The Unusual Driver

A lady returning from office, late at night on a desolated street, trying to find a cab but finds goons instead. Read on to find out how she manages to run away.
… …

The telephone rang after ages and its ring seemed extra loud, as if it was screaming for proving its existence.

Riya got surprised on hearing that unfamiliar sound. The call was from her home, they were tired of trying to reach her on her ever-silent cellphone.

It was half-past twelve, mid-night. By this time, the helper staff would have left the building and security personnel would have slept in their cabins. And Riya knew about this. She forgot to look at the clock in making the presentation more appealing. After all, it was her first big prospective order from a reputed client and she had to give her best.

She left the building after closing her office, rather reluctantly. She never liked to lock this building as she had grown a special attachment to this place. It was from here that she had started her own business, that was all hers – no dependence on anyone. But her business was growing and so was the need for a bigger office.

It was a business street and was covered with offices all the way to several intersections ahead. So, at night it seemed deserted and a little scary to people not familiar with this road.

Riya wasn’t afraid of this road, the darkness. She had walked on this street for all her life. She took the second exit from the first crossway. It was very easy to find a cab on that street, had it been a normal office leaving time. At this time, the street looked more deserted than the desert.

She went on walking while trying different apps to find a cab. But she couldn’t find anyone operating in that area at that time. And she could call for cab only if the cab is operating in the nearby vicinity. Technology has its limitations after-all.

She was desperately trying to get some service online when a gang of vagabonds appeared out of nowhere on the next carrefour. It seemed through their behavior that they were probably drunk. And it still wasn’t very safe for a lone girl pass by a group of men in this country.

She was wondering what to do, whether to take another road or to walk through that situation strongly, thinking positive or to walk while calling someone or pretending to do so… when a car horn startled her.

At once, her mind started shooting different thoughts – whether it’s another mob of trash people who have come to kidnap her or whether it’s just another patrol van, which will be more grievous for anyone at night as they will hypothesize a filmy situation of crime and adultery and will demand proof for one’s righteousness without having evidence of any offense.

When she turned she was happy to see the yellow colored number plate on the car. Finally, a cab had arrived on that forsaken street.

The cab stopped ahead of her and the driver looked directly at her without saying anything. She looked at him, saw the green light saying ‘Available’, was about to hop in the car, when thoughts started pouring in her mind again. Riya found it hard even to trust the cabbie.

The cab blew a squeaky horn that got her attention. She stopped again, and considered taking the cab. She saw those drunk strangers up ahead the crossway and found somehow more safer to go with a single stranger instead of a bunch of ’em.

She sat inside the cab and told him her destination. The cab driver started driving without a word. He didn’t even look back at her. However, Riya was constantly looking directly at him and then at the navigation in her cellphone. She kept an eye out for any wrong turn the cab might take.

He wore a normal sweatshirt and rugged pants with a not-matching cabbie hat. His dashboard was unacceptably clean for a taxi. And there was a small family picture pasted on the only empty space on the dashboard. The backdrop looked ancient, and the driver was weirdly young comparing his picture and his current face, Riya thought. The cab had a distinguishing smell, as if the upholstery was polished recently. The dashboard design was also very old compared to the cab nowadays.

“How come you don’t show up in the taxi app? I tried searching for cabs, but there weren’t any on the app.” Riya’s suspicion was still on.

“I haven’t connected my services with those apps. I still believe in the old ways. Streets were more safer back then.” driver replied without looking at her.

Riya looked at the antiquated taximeter, which was working surprisingly. She was comfortable to be sitting in an unregistered cab. But, she hadn’t enough options. She didn’t ask any further questions to the cabbie, and hoped to reach some active street, if not crowded at this hour.

All the things were causing her to be suspicious but then…

“Don’t worry madam. You’re safe now. Those drunk people, or anyone for that sake, won’t be a problem to you anymore.” Cabbie said.

Finally she trusted the cab driver enough to sit without suspicion. The cool breeze and the calm ride took Riya into a quick nap, unknowingly.

After a while, when she woke up, the engine sound was off. The car had stopped. She abruptly got up to see where she was. But then calmed down to see the familiar neighbourhood. She had reached her destination.

She turned to talk to the driver but stopped when she saw the driver was sitting without any movement or any motion whatsoever. She saw the meter for the fare and shuffled through her purse to get the money out. She dropped the amount in driver’s box without looking at the driver, where something caught her eye. The box was almost empty, but had a few old, outdated currency in it. That currency wasn’t in circulation since years.

“Thank you madam. You’ve paid generously.” the driver spoke in a weird voice.

Riya almost got a heart attack when she heard his husky, changed, broken voice. She dropped the currency notes that she was examining from the driver’s box at his abrupt break, and looked up to find that the driver had turned to look at her – for the first time all this while.

His face was deadened and a large, slant cut on his face that ran through his eyes agitated Riya. She stopped ajar at the sight of him, but she didn’t ask anything to him. She just smiled and hurriedly left the car. On her way out, she saw the rear-view mirror just for an instance but she couldn’t see the driver.

She panicked and ran a few steps. But then, she must have seen from a different angle, the driver must have shifted while she saw that mirror, or she might have just imagined that in her mind. She just wanted to take another look at that scarred face, to see that vintage cab again and feel that smell of new polish, she wanted to ask the cabbie how he got that scar, she wanted to take another look inside that mirror… she wanted to thank him from dropping her at the right place.

Having walked just a few steps from the car, she gathered all her courage and turned back towards the cab. Out of all the things that she could imagine, she wouldn’t have imagined this.

The car had turned from a vintage car to a scrap, and was broken into trash as if a truck had hit it. The windows were broken and sparks were flaring up the car. There was once a moment that she could see the driver burning inside the cab. The driver’s head turned back in his seat and saw directly towards Riya through the rear window.

Riya was terrified deep down to her every nerve that she couldn’t even move an inch at that horrific sight.

Just a blink and everything in front of her disappeared. As if the car was never there, the cabbie was her imagination and all these events were just pen downed by some horror-stricken writer; the street ahead of Riya was as clean and as empty as ever. The night was calm and silent again.

But then, she had come all this way from her office to her home. It just cannot be an imagery all inside her head. Can it?

There are many streets untraveled by people at night. And this cab lurks around those roads, not to harm anyone, but to prevent a harm.

But would you trust it? …If you find one that is, or if it finds you…

Saving for the Birth

A taradiddle about a Pigeon’s desparate attempts to save its egg and give birth to its baby.
… …

In the last days of winters, the man woke up to hear a rumbling sound in the balcony. It was the pigeon flapping its wings for some reason. It flew away into darkness as soon as the man opened the door to the balcony. Tumbling, toppling, it managed to find its way to the nearby balcony, but never let go its gaze off the man’s balcony.

Then he ignored it and went away to sleep. As soon as the man went back to sleep, the pigeon came back to the balcony and made sounds. This time the man let it be like that, probably he felt that the pigeon too should get a good night sleep.

After a few days, the man returned to his balcony. The pigeon sitting there flew away instantly, and sat on the opposite balcony. The man loved to see the sunset, and so he saw… The sun was about to sink into the ground, but the clouds of impurity released from the chimney of a thermal station had already started corroding sunlight. The sun slowly gave up its fight against that smoke and sank into the path from which smoke came out. The chimney finally ate out the sun…

The man watched the sunset thinking thousands of things in his life, when he came to know that the pigeon was still watching him constantly without moving anywhere. He found it weird that the pigeon had so much interest. After watching around the balcony, he came to know that the pigeon had laid an egg in one corner of the balcony, and was worriedly watching over for that egg.

The man closed the door of the balcony, giving the pigeon privacy to care for its egg.

For few days, the man never opened the balcony door, thinking that it would scare away the pigeon and would have to leave its egg vulnerable.

But one day, the constant crowing of a crow woke up the man. He went outside to see what was wrong with that crow. The crow was sitting on the opposite balcony, with his eyes on the man’s balcony. And the pigeon couple was constantly flying in his balcony and going away. The man understood that the crow meant to harm the egg and the pigeon couple was trying to save their kid.

The man helped the pigeon to shoo away that crow after a few tries of throwing different twigs and stones at the crow. But the man feared that the crow would return again. So, he brought an old pot from his house and kept it in the balcony. He wanted to put the egg inside it, but worried that the pigeons might think otherwise.

So, again for few days, he didn’t open the door of the balcony for the pigeons to figure out the arrangement themselves.

The pigeons, naturally, feared the man that he might capture them or harm their egg. But they also knew that the man had once ignored the egg and so probably, the crow was their bigger enemy. Turn by turn, they started guarding for the egg, thereby, one pigeon would always stay for the protection of the egg. But, as the crow was more powerful that the pigeons, they had to find some other alternative.

They saw the pot everyday, but never went inside it, thinking that it might just be another trap built by the humans.

But after a few days, mother pigeon took courageous step by jumping into the pot. She managed to jump in after several failed attempts, and as soon as she jumped, the whole pot wobbled due to the round bottom of the pot. The pigeon grabbed on to the floor till the pot was stable. Then it tried coming out of the pot. With several attempts again, it managed to make that perfect jump to directly come out of the pot.

This way, it knew that the pot was a perfect place to build a nest, where its egg and even the future baby pigeon will be safe from that crow, as the crow will not be able to fit through the pot mouth.

The movement of the pot and the sound of wobbling woke up the man at night. He knew that the pigeons have finally understood his intention and was happy for that. Next morning, he opened the balcony door to see what the pigeons did for all those days. The pot had moved its place from one edge to the other in the balcony, probably due to constant moving and wobbling with its round bottom surface. When the man saw inside the pot, it was filled one-forth with twigs and sticks, the worst designed bird nest he had seen so far.

He put the egg on the top the nest and went away.
After a few days, the man saw inside the pot and found that the pigeon was comfortably sitting on the egg inside the pot.

Suddenly, the pigeon inside the pot came to know about the man watching and it made a jump to come out of the pot, hastily. Its hurried attempts were more prone to failure than its earlier attempts. So, it failed to come out of the pot and stayed in there, scared, afraid of the man. The man smiled at his attempts and quietly went back inside the house, closing the door softly.

Soon, the pigeon got out of the pot and flew away, the man heard from the other side of the door.

This continued for a few days. Soon, the pigeon understood that the man meant no harm and so it didn’t attempt running away as soon as the man opened the balcony door. However, it constantly would see through the pot mouth towards the man and his movements. Fear of humans for animals is not so easily curable, after all the things that we do to them.

The egg soon started to show signs of nearby hatch-time. And the pigeon too, started being more and more concerned for the egg when the man came out into the balcony. It would now cover the egg completely and look at the man until the door is closed fully, even during nights.

After a few days, the man heard quiver movements of the pot and heard a shriek like sound of an animal. He came out of in the balcony to see the pot and saw that there was a tiny little head of a baby pigeon coming out of the egg. The mother or father pigeons were not around. The man watched the baby push its legs out of the egg and falling on the nest ground. It didn’t look anything like a pigeon. It was dark, brown-black in color and was so tiny that it didn’t even look like a bird. It made a cry like sound that the man had never heard a pigeon make. Was that egg of some other bird, the man thought.

But the sight of baby pigeon being born and come out of its egg was the best thing he had ever seen.

The mother pigeon and father pigeon came flying to the balcony. Mother pigeon went directly inside the pot, even with the man standing out in the balcony. And the father pigeon waited outside, standing on the railings, watching the man’s movements.

The man felt that he should probably leave the family alone and hence, he closed the door and went back to sleep.

After a few days, again the baby pigeon was alone in the pot. It crying sounds that made the man very uncomfortable. What was with that kid, he thought. He went outside and saw that baby pigeon. It made no movements as he saw the man looking at it. The man observed it for sometime and then went back. The pigeon started crying again. The man came back with some broken pieces of food, crushed it and put it into the pot. But the bird took no notice of that. It kept looking at the man, fear in its eyes.

The man left the kid alone and after a few days, when he again saw inside the pot. The mother pigeon was sitting with the baby pigeon, and those bits and pieces of food that he had put inside were as they were. Not even one piece was eaten by them. Don’t trust anything human, pigeon eyes said.

One fine morning, the man came out to see the pot again. The baby pigeon was sitting inside quietly and the mother and father pigeon were not there. Probably to bring him some food, he thought. He went back inside. After a few hours, he heard rumbling of the pot, as if the pigeon was moving in and out of it hurriedly.

He went out to see that the baby pigeon was out of the pot. He got scared and tried persuading the baby bird to go back inside the pot. It wasn’t safe for him to go out on its own, he couldn’t even fly properly.

The man tried going towards picking him up, but that made the bird fear and jump away from him. The bird jumped to. E edge of the balcony and this scared the man. If the baby fell off the balcony he wouldn’t even be able to fly.

Seeing that, the man quickly went inside the house and peeked through the small space. The baby pigeon climbed on the top of the pot, but wasn’t quite sure as to how to jump into the pot. He had not tried it once and there was no one to teach him. The man wished that the parent pigeons come back soon as the kid would only listen to them.

The baby pigeon was not able to jump inside, probably afraid of getting hurt. It went and sat in a corner of the balcony and started making small squeaking sounds.

The man closed the door and waited for the parent pigeons to come. His heart still wanted to help the kid, but his brain knew that the baby bird will get afraid of him and won’t accept his help. He felt sad that the image of humans was so scary for these animals.

After some time, the baby pigeon stopped squeaking, and there was a rumbling sound of the pot. Finally the parents pigeon were back and they would help the baby bird back into the pot, thought the man. After a while. when all sounds stopped, he went out to look inside the pot.

There was nothing in the pot, just the empty nest. The baby bird was not in the balcony. Only two-three small feathers of baby bird were lying in one corner. The man saw around in the precincts for some sign, but there was no one there. No baby pigeon and no parent pigeons. Could the baby bird have flown away? But how could he have! He was so little!

A crow came flying on the opposite balcony. He landed on his legs over the railing and the man saw some feathers fly out of his legs, which were not his own black feathers. They were brownish blue feathers.

The man understood what had happened.

Mother pigeon came flying and sat on the railing of the man’s balcony. It made some sounds, then looking at the man, it jumped on the top of the pot and saw inside. Waited for some time, then saw at the man again. And then flew away.

The crow looked back at the man and flew away, probably with bird smirk on its face. The pigeons never came back.

A tear came gushing out of the man’s eyes… If only, the bird wasn’t so afraid of the man, he could’ve helped it, he thought.

A Visit to the Human Shop

How the world would have been if we were not at the top of the food chain…

A animal kid narrates down his day’s experience at the human shop.

… …

I was very excited that day. I had never been to a Human Shop before. My friends told me that it’s a paradise for shopping for human products. You can find all the articles ans artifacts made from or relating to humans.

At the entrance, there was a huge statue of human. He looked so cute, and even more delicious! I wondered how others can be vegetarian! I felt the hunger as soon as I saw this little fellow…

I entered the main hall and whoa! I was left open-jawed! So many shops… So many shops!! (Repeated for emphasis)

The place was filled with animals of all kinds. From carnivores to herbivores, from four legged to two legged, from land animals to birds… It was a carnival at that place.

I understood that the crowd was due to the announcement last week about a special sale on human products this whole week. No one in their right mind would let such an opportunity pass.

My eyes instantly went to the apparels store. I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my paws over the smooth human skinned jacket. The smell of the skin was so overwhelming.

I grabbed the jacket and went to the trial room. And as soon as I put it on, it felt a part of my body. I couldn’t let it go away from myself.

Wow and they had brought new collection! So many patterns of beautifully made human skin apparels! I just wanted them all…

I looked for the stuff I wanted. But it was hard to overlook other collection as well. The shopaholic in me was coming out of the cocoon.

Main shopping being done at the apparels store, next I went too the food section, my personal favourite…

Ah the smell of hot human fries and human spicy delight..! I couldn’t resist myself from dancing and hopping towards the smell.

I ordered Eyeball salad for starters along with some wine, and started scanning the menu for next dish to order.

While choosing from so many options, I even got carried away by the snapshots of human dishes printed on the menu. I hoped this restaurant made these dishes as tasty as they looked good in these pictures.

I finally ordered my favourite saucy finger-rolls and crunchy meat balls.

While the cook inside was testing my patience, I looked around to see what was happening. All sorts of animals were having a fun time. I saw kids playing with their human hand toy, beating each other. While two adults were discussing business in a corner. And next to me a young dog couple was tasting each other’s parts.

The doors of the kitchen opened and I headed the cries of those humans while the cook was trying to get the hold of it to chop his head off. Poor thing I felt, but tasty my stomach said… After all, what good use are they otherwise!

My order finally arrived and I ate each piece of human with utmost delight. That taste of its roasted skin, that crunch of its deep fried pieces and those delicious finger-rolls… With chili sauce! Yummm!

Now that my stomach was satisfied, I switched back to shopping.

My friends had also shared with me about a human pet shop. I went to that section and saw to my surprise, there were so many human pets available there.

There were cute ones, new-born ones, athlete ones and simple homely types. I observed each one of them. It is said that you can’t just choose your pet, your pet should choose you too.

It happened with me. A new born one looked at me and I looked at it. It was so cute and so innocent. I instructed the shopkeeper to open the cage and let me try my luck with this little human.

When I took it in my hand, it cuddled me so innocently. I felt like it was telling me to take him away from this cage. I purchased my first pet…

I also bought a nice iron strap to tie its upper body. It would be risky to trust a human without precautions.

As I was going out, I saw a huge and scary human. It was uttering something in anger. I asked the shopkeeper why was it so weird. The shopkeeper replied that it was a blood-hound type. It was used as a security helper. Usually by police, they were very good at protective instincts.

I felt good that humans are useful in several distinctive ways. Good we animals discovered so many ways of using these humans!!

Next I went to the furniture shop. My dad had asked me to buy some good human heads to hang on the walls of our office. It brings good luck they said.

But it wasn’t easy to buy human heads. They had to be cleaned and washed with chemicals so that they don’t smell or get spoiled due to defabrication.
I bought a few other items like fresh human hair, some household items from the Bones store. The bones store here was famous for having freshly extracted bones which were thrice chemically washed and polished to keep them shiny and dust-free.

My time was running out. I went to the last section for the day – the Human Zoo.

Here, at The Human Shop, the Zoo was way different than the normal Zoo outside. It was a museum cum exhibition cum sanctuary of different kinds of humans. All races, all types of humans were collected from different parts of the world and showcased here.

There was a history section were we could see the artificially made sculptures of extinct human races. I read few of the exhibits and found them to be so informative.

There were few live human cages where we could see humans live and survive. The way humans communicated with each other was so weird. I couldn’t understand anything. But there are animals who study in this subject and they have researched that humans have highly developed communication techniques amongst other animals. Interesting, ain’t it?!

I moved on to the circus section of the Zoo where humans were trained and maintained to do entertaining and dangerous tricks.

The lion sir made a human stand on one leg with a whiplash. Then the human balanced with one leg on a ball! So cool!

Then Giraffe sir and Elephant sir threw the human over the ropes where it clinged on to the ropes and did some amazing stunts.

I wondered what humans would have done in this world if they were given complex brain structure like us animals…

Science sections had practical demonstrations of human body and their natural system.

In one show they showed human body and its parts by operating a live one infront of us. I couldn’t watch that sight so I moved on.

In another, they showed human reproducting system. Two humans were made to get intimate and the speaker explained how their natural breeding practice was similar to ours.

Everything there was so interesting and informative. But as we all know, time is never enough…

My day was over and now I had to go home. I took all my purchases and my pet with me to the cab pickup point.

I called a human cart. I instructed the handler to ride me to my destination. He whip-splashed the human hard enough that it jumped and started running at one instant. I personally hated the way these human were treated and beaten up for carting. But we didn’t have any other faster transportation.

Sometimes, we animals treat these humans in ways so in-animal. But what can be done..! After all, they were supposed to help us animals…

On my way home, I thought about how humans were exploited by us animals. I thought of so many ways in which the conditions could be made better. But this is what we all do, isn’t it? We just speak about it and do nothing…

I paid the cart handler and stroke the human on its back. It had tears in his eyes… Probably some day, things will turn out better for these human beings.

The Look

The bus was silent except for the artificial lady announcing arriving stations and occasional advertisements. People were settled. It was a long route with few stations and majority of the travelers used to travel till the last station of this route. It was the first bus on that route, early in the morning before the crowd of office commuters starts. Hence, there was always a calm in this particular bus.

And she used to love this calm, this serenity. She used to leave early than her time to catch this bus instead of the next which would be filled with noisy crowd, who all are in a rush to run fast towards a dead end called office. She had to bunk her college lectures to catch this bus, and no one knew that she was doing these dancing classes, but she never cared about others. She was a dreamer. And she had to pursue her dream, even if that would make people around her sad. Because, dancing was what made her happy.

She used to take this bus everyday, and almost knew everyone in the bus. Not by name, but by a character description she made for them out of sheer observation. There was a guy who always used to sit near that last seat window reading a book with headphones on his head. She had never seen him look outside his book. He came before her station and probably got down after her destination. So, he was more of a part of the bus for her.

There was one old man who used to sit next to the exit door, quiet and composed. He always used to stare out of the window. He would hardly talk to anyone who sat next to him. Once he saw him talk to a little girl and even smile a bit. But otherwise, he was a lonely man, probably away from his family.

Likewise, there was a whole family of commuters in that bus she knew so well that she could almost feel if anyone was missing someday, without looking through everyone inside the bus.

One day, she was late, and could catch the bus just at the last moment. That day, her regular seat was taken by another person, someone new. She was disappointed to lose her seat. She walked towards the end were there was empty space to stand. That day, she thought about all the things that she lost in her life due to not getting late.

Next day, she was on her usual time. And she got her seat well. But today, that new guy from a day before was sitting in front of her. She sat there without giving any look to him and casually avoided looking at him – her usual behavior with new people she met. A reserved behavior that the so called rich and reputable society had taught her.

While she was observing people around her, her eyes fall upon him sitting right in front of him. He was constantly gazing towards her chest. There was weird smile on his face as if he was daydreaming something. It totally made her uncomfortable. And she got up from there and went to sit somewhere else, where he could not see her directly.

Next day, again, that guy was sitting in front of her regular seat. She felt miffed, but had nowhere else to sit. At first she felt to go and sit somewhere else, but then she recalled her grandma’s advice to her that she should never run away from her problems and face them with brave heart.

So, she sat right in front of him. Today also, he looked towards her. His weird unfocused eyes gazing towards her made her annoyed. She even made an angry face at him, then scorned and stood up.

Next day, the sit in front of her regular seat was empty. She thanked God that that peeved guy hadn’t come. She sat there and started reading her book. While reading a humorous para, she looked up, smiling, when suddenly she saw that guy sitting on a seat two boxes away. From there, the guy was looking constantly at the another girl sitting in front of him.

She felt really miffed upon him and she straight up went to teach him a lesson. When she reached the guy and was about to shout at him, he got up and hit her. Their heads bumped and they both stepped away for a while. What happened next was an eyeopener for her.

The guy had sat down again after he hit her on her head. He clenched the seat tightly and stood up slowly, unsteadily. He was still looking constantly in front of him, while she was standing right next to her. He extended his arm in front of him and said “I am really sorry, I didn’t see you…” and then started laughing “…I couldn’t have seen you anyway you see!”.

He was talking to her but he never looked at her until she spoke “umm…”

He was blind, with proper looking eyes, but lost vision.

She said sorry to him. Her anger had washed away in the abasement she felt for thinking bad for that guy. Well, she misunderstood ‘the look’.

After that day, she never saw him again, but she had made a separate entry of her little encounter with him in her daily diary.