Posted in 2021 short story challenge

July Story: Crackpot

“And then you put ‘x’ here in the equation and you get the value of the-” Mr. Math Teacher’s voice was interrupted by the last bell of the day.

“So that’s it for today. You can leave.”

I was the first one to get up from my seat, not before Ted, of course.

“You seem in a hurry today, Sherly,” said Mr. Math Teacher. That obviously wasn’t his real name, but who cares what his name was. I had more important things on my mind.

“Um, yeah, I’ve got some tasks scheduled,” I said picking my bag, as I looked around to make sure that Ted was still in my line of sight. I fumbled a bit, hitting a desk, as I rushed behind him, making a very poor effort of masking the fact that I was following him. I could hear voices from the back seats, making all sorts of assumptions about why I was stalking him. Him, of all. Him, who no one talked to. Him, who didn’t belong there. Him, the nutcase. As for Ted, he seemed completely oblivious to it all.

I didn’t have to hide behind trees or duck behind objects to hide myself from him. In fact he was so busy with himself, that he was barely paying attention to where was going. His mind was completely lost in a different world, like it usually was, and his legs were just leading him home as an obligation.

I put one hand inside my bag to make sure that I had my phone with me, and also a power bank. I wasn’t going to take any risks.

It took us five minutes to reach our destination by foot. He unlocked the door and stepped inside a large dark room. I followed. And just like always, he didn’t even turn back.

Completely unaware of my presence, he seated himself inside his cabin and set about fiddling with the switches and monitors on his large dashboard. I stood right beside the corner pillar.

“So, what are we gonna do today?” he said, like you do when you are thinking of a task to do. But the fact that he wasn’t saying this to himself, but in a tone that suggested he was talking to someone else.

Now I know that Ted is somewhat of a crackpot. No, complete crackpot. And that he keeps doing weird things, which is also a reason why people prefer to stay away from him. But when he does this thing of talking in a way like he’s talking to someone else in that dark room, it just creeps me out.

This was the time to execute my mission. I took out my phone and pressed the ON button. And pressed it again. And again.

I stared at it in disbelief. No way. This couldn’t happen again. I swear I charged my phone and the power bank that morning. How could it just get discharged?!

There was something really fishy going on in the room. This Ted wasn’t as stupid as he looked. I don’t know what he’d done, but there was something in that room… some kind of a force, or a field? I don’t know. But it happened every time. Every time I took out my phone in the room, it would get discharged. I tried a camera too. Didn’t work. And so I brought a power bank, but it too showed zero battery! How come!

And that wasn’t even the weirdest part. The weirdest part was that it would get charged again as soon as I stepped out of the room. Wonderful.

I shook my phone violently, though I knew it won’t help.

“Oh, come on, it won’t work,” he said. I froze. Was he talking to me?

He didn’t talk any further though, and after a few minutes, he got up and strolled towards the inner door like he always did. He placed his hand on the door’s handle, and just before he pushed it, he said, “Don’t you want to see what’s inside?”

I didn’t know to whom he asked this question everyday, but if it was me, I would have definitely said a yes. That’s the whole point of me being there!

I expected him to walk inside like everyday, but suddenly he turned back. “Are you really not curious?”

Well, this was something I hadn’t heard him say before.

“If I were you, I would have wanted to see it with my own eyes, not with my phone.”

My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as they widened in shock. I crept closer to the pillar.

“I’ve always wondered how you managed to stay here this long with all your plans failing. I thought you would have eventually ran away or gone crazy thinking I’m a ghost or an alien.” He chuckled.

There was no point in hiding now. He was definitely talking to me.

“You knew I was here?” I asked stepping out.

“All along,” he said.

“So why didn’t you say anything?”

He shrugged. “You were a great company.”

“A great company? I was spying on you!”

“Well, at least you seemed to notice that I exist. Most people don’t.”

Ouch. I tried to divert the conversation. “So why did you talk to me today?”

“Today? I was talking to you everyday.”

“Yeah, right,” I mumbled.

“So… you wanna have a look inside?”

“You’re inviting me in?”

“I thought it was obvious.”

“No, I mean, aren’t you scared that I’ll spill your secrets to the world, or report you to the police if there’s anything fishy inside?”

He laughed. “No, I’m sure you won’t do any of that.”

“What makes you so sure of it?”

“If you had to do anything of that sort, you would have done it already. And besides, you’re a great friend.”

“I’m not quite sure about that last part. We’ve barely talked.”

“You are talking to me right now. And you’ve come to see me every evening since the last week. That’s the least a friend can mean to me. So, are we friends?”

I smiled. “Of course, we are.”

“Would you like to come inside then?”

He knew my answer and walked straight towards the door, leading my way. He clutched the handle, took a deep breath and twisted it. I had never seen him being so nervous.

“Welcome to my world,” he whispered as he threw the door open.

I could not believe what I saw before me. It wasn’t a giant workshop crowded with machines, or a lab filled with strange specimens. It wasn’t anything I could have ever imagined.

I had forgotten that I even needed to step inside, so he had to pull me in. I was still trying to comprehend what my eyes saw.

My brain struggled to put the scenery in words. I couldn’t give a name to it, because I had never seen anything like it before. One thing was sure, it wasn’t just a room. It was huge, like it extended to infinity.

The background was pitch dark. The space, the ground – everything. But you could see a glimmer of gold if you looked carefully. And then, in the foreground, were bright, neon, shimmering globes that floated all around. They were of all colours you could have ever imagined and of all sizes, huge and tiny. They were hollow like soap bubbles, but they had something magical to them. Some were webbed, some netted, some with exquisite designs, and some plain. You could look at it for hours, and still couldn’t get enough of it.

“What place is this?” I asked when I could finally breathe.

“My home.”

He extended his arm in the air, and a green globe came floating to his hand. As soon as it touched his hand, it started transforming. I watched in amusement as it slowly turned… into an apple!

He tossed it over to me and I held it very carefully, afraid that it might break.

“You can eat it,” he said.

I bit into it, wondering if it was right to eat such a magical thing. And whoa, it was the sweetest and juiciest apple ever!

He held out his hand again. This time, a red globe came floating. As soon as it touched his hand, he threw it up in the air, and it burst into colourful fireworks! I stared at it until every little spec of light dissolved in the darkness.

“You can catch one, too,” he said, and I realised he was talking about the globes.

I held my hand out like he had, but none of the globes floated towards me.

He laughed. “You have to think of what you want.”

Oh, that’s how it works. I thought for a long time, but couldn’t think of anything.

“You can just randomly pick one if you are confused. That’s fun too,” he said.

I looked around me. There were so many globes, so many different ones. It was so difficult to choose just one.

I finally caught a little yellow globe that was dancing in front of me. I watched in amazement as it changed its shape, and within a few seconds, there was a tiny butterfly fluttering in my hands!

It was like a game then. We would pick any globe at random and watch it transform. We made a rose bouquet, a box of chocolates, a sparrow, a pearl bracelet, a jasmine perfume, a bug, a glass of juice, a few trees, and even a cheese burst pizza! And oh, how can I forget the little red car!

We finally made a ground of fresh green grass and dropped on it, tired. It was all so fun. Ted held his hand out and called for a globe that transformed into a cool breeze. All the fun, the soft grass beneath, the cool breeze and the jasmine perfume, made me sleepy. I closed my eyes and was halfway asleep, when I suddenly remembered something. I had forgotten to ask the most important question.

“Um, Ted,” I began, not sure how to frame the question. “What is this place? I know you said it’s your home, but what exactly is it? I mean, what is it made up of? What are these globes? What world is this? Where are we?”

Okay, I ended up asking too many questions.

In return, he just smiled. I guess he saw it coming.

“Our universe is so big, isn’t it?” he said. “So many things, so much of magic. We’ve seen so much, that we think we’ve seen everything. We are so used to labelling everything and finding the logic behind everything, that we want everything to have a name, to have a reason. We’ve discovered so much, and yet nothing.”

I wasn’t sure I understood what he said, but it seemed good. To have Ted as a friend, seemed good. To be there, at his home seemed good.

And other than this, I was just sure about one thing. That Ted certainly wasn’t a crackpot.

Posted in 2021 short story challenge, short, story

June Story: Paper Boats

Being in Mr. K’s office was never too fun, but a dark rainy day only made it worse. Sanya’s eyes drifted lazily towards the window as she tried to decide which one was gloomier – the hazy cloudy sky outside, or the atmosphere inside the office.

Mr. K was a grumpy businessman, somewhere in his fifties. He was rich, his personality boasted it. No one knew much about him, he wasn’t anywhere near chatty and no one dared to go ask him about his personal life. His face was almost always twisted in a scowl. His company was making profits, which was the only reason people worked with him, and under him. If you were lucky, you could go a whole day without having him scream on you and throw tantrums. That is, if you were lucky – lucky enough to get to see the sun rising from the west.

He’d never had a personal assistant who lasted more than a year in his office. Sanya, though, was an exception. She was going to complete five years as his PA. It was a real feat. People said she was extraordinary. She, on the other hand, was only here because she couldn’t get a better job. The moment she found a better paying job, she would slam down her resignation.

“I’VE TOLD YOU A HUNDRED TIMES TO SERVE ME BETTER COFFEE!” Mr. K’s booming voice broke Sanya’s train of thoughts. She rushed into his cabin to find him screaming on the peon. She indicated him to leave and tried to change Mr. K’s mood.

“Shall I open the curtains sir? It’s too dark in here.”

He glared at her as if he would eat her up. She ignored him and pulled the curtains away. The tiny amount of light that poured through the clouds into the room seemed to lift the mood up a bit. The rain had stopped by now and there were puddles all over the road.

“We have to leave for the meeting, sir,” she reminded him. “The new deal, at the hotel,” she added when she realised he was so angry that he had no idea what she was talking about. He nodded, still fuming, and stomped out as she followed.

They stepped out of the magnificent office and started to cross the road to the other side where his car waited for him. By now, boys from the neighbourhood had gathered around to jump in the puddles left by the rain. Some also carried papers with them and sat down at the edge of the road as they carefully folded out colourful boats.

Mr. K avoided them carefully as he made his way to the other side of the road. He threw them a look of disgust each time his eyes met any of theirs. He had almost crossed the dreaded road when he paused to receive his ringing phone. It was just a second before a boy jumped into a puddle next to him and splashed the muddy water on his shiny black clothes.

Sanya froze in place as Mr. K dropped his phone back into his pocket and glared at the child, like an eagle looking at its prey. The child smiled apologetically, unaware of what was going to happen next. Before Sanya could blink, Mr. K reached out towards the boy in one leap with his hand stretched forward, but stopped just a few millimetres from him. Something else had caught his eye.

He was looking at something behind the boy. Sanya followed his gaze to find a few boys huddled around a big puddle, racing their paper boats. Mr. K slowly crept towards the tiny group. Sanya tried to read his expression – it wasn’t of anger, no, it was a bit like curiosity. He reached upto them and leaned over to study the boats.

He watched as a tiny boy, grinning through his missing teeth, dropped a pink little boat into the water. It sent ripples through the water; ripples that rang through Mr. K’s mind and hit a spot that was long buried deep into his heart.

The ripples. Ripples that were born when little Kumaran made tiny colourful boats and floated them on the rain puddles.

“Kumar!” his mother would then call, her voice sweeter than the essence of rain.

And he would run to his little cottage in the middle of the village. His home. His very own and only home.

He would hug his mother and seat himself in her lap, never getting off till she fed him food with her own hands.

And then they would go out in the rain, on the tiny swing that his mother had tied for him between two trees in the village.

“Higher!” he would say, and his mother would swing him till he was all drenched in rain and laughter.

And she would dress him like Kanha for Krishna Janmashtmi and feed him butter and say that he was the most beautiful child in the world.

All would be fun and good… until the sunset.

The sunset. Darkness would fall and he would return. He who was the only pain in his life. He who was the face of monstrosity for him. He who snatched away all his happiness. His father.

How could little Kumaran forget that night. When he smiled his last smile.

It was a dark monsoon night. Kumaran had played outside the whole day, making paper boats. He was really tired. He hugged his mother and lay on his bed, and his eyes closed involuntarily.

He didn’t know what happened after he fell asleep, but the next time he opened his eyes, he could hear voices from the other room. No, not voices, screams. His mother’s screams.

He rushed to the door, but it was locked from the other side. He cried for help, but there was no one to help him in the middle of the night.

He somehow managed to break open a window, but it was impossible for his brain to comprehend what his eyes saw.

He ran away the next day after they took away his mother’s body. It was a decision taken in anger. An anger he felt for the first time in his life, and something that never left his side again. He had wanted to run away from the man that ruined everything, but he was also running away from all the good memories of his mother, of his home. His very own home.

Sanya watched as a dozen expressions crossed his face – a sudden realisation, nostalgia, sadness, anger and back to another realisation via a bunch of emotions that she couldn’t understand. And then, for the first time in her life, she saw him smile.

She didn’t understand, and never would, and neither would anyone else. For what was happening was only known to Mr. K and his heart.

Posted in 2021 short story challenge, short, story

May Story: Good or Bad?

Goodness sprouts in the most unexpected of places. When the city life bustled with greed and deceit, a tiny bit of innocence was born in the slum outskirts of the city, in the form of eight year old Biju.

Biju’s family barely managed to survive on their meagre resources. They lived in a tiny ‘house’, if it could be called so, with a tin roof. His lived with his parents, an elder brother and a little sister who hadn’t yet turned one. The whole family contributed in making money for the house. But Biju wasn’t really happy with their ways.

His parents were pickpockets. Often, it started with an act of begging, and his mother would use his baby sister as a way to invite pity. And then they would steal someone’s wallet or snatch away jewellery. His father was fired from the factory he worked in once, and since then he hadn’t been able to find a job, and found it easier to steal, since it required no qualification. They had expected their kids to do the same. And so they did, at least his brother, but Biju was a rebel. He wasn’t going to do all of that.

His parents would force him to go out in the streets, and he would, but never steal. But in the evening, he would present the family with quite a humble sum of money, surely not a lot, but some. Where did he get this money from?

Well, it seems God had gifted him with both morality and creativity. He would roam around the streets and collect any small pieces of plastic, bottle caps, and bits of metal that he could find. He would then settle near the lake and join those bits and pieces together to create toys – yes, toys – small, dynamic toys. He once created a tiny car that actually ran, and a monkey that jumped and a little drum that banged itself when it was spun. He made all sorts of toys, all different. He then sold those for a sum of five or ten Rupees each.

One night, he returned home to find himself in a quarrel that took place almost every few days.

“I don’t like what you do,” he would say.

“Then you don’t have to live here,” his father would say.

“Please, he’s just a kid,” his mother would say.

“It’s alright Ma, you all will never understand,” he would say, and go to bed hungry. It was like a routine, but Biju was now fed up with it.

The next day he woke up fully determined to do something big. He worked twice as hard to collect all the stuff that he could and went by the lake to build something. Surprisingly, he couldn’t think of any ideas today. It was getting late, so he picked his stuff and went by the road to sell the toys he had made the other day.

He got a few customers, most of whom were accompanied by stubborn little kids who just wanted that one toy. Others were people who admired his skills.

Evening had fallen. He hadn’t made a really good business today. Just as much as he earned every other day, perhaps a bit less. He had started to pack his stuff when suddenly a black car stopped in front of him. He looked up at the car and it’s passengers curiously. It was obvious that they had come to buy his toys, but he wasn’t really sure, since it wasn’t the usual type of vehicle that came to buy his stuff. It was much, much bigger.

A man in a black suit stepped out of the car. He bent down, removed his glasses and studied Biju’s toys intently.

“Are you Biju?” he asked.

“Y-yes, sir,” Biju replied, surprised that someone just called him by his name.

“Did you make these toys yourself?” he asked again.

“Yes sir, all of them.”

“Where did you get these designs? Did you copy them off from somewhere?”

“No, sir. They are all my own.”

The man studied the toys once again.

“How much do you earn in a day?”

“About 80 to 100 rupees.”

“You are a really talented boy. I want you to come with me,” the man finally said. “You make these toys and I’ll sell them. I have a very big company. We’ll earn a lot together.”

“Really?” Biju asked in surprise, hopes rising to the sky. “How much money will I get?”

“Enough for you to live like a king. You’ll have a very big room, all to yourself, and new clothes and good food. You can even go to school if you want.”

“And my family?”

“You’re coming alone. This offer is just for you. You have the talent. And only talent sells. Now tell me, will you come with me?”

Biju ran the things over in his mind. Go with him, a voice said. It’s all for your own good, away from poverty, away from all struggle, away from all evil. That’s right, he thought. Good food, good clothes, education… and money, all from his own talent.

But what will he do with the money? Who’ll he earn the money for if his family’s not with him? Don’t go, a second voice said. You can’t just leave your family alone.

What will he do then? the first voice said. Go back into all the evil? Live with a family of crooks? Of course not! He’s got a whole life ahead of him.

Biju heard the two voices in silence, the voices of his conscience. Going back home was what he should do. But wouldn’t he be supporting the bad by doing that? So obviously it was better to go with the man and live a life of honesty. But wouldn’t it be bad to leave his family all alone and enjoy all the luxury alone? What was good, what was bad?

It’s not about good or bad, a third voice said, calmer and firmer than the first two. It’s about love. Good doesn’t always win, bad never should. But love always must.

***

It was 10:30 in the night. But Biju hadn’t yet returned home. His parents were pacing through the house, half angry, half worried. His brother was out looking for him in the streets. He couldn’t find him anywhere.

A while later, there was a knock on the door and Biju entered the house. His father burst on him instantly. He screamed and screamed, but Biju didn’t say a word. After he left, Biju ran to his mother and hugged her tight.

“Why didn’t you go?” she asked.

“How do you know about it?”

“Perhaps I can read your mind. Because I love you.”

“Which is why I didn’t go.”

Posted in 2021 short story challenge, short, story

April Story: The Tree House

And this morning I fed the squirrels the remaining nuts. And then I returned to my tree house in the middle of the jungle. It’s the best home I could ever have.

It doesn’t look big from the outside, but inside, it’s a complete heaven! And did I tell you about Poinky? He’s my pet monkey and my best friend. He loves me a lot! He always stays with me, never leaves me alone. He even talks to me. He’s my only family…

Family. Where’s my real family? I don’t know. I have no mum, no dad. But it doesn’t matter, does it? I have the whole jungle to myself. And that just reminded me of the Happy Tree!

Yes, the Happy Tree. I named it so because it always makes me happy. Whenever I feel sad, I just go sit under that tree. The cool air that blows through it always makes me smile. And then I climb on it and pluck the fruits that grow on it, and then I enjoy those fruits while watching the sunlight pour through the leaves of the Happy Tree and make funny patterns on the ground.

Then sometimes Poinky and I race to the Mirror Lake. The water in it is so cool and sweet and so clear! Just like a mirror. I can even see my face in it. And there are butterflies all around it.

It’s also so much fun riding Roarey’s back. The way he sprints all through the jungle, around the lake and through the trees.. it’s amazing! You don’t know Roarey? He’s a tiger. Scared? Haha, don’t worry, he’s my friend. If you ever come to visit me, I’ll let you have a ride too.

And then in the evening I go to the Happy Tree again. There’re hundreds of birds up there. But only in the evening. And they all sing together in such a melodious voice.. oh! And when I whistle to them, they all circle me and even do a little dance!

And you know, when you climb on my tree house’s roof at night, you can see thousands of stars in the dark sky. They are always in so many different shapes and you can spend the entire night watching them. Such a lovely home I have…

But then sometimes I slip into a dream. I feel like I get trapped in it. I don’t live in my tree house in the dream. I live in some apartment at almost the same height as my tree house, but in a tall building.. skyscraper, they call it.

And there are people all around me. I feel very scared when anyone’s near me. And then two humans call themselves my ‘parents’, my ‘family’. How could that be possible! I say they are lying, I try so much to keep them away. But they don’t listen to me. I don’t care much, it’s just a dream anyway, right?

And you know, even Poinky doesn’t talk to me in the dream! And that’s the worst part of it. He just sits there. Doesn’t blink, doesn’t move, doesn’t eat, doesn’t breathe. I hate when that happens. And when I tell those ‘parents’ of mine that Poinky isn’t eating something, they tell me he can’t eat or move! But he can, right?

And there are more people there than I’ve ever seen anywhere. They come to me, talk to me, and when I tell them anything about my tree house, they see me like there’s something wrong with me! I feel like crying, like running away from there. They don’t believe anything I say. No one does. But you do, right?

And they all talk behind my back. They think that I don’t know anything, but I hear everything they say. Just last week I heard them saying that I was ‘diagnosed with schizophrenia’. I don’t even know what that means. Is it like a bad word? Are they cursing me? I’ll tell Roarey about it, he’ll teach them a lesson. These people, they say that the jungle isn’t real! That my tree house doesn’t exist! But I’ve seen it! I live in it! It’s my home!

It’s real, right? My home, the jungle, it’s all real, right? Right?

***

And with yesterday’s post, I completed a total of 50 posts on this blog! It’s been an incredible journey till here… cheers to the many more miles to come!

© 2021 Oddball Thinks

Posted in 2021 short story challenge, short, story

February Story: Forever Home

Mr. Kensley had wanted to own the mansion for a very long time. He almost fell in love with it the first time he saw it. For some reason, no one else seemed to be interested in purchasing such a good property. Money wasn’t an issue either. So he bought it as soon as he could. He sent a bunch of people beforehand to clean and furnish the place. Today was the shifting day. He started off in a good mood, but something or the other kept going wrong.

It started with a broken vase, then a shattered gold picture frame, then his sprained ankle. His wagon seemed to be in a bad mood too. It broke down thrice in a two-hour ride. It seemed odd for so many bad things to happen on such a bright day. But nothing could stop him today.

More than a bit off-schedule, he finally reached the Mansion of Spectre.

“Ah, no,” said Mr. Kensley for the hundredth time, “Don’t go by the name, it has nothing to do with any sort of ghosts.”

He had been asked this question since the day he bought the mansion.

“I prefer to call it the Snow Palace though,” he would say. “My Snow Palace.”

He entered the mansion with a whole procession of servants handling his stuff and looked around in admiration. His Snow Palace. The house of his dreams. He walked around surveying the crystal floor, the marble statues, the diamond hangings and the velvet carpets. The place really was beautiful. It seemed like a piece of heaven. Too beautiful to be true, as if it were just an illusion. Just so perfect that it was almost creepy.

“I hope my room is ready.” His tone suggested that if it wasn’t, then someone might as well be prepared to lose his job. He didn’t have any shortage of servants anyhow.

He climbed the marble stairs that led to the first floor and took a stroll around. He opened each and every one of the rooms and admired their beauty. At last he reached his own room, the biggest one in the whole mansion, and pushed open the doors.

“WHAT THE HELL?!”

The servants came running hearing their master’s scream.

“W-what is it sir?”

“YOU TELL ME!”

The servants peeped inside the room and stared in horror. Inside, everything was in ruins. The furniture was rotting. The ceilings were covered in cobwebs. A blanket of dust covered the room. But the worst of all – there was something right in the centre of the room that shouldn’t be there.

“B-b-blood.”

***

“Sir, we should have told you this earlier. But, but you see sir… there’s something, I mean, someone who’s… who’s here… I mean…”

“I very well know what you mean. And I’ve told you a thousand times that THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A GHOST!”

“S-sir, we know you don’t believe in this. But they don’t call it the Mansion of Spectre for nothing.”

“I don’t care. Shift my stuff to a different room. And I want my room back in place by tomorrow, get it?”

The servants nodded and Mr. Kensley set off in rage. Whosoever had done this, spoiled his beautiful room, would have to pay for it.

Just when he was turning towards his room, his eyes caught something he hadn’t noticed earlier. Another room, at the far end of the corridor. But there was something different about it. It didn’t have carved doors with silver handles like the others. Instead. it had an old shabby door with a large rusty padlock.

Servants were called again and he made them open the lock despite their constant pleading. But the door wouldn’t budge.

“This door hasn’t been opened in hundred years,” the servants said. “This is where the girl died. They say that her sprit still lives here. She loved the house very much and doesn’t let anyone enter here.”

“Rubbish,” said Mr. Kensley.

After several attempts of opening the door, he finally gave up. He locked the door again and went to a different room to sleep.

Somehow, he couldn’t sleep. He kept tossing and finally stepped out of the room. Outside, darkness covered the entire mansion. He walked towards the ‘mystery’ door again and stood there staring for a long time. Then he shook his head and turned back. But just as suddenly he turned again. The lock was missing.

He could swear he had locked the door. He did it himself. He even had the keys with him. He slowly walked towards the door and gave it a gentle push. This time it opened with a creak. He peered into the room.

Inside was just a different world. The room was just perfect. Gleaming perfect. Not even a particle of dust. The walls were lined with a pink wallpaper and the shelves were filled with toys. There was a fluffy bed in the centre and a cartoon-drawn writing table opposite to it. It looked like a kid’s room. He entered the room.

THUD

The door closed behind him. He shuffled in his pocket and pulled out a tiny torch. A toy train track was lying on the bed as if – as much as he hated to admit it – someone had just set it up. He shuddered at the thought and walked back to the door. He tried to pull it open, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Hi there.”

He jumped at the voice. “Wh-who’s it?”

“Me? I’m your friend.”

“What friend? Who’s it?”

The voice laughed.

“Just stop this right now! Who’s there?”

“You guess. Come, find me. I’m just here.”

He slowly walked towards the voice. It was coming from somewhere near the bed. He crept towards the edge of the bed. He couldn’t see anyone there. And then he saw where it was coming from. He frowned at the cassette player.

“Ha! Fooled ya!”

He shut it off. “Might’ve knocked it off when I came here,” he mumbled to himself. Somehow, the prank cassette didn’t make the room any less creepy. Much to his surprise, the door was wide open. Without wasting a single moment, he rushed out into his own room.

The next morning, Mr. Kensley woke up to sounds of loud thudding and drilling.

“What is it?” He asked one of his servants, who was standing there with his bed tea.

“It’s the door, sir. It was jammed. You wanted it opened, so we called someone to do the job. It will be done any moment now.”

“What are you talking about? I opened it myself last night.”

“No sir, that’s not possible. It was still jammed this morning.”

Mr. Kensley hurriedly got off his bed and ran towards the other end of the corridor. They had just managed to open the door.

He pushed his way to the room. He stopped at the edge of the room and stared inside white-faced. The room was nothing like what he saw last night. It really did look like it hadn’t been opened in 100 years. It was covered with dust and cobwebs all around, just like the room that was supposed to be his. But the shelves were still filled with toys and there was still a train track on the bed, except this time it didn’t seem like it had just been set up.

Shuddering and shivering, with goosebumps all over him, he stepped into the room. There was a cassette player lying in one corner of the room, like someone had knocked it off – a hundred years ago.

A piece of paper lay on the writing table- the only thing he didn’t see the night before. Somehow, it seemed to pull him towards itself. It had something written on it in a handwriting that seemed to belong to a small child:

“I love my house. It’s white as snow and I love it. It’s forever mine. I won’t ever leave my house, even after I die. It’s my home, and I and only I can live in it. Everything in my house belongs to me and everything that comes into my house is mine. Nothing ever goes out of my house, and anything that comes inside, never goes out ever again.

P.S.: Trespassers shall be punished.”

***

It’s evening. The moon has come up and the mansion is glimmering in its light. A feast is going on inside. The party is in full swing. But it isn’t Mr. Kensley who’s celebrating. Somehow, he doesn’t seem to be anywhere around.

“And you should’ve seen his face,” says Manny, “He was barely able to make a sound! Poor fellow,” he says, laughing so hard that he’s barely able to get the words out of his mouth.

“And that ‘anything coming inside the house and never leaving again’ line really worked,” says Sarah. “He didn’t dare take any of his stuff with him. He literally ran out barefooted!”

“Silly fellow! And the way his army of servants followed behind him,” says Olive, hands holding his belly.

“He left quite a treasure behind. We’ll be feasting for the rest of our lives!”

“Hey look! We’re in the papers,” says Peck. “The cops are behind us again.”

“Let them be. They’ll never find us.”

“What if someone hints them our location?”

“Even if they do,” says Manny, “Who’ll dare to enter the ‘Mansion of Spectre’?”

Posted in 2021 short story challenge, story

January Story: Home Away From Home

The cold months of winter. The countryside was covered in a blanket of white. Children and adults alike seemed to enjoy the snow.

In the main city, the Space Agency was buzzing with people. The main entrance was blocked by people from news agencies, while preparations for a major announcement were in place in the conference hall. There was an equal chance of the news being terribly good or terribly bad.

Mr. Capps rushed towards the Control Centre. He didn’t quite believe in God, but for the first time ever, he actually clasped his hands together and muttered a quick prayer while he stepped out of the elevator. He dashed through the doors and stopped before a large screen surrounded by hundreds of people.

“What is it, Maria?” he asked the Head.

She looked at him, almost teary eyed, and nodded her head in denial. A striking silence spread in the room. This couldn’t be good.

Millions of miles away from Earth, was the spacecraft of the highly ambitious manned mission. The mission was going well since two years, until now at least. But as it turns out, all wasn’t good inside the craft.

“So you are just going to do what you want, huh?”

“I am the Captain. And it’s my duty to lead us the right way,” Anne said.

“Captain?” Rob smirked. “More like a dictator.”

“Stop it you two!” Zack said.

“She started it. Ms. Anne ‘know-it-all’.”

“Rob, please,” Zack sighed. “Can you at least try behaving like an adult?”

“Oh sure. Why not. It’s all my fault anyway, right?”

“Zack, please take control of the craft. I need some rest,” Anne said, pretending to ignore Rob.

While Zack seated himself in front of the control panel, Anne drifted towards one of the inner compartments. For a while, there seemed to be peace at last. It didn’t last long though.

“Zack! I thought I told you to not touch my belongings,” Anne came screaming.

“And I didn’t,” he said.

“Don’t lie. My whole stuff is scattered. And you did it.”

“Did I now? Fine. I was searching for my books.”

“And what would your books be doing in my stuff!”

“I don’t know! I was just searching in all possible places.”

“Possible places? My space is a possible place for finding your belongings?”

“Could be,” he shrugged. “Might have drifted off.”

“Or she might have taken it,” Rob said. “After all, we all know where she comes from.”

A silence overtook the craft. This had gone too far. Anne stood there stunned, then drifted back into her compartment.

“You shouldn’t have said that,” Zack said.

“It’s funny how you always have to take her side, no?”

Zack sighed. It was no use talking to him.

For a brief while, there was silence again. It too didn’t last long though. This time it was Zack who spoke up.

“Something’s wrong,” he said. “Hey Rob, take a look.”

Rob peered into the screen and stared, wide eyed. “This can’t be possible.”

“Anne,” Zack called. “Anne!”

A moment later, there was a tense air in the craft. Anne kept looking at the controllers and then at the readings on the pad. She pushed buttons and sent messages to the Control Centre. “No, no, no, this can’t be happening,” she kept saying.

“What’s happening, Anne? What’s wrong?”

They had never seen Anne panicking. If she was, it meant something was definitely wrong.

She looked at the two of them and struggled for words. She gulped and firmed herself.

 “We have lost contact with the Earth.”

A painful silence followed. Anne tried her best to act brave and opened a manual and kept doing her work.

“We have to land,” she said.

“What? Are you crazy!” Rob said.

“That’s the only chance we have. If we don’t do it now, we might miss it and end up wandering in space forever.”

“But where are we going to land?” Zack asked.

“I don’t know what this place is. But I’m positive it’s safe to land,” Anne said.

“This woman’s going mad,” Rob said.

“Look, we’re going to die either way,” she said. “But if we land, there’s a greater chance of us being saved.”

***

They landed safely in a strange place. It wasn’t a good enough reason to celebrate though. They were alive, but weren’t sure how long they would be. They sat in the common compartment, going through their stuff. For the first time ever in two years, they weren’t quarrelling.

Anne sat in a corner with a picture in her hand.

“Your daughter’s beautiful,” Zack said.

Anne smiled. “She must be six now.”

Rob sat down beside them.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Rob said. “I said too much back then.”

“It’s fine,” Anne said, wiping a tear. “I’ll have to endure you for the rest of my life now, anyway.”

Rob chuckled. “Yeah, I guess.”

“Hey, I just found my music player,” Zack said and played Summer Flowers.

“That song,” Rob said.

“Yeah, that’s my favorite song,” Zack said.

“Wow. My brother used to love that song too,” Rob said. “I miss my brother.”

“I miss my home,” Zack said.

“Hey,” Anne said. “I might not have taken your book, but I did peek into it once. And I came across something wonderful.”

“And what’s that?”

“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling,” she said.

“True that, Captain!” Rob chuckled.

“We’re gonna be together till we die,” Anne said. “Or until we find a way back.”

“And I feel more at home than ever.”

***

Mr. Capps made the long-awaited announcement. He informed that they had lost all contact with the spacecraft. “Although we are trying our best to bring them back home, there seems not much hope.”

There was an unforeseen weather change in the countryside. Winter was wearing off in its peak months. Spring was approaching.

(When Katie posted about the short story challenge, I was absolutely excited and my brain was literally flooding with ideas. But then I had to take a while off (I had to complete my notes) and by the time I came back, all ideas had disappeared. I had to start all over again… and this is my story for January! I hope to continue with this challenge all through the year!)

Posted in adventure, story

Fandom

[Make sure to read other stories from the I Woke Up One Day collection!]

The next day, I woke up overflowing with excitement. I moved my hand around to check if I was on my bed. And then slowly I opened my eyes.

My heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t my bed. It was a four-poster bed. I opened the curtain and looked around. I wasn’t in my room. I was in a completely different place. It looked like a girls’ dormitory. But it wasn’t an ordinary one.

As I looked around, I saw that the room was filled with colours of red and gold. It was lined with several four-poster beds. I had a faint hint where I was. To double check, I put my hand into my pocket and felt a long piece of wood. My wand. My heart leaped. I was in Hogwarts?!

[Disclaimer: The content ahead is exclusively for HP fans. If you haven’t read/watched Harry Potter books/movies, turn away right now Muggle!]

(SPOILER ALERT!)

Woah. So I was in Gryffindor girls’ dormitory.

“Hey Daisy! You okay?”

I turned around to find a girl with bushy brown hair and large front teeth. It took me a moment to realise who it was.

“Hermione Granger?!”

She stared at me. “You are not seeing me for the first time, Daisy! And I hope you’ve completed Snape’s essay. Anyway, you alright? You look a little pale,” she said.

“Yeah, ‘m fine,” I stammered.

“You should get dressed then,” she said. “It’s almost time.” As she spoke, I noticed her gleaming prefect’s badge. I must be in the fifth year.

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

I fumbled about a little as I hastily took out my clothes and dressed in my Gryffindor robes. Wearing Gryffindor robes in a cosplay was surely different than actually wearing them at Hogwarts. I stuffed my wand in my pocket and looked at myself in the mirror. I wondered if I owned a pet. I always wanted to have a white hamster and name him Phinley. And Lo! I turned around to find the world’s cutest hamster in his cage on my bedside table. Perfect!

I hurried out into the Gryffindor common room to find Hermione bickering with a tall, red headed freckled boy. Ron Weasley. Great. In one corner, there stood the unmistakable Weasley twins, surrounded by a bunch of first years. They were giving away Puking Pastilles and Skiving Snackboxes.

In the other corner, I saw another member from the Weasley family. A girl with flaming red hair- Ginny, whose head was slightly turned in Ron and Hermione’s direction. But she wasn’t looking at Ron. Nor at Hermione. In fact she was looking at a boy hidden in the background due to the ongoing fight. A boy with messy jet black hair, round spectacles and a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead. This was it. I slowly walked towards the boy.

“H-harry Potter?” I said.

He turned and looked at me. “Yeah?”

I stared at him with widened eyes. I guess I must have been standing there for too long, for Ron and Hermione had stopped fighting and were looking at me. In fact, half the room was looking this way. “N-n-nice to m-meet you,” I said shortly, not knowing what else to say. Then I turned around and walked away.

“What’s wrong with her?” I heard Ron say. “Dunno, she’s been acting weirdly today,” said Hermione.

***

The Great Hall was amazing. The breakfast was the best I had ever had. And it was an absolute treat to see other students clattering around me. And there were the teachers too- Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape… wait. A toad like face suddenly caught my eye. Ugh. Umbridge. She looked even uglier than I had imagined.

It was time for the classes then. The first one was Potions. Snape wasn’t really a bad teacher, I thought. Just a bit strict. Or more than a bit. We had to brew the Draught of Peace. It didn’t go very well. But it was still better for me. You know what he did to Harry? He emptied out his whole cauldron and gave him a zero grade! He really was bad, I concluded.

Transfiguration and Charms went on smoothly. We learned Vanishing Spells in Transfiguration and practiced the Confundus Charm in the Charms class. That part was really fun. It was like a dream come true. But Defence Against the Dark Arts was an absolute nightmare. Umbridge literally made us copy the whole book! I hate that woman!

Anyways, after the classes, I explored the whole castle. The changing staircases and talking portraits were more wondrous than I had read. And then a surprise came up. I suddenly felt something in my pocket. When I put my hand in, I felt a coin in my pocket. My hopes rising again, I went to a corner and made sure no one was watching and took the coin out. It was gleaming with some numbers written on it. Yes! It was the coin with the Protean Charm! I was a member of the Dumbledore’s Army!

At the time mentioned in the coin, I set out for the Room of Requirement on the seventh floor.

“So today we’ll be practicing the Stunning Spell. It’s one of the most useful spells in your arsenal. It’s sort of a wizard’s bread and butter, really,” Harry said later.

The room was filled with sounds of “Stupefy!” until finally it was time to disperse.

As we clattered out after the meeting, I heard Padma Patil say, “It was such an interesting day today!”

“Yes,” I said. “It surely was.”

With a last glance at the place, I set out towards the Gryffindor common room. It was once again filled with sounds of chatters and giggles. I sat there quietly as I watched the students finishing their homework, practicing magic, or just chatting away. I watched the Golden Trio enjoying their time there, until finally I started feeling too sleepy to even sit upright.

I looked around the common room one last time, carefully absorbing the details and the people there, knowing that it would all vanish the next day.

I slowly walked towards the girls’ dormitory and lay down on my bed. The voice was there once again. “Tomorrow would be yet another day…” was all he said.

[Heya! So that’s it for today. This particular story lies close to my heart, and there’s a special reason for posting it this week. You know, I received this notification last week:

And although it might seem like a small thing, it really matters to me. I am really grateful to all those who have been reading my blog and have contributed to this achievement. It means a lot!!

And one more thing. If you’ve been reading my stories, you might have got ideas as to where you want Daisy to wake up next. If so, why not share it with me? You can send me your ideas here. And I’ll make sure that the adventure is a blast!

You can check out other stuff on my blog here. Stay tuned and keep showering your love!]

Posted in story

Floating

[Read other stories from I Woke Up One Day series here.]

I slowly opened my eyes the next day. I remembered I had told the voice that I liked trampolines. Was I going to jump on trampolines the whole day? No. That weren’t possible.

As my eyes adjusted to the surroundings, I saw that I wasn’t on my bed anymore. I was floating!!

I moved my hands around and ‘swam’ through air. I dived towards my bed and popped up again. Oh, so that’s what he meant by trampolines! I sighed with relief. I was expecting something much worse.

But again, why was I floating? And suddenly it clicked me. ‘Sci-fi movies…’, ‘space travel’… I was in anti-gravity!

For a quarter of an hour, I just enjoyed floating in the air and diving into things. Whoa, this was fun! I could do this the whole day! But that wasn’t all.

Suddenly, the windows caught my eye. They didn’t seem like the windows that used to be in my room. These were different. It was like the windows we see in the airplanes. There was no latch to open the windows. Instead, there was just a shutter which was now closed. I wondered what those were for.

I felt my hopes rise as I swam towards the windows. With crossed fingers I opened the shutter. And gasped.

What I saw outside wasn’t something you get to see everyday. I mean how often is it that you open your windows to see asteroids and planets outside?

I jumped with joy (and almost knocked my head on the roof). I stepped (swam) out of my room and looked around the ‘spaceship’ house. Everything seemed much the same.

“Good morning mum! Good morning dad!” I chimed. It seemed weird after saying ‘Mum morning good’ the other day.

And then I gasped again. I saw my dad wearing a magnificent spacesuit. “What’s that?” I asked automatically.

“What do you mean? I am going to work,” he replied, as if it were a casual thing.

He waved and started to go out of the front door. I followed him.

“Daisy!” my mum called. “Where are you going?”

“Outside,” I replied.

“Really? Like this?” She asked raising her eyebrows.

And then I realised what she was talking about. My spacesuit! I couldn’t go out into the space without it, right?

“Fine. So where’s my spacesuit?”

“Daisy,” my mum said. “How many times do I have to tell you! You can’t have it till you are 18! You’ll have to keep using that route for three more years,” she said, pointing to an inner room.

“Umm.. ok,” I said, still unsure how I could go out through a room inside my house.

I went into the room and gasped yet again. It was not the usual room. It had a corridor leading into the ground. The walls were all packed with a map of the routes that led to different buildings and places, or let’s just say, different spaceships. It also had rolls of map to help us get to our destination.

I picked one and located Shanaya’s spaceship. And followed the map. It was fun. I floated through corridors until I reached Shanya’s place. Of course meeting her is always fun. But the anti-gravity raised the bar to the next level.

I was hungry by the time I came back home. Anti-gravity is fun. But eating and drinking is a completely different affair. There was a whole set of procedures I had to follow for eating my cheese sandwich. Although drinking water was fun. There were bubbles of water floating and I had to gulp them down.

The rest of the day passed smoothly with me floating and jumping all day long. It was finally night. But I didn’t want the day to end.

I got back into my room and closed my eyes. I heard the voice again.

“Enjoyed?”

“Yep, I did. But I don’t want the fun to end. Please, can this go on longer?”

“No. Each day has to be different. You wanted that.”

“But please…”

“Tomorrow’s going to be more fun.”

“Really?”

“You’ll enjoy it more than today.”

“What is it going to be? Just tell me!”

“Nightie night. Get ready for some magic…”

[That’s it for today! Next part comes next Monday.. Till then, you can float round my blog here. Don’t forget to Like and leave a Reply below. Subscribe/Follow my blog to receive new posts directly in your inbox. Also, I wrote another award post this week. You can check it out here if you haven’t yet. Stay tuned!]

Posted in adventure, story, weird

Inverted

So like every other day I was sitting on my bed forcing my eyes open and trying to focus on the ongoing History lecture. History had never been fun for me. And it just seems worse on a laptop screen at home. Maybe because Shanaya wasn’t here. She always kept me awake even in the most boring of the topics with her silly gossips. But I was stuck here. For 5 months, I hadn’t even seen Shanaya. Oh well, I had at least seen here on the rare occasions when she turned on her video in the online lectures, mostly to show off her new hairstyles.

“Daisy! I hope you haven’t fallen asleep?” Mum called out.

“If this isn’t a dream, I haven’t fallen asleep yet,” I replied.

My teacher kept on blabbering about the French Revolution. I could feel my eyelids drooping. And finally I found myself in France, in Bastille.

Now if you are an expert sleeper (like me), you can usually tell the difference between a dream and the reality, even when you are in the deepest sleep. I decided to enjoy my trip to Bastille. I mean, come on! I was inside my home for five months!

But I had reached there at the wrong time. A war was going on between the troops and the civilians. I somehow ran away and found myself in a dark rusty room. It was fine. It was a dream. And I surely didn’t want to go back to the reality.

I started muttering to myself. I complained about how boring life had become. The muttering soon turned into a loud revolutionary speech. I spoke and spoke and spoke. I was enjoying it. I could scream, I could swear, I could do anything I wanted.

But what happened next was unreal. As I said, I can usually differentiate between a dream and reality. But at that moment, I wasn’t very sure that it was indeed a dream, because I heard a voice. Which seemed to come from the reality.

“What do you want then?” the voice asked.

Before I even knew, I replied, “I want life to be different. I am tired of this boring way!”

“How different do you want it to be?”

“As different as it can be!” I replied it frustration.

“Your life would never be the same again!” The voice boomed for the last time.

I woke up. In a shock. I had a strong feeling that I just had a conversation with God.

Well, if that was true, I was finally going to get rid of this boredom! My life was going to be heaven, right?

Wrong.

***

I woke up. I was still at home. It was still the History lecture going on. What was different? Everything seemed the same- wait! I spotted something weird.

I looked at my textbook. What! The text had suddenly inverted! It was printed from right to left! I looked at my bed. It used to be at the right side of the room, but now it was at the left! I looked around. Each and everything had laterally inverted! To double check, I raised my right hand. Wait, did I just say right? ‘coz I raised my left! Seemed as if I was in a mirror world! Cool.

I popped out of my bed and went downstairs. It was difficult. It didn’t seem like my house at all!

“Mum!” I called out. Woah! She seemed different.

“Been you have where?” She asked.

“What?” I was puzzled. What did she just say?

“Been you have where, said I.” She repeated.

Oh! This was the mirror world! I’ll have to invert the sentences too! So she’s saying ‘where have you been?’

“I was in my room,” I replied.

“Huh?”

“Room was my in I.” I stammered. I forgot I had to invert the sentences too.

“Mean you do what?” She asked raising her eyebrows.

“Room my in was I,” I said correctly.

“Hmm.” She seemed convinced. “Breakfast your have. Days these naughty really being are you.” she said.

I smiled sheepishly. This was getting really weird.

“Me for article this read just you can,” she said handing me the newspaper. “Specs my lost I seems.”

It was getting increasingly difficult to translate her sentences. Nonetheless, I took the newspaper. I was getting sick. The whole text was mirrored!

I somehow convinced my mom that I was not feeling well (which was incredibly difficult considering the fact that I had to reverse all my sentences) and I shut myself in my room.

I plugged in my headphones and turned on some music. Music always calms me.

UGHHHH! The lyrics had reversed too!

I threw away my headphones. Was my life going to be like this? Forever? Noo!!

I tried to sleep and was suddenly reminded of what the voice had said. ‘My life was never going to be the same again’. That meant that even this mirror life wasn’t going to be so forever. It was temporary.

I spent the rest of the day making wondrous discoveries of how I could write inverted text with my ‘apparent’ left hand and how the inverted sentences seemed nonsensical and funny at the same time. I avoided speaking though.

Finally it was bedtime and after I wished my parents a ‘Night Good’ and ‘Dreams Sweet’, I went to sleep.

Once again, I was in the dark room.

“What a day! I hope it would be all normal again?” I said.

“Normal? Oh no! It would be different!” The voice said.

“But please let it be fun!”

“What do you mean by fun? What do you do for fun?”

“I jump on trampolines!” I replied frustrated again. Uh-oh. Big mistake.

“Nice.”

“Hey! What are you going to do?”

“You like those space travel movies, right?”

“Hey- what-“

But the voice had vanished. I was alone. Where was I going to wake up?

[Did you like today’s story? Like if you did! Don’t forget to leave a reply too! And yeah, do follow my blog or subscribe via e-mail to receive my latest posts through mail. New stories each Monday! Till then, you can just wander round my blog. I got loads of stuff! Stay tuned!]

Posted in adventure, sci-fi, story

Season-2: Part-3: Robby’s help

[If you are here for the first time, read Season-1 and Season-2 from the start]

“Wait, wait! What’s going on? Who’s Dr. Comet now?” Tara asked.

“Oh Tara, remember I told you about our team?” Dr. Galaxy asked.

“Yeah, about the five of you?” Tara said, “And then you split.”

“So Dr. Comet’s one of them?” Sherry asked.

“Yes, my dear, yes!” Dr. Galaxy replied. “You see there’s Dr. Comet, Dr. Venus and Dr. Constella. And then your father and me. And together we form Team Universe!”

“Wow! I must say, I admire the names,” Robby said.

“Oh!” Dr. Galaxy giggled. “By the way, where’s Dr. Comet now? He must be so old in this time. Anyways, it’s been a long time since I saw him. Where’s he?”

“Well, he’s not here. And I don’t think you’d be too happy to see him.”

“What? Why not?” Dr. Galaxy asked surprised.

But Robby couldn’t answer the question, because before he could, a strange buzzing sound filled the lab. It was coming from a small typewriter-like machine which had antennae. A sheet of paper was coming out from a slot in the machine.

“What’s that?” Tara asked.

“Oh this! I completely forgot about it! These are messages from Dr. Nebula,” Robby explained.

“Messages? He’s sending you messages?” Dr. Galaxy asked.

“Yeah. But they are coded. And I am unable to decode them. Perhaps you would be able to.”

“Yeah, sure. But where did you meet him? And how does he know you?”

“That’s a long story,” Robby replied. “Sit, I’ll tell you.”

And on the click of a button, four platforms rose from the ground at the exact places where they stood. They sat and the story began.

“So Dr. Nebula came here this morning. He was hoping to see Grandpa, he needed some help. I don’t know what exactly happened and how he landed in this lab; I just knew he was in trouble and he needed more of those robo hacking bullets. Now I had a good extra stock of those bullets. So we refilled his guns and we set out.”

“Wait. How come you had a whole stock of the bullets?” Sherry interrupted. “Now don’t tell me you created them!”

“I.. well… oh okay. That’s a little secret. Now I am a proud amateur scientist, you see,” Robby said. “Grandpa’s gift perhaps,” he added. “So I helped him refill the guns with the bullets I had created and went out with him. But the robots captured him. Although I escaped, the robots had seen me.

“I somehow managed to come back here. And I saw that in all the hurry-burry, he had left his luggage here. And then I heard the buzzing sound and I came to know of this device. Since then, he has been sending me these coded messages.

“I knew I had to help him. So I gathered my supplies and set out. That’s when I spotted that look alike of Dr. Nebula in the cafe. I knew he was a duplicate so I entered into the cafe and saw him talking to you. Just then, the robots spotted me and the siren went off. They have a really good face recognition system.

“And after that, while the duplicate Dr. Nebula led you to that old building, I had ran away from the robots’ police van. I mean there were only a handful of robos and I had a fully loaded gun. They chased me and coincidently, I hid in the basement of the same building where you did. And there we met and I gave you the spare bullets.”

“Woah!” Tara exclaimed after Robby finished his story.

The machine buzzed again, printing out more codes.

“Let’s work this out first,” Dr. Galaxy said.

She studied the codes carefully, then took out a calculator (at least it looked like one!) from her hand bag and typed the codes in.

“It’s an interesting code that we used a long time ago,” she said smiling.

Within seconds, the decoded messages started flashing on the screen.

“They all say the same thing,” she said after some time. “That he’s in a large metallic room guarded by robots. And he’s being questioned continuously. They know he’s an intruder and that he’s come from the past. And they are threatening to harm him if he doesn’t tell them about our mission.”

“And has Pa told them anything?”

“Not yet,” Dr. Galaxy sighed.

“How’s he sending the messages?” Sherry asked.

“He’s got a little ring in his finger which is actually fitted with a very special machine. He just has to whisper things in it and they get translated into codes and reach here.”

“Cool tech,” Robby commented.

Dr. Galaxy typed a message back to Dr. Nebula stating that she had come there to save him.

“Hey ladies! Don’t be upset. We’ll save him. Shall I call it a team?” Robby asked putting forward his hand.

“Yes!” And the four clapped their hands together.

***

“Hey Robby, do you have any idea where Pa might be?” Tara asked.

“Nope. They might have kept him in their headquarters, but I don’t know where they are either.”

“Where do we start searching for Dr. Nebula then? We’ve got no clues!” Sherry said.

Dr. Galaxy was strolling along the lab when something caught her eye. “This piece!” she exclaimed. “Robby, where did you get this?”

“What? That? Umm.. that…”

“This is a part of the robot’s internal system. I very well know this. And by no chance can you create this on your own. How did this get here?” Dr. Galaxy asked raising her eyebrows.

“I don’t know!” Robby said. “Perhaps Dr. Nebula brought this with him?” he shrugged.

“Yeah, that could be possible,” Dr. Galaxy said frowning.

But somehow Tara couldn’t believe the story. She just couldn’t imagine a fifteen year old boy creating robo hacking bullets or even being a scientist. “Hey Sherry!” she whispered. “Don’t you think something’s fishy?”

“Why do you think something’s fishy?” Sherry whispered back.

“I mean how can he be so intelligent! He’s just a boy!”

“Tara, he’s the same age as us. And if all these futuristic facilities would have been provided to us, I am sure I could have invented a thing or two myself by now!”

Tara could argue no further.

[Is something really fishy here? What do you think? Comment below. Next part comes next to next Monday! (Yep, I am skipping a week. Really sorry for that, I’ve got some work scheduled. I’ll try my best to upload it earlier if I can.) Till then, you can wander round my blog. Don’t forget to like the post! And yes, follow my blog for updates! Happy Monday!]

Posted in adventure, sci-fi, story

Season-2: Part-2: Robo Rule

[Check out Season 1 and Season 2 from the start before this.]

“Yeah. That’s the big picture. Not only this, but the whole government consists of robots. And the officials at the topmost posts are robots too.” Dr. Galaxy explained.

“What?! Mom, that’s so terrible! But why are they doing this?”

“You see, I told you about some scientists creating the robots, right? Well, the story goes that there are these five crazy scientists who created the robots to gain control of the world but the robots overpowered them. Now those five scientists are enslaved by the robots. And now these robots themselves want to control the world.”

“And they are very well succeeding.” Sherry added.

“Hey! What are you all doing here?” someone suddenly called from behind.

“Dr. Nebula!” Sherry beamed.

“What’s going on here?” Dr. Nebula asked confused.

“We’ve got no time to explain,” Dr. Galaxy said picking up her bags. “It’s good we found you here. Let’s go back. Abort the mission.”

“Abort the mission? No way!” Dr. Nebula exclaimed.

“But Pa, your life’s in danger!”

“Rubbish! I am not going anywhere.”

Before anyone could say more, a siren alarm went off in the cafe and red lights began flashing in the whole place. Someone had tried to rebel against the robots and was caught red handed in the cafe. The robots, which seemed just too friendly while taking orders, had suddenly changed. They came rushing by and handcuffed a person sitting at the opposite corner of the cafe and surrounded him with guns.

“Is that what’s gonna happen to us if we get caught?” Tara asked. She had turned white.

A police van came on the spot and took the man away.

“Hey! Where’s Dr. Nebula?” Sherry asked suddenly. In the whole confusion, Dr. Nebula had slipped off.

“Oh no, we can’t let this happen! C’mon girls, we’ve got to go.” Dr. Galaxy said as she spotted Dr. Nebula rushing down the opposite street.

They rushed after him and followed him through the narrow streets. They kept screaming his name but he wouldn’t turn back. Strangely enough, they ran the fastest they could, but couldn’t catch up with him.

They followed him up a tall old building which seemed inhabited. It was a cold rusty place. They finally caught up with him at the top floor of the building.

“Pa, what are you doing?” Tara asked panting. “Why are we here? And why didn’t you stop when we kept calling you?”

“Ssh… keep quiet. We are surrounded by robots. See there,” he pointed towards a window. They all looked down. Sure enough, there were robots all around. Dr. Nebula closed all the windows and locked the door.

“Now, I have a plan,” Dr. Nebula whispered. “First of all, hand me your weapons, if you have brought any. I want to see what resources we have. Then we’ll see what we have to do next.”

“Sure, Pa. Here,” Tara said, taking out the gun from her pocket.

“Tara wait!” Dr. Galaxy suddenly stopped her. “Dr. Nebula, what did you have for dinner last night?”

“For dinner last night? What sort of question is that!” Dr. Nebula said. “We are surrounded by robots here and – ”

Before he could complete, Dr. Galaxy snatched the gun from Tara and shot him down!

“MA! What have you done!” Tara screamed in horror.

“Relax, Tara. That’s not your Pa. That’s an imposter.”Dr. Galaxy said, as the ‘Dr. Nebula’ lying on the ground turned into a robot. “And don’t worry. These bullets don’t work on humans.”

“But Dr. Galaxy, how did you know it was an imposter?” Sherry asked.

“You see, I first doubted him in the cafe when he wasn’t the least surprised on seeing us. The real Dr. Nebula would have been furious! And I was almost sure it wasn’t him by how he brought us here. And just to confirm, I asked him what he had for dinner last night. That’s a secret code. He would have to answer ‘red pasta and pancakes with vanilla icecream.’”

“Wow! But what are we going to do now?” Sherry asked.

“Take this,” Dr. Galaxy handed over a gun to Sherry. “Tara’s already got one and I brought two for myself, just in case. We don’t know how many robots there are outside. All three of us need to be prepared.”

“But how can I? I mean I haven’t even practiced my shots!” Sherry said.

“No worries. You can at least get a shot or two right.”

The door then burst open and almost thirty robots marched in. “Oh so you killed our friend!” one of the robots said.

“ ‘Killed’? ‘Friend’? You are robots! You are speaking like humans!” Tara commented.

“Ah, don’t you dare compare us to humans! We are better than them!”

“Yeah, sure.” Tara said rolling her eyes. She was trying her best to act brave.

“Where’s Dr. Nebula?” Sherry asked.

“That man! We captured him! He’s of no use though. We couldn’t extract a single information from him!” One of the robots said. “And that’s why we are here to take you. C’mon! Tell us about your mission!”

“Oh really?” Tara asked. “Then here it is. Attack!” she cried.

And the three attacked the robots from three sides and ran towards the exit. They could only shoot down half a dozen robots. The robots chased after them. They ran down the building into the basement, which was incredibly large.

It was like a battlefield. The three people and the robots fired at each other and ducked behind objects. After a while, when they had shot down more than a dozen robots, Sherry realised that her gun was now empty. The same happened with Tara and Dr. Galaxy’s guns. They had no more bullets. Dr. Galaxy saw a small cabin at a corner of the basement and motioned the girls to follow her there quietly.

They went into the cabin without the robots noticing them and closed the door.

“What now?” Sherry asked.

“We need bullets!” Tara said.

“Would this help?” someone called from the inner side of the cabin. The trio turned around to see a boy waving a bag of dart bullets. He was no more than Tara’s age.

“Hi! Myself Robby. And here are some extra bullets – the same kind you need.”

“I think I have seen you somewhere…” Sherry thought out loud.

“Oh yeah! I saw you too. In the cafe. You were with Dr. Nebula. I got arrested there. But no worries, I ran away. Thanks to these bullets.”

“You know Pa? I mean Dr. Nebula?” Tara asked. “How? And how did you get these bullets?”

“No time to explain. Here, load your guns. We’ve got a fight ahead. C’mon!” Robby said.

The four of them shot down the robots together and ran out of the building.

“Come with me. I’ll take you to a safe spot,” Robby said.

And they walked and walked until they reached a huge empty ground. Robby went to a corner and pulled the grass apart to reveal a button. He pressed it and immediately a platform appeared there. They stepped on the platform and it began to swirl.

Tara could feel the same sinking and floating that she felt in the Time Car. Instantly they found themselves standing inside a lab!

“Welcome to Robby’s lab!” he announced.

“Your lab? You are a scientist?!” Tara asked amazed.

“No I am not a scientist, but this lab’s now mine. Originally this was my grandpa’s. Dr. Galaxy, you must be knowing him right?”

Dr. Galaxy looked around the lab carefully and then at Robby.

“This can’t be!” she exclaimed. “So you are Dr. Comet’s grandson?”

“I am indeed!”

[Wow! Sounds interesting! The story continues next Monday! Till then, why don’t you check out my Spooks poems and my award post? Have a good time. See you next Monday!]

Posted in adventure, sci-fi, story

Season-2: Part-1: Ready, Set, Go!

[Previously in The Fourth Dimension: Season-1 Part-10: Dr. Galaxy, Sherry and Tara were determined to go into the future and save Dr. Nebula and the world.]

“What’s the plan?” Sherry finally spoke, breaking the chilling silence.

“Ah yes, yes, the plan. First I need you to learn some basics,” Dr. Galaxy laid out a chart sheet. All sorts of codes and diagrams were drawn on it. The sheet was filled rim-to-rim, corner-to-corner.

“Whoa! What’s this?”                                    

“Relax, Tara. These are just a few controls of the Time Car. And you need to memorise them.”

“But what’s the need, Mom? You’re there with us.”

“Yeah. But just in case… you know, if there’s an emergency…”

“What sort of emergency?” Tara almost shrieked.

“Ah, never mind. Sherry, do me a favour. You learn these codes and please just stay with Tara. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?”

“Of course, Dr. Galaxy!”

“Good. I expected that. You learn these right now. And Tara, I have another task for you. Come with me.”

Dr. Galaxy led Tara into another room. This one was full of ‘guns and bullets’. They didn’t look real though. Anyone could think they were toy guns because they were so colourful and perhaps made of plastic. The bullets were shaped like darts- pointless darts.

“Mom, are we gonna fool the robots with toy guns? I didn’t expect this from a scientist!”

“Oh, no Tara! These bullets are actually fitted with microchips. Once a bullet comes in contact with a robot’s body, it would hack the robot’s system! It would be paralyzed!”

“Now that’s cool!” Tara exclaimed examining a gun. “So this is how we fight the robots, eh?”

“Fight? No dear, don’t even think about it!” Galaxy exclaimed with widened eyes. “This is for your self defence. By chance if we get caught in such a situation that we have no exit left, only in that case will we use these guns. Otherwise, keep them hidden. We’ve got only a couple of these. Use them wisely.”

“Oh, okay.” Tara frowned. She really imagined herself fighting the robots with the guns like in some cool sci-fi movie.

“But there’s a catch. These bullets will only work if you fire them at a particular point on the robot’s forehead. So it would be better if you practise. Take these, Tara. These are some fake bullets. Practice your target with these.”

She excitedly took a handful of them and loaded in one of the guns. On the opposite wall, there was a target drawn in red ink. She took aim and fired.

“Whoa! Great job, Tara! You hit exactly at the right point! Keep practicing. I’ll just check on Sherry by then.”

Tara kept practicing for almost what seemed like hours. Finally, Dr. Galaxy declared that they were ready for the real plan. The three of them gathered in the central room and loaded themselves with food. Then Dr. Galaxy brought a large box and placed it on the table.

“Now listen up. Our aim is straightforward – go to the future, send Dr. Nebula back here before anything goes wrong and return. Now that might seem simple, but many things could go wrong. That is exactly why I made you learn the codes and fire the gun. Now you two must always stay together. Mind my words – never leave each other alone. I am there for you, sure, but if you don’t find me nearby, just save yourselves. Do not worry about me. Is that clear?”

“But Mom, how can we leave you-”

“Is that clear?” Dr. Galaxy repeated with emphasis.

“Um… but… okay… yeah, fine.” Tara said uneasily.

“Great. Now we’ll have to finish things up fast. The more time we take, the more you will age. And I don’t want my girls to be attending high school at the age of 20, okay?” Then seeing Tara and Sherry’s grim faces, she added, “Hey, at least give me a smile. My joke wasn’t that bad, was it?”

“That was ridiculous, Mom.”

***

After a few hours, they met again in the lab with their bags and food.

“Okay girls, sit down. I hope you remember all I’ve told you today. Other than that, there’s a safety kit and emergency tools under your seat. Although I hope we wouldn’t need them. All ready to go?”

“Yes!”

The Car started shaking again and they felt themselves floating. With a sinking feeling in their guts, they were transported to the future.

When Tara opened her eyes, she was amazed by the sight in front of her. It was a really advanced time. She could only see shiny skyscrapers and robotic cars on the road. The whole world seemed to carry a metallic glimmer.

Dr. Galaxy hid the Time Car amidst the rare trees and returned back. “Here Tara, the gun. Fully loaded. Hide it carefully. And I can see your father in the cafe there. C’mon.”

They walked along neatest footpath Tara had ever seen and entered into the cafe. All along, Tara and Sherry kept whispering, exclaiming and pointing to things around them. The place seemed even stranger than Egypt!

“Shh… Keep your voices low!” Dr. Galaxy said after a few minutes. “Don’t behave like you are here for the first time. Act like you were born in this world.”

A staircase suddenly popped up out of nowhere at the entrance of the cafe. As they climbed up, the stairs started jingling a melody! At the other end of the staircase, an ATM machine sort of thing greeted them, “Good morning! Welcome to cafe Sun-Mania! Whom do we have the pleasure of serving today?”

A keyboard popped up and Dr. Galaxy entered their names. “Okay, Mrs. Galaxy, Miss Tara and Miss Sherry, enjoy your day!” The machine sank into the ground and a platform rose in its place. The three of them stepped on the platform and it started floating! It carried them to a table at one corner of the cafe and sank back into the ground.

More surprises awaited them inside there.

There were no human employees in the cafe! All robots and machines! It was a luxurious place. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Then a shiny white robot, the first one they saw that day, came to their table. “Hello ladies! What would you like to have?”

“Um, what do you have?”

“At this time, we have 12 varieties of coffee, 52 types of sandwiches, 8 different desserts, and 15 varied flavours of soft drinks available with us. What would you like to have?”

“Sandwiches!” Tara exclaimed. She felt really hungry surrounded by the aroma of food in the cafe.

“Yeah, that would be good. What flavours do you have in veg sandwiches?” Dr. Galaxy asked.

“Cheese Treat Sandwich, Mayo ‘n’ Tomato Sandwich, Green Leafy Sandwich, Veg Party Sandwich, Cream ‘n’ Raspberry Sandwich, Orange Fluff – ”

“Stop, stop, stop! Bring three of your best selling sandwiches, okay?”

“Okay madam. So I’ll be bringing Cheese Treat, Orange Fluff, and Noodle Mania. I’ll be back in no time.”

After the robot went away, Tara whispered, “Mom, this is so good! Such a high quality service! And these robots are so sweet! And people are really enjoying themselves! What were you saying about evil robots and slave humans? I think you must have been mistaken. I would in fact love to live here!”

“Oh no, Tara. You are seeing things on a small scale. It’s actually the robots controlling us. Let me show you the reality.” She called one of the robot waiters, “Excuse me! Can I get a NewsTab, please?”

“What’s a NewsTab?” Sherry asked.

“Like we have newspapers, they have NewsTabs. No newspapers exist now. People here read the news on NewsTabs.”

“So it’s actually like asking for a magazine or newspaper in a hotel in our time, right?”

“Absolutely!”

The robot handed over a NewsTab and Dr. Galaxy began scrolling down. Then checking that there was no one around her, she showed the girls a news article.

“Prime Minister ‘Kaspa’ enacts new measure…” Tara read out, “…all people to be issued identity cards… to be used for entering public buildings… trespassers to be severely punished. Whoa! Seems a strict one, isn’t it?”

“Tara, you’re seeing the wrong thing.” Sherry whispered. “See there, below the article, Kaspa’s photo.”

Tara stared at the photo in horror.

Kaspa is a robot?!

[Whoa! A robot? A robot ruling the people? What are they going to do now? And where’s Dr. Nebula now? We’ll know really soon. Catch the next part on Monday! And till then, check out my Spooks poem collection if you haven’t yet…]

Posted in sci-fi, story

Part-10: Unveiling Secrets

[Here’s the 10th Part of The Fourth Dimension: Season-1. Make sure to read from the beginning if you haven’t yet.]

“Yes, I am Galaxy!” she replied beaming. “You’ve had quite a few surprises in the past 48 hours, haven’t you?

“Yeah,” Sherry said awestruck. “This is so fascinating!”

“C’mon girls, have a seat. Dr. Nebula’s in there,” Dr. Galaxy said pointing towards a door.

“Here? But we thought you took him to the hospital…” Sherry said confused.

“To the hospital? Oh no. What do you expect me to say to the hospital employees? That a man turned sixty-five in a fraction of second? Or that he travelled to the future? And by the way Tara, you look really sick. Want some candy?”

Tara indeed looked like she was about to burst. She felt as if a thunderbolt had struck her. Her mom, a scientist? All these years? And she never knew? No one ever told her? She had so many questions popping in her mind that her head was spinning.

“Mom, how- I mean when- I mean- Oh god, I don’t know what I mean! Why didn’t you tell me before? How come I didn’t know for 15 years that my mom is a scientist?”

“Take it that I am a brilliant actor!” Dr. Galaxy said grinning. “Jokes apart, we’ve got something really important to discuss. Hurry up,” she said going through a door next to Dr. Nebula’s door.

That’s when Tara realised how big her mom’s lab was. It had four rooms other than the one where they were standing and a small kitchen area. As they stepped into the room, Tara noticed that there were five computer systems and chairs in the room. And the place clearly suggested that it was inhabited by more than one person.

“You don’t work alone, right?” Sherry had asked the question before Tara.

“Well, we didn’t work alone, but now we do. It was a team of five people. Now there are only two of us left- Dr. Nebula and me,” she replied frowning.

“What happened to the other three?” Tara asked.

“They left us after one of our plans went wrong, as in the case of your Pa. But they are brilliant scientists. That’s why I need your help. Because I am all alone now.”

“You could just have directly told us then,” Tara said scowling, “That you are Galaxy. Why all that ‘always time to change your destiny’ crap? We would have been here earlier.”

“Think practically Tara,” Dr. Galaxy replied. “You were already in a shock seeing your Pa. Even if I told you that I am scientist who calls herself Galaxy, you wouldn’t believe that. And I was just about to tell you, but well,” she paused, looking at the girls proudly, “you found the way out yourself. And I must say I am impressed!”

“That means we are accompanying you in saving Dr. Nebula and others?” Sherry asked.

“Earlier I was doubtful. But now I am 100% sure that both of you are the right choice for the mission. And speaking of it, let me explain you the plan.”

And she rolled out a sheet of chart paper and took out pens and files.

“Wait mom!” Tara stopped her. “First we want to know what the real mission was. Pa was talking about stealing something… what was that? Please tell us mom, we are dying of curiosity!”

“Don’t go by his words, okay? He only told you a part of the plan. Our real motive is something really good.”

“Fine mom! Go ahead.”                                                                                          

“So in the initial days of our testing, we went to the future. And we saw something disastrous. Some evil scientists had taken control of the world. Local territories were taken over by robots. In fact, they had a whole army of robots!”

“What? That’s creepy!” Sherry exclaimed.

“Yes, I know. So we planned to go to the future to observe the robots and find out how they work. Then we would trap one and bring it here to make similar robots. And finally we would build an army of good robots to fight the bad ones.”

“So that’s your plan to save the world?” Tara asked wide-eyed.

“Yeah, sort of.”

“What went wrong then?” Sherry asked.

“You see, the plan isn’t as easy as it seems. The future technology is really advanced. Stealing from there isn’t a piece of cake. Plus, the robots are really bad. And mind it, when I say bad, I mean evil, really evil. They have all sorts of attack and defence mechanisms. Get it?”

“Oh! So you mean Pa got caught or something?”

“Perhaps,” Dr. Galaxy sighed.

“What’s our plan now?” Sherry asked.

“In simple terms, we’ll have to go to the future, see what went wrong, fix everything, and return back. And then we’ll open Dr. Nebula’s room. If everything goes as planned, you’ll have your Dr. Nebula back. If not, then… well, let’s just hope everything goes as planned.”

“And we’ll also have to bring back a robot, right?” Tara asked.

“Our priority now is Dr. Nebula. First we’ll have him back. Only then will we think about anything else.”

The three of them stood there face-to-face. They knew that anything could happen to them in the future. It was possible that they might even worsen the situation. But they had to take the risk. Each of them was determined. They had to do this – to save Dr. Nebula. And perhaps, the world.

[Guys, this was the end of Season-1. Hope you enjoyed the journey! Tell me in the comments which part you think was the best of Season-1 and which element you loved the most. I’ll be coming back with Season-2 soon. Stay tuned!]

Click here to read Season-2

Posted in adventure, sci-fi, story

Part-9: Hunting Down Galaxy

[Make sure to read this from the beginning if it’s your first time here…]

“Have you heard of that name before?” Sherry asked.

“I don’t think so. But I am surprised to know that he even has a friend! I mean everyone thinks he is a weirdo…”

“Hey, they both seem a bit similar, isn’t it? Nebula and Galaxy… close friends I think.” Sherry said.

“Yeah but how will we find him?” Tara asked irritated.

“How do you know it’s a ‘he’”?”

“I guessed,” Tara replied shrugging.

“I think it’s a lady. Galaxy seems a lady-like name, isn’t it?”

Tara raised her eyebrows. “Do you really think this is a time to discuss whether it’s a man or a woman? Come on Sherry! How will we find Dr. Galaxy?”

“Maybe we can find something in Dr. Nebula’s phone… numbers or something?” Sherry suggested.

“Pa doesn’t have a phone. He kept losing mobiles so he doesn’t use them anymore; prefers landline. He uses the one here in the basement and the one in the office.”

“Now that complicates things.”

“But he has a diary with all his contacts!” Tara exclaimed suddenly. “But I don’t know where it is right now…”

The only thing they could do now was to search the whole lab. So they began…

They looked in the drawers and cupboards, the shelves and the platform, but they could only find machine parts, circuits, screws, nuts, papers and tools. After a hunt that lasted for almost half an hour, they sat down disappointed.

“Where could the diary be? It has to be somewhere here,” and saying so, Tara kicked a metallic block that hit the Time Car with a clink.

“The Time Car! Of course!” Sherry suddenly exclaimed standing up with a start.

And they ran towards the Car and found the leather diary under the seat. “Here it is!” And they started flipping through the pages.

They looked through the whole diary hundreds of times. But they couldn’t find a single entry by the name of Galaxy. Then Tara suddenly noticed a star marked crumpled page tucked into the covers of the diary. “The ‘special entries’ page!” she said excitedly.

But almost instantly her smile turned into a frown, for the page only had her mother’s number- that too the old one. “That’s why it was crumpled,” and she was about to throw the paper aside, when…

“Wait!” Sherry held Tara’s hand. “Don’t throw it. See, there’s something written on the backside…”

Tara turned the paper. Sure enough, there were some strange symbols on the paper. “I’ve seen these somewhere,” Sherry said scratching her head. She sat down where she was- in the Car. And then she saw it.

“Here! The symbols! The buttons,” Sherry cried excitedly. The symbols on the buttons and dials resembled to those on the paper. “Perhaps this is the code for a particular time or place. What do you say?”

“This is great!” Tara exclaimed. “Maybe we should follow this code and go where it leads us?”

“But Tara, we don’t exactly know where this will take us. It could be dangerous too.”

“This is the only lead we’ve got, Sherry! It’s surely worth a try. Please,” Tara insisted.

“Are you sure? I mean there are many risks involved. Firstly, we don’t even know where it will lead us. Secondly, we’ll be operating the Car for the first time. And thirdly, if anything goes wrong, we don’t have a backup plan.”

“Sherry, we have to do this. We have to do it for Dr. Nebula. Let’s go for it Sherry.” There was a sudden confidence in her voice.

They stepped into the Car. Sherry looked into the paper and pushed buttons and rotated dials. “Are you ready?” she asked Tara. She nodded and Sherry pushed the ‘start’ button. They could feel the Car shaking violently and then floating in the air. They closed their eyes and held each other’s arms tightly as they felt the sinking feeling in their guts.

Moments later, they gathered courage to open their eyes and look where they were. It was a cool corridor, shining and smelling the same way as Dr. Nebula’s lab did. There was a pearl white door in front of them which was unlike Nebula’s creaky old basement door. A sign board on the door read: “Dr. Galaxy

“So we haven’t travelled in time yet,” Tara finally spoke. “This was just a code to bring us to Dr. Galaxy’s lab.”

The door was partially open and they entered inside without even asking for permission, as if they were naturally supposed to be there. It was a really pleasant atmosphere inside. The place was nicely arranged; even the machine parts and tools were all in cabinets and shelves. There was a sweet smell inside the room. “I think you were right, Sherry. Dr. Galaxy is perhaps a lady.”

As they explored the room, Tara could feel a certain connection with the room. The smell, the way things were arranged reminded her of someone. But she tried her best to ignore her doubts…

“Hello girls! Amused?” A woman called from behind. She was a sweet lady wearing an apron with the tag ‘Dr. Galaxy’ tucked to it.

As Tara turned around, she stared at the woman in disbelief as her doubts turned to reality. “MOM?!

[Wait what? Mom? Really amused! Catch the next part on Thursday! Do subscribe to Oddball Thinks to get the next part delivered directly to your inbox!]

Posted in sci-fi, story

Part-8: To and Fro the Future

[If this is your first time here, make sure to read The Fourth Dimension from the beginning…]

“So the real plan is that I have to go to the future- nearly thirty five years from now.”

“That isn’t a big deal,” Sherry said shrugging, “Given the fact that we have just travelled back more than two thousand years to the past and also escaped a deadly crocodile and armed soldiers-”

“That isn’t all,” Dr. Nebula interrupted. “I have to stay there for a few years.”

“A few years!” Tara exclaimed. “Now we have got a reason to freak out. But that doesn’t make it deadly, does it? I mean you’ll be back to the present in a fraction of second.”

“But he’ll do age up a bit.” Sherry added.

“Oh, you two!” he said laughing. “I am not going on a holiday; I am going there to steal!”

“To what?!” the girls exclaimed shocked.

“Oops! What have I said! Girls, trust me, okay? I’ll be alright. And Sherry, I think it’s time to drop you off. Hurry up!” Dr. Nebula said stepping into the Time Car.

“No, Dr. Nebula! First you go for your mission. It wouldn’t make any difference if I am half a second late.” Sherry said stubbornly.

“Oh you! Fine. I am not going anywhere now.” Dr. Nebula said even more stubbornly.

“Stop it!” Tara yelled. “Sherry, go to your house right now. And Pa, you’ll only go for your mission after we are back from school. Deal?”

“Deal.” Dr. Nebula and Sherry said nonchalantly.

***

The following afternoon, Dr. Nebula could be seen stuffing all of his bags into the Time Car, which suddenly seemed too tiny for the luggage.

“Dr. Nebula, take care.” Sherry said in a worried tone.

“Don’t worry child. I’ll be fine. ”

“Pa, have you told mom? Have you told anyone other than us about your mission?” Tara asked.

“I’ll be back before you blink,” he said, caressing her cheek.

Waving a goodbye, he climbed into the Car and pushed the buttons. Tara could bet she had seen a tear in his eye.

The Car began to shake violently and slowly disappeared. Tara knew he would be back in less than a second, but even in that short duration of time, she could feel her heart in her mouth. Dr. Nebula had said he would be fine. But Tara knew her father just too well.

Before she could breathe out, the Car had reappeared. Tara and Sherry glanced at each other and gulped. The Car door didn’t open up instantly.

The door opened up moments later and Tara could feel herself getting back to normal when suddenly she held her breath halfway. Something was wrong.

A man with a dull and wrinkled face emerged from the Car. He was thin, dirty and had long white hair and beard, as if he hadn’t eaten properly, bathed, shaved or even trimmed his hair in years.

“PA!” Tara screamed horrified and ran towards Dr. Nebula.

“Oh, my baby!” he said crying as he hugged Tara. “It’s been thirty years since I last saw you.”

“Thirty years!” Tara and Sherry went white in the face.

Tara’s mother came running into the basement. “What’s all this noise? Oh gosh!” she exclaimed as she saw Dr. Nebula.

Tara had thought that her mother would go nuts. She would go into shock and collapse. But perhaps she didn’t know her mother as much as she knew her father. Because the very next moment, her mother had called the ambulance and was already off to the hall to bring some water and food.

“H-How did this happen, D-d-Dr. N-Nebula?” Sherry asked, struggling to get her words out.

“This was all in my destiny…” Dr. Nebula said in a strangely dreamy tone.

“Sherry,” Tara whispered, “Why is a scientist suddenly talking about things like destiny?”

Her mother had reached the basement by then and was trying to lift Dr. Nebula up the stairs.

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Tara asked.

Dr. Nebula seemed to ignore that question. But as it turns out, Tara’s mother has got really good ears.

“Remember,” she called out, “There’s always time to change your destiny.”

And they heard the slamming of the door. They had left for the hospital.

Sherry sat down on the floor with a thump. “I get it all. Whatever happened to Dr. Nebula was his destiny and there’s always time to change your destiny. Know what it means?”

“No…” Tara said confused.

“It means that WE have to change his destiny!” Sherry said. “WE have to use the Time Car and save him! The only problem is- we don’t know how to use it.”

Tara slowly walked towards the Time Car, touching it, feeling it, caressing it- like the way Dr. Nebula used to. And suddenly she noticed something – a gleaming metal tag at one end of the Car.

“Sherry! See this!” Tara exclaimed.

Sherry came running there and saw something that left both of them puzzled. The tag read:

“The Time Car- A gift to the World by Dr. Nebula and Dr. Galaxy”

“Now only Dr. Galaxy can help us.” Tara said. “Whoever this is…”

[Now who is Dr. Galaxy? A friend? Another scientist? Who is it? One thing is for sure- only Dr. Galaxy can save Dr. Nebula. Catch up the next part on Monday as Tara and Sherry gather clues and reach Dr. Galaxy. Stay tuned!]

Posted in sci-fi, story

Part-7: Surprises

[Read the story from the beginning if you haven’t yet…]

“W-what do we do now?” Sherry asked.

“My genius mind has some ideas…” Dr. Nebula said.

The crocodile opened its mouth wide and showed off its pointed yellow and black teeth, all ready to chew the three people off.

“RUN!” Dr. Nebula cried.

And the three ran out of the cave. They were so enthralled with fear, that they even forgot they had to keep themselves hidden!

Instantly, the civilians spotted them. “Ahoy! Tabimi! Tabimi!” one of them cried. “Hawue! Pori nui!” shrieked the other. Within moments, Tara, Sherry and Dr. Nebula found themselves surrounded by swarms of people screaming ‘Tabimi!’ and ‘Pori nui!’ They had no time to decode what the words meant. They just knew they were in deep trouble.

But the real danger was now marching towards them. Soldiers- or at least that is what they looked like- hundreds of them. They had weapons shaped like spears. The crowd made way for the ‘army’. The soldiers soon encircled the trio, their spears pointing towards them. “Kada hubi rha,” the soldiers began saying, or asking; it wasn’t clear.

Suddenly, the ‘commander’ ordered, “Vuli poruai!“, and this time it was very clear what he had said; because the very moment, soldiers rushed forward carrying handcuffs and chains.

“Pa! Do something!” Tara cried.

“Oh, I am thinking! We’ll escape, don’t worry… and even if we don’t, you will finally have a trip to boast about to your friends…” Dr. Nebula joked, at least tried to.

The soldiers were closing in.

Hudsi piri qwirchi ta!” Sherry suddenly shouted.

The soldiers stopped and looked at Sherry, then quickly dropped their weapons! The people stopped screaming and the soldiers backed off! Tara and Dr. Nebula glared at Sherry in amazement.

“What are you waiting for? Run!” Sherry said.

And the three sprinted back to the cave. And very much to their surprise, the crocodile wasn’t there! The three climbed into the Car and Dr. Nebula pressed the ‘start’ button. A violent shake followed by a sinking feeling in guts transported them to Dr. Nebula’s lab. Huffing and panting, they crawled out on the floor.

“Sherry! What were those words you said?” Tara asked amused.

“Oh! You remember you gave me a book about ancient languages in April? All thanks to the book…”

“You memorized it?!” Tara asked shocked.

“Kinda… I mean I read it only once, but it appears that my memory is just too good. Anyways, that was the first sentence that came into my mind. Dunno what it means by the way…” Sherry replied shrugging.

“Sherry, oh Sherry!” Tara said in an about-to-cry voice, “That book was a prank! I gave it to you on first of April!”

“What!” Sherry exclaimed wide eyed.

“Chill girls,” Dr. Nebula said. “Here, you must be thirsty,” he said, handing them glasses of juice. “We are out of there. Now forget about it…”

“Fine… By the way Pa, it was 1:45 when we left, right? The clock still shows 1:45!”

“That, my dear,” replied Dr. Nebula, “is a unique feature of my Time Car. When we don’t set a time, as in our case, it automatically sends us to the initial time. And talking of time, Sherry, I’ll be dropping you off after 3 minutes.”

“Why three minutes?” Tara asked.

“I think I know the answer,” Sherry said. “That’s because we left for Egypt from my house exactly three minutes after you left the lab. Dr. Nebula and Tara of this time zone have just left the lab. This means that the Sherry in this time zone is still in her house for three minutes. She will be freaked out if she sees another Sherry! Am I right Dr. Nebula?”

“Right you are, my girl, right indeed,” he said patting her back. “And just remember- do NOT speak to anyone about my Time Car. Is that clear?” he asked sternly.

“Yes sir!” Sherry and Tara chimed in.

“And then I’ll leave for the real mission.” Dr. Nebula said.

“The REAL mission?”

“Ah yes. All of this was just testing. You asked me what I was doing in the basement the whole night yesterday. So here it is- I went to different times and spent hours, even days and weeks! At the end I was so tired, that I collapsed in the basement. You caught me a few hours ago when I came out; actually that was when I woke up. That’s the whole story.”

“But what is the real mission?” Tara asked. “Can’t we accompany you?”

“Oh no, no! Never ever think about accompanying me! It could be deadly!”

“Deadly?” Sherry seemed alarmed. “What IS your mission Dr. Nebula?”

Sherry’s tone made it very clear that she was serious about her business.

“Hey, hey! Don’t you trust me?” Dr. Nebula tried pleading.

Both of them raised their eyebrows.

“Okay, I surrender,” he said finally. “But don’t freak out when I tell you.”

[Don’t freak out? What is the mission? How ‘deadly’ is it? You’ll soon know in the next part. Stay tuned!]

Posted in sci-fi, story

Part-6: A Trip to Egypt

If you haven’t read the previous parts of The Fourth Dimension yet, read them before this.

[As I said in my previous post, Tara and Dr. Nebula would go where you want them to go. @annabethchase11 said that she would love the “trio” to go to Egypt. And here they are… on a trip to Egypt!]

“You’re really gonna take me with you?” Tara asked fascinated.

“Sure. Step in!”

“But I wanted to take Sherry too,” Tara said frowning.

“I see. Bit of a problem isn’t it? But I called my machine a Time “Car”, right? So c’mon, we’ll drive back in time to Egypt in my car and pick up Sherry on the way!”

“You are joking right?”

“Oh no! See for yourself.”

They climbed into the Car and Dr. Nebula rotated some dials. Suddenly Tara could feel herself shaking violently, as if there was a massive earthquake. Then she felt as if she was floating in air. And then there was a strong sinking feeling in her guts and in a fraction of second she found herself in Sherry’s bedroom!

“Woah!” Tara exclaimed in surprise.

Sherry heard the sound and woke up to find two creatures standing in her room in the middle of night! She was about to scream when Tara switched on the lights and clapped her hands on Sherry’s mouth.

“Shut up Sherry! This is us!”

“Tara! Dr. Nebula! What are you doing here! I mean… I am sorry but… in the middle of night…”

“Oh Sherry, we’ve got no time to waste!” Dr. Nebula said clapping his hands. “C’mon, get in the car, fast… and I hope you’ll adjust… the car’s for two people and we’re three…”

“Car? What car?” Sherry was confused.

“Just step in this carriage, or whatever you think this is,” said Tara pulling Sherry by her hands, “I’ll explain you everything.”

“But we’ll be back before morning, right? Otherwise, my parents…”

“Don’t you worry about that,” Dr. Nebula said. “Just enjoy the night.”

And the trio set off.

This time, it took longer than before. Tara assumed this was because they were travelling in the fourth dimension. It wasn’t merely distances.

When Tara finally felt the ground, she opened her eyes to find herself in a dark and humid place.

“Where are we, Dr. Nebula?” Sherry asked.

“In Egypt- 300 B.C. Precisely, in a cave.”

And then Tara explained everything to Sherry. Dr. Nebula parked the Time Car at a safe place and then they set out.

Outside was a world they had never seen before. There were men and women in plain dresses and colourful jewellery. It looked like a marketplace where weird but beautiful pots and utensils were being sold.

“Tara, Sherry, listen to me carefully now. Both of you will stay close to me and don’t, just DON’T let anyone see you. They’ll be freaked out, they’ll go nuts, they’ll attack you, maybe even-”

“We understood Dr. Nebula!” Sherry said. “Don’t worry, we’ll stay with you.”

They roamed around the marketplace, while hiding beneath tents and sheds. They could also see pyramids far away.

“Let’s get a more clear view of those pyramids, shall we?” Dr. Nebula said.

They set off in the direction of pyramids.

The place was mostly isolated, so they didn’t need to hide themselves. The pyramids were a fascinating sight. On the other side, they could see people in black clothes in deep mourning.

Then they also caught a glimpse of the Pharaoh. He wasn’t wearing the same clothes as the civilians; he was wearing clothing which looked like a colourful short skirt. He was also wearing pretty colourful jewels and a headgear.

“What a sense of fashion!” Tara exclaimed.

Then they started walking back towards the cave.

“Seems strange,” Sherry said, “We have gone back in time, we are returning back to time, and everything is going on so peacefully. I wonder if this is the calm before the storm…”

By then, they had entered the cave and were heading towards the Car. Suddenly, Dr. Nebula came to an abrupt halt just behind the Car. “Sherry, it seems you have jinxed us.” he said.

“Uh-oh, we have a guest here,” Tara said, seeing the large crocodile seated in the Time Car.

[Oops! What happens now? Wait for the next part… and till then, keep praying that the crocodile doesn’t eat the trio raw!]

Posted in sci-fi, story

Part-5: Nebula’s Lab and Inventions

[If you haven’t read the previous parts of The Fourth Dimension yet, do read them before this.]

“The Fourth Dimension?” Tara was confused.

“Ah, yes dear, the fourth dimension. There’s length, breadth, height and then comes this fourth one- time.”

“Time? I don’t understand still…”

“You haven’t read any of the books I bought you last year, have you? Never mind… Look here. You can move to your left, you can move to your right; that’s a one dimensional space. But you can also move forward and backward. This forms a two dimensional space. Also, you can move upwards and downwards. This together forms a three dimensional space. Now, if time is the fourth dimension…”

“I can move in time,” Tara finished his sentence. She couldn’t believe that she had said this herself. She looked at her father and then at the cabinet in awe.

She was about to open the cabinet when Dr. Nebula exclaimed, “Not now, dear, not now! I will show it to you later. But now, you have got the golden once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Dr. Nebula’s laboratory. Have a look around…”

Tara was so engrossed in the wooden cabinet, that she had forgotten she was finally inside the basement- her lifelong wish had finally come true. She stepped back and looked round the basement. And what she saw wasn’t something one sees everyday…

The basement, dark and dull from outside, was sparkling like diamonds inside. A shiny blue light filled the whole room. There were machines all around- big and small. Tara could see nuts and fittings, metal blocks, and machine parts around her. She took a tour around the lab. The first thing her eyes fell upon was a small machine, shaped like a projector.

“What’s this Pa?”

“That’s my holographic projector. Works magic, you see…”

Dr. Nebula went up to the projector and pushed some buttons. He directed it to the table in front of Tara. And she gasped as a shiny red apple appeared on the table!

“That’s really magic!” she shrieked.

But when she tried to pick the apple up, her hands went right through it, as if it was nothing but air.

Dr. Nebula laughed. “It’s not actually an apple there. It’s just an image. You can’t hold it,” and saying this he projected another image there.

“The lock on the basement!” Tara gasped again. “So that’s how you fooled me into not entering the basement. The door wasn’t locked yesterday; you had projected the image of the lock; while the whole time you were inside and we were thinking that you are in the office!”

“Aha! You caught me!”

“But what about the car? It wasn’t in the driveway when I checked…”

“That’s yet another bit of magic,” and saying so, he moved to another corner of the lab and brought a large machine. “And here’s my camouflager!”

He placed it on the table carefully and turned some dials. Then he projected it towards the large wooden cabinet and turned it on. In an instance, the cabinet vanished!

“What! Where did it go?” Tara exclaimed.

“Nowhere,” Dr. Nebula said smiling. “It’s there only. My machine has just camouflaged it with its surroundings, so it isn’t visible. Go there and touch it; it’s still there.”

Tara moved her hand in the direction of the cabinet. And sure enough, she could feel it. “So that’s how you vanished the car. Wow! I never thought such things exist. But now, I have a last and the most important question- why was there a need to do such things? Why didn’t you go to the office? Why all this planning? Why-”

“Stop! Relax… Have a seat. Let me start from the beginning…”

Tara sat down on the nearest stool and Dr. Nebula seated himself on a platform opposite to her, very close to the wooden cabinet.

 “Let’s start with this cabinet. Do you know what it holds?”

“Yeah, you just told me. It’s a time machine, isn’t it? Why don’t you show it to me? I am so excited…” Tara said, popping in her seat.

“I will, sure. But first, promise that you won’t utter a single word about my lab to anyone.”

“Not even to Sherry?”

“Ok fine, but just Sherry. No one else. Shall we call it a deal?”

“Deal!” Tara exclaimed.

And finally Dr. Nebula opened the cabinet.

Inside, Tara could see a small two seated cabin with a whole desktop of buttons and dials. It was covered from all sides and had an entrance door at one side and a glass front view.

“And here, Tara, is my Time Car!”

Dr. Nebula pressed a button on a remote and the Time Car rose from the floor and slid out from the cabinet.

“Let’s go for a drive in my Car, shall we?”

[This is so exciting! A drive on the Time Car! Where will they go? Or better, in what time will they go? Into the stone age? Or the robot world? Or somewhere else? Let me ask you- where do you want them to go? Post in the comments below till 10:00 p.m. IST (3rd July, 2020). And I’ll make sure that your request gets featured in the next part. Stay tuned!]

Posted in sci-fi, story

Part-4: Basement and Secrets

[If you haven’t read the previous parts of The Fourth Dimension, do read them before this, or you won’t get this part. Enjoy!]

For a moment, there was a spine-chilling silence. Sherry’s statement had hit Tara like a thunderbolt.

“Maybe we missed that detail? Shall we play it again?” Tara suggested.

They played the recording again and listened with double concentration. But nowhere could they find the sound of Dr. Nebula coming out of the basement.

“Maybe we are just over thinking it,” Tara tried her best to sound casual.

“There’s no point sitting here and guessing,” Sherry said standing up. “I am going down. Wanna come?”

Tara knew it was more of a request than a question.

They hurried down the stairs, across the hall and came to a halt just ahead of the staircase that led to the basement. Slowly, they descended down the stairs, their hearts pounding in their chests.

“No good going down there,” Sherry said halfway down the stairs. “The door is locked.”

By then, Tara’s mother had spotted the two of them. “What are you doing there! And Tara, how many times should I tell you to stay away from the basement!” her mother called from the hall.

“Ma! This is really important. Where is Pa? He is here only, right?” Tara asked hopefully.

“No! He’s in the office at this time, you know that surely, don’t you Tara?”

“Auntie, when did Doctor Ne- I mean Uncle – leave for the office?” Sherry asked.

“Early in the morning; before I woke up. Busy time in the labs…”

That evening, after Sherry went home, Tara stood guard in the hall. She had it all planned in her head. If her father was really in the office, he would enter the house from the front door and Tara would pounce upon him and bombard him with questions. And if he turned from somewhere inside the house, then, well… she hadn’t planned anything for that. She knew he wasn’t in the house.

After dinner, when her mother went to sleep, Tara told her that she was waiting for Pa to return from the office and that she needed his help in some school assignment.

Hours passed by. It was half past twelve. Tara was lying on the couch, trying her best not to fall asleep. But her eyes were closing… She could see guns again. She was Agent T-13 – once again, on a new mission…

Her head jerkily lolled to one side. She hurriedly woke up and glanced at the clock. She had only been asleep for 15 minutes. Suddenly, she felt someone behind her. She turned around. “Pa!”

“Aah!” Dr. Nebula cried. “Oh it’s you, Tara. You scared me,” he said relieved.

“Where were you?” Tara exclaimed before she knew what she was saying.

“What? Well… I was down in the basement,” Dr. Nebula replied uneasily.

“When did you return from the office?”

“Oh late in the night, very late. You were sleeping then.”

“You are lying! I was here all evening.”

“Oh, is that so? Well, you caught me there. Fine… I didn’t go to office today. I was in the basement all day.”

“Really? Then why was there a lock on the basement?” Tara asked raising her eyebrows.

“Ah! I must admire your observational skills. But that’s a little secret. I wouldn’t tell you that. But yes, I was inside the basement.”

“Oh, is that so? Then you were there since yesterday? Because you didn’t come out last night…”

“Well, that is… Wait! How do YOU know I didn’t come out last night?”

Tara realised what she had just said. “Sorry, Pa…”

“Tara, you were spying on me!”

“Pa… that is… well… you know, curiosity kills the cat.”

“Hmm… you might have used a voice recorder I guess? Because if it was a camera, you would have known the secret of the lock. Smart work I must say…”

“So.. you aren’t angry with me?”

“Oh no!” Dr. Nebula said laughing. “I should have known this was coming. You are my daughter after all. Now come, its time you know the secret of the basement.”

“Really?!” Tara couldn’t believe this was happening.

And so Dr. Nebula led Tara into the basement. As she entered through the door, the first thing her eyes fell upon was a big wooden case- the size of a small cabin.

“What’s inside this Pa?”

“One of my finest creations,” Dr. Nebula replied smiling proudly. “The reason I was here since last night. Playing with my baby…” he said, while stroking the cabinet.

Tara could see a quote on the cabinet, written in bold white letters:

In life, when two ways don’t work, you go for the third one.

In science, when three dimensions don’t work, you ought to go for the fourth one- The Fourth Dimension.”

[Whoa! What did the cabinet hold? You might have guessed. If you did, do post down below. And there are many secrets yet to be unveiled- about the lock, about last night, about the cabinet of course, and about Dr. Nebula himself. What do you think? Tell me in the comments. Like, share, subscribe and stay tuned!]

Posted in adventure, sci-fi, story

Part-3: Dr. Nebula

[Part-3 of The Fourth Dimension… How did you like the story so far?? Comment below! And if its your first time here, do read Part-1 And Part-2 before this…]

All of a sudden, Sherry tapped the pause button and pulled away her earphones. “Tara, are you sure you want to listen to this recording?” Sherry asked in a tensely doubtful voice. “Of course! What sort of question is that! All this hard work for nothing? No, dear; I hold Dr. Nebula’s secrets in my hand!” Tara replied in a dramatically evil voice. “For God’s sake Tara!” Sherry exclaimed. “Can you please just stop calling him Dr. Nebula? He’s your father!”

That was indeed true. Tara’s father was, in fact, a scientist- and not just an ordinary scientist; he dealt with the most advanced fields of science. Other than his office, he had created a lab in his home itself in the basement. That was the reason why Tara was forbidden to enter the basement, and she very well knew it. This was also the reason why she had placed the recorder outside the basement- to know what happens inside the lab- and she was very sure it was a well secured secret. And no, his name wasn’t Nebula! It was just an alias.

“But he likes calling himself Dr. Nebula; says it gives him the feel of an extraordinary genius…” “He is a genius!” Sherry exclaimed.

“Oh please Sherry! I know you are the biggest fan of Dr. Nebula! I still remember the first time when you came to my home and saw Pa… you went nuts! Such a fan girl you are- you even got his autograph! And the worst part is: he likes YOU over me. I am sure he’ll adopt you some day!”

“It isn’t like that Tara!” Sherry said blushing.

“Now just keep quiet and plug in those earphones. I will listen to this recording. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to,” Tara said in a concluding tone. “Okay fine,” Sherry muttered.

They finally played the recording and both listened intently, but for a long time, no sound came. “Maybe we should fast forward it?” Sherry suggested. They did so and after some time, they could hear footsteps. “That has to be Pa!” Tara exclaimed.

The footsteps grew louder and louder and came to a halt. Then there was the clicking sound of an opening lock and the ‘creech’ sound confirmed that the basement door had been opened, then closed.

But to Sherry and Tara’s surprise, there were no further sounds. They forwarded the recording but there was still silence. A little later, they could hear the morning sounds of the hawker and the milkman. And much later, they could hear themselves coming back from school.

“Hmm… I should have guessed it…” Tara said thinking, “He must have made the basement door soundproof. That’s why a recorder as strong as this one couldn’t catch the sounds of the basement. But one thing is clear- he works at night. You see Sherry… Sherry! What’s wrong with you!” Tara exclaimed seeing the horrified look on Sherry’s face.

“S-s-something is wr-wr-wrong…” Sherry stammered, “Tara, wh-where is your father right now?”

“In the office of course!” Tara replied.

“That means he is not in the house?” Sherry asked once again.

“No,” Tara said yet again.

“Are you- are you 100% sure?”

“Yes, Sherry, yes! The car’s also not in the driveway, you can check. But why are you asking all this?”

“Also there is no exit out of your house other than the two on the ground floor, right?”

“Very much so. But what happened?” Tara was losing her patience now.    

“Tara, w-we heard Dr. Nebula o-opening the door and going into the basement, b-bu-but…”

“But what Sherry? Tell me clearly.”

“Tara, we never heard Dr. Nebula coming out of the basement…”

[What?!?! Now this is getting really creepy… Dr. Nebula never came out of the basement, but he’s in the office! What’s happening here?? Catch the next part for the answers! Don’t forget to post your guesses in the comments section. Like and share! Follow Oddball Thinks for more doses of sci-fi and suspense…]

Posted in adventure, sci-fi, story

Part-2: Tara

[Here’s Part 2 of The Fourth Dimension. Hope you liked the first part!]

As her eyes adjusted to the surroundings, the place started becoming more and more clear. Of course she knew this place! She had been here for 10 years now.

“Tara,” a fat but affable lady bent down and asked her, “How do you feel now child?” “Better,” she said to the school nurse as the 15 year old Tara sat up on the comfy bed of her school’s sick room.

Tara had the ambition of becoming a spy agent one day. Guns and cars were her number one fantasies. Adventure was her greatest desire. Only this time, it wasn’t a bomb that blasted her off; it was in fact a basketball that hit her so hard in the head that she blacked out and ended up in the school sick room.

Looking around, she saw her best friend Shruti (whom she preferred calling ‘Sherry’) standing beside her bed.

“You alright?” Sherry asked with a genuine concern on her face. “Yeah, fine. Head’s a bit dizzy though.” Tara said. “No doubt!” Sherry exclaimed nodding her head. “Excuse me?” “You know you were talking in your sleep Tara! Something about a mission and shooting down someone… I thought the ball hit you so hard that you lost your marbles!” “Oh no, I was just dreaming…” and saying so she started drifting back to her dream, anticipating what must have had happened after the blast…

“And by the way Tara,” Sherry said breaking Tara’s train of thoughts, “who’s this Agent T-13?” “Oh, no-no one!” Tara muttered blushing slightly.

***

“Oh! So you were on a mission in your dream? Nothing new. But you say Agent S-3 was me?!” Sherry could be heard exclaiming after school. “Apparently,” Tara replied shrugging. “Wow! But Tara… we have a real mission ahead of us today. You remember, right?” Tara had almost forgotten about it! How could she; this was the second greatest ambition of her life.

“Thanks for reminding Sherry! You remember the plan, right?” “Well,” she said, “Considering the fact that I myself have framed the plan, yes, I certainly remember the plan.” “Hee-hee,” Tara grinned sheepishly. Sherry was the brainiest girl Tara could ever have met.

By then they had reached Tara’s home. Sherry was to spend the evening at Tara’s with the excuse of a group assignment. Her mother answered the door and while Sherry distracted her with gossips, Tara took the moment to slip off to the basement.

As she descended down the stairs, she had the same creepy feeling she always had when she went near the basement. She wasn’t allowed there; and she very well knew why. As she spotted the big lock on the basement door, she remembered the stern look on her otherwise cool father’s face when she talked of entering the basement. She bent down in one corner and picked up the tiny voice recorder that she had placed near the door the other night. She then slowly crept back to the hall. Everything was going as planned.

After lunch, Tara and Sherry went up to Tara’s room on the second floor for their “group project”. They plugged in their earphones and anxiously clicked the play button on the recorder. They could feel their hearts going faster and faster, and for a while, their heartbeats were the only sound that could be heard…

[What had the device recorded? Why had Tara placed the recorder in the basement? Why wasn’t Tara allowed in the basement? Wait for part-3 to find out! Do like, comment and share! Subscribe to Oddball Thinks if you haven’t yet!]

Posted in adventure, story

Part-1: The Mission

Presenting before you the first part of “The Fourth Dimension”…

That dewy Tuesday morning saw something more than a sunrise and cooing birds. It looked no less than a movie scene: large black cars chasing a big blue van (which was reportedly carrying drugs and gold). As the procession reached the empty highway, it became very clear that it was a game of bullets. Men could be seen poking their heads out of the cars to shoot, or ducking down in defence.

“Agent T-13 reporting! Situation under control; 3 down, 1 left. We’ll catch them any moment now!” Apparently, Agent T-13, a sharp woman in black formals and sunglasses, was leading the mission, and this was a very normal day for her. The mission was simple: get hold of the drugs and gold and shoot down the men. She was much more used to jumping off helicopters or diving in the deep sea.

“Agent S-3 here! We are receiving more inputs on the mission,” a voice boomed from the walkie-talkie. And before the statement could be completed, the black cars had surrounded the blue van. There was no escape. The last of the men were shot down, boxes from the van were confiscated; mission complete! Or so they thought.

“Open up the boxes! We need to report what exactly and in how much amount they were carrying,” Agent T-13 ordered. Then walking by the side, she reported on her walkie-talkie, “Mission complete! All boxes confiscated, under inspection…” “No! Listen to me, this was a bait! We’ve been tricked!” Agent S-3 exclaimed from the other side.

“What?! But we are all safe, and we’ve shot down the men,” Agent T-13 said. She was confident that no mission could go wrong under her supervision. “Oh no, no! These inputs could never go wrong! Wait… the boxes! You haven’t opened the boxes, have you?” Agent S-3 asked tensely. “Boxes? Oh…” and remembering that she had just ordered the men to open the boxes, she turned around…

BOOM–                                                                            

There was a blast and she was thrown back. Her head hit the ground and it felt as if a boulder had just hit her. She had gone wrong; for the first time in her life, she had gone wrong. She had a weird dizzy feeling, as if she was sinking down and down and down…

***

When she regained consciousness, her head was still dizzy. Her vision was blurred, but she was sure she wasn’t on the highway where she had fainted. This was a different place, many people were standing around her, she was lying on a bed. Where was she? She was on a mission and then there was a blast…

And then she remembered it all. S-3 had said they have been tricked; the van was a bait. So had the enemies captured her? Where was her team?  And then she could think no more for her head hurt too much. Slowly her eyes started adjusting to her surroundings. The place seemed familiar. It looked like… but no, it couldn’t be. But this place had to be…

[Where was Agent T-13? What happened to her teammates? Stay hooked to know! Any guesses where she is? Tell me in the comments! Do like and share. Follow Oddball Thinks to know what happens next!]

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