Contest 7: Doppelgangers and Duality

demaupassant-double

This contest is CLOSED. Last date for entries was Wednesday, 29 October, 2014. The winner will be announced on Sunday, 02 November, 2014.

Welcome to Contest 7. The theme of this fortnight is Doppelgangers.

In fiction and folklore, doppelgangers have always held a prominent place. A doppelganger is a look-alike or a ‘double’ of a living person who generally brings bad luck. Seeing one’s own doppelganger is said to be an omen of death. The great poet Percy Bryce Shelley is supposed to have seen his doppelganger as an apparition in Italy, floating in the air and silently pointing out to the Mediterranean Sea. Not long after, Shelley drowned in a sailing accident, not yet thirty.

Here are a few more ‘true’ stories concerning Doppelgangers.

Doppelgangers are often used as a device to examine duality. Good and bad, day and night, black and white. One of the lookalikes takes one side, and the second one takes the other. This is also called the evil twin trope in fiction and television.

Ideas

The main idea is that our writing this fortnight should revolve around this theme of doppelgangers. Whether you link it to duality or not is up to you, but your piece should have a ‘double trouble’ effect. Here are a few ideas:

1. How about writing a scene in which you meet a version of yourself out of the future? You can make this a year, five years, or take it all the way to the edge of your deathbed. If writing about yourself is uncomfortably close, make up a character who meets himself on his deathbed. What is the conversation going to be like? Here’s a painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti called How they Met Themselves.

How-they-met-themselves

2. You could write an atmospheric piece akin to Shelley’s meeting with his doppelganger, which portends his death. Your character could encounter a similar angel of death waiting for him, and without speaking it gives him the message he doesn’t yet understand. This piece will be rich in symbolism and imagery.

3. How about a funny story in which the doppelganger turns out to be the original and the original is fake?

4. Can you retell some of our mythology’s famous stories using a doppelganger?

5. Or you could use the word doppelganger as a metaphor for – well, anything, really, as long as it makes sense.

So as they say, the world is your oyster, but as ever, the word limit is 300 words.

How do you enter the contest?

It doesn’t get simpler. You leave a comment to this post. If you leave two comments, they will count as two separate entries. The maximum number of entries you can submit is three. If you leave more than three comments, I won’t tell you off (I’m too nice for that) but I will only pick the first three.

What’s the prize?

A Flipkart e-gift voucher worth 500 Indian rupees. It looks like this.

Flipkart-Voucher

No, you can’t touch it, but you can buy things – especially books! – with it. If you live outside India, your choices are limited to e-books because Flipkart doesn’t deliver internationally (yet).

Lucky Prize

In addition, every valid entry to the contest will go into a dip, and one totally random lucky winner will win a copy of Madhavi Mahadevan’s delightful collection of short stories. Coincidentally (or not), the book also is titled: Doppelganger. Click on the image below to open the larger version. And here is a link to the book’s Flipkart page.

madhavi-doppelganger-cover

How is the winner selected?

Each comment will be rated on three things:

1. Clarity: We should understand what you’re trying to say. Good grammar and punctuation will help. So will a reasonable structure to your entry. Beginning, middle and end.

2. Personal Touch: We’re interested in getting to know you better. So go for depth, specificity and honesty. In narrative pieces, the deeper you take us with you into the scene, the better it is.

3. Beauty of the writing: Make your words sing. Give rich sensory detail. Describe well. Transport us to to your world. Be cogent, crisp and clear.

The above three criteria are ranked in the order of importance. So clarity is more important than personal touch. And personal touch is more important than evocative writing.

A Quick Note

Even if you’re not confident about the ‘quality’ of your writing, please participate. One of the great joys of running a community-style writing group like this is to behold the variety of ideas that come out. So give voice to your thoughts. Tell us your stories. It doesn’t matter how well or badly you (think you) write.

Rules/Guidelines/Suggestions

1. The closing date for comments/entries is Wednesday, the 29th of October, 2014. The winner will be announced on Friday, the 31st of October, 2014.

2. When you enter comments on this blog, you will find a separate text box asking for your email. I recommend that you enter your email into this, so that I will have a way of contacting you in case you win. Rest assured that I will not use your contact information for any other purpose, shady or otherwise.

3. Sexually explicit or offensive material will be deleted at my discretion.

4. Avoid plagiarism. I will check for it, and remove entries that I think are lifted from elsewhere.

And finally…

Have fun! If you think this is the sort of thing your friends would enjoy, share this post with them and invite them to participate. You can share it with just a click on the sharing buttons below.

See you in the comments!

Comments

  1. Wings of Harmony says:

    Oh my!! What an interesting topic! 😀 I have enough dreams with the doppelgangers. Of mine, of course! 😀

    Like

  2. Okay Sharath, my first attempt at one of these contests. Be nice!

    The story is titled: Get out!
    And it is around 340 words :-/

    The bed felt dusty. After a week long trip and back home to an empty house, the least I could do was dust the sheet before crashing for the day. It was late, around 1 am. I had just reached home from the airport and discovered my bed scattered with twigs and leaves that blew in from an open window, I had conveniently forgotten to close.

    I pulled out my plain white bed sheet, opened it wide and threw it high up towards the ceiling. It came down creating a ripple of waves where it left particles of dust, leaves and twigs elegantly floating towards the floor like fireflies. I repeated the process a second, a third, a fourth time and by the fifth time I was convinced that this was it. My bed sheet was fairly dust and particle free by now. Okay, maybe once more, just in case.

    As I threw my bed sheet high up towards the ceiling, for that one last time, I caught a vision of someone standing under it. Huh, what?! The white bed sheet floated towards the floor, it formed the silhouette of a woman. Okay, this can’t be happening, I was alone. Who is this person under my bed sheet?

    The silhouette stood unmoving, with my heart racing and hands shivering, I tentatively walked towards the silhouette to pull out my bed sheet and see who was underneath.

    As I pulled the sheet layer by layer, I realized that I was unveiling myself, standing there was in front of me was a “me”, a scared me, a me who was trying to mouth some thing that I couldn’t seem to make out. The impossibility of the situation freaked me, and my stimulus responded with the only thing one does when faced with extreme fear. I screamed, I screamed loud, I screamed shrill and I screamed in pain when two hands grabbed my mouth and plunged a knife into my heart.

    As I looked at me standing right there, untouched, I realized I was warning myself to “GET OUT!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Lakshmi! So finally you come and participate in this. Welcome 🙂 I liked a few things in this piece, though from a technical point of view, I think it would have been better if you had started with the meeting and developed it further. Much of the description of dust and leaves at the beginning seems to be a long-ish prelude (for a 340-word piece anyway) to what comes. Apart from that, the writing is tight, and I’m left wondering why your doppelganger decided to kill you. Maybe tell me when we meet!

      Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  3. She woke up to the beep of her cell phone. 10.30, the screen said as she lazily dragged her buttocks on the bed and sat by adjusting her back on the wall behind the bed. Strands of sunrays entered the room through the gaps between the curtains.

    “Finally, it is a clear day”, she said to herself.

    Manasvita had been planning to visit the Art Museum for almost a week but the constant rain and water filled roads forced her to stay back at home even during these vacations. She got ready, carried her purse and checked the mascara for the last time before leaving.

    She was standing in a queue outside the museum, humming a tune. Sudden silence and she turned around. There were few women with their children standing in the same queue waiting for their turn. She knew no one in the city and yet she felt as if someone had called her name. The voice sounded familiar but she ignored it and reverted back to the song she was humming.

    She had hardly completed the tour of two corridors when she started feeling uncomfortable. Now she was sure that someone was following her. Someone who had the same pace as hers. She stopped, adjusted her dupatta with utmost discomfort and looked from the corner of her eye at her follower. Her heart skipped a beat. The follower was a lady who looked just like herself. The mascara line, the knot of hair, mole on the upper lip; everything was same. She turned swiftly and looked into the eyes of her doppelganger. Before she could lift her foot to walk towards her double, someone tightened the dupatta around her neck and she fell lifeless on the floor in front of Dante’s “How They Met Themselves”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Archit! This brought a smile to my face because the moment you mentioned ‘Art Museum’, I was expecting Dante’s HTMT to make an appearance somewhere. What was not clear in my reading was who this doppelganger was: is she a future version, a past version, a dead version, what? And as I said about Lakshmi’s piece earlier, I would have liked less of the set up and more of what happens after the doubles meet one another.

      But it is really creepy to go into a museum humming a tune only to hear your own voice on someone else humming the same tune. I would faint too, if that happens 🙂

      Like

  4. Wings of Harmony says:

    I re-read the entries on alter ego or doppelgänger, also known as the evil twin and laughed out loud. This was the tenth email I was receiving on this theory of “existing doubles”. As a part of my paranormal research, I had started a contest to find out more about this and the related tales about conspiracy theories, folklore and myths I had received within 8 hours of posting this on the forum, was astounding.

    People really believed that everyone had several alter-egos. Load of tosh I would say! I send all the entries to our “Creepyourselfout” website and shut down the laptop. Pushing back my chair, I roll over to the bed that is to the right of my work table. Tonight, Rhea had signed me up for a date but I was in no mood to turn up. She really had to stop setting me up with guys. I definitely would not die alone with cats. Grinning at the thought, I close my eyes. Few moments pass as I realize I am vibrating. OH! I sit up with my heart thumping like slow drum, only to realize I had slept on my phone….for over TWELVE hours!! Oh my GOD!! I check my phone to find 20 missed calls and 16 text messages, from an unknown number and Rhea. Shit, I didn’t turn up for my date!

    “Thank you for the wonderful time. I hope we could do this more.”
    “Hey? You gave me your number, remember? This is Aaron.”
    “Are you okay? I am worried.”

    Strange, must be a wrong number.

    I quickly scroll down to find an image sent to me from Rhea, with the message –

    “I can’t believe how beautiful you looked yesterday!”

    There I am in the image, dressed in a sexy red sheath dress with my arms around a tall, brown haired man, laughing like a maniac into the screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, there are some dates on which we would LIKE our doubles to go while we sleep. But then there are some we’d rather not miss. I liked some of the images you sprinkled into this piece: sleeping on the phone and waking up to the feeling of ‘vibrating’, the lady in red who took your place, and the fact that the character is doing research on alter-egos and body doubles. This is strictly speaking not a case of someone ‘meeting’ his or her double, because you hint at multiple personalities, but not complaining. Thanks for writing in 🙂

      Like

  5. I regret everything…

    With his index finger on the middle of my back he softly pushes me forward.

    I take a few steps on the wet terrace floor, stop at the ledge and look back at him, pleading “Please don’t…”

    He is merciless. With his finger held up like an invisible pistol, he keeps nudging me towards the edge.

    Like a fallen king on a chessboard, I am about to be slowly tipped over the ledge and about to fall headfirst into oblivion: The Promised Land where he can no longer haunt me.

    But I’m no king. I’m just a pawn, a hostage; A sock puppet in his hand – This merciless doppelganger of mine.

    “You could’ve been somebody” he says, utterly disgusted with me.

    “I know”
     
    “You should’ve” he sighs.

    “I know”

    “But you didn’t.”

    “I know! I know!”

    Having been pushed apart by a fork in our paths in the distant past, we meet again.

    To him, it’s just a righteous Übermensch-ial weeding of the weaker one. I don’t condone what he is about to do. But I understand.

    I made him strong. I made him my master. Now I must pay the price.

    I step forward and feel the wind rushing up those countless storeys under me.

    Then, I jump.

    As I take “Gravity Express” non-stop to the end of the line, I turn around to look up at him hoping he would finally disappear and stop haunting me.

    But he stands there, in all glory, smiling widely, my doppelganger – my regrets, my past – empowered to live forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This raises a few questions (which is not a bad thing). I take it that the fork you referred to is a fork in time, and the universe has split into two. And the person from Universe A has for some reason come to Universe B with the intention of supplanting his B-version. But I’m asking myself: why? Did he have to flee his universe? What is his story? Maybe he’s a loser in his own world if he has to come to this world and kill his double?

      I liked the scene, Pirithivi, though I must say your poems are tighter than your prose. Do you find that too? Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  6. pradeepthyagaraja says:

    The story titled “My unknown friend!”

    After a tiring day at work, Rohan drove back to his room. He was thinking about all those bad times that he had with his boss at work. He cursed his boss for not recognizing his hard work. He searched his pockets for his room keys and he couldn’t find it. Suddenly he remembers, he has left his room keys in office itself. He started his car and drove back to office to fetch his keys.

    Once he reached his office, he went near his workplace to fetch his room keys. He noticed something unusual. His computer was switched on. He remembered it perfectly that he has switched it off before leaving. “What nonsense?” he exclaimed in surprise and he sat over his chair and logged in and went through his mailbox to check for any important mails for tomorrow. There was none. But, there was a mail from someone called, Rohit. So he went ahead and started to read the mail.

    “Hello Rohan, I know you are surprised to see this mail. You might be wondering how I know your name and email id. Just to let you know, I know a lot about you. I even know that you had a fight with your boss during afternoon for your promotion. You are going through a tough time and I am here to help you. Did you check your car’s backseat? There is a special gift for you from my side. There is a message in it and you have to follow it accordingly. I know how you feel to read this one. But, hey, I am your good old buddy. You don’t remember me.”

    “Ok let’s come to the main point. You open the gift once you go to your car and don’t be surprised. It will be okay from here on. Remember Rohan, no one in this office knows me. Don’t try to make this as a big deal. Let us keep this to ourselves. Bye!!”

    Rohan picked up his room keys from the runner and without thinking too much he switched off his computer. In panic he rushed towards his car. He was constantly getting reminded of that strange mail and how it ended. He doesn’t even have a clue about that person. He was thinking of all his contacts from his school, college, office. But, he does not have a friend called Rohit.

    He reached his car and unlocked the doors. He opened the backdoor and there he saw a black cover, neatly packed, under the seat. He opened that cover and there he found a mobile phone with a post-it attached to the back of the mobile phone. It read “Gift to an old friend”. He switched on the mobile and clicked the message box. He had only one message from an unknown number and it has only this message “Go home Rohan, I’ll call you by night at exactly 12 :-)”

    Rohan reached his home and he was sleepless the whole night. He forgot everything about his existence and he just waited for that call. He even forgot to have dinner. The clock showed 11.55PM.”Damn it! I can’t wait any longer”. He was just walking down his room like a restless chicken. The clocked showed 11.59PM. His heart was racing and he could hear his own heartbeat in that deadly silence of his room.

    The clocked ticked 12AM.

    Rohan stood still and looked at that mobile phone he received. Suddenly, the phone started to ring. Rohan was too scared to attend that call. He stood still for few seconds. With all his might, he took the phone and answered.

    “Hello…”

    “Hello Rohan..!” A voice that was too deep.

    Rohan stood still without speaking a word or two. His throat went dry and his hands went cold.
    “Hello, may I know who this is?” questioned Rohan.

    “I told you right; I am your old friend. You can call me Rohit, if you wish!!”

    “I do not have any friend by that name. Could you please tell me how do you know me?”

    “It doesn’t matter Rohan. I know you very well and that’s it. I just wanted to help you”

    “Alright, how do you want to help me?”

    “That’s good. Listen, I want you to kill your boss. Don’t ask me why. You better know it. I am telling you for your own sake”

    “No, I won’t. I will just resign from here and search for a new job instead of killing my boss. I know that I had this idea before, but that’s too dangerous to go about it” replied Rohan.

    “You don’t need to worry about the plans. I have made all plans for you. There will be no clue left and no one doubts you.”

    “Interesting!!” thought Rohan.
    “OK. What is your plan?” asked Rohan in a low voice.

    “I will let you know tomorrow at the same time. You go to office and behave casually. Bye” The call got cut.

    “Hello… Hello…“ Rohan was screaming over the phone.

    The next morning Rohan reached his office with a drowsy face. His boss asked him “Man, what happened to you? Looks like you didn’t had a good sleep.” Without replying anything Rohan went to his workplace and sat down. His boss came behind him and said “Man, I thought you went home early last night. But you came back again and you were recording something in your phone. The security guard told me.” “It’s nothing. Just a bit of work I was supposed to complete” replied Rohan casually.

    That night, Rohan received a phone call from that strange friend.

    “Hello Rohan” spoke the voice from the other end.

    “Hello…” replied Rohan in confused anticipation.

    “I have accomplished the mission for you. Your boss is dead and you can read it in the morning newspaper.”

    “How did you do that?” asked Rohan.

    “It was simple Rohan; I removed the brake wires of your boss’s car. He met with an accident this evening and he died on the spot” replied Rohit.

    “How can you do this? Now at least tell me, who are you?” pleaded Rohan.

    With a strange laugh, the voice from the other end replied in a calm voice “Me? You want to know who I am. I am your best friend and more like a brother. If you still want to know about me. Just look at the mirror and it all makes sense”, the call got cut abruptly.

    Rohan was taken aback by that remark. He stood there confused and speechless. He tried to recollect what all happened during that week and he screamed to himself. “I killed my boss!”

    -THE END-

    Like

    • Hi Pradeep,

      Thanks for sharing this. I thought this story started off well but it sort-of fell through after the first 150 words or so. It almost felt that you began to hurry after the first few words. I also had trouble understanding who actually killed the boss. If Rahul and Rohit are the same person, how are they able to talk to each other on the phone? Are they separated by time or something?

      I liked the idea of the story. I feel sorry for the poor boss, though 🙂

      Like

      • pradeepthyagaraja says:

        Thanks for your suggestion. Yes both persons are same in my story. You must watch the movie “Karthik calling Karthik” to see why I wrote such a plot. In one of the paragraphs, I mentioned about Rohan’s boss telling him “You were recording something over the phone…”. This is the psychological imbalance state of Rohan, who pretends to be Rohit and records a message over the phone and sets time frame to shoot a call to himself. It is best if you watch the movie that I mentioned. Then you’ll understand why I chose both characters as one person. 🙂

        Like

  7. Film: Pudhupettai (Tamil)
    Song: Neruppu Vayinil
    Lyrics: Na.Muthukumar
    Singer: Kamal Hassan

    The protagonist is a young, up and coming gangster (Dhanush) much to the envy of other gangs and he is constantly circled by numerous assassins wherever he goes.

    After the topic about Doppelgangers the following lyrics now make me think of a doppelganger-assassin. It gives a really interesting spin to the lyrics.

    Found it interesting and just wanted to share 🙂

    எதிராளி பார்க்கிறான்!
    தெருவோரம் நிற்கிறான்!
    மார்கெட்டில் முறைக்கிறான்!
    என்னைப் போட்டுத்தள்ள துடிக்கிறான்!

    My enemy watches me,
    He stands at the street corner,
    He stares at me in the marketplace,
    He is just dying to kill me!

    எங்கேயும் வருகிறான்!
    எமனாகத் தொடர்கிறான்!
    முகமாற்றி அலைகிறான்!
    என் கண்கள் பார்த்தால் மறைகிறான்!

    He comes everywhere,
    Follows me like Satan,
    He changes faces as he roams,
    But vanishes if he meets my eyes!

    அவன் முந்துவானா?
    நான் முந்துவேனா?
    நாளை ராத்திரி வந்தால் சொல்கிறேன்

    Will he beat me to it?
    Or will i beat him to it?
    Let tomorrow night arrive,
    I will tell you!

    Like

    • Hmm, I wish I could read Tamil because I think the lyrical quality may have been higher in Tamil, but I do appreciate the meaning of the English translation too. And yes, you’re right, reading this as a doppelganger assassin gives an interesting spin, even though the original writer meant no such thing. Or maybe he did. Who knows? Either way, thanks for sharing this 🙂

      Like

  8. Entry #2: The Door
    The Door made its presence known on a perfect day. It was mother’s 40th birthday and she expected a grand celebration. Perhaps, it was that sadistic streak which made the Door appear on that eventful summer morning.

    Father, I and Bren woke up early, we ran to Mrs. Tully, our neighbor, and sneaked the cake inside our house. We arranged the living room with balloons and stars.

    As expected, mother was absolutely delighted, but soon her delight turned into surprise and shock. As she kept staring at me.

    Then I saw father and Bren also staring at me the same way, until I realized they were staring at something behind me. My mind ran a list of things that could possibly be standing there, from man eating lions to killer clowns from outer space.

    “Mishka, honey why don’t you come over here?” Mother finally spoke, and implored with her stretched hands. I ran to mother, and looked.

    It was a door. A door that was never there for the last 15 years that I had lived in that house. A door that could only open from the other side.

    Instantly “The Door” became a smash hit. People from neighborhood and our family came to ruminate over the Door.

    There were theories, some sane, some insane. Uncle Martin felt, that the Door was a gateway to hell. Mrs. Tully, felt that the Door was created by Late. Mr. Tully, since he missed her.
    My friends and I thought that the Door was a wormhole and should it open; it would suck the entire world. Bren, expected zombies to walk through the Door; and that’s why he always carried a baseball bat.

    People tried breaking down the door. Even a wrecking ball couldn’t touch the Door. Finally, we gave up and since nothing went in or came out of the Door for months. It became business as usual and we started ignoring it. Until one summer evening, it happened. I reached home, only to be welcomed by mother’s excited chattering.
    “It opened, Mishka. It opened.”

    I ran inside and mother followed. I saw father, Bren and Mishka standing there near the Door. Wait, Mishka? I was Mishka. But she looked just like me. My stomach sank as realisation sunk in and I saw the bodies of my real family lying near the dining area. Mother; or the woman who looked like her, spoke with a wide evil grin, “You are next.”

    The Door shimmered out of existence.

    Like

  9. Hi Sharath, first time entering a contest here: Sorry I don’t have a title for the poem!
    —————————————–
    Those of you that know my story,
    Know I tell it not for joy.
    Nor is it told for glory,
    I was but a mere boy.

    It was Christmas, a chilly night,
    wine long empty, no meat done
    the streets barren, no hint of a fight
    he was gunned down, the one who had run.

    Sharp steps on the porch awaited.
    Still fear, cold and seeping.
    Movement, quick and sharp, breath bated,
    Father staid, Mother softly weeping.

    I was sent to scrub up well
    for one last time.
    As night fell,
    I wiped the mirror free of grime.

    My face stared, not revealing the guile.
    “They’re coming,” I thought,
    the reflection smiled.
    But I did not.

    The door swung open, orders barked
    “Walk, shut up, no cry!”
    Human cattle, a truck parked,
    he climbed silently, the smiling boy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Amrita! Welcome to the blog and to the contest page. Please don’t apologize for not giving your poem a title, because I loved it from top to bottom. Though I cannot say that I understand the setting and what is going on exactly, I read the poem twice over, taking in each word. I especially liked the stanza:Sharp steps on the porch awaited; Still fear, cold and seeping; Movement, quick and sharp, breath bated; Father staid, Mother softly weeping.

      From what I can tell, there is some sort of rounding up going on (perhaps of the Jews?) and a boy has sent his doppelganger in his place. Did I get it right?

      Either way, loved reading this. Thank you!

      Like

  10. Awesome! Have I been looking for a community like this, or what!
    I smiled to myself as I looked around the space. My eyes shining with the anticipation of future meetings with like minded souls. I was contemplating grabbing a cup of coffee when something made me stop and turn.
    It took not more than a split second for our eyes to connect. Yep, no doubt about it. We silently took in each other’s presence across that crowded room. The presence of a hundred milling folk seemed suddenly irrelevant.
    I didn’t feel awkward, or scared. Strange! No butterflies in my stomach. No sign of danger, latent or manifest.
    Neither of us moved in an effort to get nearer. Yet, I could have sworn that the room cleared like magic! The hitherto white noice receeded as we continued to hold gazes. Then, just like that we were completely attuned. Communicating without a sound.
    I know you. Yes. Yes, I do.
    I smiled. You did too. We have watched each other’s backs haven’t we? Yes. Year in and year out. This is the first time we’ve gotten so close. Face to face. And it’s a completely comfortable feeling. No secrets between us. We nod. Then turn and leave. Silently swearing to protect. For eternity. That’s our unspoken vow.
    Time will tell if we can turn the definition of doppelganger on its head for good.
    I grab my cuppa coffee.
    Life is good!

    Like

    • Hi Vinisha,

      Welcome. I hope you will have fun writing with us. I liked the way in which you changed the common description of Doppelganger from being ‘evil’ to benevolent. After all, who is the doppelganger and who is original, right? I’m sure the doppelganger must feel that he’s the original and the ‘other guy’ is the copy. Your scene reminded me of this novel called ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’, where the main character often goes to the past (and the future) to meet different versions of himself.

      Enjoy the coffee 🙂

      Like

  11. “The problem is the public doesn’t know that being a sorcerer is hard. All everybody ever thinks about, is the glamour attached to it. Becoming a celebrity. Wealth, women, wine and wizardry go hand, in hand but people just don’t understand magic!” I said with frustration. “Amen that” said Theo on the other end of the portal. “They think I can solve all their problems waving my wand but the simply don’t understand the balance of the three orders. I can’t do everything they ask. And for all the praise the town criers sing of me, they never speak of the strain it puts on me and my health. It’s gotten so bad lately that I’m blind in my visions by 8 in the evening. Completely powerless for almost an hour each day! And that’s when they jumped me.” said I.
    “You’re the guy imprisoned for impersonating the famous Aknarought!” said the man lying on the stone floor across my cell with massaging the bump on his head I just gave him. Well technically the wall, but I had him thrown against it. He was my dungeon mate, a murderer. “I am, Aknarought beaver brain!” I said to him. I hoped that would remove all his doubt and he wouldn’t test me further, for I couldn’t handle the strain on my own. I usually throw people into the air aided by the spirits of the wind but spells are cast around prisons to keep them away. I turned to my companion 20 miles across the kingdom. “In our king’s absence the young prince, fool that he is, is going to ruin our kingdom. Please convey my fears about leaving that brat in charge of judicial duties to his father. That little rascal just imprisoned me for impersonating myself. Send a sprite. And tell him our flalbelwart harvest is good this year and he can depend on its value for any trade he wishes to carry out.”
    “I will old friend. But do tell me how this all came to happen. Who in his right mind would create a doppleganger of you? And how did they manage to imprison you of all people? Why don’t you just break out?”
    “Because of the soul orbs I had installed on the roof” I said. “Why would you do that?” asked Theo. “As the king’s sorcerer it’s my duty to look after his interests Theo. I was always worried, our guards making arrests wouldn’t process their prisoners properly. The easiest thing for any illegal wizard to do is to pass himself off as a common crook. We’ve had some thefts like this lately. Some of these illegals let themselves get caught for petty crime. They get sent here with some of the more serious burglars. They keep the stolen loot here in the den behind the captain’s quarters. At night, these illegals break out and raid the evidence room.”
    Illegal wizards are to be sent to the Rook, our dungeon for mages and wizards, which can contain them. The dungeon I was in was full of common barbarians and idiots like my cellmate who accidently kill people while their drunk. I had placed soul orbs around the roof of this dungeon to prevent the errant wizard billeted here from summoning spirits, so I couldn’t break out of here myself. Not yet at least.
    “Well, we can’t say the next generation isn’t entirely unimaginative.” said Theo. “I agree. These washouts from magic school will do anything for coin” said I. “Even make a double of you” said Theo.
    “Nay, there is something more sinister at play here. The apparition that is me upstairs in the court room, can speak and can control the viewing portals. Any ordinary apparition is convincing only at a distance. If the double is this good, whoever is behind the deed has to be close. The culprit is upstairs.”
    “Then it makes matters all the more serious Sir. How is it that you’re taking it so lightly?”
    “For surprise Theo. I want to know what this rat is up to. I suspect he is related to the Warlord Dookie. In the absence of the king, the price has to play judge. There is a sympathizer in our court. For only he would know when I would be defenseless at home. I had a hard day. I’d taken off my cloak and rings. And I was all out of mana. That’s when captain Lyre and his goons jumped me. No warning, no plea for me to come quietly. Bunch of stupid oafs I tell you.”
    “You’ve made their jobs far too easy for them friend.” said Theo. “So much that they seek entertainment in harassing the common folk before they have their proofs. And no respect for the elderly I tell you.”
    “I’m 150 years old but that’s still young for a sorcerer of my immersion” said I, taking offense on the account of my pride. Now I’m not much for pride, but being caught off guard by some traitor, jumped by that pig Lyre and being thrown in a dungeon is something that offends me on a professional level. It was time to turn the tides.
    “Send word to the king about the situation here Theo. But keep it quiet. We need to know who is up to mischief. We’ll catch them red handed. I shall go upstairs now and find the fink.”
    “As you say my friend” replied Theo. “But without the spirits to aid you, how will you break out of the dungeon?” he asked.
    “Oh, I haven’t the strength to blow the walls down, but I have the tricks to convince that stupid guard outside that we somehow dug a hole into the ground. Soon as he steps in, I shall have my unfortunate cell mate here jump the guard. I shall then sneak into some imperial armour and make my way upstairs. Now make haste and send your sprites to the king. We have to act fast.”
    “May the spirits be with you friend.” said Theo and he collapsed our portal. I turned to my cellmate who had staggered to his feet and was wondering how, a feeble looking man like me can throw a hefty goombah like him into the wall. “How did you do that” he asked for the third time. I splayed my fingers and let a few sparks fly between them. He got the point. But he still didn’t believe I was me. I decided not to bother. If things didn’t go well, the guards will look for me on the ramparts, not in the castle itself. They wouldn’t take the news of an illegal wizard of crook breaking out to the court room. It would embarrass them too much. Better yet, I can power this sod a little bit and have him running like a horse through the rear garden to draw attention away from me.
    I got to work. We hid under the slabs on the wall that served as our beds. I tossed a small fireball onto the floor between us. It caused a loud bang and left a dark recess in the floor. And just as I planned the guard came running.
    “What happened here?” he cried. But before he did anything further he heard my cell mate coughing under his bed and I thought the plan would fail. “Where did you get these smoke bombs.” cried the guard.
    “He has more.” said I in a plea for help. “He’s planning to escape, the swine and he won’t have me on the run with him.”
    “I’ll have none of that” cried the guard as he unlocked our cell and charged in with his baton, stopping at the other man’s bunk first. The idiots. Just because I look old they think I’m not a threat. Well, they can learn things the hard way. It was all to easy for me.
    Within a few minutes, I knocked out the guard, made my way to the evidence room with my cellmate. To my luck, I found some gold and mana potions. I drank them all. With some reserve of energy restored, I cast a spell on the man to make him run real fast. He shot off with some coin in his rags giving causing the diversion I wanted. I went to the guards quarters, found myself some imperial armour and went upstairs to smoke out the traitor.

    Like

    • Hi Hemanth,

      This reads like dungeons and dragons, or a game of Warcraft. I liked the small details that you put in that add to the atmosphere of your story. It gives the impression that your characters are truly part of the world, and the reader feels that he’s immersed within the story. The writing could be tightened in certain places, and also, it feels that this whole piece is just back-story to what is going to happen now. Basically what has happened here is that two characters have spoken to one another about what has happened so far, and just when the action is beginning, the piece has come to an end.

      A good technique to keep in mind is to begin in the middle of the action and tell backstory as small flashbacks that punctuate the action. Regardless, I liked the setup. Would love to read the full story 🙂

      Like

  12. I sat back in my French recliner and slowly exhaled. Legs outstretched, crossed at the ankles. To any observer, a person at ease. A small, steaming cup of scalding espresso sits upon the glass top of the coffee table before me. I watch the steam rise and spiral off into the air of the morning chill.
    It’s not gone noon yet. I haven’t made the slightest move to remove my sunglasses. My wayfarers sit snugly upon the bridge of my nose despite the fact that the sun isn’t strong enough to actually cast any glare.
    The odd looks I may get from passers by don’t really bother me.
    I have more important things to ponder and I intend to do so undisturbed and hopefully undiscovered.
    Looking around now and then, I peer at the crossword on the newspaper before me. I chew on the end of the pencil in my hand.
    I can’t help but gulp at what I’m seeing before me.
    The message is glued across in cutout letters. The alphabets slightly askew.
    GOTCHA!
    That’s all it reads.
    I need no one to decipher it for me.
    We’ll been at it a long time you see.
    Playing this game of mental chess.
    Of oneupsmanship.
    With whom, you ask.
    Well, with my nemesis.
    My doppelganger. And I.
    Inexplicably tied.
    Was it fate or destiny?
    Or divine intervention?
    In truth, I know nothing.
    I’m not even sure how it all started.
    I won’t hazard a guess. There’s no point.
    All I know is that since I met her I became aware that malefic folk do not solely inhabit the pages of fiction.
    I confide in no one.
    Why drag innocent people into this.
    I’m thinking about the future and how to outwit her.
    That she intends to dance on my grave is no paranoid musing.. I have her written missives from before.
    It’s as if she believes that the earth can’t possibly hold enough air for the two of us to simultaneously coexist.
    Weird.
    I look up and see that the espresso is no longer steaming.
    Then I know.
    The time has come.
    I glance upland and see her at the street crossing, headed my way.
    She hasn’t seen me yet. Or has she? My innate intuition is all aflutter.
    She heads straight up to the table and seats herself uninvited.
    And smiles.
    It doesn’t reach her eyes.
    People are looking at us now.. thinking..Twins?
    I want to scream out, help me! But I’m frozen, and silent.
    She signals the waiter, beckoning him closer with an imperious wave of her hand. Garçon!
    The spell is broken.
    How did you track me, I whisper.
    Her smile reminds me of a hungry hyena now, as she watches me shiver.
    Cold? she asks.
    I stare at her.
    She points to the newspaper. Flips it over. I spot the patch a nano second before she taps it.
    A tracking device. One of the latest.
    I sigh.
    She acknowledges it as a sign of defeat.
    I drag my wallet out of my tote and put my bill amount on the table.
    She’s looking around for the waiter now, confident in her eventual victory.
    I fold the newspaper and stand.
    She laughs and doubles over with apparent glee.
    I pick up my tote and walk away.

    The chime of the cathedral bells awake me at dawn.
    I hop out of bed and peer out the hotel window.
    I decide to get dressed and go.
    I believe that I am being summoned.

    The newspaper lies outside my room door.
    Gotcha! The headlines scream.
    Beneath it an image.
    A black and white picture of myself, head resting on hands upon a coffee table of a now infamous street café.

    I heed the summons and head out.
    Gotcha.
    She never saw the gun hidden from view under that old newspaper.
    She never heard the bullet headed for her heart.

    I never knew I had it in me.

    Gotcha?
    Indeed!

    Like

    • Hi Vinisha,

      Good one. I liked the tautness in this piece over the other one. The short sentences work well to make the narrative pacy. You may try and experiment with longer sentences and paragraphs punctuated with single-sentence paragraphs, and see how that alters the rhythm of your prose. I especially liked the first paragraph. It sets the scene quite well, I thought.

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  13. Attempt 1:

    The Last One

    He was here. He looked exactly like me. Only happier. My, oh my, he was happy. He said he loathed me. Me, a sad suicidal guy in a sad little family. We sat down to discuss ideas for my perfect suicide. He insisted I talk to him.

    The first time, the sombre time, when you try to kill yourself, imagining how your funeral will be like, fantasizing about it in tremendous detail. Of course, the entire event will take place to “Bookends Theme” by Simon and Garfunkel. This is very important. Although a half-baked concept, the idea is in fact very tempting. You will feel nothing. To feel nothing, that’s the goal, isn’t it? You missed it. You don’t really want to die. You just want to get away. He was full of ideas.

    Now, you have a therapist. His blank stare and his emotionless words, “You need to learn to love yourself first “. You cannot love yourself because you just want to tell him you imagine yourself differently, living as a different person, who isn’t repulsive and terrible and worthless. You want to tell that guy, you just want to cut and cut yourself up till nothing is left of you; not an atom. You want to tell him that it’s been quite a time since you’ve been so depressed that you don’t know what to feel except the burning, nauseous feeling in your chest that only stops when you sleep. You don’t want to be here, you want to get out of this hospital, go somewhere, to a better place. Your parents are sitting in the room, looking all tearful and betrayed.

    At the beginning of your depression, there was nothing but feelings, so now the emotional numbing was relief. You’ve always scrutinized feelings as a hindrance to your quest of completely overpowering yourself. How is that working out? You are fully aware that different things are happening with you but they don’t feel so different, do they? This in turn, gives rise to a mournful, bittersweet boredom. The only few feelings left around were waiting, waiting intently now, to die and join the other carcasses in the wilderness of your dreaded soul. But there’s nothing you can do now. You feel comforted. Or do you?

    We talked for some time. He left. I was alone again.

    Like

    • Good little piece on the conversations of a depressive with his mind, Parth. I’ve read a few blogs on depression, and I’ve seen that the one thing that the condition brings with it is an extreme lack of care for anything and anyone. People report that they lose all sense of meaning in their lives, because even meaning is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. More than anything, apparently a depressed person thinks ‘It does not matter’ for everything. You did a good job of describing this state of being. Thank you.

      Like

      • What more could I done with it ?

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      • I would suggest that you write a longer piece about depression and its many variants. Writing a comprehensive essay on any topic is hard to do in 300 words, so if you’re looking to write non-fiction based on depression, I think it would be better if you look at slightly longer-form pieces. Perhaps 1000 words each? And then expand the point of meaninglessness, boredom etc in separate paragraphs, and embellish them with examples and expert opinion.

        That’s only a start, of course. Read as much nonfiction as you can. See what other authors are doing, and how you can use it in your own writing. Good luck 🙂

        Like

  14. I sat, hands folded near the sputtering lamp,
    As granny unfolded tales, coughing from the thatched damp,
    Wide eyed, I listened to her twisted and implausible lore,
    Of kings, thieves, princesses, and their deeds in galore.

    One day, she closed her eyes and squalled,
    Listening to which my heart almost bawled,
    There she unfolded the lore of the doppelganger,
    Sending me into a fit and inside the cow’s manger.

    From that day, I cowered on any approaching shadow,
    Fearing, it will be a one more me, putting me to the gallow,
    Years passed, the story fallowed in me,
    Bending my vigor and buckling my knee.

    Finally, I had enough of this trepidation,
    Took the gunny and filled it with some ration,
    The high road was long and withered,
    But, finding my second home was the need, I figured.

    Far and wide, I maundered,
    But everywhere, I was greeted as a stranger,
    The fearful shadow, eluded me,
    Burning my fear and bringing me glee.

    Finally, I thought of turning back,
    To my home, to hit the sack,
    Then, a place came, of graceful smile,
    “Oh! You look very similar”, made me rile.
    Finally, had I stumbled upon my fate,
    To kill or be killed seemed to be the state,
    I searched, along the narrow lanes,
    Looking through the dirty window panes.

    The next day, through the mist, I walked,
    Turning on a bend, I balked,
    Standing before me, was a mirror,
    With all parts clear as ringer.

    My heart bled, like fountains cursed,
    As my life wobbled and shivered,
    It was not he, it was a she,
    Love was in the air, and finally I was free.

    Like

    • Haha, nice twist at the bottom there, Mithun. You turned the lore of the doppelganger into one of love. I liked these two lines best: Years passed, the story fallowed in me, Bending my vigor and buckling my knee.

      Like

  15. Dogs don’t drink coffee!
    I snorted in disgust regarding the idiot across from me, in the highrise up the block. He stirred in milk and cream vigorously, then offered some to the pit bull sitting obediently to attention at his feet.
    How, you ask, would I know this, seeing as I was more than a few hundred feet away? Easy! I am not known as one of Scotland Yard’s finest lip readers for nothing 🙂
    The man, or Zander, as he was tagged seemed oblivious to being watched. Ditto for Dietrich, the pit bull. Funny, I thought, how overly complacent and over confident folk are about their own security. I, for one, tried to never slack off.
    Of course, by now, you’re undoubtedly curious as to why the duo had my undivided attention. Simple! I had stumbled across my doppelganger. While at first, it was fairly amusing and partly entertaining, as my fascinating grew, I realized on closer inspection that my doppelganger wasn’t anything like me. I don’t know if I should have been as surprised or as horrified at that discovery as I should have been, but I was.
    Zander had transformed poor Dietrich into a killing machine. The man was evil incarnate. He escaped time and again leaving behind carnage and tears for others to deal with.
    Well, not anymore.
    Zeus, my partner, sat forward watching. Not them, but me. I sensed his worry. His gaze said, don’t you do anything impulsive!
    I saw them exist their apartment and I bounded out the door, Zeus calling for me to wait for him.
    I had reached their entrance long before he did, dashing across the street.
    I stopped and sat. I had to regain my composure. An uncalm takedown hardly ever ends well.
    Then all of a sudden, there they were. I waited, not wanting to alert man or dog to my presence. I let them pass within ten feet of me without rising. I held my breath, then with a mighty bound I went for Dietrich’s jugular. It was over in the blink of an eye. He hadn’t been able to retaliate as he hadn’t sensed my intention.
    Zeus, bless him, has arrived. Panting. That notwithstanding, he had his gun out and trained on Zander. But Zander didn’t fight back or attempt to flee . He stood still silently regarding the bloody mess at his feet.

    I was crying silent tears. I couldn’t have let them get Dietrich. No self respecting dog deserves to die that way.
    I looked up as Zeus patted my head. He knew.
    It wasn’t Dietrich’s fault that he had beem turned into a trained killer.
    Just as ot wasn’t mine.

    Like

    • Hi Vinisha. Dog stories are always fun! Especially because it is not immediately apparent whether you’re talking about the human or the dog. So it gives your piece an immediate suspense and also a ready twist at the end. Very nice. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  16. The man in the purple overcoat was bent over the table in his dimly lit study, reading a particular news in the evening paper with great interest.

    His centre of attention was the news of a man who was being tried for heist in a jewellery shop, and his guilt had been proven beyond a shadow of doubt. Over the last few days, newspapers had been abuzz with reporting on the trial and the burning question was not whether the man would be convicted, but the duration of his sentence. “He will get a minimum of 2 years in prison,” a legal expert had remarked. “No, the judge hearing the case is known to be a tough guy and I won’t be surprised if he sends the convict for at least 5 years behind bars,” his colleague had argued. Interestingly, the loot had not been recovered yet, and even the confession of the accused had not come by, despite hectic interrogations.

    Both the police and the public following the case regarding it as an open and shut case. The convict had been foolish enough to leave a trail of tell-tale evidence at the scene of crime, and it did not need a Scotland Yard to apprehend the accused based on the video footage of the surveillance cameras. He had even looked up and blinked at the camera while robbing the jewellery shop. The cameras did not blink though, and police had enough circumstantial evidence to nail him.

    “Jewellery heist accused commits suicide in judicial custody, cremation tomorrow,” the newspaper proclaimed in bold. A sense of vicious relief swept across the man in the purple overcoat. He finished reading the news, sat down silently on his rocking chair, took out a cigar and suddenly burst into a blood curdling guffaw. His crime will be buried forever along with his doppelganger tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting twist in tale of revenge

      Like

      • Good story, Jayant! Reminds me of this conspiracy theory that Hitler had a lot of doubles, and that the person who died in 1945 was not really Hitler but one of the doubles. There was a novel called ‘The Seventh Secret’ by Irwing Wallace which tells the story of what would have happened if Hilter had survived and set up another underground secret society. It’s a good read. Get it if you can.

        Like

  17. Tim stepped out of the cloudy smug and stepped onto the feathery rug. He slid the glass door behind him as he slipped into a white bath-robe, doing two things at once was a habit.He was a perpetual multitasker. A smart urban heart-throb. He picked up a white torquise and started brushing his wet hair casually.

    As the torquise changed hands, Tim took a peek through the glass walls of his apartment. The view was vivid, as usual. Even a flock of cranes flew right past his glass cage. This was the pinnacle of human ambition; lock yourself in a glass cage and let the voyeurs have fun. A penthouse turned into a glass cage. A corporate multitasker’s dream come true.

    He looked at the coffee machine and the wall clock, both at the same time. 5 minutes to 9. Time to move.

    As he started walking through the living room, he looked around as if searching for someone, “where is he?”, Tim asked himself. “May be he is still sleeping…, does he not want to go to office today?” he murmured. He looked in the first bedroom, nobody was there.He turned around and started walking towards the second one. The towel was hanging from his shoulders now, it looked like a white serpent; dangling from his neck. As he was walking, the italian marbles of the living room were clinging onto his wet feet like octopus tentacles clinging onto rocks. He started entering the second bedroom, his eyes taking a final look at the kitchen.

    As he was entering into the second bedroom, the other Tim was walking out of there. Their shoulders collided. “watch it!,” said the Tim in the suit. “Look; you spoiled it”, he said pointing at a patch of water on his suit. His hands were extended with both palms exposed. An expression which was on the edge of disgust and anger was all over his face. Tim was wearing a light grey Armani suit and a red tie. An armani suit with a patch of water on the right shoulder. After a brief staring contest, Tim in the suit who was also wearing white socks hurried towards the shoe rack while Tim in the bathrobe entered the bedroom. The flooring changed from marble to wood. Wooden flooring soothing his wet feet, the friction was better. It was like walking on a blanket. Tim entered the walk-in-wardrobe. The towel fell on the wooden floor, the bathrobe fell over it.

    A moment later Tim walked out of the wardrobe, then out of the bedroom, he was wearing a grey Armani suit and a yellow tie. He was wearing black socks not the white ones, he had better taste. He looked at the coffee machine and the clock at the same time, 5 past 9.

    Tim in the red tie was standing right next to the coffee machine. He pointed at the filled cup of coffee with his left index finger. Then he did the same expression as before, hands extended with palms exposed. A smile stretched from ear to ear. Like the Joker. The patch of water was gone from the shoulder of his suit and He was wearing red leather shoes. Red leather shoes on white socks. “So tasteless” though Tim.

    “Red shoes?” Tim asked Tim, “what’s wrong with you? It’s Monday today, isn’t it?””
    “Ya, but don’t we have to go to the diner after office! you forgot?” he retorted. “Red tie, red shoes, get the point now? 10 years and still you question my asthetic sense?”
    “Whatever” said Tim in the yellow tie, and they both walked out of the apartment, down the lift to the basement car parking.

    Tim in the red spoke first, “I want to go in the Audi today.”
    There was a brief starting contest, again. “Fine” said the other Tim, as he rolled his eyes and nodded his head. He unlocked the audi and sat in the driver seat. The machine felt solid from inside. “Let me drive”, said Tim in the reds who was sitting on the front passenger seat. “No, i will drive, we are getting late to office.” said Tim in yellow tie.
    but the other Tim insisted.

    This was the height of tolerance for Tim in yellow. He walked out of the car, went all the way around the car to the front passenger seat and bent to the window. “Move over and drive then”, he yelled. “Its fine, its fine; you drive, i changed my mind” said Tim in the reds. With exposed palms. A smile stretched from ear to ear. Like the Joker.

    Tim walked all the way around the car and sat back in the driver seat. The Audi revved and whirled as it went past the exit gates of the apartment.

    The security guard on the exit gate was wondering why Mr.Tim was behaving as if there was someone on the passenger seat. He looked at the passing Audi from the rear wind shields, there was nobody inside, just Mr.Tim. He noted his observations in the building security register.

    Like

    • Hi Santosh,

      Good story. But I must say that it was apparent right from the beginning that Tim and the other Tim are just two parts of one man. Maybe because you referred to each person as Tim and basically used their dresses are descriptors, the reader immediately understands that either these people are twins, or there is a multiple personality disorder going on. I think if you want the final reveal to be surprising, you should structure the whole story so that the reader has two or three other ways in which you can lead them. Since here there is only one way to go, the final paragraph doesn’t come across as that much of a surprise.

      But having said that, the writing is good. Just needs some work on the structure. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Like

  18. The Strange Truth about Doppelgangers

    “My god, look! That girl looks exactly like you! It’s like I’m seeing your twin!”

    “Really? You think she looks like me?” I tilted my head from side-to-side to try and find the angle from which Roshini thought the girl resembled me.

    “Of course not! She looks nothing like you! Roshini, what rubbish!” This came from Vandana.

    “Of course she does! Look! The same chin structure, the same hair texture, the build.”

    “Please! You don’t get a twin from similar chins and hair textures! Her expression is so stay-away-from-me-or-I’ll-bite-you! Not at all like her!”

    And as they continued to discuss this apparent doppelganger’s facial structure and expressions, I realised that we all see different features in the same person. It’s not like I agree with Vandana’s version of me either. Why it wasn’t two weeks ago that she sent me an email with a link which led to the image of my “exact double”! It was probably that that was making her so vehemently deny any likeness to Roshini’s girl, because those two looked as different as day and night.

    I wonder if I would even be able to recognise my exact double were she to appear in front of me. I think I have a very different version of myself in my head. It’s like that episode in Friends where Ross meets his double, Russ (who is actually a different actor but does an amazing impression of Ross – must watch S02E10!). The two of them don’t spot it at all, while the audience and the other friends see it oh so clearly – they are exactly like each other! Ross just finds Russ irritating and slow.

    So most times when people have pointed out a duplicate of me to me, I have been very disappointed. I look in the mirror and I don’t see the protruding lower jaw that Roshini’s girl had, I don’t see the wafer thin lips that the girl in my sister’s class had, I don’t see the small, beady eyes that Vandana’s girl had. I see Celine Dion! I see a thinner, shorter and browner version of Cindy Crawford! Nobody has ever told me that I look like them though.

    Yes, there was that guy who told me that I looked exactly like Meg Ryan, but I suspect that was said just to get me to marry him.

    Like

    • Hi Lalana! Now you know the question on everybody’s lips is: So? Did you marry him or not? 🙂

      Good point that you make about how we don’t really know what we look like. What we have of ourselves in our mind is as much an image as what other people have. In a slightly related subject, I read a piece recently on how none of us have a conception of our own voices either. We think our voices are much deeper than they really are, because when we speak, the sound reaches us through two sources: one is the air vibration between mouth and ear, and the other is the internal bone vibration. This is why we’re always surprised to hear our own voices from a recording device.

      So maybe something of that inherent bias is present even with looks.

      Like

  19. Bhavesh Jeewani says:

    “The theory of probability states that the likelihood of an event happening is given by the ratio of the number of favourable states for the event to occur to the total number of states. But how do we measure the state purely, without actually disturbing it? There is a finite amount of uncertainty attached to measuring, for instance the position and momentum of a fan simultaneously. In the quantum world, this is called the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

    Consider the concept of electron tunneling, a phenomena in which an electron faces a potential barrier to travel to the other side in a semiconductor. There is a finite probability of finding the electron on the other side of the barrier even if does not have the requisite energy to surmount the barrier. The electron may exist on either side, even simultaneously.

    Schrodinger’s thought experiment sought to establish this very paradox, the fact that the act of measurement is not detached from the outcome, and unless performed, the quantity being observed seems to exist in a continuum of states”, the professor ended the lecture to thunderous applause from his graduate students.

    “Apparitions are like the opening of a box (think Schrodinger) in the mind. We become receptive to an alternate world which was previously incoherent. It is like the awakening of an orthogonal consciousness.

    Time ceases to be – we may not exist temporally – but lie in that ephemeral immeasurable space between reality and the other world. In the quantum world, this is referred to as the superposition of states. Again, we achieve the probability of that one elusive state.

    It happens when we cease to observe and are one with the being. We seek not to measure but experience our existence”, the learned sage ended the sermon to marked admiration from his disciples.

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  20. #3 Living a lie

    The crowd rose for a thundering applause. Devika, couldn’t help grinning from one ear to another. This is it, this was her day. She had finally released her book called “Super moms”, it was an inspirational guide for working mother’s to create that perfect work life balance.

    The amphitheater, where she stood and spoke, felt like home to her, and the scores of adoring crowd, her family. Once she finished giving autographs and answering countless questions, Devika was more exhilarated than exhausted. It was time to go home.

    Devika entered her living room only to find Tia’s toys all over the house, her 5 year old was still running around in school uniform at 10:00 pm. Following her was, James, Devika’s husband and Tojo, their Labrador.

    James saw Devika and stopped, “Finally home, is it? We have been waiting for you to come and give us dinner.”

    “You haven’t eaten yet, didn’t Sharada cook?”

    “Yes, she did. But its egg and we are in mood to eat chicken, aren’t we Tia?”

    Tia, nodded her head in eagerly, “Yummm chickennnn!”

    Devika, dredged herself to the kitchen. As she cooked, James went on with a list of complaints.

    “Tia’s, teacher says, she needs to practice spellings. With this silly feministic book of yours, you seem to have forgotten your daughter. And when will you take her to the dentist, am I supposed to do everything. Don’t I take care of the house, Tia and Tojo when you have to go for these stupid talks…Don’t youvforget are a housewife before being an author.
    Devika, are you even listening to me….atleast acknowledge?!”

    James walked off in exasperation, “I feel like I am talking to the walls….Oh and take Tojo for a walk.”

    Devika was too exhausted to argue, she finished and took Tojo for a walk. She kept thinking about how the whole world could understand her, except for her own husband. It made her miserable that she couldn’t even follow a single tip from her own guide.

    As she walked the empty street, Tojo started barking. Devika felt a sliver of fear when she made out someone standing in a dark corner. As that person, stepped out in the light, she realized it was Devika herself. It was like looking into a mirror.

    The doppelgänger spoke one sentence before disappearing, ”So, how does it feel to live a lie, Supermom?”

    And Devika couldn’t help but break into bitter tears.

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    • Hi Lakshmi. A third entry! 🙂 This cuts down to that uncomfortable truth we all know: people that are closest to us and love us the most sometimes understand us the least. Or maybe we reveal too much of ourselves to them, and they see more of our contradictions than the world does, so they’re quick to spot them when they emerge in daily life. The same thing is true for our loves ones too, I’m sure. We judge them more harshly than we do the world. For instance, I may ‘tolerate’ incessant gossip from a friend of mine, even love him/her for it, but the same trait in my significant other makes me angry.

      That’s just the way it is, I guess. The price we pay for love, at the risk of sounding too dramatic? (What do you expect? I’m a novelist.)

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      • Absolutely Sharath, I wanted this story to bring out the start contradictions in the way we allow the world to perceive us as successful, perfect specimens of mankind, when in reality we are all struggling with our own demons. And Devika sees the doppelgänger as mirror to the lie she lives.

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  21. ‘AN ENCOUNTER’

    A wave of panic sweeps through me. Hand to chest I cried for help. Words stay stuck in my throat.

    “Who’s there?”

    Silence!

    A fresh wave of panic envelopes me. I am floating. I shriek.

    “Hold on!”

    I look up. My eyes bulge and mouth goes dry. I see ‘myself’ floating a few feet above, face down. Beads of perspiration dot my forehead.

    “Wondering who I am?” she asks amused. “I am you.”

    My feet go cold, hands are clammy. “No!” I shriek.

    ‘Me’ laughs an eerie laugh. I shudder.

    “Mom, help!”

    Fresh bout of laughter greets me. I nauseate.

    “Sissy baby,” ‘Me’ jeers.

    “God help!,”

    ‘Me’ laughs a deep- throated laugh. “Ah! Whimpering, whining baby! Shame on you,” she says.

    Something snaps within me. Tears flow.

    “Poor baby,” ‘Me’ taunts. “Look at me. I’m strong and daring not whimpering, weak like you. I drive and dive. The rash driver, the heavy traffic does not scare me.”

    “I know to drive,” I say with a touch of defiance.

    ‘Me’ mocks, “Really?” I cringe. “That’s why you need a driver? Know what’s your problem? You are lazy and weak. You take the easy route. Challenges are not for you.”

    The words sting, each one is true.

    “Who says I don’t take up challenges? See those medals and trophies. They are mine.”

    “You call winning a school or college competition a challenge? Must be joking! Take up a dare. That’s a challenge. But here you shiver even while changing the gas cylinder.”

    My skin burns.

    “Go! Go!” I shout. “Leave me in peace.”

    ‘Me’ laughs.

    I fall with a thud.

    Rubbing eyes wide- open I look around. There’s no one in sight. “Me’ takes over. Picking up the car keys I head straight for the garage.

    Revving up the car I smile.

    Like

    • As someone who has not yet summoned the courage to venture out on a vehicle (whether two-wheeled or four-wheeled), this resonates with me, Geeta. At some point I know I should shed this fear, I know I should get my own vehicle and cut my ties with public transport, but I keep postponing it. Can’t do it forever, though. Have to face my own doppelganger soon 🙂

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  22. Bangalore MG Road police station. Investigation room. Inspector Tamilselvam was questioning. “How are you recovering?” “If not for you I would not have to answer this question. I was discharged yesterday. I had been asked to rest. However, work calls” came the reply. “I understand you know why you are here” “No” “This is regarding the death of MLA Arunachalam” “It should have been me. I feel sorry for him. Very unfortunate. If not for him I would not be here” his eyes were sad. “Yes. Its true” consoled Tamilselvam. “Tell me. Why did you call me?” “Nothing. Just wanted to hear your side of story of the accident” “Have I not said it already. I think it is in papers all week.” “Yes but probably once more for the record.”

    “Ok. As I said, I was in chennai for the weekend and was travelling back to bangalore on this fatal Sunday night. This accident happened on the Hosur highway after Vaniyambadi and more near to Krishnagiri. Probably around Bargur. I think the MLA’s car was distracted by something on the road, crossed the median and started to come at us in full speed from the opposite side.” “It must have been a pretty heavy distraction to cross such a median”. ” Seems so. the driver was totally out of control. I tried to sway away from his path but he kept following me. We rammed into each other. Since he was sitting in the back seat he did not have any seat belt. He was thrown out of the car, probably hit the road. ” “Yes. He had severe head injuries and died from coma two days later” completed Tamilselvam.

    “Who was travelling with you on that particular day?” “I had my kid. She was on the back seat. Lucky for her she was not hurt much. Probably because of the safety bucket seat with the seat belt saved her” his eyes were calm and soothing. “Yes. Looks like the MLA is the only one who is unfortunate on that particular day. Even the driver survived the impact but had a lot of injuries” “Where are you leading with these questions?” he brows curved in concern. “No. Nothing unusual. But when your hyundai i20 rammed into the Innova, it had unlike normal accidents, not a head on. It missed the driver and hit the passenger seat directly.” questioned Tamilselvam “As I told you the driver was totally out of control. he was swaying left and right and not able to break. I failed my dodging and hit him on the side.” “Yes. Yes. I get it. It was a accident. But there are too many such quirks” “Like” “Except the MLA everybody else was wearing a safety belt. The back door of the Innova failing to lock safely.”

    “What are you suggesting?” “Nothing. When did you go to Chennai?” “It was my usual weekend trip. I started on Friday evening and reached chennai by midnight.” moving uneasily in his seat. “Did you have any stops on the way?” ” No. other that usual layovers for tea and snacks” “Where all did you stop?” “On the way to Chennai” “Yes” “Near Hosur for coffee then near Arcot for Dinner. Thats it I think. Well. Aha. Yes we stopped in Vaniyambadi. A loo stop for my daughter” “Thats all.” “I think so”

    “Why are you asking about a day which is not under consideration here? I am confused here” his eyeballs were rolling back edging on anger. “You know exactly how the driver was distracted?” asked Tamilselvan “Not the specifics” “Well. The driver was speeding around 100-120km/hr after turning left near Krishnagiri. To his dismay, just before the accident area, a villager just jumped on to the road with his goat herd without any kind of indication. This allowed driver no option to go on the left. He was forced to cross over the median. and unfortunately for him the brakes failed. Another quirk” filled Tamilselvam. “What are you suggesting? That this was not a accident. That this was all planned” “It may or may not but I had these loose ends. So I was trying to find answers” replied Tamilselvam.

    “Did you know MLA Arunachalam before this accident?” “I knew him by his post but nothing more. He was in news for many reasons” “What is your native?” “I am from” there was a slight pause “Coimbatore” “You know that Arunachalam is also from Coimbatore” “Yes. For that reason, I have around 20 colleagues in my company who are from Coimbatore of which many I do not even know names. Am I being accused here, Inspector?” he raised his voice “Where were you on the Sunday the previous week before the accident?” “I was at Coimbatore. Visiting my parents” “Did you visit any other places or person in Coimbatore? ” “No” “The driver after our questioning/grilling, had accepted that he was part of the scheme. He said he was contacted by a person called Mathivanan known to his Brother In Law, to keep the back door faulty and fake a brake failure. We tried tracing the link of Mathivanan to one of your school mates in Coimbatore”, Tamilselvam started pounding with questions “I think I should have my lawyer here. I studied in a school where every year around 300-400 students pass out.”

    “The Shepherd who crossed the road to cause the distraction. He is from Vaniyambadi. He had travelled to Bargur only for this weekend. On further investigation, we found phone conversations from his mobile number to yours.” Cornered Tamilselvam. Jumping out of his seat, with a loud bang on the table “Yes. I planned and staged this entire accident.” After a pause, settling down from his breakdown “The entire journey had many if’s and but’s. None, matter now. If only my over cautious side had not come out, this whole thing would have been executed smoothly without any doubts. I had planned this for a long time. I made sure I am not linked to any of concerned parties. I even risked my daughters life by making her take her trip. If he had not forced me call the shepeard to make sure the shepherd would do his part right. I had to argue with him that the shepherd would come like promised on our meeting in Vaniyambadi on Friday. He was not convinced. The phone call was the weak link. If not, there would be no proof of this entire show. Even at the last moment, the final moment before the crash, he changed the entire idea for saving the driver. I was all for the direct impact. No he was not convinced. He forced me to hit the car at a angle. However, he had a valid point. It made sure that Arunachalam is killed. Again over cautious. If only Arunachalam, had not murdered our parents. If only he had not spared us. This all would not have happened.”

    Knock, Knock. The was a knock on the door. “Tamilselvam, what are you doing inside? Why have you locked yourself up? I am hearing loud noises outside. Everything is fine right” enquired his colleague Ravindra. “Its all fine Ravindra. Give me a minute alone” said Tamilselvam. “What do you say should we surrender or not?” “We are cornered. Now it is just time before which we would be subject to this kind of questioning. Either we leave it to chance or …..” Tamilselvam opened the door “Ravindra, in the death of MLA Arunachalam, I am the accused. Arrest me”

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    • Ah, this is quite nice, Nitthilan. The final twist actually comes through well for me. I did not expect Tamilselvam to be locked up by himself. I think it was quite clever how you began the piece: ‘Tamilselvam was conducting an investigation.’ It doesn’t say with whom or whether by himself. But it misdirects the reader well. The writing is as usual a little loose, and it would be a better story if cut down to perhaps 70% of its current length. But there is a good story here. You should totally rewrite it.

      Thank you 🙂

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      • Thanks for feedback :). Good the twist cam through well. I think the problem is I just push in at the last minute. I would try to write it twice next time.

        However, I know I am asking more but is there any specific suggestions that would make this more tight 🙂

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      • Writing tightly is a direct consequence, generally, of cutting out the fluff. So as you say, when you go through your first draft and aim to cut down about 20% of what you’ve written, your writing automatically becomes tighter.

        In this specific peace, there is a lot of stuff that you can cut out during the storytelling parts. Just practice writing lean prose, and it makes your stories stronger.

        As a first step, I would suggest you write your entry out in notepad, go over it again, slim it down to the essentials, and then paste it onto the blog. Good luck 🙂

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