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

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.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Last One

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 Arvindraj. 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, Arvindraj 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.” Arvindraj 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?” Arvindraj 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 Arvindraj constituted as triple vision he had heard about recently. This kid could see more colors than Arvindraj 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.’ Arvindraj thought.

“My name is Kryznk.” The kid said. Three individuals were looking towards Arvindraj wondrously. Arvindraj assumed they were Kryznk’s parents. Arvindraj 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.

Arvindraj 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. Arvindraj 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, Arvindraj 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 Arvindraj more incentive to learn the language.

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

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

“Can you bring these items for me?” Arvindraj 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 Arvindraj needed was no longer easily available. Arvindraj 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 Arvindraj 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. Arvindraj 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 Arvindraj could have never guessed it.

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

Arvindraj sat down and ate the food while looking at the itinerary for the next week. As part of the deal, Arvindraj 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.’ Arvindraj thought to himself as he munched down on some chicken and rice.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

End of a Long Journey

Sruthi fumed as she tapped on the keyboard. She wasn’t interested in what was on the screen but she had to do it. Someone has to do it, she told herself.

‘Yes, but why not someone else, for once.’ A small voice came from her heart. Sruthi shut that voice with a loud hmmphhh… and moved the screen of the laptop frivolously.

“It had been ten weeks since I submitted my report, proper and in order. But did the others finish off their work in time — NO! and now I am stuck with doing all of this just before the deadline.” Sruthi lamented loudly.

‘At least Barry is helping a little.’ Sruthi thought as she saw him coming online on the shared document.

On cue, her phone started to ring.

“Hey Sruthi! I saw the doc. It looks good. Great work. I will be going out now but let me know if you need something. Bye.” Barry said quickly and clicked.

“Hello! Hello Barry! Hello!!” Sruthi kept shouting but Barry was gone.

Sruthi looked at her phone shaking and threw it across the room at the wall. Surprisingly, the phone survived. Part of the reason was her strong phone cover that was present to deal with her emotions. Another was the large distance of the room that reduced the speed of the phone when it hit the wall. Unfortunately, even after this daring act, the phone was unable to improve Sruthi’s mood.

“Whoa!! I am guessing the project had a minor setback.” Raghav said looking at the phone that had just flown over his head to the wall in front of him. He went and picked it up and gave it back to Sruthi.

“Sorry. I am just so upset. No one would help me finish off this project.” Sruthi said, her voice again rising. Raghav looked at her and then at the report.

“I will help you out.” Raghav said and sat down in front of the laptop.

“Thanks but you won’t understand. It is complicated work stuff. Besides, you have that meeting.” Sruthi said.

“Nah. I will blow that off. Its not important. It is that complain girl again complaining about the quotes we have given. Every time I talk to her, I am enraged. I shudder to think what she would be in person. And Ms. Sruthi, don’t you think I might be able to help even a little for a project in a company I created 200 years ago.” Raghav said mockingly.

Sruthi looked at him incredulously and then started laughing.

“You do know that times have changed. This company doesn’t even deal in the same industry that you started it in.” Sruthi said.

“Uh-huh! So what. Lemme see those notes.” Raghav said and saw a lot of charts merging into one another.

“The complain girl looking attractive now.” Sruthi said with a twinkle in her eyes. Her husband was a great businessman and knew almost everything about everything but he had a terrible weakness — he hated grunt work. And all this was exactly that — grunt work.

“Go away you moron. Do your meeting. I will get this done by the time you are back.” Sruthi said pushing him away. Raghav pulled her closer and kissed her.

“Ok. I will be back as soon as possible.”

“Its been 300 years love. I know.” Sruthi said putting her hand on Raghav’s cheek. She couldn’t believe 300 years had passed since she met him the first time. Raghav left the house and Sruthi closed the door behind him and came back to the desk.

Sruthi sighed and went back to work. She had worked hard for this report and it would ensure her a promotion she had been coveting for years now. Of course, she would have to leave the company once she had gotten that promotion. She couldn’t attract too much attention to herself, lest someone finds it out that she is immortal.

Sruthi was about 320 years old, give or take five years. She wasn’t sure of her age because no one knew the year she was born. Her mother would only say that the year she was born had a lot of rain. Not sufficient enough information to go on. Now, it was immaterial as she was always passing as a 25 year old and would live in any area for not more than six or seven years.

Meeting Raghav changed her life forever. She was a 20 odd girl when she met him and he was more than 600 years old. She was extremely sick and everyone had given up hope on her. She had accepted that she would die when she met Raghav. He spent a few minutes every day with her for over a month before asking her hand from her father. Sruthi still remembers her father’s shock but he said yes. To everyone’s surprise, Sruthi started to get better after marriage. Most thought it was some astrological issue that corrected itself after marriage. She thought the same until Raghav told her the truth.

Raghav was immortal and couldn’t get sick. Eternal youth, eternal health and eternal life — Raghav had everything. And best of all, he could share it with someone whom he loved. Raghav didn’t understand how it worked but people whom he loved would not get sick or die. His parents still lived and were currently on their 75th world tour. His sister had written almost all the best writing pieces of the past 400 years under different pen names or ghostwriting including Hamlet and Harry Potter. Sruthi had no clue how she continued her enthusiasm for one activity for so long. Sruthi got bored of each activity every 50 years or so.

Sruthi realised that she hadn’t picked up her work and was simply day-dreaming about the past. Raghav had been a constant in her crazy life. He loved her through her anger, her craziness and her mood-swings. He would joke that these things kept his long life entertaining.

Sruthi shook her head and went back to work. She worked on it for straight two hours before she gave herself a break. Once done, she opened a slab of ice-cream and celebrated her work. The cold ice-cream was exactly what she needed. Unfortunately, as she was devouring on the chocolate brick, her phone rang and vibrated vigourously. It stopped after one specific tone, indicating a message from Raghav. Sruthi kept the ice cream down and went to pick the phone.

Before she could pick up the phone, her throat choked and she started to cough and sneeze. The feeling was so alien to her that she didn’t know what to do. She gulped down some water and the cough subsided. Her nose was close. Horrified, she realised that she had cold.

She picked up her phone and saw the message from Raghav.

‘Sorry Sruthi.’ It said.

‘Of course’, Sruthi realised the reason for her cold.

‘Complain girl?’ Sruthi typed back.

‘Yes. I am sorry. I don’t know how to control it. Nothing has happened between us. We just talked and something flipped. Please forgive me. I am sorry.’ Raghav’s message came.

Sruthi closed his eyes and took a deep breath. She knew that nothing had happened and yet, everything had happened. In one moment, she had lost everything she had — her health, her love, her life.

She sniffed and tears started to flow from her eyes. She pulled out her handkerchief to wipe her tears and for the first time in 300 years to wipe her nose.