Blue Blues

The colour blue was everywhere. My hands were drenched in that colour. The table I was working on would soon get a bluish tinge if I didn’t clean it properly.

 

I hated this. I hated going through this exact same chore every day.

 

I got a cloth and a cleaning liquid from the cupboard behind me, and worked on taking of the stain from the table. The cloth was now entirely blue. I had forgotten to wash my hands. And now, on both sides of the cloth, it was entirely blue. It didn’t matter, to be honest. I threw the cloth into the dustbin.

 

Now that I had separated the head from the body, the Blue Srot was turning black. There was a nerve that connected the body to the head, and once it was torn apart, the dark blue turned into pitch black. It was the blackest of blacks you could ever imagine.

 

I placed the head inside the dicer and pressed a button. The body, I placed in another dicer. I pressed the buttons on both and then waited. It took five minutes, at the least. The Blue Srots weren’t very tall, about 3 feet tall. So it didn’t take much time, cutting them up.

 

After a while, the dicers turned green and I took out the pieces one by one. This was my 2345th day of srotting, as we called it, and I still couldn’t get over the smell of it all. I had just put the pieces of the head to boil when the door opened.

 

“All-Mother, how is it faring?,” the man in the guise of the soldier asked.

 

“Like the wind on the lower bandwidth,” I replied.

 

We are a wind-faring race, you see. We have seven layers of winds in which we take flight – with the help of foolproof suit. The lower bandwidth contains the last two layers, the most peaceful of the layers. The five above them have increasing disturbances and fewer traffic.

 

And yes, I am the All-Mother. I am the mother of the Prime-All, the woman who leads are race. It is my duty, as All-Mother, to produce one cube of Srot Ink every day. It’s supposed to motivate people, I think. There are a 10 men and women in total who produced 5 Srot Ink cubes everyday.   

 

The soldier dipped his gloved finger in the boiling water and licked it.

 

“The pure taste is exquisite, All-Mother. Why don’t we do something with it?,” he asked.

 

“Soldier, you know the Srot Ink is a highly potent drug. If you consume it in its pure form, your brain will go into an overdrive and you will fa-”

 

The soldier suddenly lost consciousness and dropped in a heap.

 

“-ll down and lose consciousness ,” I finished.

 

I sighed. Every month there was a soldier who thought he knew too much and decided to taste the pure Srot Ink. I used to stop them in the beginning, but I didn’t care anymore. So I gave them no warning. Anyway, they should know better.

 

Did we know better though? We, who killed and turned being into a drug just so we could fly better in the air. I don’t think others in our solar system respected us, for what we had done to the Blue Srots. They feared us, for sure. But they would think twice before even thinking of befriending one of us – one of the Green Srots.

 

I remember the time when we were friends with others though. It was only 50 years ago. I was a 10-year-old. I remember going to a neighbouring planet on a student exchange programme. The visit opened my eyes. It truly did. I began to see our world and the worlds around us in a completely different way. After all, what is the point of living if you live inside your own little bubble?

 

The equilibrium disbalanced only five years after that. I was 15, and suddenly a petty fight between the two Srots escalated into a political issue. We had lived peacefully, barring a few skirmishes, on this planet for a long time. But for some reason, this fight became a huge issue. There were killings on both sides which, after two years, turned into a full-blown war. We defeated them, being technologically more advanced, even though the Blue Srots had the larger force.

 

A year later, the Blue Srots attempted to attack our government office. I don’t know what they were thinking. There was no way they could have taken the politicians hostage. There were too many security hurdles in place. But the Blue Srots, known to have the biggest egos in the entire solar system, couldn’t handle the defeat of the war.

 

The soldiers guarding the office caught them before they even stepped inside the building. They were all tortured and killed, but not before they admitted that several such attacks were being planned. After that, we had no choice. We had to stop them.

 

Within ten days of the attack, we captured the entire family of their leader. Killed the leader, his wife and his children live on a stream that was broadcast all over the planet, and then gave them a simple peace offering. Every day, they would have to send us 60 people. It could be more, but 60 at least they had to send.

 

The Blue Srots had no idea what we did with their offerings, in the beginning. You see, an especially enterprising military general, on the second day of the offering, cut up a Blue Srot and cooked him. The Blue Srots were anyway being used for experiments and new methods of torture. The general thought he was being quite innovative when he decided to eat one. It didn’t matter that they were quite similar to us.

 

So, he ate one Blue Srot. And within minutes of taking the first bite, he lost consciousness. He woke up nearly ten minutes later, high on energy and brimming with ideas. That was the beginning of the Srot Ink project. We had come up on a way to enhance our brains. It was easy, we just had to eat (in small quantities) our fellow planet inhabitants.

The constitution was changed, things were put into place. Some people were not happy with the new project. They were killed. I was one of the many who supported the project. But then again, I had no idea my daughter would one day become the Prime-All, and I would have to become a part of the system. In the beginning, I used to buy ten packets of the Srot Ink, apply a bit of the paste on my lips and enjoy my life. Flying especially became incredible when one applied the ink.

 

The bones had begun to melt now. I added small pieces of wood in the pot to dim the effects of the Srot Ink and stood in front of the soldier. He was regaining consciousness now. He would be on a high for the next eleven hours. I envied him. I could no longer use the ink, not since I began hating the entire project.

 

It would take another 20 minutes for the bones and wood to turn into a paste. I went outside. I was shivering, even though both the suns were out today. I walked towards my bedroom, towards the main building. I sat down on my desk, and began to write this letter.

 

These years of dismembering the Blue Srots have haunted me. I can’t see the colour blue and not feel nauseated. I can’t look at my children and not think about the thousands I have orphaned. I have to tell someone about all I have done. I can’t die. I am bound by the constitution. But I can’t live as well. To whom this letter finds, please, if you have the power, be kind and kill us all.

Moving Men

The tape was in my right hand. I moved it near my mouth and used my teeth to cut a strip off it. Twenty minutes into packing, and I had already forgotten where I had put the scissors.

The bell rang and I kept the tape inside my jeans’ pocket. Couldn’t let that escape too.

I opened the door to two men. They seemed bored. Their business was up since the announcement, so they had been going around doing the same job in the neighbourhood.

I used my right hand to point towards the boxes that had been already packed, and went back to the side of the home that still needed to be dissembled. There wasn’t much left. Just a few books that needed to be kept inside a box.

One of the men came running towards me. “Where is your family?,” he asked, hurriedly. He didn’t want the other man to overhear. “They are already there,” I said. “Can you help me? Please?,” he said. “What is it?,” I said, intrigued. “My entire family was not chosen, just my youngest child. In the middle of all the chaos of her leaving, we forgot to give her a toy she loves dearly. Can you give it to her, please? She will be in Nursery II, Delta IV. Her name is Tania Sarak. Please, can you help me?”

I said yes, and he took out a small figurine out of his pocket and placed it in my right hand. I placed it inside the box of box.

The man was relieved. He thanked me a number of times, and went away.

I took out the figurine and opened another box nearby. There were over 50 small items that people had given me in the last five days since they knew that my entire family had been chosen. I placed the figurine next to a small, worn tennis ball.

About a week later, when I would reach the new planet, I would find that I had lost that box in transit.

Only Option

Radiohead’s new song made me write this one.

 

Three. Two. One.

The voice that was everywhere called out the numbers in an emotionless tone. The speaker was a robot, it had no strings attached to the mission. It had no emotions. The humans on the other hand, were all crying.

Inside the mission control room, outside in the parking lot – they were all crying.

The rocket that was now flying up into the sky was a last-ditch effort. It was their final rescue mission.

The aim was to create a blackhole that would propel the entire planet  into another time and space. Hopefully, the mission would be successful. If not, the entire planet would get destroyed in a solar blast, in three days.

The blackhole was the only option left. The rocket was the only hope.

And now, it had crossed the outer layers of the atmosphere. It was moving. It was swerving right. It was moving. It was beginning to shake. It was moving.

Inside the mission control room, inside every house in the world, people were looking at their screens.

The rocket was still moving.

If the rocket succeeded, they would all feel a momentary lapse of time. Their memories might get changed. Some people might disappear. New people might get created. Nobody knew for sure what would happen if the mission were to become successful.

But they all hoped.

There was a loud bang in the sky, beyond. They all heard it. There was an explosion in the sky. Everyone ran into the streets.

In a collective noise, they all exhaled, and spoke.

“Oh, it’s so beautiful.”

 

Birthday Bake

“Shall we go for a walk?”

“Why? What’s out there?”

“What’s in here?”

“Good point”

Five seconds go by.

“Are you coming?”

“Yes, I am. Just a second.”

The man wears a suit, which covers him from head to toe. The woman is already waiting by the door, similarly dressed.

“Where do you want to go?”

“I was thinking we would go to the bakery…”

“And gain all the calories we might lose.”

“… and buy a cake for your mother. It’s her birthday tomorrow. You remember, don’t you?”

“Yup. We bought her gift on our last walk. I remember that too.”

The two of them take the lift and reach the street outside their building. It’s snowing today. They both take out their hands from their pockets and spread it in from of them. They instinctively look up, both of them forgetting the fact that the action will hurt their eyes.

“Shit. Totally forgot. They should have signs about this everywhere.”

The woman instantly points to a sign on their right.

“Oh”

“The bakery is over there.”

A minute later.

“Should we get her an ice-cream cake?”

 “I was thinking the same thing. She loves chocolate and strawberry. A mixture of the two perhaps.”

The woman nods her head in agreement and enters the bakery. Both of them unzip their suits till their necks and try out samples of cakes. They decide upon one and buy it. On the way, the man begins to cry, quite suddenly, and the woman comforts him.

“I can’t live like this anymore.”

“We have to. We have no choice. Don’t look up, but I think the spaceship’s camera is focusing on us. They’ve increased the heat in the suit and also stopped the snow. We have to move on. Please. We have to move on.”

Fixed Flesh

 

His fingers were starting to twitch. Soon, he knew, his whole body would start shaking. He had no choice now, he had to call the emergency line. He stabbed himself with a pen lying nearby, and then waited.

Two hours later, he woke up in a hospital. The fifth time in the year, he woke up in the hospital  two kilometers away. The nurses here knew him by name.

“Hello there. We were a bit worried about you. Hadn’t seen you in two months, and we were on stand by for a health alert from you for ten days. What happened?,” a nurse asked him when he opened his eyes. She was smiling.

Yes, everyone loved him here. And he loved them back.

“I was trying something new,” he said.

“And what might that be?,” she asked, her smile getting sweeter by the second.

“I found this new appliance online. It said that it could help me with the twitching. It didn’t,” he whimpered.

The nurse knew exactly what to do, injecting him with a cocktail of elements suited to his personality. Instantly, he felt happy.

“So, are you opting for the usual mode of payment?,” she asked softly.

“Absolutely!,” he said, practically jumping on the bed and causing a stream of blood to flow out from his wound.

Later, when he came out of the hospital, with his happiness in control for the next one month, he he felt a lot more lighter.

Sure, his visits to the hospital turned out to be physically painful, but the Venetian surgeries sure made him happy.

 

 

Minting Machines

Every machine inside the room works 24 hours a day. A machine is only allowed to rest one day in a month. Some might say it’s a bit cruel. But the again, they are just machines. They are the kind that haven’t yet developed a consciousness, a sense of righteousness or even understanding words beyond five letters.

But they do think. That they do. They are minting machines, so they have a very basic knowledge of mathematics. If you tell them that that two plus two is five, they will undoubtedly slow down and look at you. They dare not call a human an idiot, but they do show their incredulousness from time to time.

The first such situation arises when a minting machine is explained how the entire system works.

Every human, at their birth, is made to undergo a two-hour test where his or her attributes are studied. Each human is also assigned a specific amount of money during the test, which is minted specifically for them, with their name and date of birth printed on both sides of the coins.

The machines sometimes wonder, why is it so? Why does one human get 5000 coins and another gets 5978543. They feel confused on their first ever day of work. But soon, with the help of experienced machines, they realise.

“Human kind very weird,” says one machine to a newbie. The newbie nods in understanding. Everything makes sense after that.

Fury Fuel

He takes out the car keys, thinks the word to be quite obsolete seeing that they were cards. Not keys anymore. Not for 20 years. But old habits die hard.

Once inside the car, he inserts the card in the slot and waits. Ten seconds later, the engine starts and the car hums into life.  He wonders if he’ll be able to use the superspeed today. He is torn on the issue. On one hand, superspeed allows him to drive faster. On the other hand, the cost is too much.

He closes his eyes for two seconds. Yes, he tells himself, the cost is too much. It drains him.

With a smile on his face (he thinks of a joke to cheer himself up), he takes the car forward. He has to be in office in 30 minutes. It’s an easy thing to do, seeing as he lives so close by. He thinks he’ll reach in 10 minutes, or at least 12 minutes.

The man takes the turn out of his housing society, and swiftly applies the brakes. He swears under his breath and the car gains power. Bikers are a bunch of idiots.

For seven minutes he drives smoothly until, of course, another biker appears. This time he manages to reach the state of Fury Fuel. For this time, the biker appears out of nowhere and parks right in front of his car.

As he swerves to the right, he goes past the biker and glares at the oblivious idiot. The car registers his rage and revs up, depositing him at his destination in eight minutes.

As he calms down, glad that he has been able to reach office under ten minutes, he also feels regret. He wishes he didn’t get so angry. He wishes others didn’t get this angry either. He wishes that the Fury Fuel had never been invented.

He glimpses a biker in the rear-view mirror.

He wishes the fucking bikers had never been born.

Mainframe Mixture

The yellow line on the floor was leading him towards the exit. He followed it, for a while, and then took a sudden left turn. He walked further along and reached the shelf he had been looking for.

He picked up a box, turned it around in his hand, and looked at the ingredients and instructions. He frowned, coming across an ingredient that didn’t bode well with him. He kept the box back on the shelf and picked up another one.

Yes, this one would do quite well. He was sure of this one.

Back home, he went up to his room and took out his screenbook. Everything he needed to study within the next twenty days, for after that were his exams, was written down on the screenbook. He picked a subject that seemed easy and went down to the kitchen.

He took out the box he had bought earlier, and looked back at the instructions.

Step 1. Take two spoons of the powder and pour into either boiling water or milk.

Step 2. Stir it anti-clockwise for 23 times and clockwise for 11 times.

Step 3. Drink it. Take at least 3 minutes to enjoy the drink.

Step 4. Wait.

Step 5. Wait a bit more.

Step 6. Once you notice a bluish tinge in your eyesight, rush to complete your chosen task within the next 4 hours.

Step 7. Once your task is over, remember to flush out the mixture by using the ‘Instant Vomit’ tube inside the box.

He checked inside the box.

Shit.

There was no tube inside. He’d have to go back to the store to buy the tube separately. What if he just let the mixture be? How harmful could it really be? He checked the box again.

Caution: It is strongly suggested that the mixture be flushed out within an hour of task completion. Otherwise, the microbes inside the mixture might take over your life permanently.

Would it be that bad?

 

Observer’s Ordeal

My job is quite boring. If I describe it to you in detail, you are for sure to think of it as very boring. Yet, every time someone asks me what I do for a living, and I answer, “I am an Observer”, they can’t help but raise their eyebrows. People think our jobs are interesting only because we get to travel to the other planets in the galaxy, to Observe certain marked people. But it’s not true. Our jobs are quite boring.

It’s been five years, and I’ve Observed over 50 beings and entities over 27 planets. They might look different and behave differently, but at the end of the day, they all cry. They all plead for their life when I am given the Order to kill them. It drags one down, this routine. It drags me down.

I don’t tell the folks back home about this feeling of course. I’ll be killed if I do. But I do tell them, in detail, about my five-month Observations and they quickly change the topic.

So, what is my job exactly? Well, to put it simple words, I am given a project twice a year when I must observe a potential criminal and see if she or he makes the right decisions. If the person makes all the right choices, he or she goes free. But if the person doesn’t do so, I take out my telescopic gun and shoot that person. The bullet leaves no wounds since it hits the person, stops the heart, and boomerangs back into my gun.

I do all this from within the confines of an outer ring ship that revolves around all planets. It’s all quite simple, and in most cases the person never finds out what hit them. Sometimes they see a flash of light before I fix the gun. But even then, going by the look on their faces, they know they can’t escape it.

That’s what makes it so hard for me. The way some of them, who could have lived a fruitful life, accept that they are going to die within a few hours. It’s as if they welcome it. Maybe I would fee the same way, I don’t know.

Truth be told, I can’t take this job anymore. I’ve decided to retire after the current Observation.

LATER

She steps out of her house, on the way to the portalbus stop. Suddenly, she sees a flash of light in the sky, and stops in her tracks.

“It couldn’t be…”

A few words escape from her mouth. She looks down at her shoes, she looks left and right. Nobody else seems to have noticed the light. But then, none of her neighbours were ex-Observers.

She decides to continue walking. All the time, she thinks about what she has just witnessed. She is not sad. She is relieved. She is glad someone will be killing her within the next 24 hours.

She reaches the portalbus stop and types in the address she wants to go to. It’s where her son lives. It’s his birthday tomorrow, and she plans to take him out shopping.

She feels a bit sad, thinking about her son. She had planned to re-adopt him. She could do that now, now that she had resigned. But, the flash of light means she would not be able to do so.

Somehow, the knowledge of the fact she would be dying within a few hours made her all the more happier with her son. She lives every moment of her last few hours with him. And, when she reaches home the next day, while her son was sleeping, she is ready.

She types out a few things on her laptop, makes a few non-virtual arrangements, and stands outside the main  door of her house. She waits. For an hour.

That one hour extends into a few more hours, beyond the Deadline. She is getting nervous. Something was wrong. Why is she still alive?

That is when she hears the ambulance. It stops outside her neighbour’s house. She sighs, and that’s when it hits her.

Suit Style

Only ten days a month was a suit allowed on the outside. Rest of the time, it stayed inside the closet. It waited.

It didn’t have a fully functioning brain, not like its human masters. But it understood time. It understood it was living a secondary life.

The human was sleeping right now, and the suit knew today was the day that the human would elect to use a suit. The human had partied the night before and wanted a day off. The suit had seen all this through a hole in the closet.

Sure enough, the human pressed a button somewhere and the suit filled up with air and took the form of its human. It wore some of the human’s clothes, said a customary goodbye and went to the office. The suit wondered how many of its kind would be in office today. It wondered, in particular, if ‘she’ would be there.

She was the human’s boss. While the humans didn’t get along that well, the suits had been secretly in love with each other for the past 2 years. Their only problem, and a major one, was that they were essentially plastic bags filled with air.

The suit knew when it entered the office, that she was there. The boss’ suit preferred a very flowery perfume. Jasmine.

Their eyes met several times during the day, but neither of them smiled. They went about their work, and while leaving, bumped into each other in the lift. This had been the case for the past 2 years.

“How are you? How’s work?,” she asked.

“Good. How’s your human?,” he said.

“Good,” she said.

When the suit was in the car, driving back home, it wondered what would happen if it were to kill the human and take its place. Outwardly, there was no way to distinguish between a human and a suit. It could kill the human easily, coudn’t it?

The suit went inside the human’s house. He was watching the television. The suit glanced in his direction and continued to move towards the closet.