Locomotive Breath

Locomotive Breath by Pritesh Patil

“Come on Pa, walk faster, we need to get off the tracks before the train comes,” said Mir.

“Yes, Pa. We’ll get you all patched up and healed once we’re there. The plague won’t get to us, we’ll live,” said Vir, hacking and coughing even as he smiled at the frail figure of his father trudging along on the snaking railroad.

“I’m walking-” cough, “- I’m walking,” their dad muttered feebly.

That’s when they heard the horn of the train, trumpeting loudly as it rolled forth like a juggernaut in the lonely woods, roiling smoke left in its wake.

“Faster, pa, faster,” said the younger son. “The train’s approaching, we need to leave the tracks!”

The elder son did not say anything, he only increased his efforts to pull and push their father sideways, trying to find a clearing to the side where they could hide from the incoming behemoth of smoke, steel and iron.

Alas, there was no such clearing, no hidey-hole to be found.

The gargantuan beast moved closer, ever closer, screeching and screaming as it devoured the tracks.

The family of three looked around wildly, but there was no escape. Death was here. It was everywhere, all pervading, and none could escape its clutches.

And then the Locomotive swept over the three travellers, with Death claiming the last of the villagers trying to flee its ice cold grasp.

Slowly, softly, the noise of the engine and the trumpeting horn of the locomotive receded and faded, moving off to destinations unknown.

…And the ghosts of the three travellers woke once again on the railroad, as they had for the past hundred years. Lost to time, lost to life, lost to death. Eternally riding on the railroad of the in-between, forever forsaken.

They had escaped the clutches of death, but peace was forever lost to these haunted souls, now haunting the forlorn railroad, hapless victims to Locomotive breath.

*****

P.S. – Yes, the title ‘Locomotive Breath’ is a reference to Jethro Tull’s song of the same name. Tip of the hat to all those who got it.

Eyeballs

Eyeballs by Pritesh Patil

Aindrila was an aspiring author, a talented one even, but after her first taste of success, she yearned for even more. But in those days success was hard to come by, and the ones who spent the most money got the most eyeballs. Her writing was pure, her muse was happy, but Aindrila wasn’t content with the slow, steady nature of her success.

“Eyeballs, I want more eyeballs. No, I need more of them!” She screamed in a fit of rage and agony.

And so she made a deal with a demon. No, not any demon, but with the King of Hell himself, Crowley. She was willing to sell her soul, but that wasn’t enough for Crowley.

‘The market is saturated with souls. People are willing to sell souls for a slice of pizza and good fries. Nay, I want something more, something I can use,’ he said in his slick, oily voice.

‘Whatever you want, take it, take it, but give me what I deserve’, said Aindrila, in desperation.

‘Your muse’.

‘Take it!’ Screamed Aindrila, ‘But help me…help me,’ she said softly.

‘Done,’ Crowley smiled. ‘Go home and sleep, you will have what you want when you wake up’.

Aindrila smiled her deranged smile, and ran home gleefully. After all, what was the trading of a mere muse when she was getting so much more in return.

She went home and fell asleep, thoughts and dreams of fame, renown, book signings and movie deals filling her head.

When she woke up the next day, she felt a heavy weight on her. She tried to get up, but the weight only increased, and she felt trapped under some squishy, fleshy substance.

She opened her eyes and she saw that her room was filled to the brim with eyeballs. Squishy, squashy, glassy, eyeballs, whirling here and there, some with blood still on them, staring at her in horror, holding the torment they’d suffered before being pulled from their bodies.

As she suffocated and drowned in those vicious eyeballs staring at her, wishing their anguish upon her, she began laughing. A hopeless sound, full of despair and excruciating terror.

Oh how she laughed…even as she drowned, as she realized that she would become famous after all, but only as a victim when the reporters and cops found her, much like the victims in her stories.

Finally, her laughter turned into a gagging sound as one after another, the eyeballs entered her mouth and choked her to death.

-Fin-

P.S. – I See You’ by Aindrila Roy is available on Amazon.