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After the Flash
After the Flash

After the Flash

TamTam

SHORT STORY
AFTER THE FLASH
Chapter 1 - Unexpected turn of events
It was a bright day at the beach. Everything to be seen was full of life.
The kids were playfully throwing sands on each other while their pet dog
cavorted around the funny sandcastle made by his master. Food items
were scattered all over the striped picnic blanket. Roasted corns on the
cob were neatly arranged on a white platter. Storage containers in
assorted shapes and colours holding green grapes, watermelon slices,
salad and sandwiches were kept near the platter. A big jar of orange
marmalade and a gallon lemonade jug were jutting out of the wicker
basket. Elma, the toddler abandoned all of her beach toys and was
probing the yellow sunscreen bottle intending to find something
interesting with a serious look on her face. David and Martha were
kissing warmly unruffled by the cheerful chaos around them. The Beach
Umbrella wasn't really large enough to shade the gleeful group. Martha
looked suave in a floral blue and pink Sundress. It clearly showed how
much her body has changed in comparison to the figure she had during
her wedding. To complement the dress, she had worn a Fedora straw
beach hat. While he was ardently kissing his beautiful wife, David held
on to his chilled Corona Extra beer bottle. There was a blue beach
cooler holding six other bottles in ice. It was perfect! Love, happiness
and togetherness. What more can anyone ask for?
Susan was startled when she heard the voice that interrupted her
stream of thought.
"Detective Clark, the Forensic unit is here.No information on David's
whereabouts yet. The cops are running a check on his ID. We'll possibly
get something in some time. We are talking to the neighbours so that we
could find an informant. The press is already here. We'd like you to take
over and handle them. Don't wanna see "MAN RUNS AMOK; KILLS
WIFE, THREE KIDS AND A DOG" on headlines with assumptions
tomorrow", one of the officers in uniform said.
After a long pause, Susan spoke.
"I'll be there in 5 minutes", she said and turned around to get one last
look at the family photograph that was kept above the fireplace.

"Picture Perfect", she thought "Strange how deceiving, some
photographs and the people in it can be."
Leena Clark was a well-known tough cookie in the precinct. A tall,
slender, dusky beauty with pitch-black hair that made her look like a
model from an international shampoo commercial. She had seen so
many cases that were disturbing enough to influence her personal
choices in life. She badly missed coffee that day.
“I’ll get a cup after dealing with the press,'' she thought and stepped out
of the apartment taking a deep breath.
The appeasing silence came down shattering with the sudden clamour
of the reporters holding their mikes like torches searching frantically for
answers, accompanied by random camera clicks. This was a familiar yet
dreaded situation for Leena. However prepared she was about what had
to be said, there would always be that one question from the crowd,
that’s either stupid or provoking. As luck would have it, her patience has
always helped her sail through such scenarios. Having her game face
on, Leena took the questions one after the other and gave an account of
the incident not revealing too much. She didn’t look forward to being
tutored by the Captain again for leading the press into writing ridiculous
headlines.
“Our team of experts and detectives are working on this case and we
sure do have a lot of work to do. Sharing any information that could be
valuable for solving this case is much appreciated, she said and
concluded the meeting.
Leena got that cup of coffee she was craving for and sat in her car. The
mess inside that house was a lot to take. Despite having seen this stuff
before, it still feels unsettling when being exposed to it all at once. It was
not like she loved her work because she had a boring personal life. She
didn’t want to see her profession as another distraction from her lonely
existence. She has all the time to fall in love, get married and have kids
but chose not to do any of those simply because it took a lot of effort.
Thanks to those long hours spent in reading Nietzsche’s books, Leena
decided to make her suffering interesting by just doing her job and
relaxing whenever she had time, alone or with one or two acquaintances
briefly.

As she drove, her mind was rewinding the things her eyes had captured
at the scene of the crime. It’s pretty obvious as of now that the first
suspect is the Father, as he has gone AWOL. “It’s going to be a frenzied
month at least,'' she thought and prepared herself for another new quest.
The sudden ringing of her phone interrupted her thoughts. It was Monty,
from the precinct. “Yeah”, she answered and pressed the speaker button
on the keypad.
“We got him”, the voice at the other end said, bluntly.
“What? Who?”, Leena asked, confused.
“The father, the suspect. He..uh..just surrendered and confessed to the
crime. Bloody surprise but I think that’s it, after all ...Uh.. you should get
back here soon, `` he urged.
Leena was at a loss for words.
She was partly relieved that the case got a quick and easy solution. It’s
not so common to have cases getting solved even before gathering the
necessary evidence. Although there was a tinge of disappointment that
she didn’t have another interesting puzzle to solve, it was good for her.
“Must be my lucky day”, Leena sighed and drove to the precinct.

Chapter 2 - The Protectors and Destructors

“What, that’s it?!”, Luke exclaimed. He couldn’t believe that Leena’s
Monday had turned out not so dreadful, after all.
Nathan sighed. His eyes were tired from working 2 shifts back-to-back.
“You know what, I am tired, Man. Can’t wait to call it a day and hit the
bed. My mind is in a complete haze to think of any captivating life
experience for this woman today. I am out.”
Nathan gestured a two finger-salute and walked out.
Luke turned to his desk with a smile and began his surveillance for the
day. The system they control was called “Survival” that was specifically

designed to control the fate of human species. Survival never
encountered performance issues. Its users thought that it underwent
robust testing for various possible glitches before its release.
“How funny”, Luke thought to himself. “There’s is a big argument down
there on the planet about who gets to go to heaven and hell after death
without having a clue about what’s waiting for them.”
“If they only they knew that they are all going to become some high-end
control room operators once they die..”, he thought and smirked.
The building or the “Control Tower” they work in, is a massive work of
art. Those who worked there, or in other words, resided there knew that
nobody on Earth has ever attempted to build an ambitious humongous
structure like this. No one knew or cared to know the exact number of
storeys or rooms in it. Though they missed the beautiful Home planet,
the current celestial body, that they were inhibiting didn’t give them much
room to complain. Life after death still demanded work but had black and
white certainties. There were no grey areas whatsoever; zero
complications and nil confusions. If there was any relationship among
the inmates in Control tower, it was purely professional.
“Okay.. what have we got here,'' Luke uttered and clicked on his
assignment for the day. The day in Control Tower isn’t our 24 hours. It
was unquantifiable. Sometimes the assignment’s duration was a short as
5 minutes and at times a mortal’s lifetime.
The screen lit up with coloured divisions popping up with a portrait and
life history for the Subject assigned to him for that day. It was like an
interactive visual lexicon that gave information about every aspect of a
person’s life within a few clicks. The residents of the Control Tower were
known as “Keepers” and were intellectually equipped with digesting tons
of data every day and played a key role in the decision-making process
in anyone’s life on planet Earth. They were whom the mortals back home
referred to as “The God” or “Superpower” or “The Savior” and whatnots.
At any given point of time, the Keepers control neutral network of the
Subjects chosen. They have the power to take over free will and change
the perspectives of their Subjects for a certain period of time. Again,
there isn’t a well-defined timeframe for all their assignments. The beauty

of the whole system is the randomness which shuffles up the pattern in
an unexpected way. The Keepers sure as hell enjoy the game they are
playing. It was a shame, they have never really themselves seen the
“Creator” of this badass network. However, the machine never stopped.
As the deaths continued to increase on Earth, the strength in the Control
Tower only kept expanding with more inmates getting admitted to it. At
times they even had to multitask and manage the fate of multiple
Subjects.
When the Subject’s neural network is examined, all its audio-visual
recordings since the day its soul got a host would be in store for the
Keeper to watch and learn. The induction course just takes a few Planck
seconds, if we have to put it in our own scientific terms. Once the Keeper
is loaded with the data of the Subject’s life experiences, it comes down
to the Subject’s immediate circle of acquaintances like family, friends,
colleagues, partners etc. The Keepers connect with their peers and
cooperatively take decisions for their Subjects when they are all
connected or present in the same situation. The environment that
contains the Subject would also be colonized by the Keeper to induce
external stimuli.
Though Keepers looked identical and were robotic in nature, they always
wanted to catch a glimpse of the happenings in the loved one’s lives.
They were ready to trade anything for that one chance of invisible
intimacy with them. A few would get into the dreams of their loved ones
and relay messages on their special days. Some even went to the
extent of disguising themselves as what they called on earth as
Poltergeists. These were the incentives that they were entitled to once in
a while for running the Tower and the lives of the mortals in the most
fascinating way possible.

Chapter 3 - The relationship crisis
“So, what? You are just gonna walk away from me... just like that?”,
Andy scowled seething with anger. He could not think straight with his
head bogged down with a myriad of emotions.

Rachel kept walking without looking back stifling her sobs. She couldn’t,
however, control the tears that brought down her mascara, make-up and
her heart. “I am done with this moron. I can’t keep doing this to myself.
There’s no turning back whatsoever”, she thought and scurried to get the
nearest cab for an easy escape from the situation.
Andy did not care to follow her. He was tired of doing it now. Thankfully
there was a bench waiting for him to physically relax and get a clear
mind among the maddening crowd in the city. “This is beyond any repair
now,'' he thought and took out his phone. He quickly deleted Rachel’s
contact and blocked her from all Social Media accounts and moved the
photographs and videos to the trash. Having a memory of this
tempestuous relationship to look back to was the last thing he wished to
have. He quickly reinstalled the Dating app and made himself available
for mating.
A part of him, the annoying part kept telling him to give the relationship
another chance. Things have worked well every time they sat and had a
heart to heart after a fight. It really seemed too hasty and stupid to
suddenly give up on everything. “Hiccups in a relationship only makes it
stronger. This is another phase you both are going to get over soon.
“Don’t give up yet..please,'' the voice pleaded. This time, he wasn’t
listening or maybe he couldn’t clearly hear it. A stronger force crept over
and told him to move on. A distraction came along. His phone buzzed. A
notification from the Dating app showed that his profile has found a
match.
“A distraction, I badly needed”, He thought and started typing the first
message. After an exchange of a few lines of text, the time and place for
the p.d.q blind date were set.
He wanted to get hooked up as soon as possible to quickly stop the
dreadful thoughts that might haunt him soon. Sometimes sweeping the
problems under the carpet seemed to be the only way to avoid squaring
up to the demons inside. Andy got up to hit the nearest bar. His appetite
has gone down but the thirst for drinks hasn’t. Alcohol has always put his
restlessness to sleep. He ordered a glass of Jack & Coke, as usual.
Three doses did the magic for him. Whatever happened next was just an
alcoholic haze filled with a bunch of Motion blurs and distorted sounds.

Andy was sound asleep when the shrill ringtone of his phone woke him
up. It took a while to get his bearings before getting a hold of the device.
It was completely reflexive when he hurled it across the room and buried
himself into the sheets returning to that sweet nap. His mind warned him
about the perils of disturbing this remedial slumber as it might bring back
bitter memories of the day and create mental nausea. Denial was better
and safe for now. Andy drifted off.
At the Control Tower, this was an idle mode for Luke. He could just let
the controls floating and rest or conjure up interesting dreams or even
nightmares for that matter. He felt happy with what he had done with his
Subject so far. He truly pitied the humans and their priorities in life. The
Keepers always talked about how badly they desired to communicate
with Earthlings regarding the situation after death but that was strictly
forbidden and impossible. They thought that the creator himself would be
amused to see the extreme efforts human beings put into designing
machinery that would answer their questions about the Universe and its
formation.
The Keepers were indeed allowed to discuss and share stories of their
Subjects and occasionally took decisions based on their conversations
and feedback from each other. They were also warned about the
consequences of initiating tangential actions. When the network of the
subjects and the stimuli around them are disturbed by this sudden
change in the matrix, it becomes more evident to the humans that an
external force is controlling the probabilities and eventualities. If the
system notices any such trace of an anomaly, the assignment is swiftly
shifted to another Keeper. That way it was foolproof.
Luke turned around to see if anyone else was available for a quick chat.
His eyes met his neighbour Sarah’s who was also on idle mode.
“How’s it going?”, she questioned straight away.
“Nothing new. The same old drama what mortals wrap themselves in the
day in and day out.”
“Ugh! Tell me about it, `` she groaned.
“I mean I don’t understand”
“Which part of it?”, she giggled.

“Well..for starters, how the heck aren’t we bored by doing this job so
methodically all the time. The scary part is that we know this is going to
be indefinite and yet we are okay with it.”
“Do you really think we are independent here? Come on. I bet there’s
another Control Tower somewhere in a different galaxy controlling us, ``
said Sarah rolled her eyes.
Luke couldn’t resist laughing.
“Seriously, you know that doesn’t make any sense here, right? All the
democracy and communism the world is fighting for down there is up
here”
“And all they have to do is just die,'' Sarah quipped.
Both had a hearty laugh.
“Anyway, as I was saying,'' Luke continued, “This is kind of a sick game,
don’t you think? I mean who creates such a wonderful habitable rock
and populates it with a community of biotic and abiotic components just
to watch them suffer for survival”
“I hear ya. The worst thing is that there isn’t one kind of suffering.
There’s a freaking department running next door just to create and
spread diseases.”
“Well, whoever it is or whatever it is, this is all an impeccable work of a
sadistic artist. I bet Animal Kingdon, Plant Kingdom and every species
has one Tower like this.”

Chapter 4 - Entry and Exit
The conversation was interrupted by the entry of a newcomer. They all
carried the appearance they had before death came for them. They were
also unique by the names and personalities inherited from their life on
Earth. There was no room for developing any feelings between each
other whatsoever.
This was a usual scene where newcomers to the systems are inducted
about various departments and branches of the Control Tower.
“How old do you think this one is?”, Sarah asked curiously.
“Hard to tell,'' replied Luke with a sigh, “Age is another useless factor
after coming here”

“I wanted to ask. Have you ever regretted doing something that affected
your Subjects?”
“I don’t follow,'' Luke replied puzzled.
“ Let’s say the decision you had taken for your Subject proved to be fatal
and had only made things worse. It had gone out of your hands before
you could do any sort of damage control. That kind of thing, `` she
clarified waiting for Luke’s answer eagerly.
“Well, I have driven many people to commit suicide, if that’s what you
are asking”, Luke replied cooly.
Sarah’s reaction didn’t change. These things aren’t controversial at the
Control Tower. The Keepers aren’t allowed to judge their counterparts
for the reason that there would be a conflict among them. Even if they
wanted to challenge the system and its operational methods, it was
improbable. Every time a Keeper felt disrupted by the setup, the
assignment is taken away and a new task is given. What’s even more
infernal is the factory reset process that takes place in their brains. If a
Keeper gets too emotionally involved with the Subject , it is taken away
from a Keeper and the short term or long term memory associated with it
gets erased as well. Unless the Keeper gets the same Subject assigned
again, which rarely happens, it’s all clean forgotten.
“Tell me why. What made you take that call?” , Sarah asked fascinated
yet in a neutral tone.
“Well. I think it was a very long time ago and let me be clear. I had zero
regrets.”, Luke said with folded hands. He wouldn’t have remembered it
if he had developed even a little cynicism about the system for putting
mortals through such torment.
“Understood. Carry on”
“There was this boy in his teens having so many hopes and dreams for
his High School. So..um...this kid is also a nerd...nose in the book kind.
Obviously, his peers being the punks they are, troubled him every now
and then.”

“Of course. I can’t stand what I see in them presently. Damn glad that I
was long gone before getting involved with this moronic mob further in
the modern world.”, Sarah added.
“You read my mind,'' Luke agreed and continued.
“This poor fellow couldn’t do much. His previous Keeper had clearly not
focused on the “Stand up for yourself, Be a man” part. Trust me, I tried
for a while, `` he paused and quickly checked his system. The current
Subject was sound asleep, snoring.
Luke then turned towards Sarah.
“This one’s hammered. Gave a break-up. Tough day”
Sarah chuckled. “The things we do for lovers,'' she quipped.
Luke smiled and continued.
“As I was saying, this fellow was sick at heart. I made him reach out to
people for help with a desperate attempt to save him from drowning into
the darkness. That was one of the many instances when I almost wanted
to pass the assignment on to another Keeper. I just couldn’t do it.”
“Must be difficult. Wish we were just immune to all of it, `` Sarah spoke
with empathy in her voice.
“And then, the day came when I just wanted to relieve him of the
goddamn pain. No one could do anything about it. It was like a festering
wound that demanded an amputation to go away. So I did it.
I...uh...helped him buy some shots from the local drugstore and he OD’d
on barbiturates. And that’s that.”
There was a moment of eerie silence and both looked at each other and
smiled. They both knew well that it was the smile of hopelessness and
agony.

Chapter 5 - Equality

“Boom! Holy shhh…”, Clara’s excitement was briefly interrupted by a
fellow Keeper’s question.
“Hey there! What’s happening? You sure look like you love your job,
Meryl joked.
“It is dope! My Subject is a soldier and is in the warzone currently. I am
in a live video game where lives are taken literally!`` she exclaimed
gleaming with enthusiasm.
“Oh Gosh! Aren’t you finding this blood and gore a bit too disturbing? I
mean, I would have gotten this guy killed already”
“What? No! This is really fun. You feel like you are in a multiplayer game
still having the upper-hand in the situation.”
“Now what? Will you keep him alive and continue fighting?”
“Depends on my mood. Here there is an easy possibility of a quick
death. This one’s very young, smoking hot and unmarried. I am just
thinking.”
Amidst the whistles of shells, the passing of aircraft, distant shouts of
soldiers, the lone soldier ran for cover, panting. His dry throat craved for
some liquid. This was a part of the Fighting Withdrawl with no guarantee
for life. His started pounding. For some reason, his instinct told him to
backtrack and hide. Suddenly his will to fight for his homeland seemed to
be depreciated. His mind was clouded with fear and anxiety. Silence was
an immediate need. Lucky for him, there was a narrow path that looked
like an underground trench leading to a dilapidated building. He
cautiously crawled holding the rifle in his left hand and moved out of the
danger zone.
Clara let him be. She didn’t know what will become of him once a
reassignment happens. Hence as long as she is responsible, it felt
necessary to give him a chance to live.
“I am pretty sure this one will escape this hellhole to die of cancer or a
car crash within a few years.”, she said with irritation.

“That’s his fate. How cool it would be if we call ourselves ‘FATE
KEEPERS’, Meryl replied and checked Clara’s reaction.
“Oh, Shut up!”, she said and exploded with laughter.
“Jokes apart, tell me this. On what basis are people entitled to privileges
by birth? Is Karma really happening?”, Clara wondered.
Meryl knew the answer to this one.
“Karma is a fancy word for luck. Nothing is destined to happen based on
it. There are some Keepers who would truly look into the past life
experiences and then take a call on the Subject’s future and there are
some that don’t give a damn about all of that. It’s a clean slate for them.
No judgements whatsoever. So yeah...I guess Karma is just the mood of
your Keeper”
“Interesting. Makes sense too. But why do mortals so much emphasize
equality when they know it doesn’t come to them naturally?
“Greed. It is a part of our DNA. It’s very difficult to share and care on a
long-term basis when we have the innate greed and covetousness.
There’s conflict in every aspect of nature and a balance is created by the
consequence it. How terrifyingly beautiful and breathtaking that is!”
“So then, why do we hope to achieve something that will never be
possible? ”
“What are you saying? The fun ends when the game is over. There’s no
happily ever after! The show must go on. What else can keep our one
and only creator and spectator entertained?”
“I feel like my whole life was a waste after coming here. I had just
focused on all the wrong things and the wrong people”
“We here, are all on the same boat. But none of that matters now. Life
after death is definitely everything I had prayed for. Aren’t you happy
here ?”
“I can’t complain. I just miss my folks sometimes. Would want to know
what they have been up to, How my babies look all grown up, did the

love of my life find another love... So many unanswered questions.
Yeah, it bothers me all the time. I had time and it was snatched away
from me”, ``Clara said softly.
Chapter 6- Change
Venkat was shitting bricks. He hated himself for talking him into
attending this interview. There was no choice. The circumstances he
was in, demanded the need to land a job as soon as possible. With an
ailing mother at home and 4 kids to feed, Venkat saw his life as a curse.
He thought about his old job so much that day.
“If you are really up there, please make this happen,'' he muttered
looking at the ceiling.
He hated the universe and the mysterious aura it carried. As a child,
Venkat used to write his crazy thoughts about everything he envisaged
in his journal. Once adulthood began, he became a hamster on a wheel.
The interview took place in a building that was at least 20 years old. It
stood at the centre of the city polluted by people and noise. More than
25 candidates had turned up, dressed in crisp formal attire. The stress
was evident on some of their faces as the time for their call was nearing.
“I can do this”, he promised himself and muttered his prayers. He tried to
remember the happy, carefree times of his life, the salad days that he
would trade the world for in order to keep his mind away from the current
cruel reality.
“I worked hard. I deserve this. My luck sucks but I still have hope.
Positivity..come on. Be positive. The Universe will help me if I try..”
“What?”, the lady sitting next to him asked.
Venkat looked up instantly, bewildered.
“Ugh?”, he responded. He was a little taken aback and worried about
having said anything out loud.

“Did you say something?”, she questioned.
“Umm..no..sorry. No”, he managed slightly feeling embarrassed.
“Okay. Thought I heard something”, she responded with a smile.
Venkat didn’t know what to say beyond an awkward smile.
“Mr Venkatesan”, a loud voice called out his name from the office room.
Venkat couldn’t exactly remember when he stood up and how he got into
that room. He felt that he had almost experienced teleportation. His mind
finished chanting the last bits of the prayer for him.
Throughout the interview, he felt distressed. Especially, getting that first
question wrong in the Technical round was the first and final nail on the
coffin. Venkat believed that a rough start meant failure. He wanted to run
away from that place as soon as possible and as far as his legs could
carry him. Not making it to the final round in the previous 7 interviews
including this one made one thing clear. Either he needs to move to a
different place and look for opportunities or settle with something very
basic and minimal. Moving meant leaving his beloved village. That
thought per se startled him. Venkat quickly left the place as he already
knew the result.
“Why is that change arrives so smoothly to some whereas the ones who
need it gravely don’t ever get it?”
“Change..”, he thought. “A strange phenomenon”.
Venkat took out his dear diary and started to write like a mad man. Most
of what he was writing did not make any sense but he kept going.
Change is upsetting,
When you and your best friend aren't bench mates anymore.
Change is worrisome,
When a newborn's arrival draws the most of your Mom's love.
Change is painful,
When a trusted friend spreads your dirt.

Change is awkward,
When you move in and quickly move out.
Change is sudden,
When your loved ones meet their end.
Change is trouble,
When your spouse is not the one you loved.
Change is stressful,
When your bills overshoot the monthly wage.
Change is frightening,
When you are no longer capable of running the family.
Change is disturbing,
When the dependable one is leaving for good.
By the end of it, he felt that he was staring at his autobiography. Venkat
kept journal into his back and started walking towards the nearest
medical store to buy 5 boxes of Alprax.
Chapter 7- Hypocrisy
“What the hell, man?!”, Mathew whispered, “why did you do that?”
“Well...I think it’s for the best”, Jake replied poker-faced taking a bite at
his tuna sandwich.
The Keepers lived their afterlife king size. They were greatly relieved that
the concept of hell did not exist at all. They got everything that was
inaccessible and unaffordable in their mortal times. The only thing that
was missing and they did not realise was emotional connect. There was
hardly any room for any psychological connect among them except for
the one they had with their Subjects which also came with an expiration.
Mathew didn’t want to sound judgemental and but he was dying to know
the reason behind the strategy Jake used in his latest Subject’s life.

“Listen, Man, living is difficult alright. You, of all the ones here, should
know that. I mean you committed suicide for heaven’s sake...and look
where you are!”, Jake laughed.
“My story was different. The asshole that was dictating my life terms was
..well ..an asshole. I wish he had given me some time and a chance to
clear my head. I was bloody 22 years old. Can you imagine how much
pain it could have brought on my folks having lost their only kid?”
Jake sighed. “As I said, this was the outcome of my perspective and my
mood at that time. This fellow did not have any hope. If I were in his
place, I would have done the same. I have to be thanked for putting an
end to his miserable life”.
Mathew was stunned. He was absolutely fascinated.
“You know I just felt that giving him another chance wouldn’t have hurt
anyone,'' he said.
“It would. What if after the next vain attempt, he starts taking it on his
mother or kids or the society? The worst part of all this is that even if you
want to correct things and heal wounds, you just can’t. All the imbeciles
that had dealt with his life in the past have damaged him beyond repair.
All I could do was euthanize him so he can find peace. And good for him,
that’s done now.”
There was a moment of silence between them.

“The antonym of life should not be death. It should be equality and
fairness because it surely isn’t both.”, Mathew complained bitterly.
He looked at Jake keenly trying to read his mind.
“You know if the humans got one thing right, it is understanding that
everything is a cycle in this stark cosmos. Their whole life is the resultant
of a juggling process between the good and bad Keepers. They say
people change and do unexpected things but they don’t talk about
what’s making it happen.

Why is someone having a bad day particularly on a day they wanted to
ease off?
Why should one child be blessed with a royal life while the other one
scavenges through garbage for food?
Why institutionalize and force monogamy when we are clearly incapable
of it?
Why take a man’s life when he is in his prime?
Why drain the creativity of an artist so awfully that he is driven into
madness?
Why grant wishes people who didn’t deserve it and leave the ones in
need in lurches?
Why push them to fight and slaughter each other in the name of religion,
faith and most of all God!?
Why is the weak getting weaker and strong getting stronger?
This whole system is freaked-up and is created by one sadist SOB.”,
Jake snarled, got up and walked away.
“He would have made a good politician or a God-man if he were alive”,
Mathew thought, looking at him in awe as he walked away.
Chapter 8- Ignorance is the way
“Hmmmmmm…that his heavenly”, Chang purred.
She was obsessed with the Balinese massage they gave in the Spa
nearby. It was “Treat yourself” day for the besties. Chang and Smriti
were childhood buddies and their friendship stood the test of time. The
introvert duo loved each other’s company even after marriage and kids
happened. They shared secrets and sorrows that couldn’t be discussed
with anyone else.
“Are you asleep?”, Chang asked facing Smriti.
“No”, she replied with droopy eyes. “It is amazing. I wish this could just
go on forever. How did you find this place?”
“Newspaper Ad”, Chang responded with pride. If there was one
uncommon thing between her and Tina, it was reading.

“Ugh, I would have never found it. It’s been years since I have looked at
the newspaper.”
“Why do you hate newspapers so much?”
“It not the newspapers. It’s the news. There’s so much negativity getting
reported, these days. It just disturbs my mental peace, a lot, `` she said
and turned away.
“Well...duh! It’s news. It’s happening around the world. What else are
they supposed to report other than...”
“There are so many things that can be reported to spread positivity”,
Smriti interrupted. “World isn’t that bad, you know. These Press houses
want to paint an ugly picture of it so that they can stay in business.
Maybe that’s why they haven’t found a cure for an answer yet.”
“Oh my God! Are you reading WhatsApp forwards or something?
Because if you are, I am telling you, it’s all a ton of bullshit”
Smriti sighed with exasperation. “Listen, let’s not have this conversation.
We know where it’s going to lead. And why of all days are you getting
triggered by all this suddenly today?”
“Hey, I am not”, Chang replied sharply. “We are just casually talking and
I wanted to know about what you think. I really didn’t know that being
exposed to reality affected you so much. There is a world beyond our
ivory towers and windscreens, you know?”
They both knew that this will take a bad turn soon. Surprisingly the
masseuses didn’t give a damn about anything they said. Their service
proved to be impervious to the heated argument happening in that room.
“Oh don’t you dare, missy! What are you doing about the world if you are
so concerned about its sufferings, Mother Teresa?”. Smriti was livid now.
Chang took a deep breath. She was infuriated but the music in the room
kept soothing her anger all the time.

“Well, for starters, I send a monthly donation to a couple of orphanages I
got to know through some contacts in office. They work towards refuging
the survivors of war from countries like Syria, India, Afghanistan,
Somalia…
“Alright enough. Okay, you are a saint. So what? You don’t get to judge
or dictate the life terms for me. Some of us would like to see ignorance
as bliss and keep away from this madness”
“Oh, madness you say. This madness is created by the stupid leaders
you morons keep electing because of not knowing the ground reality”.
“Wow, now I am being judged by a political analyst. I have been
meaning to ask, many jobs do you have?”
“I sometimes feel that the right to vote should be snatched from
imbeciles like you. It’s like giving a fully-loaded pistol in the hands of
toddlers”, Chang kept talking without listening.
“You all hypocrites don’t have any problem with how people are being
sorted-out by this big machine through the filters of colour, race, caste,
creed, food habits, social status, economic status and hundred other
things meanwhile being denied their basic rights but when we talk about
or when a newspaper reports it, there is negativity everywhere.
Remember, you are the negativity this world needs to get rid of”.
Chang heaved a euphoric sigh of relief after getting it all out of her
system. She realised that her masseuse had stopped doing anything as
Chang was halfway up with her boobs hanging out. She quickly held the
towel closer only to watch Smriti already up and walking away with her
clothes and bags clenched tightly.
The masseuses were struck with astonishment and their expressions
showed that this has never happened in there.
“Could you um… finish the left out service on me. Both of you..yeah?”.
Chang requested and put her head back down not waiting for a
response.

Chapter 9- Sins
“Now, that turned out well,'' Nick gagged about the incident at the Spa.
Karen flashed a bright smile at him after for that witty remark.
“I really wanted this to end and found the perfect instance. It had to
happen.”
“Frankly speaking, I am surprised that you didn’t kill your subject in any
fatal accident after all that drama, given your record”
“Oh no,'' she said dryly,” Death shouldn’t be so quick for these people. It
should be horribly slow and painful. I have seen so many like her who
think that they are the Sun in this freaking solar system. Their self-
importance and negligence for the people around aren’t just about the
personality. It’s about the choice. They choose to become and remain
dickheads. I wanted to teach her a valuable and memorable lesson.”
“You were a renowned author at your time, right? asked Nick.
“Guess so”, Karen replied showing a little shift in her reaction due to the
sudden change of topic. “Why do you ask?”
“Nothing. I wanted to know if you had written any books on such
philosophical stuff you talk about. The kind that openly talks about stuff
and addresses social taboos ..such kind”
“Are you kidding me? I’d be tagged as a psychopath by society. “Loon
on the loose; identifies herself as famous writer Karen Montgomery”, the
papers would write.”
They both laughed.
“Freedom of Speech, Karen. It’s still there, at least in the country you hail
from. We don’t even know what that is”
“Nick, I’ll tell you something about people. They are all dangerous; the
most dangerous among anything you could imagine on this planet. Their

evolution into who they are today hasn’t completely wiped off the
barbarity they once had. It’s dormant, entwined and chained somewhere
deep under the darkness. It’s there. It will never leave them”
Nick was observing her with focused eyes as if he were watching a
horror movie.
“I wanted to open up to people and say everything I felt. When I started
doing it, ones that stuck around naturally started forming their own
opinions about me. First, they set the rules for everyone. Then the
hypocrisy comes out when one of them breaks the rules. Followed by
what I call as a context-based justification. ‘It was a mistake. Let my life
be a lesson. I just wanted to spread some awareness. Be a case
study..blah blah blah’ simply translated into ‘I need some freaking
attention around this place’.”
After a short pause, she continued,
“People will do anything in this world for 3 things- Pleasure, Power and
Praise. It’s all about the extremes. Some are at a point of putting in no
effort while some would burn the entire country to get any of it. ”
“You know I still think that after the Social Media entered the world, it just
became a virtual pedestal for these people to lash out at everything
including themselves. I did see it as a good sign, in the beginning, to be
able to experience that kind of democratic freedom. It’s also mind-
blowing to witness how these people can turn anything simple and plain
into a seething battleground. There is always competition. This
….this..compulsion to stand out and act differently..to complicate things”,
Nick added, starting to find the conversation interesting.
“That was an area I feared to tread. My publicists pushed me so hard to
open a twitter account. I plainly said no. I didn’t want any robotic
mouthpiece. I don’t think human beings are capable to create a system
that could be this artistic and maleficent, `` she said referring to the
Tower.”
“Oh, trust me”, Nick snickered. “They are trying very hard to get there.
Holocaust, World wars, Nuking, Genocides, Mass shootings, Honor
Killings, Rapes are all stepping stones to get us there”

Karen was nodding in silence, half lost in the memories of the tragedies
she witnessed.
Nick broke the silence and asked “Fair enough. So what are you going to
do?”
Karen looked at him for a second as if she was lost. “About what?”
“About your main Subject.Smriti?”
“Oh... wish I could magically descend on Earth and flash a flamethrower
at her”
“That bad, uh?
“This one’s been fed with all sorts of inhuman, superstitious beliefs. It’s
hard for her to now unlearn. I understand that being a Human Being with
humanity is difficult but I don’t have all the time in the world with this one.
Hence had to do it”
“What did you do?”, Nick asked eagerly.
“So her son had a fatal accident while he was on his way to the airport
along with his father. Both are now at the hospital. Husband’s over and
out. She’ll figure that out soon. The Kid will live with a broken brain.”
“Phew..”, Nick sighed, “That is some Karma”.
“Well, she earned it, fair and square. Her portfolio was screaming
racism, casteism and all kinds of discrimination towards people that you
could think of. This is just a quick redemption. I am just gonna say this. I
love this freaking job.”, Karen concluded plainly waving her hands in the
air.
“I bet you do,'' said Nick drily and stood up to get a glass of water.

Chapter 10- Fruits of Labour-I

“When people say "'Life thrills!", then that eccentric thought must have
mushroomed out of the existing old sod called "Competition". No better
place on earth, than my School taught me, to feel the pressure of it first-
hand. Apart from the fact that even petty competitions have the power to
bring out our hidden potentials, danger does lurk in the dark.
I, in person, started feeling the pang only through my world-class pal
named "Failure" and he calls me "loser”, every time he pays a surprise
visit! Behind all the maxims and adages is a truth that they are double
entendres with two sides to think about.
None exempting, an individual can fathom the depth of his adeptness
and attitudes. Comparing one with the other has been one of the most
incorrigible practices that have got its roots deeply mounted in the minds
of people. I couldn’t care less for the synthetic words, "Healthy
Competition". It's bogus in toto! There's at least point one per cent bad
blood bubbling up during the rat race.
To sum it up all, there's no way we could run away from the struggle and
there's no way we are giving in too. If not we're born to win, at least can't
we fight for ourselves?? At the end of the day; We will Embrace it; We
will fear it.”
Maya finished her speech and looked up. There was applause but not to
the level, she had anticipated. Trying to keep a brave face, she smiled at
the audience and the judges and left the stage after a short stumble.
“What the hell was that?!”, Lucy burst out into laughter while her pal
Ayaan tried to shush her.
“Can you please keep it down? ...shhh!!!!”, he struggled, pressing her
hand. “Stop...come on,'' he whispered begging her to stop giggling.
Lucy had to think of all the worst things happened in her life to stifle her
laugh and even had to pinched herself until it was under control. She
looked at Ayaan biting her lips, controlling the last bit that was begging to
escape. It ended with a chortle.
Finally relaxed, she asked, “Was she on drugs on something? What was
that crap on the stage? I think she had a thesaurus for breakfast and

puked a few words here in the name of speech” and broke into a fit of
laughter.
“Could you stop this? I know it’s hilarious and all but I am going to be up
there in a few minutes and I am shit-scared already!” , Ayan said gritting
his teeth.
“Look at me,'' said Lucy holding his hand, “Trust your practice. There is
no need to panic. I am gonna be sitting here watching you all the time.
We have rehearsed it a thousand times. Nothing could go wrong. Don’t
jeopardize your hard work with this little meaningless fear of yours.
Alright?”
Lucy was seriously searching for confirmation in Ayaan’s eyes and finally
got it. Ayaan loved it when Lucy comforted him this way. She always
picked the right words and would say it the way he wanted to hear it.
Feeling a bit boosted up, Ayaan went to stage as his name was called
out.
Chapter 11- Fruits of Labour-II
“Do you remember Charlie Hebedo? Many unreported and reported
incidents around the world have a similar plot. These people are either
attacked or assassinated by certain fringe elements that call themselves
fundamentalists or liberals. Why? Because the perpetrators strongly
believe in certain ideologies which had to be accepted by everyone
around them. And it doesn’t stop there. They also try to impose their
beliefs on everyone around them and if people aren’t welcoming it, then
the friction begins. Certain thoughts are deeply embedded in their minds
that they don’t dare question their own views once in a while. Scared to
doubt the “Sacred”. So when anyone tried to inquire the theory, they are
reprimanded in whatever way possible. Nationalism, Patriotism,
Feminism, Religionism, Capitalism and many such tags have developed
and are developing. For what? To label our extreme fixation on a
particular set of doctrines? Half of them were pointless and the
remaining have stood the test of time out of which very few managed to
make progressive changes in the society. There is constant conflict in
every sphere of our lives. We conflict with our own conscience. Like the
variation concept in the Theory of Evolution, the little switches in our

DNA has created every organism on this planet with varied patterns with
diverse features and minds.
We consider ourselves anatomically and behaviorally modern species.
Myths apart, we still could not exactly gauge the amount of brain usage
by humans. And therefore we are wise enough to know that conflict isn’t
new to us. We have learned from our mistakes and have entered a
civilized phase of lifestyle where Unity and Peace have gained
prominence. Laws and rules were laid failure to adherence of which
brought consequences. Whatever we believe in, will not garner 100%
appreciation or resistance. There will always be 1 or more that would be
offended or beg to differ. Now, can we do anything about it? Of course,
we can continue to promote our thoughts in a conciliatory tone. Another
way is to instigate violence through derogatory remarks. Nevertheless,
one undeniable fact is that we are all idiots that have created this
complexity of a world trying to solve problems that we have planted in
the first place. If we have decided to mock at other’s beliefs, we should
be ready to take face the shitstorm that follows. There’s no point in
seeking defence for dumbness, is there? It only shows what a mindless
weakling we are. Few Social Justice Warriors are pretty good at that.
They speak shit and reprimand others who naturally retaliate.
While drafting the laws in any country, the right to freedom has always
been a topic of discussion. How much is an acceptable amount of
freedom? As long as your comments don’t affect the sovereignty and
integrity of the country, it is all right. But the lines for the limits weren’t
clearly drawn. The current scenario on social media has taken this
freedom to exceptional levels of ambiguity. Cyberbullying and online
abuse against each other continues and complaints are lodged against
those who virtually appear to be potential threats. So are those threats
evil? We all are. It’s just that our justification for being so, differs. There
are virtual fake news factories in the name of media that are best at
reporting the news that way their governments ask them too. The Fourth
Pillar is chipped away day by day. The attack on press and journalists by
these bullies all over the world carries one message clearly- "If you have
decided to cross limits, then be prepared for the results."
I conclude my speech by urging and requesting all of us who still have
human qualities alive in us to give our voices for them!

Before he could sign off by saying “Thank you”, the crowd cheered with
roaring applause and whistles.
Ayan was over the moon. He did not prepare himself for such an
enthusiastic appreciation. After all, what Lucy predicted came true.
People loved his speech. The judges were overwhelmed with surprise
and admiration for Ayan. He definitely didn’t look like he was someone
who is capable of drafting and delivering such a power-packed oration.
Feeling euphoric and proud for the first time in his life, Ayan waited for
the results to be announced.
Keeper Chari was looking at all this quietly. His Subject was sitting at the
judging panel scrutinizing Ayaan and mulling over that compelling
speech he just heard. Chari knew what had to be done. Though the
other 4 evaluators decided to qualify Ayan for the final round, Chari
couldn’t let his subject allow that. After his retirement, Chari spent most
of his time around his grandchildren. He used to narrate them, stories
about mythical creatures and supernatural incidents from holy books and
epics.
“Our heartbeat, my little ones, if you listen to it, there is a pattern like
On/Off or Up/Down. Even if you look at the ECG machine, it visualizes
this beautiful phenomenon though spikes- Up/down. And if all those
spikes are down, we just get a plain straight line..Do you know what that
means?
“Um..the heart stopped working..or died..?”, they all said in a forlorn tone
fascinated by that new piece of information.
“Yes..my darlings”, Chari commented, “We die. And that’s why God
created highs and lows in this world. For the world to function, we need
extremities. Like in colours, White is good whereas Black is evil. Men are
strong; Women are weak.”
“Grandpa!”, one of the boys interrupted his lecture, “So, are we from the
high part or the lower part then?”

“Hahaha”, Chari smiled, “I was getting to that my boy. We are blessed to
have been born as the superior race. Our Gods and our religion has
created us and has given us the upper-hand. We need to use that power
wisely and fairly. Remember, equality is a myth.”
Chari quickly broke out of his reverie and concentrated on his Subject.
He could not let this happen. He made his subject pick up the pen to
start writing a strong comment on Ayaan’s speech to convince the Jury
on why it did not for the theme of oration as it had traces of extremism
interspersed. This was also a recommendation piece for Maya to notch
another win.
Chapter 12- Chaos
"Books are better than best friends,worth more than a partner because,
against the number of times,we had avoided them, they still are open to
us and never once fail to delight us", Seth wrote on his travel journal.
The jet lag would hit him any minute now. He started from Lisbon, a
month ago stopped at Sri Lanka for a 2 week rest en route to Macau
Islands. It has been a crazy experience travelling through diverse sites,
witnessing colourful scenes, tasting distinctive flavours and conversating
with the captivating crowd.
He decided to get home now after getting that much-needed rest. Seth
hated his job. He was a middle school science teacher at a local High
School. With more than 10 years of experience, Seth did not look at the
profession ambitiously. He thought that inner peace and tranquillity can
be achieved by anyone if they knew how to set their priorities straight
and make the right choices. He hated the word “meditation”,” spirituality”
and those who endorsed services that promised people to help them
attain that state of mind.
“What a bunch of rubbish?!”, Seth condemned the suggestion at the
Staff meeting when one of the fellow teachers recommended Yoga
classes to be made compulsory in school.
“Mr Seth, I think you need to calm down. This is the very reason why I
am requesting the management to accommodate Yoga and Meditation

in school. It not only helps one to discover the spiritual self but can also
act as a coping mechanism to create a positive outlook on life. It has
been proven that such practices can bring in physical well-being as well.
In other words, they have healing powers.”
Seth couldn’t help but guffaw at the statement. “ Wow, Ms Summer.
Along with that recommendation letter, you should also write to all the
governments in the world to stop investing in Health Care and open
spiritual centres that can let out giant farts of positivity in the air!..Oh and
yes, deep breath..um how do I put this in a composed manner. Ummm I
still think your idea is a load of what comes out of this shell that carries
our soul.”
The room was filled with commotion, claps and arguments until the
Principal intervened and settled it down.
Seth smiled as he reminisced that incident. His fellow passenger next
seat reminded him of that day he went on from being “silent Seth” to
“rebel Seth” on campus. A few of them in the community even called it
“cool”. It did cost him his promotion but he didn’t care the least bit.
Seth plugged in his earphones as he watched the woman next to him
rolling her sacred beads, muttering prayers as the flight was taxiing.
He was amused. The woman noticed Seth’s countenance and gently
smiled at him. “I’ve never been on a plane before,'' she said with a
nervous half-suppressed laugh.
“I understand. I get nervous too. You’ll be okay”, Seth assured.
“Really?”, she sounded surprised and relieved at the same time. “ How
do you manage, then?”
“I don’t. No one can manage anything in here. I believe that things just
happen and we have zero control over it. So I just accept it as it happens
with no complaints. After all, death isn’t so bad. People are so glad if it
catches them early, these days.”
“Well, I think a young man like you shouldn’t be so pessimistic towards
life.”, she warned still rolling her beads.

Seth laughed and unplugged his earphones thinking that it’s going to be
a conversation that can take forever to end. “You see Miss, I think I am
old and wise enough to be pragmatic, accept reality and be prepared for
or accept consequences as opposed to seek comfort in mindless
pursuits like meditation or spiritual practices. I think that’s for
psychopaths who are afraid of clinical treatment.”
The woman was visibly shocked. She did not see that coming. The
tension in the air was cut off by the sudden violent turbulence that made
them hold to their belongings. They both didn’t see that coming.
The crew frantically ran to the cockpit while one of the hostesses spoke
on phone visibly agitated. The passengers screamed in fear and
confusion as the shuddering continued propelling things out of place.
Seth couldn’t fathom any of this. He thought that the time he was
secretly fearing finally arrived. He closed his eyes as tight as he could,
plugged in the headphones back and did the one thing he’d thought he
would never do in his life. Seth prayed.
“Brace for Impact” were the last words he thought he heard.
Chapter 13- Mission Accomplished
“Yoohoo! We did it!”, Jo exclaimed flashing all his 32.
“You did what?”, Maggie questioned as she walked towards his desk.
“We crashed the Plane! Hahaha!”
“Whaaa ...show me! Show me!... Tell me all about it!”, she urged.
“Took a lot of work but worth it. We wiped out 440 assholes that were
flying from Macau to Chicago. Lucky for us more than 50 Keepers
worked on making this event fateful and diabolical. It was possible
because we were able to convince the one that had the Pilot as his
Subject.”
“Savage”, she said admiring the act.

“Yeah...it was a pretty strong message.”, Jo paused. “I still don’t get it.”
“What?”
“What does he get from all this? I mean, we fight, we fight here. We kill
each other and are given this appalling task of controlling random
people’s lives even after death! What’s worse is that everything is
erased, gone automatically like clockwork. Every minuscule of these
systems and components he had created is so perfect. The laws are
infrangible. The more we try to break it, the more dire consequences we
face!”
“You know the He could be a She too..”, she smirked.
“Well, He or she or it is a deranged artist. I think absolute discourtesy is
given to an artist when his/her work is appreciated with negligence and
that’s exactly what these humans are doing. They are gradually writing
their the last chapters thinking that Science and Technology is going to
save their asses when the judgement day arrives.”
“Imagine saying all this to people when you were alive. You would have
been carted off to the psychiatric ward in a flash and the FBI’s guns
would be up your ass!” she said laughing out loud.
Jo gave a wicked smile.
“I was 'B +ve' you know. My parents used to say, ‘Even you RB
corpuscles want you to be an optimist’. I saw it as an incongruous
attitude, with respect to my consideration and belief. I was often flooded
with questions as to why I was acting like grim reaper all the time. You
see, there's a doctrine of sureness in people's deeds , that has a
concealed gut reaction simulating the positive outcomes in whatever
they do.
Before we begin with anything, we naturally pray for the best occurrence
to happen. And when I say pray, it is putting faith and trust in God or in
ourselves. If choosing the former is going to be our option then we are
completely enslaved to the actions of the almighty himself and to the
acceptance of it.
“And, what of those who choose to believe in themselves?”`` she asked.

“They take a stand in whatever they do and whatever they are accused
of, no matter what may come as the outcome! They identify themselves
through different names, “non-conformists”, “atheists”, and sorts like that.
You saw what level of tolerance the world had when Neitsche and Freud
proposed their philosophies. They spoke the truth; called a spade a
spade and we weren’t ready for it. It shook us and fundamental beliefs
that the world is filled with goodness and fairness!”
Mayra loved what she heard. She felt like Jo was reading out from his
diary. she went from the friendly face to ostracized outcast overnight
when she shared it with her pals.
“So, why can’t they sit down, talk it out like the civilized, cultured lot that
they are and live peacefully?”
Joe anticipated this question.
“Power, Mayra. The rat race for power. Success is not stable. It is but
an infection that influences its holder indeed. Once we are acclimatized
to its warmth and sweetness, parting is not an easy job. The waves are
much out of control that it can even sabotage our lives completely.
Greed and Pride are entwined with us and are inseparable for the
subsistence of itself. Off late, I've been thinking a lot about my unusual
reconciliation of having a nugatory mindset or sometimes the minus
mind!, as my pals used to refer it. However, even in the heard of a
determined person, there's still a hidden paramount fear that's constantly
echoing the fierceness of failure like a faint warning signal in some
corner of his/her mind. Not many are ready to li

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About The Author
Tam
Tam
About This Story
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Posted
21 Nov, 2019
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