By Neel Anil Panicker
The splash of waters could be heard even from a distance.

Sitting on the bench, ringed by a circular parapet, Imtiaz  and Asma watched their kids___eight year old Latif and five year old Azma_dipping their fingers in the froth filled waters and squealing  in delight every time they spotted or  felt a small fish slip through their nimble  fingers.

Meanwhile, their nimble bodies swayed rhythmically as the small boat on which they were bobbed languidly in the placid afternoon waters.

“I am so glad you could take time out. The kids look so happy.”

Imtiaz turned around and nodded his head in assertion.
His hesitant eyes caught the twinkle in her eyes.
Something in them made him to turn his gaze away.
She mustn’t know; at least not until he had exhausted all his resources; expended every conceivable excuse that could pass muster with his bosses.

‘No. Imtiaz, there is no option but for you to go. And it is in your best interests that you take up this new position’.

The words of his employer sent a chill down his spine.
He knew what they meant.
His boss had extended a warning, a a veiled threat. The orders that followed left no room for doubt or ambiguity.
‘Proceed immediately for Kashmir. Also, remember, this is  covert operation that’s been conducted without the formal nod  of the Defence Ministry. As such  complete secrecy has to be maintained.
Which means you will tell your wife  and children that you are leaving for Dubai on a six month official trip. Also remember, you come back only when we hear the news confirming the death of Abu Bakr.’

The words ‘Abu Bakr’ mouthed my his boss sent a chill down his spine.
Who hadn’t heard of Abu ‘Mutton Bakr?
One of the most wanted global terrorists___the man responsible for the Kolkata Metro bomb blasts as well as the brazen attack on an Indian Army camp in Pathankot.

His bosses had given him his toughest and most dangerous assignment so far and he was expected  to deliver as he had been delivering all this years.
Only difference: this time if he failed  he wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale; his enemies, the country’s enemies would ensure that.
“What are you dreaming about, my dear handsome husband. Isn’t it time we went ordered lunch”?

Caught off guard, Imtiaz sheepishly  looked at her wife and replied, albeit haltingly, “Sure, as you say, love. Let me go ferry the kids back”.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #flash flashfictionfortheaspiringwriters

FFfAW Challenge – 169th

Hosted by Priceless Joy at




By Neel Anil Panicker

“Up around the corner” was his standard reply. That was how he stonewalled all her queries. That was the staccato reply she received every single time she asked him in the month or so they had known each other, having met rather serendipitously at the zoo.

“I love animals. They are a joy. Keep coming to watch them” were among his very first words.

On Monday too, just as the two kissed goodbye for the evening and left the comfy comforts of their love nest in Hotel Lakeview, she had asked the same question and received the same response.

“Up around the corner”.

This time she wasn’t satisfied. Call it sixth sense or a woman’s intuition, something from inside her said this needed some investigation.

And so she headed after him, following him as he climbed the incline, his thick leather boots producing metronomic chimes as they hit the rain washed asphalt.

She as careful to camouflage herself behind the tree lined balustrade every time he so much as half turned, mindful of not getting caught and then being accused of stalking him.

She didn’t have to wait for long and very soon he had reached the bend. Ahead, lay a small cobbled pathway and he disappeared down the lane.

Her curiosity now at its prime, she ducked under the branches of a massive peepal tree and surveyed the scene that was unfolding before her eyes.

Slicing through the evening mist filled dampness,  her eyes spotted her friend shaking hands with another person__a man__ a man whose face was all over the newspapers; a man whose rugged mug shot was on every single television screen for the past two weeks___Amir Raza, the dreaded Hizbul Mujahiddin terrorist who had escaped from Chennai Central Prison a fortnight ago.

As realization hit her she felt as if she were hit by a heavy boulder. Her head began to wobble and stars floated all around her.  She thought she would collapse. With great resolve she steadied herself and looked ahead.

The two were smiling, exchanging pleasantries; she even saw a small packet, covered in a brown manila envelope being exchanged. The other man, the terrorist, took it and then swiftly disappeared into the rocky landscape beyond.

And then she saw her ‘friend’, the man she had met and fallen in love and given her all under the course of a month, clamber up and then amble his way further up the hill.

She stood there, immobile and terror struck, as she watched him disappeared down the hill.

So this was it. She, Ananya Sarkar, a 23-year-old bright final year Masters student of Philosophy, and more worryingly, the only child of a sitting High Court judge was mixed up, even if inadvertently, with dreaded terrorists who were running from the law,; ruthless and vile men accused of killing several innocents.

She slumped to the ground and thereafter, for a long while, simply sat there, immobile, her brain a comatose, unable to fathom how she landed herself into such an elephantine mess.

#neelanilpanicker #fiction #flash #shortstory #510words #instashorts

Sunday Writing Prompt – Select a Heading

Up Around the Corner




By Neel Anil Panicker

In prison, life unfolds in excruciatingly slow motion.

The first week of my incarceration was hell.

Harshly extricated from a world where a walk in the park, yoga on the mat, three hour business meetings with similar other suits, digging teeth into the best of Lebanese sea food and other rare gastronomic delights, and then come evenings letting ones’ hair down with the best of Scotch with Aka crooning hungrily in the background “Baby I Want You Tonight” were the norm and finding myself dumped in a six by six near darkened iron bars encased corner cell where the only sound that you heard come day, come night was the howl of your own agony filled screams was a huge come down; a colossal extreme from what life had so far meant.

At the end of Week One I gave up. Well, almost. Devoid of all human contact, my mind a turmoil, a million miles away from home and hearth, and subsisting only on two near uncooked rotis and a semi-liquid spurious watery concoction that I suspected to be at least a month old, I shut my eyes to all reality, praying to all Gods, known and unknown, to help rid me of this sodden existence.

Deliverance came on Day Eight, when I opened my weary near blinded eyes only to find myself staring at the ceiling__towards a small slit between the all black stony rocks that held it, at a skein of near invisible beam of light.

Sitting up straight, I ignored the sound of my bones cracking and the benumbing pain that had taken roots in my lower left back and concentrated on the vision.

Too miniscule to even make it possible for me to see the lines in my hands, or the muddy floor on which I lay, weak enough to even illuminate the iron bars of the solitary gate that entrapped my existence, the light__this light which I was seeing__still held for me a ray of hope, it birthed in me a belief (even if it were fragile and flickering) that there could a way out of this hell, that a mere sigh behind my darkened existence awaited light.

All I had to do was not give up hope and reach out.

‘It was then and there that I decided to make friends with this ray of light.

Little did I know then how valuable a friend it would turn out to be, ultimately even helping me to plan my escape from this underground 17th century cell in a God forsaken island off the coast of Maldives.

#neelanilpanicker #shortstory #fiction #flash #flashfiction #mindlovesmisery #light

Tale Weaver- #171- May 17th – Light



Image result for olivia pope

By Neel Anil Panicker

You are a moron, a big fool. Even a five year old has more intelligence than you.”


It all happened in a flash. By the time Olivia could gather her wits, the knife was encircling her throat, the glistening long blades pressing forcefully against soft skin.

An excruciating pain began forming around her neck; she erupted in spluttering agony filled gasps.

The rarefied atmosphere of the darkened bunker ensured each intake of air was an Herculean effort.

Raising her wobbly head, she swapped the loose strands of hair off her face and looked straight into the eyes of her tormentor.

They shone blood red, the eyeballs reflecting sheer menace.

She knew she had touched a raw nerve; her continued survival now hinged on how he had taken the insult. Would he turn barbaric and allow his beastly self to take over and cut her slender body to pieces, burn and feed her flesh and bones to the umpteen greyhounds that she had seen all around the desolate fortress that they brought her over a fortnight ago.

Under her watchful eyes, his pupils dilated, a wee bit.

She knew this was her only chance.

She went for the jugular.

“I am Olivia Pope; mistress of the President of the United States of America, the most powerful man in the world. Imagine, what that means. Right now you are just a lackey, a sidekick of your boss, a paid dog, an obedient servant of his master, one who took all the risk to kidnap and house me here only to make money for his boss. It’s time you enter the big league. It’s time for you to become to become the man that you are meant to be, to turn the tables and negotiate me on your own terms. Remember you have Olivia Pope_the Olivia Pope_   and I am worth billions in the open market. Go ahead and trade me and get rich beyond imagination. But then for that you need to have guts. Do you have guts, Steve?”


The question seemed to have hit her captor like a sledgehammer. His eyes constricted and droplets of sweat trickled down the nape of his neck.  Olivia felt the edges of the metal tighten around her neck. Her blood vessels began to constrict.

“She muttered to herself. This is it. She was going to die. It’s now or never.”

It was at that instant that she raised her head and looked one last moment at her nemesis.

And what she saw told her that her gamble had paid off.

It was in the eyes, something about them, those pupils, the way they constricted, the way balls turned a tinge of purplish red.

She knew she had won. That she had managed to outwit this dim wit. That freedom was now just a leap-frog away.

#neelanilpanicker #oliviapope #scandal #realisticfiction #flash #instashorts




By Neel Anil Panicker

“Unlike Ranjeet, Arijit is constant, too constant in fact, so constant that I can predict right down to a last nano second what he is going to wear or say, who he is going to meet, and where and with whom he will be this very moment three weeks, or worse, even three years hence.”

Absolutely unbelieving what she had just heard, Pragya lowered her head and spoke, her voice a low whisper, mindful of the gang of garrulously shrieking teenagers seated in the table next to theirs at the downtown Starbucks outlet on a Monday afternoon, ‘Shreya, if he is constant then be it so, at least he doesn’t, like Ranjeet alternate between extreme care and sheer indifference, one moment showering you with flowers and chocolates, serenading you around like a princess and the very next treating you as if just don’t exist, like you were this inanimate thing, just another door or something that he chooses to walk in and out of as per his fancy.  Shreya, you need to know that in life more than often than not the known devil is better than the unknown angel, and moreover Arijit is your husband, the one your parents chose as your life partner.’

“Husband…life partner…my foot!!! Listen Pragya, I’m done with him as I no longer need a mere rubber stamp for a husband, I need a man, a real man who makes me feel like a woman, a real woman.”

‘And you believe that person is Ranjeet, a Lothario who has a reputation of bedding every single woman that moves around on two legs, who meets you only to satisfy his libido and does the disappearing act for days on end.’

“Yes Pragya, you’re right when you say that he is a pleasure seeker but then aren’t we all and as for as the disappearing act is concerned I’ll make sure that he is bound to me for ever, an obedient puppy on a tight leash.”

#neelanilpanicker #sixsentencestories #fiction #flash #shortstory #329words


Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt!




By Neel Anil Panicker
There was none like her. She was non parallel. She was the queen of hearts. She set the screen on fire with her smouldering sensuality. She was head and shoulders above all.
She was also a narcissist who had taken self obsession to the utter extremes, spending crores of her hard earned money on beauty care products and treatments, she was so vain about maintaining her gorgeous looks that she took all manner of drugs, went under the knife countless numbers of times, was gobbling up dangerous, unsupervised drugs and injecting botox shots into her veins by the hour till the last moments of her death.
She was also an alcoholic, a shameless drunkard, a woman who swallowed five full bottles of the best whisky every single day right upto the day she died.
The world and its uncle have gone to town writing their own individual obituaries about the demi-goddess of Hindi film industry, Sri Devi, who was found dead under very tragic circumstances in a five star hotel’s bathtub in Dubai.
It seems everyone knew her intimately, knew her likes and dislikes, knew what she ate or did not, what she drank or did not, who she cavorted with and not, who were the loves and hates of her rather shortened stay on Planet Earth.
And what they knew they spoke with complete conviction like there’s this guy who pronounced rather pompously the other day, “Do you know her monthly expenses on maintaining herself was Rs 25 lakhs?”.
No Sir, I didn’t know that, and thank you for illuminating lesser mortals like us with such pearls of your wisdom.
Another, this one on 24 hour national TV, quipped, quite majestically at that “she took to the bottle as Boney had stopped caring for her”.
Yet another, this one a well known producer and “very very dear friend of her” had this to say, “Sri lost it after Mithun refused to marry her. From thereafter, it was just one big slide.”
Now, can we all stop this gibberish, utter nonsense that are being bandied about in full public glare and shamelessly carted around as if they were the Gospel truth, as if the holier than thou dispensers of such ‘authoritative’ facts and figures are the whole sole purveyors of truth?
Can we stop being so reckless in our opinions about people we haven’t even met or aren’t even remotely aware of, especially when aren’t even present to defend themselves against the relentless onslaught of abominable comments and innuendos that are being peddled around by people who have nothing better to do with their lives?
My answer to that is Yes. Yes, we can give the middle finger to all these shallow people and their meretricious comments every time they start throwing their gauntlet over the windmills.
#neelanilpanicker #sridevi #death #bollywood #indiancinema #467words

FFfAW Challenge-Week of February 27, 2018FUNER



By Neel Anil Panicker

Alex says he doesn’t want the doll house. Lisa wonders not for the umpteenth time if she had made a mistake. They were about to be married. She twice. Her childhood home. Recalls the golden memories. No, her mom would never have done it. And now that she is gone, her step father wants it removed, calls it an eyesore. Wants to convert it into a room and make money Make but she was going out.

Toime to end her doll day and get into the real world.

“I don’t care what you do with it, I just want it gone,” Alex said, pointing at the dollhouse.

Lisa stood at the entrance, her slim frame shuddering, her limbs slightly shaking as the sheer harshness of those words seeped in through her tender skin, skittered down the veins, and knifed through her heart tearing it asunder.

How could he, how on earth could a man change so soon, she wondered.  It had been barely a week since her mother’s death and ‘Uncle’ had changed, was showing his true colours.

She couldn’t believe how her mother, a smart and intelligent woman could ever have fallen for such as a man; this selfish, vain man, her step father, the man who had forcefully ingratiated himself into the Kapoor household after her father had died, first posing as a distant relative, a do gooder, a beacon of hope, and then slowly ingratiated himself to such an extent as to propose marriage to her mom.

Perhaps she was fooled in by his overarching ‘care’ and ‘man around the house’ persona, or maybe, she was too starved for love and companionship to have given him the benefit of doubt.

Isn’t that every woman does, barters her life and gives her all to the man in the fond hope and belief that she would change him to her way of thinking, make good of him and thereby make good of their shared lives.

But all that was water down the drain now, thought Lisa as she looked past her ‘Uncle’ at the doll house one last time.

Gennie, the bear eyed her from under a taped bright red wooden table, toy trains and baby dolls attired in frilly girlie frocks with buttoned eyes that smiled resplendently under the glare of multi-hued electric lights made her feel misty.

This miniature doll house was not just the place that she and her mother built box by box with a lot of care and love but this was also her oasis, her childhood retreat, the haven she turned into whenever the pressures of growing up seemed a wee bit overwhelming for her.

And now that haven, that one place that she thought was her and hers alone was also lost.

Lost for ever, its contents to be thrown out and the room itself refurbished and converted into a rental, just one more means for ‘Uncle’ to make money.

Well, she reasoned if that’s what he wants then let him have it, not just the doll house but the entire house and its belongings.

It was time for her to leave, it was time for her to hit the streets, to risk her chances, to step onto to the big bad world, and so what life has in store  for her.

Without that resolution in mind she turned around and walked away, carrying with her only memories, happy memories of a life well lived, a life when everything was perfect and she, and her mother and her father walked and loved and laughed like small little dolls.


First Line Friday – February 16th, 2018