knowing about his research was a reward in it’s own.

“It’s going well. If everything goes as per plan, you will see a new me in two days.” Graham said excited.

“A new you.” Jennifer spoke, confused.

“Just wait for two days.” Graham smiled, while cursing himself slightly for saying more than he had meant to.

Jennifer smiled.

The party moved along smoothly and when it finally ended, Graham relaxed on his chair.

‘Two more days.’ Graham thought and went to his room for more tinkering.

“Hi Jennifer.” Swapnil said in a soft voice. Arpita sniggered behind him.

“H.. hi..” Jennifer said. Her voice was cracking and she was on the verge of tears.

“I know Jennifer that it is a weird case. You can tell me whatever the truth is and I will believe you.” Swapnil spoke in a soothing tone.

In the past three days, he has racked up every theory about what might have happened. Had the past version of Graham came and got killed by the present one? Were there twins? Or was it all a hoax to fox him. He had interrogated the whole building again but all of them had been silent on the matter, saying that they had not seen Graham for some time. Except for Jennifer, who had accidentally spilled that Graham’s birthday was two days before his death.

“I don’t know what happened.” Jennifer said trembling.

“But you know that something weird has happened. Right.” Arpita spoke from behind, in an even calmer voice.

Swapnil could smell victory but before he could prod Jennifer, Arpita put her hand on him and stopped him.

“You liked him, didn’t you?” Arpita said carefully.

Jennifer nodded and wiped tears from her eyes.

“Tell us the whole thing Jennifer. I know that you haven’t killed him. You have nothing to be afraid about.” Swapnil spoke taking cue from Arpita.

“We dated a few years ago. At that time, he was the jolliest person I knew. He was well liked in the whole building. No one actually knows how he earned money but most guessed that either he was wealthy or worked from home.

However, he was very conscious of how he looked and crazy about having the best looking body. When he started gaining weight, he became obsessed about improving his health. However, doctors said that it was a hormonal issue and while they can help him control the weight, he won’t ever be in the same shape as before.

He started having mood swings and became sad. He dumped me saying that he didn’t want to inflict himself upon me. I tried convincing him that it doesn’t matter but he won’t listen. We talked on and off and he hinted to me that he was working on a solution to get his old body back.” Jennifer spoke with intermittent of sobbing. Arpita put her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and squeezed it.

“So, the body we found was…”

“…how Graham used to look. But I had seen him two days ago and he was not looking like this. He did mention he would have a new look in two days. I don’t know what he did but it was weird. The whole building is spooked by seeing the old Graham’s body. No one actually believes it’s Graham. They think he is hiding somewhere. Some think he was doing some ritual that failed.”

Swapnil and Arpita looked at each other. The story filled a lot of gaps but they still didn’t know how he died.

Jennifer’s phone vibrated on the table. She looked at the two, asking for permission to pick up the phone. Swapnil nodded. Jennifer looked at the message and squeaked. She dropped the phone and moved away from the table.

“What happened?” Swapnil asked urgently.

“The message is from Graham.”

Swapnil picked the phone and checked the mail.

Hey Jennifer.

If you are reading this mail, it means my experiment failed. It also means that my experiment succeeded.

I tried to create a perfect body all my life and then, it failed me due to faulty programming. Hormones, which were supposed to help me become better retaliated against me. However, I could never give up.

I started working with researchers across the world to create a tissue body for me that would be perfect in all ways. The trouble was how to shift my consciousness into the new body.

The challenge was big but I tried by best. No hard disk was big enough to store the whole consciousness. That’s when I got the idea that changed my life. I used a distributed network to disperse my consciousness.

Thus, it became a two step process. First, I removed myself from the old body. Second, to put it in the new body and reboot the body.

I had started the process of dispersion a few months ago. After the birthday, I put my new body in the house while removing the old body forever. The plan was to show you the new me, as a return gift to you.

Unfortunately, if you are getting this mail, it means I did the first step correctly but failed in the second step. Maybe the body didn’t reboot or it failed in some other way.

I loved you a lot Jenny and I’m sorry for failing to become better.

Goodbye!

Swapnil read the whole email and sat down. All three of them looked at each other. Jennifer’s hands were on her mouth and Arpita was looking from Jennifer to Swapnil to the phone.

“It can’t be possible.” Jennifer spoke first.

“I don’t know.” Swapnil said honestly. Of all the theories he had thought, the truth still beat him in weirdness.

“What is a distributed system?” Jennifer asked.

“Any system that shares resources. For example the internet is something like this. Theoretically, one can use the processing and storage power of multiple computers for a single purpose.” Arpita explained.

“Like creating a consciousness.” Jennifer asked.

“I don’t think that’s possible.” Swapnil said looking at Arpita.

The phone vibrated once again.

Hey Jennifer.

I am alive!

It’s incredible. I thought my consciousness would dissolve once the experiment has failed but I can feel everything.

I have finally found the perfect body. Now, we can be together forever.

I love you.

Graham.

Swapnil finished the sentence and a silence fell in the room.