Nessie was here!

Nessie was here. DNA confirms it.

Marie was one of their best and most sensible investigative journalists. If this message had come from anyone else, he would have dismissed it as a hoax.

He had called O’Donnell at the local office, who in turn confirmed from Zee at Forensics, that some DNA had come in for testing and that the results had been sent directly to Marie.

And yet it was a bit much to believe.

So, he had consulted with Dr. Aileen. She forwarded him a paper on how eDNA sampling technique could be used to capture DNA of any creature that moves through the water. This DNA can then be compared with the other nearby lochs and a database of about 100,000 organisms to see if anything sticks out as unusual.

Confident of due diligence he had run the story.

 

At 5:30am he was woken up by a hysterical Marie.

“What ever made you think that I was even searching for the Loch Ness monster? I am a crime journalist, not some crazy thrill seeker. I came here to investigate the Foyers murder case. Remember the famous billionaire who went missing, and now the other shareholders are trying to take over controlling interest. That’s the evidence I have – of the murder of Vanessa ‘Nessie’ Fitzgerald.”  



In response to Susan’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 25 November 2018, based on a photo by C. E. Ayr.

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Happenchance

It took a series of vicissitudes to lead to this shemozzle.

Perhaps it all started with Farmer Raju’s ultimatum to the Councilman.
Just because he lived miles away from the nearest town, he could not be denied high speed internet. The Prime Minister had himself stated – A Strong India is A Connected India.

Had the bi-elections not been coming up, were Raju not considered rather influential in the community, and were his vote not necessary, the councilman might not have insisted that the fiber-optic cables be laid within 24 hours.

Had the workers not been forced to dig up the highway in the middle of a scorching summer day, they might have had the temperament to ensure that the road relay work was carried out properly.

Had the understaffed roadways department not left ditches on the side of the road, then the garbage truck driver trying to avoid this poorly tarmacked road, might not have swerved into the ditch, broken his axle, skidded, tilted over and splattered the entire trash content of his truck across the Sideway Motel’s front yard.

And because the garbage truck never made it to the Waste Management Plant, its contents were not pulverised or incinerated, Detective Ramesh now stood before a body, wondering who dumped it in the trash.


In response to Susan’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of 14 October 2018, based on a photo contributed by C. E. Ayr.

Eleven

The young man paced back and forth, muttering and fretting. With his upmarket Converse sneakers and backpack, he was obviously one of those tourists who were coming around nowadays to admire our ‘quaint seaside town’.

My curiosity getting the best of me I ask, “Excuse me. May I help you?”

“I need to go up there.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“There’re 11 steps.”

“OK. So?”

“No. NO. 11 is not right. I can’t climb 11.”

“Why?”

“Prime Number.”

Anyone else might have thought him crazy, but I’ve seen Aunt Elsie. Turning every lock 4 times. Washing every plate 4 times. Crazy Elsie we used to call her, running up behind her and turning the lock another time, making her start all over again. Until the day she decided to lock herself in the kitchen and turn all four gas burners on. We never even got to say sorry.

“Well, there is a ramp if you go around.”

I hope that’s easier on him.


In response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of October 7, 2018, based on a photo by John Brand.

Tonight is the night

He should have felt guilty for cheating on Stella.
But he didn’t.

She was a good gal, Stella, but she was the boss’s daughter, and that screwed with the marital balance.

Now the new bar tender at the Tipsy Tavern, Tracy, she made him feel like a real man. Her perfect hour glass figure, legs that went up to her armpits, and tits that were to die for.

Tonight, was the night. She was going away with him for the weekend. Tonight, he would score.

So engrossed was he in his reverie, that it wasn’t until his name was called, that he noticed her.

“Stella honey, what are you doing here?”

“Just wanted a last drink with you before you went off. Oh, and I thought I’d introduce you to my best friend Tracy. So sorry, but she won’t be accompanying you.”

He would have tried denial, but she was too smart for that. Gulping down the glass placed before him, he started pleading. “Stell, forgive me. I’m sorry. It will never happen again. If your dad knows, he’ll kill me.”

“He won’t, because Tracy already did.” She ran her finger around the rim of the now empty glass. “Transdermal toxin. It won’t hurt.”

And it didn’t.


In response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – Sept 30, 2018 challenge; based on a photo by Susan Spaulding

Half an Hour

It’s a half hour drive.

Three weeks back I couldn’t reach fast enough. Today I wish the road would go on and on.

It’s a good thing that I know this route like the back of my palm, because today I’m not really looking. The water before my eyes is my own tears. The sound of the waves is drowned out by the crashing of my soul.

A heart doesn’t snap like brittle twig or burst like an overfilled balloon. A heart breaks in the heaving waves of the realization that it is entering a new reality. There’s a part of it that has to die so that the rest can carry on with its duties to the other people you love.

With no immediate decisions to take, no one to console, no one to be strong for, I give in to the enormity of my grief. Expel the breath that I did not even realise I had been holding in all along. Acknowledge my hopelessness, my shame, accept my helplessness.

Half an hour is all I have to break and rebuild my self again.

Half an hour is all I have between saying “Thank you doctor,” and “Mama, we stopped the ventilator.”


In response to a photo posted as the Sunday Photo Fiction prompt of Sep 23 2018.
Photo Credit: Anurag Bakhshi

The Ocean Symphony

The sea is perfectly calm today. Even the waves seem to be asleep.

He watched his wife, her eyes closed, her gentle snores synchronized to the ocean’s soft lullaby. Candy-floss clouds moved lazily across a clear sky, as the sun gleamed brightly forcing him to squint and look down.
The water moved softly around his outstretched fingers, nonchalantly caressing, eddying in its wake. He pulled his hand out watching the droplets drip, as gravity greedily sucked it in to the saline below, each one swiftly haloed by ever-growing rings, distorting the peaceful transparent sheath. His hand is cold, but his face is warmed by the summer sun.
Beside him the snores start to get louder as she takes in the ocean’s salty breath.
Smiling contently, he placed the headphones over his ears, allowing Bach’s symphony to override the ocean’s.

Eyes closed, he neither saw the fin circling, nor heard the screams from the distant shore.


In response to Susan Spaulding’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, based on her photo prompt.

Identity crisis

The Bagpiper

NOOOOOOO…

The scream that rent the air was as good as a siren. That unmistakable sound of pure terror had every head turn in its direction.

The screaming went on and on. It didn’t even sound like she was pausing long enough to breathe. Surely she’d have to either stop or pass out soon.

She must have been at least five, beet red in the face, streaming tears, flat on the floor clinging on to some guy’s, probably her Dad‘s, leg. With another kid I might have passed it off as a temper tantrum, but the befuddled expression of the man convinced me that it was not so.

Maternal instincts kicking in, I rushed over.

‘I’ll be good daddy, I swear I will,’ she was bawling now.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked the father.

‘Honestly? I don’t know. All I said was that we’ll go see the bagpiper.’

‘Not him daddy. He’ll make me follow him to the sea. Please daddy please,’ she added in great gasps.

Suddenly her terror made sense. ‘O no darling. He’s not the pied piper. No one’s taking you away.’


In response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge based on a photo by C. E. Ayr.

The Window

The room is basic, functional.

Most of my day is spent staring out of the lone window.

Occasionally my son stops by. The visits are brief. I have nothing important to say and he is too busy to linger. Sometimes I ask him to fix something. The frustrated expression on his face tells me that I have lived long enough to be a burden.

It’s cold by the window in the evenings, like standing before an open refrigerator.

This year I spent money on a thicker coat at the thrift store. It doesn’t make my face any warmer or stop the frost that settles on the ledge, but it makes me look less poor on the rare day that I step out onto the street. Unless someone looks closely at my shoes. But no one does. No one cares.


Written in response to Rochelle’s Sunday Fictioneers challenge of 7 Sep 2018 prompted by a photo by Gah Learner

The Old Man and The Desert

The old man hunched over, sweat pouring down the deep crevices on his face. Mottled hands shielded his eyes from the harsh sun, but nothing could shield the look of resigned disappointment peering out of wizened eyes. He looked as though a gust of wind could blow him down, but the old man had weathered many a storm, and yet here he stood. He had stories to tell, of lessons hard learnt, and battles well fought. Experience coursed through his veins.

Experience that told him that the teacher can not give until the student was ready to receive.

The young ones had to chart their own course, navigate their own choppy waters, become masters of their own ships.

Times were hard. The economy was bad. Hustling was the order of the day. To the victor went the spoils. They wanted the easy life. Watching them ride the wave of a beginner’s luck, he wanted to tell them that if you dance with the devil, you will get burnt. Yet silent he stayed, listless eyes watching, not telling, fire adorning his skin. He had sown the seed of humanity, but they had to break through the harsh crust of life.

As a father, he could only bend over and provide them some shade.


Photo Credit: Joy Pixley

In response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of Sep 2, 2018.

Amazing Grace

It’s the first church that I see in this damn wilderness. I don’t know the denomination, but one tends to overlook such things when one’s feet threaten to get blisters.

Pushing open the door I find myself in a the most beautiful garden. Flowers, of every conceivable colour, of no particular kind, wild, fragrant, joyous.
I wander around like Alice in Wonderland.

Finally, someone. He’s watering the iris.

Excuse me, where is the church?

Here.

I mean, where is the actual church?

All around you.

Is there a priest around here? I figure there is no point in asking him.

I am the gardener.

My feet are really killing me. Look Sir, I am searching for the church.

Why can this not be it?

No alter! No congregation! No choir! Duh!

God’s earth. Flowers bearing testimony to his grace. Hymns sung by rustling leaves.

I sink down to my knees amidst the lilies and petunias. Soft grass comfort my feet, as a gentle breeze caresses my hair. I close my eyes in prayer completely embraced by His love.


In response to the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of August 26, 2018, based on a photo by John Brand