(c) Neil D’Silva
For shuck’s sake, why didn’t I stop at the third glass?
They pushed me into it; it was not my fault. And where are they now? Friends, a-holes, all the same.
Screw them. I can make this walk home on my own.
Good I walked. Good I dumped the car back there. Where but? Can’t remember. I told you I was woozy.
It’s okay. I just need to remember. Pavement, pavement, pavement. Easy!
Gosh! What’s that? Need to clear this vision, dang these streetlights.
Is that an accident? An ACCIDENT?
The car’s banged clean into the tree. The poor sod who was in it… he’ll be a pulp. I must go and see. Need to see. Maybe I can save him.
“Hey mister, hey! Are you all right?”
Why does he look familiar?
Sheesh! His face is pretty smashed. But–
Isn’t this my car? And… and… why does he have my face?
As Sapna lay on her bed sleeping, she felt her baby snuggle close to her. Stirring in her sleep, she took the little arm in her hand.
“Ananya,” she mumbled without opening her eyes. “Not sleepy, baby?”
But the child only put her other arm on her mother’s belly. Sapna took that one in her other hand.
“What games are you up to, Ana? Go back to sleep!”
But then, another arm – a third arm – clamped itself on her belly.
Gasping a gallon of air and not sure whether she shrieked or not, Sapna sat right up in bed, her eyes wide open now.
It was all empty. An empty room, an empty bed, as it had been a lot lately.
And amidst that terror-stricken heaving, she saw the photo of her baby on the wall, which she had been been garlanding since the past one year.
“The baby is crying, Adrian” yelled Susan, her hands immersed in the dishes. “Can’t you for once go upstairs and check?”
She resumed scrubbing the nasty spot on the saucepan and kept it to dry. Then she looked into the child monitor again. Little Scot was in his father’s arms now, staring over his shoulder right into the camera. Susan smiled back, knowing that the baby couldn’t see her, and yet she thought he smiled back.
Three minutes later, she heard the footsteps going upstairs. “Such an idiot I am,” Adrian was saying. “Got so engrossed in the chat. Going upstairs now.”
At that, Susan turned sharply at the monitor.
With eyes round as marbles, she saw the shadow holding the scythe over the mewling baby, and screamed.
I was driving along the highway in the dead of the night, but a STOP sign slowed me down. Two cops came along, looking as though hell had messed them up.
“Don’t go ahead,” one of them said.
“Why?” I asked. “I am a doctor. There’s an emergency.”
The other cop came ahead. “Dark as death ahead.”
“It’s okay,” I smiled and revving my car. “I treat death.”
But I had hardly driven for a minute when I had to pull my car to an abrupt stop. A branch of a banyan tree jutted onto the road and from it hung two human shapes. Scared witless, I coasted my car along and saw – they were the policemen I had seen not a moment ago, their chests ripped apart, their intestines hanging out.
From behind me, a mellow feminine voice hissed, “There’s space on the tree for a third.”
Malaika took her ring off and flung it on the bathroom floor. Then she disrobed and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The tears had streamed her kohl all over her cheeks.
“Why?” she said aloud between sobs. “Why did I trust that cheat?”
She moved her hand over her belly. It would begin showing any day now.
With shut eyes, she said, “I don’t want to live. You hear me? God? Devil? Whoever it is out there? I don’t want to live.”
Still crying, she turned the shower faucet on.
The cold water drops revived her for an instant. But only an instant.
For then she saw, in utmost horror, the strings of red meandering with the water towards the drain.
Her eyes went up to the showerhead. The water drops from the jet had turned into glass needles, thousands of tiny ones, and they were now shooting right into her soft flesh. The pain became alive now, but it was too late.
The last thing on her mind as the glass drops punctured her eyes were some ominous words of long ago:
Be careful of what you wish for.
Someone is always listening.