Loaded with bytes

1

Four friends working in an IT company meet for lunch. This is just a usual day for them. Bytes Load Inc. has an informal policy of making its employees work till their buttocks require a massage from a Thai therapist. Well, it’s up to the employee to go seek service from the therapist. She comes with special powers and a pair of soft hands to take away the eternal pain. The only problem is that she costs a fortune. Now coming back to the four friends, they passed out from the same engineering college. They studied computer science. This is a trend in India like a pandemic raging a war on young minds. What coaxes a young adult to become dispensable like a million others each year and join the rat race? I guess we will never know. These friends got a job at Bytes Load, a multinational company with the same position. Now they have completed one year working their buttocks off. Their location is Bangalore as you would have guessed already. And it’s the year 2018.

“Hey, Anil, what are you up to nowadays? You look so gloomy,” Ravi asked.

“Yes, you definitely do. I hate to see it in your face,” Chen said.

“It’s not like I came on his face. He is busy, you morons. Can’t you just notice it in his office timing,” Mann said.

“Well now, calm down, guys. Mann is right. I am busy. My boss has his finger pointed 90 degrees at me all the time. God knows what he wants from me,” Anil said.

“What do gays want… to be gayer,” Ravi said.

“Ha ha ha, that’s funny. He definitely looks gay enough to me,” Chen said.

“What’s gay enough. You are either a gay or you are not. You can’t be in between,” Mann said.

“Shut up, guys. He is loitering around the hall. He might overhear us. Change the topic, quick!” Anil said.

“Holy Magoly! This is too tensed. I need some air. And your boss needs some hand,” Ravi said.

“Well, he can’t have mine. If you know what I mean. I told him on his face,” Anil said.

“You what?” Mann asked.

“Did he approach you?” Chen asked.

“Yes, he did. What could I have done? I can’t cheat on Sarita,” Anil said.

“Yes, you did the right thing. I am so proud of you. You messed up someone’s head. And now he’s gonna mess you up,” Ravi said.

“This is not funny,” Anil said.

“I will tell you what’s funny. Where do you get to bang in Bangalore?” Chen said.

“You know what! It’s not funny if it’s coming from your mouth,” Ravi said.

“What do you mean?” Chen said.

“You may try Bangkok to have a bang for your buck,” Ravi said.

“This is not funny,” Chen said.

“Well, it’s not intended to be. I am trying to speak your tongue,” Ravi said.

“I don’t involve tongue,” Chen said.

“Now, this is funny,” Mann said.

“Well, it was great meeting you guys for a messed up lunch. Now I have to go for a messier work worsened by the messiest boss,” Anil said.

“Wow! Your words come out like a freak talent show contestants on the stage. I love your spark. No wonder your boss is a fan,” Ravi said.

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The Postmeister

3

Both of them lose their post-it notes. One is responsible for the other. It’s not their fault. It’s the board. What can they do about it? The first time it happened, they shrugged it off as a mistake. But it won’t be considered a mistake next time. They would fear that someone else did it. But who would do so? They live all by themselves in their little flats. They would be scared like a child who just saw a stranger in the house.

Matthew fills his board with five new notes: Buy milk, Eat soup, Try some cranberries, Call mom @8, Brush teeth before bed. All of these appear on Juana’s board. She can’t believe her eyes. This is a trick. Someone is messing with her. But who? She didn’t know. But she was aware of the presence of someone else. She took up her broom and starts fishing for the intruder. She finds none.

At school, Juana tells her best friend Jenna about it. “Did you ask the security about it? Maybe they saw someone,” Jenna said.

“Yes, I did. They don’t know. I asked my neighbors as well. And nothing,” Juana said.

Jenna asks her to lodge a complaint with the police. “You can’t take this lightly. It might be something serious. You should stay with me tonight,” Jenna said.

“I guess I should. I better stay away from a creep,” Juana said.

“So you got a fan. I hope he’s cute. The best thing would be to install a camera at your entrance. This way you will know if someone came to your house,” Jenna said.

“I guess I will,” Juana said.

And it moves…

9

His subtle movements camouflaged his identity. He regularly changed his looks according to the new place to gel in with the localites. He was John, The Strangler.

Now John is 23 with 23 moves in his life.

Change is a manner of life. Everything changes. And so did John. But how did this happen? What led a monster to not be a monster anymore?

He was traveling in a bus during his 23rd move. The holding rod fell on his head. He went into a coma and woke up after a month. He found himself completely changed and rehabilitated.

He considers 23 a lucky number because he met Diana and felt a change of fate. He didn’t deem himself a killer anymore.

Now at 25, he is rejoicing at his fortunate life to have left his wretched past behind. He is happily married and has a couple of daughters with Diana. He named them June and Juno.

Just when he was sure that he had finally moved on, he moved yet again. This time it was his own wife. How could he do that? He was shaken to his core. He couldn’t believe that he destroyed his own family. It’s better he doesn’t have one. He can’t move with his little daughters. After all, he is The Strangler. He wondered what he might do to his little children.

He left the house in desperation leaving everything behind. He ran and ran till he was completely exhausted. He went near the tracks. Few vehicles were waiting for a train to arrive. And so did John.

As soon as he heard the train arriving, he walked up to the tracks and jumped right in front of the train.

And it moves…

8

The number six is a perfect number. The first perfect number according to The Pythagoreans. Perfect numbers are rare.

The number six is the symbol of luck and the highest number of the dice. It is the symbol of Venus, the goddess of love. It is the atomic number of carbon, the basis of all life forms.

The number six is the most harmonious of all the single digit numbers. But it can also mean a merciless wolf in sheep’s clothing in exceptional cases. This was the case with John. He was into discord and disharmony with the world at large. His actions were unspeakable and abhorrent.

The number six also refers to the sixth sense which is the extra sensory perception. John seemed to have possessed it. He had sensed his ability to take lives without getting caught. He knew he was lucky and he took advantage of it.

Till now, John had a count of six. He believed it to be a lucky charm since he didn’t have to move. He stayed put. He stood his ground without the interference of his parents. He turned the dice in favor of himself. And he did it with ease. He had no one above him. He ruled the world in the guise of a normal boy leading a normal life. He was a super con artist. He conned his parents and his victims. He wanted to further his advances and reek the world of a monster.

Just to celebrate his mirth, he engaged a whore from the whore house. She was tiny and he took her up. He toyed with her and knocked her brains out. She was dead tired unable to move.

‘It is time,’ John thought. He took out a tiny knife and poked her eyes deep and wide.

He came and went away in a jiffy. His identity was unknown. He had his face covered and voice hardened. It was a game for him which he played well.

The whore was found dead. She bled from her eyes.

The Strangler was still locked in the prison far away from the real one. The real one took advantage of this and tried his hands at the varied manner of killing. He succeeded at each one. Maybe he was born for this. Maybe he was meant to get the world rid of some girls. Maybe he is the deliverer of Satan.

And it moves…

7

John had five till now. All young and pretty. He devoured them. He played along till they were vulnerable enough to be brought down to their knees. In case of John, he brought them more than that. Death.

He decided to move yet again. His parents were scared for his life. What an irony!

They rushed to see their son and brought him back home. They argued over what could be done. Finally, they agreed on Italy.

John was about to wreak havoc in another country. What a pity! No one knew the whereabouts of the real Strangler. Police had zeroed in on the security guard who ran. John was lucky.

The poor guard should have kept his cool and let it play out. He must have had some proof of his whereabouts. But he ran.

He was caught crossing the border to Mexico. Why would he do that? The court deemed him The Strangler and sentenced him to life. The public was relieved. They condemned this maniac. He suffered in silence with a good-for-nothing attorney. He couldn’t afford a decent one. And went to prison for life.

John mocked this man. He took John’s place. John had a little soirée with his hostel mates upon reaching his college. He was ecstatic upon his luck. He spent the night drowning himself in oblivion.

The next day he woke up with a mission. This time he promised himself that he will finish off college before anything else makes his parents move him again. So he stayed away from the girls of his college. He completely ignored them. Instead, he hung out with girls from other colleges.

He made friends with Sophia. She was the same age as he was. She was studying fashion designing and wanted to have a shot at fame and glory. She was ambitious and so was John. Both had different needs in life. They thrived on their specific desires to do something thrilling. It kept them up at night.

One evening Sophia was late for her rendezvous with John. They were to meet at a café. An hour went by and John was on his way back to his hostel. He was bubbling with resentment. He wanted to do something sinister.

Next day he met Sophia out of the blue on the streets. He got her to catch a film ‘Call me by your name’. It was twenty minutes into the movie. The theatre was dark enough for John. This time he had planned his moves. He was definite of his action. He smashed some chloroform on her face and boom. She was temporarily incapacitated and ready for John. In this state, she hardly resisted. John finished what he came for.

This act of John didn’t make him move. His parents didn’t get to know about this. He was at peace in college and about to graduate soon. He was an adult with a definite purpose in life. This time he controlled himself and saw fate turned in support of him.

And it moves…

6

It was time for John to move from one state to another. His tryst with his home state was short lived. His parents forced him to move.

Maybe the change in the territory will change his behavior. Maybe the new college will help him become a human again. The fate of women in this beautiful country depended on a Maybe.

He moved to another college and continued his education. He started studying his history. This is not the history of his ancestors or his country. But a more prioritized one. He needs to understand himself. His behavior demands attention. If he knows what led others to behave like a serial killer, maybe he could fix himself.

But fate had its own plans for John. It would not allow him a solution. It would toil with his life and the lives of countless others. The Strangler is not to be subdued by any means whatsoever. Fate was more powerful than he was.

Finally, a girl reciprocated to his boyish charm. Rhonda from the south had an accent that John was not accustomed to. He was immediately attracted. And she was beautiful as well. She was from his class. They studied history together. She liked him. They spent their evenings together breaking through every history textbook they can get hold of in the library. This was a match set in heaven or so John believed. But he was wrong as usual.

The Strangler struck again. This time in the library. It was a usual evening for Rhonda and him. It was getting late and the library was about to close. Few students left. The guard said he would return in five. Everyone left one by one except the couple.

Something came up and John took hold of the chain Rhonda wore in her neck. She sat helpless for a minute. And John left.

The guard closed the library seeing no lights. The next morning it was known. The guard questioned himself disbelieving his eyes. How could it be? He had locked the entrance. Did she come later? He knew he would be suspected. So he fled.

Lady luck accompanied John wherever he went. This time it was in the guise of a security guard. His absence led everyone to suspect him. He was called The Strangler.

And it moves…

5

The first day of college and John was looking at the clock. He didn’t like the history professor and wished the class to end.

A bolt from professor Gilbert, “Yes, my dear. What is so queer about the clock? Let me find the magic in it.”

“I didn’t get you, Sir,” John replied.

“What I am saying is…ATTENTION!” Gilbert shouted.

John just nodded in agreement. He was restless. He took up arts in college. He was majoring in history. He wanted to study about the monsters that lived before him. He wouldn’t be taught what he wanted but still, he could spend time understanding himself. Books and knowledgeable people will definitely help him. So he began his quest.

The taste of blood is such that an animal can’t live without it once it has tasted it. John was no such animal who had tasted it. But he had tasted the power that comes with the control of the flow of the blood. You strangle someone, you control the blood flow as well. You smash a head, you control the flow. You are the cause.

It was difficult for him to stay without the adventure. He craved. He was living in the boys’ hostel. The girls had one of their own. In between lied the gymnasium. His eyes were set on Anna. With a voluptuous body at the age of 21, she was every man’s dream. But she considered John a child.

John tried everything. He followed her around. He asked her to help him with his studies. But she refused. She knew his motives and she didn’t see the end well. John was merely 17 back then and about to turn 18 soon.

John lost his cool and made a move. This was insane. The Strangler was born again. Anna was lying in the pool. When two girls got her out, she was not responding. She was taken to the hospital where she was declared ‘brought dead’.

The college was alarmed. John’s parents arrived the same day and took their son back home. “This place is not safe for you,” his father said. His mother cried at the sight of her only son. They couldn’t let anything happen to their little boy.

The love for a child is so intense that a parent can go to great lengths. They may commit atrocities on others for their child’s sake. John’s parents wanted to leave the country. But John refused. Little did his parents know what he wished and why he moved.