Category: Rants

“Brain Damage” A mind-bending short story you must read…

“Brain Damage” A mind-bending short story you must read…

A friend of mine emailed this short story to me titled “Brain Damage” many years back and it has always stuck with me up until this very date. At the time of receiving it, I saved it in my email archives and recently stumbled upon it. I couldn’t help but share it here on the Peoplesbrain blog….

It’s one of the deepest, most bone-chilling, mind-bending pieces of literature I’ve ever read. At the end of the story it leaves you in a surrendered state of suspense and wonderment. Hopefully you catch my drift after reading it…. if you liked this story I will be posting more of these! Enjoy folks!

Brain Damage

Copyright (C) Oct 1979 by Howard I. Cannon. All rights reserved.

I had won the lottery! One hundred fifty million people, and I’m the winner. I didn’t believe it even after I received the registered letter and a personal visit from the lottery czar. But when I received my bank statement, and it showed the huge balance; then I knew for sure. “The first thing I’ll do is join a club,” I thought to myself happily. It was the desire of every man to belong to one of the clubs, but only the wealthiest could afford it. I was now one of the wealthy, and I couldn’t resist the urge. “We’re delighted to have you as a member, Mr. Carlson. I’m so pleased to meet you, it’s not every day we have a real live lottery winner come into our club,” said the feeble-minded receptionist in a high-pitched and very irritating voice, “Now if you’ll just fill out these forms.” The signing up process took what seemed like an eternity. There were medical histories to give, psychological exams to take, tens of forms to sign and initial. I couldn’t wait. I paced around the room while the clerk prepared the next form, and I anticipated the fun I was going to have. I’ve heard, though fourth hand at best, that the experience is unlike anything that you’ve experienced before. Finally it was done. I was almost ready to burst. The clerk ushered me into a large reception area, and shortly thereafter into the plushly furnished office of the club’s manager. “Mr. Carlson, please, have a seat, please,” said the overenthusiastic, and overweight, gentleman behind the large oak desk, “We are so pleased to have you as a member, it’s not everyday that we get a lottery winner in to see us.” I was about to split apart at the seams. Not another feeble-minded turkey. I wanted to get on with it, I was almost ready to climb up the walls. “Ah, but Mr. Carlson, you are obviously anxious to become a participating member, aren’t you?” It took all my internal strength to prevent me from leaping out of my seat, climbing on top of the manager’s spotless desk, and yelling, “Yes, yes, that’s exactly what I want.” But I managed to sit quietly in my seat and with a large grin on my face reply, “Yes, I’d like that very much.”

“Good then!”

I breathed a loud sigh of relief. Though it evoked a puzzled look from the manager, I didn’t care. “Hmmm,” he said, “I see you are anxious. Let’s set up your first appointment. When is most convenient for you?” “As soon as possible,” I replied without a moments hesitation. “That will be tomorrow, at 3:00 PM. Please present this card to the receptionist when you arrive. Have a good day.” And with that the manager handed me an ornate appointment card, remotely opened the door to his office, and gestured that I leave. I thanked him and left. As I walked out past the receptionist she yelled to me, “Have a good day, Mr. Carlson, hope to see you soon. It’s not often we get a lottery winner in here.” Her voice faded to nothingness as I walked briskly home. I started singing loudly. My singing wasn’t very good, and many people stared at me as I bellowed at the top of my lungs. I smiled at them as I passed; I didn’t care one iota what they thought. I had my appointment; I was a member of a club….

—————-

I arrived at the club promptly at 2:30 PM. Yes, I was early, but I just couldn’t sit at home any longer. I didn’t sleep well that night, of course. The same receptionist who greeted me on the previous day was at the desk, and she unfortunately remembered me. “Hello there, Mr. Carlson,” she squeaked, “You are a bit early. But no matter, you can start getting prepared. We may be ready for you slightly before 3. Now if I may have your card.” I almost died then and there. The card. I was so busy thinking about what it was going to be like that I had forgotten the card. I couldn’t even remember where I had left it. I started to stammer something, but realized nothing would come out so I just started to frantically search my pockets. I had exhausted almost all possibilities when the card showed up. I yelled, “Whoopee,” and realized I had startled the receptionist. “My, you are an enthusiastic one, aren’t you Mr. Carlson. Ah, I see you have your appointment card. We never let anyone in without an appointment card. But then again, it isn’t every day that we get a lottery winner.” I sighed to myself. This person was a nitwit; all of the people around here were nitwits. But I wanted to be part of the club, and I knew that that was the price I had to pay. Oh well, c’est la vie, and so on. The receptionist indicated an open door behind her, and requested that I walk through it, which I gladly did. I found myself in a featureless hallway. The door closed silently behind me, and a sign lit up indicating that I was to walk forward to the next door, place my hand upon the knob, and wait for a green light to come on. I did so, the light came on, and the door started to open. I jerked my hand off the knob and a pleasant voice said, “Please keep your hand on the knob until the door is fully open.” I tried the procedure again, this time holding unto the knob until the door opened fully. I released the knob and stepped through into the next room. I was not prepared for what I found. The room was totally white. It was eerie. I peered down at my clothes, and they were white too. “Quite a trick,” I thought to myself. The door closed behind me, and I heard the same pleasant voice that had previously instructed me.

“You are a newcomer. Welcome.”

I waited for the ever-present, “we don’t get many lottery winners in here,” but it didn’t come. Instead, the voice proceeded with it’s speech. “You will remove all of your garments and ornaments. Nothing shall remain on your person. A box will open, and in it you will place everything you have taken off. It will be returned to you later. You will then receive your fitted suit, which you will place on you as you would a pair of coveralls. When you are done, please indicate by closing the box that contains your garments.”

As promised, a box slid to a position just in front of me, and opened. I stripped, and placed all my belongings in the box. The room must have sensed that I was ready, because at the appropriate moment coveralls appeared. I put them on, closed the box, and again I heard the voice. “You are now ready to proceed into the club area itself. The room will darken, and a door will open. Go through the door, and a human attendant will meet you. Have fun, Mr. Carlson!” The voice had understated its case. Not only did the room darken, but it became pitch black. I was shaking with excitement. A door at the far end of the room slid open, and I carefully walked over to it. I took a deep breath, and plunged through the doorway. Instantly I knew why the previous room had been completely white: to contrast the room that I was now in, which looked, smelled, and felt like it was the pinnacle of evil. I heard soft footsteps coming from behind me, and wheeled around just in time to see a door sliding shut and an attendant approaching me. The attendant wore the garb of an executioner. A long robe, and a black hood hiding his face. He looked husky, but his walk seemed gentle. When he spoke I was surprised by the pleasantness of his voice. “Good afternoon, Mr. Carlson,” he said, “it’s not often we get a lottery winner in here.”

“Hi,” I said, a wry smile fleeting across my face.

“You are about to enter the magical realm of bee dee.”

“Oh, you mean brain damage, right?”

“That’s correct, Mr. Carlson, you do catch on quickly. Brain damage was first recognized in the 1970’s by researchers at labs all across the United States. They discovered that though people used to express distaste over brain damage, they produced more of it than would be expected by mere chance. A pattern soon emerged. Many of the most intelligent people, involved with high-level projects at the research labs, were brain damaged. It soon became the ‘in thing’ to admit to being brain damaged about various ideas. This oftentimes led to enjoyment for the people involved. In the late 1980’s, a man by the name of Frederickson experimented with humans and determined that physically induced brain damage would give many of the pleasures that natural brain damage did, though he discovered that sometimes it would cause permanent organic damage. A few years later, a technique was discovered to reverse this permanent damage, and the Club was born. Since the process was developed by private industry, and is very expensive, only the rich can afford it. Welcome, Mr. Carlson.” All of a sudden I was starting to get a little nervous. Physical brain damage? We always joked about it around where I worked, but I didn’t realize that… “Mr. Carlson.” The attendants voice interrupted my thoughts. “We have selected medieval tortures to start you off with. Here are many weapons that can be used to inflict brain damage upon you. Choose the one you like best, and we will begin.”

And as he spoke a panel slid away from the far wall revealing a workbench laden with tools of death and destruction. I was going to say something like, “What the hell is going on,” but decided against it. I saw a vice with nails sticking out of it; it looked to be the least violent device. I choose it. “An excellent choice,” agreed the attendant, “come this way.” Before I knew it my head was in the vice, and the nails pressed up against my head. The attendant said, “Ready or not,” and I felt a strange sensation on my scalp. There was no pain, but when I heard the crunching noise I knew the nails had hit bone.

How could I react. Nails were being driven into my brain. This is the Club? This is what I paid fifteen million dollars in gold bullion to join? A guy is forcing nails into my head, and I don’t feel any pain. And I… And I started to laugh. All of a sudden a feeling of well-being came over me, and I felt happy. I felt blood dripping down my scalp, and I savored the sensation. I felt my head come free, and the attendant help me to stand upright.

“That went smoothly, now, didn’t it,” he asked.

“Yes, thank you, I feel….”

But I couldn’t find the right word. I felt myself starting to lose the ability to talk. And it felt so good. The attendant pointed me at a mirror, and I could see the twenty or so holes in my head. I felt like singing, but couldn’t quite decide how to move my mouth. So I just stood there making snorting noises, and feeling very, very good. I just stood there for the longest time, and then the attendant escorted me to a table sporting some small tools. My vision wasn’t perfect by this time, but it was good enough to continue the fun. The attendant picked up a tool, and showed me how to put it into one of the holes in my head and twirl it around. It seemed like fun. I tried it, and I could make funny sensations occur all over. One hole was good for making my feet do funny things, whereas another was good for evoking childhood memories. I was having fun, and I just started grabbing tools at random and picking at my brains. This was the ultimate in brain damage, and I now knew that everything the attendant had said to me was right. This was better than I had imagined. By the time my hour was up, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t see, I could barely hear, I smelled flowers all the time, and I felt like I was being constantly tickled. The next thing I remember was waking up totally naked in another white room. I felt good. No, not good, great. I couldn’t imagine being able to feel any better. This was worth every cent. I reached up to feel my head, and it was as good as new. I had no problems with any of my senses, I could move all parts of my body, and my mind was as clear as a bell. I examined myself carefully, to see what damage had been done. My body was in perfect condition. I continued to feel very, very good for a long, long time…

—————-

I’ve been going to the Club every day now for the past 15 years. The interest from my lottery winnings will keep me going for the rest of my life, and I don’t mind spending it on brain damage. People say I’ve been getting to be somewhat of a nitwit, but I just laugh at them. I know brain damage is the best thing I’ve ever come across, and I don’t plan to listen to the obviously jealous remarks of my poor friends. After all, it’s not everyday they see a lottery winner. I suppose they’ll never know what it’s like to have real brain damage; the kind that you can see and feel. I occasionally hear people joking about how something or another was the work of a brain damaged man, and I can’t help but chuckle to myself.

I just feel so sorry for all those people in the 1970’s who couldn’t experience brain damage in its full splendor. They only had a fleeting glimpse of absolute pleasure.

—————-

-Peoplesbrain

Uber & Lyft Shutdown in Austin, TX after Proposition 1 Defeat

Uber & Lyft Shutdown in Austin, TX after Proposition 1 Defeat

What a (somewhat) sad day for Austinites…

Prop 1 fails, marking defeat for Uber and Lyft in Austin

And this is coming from a fellow Austinite. Crazy thing is, I had a friend who just recently quit his job to do Uber full-time because he had so much faith in the opportunity and his average take home pay was $500 that he received for just ONE weekend! All this political, anti-Uber shenanigans is what I call, a bad case of government intervention.

 

Uber is a service that prompts new users to create an account via the website or the phone application to become an Uber Partner once approved by meeting certain requirements. After approval, Uber-Partners were given the ability to drive within the city to begin the commuting service for Uber-Consumers and get paid for their efforts. I feel like this was a great stepping stone opportunity for citizens in different regions to make extra money, or to even use it as a full-time replacement income.  I currently live in Austin, TX as I am originally from this city, and in the shadows of dissent; have seen many public occasions of Anti-Uber movements spawn in the city. From UT students holding up signs reading, “F*ck Uber” to disgruntled Taxi drivers expressing their frustrations.

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I feel like alot of people, regardless of age, see the business practices of these “ride sharing” companies as being no different than unregulated taxi services and want them to comply with reasonable/legitimate passenger  laws. In retrospect, maybe Uber-Partners felt like they weren’t getting properly compensated enough, and in unison- having to deal with the wear and tear on vehicles that they’d be dishing out financially for upkeep and maintenance. I’m sure there are totally different perspectives to this phenomena that Non Uber-Partners such as myself haven’t quite dissected.

In the article I posted above, it states that “earlier in the week Lyft said if the ordinance fails, they will also leave on Monday and will cease their operations at 5 a.m. ( KXAN)” which I found very unfortunate as it seems the ‘backup’ or ‘Plan B’ option to Uber has also backed out.

However, I have heard that Austin also has a third, alternative ride sharing option called GetMe. This is good news.* Hopefully that will give former Uber-Partners a bit of hope as another chance to continue on with such an opportunity. Either way, the City of Austin will continue to thrive and I can be almost certain that this isn’t the end of any future related opportunities.

 

-PeoplesBrain

Want to escape the rat race? STOP CHASING THE CHEESE!

Want to escape the rat race? STOP CHASING THE CHEESE!

Seriously, I hear people all the time complain about how bad they want to escape the rat race. But they keep chasing the cheese and staying in the race. Why?

Because people are more focused on the image they can project to the outside world by accumulating prestigious, material possessions. Just go on any social media site and you’ll find people who seek the approval of others.The main-underlying problem is EGO. Ego has separated families, and ego has caused many people to lose sight of what’s REALLY important in life and what REALLY matters. Empathy and sympathy has been replaced with ego and pride.

Do you really feel like material possessions will present you with a better life? Let’s humble down and take a step back. You have to remember that everything good that happens in life first starts from within. Don’t let your ego be your downfall because I have witnessed it first-hand a number of times.

Is it bad to have material possessions? Definitely not. Everyone at some point in their lives would like to experience having nice things. But the problem arises once you allow these things to get to your head.

The worst feeling in life is being caught up in the matrix with no goal, dream or vision. This is what curates a slave. What good is it to wake up early everyday, and rush to work in rush hour traffic, working and slaving to help someone else accomplish their dreams?? You MUST have a GOAL, A DREAM, A VISION. Only then is it not so bad. Unless you have these 3 things, you are living the life of a robot. Sorry but it’s the truth.

Don’t be a victim of the matrix for the rest of your life.  Escape the rat race because the grass may not always be greener on the other side, but you’ll never know unless you take a peek over the fence and LOOK.  My dad always told me that life is divided up into 3 different paths. The path of Career, the path of talent, and the path of fun. 

The Path of Career– This is your main career path that you should strive to establish.  Whether this involves going to college or not, whether you learned it in a brick & mortar or are completely self taught. Whether it’s more technical, or more artsy. The Path of Career is your main source of income to provide you with a living and help you cover your finances. This can also be called “The Fallback”. When everything else fails, this is the fallback that you ‘land on’. The foundation to help get yourself back on your feet. This is your Plan A.

The Path of Talent– Everyone in this world is born with some kind of natural gift. EVERYONE….the only setback is that not everyone discovers this gift. If you already have a talent that you know you’re good at, this is what you probably spend part of  your free-time doing. When the career aspects have dwindled down for the day/week, you take time aside to focus on your passion. Which ultimately helps propel you through life as it brings you an abundance of joy and challenges. In some cases it may not provide you with money and that’s completely ok. Money doesn’t always have to be a factor with talents. However, if money is something that you look forward to as a result of such talents, it WILL come eventually. The trick is to not focus on it so much, and let the universe work it’s magic so that the money will present itself to you when you least expect it.

The Path of Fun- This is pretty much self-explanatory. Everyone has something that they enjoy doing strictly for the sole-purpose of ‘fun’. Whether it’s going to the movies, riding a bike, traveling, sky diving, whatever. FUN is very important in life as it keeps your dendrites tingling and reminds you that life doesn’t always have to be lived in black and white. Fun is where the ‘color’ shines. So have at it!

-PeoplesBrain

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“A Walk in the Woods”- Bone-Chilling Short Story!

“A Walk in the Woods”- Bone-Chilling Short Story!

A friend of mine emailed this short story to me titled “A Walk in the Woods” some years back and it has always stuck with me up until this very date. Unfortunately the first and last name of the author is unknown as it was posted online via anonymity under a username instead. At the time of receiving it, I saved it in my email archives and just recently stumbled upon it. I couldn’t help but share it here on the Peoplesbrain blog….

It’s one of the scariest, most bone-chilling  pieces of literature I’ve ever read. I believe this story to be written by an Indian author. At the end of the story it leaves you in a surrendered state of suspense and wonderment. Hopefully you catch my drift after reading it…. if you liked this story I will be posting more of these! Enjoy folks!

‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Sapansaxena

“A few minutes more, before the town begins”, she told herself as she kept walking in a hurry. As she crossed the trekking paths, she heard a faint rustle of leaves behind her back. She turned around and saw a guy at some distance walking on the path with a backpack on his bags. She felt he looked at her and started walking towards her. She turned back and continued walking towards her cottage. After what seemed to be a minute, she again turned around and saw that the man had closed the gap between them and was fast approaching her. She turned back and further increased her pace. She was almost running now as she heard rustle of dried leaves which she had crossed just a while back. The man had increased his speed too. As she crossed a shade towards her left, she jumped towards the shade and picked up a small dried wooden stick lying near the pile of leaves. As Sumit approached the shades, where he had seen the girl jump towards, he stopped near the shades and started walking towards them. All of a sudden, Roshni jumped out of nowhere and started beating Sumit with the stick.

“Hey! Wait!”, he exclaimed.

“What are you doing? “You were trying to follow me”, she said as she kept beating him with the stick.
“Calm down, first of all”, he said, smiling. “That joke of a stick is doing no damage except tiring you off.”

“Why were you following me?”, she asked.

“I saw you walking alone, and just thought of helping you out.”

“I dont need your help. I can manage on my own”, she said, half out of breath. “You go your own way, and I will go on my own….”

“Listen, I am walking towards the town where I have a stay, and so are you.. We can walk together, it would be a good company for both of us.” “I dont need your company”

“Alright!”, he said, defeated.

“You walk ahead of me, and I will walk behind you. That way we wont be together, and I wont have to worry about you.” “You dont have to worry about me. I can manage on my own.”, she said and crossed him to walk towards the town. He started walking behind her.

“You live here?”, he said.

“I dont think I need to answer that.”, she said and kept walking. “And besides I dont want to talk.”

“Hey! Whats the harm in a little chat while we walk towards the town. Saves us from getting bored.” She kept quiet and continued walking.

“What’s your name?”, he asked after a few moments.

She didnt reply. “I am Sumit and I live on the other side of this hill. I came here alone for a short trek.”.She still kept quiet. “Whats your name?”

“Roshni!”

“And what are you doing here alone in the woods?”, he asked while increasing his pace and coming next to Roshni.

“I often visit these woods. I come to write poems here.”

“Ohh! You are a poet! Great! You can tell me some of your poems and we will be near town in no time”, he said as she looked back.

“My poems are not for others. I write them for myself”, she said looking away from him as she kept walking.

“You gotta be kidding me. Whats the use of writing, when you dont show it to anyone.” She didnt reply and kept walking.

“Hmm! If you dont want to tell them, its your choice. Now lets walk faster towards the town, and then I can drop you to your cottage before it gets too late.”

“The weather is so romantic today!”, she said as he looked over the horizon at the strings of trees in vicinity.

“You know whats the best thing about Darjeeling?”, he said. “No matter what the season is, the woods are always beautiful.” “And is that the reason you travel daily all across the hill to enjoy the weather in the woods? ” “Of course, Not!”, he looked back at her.”The reason is you. And, that restuarant near your cottage. The Kadhi Chawal is a killer” She smiled back at him.

“Hey! Roshni”, he faced her and held her hands. “Why dont we get married?”

“Sumit, its only been a month since we met.”

“Yes, I understand that. But, it happens when it has to, and no one cares about how much time two people have spent together. Dont you love me?” Her face dropped all of a sudden and she appeared sad.

“I do love you, Sumit. But…”

“What is it?”, asked Sumit.

“There is something I need to tell you.”

“Tell me, then. Who is stopping you?”

“That you may no longer want to be with me, forget even proposing me to marry.”

“How stupid would that sound. There is nothing which would stop me from being with you.” She still appeared sad and didnt say anything.

“Fine! If you dont want to talk about it, we can talk later. Totally up to you.”

She smiled and looked away from him. “Hey! Remember we met in the same woods almost a month back”, he said, trying to cheer her up.

“Of course I do!”

“And you tried hitting me with that small stick”, he said as both of them laughed together.

“I thought you were stalking me!”

“Well, I was actually!”, he said.

“What?”, she said looking at him with raised brows.

“Nothing! Just kidding!”, he winked at her. She looked at him for some time then smiled back at him.

“So, what shall we talk about?”, he said looking at her. “The weather, the mountains. the lake, the trees. Why, how come you are short of stuff to talk to me?” “Alright, lets talk about…”, he said and paused for a moment, when all of a sudden reached towards her bag and pulled out a blue diary, “your poems”.

“No! Wait! Give it back to me!”, she almost shouted as she tried to get the diary back from him.”

“I dont think so! Today your poems may get their first reader!”, he said as he pulled back and got up on his feet.He started to fiddle with the pages, as she got up and made a leap towards him.

“Hey ! Hey! You wont be able to win this back from me unless I am done with all your poems”, he said and started running casually towards the bridge.

“Give it back to me!”, Roshni shouted almost complaining and ran towards the bridge as Sumit had almost crossed and reached on the other side.

“So, the title of the first poem here is ‘Walk in the woods’. How apt!”, he said as Roshni tried to pace up, when her left foot got stuck and she tripped over. As she fell, her right leg. jerked forward and her right leg’s caliper sprung a couple of feet ahead of her, as it slide and reached near Sumit. Sumit stood where he was with the blue diary in his hands as he looked towards the stranded caliper lying near him. He looked up and saw a scared Roshni crying with tears in her eyes. He kept the diary in his pocket, and walked slowly towards the caliper as he picked it up. He was still searching for words as he walked slowly towards Roshni.

“Is this what…”, he said, almost whispering, as words came out of his mouth in irregular intervals,”you didn’t tell”

“I was in love with him!”, she shouted and started sobbing loudly.”Could have done anything for him, but he humiliated me for my handicap.”

“Who humiliated you?’, he asked, now more composed.

“There was a guy, had come from Mumbai on a trip with his friends. We met here, in these very woods, and we were so much in love. He had even proposed me, and before I could even tell him about my accident and my handicap, he came to learn of it when I slipped near the lake. He picked up the caliper in both his hands, and threw it over me. He kept spewing venom and I kept crying. I wasn’t even aware when he left, all I remember was a chilly dark night, and my walk back to town alone.”, she was shuddering as she cried and coughed in between.

“And, you thought I will also…”, he spoke softly but didn’t complete.

“Yes, I knew you would also humiliate me. I knew the day you will learn of my secret, you will despise me, hate me.”

Sumit picked up the caliper in both his hands, and kneeled besides her. She was still crying and looking at him with empty eyes. He offered to fix the caliper back her leg, and she extended her amputated leg towards him. He fixed he leg back, and hugged her, tears in his eyes.

“I am really sorry for whatever happened in your past. But now, you will never cry, thats my promise. I love you, and thats all what matters now.”, he said softly as she held him tightly. “I really hope this Tiger Hill is a nice place to get married.”, he said as she closed the door of the car. “Dont worry, I am sure you will love it. The first rays of sun falling on the mountain peaks. Its out of this world” “Any place with you, I love it”, he said and smiled as she smiled back. “We will need to get the tank full. Tiger Hill doesnt have much option of a petrol pump, and its a good distance from here” He nodded and started the engine. After a few minutes they were standing at the next petrol pump.

“Full tank, please”, Sumit said to the only attendant there. As Roshni reached out for her purse, Sumit stopped her.
“Its fine, I can pay this.

You already have paid for all the bookings, the arrangements, my suit, and everything. At least I can pay for petrol.”

“You forgot my dress.”, she smiled mischievously. ”

Of course, your dress. A special mention! See, the point is..out of us two, I am the one with ideas, and you are the one with money. The reason, we are a perfect combination. After marriage, let us buy one more cottage in Siliguri, or Kalimpong.”

“Of course sir, as you say! But, lets move fast as sun will set in almost an hour and it will be dark soon.”

“What the hell!!”, exclaimed Sumit. “Why? What happened?”, asked Roshni, coming out of the tiring slumber.

“Its been only two hours into our journey, and the tank is almost empty.”

“What? How is that possible? We got the tank full, right?”

“Exactly! And the fuel meter says its almost empty!”

“Did you not check it once during the drive? I think I slept the whole time.”

“No, it never occurred to me to check the speed with which fuel meter was dropping because we got enough fuel to last the entire journey. Not even  when I stopped by to relieve myself.”

“You left me alone sleeping in the car? How careless of you, Sumit?”

“Hey! Relax! I kept the AC running, and I was near the car all the time.”

“You could have checked the fuel when you got back! Now what do we gonna do?”

“Relax! I can see some light at a distance. Seems to be some inn or a motel of some sorts.”

The car stopped near the shady guest house. Sumit got out first and opened the door for Roshni. They  entered the dimly lit hall with one bulb hanging over a table behind which an old man was sitting.

“Excuse Me! Is there a petrol pump nearby? We are short of fuel”, said Sumit The old man looked at Sumit, then Roshni and then back at Sumit.

“No, sir! The nearest petrol pump is 10 kms away, and that closes in evening itself. We have very little diesel which we use in generators. I think that would fetch you no purpose.”

“Is there a room available where we can stay for the night? How much would be the cost?”

“We have only room here, sir. That costs 1000 Rs per night. The room has a small balcony and a bathroom attached. Payment will be made in advance.”

Sumit turned to Roshni,”1000 Rs please. I do not have much cash.”

Roshni opened her purse and gave him a 1000 Rs note, while Sumit filled in the details in the hotel register. Roshni entered the room first as her hand searched for the switchboard on the side wall. Sumit walked over to the opposite wall and switched the light on. Roshni looked at him, surprised.

“How did you know the switch was on the opposite wall?”

“I could see it when I entered the room.”

“The room is pitch black with darkness. I wasn’t able to see anything.”

“You must be kidding. There is some faint light from outside and I could see the switchboard, Anyways, how does it matter?”

“Nothing.”

“Anyways, let me ask the receptionist if there is something we can eat, and then get to sleep. The petrol pumps open up at 8 in the morning.”

“I need to go to the washroom.”

Sumit moved across Roshni and opened up a door on the opposite wall and switched on the light.”Here you are”, he said.

“How did you know the bathroom was across the room?”, asked Roshni, surprised.

“What else could it be”, smirked Sumit.

“There are three doors besides the main door, and you were able to identify the one to the bathroom. What if it was the door to the balcony?

“Then I would have tried the next door, sweetheart”, said Sumit assuringly.

Roshni still had signs of  confusion on her face as she looked at Sumit. All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door. Sumit went and opened the door. There was the receptionist with a tray in his hands which  seemed to have food covered by some old looking plates.

“Oh! I was just going to ask you for food. Great that you thought ahead for us.”

“That’s alright sir. I fear the food would be a tad too simple for your liking. Here is some hot Kadhi Chawal for you, sir.”

“Kadhi Chawal?”, asked Roshni, surprised again. She looked at Sumit,

“How did he know that you like Kadhi Chawal”

“Ohh! Come on Roshni”, said Sumit, growing impatient.

“How would I know how was he able to cook up my favourite dish? Maybe that was all what was left with him.”

He turned to the receptionist, his back towards Roshni,

“am I right, sir?”

“Yes, of course.”, he nodded and closed the door behind him….

——————

Sumit went ahead and hugged Roshni,

“Roshni, why are you getting paranoid? Relax. I think this sudden halt at this place is wearing you out.”

Roshni hugged him back and nodded. She looked at the other two doors.

“The receptionist told one of them is balcony, what about the other one?” she asked. Sumit broke the hug and moved towards the first door. He tried opening it, but the door seemed to be lock.

“This could be the door to some private room. And the other one could be balcony.”

“It’s OK”, she said.

“Let it be.”, she said and slowly moved towards the bathroom. As soon as she moved in, Sumit picked up the receiver of the phone kept in the corner and dialed some number. Roshni wiped her face with the towel kept near the wash basin. She looked into the mirror and dabbled the corners of her eyes. All of a sudden, the power went off, and it was pitch black inside the bathroom.

“Sumit!”; she shouted stuck at where she was but no one responded.

“Sumit!”, she called again, this time louder, but was again met with complete silence. She slowly moved towards the door and tried to move the knob of the door, which seemed to be stuck. She panicked, as the very faint light from the window of the bathroom entered. She held the knob with both her hands and tried to push the door with all her energy. The door seemed to flinch a bit, but was still locked.

“Sumit!”

she shouted at the top of her voice, but no one responded. She stopped for a moment and then used every last bit of energy of her body to push, when the door cracked and opened up. There was darkness all over the room and Sumit, was not there. She slowly moved to where she had kept her bags, until she found them. She quickly brought up her mobile phones, which showed no signals. She activated the flash light of her phone and looked around. The front door seemed to be lock from outside. Feeling suffocated, she moved towards the third door and unlatched it. A very pungent whiff of air hit her hard as she opened the balcony. Covering her nose, she tried to adjust her  eyes to the darkness and look for the source of the smell. After a few seconds, she saw what appeared to be chunks of unearthed soil bunked into huge heaps all over the ground. There were flies and other insects buzzing around the chunks.

“Shit!”, she exclaimed and closed the door behind her. She picked up the knife from the tray the receptionist had brought earlier. Panicked, she started shouting,

“Sumit! Help!”

but no one listened…..

She tried to open the main door, but it was locked heavily from outside. She proceeded to the third door and tired to open it , when with a jerk, the door opened to another room. Surprisingly, this room had a small lit bulb and an wooden almirah on the side.

“Must be powered on by generator”,

she said under her breath and tried to calm herself, as she moved towards the wooden almirah and opened it with a sunken heart. There were almost a dozen caliper legs kept in the almirah, with a date tag attached to each one of them. All of a sudden there was noise outside, the light had came back as Sumit, unlocked the front door with his left hand as he tightly held a pistol in his right hand.

“Roshni!”, he called out, but she didn’t reply.

“Rohni!  Sweetheart! Where are you?”,

he called again with a smooth tone, but there was no reply. His eyes met the third opened door, as he crawled towards it with the pisto placed in front.

“Come on sweetheart! Where are you?”

As he entered the room and took a few steps forward, Roshni jumped from behind and stabbed the knife into Sumit with all her might. A chunk of flesh alongwith blood spurted out as he fell on the floor.

“What the!!”, he exclaimed with pain.

“Have you gone mad?”

“You were trying to kill me! You knew this place! There are dead bodies all over the ground.”

“What dead bodies! Shit!!”, he exclaimed as he saw streams of blood running into his shirt.

“I went out to look for the cause of power outage!”, he tried to speak suppressing the pain.

“I saw a  hound trying to break into the hotel, and shot him with my pistol. I swear I wasnt trying to kill you. I was cautious as I heard your scream”

“You are lying! Lying! Lying!”, she shouted hysterically.

“You are lying from the very first time  you met me. I tried to ignore your lies but you kept on lying! You knew me before meeting in the woods didn’t you? You knew about my handicap?”

“No, Roshni! I swear!”, he started.

“Again you are lying! That’s what you thought, right, that’s what you do! Bring helpless people with calipers here and kill them and keep the calipers as a memento of your bloody victory.”

“Alright, Roshni! I was lying. I knew you before we met in the woods. I knew about your handicap. I still followed and tried to help you because I was lusting for your money. I accept that! But, I was really trying to marry you today and not kill you. God! Why would I kill you.”

“Liar! Pathetic liars! That’s what you men are good at. That’s what you men will always do. You are  lying once again! You came here to kill me!”

, she said as the anger in her grew visually up. Sensing her anger, Sumit jerked all of a sudden and reached towards his gun. Roshni judged his intentions and stabbed Sumit once again in the chest.

“Why do you want to kill me, Roshni”, said Sumit, crying.

“I loved you. I was going to marry you.”

“Because…”, she paused for a moment…….

“You also wanted to kill me.”

, she said and stabbed him one final time. Sumit let out a hoarse cry as his lifeless body let out a final hint of breath. Roshni got up as the receptionist entered the room and dragged the body away. Roshni removed her caliper, attached a note to it, wrote down the date and kept it in the wooden almirah. As she crossed the bridge, she heard him call out for her. She increased her speed as she felt him fast approaching her. She turned all of a sudden as he was taken aback. “Why were you following me?”, she asked. “I saw you walking alone, and just thought of helping you out.” “I don’t need your help. I can manage on my own”, she said, half out of breath. “You go your own way, and I will go on my own….”

-The End

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