*** Update: Second Runner-up of WriteUpCafe.com Write-Up contest! ***
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This was written for IBL (Indian Bloggers League). Yes, such a thing exists. I represent Coup d'East, which is, as you might have guessed by now, the East Zone side. This is organised by Write-Up Cafe involved somewhere in all this. My team captain prefers to refer to it as WUC - an acronym that I always seem to forget.
It was supposed to be a short story, and the upper-limit for the number of words was supposed to be 1,500. I wrote this in 1,492.
This was what the topic was:
There are two men sitting in the booth of a diner eating dinner together and talking. A woman sits outside in a parked car, watching them through the window. Who are they? What is their relationship to one another? What are the men discussing? What is the woman thinking? What does she do next? Write a story that opens with this scene and explores these questions.
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My story, er, you have to believe this, was selected as the best story from East India, and hence has been submitted for a contention at the national level. It also exists here as a part of IBL, and here as a part of the Coup d'East blog..
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The woman waited in the car. Her gleaming crimson lipstick provided a perfect contrast to the teeth that dazzled in the headlights of the cars coming the other way. Her skin, fair to an extent that it could almost be called pale, somehow made her look more sensuous in a surreal sort of way.
She could see the two men, through with their dinner but immersed in a conversation of sorts; they were still inside the restaurant, but were standing next to the window. She had twenty-twenty vision anyway. Her ample bosom heaved as she took deep breaths. She could not afford to show her impatience.
They worked as a pair. One of the two chatted up the victim till late; the other drove past the bar or restaurant or whatever it was. Then, between them, they usually rounded off the victim the way a tiger on a diet does to a barking chihuahua.
Life has not been easy for them. They had tried to seek jobs in Transylvania, but could not break through the paperwork. Transylvanian apartheid is at its peak these days, and being Indians, they did not have a chance.
Then they met each other. It was bloody love at first sight. Their teeth snarled, their innards craved for each other, and when they kissed, they knew it was perfect.
Dejected by the lack of opportunity they decided to come back to India – and take refuge in the innocuous city of Kolkata. Getting day jobs was easier here: nobody would even guess that Indian vampires existed. Sure enough, they ended up finding decent-paying jobs. They typically surprised their colleagues by often turning up before daybreak, but their workplaces were different, meant that they did not arouse suspicion.
After days of living on canned magpie-blood and sucking on to stale pigeon-blood lozenges just for the sake of variety, they finally found access to fresh food: they bought a goat, killed it inside their bedroom, and had their fill. The carcass was thrown to the dogs.
The dogs were grateful to them for their gifts, every now-and-then. After they could save some money, the vampires eventually invested in a double-bed mahogany coffin; the passion became more intense as they licked blood off each others’ lips and mouths, and their flesh merged seamlessly into each other’s nakedness.
Several weeks passed before they realised that animal blood was never good enough to satiate them. They needed the real thing, which was not easy in a big city like Kolkata. They kept to a plan: they would sneak in to a pub, keeping a distance from each other, and make an attempt at wooing the singles. Obviously, they acted depending on the gender of their victims, and texted the partner the moment they managed to coax the victim to visit somewhere.
Once that was achieved, the unsuspecting victim was taken to their dark abode. The victim was never a match for the strong wrists or forearms of the vampires, and was immediately tied to manacles – and kept hanging till the other vampire returned.
Then they went into business, and threw the insipid, bloodless, naked body to the dogs – the dogs that usually stayed up in anticipation – in the middle of the night. Nobody cared to check whether the bits of stray bones on the street were human.
They often laughed among themselves at the policeman who tried to track them down the day he found a stray human ear in the gutter. They had kept his ears as souvenirs since then, inside their coffin, having the occasional giggle once they cuddled up to each other inside it.
Boredom crept in, though: the victims were being acquired too easily. Vampires love challenges, just like scuba-divers or bungee-jumpers. So they lied down in their coffin, cleaned each other’s fingers dry of the teenager’s last liquid remnants, and found a plan after a night’s conversation punctuated by the telltale moans.
It involved a car. They invested in a suave-looking SUV. Obtaining a loan was not difficult, and they had obtained enough money since they never had to spend a farthing on grocery or furniture.
They now decided to pick out people one at a time: one of them would go inside one of the new dining spots, strike a conversation with a person of the same sex, sit on the foyer till it was very late – and when the other person would come along in the car, they would ask for a lift. There were a couple of suspicious security-guards, but a thousand rupees a month was always sufficient.
This was challenging. This involved making people of the same sex stay back only with one’s conversational skills, followed by convincing them to hitch a lift to exactly the same desired car. The outcome was the same – the only difference being the fact that the process was more challenging.
It was his turn tonight, though: he was prepared for the occasion. The restaurant was surprisingly empty given that it was a weekend. “This is what happens if you come to the new ones”, he thought with a disappointed face. He looked around, and could not find anyone single – until his eyes fell on a dark, remote corner.
He walked up and put his most innocent smile on display. He knew that with those eyes and that smile, nobody could turn him down. Nobody ever has.
He met the man’s eyes. “May I join you?”
The man grunted. He had a savage, burly look about himself. His frame was huge; the shoulders were broad; the forearms strong; and the biceps bulging under the ancient shirt that was in vogue about seven decades ago. He had blood-red eyes, a tawny mane for a beard that had almost certainly never met a razor, and a bag on his shoulder that definitely contained something like a guitar.
“A musician, eh? I used to play the cello in school,” the vampire lied.
The man grunted again.
This conversation isn’t getting anywhere, the vampire thought. I have to bring up a topic; fashion is certainly not his forte; he doesn’t look too athletic either, and isn’t really interested to discuss music. Let’s try something else for a change.
“You know something – I have acquired something lately. I think it’s real – they claim it’s an original Hussain”.
No luck. More small talk.
“Oh, did I tell you I also own The Mahabharat in Sanskrit – and it’s also written in palm leaves? I mean, it’s the real thing. It’s a collector’s edition.” The vampire lied again.
The eyes lit up, finally.
“Can I see it?” The voice asked in a deep, distant, accented grumble. Did the eyes gleam for a moment?
He had never heard that accent before, but he smiled back with an expressionless face. “Of course you can.”
The dinner was polished off in no time. The man turned out a vegetarian. He did not like garlic, which suited the vampire. Both of them detested garlic, despite the fact that they had been given the required vaccination in their childhood. She prefers vegetarians, he thought as they stood up.
The man turned out to be stocky, but had an enviable physique. He could have passed as a wrestler or a weightlifter, thought the vampire. They struck up a conversation outside the restaurant, and the vampire was surprised at the other man’s vast knowledge of Indian mythology.
“found vctm. cmng out. cm sn”, he texted.
“m wtng outsd :)”, she texted back. “i cn c u”.
They walked outside. The man – the gullible one – was already willing to go to their place, so the vampire decided to introduce her as his wife. The Neanderthal grunted gutturally in acknowledgement, and made his way to the backseat with an audible thump.
They drove silently to their place, the vampires restless in anticipation. They cast glances at each other, and caught them licking their own lips, and smiled embarrassedly. It took them a few minutes to reach their place.
The man used his key to open the door, and the woman closed the door behind her when all three were inside. Then they pounced upon the stranger.
The stranger proved to be surprisingly strong. All of a sudden the clumsiness had disappeared. The fluent arm-movements sent the vampires reeling. And then, with surprising agility, he bent down, opened his bag, and brought out a battle-axe with a gleaming blade in one swift movement.
He had almost closed the door behind him after beheading the vampires when he heard the dogs bark. Disgusted, he kept the door ajar, and allowed them in as he disappeared into the night.
Fools, he thought. They never realised that I’m immortal, and I’m here to rid the world of all evil. Nobody messes with immortals.
His mission accomplished, Parashuram deleted the names and pictures of the vampires from his cell-phone, and set off for the rapist warlock in the suburbs.