Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
- Jules Renard

29 June, 2009

Alice In Dreamland: Part 1 of 3

She opened her eyes. Large hazel eyes that appeared perpetually unfocused, as if the girl who used them was in a perpetual dream. She would, in time, realize that it wasn't too far from the truth. Her face was very fair, and from her overall appearance, her age could be placed at about thirteen, although at the moment she looked very much like half of it.

And then, she looked around herself. She was sleeping in a very peaceful green meadow, with grass all around her as far as the eye could see. The sunlight was pleasant — present but not too harsh, and there were a few trees scattered around, as if as an afterthought. The vista was so beautiful that the senses of the girl dimmed just by taking it in, and only after a few minutes — or was it moments? Or even hours? She had lost all sense of time, too, evidently — she tried to remember. Remember what this place was. Blank. Remember what she had been doing just before she fell asleep. Blank again. She finally tried to remember who she was. And horrifyingly, drew upon a blank once again.

Caught in an insane frenzy, she tried to remember anything she could and spent some time — or, probably, a lot of time — in the futile process. But then, she thought, When you don't remember something, let your mind relax and it will come back automatically to you. In accordance, she began relaxing her mind. But before she could even get started properly, her mind jumped. How did she know that quote? And, in fact, how could she even know that it was a quote? And then, the quote repeated itself in her mind, but this time in a woman's voice. Something in that voice gave her a lot of joy, but it lasted for only what seemed like a split-second before it was overpowered by a sense of intense sorrow. Both emotions were largely unaccounted for — the girl hardly even knew at that point that such things existed, or maybe, like everything else, she had forgotten.

Before she could deliberate more on her new findings, she had a glimpse of a black silhouette a bit away from her. How far away she could not exactly tell, the single-dimension green and blue had ruined her sense of perspective. It seemed to be a man with a cloak that billowed about as if caught in a strong wind. However, the girl noted, the wind around herself was just a small breeze. She returned to examining the silhouette that had its back turned towards her. Gingerly, she got up and started walking towards the silhouette. She noticed she was barefoot and that walking on the grass gave her a pleasant, tingly feeling.

She continued walking for a considerable amount of time — she could tell it was considerable; meaning that the person wasn't as close as she thought him to be. Of course, the 'him' bit of it was an assumption, it may not turn out to be a 'him' at all. As she approached, the movements of the cloak became lesser and lesser pronounced. It was as if she was carrying the breeze along with her, dispelling the strong gust to take its place.

Finally, she reached the silhouette, and noticed an unearthly odour coming from its direction. Disregarding it, she made as if to tap him, but before she did it, the 'man' turned around to face her. It seemed like a man, but with major differences. The person was entirely black — it was as if she were looking into a shadow, but the lips were stark red. They opened up — presumably to say something, but before a word could be uttered, the girl screamed. She had seen canine teeth — two pointed canine teeth. What was in front of her wasn't a person at all — it was a vampire!

"Hey, hey, don't, stop... STOP!" It was a perfect human voice coming out of the vampire's mouth, but the ones that starred in Mommy's stories were mostly able to speak humanly anyway. And that thought cut her scream short. I had a Mom, and she used to tell me stories! This triggered remembrance of a vast chunk of information, mostly regarding stories the girl's mom used to tell her. However, she still didn't know who her Mom was... What she did know, was that Vampires Are Evil.
"No, I'm not, Trust Me!"

The girl made as if to run away, but then she turned and spoke, her voice shaking, "How do you know what I was thinking? Vampires can't read minds!"
"I know who you are, too — you're Alice"
The vampire was saying something more, but the girl's — Alice's mind, couldn't grasp the words. The sound of the name had triggered something.

All of a sudden, the green-blue world around her disappeared. She was now sitting in a bus, laughing with a girl sitting next to her. She bid the other girl goodbye and got up, and when the bus came to a stop, she got down, in her school uniform, with a bag on her shoulders. She saw across the road to the other side — and then, nothing.

When that nothing changed back to something, she was, this time, lying on a cot, inside what seemed to be a hut. For one heart-stopping moment, she could not remember anything. Then it all came back to her. The meadow, the recollections, the... 'vision', for want of a better word, everything. But before the frightened child could open her mouth to scream — a pretty natural reaction considering the overload on her senses, she caught a glimpse of a man — this time a real man alright. He was old, and looked just like... Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movies. His presence calmed her down a bit.

"I'm Aldrin," he said. "And you're Alice."
"Yes, I — how do you know? And how did I come here?"

As if in answer to both her questions, the vampire slowly showed himself from behind a wall.

"No child," Aldrin said, "There's no need to be afraid of this creature here. He is the one who saved your life — you can call him 'Batoid'."
"He... saved me?" Alice's features appeared visibly exaggerated in her surprise.
"Yes," Aldrin said, holding up a glass of clear liquid. "This is medicine for your recovery." He paused. Then continued, "I need to tell you something. About where you are. You are in a dream."
"A dream? Is that what you just said?" Curious.
"Yes, but you'll have to get out of it if you intend to survive — you have only five hours."

Meanwhile, somewhere else:

"How is she now?" A deep male voice, concerned, asked.
"No luck, she is still in coma. However, we found something... interesting..."
"Interesting?" The man seemed to marvel at the choice of the word. "Continue, I'm listening."
"The patient's mental activity has intensified in the last ten minutes, all of a sudden. Moreover, she is also showing Rapid Eye Movement — REM. All characteristic of... a dream."

To Be Continued...


05 June, 2009

The Final Attempt

Author's Note: This is my entry for the Bloggeratti contest: 'Summer Heat'. Read it, and if you like it, VOTE!! Click on the title to visit the Bloggeratti Orkut Community.

Daniel got off from his Suzuki S2000 solar-powered 4-seater and stepped on the hot-as-coals Nasik road, upon which excess solar energy was being heaped upon in abundance. He looked at the wristwatch-like gadget on his left wrist and pressed a button — the only thing on the 'watch'. Immediately, a screen projected on thin air in front of him from the ProjectWatch. The date and time was flashed at the top of the screen:

11:35 on 1 Feb, 2050
A lot of other information populated the screen, including weather forecasts, News, and even links to Social Networking websites, but none of them interested Daniel, who switched off the screen.

As he walked to the enormous building in front of him, a disheveled man came out of nowhere and began, "Sir, please, give me something, sir, I don't have anything to eat —" Daniel avoided the beggar who had just spoken in perfect English and continued towards the building. The beggar did not have much time anyway — Skin Cancer, a result of exposure to harmful UV radiation, had probably claimed him already. Daniel was protected by reflective clothing of a revolutionary new material which he could afford.

The increasing literacy of beggars, brought about no doubt by the 2046 Hyper-Inflation crisis, was not the only thing to change in the last few years. The dreaded Global Warming was finally reaching its potential. The temperature was a blistering 43º C — this in early February. Many erstwhile coastal areas had gone underwater in the last 15 - 20 years. In the last few years, technological advances had managed to delay total carnage. But now, only desperate last-gasp measures could save the planet. That was what Daniel was here for — a conference between the four economic powers of the world: USA, UK, Brazil and India, to discuss on 'The Final Attempt', as the media had hyped the measure.

The efficiency of Video Conferencing and Holographic Communication notwithstanding, the representatives of the four nations (2 per nation: one for Science, the other for Politics) had decided by overwhelming mutual consent to physically arrive at Nasik, the venue for the conference. Daniel, the widely acclaimed Global Warming researcher, was the Indian Science representative.

As Daniel entered the room where the conference was to be held, he couldn't help feeling there was a great leveler between him and the beggar he had just brushed off — the Summer Heat. A landmark research in 2038 had established that a large family of previously unresearched gases actually contributed a lot to Global Warming, which was the reason why it had continued to escalate beyond control over 30 years after CFCs were banned globally. As a result, Artificial cooling was now entirely banned. Rich or poor; Inflation-victim or Inflation-immune; everybody felt the heat of the summer which now continued for 12 months a year. There were some who still cooled their homes or refrigerated their food products illegally, but that number had drastically reduced as the world saw Mumbai go underwater in the terrible 2040 tsunami and never come back up.

At 1 PM, the most important meeting in World History began. The Final Attempt was about to be made.

"We all know that Global Warming is an imminent threat; I wouldn't waste your time speaking about it. I'm here to present the solution, and that's what I'll do." Attention was rapt and the listeners seemed to be hanging on each and every word Daniel spoke. "The only way, now, to prevent Global Warming from taking Earth as its victim would be to drastically reduce the temperature. This can be done by releasing particulate matter in the atmosphere which actually reflects the sunrays. However,"— Daniel wiped the sweat off his forehead —"we have only two methods to do so — a Volcanic eruption or a Nuclear explosion."

The clamor was immediate. It was natural; who would accept such calamities, even create them himself! But then, Daniel projected, holographically, a graph showing how the temperature of Japan had fallen quite drastically in the couple of years following the Hiroshima-Nagasaki explosions. "Of course," Daniel added, "We don't need to actually take a single life; we could explode the bomb in one of the many deserted areas in the world and it will have the same desirable effect." He saw the Brazilian scientist wirelessly transferring the graph to his ProjectWatch and was pleased.

"Sahara Desert," the US President quipped. Of course it was deserted; Nobody could withstand temperatures regularly at about 56º C. The plan was thus finalized. The Nuclear device would explode in Chad, the locations given down to their exact co-ordinates (12º 10' N, 18º 35' E) by the US President. And three days later, the final attempt was made.

However, it did not quite come off as expected.

The bomb, that had set out to destroy only within a radius of 100 km, instead flattened everything within a 1,000-mile radius. By the time the reason was known — that the bomb had fallen bang on an undercover Russian Nuclear Research outpost — it was too late. Columbia, Sao Paulo, London and New Delhi were all vaporized by the 5th of February, 2050.

This was the beginning of the end.