I’ve only known Malay for a short while, but I can already tell you that this guy thinks DEEP. Like my favorite existentialists, Malay commits his fiction to the belief that individuals have the power to alter their existence but with unusual consequences. What lies beneath the surface is something that we, as human beings, cannot but help to toy with. In Malay’s case what lies beneath, what can be found just behind the curtain, is not one but two or more possible realities. The question always, is which one is the better one?
About the author
Malay A. Upadhyay grew up in the Eastern provinces of paradoxical India. It was a childhood of anomalies – a different spacetime, where he could not understand a friend’s passion for books on one hand even as he wrote for school elocution on the other. Recently back to contemporary Earth, he conceived many of the techno-economic ideas described in his book – Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea – at Bocconi University in Milano. His Blog of a Fly subscribes to the elusively effervescent, ephemeral connection among beings across space and time. That is after all, a belief that underlies every piece of literature ever written.
The Book In His Own Words
Every choice we make leads to its own unique consequence. To change the consequence, therefore, one must travel back in time to change the choice. But what if such change, instead of altering our future, simply created another – one that came to exist simultaneously with our world?
This is a story of how one such moment of love led to two parallel futures; a story of how your choices have an impact far beyond the world you know; a phenomenon that we had sensed, and wished for, all along. Set in Italy, while one timeline scales a city of the future where not just people but also things like money evolve, the other cradles itself in an amalgamation of contemporary Europe with ingredients of a new age. Step by step, the story embarks on a journey in a parallel world that we all live in but rarely see.
Q & A
What inspires you to write?
Experiences, and the ideas they generate to understand how things around us function on different levels. I try to learn something every day and what I write intends more to document these than to simply entertain with a good story.
Do you listen to or talk to to your characters? (You aren’t alone 🙂 How do you interact with your characters while you are writing?
Certainly. My characters are a mix of three things: an overview to begin with, an inspiration from people I know, which gives them a shape, and their reactions which begin to unfold in each scene and situation as the story progresses, for it lends a level of detail that you could not have imagined at the beginning.
What advice would you give other writers?
There is no specific rule or method to go about a story. It just needs diligence for as long as it takes to write, and a balance of thought – to ensure that you go with the flow without losing sight of where you are going.
How did you decide to publish your books?* What influenced your to publish with a publisher or go the self-publishing route?
I researched a bit to understand how the process of submissions works. I was lucky to have found an agent – Emerantia Antonia Parnall-Gilbert of Gilbert Literary Agency – who was receptive of new authors and clearly told me how arduous the path was going to be, and the risks involved therein. I will simply suggest new authors to be patient in their search and analysis of online information, to check how the submission process works with publishers in the country they wish to publish in, and to verify publishers/agents by checking them in any of the renowned literary database.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?*
In the medium-term, I think it will strongly be determined by the digital innovations in place. Whether as a mix of sounds, imagery, weblinks or simply the way books are read, both the phenomenon of internet-of-things and the evolution of mobile gadgets will determine how ebooks change. However, the traditional paperbacks would continue to hold fort, albeit with changes in how they are discovered in online and offline stores.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I blog as a Fly. That’s one! The other is my habit of taking incessant notes as and when ideas arrive, most of which happen during a re-enactment of conversations that characters may have in the story.
What inspired the book?
The futuristic ideas for Kalki Evian came to me during my time at Bocconi University in Milano. However, I am more drawn towards subtle romance in any story. That is primarily because I find it to be the most natural form of conduct between characters. It lends the strongest incentives to their actions and gifts a sense of beauty to any plot under any circumstance. It is also what makes the characters human, and the story, regardless the genre, have a soul. That is how the plot took shape.
Nothing gives me greater joy than being able to shine a light on the work of others. Writing takes time; getting it out there: much more.
Malay A. Upadhyay: Kalki Evian – The Ring of Khaoriphea
To those who ceased to trust their instinct
just because everyone told everyone else
that no one did.
Hypothesis #1: Every choice has its own unique
This would imply that at any given time, the choice
we make leads us on an entirely different path from the one
that any other would take us on. It is like driving a car. Once
we turn right at any junction, all roads on previous left turns
cease to matter. And that right turn takes us on to a new
junction with a new set of turns, each with its own choice of
left and right, and so on. None in particular is better or
worse. It is just different. And these paths may even meet
Hypothesis #2: Time travel could be possible at
some time in the infinite future.
Time is a dimension like any other; only somewhat
beyond our understanding. The day we evolve enough to
comprehend exactly how it works, we may be able to travel
in time and return to a junction/event that occurred in the
past – our own, or maybe someone else’s.
If we combine hypothesis #1 and #2, it would
indicate that at least someone may have travelled back in
time to warn Caesar of an oncoming conspiracy, or
persuaded Hitler’s father to allow his son to become an
artist, or simply changed something in their own past. In
each instance, that change would involve going back to an
event, and may result in an altogether different set of affairs
to consequence. In other words, the second path – one
different from that which we took initially – could come
That said, we do not yet seem aware of any such
changes to our known history. Brutus continues to
exemplify treason rather than honour. Hitler remains the
author of Mein Kampf. And our life remains dotted with
specific, unchanged events just as we remember them.
These two points mean that as a consequence of any
active and influential time travel, one or more parallel
realities must come into existence, somehow unknown to us.
Hypothesis#3: We do not yet know how to time
That is a gap that exists . . . in common knowledge
as per common beliefs. But then, news from many unknown
corners of this world remains obscure.
Hypothesis#4: The relativistic view of time and
space shows a warping of the spacetime plane, audience to
the disparities in distance and time travelled with changes
General relativity is Einstein’s brainchild, whose
applicability to this case shall be assumed to be
Malay A. Upadhyay: Kalki Evian – The Ring of Khaoriphea
“Is this where she falls?”
“Two miles further south.”
“Then,” the former hesitated but asked with hope,
“is this where we save her?”
Wind blew perfectly in accordance with fresh traces
of floating memory that lay in the latter’s mind. The man
smiled. Significantly taller and older than the inquiring
other, he stood with a sparkle in his eyes, unmoved and
unblinking and gazing ahead under the faintest crease of
brows that stood in striking contrast to the amused pair
ordained by one to his right and to the tense pair of a third
who stood behind him, looking up, awaiting a sense of their
It was pitch dark on a brazen land. Clouds usually
decorated the sky at this time of the year but they had
arrived today in galore, witness to a moment of particular
significance that bore a perfect sense only to the one who
had stood there without a twitch of muscle for over an hour.
Metal cape was a rather unusual coat to adorn those heavy
shoulders, but he wore it as if he had journeyed from a
battlefield. The younger, chubby individual who
accompanied him – Bree was his name – would have
vouched that he had. The graphene, fashionably
complimented his neatly combed silver hair. Uniform white
stubble graced his cheeks, save for three short creases on the
upper end of his cheekbones. Together, it all directed one’s
focus to his sharp eyes that he relied upon to speak out more
than words could. Even under the dark shade of that
evening, his face glowed not through a visible shine but
through a perceptual radiance. Drizzle marked their borders,
illustrating the elder’s stern body language, with his hands
neatly folded at the back and fingers clasping on to each
other. Two in particular seemed to gently toy with a ring on
one of his thumbs. Bree’s younger pair of shoulders,
meanwhile, heaved under his heavy breathing. They bowed
smoothly on to fleshy arms that hung parallel to his thick
legs positioned with utmost care to stand beside but half-astep
behind the pair in boots – as if to conform to the latter’s
As the first drops began to trickle from above, the
metal-clad almost allowed himself to smile again – one
fairly invisible to any who could see him. For, the sound of
rain had been perfectly tuned to a faint rumble on the metal
rails far in the distance, reflecting a coherence that was
nothing short of little verifications that he belonged there in
The third – a doctor and the one with the questions
initially – had heard the rumble too. He tried to stab his sight
through the darkness to find its source. The effort had
brought about a spark of excitement from within his
exhausted body. His shoulders were straighter, the dressing
sharp. Only a little pouch hung across on a thread-like string
and repeatedly bounced off the waist in constant attempts to
fly under the wind.
The little smile on the elder’s face waned amidst
continuing sounds of those drops on metal as he spoke,
unflinching still, “Any issues?”
The task that the doctor had been sent for not many
moments ago had drained sufficient proportion of his
energy. He quickly gathered his breath to reply, despite
having had enough time since his arrival, as if all air had
stalled in his lungs during the anxious moments that had
recently passed. “The information was precise. I reached
just in time to warn them. Such carelessness . . .”
“It wasn’t beyond the norm, doc,” Bree spoke with
an almost juvenile amusement, “It was an inevitable
consequence of a long chain of cause and effect that
perceivably began with a pack of milk.”
“Yes, and some superstition.”
“I believe that is simply a misnomer for
carelessness,” the doctor quipped.
“It is one for precisely the opposite. Whether
superstitions have any viable meaning is trivial. They are
always true – not because they work but because they make
us believe they do. It’s a belief that often runs stronger than
even any other faith. In this case, it was one that pertained to
spilt milk – a bad omen in these parts of the world. But that
story is quite unworthy of this moment and is rather
“How can it not be relevant, Bree?”
“Because subtle chains of cause and effect are too
complex to decipher for an individual mind. There lies no
beginning to such stories, no matter how many millennia
one traverses back in time. The only matter of relevance
then is to know that life is always, and exclusively, what it
turns out to be . . . nothing more, nothing less and certainly
“That explains your persistent sense of adventure,”
the doctor replied in an implied jest under a very serious
face. “What’s with the tweed cap?”
“My sense of adventure needs props, much like your
little pouch” Bree replied, contrasting his comfort in the
situation with the other’s panic.
Two large bags lay almost kissing his wet feet. The
doctor pointed at them, “I prefer mine to those!”
“Aah, yes. I would help if I could, doc. Sorry to
spoil an otherwise perfect evening . . .”
It was then that the heavy voice intervened once
more. “Perfection is a matter of perception,” the elder said,
“and there’s much left in this evening. She’s here.”
The other two looked out into the distance. A yellow
ball of light shone hazily through the heavy curtain of rain
in the dark but was intensified by a deafening horn riding on
a sudden screeching on rails that stabbed through the space.
A red light in that area was never part of the itinerary for the
train but that order stood defiant, facing the speeding frame
of metal and forcing it to apply its brakes, perhaps unaware
of the catastrophe that may follow for the souls seated
inside. The distance, though, had worked in the train’s
favour as the driver sprung into action the instant the red
light had come into view. The screech was unsubmissive,
the shock unavoidable, but the tracks lay embedded within a
slight cavernous stretch on the land. As short hills rose on
either side of the tracks, the slopes might just cushion the
near-fatal consequence that was soon to be. And so the train
slid more than sped in those last few hundred metres with a
wave of scream and confusion rippling along her entire
length. The last few coaches bounced off but followed
helplessly under the dual force of a roaring engine in front
and the waves of elevated earth on the sides. Things rattled,
tilted, inverted, shook, bounced and broke – all within the
perceived parameters, all except one.
“Make the call,” was the command. Bree sprung into
action. He closed in the fingers on his left hand and gently
rubbed the tips of the three-fingered glove he was wearing,
with his thumb. As the tips illuminated under the charge, it
seemed to the doctor as if light had stuck itself to them, for
the thin spot of illumination stretched in between as the
fingers moved away. Soon, the gluey spot of light turned
into a ray between his forefinger and the little one. It
broadened to produce a thin film on his palm, which
immediately came alive with embedded blue lights. Bree
tapped on the virtual phone.
The three scanned past the rough muddy terrain
under the leadership of the pair of feet that seemed to
outline two steps in advance, a finality of objective as to
where they intended to land. As the three approached the
only coach with a door thrown open, the anticipation on the
doctor’s face gave way to a flush of subdued panic.
Secluded from the air of shock that prevailed around the
train, someone lay unconscious, stained in red.
The victim was pulled to the other side of the slope
as his rescuers got down to business; two inspecting the
immediate wounds while the other stared at his bloodsmeared
“You knew he would fall out?” the doctor asked in
“Yes,” the elder replied, his eyes fixed on what lay
“How? What of the others?”
He asked with a calm blink of those eyes, “What
would you say, Bree?”
The man climbed a few feet on the slope and began
to scan the coaches with his naked eye. At length, he replied
with eyes strained on those opaque walls, “Injuries
sustained throughout but I see a conglomeration at only two
places, both in the dismounted coaches. No deaths though,
just urgent movements and significant shock.”
“How long is it before the others arrive?”
“Half an hour for the emergency services; quarter
more for the media. In two, the area should be swarming.”
“Are we in position?”
Sweat was beginning to work its way, softening the
crisp hair of the one nursing the body. The doctor’s words
then, were those of unparalleled concern, “His heart beats
“But beats still . . .”
“Yes. But did you check him? Is it him?”
“To every detail,” was the definitive reply. The mass
of metal heaved with the elder’s shoulders as he bent over
the body and analysed it comprehensively with a blank stare
that defied any form of indifference it may have been
ordinarily reserved for. This one belonged to a trance. The
body lay spread out with one palm clenched on to nothing in
particular. The man held something in his fist, something
that had been dear enough to have extracted every inch of
endurance in him to keep it within his grasp even through
the painful – and seemingly endless – course of his fall from
the train. The elder looked at that fist as though he could
conjure the invisible piece in his own imagination. “Hope,”
he uttered softly and blinked. The name had proclaimed
itself louder in its rarity.
He stood up and spoke, with the usual heaviness
back in his voice, “Prepare the cart.” The doctor pulled one
of the bags and dropped inside a miniature stretch of metal
wound on two small rods. He placed the bag on the ground,
stretched it wide, and began tapping on his wrist band.
Streaks of blue shone and faded where he touched it, and the
bag began to twirl from within. Inside, sand-like particles
ran over each other as they encapsulated the little piece he
had dropped inside. Once the rendering was complete, he
took out the object, poured more of the particles, and tapped
a few more times. Gradually, more and more particles
joined in to form a large replica of the tiny object.
The doctor then turned back to the other sack and
dropped another piece. The routine followed and out came a
flat board. He then placed it near the body, and stuck a
charge underneath. It slid seamlessly and activated itself.
Another push and the two boards stuck together as the air
was sucked out from between them. He then dug into his
pouch to extract a metal frame that he attached under the
contraption. A few wrist-taps later, it lit blue immediately
and the light spread along the borders of the board as the
entire mass began to float few inches above the ground.
He looked up once done. Bree was smiling. The
doctor guessed, “Electro-permanent magnets, I suppose.”
The reply was almost instant and familiarly amused,
“Not bad for an expert in biology.”
“The problem when you focus too much on one
subject,” the doctor countered, “is that you lose your grip on
“Unless the rest begin to converge . . .”
Bree had left a cryptic possibility free to implant
itself in the other’s mind and was aided conveniently by the
elder’s interruption to march forward.
The two men pressed charges near their torso while
the doctor climbed on his contraption. With soles lifted
inches above, the three began to move with the body. Many
minutes passed before they came by a small instalment, few
miles away from the railroad and everything else. The site
of commotion had been left far behind and only ghostly
whispers of the breeze continued, sans the drops of rain and
their clinks on metal. The doctor questioned, all thoughts
relegated in the face of a larger lump in his throat, “You
took a risk.”
It was as if the metal-clad elder had been
anticipating it. His words nearly overrode those of the
doctor’s, “One that saved some two hundred lives; perhaps
“You facilitated one accident to prevent another.”
“It was a necessary risk.”
“Enough to justify this?”
The reply came almost immediately once again, but
the voice was far gentler and had come from behind them.
“Any act has its consequence. Every act changes the world.”
Those broad shoulders turned to face the source of
the sound with an unmistakable constriction in the pair of
eyes above, as if in attempts to fashion a smile. A woman,
dressed in a silhouette sharply accentuated by a short cloak
that covered her head, came towards the three from around a
little tent. She was nearly as old as the elder but carried a
significantly warmer gaze. Her hair was wavy and grey and
seemed to rest on her shoulders with the softest touch,
fashioned with streaks of silver in the front locks.
She looked at the body that lay on the board, and
sighed. A welcoming look then followed on to the man who
sat upon it. The doctor ignored the warmth of that attention
that lay bestowed through seconds of concern. He addressed
the elder again, though with slight hesitancy, “I can’t . . .
just . . .”
“What happened?” Bree asked as if charged with
managing the doctor’s conundrums for the evening.
“Nothing,” came the desolate reply, followed by a
more professional concern, “A hospital would have been
more appropriate . . .”
“That wouldn’t be necessary. We can trust each
other on this,” replied the elder. His words were calm but
bore a striking directive towards haste.
“How . . .” an argument attempted to ensue but
gulped itself down its bearer’s throat, switching instead to a
taunt, “Are you really willing to watch this lad die?”
The elder did not speak. His eyes expressed a
strange concoction of pain and calm as he was helplessly
diverted to the lifeless body that lay in front. That entrapped
chunk of oxygen in his lungs was measured immediately by
the recently arrived. She spoke on his behalf, with a smile
that was an answer in itself, “Of course not. That is why we
have you here.”
“But how do you know I will save him?”
“Because if you had not already done that, we would
still be human.”
The eyes opened gradually. Light had not entered
them for an age, or at least the brain had ceased to process it
so. Any part of the world, then, should have been a beautiful
vision to come across, but all he saw were streaks of blue
running across in mid-air against a plain white background.
Everything was hazy except these sharp blue characters, and
a crystal clear voice of a woman, as if programmed to
initialize the moment he woke up.
“Welcome. Default settings now active. Visuals
confirmed. Data status, basic. Volume level: aligning . . .
aligning . . . aligning. Saved. Thank you. Your world is at
The streaks and the sounds faded as the background
came into clearer view – a lone glass frame stood on a white
stretch of the wall, with the words: One hand washes the
other; both get clean. His pupils narrowed in trying to read
it carefully, and immediately, little edges appeared out of
nowhere to focus on the text. There they waited, and
shivered with the confused movement of his pupils.
Fidgeting to get the little blue edges away from his sight, he
shook his head and blinked as he moved. The visuals
hanging in mid-air twitched, lost focus and tried to target
something else on that otherwise bland wall. He resisted but
to no avail and then held his eyes static on the frame,
waiting. Nothing happened. With eyes beginning to burn, he
blinked once more with a perplexed gaze fixed at the wall.
The projection of little edges joined together over the frame
and gently faded away to display a copy of that text in blue,
somewhere in the empty space, followed instantly by the
words: Curaçaon proverb. Origin: Former Caribbean. He
blinked again, and they disappeared.
“I’ve been waiting to see them. . .” It was a different
voice, equally gentle but so much sweeter. He held still,
expecting to see another series of obstructions, until
footsteps sounded somewhere to his left. He turned to find
white flat-soled shoes crisscrossing their way to him,
carrying slender legs that rose up to partially visible fingers
holding a tray, followed higher by a sparkling white shirt
sprinkled towards the top with fluffy locks of hair bouncing
around a young slyly smiling face. Their eyes met, and the
books would have spoken of an emotional concordance. But
the blue edges appeared again. Unable to draw his sight
away, he quickly blinked. The projections displayed one
line of text after another: Friuli, Fridgeon. F, 25.
Permissions denied. Possibly 1st.
“Fri-uli-,” he muttered.
“Those eyes,” she interrupted matter-of-factly, “I’ve
been waiting to see them.”
“Although now the perplexity seems equally
“Uh-I’m . . . sorry,” he said with weak, broken
voice, continually blinking and shaking his head to ward off
the information displayed.
“You will get used to it. If you want it stopped, just
tell it so.”
“Tell what? Tell whom?”
“Your brain. The password’s right beside you.”
He turned to his right. A table lay at about his height
with a little white card embossed with an alphanumeric code
that was barely visible. He strained once again as the edges
appeared, and managed to read out the letters: QIn45.
She corrected him, “It is one word. They confused
with the caps. Sorry for that.”
He uttered it accordingly. The edges disappeared and
nothing followed, drawing his eyes to move all around the
room as if they had been let loose to absorb his
surroundings. They stood wide open in anticipation of the
source of what he had just seen. He fell back on his pillow,
already exhausted under the stress.
“You should rest,” Friuli spoke, smiling still. “Or
you won’t be able to handle it.”
“Handle what?” He enquired.
She waited, looking directly into his eyes, letting
him absorb her tease of curiosity, and then answered, “What
we have done to your world.”
The pupils changed shapes again. He was nervous.
“We the people, Qin. Welcome back, and good
She walked out and the room fell back to a white
stretch of space. He rose to look at himself, strapped and
bandaged in a long robe. But there was no plaster, stitches
or even pain. How long had he been there? The simplicity of
that query dragged his thoughts back to the dreadful night.
Nothing came back perfectly but in his blur, he remembered
a sudden shock, a muscular effort, a short flight, a series of
scratchy rollovers, and a determined fist. Attempts to think
further strained his nerves as exhaustion overtook a bit
more. Sleep dawned and he closed his eyes with troubled
relief. The images came back in view, but differently so: a
girl breathing heavily . . . he saw himself scream and run
away . . . a train came into view shortly after, and with it
came a feeling of uncontrollable rage. And then there was
shock, a muscular effort, a short flight, a series of scratchy
rollovers, and that determined fist.
It felt chillier and the surface his skin touched felt
rougher than it appeared. He woke again and quickly got off
his bed. His feet dragged and stumbled on their way to the
wash basin. The water was a respite but felt nearly numb
when it splashed against his face. He looked up in some
irritation to find a long stretch of glass, in the centre of
which stood a man many years older than him.
“Wh-,” he jerked back in surprise. “Who are you?”
he asked, feeling misled into believing it was glass. But the
figure mimicked him to produce an unwelcomed realization.
He looked down at his arms, closely and in disbelief. They
looked larger, and older. He tried to take a closer look at his
reflection. It was him, much older than he could remember.
His fingers slowly crawled towards the mirror but the
moment he touched the glass, more words rolled out, this
time displayed firmly over his own reflection, without a
sound: Welcome. Four more words appeared beneath as he
half-muttered what he saw: News, Weather, Sport,
Emergency. But by the time he pronounced the first of
those, the characters disappeared and were replaced by a
statement in bold: Etna wakes up, and puts everything else
to sleep, followed by more texts highlighting the headings
of various articles on the day. He nervously read them while
trying to shake away the text on glass until he found a little
series of icons beneath. He tried each with different results.
A familiar voice read out the text at one, one translated it all
in different languages, one changed the pattern of the text, a
fourth stuck to his fingers and ran along as they moved,
highlighting all text that came in its way, while another
switched to a different screen that began to ask for his
identification. With his head splitting, he drew away and
shouted, “Stop it!”
Everything vanished, and he stood there, alone, in
silence and decades older than he remembered. “The card,”
he thought, and uttered, “Qin45.” A beep sounded as he
took a deep breath, focussed on his reflection and blinked.
Texts appeared again, seemingly in mid-air, but they had no
mirror image. He strained further until he noticed little blue
streaks on the reflection of his pupil. The image was
startling, but his focus was immediately drawn away on to
the text itself: Permissions denied. He tried again, to a
He would have screamed again, this time to an
audience extending far beyond the bounds of his room. But
with those very first steps that went backwards without any
direction or intent, carrying a lost mind and a panicking
body, the sweeter voice returned, “I told you to rest.”
He turned in anger to face the face he could not help
being intrigued at. He fought the diversion and addressed
her sharply, the intensity of his voice increasing with each
word, ‘Rest?! You tell me where I am. You tell me RIGHT
“Anger won’t help you, Qin,” she spoke softer still.
“You know this better than most people. Nor would
restlessness, or even solitude.”
The last word hit him as hard as his confusion had,
for it ran on inconvenient memories that came back
distinctly. He breathed again and asked, simply but sternly,
“Where am I?”
“I would tell you right now, but please spare a
thought to this: you are alive. And if you can remember
anything, it was quite unlikely.”
He did realize the fact, for if nothing else, he did
remember an excruciating pain that he had shut his eyes
amidst. He remembered, if nothing else, that more painful
had been his final regret that had stormed out from within
all illusions of uncertainty and righteousness, as he lay in
seclusion, smeared in his own blood and clenching on to
what felt most dear in that moment. I didn’t see, he had
thought as his grip had tightened over a ring. And then, it
had all gone blank.
The nervousness marginally waned as the breathing
normalized but he was restless still when he asked, “Why do
you keep calling me that?”
“Calling you what?”
“Qin, you said.”
“Aah, but that is what we have had registered here.
Is that not right?”
Qin thought for a while but could not explain his
agitation under the severe headache. He exclaimed in agony,
“I . . . don’t know.”
Friuli enquired, “Do you remember anything?”
“Only vaguely. Bits and pieces, but it’s too
“It will come back. You need rest.”
“What is all this, these screens? And what the hell is
on my eye?”
“So you activated it again?” she asked, walking up
to help him back to his bed.
“I had,” he said guiltily, feeling much easier with her
very first touch. “. . . switched it off.” He continued, as he
looked at the smooth stretch of her fair skin, “Couldn’t take
“You have been in a coma for quite a while, Qin.
Things have changed as they always do with time. So it is
not that the world is upside down now but as you can see,
there have been a few developments. What you see are
automated projections designed to assist you with any
information you need in real time. Some you can switch off
while others are ingrained in the objects.”
“But why on my eye?”
“On your eye is nothing spectacular. Most have it.
As to why we put you in such a shock with it, I extend both
my apologies and my sympathy. These were orders,
intended to help you accommodate with what has come to
be. Quite naturally, you wouldn’t have allowed the
implantation once you woke up, given that you are still,”
she hesitated, “a bit old school.”
“This thing is implanted?!” He asked with a sudden
“Well, of course it is. Is it really that bad a thing,
considering how bad your eye was after that fall?”
“H-how bad was it?”
Friuli gave a gentle smile as she tucked the sheets
around him, never taking her eyes away from his. She
whispered, pointing to the whiteness of the entire room,
“Let’s just say all white is better than all black.”
He knew panic would not help things. He was just
too oblivious at the moment. Friuli walked around his bed,
setting the table straight, replenishing it with fresh water and
taking a good look at everything else.
“The water-,” Qin said, under subtle hiccups,
“doesn’t taste . . . very well. It doesn’t taste at all actually.”
“Well, I guess it’s absolutely pure then! I’ll put that
on record for the maintenance staff,” she mused, and spoke
with greater sincerity, “Sleep Qin. Get your energy back.”
As she approached the door, he interrupted again,
almost shaking in his voice, “Quite a while,’ you said. How
long is that?”
Friuli stopped to take a heavy breath. Few seconds
passed in silence before she answered with a decisive effort,
“Twenty three years.”
Thanks for stopping by.
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