Category: Short Stories


A cold wind spins and moves the autumn-dried leaves around in the courtyard. The cellar entrance reminds me of the gate to the dark interior of the school cellar hiding many hideous secrets. I go down the stairs, slide my hand on the moist wall and throw the switch. Damn! It’s out. I grope my way for the far end of the cellar and pick up a jar of pickles. My feet are cold and sore. Everything around me is black.
I can hardly see Al, our school janitor. His dark clothes have mixed him well with the surroundings. He is standing a few paces away, lingering. My ear is still sore from the unexpected slap that landed on my face in the absentees’ lineup. I just have to hand him the letter written by my brother. He will read and nod. Then, he will signal with his hand that I could go—and I run free and go to the class.
The coal has been piled up at one corner. What is supposed to happen to me? Most of all, I am afraid of his eyes. They fool you. He stares into the eyes of the student next to me but I know he is looking at me. Before I get a chance to give him the letter, …

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In Persian culture, donkey stands for stupidity. When someone behaves stupidly, people make a sarcastic remark that literally means, as long as you are here, we do not need to import donkeys from Cyprus. For a long time, I thought that this remark referred to people. I thought that way until my son moved to North Cyprus to study in a university in 2006. He stayed there for four years and reunited with us after completion of his studies.
One day I brought up the subject of Cyprian donkey and he said that they really have beautiful donkeys and that is one of their national glories. This information changed my opinion and I realized that the sarcastic remark actually referred to real donkeys and not to people until he told us of his experiences in this small country or state. Here is his story…

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The Bridge of Judgement

Based on Zoroastrian myths dealing with The Chinvat Bridge; the bridge that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead.

The desert stretched in the horizon as far as the eye could see. His toes were burning in the hot sand. Having no awareness of time and space, he walked aimlessly for a short period. In the horizon, the continuous color of the desert broke and was replaced by a cloud of green vegetation.

It could be a mirage, he thought.

He kept walking to reduce the feverish sensation is his feet. The green cloud was gradually emerging with clear outlines—tall trees, grass-covered land, and occasional cascades of water. Thirsty and exhausted, he felt intense desire to reach there soon. Hot sand was still biting into his toes. The thought of cool shade and a spray of water on his face made the heat tolerable.

Turning downhill, disappointment seized him. A deep break in the land isolated the red hot desert from the dream-land—a ravine with unknown depth impossible to bypass…

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A Traveler’s Deity


…He heard the chanting and invocation from the distant prayer hall. The thought of dosing off and repeating the unholy dream filled him with terror. He forced his drowsy eyes open and went out of the chamber. His gaze sought divine inspiration in the limitless starry heaven to help him challenge the alluring dream. Peering through the mist, he saw no soul in the courtyard. He squatted by the pond and washed his face. Drops of water slipped from his beard and fell on his cloak. The breeze cooled his face. He was awake now—refreshed his ablution, returned to the sanctuary and continued murmuring prayers. Overjoyed with spiritual elation, he dosed off into
the realm of dreams.

The scene before his eyes looked unfamiliar. It was a lodge with dark windows and a porch in front. There was a church in the background. The lodge was mysteriously silent. He was resting on a bench near the porch. The main door opened and a woman appeared at the threshold. She stared at him with intoxicating eyes while moving forward. As she approached, the breath of wind lifted her light skirt. Her silvery body displayed a mythical figure whose movements transferred untold desires. He seemed fascinated by a magical spell. She reached him at last and pressed herself against him. His whole body was filled with joy from her touch.

He woke up. The dream experience was still shaking his body with orgasm. He closed his eyes for a few moments trying to deny his awareness. The chanting from the prayer hall brought him back to reality. He raised his head and looked around. Darkness prevailed. He had heard a sinister laughter before waking up. The echo was still vibrating in the air and getting weaker as he regained total awareness. Oh God, deliver me from this temptation, he begged. It was near the break of dawn. The sparrows had just started chirping within the plane tree. Soon, there would be a huge uproar in the courtyard. He picked up the cloak and turban and left the sanctuary. The pleasant breeze touched his face. He was in a hurry to cleanse away the dream sin from his body…

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Everything was white—different shades of white. There was a single upright stone a few paces away casting long shadows across the strange land. I looked closer at the carved inscription on the stone. It was addressing me. I sank into the ground beneath my feet and entered an alien enclosure. There were a few men gathering around an object like a table.  I was confused and did not know of my business there. They questioned me for a few minutes. Then, the one who seemed to be the boss said: “this one has come too early. He must return.”

I was delivered to two other persons who led me to a room full of strange looking machines. They had me sit in a chair equipped with many different devices and buttons. It looked like a dentistry chair. A transparent canopy slid from some hidden dark space above my head and covered the front of the chair. I looked at the attendant and asked: “what is the purpose of all these?”

“Just don’t touch anything. This procedure will be over soon,” he said.

He closed the canopy and pushed a few buttons on a control panel at the side of the chair. There was a vibration and the control panel came to life with strange symbols.

“You will be back to where you came from,” he continued. “You need not remember any of this.”

He went to the other side of the room. I reached the control panel from the opening at the side of the chair and, impulsively, pushed one of the buttons.

Everything went blur for a few seconds. I felt dizzy. When I opened my eyes, I was sleeping on a bed. I looked around. I was in a hospital. My head was swelling. I touched it. It had been bandaged. My body was numb. Something like a camera lens hanging in the air  was staring at me. It shifted and hummed with every move I made. I tried to sit. The bed seemed intelligent. It adjusted and I comfortably sat in the bed. I was thirsty and wished to have some pineapple juice.  A glass full of some yellowish liquid appeared on the table beside the bed. It moved within my reach.

At this very moment, the door opened and a totally strange monster stepped inside. I screamed from fear! It did not show any reaction. Its hands were not attached to its shoulders but came out from the front of its body. At the end of each hand it had only two fingers—just like a pair of pliers. Its face was horrible. Eyes were like a semi circular ribbon on its forehead with a few eyeballs that moved randomly along the ribbon. Its head was big with two separated lobes and no hair. There was a pattern resembling watermelon with different shades of green. A single foot was running down its middle like the trunk of a small tree. It ended a few root-like branches with three appendages. Tow of these appendages wore some sort of a shoe  and the other one was bare.

I took out my hands from under the blanket to prevent the monster approaching me. I was shocked. I had only two fingers. Just like a pair of pliers.

The Rug

Romin looked away from the rugs spread before him on the floor. The walls were decorated with new and antique rugs shining with brilliance under the powerful floodlights. The dealer’s mouth was dry.
“Get me a few Bakhtiari rugs,” he mumbled to the stock boy trying not to interrupt the conversation.
“The design and pattern of nomadic rugs form in the weavers’ imagination,” he continued, helping the stock boy unroll a rug.
“They are inspired by legends and miracles recorded in ancient books.”
He stroked the rug’s surface to emphasize its softness.Romin ignored his remark. He stood up and walked to the remote end of the chamber with the Rug Dealer trailing behind. There, among the new silk pieces, hung an old rug.
“What can you tell me about this one?” he inquired, touching the rug.
“That one is an antique piece—I don’t think you can afford it,” said the dealer.
“What is so special about it?” asked Romin.
“You wouldn’t believe if I told you.”
“Try me,” he answered.
“Well, that is a flying rug.”Romin chuckled, “A flying rug, did you say, like Aladdin’s I suppose?”…

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Miracle Fabricator

The mausoleum was heavily crowded. The pilgrims moved in waves circling around it. Those who were near the tomb would touch the cold silver lattice in mesmerized gesture and then rubbed their faces to transfer the holy effects. Others just extended their hands to receive the remote form of the sacred vibration. The older pilgrims in the outer limits just held their hands in prayer and moved with a slower pace.

Everyone’s center of attention was the shrine. Other activities including kicking, punching and cursing were of minor importance. They all focused on one purpose, receiving a miraculous reward in return for their pilgrimage. In the middle of this confusion, I noticed an unusual movement in progress. A servant of the Holiness, readily recognized from his uniform, was attentively observing the crowd. He was big, heavy, and exceptionally interested in an old man holding both hands at his belly level, palms upward, whispering prayers.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out a bunch of crumpled bills, squeezed them into a lump within his hand, and approached his target. I was truly fascinated by his swift movement when he mixed with the crowd. He maneuvered in such a way to appear right behind his target. He then reached from behind and embraced the tiny old man. His left hand provided support for the extended hands in prayer and his right hand pressed the lump of money into the old man’s palm closing his fingers to make sure he had gotten hold of the bills. The next second, he was far away moving with the chaotic crowd to the outer orbit and away from the subject.I was confused for a few seconds. Then I realized what the servant’s mission was. The old man was filled with joy. The Holiness had finally responded to his prayers. He was going back to his village with the good news.

I followed the servant and caught up with him in the courtyard.
“I just saw what you did in the shrine,” I whispered in his ear.
“What are you going to do about it?” he answered smiling. “Nobody will believe you.”
“But your action is wrong and misleading,” I said.
He stopped and pointed at the shrine entrance. “Look at them,” he said. The crowd entered and exited in haste. “How are you going to convince them what they are doing is superstition? This is part of their life. It makes their suffering tolerable.” Then he turned and continued walking.

All of a sudden, there was an uproar in the courtyard. “Don’t get excited,” he said, “this is another common site here.”
On the other side of the courtyard, the people were following a man running away. Whoever could get hold of him would grab at his clothes, tore a piece, and went away.
“This one,” he said, “is a blind man who’s been cured. We do not sponsor such incidents—he comes here from the remote parts of the country—stays around the shrine for a while pretending he is blind, and now, all of a sudden, he cries, “I can see!” The pilgrims use pieces of his clothes as charm. He is financially secure for the rest of his life—people pay charity, you know.”
“And you encourage the superstition by ignoring his false claim,” I said.
“It is nothing personal, my friend,” he said. “This is a big business—one of the most important Shiites attractions in the world. We help the holiness with a few miracles once in a while.” He looked at me with an evil smile. “You don’t want the pilgrims to leave disappointed, do you?”
“You work for Satan,” I replied. “I am going to shed light into this matter and reveal the real face of your boss.”
“Well, many reporters have tried that before. We do not prey on your readers—the intellectual type, you know. Our targets are Muslim devotees, the illiterates, and the simple-hearted peasants—the ones you won’t be able to reach,” he said.
I recalled a great saying of Zoroaster, “To battle the darkness, I draw not my sword, I light a candle.” “You are wrong,” I said. “The mother of all miracles, the internet, will soon shed light into every dark corner of your villages. You are going to lose this battle.”

His face turned blank indicating a signs of weakness. I left without waiting for his answer.



In darkness, ZooZoo was climbing up the main tunnel wall. He had finally made up his mind to meet the Wise One. It was during the falling of provisions. A few whistling pieces passed near him. He hesitated for a moment and heard them hit the depth. Common sounds at daybreak. The phenomenon always amazed him for the cause and source were unknown. He held fast now—heavy rain would always follow. A few scurrying fellows pushed their way along in brutal hunger; they were heading for the tunnel depth.

The usual questions occupied his mind. The Older Ones believed such questions were dangerous for youngsters and ended them in the corridor of no return. Almost all survivors who had returned including The Wise Ones talked of the outer world in terror. They could not explain it in words and said you must see it for yourself.

Presently, he approached the Wise One’s chamber. He lived in a clean and tidy corridor. Such living quarters were few in numbers—special privilege for the prominent figures in their community. A few paces below these corridors, there were open passageways. His family lived there—among the other noble families. The town below these passageways allocated to lower classes. The passageways, in comparison, had superior advantages to the townhouses. One did not have to hold fast during the ritual of doze-off to prevent falling down the tunnel. Besides, there was no danger of landslide. He recalled an occasion when prowling in the downtown areas. He had failed to reach home in time for doze-off, and had to stay in the public quarters until the ritual was over. He had experienced a terrible time. Everyone pushed over and exchanged mean phrases. He had managed to bend his antennae inward to avoid listening to those awful phrases. Everyone had laughed and mocked him. Worst of all, there were occasional landslides and a few people fell. The incident caused a burst of laughter among the observers…


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