Unseen Fiction - Episode 4

  
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Welcome dear sojourner to our little space in the void - Unseen Fiction. 

We are attempting to fill the void with speculative fiction from South Asia. 

It’s our fourth episode and it’s very special. Once again we have two stories for you, one set outside time the other outside humanity. One narrated by the newest member of the editorial team - Tilottama, and the other written by our editor Kaushik

Between the pandemic and our lives, time is short, and so are our stories. 

Stay awhile, and read.

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La Petite Mort

BY MAYA

In the unexplored trenches of my mind, time is stuck in a loop.

“What happens now?” she asks, pushing her toes into the blue sheets, caught mid-stretch, body arcing in a languid curve.

“Now, I guess we die.”

“Die?” she turns toward me, brows furrowed in confusion.

“Very briefly,” I say.

She laughs.

“I hope it’s the French kind,” she smiles. “The permanent kind can be a downer, I hear.”

I return her laugh.

***

In the unexplored trenches of my mind, time is recycled. 

Over and over it goes until its fabric stretches, until it turns transparent.

“What happens now?” she asks, pushing her toes into the black sheets, caught mid-stretch, body arcing in a languid curve.

“Now, I guess we die.”

“Die?”

“Very briefly.”

She laughs, and turns toward me, brows furrowed in confusion.

“I hope it’s the French kind,” she says, smile dipping, curving across her lips. “The permanent kind can be a downer, I hear.”

I flash her a grin.

She returns it tenfold.

***

In the unexplored trenches of my mind, sometimes time stutters. 

Like a car whose engine sputters in protest. It refuses to move on.

“What happens now?” she asks, pushing her toes into the yellow sheets, caught mid-stretch, body arcing in a languid curve.

She turns, brows furrowed, when I don’t answer immediately.

“Death, I think,” I say. I don’t really know.

She raises an eyebrow at the doubt lashing through my tone. “Briefly?”

“Maybe?” I shrug.

“I hope it’s the French kind,” she smiles faintly, lips lifting at a corner; its reluctance obvious. “The permanent kind can be a downer, I hear.”

I only look back at her; we are mirrors held high.

***

In the unexplored trenches of my mind, time is a tidal wave; its violence crashing through everything in its path.

“What happens now?” she asks, pushing her toes into the grey sheets, caught mid-stretch, body arcing in a languid curve.

“Death,” I say.

She laughs, and sobers up when I don’t return her joy. Somewhere along the way, our mirrors cracked and shattered.

“Briefly?” she asks.

I don’t have an answer.

“Maybe?” I shrug, tracking her brows that are furrowing in confusion.

“I hope it’s the French kind,” she says, lips curving downward, the displeasure obvious. “The permanent kind can be a downer, I hear.”

She doesn’t laugh. Neither do I.

I have nothing to return this time.

***

In the unexplored trenches of my mind, time goes in reverse, its movements stilted, unnatural, fragmented.

I never have answers, I never know what to say.

I come alive briefly, rarely, in stuttered, vivid explosions.

She pushes her toes into crumpled sheets, caught mid-stretch, body arcing in a languid curve, and turns to me.

I smile at her, tentatively. She frowns.

Our mirrors were only ever an illusion.

“What happens now?”

About the author: Maya loves stories in all their forms. Food comes a very close second.

Follow her on twitter @alwayskasht

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The Perfect Boy

BY KAUSHIK

The perfect boy can do no wrong. He is capable and immensely talented. He makes things work in a jiffy.  

There you see is a multi-knobbed grimnwig. Look at how he manages to identify the right knobs and make the machine sing as it slaughters millions.

There, you see how he is making calculations on that Supraputer, making decisions that will change the course for billions. He knows things in a way that you and I do not.

Over there - look how he is serenading that pigeon in a lackadaisical fashion. And now you see, he is looking at how awful this whole drama surrounding the world is.

He says “look, I know how to fix it. Give me one chance, and I’ll make things right.” But no, the nutcases would not let him go anywhere near an actual machine. They make him work on the sims, pick and choose the right decisions and one that affects thousands, not billions, and then feed him the processed data. The perfect boy says this is the wrong method - that actual controls are what would help ease the way out for the world.

He says “three switches is all it takes, people. Just listen - slider 3c-2 to the grunt position — you know, yes that one. The supraputer should tell you what adjustment to make to achieve 35% emotional sufflex on most of the world, and you adjust that knob just a little but under whatever it says (never trust a Supraputer) - and finally -”

They turn off his mic, and make the room glow fluorescent pink.

His ruse has been caught, but he was sure his calculations were on point. The trickles of data from the sim world that he approximated for the real world seemed accurate enough, but there were just too many unknown variables that he had to account for. All he needed was one chance to affect worlds outside of knobs and wheels. One chance to use the biggest knob he had in his mind - his voice.

A voice booms for him to cease speaking of hard reset of the world.

He pouts, but he starts thinking of another scenario - just one more time when they are willing to listen to him. And just one more time when he can calculate the world back again from the trickles  of data. He will do it - he will perform the hard reset.

Bio: Kaushik is a dilettante

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Image credit: "After sex" by bernard_benavides

Twice a month, Unseen fiction brings you speculative flash fiction crafted in South Asia. You can subscribe here, or follow us on twitter - @UnseenFic for updates. 

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