Noise

I live in an old house. You know the type. The floor, the wall, the cupboards – everything creaks.

A side effect of growing up here is that I’m always unimpressed by the so-called horror movies Hollywood churns out. Ninety percent of the scares are just creaky household furniture and fittings. Hah. I’d never lose sleep over that.

But tonight’s different. I’m jarred awake in the dead of night by something I’ve never heard before. Complete and utter silence.

When I look up, my eyes catch it pacing the room. But something’s wrong. The floor doesn’t groan in complaint under its giant, scar-laced feet.

The creature stops to scratch something into the wall. Its claws slowly, but deliberately rip through the paint. And yet, I still don’t hear anything.

As the silence becomes deafening, I slide back into bed, and pray for something, anything, to creak again.

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The Twist

The steak was succulent. The chicken juicy. The entire meal had a certain…character to it. Vikram tucked into it with unusual abandon.

Ana finally spoke when Vikram had finished licking his fingers.

“You like it?”

“Like it? It’s magical! Where did you find this genius chef?”

“Oh, he’s good, no doubt. But the magic here lies in the ingredients and also,” she hesitated before adding, “the meticulousness with which they were sourced.”

#

“Stop!” My companion smashed his fist on the bar counter, spilling some of his beer in the process. “I’m not going to listen to any more of this tripe – I can see the twist coming a mile away. This Ana lady served him a human being, didn’t she?” he asked.

I smirked in that annoying way which always got on people’s nerves.

“No, she didn’t. How predictable would that be? And who said anything about there being a twist anyway?”

“Fine. Continue then,” he said.

“Where was I? Oh right, the source.”

#

“Where do you source your food from?” Vikram asked.

“We grow it ourselves,” Ana replied.

“What’s your secret?” he asked as he not-so-discreetly mopped the remnants of the thick meaty sauce from the plate with his fingers and licked them.

“Our animals are on a special diet. So are our vegetables. We don’t use ordinary feed or fertiliser.”

#

“She grinds humans up into the fertiliser and the feed, doesn’t she? Is that it? It’s even lamer than I thought!” My companion raged.

“Why are you being so morbid? And I do agree — that would have been very lame. Now, if you don’t have any more theories, shall I continue?”

He took a large gulp of his beer, and nodded. A cold determination had crept into his eyes.

I smirked again.

#

“I’d love to meet and compliment the chef in person. This was the best meal I’ve had in my life,” Vikram said.

“I’ll summon him immediately,” Ana made a couple of gestures at the server.

A few seconds later, a voice coughed behind him. Vikram looked up to see a tall slender man in a chef’s hat standing over him.

“Well, that was quick. I didn’t even hear you come in,” Vikram said to the chef as he shook his surprisingly cold hand.

“Meet The Count, our head chef. He has apprenticed under a lot of culinary masters and is now a man who possesses the sum of their skills. He’s absolutely lapped up their talents, so to speak,” Ana said.

The Count smiled at him. Vikram smiled back. The Count’s teeth glinted.

#

“Vampire!”

“This, sir, isn’t chic-lit!” I said with as much indignation as I could muster.

#

“What’s your secret?” Vikram asked.

“Would you believe, cauldrons? I always cook in cauldrons. And I like to sing with the other chefs while I do it. That helps immensely,” The Count replied.

“That’s…interesting,” Vikram said.

“Surely, there must be something else?” Vikram probed further. He knew The Count was hiding something.

The Count hesitated for a bit, then leaned into Vikram’s ear and whispered.

#

“Warlock?”

“Nope,” I said.

#

“Salt. Lots of it,” The Count said. “And a shitload of MSG,” he added with a wink.

#

“You’re horrible at spotting the twist,” I said to my companion. And then I ate him.

Telling that story always gives me the munchies.

The Right Swipe

Vivek’s finger moved across the phone screen in a rhythmic dance that had been perfected over many a bored night.

Too tall. Left swipe. Too thin. Left swipe. Too short. Left swipe. Obscure quote. Left swipe. Pet as their profile picture. Left swipe. Too out of my league. Left swipe. Too…

Just right.

Trying to reign in his excitement, Vivek clicked on the icon to bring up the profile information.

His heart sank when he read the first line.

Sorry, but I’m not here for hookups.

Vivek shook his head in disbelief and swiped left. His betrayed mind wrestled with a lot of questions.

Why would anyone using this app say such an absurd thing? What were these people even using this app for? And which app DID they use for hookups?

His gaze moved to the night sky that streamed in through his bedroom window. His fingers did not stop even as his eyes latched onto something in the darkness.

A shooting star. Or at least it looked like one. It wasn’t a regular occurrence in the city’s polluted skies. In fact, now that he thought about it, Vivek realised that he’d never seen one in person before.

Maybe I should make a wish.

Vivek chuckled to himself, acutely aware of how childish that thought was. His reverie was interrupted by a loud ding from his phone.

It’s a match! You’ve both liked each other.

Vivek felt the familiar rush of dopamine which always accompanied that notification. It was instantly replaced by the also usual mixture of dread and despondence.

Probably a bot, a man masquerading as a woman, or even worse – a crazy, desperate woman, he sighed, completely missing the irony in the last bit.

He wished it was someone likeable for once. Someone funny, intelligent, beautiful, and crazy, smoking hot. Someone he could finally quit the app for.

The screen flickered. Vivek adjusted his glasses.

Well, that’s never happened before.

He thumped the phone on the side with his palm – an instinct that had carried over from the days of bulky malfunctioning television sets.

The screen stopped flickering. The notification popped up again. Vivek quickly clicked on it to bring up the profile – a little more anticipation than usual writ on his face.

Violetxa Archionniz, 145.

Uranian. Pilot. I hate people that discriminate on the basis of species. Interested in males with two legs/tentacles and compatible reproductive paraphernalia. Strictly no Martians – I’m allergic to their tongues, bad breath, and general lack of intelligence.

Vivek smiled. In his experience, a weird sense of humour usually translated to a penchant for weird things in other departments.

He scanned the screen for the option to send her a message. To his bewilderment, he could not find it anywhere. But, he did notice an option that he’d never seen before.

Bl454Hasdsadrwk, it read.

That makes no sense.

Putting it down to a glitch in the system, Vivek clicked on the unintelligible option anyway.

He let out a scream as an invisible force lifted his body off the bed, suspending him in mid air, his loose pyjamas dangling off his scrawny legs. He swirled in the air for a long couple of seconds before vanishing into the proverbial thin air.

When Vivek reopened his eyes, a universe full of darkness stretched before him in every direction. His legs flailed in a futile attempt to find the familiar comfort of solid ground. A few silent seconds, maybe even minutes, passed by as Vivek called out into the dark void. And then, an unfamiliar form materialised in front of him. His eyes finally had something to focus onto.

The thing, or creature, looked nothing like he’d ever seen, or even imagined, before. It was majorly composed of what could only be described as sharp, pointy, drill-like things whirring on the ends of several tentacles.

The creature bellowed. A petrified Vivek couldn’t even figure out which part of the creature that eerie sound originated from. One of the drill-laced tentacles stretched towards him, doing a strange dance. The creature bellowed again.

Come to me, you handsome piece of meat.

A bewildered Vivek looked around instinctively to see who said that. There was no one else around.

Come to me, human. Don’t make me wait.

That’s when it dawned on Vivek. The voices came from his own head. The creature put them in there somehow – maybe it was telepathic.

Violetxa doesn’t like to wait.

Vivek looked at the tentacles that made their purposeful way towards him. He put up his hand and opened his mouth to speak. There was only one thing left to say.

“Sorry, but I’m not here for hookups.”

What if(but not really)

Priya looks at him. He’s just a stranger sharing the same blanket now. She lies awake wondering why she let Him go so many years ago.

She doesn’t know him is actually Him after he lost his memory and got plastic surgery to look like Him.

She’s always wondered why her name is spelt with three silent K’s.

The Noise

I’ve grown up in a very old house. You know, the kind where the floor, the wall, the cupboards…everything creaks. I’ve long been used to the creepy sounds they make. One interesting side-effect of growing up in such a house is that I’m never impressed by the so-called horror movies Hollywood churns out. If you really think about it, ninety percent of the scares are just that – creaky furniture. Hah. I’m not losing any sleep over that.

But, tonight’s different. I was jarred awake in the dead of night by something I’d never heard before.

Complete and utter silence.

When I look up, my eyes catch something pacing the room. Yet, I don’t hear the floor groan in complaint. It stops to scratch something onto the wall. But, the walls don’t screech.

As the silence becomes deafening, I slide back into bed, and pray for something…anything…to creak again.

The wish

I never left my television on. But, I wished I had been forgetful tonight.

The night was still as usual. But, I wished the cracked window pane, was the wind’s doing.

My boyfriend wasn’t home. But, I wished those footsteps I heard creeping up behind me, were his.

As I turned to face it, I wished I was dead.

Sometimes, wishes do come true.

The Twist

The steak was succulent. The chicken juicy. The entire meal had a certain…character to it. He tucked into it with unusual abandon. She finally spoke when he’d finished licking his fingers.

“You like it?”

“Like it? It’s magical! Where did you find such a genius chef?”

“Oh, he’s good, no doubt. But the magic here lies in the ingredients and also,” she hesitated before adding, “the meticulousness with which they were sourced.”

#

“Stop!” My companion smashed his fist on the bar counter, spilling some of his beer in the process. “I’m not going to listen to any more of this tripe. I can see the twist coming a mile away. She served him a human being, didn’t she?” he asked.

I smirked in that annoying way which always got on people’s nerves.

“No, she didn’t. How predictable would that be? And who said anything about there being a twist anyway?”

“Fine. Continue then,” he said.

“Where was I now…oh right…the source.”

#

“Where do you source your food from?” he asked.

“We grow it ourselves,” she replied.

“What’s your secret?” he asked as he not-so-discreetly mopped the remaining juices off the plate with his fingers.

“Our farm animals are on a special diet. So are our vegetables. We don’t use ordinary feed or fertiliser.”

#

“She grinds humans up into the fertiliser and the feed, doesn’t she? Is that it? It’s even lamer than I thought!”

“Why are you being so morbid? And I do agree — that would have been very lame. Now, if you don’t have any more ‘theories’, shall I continue?”

He nodded. A cold, steely determination had crept into his eyes.

I smirked again.

#

“I’d love to meet and compliment the chef in person. This was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

“I’ll summon him immediately,” she made a couple of gestures at the server.

A few seconds later, a voice coughed behind him. He looked up to see a tall slender man in a chef’s hat standing over him.

“Well, that was quick,” he said.

“Meet The Count, our head chef. He has apprenticed under a lot of culinary masters and is now a man who possesses the sum of their skills. He’s absolutely lapped up their talents, so to speak,” she said.

The Count smiled at him. He smiled back. The Count’s teeth glinted.

#

“Vampire!”

“This, sir, isn’t chic-lit!” I said with as much indignation as I could muster.

#

“What’s your secret?” he asked.

“Would you believe, cauldrons? I always cook in cauldrons. And I like to sing with the other chefs while I do it,” The Count replied.

“That’s…interesting,” he said.

“Surely, there must be something else?” he probed further. He knew that The Count was hiding something.

The Count hesitated for a bit, then leaned into his ear and whispered.

#

“Warlock?”

“Nope.”

#

“Salt. Lots of it,” The Count said. “And a shitload of MSG,” he added with a wink.

#

“You’re horrible at spotting the twist,” I said. And then I ate him.

Telling that story always gives me the munchies.

THE END

The Rewrite

She showed him the horror again.

Clear as crystal. His own. It can really affect you, that.

It was the curse, she told him.

He had heard about the curse before. From her as well as the elders. Three centuries ago, an ancestor had burnt a witch in cold blood. The witch’s sister, who plied the same trade, hadn’t been impressed. Every male heir since then had met with a gruesome, albeit creative, end.

He believed what he’d seen. He believed in the curse. But he also believed that he could undo it.

*****

It had required a lot of effort, but it was finally ready. He sat at the controls and drew in a deep, purposeful breath. This was it. He was ready to rewrite history, and his own future in the bargain. He pressed the button, the science did its thing, and the machine hurled back into time.

*****

He peeped through the window again. The witch still lay asleep. There was no sign of any tip-toeing ancestors in the vicinity. He guessed he had some time to kill before he’d have the opportunity to prevent the deed from being perpetrated. He sat down in the bushes, lit himself a cigarette, and waited.

The screams jolted him out of his nap. He rushed to the source. The machine was up in flames. So was the witch. She must have gotten inside, curious to determine what the contraption was. Maybe she had fiddled with the engine. Maybe there had been a short-circuit. It was too late to save her, or the machine, which would soon become her coffin.

A cold tap on the shoulder caused him to turn around. It was who he’d thought it’d be. And she was mad.

Forbidden fruit

“Don’t eat that pear,” she said.

“But why?” He asked, giving it a look over.

“It’s forbidden.” She tried to snatch it from him but he dodged her attempt.

“Who are we, Adam and Eve? And this isn’t even an apple!” He chuckled, taking a huge bite out of it anyway.

“Well, it isn’t a pear either.”

He was too busy choking on the wax to notice her joy at having nailed the punchline.