Random Tales

The Smile

Refika smiled. It was the same mischievous smile that her brother had – lopsided on one side, with a twinkle in the eyes telling that more was hidden behind that smile than visible, and genuine, from the heart. Jenna’s heart swelled with wistfulness. She was missing Kabir. Her face couldn’t hide her longing.

“What happened?” Refika whispered, holding Jenna’s hands. Janne shook her head and wiped the tears from her eyes. No! This wasn’t a moment to reminiscence about the past. This was about looking at the future. She swallowed and returned a smile back at Refika.

“You’re thinking about Kabir?” Refika asked, her voice a little higher than a whisper, audible to everyone around. Jenna nodded. She had never learned to lie to Refika, or Kabir for that matter.

Refika’s father, who was standing beside her put his hand on Jenna’s shoulder.

“We all miss him, Jenna. You don’t have to be ashamed of that.”

“Yes, dear. He’s not here but he’s still with us, all of us.” Kabir and Refika’s mother chimed in as well. She held Jenna’s arm and squeezed it gently.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want the moment to go in this direction. It’s our special moment,” Jenna said looking at Refika.

Refika giggled nervously. “Our special moment can wait.”

“Everyone! We are taking a five-minute break. One of the brides is having a panic attack.”

The jovialness of her voice made everyone in the audience laugh. Even Jenna couldn’t help herself and smile. Refika helped Jenna on a chair and someone got her water. Jenna couldn’t believe that at this moment, she was being comforted by Kabir’s family when they might be in as much pain as her.

Jenna and Kabir met three years ago at a party. Kabir was the guest of honor, primarily because he had the knack to hijack any party within minutes of entering it. Jenna was immediately drawn to him, probably like all the other girls at that party. At that party, that was all Jenna knew about Kabir. It was the second time she met him that she found out the kind and free-spirited soul called Kabir in full flow. She had needed some legal help and Kabir was a lawyer. By the end of that meeting, she asked him out.

Kabir had looked at her with a lopsided grin.

“Okay! Let’s go,” Kabir said.

“What? Right now?”

“What are you waiting for?”

Kabir said and started walking. Jenna looked at him dumbfounded and then ran after him. Within 3 months, Jenna had moved in with Kabir and soon after, met his family. In Kabir’s world, everything happened instantaneously.

In their one year long relationship, Jenna experienced everything – the highs and the lows, the love and the pain, the beginning and the end. Her perfect relationship was ended by a freak accident two years ago.

For the next six months, Jenna had nightmares almost every night. She would call for Kabir and wake up in sweat and tears, alone in their house.

Kabir’s parents urged her to move in with them, even if for a brief period. She complied. Living with Kabir’s parents calmed her down considerably. They lived only a few blocks away from Kabir’s apartment but the difference was light-years in Jenna’s recovery. She even started calling them mom and dad. Refika’s presence helped too.

A lawyer as well, Refika was a much calmer version for Kabir. Where Kabir was a river at its origin – blazing, cutting through the mountains, eager to reach the ocean, Refika was the same river at the plains, meandering sometimes, caring, nurturing. Jenna and Refika came closer than ever. One day, without any hesitation, Refika asked Jenna.

“Hey! Do you want to have dinner tonight?”

Considering it a daily question, Jenna answered.

“Of course. I was planning on making some pasta.”

“I meant, do you want to go out and have dinner.”

“Even better. I’ll ask mom and dad as well.”

Refika rolled her eyes.

“What?”

“When was the last time someone asked you out?”

Jenna looked at Refika confused.

“I don’t know. I haven’t really dated anyone since Kabir.”

“I can see that. You clearly don’t recognize when someone asks you out.”

“Huh!”

“Yeah.”

“Oh!”

Jenna and Refika looked at each other, the tension and the awkwardness in the room increasing by the second. Jenna hoped Refika would say something and change the situation but Refika had clearly been prepping herself for this moment. She was waiting patiently for Jenna to respond. ‘Damn Refika’s lawyer patience,’ thought Jenna.

The two kept sitting in front of each other without saying anything for a century.

Jenna’s mind went from confusion to revolt to even more confusion to acceptance to horror at the acceptance to even further confusion. In front of her, Refika was sitting still, a somber look at her face, ready to accept any decision.

“I don’t want to say no but I don’t know how to say yes,” Jenna finally said.

“Okay. Then let this one be a friendly dinner. Nothing more,” Refika said, accepting the reply.

Jenna nodded.

“But no parents.”

Jenna laughed, tension releasing from her body.

That dinner was just dinner. But the next one turned into a date. And today, less than a year later, she was about to marry Refika. Her parents, Kabir’s parents have been so accepting of her that she couldn’t believe she could get so lucky. She was amazed at the stride in which they took Refika and Jenna’s relationship.

“Love is love,” dad had said. Mom had been even happier.

“Now, you stay in the family forever,” she had said joyously.

And now, in the midst of all this happiness, she was crying, remembering Kabir. Kabir, who made all this happen. Meeting whom changed her life forever. Jenna looked at Refika who was holding her hand.

“You good now,” she asked.

Jenna smiled.

“I love Kabir.”

Refika nodded.

“And I love you.”

Refika smiled.

“I love Kabir too. And I love you too.”

“Let’s get married,” Jenna said with a smile on her face.

Refika smiled. The same smile Kabir had given Jenna when she had asked him out.

Random Tales

The Letter

Samantha picked the letter once more. Maybe the words had changed, her mind said to her heart. The letter contained just three words but their weight was slumping her shoulders and making her tired with each passing second.

‘I am done.’

Ashfaq had left in the morning before she woke up and all she got was this letter. No explanation, no reasoning, nothing. Just a letter with three words. Even a hollow statement of care would have been comforting to her but Ashfaq wasn’t like that. He spoke little and to the point.

‘Anything more is just flub,’ he often said.

Samantha looked at their fight yesterday. Was it that big of a deal? Was he overreacting? Had she crossed some invisible line?

“No, our love can’t be this weak that it can’t stand a single fight,” Samantha said to herself trying to make sense of the situation. Tears start to pour from her eyes.

Urooj came in the room and picked up Samantha. “What happened?” She asked Samantha. She looked at Urooj with glassy eyes.

“Ashfaq left me. How could he leave me, all alone?” Samantha said showing Urooj the letter with three words written on them.

Urooj sighed. She picked up Samantha and helped her sit on a chair.

“Can you believe it? Ashfaq left me because of one small fight.”

“What was the fight about?” Urooj asked Samantha.

“Silly thing. I got drunk last night and acted a bit crazy. He had told me to not drink too much but I still did it. He was mad last night. He took care of me the whole night and then left in the morning. He was so kind. How can he be so cruel? I know it’s my fault but he didn’t give me a chance.”

Urooj cradled Samantha who was crying uncontrollably now.

“Mom. Please calm down.”

“But the letter.”

“Forget about the letter.”

“You’re right. Ashfaq hasn’t taken his clothes and everything except for his phone and wallet were still in the house. In fact, it is technically his house. How can he go from his own house?” Samantha said with some comfort.

Urooj nodded, now, tears glistening her eyes as well.

“He will be back,” Samantha said confidently. Her wrinkled fingers clutching the letter in her hands.

Urooj helped her mom lie down in the bed. She couldn’t get the letter out of Samantha’s hand, as much she tried. Once Samantha dozed off, Urooj came out of the room.

“It’s her third attack in two days,” Urooj said to her brother James who had been in the other room, talking to the lawyer.

“The doctor said that these attacks would go away with time. We have to be patient,” James said hugging his sister.

“She’s not ready to leave the letter.”

“Frankly, I’m surprised that she still had that letter.”

“Yeah. When dad used to say that they kept everything, he wasn’t joking.”

“Yeah. I still wish she had not kept the letter. It takes her back to 35 years ago. And I tried telling her that dad came back after a couple of hours but she doesn’t hear or understand it at all.”

Urooj nodded. Their mom and dad had a fairytale love story. Except for that one day, early in their relationship, when their dad got too frustrated with their mom, the two never left each other’s side. For more than 35 years, they were together, until two days back when their dad passed away.

Urooj and James were sad but their mom was shattered. She was holding on to a meaningless letter, waiting for her boyfriend to come back. A boyfriend who came back and became a husband and a father. James and Urooj looked at their family picture from a few years ago. The four of them were smiling with a small caption –

Samantha, Ashfaq, James, Urooj – the perfect family.

“Miss you, Dad,” Urooj said.

“Miss you, Dad,” James said.

Story Collection - MSPM39

Story 35/39: Two’s a company

“Hey.”

Mick looked up. A girl in her 20s was looking at her with a faint smile.

“Hey,” he said with a return smile. It wasn’t often that a girl would come to a guy directly in a bar.

“Is this seat empty?” The girl asked.

“Yeah,” he said with an inner glee. Then he remembered and his heart sank. Even if she liked him, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Mick had died a couple of weeks ago. His soul had decided to stay around the body and while he couldn’t enter the body and revive himself, he was able to hold it and use it to enact, almost like a zombie. The first two days after that had been great and he decided that he will continue to live on like this. Then, his body started to show signs of deterioration. He realized that his body’s functions that were protecting him from bacteria and other microorganisms had stopped functioning. His heart wasn’t pumping blood and he was definitely not going to last. He decided to complete some final tasks – taking care of his parents’ finances, ensuring that his brother was off his ground, finishing his will, etc. before he leaves his body. It had taken two weeks to get everything done and each passing day had been harder than the last. At this point, he was just a hollow shell with skin preserved through chemicals. Mick had decided that tonight was the last night and thus, he decided to come to a bar. Alcohol isn’t going to do any good to his already dead body and would destroy a multitude of cells that will never regenerate. But he wanted to drink once more before he died.

The girl sat down in front of him and gave him a smile. She had a glass filled with ice and plain vodka or tequila if he had to guess. He could never judge a drink and with transparent drinks, he was just lost.

“I haven’t seen you here before,” the girl said. She was wearing a tall skirt, almost like a gown.

“Yeah. I don’t come to bars and pubs often,” Mick said. In truth, he had not come to a bar in a couple of years. The alcohol was cheaper to buy in a market and he preferred organizing parties at his home.

“Oh. I love parties and pubs,” the girl said with a visible change in her mood. Mick scolded herself for blowing his chance and then scolded himself for forgetting that he had no chance.

‘Mick! you died because of alcohol poisoning you idiot. If anything, you should tell this girl to reduce her drinking.’ Mick thought in his mind, remembering how he checked the first day on how he died. The only logical conclusion was either bad alcohol poisoning or overdosing on alcohol, which basically meant alcohol poisoning. The night before, they had partied harder than anything he had ever seen. Of course, if his death was discovered, the next morning would have been a damp one but that didn’t happen and all his friends left the place happy. Hungover, but happy.

“Good for you,” Mick said and focused on his drink. It was a mix of every drink possible. It tasted horrible but he wanted to drink everything once more. He had taken a pint of beer on the side as well just so that he could wash this horrible concoction with ease. Thankfully, he could feel all the sensations in his body albeit he had to focus on them now. For example, he could lose a limb and not feel it if he didn’t focus but he could feel his body being eaten alive by flesh-eating bacteria on his right thigh, right now. He tried to kill them twice daily so that his body could remain in shape but by night, they often restarted within twelve or so hours.

The girl sat there quietly for a couple of minutes, probably waiting for Mick to say something but he didn’t bother so she started again.

“Please tell me you aren’t the quiet type.”

Mick smiled. He realized that death had definitely changed him. From the shutter box that he was called earlier, he was now deemed a quiet type.

“And why is that?” Mick asked. Her curiosity in him had piqued his curiosity in her.

“I think you would be a really interesting guy to talk with,” the girl said.

“Really! And why is that?” Mick asked.

The girl giggled for straight fifteen seconds before answering.

“Because in all my life, I have never seen a guy whose ear fell off and he didn’t notice,” she said and bent down to pick an ear. She held it to Mick who immediately recognized it as his own, a feeling confirmed by his hand which couldn’t find his right ear on his head.

He looked at her scandalized. ‘It doesn’t matter. I’m dead anyway. It doesn’t matter.’ He repeated in his mind but his soul was panicking at this point. He didn’t even know that souls could panic.

“Don’t worry. I’m not letting your secret out,” the girl said with a genuine smile.

“Thank you!” Mick said and hid the ear in his pocket.

“When did you die?” The girl asked.

“How did you know?”

“When?”

“Two weeks ago.”

“You are holding up quite well for a two weeks old dead body.”

“Not really! This is frankly the end of the road for me.”

The girl laughed.

“I was joking, you idiot. You are in terrible shape.”

“What?” Mick said looking at her confused.

“First thing. Stop drinking alcohol you idiot. That is bad for a dead body.”

“This is my last day. I’m planning on leaving tonight. I can drink whatever I want.”

The girl rolled her eyes.

“Were you this idiot when you were alive or has death decreased your IQ points?”

“Huh!”

“How did you die?”

Mick looked down, ashamed.

“How?”

“Alcohol poisoning.”

The girl’s eyes widened.

“Urghhh. If you weren’t the only dead guy around,” she said loudly, “and so frigging cute,” she whispered.

“Come with me.”

“Where?”

“To teach you a few things about life after death.”

“Like what? And who are you?”

“Like when you are out partying, drink water mixed with ice, which is also water. No one would know,” she said showing him her glass.

His eyes reflected the shock he was feeling.

“You… you… you…”

“Don’t act as if you have seen a ghost. Or at least the first ghost.”

“Since when?”

“Three months.”

“Woah!”

“Yeah. If you take proper care, you can have a normal life. At least for more than two weeks.”

“Okay,” Mick said hopefully.

“What’s your name? I’m …”

“Wait! Don’t tell me your real name. Let’s keep this interesting. Tell me a random name you can think of right now.”

“Uh. Okay. My name is Pongsathorn. And yours?”

“Selina.”

“So, Selina. Now what?” Mick asked as they came out of the bar.

“Now, I teach you how to live when you’re dead,” Selina said with a grin and a twinkle in her eye.

Story Collection - MSPM39

Story 34/39: If you can’t kill them…

“I should go bald,” Renjana thought as she washed her hair. It was a weekly ritual that came too soon for her. Once, she decided to skip it and felt dirty the whole week, even dirtier than the time she got too drunk and was found by a couple of cops on the side of the road, in her own vomit. Hence, the weekly loathing and the washing continued.

‘It would have been easier if I didn’t have these wounds,’ Renjana thought trying to keep the water and soap away from the knife wound she had on her arm. It was a gift from some guy who had tried to attack her when she was coming back from buying groceries.

“Who does that?” Renjana uttered angrily. Unfortunately, he ran away before she could capture him or even identify him. She didn’t understand why it happened to her but she was determined to get to the bottom of it. ‘No one messes with Renjana and gets away with it,’ she thought fiercely.

That attack was three days ago. Since then, she has been cautious of another attack and has been trying to make a list of her enemies and potential enemies. The attacker didn’t try to take anything from her and he was far too skilled to be a regular joe.

She got out of her shower and started to get dressed. Suddenly, the glass shattered and a bullet hit the wall beside her. The glass was slightly distorted which affected the aim of the shooter. This won’t happen the second time.

Renjana looked outside with her binoculars and saw a man sitting on the roof of the next building. She ducked just in time to avoid the second shot. She picked her own gun and shot towards the building. She didn’t expect to hit from a regular gun to such far distance but she was hoping to scare the shooter off. The attack seemed to have stopped.

Renjana looked again and the shooter was packing his gun. She ran towards the door.

“I have to catch this shooter.”

She grabbed the t-shirt on the way and wore it by the time she reached the door. She opened the door and in a moment of clarity, hesitated. She tried to close the door again but felt weight against it.

‘Shit! Renjana, you idiot!’ Renjana thought and jumped away from the door. A knife slash occurred as the door opened. Standing in front of her was a man over six feet tall with a murderous look in his eyes. His face was covered but her knife was what was attracting Renjana’s attention.

‘Thank God, he doesn’t have a gun,’ Renjana thought, hiding her gun with her body.

“Finally!” The man said and attacked Renjana. Renjana waited for the last second and then pulled out her gun and shot at an angle. His knife hand was punctured and became useless. Before he could use his other hand, she shot that too followed by a shot each on his legs.

The man screamed while Renjana went and closed the door. She knew that despite the silencer, the gunshots and the scream would be heard by others and the cops would reach here in a few minutes.

“Who are you?” Renjana asked calmly. “And the one who tried shooting me from long-range. Was he your partner?”

The man looked at her blankly. Renjana unmasked him and found a 20-something guy with a babyface. Despite the situation, she chuckled.

“Who sends a kid to kill someone?” She asked.

It was clearly a touchy topic for the man as he immediately tensed, despite four bullet wounds.

“I’m not a kid. I have killed a lot of people.”

“So have mosquitoes. The question is why?”

He turned to look away.

“No worries. You don’t have to talk. I’ll ask your baby sitter. I’m assuming that he will come once you are caught.”

“He’s not my babysitter.”

“Let’s be honest. He’s here because you failed last time, isn’t it?” The man nodded.

“What’s your name?”

The man looked at her confused.

“Of course, you won’t tell me your name. I’ll call you John Doe. So, John Doe, you have less than one minute to tell me why you are trying to kill me. I’m not going to wait for the cops to take you away and do a case on you. You will die right here.”

Renjana said and pointed the gun between his eyes.

“You are not a normal girl,” he finally said.

“Finally caught up, are we?” Renjana said in a monotone.

“You promise you won’t kill me if I tell you the truth.”

Renjana smiled.

“Yes. Tell me who hired you to kill me.”

“I don’t know that.”

Renjana looked at him confused. “You are killing me on a person’s order that you don’t know.”

John Doe nodded.

“I work for a contract killer organization and they give us assignments. We are not supposed to ask details unless absolutely necessary. Chinese walls and all are set up.”

Renjana listened carefully. This wasn’t the first time she had heard about such an organization but she assumed it was a conspiracy theory – another attempt of average people to impose order over chaotic events. Apparently, she was wrong.

“Okay. Now, once you have missed killing me twice, very publically, I’m assuming that your career is over, am I correct?”

John Doe shook his head.

“It’s a good company. They don’t fire people for mistakes. They train and teach us. Good benefits too.” Renjana looked at him with her mouth open.

“Did I just hear an employee praise his company?” She said out loud.

John Doe nodded.

“Okay. I’ll let you live. And I’ll even protect you from the cops but I need you to open a communication channel for me with this company. I want to know why they are trying to kill me with so much incompetency and diligence and I want to know how can I avoid this.”

John Doe nodded again and then looked at his watch.

“What?”

“You can call them right now from my phone. Talk to my mentor.”

She picked the phone and called the number.

“Did you finish the work?”

“No. This is work calling. I’m unfinished and plan to remain this way. Can you tell me whom should I talk to ensure that?”

“You? Where is Shakib?”

“Shakib is sitting, riddled with bullets, planning on dying soon but I thought I would try to save his life. So, if you can save me, I will save him.”

“How much time?”

“2 minutes.”

“Okay. I’ll call you. Keep him alive at all costs.”

“Wow! This is a good company. I was expecting him to tell me to kill you.”

Two minutes passed which then increased to five.

“I guess I spoke too soon. And why have the cops not showed up yet?”

“Because we rerouted the call towards us.” A man said entering the room. He was followed by three more people – one guy and two girls – guns in each person’s hand.

Renjana aimed her gun towards Shakib.

“One more step and he dies.”

“Don’t worry. We are not going to kill you right now. Our employees are important enough for us.”

“What about in the future?”

“We will tell this client that we failed. This will hit our reputation but this happens. But if in future, a new assignment comes, we can’t say no to that. It’s business after all.”

The man looked around at the room.

“I’m impressed. You managed to save yourself from two of our people, twice, and you have managed to even pin one down. And while it doesn’t look like it right now, he’s actually good at what he does.” The man said with a smile.

“Thanks!” Renjana said, uncertain about how to handle the compliment from someone trying to kill her. “Why was someone trying to kill me?”

“You must be in someone’s path or you crossed someone’s path in the past.”

“You know exactly why, don’t you?”

The man nodded with a smirk. And suddenly, it dawned on Renjana.

“The reason is incredibly stupid, isn’t it? That’s why you decided to save Shakib than kill me for this stupid reason. You won’t do it for other cases.”

“You are a smart girl, Renjana. I’m constantly impressed by you.”

“Is there no way to gain immunity from this?” Renjana pleaded.

“There is one way but it’s not easy.”

“What?”

“Join the corporation. We won’t kill our own or let them get killed for stupid reasons.”

“You are offering me a job?” Renjana said incredulosly.

“As they say, if you can’t kill them, hire them.”

“But then I’ll have to kill other people, innocent people.”

“Looking at this room, and the way you have held the gun at Shakib’s temple with a steady hand, I really doubt that it is going to be a new experience for you.”

“And what if I don’t have the stomach for it?”

“You can leave. We are not movie gangsters here. Of course, the immunity goes.”

Renjana looked at all of them. Even while she held a gun to Shakib’s head, two of the folks were tending to his wounds, completely fearless about a crazy lady with a gun in her hand. There was a calm around the main man.

“What’s your name?”

“If you accept the offer, I’m your mentor. If not, then I’m no one.”

Renjana sat down on the bed. After thinking for more than fifteen minutes, she finally decided.

“I’ll join you guys.”

“Excellent. Welcome to M.A.I.D.”

Renjana giggled. “You’re called maid?”

The man, now her mentor, smiled.

“I know. What were the founders thinking, right?”

Renjana nodded, a weight lifting off her shoulders.

“Now, can you tell me who was trying to kill me?”

“After the paperwork. Your first day would be the coming Monday. Come to the address on this card.” Her mentor said sharing a card with her.

“But you can guess it.”

“It’s my ex-boyfriend, isn’t it?”

“Rich guys, spoilt with their parents’ money sometimes take heartbreak too seriously. But don’t fret, that won’t be a problem anymore. We’ll take care of that.” The man said and left. The whole team left, carrying Shakib with them.

Renjana looked at the card. It had M.A.I.D. written on it along with an address.

“Time for a new life,” She sighed.

Story Collection - MSPM39

Story 30/39: Over the Moon

Nivedita gasped at the magnanimity of the scenery around her. She had never imagined that space would be this impending. Even though she had heard stories and read about the vastness of the space, observing it in person was completely shattering her mind. The dark emptiness, the size of the moon, the white sun, everything was crushing her perspective about her beliefs.

“Nivedita! Can you please focus?” A stern voice came through the communication device.

“Uh. Yes. Copy that.”

“This is a critical mission and its success would define if we will be able to launch our next manned shuttle to Mars. Please focus.” The voice said sarcastically.

Nivedita rolled her eyes. She was an accomplished scientist and an astronaut but she was being handled like a toddler. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time. As glamorous as being an astronaut sounds, the awe is only for the people outside or the astronaut himself. The team that is actually sending you to space is as competent, sometimes more than you and it’s hard to impress them. At best, you are a competent colleague, at worst, a glorified driver of a vehicle that mostly runs on autopilot.

She didn’t mind it though. The stern voice was actually Maggie’s who was her best friend and the closest thing she had to a family.

“Nivedita, can you please upload the results of the tests?” Maggie said over the comms.

“Already done. They should reach you soon,” Nivedita said. There was no way around the distance and as much as they might want, the time it takes to communicate with each other was bounded by the laws of physics.

Nivedita got back to her work. She had been sent with two other teammates to build a booster platform on the Moon. The idea was that this booster would be released in space at a specific time to get attached to the rocket that would be coming from the Earth in a particular manner boosting the rocket’s fuel as well as velocity towards Mars. The hypothesis was that this push would reduce the time to reach Mars by around 7%. While the number may seem meager ordinarily, it was significant for a distance to Mars.

It had been her dream to explore space and now that she was here, it was everything she had dreamt about and more. Every time she looked outside, she was mesmerized. She was also happy that she got to see all this before she left the world.

A secret she was unable to share with anyone right now was that her pulse had stopped during the take-off. Maybe it was an aneurism or perhaps just the shock of the travel, her heart had stopped beating by the time the ship had stabilized. Her soul was basically traversing outside her body looking at the three of them, close-eyed waiting for the ship to leave the atmosphere. Nivedita tried to enter her body but she could only occupy it like a ghost owning a zombie.

She got lucky that in space, everyone’s motion was weird so her mishaps were blamed on space instead of her newly dead zombie phenomenon. She had hidden it well till now, but she knew it will become more difficult with each passing day. She could feel her body deteriorating as it had stopped healing itself.

“Maybe, I will leave the body in a couple of days,” Nivedita said to her for the tenth time in the past five days. In two days, they will have their mandatory full-body checkup which will tell everyone the truth. Her mind had started whirring towards faking the test somehow.

“I wish I could restart it somehow,” Nivedita said holding her hand to her heart. She felt no beat, no pulse, no breath in her body. She looked at a picture of Maggie that she had brought with her.

“Maggie, have I paid a price too heavy to see the space?” She asked the picture and looked outside. The view, in all its glory, lost sheen for a second in that moment. “Perhaps, being at Earth, eating my favorite food with you would have been a better option.”

“Nivedita! We are unable to keep the booster in its place. What do you suggest?” One of the astronauts said.

Nivedita looked at the scenario and her jaw dropped. The whole booster was finally on the Moon’s surface and it looked magnificent. Unfortunately, it was barely holding despite the absence of atmosphere.

“We will have to do it manually!” Nivedita said and no one said anything for a while. They were given strict instructions to not leave the spacecraft for this mission. It was deemed far too dangerous.

“But we aren’t supposed to…” Sadia said.

“But the mission would fail if it’s not stabilized,” Casey added.

“No one goes outside,” Maggie’s response came through the comms. Apparently, Sadia and Casey had informed Maggie about the situation.

‘It’s dangerous, for a living person,’ Nivedita thought in her mind. ‘You are already dead. Might as well make a hero out of yourself, Nivedita.’

“You are right, Maggie. It’s dangerous,” Nivedita said and started the process to leave the ship.

“What are you doing?” Casey hissed.

“You both try to balance it from here. I will add some support from outside. Hopefully, we should be done before I die.” Nivedita said with a smirk. She was glad that her death hadn’t affected her sense of humor.

Casey and Sadia nodded. By the time Maggie’s resounding ‘No’ came from the comms, Nivedita was outside.

Once the machine was stabilized, Nivedita decided it was as good a time as any to leave her body as a zombie. The mission was a success and she was standing on the moon. It was the best exit she could have asked for and she decided to take it.

Casey and Sadia looked through the ship as Nivedita’s body went limp and fell in slow motion on the surface of the moon.