Run

His legs pumped, his breath ragged as he ran through the field. He tried to run faster, trying to outstrip the bloodthirsty creatures that were pursuing him – his pack and gun were his main adversaries in that quest. But he couldn’t even think about ditching them. In this new version of the world, he wouldn’t last two days if he shed his food, his weapon and his ammunition.

Zombies.

He had always known that when humanity’s end came, it would not be because of nature fighting back or a celestial body crashing into the Earth. No, humankind had wrought its own destruction, just like he had always feared. In the end, the thing that caused the havoc was a particularly virulent influenza strain, developed in a lab to be a bioweapon. But a small tremor had put paid to that plan – a breach in the facility and, before anyone knew, people were turning into raving, brutal, bloodthirsty monsters that were feeding on each other.

He was panting now, and he could sense that he couldn’t keep this up for much longer. He could hear the rustling behind him as his pursuers gained on him. Slowly, inexorably, they were catching up. He would need to do something different. If he couldn’t outrun them, maybe he could hide from them?

Stripped of their ability to speak, to love, deprived of everything other than the one basic instinct that had brought human beings to the top of the food chain – FEED. The first few days were the worst, where people still didn’t believe the rumours. This CAN’T be true, they said. Zombies don’t EXIST. But then entire countries started to fall. Nigeria. Singapore. Cuba.

He looked up ahead at the thicket of trees that protruded from the ground. That was his best chance. He could hide there until they passed him, moving on to the next victim. He willed himself to run faster, getting to the trees and climbing up a particularly sturdy one. And then he waited. Laying flat against a branch, he watched as the pack chasing him caught up. He was too high to hear anything than a series of grunts and squawks. But then he heard another noise. One that chilled his blood. The noise of a tree branch, splintering. He looked behind him just in time to see the branch separate from the tree, sending him crashing down to the ground. The pack turned, converging on their victim. He braced himself for what was to come.

“Freeze! You are under arrest for the murder!”

The cure had been found a mere twenty-two days after the outbreak. With overwhelming force, the world’s major powers got together and started rounding up the infected, inoculating them and bringing them back to normal within forty-eight hours. The problem was, in those days of horror, people had picked up weapons and started trying to defend themselves. And now that the world had returned to order, THEY were the monsters. People who had taken machine guns and hatchets and sledgehammers to people who, in the eyes of the world, were simply afflicted with an easily curable malady.

He himself was guilty of fifteen murders. That would put him purely in execution territory.

His life would end, not with someone eating his brain, but with someone frying it.

Advertisements

Drums

Blink.

He looked around for a moment, wondering why they were all so tensed. All eight of his companions, standing there, almost frozen. He heard a clanging, turning around to look at one of the little ones, frozen next to a well. He had what looked like a skeletal finger, clutched in his grasp, as his face took on the sheepish look of one who knew that he had made a mistake. The tallest of their party, the one with the long beard and the longer hair, strode over to him purposefully, grabbing the hat that the little one had clutched in his tiny hand.

“Fool of a Took! Throw yourself next time and rid us of your stupidity!”

And in that moment, as silence hung heavy in the air, they heard it.

DOOM.

He turned slowly. “Drums, in the deep.” Echoing the words that they had read in a book that now lay, forgotten, on the floor, he looked around at them.

“They are coming.”

He turned, smooth as a bird in flight, pulling an arrow from his quiver and nocking it to the bow in his other hand. He stopped, aiming straight for the tiny crack in the door. He knew that none of the others could see it, but he could spy the orc peering through the crack. He released the arrow, watching it intently as it flew toward the foul creature. The orc’s eyes widened as he saw the arrow, a split second before….

Blink.

The roar of the crowd hit him like a physical thing, something that could slap him in the face and punch him in the stomach. He looked around, blinking at the intensely bright lights that seemed to be burning holes into his retinas.

“Hey motherfucker, keep up!”

He glanced around, straight into the scowling face of a large man. He took in the uniform that the man was wearing, understanding almost immediately who he was. He turned around once more, raising one leg before planting it firmly into the ground, his sticks banging out a steady rhythm against the drum strapped to his chest. He followed the lead of the girl in front of him, turning right at the exact second when he was supposed to. He laughed, throwing his head back and sticking his tongue out, the sheer joy of playing overcoming him.

Slowly, the people in the crowd started to notice his antics. They cheered even more loudly for him, the flashbulbs in the crowd going off even more frequently. He could hear the maniacal laughter of the man behind him as the feral roar of the crowd grew louder and louder, the support for the marching band rivaled only by the support for the team itself.

“Hey man, look left. She’s flashing you!”

He turned, his head swiveling even as his arms kept perfect time with the band. He spotted the girl in the crowd, his eyes traveling from her grinning face down to her….

Blink.

His spear shuddered as he thrust it, with an almighty roar, into the chest of the foe before him. He paused for a second, taking in the scene around him, but quickly realised that pausing on a battlefield was always a terrible idea. The red capes of his brothers fluttered in the wind around him as the phalanx moved forward, one inexorable step at a time. Their spears thrust metal into the bodies of the men before them even as the sight of them thrust fear into their hearts. He looked to his left, his eyes widening as he recognised the plume of feathers that decorated the helmet of the Spartan next to him.

King Leonidas turned to him, a smile dancing on his lips as blood spattered his helmet.

“Steady, son”, he grinned, even as his spear claimed its next victim.

With a great shout, his king burst out of the phalanx, his weapon a shimmering blur as he struck down foe after foe. His strikes were graceful, a dance, almost in time to the battle drums of the Arcadians standing behind the phalanx. If the king was leading by example, who was he to refuse?

He turned, straightening from the tight formation, looking at the men with drums standing behind them.

“LOUDER!”

He turned, a joyful smile painting his features as he leapt forward, straight into the heart of the fight. He joined his king, slashing left and right, before he flung his spear at an enemy running toward them. He drew his sword, fixing his sight on the commander of the legions. Seated on a horse, he was a dozen yards away, galloping toward him and the king.

He struck down a soldier, glancing at the man as he went down to one knee. He turned, taking two steps back, before breaking into a run. He dropped his shield, knowing that keeping it would only slow him down. He stepped onto the man’s back, pushing off, his leap taking him far into the air. Both his hands closed around the weapon as he brought it down in a killing arc, his target’s eyes widening as the blade….

Blink.

He got up, knowing that they would be punished if the masters found out. But here, so far from home, having been dragged to this strange land forcefully, against their will, what more did they have to lose?

He threw his arms into the air, the thudding of the drums acting as a guiding force for his body. He threw himself this way and that, sweat dripping from his body as he danced in the way of his people. Even as the sweat ran from his pores, the tears began to flow from his eyes. He remembered his father, holding his arms and patiently teaching him this dance. He remembered the day of his wedding, the joy with which his father had hurled himself around the fire, celebrating the love of his first born.

He remembered the day the white man came, and the way his father’s skull had been crushed under their boots.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned, seeing his beautiful wife there with him. She reached out and wiped the tears from his face, before leaning forward to kiss his cheek softly. He smiled at her, at her simple beauty, at the radiance that she always managed to have, no matter how dark the night.

She got down to her knees, placing a small drum in the dirt in front of her. The rhythm she struck up was fast, thudding, furious. The others stopped dancing, knowing that there was only one man that could keep up with her.

He grinned, stomping his foot on the ground even as he jumped…

Blink.

In the end, it was always the others that brought him back. He opened his eyes, the sight of a thousand screaming fans taking him almost by surprise. His long hair was flying everywhere, and he could feel himself smiling as his sticks crashed into the drums and the cymbals, and his feet pummeled the bass set kept at his feet.

Who said only books could take you places?

 

Here’s Your Silver

The boy with the silver lining. That was the first nickname anyone had ever given him.

Well, apart from PoopyPants. But kindergarten nicknames don’t count, even if you got your first kiss as revenge.

There was always a smile on his face, whether it was when he walked down the street or when he sat at his desk. Whenever he looked up, there was a grin on his lips, a cheeky, dancing smile that almost never failed to cheer people up.

If it did, his de-facto reaction was to pinch their cheeks softly and gurgle at them. His strange mixture of persistence and stubbornness meant that he would keep doing it until they inevitably cracked a smile.

Even if that meant sometimes following them around with his hands attached to their face, cooing and making noises that would make a baby giggle.

Someone he had mentored came to him, considering quitting their job. He had sat with the boy for an hour, cajoling, soothing, consoling, making him remember his own self worth and the point of sticking around. That boy was now a manager, but still took the time to send him a cinnamon bun every week.

She was dating a drummer, and was being driven insane by the fact that he would drum on EVERYTHING. The dresser, the table, the dashboard – if it was solid, he would drum on it. And sometimes even if it wasn’t, as evidenced by the surface of the pool on their vacation. He had convinced her to talk to him about it, to see the beautiful, unfettered, creative mind that he had. They had been married for six years now, with a beautiful baby and a wonderful dog. (He thought the dog was cuter)

He had been touring the country for three years, playing gigs at tiny bars, holes in the wall, shady places. He felt like he was waiting for a break that would never come. There was a six hour conversation at their favourite watering hole, where he didn’t attempt to give his friend any sort of advice. He simply spoke a lot, and listened even more. They talked about everything under the sun, and when they were done, he pulled the little recorder out from under the table. Ten minutes in, his friend was giggling, absolutely floored by the unhindered observations he was making about his life and the world. He had a whole new act, right there in his hand. And two years later, he was opening at the Garden.


They gathered around, looking curiously, some with slack jaws, some with morbid interest. Who was he? What was he doing here? And why did he do it?

Sprawled on the pavement, twelve stories lower than where he had started, he lay.

The boy who gave everyone their silver lining had managed to find none for himself.

Simplicity and Chaos

­­­”Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?”

Mark bopped his head slowly, in time with the strains of Against Me! floating into his ears. His brothers would judge him for listening to what they called poser music, but that had never bothered him.

His life philosophy was – if it makes sense to you, do it.

Simple.

It was when other people got involved that things got complicated. No matter how closely an ideology matches that of another, there will always be points of friction. Small things that people disagree on, small things that start off as sparks and can turn into raging forest fires.

It was hard to avoid conflict, for conflict is an eighteen wheeler on the highway of life, and you’re a bug trying to cross the street.

Chaos.

It was for that very reason that he had chosen anarchy. As a confused seventeen year old, he had run away from home, with all the bravado and the invincibility of youth. Within three months, he had found himself out on the street. The first person that took pity on him and gave him something wasn’t what he expected, however – it had been another hobo, simply passing him a book. The hobo, who styled himself Genie, had given Mark the book to burn, in order to keep warm. But one look at the cover and the strange word on it – Shantaram – had given him pause. He opened it and started reading.

One line said “There is no philosophy that loves humanity as much as anarchy”. It had piqued his curiosity, propelling him to read more and more until he was convinced that he was an anarchist. It made perfect sense.

Simple.

It had also allowed him to find his brothers. The group that called themselves Beatification, for the process that the church followed to elevate people to an almost saint-like status. It allowed people to intercede on behalf of others after their death, and that’s exactly what the Beatified planned to do. They planned to take down the government, the corrupt institutions that had oppressed people for centuries, the rich growing richer and the poorer dying because they had nothing on or in their bodies.

They weren’t going to reduce the wealth gap. They were going to blow it to smithereens.

Chaos.

He jerked as the bus stopped, realising almost too late that this was his stop. He ran to the front of the bus, jumping off just before the doors closed. He paused in front of the restaurant, looking up at the name of the place. It was ironic that they had chosen a place named Commerce for the meeting. This was to be their final meeting before they parted ways, each of them armed with a mission, a purpose and enough explosives to send their targets to kingdom come. Words were ringing in his ears as he stood outside the restaurant.

Their pledge. “As sons of the Beatified, we swear upon our lives to uphold this creed, to bring justice to the downtrodden and the oppressed, to find inequality and correct it, to fill the world’s mind with the thought of self governance and the beauty that it can bring.”

Simple.

But those words were not the ones coursing through his mind. The words were the ones he had overheard, the ones that he had witnessed, secretly, spoken by the oldest and supposedly wisest of the Beatified. “They’ll never know what hit them. The Federal Reserve, the World Bank, Fort Knox. They’ll all be empty by the morning. But we just have to make sure that the brothers know their responsibility and carry it out. By morning, we’ll be the only ones left, to build the new order”. There had been embraces, their purpose as clear as his had been completely destroyed. He had no evidence, no one would believe him even if he told them.

His mind, after that conversation, had been in the sort of turmoil that he scarcely believed possible.

Chaos.

He pulled it out of his bag and strode into the restaurant, taking in the wide eyed looks that he was attracting from the patrons. He smiled at them and walked forward, his face set but his eyes gentle. He had nothing to do with the civilians in the restaurant, and he had nothing but love in his head for them. He walked purposefully, his gait never wavering, straight towards the private section in the back where he knew his brothers were congregated. Sometimes, cutting the head off the snake isn’t enough.

He pushed open the door of the private area, the smile still playing on his lips. “My brothers” were the only words that left his lips.

He hefted the rifle to his shoulder, the weapon turned to full auto.

Simple.

We Are All Dead Here

How in the world did it all go so wrong? Is it a generational thing? Loveless falls utterly short when it comes to describing this. There’s an element of hatred, resentment – for dreams unfulfilled, effort unreturned, love unrequited. Is that what everything is destined to become – a dry, dead husk of what was dreamed and envisioned? A young woman, entering a contract for life. A young man, taking on a responsibility that makes his chest swell with pride.

Gone. Wasted. As fleeting as the dream that fades at dawn.

And me. Strong, proud, full of anger. What was I trying to do, ultimately?

As someone recently said, I write because I have no gun.

Come Home Already

Whisper in the wind,

Promise of kisses,

A warm hug from far away,

Blowing in the cool breeze.

Lifted from the ground,

In an embrace long overdue,

Far too short,

A breath of life exhaled too quickly.

Your real home awaits,

Before you depart again,

Hold me, hurt me, take me, leave me,

Just come home already.

People

(This is a post based on something that happened to an actual police officer in the USA. The original story can be found here.)

His radio squawked. “Possible 207A in progress. Father and girlfriend in argument, father has driven off with child. Last seen in a green Toyota hybrid around Pine Street, plate ends in 4088.”

He sighed. It was almost the end of his shift. But this was the life of a police officer. You went where and when the trouble was. And there was a child involved in this case. He tossed his coffee cup into a nearby trash can, and hopped into his cruiser.

He drove toward Pine Street, and picked up his radio mike. “Dispatch, where is suspect’s home?”

“6th Street and Grey”, came the response.

He mapped out the city in his head. If the perp was coming from 6th and Grey, and was seen at Pine, he got a rough idea of the route he was following. He whipped the cruiser around and headed in the opposite direction. His hunch turned out to be correct, and within five minutes he caught sight of the car. He turned on his lights and siren, and pulled in behind the green sedan. It pulled over fairly quickly, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

He got out of his cruiser, and walked over to the driver’s side of the car. “Sir, could you please step out of the car?”

A harried and tired-looking man looked back at him. “What is the problem?”, he said in a slightly hostile tone.

His hand drifted to near his gun. “There’s a broadcast out regarding your altercation in your home, sir, and I’d like to ask you a few questions. Step out of the car, please.” He peered into the car, and noticed a child in the passenger seat. He frowned. This was already a bad thing – a responsible parent would never put a child that small in the front seat. This may end badly after all. Another cruiser pulled up behind him, and a second officer joined him.

He leaned over to the other officer and whispered, “Take over here, would you? I’m going to check on the kid.”

The officer nodded, and he walked over to the passenger seat. Through the open window, he looked in at the boy. He couldn’t be more than 4 years old, and looked sleepy and a little scared. That was probably down to the men in black surrounding him, but he couldn’t take any chances. He opened the door, and squatted next to the little boy.

“Hey buddy. What’s your name?”

“I’m William”, he said in a typical toddler voice, dripping with exhaustion but still friendly. His head turned to the driver’s side as his father got out of the car to talk to the other officer. “Where’s my dad going?”

“He just needs to hang out with my friend over there for a bit, okay? But till then, you need to be the man in charge. And the man in charge needs to be in the driver’s seat, right?”.

The boy looked back at him. “I’m not old enough to drive.”

Despite the situation, he cracked a smile. “That’s right, bud. But you just need to sit there.”

Nodding, the boy scooted over to the driver’s side of the car. He walked around to the other side and, opening the door, knelt next to him again. “Are you okay, William?”

He nodded, but looked reluctant. “What is it, buddy?”

The child leaned in and, in a conspiratorial whisper, said, “Daddy’s angry. All the time. And Lena is too.”

He assumed Lena was the girlfriend. “Why are they angry?”

“They don’t like each other anymore”, William drawled. ‘They shout and throw things. Daddy hit her once, and she took all his money.”

“Why did she take his money?”

“Because she’s a bitch.”

From his tiny mouth, “bitch” came out sounding like “bitss”. He was stunned, taken aback by the curse word from the toddler. This was much worse than he thought. It wasn’t just a domestic squabble. It was a full blown scene, extended and full of anger and hate. And this boy’s father had made no attempt to shield him from it, letting him know exactly what was going on. He had taken the anger and hurt that he was constantly surrounded by, and internalized it. A curse word was NORMAL to him.

A scuffle behind him interrupted his train of thought. He turned around, and saw that the father was facedown on the officer’s cruiser, and was being cuffed.

“You stay here for a minute, okay, buddy? I’ll be right back.”

He sprinted over to the cruiser, and looked questioningly at the other officer. “Drunk”, he said.

His blood ran cold. Not only was this man driving away from a violent confrontation, he was doing so drunk. With his child in the car.

The officer cuffed the man and shoved him into the back of the police car. He looked back at the green car, still idling, and prayed that he’d be able to handle this with William. He took out his cellphone, and called his child’s babysitter. After arranging for her to stay with William for the night, he shut the phone.

He walked back to the car, and looked inside. The child was wide-eyed, wondering what was going on. Tears were already beginning to stream down his face.

“Hey, buddy.”

‘Where is my daddy going?”

“He just needs to fill out some forms, bud. But he’s told me to stay here with you, so I’m going to play with you till then, okay?”

His tears intensified, soft sobs making his tiny chest heave. He started to cry more openly now, tears flowing from his eyes and snot running from his nose. “I want my daddy”, he managed to choke out, before breaking down again.

“He’ll be back soon, baby. Till then, we’re going to hang out and be friends. And then you’re going to have a sleepover with the best girl in the world!”

William looked up at him, took a deep breath, and exploded into ear-splitting crying. He wasn’t saying sentences anymore, just bawling his poor little lungs out. Interspersed with his heart-rending sobs was just one word.

Daddy.

He put out his arms, and picked up the crying child. He held him close to his body and rocked him. He had his magazines, badge, radio, handcuffs and a bunch of other things in pouches on his chest. This was hardly the way to hold a child. But he had no choice. He held the poor baby, and tried to comfort him as best as he could.

Tears welled up in his eyes as well, and streamed out. He was sad, because he had children and he wanted so desperately to comfort this poor child. He was angry. Angry at the father for messing up so bad and putting him in this position.

He pulled the baby close, and held his forehead to his. He looked into his eyes, full of tears and fear and the experience of a lifetime, and tried to show him strength and love and comfort. He made soothing noises, and whispered words of encouragement to him. He caressed his back, and kissed his wet cheeks.

He continued to cry and cry, but eventually he wrapped his arms around his neck. The crying had exhausted the boy, and he started to drift off to sleep. His sobs were slowing now, not because he was cheering up, but merely because he was too tired to cry anymore.

The social services worker arrived soon. He had lost track of time, but he was informed that it was twenty minutes. All he could think of was this boy, and the fact that his ordeal may just have begun. When the worker came, they practically had to prise William out of his arms.

The social service worker, before leaving, said one sentence that destroyed him completely.

“Mum died when he was 2.”

He, the man who was supposed to protect little kids like William, had just taken away the only family member that the child had. It was necessary, and would help him, but he was the one who had done it.

 

For the next two hours, people walking by looked curiously at the police officer sitting on the sidewalk, his head in his hands.

What’s Cooking?

He woke up with a start, and then relaxed when he realized that he was safe at home. He smiled to himself when he realized what day it was. He would have to hurry, though – he didn’t have a lot of time and they would be home soon.

He rolled out of bed and brushed his teeth, donning a clean white T-shirt and putting on his apron while he went down the stairs, two at a time.  He busied himself in the kitchen, pulling ingredients out of different shelves. This was something that he knew his wife loved about him – his ability and willingness to help with anything and everything. It came from his time in the army, he believed. He simply could not see someone doing something without offering to help.

He hummed to himself as he greased the pan and turned the oven on to preheat. Orestes, their puppy, ran into the kitchen and nuzzled up against his leg. He laughed and bent over, careful to keep his hands away from the dog. He kissed the pup on the top of his head and rubbed his nose against his ears. Ori always loved it when he did that, and this time was no different. He lay down on his back, practically begging for a belly rub. How do you say no to that? So he started rubbing the dog’s belly with his foot, still working with his hands.

He melted the butter in the pan, and stirred in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. This was the good vanilla that he had gotten from the farmer’s market, and only came out on special occasions. They didn’t have a lot of money, but food was one thing that they never skimped on. There are few ways to tell someone that you love them better than a table laden with hot food.

He slid them out of the oven just as he heard the door open. He smiled. Just in time.

They were his favourite.

He left them in kitchen and walked out into the living room, where Annie and Kyle were waiting for him. The love of his life and his little boy. His entire universe revolved around them.

He picked Kyle up and kissed Annie.

“You know what day it is today, buddy?”

“I do!”

“And you know what that means, right?”

“Brownies!”

He laughed, and kissed the little boy on the cheek. “Of course. Now go get washed up”.

He put his arm around Annie. “Hey there, beautiful. You ready for dinner?” She smiled, and kissed him again. Long and deep, this time.

“Dinner, and more”, she said, winking at him.

They sat down at the table, and he handed out the brownies. Each one had a candle, and they sang together.

“Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you…..”

He blew out his candle, and took a small bite of the brownie. He looked up at the picture on the mantelpiece.

“Happy birthday, Pop.”

90’s Pictorial Film Rewind: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Holy shit. I haven’t laughed this much in a long time.
Go, follow ImaanSheikh. Come for the name, stay for the writing.

ImaanSheikh

I know, I know. I am attempting to ruin your favourite film; don’t kill me. I like it too. It’s every desi’s favourite film. And, well, why shouldn’t it be? It’s over three fucking hours long, and god knows how we love to make up for the short things in our lives with long ass movies.

I have decided to rewind Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

DDLJ opens with a sad shot of fobby store owner London dad Baldev (Amrish Puri) feeding birds while reminiscing about India after having reached the stars in Vilayat.

Oh, and he’s totally trippin’ balls.

While uncle is busy seeing shapes in the sky, let me introduce you to his family.

Meet annoying smartass 12-year-old Chutki, who ideally should have been killed by Paresh Rawal in King Uncle, and max Punjabi mummy jee, Lajjo.

Of course, this family is uninteresting as shit without Simran, the teenage…

View original post 1,280 more words