Posted in Love

The Exile

The forest was full of early morning noises as Rishi Valmiki walked to the river for a bath before the daily Yajna. His hair, tied in a bun above his head, was white with the experiences of a life full of sin and, later, hard penance. His beard was long enough to trip him, but his agility belied his advanced years. A sound of someone tripping alerts him of a presence—not an animal, for sure.

He squared his shoulders, expecting a Danava or a Rakshasa. He called out, “Who goes there? Show yourself.”

“I am Sita, Sir.” A petite woman appeared around the thick trunk of an ancient Banyan tree. In the pre-dawn light, he could see that her clothes were torn in places. She had angry red bruises on her bare arms and face, probably from stumbling around in the forest all night. She seemed several months pregnant.

Concern filled his voice now, “Dear lady, how come you are alone in this forest full of wild animals, and bare-handed? Are you lost?”

“Exiled would be a better word.”

“Exiled? And your crime?”

“I have not been informed of the crime, just the punishment,” she said dejectedly.

“You seem to have a very unjust king!”

“Ironically, he is the best king the world ever saw,” she chuckled without humor.

That’s when the pieces fell together. “Are you the famous Queen Sita, the wife of King Rama Chandra?”

When Sita answered, her voice was hoarse, “I was that a lifetime ago. Or was that only yesterday? Time loses its significance when you are abandoned by the man you love. Now, I am just Sita.”

He was confused. It was all so different from what he had heard about the king—he was the perfect king revered and loved by his subjects, who keeps their will before his own; the perfect brother who handed over his rightful kingdom to his step-brother without batting an eyelid; the perfect son who had gone to fourteen years of exile to keep his father’s word to his step-mother. And when King Ravana had abducted Sita from the forest, he had collected small wild tribes, crossed the sea and fought the most powerful king of all times to retrieve his wife—the perfect husband…

He had always been in awe of that man.

Sita continued, “Last evening, his younger brother left me in the forest on his orders. While leaving, he’d hinted that Rama was following the will of his subjects who are against keeping a woman who had ‘lived with another’. Even though, after winning me back, he had made me walk on flames as a proof of my purity, it wasn’t proof enough for his beloved subjects. And, of course, he wouldn’t give up his beloved kingdom for me as I had once done for him.” The words left a bitter taste in her mouth.

He chose his words carefully now, “Do you wish to go to your father, King Janaka of Mithila?”

“My father? Who hasn’t checked on me since I returned from a fourteen-years exile? He probably believes I eloped willingly, like everyone else,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

He was completely at loss now. But he couldn’t leave the lonely woman on her own—pregnant and unable to defend herself, would be an easy target for hungry animals. Moreover, the forest was infested by Danavas and Rakshasas. God only knows what they would do to a woman who looked so beautiful, even in rags. 

He made a final effort. “Would you like to return to King Rama and plead your case? I assure you I can get you an audience with him. He will not deny the request of a Rishi.”

“Thank you! But I will not plead mercy in front of someone who punishes a victim of crime and her unborn child. Anyway, he would have granted me an audience if he had the courage to face me. He knows well that he’s wrong but did it anyway. He may forgive me, but I will not forgive him.

I was a princess, brought up in luxury, when I married him, but when he was exiled, I chose to accompany him to the forest. There were days, we did not have a roof over our heads. To make him happy, I picked fruits and vegetables in the forest, cooked meals, spun cloth, walked until my feet hurt and worked until I was sore all over, only to end up sleeping on the forest floor like a common woman. For fourteen years…

When Ravana abducted me, he had offered to marry me. I could have led a life of luxury in his castle, but I refused him and chose to live in a cottage like my Rama. And this is how he repays me?”

The fire in her eyes now turned to steel. “I’d rather stay in the forest like I’ve done it for fourteen years. My child needs no father.”

There was only one way to go from there, “Would you like to live in my humble ashram? I answer to no king.”

She gave a little smile, full of gratitude, “Only if you promise to raise my child as a fearless warrior and a better man.”

Author’s note: This story is about an unfortunate day in Ramayana, a revered epic in Sanskrit. It is said that King Rama Chandra grieved for his wife and never remarried. Many years later, his massive army was intercepted and easily defeated by two little boys in the forest. When Rama came to war, Sita finally stepped in and handed over the sons he never knew. However, she declined to return with him.


Photo by Ammpryt ART

Posted in Life and After

Mushroom Day

I had a good yield. Now, if only I could spot the right one.

This was the problem with magic mushrooms. They could camouflage as other mushrooms and spotting them would take a real witch–one that I clearly wasn’t.

So I had gone around the forest feeling around, trying to spot magic that wasn’t moving, and plucked any mushroom in the vicinity. The basket was now humming with magic, even though I wasn’t sure which one was ‘it’.

Anyway, it was essential that I got the recipe ready and right, for I was close to my 39th birthday, a day every witch dreaded…the day we started turning into old hags if left unattended. The recipe was fairly simple: Cook the Batwings and powdered Crow’s toenail with White Wine in a Dragon scale cauldron on the full moon night from Moonrise till Moonset. At moonset, pour in a Deer skull, sprinkle the magic mushroom, wait until it turns pink, and drink.

Everything else was easily available on WitchSupplies.com. The magic mushroom, however, had to be freshly picked by the witch herself, meaning me…

So, even by moonset, my cauldron ready and bubbling, I hadn’t spotted the correct mushroom out of my lot and decided to go with Plan B–poured the Wine in 17 deer skulls I had ordered from WitchSupplies (my apologies to any animal lovers, but my only other option was to call in another witch for help and admit I wasn’t a witch enough.)

Then I sprinkled one mushroom in each Wine. But they ALL turned pink!

Now I had only one option left. I drank ALL of them! It didn’t work, but if nothing else, it made me a very happily drunk witch for a week.

Now, since I am turning into an old hag anyway, I’m planning to use an abridged version of this recipe (white wine with magic mushrooms) every full moon at the same scale.

Any one else who’s game to take a shot?


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After

Fleeting

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She was returning from the river after a bath when the news reached her–her son had returned…

Her youngest and favourite with curly hair and almond eyes…

The one every one called a hero, giving him dreams taller than his stature in the society…

The one who had run away long back to become an actor and had never written back…

The one she and his father had cried for many years and presumed dead long back…

He was back and waiting for her at home.

The neighbour, who had run all the way to give her the news, had said that he was too quiet, with a drawn face and deep shadows beneath his eyes, a skeleton of the man he once was; that he seemed to have left his will, dreams, confidence behind in Mumbai–the city of dreams; that it might take her months, may be years, to get ‘him’ back.

But at least he had returned.

She ran all the way home, panting, for she was too old for running, out of breath and out of patience, dying to see once again the apple of her eyes; planning on the way…

His favourite food, wondering if he’d still eat out of her hands as he always did..

If the girl next door would make a pretty pair…

If he was still single…

If they could buy a shop for him to run or whatever he would want to do next…

Finally, he had come home. She would ensure he is happy again…

She reached home to find her husband trying to break down the door. A packet of jalebis, her son’s favourite, spilled on the floor. The neighbour’s kid, who managed to reach the ventilator fell from his perch. He was mumbling about a rope and a fan before he fainted.


Free photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Scholar

The lockdown has brought an array of unknown neighbours to the fore. This guy is only one who comes without expectations.

This guy is the quietest I have ever seen. I never saw him with another Barbet. Sometimes, I wonder if he’s a bachelor by choice.

The serenity of his ways, the way he tinkers around the wood quietly for hours, the lost-in-thought look, the marks of sleeping with glasses on, and the salt-and-pepper feather on his face are inspiring.

Often, he knocks on my windows, never expecting a reply. He just sits on the tree quietly, looking away beyond the horizon, like a Scholar thinking of ways to improve the world. I can almost hear the cogs of his brain whirring frantically to solve world’s greatest concerns, like global warming and third world war, or may be the best way to lure out wood lice.

Will let you know once he’s ready to talk…

Posted in Nature

The Avenger: How far would you go for lost love?

A couple of months back, I wrote about one of my Neighbours–the Avenger–a lapwing the size of a pigeon attacking our local queen, Athena the Eagle, for killing his mate. The drama still continues.

The day before yesterday, I woke up at the crack of dawn, at the shrill cries (more like war cries) of a lapwing. Athena was sitting on a roof railing looking for her next prey as she does everyday. This wee birdy was attacking Athena over and over. She had to rush for cover in the nearby trees to save herself. The lapwing continued until it was too tired to fly.

It felt surreal. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have declared it a lie.

Last time I questioned if a bird can hold a grudge. Now I wonder how long? It had been more than a couple of months.

And if this is a different lapwing, whose mate was probably eaten (at least not that day, considering Athena was out for a hunt), is it normal for lapwings to avenge their dead or die trying?

I checked on Google on any information about behaviour of lapwings around their dead mates and enemies. The information was always very impersonal. Their height, weight, mating rituals, but nothing about dying for love.

What about other birds?

I know that Crows mate for life. Do they grieve for their soul mates?

It is said that Rishi Valmiki, the man who wrote Ramayana (one of the most revered epics in India) spoke his first verse when he saw the grief of a swan losing his mate to a poacher–that the cries of pain over the loss, and eventual death of the other swan because of heartbreak, wrung his heart and the verses spill over his lips. So far, I had thought of it as just another myth…but what if…

Posted in Nature

My Neighbours: The Dragon

This lockdown has acquainted us with a lot of neighbours. Some of them have moved in, against government measures.

One of them is a Dragon with a forked tail and ability to change colours. What’s worse, she moved in with her entire family!

Meet Hariya, our resident dragon. She has a forked tail and ability to change colour from a soft pink to dark patchy commando-style grey in a flash.

Hariya in a soft pinkish grey girly look

Hariya in a soft pinkish grey girly look

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Hariya in her commando assassin dress

Hariya in her commando assassin dress

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Recently, when I saw several new additions to her family, I asked her to begin paying her share of rent. But then, I saw Hariya in action preying on larger insects (moths, grasshoppers, winged ants) and I realised the potential and made a deal with her.

Once she grows up to her optimal size, (Anybody knows what is optimal size of a dragon?) I can rent her out for hunting expeditions–a new form of danger sports. She can fly ahead as a scout (I hope she grows wings once she reaches her optimal size), catch animals for the people and roast them with the flames (I hope she develops that handy quality once she grows to her optimal size).

I know its a lot to hope for…

But, if done, it will be a hit for those seeking adventure. Imagine the demand! It can provide employment to her entire family, so that they can buy a house and not scrounge around for food…at least not their own food…

Any one game for it?

My daughter got inspired by the idea and built her statue for marketing once she reaches…

Posted in My life

Claws: Update

Lately, I wrote about the stringent diet I began last week: Claws.

Just wanted to let you know that I have managed to tame the lions now.

The entire Pride has shrunk to the size of mice thanks to week-long starvation. They still frequently scratch my stomach but I drown them in water and milk and protein shake to tell them who’s the boss.

Though, I still don’t see any weight loss…Fingers crossed!

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Tunnel

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Dusk.

Shadows are lengthening every minute and it is time to make a decision.

The entrance of the tunnel is hidden beneath the forest floor, visible only in the front. The darkness inside is complete, as if no light ever penetrates those open gates. Has the other end caved in, shutting off any rays of light? Is there another end at all?

Moss and fern cover each inch of the penetrable surface–the stone walls, the sides of the walkway, the spaces between rocks on the walkway…The air around the place reeks of dead things. The barks of the trees around the place has been stripped with claws–a clear warning for anyone who ventures too close.

But still the walkway holds grass that someone crushed underfoot a few minutes ahead of me. Could it be she? With her group of bird-brain bounty hunters? Could even they be foolish enough to enter this tunnel–a place clearly marked by death? How could they completely ignore the local stories? That this tunnel was the door to afterlife… That no one who entered the place had ever returned to the world of living…

Her favourite shoe marks adorns the wet mud. Why would she risk it all? She has enough inheritance to last her four lifetimes…but then this is what she is and I wouldn’t have her any other way.

The sun is behind the trees now. Either I enter or turn back right away. There is no point waiting outside till the morning, for no one knows what lurks in the tunnel. If facing a deadly foe, I would rather be awake. On my skin, I can feel its cold stare measuring me, giving me goosebumps.

Do I enter after ‘her’?

Can I ever leave her behind?

With answer, I braced myself and stepped inside.


Photo by Anna Gru on Unsplash

Posted in My life

Claws

Lions are clawing me inside out!

Okay, I am on a diet–a high protein, low carb, no fat diet–a healthy diet that involves loads of milk, protein shake, fruits and nuts. What it lacks is everything I love–Breads of all kinds, rice, pasta, noodles, patties, pastries, even porridge! Chapattis (Indian bread) with veggies and pulses once a day are its saving grace. You see, I am a foody with a very low hunger threshold. I eat every three hours and I love variety in food. Hence most of my day is spent creating or planning that variety. So, dieting is beyond me.

But my husband could see my love for food was creating tires around my waist, and now these car tires were aspiring to become truck tires soon. Worse part, I was unwell with joint pain and body ache, thanks to the fast reduction and, then, adoption of weight in the past one year, thanks to Hypo-Thyroid and it’s medication’s side-effect. So my husband finally put his foot down.

11th July was the first day of the torture. My diet has been split in 3-hour schedule with smaller portions that provide me with only what I need, which means no fat, low carbs. I could feel lions clawing me inside out–I guess, they had always lived there, eating my food. Now with the famine, they are reminding me of their existence. I was techy, angry and on the verge of crying all day. But nothing would move my stone-hearted husband to give a hungry wife a few morsels of bread (with butter and jam).

Next day, the clawing had mellowed down slightly, at least I wasn’t crying. Or may be, I was too busy with laundry and other household duties to notice them too closely. I survived.

Today has dawned with the old clawing back. While I work on my computer, I can feel the desperation in this clawing. I think they know they are going to die of starvation soon. I hope this entire pride dies soon, for this diet is here to stay for a while.

Please pray for my safe return…

Colin McQueen, earlier you had talked about the hazards of running. I will take that any day as compared to this.


Free photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Posted in Blogging

Woohoooo! 200 followers!

I just found out that I have 200 WP followers and it means the world to me. These people aren’t my family. But they ready stories and liked them enough to give me a second chance! Thank you, All of you, for that!

My stories have a comment section. If you feel that the story could have been better, let me know that. This blog is my Sandbox. I am open to suggestions as I play with words.

Thank you, once again. Here are some sweets for dessert! 🍧🍨🍦🍩🍫🍬🍭🍮

Posted in Life and After

The Phlebologist: The Complete Story

Author’s note: After sharing a short part of this story yesterday, I realised it wasn’t right to share a 2000 words story in six parts. Hence, I am sharing it all at one go. Here is my first Science Fiction. Let me know your thoughts through the Comments section.


2266 AD.

This assignment was a bad idea. The signs were evident right from the beginning—not sure how I missed them all. Maybe, the gold in sight had blinded me with its glare. Now I could do nothing but freak out inside this dark place, waiting for someone to return for me.

I wish I had missed that call from Mikhael, my employer, six days back. He had called me back from my vacation for the fourth time in a row. If I could spit venom, I would have killed his hologram that grew from my watch.

“You better make it worth my time. I’m killing my vacation for you. Again.”

But he knew exactly how to pacify me. “Petra dear, the client promises to weigh you in gold.”

With those golden words, he had all my attention. Nothing motivated me better than money. Love I had too much of—being a tall, curvy blond—and stopped counting after my 25th boyfriend.

“Can’t tell you the name for obvious reasons, but the client is a giant in the Blood Test industry. They own thousands of laboratories across Earth with the annual turnover of several billion dollars. They are looking for information about…”

“…Sangue Heder Labs,” I finished his thought. He nodded.

“Of course! The fastest-growing laboratory chain on Earth…I assume, our client is looking for the ground-breaking technology that diagnoses the complete list of diseases, including Cancer, from a single vial of blood, that too within minutes.” He nodded again.

The breakthrough was nothing short of a miracle and was all over the papers last year. By providing general health check-ups at unbelievably low rates, they had wiped out the smaller competition in a matter of months. Now, even bigger competitors were struggling to stay open.

 “I’m on it. I’ll have results in a week or less. Keep that gold ready.”

Day 1

My internet search was the first sign that I should have backed out.

In a universe connected tightly through the Universe Wide Web, celebrities can’t sneeze without someone publishing it. Yet, hardly any information existed about the most successful lab chain on Earth. All I found was that the Sangue Heder Labs were owned by Marco De Rossi, the youngest member of a multi-billionaire family. In 2099, his family was one of the first to move to Proxima Centauri B, the closest habitable planet. They traveled on the legendary Spaceship Noah’s Ark, which was loaded with seeds of all kinds and pairs of all variety of animals in the cryopreserved state. Most of them survived on Proxima, unlike Earth, populating the nearly empty planet in the next 200 years and became a wildlife preserve and favored travel destination for the super-rich celebrities around the known universe. But the family declined to share any pictures publicly throughout its 500 years history on Earth and Proxima, a practice Marco De Rossi seemed to have kept alive till date.

His company was equally elusive. Sangue Heder Labs’ website stated an address on Proxima as headquarter. They mentioned using an “ancient technique” to diagnose diseases from the blood. But there accuracy was up to three decimal digits. Was it possible with anything ancient?

Next, I contacted the patent office, off the record, only to find nothing. Sangue Heder Labs hadn’t patented the “technique”. Or maybe they couldn’t, if it really was ancient. To check whether there was any ‘ancient’ technique offering diagnosis through blood, I deep searched medical sites from Earth and Proxima, but to no avail. Some Proxima health resorts offered ancient healing through local herbs, animal extracts, and solar heat but there was nothing about diagnosis through blood.

The pictures left me wondering how it would be to live on a planet where trees still grew in forests and not pots. Someday, maybe I will too.

Day 2

The next day, I moved to Plan B, looking for the employees of Sangue Heder Labs on Social Media. Employees are a treasure of information. There is always someone complaining about their job and technology challenges. But soon, I realized that they probably had some employee agreement barring them because I found no one.

With a couple of days gone, I decided to contact them personally. Everybody has a price tag: some talk for money, others for ‘love’. But the contacts from the Earth Employee Benefits organization could not dig out a single email, address or phone number since both the organization and its employees were ‘foreign’ and protected by the inter-planetary laws.

I should have stopped then but my reputation as the best Industrial Spy on Earth wasn’t for nothing.

Day 3

I decided to catch an employee during a lunch break and strike a conversation. A couple of drinks and an attentive listener can loosen a tongue easily. Usually, they begin with the rant about too much workload, bad managers and difficult clients, and, with careful steering, can easily overstep the line of discretion and divulge their technology without really knowing.

So, I donned a brunette wig and boarded my trusted faded-grey copter—both common and anonymous. Blonds and stylish rides draw a lot of attention and blending in with the crowd was imperative for my job. I flew to the biggest Sangue Heder Lab and parked in the overcrowded rooftop parking of the Food Court next door. I sat down next to the biggest window and could see the reception of the lab through the glass wall as I ‘worked’ on my palmtop.

The receptionist was a tall gorgeous man with red hair, and suddenly I wanted to visit the lab just so that I could look at him closely. I shook my head to clear it. Where did that come from? A couple of lab technicians—different races but just as breath-taking—collected blood samples. Are all Proxima natives like that? Does fresh air and unprocessed food make you look like Roman Gods?

I waited at the cafeteria all afternoon. The Food court was busy but none of its clients were Lab employees, only the patrons nursing their pinpricks and their attendants. The closest couple was discussing the blood results they had received via email within a couple of minutes of tests. The stream of patients coming for tests never ceased, and nobody came out for lunch. The organization was probably ordering food and drinks for its employees to stop them from leaving their desk to eat. I gave up at midnight.

The facility was the biggest and busiest, so I decided to try at a smaller facility the next day.

Something wasn’t feeling right about this assignment—probably the fact that most of the clientele belonged to the low-income societies. They wouldn’t have been able to afford these tests if it wasn’t for Sangue Heder Labs. They all could have died without a diagnosis.

Conscience pricked me for a short moment.

Then it passed. I could see myself luxuriating at the Proxima resorts, looking like a Goddess, with fresh air and unprocessed food, and preferably with a boyfriend from the same planet.

Day 4

On day four, I took the Airbus to a different city and haunted the streets outside a different facility of the Sangue Heder Labs, on my uber-expensive featherweight ecobike. It was ideal for following people. When needed, I could simply fish it out of my purse, unfold it and get going at a moment’s notice. It removed the need to switch between following on foot or rush to the parking area to retrieve my coptor first.

I had planned to follow any employees out for a coffee or stroll, and meet them ‘by chance’.  When the female receptionist ventured out alone late evening, I saw an opening, but as I drew closer, I had an urge to walk over and touch her skin—so flawless that it glowed in the moonlight. Considering I am straight…

By the time I had collected my wits, she was gone and returned shortly with an icebox. The opportunity to strike a conversation had passed. I was exhausted and left for the day.

Day 5

Next day, I tried another facility. While I waited for the employees to walk out to a close by cafe for a break, I searched the employees online by uploading the pictures I had taken the day before. Nothing. One of the picture resembled one of the war prisoners from the First World War, but I wasn’t interested in ancient history right now.

No employee came out all day. At midnight, they closed the facility and all of them walked out together. I followed from a distance, hoping to catch one of them once they split-up at the Airbus station, but lost them once they turned into a dark street.

I should have given up then, considering the next move was too risky. But I was nothing, if not pig-headed.

Day 6

Now that I had tried everything else, I moved to Plan C—entering the facility. The plan was simple in theory. Get in close to closing time, hide behind something until the place closes up, and spy around after it is empty of people.

Simple…in theory.

In reality, it is too difficult to hide my 5’8” frame in a lab. Huge head offices are simpler with too many unused rooms to hide in, but labs are quite small with less number of rooms and usually no cover. I had seen it before. At that time, I had walked back out pretending I was looking for rest rooms, because Trespassing is a crime. Getting caught could earn me jail time, and my pictures in the news as an Industrial Spy could kill my anonymity and career.

So, I saved it for the most difficult and most paying cases. This one definitely qualified as both.

I had deliberately waited till Sunday, a public holiday, and chose the busiest close of the day hours to ensure that the facility was packed with people to give me the much-needed cover and more time to hunt for information, in case I didn’t get a space to hide.

Three technicians were collecting samples of fifteen patients at a time with three to four minutes between batches. With 75 patients ahead of me, I had 12-15 minutes, if I did not get a cover (which seemed like a greater probability). The hidden cameras in my earrings were already capturing footage. As soon as the technicians took samples from the people in the front, I quietly left my place.

I pretended as if I was looking for the washroom and, stealthily, slipped inside the door with the “Employees only” sign. The short lobby ended in a hall—no cover. I had a couple minutes at the most before the technician came out for more samples and discovered me. I should have turned back right then but the lure was too strong—I was a bat, blind and focused on the target alone.

I peeped in the hall. It looked like all offices. The room was bustling with activity and sounds of chit-chat. Several employees sat on comfortable chairs with the latest Palmtops. Some of them used huge Wall screens with virtual keypad holograms floating close to their fingers. Small racks of labeled blood vials sat atop a drinks table in the middle. There was no microscope in the sight to test the blood. The gray-haired man closest to me had just finished filling a blood report form on his Wall screen and sent it to the patient’s email.

I focused on him as he picked a vial, excited to finally know the trade secret of Sangue Heder Labs.

He took a long swig of the blood, swirled it in his mouth and started filling the blood report form.

I let out a tiny gasp.

Suddenly, all the eyes in the room zeroed on me. The gray-haired man I had been concentrating on was suddenly behind me and had blocked my retreat. His canines grew. I think I fainted.

I remember hearing a voice from afar. “Set her aside for dinner, Luke. We are trying to concentrate on work here.”

Now I lay inside my coffin, probably six feet underground, complete with fangs and all. Having tried unsuccessfully to claw my way out for a couple of hours, now I wait for them to come back for me. I hope they might give me a job too as a Phlebologist.

Posted in Life and After

The Phlebologist: Part 1

I wrote this story for a Sci-Fi magazine that turned it down. Since this is my first science fiction, I couldn’t help but share it. Since typically I write short stories, I have broken it down in a series. Let me know your thoughts through comments.

This assignment was a bad idea. The signs were evident right from the beginning—not sure how I missed them all. Maybe, the gold in sight had blinded me with its glare. Now I could do nothing but freak out inside this dark place, waiting for someone to return for me.

I wish I had missed that call from Mikhael, my employer, six days back. He had called me back from my vacation for the fourth time in a row. If I could spit venom, I would have killed his hologram that grew from my watch.

“You better make it worth my time. I’m killing my vacation for you. Again.”

But he knew exactly how to pacify me. “Petra dear, the client promises to weigh you in gold.”

With those golden words, he had all my attention. Nothing motivated me better than money. Love I had too much of—being a tall, curvy blond—and stopped counting after my 25th boyfriend.

“Can’t tell you the name for obvious reasons, but the client is a giant in the Blood Test industry. They own thousands of laboratories across Earth with the annual turnover of several billion dollars. They are looking for information about…”

“…Sangue Heder Labs,” I finished his thought. He nodded.

“Of course! The fastest-growing laboratory chain on Earth…I assume, our client is looking for the ground-breaking technology that diagnoses the complete list of diseases, including Cancer, from a single vial of blood, that too within minutes.” He nodded again.

The breakthrough was nothing short of a miracle and was all over the papers last year. By providing general health check-ups at unbelievably low rates, they had wiped out the smaller competition in a matter of months. Now, even bigger competitors were struggling to stay open.

 “I’m on it. I’ll have results in a week or less. Keep that gold ready.”

Day One

My internet search was the first sign that I should have backed out…

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow.