Friday 26 September 2014

Two-Sentence Horror Stories

 I came across a site about short horror stories. How short? Very short. Two sentences short.

So here are a few of mine.

1. She wakes up in the middle of the night crying your name. You want to hug her, but she looks at you and starts screaming.

2. The vintage car is amazingly well preserved. It's the owners who keep dying.

3. I decided to commit suicide, so I threw myself off a building. Halfway down I realised something was falling alongside me, grinning.

4. She got pregnant, and wished she hadn't. A coffin is no place to give birth to a baby.

5. I decided to sell my soul to the devil. He offered to sell me his instead.

6. Fear is tasty. Ask the shadow watching you read this.

7. He had tried to kill the man, the one he saw every morning, for years, and always failed. So he threw the mirror away.

8. I couldn't open my eyes and was afraid I'd died. Then I opened them and was afraid I hadn't.

9. My mother told me to finish everything on my plate. But I don't like the taste of brains.

10. I kissed you and told you I loved you. You smiled and told me I'm dreaming.

11. I heard thunder on the horizon. Now I'm beginning to think it wasn't thunder, and the streets are full of people fleeing. 

12. You gave him your heart. Fortunately, transplant surgeons were standing by.

13. Mushrooms grow quickly, I’ve always heard. I didn’t know they grew as quickly as the one rising over the horizon.

 14. I woke up this morning knowing that the most momentous event in my life would happen today, and I was right. In an hour they will take me out and shoot me.

15. There was a crowd in the street, gathered round a body. She went to see whose it was, and couldn’t think why it looked so familiar, as though she’d seen it in the mirror every day.

16. He ignores the rapping on the wall, as if something is walled in and trying to get out. You have to tap much harder.

17. Schrodinger’s Cat died. And it didn’t.

18. Down in the sunken submarine on the ocean floor, there are two of you, one pistol with one bullet, and a pack of cards. The winner gets to live for one day longer.

19. The drone pilot fired a missile. Just before being incinerated, the target turned to look up at the camera – and smiled.

 20. The last thought she had as she fell asleep was that the ceiling looked a funny colour. And then she realised that the light wasn’t on.

 21. The monster came into the room. Everyone stood up and saluted him respectfully.

You’re welcome to add your efforts to the response column!

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014 

Raghead: Red And Ted Fight Evil

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014 

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Hunting Heads

Strange are the benefits of technology. And stranger still are the uses to which it’s being put.

Let me tell you what happened.

This morning, my assistant sent me, by WhatsApp (if you don’t know what that is, well, it’s a cellphone messaging service) two videos. One of my regular patients had sent them to him. And someone else had sent them to him

This is what the videos showed:

In the first, a plump young woman (who looks rather Filipino to my eyes) in a pink top and blue jeans is kneeling on the ground while a masked man with a knife stands behind her. He then, not to sugar-coat it, hacks off her head and holds it up to the camera.

I don’t know where the video is from. It certainly does not look as though it is from Iraq. I suppose there is a chance it could be a drug cartel at work in Mexico, los Zetas maybe. There is some talk in a language I don’t know. Could be Spanish. No habla Espaňol, seňores, Not Arabic, for sure. I don't speak Arabic either but if that is Arabic I'm Florence Nightingale. 

The other video is clearly ISIS – or, perhaps, one of the gangs of cannibal headhunters so beloved  of Barack Obama – at work in Iraq or Syria. It begins with masked men pouring bullets into the bodies of bound prisoners lying on the ground. And then a young man is pinned to the ground – facing up towards the camera – and his throat is hacked with a knife till his head comes off. 

Yes, both these people are alive while this procedure is being performed. The girl twists and writhes, and while the young man is pinned too securely to do any such thing, tears leak from his eyes and then – right at the end – his eyes open wide and look up at the camera while his blood bubbles in his throat.

Both videos are vomit-inducing, and it’s difficult to imagine just what kind of psychology – except, maybe, the utterly psychopathic – would benefit from watching them. If they are a recruiting tool, they would only be of use in weeding out those who aren’t dribbling sociopathic monsters.

Ronald Thomas West, who was once a US Special Forces soldier, has this to say about the Mexican drug cartels:

the Zetas international drug cartel have sometimes introduced themselves with rolling severed heads into nightclubs frequented by their rivals .. oh, and have decapitated a ‘bakers two dozen...”[Source]

The cannibal headhunters of the so-called Free Syrian Army were doing this kind of thing long before the Islamic State began hogging the attention of horrified Western TV addicts.

But, actually, it goes back a while before even that.

Just in the allegedly enlightened 20th Century, as far as I know:

In the Second World War, the Gorkha mercenaries serving in the British Indian Army would raid Japanese positions across the quiescent Myanmar (then Burma) front in 1942-3, cut off the soldiers’ heads, and bring them back (vide Field Marshal William Slim, Defeat Into Victory). Later on, in the First Chechen War of 1995, Chechen “freedom fighters” – beloved of the Western media, and whose commanders are now sheltered in Britain and the US – would routinely decapitate teenage Russian conscripts they captured. In 1995, too, Pakistani Al Faran terrorists cut off the head of Norwegian hostage Hans Christian Ostrǿ in Kashmir. And in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, EUNazi stormtroopers from the Azov brigade have been known to cut off people’s heads. At least one account I read claimed the some of the units of the Novorussian resistance retaliated by chopping off the heads of Ukrainian soldiers they captured.

Headhunting is hardly anyone’s monopoly.

I suppose it is possible that the videos I watched were meant as some kind of recruitment tool. If so, they certainly would work excellently as a filter to weed out anyone who isn’t a full-blown psychopath. But for any normal human, they would be what West calls “the art of intimidation”.

It’s hardly surprising that the Wahhabi form of Islam, on which the jihad state of Saudi Arabia is based, grew out of intimidation of conquered peoples; they were given a choice of being massacred or converting to Wahhabism. A few gruesome massacres had a salutary effect on everyone. The Wahhabis, and their modern proxies the Islamic State, knew exactly what they were doing.

If the rest of us find it merely vomit-inducing, that’s just too bad for us, as far as they’re concerned.

Note: 1. I could have posted the videos on this article, or other headhunting images. I chose not to. If that disappoints anyone, I am not sorry.

2. Both videos show that actual decapitation by knife is a messy affair and produces ragged, uneven neck stumps. If anyone still believes the James Foley video is genuine, a look at these would be a good lesson.

Monday 22 September 2014

The Mutant

Moolora was the ugliest mutant in Spock City.

Now that is saying something. Spock City, after all, as anyone who’s ever gone there is aware, is crammed to the brim full of mutants, and no wonder too, given the amount of hard radiation raining down on it all the time. In fact, there are so many mutants that a normal homosapien like you or me is so rare as to be almost an object of suspicion. And, of course, mutants are ugly.

But even among them Moolora was unique in her ugliness.

“That Moolora,” a Spockian would say to another when they saw her pass. “Her looks would melt the teeth off a sandworm!”

“We should stick her out in the Chekhov Desert and watch the sandworms run for their lives,” the other person would reply.

Now, of course, this was very unfair, not just to Moolora but to the sandworms, who, as everyone knows, are despite their huge size gentle beasts which wouldn’t hurt a fly, if only there had been any in Spock City – or on all of Enterprise for that matter. But nobody thought of what was fair or otherwise when it came to making fun of Moolora.

All this, of course, probably made poor Moolora very sad, but she never said anything. One of the reasons she never said anything was that she found it difficult and exhausting to talk; the other was that it would have done no good.

Nobody wanted to listen to anything Moolora had to say.

Nobody was even sure where she came from, who her parents had been, or anything else about her. She seemed one day to be just there, hanging around the corners of the town, dressed in ragged clothes too big for her. Even she didn’t have any memories of the time before that. Most people thought she was the child of one of the mutant families living in the slum settlements around Spock City, who had abandoned their daughter in the town rather than bring her up themselves.

They didn’t blame the parents. Times were hard in Spock City, and one couldn’t expect them to bring up a half-dumb daughter with a face that could stop a clock.

But though they didn’t like her, and they made fun of her, they didn’t, of course, harm her in any way, for mutants know perfectly well they must always stick together. They even fed her and took care of her when she needed it, giving her their cast off clothes. And as the years passed, she grew tall and gangly, her hair the colour of a red giant star, and uglier and more silent than ever.

This was all before the discovery of shatnerium on Enterprise, of course, and the planet was still very poor and hardly anyone ever went there, and even fewer to Spock City. So Moolora grew up almost never seeing an offworlder, and possibly unaware that such beings even existed.

How did she spend her days? Nobody seems to know much about that. She slept on the streets, curling up in corners where it was warm, and adamantly refused shelter when offered it. Most of the time she seemed to spend hanging around the machinery spaces – the workshops, the ventilation systems, the powerhouses – which kept Spock City going, until the machinists all became so used to her that they learned to ignore her completely. She never said anything, never got in the way. She seemed happy just to be there.

They decided that she was crazy, but harmless, and best left alone.

And then one day the pirate invasion struck Enterprise. The pirates came down from space, their longships shrieking through the air as they glowed white-hot from the friction of their passage, spraying mindbombs behind them as they went like malevolent dew. By the time the last had landed outside the towns, almost all the minds of the people had been temporarily neutralised – with a few exceptions.

The mindbombs had been constructed to be used on homosapiens, of course. They didn’t work on those mutants whose minds were too mutated, too strange. One of those mutants was Moolora.

Now the pirates hadn’t used their mindbombs just to wipe out resistance. Part of the way they made money was in the slave trade, which, as you doubtless know from history classes, was an unfortunate feature of that dismal time. The pirates would wipe out the minds of their captives till they could reach the markets where they could be sold; it made them easier to manage and transport. Once the effects of the mindbombs wore off the captives would recover their faculties, but by then it was far too late anyway.

It had been a hard time for the pirates, too, otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered with mutants. Mutants didn’t fetch a high price in the slave markets of the Core.

Unsurprisingly, the pirates faced no resistance to their invasion; but they soon grew aware that there were still some minds still functioning, and they set out to track them down, one by one. They, naturally, had brainwave detectors which let them know exactly where to look. And one by one they got them all, pulling them out from wherever they were hiding, and crammed them into the slave cages aboard their longships.

Then there was only one left, and they found her easily enough.

So they came for Moolora where she sat with her back to the steam pipes on McCoy Avenue, near where the heating vents from the deep power plants underground opened out into the city. They crowded around her in their tough metal suits and their helmets with the visors pulled down to cover their faces as she sat, her tall, frail body almost lost in the folds of the clothes she wore.

“This is the one?” one of the pirates asked the one who carried the brain wave monitor. “Are you sure?”

The second pirate, who was a longship captain, glanced at him scornfully. “Of course I’m sure,” he said. “Look at the readout.”

“But who would find a use for such a creature?” the second pirate said, looking at Moolora. “Nobody will ever buy something so ugly. You can barely tell it’s even meant to be human.”

“Let’s see,” the captain said. He prodded Moolora with the toe of his boot. “Hey, you!”

Moolora turned her head slowly towards him. She didn’t say anything.

“Who are you, slug?’ the captain asked. “Do you have a name?”

Moolora didn’t say anything. Her voice didn’t want to work in her throat.

“Too stupid and too dumb to be of any use,” the captain said, disgusted. “I’m amazed it has any brain at all.”

“Let’s kill the damned thing,” the second pirate suggested. “It’s too ugly to let live.”

“No,” the captain said. “We can’t spare the ammunition – or the time. Get the booty on board and let’s go.”

So the pirates left Moolora where she was sitting and went back to their longships. And after loading what little there was to loot, and pushing the remaining captives on board, they rose up through the atmosphere, the fading screams of their engines echoing long after they had gone.

Then Moolora got up slowly from where she had been sitting, and began wandering through the deserted city. As she walked, she began picking up things at random – here a broken chunk of metal, there a smashed piece of electronic equipment left over from the brief pirate occupation, and from somewhere else a length of corrugated pipe and a mass of cable. Eventually, laden with her booty, she reached the metal scrap dealers which were located on Scotty Boulevard back then, and where the old drop tanks from derelict space freighters used to be cut up. There she dumped it all and went back for another load.

Then, when she had apparently found all she needed, she took a cutting torch from the nearest workshop, crawled into the biggest of the drop tanks, and got to work.


The pirate mothership Jack Sparrow had already left the system and was settling down for the cruise through interstellar space.

In the control room, deep in the heart of the huge mothership, Grand Captain Rajinder Singh Redbeard had just begun congratulating himself on a successful mission. The planet had not been a rich one, and so there had been little booty, but the haul in slaves had been worth the effort. Even though they were only mutants, once they’d all been sold in the markets of the Core, there would be enough money to finance a larger expedition to a more lucrative target.

Yes, Grand Captain Redbeard was almost content. And he was not at all pleased to have that contentment disturbed by the news that the scopes had picked up something coming up very fast from astern.

“How can anything be chasing us?” he demanded. “There were no warships in all the system. We checked.”

“See for yourself, Redbeard,” his second in command said, and indicated the screen. “There it is.”

Together they watched the blip in the scope grow larger and more distinct.

“It’s far too fast for a warship,” Redbeard said at last. “I’ve never seen anything that could move so fast, not even a racer.”

“It’s too small for a warship, too,” the second in command observed. “Let’s see if we can get a look at it.” He pressed a couple of buttons and the blip in the screen grew larger and yet larger, until it wasn’t a blip any longer.

“I can’t believe it,” Redbeard said at last, looking at the grey ovoid object on the scope.

“It’s a drop tank.” The second in command peered at the screen unbelievingly. “We’re being chased by a drop tank.”

“How can a drop tank even move by itself?” Redbeard asked. “It’s impossible.”

But it was clearly not impossible. The object grew and grew, until it filled the screen. It was so close now that every dent and ripple in its metal hide was clearly visible to the two pirates.

“All rear laser turrets,” Redbeard ordered, “open fire.”

“We can’t possibly miss,” the second in command said, and pushed the firing button.

He was perfectly right. They didn’t miss. But even as the turrets bathed the pursuer in their lethal beams, its grey surface changed instantly. One moment it was rough, pitted metal; the next, brilliant silver, a perfect mirror which reflected the lasers harmlessly away into the void.

“Rail guns!” Redbeard yelled. But the rail guns fared no better than the lasers, their pellets glancing off the smooth surface of the pursuer. In fact it was so close that some of them ricocheted off and struck the Jack Sparrow herself. 

“Full speed ahead!” Redbeard screamed. But even he could see it was too late. The silvery object behind was already upon them.

And then it happened. From the bright mirror-surface came snaking metal tentacles, tipped with hooked claws. They crunched into the back of the Jack Sparrow. The claws cut into the hull as though it was made of cardboard, and then they closed tight.

Then the drop tank reversed direction and began dragging the giant mothership back towards the system it had just left.

“Full power!” Redbeard yelled. “Full power, by the moons of Mercury!”

It didn’t help. It didn’t even slow down the rate at which the pirates were being dragged back towards Enterprise.

The intercom was filled with panicky pirate voices, demanding to know what to do. The second in command, too, looked helplessly at Redbeard. “Captain?”

Grand Captain Redbeard swallowed. “Abandon ship,” he said. “Let’s take to the longships and get the hell out of here.”

“But,” the second in command argued, “the longships don’t carry enough fuel to take us back home, us and the cargo...”

“To hell with the cargo,” Redbeard snapped. “Let’s get out of here while we still can. Abandon the cargo!”

So it was when Moolora returned to Enterprise, she was towing behind her not just the Jack Sparrow but all the captives – the entire population of the planet, every single one of them. And with the departure of the pirates, they had begun to recover from the effects of their mindbombs. By the time they were down on the planet, they were all fine.

Nobody knows what happened to the pirates. Presumably they managed to get home and resume their criminal activities, but they never returned to Enterprise. And shortly afterwards, shatnerium was discovered, so Enterprise had money enough to afford protection. It never had to fear pirates again.

Moolora’s drop-tank spaceship is still there, outside Spock City, preserved to this day as an honoured relic. If you ever go to Enterprise, it’s the one place everyone will insist you visit. It’s almost holy to them, and no wonder, since they owe their existence to it.

Well, of course the scientists tried to find out how it worked. When the story got out, they came from all over the local cluster to take a look at it, and the Navy people came too. But try as they might, they could never get it started again, and nor could they understand just how Moolora had taken a drop tank and a load of junk and made them into the fastest, most invulnerable craft the galaxy had ever seen.

Did they ask Moolora? Of course they did. They asked and begged and pleaded, and they would even have threatened if the Spockians hadn’t told them they’d be thrown off planet without benefit of spacesuits if they touched a hair on her straggly head. But Moolora never said a word. It hurt her throat to talk.

And if anyone ever brought up the topic again, she would just shake her head and smile.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014