Monday, April 8, 2013

Suspended Animation - A Short Story

A piercing scream cuts through the dense, foggy, moonless night with such ferocity that Charac almost falls off his bed. He wakes up, gasping for breath, utterly disoriented by his surroundings which appear drastically different from the previous day.

“What is this? How did I get here? What’s happening to me?”

He decides to survey his surroundings - a magnificent room, resplendent with art, wall ornaments, tapestries, a clear sign of wealth bordering on opulence. Two lanterns cast labyrinthine shadows, on opposing walls, of the crystal chandelier in the middle of the room. Charac finds a black uniform that looks strikingly similar to a Ninja’s. Without thinking too much, he puts on that uniform and unconsciously starts looking for his sword. Then he stops himself with a start.

“I am looking for my sword? Why am I looking for my sword? I have never held a sword before? What am I, a Ninja warrior? Why?”

He doesn’t find the sword but instead finds a device which, when activated, resembles a light sabre. He decides that will do, without pausing to debate the anachronistic situation. He gets ready to venture out in the dark of the night, his protective instincts at high alert. He decides to use his light sabre to light up the way and also cut through the dense forest that stands in front of him. As he starts walking through the forest, he is filled with a vague nostalgia. No matter how hard he tries, he is unable to pinpoint the source and gives up soon enough. He is shocked by what he finds when he comes to a clearing.

There is a giant balloon, glowing with an otherworldly iridescence. It is held down by a rope, and in the basket below the balloon, there is a person in a ninja uniform being pulled by a boy as he tries to cut the rope. The boy is screaming, but it appears to be fading in and out for no apparent reason. Charac darts towards the balloon, activates his light sabre, and strikes the other ninja warrior with such force that he appears to dissolve into thin air. He asks the boy, who is shaking uncontrollably, as to what happened.

“I am about to miss my train!”


“I am about to miss my train. If I miss the train, I will not be able to get to school.”

“Why do you need a train to go to school?”, Charac asks, and immediately realizes that the more important question was about the boy’s safety, not his mode of transport to school.

“I have an exam today, I woke up late, and found that I missed the school bus. So I decided to take the train. However, my legs wouldn’t move fast enough and I am about to miss my train”

“What train?”, Charac asks, as he suddenly finds a train whipping past them at full speed. He immediately pulls the boy away from the train, to avoid getting sucked into the vacuum created by such speed.

“That train!”, the boy says triumphantly, but his glee rapidly turns to a grimace when he realizes he has missed the train.

“What about the Ninja warrior who was trying to take you away in the balloon?”

“Oh, he was going to punish me for missing my train”

“This is not making sense. What is your name?”

“I am Eamer”

“Hello, Eamer. Can I take you home?”

“I don’t know where exactly my home is, but you can try”. At that point, Charac suddenly collapses, as if the dark of the night (exacerbated by the sudden disappearance of the glowing balloon) seeped into his mind with amazing speed and shut it off.


A piercing scream cuts through the moonlit night with such intensity that Charac falls off his bed, gasping for breath. He finds himself in an utterly white room, with no black curtains. It is well-lit, but there are no windows, nor is there a door. He finds a uniform resembling a space-suit.

“What is this? Why do I keep having these blackouts and wake up in totally strange places? When will this end?”

Sensing no answer coming from the walls or the ceiling, he gives up and puts on the space-suit. Then he starts probing the walls to find a niche or a button that could open the hidden door. He finds something that resembles a switch. He presses it, and a door opens with a swish. Outside is the utter blankness of space, with stars not twinkling in the distance. He wonders how he is going to move around in space in his space-suit. He finds a button that activates a mini-rocket in his boots and with some practice and after a few bumps, he is able to navigate himself without much difficulty.

“Here goes!”

He shoots out the door, and finds a giant man-made satellite in the distance. As he gets closer, he finds a guy in a space-suit pulling a boy towards the satellite.

“Oh! That’s Eamer!”

He shouts Eamer’s name a few times, then slowly realizes that in space, no one can hear you scream. But then how did he hear the boy’s screams, and why is he still hearing them? He does not wait to ponder upon these questions, since some quick action is needed to save the boy. He uses the booster rockets in his boots to move speedily towards the satellite. When he gets very close, he engages in hand-to-hand combat with the other guy in the spacesuit – that is a funny sight because every shove translates into both parties moving away from each other. After a short tussle, the other guy just decides to go away.

“Who was that?”, he asks Eamer.

“That was my teacher”


“Yes – he teaches Astronomy”

“Your teacher is an astronaut?”, he asks, without realizing the absurdity of the situation.

“Yes, and he was going to punish me because I forgot how many planets are there in the solar system.”

“9?”, “No wait, Pluto has been demoted, so there’s 8”, “Oh my god, we are discussing the solar system while we are drifting around in space!!”

“Let me take you home, Eamer”

“Ok, it’s on Alpha Centauri, which is 4.5 light years away”

“Ha ha ha, you live on earth”

“No, I am the Alpha Centaur. This body is just a disguise. On no, I am going to miss my plane!”

“What is happening to me? This cannot be real…”, Charac says, as he feels slumber taking over his body with amazing speed.

Eamer wakes up with a start.

“What’s the matter? Are you ok? Were you having a nightmare?”, his wife asks.

“No, but I have been having a recurring dream over the past few days. There is this guy called Charac who turns up every night, trying to save me from absurd, amplified situations from my past, but he is only half successful because he gets confused after saving me and does not take me home. Instead, he faints. I have to then build a different room for him every night and place him there…”


A piercing scream cuts through the warm, rainy night with such potency that Charac almost falls off his bed…

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Extinct Instincts

The dodo led an idyllic lifestyle
Free of flight, devoid of guile
Proved easy fodder, was not agile
Extinction was swift, execution style

Blissfully unaware of the looming invasion
Dodo was smug, survival instincts in abrasion
Nature could offer no strong persuasion
Ended up in a forever unbalanced equation

Survival of the fittest, an interesting notion
Did nature force creatures to crawl out the ocean
Snipping, cutting, revising without emotion
Till its creatures learn to deal with the commotion

Mankind reached the pinnacle of evolution
With advent of the industrial revolution
It mistook ecology for an economic solution
And mal-adapted environment to its pollution

Survival instinct tapers with every invention
GPS looks at sense of direction with condescension
Smartphones have become memory’s extension
Dollars and pounds maintained in cyber suspension

Today we specialize in banalities
And flirt with sinister dualities
Questionable traits have become qualities
We provide lip service to equalities

If electricity disappears we are sitting ducks
Money will be lost in dead binary bucks
Petroleum depletion will cause stopped trucks
And nature will go about with cheerful plucks

Technology paves way to all we crave
Survival instincts are what we waive
Looming tsunami wave, world is at a rave
Darwin keeps tossing and turning in his grave

Nature doesn't nurture survival instinct
It's take on existence is simple and succinct
Take away stimuli threatening and distinct
Come next disaster and you are extinct!