Saleem wailed as he hid his face and sat outside the cave, “I don’t understand this. I don’t understand anything. You brought me into a no-man’s zone. And you’re making me crazy! You’re going to kill me!”
Hassan sighed, “Shh! If the drones hear us we’ll really be dead.”
But that did little to comfort Saleem, “We came all the way to bring Ali to this place and now we’re just waiting outside. Who was that old woman? Did you see her eyes!? I’ve taken some stuff before, but nothing has ever made me high like this.”
Seeing Hassan remain still and quiet, Saleem continued to speak, “If the aliens don’t kill us, we’re still going to die from the cold or hunger or-”
He yelped as a sharp, fast object flew past his ear and shattered into the rocks. Looking behind him, he saw a stray bullet falling to the ground. Pieces of the rock broke from the wall sending pebbles pelting his cheek. As he touched his face, he felt blood. Saleem screamed.
From the burning forest, the capsule-like drone emerged. Hassan’s breathing seized. He had thought they were safe secluded by the cave. He grabbed Saleem and pulled him down to the ground, hoping that the drone hadn’t locked on to the two of them.
It baffled him how the drone was able to find them. From what he knew, the aliens were attracted to machines and weapons. He didn’t know what could have called them to their location. And then it hit him. The stray bullet wasn’t from the drone at all. They were sitting across from the Indian border.
“Ahh! What the-” Saleem cried before Hassan covered his mouth.
Hassan was quiet but stern, “We’re in the middle of the line of control. You’re moving around and making a scene. The snipers saw you.”
Sweat poured down Saleem’s face, “Yeah… that’s all I needed. That’s all that was left. Why did you bring me here!? It’s death everywhere! Up and down. From my front to my back…”
Saleem dug his fingers into his skin. His voice turned frantic, “I need my drugs. I’m going to die. I’m actually going to die. And it’s your fault. I’ll kill you!”
As Hassan called to Saleem to calm down, the young worker picked up a flat rock with a sharp edge. From raising his voice, the drone had turned to face him. The red light shone brightly. In a panic, Hassan grabbed him and dragged him towards the cave.
With the drone on their trail, Hassan feared all hope was lost. They couldn’t outrun it and if they led it into the cave, they’d only endanger Ali further. Hassan stopped. Whatever fate had in store for him, he knew he had to accept it. He locked eyes with the drone.
But before the red light had a chance to form itself into a beam, it flipped into the air and swung like a pendulum. Gaining speed, the drone crashed into the mountainside and shattered into metallic shards. It happened so fast that Hassan didn’t have time to comprehend what was happening.
Their eyes widened with shock. A flow of green light wafted through the air. It swirled and danced before manifesting into a human form. Neither of them could believe their eyes. A human was standing before them. And that human had emerged from a ray of light.
It was Ali.
His body— once charred —was dripping blood was strong and healthy. There was not a single mark on his body. Even the scars he had from years ago— the knife wounds on his chest —were completely gone. He was tall and muscular far more than he had ever been.
Ali stepped towards them and Saleem panicked. Before the young worker had a chance to speak, Ali reached out and pressed his hand on the man’s heart. Green glowing light flowed through Saleem’s veins and all the fear and pain he felt slowly faded away. He was calm.
As Saleem looked up at Ali, a single tear fell from his eye. It was not one of sorrow. For once during the chaotic day, the young worker felt joy. Something was assuring him that all would be well. And while he couldn’t fully understand it, he could feel it in his heart.
Saleem looked at Hassan, “You… you were right. What I’ve seen and felt today is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.”
But while the three were reunited, all was not yet at peace. Another bullet flew through the air and gust past Ali. Before the two men had a chance to react, they saw Ali’s arm extend. Between his fingers, he held a single bullet. There was no struggle or sight of pain. And Ali didn’t even face the direction from which the bullet came.
“Oh… oh my God!” Saleem gasped, “You’re like a superhero. It’s like from the movies. Am I dreaming? Oh no… I’m dreaming! ”
Ali paid no mind to Saleem who continued to rant and rave. In the sky, he watched a group of capsule-like drones fly towards the location of the sniper. He knew that beyond the bushes and trees, the Indian army was waiting. They were frightened and desperate. And he knew they’d been ill-prepared for the on-coming attack. He had to do something.
In a small room inside the depths of the cave, the old woman sat. She twirled her walking stick in her hands as she stared up at a faint white light. Her expression was calm but she furrowed her brows. Waving her stick in hand, she spoke to the light that began to grow.
“He’s not ready yet,” she said.
The man’s voice responded, “He didn’t come to us himself. We had no time to prepare him. It is unlike we did with the previous ones. We tried our best with the ones before him. Nothing remains forever but God.”
The old woman was not convinced. Her mind was filled with thoughts of the past. And as she thought, all of the light and calmness turned to darkness and chaos. There was much she wished to caution Ali about his new burden. But as the voice said, they didn’t have any time.
She thought of an old man with a white beard. At that time, he was just as weak and frail. He wished to be filled with the power of the green light. His greed for power was insurmountable. And when he was denied for having a heart filled with impurities, he didn’t take the refusal kindly.
It was the next turn of events that left her worried. The old man’s face contorted into anger. His face, once serene and wrinkled, had been overtaken by shadows. Darkness surrounded him. He became the absence of light. As he looked upon the Green Darwaishs that whirled, he slaughtered them.
“This time, let him learn everything himself,” the man said, “Maybe it is best for him right now.. He will come to understand the world.”
And even from where she sat, the old woman could see him. She watched Ali as he sat atop the mountain. His eyes were closed and he was at peace. When he focused, he could absorb the world around him. He felt everything that happened within the Earth.
As the planet spun, Ali felt himself sway. As the sun’s rays shone down, he understood their warmth. Whether it was the moon’s light or ocean’s waves, Ali felt connected. He sensed every bird that spread their wings. And he felt the breathing of every fish that jumped from the water.
There was beauty in the world. That was something Ali always knew in his heart. But at that moment, he truly understood. He reached out his palm to collect fallen snow and windswept bits of pine. As he held it in his hands, it was as near to him as the heartbeat of every human.
The spirit said to the old woman, “Let him settle this with himself. Rest. God knows best.”
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.