Bathroom lizarD

“There’s a lizard in the bathroom”, Joe came back screaming. Out of the us four, only three were really scared of lizards but Ben wasn’t . Rather, he considered them icky. So nobody would be going in to confront the lizard. We waited and kept the go-to-the-bathroom-urge under control and took turns to go peek in the bathroom every hour or so. And the b*****d (read bathroom lizard) wasn’t moving. He sat there on the toilet seat in the same posture, his head raised, looking up at the light. His tail was also  up in a similar arc. In fact he has been in the same pose since morning. No he wasn’t dead. During my turns ,I swear I had seen his throat pulsing.

Then the co-occupants of our house – the humans (a male and a female who always left the place in the morning smelling of mint and rose/jasmine respectively and came back sometime in the evening smelling of the sweet smell of sweat ) came back. The female went into the bathroom – and like us the humans also despised lizards – and there was an ‘Eeeeeek’. She came out and communicated something to her mate.  He went inside, we heard a loud Thwack and he came out with the lizard’s dead body.
 

So with our threat now dead and gone, we barged into the bathroom.
“Dolf you first” Ben urged me.

So I led in front, Ben and Kim closely behind and Joe tailing us (poor guy was slow). We had just started our work – scouring the bathroom floor for our food(we were behind schedule due to that  damn lizard) – when the human female returned and saw us.  She Eeeeked! again and stormed out of the room.

 
That was not good. She would tell this to her mate and that wont be good. We decided to clear the area.

Sure, we are four and he’s only one. But we are no match for the weapon he will bring – cockroach spray.

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The Transfer

Like you change your dress for a fresh one, a soul, when done, selects another body.

Prologue

The running man’s leg caught on something and he fell head-first on to a heap of dry leaves and twigs. He tried to get up but there something was digging sharply into his legs. The faint moonlight let him see what caught him. It was a bear trap. Funny – why they would have bear traps in a cemetery. Was it laid by the ones hunting him now? Funny – how things have changed. He used to be the hunter, now he was being hunted. The pain radiating upwards from his calf was not letting complete that thought. Broken bones?

The footsteps grew closer. He tried to claw away. The trap was strong. He tried to bend over and work on the trap. The footsteps slowed down and came to a stop. Then THUD!!

Another jolt of pain hit him. This time it was in his jaws. He tasted his warm blood and something else. His teeth. Couple of them. When his vision returned, he saw the hunting party. Three of them – one held the baton which presumably hit him on the face.

He let the baton fall and lit a cigarette. A crude emotionless face became visible under that flame.

“What now, sir?”,asked one of them. It was directed at the leader of the pack – the one with the cigarette.

“Now what? Kill him off. For my sister. For all the sisters killed off by this f****. For people to walk without fear in the nights.”

“What about the police, sir?”

“What police? They will take him in, fatten him and maybe sometime in future pardon him. Those suckers. I don’t want this scum to be let scot free after all the things that he’s done. I want to make him feel what my sister felt when he was ripping through her flesh. ”

Sometime during all these dialogues, the man caught in bear trap had stopped screaming and started cackling like a lunatic.

“Huh, sir? I don’t think anything is going through him”, said one of the hunters to their leader.

The lunatic was still cackling. He wasn’t listening to a thing said or pretending he wasn’t.

“I know something that will go through him”, said the hunter as he picked up something which was dropped by his prey earlier – a raggedy old tool bag. ‘The Ripper’s  tools’ thought the hunter. In it were the tools – everything you need to cut and stab and pull at human flesh, with blood still dried up in each one of them. Like the equipment of some deranged surgeon. ‘He brought his own instruments for his torture’, thought the hunter.

The next few minutes the hunting party spent driving metal through the Ripper’s body, one by one. Every time it was done, the Ripper would scream and then slowly that agonising scream would turn into that old maniacal laughter. And every time the hunting party,  would wait for the pain to subside, then would induce fresh pain. Eventually they got bored and decided to end him once and for all. They fashioned a gallow from the only tree that stood there, slipped a knot around the Ripper’s neck and hung him to die.

——

The building like any other buildings in that compound had a lot of offices. It had begun raining. Almost all offices had stopped their business at that hour, but one. Only one window had light if you looked from outside. It was that comics office, the one rumoured to close down soon. They are doing bad business these days.

Seems like a deadline to meet, otherwise why would you see that spectacled guy, their Creative Director working at this hour? The rain was picking up its pace outside.

The man stared at his table. He had completed the wireframes for the next week’s cartoon, with sketches for a new villain like his boss had ordered. Now he could go home. All he had to do was call his boss.

The man picked up the polished stone which he was using as a paperweight and placed it on top of drawings. Then he started dialling his boss.

——

The hunting party had left. The Ripper hung from that improvised gallow. His struggle ended as his right index finger twitched to a halt. And till that last breath in that body, he had never felt any remorse for all the bad he had done till then.

——-

The Creative Director was too busy talking to his boss that he did not notice the strangest of all things happening. The shaded figure in one of his drawings slowly materialising behind him. And when it had formed completely and stepped out into that room, it picked up the stone paperweight.

Prequel to this

Something which was afraid of dogs

Just one dog for the whole town
Their unappointed nightwatch
She became an annoyance, one day
When she started barking without reason

‘Mad dog’, said the townspeople
The dog was barking at nothing
Then one day she attacked the locksmith
Who tried to tend to the town’s water tank
That was when she was put down
‘Mad dog’ they said, flogged and buried her
None knew the dog wasn’t barking at nothing
There was something up there in the tank
which she tried to save the locksmith from
Something which was afraid of dogs
Like men are afraid of ghosts
Thats why we are heading there
Cos that thing took away everything from the town
Their children and cattle and happiness
I don’t know, men, what our guns will do
Cos bullets and fire have failed before
But this time I feel like we have a chance
Cos that box that the horses are pulling
Has a couple of hungry canines
The ones I’ve been starving
To catch that Thing in cold

Chain Reaction

The fly hovered around for a few moments and then swooped down on the lump of chewing gum stuck on that old wall. It still had some sweetness, and the fruity smell was too hard to resist for the insect. It began feeling around for the sugariness and that was when the lizard came out of a nearby crack in the wall and gobbled the fly up. A cat was lurking around observing the events happening on the wall. It pounced upon the lizard. Neither the cat nor the dog that was spying on that cat knew that this would set off a chain of tragic events. The dog attacked the cat. The cat’s owner came to its rescue and struck the dog with the nearest stick he could find. The dog’s owner wasn’t far away. An argument ensued. A fight started. Within minutes the whole neighbourhood was divided into cat people and dog people. Thus began the riot. 

………………………

The night was cold and there was a hint of snow for the winter was not over yet.

The man in leather jacket paced nervously towards the old building. He kept looking back and for a moment saw the shadow lurking among the shadows. His worst fear was confirmed. Someone was following him, ever since he got down at the station. He clenched on to the suitcase.

The pub was as usual deserted for that ungodly hour. But the barkeep was still working, cleaning up for the day. He sighed as the last customer, our man walked in and sat on a bar stool. He ordered a strong drink. The barkeep kept it on the counter and the man gulped it down in an instant. He ordered another one.

As the barkeep was preparing the drink, the man dug out a few currency notes from his jacket pocket, “Could you please do me a favour?”

The barkeep placed the drink in front of the man and stared at him questioningly.

“I… I think I am being followed, somebody is after me…” The man stopped. The barkeep looked at the door as if he wanted to check for himself. Then he stared blankly at the man again.

“Why should someone be after you?”

“I am a scientist and the work I am doing will be worth millions. Could you please do me a favour?”

“You already asked that. I want no trouble, have your drink and be gone”

“I can give you more money. I just need to hide these papers till I come back after making a phone call. These should not fall into the wrong hands.” He was pointing at his suitcase.

The barkeep finally gave in after ten minutes and five times the initial offer. The man walked briskly out into the cold.

…………………..

The scientist returned a few moments later. He was not wearing his jacket this time. There was something different about this man this time. He looked older and tired, and he seemed lost. ‘Maybe someone robbed him of his leather jacket and the cold took its toll on him, poor guy’, thought the barkeep.

“That was fast. Here are your possessions. Have a drink. It’s on the house. You need it badly. “, the barkeep put the suitcase on the counter and place the drink right next to it.

The scientist’s eyes lit up seeing the suitcase and he left the scene with it, without touching the drink or saying a ‘Thank You’.

……

The barkeep was closing the counter when the scientist came in again. He was wearing the leather jacket this time.

“You didn’t leave? I am off by the way. So no drinks, sorry.” asked the barkeep.

“It took a while for me to find a payphone and then I got lost. And how could I leave? My papers are with you”

“I don’t understand, you took the suitcase away just now.”

“What?? What do you mean?”

“Are you drunk? Oh yes you are. Look, I gave you the suitcase. But you were looking troubled then. I don’t have time for this nonsense.” The bartender seemed irritated and he pushed the man out of his way.

“W… wait. It was not me. Maybe someone who looked like me. I need to find him and get the papers. Could you please assist me? I am very much new here. I don’t know the way around. I will pay you handsomely, I promise”

The negotiations went on for a few minutes and they finally settled on an amount. The bartender grabbed a pistol from behind his desk for ‘security’ and accompanied the man.

……….

The old town was mostly a vast open barren area with only a few buildings, most of which were not occupied. The grey fog and the moon playing hide and seek added to the ghostly atmosphere.

The duo with the bartender in lead with the pistol in one hand and a torch in the other, and the nervous scientist behind him, finally found the man who took the suitcase at the end of the town park. He was burning something and using it as a bonfire. He saw the scientist and the bartender approaching but did not move.

Now the bartender was surprised. The two men looked exactly the same – one a bit older than the other, like they were father and son or maybe brothers. The scientist ran towards the man. He did not seem surprised at the similarity in each other’s appearances. He seemed more interested in what was being burned. Yes it was the suitcase and its contents.

The scientist quickly recognized the half burned suitcase and tried to put out the flames by stomping on it. The man tried to stop him and it led to a scuffle. The bartender rushed to the spot and broke it off quickly. He now had the doppelganger at gun point and asked the scientist to calm down.

The scientist wasn’t. He kept shouting and screaming about ‘years of research’ and ‘a paper presentation’. The suitcase was still burning.

“Who are you, really?” he asked the doppelganger, at last.

The man seemed calm and answered, “Isn’t that obvious? I am you, but from future. Thanks to the research”.

It seemed absurd at first but eventually the scientist seemed to accept what the man said. The bartender stood there, pointing the gun at the old man. ‘These guys are crazy’, he thought. But the money he got was real, so he didn’t care.

“Time travel? So my research worked”, asked the scientist.

“Yes it did. It laid the foundations for time traveling portals. People began travelling back and forth in the timeline and rewriting history, and in effect the future.”

“Wow. That is so exciting. ”

“Don’t be too happy. It means you can alter anything and everything. And ultimately it lead to a global nuclear disaster. The world, from the time I come from, is a wasteland and has only a few survivors now. I came back from future to change the End of Days. I wanted to undo what I did. Listen you are not going to present the paper at the lecture. ”

The suitcase had finally melted into a lump of black plastic destroying its contents with it. Then the most amusing thing, in the last few hours, happened. The doppelganger started fading away like an image in a television dissolving into static. And then he was no longer there. The bartender lowered his gun.

The future might have changed.

…………..

The lecture was a complete letdown. The subject was intriguing but the presentation was filled with a lot of holes and loose ends that half way through most of the audience started yawning. The material seemed so ordinary and the lecturer seemed lost. Even his enthusiastic followers felt disappointed. There was nothing in the speech which matched the man’s prowess.

The scientist was playing it down. He had to keep the commitment. That was why he was presenting this paper, which he had written down in a fly keeping only the superficial details, not wanting to dig down deep. He did not want to take a chance. If what happened the other night was true, this was where the world would begin to change.

As he was getting ready to leave, a man approached him. He was spectacled and bald.

“Hello, professor. That was one amazing speech. Don’t worry about them, you are going to build a practical time travel device, anyways. ” The scientist shrugged it off and tried to walk past the man. “You won’t believe me I am from the future. Your invention changed a lot of lives“, said the man behind him.

The scientist stopped and saw the man walking away. After a disappointing day, that was the first time he smiled. You may feel lost. But all you need is a push to get you back into the right track.

……….

The bald spectacled man chuckled as he walked to his car. Pulling practical jokes was his greatest pastime. “Time travel, what a moron”, he thought.

The Switch

The person in the gurney had a strange determination, that this surgery was going to change everything, once and for all. The sedative had slowly begun to work, as the gurney and the four nurses accompanying it made the way into the operation theatre.

—–

Patricia tried to hide her tears under the makeup. Frantically, she applied and reapplied the mascara. But each time she did, her eyes kept working, tears kept rolling down. It burnt. Her face was a blackened mess now.The banging on the door was never going to stop, she knew. It was Liz. She was concerned about what her dear Trish was going through. Patricia knew she had to let Liz through.

—–

Liz held Trish’s face close her chest and let the warmth soothe her. Trish kept sobbing. Liz had taken a commendable effort to wipe the smeared makeup off her face. Trish was much bigger and taller than Liz too, but lacked the boldness. Now she was awkwardly bending down to find solace in Liz’s bosom.

In a sobbing fit, she told Liz what really had happened that day at the gym. The gym instructor really had to be dealt with, Liz thought. He always found ways to get Trish alone. His ways of training ,especially with pretty girls like Trish, were always questionable. Liz had told Trish to be strong and say no if she felt uncomfortable. But this time it had gone over the line. She somehow pushed him away and ran out with her bag. To add salt to the wound, a football gang in the train teased her with comments about her body. People sure know how to respect a women here.

Liz was in every aspect opposite to Patricia. She was petite and lacked the athletic build that Trish had. But she was not as timid as Trish. She knew when to talk back and at some rare occasions when to hit back.

Sometime back Liz wanted to be like Trish, but not anymore. She always drew attention with that amazing figure. But she was shy and was scared of modeling. She just wouldn’t pose for the camera. Trish needed a protector, a pillow to cry on. She was slowly becoming a liability for Liz.

Trish on the other hand loved Liz. Every now and then she would tell her that and Liz would put her tiny arms around Trish and say she did too. But that wasn’t enough for Trish. Liz was more than a friend for her. A sister, a mother. She wanted Liz to be her life partner. She had to ask her. Even if Liz agreed, the land she lived in would never allow that. The land she lived in would never treat a women with the respect she deserved. Unless…
—-

Liz stood admiring the waves as a pair of muscular arms embraced her from behind. It was their honeymoon. She turned around to plant a soft kiss on Rick’s lips.

The surgery had given answers to the questions that Trish had – the surgery to turn Patricia into Patrick.