Story Collection - MSPM39

Story 20/39: Attempt: Failed

“Attempt number 251,” Prasanna said and jumped off the plane with the parachute. The parachute opened at the right time and Prasanna landed safely. 

“Attempt failed.” Prasanna recorded angrily and went up again. This time, he jumped without the parachute. 

“Attempt #251,” he recorded just before the jump. He hit the ground at terminal velocity. His face was almost smashed and his legs were completely crushed. His backbone snapped in half due to the stress and his skull was showing brain. 

“Perfect,” Prasanna mumbled and closed his one good eye. He had assumed that this won’t work but it seemed that this was going to work after all. 

Prasanna woke up two days later in a hospital bed and immediately swore. 

“You should feel lucky that you survived. When we got you, you were barely breathing. Thankfully, all your organs were intact otherwise you would have been dead. What were you thinking, jumping off the plane without a parachute? Young man. This life is a gift and you are wasting it like this.”

The nurse continued for another five minutes but Prasanna zoned her out. He looked at his body at it was in mint condition. Both of his eyes were working perfectly and his snapped back was straight as a cane. 

“My phone?” 

“You really think it would survive such a fall.” The nurse said in a stern tone.

“Millenials, hmphh!” She said and left the room. Prasanna saw a paper and pen and wrote on it before he forgets the exact count – Attempt #252: Failed.

Prasanna still remembered fondly the day he had realized that he was immortal. He had stopped aging at around 25 years of age and since then, he has lived several lives and several generations. He had seen the rise of the British empire and then its fall, the two world wars, the rise of technology, and all the things that come in between. Initially, he was excited by each of those things. Each and everything has a novelty and after a certain point, he would simply change the location which was harder during the old days. Now, he has visited all the countries, seen all the monuments, and lived in most cities for years and with travel becoming so easy and with the internet, he found every day as boring and similar as the previous one. 

It was time to go, he decided. In the past five years, he had tried to get killed more than 250 times. Each time he came out alive. If someone tried to kill him, it didn’t work as no creature could kill him. If he tried committing suicide, it didn’t work because he was also a creature. He wasn’t aging so that was out of the question. 

He tried everything from becoming a superhero to put himself in danger every day to joining the military to climbing the hardest mountains in the world. He had already climbed Everest three times and came back alive all three times. 

Raima entered the room silence and shock visible on her face. Prasanna couldn’t meet her gaze. She held his hand and he felt the warmth of her hand and guilt alongside it. He had been dating Raima for around six months now. In his grand scheme of finally ending his life, he completely forgot about her. 

Raima remained silent for the whole time just holding his hand. This more than anything increased his guilt. If she had perhaps shouted, Prasanna would have remained silent. 

“I can’t die.”

Raima looked at him curiously. 

“I have tried before. It doesn’t work.”

“You have attempted suicide before?” Raima said in a husky voice, mixed with emotions.

Prasanna nodded and showed her the paper.

“Attempt #252: Failed.”

“Jumping off the plane without a parachute.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ll explain after we are out of this place.”

“They will keep you here for a week, to see if you are stable.”

Prasanna nodded. “It’s fine. Let’s start now.”

Prasanna started telling her about his journey across the centuries. Initially, she was skeptical and asked questions at every point of the way but finally, she accepted his version of the truth. 

“I can’t believe it.” 

“Please help me die,” Prasanna said. 

“What? No! I love you.” 

“Please,” Prasanna requested. 

“I won’t help you, Prasanna. But I will try to find more about this. To understand you.”

Prasanna nodded. 

Finally, after a week, Prasanna was discharged. Raima and Prasanna reached the home where books were all over the place. 

“I was doing some reading,” Raima said sheepishly. 

“I can see that. What are you reading?”

“About you.”

“About me?”

“History has no record of such a person so I delved into mythology where there are many records of beings who were immortal. They were all conditionally immortal though – always a catch – which helped the Gods in killing those beings.”

“So, we just have to find the catch?”

Raima nodded and then shook her head.

“No! I’m not doing this so that you start on your journey to kill yourself again. I just wanted to know if there is something that we need to protect you from.” 

Prasanna smiled. “And did you find something.”

Raima opened a book and showed Prasanna a highlighted portion. It was a memoir of a doctor from the 15th century. 

“My friend was immortal. Nothing could kill him, he would often say, and yet, today, he is no more. Foiled by fate. I saw him riddled with bullets and smiling, butchered by bears and joking about it as his body healed, stabbing himself with a knife and then getting healed, drowning in water and then coming out alive, getting diseases deadly to other people and walking them off. And yesterday, he slipped and fell on a stone. His brain opened but he was smiling. We waited for it to heal but it didn’t. No creature could kill him, no disease could destroy him, but sheer dumb luck can’t be defeated by even an immortal.”

The memoir talked about this man further but Prasanna didn’t read after it. 

“If I am similar to this guy’s friend, only luck can kill me.”

“Yeah, it seems you can only die accidentally. If there is any deliberate attempt by anyone, you will survive.” 

“How do I create bad luck?”

Raima smiled.

“You don’t. You live and wait for it to catch up to you.” 

Prasanna smiled back and made a mental note of what he had read. 

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Jenny & Jennifer

The weather was reflecting the mood of the moment. The clouds were getting darker and the temperature had dropped a few degrees. Jenny slurped the ice-chocolate smoothie while Animesh scratched his beard. Five days on the road has not given him the opportunity to peel off the grass on his face.

‘At least Jenny is having fun.’ He thought bitterly. He had tried his best to explain to Jenny the current situation but she wouldn’t understand. It took a lot for Jenny to care about something. Animesh was a worry-wart. He didn’t believe it was possible that these two are related in any way but they were.

“Do you think we will survive this?” Jenny asked nonchalantly. Animesh looked at her shocked. The way she talked about dying flabbergasted him.

“We will survive.” Animesh said strongly, more to himself. Jenny nodded and gorged herself with the pancake.

Animesh remembered the first time he had seen Jenny. She was a tiny baby just out of her mother’s womb. Jennifer had left after the delivery and Jenny was the last memory of his wife. Luckily, Jenny was blessed. Jennifer came from a race of long-lived and almost immortal people. Jenny got the same genes from her mother. She was strong and almost a replica of her mother. Hence, Animesh named her Jenny.

He hoped that Jenny get to see her mother one day but that was only possible if Jenny could ascend. Unfortunately, Jenny had absolutely no interest in that. For her, a bowl of ice-cream was more important than gaining immortality.

“Jenny. We must complete this assignment. It would help you get stronger.” Animesh urged.

“Urghh.. Not again. I’ve told you a hundred times. I have no interest in meeting a mother who left me.” Jenny said but started finishing the meal. Despite all her rebellious nature, she did listen to Animesh and that was his only respite. He hoped that it would last long enough for her to ascend. She was already 12 and he dreaded the teenage years that were coming.

Jenny and Animesh looked at their target. He was a bounty hunter and he realised that the best way for Jenny to ascend was to assist him. Jenny had a long list of powers most of which the two were still discovering.

“I think we can abduct her if we go from that side.” Animesh whispered to Jenny. Jenny looked at him and smiled. She jumped from the 10-foot tall building just in front of the target. She had incredible strength and durability so Animesh was not anxious, just annoyed.

Animesh started his descent from the building while keeping an eye on Jenny. The target was surprised by Jenny’s sudden arrival but she quickly gained her composure and swung her hand at Jenny. Jenny dodged it and punched the target back. Animesh hoped Jenny was pulling her punches. Animesh didn’t want to take the target in two pieces.

Animesh came down and turned to see the fight. Jenny was still fighting unable to land a punch on the target. The target was faster than Jenny and that was saying something.

“Aarghh.” Jenny shouted as blood came gushing out of her side. Animesh ran to her to help her. The target turned and there was a large blade in her hand. A hand that was connected to the most beautiful face in the world.

Animesh kept looking at Jennifer who was stunned as well. Jenny took advantage of the situation and hit Jennifer with all her might.

“No Jenny.” Animesh shouted a bit too late. Jennifer lay crumpled on the ground. Animesh ran towards her.

“Jenny. This is Jennifer, your mother.” Animesh said in one breath. “Jennifer. I am so sorry.” He continued looking at Jennifer. She was now sitting on the ground pinching her back to check the pain.

“She’s strong. Stronger than me. Not fast enough though.” Jennifer said clinically.

“Yeah. She’s still learning.” Animesh said proudly.

Jenny kept looking at the two.

“We have to take her for the bounty.” Finally, Jenny said.

“We won’t take her Jenny. She’s your mother.” Animesh said. Jenny stayed quiet but her brows frowned.

“How have you been? Why are you here?” Animesh asked softly.

“I am good. I was here on a mission to confiscate an element that was illegally brought to Earth. I suppose my bounty is given by the government?”

“Yeah.”

“They would do anything to capture me.”

“But I don’t understand why they would send me to capture you. They know that I won’t do that.”

“Maybe because while you won’t, the others can’t. You are the only one who has ever captured me.” Jennifer said and smiled. She stood up and looked at Jenny once more.

“Is she ready?” Animesh asked tentatively.

“Not yet. But her progress is immense. She will soon be ready to ascend. You have done well Animesh.” Jennifer said and kissed him. Animesh kissed her back, giving Jenny her first awkward moment with her parents. She had been completely silent during the whole ordeal. She didn’t understand what was happening.

“Why did you leave us? Why can’t you stay with us?” Jenny said finally. Jennifer looked at her daughter and smiled.

“Because there has to be an Astra in position. My mother died a few days after you were born. So, I had to take her place. Now, until someone can take my place, I can’t leave.”

“Why can’t someone else take your place right now?”

“Because she isn’t ready yet.” Jennifer said and brushed Jenny’s cheeks.

“That’s why you want to train me faster so that I can take her place and she can come back to you?” Jenny asked Animesh with piercing eyes. The color drained off Animesh’s face.

“No. Until she is alive, you will only take her place if you want to. I just want you to be ready when that moment comes.” Animesh blabbered.

“Animesh can have only one of the Jenny’s.” Jennifer said in a calm and soothing voice.

“We three can never be together.” Jenny said in a meek voice. Jennifer shook her head with pain.

“But only you can bring your parents together.” Jennifer said as she began to glow.

“It’s time?” Animesh said.

“Yes my love. Till we meet again. Bye Jenny.”

Jenny kept looking as her mother’s glow brightened and then vanished.

“Let’s train dad. I’ll bring you two together.” Jenny said and held her father’s hand.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Too Old

Whenever I used to watch the tales of immortal beings — I used to get a thrill. Part of it was because how idiotic it all looked. Whenever people envisioned immortality, they would picture vampires or other similar creatures. Hideous, heinous and horrible. Either that, or it was pictured that it was happening through some scientific discovery that was only available to the rich. The third option of course was to be a god. All in all, being immortal was considered either a curse or a boon. It wasn’t an option available for humans.

The second reason for the thrill was because I’m immortal. I know… I know… You are surprised. I know what you people are thinking — “Come on Ajay. Surely you are joking. You don’t look over 25. How can you be immortal?”

But you see, that’s the thing. 25 is the peak human physical age. And I stopped at that point. My body doesn’t age and I simply regenerate any tissue or damage. Diseases are rare and infrequent. And most don’t affect my perfect immune system.

Now, I’m not here to brag about how awesome living forever is. I mean don’t get me wrong — it’s awesome — but there is more to this than just living forever. You have to watch your people go.

Saying this, Ajay clicked the camera and shut it down. He couldn’t carry on any further. He sat there for a few minutes thinking about the last time he had to let go. That was the most pain he had ever felt in his entire life. 500 years have passed since that incident and yet, he has not yet forgotten the day his species, sans him, ceased to exist.

Over the past 3500 years, he had lived through many catastrophes including the great floods and the bubonic plague. He had seen the people he love pass away. His friends, kids, their grandkids and so many more people. However, he had never anticipated in his dreams that he would ever see the end of human race.

“We seemed so durable.” Ajay said to himself before a flash light brought him to the reality.

“I’m sorry Mr. Human. Can you give me your autograph?” A small kid asked in a grating tone. The sound reminded him of turning wheels screeching on the road. His English was clearly broken and weak.

“Sure, kid. What’s your name?” Ajay asked the kid. He was around 3 feet tall, with three feet. One of the feet was basically a wheel that could balance on itself. There were twelve eyes that Ajay constituted as triple vision he had heard about recently. This kid could see more colors than Ajay could imagine. His hair were small tentacles that could be used for smelling and he had gotten one of his hand replaced by a mechanical arm.

‘Typical Homo Supreme kid.’ Ajay thought.

“My name is Kryznk.” The kid said. Three individuals were looking towards Ajay wondrously. Ajay assumed they were Kryznk’s parents. Ajay couldn’t distinguish between the parents as mother or father. He found it difficult to do with Homo Supreme. Especially since they had three sets of DNA, aside from the multiple machine parts.

Ajay wrote a few words in English and then in another language that he knew was Kryznk’s local tongue.

“You can speak this language.” Kryznk said awe-struck. Ajay had heard this tone several times. Most Homo Supreme people assumed that he was some prehistoric creature who would barely understand what they were saying. And while it was true that Homo Supremes were more intelligent due to their two brain structure, Ajay was no slouch. He had over the millennia learnt hundreds of languages and he could pick them up as quickly as any Homo Supreme. Besides, the fact that all Homo Supremes speak the same language gave Ajay more incentive to learn the language.

“Kryznk!” One of the parents’ whispered. Ajay was sure that the parent must have spoken more but it was difficult for Ajay to pick up the frequency. The kid however seemed to understand.

“I will go. Bye.” The kid said and left Ajay. Ajay looked around the room and checked the clock. He decided to call it a day. Ajay went to the reception area of the hotel where he was staying.

“Can you bring these items for me?” Ajay said giving the creature his list. This person had only three eyes and one of them was a compound eye and a second one was bionic.

The creature nodded. The kind of food Ajay needed was no longer easily available. Ajay knew that if he wasn’t on government payroll, he wouldn’t probably even be able to afford most of it. Thankfully, once Homo Supreme government realised that Ajay was immortal and the last of his species, they decided to keep him on their expense.

It was soon after the last human mother gave birth to a Homo Supreme baby with her husband, who was a homo supreme. Ajay had always thought that human race would end in a war. Instead, they were just assimilated into a superior race. It was no anti-climactic that Ajay could have never guessed it.

“Your food sir.” A person with tiny wings gave him the food and went away.

Ajay sat down and ate the food while looking at the itinerary for the next week. As part of the deal, Ajay had to attend 12 exhibitions every year where he was paraded along with several near-extinct species. This, along with weekly tests to see how he was immortal were the two conditions that helped him escape confinement.

‘With each Homo Supreme connected via hive mind, running away would have been futile anyways.’ Ajay thought to himself as he munched down on some chicken and rice.