Criminalizer: The Real Deal

From Part 1 :

I made it to Criminalizer level-IV after solving a case of forgery, in which Mr. Martins was proven guilty as he confessed. On joining level-IV, I was amazed by the new atmosphere and the team I was included in. Mostly, I was awestruck by Mr. Joan, my new boss. While going through the file reports, I was intrigued by a bizarre case involving paranormal activities. Mr. Joan refused to allow me to work on it, but I had a knack for it, so I went for it anyway. I used a disguise to hide my identity and boarded the train on which paranormal activities were going on. This led me to discover a new set of facts which brought out the ongoing crime behind the veil of a curse. However, there was an ugly turn of events and my cover was blown. I was in a sticky situation and was knocked down unconscious, when my team turned up and saved me. I was given a stern warning by Mr. Joan.

Continued from Part 1…

Next morning, when I reached headquarters, Mr. Joan called me in his office. I reached his office, envisioning a few possibilities about what he would say regarding my actions from the past night. I entered his cabin. He was sitting in his chair, looking serious as usual. He signaled me to sit down.

“After what you did last night, I have to send you off for some time. It is not official, but that’s all I can do,” he said.

It came as a shock to me. This was nowhere near the possibilities that I had foreseen. This left me dumbstruck.

“Um… but Sir…we solved the case…” I pleaded.

“This is the repercussion of your decision to ignore my direct order. I can’t help it,” he said.

I had no choice but to accept. I rose and was about to leave when I heard him say, “Sit down. I haven’t finished yet.”

“You have to relocate to Paris for about a month, and while you are there, stay alert.”

He handed me an envelope and told me that it included all the details.

“Mind it, no one recognizes you there.”

I nodded and went back to my cubicle. Seeing me in a gloomy mood, Wilson and Sarah came to me. Wilson tried to crack a joke, but I just couldn’t laugh. Sarah noticed.

“What happened, Marky? Why do you seem so low?” she asked.

I handed over the envelope, which was grabbed by Wilson. He read it, and punched me jokingly and chuckled, “Wow, holiday in Paris for cracking your first case on your first day!”

“In that case, why are you sad, Marky?” Sarah inquired.

“I am not going on a holiday. I am being punished for not paying heed to Joan’s orders. I am being sent off,” I replied.

“But you solved the case.”

“That’s why I am not suspended, else I would no longer be here ‘officially’.”

“Well, tough luck, I guess,” he said, with a heavy voice.

After a while, I read the letter carefully. I was to stay with Ben in Paris.

I packed my bags and took a flight to Paris the same night.

Ben was there at the Paris airport to receive me. He greeted me. Apparently, he knew I was there, and we headed towards his home.

For one week, I was in a bad mood. To stir me and take me out of negative thoughts, Ben asked me to assist him with a case he was working on. I was surprised on hearing this.

“Case? Are you a policeman?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, amused. “I am a private detective.”

“Since you know about detective work, and I must say brave at it too, I thought you might be interested.”

“Of course I am. Are you taunting me with that brave comment?” I asked sheepishly.

“No, no, I was just trying to lighten the mood,” he replied.

“Never mind. What assistance can I provide you?” I asked curiously.

“I have my suspicions on a guy, who I think is trying to smuggle something out of France, but I am unable to put my finger on how he is doing this,” he elucidated.

I was amazed at my fate; it was a smuggling case that brought me on the verge of losing my job and here I was, ready again to be involved in a smuggling case. I took down all the details, studied the case overnight and we started tracking down the guy the next day itself.

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Image Credits : Being Followed

We followed him, collected information about him, and Ben noted them down in his report. Every weekend, our suspect used to meet someone under the Viaduc d’Austerlitz railway bridge, and hand over a file to him. We followed that guy, but could not get much out of that lead. So we decided to continue our spying.

By then I was more than interested in this case, as I noted its uncanny resemblance to my previous case. This too involved trains, a bridge, and a smuggling racket.

After one and a half weeks of following and spying, we reached a conclusion that our suspect was sending some information via a butcher boy. He would fit the information in some bills, and it was passed on.

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Image Credits : A spooky Pont Neuf

With this one and a half week of spying, my time in Paris was over, and I was ready to return back to my hometown and resume being a Criminalizer.

Next morning, I was back in my hometown, and after getting refreshed went straight to office. I went to Joan’s cabin and he asked me to hand over the file to him. I was totally baffled.

“How do you know that I have a file that is meant for you?” I asked bewilderingly.

“I know much more than you think. I will explain later, but first give me the file,” he replied calmly.

He opened the seal and went through the contents of the file. As he finished reading the file, he sat in his seat for a minute, made a call and asked me to call the whole team. When the entire team was in his office, he told us to do something unthinkable for us. He asked us to arrest the assistant to the Defence Secretary. Seeing all of us hesitant and confused he said, “Okay, I will accompany you. Let’s go.”

When we reached the office of the Defence Secretary, he was already present and his assistant had his head in his hands.

“Please explain the whole matter, Mr. Joan,” said the minister.

“Sir, do you remember that all our A-level missions have been failing since the past few months?” Joan asked.

“Yes, I remember, and it was because somehow our cover was blown every time, and our agents had to abort the mission,” he replied.

“That was all because of this assistant of yours,” Joan disclosed.

“How?” asked the minister furiously.

This question was in the mind of everyone present in the room.

“I had an intel that there was something fishy going on, and the confidential information about our missions was getting leaked. So I started working on the case and made a report. The day Smith joined us, he took some files from my desk to look at our cases. He also happened to pick up the file containing my report,” Joan began explaining.

“I was searching for it when he came to me, and expressed his willingness to work on the case. I could not allow him to take up the case on his first day, so I refused. While he was leaving my room, I could sense he was going to work on it even after I forbade him,” he said.

I looked down embarrassingly.

“I had also sensed that it would be dangerous, so I asked Wilson to follow him. Later that night, while working on the case, he found himself in a tricky situation. Luckily, we saved him in time. Overall, his actions increased my faith in his competence.”

I beamed.

“We retrieved the diamonds that night from the smugglers. It seemed to me like something was not right, so I sent those diamonds for testing, and as I had imagined, things didn’t add up. Those diamonds were fake, so what was being smuggled was the question in front of us. On checking the pouch that had those diamonds, I found an extra linen piece sewed underneath. Upon cutting it open, I found a letter written in French. We had intel that something was being smuggled from Paris to our land, but it was not via water or air,” he went on.

“No suspicious activity was seen on our borders. The next day I sent Smith to Paris, under the pretext of sending him off for disobeying my direct order, and he bought it too.”

“Marcos, you stayed there with Ben, right?”

“Yes, a private detective. You ordered me to do so,” I replied.

“Yes, I did that on purpose. He is not a private detective, but an undercover agent. He already had a suspect, and I was impressed by your disguise the other day. That’s why I selected you,” he told.

“The file you brought today has the details of your findings there.”

“We just found that some information was being passed through bills. How is that related?” I asked, as I was not able to understand even then.

“That is the reason we never found anything suspicious. Our intel was being passed on to our enemies hiding in Paris using the decoy of paranormal activities, and in return, the payment was received by these bills,” Joan told.

“I don’t get you, Joan,” the minister said.

“Actually, those bills had information about the location from where the payment was to be collected. Since bills contain numbers, nobody doubted them, and a person carrying bills of his purchase in any other land will never appear suspicious.” he explained.

And now everyone was struck with awe.

“But why my assistant?” inquired the minister.

“Sir, I asked Wilson to follow the messenger this morning, who brought the bills to the Defence Office and threw them in the dustbin. After a while, the bills were gone.”

“Now only one person connects all these dots together, and that is your assistant. He was posted in Paris in the external affairs department for 5 years, and knows French very well.”

“Well, I must commend you, Joan, on your fantastic work and diligence. A special mention for the team, and especially you, Smith. Well done!” said the minister.

Joan signaled Smith to arrest the minister’s assistant. He was handcuffed and taken back to headquarters.

When I was promoted to level-IV, I had never thought that my first two months would turn out like this. Now, I was more excited to work at this level, especially with Joan.

By : Priyansh Taneja

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Criminalizer: First Deadly Encounter

I was sitting at my desk, late at night, finalizing the report of the final case I had successfully solved to make it to criminalizer level-IV. A confession had been made by Mr. Martins after being proven to have forged a robbery in his own office to claim insurance money and leave the town with all the cash. He even got successful to some extent, but a little mistake of his haste to claim insurance and book tickets to fly out of the town via the same agent gave him in and proved to be the final nail in the coffin. Nevertheless, confession had been made and with all the formalities completed, I reached my target of a hundred solved cases and got the appointment letter for joining the team of criminalizer level-IV.

Next morning, I got ready with mixed emotions of anxiety and excitement as it was my first day at the senior level of criminalizer.

As I entered the office and gave my appointment letter to the first beaming staff member I could find, I was greeted with a wave of congratulations, and directed to a cabin.

Just by looking at the cabin from outside, I could tell it belonged to the most important man in that building, and so it  was, occupied by Mr. Joan, leader of the Criminalizer, and my new boss.

He was buried deep in his papers, pondering over something. As I entered, without lifting his face, he said, “not right now,” and waved a hand towards me. I waited for about 10-15 minutes, not because I didn’t know what to do, but out of amazement at the concentration and commitment he had for his work. Sensing the presence of someone in his cabin, he looked up with an astonished look on his face, and asked “Yes? How I can help you?”

“Sir, I am the new recruit. I have been promoted to the Criminalizer level-IV,” I replied.

“Ah, I see. So you are the one who has made all the fuss. Congrats, you are the youngest member to be promoted to Criminalizer level-IV. ”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“So, what was your name, again?” he asked.

“Marcos Smith, Sir” I replied.

“Fine. Smith, you can go and meet the team. Mr. Ken will help you and you can then start working on the next case with Sheryn.”

I walked out and found a man in his mid thirties who greeted me with a congratulations and introduced me to the team. There was Wilson, a guy about six feet tall with a dark complexion, Mrs. Sheryn, the senior-most team member right under the leader, and Sarah, the beauty with brains of the team.

After going through some files, I found an astounding case . I was amazed by its reports and wanted to work on it right away, I didn’t know why, but I wanted to.

So I walked up to Mr. Joan’s room, there he was, lost in his own thoughts. I knocked on his door and he shook out of his deep thoughts and signaled me to come in.

He asked, “Do you want something?”

“Sir, I was going through the case reports and I would like to take up my first case,” I replied.

“Well, It’s not up to you when and which case you get to work on, but let’s see what you have got.”

“Sir, I would like to work on the train case,” I requested.

“The one with reports of paranormal activities going on in the train late at night?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Well, it’s your first day and I can’t allow you to take such an intense case straight away. So, I guess you got your answer.”

“Yes sir,”I replied.

“Very well then.”

Even though I wasn’t assigned to the case, but the facts of the case fascinated me to an extent that I couldn’t stop churning the facts in my mind in order to get a concrete finding.

After half an hour of pondering, I reached the point where I was getting surer that something fishy was going on. This led me to be more than ever determined to reach the cause of those reports at my own level.

I decided to take the 11 o’clock train that night.

Rest of my day went in the excitement of my forthcoming night expedition.

Around half past eight, I started with my disguise. I put on a wig with shabby-looking hair that had some strands of white fibers along with black, a matching mustache, and some makeup on my face to make me look like a ragamuffin. I filled up some dirt in my nails and used artificial nails to make my otherwise neatly cut nails look like just like that of a rogue. I was almost done with my disguise, I collected a bag of ragged clothes to finish and moved out of the back door of the building which I had got information of, in the morning because I knew it was impossible to get out of the criminalizers’ office in disguise without being seen.

But call it my bad luck or fate, Wilson caught me by hand as I got out. He might have taken a blow at me if I hadn’t told him it was me straight away.

“What are you trying to do in this disguise?” inquired Wilson.

“Nothing, it is just a prank,” I replied.

What a lame excuse; I knew it would lead me to trouble. But when things are supposed to go your way, everything falls into place, and that’s what happened. Wilson got a call from Mr. Joan and he left. I thanked my stars for that call.

Thereafter, I headed straight to Rigerwood station and waited for the train, while putting on the disguise finisher I had brought along in my bag. In fifteen minutes or so, my ragamuffin look was complete, all wrapped up in rags.

As the train pulled into the station, my heart rate shot up a bit. I boarded the train and looked at the list of stops only two stops before destination. “How can something happen in such a short span of time as three stations. Had I made a mistake?” I thought.

Since the train was completely empty, I took a corner seat. It was just five minutes when the train pulled into the next station. To my utter surprise, a gang of four men boarded the train and settled down, as the train took off again. Just two minutes after the train left the station, the lights started flickering as if in a disco, and all sorts of ghostly voices filled our coaches. Before I could understand what was going on, those four men stood up, and one of them approached me. He shook me up and said, “What are you doing on this train? It is cursed, don’t you know? Just alight on the next station.” I pretended to be hard of hearing. “We don’t have much time, leave him. Hurry up.” The other panic-ridden members pulled the emergency stop and brought the train to halt.

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Image Credits : Night Train, Waiting

They opened the emergency gate and moved out of the train. I couldn’t understand how alighting mid-station could help a person if he was afraid of on-goings inside. However, I too alighted, but kept a safe distance of about a quarter of a mile away from them. They took out their tools and started digging a particular spot in the tunnel. I was confused, unable to comprehend what was going on. Suddenly, my eyes were blinded by a gleaming light coming through the gap they had dug out. All of them moved in that gap. I took a peek, and froze for a moment. Those four men took a packet from a foreign-looking guy, checked the diamonds within and gave him money. So this was it, there was a cave of smuggling point where diamonds were somehow brought from t foreign land, A smuggling racket going on with a cover-up of supernatural activities and hiding it under the curse. I retreated as four of them were coming back.

Now was the time for my true Id and some action. As they boarded the train they blew a shrill whistle and train was about to start when I stood up and had my gun pointing right at the one who was holding the consignment, out of panic they blew the whistle again, this time a very short one but with even more shrillness. Now, this came as a shock to me and before I could react someone drove a needle through my veins and my sight hazed. In hazed sight, I saw that my attacker was the driver of the train who had come out of his cabin. I couldn’t see him coming since I had my back toward the cabin as the idea of driver being involved never crossed my mind.

“Finish him and let’s get out of here real quick.”

That unknown drug or sort of medicine just froze my movement at the place I was. The worst thing about it was I didn’t even pass out I could listen everything but couldn’t do anything about it. What a well set up plan they had, moreover they had thought through such a situation well beforehand.

“What’s the hurry?”

“The actual show has just begun.”

I heard two different new voices. Now, this was something new and not in the script “Was it Wilson and Sarah or goon’s other confederates” I thought. No, they were definitely the criminalizer team, my team. But how did they reach me? I hadn’t told anyone what I was going to do. Then came the voice I just wanted to hear at the moment.

“Arrest them. Sheryn, give Smith the anti-dote.”

Within a few seconds, I got back to my senses.

I had no idea about what was to come. Joan’s expressions were so fantastically masked that I couldn’t read anything off his face,  no matter how hard I tried. Joan asked with a stern tone, “What do you think you were doing, Marky?”

“Sir, I was…just…um…”

“Anyway, the matter here is dealt with. But from now on, you don’t get to take any action without informing me. Let us head back now,” said Joan.

“Sir, I have a doubt. How did you know what I was going to do?”

Joan chuckled and said “Marky, why do you think I get to sit in the leader’s chair?”

“It is not merely seniority, I can tell by looking at faces of my team what their next move will be. The moment you came to discuss the case with me I knew you would do something silly of this sort.”

I was a bit embarrassed.

“Do you remember the call I had when I met you in disguise, Marky?” asked Wilson.

“Yeah.”

“It was Joan telling me to follow you. Even I didn’t know at that time that this would end up like this.”

What an extraordinary night for me on my very first night on level-IV, I thought.

That day I got two things other than my livid experience; one, my stern warning, and other, a nickname, ‘Marky’.

At that time, I thought I had cracked the case on my first attempt. Little did I know that this case was far from over. There was a whole new experience to be unveiled.

To Be Continued…

 

By: Priyansh Taneja

The Night To Forget…

It was almost midnight and I was returning home. Driving through the broad lanes, I was astonished to find these lanes desolated, unlike every other day. Nevertheless, I drove on. Maybe due to the tiredness from work I felt drowsy, prompting me to turn on the radio. The R.J was narrating a story, but his manner of speaking was quite frightening, so I changed the station, only to find the narration of an actual scary tale was on. So I turned the radio off, as it had intensified the horror in the atmosphere; now I was more than alert. It took me about half an hour to reach home. I parked my car and went in. As I opened the door, I saw someone sitting on my couch, as if waiting for me to come home. I was scared to go in but somehow, gingerly, I switched on the light. To my utter surprise and relief, it was the bedding that I had put on the couch in a hurry to reach my office in the morning. I had had my dinner in the office already, so I sat down with my laptop to finish off some pending work.  

After a while, my eyes were involuntarily closing. Finally, I decided to I shut down my laptop, and I switched off the lights, and went to bed. But I couldn’t sleep. All sorts of thoughts related to what had happened while coming back home started running across my mind. After trying to sleep for a while I gave up, and tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I didn’t see this coming. I was stuck on my bed somehow. Amid all my tries, I felt my hands getting wet, although I wasn’t sweating. I found myself immersed in water on the left side. During all this I was trying to get up, but all my efforts were in vain. Gradually the water reached the right side too, and half my body was submerged. To my horror, I was sinking into my bed. I tried to force myself up with all my strength, and I succeeded.

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Image Credits : creepypasta.fandom.com

I rose from the water, but couldn’t conclude whether I had risen up or the water had gone down. I was lying on an ice block seemingly carved out especially for me, for it had the exact same cut as my body. I was cold with horror. But by then I was too tired to try again, so I gave in. I went straight through the block where to my utter surprise, I felt a bit of warmth and my cold body became hot. Something was burning inside me and I was as hot as fire. I was petrified. Being hot as fire is more dreadful than being cold as ice because it doesn’t give you time to think. I shrieked and tried to get up again. This time I did succeed. I ran straight to the switchboard and turned on lights. There was nothing on my bed and everything was normal in the room. It was 4 a.m. I had to leave for my office by 8 a.m. God knows I couldn’t blink even once in those four hours. I had no idea of what I had witnessed and why, and did not want to go through it ever again.

By : Priyansh Taneja

To My Mind

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Image Credits : Ray of Hope

You mess with me, don’t you?
You throw me into this endless maze
With fears, thoughts and doubts creating a haze
All this has me reeling back in blindness
I forget to practice with myself, the kindness.
You also show support to me sometimes,
But can make me fear my own self the other times.

There are times when you engulf me,
In a sea of worry, guilt, self-pity and helplessness
And there are times when I come to the surface,
Breaking away from the shackles you created,
Breathing in the fresh air of freedom, emancipated.
Freedom – from myself and these doubts
Which you have released upon me like hounds.

As is often said, the sun always rises after the night.
I’ve learned to welcome the sun with my heart and soul,
Finally having a grasp of my own role.
But sometimes, I also appreciate the night
Willing me to fight harder for the morning light.
In the darkness there is that lustrous moon,
The bright stars, my hopes to find happiness soon.

These shining hopes keep me moving on
To fight the darkness on my own.

By: Karishma Kathat

Lucid Dreams

Lucid Dreaming

Image Credits : The Astral Institute

We all have dreams, right? A dream is like a window into our subconscious. More often than not, our dreams contain stuff that doesn’t really make sense, but we still play along with it. Or as Cobb says in the movie ‘Inception’, “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange”. But have you ever had a dream where you knew something was odd, and that you were actually dreaming? Or have you ever had some sort of control over a dream? Dreams like those are called lucid dreams. Lucid is a synonym for clear, but lucid dreams are much more than just vivid dreams. These are dreams where your conscious mind is awake and your senses, both physical and emotional, are heightened. You may have come to associate lucid dreaming with movies like ‘Inception’, but that’s not an entirely accurate description of the phenomenon.

If you haven’t heard about it, you might be forgiven for thinking “What’s the big deal about lucid dreaming?” Well, think about everything you have ever wanted to experience: weird fantasies, gravity-defying stunts, you name it. The only limiting factor in lucid dreaming is your imagination. It is your world and you can conjure up literally anything you want to.  Be it running around Central City with the super-speed of the Flash or jumping off the rooftops in Gotham as Batman, whatever be your fantasy, lucid dreaming is here to fulfil it. Apart from all the fun stuff, lucid dreaming can also be used for self-help, for instance, to fight phobias. Suppose you have arachnophobia or fear of spiders. You can dream about yourself being in that scene in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ where Harry and Ron go to visit Aragog and end up being chased by giant flesh-eating spiders. “Isn’t that a bit much?”, you might ask. It might as well be, but once you have faced the worst, you won’t be afraid of these puny real-life spiders anymore. Once there, visualize yourself tackling them in a funny way or just running a sword through their heads in trademark Deadpool style.

The chances of lucid dreams occurring by themselves are often quite rare. But the good news is, there are some methods or more accurately, some habits that you can inculcate into your routine that might increase your chances of having a lucid dream. Firstly, you must make it a habit to keep and maintain a dream journal. It must be within reach of your bed so that the first thing you do after waking up is writing down the occurrences of your dreams in it. This is the most basic and also the most essential step in preparing yourself for lucid dreaming. This will help you to recognize and understand your dreams. Secondly, you have to make yourself habituated to perform some random reality checks throughout the day. It is observed that the things we do repeatedly in our waking hours, we tend to repeat in our dreams. These reality checks could be anything from trying to read the time off a clock or reading a piece of text or trying to pass your hand through a wall. There will always be something off about them in a dream, like the time on the clock would change drastically if you try to check it again just an instant later, or your hand would pass right through the wall. Once you’ve made yourself habituated with these preliminary steps, you’re ready to employ some tried and tested techniques for lucid dreaming.

There are lots of techniques to help attain lucid dreaming. My favorite one is called MILD or Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dreams. Developed by Stephen LaBerge, this method utilizes mnemonic devices to help attain lucid dreaming. The initial steps in this technique are the same as discussed above. You need to keep track of your dreams and become well versed with reality checks. Once you’ve mastered these initial steps, you are ready to employ MILD. In this technique, as you are getting ready to sleep, you need to repeat these mantras (don’t be alarmed, it’s perfectly logical) in your mind: “I will have a lucid dream tonight” or “I will remember I’m dreaming” or anything similar that suits you. You must believe yourself as you repeat this, that’s crucial. Now, this is where the dream journal comes in handy. As you’re repeating the lines, you have to imagine yourself in a dream that you remember, and identify the small details that affirm that it is indeed a dream. Explore the dream and try doing whatever you would if it was actually a lucid dream. After a while, you might fall asleep but it’s all part of the plan. Even if you fall asleep, the last thought you had was of lucid dreaming and thus you increase your chances of having one during your sleep. However, if you’re lucky, instead of falling asleep, your mind will stay conscious in exploring the dream as your body falls into a slumber, converting the dream into a lucid one.

Once lucid, the trick is not to get too excited and end up waking up. More than 90% of lucid dreams end prematurely because the dreamer gets too excited of the possibilities. Just stay calm and remain focused on the things you want to do. If things become too intense, try a few simple things like rubbing your hands together or solving a simple sum in your head. Research has shown that involving the logical part of your brain can overpower the emotional part and can ultimately help you stay lucid for longer periods of time. Just remember that it’s your world, and you are in control. Happy dreaming!

By : Shayan Ahmad Kamil

Hello!

artificial intelligence

Image Credits : The Conversation

Amar wasn’t a dayowl. He needed leisure time, which college ate up, so he was left with the night. Night alone. He didn’t speak much, thus he didn’t have many friends. He was playing Fortnite when he heard the morning alarm ring. It was raining outside. His phone was charging on the wall stand opposite to his PC. He unplugged his phone, and turned off the alarm.

Then he noticed it for the first time. He saw on his phone the reflection of his player moving and aiming. An opponent had been shot. He jolted to see this on his monitor. His player was standing idle. He didn’t remember the previous scores, so he didn’t notice any change. “It was a dream after all,” he thought.

The next day he was drowsy, so he slept in the metro to college. The stubborn professor didn’t allow him to attend the class despite multiple pleadings, so Amar went to the canteen. He saw Varun there. He greeted him and sat beside him. Varun was a close friend
of Amar. He smiled and offered him some momos. They were discussing his dream when Varun interrupted to ask “Where did you find this meme?” showing his WhatsApp chat to Amar.

“I have never seen it myself,” Amar said. He checked on his phone if he sent the meme, and confirmed it. On further investigation, he found an updated status, Facebook friend requests sent to people he didn’t know, and a similar case with Instagram. He couldn’t recall doing any of these.

Varun affirmed that his phone was hacked big time. Amar spoke, “Maybe someone used
my phone, but how? I use facial recognition. Also, I  don’t understand, how can he or she be so quick?”

Varun answered, “I saw on YouTube that cheap facial recognition sensors like the one on your phone can be easily tricked with a life size photo.”

Amar ignored his comment, and started to delete and deactivate his accounts. The rest of the day went fine. He was talking  to a friend in the metro when his phone rang. He took the phone out from his pocket. His friend asked him who it was. Amar froze for a while. The screen on his phone displayed his own contact number. The phone continued to ring, and stares from fellow commuters assured Amar that it was not a hallucination. He picked up the phone and heard the last thing he expected, “Hello! Technology speaking.”

By : Aman Atman

Interviews – The Other Side Of The Coin!

interview

Image Credits :  ya-webdesign.com

The wall clock ticks in that exceptionally large room. Its mechanized movement, resonated by a single low-pitched tick, brings the end of this ongoing ritual closer. The room is mostly vacant, except for two people – facing one another, sitting apart. The atmosphere is heavy, burdened with seriousness.

One of the personnel is impeccably well-dressed; although shifting uncomfortably in his chair, clearly the one being sacrificed. While the other, the ritualist, is an older, much wiser man. With slick black hair, he brandishes a rather amusing smile, watching the sacrifice stumble around his traps. The professional ambience is further invigorated by the shut blinds, the green-flowerless potted plant at the entrance, and the icy cold temperature of the room.

Without any doubt, the ritual these words speak of is an interview. Since time immemorial (although memorial), interviews have always been shrouded in an air of mystery. The strict institutional procedure, designed to break the best in you… actually, choose the best in you. Interviews are always assumed to be hardcore and extremely serious endeavours, bested by only those with talent and God’s grace.

But today I bring up the lesser known, funnier side of these interviews.

Designed to test your skills and aptitude, interviewers often ask their candidates some rather silly and amusing questions. These questions, though silly, serve the purpose of seeing your approach while tackling non-theoretical problems, problems from outside your comfort zone.

One of the most hilarious interview questions circling countless interview stories is, ‘A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

The question, seemingly immature, tests your love for penguins. Just kidding. It is aimed to get a first-hand view of your abilities, involving creativity, wittiness and the crucial ability to perform well under stress. In case of such questions, the answer you generally come up with is immaterial. Rather, what is being observed here is the path you take to get that answer.

Some other questions disguised as jokes, although serving the greater good, are:

  • If you were a brick, where would you be placed during the construction of an wall?
  • Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind.
  • Would you prefer to fight one horse-sized duck, or hundred duck-sized horses?

Apart from funny questions, interviews in themselves are often hilarious.

A rather funny interview story circling the web recently involves a man suffering from an acute flatulent disorder. The interviewee had a minor gas problem on the day of the interview. During the course of the interview, the interviewer asked, ‘Why should we hire you? Aren’t there people with better resumes?’

The question was a bit too direct, and being understandably nervous, our friend here, ended up farting.

The whole room, filled with a panel of interviewers, went silent. Cursing himself, he got up and walked towards the window.

Sir, I can do something that no other candidate can’, he spoke, as he grabbed the handles. ‘No matter how dire the problem, I can always open up new windows to counter them’, he said, as he opened the window with a push, letting in a breeze of fresh relief!
Interviews are not dark, clouded balls of suffocating gas! Rather, they are fun and knowledgeable experiences, providing you with a scrutinized account of your capabilities. They provide an insight to your abilities and mental prowess. So, be light-headed and go ahead, have your interview!

By : Mohammed Sajjad Jafri

A Webcomic Review – My Name Is Benny

Benny Dance

Image credits :  LINE WEBTOON

ʻMy Name Is Bennyʼ is a light-hearted webcomic created by Sokomin, an artist from Korea. Originally posted on Tapastic as a hobby, it is now a featured comic on Webtoon, where Sokomin has re-sketched the original episodes, and continues to add several new ones. The first Webtoon episode was uploaded on January 10, 2018.

The comic revolves around the eponymous, happy-go-lucky girl Benny, who has the mental age of a six year old, and follows her dreams, no matter how weird they get. She seeks out adventures in the most mundane activities of life – be it tying a shoelace, purchasing clothes, stealing cookies, ditching school or exterminating bugs. Known by her signature black bow and gas mask, she finds amusement in creeping out those around her; in particular, her childhood friend, Timothy. He is the polar opposite of Benny – a studious, serious and hardworking. Benny enjoys pulling his leg, and Timothy patiently puts up with her hijinks.

As the comic progresses, new characters are introduced, which include Isaac, an awkward neighbour who works as a digital artist, and Fae, who attends the same school as Benny and Timothy. While Isaac is the older and more mature persona in the group, Fae shares the same level of eccentricity as Benny. They gel well together, and share a sense of camaraderie.

Sokomin has portrayed Benny quite well, giving her audience a chance to laugh at Benny’s rambunctiousness, and sympathize with her friends, along with allowing them to re-connect with the kid within themselves. Her art style is quite charming, with simple ink lines used to sketch out the characters and objects. The simple colour palette used here allows for a clean representation of Benny’s world, making it easy on the eyes. Certainly, this comic deserves more recognition.

A comic meant to appeal to people of all ages, ʻMy Name is Bennyʼ gets full marks for creativity. Benny’s endeavours may land her in trouble, but her friends, especially Timothy, are there by her side, and support her individuality. Indeed, Benny is the Tom Sawyer of the modern age, and her antics are always over-the-top, yet fun to scroll through. It gives us a glimpse into the colourful mind of Sokomin, who describes herself as a twenty-something Asian kid with a lean built – very much like Benny. For those of you in the mood for a light read and a good laugh, this comic is perfect for you.

Read ʻMy Name Is Bennyʼ here, with episodes uploaded twice every week:

https://www.webtoons.com/en/slice-of-life/my-name-is-benny/list?title_no=1279

By: Mariam Nida Usmani

Solitude

Rainy Night

Image credits : pinterest.com

As this solitude thunders, and flutters my heart.

Not seeking company, to sing, I start.

After walking miles, away from all.

I’ve forgotten how to wave at memories with the fall.

I continue picking notes pouring in, from the skies.

An illusion I seek, in the unnamed ties.

Diverging from the topic, I enter the Tropic,

Befriend those newly found stars, strangely, microscopic.

The winter shivers,

The snowed upon rivers,

The nestlings and birds,

Have frozen my words.

Confirming, as I reach home, I must restart.

As to how that solitude thundered, and fluttered my heart.

By : Aima Juveria

(First printed in ‘Fiction 2018’)

Prologue…

introspection

Image credits : The art of looking within

I wish I wasn’t like this. I know what people say, “we pave our own path”. I wish there were some things in life that I could’ve changed. Decisions I took, just because I expected more. I expected more from the things that I already had. I wanted more. I was blinded heavily by my own selfishness. Thinking everything will be hunky-dory all along the way. I wish it was. My selfishness led me to my ignorance and my ignorance led me to my downfall. I’m all alone now. Alone and broken. People seem to give up easily on me now. And I happily forgive them when they apologize. Every time. I wish I could think about others though. I wish I could’ve understood that my actions do affect the ones around me. The people I love. The hardest time to fix someone is when they are already breaking down. No one likes to feel alone. No one deserves to feel alone. Yet there are certain things that we can’t change. Shackles of reality are fragile, all it takes is a little jerk and everything crumbles around you. You have second thoughts in your own faith, your faith in people and your faith in the Almighty equally. It never crosses your mind if he is testing you. The only thought that comes to one’s mind is ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ You start praying to a God that you don’t believe in. And forcefully convince yourself that what you have then is for your own good. You force yourself to feel satisfied. You force yourself to hide your pain. You try your best to hide your pain and woe, yet you fail. You try to bite back hard on your anger, ending up blaming everyone around you for the things that you did.

I don’t want you to judge me or try to give me any advice. I’m here just to tell my story. It may not have the drama you want, nor will it have the tear-inducing tragedy. It’s my story. I lived it the way I did. Regretted many things. Yet I still don’t have the strength to give up on it entirely.I once tried to, but the stress of affecting the ones around me was too big a burden to bear. People say that I am lucky, considering the fact that I have everything in my life. But having everything doesn’t mean one is happy. I may have many paths in front of me. Many things to do. But I still sulk over how things would’ve been if I had taken a turn at some point of my life. If only I had been patient. If only I didn’t expect more. If only I didn’t hope. It’s funny, at times, how people can make you lose hope in everything, then someone comes along who   ignites it again only for it to extinguish somehow. You lose the enthusiasm to do anything. Hope is a dangerous and a risky thing to have. It’s no less than a drug to many people. Addictive yet lethal in high amounts. This is not a story of how I lost hope. This is my story about how hope made me lose everything. I ended up falling hard, just because I hoped…

This is a post by PocoLoco, a fellow netizen who pens down his thoughts, and shares them on his blog.

Check it out here: pocolocothoughts.blogspot.com