What makes superheroes?

The green vapour shimmers inside the glass tube. The seemingly safe gas is being inhaled by the half naked man inside it. The
fluroscent green colour was added as an indicator to let one see if the precious gas was still around. It also added a fancy touch, like  in comic books. You can see it going into the man’s nostril like a bright green snake.

Now, the wait. The wait to see if the vapour is safe for the human as it was for Mr Panzer who now scuttles around in his glass cage. By the way, Mr Panzer is your pet – he is a tiny white rat who you would say ‘volunteered for the cause’.

It was originally the common cold virus, and the trick lies in altering the DNA sequence. DNA, just a sequence of As, Gs, Cs and Ts –  just shuffle them and you get a miracle. And this time the experiment struck gold, the exact first time, unlike Edison’s 40,000th time. The only reason it was successful was because the experiment was to derive a cure for common cold, not to create a super drug like it has come to now. It was a fluke. The fluke that is now held in innumerable vials that line the walls of the laboratory. The green shimmering vapour.

The virus could be administered through any fluid. But it was too bitter to be taken in as a drink and it was too slow via the blood stream to be given as an injection. It was to be taken in without the body least rejecting it by breathing it in.

The ‘miracle’ is taking effect. But only time will tell of the side effects. The subject inside the glass tank seems to stay calm for a while. Then his eyes widen, he struggles for breath and his screams are lost within the tank. Then he starts bleeding as if he is sweating.  Then the skin starts peeling off his body and then the flesh. Within minutes, it is a bloody mess. Look on if you want to, but it is better to turn off the light inside the tank and press ‘DECONTAMINATE’ (a long switch to accomodate the label). There goes experiment number 7, all the previous six failures less violent than this one. You are gonna need a new glass tank.

Then strange whirring sounds are heard from up top.  Helicopters. And all of a sudden a hole forms in one wall and another in the roof. Debris fly. And it rains men through those openings.  Men in kevlar armours and gas masks  mounted with flashlights, wielding some heavy weaponry.

Within a minute, as they say ‘Perimeter is secure’ and before doing that, one of them squashes the butt of his gun on the person who runs the facility and pins him to the ground – the person in white lab coat, you. It is not pain now. You have gone numb for a moment. You have no other go but give in.

It is a cruel sight to see your lab being ransacked, after all you have spent the last 480+ hours of your life there, without experiencing the sun or rain or whatever was happening outside.  The vials are being taken down from the wall into some fancy containers,  and you want to tell them ‘careful people – break it, then you and me are dead, after bleeding painfully through all our pores’. Then they bag and tag all the equipment – from the sci-fi stuff to the low tech – including the paper weight. Wait, where’s Mr Panzer? His cage is open. Have they taken him as well? Is he still in the room? You cannot turn your head to find out because someone is holding it firmly with your cheek scraping the floor. ‘Wherever you are, stay away from these morons, buddy. Stay clear. ‘Cos these guys may take you somewhere and cut you into pieces and study what drugs you were really on. Be safe. Hide. Run.’

Then you are bagged and while you are wondering if you have been tagged as well, you are put in a chopper, with your arms tied either way like they do to the crazy. Your neck still burns from the blow and one or two guns are still trained at you as the chopper takes off. The chopper is just whirring up and over that sound you hear a roar – it sounds oddly familiar, but amplified and distorted – like the DJs do to your favourite song. You look out of the window and find all the military monkeys in the rickety helicopter is already looking at the same direction. And at the horizon you find the thing that you could not find in the lab. Mr Panzer. Well, a little too big now for a once small rat.  A giant one. As tall as the City tower and wide enough to hide the setting sun. He was like the Yeti now, all white with a vicious brown tail which went through the glass walls of a building like a knife through butter. ‘Oh you have grown so much’ are the only words that come to your mind. You suddenly have tears in your eyes. The tears of joy, is it? The hours the little vermin spent in his glass cage inhaling vial after vial of the green vapour has made him something.  But why didnt it mutate him inside the lab? Oh wait, it must be the sun. Earth’s yellow sun and your green vapour has transformed the lab animal to a gigantic monster which is having its own way with the city. Like it did to Superman.

Military morons. These guys always spoil the show , don’t they? You curse them under your breath as you watch your now enormous pet, with shady green eyes being surrounded by gunships. This is going to be fun. He is faster than these morons think. After all he is rat. He does well to dodge the gunfire but you know he cannot last long.  A bomber appears in the horizon which flies  into the middle of the circle that the gunships have  formed around Mr Panzer.  The belly of the plane opens just above your beloved rat and something small but shiny drops on its head. So this is their answer for Mr Panzer. And the bomb hits bull’s eye.

The whir of the helicopter did not muff the blast. Your hands are not free, so there is no way you can cover your ears. It hurts your drums. At the horizon you can no longer see Mr Panzer but you can imagine what might have happened. The chopper swings in the air as it narrowly avoid a big wad of flesh(obviously belonging to Mr Panzer) which flies past it.

Well at least you may not have succeeded in making a hero, but you sure know how to make a monster. No wait, you dont know what they are going to do to you now, do you? They may kill you or may take you to a secret base, and wipe your memory clean after extracting what they want from you. Till then be proud – you made a monster from an ordinary rat and common cold.

ചൂട്

അഭിപ്രായങ്ങൾ വന്നുപോയിക്കൊണ്ടേയിരുന്നു, പലയിടത്തു നിന്നും പല ശബ്ദത്തിൽ. അനുകമ്പയായി, പരിഹാസമായി, സഹാനുഭൂതിയായി.

ഒന്ന്. “അളിയാ, നീ അങ്ങ് അമ്മാവൻ ആയല്ലോ? പെട്ടെന്ന് പെണ്ണ് നോക്കിക്കോ, ഇല്ലെങ്കിൽ കിട്ടില്ല” ഓ പിന്നെ. കിട്ടിയില്ലെങ്കിൽ പുല്ലാ.

രണ്ട്.”താരൻ ആയിരിക്കും. നീ ആ പുതിയ എണ്ണ ഒന്ന് പരീക്ഷിച്ചു നോക്ക്.” ഉവ്വ. ടീവിയിലും പത്രത്തിലും ഉള്ളത് പോരാഞ്ഞിട്ടാണ് ഇവരുടെ വേറെ പരസ്യം. എണ്ണക്കമ്പനി രക്ഷപ്പെടും. അല്ലാതെന്തു പ്രയോജനം.

മൂന്ന്. “ആണുങ്ങൾക്കു പറഞ്ഞിട്ടുള്ളതാടാ. നീ വിഷമിക്കണ്ട.” ആർക്കു വിഷമം? പോട്ടെ സാരമില്ല. തുല്യദുഖിതൻ ആണ്. ഒരു നെടുവീർപ്പുണ്ടായിരുന്നോ എന്നൊരു സംശയം.

നാല്. “ഡാ ഒരു നല്ല ഐഡിയ പറയാം. നീ പറ്റെ വെട്ട്. അല്ലെങ്കിൽ മൊട്ടയടിക്ക്. ലുക്കായിരിക്കും.” ഹും. ഇത് വലിയ തെറ്റില്ല. ഒന്ന് ശ്രമിച്ചു നോക്കാവുന്നതേയുള്ളൂ. പിന്നെ ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ അവസ്ഥക്ക് ഇതായിരിക്കും നല്ലത്.
——
ശേഷം.
അഭിപ്രായങ്ങൾക്ക് ഇപ്പോഴും പഞ്ഞമില്ല.

ഒന്ന്. “ഛെ. എന്തോന്നെടെ ഇത്?” ആരും ചോദിച്ചില്ലല്ലോ? അഭിപ്രായം നാലായി മടക്കി കയ്യിൽ തന്നെ വച്ചൂടെ?

രണ്ട്. “പൊളിച്ചു മോനെ. ആ Transporter സിനിമയിലെ പുള്ളിയെ പോലെ ഉണ്ട്. എന്താ അയാൾടെ പേര്?”

മൂന്ന്. “ഇതാടാ നല്ലത്.” ശരിയാ. ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ അവസ്ഥക്ക് ഇത് തന്നെയാ നല്ലത്. കുറെയൊക്കെ മറഞ്ഞിരിക്കുമല്ലോ.
—-
മൊട്ടത്തല തടവിക്കൊണ്ട് അവൻ കണ്ണാടിയുടെ മുന്നില് നിന്നു. ഇല്ല മുടിയില്ലെന്നു ഒഴിച്ചാൽ വേറെ വ്യത്യാസം ഒന്നും ഇല്ല. അപ്പോഴാണ്‌ മൂക്കിനു കീഴെ വീണ്ടു ചുവപ്പ് കിനിഞ്ഞത്. താഴെ വാഷ് ബേസിനിൽ ചുവന്ന തുള്ളികൾ. പൈപ്പ് തുറന്നു വാഷ് ബേസിൻ കഴുകി. അടുത്ത് തന്നെ തോരെയിട്ടിരുന്ന ടവൽ കൊണ്ട് മൂക്കിലെ ചോര തുടച്ചു. ഇനി ആ ടവൽ അലക്കാതെ കൊള്ളില്ല. വെള്ളയിൽ ചുവന്ന പൂക്കൾ.

“അമ്മേ വേറെ ടവൽ ഉണ്ടോ. ഇത് ഞാൻ അലക്കാൻ ഇടുവാ” അവൻ വിളിച്ചു. കീമോ ചെയ്തത് അറിയാതിരിക്കാനായിരുന്നു തല മുണ്ഡനം ചെയ്തത്. ഇനി ഇത് മറക്കാൻ എന്ത് ചെയ്യും. ഐഡിയ, ജലദോഷം ആണെന്ന് പറയാം.
—–
കുറെ നേരം അമ്മയോട് സംസാരിച്ചു ആ തോളിൽ തന്നെ ചാഞ്ഞിരുന്നു അവൻ ഉറങ്ങിപ്പോയി. അവനെ ഉണർത്താതെ അവർ ആ മൊട്ടത്തല തലോടിക്കൊണ്ടിരുന്നു.

അവൻറെ തലയ്ക്കു ഒരു ചെറിയ ചൂടുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ആറു മാസം കൂടിയേ ആ ചൂടുണ്ടാകൂ എന്ന് ഡോക്ടർ പറഞ്ഞതോർത്തു, അമ്മ ഉള്ളിൽ കരഞ്ഞു കൊണ്ടേയിരുന്നു.

Cornstrap

I ran, no galloped over the thorny bushes and sharp stones , finding my way through the tall trees and boulders. We will come back to that later. Let us shift our attention to Gunthar, Duke of Bayel.

Gunthar was swinging his rusty sword this way and that, making way for him and his men amongst the wilderness. He was chopping away twigs and branches, but occasionally a limb or an arm or an ear or a whole head. He wasn’t counting how many enemies he had downed that day. But I had. Thirteen. How couldnt I? He was sitting on my back.

I was his steed, an Arabian Grey and my name is Cornstrap. I dont know what that name means. Absurd, isnt it? It is as if someone in his sleep or in a hurry, took two random words and combined them into this absurdity. We animals do not have any right, let alone in choosing our name. But in any day my name was better than my master’s. “Gunthaar” I have heard his mother cry that aloud. It always sounded like a blow horn or a donkey’s unhappy bray.

What is happening? The Twelve year war as they say it. May go into year thirteen. I dont really know the backstory, but from what I know, Gunthar was leading one side. The other side was lead by a person I had seen a couple of times before – an old man with a crown and neatly trimmed snow-white beard, whom they call the Emperor. For the record Gunthar also has beard which can better be called as a bush.

Gunthar must have done something terribly wrong. He was once driven off the old guy’s castle and he rode on me to escape. The Emperor’s men were on him. Arrows chased us and my rear still stung from those wounds. It is still a pain when I.., you know. Gunthar was unscathed because he was in full armour and most of the arrows found my back.

And he never cared what happened to his steed. I was not his pet, I was just a vehicle. For two days my piercings were left unattended. Then someone fom the stable took time to pull out the arrows – six of them, taking care to avoid my involuntary action – a move called the Double Hind Leg kick. Kiaaow. My hind kick – the one I deliver with both my hind legs – which is my only defense other than my speed (we horses have no horns), literally has saved my behind many times. It came out only when I was threatened or angry. I was learning to control my anger. My other Arabian Grey brothers had taught me some techniques.

It was necessary to watch my anger and to be out injuries to remain in Gunthar’s stable. Otherwise you could end up on his dining table. Right. Horse’s meat was a delicacy there. I know about one comrade named Toothgod, who toppled over one fine day and broke his legs. He had been a Mustang, and now he was a pickle in Gunthar’s mother’s shelf. This is what I could make out from the conversation of two stable boys. I had been with humans for many years, I cant understand their language completely but can understand some words and guess what they are talking about. I hate the lady, Gunthar’s mother. She looked as bloated as her son minus the bushy beard. She always prowled around the stable to see if a horse was injured or ill – the hag.

SPLAAT! My chain of thoughts were broken by the sharp lash of Gunthar’s whip on my back – right on the arrow wounds. “Nine”. I added one to a count in my mind. He barked something and I knew it was an order to go faster. So I did my best to increase my speed, balancing the load of Gunthar, his armour, weapons and … OUCH!! He had left his spiked mace dangling by the saddle and when I took a sharp turn around the banyan, the spikes dug into my flesh. “Ten”.

————-

An hour or so later, the castle was under siege. The Emperor’s men were captured. We were inside the castle, standing on the stone paved castle ground. Gunthar had alighted and was standing right beside me, with his arm resting on my back. While most of the enemy soldiers were being led down somewhere by Gunthar’s men, people who looked important were left in the middle of the grounds kneeling with their heads down and arms folded behind. Gunthar stood there, watching the proceedings.

I recognised one person among the ‘important people’. He had no crown this time, but the still neat white beard gave him away. The Emperor was bald without his crown and a fresh bloody slash ran across his forehead. He was half crying, half angry. He looked up at Gunthar. Gunthar barked something about ‘heads down’ and slapped hard on my back – right on the spike wound. I flinched and counted. “Eleven.”

The old man still kept staring at Gunthar. In a fit of rage he grasped his broad sword which dangling on to the saddle and tugged it so hard that the other weapons clanged against my back. The spiked mace, the arrows and the knives – added to my wounds. “Twelve” “Thirteen” I counted.

My other Arabian Grey brothers had taught me a lot of methods for anger management. Counting was the best of them. Count as far as it helps. I would have loved to, but what the heck? I dont know how to count past thirteen.

The next thing I know is the Double Hind Leg Kick.

————-

Gunthar was knocked out cold that day and he is still in his bed. And I am now the most precious horse in the Emporer’s personal stable. Last day I was Knighted for the valuable service done to the kindgom – saving the Emporer’s life.

I was just an Arabian Grey with a stupid name. But now to some people I am the Traitor-horse, a shame who betrayed his master and his men at the brink of victory, and to some I am a God-sent – the creature which ended the war or even better the thing that let the Twelve Year War remain the Twelve Year War. I like that term. God-sent. After all, there is no other horse that I know who can count to thirteen.

Croc Alert

“CROCODILE ALERT : NO SWIMMING”, the board read. It looked freshly made and reeked of cheap paint. It stood on the bank of that vast green lake. The two rangers  who affixed it, stood admiring their work, double checking for any tilts or other aberrations.
“I hope this works” said one to the other. “Strange, they thought of a warning board only after 4 incidents”
“There were boards. But those disappeared. ”
“Vandals. Shouldn’t there be a guard here?”
“Just one guard for the whole reserve. He must be doing his routine rounds now.”
“We should post a regular guard for the lake”

They talked as they walked away from the scene.

Moments later a man in guard uniform came by. He paused in front of the green lake, as if to catch breath. He was sweating from all pores due to the long walk under the harsh sun. What would you want if you are in such a situation? A dip in cold water, right?

He stripped in an instant,  placing  his clothes in an untidy heap under the board.

Beads of sweat twinkled on his body. Then scales began forming on his skin and the tail grew out of his back side – heavy and spiky. In one quick movement, he grabbed the board by the stem with his mouth – which had now  become pretty much crocodily – and swam into the water.

Then it Rained..

Yes, it rained, but it was not the usual kind mainly due to two reasons. One – it was bright and sunny. Two – it was not water or hail or snow but currency notes. Money. As bundles and single bills. It was as though he had wished for a million in cash and God was fulfilling it, but he hadn’t. He stood there alone, in the middle of the rain, under the shelter of the sole tree that stood in the middle of that barren field. Holding his palm out, he caught one single note that was fluttering by. It was foreign.

He was too puzzled to hear the cargo plane which had passed over him.
———
A few minutes earlier….
The pilot was beginning to get annoyed due to the frequent contacts from flight control. He did not know what his Cessna Caravan had as its cargo, he never cared. He was asked to carry something across the desert, he didnot know to where. They said he would know the destinaton en-route. But one thing of two was sure – either his employer was a newbie to air freight business or the cargo was contraband. That explained the constant enquiries from the control.
Now he was over the mighty expanse of shrubs and sand. Still there was no information about the drop point. Then the order came. Strange. It was a Deploy Hatch – a dump order. The kind given for crop dusting. Were they aborting the mission?  Would that mean he is being tracked – was it really contraband? He shrugged those thoughts off and pulled the lever. To make sure the hatch had opened properly, he looked out into the rearview mirror and saw dollar bills flying out of his plane’s belly.

He could not help exclaiming “What the …..”.

————

A few hours earlier, somewhere in the city, in the comfort of air conditioning…

“You think it is a crazy idea. But let me tell you one thing, gravity was one crazy idea. Earth being round was another.”

“Ok. You want to dispose off money. I agree. It is not a crazy idea but it is still a capital crime.”

“That is why I am not going to burn the money. Just want to take it out of the supply. Somewhere safer than burying it deep underground. ”

“So how much of money are we going to…”

“A tonne of hundred bills.”

“You are being insensitive to the value of our currency.”

“Ok. But think of it. If it had value would we be discussing this crazy idea in the first place?”

————
Zimbabwe, where a million dollars is not enough for a single meal. I hate economics but this may help their currency – taking away a lot of money from their supply.
——-
Present…
The man was still standing under the tree in the barren field. For him the note was foreign, because in his tribe they were not using any such thing. In fact they had a barter system.

I don’t know if he will find a use for it. Maybe he would change the exchange system in his tribe. That would open up a lot of possibilities.

I don’t want to think of them. I hate economics.

The Rainbringer

A sword that is stained by the blood of the best warriors. That was the last object needed for the ritual.

Unwashed. And a little rusty. Heavy but yet swift in the hands of a skilled wielder. It was forged for the ritual alone. And given to the most trusted, skilled and bravest man of the kingdom, to travel other lands, challenge the best swordsmen there and bring their blood back on the blade.

And he was going back home, after a task well done. And he knew it will be his blood next, for he had to immolate himself in front of the Fire using the same weapon itself. And only then would the ritual be complete and the King be able to bring rain in the desert.

It was time to lift the curse from the Mainland. The land was scorched. The River had dried up. Crops had wilted. People were dying. It had never rained for months.

—————————-

Miles away, home, his wife and kids were waiting for him. The messenger had just brought her the good news. She didn’t know, though.

—————————-

Miles up, They were watching.

“Hmmm. That’s a pity. He’s a brave one, isn’t he?”

“Yes he is. He doesn’t deserve to die. But it was you who started all these things. ”

“Me ?”

“Yeah. You didn’t even look at that place for years. You are the Rain God, aren’t you?”

“Yes but.. Let me check with Fate.. Yo.. What do you say Fate?”

Fate looked up and answered “Well I don’t know. Cant remember writing this guy’s fate. Do as you please.”

“Hmm.. Let me see. Dry land, no water vapour, arid conditions. I have got to bring in clouds from somewhere. What do you say, Wind God?”

“Whats the deal?”

“Anything.”

“Alright then. Let me check.” said the Wind God and set out to work.

——————————

The word about the Warrior’s triumph had spread already and his country was waiting for him. The King had ordered to arrange for the last rituals.

The Warrior would be handing over the sword to the King in one of the barren fields, and in front of the whole population the King would be personally beheading the Warrior, and they believed that right at the moment the first drop of his blood touched the soil, rain would come.

——————————

Up there..

“Sorry man. Out of clouds.”

“Damn. Then make some. Fast. He’s reaching the place.”

——————————

Down there. After a few moments.

The Warrior had reached and with the people cheering, he was on his knees with bowed head in front of his King, offering him the sword.

The King approaches him, takes up the sword, holds it aloft aiming for the Warrior’s neck. People cheer on.

——————————

“It’s a go. Bring the rain.”

“Rain it is.”

——————————

The first drop fell. It was red in color.

A thread now, a story hopefully eventually

It was at a stop of one of those journeys that I met him first. If our lives were two different paths, then this was our only crossroad, my heart said. Eventually over a couple of drinks, at the darkest nook of that dingy tavern he offered a trade- his dreams for mine. When I woke up the next morning my life had changed forever. From then on I was living someone else’s dreams…