Trade Off

When I was growing up, I never imagined I’d make a living by kidnapping kids for ransom. But here we are. I was running the rat-race for years and years until I realized there’s a better way.

But this latest kid is different. He didn’t even put up a fight when I snatched him near his school.

“Don’t worry kid.” I say. “Just think of this as a little vacation.”

It’s not like I’m keeping these kids in cages. I’ve put them in clean spacious rooms with TV, books, toys, and good wholesome food three times a day.

“You’ll be home before you know it.” I say.

He doesn’t reply. He’s hardly said anything since I took him.

“I don’t want to go home.” The boy says.

“Why not?” I ask.

The boy takes off his shirt and shows me the scars on his back.

Damn this kid for waking up my conscience. If I give the boy back to his parents, they’ll keep beating him.

“Well, there goes my ransom.” I sigh. “Listen kid, do you wanna live somewhere else?”

He immediately agrees.

I have a feeling he’ll like the orphanage I grew up in. It’s a good place, after all I turned out alright.

 

Writer: Rohan Parekh

Father Like Son

Dad was fired from work. That’s his reward for taking care of three kids all by himself.

Dad’s boss always treated him badly – making him work overtime without extra pay, promoting newer employees over him.

There was that one year when dad worked so hard that he wasn’t home for all three of kids’ birthdays.

There was that day when his daughter was so ill that her brothers had to take her to a hospital, but dad wasn’t there because his boss wouldn’t let him go.

The oldest son vows to get revenge. He feels heartbroken over how his dad has been exploited. His dad’s boss is filthy rich. The filthy swine has an abundance of gold bars in a safe.

He sneaks into the Swine’s house. Only the most expensive interior designer could’ve built such a palace.

Before cracking the safe open, he decides to murder the swine. He goes to the bedroom which is pitch black and puts a pillow over the swine’s face. He starts suffocating the swine but stops when a bullet enters his head.

Dad had also broken into the house with thoughts of revenge and because it was dark, he accidentally shot his son.

 

Writer: Rohan

Assorted Cupcakes

Mary is worried about her roommate Jane, whom she’s known for years. Jane has been through a lot lately – a break-up, the death of a parent, and her boss fired her. She’s coped with her losses by binge-eating. Mary feels especially guilty about Jane’s break-up.

“Jane, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something.” Mary says one day.

“Yes?” Jane reluctantly looks up from a plate full of assorted cupcakes.

“I know you’ve been through a lot. And I’m a little worried about you.”

“Why? What’s wrong with me?” Jane asks.

“Well,” Mary says tentatively. “You’ve gained a lot of weight and it’s not good for your health.”

Jane loses her temper. She says she is proud of her ‘curvy’ figure and that there is nothing unhealthy about her lifestyle. She gets up from the dining table, grabs her plate full of cupcakes, and goes to the bedroom and slams the door shut.

The next day when Jane wakes up with bits of cake stuck to her hair, she realizes she was unreasonable. Mary is right, she needs to regain control of her life.

The first thing she does is buy a plane ticket to Italy, she always wanted to live there and learn how to make yummy Italian dishes.

A year later she returns home and meets her old friend Mary.

“My god!” Mary says. “Look at you! You look phenomenal!”

Jane talks about her experience living in a small town in Italy and walking every day in the countryside, which helped her lose all that extra weight.

“I wish I was brave enough to just pack my bags and live somewhere else.” Mary says. “I’ve always wanted to explore Japan.”

“You should.” Jane says. “I’m so glad I did it. I don’t think I’ll get a chance to do something like this again.”

The reunion between old friends is going very well until Mary says, “By the way… I hope you’re not upset but I’m dating Chad. We started talking a few months after you left and…”

Chad is Jane’s ex. He dumped her the day after her father died.

“Oh.” Jane says. “Of course, I understand. I’m happy for both of you.”

Mary talks about how great Chad is, how much he has changed, and all Jane can think of is how she suspected Chad of cheating on her and how bad a liar Mary is. It’s obvious that Mary was the girl Chad was seeing while he was in a relationship with Jane.

A few weeks later Mary calls Jane and tells her that Chad dumped her!

“I can’t believe it!” Mary sobs. “I thought he was the one! He said he found someone else that he is more compatible with!”

“I’m so sorry.” Jane replies. “I’m coming right over.”

Before Jane goes over to Mary’s house – they don’t live together anymore – Jane stops by at a bakery.

“Wow!” The baker says. “What a transformation!”

Jane blushes. The baker had only seen Jane in the worst phase of her life, the ‘curvy’ phase.

Jane buys some assorted cupcakes and goes to Mary’s house.

Mary devours the cupcakes.

From then on Jane visits Mary regularly, always bringing some sweet or the other.

A year later Mary grows to astronomical proportions. Jane smiles as Mary’s weight has contributed to high blood pressure, diabetes, knee problems, breathing issues, and a whole set of assorted ailments.

A few months later Mary drops dead from a heart attack and Jane fake cries at the funeral.

 

Writer: Rohan Parekh

Birthday Surprise

Part 1

It’s her birthday and he’s at work. He’s never ever done anything for her birthday. No flowers, cards, or presents.

But on his birthday, she spends weeks planning for his party. She plays the role of Santa on his birthday, giving him enough presents to fill a large sack. Last year she organized a Christmas themed birthday party since his birthday is two weeks before Christmas. She had arranged for a special ‘Birthday Tree’ in the living room and all his presents were put under the tree.

He calls to tell her that he won’t be coming home tonight, too much work. She cries herself to sleep.

 

Final Part

It’s been four months since her birthday, but she hasn’t gotten over it. They’ve had a lot of fights lately. His birthday is today and this time she hasn’t planned anything. When he comes home early from work, he starts yelling at her.

“Seriously? This is what I come home to on my birthday?”

“I’m treating you just like you’ve treated me.”

“But birthdays are your thing! You’ve always done something for my birthday.”

“And you’ve never done anything for mine.”

They continue arguing and then he tells her he never wants to see her again. He storms out of the house.

She is numb from pain. She doesn’t react at all. She just sits there for hours.

After some time, he comes home carrying a big box. He places it in front of her.

“Open it.” He says.

She opens it and sees hundreds of little gifts. Clothes, make-up, but mainly books. Lots and lots of books.

“I’m sorry for not taking your birthday seriously. I know this doesn’t make up for it, but I hope it’s a start.”

She can’t believe it. She’s completely overwhelmed. Her eyes are moist.

He picks a book from the box and starts reading to her.

 

Writer: Rohan

The Listener

He promises his dying wife that he will bring their daughter back home. Their daughter has been happy in the city, away from their hometown, because there she has a job, her own apartment, and once her father suspected that she started drinking with boys, he knew he’d have to take matters into his own hands.

Once he reaches his daughter’s home they start arguing. She doesn’t want to go back to their hometown and get married, she’s only 23! She doesn’t want to be a housewife for the rest of her life. She wants more work experience and she wants a Master’s degree. Her father tells her that she’s already been away from home for two years and that’s more than enough. She tells him to get out of her house because it’s her life and she’ll do what she wants.

That’s when he starts hitting her. He puts his hand over her mouth so nobody can hear her screams. He keeps hitting her until she stops breathing. Why couldn’t she just listen to him?

He secretly carries her body back to their hometown.

When he gets home his wife asks him, “Is she here? Bring her to me.”

The father carries the dead daughter and places her on a chair near her mother.

The dying mother’s eyesight is very weak so she can’t actually see that her daughter is dead.

The mother scolds her daughter, “Why didn’t you come earlier? Everyone has been asking when you will come back and get married and have children! Everyone is judging us as parents! You are so ungrateful after everything we’ve done for you! You just never listen!”

But the dead daughter doesn’t reply… obviously. This further enrages the mother.

The father watches his wife berate their daughter.

His wife doesn’t have much time left. He plans to bury both mother and daughter together.

 

Writer: Rohan

Transformation & Transformer

Transformation

He comes home early in the morning.

“Where were you last night?” She asks.

“Work.” He collapses on the sofa.

“You reek of alcohol.”

“Client meeting. You know how it is.”

“Next time tell me if you’re going out with your whore so I don’t waste time making dinner for you.”

He tries to apologize but she runs into the bedroom and locks the door. She starts crying and prays for a better husband. She hates living in this new country with her husband. She misses her home, her parents, her friends, and all the adorable stuffed animals in her bedroom.

Her husband knocks on the bedroom door for five straight minutes, but she won’t open it. He gives up and goes back to the living room and turns on the TV. Suddenly he starts to feel nauseous. It’s probably the alcohol, he just needs some rest. But then he notices a little more hair on his arms than usual.

A few minutes later his clothes start feeling very tight. He takes off his clothes and cries out in alarm. There is long hair on his legs, stomach, chest. His back starts feeling itchy and he feels hair over there too.

What the hell is going on? He rushes to the bathroom and sees hair all over his face! And his face looks different… it looks like… a bear?

A few minutes later he screams in agony as the transformation is complete. His wife emerges from her bedroom and gasps in shock.

Her former husband is now a giant cuddly teddy bear. Looks like her prayers were answered.

 

The next story is related to the previous one but both are separate standalone stories.

 

Transformer

I’ve been stuck in the body of a giant teddy bear for two years. My wife told the police I went missing after she did this to me. Or should I say my ex-wife since she remarried two months after my ‘disappearance’.

Yes, I cheated on her but how the hell is this a reasonable punishment? I never wanted to marry her in the first place. She never wanted to marry me. Our parents forced us and neither of us had the backbone to say no. And now I don’t even have a physical backbone because I’m a goddamn teddy bear.

Oh, and you’ll never believe who she married. Her best friend. That’s right, the guy she had friend-zoned since her school days. The guy who listened to her complain about being married to someone like me. Her parents weren’t very happy with the decision because he isn’t rich.

Me being a giant teddy was very entertaining for her at first. She’d play with me and hug me while sleeping at night. Then she started getting sloppy. She’d drop food crumbs on me while eating. Once she even spilt piping hot coffee on me, which I’m pretty sure was on purpose. But worst of all she’d let her bratty nephews play with me and they would hit me and throw me around all day.

Sometimes I wish I had lost my consciousness along with my body. Maybe it would’ve been better if I’d died during the transformation. But maybe there’s hope. Maybe I can undo this transformation and get my life back. I haven’t figured out how to talk yet but slowly I have gained control over my furry limbs.

It wasn’t easy, for the first several months I was completely paralyzed. It took a few more months to even learn how to move my paw, several more to learn how to walk and move around, and much longer to learn how to grab objects. Of course, I couldn’t do this in plain view, so I mastered my body by night.

And now I have snuck out of my ex-wife’s bedroom to go to the dining room. I take a seat on the dining table. I can’t use a laptop, my paws are too big. I can’t hold a normal pen either, so I am using one of those giant novelty pencils to write a letter to a trusted friend. I want him to know what’s happened to me, maybe he can help.

I stare at the blank sheet of paper. Will my friend even believe what I am about to write? It won’t even be in my handwriting because I am not human anymore. It’s such a ridiculous story. How the hell do I convincingly explain what has happened to me? Suddenly I slip off the chair and fall down. I guess I’m not completely used to my stuffed body.

And then I hear a dog growl. Oh no. Slipping off the chair made too much noise. My ex-wife bought a dog last week. The dog is moving closer to me. He looks angry. He growls a little louder. I hold the giant pencil like a sword, ready to defend myself, but my paws are shaking.

Calm down doggy. Calm down. But the dog starts barking. Oh crap. Why tonight of all nights? The dog pounces on me! I try to swing the pencil at him, but I am too slow, the dog bites my arm off and is using its claws and teeth to destroy my furry body.

Now I am completely in pieces. Maybe I can be sewn back together? Assuming my ex-wife doesn’t throw me out. I certainly wouldn’t keep a teddy that walks around at night.

Will I ever be normal again?

 

Epilogue

The next morning my ex finds me in the living room. She immediately figures out what happened. She pets her dog lovingly and throws my remains in the fireplace. I’m dying but at least I won’t have to be a teddy bear anymore.

 

 

Writer: Rohan

Kilo Killer Kamp

She went from a size 6 to a size 9 in less than a year because she eats while sleep-walking. It’s crazy to think that while she’s sleeping, she raids the fridge like some kind of savage barbarian.

In this country obesity isn’t seen as something beyond your control. If you’re fat, society will see you as a degenerate that is too lazy to be fit. It’s as simple as that and anyone overweight for their height and weight will be fined $100 per kilogram every month until they lose weight.

She’s 5 kilos overweight and has had to pay $500 per month for the last several months. If she gains another 5, she’ll be required to pay a fortune to lose weight at Kilo Killer Kamp (a brutal fitness boot camp). If she can’t afford to pay the monthly obesity fine, she’ll be deported. If she gains another 5 kilos and can’t afford Kilo Killer Kamp, she’ll be deported!

She grabs her skipping rope from her closet and starts skipping. While she’s skipping, she knocks over a lamp. She chides herself for carelessly destroying her mother’s gift but continues skipping. 15 minutes later she’s ready to collapse but she’s determined to keep going. She must become a size 6 again.

Soon her roommate Archie comes home. As usual, he opens her bedroom door without knocking.

“Instead of skipping why not run to the grocery store and buy some food?” He says. “I’m starving and you ate all my spaghetti and chips last night!”

“There’s too much pollution outside!” She tosses the skipping rope aside.

“I don’t care. You ate all my food.” Archie says.

“It’s a medical condition okay! I can’t control it.”

“If you were the Big Bad Wolf, you would’ve not only eaten the pigs, but their houses as well!”

“Stop being mean.” She says. “Now listen, you have to help me. I need a favor.”

“Not again. ” He groans.

“Please, I have a boyfriend now! He doesn’t say anything, but I know he’d be happier if I were slimmer!”

“Seriously? You have a boyfriend? He actually asked you out… in your condition?” Archie stares at her thighs.

“Yes, you asshole! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!”

“Only a blind eye could find you beautiful.”

“Will you please stop being you and just help?”

“Fine. What do you want?” He asks.

Archie is an annoying dickhead, but he can be a nice guy. Last month he paid her monthly obesity fine because her current job doesn’t pay very well.

“A treadmill.” She replies.

“Are you serious?”

“It’s for a good cause. I’ll pay you back… one day.”

Archie narrows his eyebrows, “Fine. You can use my credit card.”

“Thank you.”

“Wait, I have an idea about your sleep-eating.”

“What?

“Why not put a lock outside your door?” Archie suggests. “When you go to bed at night, I’ll lock it. Then you won’t be able to get out of your room. Call me when you wake up in the morning and I’ll unlock it.”

“Okay! It should work.”

She then decides to do some online research on the food she’s eaten in the past year, especially this new brand of bread called Breader. She discovers that people eating Breader are also eating in their sleep. Breader is one of the few bread brands available in the country, ever since the government banned many other brands for “health” reasons. Breader’s market share is growing every month.

Does the government want a portion of the population to gain weight knowing full well that Kilo Killer Kamps are unaffordable for most people? Does the government want an excuse to deport some of its own citizens?

The country is overpopulated so that would make sense. Most overweight people are deported because Kilo Killer Kamps are unaffordable… Kilo Killer Kamps are government-owned… Breader is also owned by the government… She smells the foul stink of conspiracy.

She throws her bread in the trash.

Two months later after skipping every day and running on the treadmill, she loses 10 kilos and drops to a size 5. She doesn’t sleep-eat anymore. In fact, she doesn’t even get up in her sleep. She looks and feels better.

Archie now finds her attractive. He tries to ask her out but she tells him that she’d rather go to Kilo Killer Kamp.

She starts applying for jobs in other countries because there’s no way she plans to stay here for the rest of her life. Hopefully her boyfriend will come with her.

 

Writer: Rohan

First

First love. First hand-holding. First kiss. Arnav and Ashna just saw a movie and now they’re kissing in the back of a cab. The road is quiet and peaceful, a pleasant change from the daytime chaos.

A few minutes later they stop kissing because three men are staring at them from ahead. The men are sitting on the back of a pick-up truck.

The truck slowly comes to a stop. The taxi has to stop too, it’s a narrow one-way road.

The men hop off. Arnav immediately steps out of the taxi, grabs Ashna and pulls her out with him, and tells her to RUN.

“What about you?” She cries.

“I’ll be fine. Just GO!”

Ashna runs. The cabbie gets out and runs too.

The men try to chase Ashna but Arnav jumps in between.

20 years later Ashna is telling this story to her husband, a different man.

“The horrible things they did to him because he let me get away…” She sobs. “I should’ve stayed to help him.”

 

Writer: Rohan

Flirt

She’s pretty tolerant of her boyfriend flirting with other girls because he’s proven time and again that he only has eyes for her. The only thing that bothers her is when women continue to flirt with him after he tells them that he has a girlfriend.

He doesn’t mind if she flirts with other guys either. When they go out they compete to see who can get more numbers.

Tonight he’s gotten more numbers so she needs to catch up.

She starts chatting up a random guy but doesn’t notice when he slips something in her drink.

 

Writer: Rohan

Friend

He lost friends when he needed them the most. They stopped wishing him happy birthday, they rarely texted, and when they did meet him once in a long while, it was only as a last resort, if all their other plans got cancelled. And they rarely hung out with him for more than half an hour before leaving, often not even bothering to give an explanation for their sudden departure. The bond he shared with his best friend was as strong as steel, but now it’s thinner than his hair.

Perhaps his hair loss is driving people away? The more hair he loses, the uglier he looks. No, that can’t be it. You don’t have to be good looking to have friends, do you? The one good thing to have come out of his hair loss is that he’s started working out every night. Soon he’ll have zero hair and a bald look is easier to pull off if you’re fit. And at least he won’t have to bother getting a haircut anymore, but then again it’s nice to get out of the house for any reason and be surrounded by people. It’s been months since he stepped outside.

One day his best friend calls him asking for money. It’s been over a year since they last spoke. His best friend is getting buried alive in student debt. Should he write a cheque to his friend? He’s been saving money for a while, he wants to buy a new home in a quieter neighborhood. In the end he decides to give the money to his friend the money. What will he do with a bigger home? He has no one to share it with.