Thursday photo prompt – The tunnel – #writephoto

Hosted by the talent Sue Vincent at

Man caught in the light at the end of the tunnel


By Neel Anil Panicker

Nature’s elements hold sway here, man a mere slave to them, his senses long gone


Raghav cocks his ears against the dank walls but hears nothing. He extricates his hands from the folds of his back, towards what he believes is his face.

Nothingness stares back at him.

It was as if he were gone blind, his eyeballs mere black dots surrounded by blacker contours.

Something slithers around his feet. Cutting through the jaggedness and the overall dampness, he feels a slight sensation.

Something, he has no means of knowing what that could be, crawls its way up his ankles.

Furiously, his hands jab out at the intruder that’s worming up through the folds of his baggy shorts.

The effort’s disturbed, as all of a sudden, the feeling disappears, as if by magic.

Mystified, his logical brain warns him there is no such thing as magic. That what he’s experiencing is stark life, unfolding, albeit in slow motion, set to rhythmic music by the metronomic beats of his crazily palpitating heart.

It was then that cold fear envelops him. His eyes stab into the darkness; his senses in full vigil.

He feels a deep, searing despair as if he were an utterly defenceless rabbit, caught by its neck and gasping through the very last breaths of life; its predator, a ferocious fox sinking its sharp as nails teeth deep into soft skin, tearing asunder the delicate fabric of life.

The icicles of his brain scream out one word: death.

©neelanilpanciker2017 #tunnel #thursdayphotoprompt #250words



Thursday photo prompt – Twilight – #writephoto


Written for weekly flash fiction photo prompt challenge hosted by Sue Vincent at


By Neel Anil Panicker

For Pramila nothing’s changed, or so it seems. The sky above is bathed in the same golden brown hue that she’s been seeing for twenty years or so. That’s  roughly the time she’s spent, all by herself, in this bare boned one roomed hutment sans any electricity, heating or other discernible appendages of modern living.

Here she lives, in near seclusion, in this quaint old fishing village so far cut off from mainland Bengal that it would fail to show up on even the most advanced search engines.

There she’s out, in the open, under the stars, below the blue skies, her bald head glistening a silvery white under the glare of the half moon. All she sees is the silhouette of the waves; the tumultuous crests and troughs of the high seas reminding her of her own topsy-turvy existence.

Standing there, her frail self a sodden figure in the twilight afterglow, she travels back in time to those halcyon days when she ruled the streets of Kolkata as a gangly fire spitting knife wielding all woman gang leader. Murder, kidnapping, extortion, bootlegging…you name it, she’s done them all.

Pity she ended up in Tihar Jail, the place where they send you when your crime dossier would make Al Pacino look like God’s chosen messenger of peace and love.

In the twilight of her life, does she ever ponder, wonder, or even look yonder?

Honestly, she cares a damn fig.

Been there, done that.  Know what I mean?

©neelanilpanciker2017 #thursdayphotoprompt  #fiction #250words


Thursday photo prompt – Wings #writephoto


By Neel Anil Panicker   

 “Oh my little baby, do you know how lucky you are! Mrs Sinha proclaimed, unabashed delight overriding an otherwise phlegmatic demeanor.

‘Yes Aishu, your mother’s right. We’re most fortunate the proposal has come from the Guptas.’

Aishwarya looked across the room at her parents.

The wall clock chimed eleven; it was well past their regular sleep time.

 “Ashu, count yourself immensely lucky. This is your golden chance. Think about what’s going to happen. You’ll be living in the lap of luxury. London, Paris, Switzerland…all the beautiful places you dreamt about visiting will now be a reality. Oh! I am so happy for you, my dear. They have fallen for your simplicity, your values, and your grand success.”

Grand success! Ah! For sure. Momma was alluding to her bagging the first rank in the IAS, the country’s elite examinations.

Besides the obvious prestige and power, the position brought with it enormous responsibilities. One stroke of her pen, one signature of hers could send many a corrupt person behind bars; protect the poor from exploitation and safeguard the rights of the marginalized.

No, she had made up her mind. Her hard work and education, her simplicity and values was not meant to be sacrificed at the altar of outdated family obligations.

Under no circumstances would she allow herself to be blackmailed and manipulated to end up as a trophy wife of some unappreciative businessman.

Her education had given her wings. It was time now for her to fly and conquer the skies.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #thursdayphotoprompt #fiction #shortstory #250words




By Neel Anil Panicker

For Anita life could be neatly divided into a before and an after.

In the before she was this inveterate prankster, ever effervescent and cheerful, drinking to her heart’s content life’s intoxicating nectar, rifling through life, studying, reading, sleeping and when awake, ever plotting, planning, devising one Machiavellian act after another, all pretty much harmless and expected of any pimply, gauche fifteen-year-old blessed with parents who would steal the moon for her.

But then fate struck its cruelest blow when one dark forlorn weather beaten night the world came crashing down on her; in a tragic car accident she lost the love of her lives, her dear parents.

For months thereafter, pushed to the brink of madness, she found herself locked inside her room, windows closed and curtains drawn, while her shell shocked heart drowned in a bottomless well of sadness.

Eons later when the tears had all dried and there were no further memories left for her to be buried, she got up, drew the curtains aside, opened the windows, and let the sun fall on her tear-swept once cherubic face.

This was her after; she resolved then and there that she was going to take charge of her life, was going to make the best of it, for herself and more importantly, for the sake of her loving parents whose dream it was that their only child one day grow up to be a global world peace leader.

#SIXSENTENCESTORIES #fiction #shortstory #240words




By Neel Anil Panicker

‘What do we do now? They will kill us, for sure.’

Raj cupped her face in his hands.

“Have no worries. Our love will protect us from all evil.”

Anjali’s kohl lined eyes turned moist. Tears wet her rosy cheeks.

‘I trust you more than anyone in the world.’

Tired and sleep weary, the two lovers surrendered themselves to sleep.

It was Raj who had spotted it first__a stony windowless apology of a structure, a miniature hut, an oasis around the parched landscape that they had arrived at earlier in the day.

Instinct had told him it would be ideal for them.

A torrid 48 hours had elapsed since the two escaped their village fearing the wrath of their relatives.

Anjali’s family had sworn revenge.
“You’ve brought dishonor to the family by marrying a lower caste boy. I’ll personally hack the two of you to pieces,” her hot headed brother had threatened over phone.

Within ten hours, he had tracked then down to the city and hurled petrol bombs into the rented one room house that they had been living in.

Luckily, the two had gone out to buy essentials.

Since then, with no house to go to, no relative or friend that would play host, they had taken the high road, hitchhiking their way atop sundry buses, trucks and private cars, trying to distance themselves as far away from homegrown enemies braying after their blood.

As the wintry chill set in, under the starry sky, Raj mulled his options.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #thursdayphotoprompt #fiction #shortstory #250words




Thursday photo prompt: Inside-out #writephoto

By Neel Anil Panicker

The mellifluous pitter patter of raindrops as they hit roof tops and self assuredly snaked their way down building walls and factory pipes to surrender themselves to the dank earth still held her in wonderment.

Back in her village, Bindu had often looked at the roof turrets, at the gargoyles and the waters that disappeared through their fiendish mouths.

Rains to her symbolized the washing away of sins, the cleaning up of human

filth, the keeping alive of aspirations.

This afternoon as they lash from the skies, she, her chin jutting out through the ledge, searches far and wide, her sleep-deprived eyes eagerly questing for someone, anyone from among the mass of humanity that trots by, any one soul who would look up and read the sorrow in her eyes, take pity on her, be man enough to extricate her from the hell that awaits her.

She knows things need to hurry, that time is not on her side.

Only last night she had heard her abductors’ whisperings.

Cocking her ears to the wall, she had managed to catch a few words, stray utterings just enough to know that they meant to sell her in the next two days.

Three lakhs, prostitution, sex slave… random words had hit with a sledgehammer’s force.

Later she had cowered herself to a corner, her slender twelve-year-old self turning cold.

Below, they float past her, the respectable class of society.

Who among them will play savior; will help her escape from hell, she wonders.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #ThursdayPhotoPrompt #fiction #250words

Written for

Thursday photo prompt: Inside-out #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt: Inside-out #writephoto

Microfiction #writephoto: A lonely child



Thursday photo prompt – Green #writephoto


Thursday photo prompt – Green #writephoto


By Neel Anil Panicker

Inspector Iqbal Khan was in a bad mood. He had never been inside a jungle.

The closest he had come to a wooded experience was when as a kid he and his cousins had scaled the seven-foot-high walls of the sprawling farmhouse adjacent to their ancestral village house and scurried back again, the pockets of their cotton half pants bulging with ripened Alphonsos, the King of Indian mangoes.

‘Sir, be careful. There are a lot of snakes around here,’ said his prisoner, adding, ‘every year quite a few people die here of snake bites.’

Inspector Khan felt froth forming in his mouth.

A stab of pain shot up his chest.

Though only mid afternoon, darkness had descended.

The two were in the heart of a dark jungle. All he could see was a thick coating of green as giant leafy trees, theirs barks twice the size of an elephant’s legs, ate up every square inch of the earth.

“How far is it?,” he shouted out his, his legs knee deep in slush, his brand new khaki police uniform now all wet and lathered with muddy soot.

‘Sir, over there, see that undergrowth. I’ll go down and get it’.

A mere ten feet ahead of them lay a stony bridge. Under it, half hidden from view, stood a gaping hole, just enough for a person to slither through.

‘Bastard, what a place to hide fifty lakh rupees’.

Inspector Khan pulled out his pistol.

Pointing it at the thief, he barked, “Ok, you go and get the money”, adding “any tricks and I’ll blow your head off”.

The lanky old criminal smiled and entered the tunnel.

‘Let the fool wait for eternity while I vanish through the secret chamber’.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #thursdayphotoprompt #writephoto #287words