spoon

Flight

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A few months back I participated in a short fiction contest. The topic was the picture below. The contestants were asked to interpret the picture in anyway they wanted and weave a story in not more than 250 words.

There were around 230 participants. I didn’t win, but I was listed among the top scorers.

I’d somehow forgotten to post it. Doing it now.

*********


Valoury, the bird, was flying majestically over the trees, high up in the sky. Even though he was born a bird, he’d never believed he could fly. ‘I don’t think I could fly, mamma,’ he’d confided in his mother when he was little. ‘Remember, son. You are born to fly,’ his mother had said. Those words had instilled the much needed confidence in him. And now, reminiscing that moment, he flew higher.

After flying for about an hour, Valoury decided to rest. He flew down to a house and sat on the compound.

***

Upon seeing the bird, Viplav, who was playing in the veranda, came running to his mother. He looked morose.

“What happened, dear?” his mother asked.

“I can’t fly like a bird, can I, ma?”

She looked at her five year old son and smiled. Viplav eagerly awaited her response. She gave a peck on his cheek and said simply, “Why not, sweetheart? Of course you can fly. You can become a pilot and fly aeroplanes.”

Viplav’s eyes widened. “Really?”

“Yes, my love,” said his mother and kissed him again.

***

Now, Valoury and Viplav were face to face with each other. Staying true to his name, Valoury had not flown away in spite of being approached by a human. They looked at each other in mute amazement. The bird saw his past in the boy, and the boy saw his future in the bird.

********************The End********************

Copyright © Karthik 2010

Unsullied Retribution - Explanation

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The three victims in the story represent the three basic weaknesses of a man.

The first one – the old man – when tries to help the killer (who identifies himself as M) is not sure of his knowledge about the right path. The uncertain old man here represents “Self-doubt”.

The second one – the pretty girl in the car - underestimates the killer (who identifies himself as A) and tells him outright that he can’t reach his destination. Here, she represents “self-condemnation”.

The last one – the burly man at the graveyard – tries to scare away the killer (who identifies himself as N). He represents the deadliest weakness of a man – “Fear”.

The letters that the killer gives as his name; when added becomes MAN – representing every person in this world, irrespective of gender, race, culture, etc.

In the story, his journey becomes easier with each killing, and his surrounding, which is quite difficult to interpret in the beginning, becomes easier to understand upon killing the people (weaknesses).

A man can attain his true freedom only when he first realizes his weaknesses, and then kills them. This is what is shown in the last paragraph, when the protagonist, before switching off the light catches a glimpse of the book “Freedom at midnight”. Freedom at midnight it is (freedom at last); he says to himself, before drifting of to a peaceful sleep.

Unsullied Retribution

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It was ten o’clock in the night when I made up my mind. It’s now or never, I said to myself, and got off the cot on which I was sleeping, or perhaps, trying to sleep. I took out a brand new pair of black trousers, black shirt, and a black leather jacket from the bureau and wore them. I then sat on a chair and wore my dark leather boots. I went to the bureau again and took out a hunting knife. I shall find them and kill them all today, no matter what, I swore. I eyed my weapon intently. The glistening steel blade had vengeance written all over it. Putting it back in its sheath, I got out of the room. A minute later, I was out in the dark, silent night, on a lookout for my victims.

***

The dogs were silent, the wind was blowing mildly, the city was asleep, and the road was barren. I walked on. There was no moon to guide me, no stars to give me hope; all I had was a purpose to achieve.

Fifteen minutes later I was in the city outskirts, miles away from home. A few hundred meters away I could see the two roads diverge. I had a choice to make. I stood there contemplating when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I swiveled round to see an old man of about seventy.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m here to help you,” said the old man.

“OK. Tell me which road to choose.”

“First tell me your name.”

“I’m M,” I replied.

“OK, M,” the old man said, “Take the one on your right, and you’ll reach your destination.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, getting a little skeptical.

“Well, take the one on your left, my friend.”

“But you just asked me to take the right.”

“Yes, yes, you should take the road on your right. Go on, go on, reach your destiny,” said the old man scratching his head.

“You are still not sure, are you?”

“I think you should take the left,” said the old man, blinking his eyes.

I knew I had found my first victim. Without thinking or saying further, I took out my hunting knife from its leather sheath, and plunged it into the old man’s chest. Blood oozed out of the old man’s chest as he sagged down. A moment later he died.

I looked at the dead body, and then at the diverged roads. I made my choice and walked on.

I, the killer, was on the move again.

***

The surrounding was devoid of all the sounds of nature. The only sound I heard was the squeaking of my boots. The darkness had reigned supreme, and it was a journey into the void. I looked up toward the sky. Blackness. I wasn’t bothered, for I was possessed with only one thing – killing.

I looked at my watch. It said ten forty. I walked on resolutely. A few minutes later, a sedan came out of nowhere and stopped beside me. The window-glass rolled down, and I saw a pretty girl at the wheel.

“Want a ride?” she asked, smiling.

Without replying I opened the door and stepped in, taking a seat beside her. She drove on.

“So, where are you going?” she asked.

“To the graveyard,” I answered, without looking at her.

“What for?”

“I have an appointment.”

“All right,” she said. After a pause she asked, “What is your name, by the way?”

“I’m A,” I said. This time I looked straight in her eyes.

“OK,” she said, and shifted gear.

The car was moving at 100 km/hr now, and I didn’t even flinch.

“I don’t think you’ll make it,” she said flatly.

“What do you mean?” I asked, without taking my eyes off the road.

“I mean you won’t reach your destination. Graveyard, that is,” she said, smiling sarcastically.

“Why not?” I asked, becoming curious.

“Look around. It’s so dark and scary. Also you don’t look the type who’d take the risk. Only a few people can go there, you know. And you are not one of those special few,” she said, and laughed until she had tears in her eyes.

“Stop the car,” I said with austerity.

She slowed down, and finally stopped. “You want to walk?”

“No, my dear. I’m taking your car,” I said, taking out my knife. She gasped, but before she could say anything I slit her throat. Her body wriggled as the blood gushed out of her throat, and a minute later, she died. I pushed her limp body out of the car, sat in the driver’s seat, revved up the engine, and drove on.

I soon realized that my journey was becoming easier with every killing.

***

The dashboard clock read eleven ten. The wind which I thought was mild until now, was hitting my face tempestuously. I didn’t bother to roll up the window-glass, as I couldn’t resist the challenge posed by the wind.

I put the car into top gear and pressed down the gas pedal. In less than five seconds the speed shot up to 140 km/hr. The stereo system was glowing with green colour, and when I pressed the play button, Eminem’s Stay Wide Awake filled the car.

…come with me to the dark side of the force

No man would boldly go to this place

The devil only knows of this world

So dark and oh so cold, it’s all so cold, all so cold...

Everything was perfect; the speed of the car, the cavernous darkness outside, the song.

Five minutes later I brought the car to a screeching halt in front of a big, rusty, Iron Gate. I had reached the graveyard, my destination. I turned off the ignition key, and stepped out of the car. For the first time in that night I could see and hear some changes around me. A lid of dark clouds had partially lifted in the sky, and slants of moonlight reflected on the metallic body of the sedan. I could see some bats flying over the graveyard; I could hear dogs barking, and owls hooting. The silence and the darkness, both were fractured.

I tugged my jacket and walked toward the gate. It creaked when I opened it slowly. No sooner had I taken a step inside than I saw a burly man standing beside me, lighting a cigarette.

“Thought you wouldn’t come,” he said, blowing the smoke in circles.

I didn’t answer.

“What’s your name?” he asked, blowing the smoke in my face.

“I’m N,” said I.

“All right. Why have you come here?”

“Because I wanted to,” I replied, matter-of-factly.

“Think carefully before you go in, my friend. You might not come back,” he said.

“And why is that?”

“Why, for all the obvious reasons, of course. It’s a bloody graveyard. No one comes back, you know. Everyone who made that decision and went in never came back. They are all gone, dead, vanished. Just like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.

“Really?”

“Like it or not, these things are immutable. It’s bound to happen with you too,” he said phlegmatically.

Beads of sweat started forming on my forehead, but I knew what I had to do. I reached inside my jacket pocket, and took out my knife.

He laughed, quite laddishly. “You think you can kill me?”

“I have to. I have no other go. You are my ultimate victim,” I said as I took a step toward him.

He remained rooted to the ground. He was at least four inches taller than I, and at least one hundred and fifty pounds heavier than I.

When I was just a few inches away from him, he threw his cigarette, and stood with his hands folded.

“Think before you act, my friend,” said he.

“You are not my friend,” I said, and stabbed him in the chest.

He continued to smile. It wasn’t enough. I twisted my knife into his chest, and took it out. Blood trickled down his chest. I lifted my arm and plunged the knife yet again into his chest. This time he reeled back and stumbled and fell on the ground. I sat astride his stomach and repeatedly stabbed him ten times as blood sprinkled on my face. Finally, just to make sure he was dead; I thrust the knife into his neck.

I wiped the blood off the steel blade using his shirt, and got up. I put the knife back in its sheath, and kept it inside my jacket pocket. Wiping the blood off my face using my hanky, I walked inside the graveyard.

It was dead calm. I didn’t have anything to do there. All I wanted to do was to go and have a look inside, take a stroll in the night. After walking for ten minutes, I decided to leave. After all I had achieved my purpose.

The body still lay near the gate. I ignored it and walked out of the gate. I ignored the car too, and silently walked back home.

***

It was eleven fifty when I reached home. I changed into my night dress and went to bed. The clock chimed twelve, and just when I was about to switch off the light, I caught a glimpse of the book on my table. It was Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.

“Absolutely. Freedom at midnight it is,” I said to myself as I switched off the light, and drifted off to sleep. And that night I slept like I’d never slept before. It was the most peaceful sleep I’d ever had.

********************The End********************

Copyright © Karthik 2010

P.S. Click here for the explanation of the story.


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The Devil's Alternative
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Godfather
The Seven Minutes
The Prize
Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead
If Tomorrow Comes
Digital Fortress
The Chancellor Manuscript
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Identity
The Fist of God
The Fourth Protocol
The Odessa File
The Day of the Jackal


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