Category: SF/Fantasy

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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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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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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