By Sanhita Baruah
This story was an entry in the IIT Guwahati Techniche , Eclat Sci Fi competition
Rubbing my eyes, I woke up today with a laugh, for a change; laughing at my own stupidity of falling asleep with the lights and the music player of my cell-phone on. The song “set the fire” was still playing on my mobile. It didn’t run out of battery these eight hours, strange that.
The first thing I did after regaining senses was to check my pillow for wetness, just like the previous morning and the day before. No, it wasn’t wet with my tears this time. May be I didn’t cry as much as I thought I did.
My familiar room looked like it always did: clothes dumped on the table, a few books on the bed, wires of the laptop and mobile chargers intertwined lying on the fall. But something was different today. It all looked a bit too perfect; as if someone deliberately kept them the way they are, emulating carelessness carefully.
I shove the weird thought off my mind and headed for the bathroom attached to my room. Appalled I was when I opened the door: there was no bathroom, no tiles, nothing but a plain metal sheath, the size of the door. I pushed the sheath like a curtain in a futile attempt to move it. And then it dawned on me that it was not just a sheath, it was like a wall made of metal; nor was it the size of the door, it was spread in a much larger area. I turned around to look at the windows of the room; I ran and opened the other door which usually leads to the passageway of the hostel I live in. But the windows and both the doors were saying the same story – the room was contained inside something that was made of metal. I wondered how I could be breathing inside what seemed like a metal cube. I wondered how my room got inside something like this. Nonplussed I shouted for help, only to realize there was no opening, no vents for anyone to help me out. I scanned the walls for any sign of opening. How could I be breathing? I reached for my cell-phone , that was still playing the song, on my bed to call my friends for help. The bed, it’s a little too perfectly dirty. I picked up the phone only to find it has no network. A second look on the phone made me realize it looked brand new – its buttons did not lose the colors like they should have – but the scratches, they were perfect, as if someone perfectly scratching the screen with a nail to emulate the ones on my real cell phone. Although my cell’s wallpaper and theme was same as I had it, but there were no call logs, text messages; and the music folder, it had only the one song I played to sleep the other night. Frustrated I threw it the phone on the bed as I realized it’s all fake – the room, the bed, the phone – nothing was mine , everything was imitated to represent things I own but they were not.
I searched every corner of the room for anything resembling an opening but in vain until I saw a pile of dust at one of the corners of the floor. There wasn’t any dust bunnies in my room yesterday, I had the room mopped. I immediately removed the dust with my bare hands to see what lied underneath. A tiny oval shaped object that looked like a small bulb. I looked closer to find that it could be anything but a bulb as it had a small slit from where cool breeze was coming out. Oxygen! I looked closer to the object examining it and trying to pull it out. Out of a sudden a hand came out from the slit, like a phoenix rising from its ashes and before I could run that hairy hand grabbed mine. I opened my mouth to scream but suddenly a tiny eye ball, blacker than anything black I ever saw, appeared inside the bulb. I passed out.
“She’s gonna wake up now,” a squeaky voice was stating near me, “three..two..one”
I opened my eyes at once after hearing the word “one” only to see two tiny creatures I couldn’t identify with any animal I ever saw. They were two hairy animals and tall enough to just reach my knee when I stand. One was stouter, and both seemed to be made of bones at the first sight. I later realized it’s their skin that is calciferous. With two large black eye balls, one tiny slit for a nose, and hairs all over their faces and bodies, they smiled at me with lips as wide as that of a frog’s.
“a nightmare, isn’t it?” I regained my senses and tried to stand. Too weak, can’t stand. “Take rest,” the stouter creature said on something that resembled a microphone. The leaner one tried to caress my hair; I shoved his ugly hand away.
“I am Mec-si and she is Gut-za”, the stouter one explained. It’s a she? How ugly! “We lost our way while traversing around the Milky Way, as you earthlings call it.”
Are they kidding me? “What are you? And where am I? I demand you take me back to my place or I call the cops”. They exchanged giggles and after realizing what I uttered I felt stupid. When I have a fake cell-phone in place of my real one, where there is not a single outlet for me to escape, how can I ever call anyone for help?
“You are on earth’s moon,” Gut-za said with a voice that didn’t seem womanish at all. And what the hell am I doing here? “Listen, whatever you are, wherever I am, I wanna go back. Period,” I claimed.
Gut-za again tried to fondle my head. This time I didn’t resist. To my surprise I found the caressing soothing. For a second I had forgotten I was kidnapped.
Gut-za spoke “Why were you crying last night my dear?”
I replied without hesitation, “You know, relationship blues.”
“It’s difficult, isn’t it? Being alone in this mean world, losing the one you love, imperfections.” Gut-za said as if she had the words memorized. Too bad, I didn’t notice it then.
“Yes, it so is. I never thought such a thing would happen to me. Nothing anyone says makes me smile. It’s been two weeks that I am weeping every night.”
“Two weeks?” Both Gut-za and Mec-si enunciated in unison. There was a sound of despair in their voices, I knew not why.
“Yes. I never thought he would leave me.” I continued as if in a trance. “Life was perfect, it always was. For three years we were together. We had dreams, too many of them. We had plans for the future. We were happy – the perfect couple. People would envy our love. Our love was flawless, and it was true. But then…” A teardrop trickled down my right cheek. “But he had to leave; without notice, without giving me the slightest hint. He just came one day and announced that he was no longer interested in me. He told he found someone new, someone better than me.” This time I was crying my eyes out.”As if I was nothing but a plaything. As if I had no feelings. No emotions.”
“Oh, you have emotions.” Mec-si said sounding contented.
It was then that I realized they were collecting my teardrops in a vial. “What the heck are you doing?”
“Calm down. It doesn’t hurt. Does it? Your tears are precious, so we are preserving them.” Gut-za said with a serene smile.
I agreed as if hypnotized by her large black eyes. I proceeded, “So there was I, weaving dreams about the future, introducing my parents to him and there was he, for whom I did not matter at all. It wasn’t that he was unaware that I was totally in love with him. He knew it very well. But still he had to go, leaving me like the old worn clothes one throws out for charity.” I wept more and more and they kept filling innumerous vials. “The day he left he said I was nothing but pathetic. Yet I waited. I waited thinking that he would come back to me. But he did not.”I kept on crying and blabbering. “All that I got was photos of him and his new girlfriend. I tried to move on with my life but I could not. I even tried to kill myself, but no I could not do that either.” My tears were drying out now as if my eyes were tired of weeping. “I thought true love happens only once. And I always thought his love was true. It’s heart-rending to realize it never was.”
I could go on and on with this topic like I would with my room-mate. But I felt weak, as if drained out of energy. I wanna get some sleep. I am sleepy. I passed out.
I woke up to the sound of a roaring engine. A smile was drawn on my lips when I realized I just had the weirdest dream ever. I stood up on the cold floor where I had fallen asleep.
“Good. You woke up just in time. We were just leaving.” I heard the familiar squeaky voice of Mec-si.
I looked around to realize that the nightmare wasn’t yet over. Phew! “How long was I asleep for?”
“Not much. Just six months.” Mec-si replied.
“Whaaaaaat?? What nonsense are you speaking?” I disbelieved him.
Gut-za appeared behind me, “I am sorry, my dear, but it’s true. With respect to earth’s time, you have been here for eight months. This time you fainted for six months because it took us six months to make our fuel working. The last time you blacked out for a month. It took us a month to capture your brain waves and load our translator with the language you speak.” She showed me the object I had confused with a microphone. “And the time before that, when you woke up for the first time here, you had been asleep for one month. This was because it took us a month to extract your teardrops from your pillow and bedcover. We tried to retrieve the tears of the previous nights too and so it took us a lot of time to extract the crystals of your tears and dilute them with drops of your tears.”
“Eight months? Is this a joke? And why on earth are you guys after my tears? Now that reminds me to ask you again are we on earth or are we still on the moon? Who are you? Or rather what are you?” I shouted at them at the top of my voice.
Gut-za spoke with a serene but troubled voice. “Calm down. Things that have happened, you cannot turn them back. Although I am sorry for what position you are in now, we needed you to get back to our home.”
“What do you mean? What position am I in now? I want to go my home too.”
“I am afraid you cannot. You can come with us to our Universe if you wish.” Gut-za replied with a ray of hope in her voice.
“No, Thank you. … Wait a second; did you say “Universe”?”
“Yes I did. I believe you know it by now that we are not from your planet. We are not from this galaxy or this Universe either. We are from a neighboring Universe to yours. For an adventurous trip we decided to visit your Universe. Our people have visited other Universes but not this one. As you can see our Universe is surrounded by 12 different Universes.”
I am gonna be mad. “In your adventurous trip how did I intervene? Why am I kept as a captive?” I sounded tired rather than angry.
“While wandering around your galaxy we realized we came too far. As we reached your solar system it occurred to us that we do not have enough fuel to return to our home. We found signs of life only on Earth in your solar system. As we landed, fortunately we landed near your hostel. Now when everyone was asleep you were weeping all over your pillow. So we waited till you fell asleep then we took you with us to the moon of your planet.”
“So my crime was that I was crying? And instead of searching for fuel you chose to pick crying girls?” I needed an explanation. “Wait a second, does your fuel means human sacrifice? Are you going to kill me?” I dreaded.
“No, no, no. We do not kill any living beings. That is sinful. But yes, sooner or later you are gonna die here but we do not consider ourselves responsible for that.” Gut-za continued while Mec-si kept working on something in one corner of the room that made roaring sounds.”You see, tears and emotions, they possess tremendous energy. In Earth’s unit system it will be around 10GWh for one mL of emotional tears while for fake tears or what you people call crocodile tears it’s as low as 0.5Wh for one litre of tears. So no matter how much we cry for our fuel’sake, sufficient amount of energy won’t be generated. We needed genuine tears. When we saw you crying, we at once realized you were an emotional person and thus, you possess a lot of energy. We needed that energy to convert into fuel and use for propulsion of our ship. We designed a room for you here just like your real room, so that you do not feel uncomfortable crying here.”
It all made sense now but I had more questions. “But why did you have to bring me to moon to get my tears. Couldn’t you just make me cry in my room and take the tears?”
“Due to Earth’s large gravity it is very difficult to extract the energy of emotions. It is easier and preferable in places with less gravitational force of attraction like your moon. Moreover if we keep you locked in your room for six months people would have noticed and we might have been captured by them.”
“Okay now that you have enough emotions and tears, am I allowed to go home? Will you drop me back to my hostel just like you picked me up.’’
“I am afraid we can’t. We do not want to waste our fuel in doing unnecessary travels, we never know when we may run out and we might not be lucky enough to get living beings nearby. Moreover we kept a dead clone of you on your bed so people around you know you are dead. If we bring you back alive there it will disturb the natural laws of life and death.”
I was out of words and I wanted to burst out in tears. But not a single drop of tear came out. I felt weak.
“We apologize for the inconvenience caused. To make it up to you we have built you this house that looks just like your hostel room. It has plenty of oxygen that will run for six more days. I am afraid we could not manage any more food for you except for a night’s meal. But your energy is drained out already; you don’t have any tears left, so chances are you will not survive more than two days. I suggest you enjoy your last two days in the moon. Assume the whole moon is yours. “
The heartless creatures smiled and diminished in size to enter the slit in the corner from where they had come out. I heard a deafening roar and presumed they were gone. I lied on the bed, too weak to stand anymore, dejected but I could not cry, hungry but I could not walk to the table where my meal was kept on. With thoughts of my happy moments spent with him, I closed my eyes and awaited my death.
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