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The Shift

By Dr. Who
Illustration: Fahim Anzoom

So what have we got?
Parallel dimension. Seems to be based on the Silius Paradigm.
Tech differentiation? Should be interesting.

The mid-afternoon winter sun was blazing overhead as Zihon wandered aimlessly down Satmasjid Road. Despite the crisp heat, he was sniffing slightly; the flu going around was catching up to him. Where in this goddamned stretch of road were they? His friends had called his T&T to tell him they would be in front of Almas and he had walked from La Bamba to Abahoni maath with no sign of those idiots.

Poor fool. I wish he had a mobile.

What? What the hell was a mobile? Despite himself, he looked around to see who had spoken, but the bustle of the street ignored him. His balance wobbled. Wondering about the fever - and trying not to think of worse things - Zihon sat down on the sidewalk and tried to take a moment to calm himself. His head felt woolly and the sweat clung to his shirt.

This was aggravating; his friends couldn't have picked a worst time to be unreliable. They had to hand in a 50-page report tomorrow and Rashik was the one with the best hand writing. There were also some financial calculations that needed to be done and for that they needed Asad, who had an amazing head for numbers. But they also needed Zihon as much as he needed them because he was the only one who could draw the new logo for the company their report was based on. Still, no one had shown up yet.

Hmm… no computers. No Microsoft Word or Photoshop.

Zihon gripped his head in his hands, covering his ears. The Void speaks. He didn't want to listen; he didn't want to be crazy. He didn't want to be… soft in the head. He had been hearing things recently; someone calling out numbers and gibberish that didn't make sense. He hadn't told anybody. This is the sort of thing you keep to yourself.

Cars zoomed past honking horns and he wished he could shut it all out. He wished he was at home, listening to his transistor. They occasionally played some nice songs from Europe. He brutally thrust down a bubbling thought about some kind of Pod (?) as two people came out of the bank on the floor above La Bamba, complaining loudly about bank employees and their lunches. “Why should it take an hour and a half to pick up a thousand taka?!”

No ATMs?! Would've thought they'd figure something else out by now. But I guess t makes sense.

No! None of it made any sense! He stood up, wondering if he could maybe go grab a cup of tea near Meena Bazaar. To hell with his friends.

As he was about to cross the street, a rickshaw caught his eye, standing in the traffic. The girl sitting there looked vaguely familiar. He squinted and noticed she was the girl who had moved in to the next building. He had seen her on occasion but never up close. He had never met her, didn't know what kind of books she liked, what kind of music she listened to. He wanted to ask. He wanted to know. He wanted to solve the mystery. His head jerked back and he screamed in agony.

Losing the subject…

When his friends found him splayed on the footpath, he looked up at them with unseeing eyes and mumbled, “Facebook will ruin us all!”

Microprocessors were first commercially introduced on 15th November 1971 by Intel. As we talk about space travel and our love for our phones, this is what may have been in a world without microprocessors.


We all loved free candy. Especially when it's unexpected. This piece is a reminder to that and maybe a call to follow the story. For next week we have 'No' as our topic. All submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck.

Free Candy

By Abrar Maswood Haider

Sugary, Caramelly, Fudgy and Small. That's what makes candy a treat for all.

Whether it be Fox's, Alpenlibe or a nice Menthol.
It's good to whet the appetite with an amusing Hyperbole.
Now it is time, to change this catchy tune.
And dive into the subject to which we are subdued.
It was a cold November morning. The sun was beginning to shine.

The wind was howling, but everyone was in a good mood. People who met randomly on the street were exchanging greetings. It was as if `Anger' had taken the day off.

Everyone was happy. Everyone except that little girl. The little girl who sat cross-legged, clutching a packet of Pran Milk Candy in her hand. To her the weather did not matter.

It was about how to sell her candy and make ends meet to struggle into another day. Another Nightmare. Her mother was too ill. Her father worked as a cobbler, trying his best to clear the debts. Her four brothers were too young to work.

It was up to her to try. She got up. It was time to work. From the distant she could hear the car horns, but wait. What was that? Is that… is that yelling. And soon there came a mass of rags. It was the boys. She had to run. To find refuge. To seek salvation.

She could hear their yelling and the clopping of their feet. She'd take the turn on the left.

She slipped. Her last glimpse was of the old, tattered rags. They came. They snatched the candy from her. They kicked, they stomped and left her slumped like a small heap of autumn leaves. It hurt. Everything hurt. She tried to get up. Her vision was blurry.

She saw white. A man in a white shirt. She scurried, attempting to crawl away from the man in white.

Was this her saviour? Was this the knight in shining… well not armour, the man in the shining white shirt? Her eyes came back into focus.

The man looked distressed. He studied her eyes, her face, her arms. After his examination, he took a bottle from his coat. He touched her. She quivered, but did not retract her hand.

He applied the ointment on her hand.
“I wonder,'' She thought, “What must this look like to the people sitting in their cars.”
The man in white smiled at her. She attempted to smile back. The man helped her up.
Took her to the nearest candy shop and bought her four packets of Alpenlibe.
He asked her where she lived. Shyly, she told him she lived across the inter-section.
He escorted her there. Told her to go straight home.
She nodded and was on her way. He looked on from across the intersection.
Making sure she reached home safely.
“That was a nice man.”, she thought to herself.
And as if it had finally dawned on her. She looked down at her hands. Free Candy.


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