Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Application to Heaven

‘Hi.. Umm.. My name is X. As you must be knowing, I was sent to hell for my life in earth. It has been 14 years si…’

Vivek paused the video and swore loudly.
“Who allowed a 14 year old to send a petition.” He asked his subordinates. No one looked at him directly. Knowingly, he immediately turned to Junior.

“What is the meaning of this? I have told you the rules a hundred times. No one can send a petition until he has spent an equivalent time of his or her age. How hard is it for you to understand?” Vivek fumed.

He hated this job. It had two things that were beyond his paygrade. One, he had to spend at least sometime in hell to check on the situation. Second, he had to watch the bloody applications. Ever since God has had the epiphany, his life has become hell. Vivek thought miserably.

The decree was passed, without consulting him mind you, that anyone in hell who has had good behavior and is changed can now be sent to heaven. The applications can be made in either video, audio or written format. Most inmates used video as the technology was fairly robust and they thought that looking at their pitiful state would appease him. Ha!

Truth be told, it did work sometimes. Especially when Vivek saw the rules acting up stupid. Two days after the law was passed, a video came through, obviously made by one of his assistant, of a baby of around 5 months. The baby spoke nothing but kept on looking at the video crying and then being pacified to laughter. It took him a minute to realise that he was watching a petition and not some baby video on Facebook.

Looking at the file, he came to know that the baby had jumped (more like fallen) from the roof and on technicality, had committed a suicide. Really! a seven month suicidal baby. She was in hell since seventeen months. He could not believe what he was seeing.

On a thorough search by the staff, about three hundred children below the age of one and about 15000 children below the age of 5 were found in hell, who ended up here because the process was done by a machine without brains. They were all immediately transferred to heaven. He had felt really good about it and that week was considered the best week for the HMC (Hell Maintenance Committee). Vivek allowed a few applications to pass through even when the age of the applicant in hell was less than the age on Earth. After all, just because a kid had lived for four years on Earth doesn’t mean he should live the same in this God-forsaken place, Vivek thought amused at his pun.

The first month was good too. A lot of people were there for measly reasons and were shifted to heaven. Then the lot began to rot. First came the murderers. They always had the same excuse — ‘self-defence’. Then the thieves- ‘we were just providing for the family’ and then even the rapists- ‘heat of the moment, we are sooooooorry’. As if the extra o’s change everything now.

But this, this was just out of control. This guy was a murderer and had not even lived in hell for his age.

“Tell me Junior. What is wrong with you? Why are you sending this application to me?”

“Just look at it once. You will understand. I promise.” Junior pleaded.

Curious, Vivek unpaused the video.

“…nce I was part of that incident. I will be honest. At first I did not understand why I was placed here and I thought I had offended God in some other manner. But, I have been told that it was that incident that is the reason for my place in hell. Looking back at everything, I apologise for my mistakes and I wish I was not a part of it. In the end, I would again reiterate, I thought I was doing this in God’s honour. If I knew it was not God’s wish, I would not have been a part of 9/11. Thank you.”

The video stopped. Vivek looked at Junior puzzled. Junior looked at Vivek eagerly. Surely he must have missed something.

“What did you want me to see? This guy is going to stay here a long time Junior.”

“But… He did it for him.” Junior replied. “It must be worth something.”

“It doesn’t matter who he did it for. It is what he did that matters.” Vivek said deleting the video.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Humans vs. Anctids

“I am sorry.” Juan said softly to Sumit, the President of the Earth Charter.

“Its alright.” Sumit said wiping his brow with a handkerchief while reading the papers in front of him. It has been four years since humans first came in contact with aliens and the Earth Charter was formed to represent the Earth in the universe. He had only been the president for one year and in that one year, he had to come to the Galaxy Court 7 times and once, he had to even go to the Universe Court. All this, because some idiot human decided to act human on a galactic scale. He has come to learn the hard way that in the Inter-planetary world, they are the endangered species.

“We will plead Barbarism. It won’t get us out free but it should reduce the sentence. You did not know, right?” Sumit asked in the same soft voice.

The whole courtroom was silent. There was a jury of 29 individuals, each from a different species from across the galaxy. The judge was going through the details of the crime while the prosecutor, Retan — a humanoid ant (anctids as they are called) about the same height as Sumit, was looking at her notes. Her client, Meghan — a five feet anctid was looking suspiciously at Juan.

Juan was flabbergasted to see around 351 people sitting in the courtroom, each of a different species. No two members of the same species were present.

“What one knows, they all know.” Sumit spoke reading Juan’s mind.

“How does it work? What about freedom of thought or privacy?” Juan asked exasperated.

Privacy, Independence of thought and diversity in action, the most cherished of human traits are not only rare but looked down upon in the universe. Sumit thought amusingly. Almost all intelligent species in the universe originate from the hive communities. Some of the more advanced species have even created networks that have unified the brain systems of their entire species. Thus, they all have access to the collective information of the whole species at the same time. No sense of privacy left.

“There are some species that are still not ‘Uniformed’, if I had read the word right. They do not have the technology yet. But they are mostly considered barbaric and are trying to reach that position. In the meantime, they share information using technologies similar to ours — Internet. That is our defense today. That you did not have the necessary information regarding the change in law.” Sumit explained to Juan quickly.

“You really did not know this?” Sumit again asked Juan sceptically.

“No, I did not. Why would anyone want to live like that?” Juan said disgustingly.

“The advantage of course is that there were no crimes in their planets. The whole species behave as a single organism and no one harms themselves.” Sumit said sternly. The butt-kicking disadvantage, especially for his butt was that any crime committed by an individual was considered a collective action by the whole species. Sumit thought to himself.

“Humans have slapped the Anctids.” Retan said bringing Sumit out of his thoughts. “Humanity has decided to attack Anctids and we won’t take it lightly.” Retan continued in the same menacing voice detailing how humanity should be destroyed for what they have done.

This was Sumit’s second bout with Retan and he was not taken aback by the shrieking and screeching that Retan’s voice was. Through the universal translator, it felt like some was passing through a grating machine. Juan had no such practice and he panic was written all over his face. Was he also looking at Retan like this last time. No wonder he lost. Sumit thought with amusement.

“You want to pitch in Sumit, or smilingly foolishly will be all.” The judge, a 200-year old 27 feet tree spoke and started laughing at his own joke. A flower fell from one of his branch due to the shaking and shut him immediately.

“Ahem, please remove the flower and strike that off the court proceedings. Guard, please take it to my wife.” Judge spoke a little embarrassed. Sumit imagined that if the judge could, he would be blushing right now. It was equivalent to a wardrobe malfunction on Earth. On the bright side, it was good to see the judge doing family planning.
“So, Mr. Sumit. Do you want to proceed?”

“Yes sir. I completely agree with Retan. The atrocious crime committed by Juan is unforgivable. However, as before, I would like the court to understand that we are still not technologically advanced for the information to be with every individual. Thus, will it be possible to pass the judgement based on Earth laws, once again.”

“Sir. How long is humanity going to use this advantage while hurting other species? We want humanity destroyed.”

“Humanity Destroyed! For domestic violence.” Juan said startled. “She is my girlfriend and I know what I did was wrong but I had just slapped her once. Humanity destroyed for that. Are you kidding me?” Juan ranted on.

Sumit looked at Meghan. It was clearly visible that she was not comfortable with the idea of destruction of humanity, or at least her boyfriend. She kept looking at Juan and then at his hand. Sumit looked at Juan’s hand and knew at once, he could save humanity.

“Judge, sir. If the earth laws are unacceptable then please let Meghan decide what will happen to Juan. Whatever she decides for Juan, will be acceptable to rest of the humanity as well.” Sumit played his card.

“Now.. Now.. the final decision will be of the jury. I hope you know how the law works Sumit.” Judge said in a jovial voice. For a tree he was really full of life, Sumit thought.

“Yes, of course. But as the crime is committed against Meghan, she should have some part in the final punishment.”

“The crime is against Anctids. And the punishment will be for Humans.” Retan again shrieked.

Sumit looked at the judge and Meghan expectantly.

“I want humanity to be punished.” Meghan said softly.

“Of course you do. But what punishment you want to give Juan and Juan alone.” Sumit quipped.

“Juan alone?” Meghan asked confused.

‘Hive-mind.’ Hmmpphed Sumit under his breath.

“Yes. I believe your fight with him started on some issue and escalated. What if he did it 10 times over, or 100 times over. Can you agree to that as Juan’s punishment??”

Meghan did not speak anything but kept looking at Juan longingly.

“I suppose that would work.” Retan said, looking at Meghan. She already knew the decision Meghan had made.

“Alright then. Let the jury decide on all the aspects. Give us 2 minutes and we will make the decision.” Judge spoke while his branch extended to the jury platform. Each of the jury members touched his hand to give their advice.

“The results are out! Humanity is guilty of slapping Anctids. However, as Anctids have decided against complete annihilation of Humanity, the jury agrees to go with the Anctids proposed punishment. Humanity will wash all the clothes and dishes for Anctids for the next ten years. These will be sent to earth every 24 hours and should be return within next 24 hours. Sumit, please meet me in the chamber.” Judge said.

“Sumit, how did you know Anctids would cave?” Judge asked while flipping out his phone.

“I got an information that was not with me before.” Sumit said to judge.

“What was that information?” Judge asked absently while another tree, probably his wife was on the other side.

“Meghan stung first.” Sumit said.

“How did you not know that? Kinda vital don’t you think.” Judge chuckled.

“Yeah. Disadvantage of being a human. Juan had the choice of not telling me.” Sumit said with an emphasis on the word choice.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Inertia

“What?” Karthik shouted over the loud sound of the bomb that had exploded the building nearby.

“I am here to protect you?” The man said with a grin as he took another bomb out from his jacket to throw.

A.. A.. Aren’t you the guy who killed the US president?”

“Well, you are more important than the president.” The man winked at him as he threw the bomb at another building.

“There were people in there. You just killed them all.” Karthik was stunned. He looked around him and saw destruction everywhere. This man — Bombstray, was throwing bombs indiscriminately at everything around. It is said that his body created bombs continuously. Karthik could see Infinite man and ZeroG trying to protect the people from Bomb-stray’s attack. It all made sense except for the part where it all started.

“So, you have to kill me?” Karthik asked them both while looking from Infinite man to ZeroG.

“Yes. Unfortunately. There is no other way.” ZeroG said with sympathy. He was in his 50s and had a son almost of the same age as Karthik. Infinite Man was almost of the same age as Karthik.

Karthik looked at the figurines of Infinite Man and ZeroG near his bed and sniffed a little. They were his heroes. ZeroG was the strongest person on the earth. He could fly, had regenerative powers and could also control metal. He had worshipped ZeroG since he could remember and now he was here to kill him.

“There must be some mistake. I am just a 21 year old ordinary guy.” Karthik voice quivered as he spoke.

“I wish there was a mista..” ZeroG began again in a fatherly voice when InfiniteMan cut him off.

“Let’s discuss this at the base. I have a feeling that we are not alone here.”

“Alright. Karthik, can you at least come with us so that we can explain this all to you in a more secure location.”

“Uh.. Ok.. But.. Is it really necessary to kill me?”

Before ZeroG could answer, the building nearby exploded.

“They sent Bombstray! I cannot believe it.” InfiniteMan said and jumped off the window to the next building.

As if on cue, the blank wall on the left started changing into a human form. Behind her, the wall was exactly as the rest of them.

Plano punched ZeroG before he could react and pushed Karthik out of the window. Bombstray caught him and started running towards the car. InfiniteMan was busy saving the people in the building but ZeroG had neutralised Plano already and was heading towards them. Bombstray threw another bomb at the nearby building and then turned to Karthik and said something.

“What?” Karthik shouted over the loud sound of the bomb that had exploded the building nearby.

— –

Karthik could not still believe what was happening. It was around 5 days since they have been moving. The villains always in pairs, took him from once hiding spot to another where another team picked him up. Some trips went silently and others were intercepted by heroes. The villains kept on changing and so did the heroes. It was a game of cat and mouse in which he was the prize. He still was confused as to feel what.

ZeroG had explained to him that somehow, he was the source of all the superpowers in the world. He was the first superhero to get his powers and he got them on Karthik’s birthday. They have been unable to trace any other individual with older timestamp. Also, everyone got their powers when they were within 200 kms of where Karthik was.

“Guess I should not have traveled so much during my teens.” Mused Karthik.

They did not know how the individuals got the power or the criteria of choice but they were sure that everything got linked to me. They were also certain that Karthik’s death would immediately remove all the powers as well. Oracle had told them so. He had a crush on her.

At the moment, Karthik hated Oracle. She was never wrong.

He did not want to die but he could not deny that these powers had increased the number of deaths in the world by a huge factor. He hated the villains and wanted them to lose all their powers but then the heroes would lose them too. And not to mention the small issue of him being dead.

“Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.” Karthik said out loud to let out the frustration.

“Shut up, imbecile.” J said sneering at him. “Because of you, I could not have sex for months. At least let me get some sleep.” He was known for shape shifting. No one knew his real name and along with Plano, they were the shapeshifting couple.

Apparently Plano had been spying on Karthik for sometimes as the villains had a similar hunch as the heroes.

“No problem. Sleep well.”

“Your sleeping days are over hon. We are here.” Plano said from the driving seat.

“Who’s the next villain?” Karthik asked. Superpowers had always excited him and he was curious to know what powers he had inadvertently created.

“I will be guiding you forward.” A young girl came forward with a soothing voice. “My name is Intertia.”

Karthik was stunned. No wonder she was alone. Inertia was a legend. Only in her 20s, she was considered the most powerful villain of all time. Except for ZeroG, she had beaten all the heroes. Her rivalry with ZeroG had become of gigantic proportions. In fact, some Superhero experts had started to say that Inertia was obsessed with defeating ZeroG. A few even commented that maybe she was in love with him.

She gestured Karthik to her car and followed as if she had all the time in the world. Whereas in other such changes, the villains were looking over their shoulders, Inertia was smiling and playing something on her phone.

It was almost an hour when Karthik first spoke.

“Where are we going?”

“Took you long enough to ask. Have the other villains been hard on you?”

Karthik gulped as Inertia smiled encouragingly.

“Well, they are villains.”

“Hahaha… Ouch! I wish the community wasn’t as barbaric. Just because you break the law doesn’t mean you have to be rude.” Inertia said in a musical voice.

“You… are nice.” Karthik said surprised.

“Thanks. No, I am not. Although, I have never killed anyone. I was raised by good folks. My father always said that how you treat people is a reflection on how you are.”

“Then how come you became a villain?”

“Timing!” Inertia said and winked at Karthik.

Karthik remained silent for a few minutes but could not control himself.

“Tell me about yourself?”

“What? Why?”

“Because I do not understand. You are too good to be a villain.”

“Aww.. I am not the only one. You won’t believe but Bombstray donates to WWF anonymously. He is a bag of mush for animals. And Stone cries at the end of Titanic everytime he sees it. Villains are humans too.”

“Still. Doesn’t your father stops you?”

Inertia smiled sadly.

“My mother asks me to stop sometimes. My father died around 22 years back. Maybe if he was alive, I would not be like this.”

“Oh.. I am sorry. You must be really young when he died.”

“Yeah. I was around 15 years old.”

“Wait! You are 37! I thought you were my age.”

“I age slowly. Still, I WAS young when my dad died.”

“Of course. I am sorry. How did it happen?”

“Murdered in the alley. Batman style.” Inertia said trying to make a joke about it while wiping a tear off her eye.

Karthik remained silent for the rest of the trip. They reached an abandoned warehouse. She checked her phone, typed something on it and smiled at Karthik.

“Welcome home. You are going to be here for all your life so make yourself comfortable.” Inertia said while laughing at her own joke.

“Did you found you who did this?” Karthik finally asked.

“Not until I got my powers. I had been searching for clues since the incident but once I got my powers, I was able to find the answer.”

“Who? Did you get the person?”

“Not yet! But one day. He was an ordinary guy who stabbed my father while he was drunk. On our first encounter, he told me that he was sorry for what happened. He had been repenting since he got his powers. Every time we fight, he says to me that he became a hero because of that incident. As if that changes anything.” Inertia said as tears rolled from her eyes.

“ZeroG… He killed your father.”

“Yes, and today, finally, I will get my revenge.”

“Today! How?”

“He had once put a tracker on me. I have reprogrammed it so that it gives of my location on random time intervals. ZeroG thinks it is broken but he will be tracking it nevertheless.”

“You want him to come here. You have never beaten him. How will you kill him?” Karthik asked worried. For once, he was on the side of the villains.

“I have rigged the whole place with bombs. There is enough to blow up the whole town. He won’t get out alive.”

“But he is considered immortal. Bombstray had tried to blow him up before. He would get away again.”

“Not this time.” Inertia said as ZeroG flew in the warehouse.

“Free him Inertia.” ZeroG said menacingly.

Inertia didn’t even look at ZeroG. She kept looking at Karthik and smiled.

“I like you Karthik and I am sorry.”

Before Karthik could understand, Inertia’s hand was through his body taking his heart out. The last vision his brain registered was Inertia’s sad face with a background of explosions.

Random Tales

kpwrites #1

It’s dark and a little damp. The raccoon looks at the bright green eyes shining at him. It knows it should be scared but for some reason, the eyes attract it. It slowly moves towards the eyes which increase in number from two to three – the third eye glowing orange between the two green ones. It is a little higher than the green pair and the glow is increasing continuously. The raccoon is scared but still continues to move towards the eyes. It squeals in terror as it’s feet continue to pounce towards the eyes.

The raccoon jumps and the eyes vanish. Raccoon looks around but can’t find anything. In front of it, there is a piece of meat that it starts to devour, the thought of those green-orange eyes forgotten.

In a distance, the three eyes open again – two green and one orange. The pupil of the orange eye enlarges it seems to suck the light around it. An aura forms around the raccoon – which slowly moves towards the orange eye.

The orange eye feeds on the aura and closes. The green eyes close as well.

The raccoon continues chomping on the meat.