A sluggish groan escaped from the lips of blonde woman, Anna, who sat at the head of the boardroom table, “They’ve destroyed all of our major defense systems. Weapons, satellites— we have nothing to fall back on. And it seems like the local wildlife has also been affected. Though, we are still performing tests to confirm why these animals are affected.”
At the table, members from every branch of Geneva’s United Nations office crammed together to get a glimpse of the screen before them. Teams from the Telecommunications, Human Rights, and Peace committees sat awaiting what they hoped would be a solution to what seemed like the inevitable destruction of everything.
What Anna, the lead scientist from Stockholm’s environmental research branch, pulled up on the screen, however, was something that drained their remaining shreds of hope. For the first time, they caught a glimpse of the aliens. At least, it was what they presumed to be aliens. The ‘beings’ they saw were robotic in nature and far beyond what anyone expected.
A slender metallic capsule with a smooth triangular ‘head’. Propellers kept them hovering mid-air and their small size allowed them the agility to deflect and avoid on-coming fire. That was if one even had time to land an attack on one of the drones.
Their numbers far exceeded what the scientists believed to be possible. For beings that had seemingly arrived out of nowhere, there were thousands stationed strategically throughout the world. It was clear to everyone that this attack had been in the making for quite some time.
Along with the scientist and humanitarian teams were generals who hoped to learn more about the invasion to launch a counter-assault. But even their minds were full of doubt as they watched the images. Humanity was ill-prepared for what they were facing.
Videos depicted soldiers pointing their guns at the drones. But before they had a chance to pull the trigger, they were disintegrated by the drone’s laser. The same went for tanks and planes. Even aiming at one of the drones was enough for the aliens to send missiles in retaliation.
“From what we’ve been able to determine,” Anna said, “The only bases that have been able to remain active are those with no military involvement. The aliens are able to track weapons. We’ve seen this in the US, Russia, China… they’ve first increased tensions and pitted rival nations against each other. Now they’ve come to wipe out the rest.”
War had always been a constant. There were no members of the UN who could truly say that humanity was ever getting closer to a time of lasting peace. Different nations, factions, and races— humanity always had a reason to wage war and attempt to destroy each other.
But there was now a common threat. No matter where one lived, the aliens were the main fear in everyone’s mind. Entire cities were burning, families were separated, and no one truly knew how long it would be until everything was finally over.
“The drones do have a weakness. We’ve isolated a small fuse-box looking device that knocks them out of service if hit,” Anna was sullen, “But hitting them in itself is the issue. Once they spot our weapons and lock on, we’ve defenseless.”
Gasps broke out from the crowd as the screen depicted civilians running through the streets of major cities shooting at the drones only to be gunned down. No one was safe. And no one knew what direction to take to protect themselves and the ones they loved.
A general rose to his feet, “The end of time has begun.”
Running with Ali on his shoulders, the stench of burned flesh made Hassan queasy. It was difficult for him to even look at his dear friend who oozed blood from every section of his body. The fact that Ali was even still breathing was a miracle. And Hassan was determined to save him.
He screamed at Saleem to open his car door, throwing him the keys. Though his mind was full of racing thoughts, Saleem poured all of his focus on preparing the back seat for Ali. The experience was sobering. His mind and body still ached, craving the drug, but he couldn’t turn his back on Ali. After everything, he knew he needed to make things right.
“Take Hiba to her mother and then get back here. He doesn’t have much time!” Hassan screamed as he guided Ali’s body into the sedan.
But before Saleem could take another step, Fariha had come to check on the commotion. And behind her, Mehwish came as well. Seeing her husband’s body limp and falling apart, she screamed. Blood dripped from his leg which hung by mere tendons. Her head spun.
“Mehwish!” Fariha screamed as her friend collapsed.
Hassan called out to her, “Please, Fariha. Take care of Mehwish. Everything will be okay. I promise.”
“Saleem!” he screamed to the young worker who scurried back and forth like a squirrel, “Get in the car!”
The tires skid and sent snow into the air as Hassan took off down the road. Fariha told the children to wait inside as she cradled Mehwish in her lap. After seeing the state of Ali, she didn’t know what to expect. But truthfully, she didn’t know if anything mattered at all given the situation. It seemed like nothing could save anyone.
Despite the doubts, Hassan was determined. His vehicle bumped and slid down the road as he sped out of the development toward the mountain pass. Speed breakers and stop signs meant little to him as he barreled and wove past everything in his path.
“What are you doing!?” Saleem screamed, “Are you crazy!?”
Sharp turns threatened to send the sedan rolling into the forest, but Hassan held on tightly to his wheel. The speed breakers were the least of his worries and by the time he reached the entrance to the mountain slopes, there were no other cars daring to make such a dangerous climb.
Saleem looked into the back seat as Ali groaned. His skin, whatever still remained, had turned yellowed and discolored. With how faint he breathed, it appeared as if there was barely any time left for him. Saleem screamed at Hassan and shook his arm. He pleaded for him to return to Ali’s home.
“His survival is important to me,” Hassan said.
“You know they’ve destroyed the hospitals! His body is totally devastated,” Saleem cried, “He won’t survive. You’re not even going the right way to the hospital!”
Hassan was calm, “I know where I’m going. This is the right direction.”
Before Saleem had a moment to argue, a shockwave burst across the road nearly sending the sedan into the trees. As the two men looked into the sky, they saw it— the capsule-like drone. The sensors in the device were flashing erratically. The vehicle’s speed caught their attention. And an ominous red light shone from the drone.
“We’re going to die!” Saleem screamed, “It’s over. It’s over, over, over! We’re dead! DEAD!” “Shut up!” Hassan hollered, “I know what I’m doing. Today, you’re going to see something you’ve never witnessed in your entire life.”
Saleem gripped onto the dashboard for dear life, “When have I seen aliens before!? I’ve never even seen tanks or fighter planes exploding along the road! I’ve never seen any of this before in my life!”
As they spoke, the red beam on the drone grew in size and sent a blast towards the car. Hassan jutted the wheel and swerved away, nearly missing the attack. Hassan’s chest pounded. He knew what needed to be done, but looking at the drone in front of him, he feared it wouldn’t be possible.
“If this is what you’ve wanted to show me then I’ve seen in all already! Turn the car back! Now!” Saleem screamed again.
With another blast incoming, Hassan wove off of the road. The pedal had touched the floor. Mere centimeters stood between Hassan’s car and the trees. He feared he would crash but he knew he had to go on. Not only did Ali’s life depend on him, but if he couldn’t escape the drone, they’d all be dead.
Blasts hit the trees, setting the forest ablaze. Even pushing his sedan to its maximum speed, the drone still lingered behind shooting its laser. It was inescapable. No matter how much he attempted to dodge, it was locked onto him.
“Oh shit. We’re dead! We’re dead, aren’t we!? You’ve killed us, Hassan! Oh shit. Shit!”
Ignoring Saleem’s wails, Hassan looked into the rearview mirror to see Ali, “Hang on! Stay with me!”
Further on the trail was a mud-filled track. Hassan went off-road, paying no mind to the sound of scraping branches. The further he drove, the darker the forest became. And even his headlights did little to improve his visibility. All he could do was push his car to its limits and travel onwards to the top of the mountain.
By the time Hassan noticed the river, it was already too late. His tires were spinning. Mud splashed into the air as the sedan began to sink. Panic emerged from both Hassan and Saleem. The drone was closing in and they were sitting defenseless.
“We have to run! Help me carry Ali!”
The two men poured out of the car and into the river. They bashed against the back door, trying to get it open to no avail. The window was the only option. They had mere moments until the drone gained on them, but they managed to pull Ali out of the car and carry him back onto land.
That, though, wasn’t a moment they had to celebrate. The drone’s laser landed a shot on the sedan, blasting metal bits into the air as it sank. Flames engulfed the vehicle. Saleem fell to the ground, overcome by fear. But Hassan pulled onto his shirt and motioned for him to continue onto the top of the mountain.
With Ali on his back and from the injuries he suffered during the wild ride, Hassan had difficulty running forward. But he soldiered on— he knew there was no other choice. They had made it past the river and only a short jog stood between them and the location that they sought.
“We’ve all gone mad. All people. All animals. Everyone and everything has gone mad. What are you trying to do? Bury him on top of a mountain? Do you want us to die to these aliens!?”
Hassan said nothing in response. He looked behind him and saw no sight of the drone. It had destroyed the car and that seemingly left it satisfied. From what he could tell, it was machines that attracted the aliens. And as they traveled up the rocky mountain pass, Hassan had to hope that they would remain safe.
Saleem’s onslaught of frightened words was relentless. But Hassan paid him no mind. As they traveled further up the trail, the sun’s light broke the darkness. At the top of the mountain stood a cave. The exterior was mossy and unassuming while the entrance showed less light than the forest from which they came.
As they took a final step to reach the peak, they heard an ear-wrenching explosion. Below them, they saw smoke and flames. If the damage to the sedan hadn’t already been substantial enough, it was finally clear that the car would never drive again.
“Nice going!” Saleem mocked, “Now the car’s destroyed. Guess we’re just going to stay here until we die. We’ll eat stones and drink from the river… hey! We can even live in that cave!”
Hassan grabbed his neck and hushed him. He pushed him forward toward the cave’s entrance. Saleem gulped. They were going from one place of uncertainty to another. But at least in his eyes, this cave wasn’t filled with drones looking to blast them into pieces.
While they traveled through the darkness, they noticed a glowing white light as they walked deeper. Both sides of the cave walls glowed with a faint light. And a chilling fog surrounded them. Despite the eeriness, there was peace within the cave. It was free of the chaotic sounds of the outside world. Only a faint hum resonated through the air.
“Amma Ji,” Hassan called. “Dear old woman”.
The cave was silent. Hassan called out again. His eyes turned to the wall. The faint glow turned bright and the rocks shook. A passageway opened and from the hall came an old woman who walked with a long wooden stick.
Her hair was pure grey and her shrouded face was wrinkled but the old woman smiled as she saw Hassan. Though frail, the woman emanated confidence— she had no fear of her secluded home. And in her cloudy eyes, there was a sense of peace and wisdom.
Saleem, however, felt nothing but fright. He scurried backward, falling onto his rear. As he crawled away, he looked back at the old woman who locked her eyes on him. Those pupilless eyes— they scared Saleem. But as he studied her face, he saw no malice. She was a quaint old woman and reminded him of his own greatgrandmother.
The old woman looked up at Hassan, “Why have you come back again?”
“My friend,” Hassan said as he motioned towards Ali.
Sighing, the old woman said, “If your heart isn’t pure, God will not help you.”
Hassan pointed to Ali once again. His movements were more frantic, “My friend, Amma Ji. Help him.”
Turning to face Ali, the woman lifted her walking stick in the air. She pointed towards the right wall which shook and glowed brighter. The white light turned a vibrant shade of green. Such mysticism was a mystery to Saleem who cowered in the corner. But for Hassan, it brought him back to that day eight years ago.
He recalled her words back then, “If your heart is not pure, God will not help you. But whatever does happen will be the will of God.”
“I am ready,” he replied.
The old woman laughed, “Many warriors came here believing they were prepared but were burned to ash, my son.”
Returning inside the cave, she said, “Are you sure?” At the time, Hassan didn’t truly know what he was getting himself into. He saw the skeletons at his feet. He knew what she meant by ‘burned to ash’. But he was strong in his faith. He believed nothing was going to stand in his way from his goal.
He saw the green light glowing through the cave. And he knew its source— the crystal. The old woman’s voice still echoed in his mind, “Are you sure? Are you sure?” Though, back then, his resolve wavered. The sound of her voice overwhelming his mind— he couldn’t handle it.
Hassan ran. By the time his feet touched the mouth of the cave, he felt a blast behind him. He screamed as the green light surrounded him. He was swept along by the light as if it were a rope. It wrapped itself around his arms and legs, carrying him through the forest.
He was sent cascading through the trees until he reached the river. There, he fell into the river where his body beat into the passing rocks before washing ashore. Hassan believed he would have died there. And truly, he would have. But Ali was there. Ali spotted him along the river and carried him to the hospital.
Though his consciousness was limited, Hassan knew what he saw. The green light that was inside his own body transferred to Ali. The light went to those who were pure. And from that moment forward, Hassan knew that it was Ali whose heart was purer than any other.
But the roles were reversed. It was now Hassan’s turn to save Ali and he vowed he would do whatever it took. He laid his friend down beside the green crystal. The magic that it held was a mystery even to him. But he had faith that it could help Ali.
Saleem still held skepticism. As he took a step forward, he heard a crunch beneath his feet and stumbled backward. His eyes widened— he saw a human skull. Screaming at the top of his lungs, he rushed to Hassan and pulled him out of the cave. In his mind, the green light and the crystal was going to be their doom.
In Hassan’s mind, he heard the voice playing in his head, “Are you sure?”
Looking back, he spotted the old woman. She returned inside the cave wall from which she came. She was silent, but her voice echoed in Hassan’s mind. It was calming. For once, Hassan felt no fear. If he could trust anyone to be pure of heart, he knew he could trust Ali.
He smiled, “I am sure.”
Qalandar, Earth Needed A Superhero. © Copyright 2019 by Fraz Ahmed. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Disclaimer : –
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.