Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 8 The Hate Diary

People you meet on your way up are the people you meet on your way down. Harold held on to that maxim in those difficult days. He knew he had talent; he only needed that one opportunity to showcase his talent.

At first even the bit roles on stage were hard to come by. He would audition everyday, learn the lines backwards and know them better than anyone else, even the lead, but it was all a matter of chance and chance was in the habit of ignoring him.

Then very slowly the bit roles began to stream in, sometimes a couple of lines and at other times just standing on the stage like a tree. But it was the humiliations that were heaped on him that kept him going.

Harold kept a diary of all the people who had hurt him deeply, his talent and his desperation. The casting director who made a joke out of him and refused him a role, the writer who thought he should get out of town and stop spoiling his script, the director who scratched his lines and gave them to someone else and the actress who refused to be cast opposite him.

He remembered the lines from “Ben-Hur”, “Your eyes are full of hate forty-one, that is good, very good, hate keeps a man alive.” Hate was certainly keeping him alive.

Time went by and Harold’s fortunes began to change, a character role here and there, then praise from critics and the applause from the audience won him even better roles, till he made it to the lead.

Fifteen years after he stepped off the bus to become an actor Harold was finally considered the next big thing. Yet Harold had not forgotten. He kept his hate diary close to him. It was his turn now; he would do to them what they did to him. The very people who once snubbed him were willing to do anything to work with him but Harold would not work with any of them. He made sure that people on his hate list had no part to play in his projects, from casting directors to writers to lead actors, no one was allowed on his projects.

Quincy Quinn was one such director. When Harold was a bit player Quinn was a star director but now the tables had turned, Quinn could not land any work and Harold ruled the marquee. It took a lot of cajoling from Harold’s agents to get Harold to grant Quinn one face-to-face meeting. Reluctantly Harold agreed.

“Lets make this as quick as possible Quinn,” Harold told the director dryly. Quinn nodded, smiled. “I believe you don’t want to work with me for the way I treated you when you were still a nobody?”
“That is correct,” Harold responded, the hate still evident in his eyes.
“No great work can be created in the climate of hate and so I have not asked to meet with you to beg you for work. I just wanted to share a secret of the universe with you, that is all,” Quinn kept his smile alive.
“Really? And what is that secret?” Harold asked sarcastically.
“No one stays successful forever, the crest and troughs are a part of life but remember Harold, in good times or bad, people are never against you, they are just too much for themselves, think about it. People don’t want to do what is bad for you, they just want to do what they think is good for them.” Having said that Quinn stood up and showed himself out of the room.

Harold sat alone in the room long after Quinn was gone, then he walked into his study, picked his hate diary up and threw it into the fire that burned bright in the heat.



Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 7 Golden Opportunity

Since the early age of seven there were just two things that Sam was very fond of, one, hamburgers and two, computers. By the time Sam was nine he could break the code of all the school computers and rewrite most of the exam papers, much to the joy of his friends. And by the time he was eleven Sam broke into the National Bank server making his own gateway, though he had to quickly scramble out before all hell broke loose.

As Sam grew up he came to realize that hacking was not really a good job, if you really wanted to be on the honest side of the fence. Sam had an idea. He wanted to float his own Internet Security agency but the idea collapsed even before it started. No one was really interested in paying for Internet Security; no one really took the dangers of the Internet world seriously. Well it was what it was!

His Father had a friend who had a friend that owned a stock broking firm. Sam managed to get a day job at the firm. All he had to do was punch away at numbers and take calls all day. There was one advantage, a Hamburger joint close down the street, he could eat as many as his heart desired.

The owner of the firm, Ghanshayam Shah, insisted on calling Sam by his given name, Shyamsunder. Not that it terribly bothered Sam but it was just the way he called his name. He added a sarcastic lilt to it and stretched the yam of the Shyam a fair amount. It made all the other employees at the terminals laugh out loud. Sam would just grin and just bear it politely. Amongst Ghanshyam Shah’s peculiar habits there was one he had of sending his investors text messages of “golden opportunities” that they might want to invest in.

It was on a rainy Monday morning when one such “golden opportunity” misfired completely. Ghanshyam was besides himself with rage. His investors had been pulling out all day and all his begging and pleading had helped very little.

Now, on the other side of the room Sam was munching away at his hamburger and punching away on the numbers. From the un-scrubbed glass of his cabin Ghanshyam watched this sight with growing anger. Imagine relishing a burger while he was losing investors that he had worked a lifetime to gather around! Insensitive to the core! He marched up to Sam and grabbing the burger from his hand threw it out of the window.
There was a collective gasp from the office and a stunned Sam. “It is because of lazy bastards like you that I have to see a day like today! Eat all day while I lose my money! Get the fuck out of my office! Now!”

Sam had no idea what had happened. What had he done to deserve such humiliation and have his burger thrown out of the window? Everyone in the office could see tears of humiliation in Sam’s eyes. He picked his bag up slowly and walked out of the office.

“It must be your fault! I am sure you did something that you are not owning up to now, I am going to call Ghanshyam in the morning and apologize on your behalf,” his father bemoaned.
Sam’s cries of innocence were lost in the melee of accusations.

That night Sam went to his room and cried himself to sleep. He could not get the image of Ghanshyam Shah grabbing his burger and throwing it out of the window off his mind.

Sam woke up to the sound of his Father pleading on the phone with Ghanshyam, he felt his heart being crushed under the weight of his Father’s disgrace. It was in the way that his Father hung up the phone that he knew that Ghanshyam did not want him back… But he, he would have to get back at Ghanshyam. There had to be jusitice!

Now, all he needed was a laptop and a Wi-Fi.

Sam had saved enough money to buy a second hand laptop, it was just for a day’ in any case, then a coffee shop with a free Wi-Fi area. It took Sam less than five minutes to get into the computer network of Ghanshyam’s Stock broking agency. Creating red herrings and using the agency’s IP address Sam hacked into the websites of The Press Service of India and The Indian News Network, the premier news agencies, and posted a bit of a breaking news, he posted, “Attack on PM’s motorcade, PM could be gravely injured, two bodyguards dead!”
He then threw the laptop in the garbage can down the road and walked away

By the time the agencies could correct the breaking news, report the hack and send out an explanation the Stock market had lost its bearings. In the fifteen minutes that the mayhem lasted investors panicked and went on a selling spree. In an hour when the dust had settled investors had lost more than a 100 million rupees. Sam, he bought himself a burger.

Fifteen days later the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister looked at the report of what had happened. Someone had played a prank from Ghanshyam Shah’s office, a stockbrokers office. Ghanshyam was behind bars and all his employees were being questioned but they really could not pin the blame on any one person. The Owner, however had been ordered to close the firm down and he was facing some really serious charges that could have him in prison for the rest of his life.

The National Security Advisor smiled and shook his head, “It’s not that Idiot behind the bars or any one working there, let them go, this is a work of a genius.”
The Sleuth in front of him nodded.
“Did you not tell me about a disgruntled employee who had his burger thrown out?” asked the Security Advisor.
“I did Sir,” responded the sleuth.
“Find him!”
“But what can we charge him with?” probed the sleuth.
“We don’t want to charge him, we want to hire him for National Security!”


Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 6 LOVE

It was really a celestial joke when the things that made you fall in love with someone started to become the things that you grew to abhor in that very someone. What was the problem with love? Why could it not stick around? Why did it have to be slippery, so.. so undependable?

Alok and Shubra had tried everything to keep their marriage together but nothing seemed to work. No amount of counseling or interventions by loved ones. Alok wanted “space” and thought Shubra was too controlling. Shubra wanted him to be responsible, “Space” did not mean behaving like a bachelor and forgetting that he had a wife at home.

“I suggest you guys take a holiday, stay with each other, away from the pressures of an everyday life. You might rediscover love,” Nana suggested to the both of them. Shubra’s Grandfather had been the only non-partisan member of the feud that was brewing between the two of them. More of out of respect for him and less out of any hope, they decided to take a holiday.

Shubra chose a lonely town in the South West of England. Alok would have preferred London but Shubra reminded him that the idea wasn’t really to live it up but to live together. He agreed.

In the various leaflets that crowded the quaint reception desk of the old Victorian Hotel Alok found one that screamed, “Visit the Haunted Lighthouse!” His eyes widened with excitement, this was going to be a fun place to be after all.
“You must be out of your mind Alok, I am not going to visit any haunted lighthouse,” Shubra cribbed.
“Come on! We are supposed to do the together thing, that’s why we are here, I promise to take you to the sailor’s market tomorrow’” Alok gave her his best boyish smile and Shubra gave in under protest.

It was midday when they got to the lighthouse and the lack of visitors gave the tourist guide nothing better to do than to feed the seagulls. He was more than happy to show them around at a fat discount.

The Guide explained to them the legend of the lighthouse as they made their way up the rickety wooden staircase. “Her name was Julia, she lived in the town, a young beautiful lady. They say that her lover was a sailor and went away on long voyages. One stormy evening she received news her lover’s ship had been sighted on the horizon. They say she waited, a candle in her hand for her lover’s ship to come into port but as the morning came she found that the ship had hit a rock in the storm and gone under. She was so devastated by the news that she threw herself off the lighthouse and fell to her death. A lot of people have seen a woman with a candle on the lighthouse.” Alok was fascinated and Shubra sufficiently disgusted. “We haven’t come all the way from India to hear this horrific story,” she whispered into Alok’s ears.

Shubra booked a table for two at a charming little restaurant off the pier. It was candlelit and romantic. It did not go well though. Shubra wanted to talk about the relationship and Alok wanted to have a drink to celebrate their togetherness.
There was no togetherness Shubra reminded him, Alok was quick to retort that it was because she always had to control him, why could he not have a drink? All hell broke loose; Shubra began to cry and walked out of the restaurant. Alok decided to stay and drink, he was going to do exactly what he wanted and no one was going to tell him otherwise.

Now, it was passed midnight; Alok was walking back to the Hotel when he chanced upon the lighthouse. He stopped and in his drunken stupor wondered if love like that really existed, where you would jump off a lighthouse and kill yourself. All he could see was Shubra jumping at his throat.

It was at precisely that moment that he saw her with a candle in her hand, the spirit of Julia. She was looking at him from the lighthouse window. She was beautiful, dressed in a charming early Victorian gown. It was a clear night and even from such a distance he could see the sorrow writ large on her face.

He stood paralyzed, unable to move. And then he saw her fall off the lighthouse right in front of his eyes. The candle blew out somewhere mid-fall. Alok wanted to scream but his scream remained stuck in this throat. All he could do was throw his arm out in horror watching her crash to the ground and then disappear as the waves crashed all over her, becoming one with her lover, in the watery grave.

Alok staggered back and sat himself down on a milestone by the side of the road. He did not realize when morning came.
When he got to the Hotel he found Shubra waiting for him, she had been crying and looked most anxious. She came charging at him, crazed, “Where the hell have you been all night and why have you not been answering the phone, I am just sick….”

Then she stopped. She had come close to see the expression on his face, there was deep anguish. Something had jolted him out of his everyday reverie. “What is the matter Alok?” her voice grew soft and the concern had a touch of affection mixed in it.

Alok and Shubra stood at the very spot that Alok had stood the night before watching the lighthouse. It was a cold foggy night. The road lay quiet; the last car had passed them by an hour ago.

It was past midnight and there was no sign of Julia’s Spirit.
“You were drunk Alok, you could have been mistaken,” Shubra whispered.
Alok shook his head. “No Shubra, she will come, I know, I believe.” Shubra sighed, “Ghosts don’t exist Alok, there is nothing to believe…” “There!” Alok whispered loudly. Then Shubra saw her too, candle in hand looking at the two of them, the waves crashing under her. Then like the night before she threw herself off the lighthouse. Shubra screamed and buried her face in Alok’s jacket. When she looked back Julia was gone, only the waves remained, lashing at the shore. They stood there for a long time after as the fog approached them from the sea.

“What we believe exists and what we don’t believe exists too. Its existence doesn’t change based on our belief,” Alok whispered.
“Like our love,” said Shubra gently.
“Yes, if we believe then it hasn’t gone anywhere,” replied a teary eyed Alok.
As the fog enveloped them in its loving embrace Alok and Shubra kissed like they had never kissed before.


Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 5 Revenge

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Rahul had often wondered what that meant till it became imperative for him to think things through with a calm calculated mind to bring matters to the end he desired.

The first thing he needed to do was to hire a detective and pretend to want to find out something that he had already found out. The choice of the detective was very important. He had to be good at his job but someone who could not be trusted in the end. He had to be someone who could spill the beans when push came to shove.

Rahul found the kind that he was looking for in Dinesh Karmakar. He had a dingy office somewhere in the back roads of the suburb. On the face of it he looked the same as the others but he noticed that Karmakar had a dog that he kept tied up in office. Any man who kept his dog tied up and who preferred the comfort of his clients to the freedom of his dog was the kind of man who would buckle under pressure easily. Rahul hired Dinesh Karmakar and wrote him a cheque for the complete job even before he had started the job.

Now, for the next part of the plan!Rahul came home from office and sat alone in his study, he looked pensive, forlorn even. His wife, Sheetal came in and asked him if something was the matter but Rahul brushed it aside.
“I have to go to Delhi tomorrow, to meet my Lawyers,” he informed Sheetal.
Sheetal frowned, “Rahul its Sunday tomorrow! We have to go to brunch with Karan and Siya. You are surely not going to meet lawyers on a Sunday! You can easily go on Monday morning if you want.”
Rahul did not want to argue. He nodded his agreement.
Sheetal was thankful that Rahul had decided to be in a better mood at brunch and not his usual sullen self, sticking to the corner of the room as he usually did.

It was after lunch and before dessert, Rahul and Karan stepped out of the restaurant for a smoke. Rahul and Karan had been friends for long and Rahul had always found it easy to confide in Karan.
“I am going to Delhi tomorrow, to meet my lawyers,” he told Karan, his tone did seem conspiratorial.
“Delhi? You got lawyers in Mumbai too, you know?” Karan rebuked with a grin.
Rahul smiled but stayed thoughtful, “I need to get Sheetal out of my will. I want to give it away, everything, to a trust.”
Karan seemed to be taken aback by this confession but he preferred to remain quiet and let Rahul do the talking. Rahul decided to stay quiet as well. There was nothing to more to say.

Late on Sunday night as Sheetal slept, Rahul woke up and went out to his car. He had bought prawns earlier in the evening and left them in the car. He was allergic to prawns but he had to eat a few.

Sheetal woke up to find Rahul vomiting his guts out in the toilet. He was in no shape to catch the flight and go to Delhi. The meeting with the lawyer had to be cancelled.

Rahul crawled into bed and asked Sheetal to call the lawyer and inform him that he could not make it.

He listened with all his senses alert as Sheetal called the lawyer. As she finished he smiled and decided to take the rest of the day off. He needed to sleep and flush the damn prawns out of his system.

The next part of the plan needed him to get better and go about his life as usual. Rahul did that with ease.

Now for the last piece of the plan!
Rahul took a cab to the address that he gotten from his builder friend who in turn had used an outside “agency” to get a “job’ done. It was a dingy restaurant in the seedy side of town. Even at the odd hour of the night the streets were crowded with shops that bled onto the road and hookers who kept a frightened eye on a pimp and a glad eye on the customers were all around.
“Light of Shera”, the restaurant called itself.
He sat himself down on the table that he was advised to sit on. Fifteen minutes later the owner of the establishment sat down in front of him.
“I need to get someone murdered,” Rahul said very nonchalantly.
“We need a picture,” the owner responded with an equal degree of casualness.
Rahul nodded.

Two days later Rahul asked Sheetal to drop a package off for him at a suburban hotel. He would have done it himself but unfortunately he had back-to-back meetings. Would she please oblige?

Sheetal said she would do it.
Rahul put together a sizeable number of money bundles and then a picture into a brown paper bag. He then taped the bag over and over again.

Then, he went to Sheetal and gave the package to her with a smile and a kiss. Sheetal kissed him back but it was a routine kiss that lacked any affection, Rahul did not care.

He stepped out and called Dinesh Karmakar, “Make sure you follow my wife today from the moment she leaves the house and get pictures of her with everyone she meets.”
Dinesh did not think that was going to be tough thing to do.
Sheetal met the man that her husband had asked her to meet in the lobby of the hotel. She had no idea that the man owned a restaurant by the name of, “Light of Shera”

When Karmakar called to tell him that he had all the pictures of his wife’s day out Rahul smiled and allowed himself to make a drink. It was done. Everything was in place.

Five days later when Rahul stepped out of his office a car without any number plate screeched to a stop in front of him.

Two men pointed country made pistols at him and opened fire.
Rahul took most of the bullets from the volley directed at him.
The men sat back in the car within a flash of a second and the car sped away.

As Rahul fell to the ground he had an image of Karan and Sheetal in bed together. It had burned into his soul from the very moment he had walked in early from his business trip and seen them from the crack in the door.

Now all that was needed was for a clever investigative mind to piece the evidence that he had planeted together. It would be easy. He let himself into his death. Sweet, sweet death. Sweet, sweet revenge.


Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 4 Space Odyssey

It was true; they had finally got to it. 55Cnce, also named Janssen, an exoplanet that orbits its Sun-like host star, 55 Cancri A, 41 light years from Earth.

Captain Quinton gazed out of the large windows of the spaceship at the planet in front of him. Planet Janssen, once a rumor in the scientific community was now a reality orbiting in front of him.
When it was first suggested that the planet’s crust could be made of graphite and diamond everyone thought it was a joke that had gone too far but yet, here it was spinning with all the diamond on it.

The first reconnaissance party that did an orbit around the planet confirmed a layer of diamonds till the eye could see.
Had it not been for the dimensional access that was discovered a few years ago they would have never been able to get so far away from Earth, 41 light years in 2 years was unthinkable!Though, there was one unthinkable thing that did happen. Orbiting the Planet they found another spaceship and it did not belong to Earth’s Starfleet. It belonged to another civilization, An Alien Civilization!

When Major Rhett Collins crossed checked with the fact files of all the known species that the federation had encountered and recorded he did not find any record of a spaceship that looked like the one that was orbiting the planet in front of them. What was stranger; the language symbols the species spoke in unknown. The Ship’s mother computer could not find the language in their data. They had never encountered this civilization and yet it was clear that it was almost as superior in technology if not more.

Three minutes after the reconnaissance probe had begun its orbit around the planet, the Alien spaceship had dispatched two of its war crafts. The war crafts fired at pinpoint precision around the probe, till it was forced to cut its mission short and return to the Earth ship. They were obviously protecting the diamonds on the planet. But, who were they and was it not strange that diamonds were of value to them as well?

The questions made Captain Quinton feel faint. He was so close to bringing home a spaceship filled with diamonds and he was not going to let some Alien starship get in the way. Not after 41 light years of interstellar travel.

Then once again the scrambled message came in from the spaceship and the army of experts that Captain Quinton had put together to decode the language seemed to be getting nowhere.
“What the hell are these messages? I need to know,” he hollered at the crackers of the code.

Three Earth hours later Technical Director Fredrick strode in rather pleased with himself. “Think we have cracked it, sir…”
Captain Quinton stood up immediately to see what the Technical Director had done with the code.
“Death! You will value what you don’t have…”

That was the scrambled message from the Alien spaceship.

Captain Quinton looked at the Technical Director, unable to crack what they had cracked. The director looked a bit confused, “We know this is what the message stands for but we have no way of knowing what they mean by saying this.”
The Captain looked out at the Alien ship deep in thought and then reaching out to his communicator, he spoke into it plainly, “prepare the shuttle, we shall go and meet these Aliens.”
“Do you think that is wise, Sir?” the Director seemed worried. The Captain only nodded in response.
Captain Quinton and his party of five docked their shuttle on the landing bay of the Alien ship and then waited for the airlock to open.

It was at the very same time in the Earth Ship that the Technical Director’s assistant came up running in panic, “Sir, we have made a mistake in decoding the message!”

The Technical Director looked ashen, “What do you mean?”
“Death, you will value what you don’t have… we made a mistake in the first word, it is not Death Sir, it is Dearth. Dearth! you will value what you don’t have…”
On the Alien Spaceship the airlock opened. Captain Quinton and his team walked in. It was dark and dingy and oddly. Captain Quinton could smell the desert, a parched kind of air.

Back at the Earth Ship the Technical Director tried to make sense of what the changed message could mean. Diamonds? Did we value Diamonds because we did not have them? Cause we had a dearth of them? Or then, did it mean….

On the Alien Ship Captain Quinton made out a strange shape rushing towards them and before he could even move it was all over.

The Earth Ship then overheard a radio communication on the Alien Ship before it sped away at light speed. Four minutes later when they decoded it they learnt the message from the Alien spaceship to the their home planet. It said, “This civilization has beings with water in them! Water! They have water on their surface, as far as the eye can see! We can suck them dry!”
The Technical Director stumbled backwards and fell on the chair.

“Dearth! You will value what you don’t have…”

The Aliens did not have water.


Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 3 Cat and Mouse Game

“Must be a harrowing few days for you, Miss Roberts?” the Detective Sargent offered the lady a drink of water before settling down in front of her. The lady, Miss Roberts, nodded and sipped on the water. She was looking clearly shaken up by the events that had assailed her.

“I am ready when you are, Miss Roberts,” the Detective tapped on the notepad in front of him with the pen he had been holding and the smile that he had been holding along with the pen.
“I am ready Detective,” Miss Roberts said with a shaky smile.
“State your name for the record please?” the Detective began recording her statement like he had done a zillion times before with other witnesses.
“Gloria Roberts, 28,” Miss Roberts answered.
“And can you tell me a bit of about the circumstances that led you to buying this house?”
“I have lived my life in a small town called Clifton in the Southern Province, it was there that I met my husband Eric Roberts and we moved to Philadelphia soon after. Then we got married. It was the happiest time of my life. Eric was a good man and took real good care of me.”
Miss Roberts waited a while allowing the Detective to catch up with her words.
“Then last November I was hit by a tragedy. Eric never got home from work. The police found his car on the side of the road and his body in the boot. It was case of burglary clearly. All his valuables were stolen and everything he had on him.”
Miss Roberts paused a while, her eyes brimming with tears. This time it was the Detective’s turn to allow her the time to catch up.

“We did not have any insurance and the house was the only asset that I had. So I sold the house and moved here, to this city. The house on Fairmont Street was at half price. I figured I could get a roof over my head and save enough to live till I found myself a job. And then this happened… It seems like I am plagued by tragedy.” Miss Roberts took her handkerchief and wiped her tears.
The Detective pushed the glass of water towards her but she preferred to keep talking.

“I found myself a job with the Investment firm on Fern Heights. Things were beginning to get settled. Then the rat thing started to happen.” “Rat thing?” the Detective asked frowning.

Miss Roberts nodded and went on with her story; “On the South side of my apartment I share the wall with Mr. Nicholas, my neighbor. Every night I would hear strange grating sounds from the direction. I thought it was Mr. Nicholas up to some odd job at night but when I asked him to keep it down he said he had no clue what I was talking about. So I decided to keep a vigil. It was then that I saw them, rats! They had made themselves a little burrowing hole in the wall and would scamper in and out. Now, let me tell you Sargent, I am petrified of rats. I let out a scream and shut myself in the bedroom all night. The first thing I did in the morning was to call the Pest Control chaps and asked them to fix the rats and the burrowing hole.”
The Detective Sargent was writing as fast as he could. Miss Roberts did avail herself the drink of water finally.
“And did they find it?” asked the Sargent.
“They did Detective. Jim Ferro is his name. He is the leader of the Pest Control brigade. One look at the wall and he told me that it was a fake wall and that if I wanted to be rid of the rat menace I should break the wall down. I would do almost anything to rid myself of the rats and so I allowed them to tear the wall down. And then…. and that is when the dead body came tumbling out.” The Detective nodded. “Do you know the identity of the body Miss Roberts?” inquired the Detective.“Now I do Detective. Apparently a travelling salesman who has been missing for about six months, I saw it on the news,” Miss Roberts informed the Detective.

“That was a month and a half before you bought the house. Is that right?”
Miss Roberts nodded, “I feel I have been duped by the past owner into buying this house, no wonder it was going for so less.”
“Well, we shall surely find what went on there but I would like to thank you for all your help,” the Detective offered her a handshake which Miss Roberts accepted.

On the street Miss Roberts began to plan the next killing. This was a really cool plan, kill and then plant the body way before you move in to a place and be the one to discover it. Her husband in the boot and the man behind the wall were still easy. This time around it had to be something far more difficult. But first things first, she had to scout a house and a worthy victim.

In his office Detective Sargent Philby looked at the little rubber rat that he had placed so carelessly next to the door, he wondered why Miss Roberts never noticed that rat when it sat in front of her all the while.

Perhaps, the game of cat and mouse was about to begin!


Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 2 Past Life Regression

When Dr. Morgan decided to use Past Life Regression as a way of healing the psychological agony of his patients he had no idea there would come to him a case so bizarre that it would test everything he knew about science and human behaviour.

Jim Higgins owned a sports shop in downtown Manhattan New York. A loner since childhood, Jim would often complain of panic attacks and dreams of being shot in the abdomen by an unknown assailant. He often found himself waking up in cold sweat at odds hour of the night, breathing hard and fighting to come back to reality.

A friend of Jim suggested he see Dr. Morgan. He had tried all the medicines on the shelf in any case; a little alternate therapy would not harm him. Jim agreed.
Dr. Morgan usually used the first two sessions to get to know his patient well. Most times the problems that people faced were rather simple and mere counseling did the trick. He used Past Life Regression only as the last resort; it took a lot out of him and his patients. So, in Jim’s case the ailment was indeed complicated.

Jim had no history of any kind of mental disorder in his family. He also led a rather stress-free life, the shop brought in good money and being single and with a low maintenance it put very little strain on his finances.

What really bothered Dr. Morgan were the recurring dreams and the gun shot that he suffered in them. But there was a physical manifestation of those dreams as well; Jim would suffer terrible pain in the abdomen region and the various tests did not reveal anything out of the ordinary. The C.T. Scan and the M.R.I showed nothing wrong with him. If there was a candidate for Past Life Regression, it was Jim Higgins.

Late one November afternoon Dr. Morgan penciled in Jim for a Regression session. The session lasted for three hours. At the end of it there was no choice for Dr. Morgan but to lie to Jim Higgins, “You were not very clear in what you were trying to say Mr. Higgins. It was not a very successful session. Perhaps we should try again.”

Jim nodded, a trifle disappointed. He was expecting his problems to come to an end but he took courage in the suggestion of another session. What Jim did not know was that his session was a copybook Regression. It was what he had divulged in the hypnotic state that had struck panic in the heart of Dr. Morgan.

It was late at night when Dr. Morgan began to play the audio recording of the session with Jim once again. He allowed himself an extra drink that evening, he certainly deserved it.
He could hear himself clearly on the recording.
“What year is it Jim?”
“It is 1963, November but the sun is out,” Jim whispered, barely audible.
“How do you feel?” asked the Doctor.
“I am scared, very scared. They have trapped me. I’m.. I’m not alone in this. I am just a patsy!” Jim was getting agitated and was beginning to speak louder now.
“Who has you trapped? Do you know them?”
“Yes, they are dangerous. I did not do it. They are putting the whole blame on me. It is.. It is going to kill me; I am not going to get to a trial. I am a dead man. The conspiracy runs too deep.” Jim was clearly panicking and his voice was fairly loud.
“What conspiracy?” Dr. Morgan shot back.
“The assassination conspiracy, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” Jim Higgins shouted out loud.
There was silence on the tape. It was like Dr. Morgan had been hit hard.
“What is your name?” asked the Doctor, caution evident in his voice.
“My name is Lee Harvey Oswald. I did not assassinate President Kennedy and I have come back to expose who has….”

Dr. Morgan switched the recorder off. The question was, should he help Jim Higgins in his mission or dissuade him and tell him that the sessions were not working?

He knew he should help Jim, and if Jim was right about the events that occurred in Dallas in November 1963 then both he and Jim were probably living on borrowed time. Truth or life, what was more important wondered Dr. Morgan…


Vol 2 Arsee’s short stories 1 Love Never Fails

I knew it was going to go badly the moment Rahul asked me out for dinner. It wasn’t one of those dreadful premonition kinds of things but just the logical conclusion to what had been going on for the last few weeks.

Rahul was the head of legal at Violet Frames Inc. while I headed the marketing. Our work did bring us at loggerheads very often but those squabbles only went on to strengthen the mutual respect that we had for each other. It was obvious that we would become the best of friends and we did.

Those early days at the firm were really trying for me. Akshay and I were going through a divorce and a lot of evenings saw me a shattered and a scattered woman. Rahul did a great job on those evenings of helping me hold myself together. The worse kind of rejection that one can face is a divorce. It can shatter your self-esteem and make you hate what you see in the mirror. Rahul made sure that the mirror remained covered, so to speak of course.

That was two years back and I had recovered a considerable amount, not battle ready but I could walk on my own.

A few weeks ago Rahul had begun to insinuate that it was time to start life anew and began to indulge in the ‘safe’ kind of flirtation. I was afraid this would happen. He was falling in love with me and I was rabidly anti-love, I hated the very word and everything for which it stood. I was done loving. Yet, the dinner had to be done and things needed to be put into perspective. I really hoped that he took it well.

He did not.

“Come on Roshni! That was two years ago. I am not Akshay. You know I love you, will take great care of you and somewhere you know that you love me too.” I could see the sincerity in his eyes and it was heartbreaking and yet ironically I had nothing but a broken heart to offer him.
“Please Rahul, you are my friend,” I said softly as I began to reason with him. “I care for you but I am done with this thing called love. It is a painfully scary place and I don’t want to go there again.”
Rahul looked sad but did not press the issue further. The rest of the meal dragged away in an attempt at being “normal” but things had gotten quite far away from there.

After that day Rahul began to keep a distance from me. I allowed him that space to get over what had happened. I figured that if he was indeed my friend then sooner or later he would come back to being himself. What I did not expect was Rahul becoming a bitter monster and not with me alone but with the entire office.

Now Tracy, the receptionist was a lover of high heels. She was also challenged at walking in them. On a rainy Monday morning she allowed her heel to get stuck into the elevator door for an instant long enough to have her tumbling out with a fractured foot and the next thing the office saw was a sign outside the elevator that said, “Shut! Use the stairs!”
Even amongst the rude signs posted around the office this had to be the rudest.

I soon learned that Rahul had ordered the elevator closed till he got the receptionist to agree that it was her fault. He did not want a case of negligence against the management.

Tracy did not seem the litigation for a tumble type of girl but I suppose the legal department took no chances. Tracy signed a waver but the elevator would not come on. Everyone at the office was having a tough time doing the up and down routine. A lot of memos were sent to Rahul but he sent them back with enough legality to befuddle the entire team of Boston Legal. In short, he was being a pain!

A week went by and things were getting confrontational at the office. Snide remarks had given way to arguments and some cuss words exchanged as well. I was finding it hard to believe that this was the same guy who had been my friend through those tough times.

No one could get through to him and finally the delegation led by Tracy came to me. “Only you can talk to him Roshni, he will listen to you.” Now I did not have the heart to tell these people that Rahul was being a jerk because I had jerked him around.

Displacement of anger you see. And yet I realized that I had to have this chat with him.
“You can be mean to me should you like but why get it out on these guys at the office?” I told him plainly.
“Get off your high horse Roshni. This is not about you, everything is not about you!” he shot back rudely.
I sighed. I had to be patient. “Look Rahul, you haven’t been the same since that dinner. You are behaving like a child, taking your resentment out on others.”
“It is not resentment, it is the sensible thing to do. If an elevator causes people to fall and fracture then that elevator needs to be shut down! Simple as that!”
I could not believe what I was hearing and despite all my self-control I found myself getting angry, “Rahul are you stupid, if Tracy wears those damn heels and keeps tripping all over herself, you can’t blame the elevator! People need an elevator!”
Rahul walked up to me and smiled, “If Akshay can’t love properly and trips all over love you can’t blame love. People need love!”
I stood there speechless. I have never been so dumbfounded in my entire life.
“Don’t confuse love with the person you choose to give you love,” Rahul said softly. “If the person fails it is his failing. Not the failing of love. You just need another messenger of love.”

I have no idea why I began to sob when he said those words. He waited, let me cry. Then I moved forward slowly into his arms.
There was a clapping sound; I turned around to see the ecstatic faces of my office mates. Tracy had taken her cast off, she was grinning.
“You owe me a pair of new heels,” she said. I laughed out loud and then cried some more.


Arsee’s short stories 201 The Knocking Branch

Part 2.

Was a tree talking to me? Or was I just losing my mind? And yet everything that happened that night told me that I was in the middle of a supernatural event of the most bizarre kind.

I gathered some courage and asked, “Are you some kind of a spirit or a ghost or a ghoul or some kind of a demon?” I half shouted out to whatever that was across those lacey curtains. “Knock” came the reply. I could feel a bead of sweat escape the back of my neck and free fall down my spine. Was this not supposed to happen to other people? Was this supposed to be a bunch of nonsense?

I have no clue from where but a conspiracy theory struck my mind, what if it was Grandpa Joe? He disappeared did he not? Was it then not possible that he could have probably fallen or died here or… “Are you Grandpa Joe?” I inquired frightfully. “Knock, Knock” came the response. It wasn’t Grandpa and how could it be? I wasn’t thinking straight.
I shot back a few more questions but the answers stopped coming. I also heard Grandma coughing downstairs, probably making us a pot of coffee. The night of dreadful absurdities was over.

I decided to take a walk before lunch and speak to some old townsfolk, figure if they had heard stories of a haunting or such. It would have been far easier talking to Grandma but then it occurred to me that should this all be a figment of my imagination I would only end up terrifying poor Grandma.

“I told Joe that house will bring him nothing but bad luck, it was evil, but a young man with a new bride thinks that he can fight the world. Sad, sad indeed.” Sheriff Dover lit his pipe once again. I did notice that he spent more time lighting his pipe than smoking it. Sheriff Dover was probably the oldest buzzard in town. He had been a sheriff more than a score and a decade back but the townsfolk still called him Sheriff.
“It was that poor Joe himself who was the first one to disappear. They called it a railroad accident but it was no accident. I ran the lines three miles up and down with the sniffer dogs in tow, nothing! No one really believed Trevor the Drunk when he swore that he saw Joe come back from Church early, go into the house and never ever come back out after that. I did believe him though, just couldn’t prove it.” Sheriff Dover finally chucked the pipe.

“Hilda didn’t make it back to France, did she?” Sheriff Dover raised an eyebrow trying to make a point. Aunt Hilda, did not make it back? When did she make it here in the first place?
“She came visiting ten years back and never left. Disappeared as well. You did not know that? Did you? ” I sure as hell did not know that! I needed to speak with Grandma Florence about what was going on.

It turned out to be a bad idea. Grandma couldn’t stop the sobs from wracking her body at the memory of what had happened to her daughter all those years back.
She did come visiting and she did never leave but Grandma had to have her institutionalised at the Mental Health Facility in the city. Paris had been a good idea as a young woman but the years had not been kind to her. Drugs, failures and a failed relationship had her rather unhinged. “Your mother did not want you to ever find out because she knew how close you were to her.” I nodded, my heart filled with sadness. “Would you like to see her tomorrow? You can drive me there perhaps?” Grandma tried a smile through her tears. I agreed immediately and hugged her tight.

But the night. I knew it wasn’t over. I knew the knocking would come. It did not begin till well passed midnight. I was ready. I had already left the curtains drawn and I could see the errant branch fairly clearly. The wind came in stronger than the night before and the swaying of the branch began, two knocks at a time, a pause and then two knocks again… Rat-a-tat… stop… rat-a-tat.

“Are you trying to tell me something?” I said out loud… a single knock… “Are you a dead family member?”… a single knock again… “Are you warning me?”… another single knock.
It was then that I heard Grandma coughing again. This time I could also hear her climbing the staircase with a heavy step, the wooden boards creaking as she climbed and then I realised what I had missed. Grandma cried for Aunt Hilda but there were no tears. she could not shed real tears. Grandma couldn’t climb the steps. Grandma never had wine!
I turned to the branch, “Are you Grandma?”
A single knock!
Then who the hell was this woman?
Whoever she was, she was climbing the steps more surely this time.
“Is Aunt Hilda dead?” A single knock…
My Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Hilda, all dead, but why and who would do something like that? There were so many questions that I would have to ask to get a full story if all I was going to use was one or two knocks.
“Does she want to kill me, this… this woman who is not you, Grandma?” A single knock…

Then like a celestial gift I remember what Sheriff Dover had said, “I told Joe that house will bring him nothing but bad luck, it was evil.” I barred the door to my room with a heavy armchair and turned back to the branch, “Is it the house? Does it want all of us dead?” A single knock…

I stood frozen at the confirmation of something so terrifying. Then I heard the imposter Grandma knock on my door and whisper, “Come along dear, you are the only one of this family left. It has taken me years to get rid of all of you but its time I get a new family to stay within my walls.”

I felt my blood grow cold. I was trapped in a small room under the attic! But… there was no way I could escape, but I could use the branch to get out of the window and then probably hang onto the tree…

A single knock, like she read my mind. She was after all my Grandma. She was here to save me.



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