Flash fiction- it had happened again

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It had happened again! How could I have been so stupid?  I had sworn never to do it again. Worse, I had been caught doing it. They say there are low moments of your life- when you are so humiliated that you wish that the ground opens up and swallows you whole. I had been caught, and even more embarrassing was the fact that I was topless and my companion was standing in the corner of the room sobbing.

I guess I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.

I walked into the medical store and slyly slid over a piece of paper to the person at the counter. The shopkeeper was an old acquaintance who gave me a questioning look as if to ask “what the hell?”. I just urged him on with a nod to comply with my request and said” put it in a brown paper bag, don’t want anybody to see it” The shopkeeper gave me a conspirational nod and put the package in a plain brown paper bag and slid it towards me. I hastily shoved the package in my jacket and made my way briskly to my motorbike. I drove back to my house stopping to pick up my companion on the way.

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I snuck back into my house and checked to see if the coast was clear. Package in hand, I beckoned my companion as I sprinted up the stairs to my room and locked it after she was inside. I drew the curtains to shield the activity in the room from the outside world.

“Hurry!” she said as I opened the package

“Take off your shirt or it will stain!” I nodded and took my shirt off.

“Hurry someone might come soon. Open it! Open it!” she demanded

“Ok ok!” I replied as I took the package out of the brown paper bag.

As I was opening the package someone started banging on the bedroom door.

“Crap! Someone’s here! what do we do?” she asked panicking

“Stay quiet!” I hissed at her

“Open the door! Why is it locked?”

I signalled my companion to stay quiet

“I know you’re in there, I saw your bike outside.” I heard the jingling of keys and the sound of a key being put into the lock. I looked on as my companion scurried to the corner of the room, quietly sobbing, looking for an exit where there wasn’t one.

I grasped the package tightly looking for a place to stash it. Unfortunately, in times of panic rarely do you get a moment of clarity, and I ended up stuffing the package in the shirt that I had taken off.

There was a moment of silence before the voice outside the door said “Fine, if you are not opening the door, I will”

There was click of the lock and the door swung open letting in a rush of daylight which temporarily stung my eyes. My companion stood silently in the corner of the room sobbing.

My brother walked in the room and looked around briefly before he grabbed my shirt which was now stained as the contents of the package had melted. He extracted the package from the shirt, a few drops dropped on the floor.

“how could you let him do this?” he asked my companion

She gave a sheepish smile as she showed him the chocolate I bribed my sister with.

“You are diabetic, you can’t run around doing this anymore!” he yelled at me as he left the room, throwing the ice cream into the dustbin. I stared longingly as the package contents melted into a small puddle at the bottom of the bin.

“Next time don’t take off the shirt!” my sister remarked as she left the room munching away on the chocolate.

Flash fiction- The challenge

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Combing his fingers through his hair, he took a deep breath- staring anxiously at the opaque cylindrical bottle in front of him.
Everyone was looking at him expectantly, he smiled nervously at the girl next to him. She was beaming at him, the grin splitting her face in half,but the eyes were expressionless, betraying her indifference to him.
He threw a questioning look at the great man standing in front of him. The great man paused before giving him an encouraging smile and a nod to carry on.
He took a deep breath and lifted the bottle to his lips as the great man urged him on. People started chanting his name, some cheering and all of them applauding him in the catchy rhythm that made one want to shake a leg.
The pungent liquid flowed over the tip of his tongue filling his nostrils and making him gag as he gulped the dark fluid. He forced himself to down the whole bottle in one go. Though it took him only a minute, it felt hours as after each gulp, he had to pause drinking for a moment to accommodate the gust of gas exiting his mouth after every few seconds tipping the fluid from his mouth onto his shirt.
Meanwhile the chanting of and clapping of the audience increased in volume and speed as the contents of the bottle decreased.
He fell to his knees after emptying the bottle amidst cheers, panting as if he had run a marathon. As he struggled to catch his breath on his haunches, he saw the fake smile lady beckoning him towards his prize.
The great man clapped him on the back triggering a burp from him as he
declared his accomplishments to the audience.
The fake smile lady stood with his prize as the audience listened enamored by the great man’s charm and showmanship.”-for completing the challenge of finishing a litre of the gasiest soft drink in a minute – Ahmed has won a brand new 800cc Car!”
The fake smile lady opened the car door for him as Ahmed sat in the driver’s seat of now hiscar.
The great man leaned in the driver’s window and asked”Ahmed bhai, is there anything else that your heart desires?”
Ahmed hesitated before saying- “Fahad bhai- if I could get mobile phone to go with the car…. That would be great.”
The great man gave a big booming laugh as he gestured his assistant to bring him a mobile phone.

The cold wind

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The cold wind stabbed at him repeatedly, no matter how much he crouched or tried to cover his torso, the wind would again find room to sink the icy dagger. There wasn’t much he could do about it except maybe go home, but that wasn’t an option. He had run away from home 6 months before and now the streets were his home.

His home was now the sidewalk, his bed was nothing more than a few cardboard boxes spread out. Now after 6 months of misery, he wanted to go home, bathe in clean water, eat home cooked food; but he didn’t know how to go and more importantly where to go.

He was feeling a little feverish, he missed having someone take care of him. The safety of his father’s presence, the warmth of his mother’s love. He missed his family more on this cold night than he had before. With chattering teeth he huddled in a warm corner of the cold pavement. The damp cardboard did not do much for warmth, but the make shift blanket did a lot to blunt the icy gusts prodding his back.
Exhaustion finally won the battle from the cold winds as he drifted off to a dreamless sleep – his only escape from his harsh reality.

 

Flash Fiction-The curious case of the mineral water

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An acquaintance of mine told me the story of how the mind can influence the body
Here’s the story:
My father’s brother came to Pakistan from America after a gap of 11 years. My uncle was a serious victim of germophobia and thought that the boiled water here was dirty. Consequently, he had an upset stomach drinking the ‘dirty’ boiled water. In order to salvage his brother’s stomach, my father bought a gallon of some mineral water and all was well. In those days mineral water had been newly launched in the market and was considered a luxury, so understandably the rest of the family questioned the logic behind the expense for such a luxury.

One fine day, as we were sitting for lunch, my uncle mentioned to my father that he was out of mineral water and needed some more. My father had just started his meal and was really angry at the timing of my uncle’s request. In his haste to get back to lunch, he did not go to the bottle wala and buy a new gallon, instead he filled the gallon with tap water and just shut the door loudly to ensure that my uncle heard him coming back. He tipped the contents of the gallon into a bottle and brought it to the table. My uncle was satisfied that he was having ‘mineral’ water and spent the rest of his trip drinking what was in fact, tap water. There were no further bouts of repeated trips to the bathroom and my uncle returned to America with a healthy stomach.

As you can see mineral water is just an illusion for fooling the elite class of Pakistan, for people coming from abroad doctors recommend double-boiled water and urge the visitors to avoid to drink mineral water.
I mean we don’t know how they get the water, it could be sewage treated water for all we know. To further demonstrate my point, i want the readers to watch the  Tuxedo opening scene the film starring Jackie Chan.

Mineral Water

Mineral Water

That’s her- Flash Fiction

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I did it- I took a leap of faith and followed my heart, a few seconds of courage is all it took. I was feeling elated, the sensation of adrenaline rushing through your veins is indescribable. You feel your heart throbbing right behind your ear, a rush of euphoria fills you.  You can feel the separate drops of sweat forming on your neck; slowly trickling down your nape forming tiny rivulets.

“I take it that she said yes?” Adnan asked

“How did you know?”

Adnan smiled- “It’s practically written on your face. Well that and she told me to cover for her tomorrow afternoon.”

I smiled still basking in the triumphant feeling of a gamble coming off.

“So, where are you taking her?”

I paused- “I don’t know, I didn’t think that she would say yes.”

“How about a movie?” Adnan suggested

“No spending three hours with barely an opportunity to talk?” I countered twirling my moustache.

“How about lunch by the beach and a short walk afterwards?” I asked Adnan.

“Well that’s not a bad idea, but does she know that your interest in her is romantic?” Adnan asked.

“I think so, she did agree to come alone. Plus she also laughed at my jokes”

Adnan stared at me in mock surprise “Never let her go dude.”

“What? I can be funny, can’t I?”

Adnan rolled his eyes and shook his head.

I made my way back to my desk, I had admired for her for the last six months. Granted she was good looking but that wasn’t why I was attracted to her. No it was her kindness that caught my eye. The first time she caught my eye was when she gave half her sandwich to the little errand boy in our office. Though usually a sharp talking individual, the tenderness she showed when giving her food to the little kid was heart warming.

Over the six month period she regularly shared her lunch with the little boy- Talal was his name. He was around 11 and did the work of a full grown person- serving  tea to the people in the office and making countless runs to the stores for various things.

Our lunch hour started from 1 and ended at 2. Every day at precisely 1.50 when Talal would place the pot of water for the afternoon tea, she would make her way to the little makeshift kitchen counter we had in our office. She would look over her shoulder to check whether anybody was watching, this was my cue to pretend to be engrossed in my desktop, usually it involved counting the number of folders on my desktop.

I used to peek from behind my monitor as she always slid her lunch box to Talal and whisper in a conspirational tone “Talal please clean this” with the emphasis on clean.

The kid always smiled and used to say “Thanks baji!” Then he proceeded to eat whatever tasty morsel was in the box, usually a sandwich.

We made small talk after the first time I saw her doing the lunch thing. There is something about falling for someone, that you start to notice all their small quirks and you like all of them.

Anyways the big day arrived and we both agreed to get our orders to go. We each had a burger in hand as we sat down on some rocks watching the tides break against the rocks further out on shore. The conversation was light and interesting. By around 1.30  she started glancing at her watch and wrapped half her burger and placed it in the paper bag that we had originally gotten our order in. I knew what was coming so I told her ” Don’t worry about Talal today,” she looked a little surprised that I knew about that. ” Today I’ve taken care of it.”

She looked relieved and then I confessed to her that it was the reason I had noticed her.

“Taroo!” was her response to my confession implying that I was a gawker.

She had scrunched her nose squinting at me with her grey eyes.

I tensed up for a bit fearing I had said too much.

“So you don’t think that I am good looking?” She asked with mischief in her eyes

“Lets go, we’ve got to be on time.” I said getting up dusting off the seat of my pants.

“I’m in no hurry” she said

“Well I am- Adnan was supposed to be covering for me, but you asked him first.” I grumpily said.

“Alright, but you didn’t answer my question, you don’t think that I am good looking?”

“You’re just fishing for compliments” I smirked. “Besides, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference whether I think you are good looking or not”

“Well,” she hesitated and then said “It makes a lot of difference to me,” her expression was serious now.

“You look like the most beautiful girl in the world,” I said hoping she would catch on to the joke

“Who?” She demanded

“You!” I replied laughing at the ridiculousness of my joke.

She also laughed as we made our journey back to the office. As we were making our way to the kitchen, Adnan came up to us and asked “how was it?” as he fished out his mobile from his pocket, not wanting to sound too enthusiastic in front of her; I just gave him a thumbs up and a nod. She also nodded and said “Best conversation I’ve had in a long time. Thanks for everything” She paused-I didn’t notice Adnan focusing his phone towards me as I focused on her. “Bhai!” (by calling me a brother, she effectively was friend zoning me). My expression turned from attentive to shock to anger.

She and Adnan burst out laughing and she hurriedly added in between peals of laughter “Just kidding!, I wish you could have seen the look on your face!”

Adnan amidst his laughter also managed to get out the words “Actually, you can!” He showed me his phone “I caught it on video!”

There I stood between two laughing people finally able to grasp the concept of bittersweet.

Flash Fiction- I can’t read

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“So tell me about yourself”

“What do you want to know?”

“Anything,”  she smiled brushing a strand behind her ears “and everything!”

“Well, ” I cleared my throat “I was born and brought up here, my parents are also from here”

“This isn’t a job interview” She interjected

“Actually madam,” I replied “It is”

The lady who introduced herself as Maham picked up my CV for the umpteenth time, glanced at it again and said “Alright, what do you bring to the table”

“Well my CV is here so..”

“We both know that CVs do not truly project your complete image, so I ask again Mr. Anjum, what can you give to this organisation that the other five applicants for this job can’t?”

I was a little flustered, and getting annoyed. This question completely put me off. The interview had been highly unorthodox, she had almost completely ignored my CV, it was feeling more like an interrogation than a job interview. On top of that she was a really hard person to read, some interviewers put you at ease and others keep you on your toes; she was switching between the two modes very frequently, I didn’t know what to say. I had had enough,

“Madam my CV pretty much describes the person I am and what I bring to the table. I am a honest hard working person who hasn’t stolen anything in my life. I can’t understand what you are trying to ask, I came here for a job interview, but you make it feel like an interrogation. Thank you for your time!” I replied angrily as I got up to leave the room.

“Honesty! How refreshing Mr. Anjum, the other five people just put on fake smiles and made hollow promises,” Maham said as I reached the door.

I stopped at the door, still pissed at this lady who had given me a headache in just half an hour.

“The job is yours if you want it, any questions?”

Atleast it wasn’t all for nothing.

“Umm what kind of assistance will be required to provide?”

“Just routine secretarial work like handling correspondence with clients, filing and so on.”

“The ad said that  special secretarial duties would be required… what does that mean?” I asked bracing myself for the worst like carrying out personal errands for her.

“Well Mr. Anjum, ” She hesitated for the first time in our meeting.

“I can’t read.” She replied red faced

Flash fiction- Horror Stories

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The nights were hot and sweaty, coupled with the long power outages are the constant puttering of generators in our street, it was a miracle of we got more than 3-4 hours of sleep. We spent long humid nights fanning ourselves to sleep with hand made fans or newspapers.
We had one fan made by our mother who had fashioned it by attaching buntings on an old lid. We lost it and forgot all about it.
On one such humid night at around 2 am, someone was banging on our door. It was the little boy across the street. “Excuse me uncle,” he “I want to ask why the lady who comes every night to fan me to sleep has not come tonight?”
“Sorry son,” I replied, “no lady lives here.”
“Yes she does,” argued the little boy,”She told me herself when she fanned me the first time. She also told me that she made this fan herself.”
He was holding a battered old lid with buntings attached on the sides. My mother has beeb dead for five years.