Dichotomy

‘Norman’s here,’ she heard Nora’s calm voice behind her.

‘Famous author. My husband,’ thought Lisa with some affection.

The couple graciously obliged the frenzied photographers.

Lisa smiled as he sat next to her, watching the distant Kowloon skyline.

‘Hmm. I gotta check on that pasta,’ muttered Nora, adjusting the shoulder-strap so Norman could be comfortable.

Having two heads and one body was complicated.

 

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Helium

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The beach lights were colorful twinkling specks down below, she could no longer hear the music.

She blinked, trying to see his face behind the wispy night clouds.

Blue eyes. Curly mop of brown hair.

‘Hmm, so Mr. Moon is a tall handsome romance-novel hunk! Wait till the girls find out!’

She floated free as she weightlessly exited the Earth’s atmosphere.

The old man whistled a cheerful tune as he gathered up tiny purple balloon bits strewn across the sand. He looked up at the clear morning sky, shielding his eyes against the sun.

Picture Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/137789813@N06/22951791215

 

Hope; 0.5 mL

FFfAW Week of 4-22-2015 sponsored by Priceless Joy at Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Photo Courtesy: Vanessa Rodriguez

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0400 Hrs, Platform #1, Millbrae Station

She clutched the vial in her right hand. And waited at her usual place on the bench.

The solitary pigeon on the platform hopped close to her. And flapped its wings thrice. She administered the dose efficiently.  Within seconds he was Mark. They hugged. He asked about their dog Minka.

The drug wasn’t commercially available yet. Soon it will be.

Loved ones who left you because of an untimely death could come back temporarily.  At the same location and time where the death took place. In a form most convenient to them.

The effect of a single dose lasted exactly 15 minutes. You simply had to be regimented into a routine.

For now, her entire life hinged on that magnetic clock on the refrigerator door.

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Word Count 125

She Went Off The Grid

Word Prompt: Hunt (verb) Search determinedly for someone or something.

(Definition 2) Visual Prompt: Photo Courtesy: Suzanne Purkis of Apoplectic Apostrophes

niagara-falls

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Sarah was relieved. Finally, a Saturday evening all to herself. She lit candles, took the book and glass of wine with her.

Time for a long soak in the tub. Bliss.

She opened her eyes.

“What?!” A brightly colored kingfisher flew over her head. The sky was clear blue with puffy cottony clouds. And that deafening roar of the waterfalls. She could feel the cool spray on her face. “Did I drink too much wine?!”

A dress was laid out for her.  Sequinned, dark blue. Matching shoes, accessories. “Lady, your car’s arrived. Shall we proceed to the Ball?” The short woman with a bun and moon-glasses spoke respectfully. She shrugged and followed her. “I’m dreaming. Will go along.” The stretch-limo was parked close to the huge banyan tree.

They arrived at the palatial mansion.  She spotted movie stars, politicians, sportsmen, royalty. The band played her favorite 90’s music.  A handsome prince invited her to dance, before kissing her deeply. “Hmm. Now this is what I’d call the perfect dream!” she thought.

“Guests, Welcome to my home. I call it Elysium_STAT,” boomed the loud voice.

“I’d like you all to meet Sarah, our guest of honor for the evening. Always the good girl. Straight A’s, stable relationships, balanced.” The crowd remained silent. “Don’t you want to know what happens next?” continued the voice. “Then came Rodrick. And the missed promotion at work.”

A handsome gentleman in a tuxedo emerged from the shadows.

Sarah gasped. Rodrick stood next to him. His face pallid, bruised, bloated. Foam oozing from his mouth.

“Oh Rodrick!” Sarah whispered.

Two years ago, he was her peer at work. Who had the gumption to get promoted before her. Rodrick, the nerd with aquaphobia. She remembered their “dinner date” at his apartment. She had drowned him in his own bath-tub. The cops had ruled it an accident. The case was closed. She was, clearly, the universal choice to take over his position at the company.

“I now declare The Hunt as officially closed. Please put your hands together for Sarah. For tonight’s her glory night.”

Within moments, the mansion turned into a monstrous rock structure. The gentleman in a tuxedo had a mangled, bloody face. The guests were hideous creatures.

Sarah was lifted into the air, the crowd ranting and jeering. The cliff at the waterfall was steep. Her screams faded as she plummeted into dark oblivion. And landed on a humongous spider web. Alive. The spiders crawled slowly. Covering her like a deathly blanket.

Sarah didn’t turn up at work for four consecutive days. “Highly uncharacteristic, someone go hunt for her. She’s invaluable to the project,” her boss said.

They filed a Missing Persons report. The cops broke into her empty apartment. Everything was in its place. The tub filled with water. Her bathrobe was on the floor, a book next to it. On the first page was a scribble “Happy Reading! Best, Rodrick.”

The lady cop who was examining the bathroom floor saw the spider scurrying into a corner. “Yikes!!”

“Hey, didn’t they say Sarah had arachnophobia?” asked her partner.

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Participating Entry for the Mutant 750 #30 Kickoff – Flash Fiction Writing Challenge

“How Fast Were You Going?”

“Hush, Farida, your Father will hear us!”

“Really, Akhilendra? And what will you do? Scuttle away on that silly horse of yours?” she asked him coquettishly, as they watched the marriage ceremonies being performed.

He gave her an exasperated look. Farida was the youngest daughter of the Wazir.

And Akhilendra was Amir-Al-Umara, one of the highest ranking Rajput Mansabdars in Emperor Akbar’s court.

They had bumped into each other, literally, one sunny morning at the chahar-suq. Akhilendra’s horse had suddenly bolted in the crowded marketplace, almost mowing down Farida’s entourage. She had fallen out of the palanquin, “in an undignified heap in order to amuse the citizens of Fatehabad,” as she put it so delicately.

Akhilendra had apologized profusely to the maiden, who hadn’t uttered a word throughout the spectacle. He thought he’d caught a smirk behind the purdah she wore. He was annoyed that Fate couldn’t have chosen a more inopportune moment for him to meet a maiden.

That afternoon, Farida was sketching a portrait in her garden when she overheard voices. “Have you heard? Emperor Akbar has chosen young Akhilendra and the Honorable Wazir to team up on the revenue optimization policy. The fireworks are worth waiting for.” Both men chuckled as they walked past.

Her interest was piqued. She knew the man they met yesterday at the chahar-suq was Akhilendra. She had watched him, as unobtrusively as possible. Tall, broad-shouldered, self-assured. His eyes were his best feature. Deep brown.

The next morning, she sat behind her Father, at her usual place. Akhilendra was seated at the far end of the table. Both men put forth their views, using logic and brevity in their statements. Though Akhilendra was young, he was extremely bright. She could see a grudging admiration in her Father’s eyes as they debated on various subjects.

As was customary, the Wazir hosted a daawat that night in honour of Akhilendra’s visit. There was general bonhomie between both groups, they were a team.

It was well past midnight, a clear moonlit sky. Farida was unable to sleep. Quietly, she headed towards the stables and untied her horse. “Here, here,” she said softly as she saddled her. Within minutes, she was cantering into the forest.

She dismounted at the lake and dipped her hands in the cool clear waters. When she saw the shadow. She deftly took out her sword, in one smooth movement, turned around, ready to strike.

“Hey? I mean no harm!” Said the tall, handsome, brown-eyed Akhilendra.

Farida stood still as a statue.

He gently held her wrist and took the sword. “Who are you?” he whispered softly to this vision of a woman.

“I am Farida,” she said haughtily, “daughter of the Honorable Wazir.”

“And, the girl from the chahar-suq,” she added, a mischievous smile lighting up her face.

Akhilendra said sheepishly, “My apologies, Lady. For some reason, we always seem to meet under the oddest of circumstances. I hope you weren’t hurt yesterday.”

They talked for a while. Akhilendra was surprised Farida knew so much about her Father’s work in the kingdom. They rode back to her home, just as the sun rose.

Her maid rushed up to her, “Lady, your Father wishes to see you before he leaves.”

“Sit beside me, my child,” said the old Wazir, as she entered his chambers.

Among all his daughters, Farida was his favorite. Intelligent, quick-witted, beautiful. She reminded him so much of his late beloved Begum. He sighed as he realized there was no man he knew who could be worthy of her. Maybe, except for one.

After the policy presentation at the Emperor’s court, the Wazir spoke to Akhilendra, “I would like to invite you to my home again tonight.” Akhilendra accepted the invitation with no hesitation.

After dinner, the Wazir said to Akhilendra. “Son, walk with me please.”

“Akhilendra, you owe me an explanation. My men have brought an incident to my attention. That you tried to attack my daughter’s entourage at the chahar-suq during your previous visit. Do you have anything to say in the matter?”

Akhilendra was taken back. “No, Sir! It wasn’t an attack, it was an accident. In fact, yesterday, Farida and I, I mean ….my horse bolted,” he looked a little helpless.

“Hmm. So your horse bolted. How fast were you going?” asked the Wazir.

Akhilendra replied quietly. “Just fast enough Sir. To know that Farida is my soulmate. With your permission, I would like to marry your daughter.”

The old Wazir laughed happily. “Correct answer.”

©DarshanaKalyanpur 2015

Participating Entry – YeahWrite #210 Fiction|Poetry Challenge

Prompt:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Answer this question in <= 1000 words
“How Fast Were You Going?”

Flash Fiction: Incidental Oxymorons

Sandra and Ashley entered the dimly lit lounge at about half past ten.

Sandra saw him first. He was tall with rakish good looks. “He’s cute!” she thought. She winked at Ashley, made her way to the bar and stood next to him. He smiled at her, “Hi, I’m Jake. And you must be Sandra.”

She was taken aback. “How do you know my name?”

“Dance with me,” he said as he led her to the dance floor. Sandra looked around and saw Ashley talking to the guy with the mop of curly hair.

The music beats quickened. Sandra was forced to concentrate so she could keep up with his pace. Jake was an accomplished dancer, not faltering even once. She realized she was enjoying herself. Though she was still wondering how he knew her name.

His arm around her waist, he led her to the far end of the lounge. “Sandra, wait here. I’ll be back in a jiffy.” She sat on the sofa, not quite sure what to expect. She couldn’t see Ashley. And Jake acted like they knew each other. She was certain she’d never set eyes on him before.

“Here,” he handed her the margarita. Sandra’s favorite beverage. She sipped it slowly, collecting her thoughts.

“Jake, how do you know so much about me?”

He said softly. “Look at me. What do you see? Wait, let me spell it out for you. ‘About 25’. ‘Brown Hair’, ‘Tall’, ‘Great dancer.’ ‘Knows me well.’ Don’t you remember?”

Sandra was bewildered. “Remember what?”

He said quietly. “That you created me. I am the product of your imagination. From the contest you won last year.”

It came back to her now. She enjoyed sketching. And when one of the online gaming portals she often visited announced a ‘Create A Character’ contest, she sent her entry. She remembered being happy with the prize money of $500 she received. The rules said the drawing should be accompanied by a detailed description of the character’s personality and the contestant’s interests. The portal wanted to make the character seem “lifelike.” She’d sent a long wishlist for the sheer fun of it.

She said to him mockingly. “So, what you’re saying is that you are ‘Jake’ from the gaming site?”

He nodded. “Affirmative.”

“Really?” she asked disbelievingly.

“Log in. Now. Look for me.”

She did. The touchscreen on her cellphone blinked ‘Hello Sandra’

She typed. ‘Where is Jake’

Her cellphone blinked ‘He is at the Iris Lounge. With you.’

She typed again. ‘Where is Jake’

‘Jake’s not here. He is with you.’

She gaped at Jake, who groaned, “Don’t ask for me more than once. I think it causes my head to ache. Must be something to do with pixels and gravity. And for God’s sake, please log out.”

She sat back on the sofa, completely flummoxed.

Handing her a glass of water, he said gently, “Sandra, I have no idea how this happened. But I am here. For now. I know I have to go back into the gaming software soon.” He had a sad smile on his face.

“Is this some kind of a joke? Or are you an online stalker freak?” she asked angrily.

“No, I am not a freak. Please Sandra. Don’t analyze this. I have no answers. You are safe with me. Probably safer with me than any other man from the ‘real’ world. I am not a rapist, stalker or murderer. I don’t shoot school children. Remember you created the ‘perfect’ me. With all the goodness from your heart. There wasn’t a single mean personality trait you put on that list Sandra.”

He added. “Talk to me. Let’s have fun while it lasts. You have nothing to lose, do you?”

She sighed. “Okay. Makes sense.”

They talked for a while. She was surprised how much he knew about her. He was a great listener. He could empathize. When the timezone was in his favor, he’d read every line on the file they had tagged ‘Winning Entry.’

Surprisingly, she instinctively knew she could trust him. They danced one more time.  Not speaking. Simply being.

“What if I want to see you again?” she whispered to him.

“I don’t think it works that way. I somehow showed up today in a real world setting. It is as weird to me as it is to you. I almost pixelated into nothingness when you walked in. Proof that you are real and I am not,” he said looking at her helplessly.

Her cellphone rang. It was almost 2:00 in the morning. It was her Mom. She suddenly remembered she had to take her for a health checkup that morning.

“Jake, I have to leave now. Come with me. You are already in the real world.” She said urgently.

“No Sandra, I can’t leave with you. From what I understand of my situation, I have the Cinderella curse. Look at my hands,” he said. She could see them turn hazier every few seconds.

They kissed one last time. She walked out the door, trying hard not to cry.  Ashley came running behind her, “Sandra, wait for me! Where were you? I’ve been looking all over! Hey wait up!”

“Did you see him?” Sandra asked Ashley.

“Who? That drop dead gorgeous guy who monopolized all of your attention? Did you get his number?” she teased.

“Yes. Him. Jake. I mean no, I didn’t.” Sandra said nothing more. The story sounded ridiculous to her own ears.

Upon reaching home, she lay awake in bed, unable to sleep. Had she been hallucinating? No. Ashley had seen him too.

And he was exactly like how she had sketched him. And in the description she’d sent them.

At about 3:00 in the afternoon, she logged in from her desktop at the office.

She typed. ‘Where is Jake’

Her monitor blinked.

‘Hello Sandra. This is Jake.
Welcome My Darling.
To the cruel kindness of our love
Caught in the static flow of time.
A bitter sweet existence
The only choice in this virtual reality’

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1000 Words

 

Flash Fiction: Magical Macau, 3 Days, 2 Nights

“Laddie, get me that taxi,” she bellowed to the young bell-boy. Startled out of his wits, he ran after one that had just disgorged a noisy group of tourists.

She climbed in gingerly. And waved imperiously. The taxi honked its way through the crowded street, towards the Ruins of St. Paul’s Church.

She looked around impatiently and spotted the broad shoulders, confident gait, the head full of thick silver hair.

“Stop now. I shall alight.”

The gentleman on the opposite side of the street quickly strode towards her. He held out his hand, his eyes twinkled merrily.

“Patricia! You look as ravishing as ever,” he kissed her gently on the cheeks.

She glanced at him, “You don’t look so bad yourself, Roger. Please hold my hand. These cobbled stones are ruthless to my feet. And why couldn’t we have met at the casino?” she demanded.

“And then what? Have your dozen grand-children, great-grand-nieces and grand-nephews goggle at us? How would you explain to them who I am?”

She laughed happily.

He guided her into the beautiful Portuguese restaurant. Candle-light, music, wine. Everything was perfect. Just like how she knew him to be. She sighed contentedly as they danced slowly. She knew the routine. They would retire to his luxurious suite. Next morning breakfast in bed. A day spent exploring the island, the helicopter ride back to Macau.

Patricia had met Roger on a cruise liner. The holiday had been a gift from her children after she lost her husband to sudden pneumonia five years ago. She had become a recluse and the children had urged her to take that vacation.

She had been impressed by Roger’s fancy-free and footloose approach to life. He took everything in his stride. He had been married once and his wife had succumbed to a prolonged illness seven years ago. He had swept Patricia off her feet and they were madly in love. They had continued to keep in touch over the years. She was 70 and he was nearing 80.

He looked deep into her eyes, “Patricia, you know we love each other. Few get a second chance in life. What are we waiting for? Will you marry me?” He got down on his knee and took out the diamond ring from his pocket. There were tears in Patricia’s eyes as she whispered, “Yes Roger.”

Next morning, Roger drove Patricia back to her hotel. There was a cacophony of noise as her very large family was seated at breakfast. They hardly noticed her until her youngest great-grand nephew squealed,”Mommy, look! Gramma is back. She’s brought a Person.”

They turned to look at the couple. Roger gently squeezed Patricia’s hand. She said quietly, “Children, meet Roger. My fiance.”

There were a few seconds of stunned silence. And then everyone rushed to congratulate them. There was backslapping and laughter all around.

The rosy glow in Patricia’s cheeks and the twinkle in Roger’s eyes bore testimony to their love. They were married the next day at a quiet ceremony.

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500 Words