Halos and horns

halos and horns

Kabir tossed onto his side and tried hard to ignore the desperate knocking on his window. When it did not go away even after several minutes he opened his eyes to see a cupid flapping his tiny wings hard while he carried a large hamper in one hand and was tapping the window with another. Kabir groaned and opened the window, “Thank you for shopping with us…” the Cupid tried to say in a cheery voice but had to stop to catch his breath, “please rate me!” He placed the hamper on the windowsill, pulled out his mobile from his tiny diaper like pants, rated Kabir five stars and flew away. Kabir closed his eyes, but it was no use the roar of traffic from the street would not let him sleep.

He looked at the hamper, and flared his nostrils, “You are wonderful, but you do stink sweetheart. Take a shower and I promise you will remember tonight. S.” He threw the hamper in the direction of the bathroom.  It was one thing to receive a hamper from his girlfriend, it was another thing when she was a demon. And she always ended up charging it to his own account! Well, was she a demon?

Technically she was a Nagin, but he was not sure where she fits in in the new social order. She was not one of the divines for sure. He couldn’t stand them anyways: Angels, Elves, Devas or Gandharvas…pompous asses all of them. Still, it would do him well to know his girlfriend’s social standing, whether she was classified as an Asura or a Danava or a demon or if the Nagas had a separate class of their own. Right now all he knew was she definitely classified as a hot ass.

Kabir yawned and stretched in front of the window as a minor demon flew by carrying a small packet, it’s eyes glinting red. He leaned on the window sill and looked at the traffic. He saw a few orcs marching to the armour manufacturing factory downtown. He should get his armour checked soon, never knew when he would need it. A small delegation of Angels flew by singing hymns, Kabir closed his eyes and listened to them, it was a guilty pleasure he wouldn’t admit to even under a necromancer’s spell. A golden chariot weaved its way through the traffic glinting like a new dime, the Deva at its helm unheeding if he ran over anyone. Kabir watched a few asura teenagers flip him off. A minor demon slinked closer to them and flipped the Deva off, and tried to sell them something. It had been two years since the quantum wardrobe malfunction had ripped the celestial fabric apart and all the dimensions of the multiverse could suddenly see through each other’s skins. Everything had changed all of a sudden and then everything was the same again. Kabir scratched his ass as he walked to his bathroom. Read more

Free magazine of the month

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Hello everyone,
This issue of the write club magazine is currently free on Amazon. It has amazing stories by great upcoming writers.

Do grab a copy here: http://amzn.in/d/1ULoMYh

and let us know what you think of our work.

For reading more of our work, and even to contribute yours, do visit our website https://writeclub.in
My story in the magazine is titled ‘The Sporulation of Sarpanch Sam’. It is a science fiction story in which strange spores have wiped out most of the human population. These spores have fused with the genomes of the remaining humans to form a new species of photosynthetic humans who learn to live in harmony with nature.
Please read the story and let me know what you think of it.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

As Sam saw his reflection in the mirror he was sure that he would be dead soon. It had been long since he had last thought of death and this time he found himself strangely content at the idea of it like he was reaching the end of a good story. The sun was rising and it highlighted the pinkness of his skin. It was the first time since he had been infected half a century ago that he was seeing his skin again. He had lost most of the fungal mycelium covering his skin. Even his hair was losing its green color and becoming black, he had forgotten how black his hair had been. There was no denying it anymore, the fungal part of his genome had made its decision and he was going to sporulate soon. He turned around to check his back and it was smooth as humans! Just a week ago it had been covered in what looked like a forest of thin and long umbrella-like trees.

He allowed himself a bit of nostalgia, the occasion called for it he thought. His life had changed more than fifty years ago when he had first heard of the outbreak of the fungal infection. It had been referred to as ‘the mycelium’ as if it were a mob family. But Sam, like a lot of other people, had not taken it seriously, it was a fungal infection after all, how dangerous could it be? But it had proven to be worse than the black plague, millions of people and even more animals were dead in weeks. It was a worldwide panic and soon the whole globe seemed to be covered in mold, like it were a week-old piece of bread. The fungal spores were everywhere, in the air, the water, and the soil, there was no way of escaping them. The spores even thrived in the most common soaps and disinfectants. Most of the cities and even several countries were dead in a matter of months, but the mycelium continued to thrive.

He had lost all of his family and friends to the fungal spores but he remembered his dog the most clearly. One day the dog had come back with a patch of green on her nose. He had thought that it was probably grass that she had rolled in. By the morning, the dog had been entirely covered in a web of white and green strands as if someone had covered her with noodles as a prank. There was nothing they could do, but drench her in a ton of disinfectant and drag her as far away from home as they could. But that same evening his grandmother also caught the spores. She took several baths in disinfectant and all the anti-fungal medicines she could get her hands on, and it seemed to slow the infection by a few minutes at best. When she knew she was beyond rescue she just decided to walk away and leave her loved ones alone. Of course, none of them would agree to it and hence they all followed her, walking a few feet behind her not knowing where they were going.

By the end of the second day, grandmother had been completely covered in the mycelium and refused to eat anything as she was not hungry. By the fourth day, she looked more like a green fluffy stuffed toy and less like a human. That day, when they woke up, she was gone. They searched long and hard for her before realizing that she had sporulated and there was nothing left of her. She had swollen like a ripe pod, and she made a balloon-like popping noise and burst open releasing millions of tiny pollen-like spores, that scattered in all directions and hung around them. By then both his parents had also grown green patches on them.

In a week he had lost everyone he cared for in a cloud of spores, in what seemed like a  weird pilgrimage where everyone literally seemed to become one with everything. By the end of the week, he did not doubt that he would be infected, he just wished that it had happened before everyone else.

 

The last wood nymph

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Yesterday, the last square kilometer of forest on the earth was destroyed, to build a mall. It was sad on several levels, we humans were no longer people of the earth, what we were going to be we still did not know,but we were no longer of the land . It was sad but few people lamented the loss of the last bit of forest. Several people were happy because the new mall would be air conditioned and would have a casino. I was the saddest person though, contrary to what Bhoomi believes. She feels an immense sadness wrapped in her loss , but I also feel responsible for her sadness, because maybe indirectly but I have been responsible for it. Bhoomi was a wood nymph. Sadly that sentence ‘she was’ is grammatically correct. She was a legend to me in the days when I was surveying the forest for my company. Read more

Redemption in five spice sauce

1424060323-99-lobster-mobster-pty-limitedSatyananda crouched beside the dumpster. The street was deadly silent but it was better lit than he had expected. The large signboard of the restaurant read “The Dragon’s breath” in red and green neon brilliance. All the other signboards of the street were lit too. Satyananda crouched and waited to make sure there was no movement in any of the stores. The street lights cast their orange sleepless light all around. He was close to a street light and it lit up his shaved head making it glow like an incandescent bulb. His orange robes were glowing brightly too. He wished he had more inconspicuous clothes, but it was too late for that. What he had to do could no wait.

He looked at the neon dragon coiled around the sign “The Dragon’s breath” and balled his fists. The restaurant’s specialty was Lobster in five spice sauce. Each day dozens of lobsters were boiled alive in an attempt to satiate the palates of self-proclaimed gourmands in search of the next subtle flavor. “Can you not hear them scream as you boil them alive?” Satyananda would ask them. “Lobsters cannot scream!” they would tell him in their haughty voices, “It’s just air escaping their shells!”

“That is all life is to some people! Air escaping from shells!” Satyananda had raged to his teacher Shantiduta.

“Isn’t that all life is, dear student, a soul trying to escape its mortal shell?” Shantiduta had said and smiled at Satyananda’s frustration.

That was why Satyananda had not informed his teacher of the daring rescue mission he was about to perform tonight. Read more

Democracy and Dharma

It was a clear day and a bright sun shone in the sky as Krishna wheeled his chariot across the vast motionless fields of Kurukshetra. It was the first day of the war, and Krishna was prepared to guide the Pandavas to victory. He had been excited before but now as he gazed upon the battlefield he was presented with an unanticipated problem. Excellent strategist that he was he believed he had prepared for every possible development in the war, but he had to concede that even he had not seen this coming. He sighed as he looked at the empty battlefield devoid of both the armies, where was everyone? He couldn’t fight the largest war ever, all by himself.

Krishna sat in his chariot for a few hours staring at the horizon, hoping for the armies to show up. Then feeling like a petulant child who had been stood up by all his friends for his birthday pa Read more

Who's your daddy?

 

Sushil woke up to find that Shreya was not in bed beside him. He smiled at the memory of last night. He would have slept much longer and maybe even had some coffee in bed, he was on vacation after all. But he did not want to keep his in-laws waiting for breakfast so he got ready and went down to the dining table.

As he had expected the whole family was gathered at the table for breakfast. “Good morning everyone!” Sushil said as he took a seat at the table. No one replied. This was strange, his in-laws were always very polite and welcoming, that was the only thing he looked forward to in these trips. Perhaps he had not been loud enough, “Good morning!” he said again and felt an awkward silence descend on the room. His father-in-law was hidden behind the morning newspaper that was stretched tight to the point of tearing apart. His brother-in-law was dipping the same idly in the sambar again and again so that it kept melting and less and less of it came out each time.
His mother-in-law was holding her copy of the Ramayana like it were a life jacket and was reading it as if she desperately needed to resuscitate someone and it gave instructions on how to give mouth to mouth.
Shreya and his sister-in-law kept going in and out of the kitchen like a pair of windup dolls. They kept piling everyone’s plates with idlis as if they had a competition to see who would make the tallest tower of idlis. Read more

End Of The World Sale

They gathered outside the house on the hill. It was not technically a hill, just a huge mound of cheap consumer goods mostly imported from China and Vietnam. They marveled at how much the mound had grown since the last time they had been to visit their brother. There were new and interesting items in the mound, several tanning beds, full body tan sprayers, all of the latest electronic products. Even as they watched another truck delivered more goods to the house, two new treadmills and one of those ridiculously shaped ab-exercise machines.

Lust shook her head and her blond tresses flowed like a golden waterfall, she was wearing a flowing dress that covered everything but what it should have, “This has gone way too far! We should have put a stop to this a long time ago.”

Wrath grunted, he towered over his siblings, like a wall built of pure muscle, a ripple seemed to pass through the wall as he flexed the mallet in his hand, “We told him as much last time did we not? We told him he had won the damned bet we had among us. That he had nothing more to prove.”

“Of course, I remember! How can one forget such humiliation?” Pride scoffed, he checked to make sure his perfectly styled hair was in place and straightened his tie, his immaculately tailored suit fit him like a second skin, “I am still not convinced that our brother won, but I conceded our little bet because we agreed it was not good for the world, the way he was carrying on. It was hard enough we conceded defeat once, why are we here again?” Read more

Bang for her buck

 

Pooja checked to see that the road was empty and pulled her hood closer over her head. She took a deep breath and went into the basement of the building. Her footsteps echoed through the giant parking space as if a whole army was marching behind her. She paused once just to make sure she was the only one around. Silence covered the basement like a shroud. She continued walking deeper into the darkness of the basement parking lot. It was an office building that was empty at this hour. She walked past cars and bikes scanning the semi darkness for any signs of life. There were none.

She finally reached the place where they had agreed to meet. It was not cold but a shiver ran down her spine. She checked her phone and waited, he should have been here already. She checked for her purse in her pocket. She could feel the weight of the cash she was carrying. She adjusted her glasses and took a deep breath. This had to be done. Where was the guy?

She caught a shadow in the corner of her glasses and turned. A large man in a black hoodie stepped out from behind the car. Pooja gave a small scream and muffled it with her hand. He was here already. He simply stared down at her, “You are late.” Read more

Of hiccups and hookups

 

HIC

I dropped the fork I was holding and it clanged on my plate with the clarity of a doomsday prophecy. Everyone in the small restaurant looked around in alarm. Asha had gripped our table and was about to get out of her chair. Her large eyes looked around in alarm for the source of the sound, like a deer looking for a predator. When she realised the sound was just me hiccuping, she sat down with downcast eyes. Her face began to color, it first looked like a freshly dug out turnip and then like a beetroot. I was amused by this and wanted to mention this to her but,

HIC

Someone at a nearby table jumped. It was my turn to blush. I wanted to apologise but was afraid it might turn into a volley of hiccups. I drank some water knowing full well that it would do nothing to cure my hiccups. My hiccups were like a popular meaningless pop song, the kind that once it got stuck in your head would take ages to get rid of. I still had to figure out a cure for my hiccups, so I could do nothing more than sit there hiccuping loudly and hoping it would stop soon.

HIC Read more

The inherent entanglement of headphone wires

Varun returned to his laptop to find he had another message from Asha and that his headphone wires were tangled, again. He sighed and began to untangle them as he read Asha’s message, “What did you mean when you said that people should not date outside their own leagues?”

Varun was taken aback. When had he said that? Had he even said that? He knew better by now than to ask Asha what this was in reference too. That would only make her mad and earn him a lecture on how he never paid any attention to what she said. It did not matter that her current  train of thought was delayed by a few weeks. He thought back to all of their conversations over the past few weeks trying to remember where this thought was coming from. He looked at the tangle of headphones in his hand. How did it get so entangled in the blink of an eye! Read more