Long Story Short – Freida’s Broken Watch (Episode Two)

Freida.

I felt it. It was so palpable. The rush of peace. Smoothing out every wrinkle in your heart and spreading serenity across your veins. It was only the visuals that were damned. It felt like it was happening somewhere else and to someone else. His screams went beyond my concern; the rattling in the chair felt so trivial. I plucked his hair out by a bunch. Oh, such delight! This was a way to get my closure every now and then. Forgiveness, Sanity and Justice were just words uttered by the helpless. Sometimes, all you need to do is feed the demon inside with enough violence. Afterall, like your heart, the demon is a part of you.

If we can’t ignore love, why should we ignore menace? This pathetic human before me never gave me chance to escape. Why would I offer him relief?

It was around six months ago. I’d booked a cab home from my workplace. Where I worked is irrelevant. What is relevant is that it usually took me an hour to reach home. And that it was the middle of the night, rather half past one. I got in the cab talking to Arjun asking him how Mumbai was, this time of the year. He was staying there on deputation for three months. I had flown to Mumbai the previous month and had spent a long weekend there. It was his turn to come, this time around. I talked about how my projects were overwhelming me and how I was thinking of switching companies. The cab driver started the trip and drove beyond the IT park. Our conversations browsed over topics varying from our parents – his in Vizag and mine in Daman, our Goa trip later this year, our ever postponing marriage, and even real estate for some reason . The cab crossed the lights and took the secluded ring road turn.

In hindsight, it was in that moment that I made a huge error. I told him I felt alone without him and asked him when he’d be returning.

The driver picked this up. He lingered on for a few minutes after I got off the cab at my place – a villa passed on to me by my dad’s friend who wanted someone to stay there and take care of the place. I personally could never have afforded a place like it and therefore couldn’t afford security. And the crime happened two nights later. He let himself in, somehow and destroyed everything in me. His toe nails scratched my thighs, his hands gripped onto one of the bedposts and before I could react, he hit me. A barrage of blows, a series of slaps and I blacked out. Look at the irony then. And now, my culprit lays in front of me; tied up, helpless and unconscious from pain.


Presently.

Arjun and Freida walked up the stairs turning off the lights on their way. A thin inclined glimmer of light appeared as the door was opened and closed. The captive man spat on the ground Freida stood at. Blood dripped down his jawline, brushed his lips, and formed droplets. He tried moving his left leg, but even the slightest movement surged an uncontrollable pain within. His right leg, however, remained unhurt. It seemed that Freida’s aim had been that perfect. In the darkness, the man rattled even more.

There was one thing his prisoners had forgotten to do. The one simple act of tightening his bounds.

Every week, they would come in, cover his head, untie and retie his bounds tightly enough. This week was an exception and that was the only slim chance of survival, he’d reached at in months.

As soon as they closed the door behind them, Freida grabbed hold of Arjun and pinned him to the wall. She was overpowered by unexplainable desire to have him. She kissed him furiously until his lips answered back. She let her hands run wild, all over him and tore his shirt open. She was both restless and peaceful. She was giving and taking, captivated and capturing, burning and melting at the same time. There wasn’t time – not within him, not within her; they worked out blindly all that was them. His hands unbuttoned her pants, as she stood up on her toes. Thereafter, her t-shirt was swiftly rolled up and thrown away. She wound her legs around him, as he lifted her up. She pulled him within, pressing his face to her chest, as he felt her. Raw and warm. He entered her, taking her weight on his thighs and her burden on his heart.


Arjun.

She was holding universes in her palm. Mine – Now, Then And Ever. And I had, just the dust of my being

The Man In The Basement.

The man pushed harder and swung the chair sideways. The arms of the chair creaked. With all the strength left in him, he moved some more. Finally, the weakness in the rope gave in. The left arm of the chair broke out. Within moments, his desperation to free himself broke away everything that pinned him down. For the first time in a month or two, he stood up. His bones had long given up on any hope; he wobbled and crashed to the floor. His left knee accidentally took his weight. He covered his mouth tightly, before he could scream. He lay there, waiting for the pain to subside. In total darkness, all he knew of his escape was that there were steps that led to a door, twenty odd feet to his left. But what could he do to bring the door down? That was a question he had to answer before the light came in in the morning. He hoped for something to go in his favour. One percent of fortune. Anything. And fatefully, it did.


‘Is this going to end?’, Arjun said turning to face her. They had managed to hit the bed in the process of loving each other. They lay naked, not uttering a word. Until Arjun spoke.

‘I don’t know. I want it to end, you know, I just… I don’t know’,

Freida spoke with a shiver in her voice, as if she had answered him a thousand times already. Maybe she had, within herself, whenever he looked at her.

‘It’s ok Fry, It’s just… I don’t know how long can we keep him like that!’,

Arjun said, somehow knowing that there’d be only one end to the whole chaos. The Man down in the basement was never getting out.

‘We won’t, hon… He won’t keep him for long’,

Freida curled up in her blanket and closed her eyes. Arjun remained still contemplating what he’d done.

Was his life the source of Freida’s nightmares and hallucinations? By tormenting him wasn’t she scarring herself?

And today, the way he had seen her in that trial room was something more. He couldn’t sleep. His love for her wouldn’t let him. The man in the basement, by staying alive, was killing Freida. Arjun hadn’t been able to shake away that idea. The moment he closed his eyes, he saw the extremely vivid image of Freida on the wooden floor. Naked and bruised. And he had enough of it.

Arjun waited for her to slump into the deeper sleep. He picked up Freida’s Broken Watch from the side table and checked the time. The hands of the watch were stuck at two fifteen, for the past six months. A long deep crack on the glass and a  minor dent ensured that they, in fact, didn’t move. It was ten minutes to go for two fifteen. Arjun had to do something he never imagined he would do. But then sometimes, he thought –

Love isn’t just about treating her like an angel. Sometimes, it is also about you becoming the devil for her to remain that.


Things For Love.

He unlocked the basement door, slowly turning the knob. He switched on the lights as he stepped down and glanced at the man still in the chair. He remembered placing the hammer on a shelf beside the staircase. He got to the shelf and searched for it. Before he could understand that it was missing and the reason behind it, something hit him hard on his head. He stumbled forward, hitting the wall, and falling down. He turned to look at the man, who was adjusting his grip to the edge of the hammer. Then he took a long swing and hit Arjun on the skull.

There was a soft thud and slowly the blood dripped from his hair down. With one stroke, Arjun was murdered by the man he wanted to end.

The limping man dragged a dead Arjun to the chair and pulled him up to sit on it. He bound him to the pole behind the chair, hands thrown back and legs tied up together. And hit him more with the hammer. Until every bone crackled and skin peeled away at his arms and legs. He limped to the corner of the room and sat down below the tap. Water dripped down his bloodied face, as he shivered and cried clutching his shoulders together.


Now

He had this uncontrollable urge to have her, as soon as he had laid his eyes upon her. Something felt so indispensable to a man who had never touched a woman and probably jerked off a million times by then. Yet this woman he picked up at Hitex made him want to be more. He wanted to have her, as he looked at her pale blue eyes and a pearl-fair skin. 

Was it a crime? To sleep with a person, to make love to her, when she was a beautiful like none other.

An irresistible urge consumed him all through the trip. Her every word resounded within his mind a million times.

The way she spoke to her husband, the way she nodded, the way she giggled, everything that he saw of her seemed so heavenly and sensual. His palms on the steering wheel felt cold and sweaty, and his pants bulged. Was it possible to jerk off without touching?

Well wasn’t it, after all, a wet dream. He controlled. But her fragrance, her broken Hindi, her pleasant voice, captured him and bound him to his fate. An inescapable fate. He completed the trip, stayed at her gate for a minute. Trying to record her till the very last moment before she disappeared behind a grill. Then, he drove the cab to a secluded spot, and shifted to the back seat and opened his pants. He tried inhaling all of her and reliving everything about her. He had an erection like never before. But, come what may, he couldn’t put it to rest. He couldn’t imagine her effectively. Then a thought flashed across his mind. She’d be alone until next week, wouldn’t she? Wouldn’t she be worth the effort, worth the crime?

He cancelled all the rides the next day. He waited to see her, to follow her around the city. It was a Saturday. He remembered vividly as she went to have a couple of drinks at a lounge. She appeared again after four hours, accompanied by a group of friends.

The man reversed his car into darkness, lurking in it for the woman vehemently. She had become his religion. One which asked him to prey.

At the stroke of midnight the next day, his urge overcame him. He looked at himself in the mirror inside his car. He could see bloodshot eyes, trembling lips, and a burning face. He parked the cab, right in front of the car, and left the right turn signal on. He honked multiple times and quickly got out of the cab.  

He took care of placing the cab in a position conveniently so that only the rear part – from the back door till the tail lamp – appeared visible to someone looking from the door. He waited for a few moments, contemplating what was needed to be done. He jumped over the gate. He could hear footsteps approaching and he hid. He could feel that the woman was looking through the peephole. It was a trap and she’d fall for it. She was expecting her husband, and what looked like a waiting cab was a perfect lure.

He prayed within himself that she wouldn’t notice the lack of movement. And she didn’t.

She opened the door and walked to the gate. The man could see her peeking out of the gate for a moment. She adjusted her t-shirt and closed the gate. And there it was. The man’s window of opportunity.

After the screams muted, after the struggle rescinded, after a life was violated, after he had taken what made screeching sounds in his mind, he punched her twice in her face to get her unconscious. He had to consume her in absolute serenity. And he did. The calmest and the most glorious moments of his existence came in those few minutes of muted silence. Once he was done, he understood what he’d done to her. He sat up and pulled up his pants. Then, he did something that surprised even himself. He got down the bed and sat on the floor cross-legged. Just staring at her. For hours and hours together. He saw her valiantly breathing and helplessly trembling. He sat there for hours and hours together. Watching her move, twitch, turn and tire. He didn’t want to leave.

The night behind him, slowly crackled with daylight, and her husband came home. The woman had noticed her violator just stay there with a pleasant smile on his face.

The husband hit the man hard and he did not protest. And from then till now, he had been a captive. The man presently cried and cried under the tap.

The man washed out whatever he could. He limped to the chair, gripped Arjun’s hair, moved his head up and down. After ensuring that the husband was dead, he limped to the stairs and pulled himself up one step at a time. He turned the knob and got out. He looked to his right and saw the main door, one which he had entered through decades back. And to his left, a two-step platform that led to the bedroom. The choice was obvious to him. He walked left.

He saw her sleeping peacefully on the bed. She looked calmer and more beautiful than she had when she had broken his knee. He slowly limped to the vacant side of the bed and slept beside her. Never touching her or feeling her breath. He just lay straight, face turned towards her.  

A small strand of hair, brushed over her face and her nose twitched a bit. He carefully picked the strand and placed it over her ear.  The wetness from his earlier wash seeped into the blankets and mattress. He turned himself to face Freida.

She felt something and shook her head. Her eyes opened to see not Arjun but the man. She fully opened her eyes and yet the face didn’t change. She stared right at the person who scarred her. Deep into his eyes. Unflinching and courageous. No one moved, spoke or made any sound. And just as strangely, Freida drowsily closed her eyes and went back to sleep, oblivious to Arjun’s fate downstairs

(To be continued…)

[…]

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Long Story Short – Freida’s Broken Watch (Episode One)

Episode One: The Dark Room Full Of Scars ‘Can you at least pretend to like it’ Freida held a long black dress to her height. Arjun half smiled and shrugged his shoulders. The dress had a frill-n-lace and was called something Arjun would eventually forget. So, why bother naming it. Arjun wasn’t particularly interested in Read more about Long Story Short – Freida’s Broken Watch (Episode One)[…]

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Long Story Short – Xin Zhou Within Time Vortex (Continued)

Author: Siddharth Naidu
Photography Partner: Prashita Ramteke


Xin Zhou’s expertise in Science and curiosity in Time Travel led him to traverse unknown territories!

Tampering with time, however, is a dangerous path!
In this treacherous game of multiple lives, Ayane awaits his rescue.
Will Xin be able to succeed? Will he accomplish his mission, without getting lost?

27 Minutes Clocking Down:

Xin Zhou stood still on the wooden floor of the house, dewy dust sprinkled all over his coat. He turned to see Ayane wobbling and taking a step towards him; then she crashed onto the floor with a thud. A steel machete in her hand, the button of a black jacket in her grip and blood oozing out of a deep wound on her stomach. But before he let his emotions get the better of him, he saw something written on the whiteboard fleeting behind her. A cryptic message which said “Check Logs in the Whistle”.

He immediately understood, took a hypothesised guess as to what was happening all around him.

He lay Ayane on the floor and walked out of the room to an adjacent private lab he constructed for his time synthesis. He slid through the door and saw the ContraR recorder, which could record whatever he said through a collar mic.

What made it special was that everything it recorded was eventually transferred to an SF Drive on a real-time basis. He clicked the blue playback button and filtered it by time – latest. It was Log 29. Then he went back and heard each and every log understanding and reconfirming his calculation. He selected all the logs and deleted them. None of them had the eventuality which he hoped for. The convolution would only get him to traverse the loop an infinite number of times. From what he knew and analysed, there were seven loops, which were going about simultaneously. Thus, these would only expand, if fed with information which had no results. […]

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Long Story Short – Xin Zhou Within Time Vortex

Author: Siddharth Naidu
Photography Partner: Prashita Ramteke


Xin Zhou’s expertise in Science and curiosity in Time Travel led him to traverse unknown territories!

Tampering with time, however, is a dangerous path!
In this treacherous game of multiple lives, Ayane awaits his rescue.
Will Xin be able to succeed? Will he accomplish his mission, without getting lost?


23rd February 2078:

The weather forecast for the day had already gone terribly wrong. There was no sign of summer, not even a glimmer of sunlight to be seen. Xin Zhou pulled up his jacket. He stepped down to the road from the bus shelter, desperately trying to avoid the rain. The rains lashed at him as if the hurricane miles away from the bay area was his fault somehow. He tightened the hood around his face and under the chin. The University bus coughed and rumbled on for a few hundred feet away on the road that in some miles joined the Okegawa by-pass, getting him to Tokyo Metropolitan within an hour.

Xin Zhou leant on the window fidgeting with his mobile phone. He scrolled through the contacts, paused at Ayane for a moment. When would this end at all? The problem was he knew it would end, but could he know if it did. Ayane was taken away with no explanation or reason. Much like the rain that would go once the bus had crossed The Vortex. He looked at his watch, a vintage David Olley steel strap. He waited intently. The second’s hand moved above the minute’s hand and approached a full circle. A man remarkably similar to him sat on the first seat, just behind the driver, with his ear pods in, and shut his eyes close. Of course, Xin Zhou hoped that the man would wake up, if only for once; and only after an hour, after the bus reached its destination. He only hoped that the man would be oblivious to anyone boarding it or getting off. A hope that deep in his mind, he knew, was not possible.

The bus halted at a stop, near the mega Ikea store beyond the Saitama connector bridge. He got down hurriedly, unbuttoned his raincoat and rolled it into a bundle. He placed the bundle within his backpack and took out his Gun and its silencer attachment. His day had just started.

“Log 27, X7, Day 7….I’ve seen X1. Again. I’ve gotten off at Saitama. Hopefully, I’ll intercept Yukai from their origination point Omiya. Vortex time available, 58 minutes and clocking down”

He spoke into a wireless mic, embedded within his collar. A log was necessary to record his past and quantify his future. He sprinted towards the cab service pod, and hailed one, as thunders cracked the blue skies. The cab turned the corner into Heromi Nest roadway. Everything was being recorded. Nothing was left to chance. He got off the cab, and swiftly jumped onto the pavement, and hid in the shadows of the alley between two tall buildings.

42 Minutes clocking down:

Any moment now. A black sedan swirled around the corner and came to a halt, screeching on the other side of the road. First the plump one in a two piece jacket, they called Tommy, would get out, and scan the area. Then, the two passengers in the back seat, Zinko and Raiden would come out. They carried hidden machetes within their jackets, a mark of Yakuza. Now, a man would appear behind them. He always hid in the phone booth, waiting for the opportune moment of attack. The man, X5 would glance at the alleyway for a moment, make a mental note of its hiding capability, and attack Zinko from behind. The Yakuza members were trained professionals. They would disarm him easily and swing their weapons at him. Hence this explained the existence of X6, a few moments later at the turn off bridge the stealthy presence of X7 in the alleyway. New chances of a constant man, were all going waste.

[…]

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Long Story Short: The Wonderful Life of Zariya

Author: Siddharth Naidu
Photography Partner: Prashita Ramteke

Trashed memories, broken dreams, famished will.
A young life was finished before it even began.
From the world where wonders had just begun to the world where Zariya was nothing but a vegetable.

When all hope was lost, a fickle frustration led him to her.
Vikram was the only hope; an only saviour for her will.

Drishti had unexpectedly become Vikram’s life goal.
Drishti’s acknowledgement was a purpose. Stories – his revolution.

Will Vikram lose it all in the attempt of survival?
Will Drishti ever awaken her emotions?
A story of breathtaking tragedy, heartwarming love and beautiful lives engulfed in the mirage of self-actualization!
 

When Zariya crashed on the road from her scooter, she was 19. She was at an age that identified her goals and realised them as dreams. In a split second, she lost everything. A sharp gravel stone pierced the skin under her neck and cut through an internal carotid artery. She lay there, immovable and entirely paralytic, except for the working grace of her sensory organs. She could see people gathering around her. A few men trying to remove her scooter, which felt weightless on her legs. She could see people pick her up and one of them placed her into the backseat of a car. The front seat, the textured leather cover, a faint jasmine smell and blowing horns were all apparent to her. She felt her blood dripping onto the seat, her senseless fingers sticking onto the glass window. It almost never happened. And then days later, she woke up in a plush private hospital. The sobbing of her parents, flower bouquets, the creaky doors, and the pungent medicinal smell filled her ambience. This was, however, her side-stop in a longer journey; a journey which would transcend through many hospitals and finally land her at General Govt. Hospital in the city. She would survive on aided-support, yet would never recover. She couldn’t die either. All she could do was to lay on the cot and spend her days…

SEVEN YEARS LATER:  
Vikram suddenly woke up from a deep slumber and patted around his side table. After almost dropping it down, he latched onto his mobile and turned off the alarm. It was ten minutes past six. He closed his eyes and his body begged him to stay put. 3 or 5 minutes wouldn’t really change anything. Vikram, however, knew the trick having fallen for it plenty many times. He sat up and took a gulp of water from the bottle near his bed. By seven o’clock, he readied himself. A bag packed with precisely six books, some pens, some apples, and his office ID tag thrown in. He walked out of his small room and locked the door behind him. Just as he stepped away from the plankton seeping door and towards his bike, his mobile rang.

‘Vicky… Hello… Vicky… Hello?’ the voice said.

It was his Mother. She usually called him in the evening when he returned home. This call was an oddity.

‘Amma..! Can you hear me…Hello’, Vikram replied, raising his voice a little. He was a soft talker. But then, his mother was old and in her own words, growing deaf in one ear.

‘Vicky…Book a ticket for me for Duronto Express tonight’, His Mother said as clearly as she could.  Vikram tried understanding the request or rather question the reason behind it. Did she tell him something? Was he supposed to remember something? But before he could come up with anything, his Mother intervened,

‘Vicky, you know Kamili aunt’s father right? He passed away an hour back, and I need to be in Hyderabad at the earliest’ she declared.

Vikram promised her he would book her a ticket as soon as possible and got off the call. His office was in Hitech city, fifteen odd kilometres to his place. But then, he had stopped going to his office for a long time now. For the past six months, his day started with a pretence of it and had to zero in on finding the perfect human resource for a said target project. However, everything had changed after he met her.Drishti. She was everything to him now.

He reached the Hospital within an hour. This was the only time that the doctors allowed him to visit Drishti. Dr. Swathi had taken pity on him and more so, on her. Her sympathy made way to his prolonged visits. She was dead otherwise, but her life breathed inside. And he was essential for her healthy heart beat. The scans and records showed the remarkable escalation in bodily activities when he was around her. And for Dr. Swathi, taking care of this abandoned young woman meant a treatment better than any.

[…]

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