.22 Caliber Bore Diameter

high noon

(Photo Credit: Crispina Kemp)

“High Noon Lane” – a glorified name for an inglorious location. An unassuming resting place for an unknown segment of humanity. They all lay here surrounded by an untenanted and untended grassy mound. The reluctantly sprouting flowers hid many secrets. Secrets brimming with euphoria and bursting with angst.

My neighbor had a hard time procuring his final resting place. Racked by poverty he required the intervention of the local gravedigger to get six feet under in peace and quiet. A combination of insult and intransigence prevented him from indulging in any conversation, meaningful or mediocre.

But the inveterate chatterbox that I am, my comrade’s reticence did not hold me back from sharing my sordid story with him. I even detected in him a shiver, when I narrated how the .22 caliber tore into my breast when upon going to meet her, I was greeted by a fusillade of betrayal and bullets.

(Word Count: 150)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #19 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

NEPHTHY’S CHILDREN

Attempting to search for George Orwell or Aldous Huxley on the Cabinet supplied sleek electronic self-powered and booster enabled “V-Book-Ups” was rewarded by three weeks of isolated detention behind one of the hermetically sealed Ministry of Justice dungeons. Repeated offenses triggered even graver consequences ranging from forced labour in Gulag styled labour camps to execution by Minimal Invasive Liberation Outlet (MILO) methods.

‘Unlawful’ assemblies of more than 5 were located and dispersed with – initially warnings – and, for the more obstinate, by mild shocks, courtesy, Jarrings Of Limited Traumas (JOLTs) administered by humanoid UBTech Walkers. These robots patrolled the streets 24 hours a day in 6 shifts. Each one of these forbidding machines used 36 actuators and featured proprietary Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) abilities for planning out paths and avoiding obstacles. The policing of the streets however, did not pose much of a headache for the Universal Law Enforcement Department since the only sporadic disturbances were in the nature of mutinies for additional packets of Frozen And Tested Edibles (FATE). Moreover, social unrest after all had to be preceded by the existence of a society. In a world populated by a mere four countries, society was but a bedraggled assimilation of income and wealth inequalities.

Category 10 cyclones (yes, you read it right), sea level rises exceeding 150 cm, acidic oceans, unfathomable increases in global marine heatwaves and a near complete erosion of the tropical forest had all contrived to wipe the greater good of humanity off the face of the only Planet which hitherto was habitable. Two categories of people survived this macabre dance of wanton destruction. The categories themselves were privileged choice and pure chance.

The wielders of the privileged choice comprised of the so-called “1 percenters”, who in a paean to their vulgar displays of wealth, watched the unfettered and brazen destruction of Earth from the serene confines of space. Defying both gravity, and the wrath of Mother Earth, these noveau riche ensconced approximately 250 miles above the land mass. Here they, along with their families, shamelessly and smugly bore witness to a massacre whose origins had these watchers themselves at its core. Relentlessly and repetitively orbiting the shrunken, shriveled and scorched Earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour, the parvenu lived in space capsules, each of which had the volume of a eight-bedroom house or five Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Capable of supporting a family of 10, plus ‘floating guests’ these capsules all put together covered the area of 1654 football fields including the end zones. Stacked with the finest of foods and stocked with the most sophisticated of spirits, the floating emperors shrugged off the doom below them like ducks shrugging water off their backs.

The ’victims’ of pure chance meanwhile, were those unfortunates who had either intentionally or accidentally wedged, nudged, crammed, coiled, and got stuck in nooks and crannies, crevices and caves, attics and air vents. Physically seared by injuries and psychologically scarred by destiny, these children of a lesser God survived by scrounging, the dark streets for scraps, left overs and tolerable detritus. The sight of a child prowling an almost translucent street at night, (or was it day) passing by ghost buildings set against the backdrop of a foreboding eclipse, became a common sight. Because of the depletion and damage to the ozone layer and some orbital peculiarities caused by the global warming, the moon more frequently blocked the Sun.

(Photo Credit: pixabay image by Natan Vance)

After 25 years of chaos and calamity, an eerie calm prevailed over Earth. The spacemen, with a great deal of reluctance and a bit of rancor floated back to Earth. Immediately upon arrival, the self-proclaimed leaders of the world, divided the spatial region (or whatever was left of it) into four sovereign nations. This division was based on an equal representation of flora and fauna, fertility, finite natural resources cultivable land area and maintainable infrastructure.

The children of pure chance were shepherded into the four countries and plied with the responsibility of working both the land as well as the wishes of their Masters. Forbidden to use their own names, they were all given uniform, standard and ‘harmonised’ names. The naming conventions seemed as if they had their genesis in The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature – an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products. A factory worker manning a lathe machine was named 10-10.6-1006.10 where 10 represented the factory, 10.6, the engineering section and 1006.10 a lathe machine. Man thus, became indistinguishable from machine. Food was severely rationed and distributed at designated intervals in packets called FATE. Leisure was strictly codified and the publication of books was a managed industry.

Specially manufactured robots patrolled the streets in self driven amphi-bots. In an example of exquisitely dripping irony, the controlled toiled long and hard in sophisticated laboratories and design centres creating their own controllers. The controlling monarchs watched derisively as the controlled dutifully set about birthing their controllers.

Till one day, when either an extremely intrepid or an extraordinarily foolish lad of 23, clandestinely mass produced copies of a revolutionary work. The author was an egregious and eccentric philosopher named Karl Popper and his book was titled, “Open Society and Its Enemies.”

This is a piece of fiction piece written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt. 

Wednesday

(Photo Credit: Anshu Bhojnagarwala)

What was once a paean to melody was now a monument to melancholy. A perfunctory examination of rotting wood, the asymmetric smattering of mud on top and a reluctant profusion of motley crew of flowers made the top of what was earlier a piano now seem a spontaneous grave.

The keys long gone to the vagaries of nature and the vicissitudes of neglect eerily resembled elongated skeletal fingers. Yet this very lifeless piano struck terror in the hearts of the residents at the midnight hour every Wednesday by beating out an immaculate version of Chopin’s “Nocturne” in E Flat Major.

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

The Lady In Red

alley-architecture-buildings-1762185

(Photo by Ronaldo Santos from Pexels)

Thirty minutes before the downpour the sky was as clear as any object could have been after a merry scrub down. Lest I be drawn into a dialectic debate, let me hasten to clarify that the allusion was strictly metaphorical. A magnificent and almost spotless canopy of blue punctuated with a few wisps of leisurely floating clouds accorded one the deceit of a promising day.

Soon the rain came down in thick and purposeful sheets and the sheer force made the water bounce off the marble tiles surrounding the condominiums. While people with foresight and prescience unfurled their umbrellas, the more lackadaisical ones were either forced to run full tilt risking a slip, and more than a few broken bones, or to take refuge in the lobbies of residential complex.

I am not sure whether I heard the scream or the thud first. In fact, the scream might even have been the squall accompanying the rain. The steaming hot cup of tea dropped from my hands as I saw the flailing arms and legs fly past my very own eyes. My voice was hopelessly stuck in my throat. Although hurtling down at a dizzying pace, the girl seemed to be floating down in slow motion. She was all in White. White and wet. Shirt. Trouser. One wildly whirling arm even seemed to wave at me.

Contact. White turned red as I turned away. Later on, someone told me it took three days for the stains to be completely wiped out.

(Word Count: 250)

#TellTaleThursday withAnshu & Priya

For more stories for the week, please click HERE

 

Rat Race & Ruin

A Bridge 3 Far cp

(Photo Credit: Crispina Kemp)

This was a bridge over nothing and leading nowhere. The connected had long ceased to have any connection since the connectors themselves were homage to a relic. The worn and faded floorboards creaked and groaned like the scratching of a wooden chair on the floor. An ugly asymmetry revealed itself as at random intervals the nails hammered into the floorboards prised open.

A profusion of moss had made the railings it’s home. The sturdy metal beams forming what was once a delectable overhang were ravaged by the vagaries of nature and vacuity of neglect. The colour of rust displaced the original paint and a gaping hole bore into one of the pillars.

The proposed gateway to commerce neither saw exchange nor bore witness to transport. An internecine rift between the two provinces, and the play of vote bank politics had ensured that this was a bridge built too soon.

(Word Count: 149)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #17 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

The Rendezvous

(Photo Credit: C E Ayr)

Two parts Schadenfreude, one-part guilt. This was exactly how Marlisse felt as she briskly half-walked half-ran to the rendezvous point. Coming around the corner, she could spot the back tire as well as the ubiquitous yellow number plate of Robbie’s half hidden bike. Green was not the only colour that Marlisse saw as she neared her meetpoint.

Shrieking hysterically, Marlisse trembled violently as her small briefcase tumbled upon the cobblestoned road. Robbie lay motionless and contorted in a pool of blood. A note pinned to his chest courtesy a dagger running through its side, read, “To Marlisse, with love”

(Word Count: 100)

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

The Gatecrasher

It was the smell. The rambunctious laughter reverberating off the walls in the confined space transformed into a peculiar silence. Mass sniffing of nostrils and uncertain shuffling of feet represented the only antidotes to the quietude. As the inebriated and the incongruent alike attempted to discern the cause of the involuntary interruption, their efforts were aided by the permeating stench which had now found its strongest place of preference and positioning near the makeshift bar.

A man looking as though he was at the Cul-De-Sac of his life was struggling to find his bearings as well as the nearest bottle. Both these endeavours however, were taking a toll on him. He was wobbling on unsteady feet that ended in a tattered pair of boots, like a thin reed being mercilessly buffeted by an unkind storm. He had blank and lifeless eyes that seemed capable of looking nowhere and everywhere at the same time. A feeble attempt to comb back a growth of unkempt and unruly hair had ended disastrously. His unwashed overcoat, the unbuttoned shirt beneath it and a creased and rumpled trouser, let off a stench that was a vile combination of sweat, grime and urine.

The guard came bursting into the room. Catching the Gatecrasher by the scruff of his neck he tried to drag him out. The intruder’s legs gave way and he came crumpling down upon the floor. My wife suddenly spoke in a voice, brittle and broken, “Please don’t hurt him. He is my husband.”

Word Count: 250)

#TellTaleThursday withAnshu & Priya

To access all the stories for this week, click HERE