Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

World War III

The world was breaking and there wasn’t she couldn’t do everything about it. The pain of incompetence was too much for her to handle.

“Should I just end the pain?” She asked herself.

“NO!” A loud voice boomed in her head. Mahevash looked around bewildered. She couldn’t see anyone and assumed that the pain was getting to her. Mahevash started the procedure for the complete annihilation.

“STOP!” The voice again shouted, scaring Mahevash into stopping the procedure.

“Who are you?” Mahevash shouted. She got no reply. She looked around. The trees were slowly melting. The buildings were crumbling unto themselves. The sea was almost black towards the shore and Mahevash knew that the situation farther away won’t be much better. The Earth was done for.

The growing environmental problems had suffocated her for so long and then the nuclear war had reduced whatever hope Mahevash had to zero.

The only question was, whether the death should be slow and painful or should the pain be eased.

“This pain is terrible.” Mahevash shouted to no one. There was no one to hear her.

“It will pass.” A soothing voice came.

“How?” Mahevash pleaded.

“By more pain.” The voice chuckled.

“It’s not funny.” Mahevash cried still looking around. “Who are you? Where are you?”

“I’m coming. I’ll cause you great pain but I will help you live. I’m sorry.” The voice said trailing off.

Mahevash didn’t understand anything that was happening. She looked around at all the destruction. She had loved humans. They had caused her immense pain but she hadn’t wanted this to happen. All of them dead. She just wanted to know what happened.

“I’m here.” The voice came. Mahevash looked far and saw him coming. A huge meteor was hurtling towards her. Handsome and young, the meteor had a sheepish smile on his face.

“You caused all this.” Mahevash said angrily.

“Not directly. But I guess I am going to the cause of great pain to you.”

“I didn’t want any of this.” Mahevash said helplessly.

“I can’t change the fate. Time for you to start afresh.” The voice said as the meteor came close.

“Not again.” Mahevash replied as she felt the impact on her. The pain was excruciating. However, she knew, like last time, it would stop soon and she would have to start all over again.

“And the biggest news today is that US and China have declared war. Since it has been confirmed by NASA that the meteor will soon destroy humanity, all nations have openly started to fight. US and China are the last two countries to enter this World War III.

The end is near. Pray to your God. Thank you.”

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Jenny & Jennifer

The weather was reflecting the mood of the moment. The clouds were getting darker and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. Jenny slurped the ice-chocolate smoothie while Animesh scratched his beard. Five days on the road has not given him the opportunity to peel off the grass on his face.

‘At least Jenny is having fun.’ He thought bitterly. He had tried his best to explain to Jenny the current situation but she wouldn’t understand. It took a lot for Jenny to care about something. Animesh was a worry-wart. He didn’t believe it was possible that these two are related in any way but they were.

“Do you think we will survive this?” Jenny asked nonchalantly. Animesh looked at her shocked. The way she talked about dying flabbergasted him.

“We will survive.” Animesh said strongly, more to himself. Jenny nodded and gorged herself with the pancake.

Animesh remembered the first time he had seen Jenny. She was a tiny baby just out of her mother’s womb. Jennifer had left after the delivery and Jenny was the last memory of his wife. Luckily, Jenny was blessed. Jennifer came from a race of long-lived and almost immortal people. Jenny got the same genes from her mother. She was strong and almost a replica of her mother. Hence, Animesh named her Jenny.

He hoped that Jenny get to see her mother one day but that was only possible if Jenny could ascend. Unfortunately, Jenny had absolutely no interest in that. For her, a bowl of ice-cream was more important than gaining immortality.

“Jenny. We must complete this assignment. It would help you get stronger.” Animesh urged.

“Urghh.. Not again. I’ve told you a hundred times. I have no interest in meeting a mother who left me.” Jenny said but started finishing the meal. Despite all her rebellious nature, she did listen to Animesh and that was his only respite. He hoped that it would last long enough for her to ascend. She was already 12 and he dreaded the teenage years that were coming.

Jenny and Animesh looked at their target. He was a bounty hunter and he realised that the best way for Jenny to ascend was to assist him. Jenny had a long list of powers most of which the two were still discovering.

“I think we can abduct her if we go from that side.” Animesh whispered to Jenny. Jenny looked at him and smiled. She jumped from the 10-foot tall building just in front of the target. She had incredible strength and durability so Animesh was not anxious, just annoyed.

Animesh started his descent from the building while keeping an eye on Jenny. The target was surprised by Jenny’s sudden arrival but she quickly gained her composure and swung her hand at Jenny. Jenny dodged it and punched the target back. Animesh hoped Jenny was pulling her punches. Animesh didn’t want to take the target in two pieces.

Animesh came down and turned to see the fight. Jenny was still fighting unable to land a punch on the target. The target was faster than Jenny and that was saying something.

“Aarghh.” Jenny shouted as blood came gushing out of her side. Animesh ran to her to help her. The target turned and there was a large blade in her hand. A hand that was connected to the most beautiful face in the world.

Animesh kept looking at Jennifer who was stunned as well. Jenny took advantage of the situation and hit Jennifer with all her might.

“No Jenny.” Animesh shouted a bit too late. Jennifer lay crumpled on the ground. Animesh ran towards her.

“Jenny. This is Jennifer, your mother.” Animesh said in one breath. “Jennifer. I am so sorry.” He continued looking at Jennifer. She was now sitting on the ground pinching her back to check the pain.

“She’s strong. Stronger than me. Not fast enough though.” Jennifer said clinically.

“Yeah. She’s still learning.” Animesh said proudly.

Jenny kept looking at the two.

“We have to take her for the bounty.” Finally, Jenny said.

“We won’t take her Jenny. She’s your mother.” Animesh said. Jenny stayed quiet but her brows frowned.

“How have you been? Why are you here?” Animesh asked softly.

“I am good. I was here on a mission to confiscate an element that was illegally brought to Earth. I suppose my bounty is given by the government?”

“Yeah.”

“They would do anything to capture me.”

“But I don’t understand why they would send me to capture you. They know that I won’t do that.”

“Maybe because while you won’t, the others can’t. You are the only one who has ever captured me.” Jennifer said and smiled. She stood up and looked at Jenny once more.

“Is she ready?” Animesh asked tentatively.

“Not yet. But her progress is immense. She will soon be ready to ascend. You have done well Animesh.” Jennifer said and kissed him. Animesh kissed her back, giving Jenny her first awkward moment with her parents. She had been completely silent during the whole ordeal. She didn’t understand what was happening.

“Why did you leave us? Why can’t you stay with us?” Jenny said finally. Jennifer looked at her daughter and smiled.

“Because there has to be an Astra in position. My mother died a few days after you were born. So, I had to take her place. Now, until someone can take my place, I can’t leave.”

“Why can’t someone else take your place right now?”

“Because she isn’t ready yet.” Jennifer said and brushed Jenny’s cheeks.

“That’s why you want to train me faster so that I can take her place and she can come back to you?” Jenny asked Animesh with piercing eyes. The color drained off Animesh’s face.

“No. Until she is alive, you will only take her place if you want to. I just want you to be ready when that moment comes.” Animesh blabbered.

“Animesh can have only one of the Jenny’s.” Jennifer said in a calm and soothing voice.

“We three can never be together.” Jenny said in a meek voice. Jennifer shook her head with pain.

“But only you can bring your parents together.” Jennifer said as she began to glow.

“It’s time?” Animesh said.

“Yes my love. Till we meet again. Bye Jenny.”

Jenny kept looking as her mother’s glow brightened and then vanished.

“Let’s train dad. I’ll bring you two together.” Jenny said and held her father’s hand.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Too Old

Whenever I used to watch the tales of immortal beings — I used to get a thrill. Part of it was because how idiotic it all looked. Whenever people envisioned immortality, they would picture vampires or other similar creatures. Hideous, heinous and horrible. Either that, or it was pictured that it was happening through some scientific discovery that was only available to the rich. The third option of course was to be a god. All in all, being immortal was considered either a curse or a boon. It wasn’t an option available for humans.

The second reason for the thrill was because I’m immortal. I know… I know… You are surprised. I know what you people are thinking — “Come on Ajay. Surely you are joking. You don’t look over 25. How can you be immortal?”

But you see, that’s the thing. 25 is the peak human physical age. And I stopped at that point. My body doesn’t age and I simply regenerate any tissue or damage. Diseases are rare and infrequent. And most don’t affect my perfect immune system.

Now, I’m not here to brag about how awesome living forever is. I mean don’t get me wrong — it’s awesome — but there is more to this than just living forever. You have to watch your people go.

Saying this, Ajay clicked the camera and shut it down. He couldn’t carry on any further. He sat there for a few minutes thinking about the last time he had to let go. That was the most pain he had ever felt in his entire life. 500 years have passed since that incident and yet, he has not yet forgotten the day his species, sans him, ceased to exist.

Over the past 3500 years, he had lived through many catastrophes including the great floods and the bubonic plague. He had seen the people he love pass away. His friends, kids, their grandkids and so many more people. However, he had never anticipated in his dreams that he would ever see the end of human race.

“We seemed so durable.” Ajay said to himself before a flash light brought him to the reality.

“I’m sorry Mr. Human. Can you give me your autograph?” A small kid asked in a grating tone. The sound reminded him of turning wheels screeching on the road. His English was clearly broken and weak.

“Sure, kid. What’s your name?” Ajay asked the kid. He was around 3 feet tall, with three feet. One of the feet was basically a wheel that could balance on itself. There were twelve eyes that Ajay constituted as triple vision he had heard about recently. This kid could see more colors than Ajay could imagine. His hair were small tentacles that could be used for smelling and he had gotten one of his hand replaced by a mechanical arm.

‘Typical Homo Supreme kid.’ Ajay thought.

“My name is Kryznk.” The kid said. Three individuals were looking towards Ajay wondrously. Ajay assumed they were Kryznk’s parents. Ajay couldn’t distinguish between the parents as mother or father. He found it difficult to do with Homo Supreme. Especially since they had three sets of DNA, aside from the multiple machine parts.

Ajay wrote a few words in English and then in another language that he knew was Kryznk’s local tongue.

“You can speak this language.” Kryznk said awe-struck. Ajay had heard this tone several times. Most Homo Supreme people assumed that he was some prehistoric creature who would barely understand what they were saying. And while it was true that Homo Supremes were more intelligent due to their two brain structure, Ajay was no slouch. He had over the millennia learnt hundreds of languages and he could pick them up as quickly as any Homo Supreme. Besides, the fact that all Homo Supremes speak the same language gave Ajay more incentive to learn the language.

“Kryznk!” One of the parents’ whispered. Ajay was sure that the parent must have spoken more but it was difficult for Ajay to pick up the frequency. The kid however seemed to understand.

“I will go. Bye.” The kid said and left Ajay. Ajay looked around the room and checked the clock. He decided to call it a day. Ajay went to the reception area of the hotel where he was staying.

“Can you bring these items for me?” Ajay said giving the creature his list. This person had only three eyes and one of them was a compound eye and a second one was bionic.

The creature nodded. The kind of food Ajay needed was no longer easily available. Ajay knew that if he wasn’t on government payroll, he wouldn’t probably even be able to afford most of it. Thankfully, once Homo Supreme government realised that Ajay was immortal and the last of his species, they decided to keep him on their expense.

It was soon after the last human mother gave birth to a Homo Supreme baby with her husband, who was a homo supreme. Ajay had always thought that human race would end in a war. Instead, they were just assimilated into a superior race. It was no anti-climactic that Ajay could have never guessed it.

“Your food sir.” A person with tiny wings gave him the food and went away.

Ajay sat down and ate the food while looking at the itinerary for the next week. As part of the deal, Ajay had to attend 12 exhibitions every year where he was paraded along with several near-extinct species. This, along with weekly tests to see how he was immortal were the two conditions that helped him escape confinement.

‘With each Homo Supreme connected via hive mind, running away would have been futile anyways.’ Ajay thought to himself as he munched down on some chicken and rice.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Among the Aliens

The light was blue. Uday looked at it with a weird look on his face. He was looking at it disbelievingly.

“Are you sure it is supposed to be blue?” Jennifer asked.

“I am sure it’s not supposed to be blue.” Uday said.

“Oh!”

Jennifer went close to the light but there was no perceivable source to the light. It was just there.

“Maybe it is supposed to be blue.” Jennifer said doubtfully.

“The scriptures clearly state that the colour of the light reflects the mood of the individuals. The possible colors are red for anger, green for envy and yellow for fear. No other colors are mentioned.” Uday said going through the papers in his hands.

“Doesn’t mean there are no other possibilities. It just means that there are colors that they hadn’t explored, or written.”

“Yeah. But what does blue denote? Anxiety? I sure feel that right now.”

“Or hope…” Jennifer whispered.

“ Hmm.. Yeah. Maybe it is catching on our hope to bring back this stone and gain prominence in the world.” Uday said his heart beating faster. He had looked for this for years. It was his personal dream and soon, he would be known as the guy who changed the world, twice.

First time, Uday had saved the world from an attack of the aliens. The attack was not a full-fledged one but has put the whole of Earth on high alert. It was Uday’s calculations that had helped the armies to win the war. However, Uday knew that it was important to prepare for another onslaught. This search for possible alien artefacts started after that. He had formed a team that collected them and analysed to protect the planet. All of them have led to this. A light without source — called infinite light by the aliens. Driven by unknown energy and affected by the emotions surrounded it, the source could help Earth jump into the next phase of technological advancements.

“How will we take it Uday?” Jennifer questioned. Uday had been working on the problem for some time but now that he was here, he knew the problem was more complicated than he had initially thought.

“I will need to make some more adjustment to this device. We should have brought Imran with us.” Uday slammed himself.

“Umm.. He’s just outside.” Jennifer said rolling her eyes.

“Yeah. Wastes time. I’ll go. You keep an eye on this light. Lemme know if this changes color.” Uday said. Jennifer nodded. As soon as Uday left, the color of the light sharpened. The blue color deepened as Jennifer kept looking at the light longingly — the last source of infinite light.

Jennifer had helped Uday built the carrier of this light. She could have instead held it herself and took it but that would have meant her being captured and experimented on by Earthlings. She had no interest in that.

She wanted to survive. She knew that as long as she was alive, they would come for her. She had spent days scolding herself for taking part in this initial scouting of this new planet. Being the princess, she should have had better judgement. If something had happened to her, her parents would have been devastated, along with the whole planet.

Jennifer realised that the only way to survive was to become part of the alien hunting team. This way, she could lead them in a way that was non-lethal to her species.

The sharp blue light dimmed and flickered.

“I’m back.” Uday said.

Jennifer quickly dabbed her hand on her eyes. She hadn’t realised that she had tears in her eyes.

“Any wild guesses till now as to what this colour means?” Uday jested.

“Hope.” Jennifer whispered under her breath.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Last One

Whenever I used to watch the tales of immortal beings — I used to get a thrill. Part of it was because how idiotic it all looked. Whenever people envisioned immortality, they would picture vampires or other similar creatures. Hideous, heinous and horrible. Either that, or it was pictured that it was happening through some scientific discovery that was only available to the rich. The third option of course was to be a god. All in all, being immortal was considered either a curse or a boon. It wasn’t an option available for humans.

The second reason for the thrill was because I’m immortal. I know… I know… You are surprised. I know what you people are thinking — “Come on Arvindraj. Surely you are joking. You don’t look over 25. How can you be immortal?”

But you see, that’s the thing. 25 is the peak human physical age. And I stopped at that point. My body doesn’t age and I simply regenerate any tissue or damage. Diseases are rare and infrequent. And most don’t affect my perfect immune system.

Now, I’m not here to brag about how awesome living forever is. I mean don’t get me wrong — it’s awesome — but there is more to this than just living forever. You have to watch your people go.

Saying this, Arvindraj clicked the camera and shut it down. He couldn’t carry on any further. He sat there for a few minutes thinking about the last time he had to let go. That was the most pain he had ever felt in his entire life. 500 years have passed since that incident and yet, he has not yet forgotten the day his species, sans him, ceased to exist.

Over the past 3500 years, he had lived through many catastrophes including the great floods and the bubonic plague. He had seen the people he love pass away. His friends, kids, their grandkids and so many more people. However, he had never anticipated in his dreams that he would ever see the end of human race.

“We seemed so durable.” Arvindraj said to himself before a flash light brought him to the reality.

“I’m sorry Mr. Human. Can you give me your autograph?” A small kid asked in a grating tone. The sound reminded him of turning wheels screeching on the road. His English was clearly broken and weak.

“Sure, kid. What’s your name?” Arvindraj asked the kid. He was around 3 feet tall, with three feet. One of the feet was basically a wheel that could balance on itself. There were twelve eyes that Arvindraj constituted as triple vision he had heard about recently. This kid could see more colors than Arvindraj could imagine. His hair were small tentacles that could be used for smelling and he had gotten one of his hand replaced by a mechanical arm.

‘Typical Homo Supreme kid.’ Arvindraj thought.

“My name is Kryznk.” The kid said. Three individuals were looking towards Arvindraj wondrously. Arvindraj assumed they were Kryznk’s parents. Arvindraj couldn’t distinguish between the parents as mother or father. He found it difficult to do with Homo Supreme. Especially since they had three sets of DNA, aside from the multiple machine parts.

Arvindraj wrote a few words in English and then in another language that he knew was Kryznk’s local tongue.

“You can speak this language.” Kryznk said awe-struck. Arvindraj had heard this tone several times. Most Homo Supreme people assumed that he was some prehistoric creature who would barely understand what they were saying. And while it was true that Homo Supremes were more intelligent due to their two brain structure, Arvindraj was no slouch. He had over the millennia learnt hundreds of languages and he could pick them up as quickly as any Homo Supreme. Besides, the fact that all Homo Supremes speak the same language gave Arvindraj more incentive to learn the language.

“Kryznk!” One of the parents’ whispered. Arvindraj was sure that the parent must have spoken more but it was difficult for Arvindraj to pick up the frequency. The kid however seemed to understand.

“I will go. Bye.” The kid said and left Arvindraj. Arvindraj looked around the room and checked the clock. He decided to call it a day. Arvindraj went to the reception area of the hotel where he was staying.

“Can you bring these items for me?” Arvindraj said giving the creature his list. This person had only three eyes and one of them was a compound eye and a second one was bionic.

The creature nodded. The kind of food Arvindraj needed was no longer easily available. Arvindraj knew that if he wasn’t on government payroll, he wouldn’t probably even be able to afford most of it. Thankfully, once Homo Supreme government realised that Arvindraj was immortal and the last of his species, they decided to keep him on their expense.

It was soon after the last human mother gave birth to a Homo Supreme baby with her husband, who was a homo supreme. Arvindraj had always thought that human race would end in a war. Instead, they were just assimilated into a superior race. It was no anti-climactic that Arvindraj could have never guessed it.

“Your food sir.” A person with tiny wings gave him the food and went away.

Arvindraj sat down and ate the food while looking at the itinerary for the next week. As part of the deal, Arvindraj had to attend 12 exhibitions every year where he was paraded along with several near-extinct species. This, along with weekly tests to see how he was immortal were the two conditions that helped him escape confinement.

‘With each Homo Supreme connected via hive mind, running away would have been futile anyways.’ Arvindraj thought to himself as he munched down on some chicken and rice.