Alternates

They kept trying to lock the front door, but the lock just wouldn’t listen to them. As the minutes ticked by, they grew irritated. Soon, it was agitation. Why wouldn’t it lock? They’d complained about the errant lock to ma’am every night without fail. The caring lady that she was, she was more concerned with the short boy sick with fever, and Madhu scraping her knees. Of course Sara had cried all day again, and Rita couldn’t seem to smile. She had better things to do, feed a number of kids, take care of their every need and keep the water supply going too, why would she bother with a lock? They were the eldest of the lot. They’d been with ma’am for years now. It was a nice place to be, any day better than the bad places they kept hearing about in the news all so often. Yes, they did wish for more, but who doesn’t, right? They were strays who were lucky someone gave a damn about their existence, and they understood that. It took more time than Ron, in Harry Potter, took to recover from the slug bout but they finally managed to wheedle it shut. They then moved to the dining hall where the whole troop was gathered for the scant but ever nutritious dinner. The small TV was turned on foe meal time news viewing. Ma’am was pretty strict about them knowing what was going on around them; even the smallest kid for example knew that a huge plane went missing and nobody could find it. What the kids and ma’am didn’t know was that since it disappeared right near their state’s border, they had a chance. They had a chance of finding out where the missing flight was. How could such a huge flight in such a technologically super-sound world just randomly disappear? A week and there seemed to be no answer. Nobody would mind a healthy dose of answers right? They were way too bored with the regular lifestyle anyway. The next night when the locks didn’t listen to them, they didn’t get irritated and agitated. They slung their knapsacks over their shoulders and stepped outside and shut the door. Being the oldest bunch had its perks. Ma’am wouldn’t notice till sometime tomorrow that they weren’t around. Even then she wouldn’t worry too much; she knew they’d come back. They always did. They had been through such adventures together. Since they were born together, and refused to be parted upon their parent’s death, they’d always moved as a pair. They could never explain many of their adventures for it wasn’t even clear in their own head. It could all be just a dream for all they knew. So they stuck together and didn’t breathe a word as they snuck into the nursery. The local school nursery was where it had always begun; where it always invariably began. The big green board was moved. They then waited for the portal to open. ** In a land far away: “It’s the twins. They are at the portal” said the cloaked lady. “Yes ma’am! They must have been waiting a long time, the poor souls!” replied the hooded sidekick. “Buzz them through already!” she replied. ** They had to keep staring at the brick wall for nearly an hour before it relented and turned to a Hogwarts train station like scene. They smiled with delight as they stepped through the invisible door, becoming mere disappearing apparitions on the planet. Just like the plane. The hooded figure smiled in the wake of the approaching duo. When they saw the two hooded figures the children’s faces split with glee and they raced towards them. “Where’s the plane?” asked the twins. “Behind the cloud! Seriously, it’s always the same cloud and they never find it!” replied the side kick. “Hear him reply, as if he wants them to find the cloud at the mountain top! All his precious treasures would be lost” added the cloaked lady. They laughed as they walked up a steep. The cute cottage still rested at the top of the hill. From there they could see the village, still and quiet. “Isn’t it sunrise yet?” asked one of the twins. “No… It would be intensely hot if it did rise up nearby. I cannot remember the last time it was hot though” replied the lady. This place, the twins knew, was never hot or cold. It never had anything extreme about it. It was a small, happy and quiet place with nice people who went about their jobs. They, all the folks did what their heart wanted them to and the cloaked lady and her side kick did whatever they could do help them do as their heart pleased. Usually, there were no laws or restrictions or regulations either. The hooded figures provided an interlude to the twin’s memory time of the hill valley. They said that of late they had to include some rules, for, the children had grown up. While the original lot had seen the world, and known how lucky they were here at the hill valley, their children didn’t seem to remember. The parents had tried and succeeded a little, to make the kids understand how here, dreams and hearts won. How the hooded figures supported their every dream and want. One of the children however had retaliated. What if he had no special dreams? he had asked. What if… he didn’t want to help others with their dreams? What if he didn’t want any of this perfect life bullshit? he’d yelled. It had been an ugly scene where the local restaurant owner’s son had joined in too, questioning the elders. This owner’s son was no good and kept pestering the local girls all the time. It was perfectly normal for some to not have any special dream. They were free to leave back to the real world anytime they pleased. These children couldn’t leave however; their parents didn’t want them to. Usually such people were happy helping other people’s dreams come true and were happy while at it, but not these kids. They formed a team and made new dreams; goals that didn’t appeal to the community. “To cut a long ramble short, we bundled them off to the world. Maybe make it a compulsory internship program for all kids in the future too. It has amazing results” said the lady. “Pursuing their dreams is beautiful but sometimes it isn’t good, for some of their dreams are not good” added side kick. “Not that they are extremely bad or morally unsound; too small a valley for all that, but you know, not everyone is a good person” lady explained. “So they were there a while; then they wanted to get back. Only they didn’t have any means to, for we didn’t allow them to. They thought getting into a plane coming nearby would help. Foolish boys! They had understood how they’ll be pampered and humoured and spoilt here, and one of them even realised his true dream! So we had to hide the flight behind the cloud. We were debating whether to make two more kids get in instead when you landed up near your portals” finished the lady. The boys nodded their heads astutely, and yawned. Usually the cloak lady let them run around the valley and eat hot baked food. She sang them a song and they could sleep happily like never before. Today, she felt bent upon talking and they hadn’t understood a word. They looked at each other and longingly at the stretch of green in all majesty waiting to be rolled on. “Once a kid, always a kid! Oh do go on, run!” the lady said. “Thanks ma’am!” they grinned and took off. “Oh and let the plane fly now! Don’t wake up the entire plane, just the pilots maybe? Wipe out their memory! Oh and they figured the two boys had fake passports, must be your boys right? So don’t send them back anytime soon!” they cried, disappearing amongst the green. “Imps” muttered the cloaked lady.

-AK

other short stories can be found at https://www.chatterboxerr.wordpress.com/short-stories

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