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*** Today's Maynia Prompt: overgrown grass***
*** Today's Daily Freewrite Prompt: gout***
Writers can choose to use one of the prompts, both the prompts or not use the prompt at all. It is all up to you!
I wish to make this into a sci-fi novel. Let's see how it progresses! 😊
Half-Past Eight - Day 25
Continued from Day 24. You can read it here.
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Date: 24th March 2015
Norman switched off the alarm even before it started ringing. He was awake already and just lying on his bed. Since he slept in the afternoon, the previous day, he could not sleep much in the night. It could also have been the list that he had made, although, he did not touch it the entire day, after that. There was, however, one point which kept him interested. Till date, he thought that he was the lone survivor but what if the event was a localized one and there were people still in the physical form? What if his sis was fine? His cell phone and residence phone was not working, and so they could not contact him, even if they wanted to. Besides, Caroline's cell was also down, so his sis could have tried reaching him. Norman was a little excited because for the first time there was a flicker of hope of finding people and possibly some help to understand the event and a way to undo it too.
The only question that remained was how he could get to Vasai? Vasai was about 50 km from Bandra, and local trains wouldn't be working. Taking the road would be difficult with all the scattered cars, and even if he reached, he could have a terrible time coming back, since the return lane would have been the high traffic lane, on the day of the incident. Just then, he slapped himself back to his senses. How did the lane matter anymore? There was no one to stop him even if he took the wrong side of the road to drive back, nor would anyone be driving at him on the wrong side. He laughed at himself and got up to make his cup of tea. Shortly after that he was disappointed since the tea leaves were over.
Norman put on his jogging shoes and walked towards the closest grocery store. It was open with no one sitting at the counter and no one to steal from the shops, not even birds and animals. He walked through the aisle and saw a half kg packet of Red Label Tea. He picked it up and walked towards the counter where he placed a hundred rupee note and took the change from the counter. Norman reasoned that it would be stealing if he did not pay for the Tea packet. All, of course, his mother's teaching. It did occur to Norman that should his life continue so, he would eventually run out of money in which case he will just have to take what he wants from wherever he can. At that point, it would no longer be a question of ethics but a matter of survival. He still had hope, though. He felt if the good Lord wanted him to live, then he would also be kind enough to provide. All of Norman's life anyway, the good Lord had provided.
Norman thought that he would have a cup of tea and then leave for Vasai. He also planned to drive the GL550 with an assurance to the owner, whoever he was, that he would get it refuelled and replaced at the same spot. At that moment, he saw something moving on the tree nearby. It was broad daylight, yet he got the fright of his life since there should be no one around. In about a month he had got used to a solitary life. Norman gathered some courage and looked in the direction of movement, but the thick leaves of the spring bloom were hiding the creature, or whatever it was. He picked up a stone and threw in the direction of motion and there it was jumping down from the tree and almost scratching Norman on the way. It was a monkey and a rather strange-looking one.
It climbed on a Banyan Tree, in front of Norman's building. The monkey then looked down at him and was munching on something. Probably, some peanuts that it could have got from any of the shops which remained open. The strange looks were because of its hair. The hair on its body appeared to be spiky, which could have occurred because of the application of some kind of gel. Hair gel maybe. It looked funny, but Norman was happy he saw it now and not in the night. He definitely would have had a heart attack, especially with the looks. He wondered if the monkey traced him and followed him because he had never seen a monkey near there, before. The more important observation though was that the monkey, like him, had survived the event. So, he was not alone. That gave him some heart since he possibly could find his sister and family too.
Norman went up to his house and started making tea for himself while he left the door open. The monkey jumped on to the terrace and came down the pillar to his second-floor apartment. It was standing just outside his door. Now, Norman was not comfortable. He did not like pets and definitely not a monkey which likes to wear gel. He shooed away the monkey, which stood its ground. The battle of wits, round 1, went to the monkey. Norman slowly walked towards the door and banged it shut. He was not at all comfortable with the animal around, and he was worried if it would scratch him or attack him. For the first time since the event, Norman had to lock his door and windows, lest the unwelcomed guest made itself comfortable at his place. He drank his cup of tea and then bathed with whatever water he could find and stepped out once again. The monkey was not there.
'Probably, I would have hurt its sentiments,' he thought and laughed. 'Good riddance.'
Norman took his blue bike, Pulsar 220 F till the Western Express Highway and then parked it next to the GL 550 on the main road. He did not have to bother about parking his bike in the middle of a Highway. He could feel the thrill as he started the GL 550, and he was on his way monstering through the abandoned traffic. Norman reached the Vile-Parle flyover and took it this time, unlike the last time. He had to watch out for stranded cars and ensure that the GL550 was not dented or scratched in any manner. More importantly, he was looking for that stretch of road where there would be no more stranded cars, indicating that the event did not affect people around that area. Luck was not with him. Stranded vehicles were everywhere. In fact, there were stranded cars even at the Dahisar Toll Naka, which was 23 km from his place. Hope was sinking for Norman.
At the Toll Naka, all the lanes were clogged by stranded cars. He got down and started to drive cars one after the other until one entire path was empty for him to go through. Now, all of a sudden, he was hoping to see at least an animal because he was close to Sanjay Gandhi National Park. This was not because of his love for animals but the fact that a sighting may give some hope. No luck but he realized that if the event had indeed affected everyone, then the monkey back home was his only companion.
He drove ahead and found more stranded cars, although the traffic began to thin. He reached fountain junction and continued straight down towards Bhayendar and eventually Vasai. He was at a loss for words as he arrived at Vasai and drove into the city from the highway. The saga of stranded cars continued, and now he did not expect to see his sister or her family, but then he continued just to complete the formalities. He reached Vasai West and as expected the complex was isolated. He stopped the vehicle, got down, started walking towards the building without bothering to take the keys or parking the GL. He pressed the elevator button. The elevator did not work.
'Well, this is different,' he thought to himself. Here the electricity was dead, while it was 'ON' back home. He walked up the stairs to the fourth floor and saw that the door was closed. He knocked on the door, then again and again, and when he got no response after ten minutes, he just left. He did not want to break down the door, because if these people did come back to life mysteriously, then his sister would have a tough time getting the door done. Besides, she was obviously not inside. Otherwise, she would have opened the door by now.
Norman walked down the stairs, dejected without having any clue about the extent of this event. Would it have engulfed everyone in Maharashtra? Or was it everyone in India or even the world? Was he the only one standing? He did not know, and he did not know how to find out. Norman drove back on the wrong side of the road since he now knew how to manoeuvre in the traffic, which he himself had cleared sometime back. He parked the GL at the same spot and took his Pulsar back home. For a change, he was looking for the monkey, but it appeared that he had in fact, hurt its sentiments too much.
He went into his house to live another lonely day.
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Date: 27th March 2015
Norman was jogging on the treadmill when his phone alarm rang. For a change, he got up by 6:00 a.m. and was getting on with his chores, which were not too many. It was the third day since he last saw the monkey and was thinking that probably the monkey also had gone to see its sister and hopefully return to its only companion in the whole wide world – Norman. He laughed at the thought but on serious note realized that the monkey would have wandered off since food supply was abundant and its freedom was intact. Therefore it may not find any reason to come back to Norman. Unless, of course, it too was feeling too lonely. He laughed again. Norman also realized what a situation could do to a person. He always thought that he would give anything for complete isolation so that he could go about doing what he loved to do. But now even though he had the isolation, he was seeking company, to the extent of that of a monkey's.
'Food for thought on the first month anniversary of the event,' Norman thought.
Norman had run out of supplies at home, and he thought he could go to the grocery store and shop for the items he required. This was the first time in a month that he had to force himself for shopping, with the only exception of the tea leaves. He went back to the same grocery store and started walking down the aisles looking for the items in his list. It was a rather exciting feeling since he could take any of the goodies there, without paying if he wished, and no one would stop him. At the same time, his feeling of loneliness also got accentuated; he leaned against the wall and heaved a sigh of despair.
'If this is not going to get over soon, Oh Lord, then have mercy on me and take me back,' he prayed. He waited to hear God respond. Nothing. He, of course, by now he was quite experienced in not getting a response but hoped that the Almighty had heard him.
"God grants all your prayers; just believe it is done and have faith. You will soon see it happening in your life," his mother used to say.
"Hope God grants this wish of mine Mom," Norman said.
"But be careful what you wish for. It may come true," he remembered his Mom's warning too. He smiled. It would be a pity if the world came back and he was taken. So, he better gets his petition right, he thought.
Norman walked towards the counter and walked past. He just remembered that the tank in the building was running out of water, so he went back and took ten to fifteen bottles of drinking water too. It could serve him for drinking, bathing and washing. He thought this would be another uneventful day.
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Date: 28th March 2015
Mumbai was one of the most polluted cities in India, probably just behind Delhi, but one month of Human inactivity had changed Mumbai. He felt that the air had become lighter. The air felt clean, the skyline looked bright, and the light fog was missing. It appeared that the Mumbai of his childhood days were back. For once and maybe the only time in his lifetime he could prove that Humans were the cause of pollution everywhere. The other interesting fact was that Mumbai could recover just within a month, despite decades of abuse. If this kind of recovery was happening at a global level, then global warming was probably starting to be reversed. The average temperatures should fall by 2-3 degrees, if not more, and also the fall could be mighty fast. The rise in temperature was gradual with decades of industrialization. Still, the fall would be rapid, since there were absolutely no cars, no gases, no fridge, no machines and no industries running.
Norman had his theory to the cataclysmic global warming, which was bizarre and Caroline would just laugh it off. She would call it Norman's childhood imagination still running amuck. He believed that the Human Body temperature was also a contributor to global warming. In fact, with industrialization, there was also a population explosion, so there was a good chance that both contributed to global warming. Imagine, seven billion people operating at 36-degree Celcius and add to it many other varieties of mammals. Could be a possibility. Despite being bizarre, if the hypothesis were indeed correct, then the fall in global temperatures would be two times faster. The only thing unnerving him was the effect of such a rapid change. The change is good or not is one topic, but the speed of change is entirely a different topic. If indeed the change happened soon, what was he supposed to expect? He did not know and once again, like many times before he prayed to God, to take care of him.
Norman was thinking about the monkey and the bizarre hairstyle it was sporting. It occurred to him that it could have been someone's pet and the owner must have been giving it some hair treatment, when the event struck, leaving the monkey standing. Being a pet would have probably made it easier for the monkey to come close to Norman, of course, before his ill-treatment. But here was the critical question? Whatever happened to Norman also happened to the monkey, and therefore it too remained alive. The last statement made Norman uneasy because it implied that the other's were dead. He did not want to accept that as a fact. He would rather remain in denial mode for the rest of his life, he thought. At that time, he heard the cling of some vessels in the neighbour's house, which he had broken open just a few days back. The sound was unnerving.
Norman was a "horror movie" guy. He used to get freaked out watching horror movies in his childhood and used to have some nervous sleepless nights and still would watch more. But this experience was horror in action. A humanless world had clanging sounds in the neighbourhood. Deep Horror!! As he opened his door and walked towards his neighbour's door, he was expecting a gargoyle to jump out on him. What it could do to him was a topic he never dared to think about. He walked the distance of 4 feet from his door to his neighbour's door at the speed of 1 foot per hour; well, almost. As he reached the door, he could see a vessel lying down on the floor, probably the one who had made the sound. The entire kitchen was not visible from the front door; only the path down the kitchen was visible. Everything inside Norman was screaming to turn around and go home, but his curiosity kept him stuck to the task at hand. What if it was a ten feet high monster? What would he do then? That was the first time that Norman realized that he had a contradicting logic, which could get him killed as much as keeping him alive.
One part of his logic or his brain asked him to go forth and see the monster, if it indeed was a monster, just for the high he used to get watching horror movies, while the other part asked him to turn around and run for his life. By the looks of it, the former part of his logic was winning but very slowly. No, wonder he was moving at 1 foot per hour! Norman kept a foot inside Mr Ajay's house and knew that this was the last opportunity he had to turn back, unharmed. He still moved forth. The steps were becoming slower, as his mind was cooking up images and stories that he could encounter. He had an eye on the vessel and was wishing for an eye with a "search mode", "x-ray vision" and "heat sensor", so that he could at least look beyond the walls without actually going inside. He was just two feet from the kitchen door, and definitely, there was no way back from here. He thought what if a zombie threw itself on him? What would he do? Would he have enough time to run? It was terrifying. He could hear some breathing pattern. Something alive was there.
Just then, another vessel fell. It shut his heart completely. Such was the fright that he moved several steps back involuntarily and stumbled on the chair in the front room. He was sweating profusely and totally out of breath since he expected the monster to come out and jump on him. Probably kill him. Then he saw it. He passed out.
Norman did not know how long he had been lying down, but when he got up, he could feel the back of his head hurting. He was lucky that the chair broke his fall, else he would have hit the sharp edge of the bed and could have bled to death. Somehow, he did not feel that that was a bad outcome. He then remembered what happened. When he stumbled on the chair, the monster jumped out to the doorway, possibly disturbed by the commotion. It was scared to see him, as much as he was afraid to view it. If not for the spiky hair, Norman wouldn't have had reacted so wildly. The monkey was back!
Norman couldn't locate it at that moment, but the last he saw was the monkey walk slowly towards him before he passed out. Norman then got up and shot through the door and ran to his house. He realized that the monkey could have been hungry, and it would have come to the house to get something to feed itself. It may not have found anything and would have entered Norman's house by now. He was ruing to see a messy house, not that he was too concerned about the looks of his home. He entered the house and saw the monkey. He was surprised. The monkey had made itself comfortable in the front room but had not touched the bananas, the juice glass or any other food items on the dining table. He did not understand. First, he thought that the monkey was not hungry, but when he offered it a banana, it grabbed it and gobbled it up. Three more bananas disappeared at the same speed. So, the monkey was hungry but was disciplined to not eat from Norman's house. He could not understand why. After all, it had got into his neigbour's house to eat something, then why did it not eat it from Norman's house. 'Good Monkey,' he thought, and for now, he had company. He was not lonely anymore, though, no company compares to Jerome's and Caroline's, but in a deserted island, even a monkey is God's gift.
Norman closed his door, giving his stamp of approval for the monkey to stay in and he wondered, what was it about the creature that it remained the only other unaffected living thing, after him. At that moment, one more anomaly presented itself. The monkey was not affected by the event. So, he immediately ran to his sheet, took a pen and added the point. The list under anomalies read as follows:
i. Electricity, though was knocked out it started working again without any intervention, like in the case of the lift and the car on the road
ii. Norman was the only Human to have been unaffected by the Event
iii. A monkey was the only other living being, other than Norman, not affected by the event
Image Courtesy: Pixabay