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

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.

Knock Knock

This used to be a serial killer’s home. It’s been abandoned ever since he died 100 years ago but I decided to sneak in through the kitchen window.

They say the killer cut off little pieces of his victims right here in the kitchen and ate those pieces while he tortured them. He targeted mean rich kids, starting with the ones who bullied him when he was in high school. Those bullies made his life hell – They beat him, mocked him, stole from him, they even sodomized him.

But he got even with every single one of them. But he didn’t stop there. He kept going until he killed himself in the living room while watching TV, which is where I am right now. They say he was watching the weather when he shot himself. When the weatherman said it was going to snow again, he pulled the trigger.

I go upstairs to his bedroom. He actually had a pretty normal family life – Two kids, a dog, a lovely wife. Naturally they all moved out when they found out that he’d killed over 50 people. His first kill was after the birth of his first child. He was very involved in his kids’ school, he made sure his kids didn’t go through what he did.

I look out the bedroom window. Being here makes me feel a little guilty. I never bullied anyone, but I did watch a kid get bullied every day at school and did nothing to stop it. It was a long time ago and I wonder how that kid turned out. Should I have stood up for him? I stayed out of it because I thought I would’ve gotten bullied too.

I’m about to leave the bedroom when I notice that the bedroom door is shut. Strange, I don’t remember shutting it when I came in. I try to open it, but it’s locked. Okay. I think I’m going to panic now. After some effort I manage to open the bedroom window. But I’m on the second floor and it’s a long way down. There is a tree that I might be able to jump to and then I could climb down it.

And now I can hear knocks on the bedroom door. Great. That’s just great. I have no intention of staying to find out what’s behind that door. I prepare to jump out the window. I carefully get on the window ledge and bend my knees. I jump and reach for the tree branch.

Oh no, I missed it by a few inches. I’m falling.

And that’s when I wake up.

It takes me a few seconds to realize that it was all bad dream. I’m not falling. I’m under my blanket, safe and sound.

I take off my blanket and slowly realize that I’m not in my bedroom. I’m in the serial killer’s bedroom.

 

Writer: Rohan Parekh

50 Word Story: Temptation

His neighbor sent him leftover cake from last night’s party.

But he must lose weight this year. He must take drastic measures to avoid sugar.

He glares at the vile pink box, containing the fatal treat.

He opens the box. He unzips his pants. He pees on the pineapple cake.

 

Writer: Rohan

Lucy

Part 1

Nobody knows who killed the girl next door. It certainly wasn’t me, I had a crush on her for years. Of course I never told her how I felt, I was too shy back then. All the boys in the neighborhood liked her. She had a bright smile, wore cute dresses, and always went several miles out of her way to help people. I just can’t imagine anyone splitting her head with an axe.

Her brother was a soldier and by the time he came home from the war, Lucy had hit puberty and was attracting a lot of attention. Whenever Lucy attracted the wrong kind of attention, her brother would intervene. This one guy followed her home for weeks until her brother broke his legs. He handled a lot of guys that made trouble for her. But there were so many guys, so maybe one of them got to her.

Lucy had a jealous friend named Stacey. But every time Stacey liked a boy, that boy would always end up liking Lucy. Lucy tried to set Stacey up with other boys, but it never worked out. As time went on, Stacey grew bitter. One day Stacey hit Lucy with a car. Lucy was cycling around the neighborhood and Stacey was just learning how to drive. Stacey claimed it was an accident. A week later Lucy was murdered.

You could argue that I killed Lucy because I was the last one to see her. Her parents weren’t home, and she was helping me with my homework. After she finished tutoring me, I left her house. About 30 seconds after leaving I heard Lucy scream, so I rushed back to her house. When I saw her body, I called the cops.

The murder weapon, a giant axe which was left at the crime scene, was far too heavy for me to lift. There were no signs of breaking and entering, so nobody knows when or how the murderer got into the house.

Even though it’s been 10 years since Lucy died, sometimes I see her in my dreams, especially if I’ve had a bad day at work.

In my dreams she tells me to never give up.

 

Final Part

Sometimes when you screw up because you don’t listen to your mother, you’ll have to listen to her say, “I told you so.” Well, I really should’ve listened to mine when she told me not to talk to strangers. But sometimes I did talk to people when I was bored on the long bus ride to school. I remember talking to a middle-aged man 10 years ago before Lucy’s death.

The conversation started out normally, I talked about my favorite subjects at school and he told me what he missed about his schooldays. We both agreed that the food at the school cafeteria could be a lot better. But then things got uncomfortable. He started ranting about how much he hated blonds and how his father had left his mother for a blond woman when he was very young. His mother died of a broken heart a year after his father left.

While I felt sorry for him and his mother, I had to open my big mouth and tell him that not all blonds are bad. I told him about my beautiful blond friend named Lucy who was one of the kindest people I’d ever met. I told him about how she volunteered at the local animal shelter and how she read to the blind on weekends. But the man simply smiled and told me that I was too young to understand.

Why am I thinking about this encounter now? Because I just saw that man on the news a few minutes ago. He’s a serial killer nicknamed the ‘Blond Butcher’ and he’s killed one blond person a year for the last 10 years. Every year on his mother’s birthday he’d kill a blond person. A dead blonde was the best birthday gift for his mom.

He killed 10 blondes before getting caught. His first victim was Lucy. Aside from her, the other victims were kidnapped, murdered, dismembered, and hidden.

If I hadn’t told him about Lucy, then she would still be alive.

They say the Blond Butcher will get the death penalty. I certainly hope so.

 

Writer: Rohan

Boomerang

Part 1

Her older brother made her drop out of school so that she could do more chores.

“What’s the point of going to school if you don’t get good marks?” He asks.

“Because you don’t let me study! I spend all my time cooking and cleaning!”

He slaps her. He hits her every time she answers back, which is basically every time she takes a breath because she can’t resist provoking him. She wishes he was kind like her father. She wishes her parents were still around.

One day she goes to his bedroom and asks him if she can get a tattoo.

“Tattoos are for loose women.” He says while combing his hair. He’s getting ready for a date.

“Plus, I can’t afford it.” He adds.

She’s tempted to ask if he can at least afford a better haircut, but she can’t afford another beating. She’s been limping for the past two days.

Months later her friend gets her a tattoo as a birthday present. The tattoo is a small boomerang on her right arm.

Her brother fumes when he sees the tattoo at the dinner table.

“You just don’t learn, do you?” Her brother says.

“But you didn’t have to pay for it! It was a present!” She says.

“My birthday gift to you will be purity – something you are clearly lacking.”

Her brother grabs a fork and stabs her right where the tattoo is.

 

Final Part

It’s the week before her brother’s wedding. She wishes she was old enough to move out because his fiancée is as cruel as him. She doesn’t know how she’ll live with two tyrants.

Her brother comes home late at night after a night out with his friends. It was his bachelor party. She opens the door to let him in. He smells like sweat and alcohol. She tries not to vomit.

“Why didn’t you take the keys with you?” She asks sleepily.

“Shut up.” He pushes her out of the way and starts going up the stairs to his bedroom.

But he trips on the stairs and falls down. He cries out in pain. He tries to get up but he’s unable to move.

“Help me up!” He yells. “I think I broke my back!”

She looks at him curiously. He’s never been so powerless before.

Then she looks at the boomerang on her right arm. It hardly looks like a boomerang anymore, thanks to the scar he gave her.

She goes to the kitchen and grabs two forks. She returns to her brother.

“What goes around comes around.” She whispers and stabs him in the eyes.

 

Writer: Rohan

Snack

Part 1

My cook is trying to poison me. Lately I’ve been getting sicker after consuming any meal prepared by him. He’s been cooking for my family for generations and I’m the last surviving member of that family. Why does he want me dead? His salary has gone up every year even though he’s cooked less every year due to the demise of one family member after another.

Today he’s made spaghetti. He sets the plate down in front of me and smiles.

I smile back and offer him the first bite.

“I’ll have my dinner later.” He replies politely.

“There’s enough for both of us.”

“That’s very kind of you but I’m not hungry.”

He leaves the dining room. I roll up some spaghetti in my fork and stare at it. I always roll up the exact same amount of spaghetti for each bite. I’ve gotten good at it. So why does this particular roll of spaghetti feel heavier than usual? Has the poison made it heavier? Should I take a bite?

 

Part 2

I ate the spaghetti last night. And I felt sick. I ate oatmeal this morning. And I felt sicker. My cook, who made the oatmeal, ate the same oatmeal with me, for I was insistent that he join me. But he seems fine. Absolutely healthy. Then why am I getting sicker by the meal? How are his movements so fluid and carefree while mine are lagging and sluggish? There’s only one answer. He has swallowed the antidote. He’s immune to the poison.

But where has he hidden the antidote? I’ve searched the whole house. But my cook knows my house better than me. I used to play hide and seek with him when I was a kid. He always found me, every single time, but I never found him once. There’s also the possibility that he finished all the antidote.

The point is that my cook has left me no choice but to resort to drastic measures. I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life but that’s about to change. If the antidote is inside him, I must eat him to cure myself. I enter his bedroom in the middle of the night. He’s asleep. I approach him with a knife and fork.

 

Part 3

The doorbell wakes me up. I push the newspaper off me and slowly get off the sofa. My entire body is aching.

I answer the bell and it’s the little girl from next door.

“Hi! Do you have any cookies?” She asks.

“Unfortunately no. My cook isn’t here.”

“He went on vacation, didn’t he?” She says. “He promised he’d bake some cookies for me before he left.”

“Did he? I can’t remember.”

“You never remember anything!” She frowns.

I go back inside after promising the girl I’ll give her a hundred cookies next week.

I think my cook mentioned something about taking a short vacation this week. But I can’t remember. And my stomach hurts more than ever, especially after my last meal. I don’t even remember what I ate.

I go into my cook’s bedroom. I check the closet and the wardrobe. None of his belongings are here. It doesn’t seem like he’s gone on vacation, it seems like he’s completely moved out. Where did he go?

 

Part 4

“What’s that you have there?” The little girl’s father asks.

“Our neighbor baked me some cookies!” The little girl puts the box on the dining table.

“What?” The father looks worried. “Why him?”

“Because his cook didn’t do it before going on vacation.” She replies.

The little girl picks up a cookie and takes a bite. She immediately spits it out and proceeds to vomit.

 

Final Part

“I told you we should’ve moved a long time ago. But you said having a strange neighbor is no reason to move!” Says the little girl’s mother.

“I thought he was just strange. I didn’t know he was capable of this.” Replies the little girl’s father.

The little girl’s parents are watching the news on TV. Reporters are talking about a man who murdered his cook and used the body parts to bake cookies which he then gave to the little girl. The man claims that he is innocent and has no memory of committing such heinous crimes.

 

Writer: Rohan