Unseen Fiction - Episode 7
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 seventh episode and once again we have two stories for you - this time in the realm of horror.
The first is about a man finding an unlikely companion in his house, and the other of a prankster in school.
Between the pandemic and our lives, time is short, and so are our stories.
Stay awhile, and listen.
White Noise, Dark Thoughts
BY: NAVJOT SINGH GILL
Turned the television off today after days of it blasting white noise into my living room. The constant buzz had a calming effect on me, but today I felt dizzy after staring at the screen for what felt like hours. I remember the moment I decided to turn it off, it was when I decided to pour myself another drink and ended up spilling some of my whiskey. Real cheap shit, but priceless in today’s times. I can’t afford another slip up like this.
I’ve been staring at the idiot box that dominates my living room trying to conjure up images from memory. A sitcom with the canned laughter of people long dead, a slow burn of a sports game that crescendos to an operatic finish, news “debates” with people trying to scream their idiotic views over each other from their little boxes, old Hindi moves that became ironically funny long after their shelf life had passed et cetera. It helps the time go by and keeps my brain cells active.
There’s a cockroach hanging out on the wall above the black mirror, so I spent my day tracking its movements. I think I’ve figured out a pattern, it wasn’t easy to decipher. I congratulated myself on having figured it out and drank to that. Whiskey stock’s almost halfway through and I’m saddened by the thought. I’ll drink to that.
Sorry for not being able to check in with you for so long. I tried to get things in order and managed well for a decent amount of time. I won’t bore you with the facts and please don’t get your hopes up because I slid back into the old routine in less than a fortnight. Oh, I just remembered, the cockroach I told you about the last time, I’ve grown to really like the guy. He is quite an interesting character. Every day I see him above the video machine when I wake up. He just sits there for hours; immobile, unfeeling, cruel. Just staring at me. I’m down to the last twelve bottles btw, I don’t know what I’ll do post it.
I’ve been following Roach around the room these days, I’ve seen where he goes when he thinks no one is watching and I’ve heard his tales. They’re not for the faint of heart so I’ll spare you the details.
Roach is climbing the wall today. Up and up he goes, distancing himself from the sound and image machine and trying to get closer to my liquid gold. I can see it in his eyes that this is what he cherishes the most in this world, the fucking bastard. I’d stab him if he was big enough for a knife to go through and watch the life drain out of his soulless eyes. I loathe him.
He’s up on the ceiling today right above me and my last glass from my last bottle of elixir. How does he evade the pull of gravity? I wonder just before he falls, seemingly in slow motion, with a miserable plop into the glass. Into my last sip. I see him in the middle of what could either be a euphoric dance of having achieved his life’s goal or a cry for help as the liquid burns through his translucent skin. I remember watching him struggle and feeling drunk on the power that I had over him in the moment. I moved to lift the glass to my eye so I could see his face and decipher his expressions.
I never made it to eye level.
About the author: 30 year old recovering pessimist.
The one reprieve from defeat, from staring into the eyes of the enemy which is full of mirth and that cruelty of triumph, is seeing just a little bit of them bloody and battered. You made a dent in that armor of invincibility. You showed everyone in the building and, by extension, the entire world, that it was possible that this self styled Xerxes could actually be scratched.
This leads you into a spiral of self education as your broken bones mend and the bruises melt into scars.
There is one book that talks of another book that talks of yet another and so on that eventually confesses that all its knowledge was tapped from this ancient tome of wild secrets that one should not be able to find. That ur-book, though, is available at every second hand store from here on till the sea. It was a book made for plotting, a book that told you how to make mundane things that you could find in the supermarket explode in a wide variety of ways. In other words, it was the perfect book of magic that I could read and apply to wreak havoc.
Of course, it would require some practice.
The first day was full of cheer and joy as I made pigeon tails burst into flames when I swished the special liquid over it. This was followed by post boxes and charity malls that had 'incidents' that were never reported; only some wasteful spending on security cameras was undertaken. I like how the response is the same to it wherever you go and whatever you do. Keep your eyes open in case the deviant comes back!
I studied Vijay's movements for over a year before the revenge. I remember his lackeys and his love interest, moving together like the rat hen wolf swan pack. They moved together as one, and moved alone as if together. It was an interesting way to live, for sure. But I would have been bored of it in a second. How that enormous kludge of a human survived on all that attention is a question I do not feel equipped to answer. He went where his mass went, and his mass went wherever he went. In that gentle, passive roll of a boulder eating dirt and accelerating in its amicable way, I would follow the pack through school, after school and on some occasional days of extravagant misery, before school as well.
They provided fascinating insights about life in general, and how I had been moving across my own life before I found myself in their cross-hairs. Nothing against Vijay, of course - he seemed semi-sentient, so I am in no position to pass a value judgement on him, but Vartika? That bitch. She egged him on when I was already down and had apologised about calling him semi sentient. You tell me why else would I go ahead and be so rude and want to kill them both in an exciting fashion?
Yes, it was killing that was in my mind. I had set up three sets of bombs in their old haunt on the highest corridors of the school. Third floor it was, and with low balconies that only the age old schools could provide. It was a balcony that was inaccessible, had three money plants and two ferns that were witness to Vijay's submission to Vartika's domme. It was very amusing and almost made me switch my revenge story as Vijay's humiliation in front of the school while everyone would avoid Vartika like the plague and all that jazz, but it seemed like too much effort, and I would also not be able to use my gunpowder sorcery to kick some righteous ass.
It was an elaborate setup - three pressure-sensitive bombs around the columns that would go off just as they leaned in to kiss in front of the entire school. And two right next to their feet so that the shock-wave would take care of them in case they were still standing. To me it was the perfect plan. It could be executed well and would take care of the problem in one fell swoop. It would also make me feel like an excellent constructor of elaborate revenge plans, which I was.
The only problem I did not foresee was that they were made martyrs by their rich parents and got a few essay competitions held in their memory, whose winners were rewarded by the trust.
If it helps, I can tell you that I won the essay competition for two successive years, before they decided I was much too old to be participating in these childish competitions.
But I had a good run.
Bio: Kaushik is a dilettante
We hope you enjoyed these stories.
The soundtrack for this week is “Shipping Lanes” from the album “Arps” by Chad Crouch.
Twice a month, Unseen fiction brings you speculative flash fiction crafted in South Asia. Follow us on twitter - @UnseenFic for updates.
We are accepting stories! Please email us at unseenfic at gmail. Email us there also if you’d like to get in touch about collaboration, narration, sponsorship or feedback.
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