In quest of another

5

Halloween is that time of the year when people deck themselves out in costumes. They become whoever they want. It’s a game. It’s a fun time for all sections of society. I am no different. It’s just that I get into different costumes on a single night. I will cover this area as a pirate, that area as a robber, and the rest as a mermaid. “What’s the matter with you? Why change into three costumes?” my mother said. Trick or treat, I said.

Having multiple costumes meant I could have a race amongst the different avatars. A 100 meters would tell me who’s the fastest. The lightest one always won. The one which made me look like a six-year-old would score the maximum treats. Going alone would get me more treats. A group divides, an individual ignites the treat score. Whatever happened to ‘unity is strength’. None of the costumes attracted girls. So, Halloween is just about treats.

After all the permutations and combinations, I ended up with no tricks on others. Maybe I should have gone crazy for one night. You think you were sane, my wife said.

Every Halloween night, my grandmother would narrate the same tale of creeps creeping into her village and butchering 500 people. It sounds far-fetched as you are the lone survivor, I said.

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In quest of another

4

I just can’t finish a book or a movie. I get agitated at the slightest. I sense something. I am done. What’s more to read or watch? Better go for another one. This has made me read thousands of books. My parents didn’t like this. They were tired of buying me books. I starved two days a week so I can buy books instead. Yes, my parents made me go hungry for two freaking days out of seven. Who does that?

I borrowed movies from everyone I met. I didn’t want to spend money. It was hard to come by before marriage. I was called the CD Guzzler. I was known as the one who saw everything. It meant different things to different people. Movie buffs adored me, indifferent ones looked at me as if I was a queer, and imbeciles said, “He’s not God. How can he see everything?”

I never watched a television series. It gets you hooked up. You seem lost like a dog out on the streets. You can’t be yourself again before finishing all the episodes of all the seasons. I was better off without it. Otherwise, I would have been sent off to an institution for screen addiction. I remember my cousin Ben losing his mind and partial eyesight to television series. He went packing to the Transformative Egalitarian Society in China. Whosoever gave this gem of a name, he said. It took him six weeks to transform into a bright individual. Such a transformation was possible, I didn’t know. Maybe it would help me with my itch. So I went there and came back a transformed man. And I was back to my usual self in half the time I spent there.

In quest of another

3

Ten years of marriage and nothing to show for it. “You are worthless, you never get me. At least he does,” my wife said. Yes, I am the one to blame for not divorcing her. I should get divorced. It’s not that we have kids, it’s just that she has a lot of inherited wealth from her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and of course parents. All of them are dead. Ain’s she glad? She does whatever she feels like. She’s like a monkey jumping from tree to tree leaving her scent behind. My wife sounds just like me, a variety-seeker. And she does a better job at it.

I remember the time after our honeymoon. It is vivid even to this day. She leaped onto the chef while he was in the kitchen. He was good at his job. He was busy when my wife wooed him out of the blue. To hell with the cooking, he said. Cries of joy echoed outside. People stopped eating and stared at each other in wonder. I knew what was on. It took a few minutes for the hotel manager to turn on the kill switch. Stop this insanity right now, he shouted. My wife came out disgraced and covered in flour and butter. I escorted her to the room where she transferred some of the flour and butter on to me in the hotel room on the 14th floor. I know you like it, she moaned.

If she can do it on our honeymoon, imagine what happened after that. “Who doesn’t enjoy a joyride?” She got me a girl who was about to be married. “Don’t be a killjoy. Here you go! Take care of her. Tomorrow she’s taken, so better start shaking.” She surprises me with every move. No one is willing to believe a word I say about her. You are making her sound like a monster, a friend said. Voilà!

The Lift

11

Steven takes Hannah by the hand and pulls her down. “You should sit down. Lie down if you must. Take rest…Now coming back to that noise. Listen carefully. There is a to and fro motion and a rhythmic banging. I believe some construction work is going on. I can’t really say which floor as the echo is not helping.”

Jenna nods, “Yes, I think you are right. Which floor could it be? Let’s go there and find out what’s happening.”

“Wait a moment. They might be sharpening their knives to hurt us for good. What do we know?” Tara said.

Hannah cries, “I just want to go home.” Others look at her. They are out of options. The lift moves up and opens on the 18th floor. A man pops up and slashes out at Jenna and Tara. Blood gushes out from their throats and covers the attacker’s eyes. Red everywhere. Steven jumps and snatches the knife. He stabs the stranger in his guts. The stranger pulls Steven up by his bare hands and smashes his head against the wall. Hannah gets up and presses the ground floor button. The lift closes before the murderer steps inside.

The lift crosses each floor one by one, never stopping. It takes Hannah to the ground floor. She’s back again where she started. People are horrified at the spectacle inside the lift. Hannah drags herself out and asks for help. Security guards rush in and take her to the hospital. People run away from the scene. No one knows what happened.

The Lift

10

Hannah sees her mother. Her love, affection, concern. Everything comes in a swift motion like the cool breeze on the beach in the tropical region. Her mother showers a kiss at her while she stays put in bed. She is pulled away from her. But Hannah doesn’t want to let go.

What is she saying about her mother…She must be hallucinating…I’m glad she’s alive…

She sees her father. His love and strength fill her with courage. He hugs him dearly and holds on to him. “You have to let it go, kiddo. You have to make your own way out in the world.” No, she said.

She keeps talking about her parents…I wish we knew what to do…I’m afraid she has lost a lot of blood. But she’s strong. Look at her fight…

She sees her little dog. She likes playing catch with him. She holds him dearly. But he lets go. She runs after him. She reaches out and grabs on to her lucky charm.

“Why do you have a stone in your backpack?” Jenna asked. “She’s back. Yes,” Steven cried.

It turns out that her mother made her have her lucky charm all along. Is this what is keeping me alive, she wonders. “Get me out of here.”

The three musketeers pick her up and take her to the lift. “There is nothing on this floor. We have to try another one,” Jenna said.

“And then what?” Steven said.

“Then another one and another one till we make it out alive. We have to keep moving. Things are coming out of nowhere. We don’t know who or what is there on this floor. We found a gun. But where’s the gunslinger?”

All four of them enter the lift and the door closes with a thud echoing on the outside. Hannah looks at the others expecting an explanation.

The Lift

9

The air conditioner is running at full throttle. A morbid feeling grips Hannah and Steven. Their shadows flicker on the wall. They take measured steps to fulfill their destinies. The floor is a maze. Everything looks the same. One cannot differentiate one thing from another. Their fate has been at them for hours now. They are being hunted by the relentless evil force which takes varied shapes and sizes. They take the hard walk and try to reach some help.

They hear some people talking. Hannah steps up her pace. Steven slows her down, “Let’s be careful. First, check if they will kill us.”

The peeping toms see and hear the conversation going on. “They are lost just like us,” Hannah said. “Still we must be careful,” Steven reminds her.

“Who’s there?” a woman asked. “Come out where we can see you. Otherwise, we have guns, you know.”

Hannah and Steven step out from the dark. “Liars…you don’t have guns,” Hannah said.

The woman reaches her back pocket and flashes a pistol. “You talking about this. I wish you were not so good looking. It would be a shame to see you go…”

Another woman steps in and punches the gunslinger. “Hey, what’s the matter with you. Why talk like this?” She turns towards Hannah with her arms hanging in the air. “Hey, I’m Jenna and this is Tara. We mean no harm. We found this pistol somewhere. It is missing three bullets. And what is this smell?”

“That would be me. I’m afraid I shit my pants trying to run away from monsters,” Steven said.

Hannah shrugs. “I took one right in this arm. And a guy took two and he’s dead.” She fells to the floor.

All rush to her aid. Jenna checks her pulse. Tara looks into her wound. And Steven stares at her beautiful face. “Come back to us,” he said.

In quest of another

2

A friend makes me watch Black Mirror. He’s so upbeat about it after hearing rave reviews from all over the web. “You know they might be fake. It’s done for promotion. That’s what business is about.” Not at all, he said.

Pig fuck implanted in my head. I can’t sleep. What kind of television show shows a man engaging with another animal? It is repulsive. But here I am, thinking about it, turning in my bed, wondering what it will be like. I am not a sick man, just a curious one.

Sleeplessness and morbid curiosity make me experience it. Horrible, I should say. But it was something sublime. I bend but make him or her stand. It was a small area so he or she couldn’t move around and disrupt the motion.

The experience didn’t help. My ear kept ringing. I heard painful grunts all the time. I can’t sleep. I see a doctor, have medications. It didn’t help.

I have another rendezvous with the pig. Everything is familiar which helps. Life goes on and so it did.

The only thing I don’t like about this experience is that it is well hidden from the rest of the world. No one wants to hear something which will make him doubt your human intellect. This is abhorring at the least. I will come across as a monster lurking in the dark waiting for its next prey. And I will be definitely jailed for Beastiality. I can’t go to jail. I have to try so many other things. This is not just about trying to sleep with everyone on the planet. This is about the unending itch which makes me switch.