Posted by: Mojo Jojo | April 28, 2007

The Road to Ill-Fortune

(Ah, this one’s turned out to be quite a crappy piece of fiction. But after having spent nearly four of my working hours on it, I did not have the heart to flush it down the loo. SIGH! There go my dreams of becoming the next Stephen King…)


He walked down the country road, a basket in his right hand. The sun was in a little too bright a mood, and the heat was making him dizzy.
“Stick to the main road, Juan,” his mom had told him, “Don’t venture into any of the paths that lead into the forest. It’s dangerous… and there are wolves around!”
“Yeah, Yeah,” he had said, before running out of the house with all the enthusiasm of a six-year-old. Now, two hours later, he was tired – and he had almost nothing to show for it.
There were hardly any berries on the roadside trees, and even if he found any, they would be around just because the berry-pickers before him had found them worthless.
Just four in his basket now. After toiling for two hours. What a waste of time, thought Juan. But still he walked ahead — because supper depended on him.
Two more hours went by, and he still handn’t reached the ten-berry mark. “Can’t take anymore of this,” he thought, letting himself collapse under a tree.
He kept staring at the road. It stretched on and on like an infinitely-long serpent, to the very point that the horizon seemed to eat it up. And all the trees by its side were bare, preyed upon by the sun and the ones who had come before him.
“Might as well give up and fall asleep under this tree, forever,” thought Juan dejectedly. Just a moment before he saw the small path that led into the forest.
Should I? Should I not?
In that fateful moment, Juan made the biggest decision of his life: “Mom said don’t … but bugger mom and bugger her idiot instructions. I’ll just pop in for a minute.”

The trail

The entire landscape seemed to change the very moment he entered the forest. There were more berries, and they weren’t spoilt like the ones on the main road.
Of course, the berry trees here had more thorns – which jabbed into his hands and made them bleed – but who cares about a few scratches when the pickings are so good? “And bugger the sharp rocks under my feet too,” reasoned little Juan, ”If the extra berries in my basket come at the cost of a few sores on my feet, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make..”
And he continued to traverse the forbidden path, which had now started going uphill.
A few miles into the forest, Juan noticed that the berries were now found to be aplenty. And even as the boy’s basket grew heavy with fruit, the rocks under his feet grew sharper and sharper. Time to turn back, Juan’s inner voice told him, but no – he just had to have a little bit more.
So he walked and walked, even as the trees around him seemed to grow denser with each step he took. The sun, which had been bearing down on him for so long, was getting dimmer now. And in the distance, he could hear wolves howling. But still he walked, the basket in his hand starting to glisten with redness.
The path had become a mountain trail now, and one wrong step would mean a quick but gory death. But the berries were all that mattered now. Anyway, with the moon so high up in the sky, it was too late to go home.
Much too late…
Then, from the shadows, he saw two creatures emerging. They could have passed off for wolves, if not for the shreds of cloth that still hung on to their hides. Grotesque creatures, not much taller than him, but with fangs and claws that promised to tear him into half.
“Who are you?” he asked.
No response greeted him. The werewolves just stood and stared, their figures forming awful silhouettes against the midnight moon.
“Who are you?” Juan asked again, breaking into a cold sweat. After what seemed like hours, one of them growled: “We are the ones who came here before you. The berries in this forest belong to us … empty your basket under the ledge and you can go back with your life.”
Juan looked under the ledge and… lo, he couldn’t believe his eyes! Hundreds, thousands, millions of the red fruit lying under the shadows … all gathered by the two villains before him.
“No,” cried the boy,” I won’t do that! If you want my berries, you will have to fight for them!”
“Gladly,” said the two in unison, even as the greyness around them assumed a shadier tinge, “Now that you have asked for it.”
With that, the creatures leaped on Juan — their teeth gnashing with hatred. And even as he felt them pile up on him, the boy realised that death could be the only way out of this mess.
They were stronger and wilder, but Juan was desperate. He wriggled and squirmed in the realisation that it was his life — not wild berries — that mattered… and with each bite, each scratch he took – Juan felt himself becoming more and more like his werewolf assailants.
If he got out of this alive, he knew, he would be stronger than ever before. But the catchword, unfortunately, was “alive”.
It was time he showed some initiative. Suddenly, Juan pulled himself together and kicked the first wolf on the shin. And even as the monster grimaced, Juan shoved him hard, sending him plummeting to his death… hundreds of feet below.
This seemed to surprise the other, and even as he stood distracted by its friend’s plight for a split second, Juan rammed a stone into his skull. And the battle was done.
After a few long minutes, the victor slowly tottered up. Wolf skin was already beginning to cover his body now, and it would be just be a matter of days before he grew some real fangs.
But the best part was… the berries. So many berries, he thought with some pride, I may need a truck to take them home.
But then came the afterthought: Who wants to go home now?
I am the best there is… the most powerful! Juan let himself know, before throwing his head back and letting loose a loud full-throated howl. Which was just about the last thing the half-werewolf remembered doing before he felt the earth crumble around him, and fell off the mountain to a certain death.
Juan woke up an hour later, and he knew instantly that he wasn’t going to survive the night. “Aww,” he thought as tears welled up in his eyes, “Just one diversion from the road, and here I am. O, if only I hadn’t taken the forbidden path…”
If only I hadn’t taken the forbidden path…

The Real World

“If only I hadn’t pinched that stupid watch…” mumbled Don Juan suddenly. This was the first sound the Don had made ever since he was brought to the hospital with a bullet-ridden stomach a couple of nights ago.
Martinez jumped up and ran to his side, but the old warlord had already breathed his last.
“Hey Dog! Come here fast! Call the medics! I think the boss is dead!” he shouted. Dog brought the doctors along, and they did everything short of thumping the Don’s spirit back into his body — but no — he was as dead as doornail.
Dog turned to Martinez: “Did the boss say anything? About who the empire is going to? Anything?”
Martinez looked confused: “No.. nothing. Something about a watch…” Then, as an afterthought, he added: “That’s weird. They told me the last statement of the dying always makes sense. Why would he go to sleep talking about a bloody watch?!”
Dog just snorted. “Aww… maybe he was just talking in — what do they call it — extended metaphors. Anyway, come off it… we have to go inform the others.”

And even as the sound of their footsteps receded into the distance, a radio turned itself on in the next room: “Chicago underworld kingpin Don Juan was fatally wounded in an encounter with gunmen led by his protege, known only as Senor Oliviera, on Sunday afternoon. The incident had taken the ageing Don, who had just acquired total control over the city after allegedly eliminating two of his most dangerous rivals, by surprise. According to sources, the wounded Don is still in a very critical condition…”

FIN

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Responses

  1. i see you have been inspired by the dog chase… enjoyed the read Jimmy.

  2. Oi!! You KILLED him? You killed him! Yes you did. And you made me laugh at death.

    P.S. WHY do you want to be Stephen King. You’re sooooo much better at wobbling from strangetohorrortocomedy.

  3. @ Cats: Yeah (sheepish grip)… guess I was a little inspired by the dog chase. But you liked it? Really? I showed it to a friend before publishing it and she said it had a little too much of a moralising tone.
    And when I re-read the stuff, I realised it was true…

    @ 3inOne: He he… something I’m good at – killing protagonists. And you felt like laughing at the end? Hmm… guess that’s not a good thing, considering that it was supposed to be some kinda cryptic horror story 😉
    Ohh! I gotta post something fast to cover up this mess …

  4. crap..whats wrong with me? why am i not able to make a connection?
    anything metaphoric here?

  5. The first part was the story of Don Juan’s life, told in a metaphorical way.
    Okay, okay .. don’t start on me already. A crappy story, I know 😦

  6. Little Juan never picked berries did he? I admit I didnt get it on first reading. I think I do now, Don Juan started by picking watches etc and regretted the wayward path in the end….methinks. heheh. Nice read though!

  7. Jim,
    Given the rate at which you kill them off, you’ll have to build a crypt for all your cryptic characters 🙂

    Anyway, agree with your friend whole heartedly. But, if one ignores the ‘moralising’, it is a well scripted story. The descriptions are good. I don’t think you should term it a mess because it has definitely got possibilities.

  8. ahh JJ…no… its a great story.. typical JJ style.. just that i wasnt sure if it was meant to be metaphoric or if there was some other connection….i even thought Juan was a warewolf and got the silver bullet 🙂

  9. Hee hee. no use agonising over the metaphors. it is entertaining no doubt. and thanks for just proving my point. jujube or not, u r a delightfully pretentious angrez ki aulad.
    and just love the new template. u get to chose the pic on the top na? urs is great too. but ur mugshot has unfortunately got bigger. feel uncomfortable with your retarded smile peering down on me like that

  10. now this is what i call a good template 🙂

  11. Cool template this one! Hope this stays…

  12. wow…like the buggy eyed birds staring at me. and your larger face is soooooo cute. your pic should be on the cover of MAD mag. ooops you already are. behind that demented looking face is a guy in a bow tie. don’t stop writing.

  13. jujube,
    cool template. love the birds – they look all wobbly bobbly on the telephone line.

  14. stick’em up?
    yesterday i write nonchalantly about ur blog, as if i know it like the back of my hand. today half the things have disappeared.

  15. @ Fan: Yeah… you got it! Glad to know it wasn’t such a loser post after all 😀
    Thanks a lot, really. Was feeling quite lousy about putting it up, but I feel a-OK. Hee!

    @3inOne: Happy you liked the post. And even happier that you liked the template 🙂
    I was bowled over by the birds, actually. They look like they would poo on you anytime!

    @ Mac: Ha ha! You thought Don Juan was hospitalised for being hit by a silver bullet! Come to think of it, that wouldn’t have been a bad twist at all 🙂
    And hey, so glad you liked the template. Sat up till three last night working on it. Can’t get my shoutbox to fit in, though. Will try again tonight…

    @ Soozie-Woozie: Even you thought it was entertaining?! Now that’s flattering beyond words 🙂
    Retarded smile? Hey! Some respect here! 😛

    @ Blackbeard: Yup… am hoping to keep this one for a long time. Maybe just keep changing the colours and contrasts from time to time 🙂

    @ Cats: You found my larger face cute? So there, Rama Srinivasan!
    And yes… MAD does take my pic most of the time – ahem – all of the time, actually. They really do like me there, mebbe it’s the smile 😛
    And stop writing? Not on my life!!! 😀

  16. @ Rama: Ha ha… Actually, I’m still working on the template. Yet to re-instal the shoutbox…
    Felt the ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ title did not go with the new template … and the frightened birds looked more like they were facing a “Stick ’em Up” threat 🙂

  17. he he..and please let this template remain…!!

  18. I’m terrible with change – but the story grew on me with the comments. Keep on bloggin!

  19. @ Rohan: Change, as in, the sudden transition in the story? Glad the comments helped, though 😀


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