UNBELIEVABLE, ISN’T IT?

Submitted into Contest #110 in response to: Start your story with a vehicle pulling over for a hitchhiker.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Thriller Suspense

After having a smashing time at my friend Rohan’s house, which is nearly 23 kilometers from where I live, a slightly heavy and rather drowsy myself staggered towards my car to prepare for the journey ahead. He convinced me to stay for the night, but I was quite adamant on returning to the coziness of my own home.

“And anyway, if I agree to stay, promise me you are going to take all the phone calls from my parents” I said, chuckling, raising an eyebrow. “You know them” I said in a dark and sinister manner. That certainly spooked the wits out of him.

“No thanks, old lad, have a safe journey ahead.”

After exchanging a few more pleasantries, I set off. The road was dark and quiet, while on my either sides were a thick set of trees. The moon was full, and my car’s headlights were bright too…..But it was quite eerie if you think of the darkness on the either side of the road. The idea of being stalked by someone or something, and me not being able to decipher who the person was, was quite creepy.

As, I was having these dark and pessimistic thoughts, I saw someone waving out her hands beckoning me to stop. She seemed to be some hitchhiker judging by her backpack; she was about my age or perhaps older than me, I cannot say. And she was fairly lanky and had an athletic build.

 “Hey, are you heading towards the Hotel Oxygen?”

“Well, it does come in the direction where I am heading to” I replied.

“Could you please give me a lift?”

 Although my knowledge regarding human physiology is quite poor, but sometimes in case of danger or excitement, you find yourself doing things that you do not think of but happens automatically to prevent any damage being afflicted to the fragile human body; such actions, I believe are called reflex actions. In this scenario, for instance, the best option was to have avoided talking to her as she is a stranger in the first place itself. Yet I found myself getting out of the driver’s seat going to the adjacent side and opening the door for her. I am not the kind, who can turn the head of every single girl in the room by one simple monologue and the next thing you see is the fellow being trapped under a bevy of girls. No, I was not that, but I did develop impeccable manners when it came out to aid any one of them, though most of the time it did not serve its purpose. She smiled as she got in, though I am not sure whether it was the gentleman charm doing its trick or it was simply sheer amusement. “Thanks”.

We sped along the deserted road, and frankly I was a little glad to have someone to chat with. I learnt that her name was Tara Biswas. She commented on my Bengali songs collection, telling me most of them were her favourites.

“Are these all your choices?” she asked impressed.

“Not really, it is my sister’s. She has more of an ear for good songs, than I have” I said, simultaneously cursing my honesty.

“Wow, I would very much like to meet her.”

“Ah yes, she is a charming woman to talk to, but quite tricky for someone who is her younger brother.”

“Why is that?”

“Oh nothing” I said, looking at her, “she is a kind genial soul who loves her brother deeply, and addresses him in a tone reserved for rebuking an escaped convict, a tone I reckon, she inherited from our equally cool and patient father.”

She laughed.

“What about you? You also have a sibling?”

She immediately looked at me in askance. “I had one. He died of cancer when he was eleven.”

I instantly regretted it. “I am really sorry” I said looking at her and then the road, and I repeated this a few more times as I apologized frantically.

“Don’t be. You did not even know. Plus, it was a long time ago.”

“I am sorry if I shouldn’t be asking, but what about your parents?”

She smiled again. “Frantic” she said, “not very different from your sister.”

We continued having a few more chats about various topics of conversation.

“You are a Beatles fan?” she laughed seeing my CD’s, “Come on, they were a millennium ago.”

“I am sorry, but many of my friends have made the same remark, but I’m still standing.”

Tara chuckled.

“Elton John? His songs are pretty good too.”

The topic went from songs to movies. And it was not long before I found out, she had a taste for anything that came under the Horror genre.

“No, certainly not” I defiantly replied, on her suggesting to me The Conjuring, “I have a pretty tough time falling asleep and thanks to those unearthly creatures, it will be a heck of a terrifying and long night.” She giggled.

After that, the intensity of conversation ceased between as, owing to both of our tiredness from our respective quests.

“You hike regularly?” I asked curiously.

“Yes sometimes. The last time I went it was a little weird, you know.”

I looked at her. “In what sense?”

She panicked. She began speaking faster.

“I was going up the mountain, moving through the trees, when suddenly in the sky I saw some aircraft. I got towards it and I realized-”

I was not looking at the road at this point of time. My hands were still on the steering wheel but my eyes were fixed upon her. She panicked, breathed heavily and now she was absolutely still. Not unconscious, but still in the same posture she had left her last sentence unfinished.

At this moment, I realized how awfully quiet everything was. Apart from the roar of my engine, there was not a sound.

Then, there was a sound. A soft whooshing, mechanical sound that came from right above my head. I looked up.

I was always fascinated by weird hypothetical, seemingly impossible engineering creations in myths and stories, but I had never imagined I would be seeing one with my very own eyes. It was no airplane, but an extremely large disc with lights around its circumference. At first, I thought it was a giant drone, but I could not see any propellers, or rather, any kind of mechanism that would allow it to stay afloat in the first place. I broke from the trance and looked at Tara.

Tara seemed to be having some kind of fit. She was twisting her head vigorously whilst her body jerked uncontrollably, as if she was having some kind of seizure. I was unable to move and I gasped as I saw Tara’s features change. Her ears became longer and pointy, almost elf like, and her fingers and hands seemed to grow longer and sleeker. She stopped jerking and stared at me. I shook myself and I let go of the steering wheel. I punched her but she dodged it effortlessly. She took out something with a vague resemblance to a syringe and tried to stab me. I caught hold of her arm and tried giving her an elbow. The lissomness with which she moved reminded me of those Shaolin monks I read about who could achieve seemingly inhuman feats. I got distracted as I saw my car hit a barrier and as we tumbled down the trees, I felt a jab on my chest. I closed my eyes and all was quiet.

I woke up with a start. I tried to move my arms, but they were trapped within some metallic bracelet attached to something. I looked where I was and found myself sitting on a chair while my chest was tied up using some strange vest. As I tried to wriggle my hands the material which seemed quite alive flowed towards my elbows and solidified restricting my every attempt to move. I tried to move my legs but to no avail, the material became liquid, flowed downwards towards my legs enveloping it, and solidified again. I looked around the room desperately and I realized, I was not alone. In fact, Tara was a few meters away from me, and was strapped to the chair with the same material, her head was cast downwards and a strange helmet adorned her head. She was not the only one, there were eight others in the same posture sitting and strapped to the chair, minus the helmet or whatever that devil’s contraption was. I noticed in the center of the room was some large cylindrical, caged and glowing object….it was quite big at least three meters in height. At the top was another hemispherical glowing structure, in all giving the image of some giant mushroom. My fellow captives were definitely not from India, two of them were European, and another fellow was from Africa or at least had an African origin judging by his Afro. The five others were quite some distance away, but I guessed one of them was Chinese and the other two were South Asian but I do not know for sure.

As I was still stuck in a Penelope’s web convincing myself that I was dreaming, a small part of the upper wall tore itself to form a hole and two or three humanoids came gliding out in some kind of small hovercraft.

Several such holes appeared until there were eight of my unacquainted captors standing in front of me. They were all the same, with ears slanted and pointy, and they looked quite human to be honest, but every facial feature seemed more slanted and sleek. As I observed them more profoundly, I could think of only one thing. “Elves?”

“Greetings, mortal.”

I looked at the speaker. She or at least I think it was a she, was the same one I encountered in my car, transformed from Tara to whatever the hell she was.

“You!” I said angrily, and tried to lung forward but the fluid again became frenzy with joy as its grip tightened, now tightening its grip on my throat. I gasped for breath. She simply made a gesture as if asking a dog to sit down, and the material automatically receded from my throat.

“Who are you?” I asked angrily, “What the hell do you want from me? And what have you done to all of them?” I asked indicating the other captives.

One of the creatures smiled. “You are different” he said as he circled me, “you looked at our craft and yet you did not fall under its spell.”

“What do you mean?” I demanded.

“Mortals, or humans as you call yourselves,” he continued, making a careless gesture around the room indicating the others, “you pride yourselves on being the most intelligent species of all, and yet you have one of the most fragile yet powerful minds. Most of your kind cannot resist the temptation of the light you saw on our ship and their mind is automatically drawn towards it.”

I stared at him, shocked trying to take in every word. “But you resisted. You broke from the trance and fought back.”

He continued to circle me, observing me keenly. “We come from an ancient race far more advanced than yours, yet thousands of years ago your kind seemed to be much wiser than they are now. We watched them and taught them how to build and live. We could live only in some certain places, that only the one with the strongest willed human mind would be able to pass through. We were gods to them.”

I took this in slowly. The ancient engravings of inexplicable objects, the pyramids, and the ancient rishis who could supposedly move and control other minds. The gods, in each culture, that people thought supposedly watched over them, were the ones right in front of me claiming to be them.

“Bollocks” I sneered. “The gods and those spiritual stuff were hardly true. We may have been illogical and irrational in the past and prepared to think anything impossible as a feat of God” I said savagely, “But I am sorry to disappoint you, my kind is not that daft anymore.”

The chap seemed unimpressed by my retort. The others seemed a little agitated, perhaps by the fact I had shown no respect to that fellow, who seemed to be their leader. “We left your world in a hope it would grow with our knowledge to a prosperous future” he continued, “but humans became power hungry, greedy and blood thirsty. Your kind kills their own without remorse.”

He took out a small object which resembled a watch. I instinctively flinched thinking it to be some torturing equipment.  He fiddled with it rotating the top as if adjusting something and it released a strange gas into the air and I got a glimpse of history through it. Several bloody scenes of ancient battles, the medieval era, World War One and Two, the cold war, the mushroom shaped clouds of fire in Hiroshima and Nagasaki while it was filled with cries of terror, pleading for help as people were burnt to ashes. Several gruesome scenes of extermination of Jews by the Nazis and General Dyer and his men opening fire to thousands of unarmed men, women and children.

The gas receded back into the object, and the elf looked at me. “Were you all……” I asked, still in a shock, “those immortal beings of those mythical cities like Gyanganj and Alfheim?”

He looked relatively surprised. “Yes, you are right about that” he said, a little impressed, “As mankind forgot our teachings and used only those which befit their selfish needs, we went down in myths and stories. We settled in various places and chose only certain individuals of your kind, who were worthy to learn about us and our accomplishments. But now, things are different. In order to replace mankind, we cannot fight them on our own.”

“Why?” I said with sarcasm, “scared of the primitives?”

“No, mortal”. The aura of his voice was enough to rattle my insolence. “You seem to fail to realize our advanced machines can easily wipe out yours. No, but to replace mankind we are creating hybrids who need to be powered by consciousness.”

As he said this, another of those holes opened up and some kind of bed or rather a hovercraft carrying a naked body flew out from the holes and landed in my vicinity. The features were like them, but the body’s physique was more muscular and denser. “You see” he continued, “our world had a weaker gravity, so Earth proves to be quite hostile for us, so we genetically engineered some of us by using human blood. They will not only be able to survive on Earth, but will be far stronger and faster than your ordinary soldiers. They are also able to shapeshift and live in your world as an ordinary person. You have already met one of them.”

He said smiling indicating to one of them who had shapeshifted to Tara. She shapeshifted back to her pointy ear self. “You will be one among us. You will be the future of humanity and you will be led by us.”

There was no point resisting the bonds as it tightened with each movement around my chest. I watched helplessly as they put one of those helmets on my head.

Let us in. We will lead humanity to an incredible future. Machines that will allow you to see worlds from another star, prevent any calamity. We can make you immortal…….imagine living forever to see the universe and never get old…..”

“No, I won’t.”

There is no point resisting, child…. you shall be walking in another body, stronger, faster and sharper……

The voices continued. I began to imagine a strong spherical brick wall. But the voices continued to lure me, telling me to open up……..my walls became weaker and weaker. ‘What would be a world led by a superior power?’ I thought, ‘How different would it be from now than it already is??’ The stress on my head was too much. I felt it was going to explode, but instead I started bleeding. I opened my eyes in pain crying out, as blood dripped from my eyes, nose and ears. I was unable to speak, begging this torment to end, but to no avail.

Outside my mind, the cylindrical machine began to flicker and roar. It sent out a surge of lightning killing two of the elves and the others looked at me in horror. The circuit to transfer my conscience was not complete and hence the machine had become overpowered. The material strapping me to the chair cracked and broke, and I fell and slumped onto the ground, bleeding all over. I felt sick as I saw my own blood. I painfully looked at one of them, now holding some kind of weapon at me.

“I would rather freeze in hell, than becoming one of you.”

 A ray hit me in the chest and I saw flashes before my eyes. The mushroom machine seemed to have its last straw; with a final crackle of energy it exploded. I saw darkness.

I opened my eyes. There was a sudden scream that ruptured my eardrum, and I saw my sister followed by my parents crying rushing to hug me. I learnt that the explosion had crashed the ship in a small village and the ATS had arrived fully armed, fearing an attack. When they found the ruins, the Indian Government had taken over the investigation. Several scientists fully covered in white suits came in, and undoubtedly the question that blew in the wind was: “What happened?”.

I finished my incredible story, and looked at the baffled and dumbfounded faces around me. I laughed weakly as I said “Unbelievable, isn’t it?”

September 06, 2021 12:13

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2 comments

John Hanna
01:22 Sep 17, 2021

I just love a story that struggles with the possibilities of the first contact. I like the mind machine - I'm going to use one in my next story. Thanks, I enjoyed it, keep them coming, please.

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Subhomoy Gupta
11:16 Sep 17, 2021

Thank you very much. It was really nice to hear that, and yes I will try to get more ideas as much as I can.

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