Welcome Back

Note: The story is in both English and Hindi. The version with the Hindi parts will be presented after the original, and even if you can’t read Hindi, I recommend you go through the stuff you can read in the original text at first. Try to understand what you can from the English parts, before letting yourself get the full picture.

So, here’s Welcome Back, a brief bilingual scifi story about making soup for someone you love but haven’t seen for a long time. 775 words for the bilingual version.


Oh, hello! It’s been some time since we met. It’s so cold, come in! So gray outside. ज़हरीली हवा, ज़हरीला आसमान। It’s been some time since we met. जब यहा के आसमान की मौत होनी शुरू हूई थी, तो तूं पहली फुरसत पे निकला। ये समझदारी स काम था, वैसे, लेकिन तुमने मुझे बताया भी नही जाने से पहले। तुमने मुझे इस मरते ग्रह पर ऐसे ही छोर दिया लेकिन कोई बात नही, कोई बात नही। मैं किस काम का हूं? जाने से पहले तुमहे अपना खून तो दे सकता था, लेकिन वो भी नही क पाया… मैं किसी काम का नही और तुम मेरे बिना उस रॉकेट पे गए, यही सही था। Ah, but the past is in the past. Now we’re in the present and we can catch up. Finally I can make the meals I planned to make for you so long ago.

So… welcome to the new world. And welcome back to Earth. I guess everything has changed with the latest catastrophe in the world, but you’re still lovely. It’s been so long, yet you’re still so lovely! Do you want some soup, by the way? Sit down, sit down, you must be tired, I can bet you still work hard as hell 24/7 without taking enough breaks. Yes, yes I’m making you some soup.

हवा के सड़ने के बाद और तुमहारे जाने के बाद, यहा के पेड़ भी जरा अजीब लगने लगे… बिलकुल हड्डी जैसे। बिल्कुल सफेद, बिल्कुल मुर्दा। Hand me the knife? पेड़ों के फल अजीब हो गए। उनके हुआ क्या पता नहीं लेकिन कुछ तो गरबर, कुछ तो गरबर… उनको खाकी मैं जरा कमज़ोर हो गया हूं… लेकिन हवा की वजह से मेरी हड्डीया उभरने लगी हैं। क्या मतलब? नई हड्डीया। काट भी लूं तो नए वाले उगेंगे। देख, मैं अभी कटोरी मे छाति से रिबकेज काट के डाल रहा हूं। घबरा मत, देख। नई हड्डीया बन गई।

त्वचा हैं भी क्या, वैसे? बैग या डिब्बा जिसमे हम खून और खाना और हड्डीया रख देते हैं। और अब मेरे पास त्वचा हैं भी नही! So lovely and polite you are, you pretended not to notice that. बस हड्डी। अगर तुम ज़्यादा देर रहे तो तुम भी पूरि तरह से हड्डी ही जाओगे। तो जल्दी-जल्दी बाहर निकालना, ठीक? जल्द से अपने रॉकेट पर वापस जा। जल्द ही, क्योंक सिर्फ तुमहारी सेहत मायने रखती हैं।

कटोरे में हड्डी देख, बिल्कुल ठीक। बोन मैरो का स्वाद बड़ा अच्छा होता है। वैसे मेरे हड्डियों में कोई जान नहीं, लेकिन बेजान हड्डियों का भी अलग ही स्वाद है।

It’s really sad you’ll have to go so soon. But at least you’ll get to taste this soup. मैं अपनी हड्डी खुद भी खा सकता था, कई साल पहले, लेकिन तुमहारे लीए ही बचा के रखी, क्योंकि तुमसे और प्यार कोई नहीं। I love you. वैसे अगर तुम नही भी आते तब भी मैं हड्डी बचा के रखता… उस समय खून नही दे पाया तो अब मैं तुझे पूरा शरीर दे दूंगा। My heart is forever yours. खून तो हैं नही लेकिन दिल धड़कते जा रहा है।

The soup is almost done now. I guess if I hated someone I’d poison the meal at this point, but hah. You’d joke about poisoned meals sometimes, strange sense of humour you had. I used to hate those jokes because they scared me, but then I started to miss your humour. So I learned to make those jokes myself, to remind me of you. They’re strange but they’re so you, and I still really really love you. I don’t know how you still love me, though, inadequate as I am. Inadequate as I always have been… of course it took you so long to come back.

This really would be the perfect time to poison the soup, since it’s in that perfect state where its flavour isn’t too sensitive to any new ingredients, but it’s not cooled enough to prevent the poison from dissolving nicely. And I’m telling you all this because this knowledge might be helpful when you leave Earth again. And I know you wouldn’t poison the meal if you made it for me, but if you did I’d deserve it. और ये भी याद रखना: दिल और खून और हड्डियों को सूप में डालने से पहले बड़ी सावधानी से साफ करना होता है। सब कुछ बिल्कुल सुध रहे। मैंने यहा भी अच्छे से साफ किया, तो बिलकुल भी चिंता मत करो, मैने इस खाने मे सब कुच डाला हैं। तुम फिरसे जाओगे, ये तो पता। तो उससे पहले मैं अपना सब कुछ तेरे हवाले कर देता हूँ, क्योंकि मेरा प्यार तो ऐसा ही है और मैं और कुछ नहीं कर सकता। Enjoy the soup.


Full English version. 775 words.

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loaf (pt. 7)

part 7 of loaf, a serialized fantasy scifi story. 502 words.

Index


The ichor congeals as I follow its trail. It still shimmers a bit, but… well… it looks more and more similar to human blood. 

The trail is also growing thicker the more I follow it and it leads me to a very injured god. The source of the ichor is a patch of their skin which looks like a bunch of stone. It looks like some type of boulder was taken out of it. Maybe the attackers carried this boulder away?

Their torso is hollowed out with a harp in it, a flute stuck to what remains of their skull, two eyes as big as my head, and four arms. One pair near the flute, the other near the harp. This particular god, they’re part of the Arc. It’s, well, it’s an arc of dirt and rock and it’s got a bunch of different gods fused into it. Some on the inside, some on the outside. They can grow sprouts of eyes and ears to see and hear around different parts of the Arc, just like any god. The gods of the Arc are… they consider themselves even godlier than any other gods. So they’re even more insufferable.

Some of the other deities are asleep, and with some you can’t tell, since their faces… they’re not quite faces.

The gods of the Arc aren’t a chatty group, but they could definitely be communicating to others through their sprouts. They have no respect for humans, so even if the attackers were human, I doubt they’d be communicating to any human authorities to get them to track said attackers down. Which is one explanation for why I can’t see anyone else here. Besides the fact that maybe someone else followed the attackers already and apprehended them (in which case, thank goodness).

I ready my harp as I approach. “Hello,” I sing and play.

“Hello. Call me Fifth-God-Of-Left-Side-Of-The-Arc-Whose-Head-Used-To-Be-Coloured-Half-Periwinkle.”

I notice some of the strings on this god’s harp have been snapped, so they’re vibrating the air directly to say some of the syllables.

“A respectful hello, Fifth-God-Of-Left-Side-Of-The-Arc-Whose-Head-Used-To-Be-Coloured-Half-Periwinkle,” I greet them, nicknaming them Periwinkle in my head. Not that I’d say that to their face.

Periwinkle turns one eye towards me, and the other swivels around, surveying the whole area. The landscape, the other sleeping gods. “You’re here because of the–” That long word I’m translating as “witches” pops up again.

“I saw the trail of ichor.”

Periwinkle laughs. “Of course you did. Too hard not to notice, isn’t it?”

“And that was your blood?”

More vibrations of the air, reverberations of the laughter. “Go away. Go after the ichor-spillers if you want. Even if you don’t…” More laughter, and some mutterings of overly complicated words which require the flute, the harp, the air itself, and maybe some rocks. “You’ll find out eventually either way.”

More rocks! It’s not just percussion-grammar, I think, since they’re definitely trying to get the rocks to hit me.

“I’ll be on my way, then,” I say, as politely as possible.

WordPress daily prompt: Write about your first name

So this is the first time I’m actually answering one of WordPress’s daily prompts, since it actually interested me. And since it’s an answer to a prompt, it’ll be a bit different from my usual posts.

Anyway, here’s the prompt:

Write about your first name: its meaning, significance, etymology, etc.

I’m Chandra, and I named myself both after the moon and also after the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Before I realised I’m trans, I tried the pen name Chandini, which made it pretty easy to find a new name that fit. A name that I can Sometimes my friends send me news about discoveries made by the Chandra space telescope and they’re like, “you’re in the news for finding a cool new nebula!”

I’m a transgender man, but the people who gave me my deadname do not know this. My brother knows, as do three other people offline (debatably four, but sometimes knowledge is an odd thing & sometimes people block it out when you tell them), and of course plenty of internet strangers also know. The internet makes it pretty easy to lead a strange type of double life, and while it is filled with assholes, there have also been some strangers who have been kinder and more understanding than my actual family. You may think it’s sad, I just laugh at it (partly because it is sad, but I prefer laughing over crying), they have no clue, not a single clue! They probably won’t know anything till my late 20s, early 30s, and that’s 8-10 years minimum of them not knowing. Isn’t that kind of funny? “How long can you pull it off before you fuck up? How do you plan to live like that?” (if I fuck up, that’s on me, and at least ) “‘Double life’ is a somewhat dramatic thing to call it. Do you really need to be dramatic about it? Do you really need to be so extra?” (the answer is yes, by the way. being a little melodramatic about the most practical course of action is fun.) “Why can’t you just magically be cis and be a girlboss woman in STEM who’s also super multi-talented and hot etc etc, you’d be great at that!” (God, I wish! I’ll certainly be playing the role of a multi-talented girlboss cis woman in STEM, there’s that.) “[insert empathetic statements which are certainly kind but honestly you should be directing that kindness towards someone who deserves it]. And how are you going to juggle all of this, isn’t it going to be stressful?” (absolutely, yes! But this is my only good plan, since it balances the goal of reducing closet suffocation with the goals of reducing familial disappointment & fulfilling familial obligations. And stress is just creative fuel! I will say this even if my stress comes from literally being on fire, even I am the fuel for a fire I will say, “it’s fine! It’s creative fuel!” I will say this even if I’m actually dying!)

My birth name / deadname is not my real name, let’s be very clear about that. It’s an alias, a spy name, the name of the character I’m playing. Could it be seen as a ‘betrayal’ for me to not appreciate this ‘gift’ I’ve been given? The people who care about me say no. Many of you may say yes. And logically, I’d say that it probably (probably! maybe! perhaps!) isn’t betrayal. But even if it is, it is a necessary betrayal. I prefer to not asphyxiate, apologies for that, I have sinned and will be guilty forever, etc etc etc.

So basically, logic-brain said, “probably not betrayal but here’s a justification”, but emotion-brain decided, “Be guilty! Feel guilty for existing in the ‘wrong’ way, feel guilty for Being Yourself and Existing As You Are, you are guilty of being inherently defective!”

Thankfully, I know that emotion-brain is oftentimes a dumbass.

I will continue to smile about my friends sending me anything even vaguely moon-related, I will continue to laugh at jokes about me literally being the moon in the sky. Sure, the guilt has seeped into my bone marrow, and sure it’s mostly irrational (except also I keep wondering how much of it really might be legit), but it can be tossed out into the dustbin if it’s going to get in my way. I have my priorities straight so yes, there are little brain worms and buzzing beehives in my skull, but there’s also goodness. Compassion. People who understand. There is creativity. There is the power to make things and channel the, “well, I’m fucked!” into something of value. There are many little things in life that we can find joy in. I chant this fact in my head all the time, especially when I’m depressed. It pulls me away from the spiral of, “all is doomed, pure doom is a pure fact, good does not exist, the world is hollow and empty etc etc” (stop the spiral as soon as it stops to avoid dying from it).

Little joys include, say, cats. Pretty scarves. Good tea. Friends’ laughter. And also my name! I chose it, I like it, it’s a little source of joy, and this must be acknowledged in a world that punches you in the throat a lot.

I’m Feeling Blue. NEON Blue.

An older story from June 2021. 730 words.


Lately I’ve been grieving and lately I’ve been fuming… lately I’ve been sorrowful and lately I’ve been mad… lately I’ve been buried and lately I’ve been cremated.

Something very bad happened and yet it also didn’t. Or maybe it happened and it wasn’t quite that bad. Maybe it (a senseless thing but I wish it made sense), maybe it happened for the best of reasons against the worst of sinners, and that’s why said sinner is turning into a neon light now.

I’m trapped. I think I’m in an elevator, a creaky old thing (antique, to be kind) with doors like prison bars. It hasn’t seen maintenance in who knows how long, and it’s a REALLY long elevator. Narrow and long. Tube. Wasn’t that way before, it must be my fault it’s closing in on me all of a sudden.

Sometimes you look at yourself and think about other people and why they see you the way they do and realise it’s because you’re a freak (quirky, to be kind). Sometimes it really hits you how much of a freak you are. It’s especially worse when your clothes and hair have turned into molten metal and snaked through the rusted bars of the elevator to make sure it stays there. Doesn’t move. I wonder if anyone can see me.

It’s starting from my cheeks. Flashing cheeks and flashing memory of how they’d call me precious for five seconds/infinities before gaslighting me, and I guess the ‘gas’ in gaslighting is rareified neon.

My lips become part of the chemistry killing cold cathode discharge light that isn’t supposed to work like this as well. Then my mouth turns neon too, very quickly. And that’s fine. I wasn’t planning to scream anyway.

They use tubes for neon signs. I don’t know why I’m a neon sign. What do I say? Nothing, because my mouth is fake now, my mouth’s now just a shape someone may or may not imagine, on a place where you wouldn’t even expect a mouth, because you’re looking at a neon light (a monstrosity, to be unkind), because you’re looking at someone who’s not quite human enough to talk (a sad child, to be kind (a freak, to be unkind (a robot, to be… who knows.))).

After that, it started spreading so fast. Neck, elbow, suddenly it’s all I am.

I’m a comically large neon sign. A sign that warns again… they won’t let me know, will they?

I grieve my life, now that I’m a neon light. I start feeling angry because this isn’t just, and maybe I didn’t deserve it, but maybe I did, but perhaps I didn’t, but perhaps– well, I’m a neon light. What’s the point in arguing what I am and am not? I don’t deserve to be a neon light. Did I deserve to be a person, if I was one? If I am one? Can you be a neon light and also a person? Can you breathe as a neon light?

I don’t have lungs anymore. I don’t need them. My internal organs are turning into neon lights slowly, the gas-discharge in a cathode tube becoming purer, purer, less of the organic, see, and more of the bright blinding neon blue. I almost felt angry, when I got on that elevator! I think that’s why I’m neon blue now. Grief and vengeance (didn’t take it out on anyone but the… the elevator? What did the elevator do? Does it feel pain?), sad and mad, sorrow and madness.

My brain’s the last to go. Of course. I’m conscious but not for long. I’m neon blue. I’m a neon light. I’m a neon sign, warning against the ‘sin’ of being angry at bad things that happen which I’ve now forgotten because they’ve been consumed by the neon blue light and my thoughts are getting consumed by the neon blue light and slowly it, slowly the neon blue light is spreading through every tiny part of my brain, and neon light will soon become my consciousness and conscience and consciousness and it’s consuming me, the neon blue light, the sad and mad and neon blue, and neon blue turns into anything and everything that’s neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue, neon blue,

Quick update of my schedule

Hello! loaf will now sometimes be posted on Wednesdays rather than Monday. I’ll shift between those two days depending on what is convenient during a given week, so whenever I don’t post a new part on Monday (typically 12:30 AM UTC+5:30), expect to see the new part on Wednesday instead. Unless I’ve specifically said there won’t be a new part.

Also, as a sidenote: I have a bunch of exams going on (which… writing helps cope with the stress of it all, honestly, as long as I manage my time properly), but that hassle will be mostly done with by April. Not completely over till July or so, but I’ll still be left with way more time than now. So hopefully I’ll get to make some art after that time! (More music too, but I’d be making that regardless since it’s as important as getting sunlight). I have some plans to make fanart, and a couple bits of art for some of my short stories, and a bunch of art to go along with my music… many, many plans.

loaf (pt. 6)

part 6 of loaf, a serialized fantasy scifi story. 940 words.

Index


You know one thing about the gods’ blood? It’s gorgeous. It’s beautiful.

Depending on what type of sprout you’re looking at (human-esque organ, or plant life, or a building), the colour of the ichor can be anything from a deep maroon to gold to a burnt bread colour. No matter what, it’s always iridescent. Mesmerizing it is to move around and see the multicolour sheen upon the top layer shift and change as you change the angle from which you look at it. Mesmerizing to think of the blood’s power as well, but also terrifying.

A couple drops swallowed by accident because you didn’t realise the fruit on the ground was from a god’s sprout is one thing, at most you’ll get a bit high. But harvesting more than that… well, there have been some crackpot theories about how regular humans might get the gods’ power through their blood. Consuming it, or using it as some type of fuel. None of these theories have borne anything useful, though. Just gotten people killed.

And why am I thinking about all this?

“I don’t know how, but I feel a bit dizzy.” The oven said this right before I went outside, thinking I’d ask someone to help out with the oven’s dizziness.

That is when I saw a trail of ichor right in front of my house. Its colour is a mustard yellow. Much more muted than the gold of regular plant life or of a creature like Loaf.

The blood of the gods’ main body (the ‘centre of growth’ from which they originate) is a different hue than their various sprouts. This mustard yellow? Main body blood. A god was hurt, directly hurt.

The trail. I should definitely follow it and I should definitely find out what is happening. I should.

I really don’t want to, though. I don’t want to find out what’s happening with the gods now, and why this blood looks so fresh, and who spilt it, and I do have some theories about what happened (those ‘magic people’, those ‘witches’…), but do I want to confirm them? Right now, when I’m just very, very tired and nothing else?

Yes, yes, “Lavan, if you’re tired, how come you were planning to ask someone to help with the oven’s dizziness?”, that is a fair point. But it’s different when I know there will probably be some type of conflict and that I’m just… the dialects of the gods at the borders of the districts are different from the gods in the inner regions. Etiquette, too. I’m more familiar with the gods at the borders and, more importantly, I actually understand how to resolve conflict when it comes to them.

What if I go out to investigate this ichor trail now and I just worsen whatever brand-new conflict has started? I think the witches could be real, even if Camellia is suspicious about them. I think maybe they did some innovation with the regular everyday magic everyone uses and just weaponised it, something like that, and…

Oh no. While I was having this stupid internal debate, Loaf slipped out the open door and she is licking the ichor

“No no nonono!” I pick her up and run back inside.

Slam the door with her in one arm, and lock it, and run as if I’m trying to escape the ichor– as if that would help! Check Loaf for signs of ichor poisoning, you fool!

I clean the ichor off her paws, since she stepped in it, and I clean it off of all of her fur so she doesn’t lick in any more of it or anything and she seems calm, perhaps a little bemused at the way I ran inside (I hope I’m imagining that, though!) but normal, but that is not a sure sign of her not being poisoned and I need to get her to Epiprocta as quickly as possible and–

“Lavan?” the oven says.

“Yes?”

“You seemed worried. For no reason.”

There is a good reason–”


“Not really. Loaf is alright.” It puts a smile into the air. “And actually, so am I!”

That tone it had just now was suspiciously cheerful. “What do you mean by that?”

“I think the ichor helped. I think it’s good for us. Both for me and the loaf.”

…okay, this definitely means… many, many things. Something should be clicking in my head right about now (but did I mention I’m tired), but there’s too many different things clicking and…

The oven is humming in happiness. I take what feels like many centuries (probably just seconds) to stare out into the emptiness.

Okay. Loaf seems perfectly normal. But I still don’t understand the connection between the cat and the oven (the connection of food and energy, that is), and acting normal doesn’t mean she isn’t poisoned, how much can the oven detect about her health anyway?

Okay, okay. I’m just going to drop Loaf off at Epiprocta’s so she can make sure she’s okay. But I need to investigate the ichor trail. I don’t know much about the effects that occur from a god drinking ichor… and if Loaf and the oven’s digestive tracts(?) are connected, then the effect of drinking the ichor– how did anyone even manage to spill THAT much ichor, actually? How did someone manage to damage a god that badly? Because even with the sprouts, they heal their wounds so very quickly and the gods’ main bodies are even more durable (and I’m pretty sure the mustard) something is happening, I need to figure it out. 

Mini-harp and kitten in hand, I head on out.


Hi, this week’s update was 2 days late already, otherwise I would’ve had a new snippet of the Chamkra gods’ language to show alongside it. No worries though, there will almost certainly be one next week.

I had actually planned for this week’s part to be shorter than this, but clearly that wasn’t possible in this case. Most likely will be shorter in the next few weeks though, for the sake of the story and the accompanying conlang. I don’t want to rush anything out, but I also want to be regular with the posting schedule. Maintain a balance between those, as well as between the story & the accompanying worldbuilding stuff (especially because the Chamkra gods’ language is going to become more plot-relevant later!!).

Thanks for reading!

Random Thoughts Tuesday: What Even Is Anything At All???? Oh No

Hi. Hello. Tuesday. It’s a day of the week. It comes from “Tiw’s day”, and a Norse god who was also associated with Mars because war and stuff. Some people fast (or at least don’t eat non-veg) on Tuesday because Hanuman. It’s a day. It’s super duper a day which exists.

There was also Twosday. Do any of you make conlangs? What’s ‘two’ in your conlangs? I should probably figure it out in the Chamkra gods’ language (it would be pretty easy to make a root word and then just go on ahead with showing all the sentences that can be made with that single word [the language is polysynthetic; someone on Tumblr called it, “Solresol but it sounds better” on this video, and it’s–[1] going to be relegated to a footnote for now])

Music. I had a weird dream. A bunch of people singing. I’m not superstitious and I don’t believe in ghosts or anything of the like (god I only believe in when I’m particularly pissed off and want to bitch at a higher power and frankly if god is real I don’t think he/she/they/it would care too badly about someone being a little bitchy so I should be fine[2]), but it was like people who are long dead, or about to be dead, or as ill as I am[3], they were singing to me because they had song ideas and wanted me to make something from them. Or they wanted to be friends. You can be friends even if one of you is dead, just read a book, people have been doing that since before the term ‘parasocial relationship’ was coined. 

Music. I’ve been trying to start singing again. Did it when I was a little kid, haven’t for many years since “piano is all I need”, but singing is nice. Exams are on so I haven’t had enough time to continue figuring out music production stuff but that is also quite nice. Maybe someday I’ll dance too. Dancing and rhythm are closely connected and some cultures appreciate this while many don’t.

If you get dizzy from spinning around you should immediately start walking in a straight line so the fluids that control your balance can re-adjust. It helps, I would know. But why would you be spinning in the first place?

Dance? A brief attempt to make the world make sense by doing the equivalent of shaking it around till it works (except here you’re shaking the apparatus through which you view & experience the world, so maybe in this analogy the world is a scene you see on TV and the body is the TV except it’s one of those older boxy-looking ones so you can slam it like a drum and practice your rhythm and it’s all about rhythm your heartbeat is a rhythm[4]), so basically you’re very gently descending into a wobbly view of the world (i.e. madness) and then coming out of it slowly, to see if it makes a difference. If it resets anything. If maybe things start to make sense after the reset.

This was the text/writing version of spinning around till I’m dizzy. “But why would you be spinning in the first place?” has so many potential answers, all worth their own ~900 word (maybe longer) essays.

If you get dizzy from spinning around you should immediately start walking in a straight line so the fluids that control your balance can re-adjust. It helps, I would know. But why would you be spinning in the first place? So many potential answers. Have a nice day.


[1] In Solresol’s defense, the guy who made it never even published it in his own life. Plus it wasn’t meant to be purely musical, it was supposed to be useable with colours and stuff as well. It also had the limitation of 7 notes, while the Chamkra gods’ language uses all 12 (and I plan to make microtonal dialects too). I love music theory and linguistics both. Plus my language isn’t an auxlang (auxiliary language i.e. it’s meant to be spoken by the whole world, unite the globe), it’s a naturalistic language based off of the biology of the gods (i.e. stuck fused to the geography and often finding it hard to sprout out a larynx and a mouth, so the early gods [because they had no one to help them & would be the ones teaching the newer gods] learned to just make little harp type things and communicate, by vibrating those in the same way one might hum) and their culture (exclusivity since they think they’re above humans since they have great powers, and the aforementioned “the first gods found it hard to sprout out certain structures”).

[2] Queenly/kingly/monarchical folks of the jury, I lied. I HOPE I’m not fine in the eyes of the divine and I HOPE God smites me right down into the deep recesses of hell ASAP. Or that I turn into a fly in the next life and have to fly around a bunch of corpses and such. Being a fly wouldn’t be that bad really. Whatever religious beliefs you believe in, may that happen to me. I’m an atheist unless it’s not funny.

[3] I’m not very ill, but certainly whatever it is I have (and truly, what the fuck is going is) is chronic and is also bad enough that I’m not even afraid to die anymore. Death is a comrade, I’ve experienced similar enough things to it and I think real death would probably be better than all those little faux-deaths.

[4] A rhythm is a pattern and everything is patterns, your life and numbers and stories and technology and everything, everything, have a nice day.

Chai? Coffee? Chai? Coffee? Chai? Coffee?

NOTE for regular subscribers: No loaf this Monday, this week’s installment will come one or two days later than usual.

The story is in both English and Hindi. The version with the Hindi parts will be presented after the original, and even if you can’t read Hindi, I recommend you go through the stuff you can read in the original text at first. Try to understand what you can from the English parts, before letting yourself get the full picture.

The Hindi parts are Romanized since that’s how I ended up writing it originally. I do consider this a bit of a practice piece, part of my endeavour to write something every weekend. And practice for this experimental method is quite important for the sake of honing my skill. For the reader, though, I’d consider my piece Welcome Back to be a much better example of the experimental “hide certain things in the translation” bilingual format. So check that one out if you haven’t.

~750 words in the bilingual version.


Ek pal bas koi bura sapna aa raha tha aur phir dusre pal mai yaha pahuch aaya, iss naye andhero ke jahaan mei.

Right as I see you I ask, “Chai? Coffee?” It’s built right into my instincts, haha. Lekin mai toh chutiya hoon, mere paas chai-coffee hai bhi nahi. Andhkaar mei hai dono. Pata nahi aap yaha kaise ho lekin andhkaar, andhkaar, yeh toh jhelna hi padega.

Have some biscuits with the chai-coffee too. It’s raining, chai-coffee-biscuits are perfect for the weather. Andhkaar ka matlab roshni nahi hai, lekin iss jahan mei? Arrey, yaha toh andhera patthar ka roop le leta hai, sar pe takdate hue yaad dilata hai, “tu kuch nahi hai. Zindagi mei kuch bhi nahi kara hai. Kuch karoge bhi nahi.”

Aap ho kaun, waise? Aapka roop badalte jaa raha hai. Sugar? No? Gur? That’s jaggery. No? Bitter? Bitter. Bilkul mere jaise. That’s nice. 

Mai yeh sab ki baat kar raha hoon lekin kuch chai-coffee-biscuit, kuch hai hi nahi, hamare sar par patthar gir rahe hai aur aapke cup mei mera khoon hai. Jo bhi sapne aa rahe the isse pehle, usme bas… khoon hi khoon hi khoon. Bolu kya, meri aatma ka khoon, mere dimag ka katal, mera khoon zameen pe aur mei khoon. Kuch hua tha kai saal pehle. Aur woh sapne mei wapas aaya. Aur ab mai andhkar mei. Aur yeh sab bilkul asli hai, lekin aap (aap ho kaun waise?), aap yaha kyu ho kise pata. You could be spending your time anywhere else, my friend. Or enemy. Or family member member… eh, ‘family’ is meaningless to me at this point. ‘Family’ ne toh uss khoon walle samay kuch madad hi nahi kari, unhone khud bhi zara mera khoon kar dala (khud ke anokhe taknik ke saath, bade kaamyaab log hai, unki wajah se hi mai itna samajhdar hoon, nahi toh unki ‘kaamyaabi’ se kabhi nahi bach pata, chutiye sare), lekin waise thik hi log hai. Bas… ‘family’ is meaningless, some family members are friends and others are not.

Aap kaun ho? Do you want to leave? Mujhe bhi yaha se nikalna nahi aata. Aapki madad nahi kar sakta. Do you want to help me, with the chai-coffee? Do you want to help me with the biscuits? Do you want to help? Mere sir se abhi bhi khoon nikal raha hai, madad karoge? Mujhe yaha se nikalna nahi aata, so please stay with me. Keep me company.

What? What, you’re getting up? You’re leaving? Mera haath le lijiye. Stay with me, stay with me. Mere saath nikaliye, agar aapko andhkaar se bhaagne ka tarika maloom ho toh. You’re running, you’re running, you’re running. Andhkaar se bhaag rahe ho, mere saath bhaag rahe ho. You didn’t finish the chai-coffee (whichever it was I gave you). Aapne mera khoon nahi piya. Aapne mera khoon nahi kara. Aap mera haath leke mujhe andhkaar se nikaal rahe ho.

Aap kaun ho, aap kaun ho? Friend or enemy, friend or enemy? Dost, lag raha hai, lekin kya ye sapna hai ki nahi? Running, running, running. Hum dono bhaag rahe hai aur aapka chehra hi nahi dikh raha aur mera khoon girte jaa raha hai, girte jaa raha hai, lekin zara kam. I feel the urge to be all hospitable decrease, since my guest just up and ran. I feel tears welling up… shukriya. I feel the spirit of, “welcome your guest” get burned up into ashes. Meri raakh ki jagah ‘atithi devo bhava’ ki raakh ho toh yahi accha. Aap atithi ho bhi kya? Hamare daurte waqt pairo ke niche aag jalne lagti hai. Jvala se andhkaar toh bhaag legi, lekin mai jal raha hoon. Lekin hum dono tab bhi daurte jaa rahe hai, aur aap toh kuch bol hi nahi rahe. Daurte daurte daurte gaye.

Aap kaun ho? Aap kaun ho? Oh, the hot burning tears, the flush in my cheeks because of what just happened. And I also feel my spirit burning. Burning to ashes. Aap mujhe andhkaar se nikaal rahe ho, meri aatma toh jaag rahi hai lekin mai jal bhi raha hoon. I can still see you, but I can’t see your face. You’re so strange. Do you want to help? Do you want me to burn? Are you leaving because it’ll be less of a load on me (jala rahe ho aap mujhe jala rahe ho) or because… because… I don’t know, my face is burning, who are you? Who are you? You’re burning, I’m burning, who are you?


Bilingual version. 717 words.


One moment I was just having a bad dream , then another moment I end up here, realm of darkness.

Right as I see you I ask, “Chai? Coffee?” It’s built right into my instincts, haha. But I’m a dumbass, I don’t even have chai or coffee. We’re both in darkness. I don’t know how you’re even here but darkness, darkness, we’ll just have to deal with it.

Have some biscuits with the chai-coffee too. It’s raining, chai-coffee-biscuits are perfect for the weather. ‘Darkness’ means there’s no light, but in this realm? Oh, here the darkness takes the form of stones, crashing against your head as it reminds you, “You’re nothing. You haven’t done anything in your life, and you never will.”

Who are you, anyway? Your form keeps changing. Sugar? No? Gur? That’s jaggery. No? Bitter? Bitter. Just like me. That’s nice. 

I’m talking about all this but chai-coffee-biscuit, there’s none of this, stones are falling on our heads and in your cup, there’s my blood. Whatever dreams I was having before this, they were just… blood and blood and blood. What do I say, the killing of my soul, the murder of my mind, my blood on the floor and me in the blood. Something happened a couple years ago. And it comes back in the dreams. And now I’m in the darkness. And this is all completely real, but you (who are you, anyway?), why you’re here is anybody’s guess. You could be spending your time anywhere else, my friend. Or enemy. Or family member member… eh, ‘family’ is meaningless to me at this point. ‘Family’ never helped me in that time of blood/murder, never gave me any help, and they themselves have murdered me a little bit (with their own unique techniques, they’re very incredible people, I’m so smart because of them, otherwise I wouldn’t survive how ‘incredible’ they are, assholes all of them), but anyway, they’re decent people. Just… ‘family’ is meaningless, some family members are friends and others are not.

Who are you? Do you want to leave? I don’t know how to leave this place, either. I can’t help you. Do you want to help me, with the chai-coffee? Do you want to help me with the biscuits? Do you want to help? There’s still blood coming out of my head, will you help? I don’t know how to leave, so please stay with me. Keep me company.

What? What, you’re getting up? You’re leaving? Take my hand. Stay with me, stay with me. Leave with me, if you know how to leave the darkness. You’re running, you’re running, you’re running. You’re running from the darkness, you’re running with me. You didn’t finish the chai-coffee (whichever it was I gave you). You didn’t drink my blood. You didn’t kill me. You’re taking my hand and you’re taking me out of the darkness.

Who are you, who are you? Friend or enemy, friend or enemy? Friend, it seems, but is this a dream or not? Running, running, running. We’re both running and I can’t see your face and my blood keeps dripping, keeps falling, but it’s decreased. I feel the urge to be all hospitable decrease, since my guest just up and ran. I feel tears welling up… thank you. I feel the spirit of, “welcome your guest” get burned up into ashes. Better the ash of ‘atithi devo bhava’ than my own ash. Are you a guest? As we run, there is fire beneath our feet. The darkness will run from the flames, but I’m burning. But we’re still running, and you’re saying nothing. Running, running, running.

Who are you? Who are you? Oh, the hot burning tears, the flush in my cheeks because of what just happened. And I also feel my spirit burning. Burning to ashes. You’re leading me out of the darkness, my soul is waking but also I am burning up. I can still see you, but I can’t see your face. You’re so strange. Do you want to help? Do you want me to burn? Are you leaving because it’ll be less of a load on me (burning me you’re burning me) or because… because… I don’t know, my face is burning, who are you? Who are you? You’re burning, I’m burning, who are you?

Love you very much

for the Flash Fiction Friday prompt, “Birth of a Star”. 579 words.


“Just a bit of dust,” it might seem to the cosmic giants who trade our galaxies like spare change (their hands are too huge to see and I’d rather not, I’d rather not think of them). O, they’ll never understand anything about this world until they’ve lost it. “Just a bit of dust,” what a silly thing to say about a newborn star!

Look up with me. Or ahead, or below… directions get strange around here, they only really meant anything back on Earth. Obviously up and down also mean something in any place with significant gravitational force, but Earth’s up and down have a sort of flavour to them, don’t you agree? (you don’t because you don’t know what I’m talking about because you were never on Earth, but let a nostalgic old fool have her moment)

Anyway. Look at the newly forming star, because it’ll give you the knowledge you’ll need. That’s your own birth you’re witnessing, after all. “How did you manage to show me that?” you ask. I don’t respect time much. You’ll understand when you’re older.

There’s quite a few ways to describe how you came to be. The ‘dust’, a bunch of energy frolics across space and clumps a bunch of clouds together. Hydrogen, helium, things which wouldn’t have had any names yet. Gravity made the clouds collapse (I collapse a lot too but right now, I’m here and so it’s all been worth it) and the whole thing spins. That spinning makes it all flatten, watch you twirl around before you’ve even developed a consciousness (you’re welcome for that, by the way). In the center of the commotion, all the material clumps together. There you go, a protostar. You’ll become a star soon at this rate.

Wonderful sight, right? Perhaps bizarre, since all that strange matter is you and the passage of time is being very strange (again, I don’t have any respect for time), but still fascinating. I wanted to show you this so you would contemplate

Let’s be honest, you’re an uncaring and vicious thing. And that’s not too bad. Most of us are quite callous when it comes to anything, anything outside of a very tiny sphere of interests. Callous to anything we don’t love, willing to hurt and hurt unless there’s a good reason not to do so.

My telescope is like one of the big eyes of a sweet child, asking you where room 185 is or asking you to look at something or help with something, or asking you what you think of death. “I think a lot of death,” is the answer. I think she’s a strange yet gorgeous figure. What’s it like to hear her voice? What’s it like to do her grim duty? How does it feel, does she feel? I’ll understand when I’m older (not that I have much time left).

I love you a lot. I need you to know this. I love you so much. You’re going to outlive me, as will everyone else I love. Yes, even the other humans I love will outlive me, and you’ll outlive them because you’re a star, although maybe they will come visit to bring stories of me and themselves and of you and just anything, anything, and perhaps all of us will be alive in your memory. 

I love you. Sit back and continue watching your birth. A beautiful, beautiful star… I love you, I love you. I love you very much.

Take a nice walk outside for once.

1978 words of surrealism, sort of horror at certain points (and this time when I mean surrealist I really, REALLY mean surrealist, very much “let the unconscious mind take hold”).


My metallic flesh is periodically updated with text to notify my of my latest agenda. The process involves the ink travelling radially outwards from my bone marrow (ink runs through my machinery) and piercing through faux-nerves and muscle to form the words on the surface. This ink is special and I love and adore it, there are cans and cans of it on my shelf and it can permeate through my metal.

The agendas are decided by me, I think, but what I think is uncertain in its validity because there is a chance that the people outside (I talk to them through this interface on the wall next to the ink) are making nefarious plans. And maybe those plans involve–

They’re quite nice people, don’t get me wrong. Just I’m uncertain at times when I look at them. Uncertain if their flesh is real, if it isn’t all just holograms and illusions. Uncertain if they’re actually– there’s good evidence that they’re actually genuine, yes, there’s evidence they are people (human or not doesn’t matter), there’s evidence that they can be trusted. There is evidence. I remind myself, over and over and over. There is evidence they can be trusted. They are kind and even though there are occasional small arguments, such a thing is a natural part of human interaction and culminates either in civil discussion when all parties have cooled down, or it results in someone being an asshole and then the friendship drifts apart. And for the most part, these people are quite nice. And kind. Kind mostly. And they fix their faults when they see them. 

But here’s a little message I see from one of them (“hello hi yes here’s a little part of my life I am sharing look at this thing I made” see look normal interaction) and YET! Uncertainty (normal interaction there is noth– stop looking so deep into it), there’s this creeping sense of distrust crawling up like spiders up my back and up my neck and the distrust’s legs are creaky, the feet grow bloody as they make ANOTHER AND ANOTHER AND ANOTHER run up and down my neck. Friend I ignore, I’m uncertain if– the suspicion of malicious intent crawls so irrational, spelling out suspicions of things that they might be doing because my perception cannot be trusted, the cameras which have long since replaced my eyes are faulty. The skin was always flawed too, breaking out into hives of buzzing bees and getting infested with ants beneath it, ants beneath the skin of my face crawling amongst the muscles and making them into their bedsheets and crawling and crawling and crawling beneath the skin and spreading their chemicals around… yes, the metal skin was a good thing to opt for.

And that’s why I love the ink too. The ink. The ink penetrates through the metallic skin and allows me to function.

It is rational, the ink. Most of the time, at least. The ink on my arms, at least. It seeps up and up and up and I can feel it pushing against my– it tells me to get some nutrients. Okay. And go on a walk. Got it. And sleep. Okay, okay, sound advice, all of that.

Perhaps I will avoid talking to my friends just briefly until I can talk to them normally. Until the suspicion is cast off. The suspicion they do not deserve (do they do they do they– no they don’t shut up shut up) would be too painful were I to see my metallic skin melt, melt and destroy all the structure that prevents me from taking such ridiculous actions.

There is ink on my legs and my legs throb. My muscles are still real, and my nerves never were (the evidence for this claim? faulty, but here’s how the logic goes: they don’t work properly and yet they appear to be in perfect working order when examined and yet they symptom-dance all over the place anyhow and so they must not be real nerves and simply electricity conducting faultily and perhaps someday they will malfunction so bad there will be an electric fire and the electricity will conduct itself through my skin, my metal skin, and the electrocution and electric fire will all burn me to a crisp and it will be all well and good and for the better; but the evidence I just presented was, obviously, faulty, so take it with a grain of salt and please do not electrolyse the salt as I do not want sodium and chlorine in my system), but all the while, regardless of any changes, my legs still malfunctioned quite a fair bit. Buckling and such. Throbbing and all. Pain and pain and pain and pain, and surprisingly surpassing the arms in that as the arms aren’t whiny anymore as they understand their work better. And so of course the ink is more productive on my arms than it is on my useless legs.

So. My arms take notice of the screams spelled out by the ink on my legs. The agenda for the day conflicts with the screams, it appears. So the arm etches out, “AVOID AGORAPHOBIA, GO OUTSIDE, NO ONE IS WATCHING YOU AND EVEN IF THEY ARE FUCK ’EM BECAUSE YOU’RE STILL PRETTY SAFE YOU ARE LITERALLY MADE OF METAL JUST STRANGLE ANYONE WHO ENDANGERS YOU IT’S FINE GO ON A WALK AVOID AGORAPHOBIA.” And the legs keep etching out, “plans and schemes and secrets behind your backs and betrayal possibly from your friends TRUST NO ONE and you’re being watched you’re BEING WATCHED so do not make yourself noticeable in the slightest and poison snakes cold as ice the cold is part of a conspiracy to make you more vulnerable to the TRICKS and SCHEMES and BACKSTABBING being planned by those you think are friends and if you go outside the plans will be revealed for what they are which is betrayal and danger and”

Okay, I believe that is enough of that.

Avoid agoraphobia. That is nice. That is sound advice. I am not being watched. I am not being watched. I am not being watched. I am not being watched. I am not being watched. I am not being watched. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. I am not being stalked. 

Okay. There it is, the gate. It is real. The gate has been opened. By me. I am opening the gate. The gate is real. I am real. My hand which is opening the gate is real. The waters outside the gate are real. The sea, which gazes back at me– NO IT DOESN’T. The sea isn’t sentient. The sea isn’t sentient. It is not watching. It is not observing. It is not judging. 

Anyway, yes, what? The sea. The sea is real, and it’s right outside the gate. I allow my body to morph into a sailing ship (or a duck shape…? honestly, my friends have differing opinions on what I look like in my second natural form, certainly it is a form which allows for smooth sailing [I can go through even the fiercest of storms! although the seas are calm today outside and it’s peaceful so I don’t really have to, thank goodness] but there’s this little joke-debate over whether I look like the Titanic, or a duck, or a ship designed to look like a duck, or a duck designed to look like a ship) and I am real and the sea is real. As of now, the sea is calm. Not because it has a mind and can perceive that things are okay (BECAUSE THAT WOULD MEAN IT’S PLANNING IT SAW THAT PICTURE OF THE FOOD THAT LOOKS TOO TOO MUCH LIKE HUMAN ORGANS BUT THE FOOD WAS NOT RAW HUMAN ORGANS EXCEPT I VERY MUCH PERCEIVED IT AS SUCH ALTHOUGH THIS IS FALSE THAT IT WAS HUMAN ORGANS, IT ISN’T; the ink is seeping into the water, the suspicions are irrational they are irrational the legs are part of the ship which is underwater and the ink DISSOLVES, thankfully; the agendas are on the upper part of the ship), and the sea is calm. So things are okay.

I think my friends’ fortresses are a bit nearby. Perhaps I will float around a little. Perhaps catch a glimpse of my friends, or not. The leg ink is ridiculous. Also there’s a chance the nerve fires start and break down my entire structure and I sink to the depths and die on the sea floor. My friends would not like that. They’d prefer me alive. I also prefer my friends alive, so I suppose it makes sense they also feel the same about me.

I probably will not die right now. I have floated around a lot before. And the legs have screamed worse things, too. The legs have caught on fire and nearly killed me before. I told some of my friends about that. Just a few. Just a few. Let slip. They were scared and I hate that and I’d rather prefer they never see that because everyone’s metal skin gets a little melty at times (if they’ve had to get metal skin at this point, that is) and just… why add more news of potential sinking vessels to all the fear and anxieties of this world?

They are concerned (kind & caring & that’s just what a friend does) but it would be better if they kept the concern for someone else (and I don’t deserve them) as it is near inevitable that I sink someday.

I will not sink today. I do think it is inevitable. I do think it inevitable that I will catch on fire, melt to death and have my remains sink and sink and sink. I will burn and melt and drown and choke on the seawater, this is inevitable (the evidence for this is faulty and this statement hinges mainly on a strong irrational conviction of mine; however, I have grown tired of fighting the irrationality at the moment so I may as well indulge in this one a little since at least it bears the vague resemblance to some type of narrative, a narrative of tragedy; an unnecessary narrative to cling onto, of course, as it may not be true, but I just want to float on the sea waters for now so shut up even if it’s rational thought just shut up there were beehives on my old skin before I got it replaced and the bees kept buzzing and buzzing and buzzing with words which weren’t mine and I got so TIRED and this is just like that; even rational words, those can be put aside for later, just shut up for now), but it is far off into the future. I do not know how far.

But I will not sink today. Not right now. This seems like a reasonable thing to believe.

I will not sink. 

I will simply float on the sea and just let the leg ink dissolve. Just let the bone marrow eject the irrational ink and feel the jets shooting past my organs. A poison leaving.

Just float on the sea. Don’t think too much about it. Am I a duck, or a ship, or a ship resembling a duck, or a duck resembling a ship? Don’t think too much about it (although that line of thought is a pretty fun one to think about so I don’t mind that one much). Let the ink seep away and there is nothing in my skull for now.

The sea is calm. All is okay, even if just for now.


Fun(?) fact: I wrote this whole thing in less than an hour. Same goes for some of my other pieces similar to this, like Blood on your hands. I wrote that one back in 2021 and certainly in much, much more of a trance. Perhaps I’d say something like, “and my skill has improved since then, so this new story is a little more flexible with how it uses its surrealist elements (or maybe it’s more nonsensical than that other one, worse/better for sure)”. However that would require me to properly remember what I wrote in either of these pieces. Which I do not. That older piece was written in a hazy trance and this one in a slightly more frantic trance. I have no clue what any of this is. Do not ask me questions. Or do actually ask me questions, plenty of them. Goodnight. Or morning. Good times. Non-horrible-at-minimum times I wish to you.

loaf (pt. 5)

part 5 of loaf, a serialized fantasy scifi story. 739 words.

Note: For my own sake, I’m going to keep each part to a maximum of 750 words or less.
ALSO, a bonus surprise at the end!

Index


An entire day of negotiating with a couple irate deities (let’s not think about it), being lectured by them about the horrors of the winding god gut tunnels as if I haven’t been down there (let’s not think about it), but the one good thing? I have come back home to a bouncy little kitten and a sleeping oven, humming in its sleep. 

Loaf has camouflaged into the ‘sun’light. She keeps doing this so she can sneak up behind me. Apparently the oven taught her this. She’s in quite the spritely mood at the moment, hopping all around. She’s grown a little bigger, I think. Not that I can tell right now since she is but a blurry golden ball, zooming all around.

I do want to just collapse on a chair, but I need to eat. Just cook one hillfish, it’ll only take a couple minutes. I want to do something with dragonflies too, Camellia convinced me that they might be okay as food (in front of him, of course, I only begrudgingly half-agreed and that’s it). Gave me tips for how exactly to cook them, and so here I am.

Quite a lot of noise outside. Not surprising, from what Camellia was telling me. Something to do with the possible ‘witches’ all these gods have been angry about. I mean, the whole witches thing is a bit strange since everyone does a little bit of magic to an extent (how else could we live on a planet orbiting a black hole?), but the gods are really angry about these ‘witches’ for… reasons? My day was spent getting the gods to stop being a nuisance to the people just trying to go about their day and getting blasted by sound waves and sudden god-sprouts and fountains of ichor. So I didn’t ask much about the witches (they’d get angrier, not what I wanted), and I just got the vague idea that they apparently see these folks as a threat of some sort. And what are they doing? Who knows. 

Anyway. Something is happening, apparently. Right now. There are strange people outside. Wearing strange things. Doing strange things. Magic, it seems. I should be concerned about this, probably. Certainly the deities are. The angry music of their strange language is quite nice to hear though. At times like this, I feel glad to not be fluent in their languages, so it really does just sound like music. Fairly intense music at times, but whatever.

Hm. I think some of the gods are speaking the human language now. Not all of them have the larynx (or mouth, or tongue, or lungs) for that. Most of them don’t grow these features out and the ones who do, they wouldn’t deign to use their humanlike voices unless it was something serious. Yet there they are, yelling almost.

So it’s probably something serious. It’ll probably last for a couple days, and that’s at minimum.

… 

Well, time to close the windows. There’s that nice spray I got, for temporary soundproofing. Gave out a couple cans while on the job too, it’s great. Molecules absorb the sound while suspended in the air. Temporary so I’ll have to clean the entrance chamber (it’s separate from the rest of the house thankfully) but it’s worth it. Apparently the spray is safe for cats, but I’m still going to lock the entrance chamber. I did my job for today, I’m not bothering with whatever’s going on outside until tomorrow. 

My hillfish is done. And the dragonflies really do taste nice, Camellia was right.

I think I’ll take a nap after this. Ms Loaf seems inclined to agree with me, as she has stopped zooming around and is curling up on top of the oven. Not asleep yet, of course, but it’s only a matter of time. I’m going to fall asleep right here on the sofa after I’m done eating, I just know it. And then the oven will laugh at me because every time I do that I wind up looking incredibly stupid. And honestly, that’s fine. I’m too tired to care. And the oven deserves some entertainment, cooped up in this house. I wonder what it will think of the stuff happening outside. Not a lot I bet. I bet it’s tired too. I sure am. Sleep, take me away as soon as possible… 


And today, I’ll also leave you with a little snippet of what the Chamkra gods’ language actually sounds like!

loaf: Index

Blood on your hands

Originally posted sometime in March 2021 with the name ‘Hand Horror’. Original plan was to make art for it and then repost it, but the art can come later. If it ever does.

surrealist horror(?), 1.8k words.


His hands aren’t shaking. They’re shaking. No they aren’t. They just have worlds inside them. He is a painter and he is painting, so his hands can’t possibly shake.

Painting. Yes. That’s what he’s doing. Look, look, look at the canvas, and look at all the details in it. He’s looked at nothing besides this canvas. He barely knows he has hands and arms and shoulders at all, he just knows that there’s a canvas and he has paint and a brush and a world inside that needs to be released. Even if it takes an entire afternoon. And evening. And an hour after that, don’t worry, he’ll sleep eventually. Eventually.

Listen, he found a world, right? He found a world because the world wasn’t being too good to him. It was a rough week, right? And he has things to do, he really does, but right now he’s lost a friend and he’d rather lose the memory of that and of whatever responsibility he has, just for a day, just for a day, just for this world. Give the world a world. Well, it’s the least he can do, right? Give the world he’s in a world from inside his arms.

Yes, it’s his arms. His arms are aching. He doesn’t notice because his arms don’t exist so how could they ache? He doesn’t exist. It’s just the world in front of him. No, not even the canvas exists. Only the horses. The road and the horses and the people on the horses. They’re riding back and forth, home to home, the same way they did in this world before the trains happened. Back in the good old days, when he was a child.

Wait. Horses. That doesn’t sum up right in his mind. When did he ever know people in the real world to ride on horses in his lifetime?

No, nonono, that’s just a trick of the memory. Just a fabricated memory. He was just remembering it wrong, he remembered, the memory was actually of him and some others pretending to be horses as children. Pretending to be horses as children, yes, those were the good old days. Silly him, silly him, remembering such a thing wrong.

Memory is the enemy. Memory is the enemy, he smiles and paints and he doesn’t have arms. They ache, and inside his arms there aren’t any arms. There are only roads. Roads with trees on the side. Yes, trees, those don’t exist in the good new days, in the good new days which he started to see when his mind spilled into the canvas paper and ink and– remembering when he used ink as paint, he’s remembering when he used ink as paint and it didn’t go well, he just ended up going into the future.

Useless ink. Ink isn’t like paint. Paint, meanwhile? Takes you to another world, while ink just gets you to the future.

Actually, that isn’t even true. Or it is. It’s not suddenly not another world just because it’s climbing from his arm to his hand after making the trip from his brain to spine to blood and arm, there he is, in front of the canvas and there’s an arm in his world– yes, that, and a world in his arm. Fuck, it hurts. It really fucking hurts, it’s in his right arm. The world. The one from his mind specifically. The one he’s living in doesn’t exist.

No, nothing exists. Not the pain, even though an hour later, once the painting’s done, he’ll rant about just how much it fucking hurts and how much of a clown he is for painting for hours on end and losing it, and losing himself in the painting, and losing it for hours on end because the world’s wonderful actually, it’s just that he needed to go into his own world, because he can control it, and that’s why the pain doesn’t exist right now. Nothing does. No. Not the lost friend. Not the memories. Not the world, definitely not the world.

It’s just horses here. It’s just horses riding on the bone in his arm, swishing the blood around and turning them into their fuel. There are riders on the horses, but in his world they’re skeletons. Skeleton riders on blood-made horses. That’s normal, that’s very very normal. Normal in this world. It’s fine. They’re in his bones and they’ll make for very pretty art, very pretty art indeed. Or is ‘pretty’ really even the world? Sorry, meant to write ‘word’. Is the art going to be pretty? No. It’s going to be impactful. It’s going to be so, so impactful so that when he dies it’ll be a tragedy because then no one will get more of his art.

Ah, don’t worry, he won’t be dying any time soon. The more things he makes the more the tragedy can be increased, after all, and to make more things he needs more time. Wonderful mind-screaming things like the painting of the horses on the roads, the bleeding screaming roads take time to be made. Time needs life needs motivation needs anger at himself and at the world which must be fueled into something, something, something.

His hand isn’t shaking. It’s shaking. The world is inside it. The horses are all climbing up there. His arm hurts so much, and so does his wrist. It doesn’t exist, the pain. The horses are climbing into the canvas, after all, and it’s better that they’re in the canvas than in his arm. If it kills him. Even if it kills him, the fucking horses HAVE to be thrown into the canvas and so do the roads and the riders and the screams and the bloods. If. It. Kills. Him.

It certainly feels like it will. His hands and arms are shaking now. It’s making the paint tremble, the canvas tremble, the world tremble. That’s fine. It won’t ruin the painting. He can make it part of the effect, part of the horrifying horrifyinghorrifying horrifying hand horror he’s creating with this painting. The world’s shaking. The road is shaking. There is a big drop of blood at which a rider screams as his horse brings him closerclosercloser to the bright red bright red bright–

He paints. Bright red. Memory. Memory is the enemy. Memory makes bright red seem villainous, but it’s just a colour, right? Bright red? Just a colour. That memory, it might’ve been a fabrication. A violent thing that won’t go away no matter how much and for how long he denies it, but no, it’s clearly just a fabrication. Just like the good old days before the trains came to India brought over by the British, even though he was born in… when was he born?

Memory. Memory.  Memory. Memory. A rider on a horse looks into a huge drop of blood, bigger than him and his horse combined, and inside he sees a memory of… a memory of… hand slows, don’t put any of his memories in there, instead make it a stabbing. That’s… that’s not much better, he knows that, but it isn’t personal so it’s fine and he can proceed because it’s a stabbing from an assassin, and yeah, yes, this rider is a royal. A prince who got all he ever wanted, but one time someone tried to stab him. Kill him, assassinate him, for reasons unknown but he blamed himself. He saw himself in the drop of blood, knife getting into his arm instead of his neck as planned, and brightredbrightredbrightred it’ll never get out of his head, never. And listen, listenlistenlisten, it was so red. It was so bright. It was so red.

The whole painting is very red. It’s terrifying. It’s wonderful. And his hand is slowing. He’s almost done. It’s a vast scene. The sky is wonderful, so wonderful, his world is so great and vast and interesting, good job, painter, good job. He grins, but the grin doesn’t exist. Of course it doesn’t. Nothing does. Just the painting. Just the world. Not the one he’s in, not the one his friend who’s not a friend now traverses, she’s pretending he’s not even what he really is and so it doesn’t really matter that she’s traversing the world at all, doesn’t matter, because if the world she’s in doesn’t exist then she doesn’t exist and the words she said before they had to drift off, no, none of that. None of that. None.

Scream into his hand. The world screams into his hand. The prince screams into his hand, he’s terrified, he’s so terrified to be encountering his own memory in the huge drop of blood which the great great clouds, which appear to be blotchy and shaking and trembling but that’s fine, the prince is terrified because he’s seeing his memory in blood which drips from a cloud. It’s not raining. There’s just one big drop, at the end of a… a rope? A rope of blood. A drop at the end. A memory inside. Trembling. Shaking. Bright red memory. Memory is the enemy.

Shaky hands have made them. Every single detail. The details are starting to look shaky, yes, shaky at the right side of the painting. Right at its end. That’s fine, the shakiness makes it… he doesn’t know what it makes it, he just knows that he’s using his probably-fabricated memory for something good, something impactful, something interesting that’ll earn him some worth.

It’s done.

The painting is done.

Bright red.

The painting is done.

His hands are shaking, his breath is shaking, and his heart is too fast. The world ran, you see. It ran straight out of his fingertips. Straight from his elbow to his forearm, every single sinew the horses and their sharp bloody knife-tipped hooves touched, every single cell in his muscles in his right arm. It aches. It stabs. Arm to wrist to fingertips to canvas, and the world’s there. Good job. Good job. It’s horrifying. Good job. Good job. Good job. Good job.

He catches himself red-handed, as his arm loses strength and he has no choice but to let the paintbrush fall to the ground. It’s right next to the pen, and the ink and the blood– no, bright red paint, it’s bright red paint coupled with ink. They’re both together. One to take him to another world, another to the future. Both to melt his brain into so he doesn’t have to be bothered by the thing with its stupid, stupid memories. Memory is the enemy. He didn’t defeat it, he never will till he becomes it in its purest form, but he’s allied with his enemy so that something can come out of all the horror and panic that comes from looking at bright red and thinking and remembering. He took memory and he’s made… something out of it.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, he’s MADE something! The painting is done!

Time to show it to everyone.

About the schedule

(Okay, yes, THIS is my last post of the year, not the Tuesday one.)

So loaf is supposed to be every Monday. And every Tuesday there are supposed to be random rambling posts. Occasional short stories on Sundays.

That schedule won’t quite be followed now. I was already trying to make it work in spite of some other circumstances (namely, school and pain) but now there’s stuff which robs me of the energy to do anything in spite of anything, to do anything besides simply go with the flow.

‘Go with the flow’ will sometimes include, “write those posts because they’ll make you feel better and more motivated to study.” Or, “make a video of you playing music because attention is nice and motivation and good-feel and attention and etc etc”.

Sporadic posts, essentially. I really do want to maintain to the above mentioned schedule. And if I do make posts, it’ll be in keeping with that schedule. But mostly I’ll have to skip them for some time. Sorry.

happy new year

Last Tuesday of 2022, and my last post of the year

I don’t remember a lot from 2022, besides the fact that I was largely in a haze and that my friends are lovely and that my grades went to shit because of certain ✨issues✨, and frankly all I need is for my tear ducts to start working again and to be swallowed up by the merciful void.

Oh, and there’s music too. Made some cool music. Started figuring out how to make stuff using a digital audio workstation (i.e. a DAW) at last. So hopefully I’ll be honing my skill with that next year

My resolutions for 2023 are pretty simple. Don’t die, do some more music, make good progress on my main project Kriya Petri (since I’ve mostly been focused on short stories & random projects this year), perhaps try sending out some short stories to magazines and the like, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand spend a minimum of 15 minutes every day in the sunlight, reading.

There are more goals I have. A lot more. But these ones above are the ones I resolve to finish no matter what, even if I continue drowning and having those ‘wonderful’ little phases of the bone marrow getting soaked in misery, the misery is what drowns you and it breaks through every little pore in your skin and it seeps through the muscles and the fats, you’re marinated like a cut of chicken and  (“depression is like a weight–” I prefer more macabre descriptions, the horror of the description should match up to the horror of the experience).

But anyway… I do feel good about the rest of winter. Things were worse in summer (in my personal experience). Much worse. Pain and the light stabbing into your skull directly and the sun having a personal grudge against me specifically. Winter is cruel to some but I can’t relate, because besides the holiday season (which would be October & November here, Diwali and all), winter is fairly kind. Besides my garbage swollen fingers (and I can still play piano so it’s fine), winter stays fairly kind to me. Winter after summer* a cool shower after a sweaty 45° afternoon in a noisy schoolbus with people you don’t know because the one single friend you had in the bus before the pandemic went to a different bus and now you have to haze out in the bus while waiting till you get to your stop and try not to get nauseous from the heat and how cramped and noisy it is and honestly all this is just a reminder of drifting away from that friend who used to be on the bus and that probably doesn’t help with the nausea of being around *shudders* a bunch of 14 year olds. Also there’s the rest of the insanity which often occurs before or after (or sometimes with) the summer depression, which would take several more essays to detail and this was supposed to be a simple metaphor about summer being a lonely-in-a-crowd bus ride. But yeah, that’s summer. And blasting yourself with cold water is a great way to un-summer the brain.

In summary: Fuck summer.

* I live in Delhi so autumn and spring only really exist in theory. They’re fake. Monsoon is real though, even though I didn’t mention it, but shush. We’re talking about winter. Although monsoon and winter are both my favourites. I do prefer monsoon, but I feel nicer about winter at the moment hence the… whatever that paragraph was.

Anyway… 

Books

A lot of posts I saw were talking about the books they read in 2022. Best and (sometimes) worst ones. I remember absolutely nothing of the year and I didn’t read many books (though I did read a lot of webcomics, which I’ll talk about later).

I’ll talk a bit about the ones I did read, though. There’s probably more books that I read this year, but I can’t remember enough to say anything substantive. I’ll also talk a bit about the stuff I plan to read in the coming year.

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer: I’ve actually been reading this for a couple of weeks now (very slowly, due to exams + getting distracted by research rabbit holes on worldbuilding-related things as well as research on things I’m mildly obsessed with). It’s got an interesting format, and sometimes the line breaks resemble poetry. It’s a bit hypnotizing to read at times. The main character’s cancer’s POV is particularly hypnotizing.

There’s one chapter where the main character’s 13 year old daughter gets bullied by some other kids, and… okay, I’ve seen people portray situations at school which should be relatable. Many times. But I didn’t quite connect with those situations, even when they mirrored my own experiences. But in this case? There was a sense of confusion in the character’s mind, that haze I keep talking about. That was missing in the stuff I’ve read before. The haze disconnects you so badly from the rest of your surroundings, and there is a strange sense of motion sickness as you go through the motions of life, and it makes any cruelty just seem that much more confusing and nonsensical. Why waste the rare (for me) moment of lucidity on cruelty when you can ramble to your friends about how much you love them, or just… find any joy, any joy at all?

Yeah, that’s a lot of thoughts on a one page chapter in this book. I’ll probably talk about it more sometime when I’ve finished it.

The worst book I read this year was The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi. I wrote my thoughts on it on StoryGraph if you want to see. But basically: Godawful pacing, and then the narrative talks about past life regression (and some of its other concepts) in the most smug and obnoxius way. A book CAN be smug about its concepts and be good, but it needs good writing to pull that off. I don’t believe in the stuff the narrative believes in, but I could’ve found it compelling if it was written well! It was not!

There’s also Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Pretty cool format. For some reason I assumed it was adult scifi rather than YA when I picked it up, and… well, I tempered my expectations for the plot and character writing once I checked the genres again. Props to the people who designed the books, I love the epistolary format (and actually picked up the book because my main project, Kriya Petri, is also epistolary). I’ll be reading the next 2 books in the Illuminae Files series even if I kind of find the worldbuilding and plot to be… well, they’re serviceable and enjoyable, but I know I’d probably enjoy it more if I didn’t have the instinct to analysis built into me as deeply as the instinct to breathe. The ‘amazing’ part of it really is the format and how it’s designed, and I would’ve cared much less about the characters if it weren’t for all that.

(Speaking of epistolary books, I’ll probably read some scifi and fantasy in that format in 2023. Got a couple in my TBR but if you have any particular recommendations, please do let me know in the comments!)

Probably going to read some more classic scifi and classic fantasy in 2023. I also want to finally finish War and Peace. Planning to read more books in Hindi as well. More poetry, too.

And all of that is without even mentioning the surrealism, horror, and non-fiction stuff I want to read! ‘Non-fiction’ including science, history, philosophy, mythology, musicology etc etc etc stuff. My TBR pile has about 300 books at this point. Reading does wonders for my mental health (and god knows I need that!) and is also a great way to get the hell away from social media, because that just makes me want to abandon all of civilization and freeze away in a tiny cave in the Himalayas.

Also, I could probably also talk about some short stories I liked this year, but I can’t recall many of them. I’ll talk about them another day, perhaps.

Webcomics

Webcomics! I read a lot of webcomics, and perhaps I’ll make a separate post about the webcomics I like later, talking in much more detail. For now, here’s a list of my favourites which I read this year (all on Webtoon), and a little about why I liked them:

  • Whale Star: The Gyeongseong Mermaid. Historical fiction, ends tragically, gorgeous art, wonderful characterization.
  • The Makeup Remover. Webtoon classifies it as romance, but I’d consider it drama. Good characterization, much better plot than I expected, I cried a couple times.
  • Problem Child. A dysfunctional family drama. Pain. Good characterization. And pain.
  • Deluvion. Horror (body horror mostly), sprinkle of scifi. Updates are irregular but each a treat, the world is fascinating and grim and terrifying.
  • City of Blank. Scifi. Fun characters, and it has some of my most favourite scifi worldbuilding (especially with the ethical questions it raises).
  • My Daughter is a Zombie. It’s classified as comedy. I have cried multiple times reading it. There is so much tonal whiplash and I do mean that in the best way possible. Wonderful mix of tragedy and sweetness.

And the ones I especially recommend you to read:

  • Space Boy. Scifi. Starts off like a slice of life, which really helps you connect with the characters. And the characters! I could go on and on about how I love the thought and care put into each and every one of them in this comic. The plot is genuinely very cool too, and the setting. There’s a sweetness in the whole story.
  • Lavender Jack. Superhero story, set in an alternate universe version of the 20th century in a fictional city-state. I love the character designs, I love the art styles, I love how each character is written and I love the energy of the whole story. The comic ended recently, and it was in a such a way that it did feel complete but you could also imagine how the world and characters might continue living on after the story. They’re all very alive, with the dialogue and art (god I love the art, certain webcomics utilize the scrolling format very well and this is one of those comics) and writing.
  • The Revelation of Eros. Categorized as slice of life, but it’s not quite like anything I’ve read. It’s based on the real life story of the writer, and… considering how personal it is, props to the writer for being able to tell this story so well. The art style is quite distinct as well, and the writing and art come together to show us Eros’s psyche & growth & relations with other characters in a way which is kind of indescribable. I really really recommend reading it, though it can be very heavy at times.

Conclusion 

I totally could’ve talked about my creative plans (art… music… webcomic ideas… videogame ideas…), but many of them are kind of just tentative. Not much to talk about. And most of them will be slightly achieved, but only in fragments (which is still pretty good!).

This will be my last post in 2022 and I probably won’t have any short stories to post on Sunday either, so the next post here will be on Monday (2 January 2023), with the next update of loaf. There are at least two other serialized stories I plan to launch in 2023, but they probably won’t start till the middle of the year.

2023 for me: College and finally turning 18 and getting the first taste of adulthood and getting to leave ‘home’ and attempting to cease/slow down my general deterioration and getting to, perhaps, get a taste of non-suffocation… things will get worse but they will also get better. Probably we’ll survive.

I hope things are good for all of you, I hope that they’re at least not absolutely awful (and I hope they get better if they are).

See you in 2023!

loaf (pt. 4)

part 4 of loaf, a serialized fantasy scifi story. 1223 words.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


“You know,” Camellia says, “your oven technically counts as a god.”

“Cool,” I say.

“I’m not joking.”

“Oh.” 

There is a silence as I bring out our tea. We’re sitting outside my little house, and the cat is sleeping near Camellia’s feet. She warmed up to him pretty quickly, perhaps because of his cordiality towards the oven. She hisses and gets unusually quiet when I clean it out, too, so perhaps she and the oven have a connection. Not relevant right now though.

“Why do you think that?” I finally ask.

“Appliances don’t have to be sprouted from a god to talk, but… creating life?”

“Any old fool can do that.”

“Old fools who are human or gods, though.”

“The boundary between both can be pretty thin.”

“Only for young gods. We’re talking about old fools.”

“Don’t let the oven hear you call it an old fool.”

“I don’t live with it, I can call it whatever I want.”

I do want to say, “I like having you around, so please be friendly with the oven and do not anger it if it is a god like you say,”  but that’s a little… well, I just shrug. Shrugging is better. 

“Anyway. I don’t think the oven is an old fool,” he continues, “but that it was sprouted from an old fool. Who is also a god.”

“Because it can make life.”

“And because it’s got that… tone of voice? That way of speaking?” He furrows his brow, tapping his teacup with his long slender fingers. “I swear I knew a god who spoke the exact same way it did.”

“Okay, I’m starting to believe you, but I did not ask you to come here for this reason.”

“Oh, right. The deity on the hill.”

“Yes. He was saying something about some… magic people.” I hum the melody of the parts of the word I do remember. “Very long compound word, I didn’t catch it fully.”

Camellia just takes a moment to stare into the distance. “Hm. Yeah, I can talk to it.”

Thank you!”

“But if the word was what I think it is…” He shakes his head. “I don’t know, I think might be connected to that oven.”
What are you talking about? Epiprocta seemed suspicious of the oven too.”

“Mm. She’s not the… actually, there’s something going on with the gods?”

“And is it perhaps related to why some of them are being particularly obstructive? Is it perhaps related to why I can’t just go back to the negotiating with the deities at the air travel paths–”

“We need more people with the stationary gods.”

“I’m horrible with the stationary gods, most of the disruptive ones are uncooperative pieces of shit and I can barely understand all the random words , get someone better!”

I definitely yelled. I did not expect to yell, or to end up waking Ms Loaf, who is now staring at me alongside Camellia.

“Sorry,” I say.

“Well… you’re kind of right. They are pretty uncooperative. Much more than the ones at the travel paths. But, but. You might think you’re bad with the stationary gods, okay, sure. But we don’t have many people who are up to the job.”

“Wow, the bar is on the ground then.”

“Actually–”

Anyway,” I try steering the conversation away. “So it’s confirmed that you’ll talk to that deity, yes?”

“Yes.”

“And the oven, uh…”

“Yeah, I should be straightforward: Whatever deity it has sprouted up from, it might have to do with… something which the deities are all angry about? It’s been hard for us translators to fully parse out what they’re talking about, they’ve had to make up new words for whatever it is and the whole thing might involve some… you’ve heard the rumours of a certain faction, yes?”

“The witches. Oh, wait.” Clicks into place. “Was that what that long ‘magic person’ compound word was? ‘Witch’?”

Camellia gives me the most awkward, most stilted, least casual shrug I have ever seen. “There’s no confirmation that the witches are real, per se? Or organized?”

“You mean you don’t believe it, and a couple of the other translators also don’t believe it. But there are some who do. And you’re all in disagreement.”

“Basically, yes. Also–” That awful shrug again. “–you’re right to be a bit careful with the oven. No clue what part it’s playing in the whole… unrest… but if there’s any incidents–”

“Yes, yes, you can interrogate the oven then.”

“Or it might give us the information itself. Who knows.”

I laugh. “No, no it won’t. Too cryptic for such a thing.”

“Cryptic, makes me suspect it of being a god even more.”

“I’m not denying that, but I can’t confirm it either. And neither can you, till that ‘unrest’ you talk of actually ends up leading to any of those… ‘incidents’. Oh, and be careful, “ I tell him. “The dragonflies are getting into your tea.”

“Don’t worry, it actually tastes pretty good.” He takes a sip of the dragonfly tea.

I laugh. “What is wrong with you?”

“The list is endless!” Somehow I doubt that, but I might end up saying something about him having really magical eyes and actually glowing whenever he smiles and having a laugh and face which– none of that is relevant, I mostly talk to this guy for the deity translation thing, which– 

And then I realise I was completely silent for the several seconds it took to think all that! I think he’s waiting for a response. And so I cease to function, naturally.

Good job. Sip your tea.

“Ey, at least I’m not wrong about it. The tea, I mean,” he says. “It’s definitely edible, since there’s no poisons in these bugs. Pretty sure some got into your cup too.”

“Hm? What?” I un-cease to function a little and indeed. Dragonfly in cup. “Oh. Oh, you’re right.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“It actually tastes fine.” A little bit of a strange bittersweetness. 

“But the pieces of the dragonfly wings aren’t so good, are they?”

“No.” I sip more. “I actually already knew that the dragonflies around here aren’t poisonous.”

“Really? It’s not common knowledge.”

“Epi told me. Ms Loaf needs dragonflies in her diet, since she’s not a normal cat.”

“Ah, right. Oven kitty.”

“Yes.”

The rest of the conversation is pretty normal. And nice. Both of us have the day off, and this is after a whole week of… a whole week of things we decide to ignore as we talk.

For the next couple hours, I tell him about all the little things I see every day which make me happy even on the worst days since they’re so beautiful, and he tells me about his sister. The games they’d play as they wandered around the strangest parts of the landscape. They didn’t even know the dangers of angering the gods. The gods where they were grew up were actually quite kind to children. So Camellia and his sister would have games where one of them would be on ‘weird land’ aka the gods’ bodies, and the other would be on regular terrain. And they’d sometimes listen to the gods’ song language. And then Camellia learned that that music was a language. Started learning it, started his path of becoming a translator.

All in all, it’s been a nice day.