This story is a wee bit long. Few months back- I got the inspiration to write something about the ‘Galactic Cricket’, I could not succeed, though I inadvertently stumbled upon this………..Hope you like it…..
“Arvind, I told you we are god damn ruddy lost.”
“We are not, don’t worry we would find a habitable planet soon.”
“You never ever listen to any one,” his wife was frustrated beyond imagination. “It must have been better if we stayed in queue.”
“Now this is reaching a saturation point. You have been constantly hankering me with your foolish worry. I know this place much better than you, if you remember that I told you that I was born in this part of the world.”
“We left Kurla way behind, if I am correct in assuming that was your birthplace.”
Arvind gave her a look of pure hate.
“One more word and I would chuck you out into the black vacuum.”
“Yah, yah, so it has come to this, huh. Throw me out, what are you waiting for? I would find some satellite to take shelter in, you just get lost with your frigging ego. Throw me out. Just do it.”
“I didn’t mean it. Just don’t overreact, okay.” Arvind tried hastily to calm down his wife.
“Am I overreacting? You want to throw me out of this shuttle. Just go ahead and do it. What’s stopping you from pushing the goddamn button? Ah, now I get it. You are afraid that I might leak this secret information to the world that you happen to be the world’s biggest impatient fool.”
The children were gaping from one to other. It had been a long time since they had fought.
“You are making a scene in front of the kids. Stop it.”
“No, throw me out, what the hell are you waiting for, show them you can be the biggest murderous jerk out there, throwing me without a suit.”
“Who mentioned a …”
“Papa, don’t throw mom out of the shuttle, who would dress me up?”
This shut both of them up for few moments. Trinity was in her diapers, wearing nothing on the top. She was playing with her Mr. Dodo.
“Saptarishi, take your sister inside. Your mom and dad will figure out a suitable trajectory very soon.”
“Why, are you ashamed of yourself? Let the kids stay- let them see their big, responsible dad making a bad judgment for a gazillionth time.”
“Stop your dramatics. SAPTARISHI, HAVEN’T YOU HEARD WHAT I SAID?”
Saptarishi stomped his feet. “But dad, we would miss the fireworks, they have got an explosive, the size of meteor for the opening ceremony. And soon after that both the cricket teams would assemble in their super massive machines.”
“They won’t assemble in their bulky machines without you watching it, I promise you that. The portal I am searching for will take you there, and I promise you there won’t be much crowd in that area. I and my friends used to go there in my younger days, it is the vantage point, and you can even see their batting craft from there.”
“Will I also get to see the huge ball that the batsman will hit?” He said excitedly.
“I bet you will,” Arvind smiled. “Now be a responsible brother, and take your sister to the visual room, interact with that 3-d super hero you so adore, and see if he has some nasty aliens that you can hunt together.”
“Muskal, no I don’t like him. He gave me chocolate, which can’t be eaten. I tried to chew, but no.”
“Oh, come on, I would give you a real one. Then we would see the megatron Sehwag beating teamAustralia.”
They went out of the pilot chamber.
Arvind looked at the space in front of him. There were very few satellite kiosks here to inform him in which spatio-topographical area he had entered. And the map had become suddenly very complex to handle. He had to admit; that they had come much farther
He regretted his behavior. He looked at his wife- she had gone extremely silent.
“I am sorry, I didn’t mean it. It just came out of my mouth. The stress of the last few days, and the sudden plans, no sleep,” he looked at his wife as he spoke. But she remained silent. “I am really sorry for being a terrible idiot and I am dead certain that we are now completely lost and that also due to my mistake. You were absolutely right that we shouldn’t have taken this shortcut.”
Still, there was no response from his wife.
“See, don’t be angry now. After the game is over, pour down your boiling iron froth at me. Chuck me out of this shuttle, as many times as you want. But please help me now to find a way to this cricket marathon.”
She didn’t spoke but punched few buttons. “Lets start with the nearest artificial satellite around here, start the laser transmitter.”
“Aye Captain,” he busied himself with the task while his wife Rani gazed out of the view port, smiling.
“It’s a planet, alright.” He said, scowling.
“No data?” Rani asked inquiringly.
“No, nothing. Not a single soul is responding to my query. And there are no kiosks to help us out.”
“Maybe it’s a dead planet?”
“Maybe, but look at the radiation, lady- someone ought to live here.”
But she was not looking at the computer stats. She was looking at something out of the view port.
“Hey, look there. I think it’s a satellite.”
He punched a few buttons. A cheesy white globe hovered into the holographic view on the main screen-space.
“I think it is.”
“What is it called?”
Arvind’s scowl deepened. “I don’t know what it is called. Something is fishy around here, look.”
Rani leaned by his side, as he enlarged the holographic view of the surrounding space, her shoulders brushing his.
“If we go by our ship’s sensor- you can see it on the main screen- then we have eight planets revolving around the star. But if you look at the map, we only have seven planets, and the one that we see right in front of us does not exist.”
Rani scratched her head. “But the last kiosk we checked out said this was the nearest habitable planet.”
“But I told you it was malfunctioning. It could not even spout out a name for the concerned planet. It just spluttered out the co-ordinates, and then it sort of died. These kiosks are out-of-date, unreliable source of data. The whole point of finding a habitable planet is to get incontrovertible information. We should never have believed it.”
“What were we supposed to do, then?” She asked, her voice rising.
“We were supposed to go back, back to the point where we have started. You know that though this ship does not boast of a hi-fi super computer to save all the trajectories that it undertook, it still knows enough to go back to the starting point.”
“But then, your doting son would miss the opening ceremony.”
“I know,” he muttered.
No one said anything for a moment.
Suddenly hit by an idea Rani said, “Focus the radar on the planet. Let’s see what’s there.”
“That sounds good.”
In no time at all, they got a view of the world below.
The vision on the holographic screen-space changed. Instead of the view of the planetary system, it was replaced by a top view of a metallic suburbia. It was of course a false colored holograph.
“There is life on it, after all,” Arvind exclaimed with joy.
“Can’t you focus in more? I can’t yet see the people around here,” Rani scowled.
“Of course you can’t. My ship is not a Vegan Class Super cruiser. This is the maximum pixel that you can get from this baby,” he said patting the console. “But look dear, you see the buildings after all- there must be people on this planet. We must go and check it out.”
“I don’t know,” she scratched her head. “I do feel that something fishy is going on around here. No Interplanetary Customs officer has hailed us yet. After all we aren’t from this part of the world. If we had been on any other world, by this time, we might have been hounded by a dozen Immigration officers manned ship. I don’t even see one of those big, bulky Destroyer ships, ready to take the hostiles down in a jiffy.”
“So you are saying that we have hit one of those dead planets.”
“I think so,” his wife said, uncertainly.
“It does feel creepy, alright. I think we must get the hell out…………..”
Before he could complete his sentence, he was thrown out of his seat with a sudden impact. His ship was hit. The alarms went off, engulfing the ship with hooter sounds and panic inducing computer drill.
EVACUATE THE SHIP IMMEDIATELY. EVACUATE THE SHIP IMMEDIATELY.
Before he could do anything, the ship again shuddered violently. His face banged the screen. A bolt of sharp pain jolted up his right cheek. He could count the stars around his head. He could taste blood in his mouth.
He lost control of his body, his legs buckled and he flopped down to the floor, hitting the floor hard.
Then all of a sudden his world went upside down as the ship rolled over its back.
He could see, in his pseudo-sort of wakefulness, things shooting past each other, crashing against each other. Playthings, water bottles, computer consoles and what not.
He could make out the outline of his wife, strapped securely to her seat due to the seat belt, unaffected by the motion around. But she was flaying helplessly in her position, her long strands of hair resembling a thousand snakes wanting to go in all possible directions. She must have been rendered unconscious by the impact.
But he was helpless. And anyways she was better off in that buckled position.
He was being played by the elements, unable to control his own fate. It was one of those slow motion scenes you watched in a motion picture, time slowing down, the world coming to a standstill.
Then again the ship rolled back. Every part of his body screamed with pain as he hit the floor on his belly. With his body searing with pain, his head muddled (unable to cope up with the present situation), he might not have been able to muster his senses, had not a single panic stricken voice filled his head- What about your kids, honey?
The alarms shut up. Everything went back to normal. But Arvind didn’t even have an inkling of a doubt about what actually happened.
He looked outside the view-port, though it was hard to gauge, he had no doubt that they were being dragged towards the planet by a weak tractor beam.
They have been kidnapped, for reasons unknown. They had unwittingly made way to a pirate planet. He laughed at himself. So this would explain why they weren’t pestered by the immigration officers, because there were none on this lawless planet. Those goddamn pirates, hit the ship’s engine, so when they were being dragged by their weak tractor beam, they wouldn’t develop enough thrust to escape.
He bit his lip. He must focus on the present. He gripped the chair’s handle and tried to stand up. His legs had become rubbery. With all the blood left within his body, he willed his legs to stand erect.
After few futile attempts, they finally did. The first thing that he did was to check her wife’s pulse. It was beating normally.
She was okay, but unconscious. He would have time to see to her wounds later, but presently he must see how his kids fared.
His heart was beating violently; he had difficulty keeping all the worst-case scenarios that popped up in his minds in hordes, at bay. He would never be able to forgive himself if anything happened to them.
He winced with each step he took forward as unbearable pain shot up his body. But he knew he had to bear it stoically, after all it was due to his mistake they were here in the first place. The visual room was on the right to the pathway that was connected to the bridge. And the pathway itself was a narrow aisle with view of the open space on both sides. The walls were made up of a special type of transparent material that kept harmful radiations at bay but at the same time allowed you to take in a breathtaking view of the stretching space around.
Saptarishi, just loved to sit there and watch out into the deep space.
It took him a moment to realize that he just now used a past tense for his son. That horrified him no end.
He increased his pace even if it meant straining his bogged down and injured body to the hilt.
My son loves to watch out into the deep space.
The door was coming nearer. He could not hear any voice coming out of the room. He was praying against all hopes that they were fine.
He pushed open the door.
He was giddy with joy. His children were fine, of course. The entire room was sponged. There were no sharp corners in this room, though Mr. Muscle came from a rough and ruthless world, it wouldn’t even matter if he fell from 6000 feet. That much padded this room was.
On seeing him, both Saptarishi and Trinity cried in unison, “DADDY,” and they rushed forward to hug him. He was soon engulfed in the torrent of words that emanated from both of them. Each of them was giving his own account of what actually happened as they hugged him.
He just listened to them for a moment, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Thank God, they are okay.
“Daddy, you are hurt,” Trinity said, touching one of his wounds on the cheek.
That reminded him of his unconscious wife. He must see to her.
“Daddy, what are they going to do with us?” Saptarishi asked.
He looked at his son. Of course he knew they were kidnapped, he was a smart kid.
From the frying pan into the stove, they were far away from safety. He didn’t know what they would do with him and his family.
He looked into his eyes and said truthfully, “I don’t know son, I seriously don’t.”
“What are they doing, daddy?” Saptarishi asked, looking out of the portal.
“Waiting us out,” Arvind replied, with a deep scowl set on his face.
“But they don’t look harmful,” Rani broached cautiously, not wanting to stir the argument that broke out just few minutes ago on the course of action they should take. There was a bandage applied on her forehead. She was alright, but she was concerned about her husband’s health but he refused to get first aid till he got them out of this mess.
She sorely wanted to tell him that she didn’t blame him for this predicament they were suffering. Though of course, he won’t believe it and think that she was saying this only to soothe him, which she wasn’t.
Their ship had descended on the land. And they were surrounded from all sides by humans in colorful garbs.
They were not armed.
Their speaker was standing few inches ahead of them, near the ship, directly addressing the four humans inside their ship who were watching his each and every action intently.
“We mean you no harm, travelers from sky. We come in peace,” the speaker said, in his funny accent.
Arvind, once again replied on his microphone, “If you come in peace, why did you attack us in the first place?”
“We only want you to deliver a message to the outer world.”
“And exactly how are we supposed to do that? You have rendered our ship defunct. This ship has no chance budging from the ground.”
Again, the speaker was silent. He went back to where his people were standing, and once again started to converse with his leader in the whistling language.
Off the microphone, Arvind muttered, “They are crazy lunatics.”
“Crazy or not, our fate is in their hands. At least tag along with him for a while, find out what he exactly wants from us. If he only wants us to be his world’s messengers to the outer world, he surely must have means to get us back into space.”
“If he wanted to get his message across, he would have used radio waves. This guy is fooling us. But don’t know what he would achieve by such a gig. We don’t have anything that might be useful to them.”
In the meantime, the speaker returned.
“If you allow us, travelers from the sky, we would immediately work upon getting you out from here. After all we understand the pain to be bereft of the motherland.”
Rani mouthed, “Listen to their request.”
Arvind yielded. “Okay, what exactly you want from us?”
The speaker cleared his throat, as if preparing himself for a long speech.
Arvind doubted that he would have rarely got a chance to use this language among his natives. They all were whistling-two-piece-shits.
“Travelers from the sky, you and we go a long way back, though of course you may say that it’s true as we all are humans.”
I doubt it. Arvind thought. You don’t look one bit human to me.
“But has it never crossed your mind, that at one point of time, humans must have originated from a single point, that is- a single habitable planet?”
Don’t tell me that this were the planet of origin.
“This planet has been called Earth from eons ago. And though you may not believe me, this is the planet of origin.”
Arvind would have laughed at him had not Rani shushed him down.
“It was from this launching pad, that you spread your wings and flew far away in the deep darkness, leaving us behind. Thousands of years ago, it was on this planet that a great and terrible war was waged. Countless lost their lives and this planet was rendered uninhabitable. Our forefathers carried great and terrible diseases as a result of the war, your ancestors left, leaving them behind.”
“I must say, that it had been difficult living on this planet, we had to bear a harsh life on an uninviting planet, but we fought. We fought against the fury of an angry and defiled mother, we fought for our survival. It’s with great difficulty that we have managed to bring back some stretch of land back to life.”
“I can sense you brother, mirth writ all over your face, not even for a second wanting to believe our tale. But I have no other way to make you believe us. All I want you to is to carry our message to the outer world, keeping your beliefs with you and we would make your ship operable again.”
“What do you hope to gain from the message?”
“Compassion,” the speaker said sagely.
“We barely manage to survive here. This planet is facing a vicious cycle; it’s degrading day by day…”
“The perpetrators of the war did not think about us, those who fled this planet did not even glance at us. I today, on behalf of the entire populace of this planet, beg you to consider our plea, and help us get what was long due.”
Rani snatched the mike from Arvind, and before he could utter a word, said, “We would be happy to help you in any way possible.”
The speaker smiled. He whistled a joyous tune, and the crowd roared with pleasure.
Once the cheer subsided, the speaker said, “Thank you very much, travelers from the sky. We are very much in debt of you.”
He signaled in the direction of few of them gathered there on the right side. They heaved the heavy engines they had with them all the time near to the ship.
But Arvind was not yet satisfied.
He took the microphone from his wife’s hands and said, “That maybe all good. But still you have failed to answer one question.”
The speaker said, “I would be very happy to give you any sort of information that you ask for.”
“Okay, tell me one thing, you possess equipments that produce tractor beams to bring us down, you also seem to have the required engines for the ship, yet you cannot give your own message?”
The speaker smiled. “These equipments are not ours. There are other travelers from the sky that we deal with for our few scarce resources. And they are very much afraid to deal with your government.”
Pirates, Arvind thought. Why would the pirates go all the way to help these poor souls was beyond his comprehension, as he could not think that they possessed anything worthwhile to barter with them? But anyways, he was more interested to get out of this place. All the poor blokes wanted were to get their message through.
He at last relented.
The message consisted of a large, primitive 32 terabyte memory storage device. They were by now, back in space and moving back towards their home zone, the cricket match long out of their mind.
“Do you believe them?” Arvind asked.
Rani shrugged, as she dabbed Arvind’s right hand with a tourniquet, “Whatever to get us out.”
“Come to think of it, I cannot even imagine that such a large human population ever originated on such a sorry excuse of a planet.”
“Maybe you are right. But we still are honor-bound to get the message through,” she reminded him.
“Of course,” he said, as he craned his neck to see his children gazing out into the space in the corridor. “But, I don’t think, anything would come out of it.”
In few years time, he would discover, how much wrong he was that day…