What Pegman Saw: Buckhorn Iowa

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Image result for buckhorn, iowa

By Neel Anil Panicker

‘Hey Oscar, let’s investigate. It says Satan’s Playground’.

The two friends looked at one another as the sun’s rays receded from above their temples, slipping past the corner side street where they stood, their hands__tender and tucked inside over-sized pockets, a mere furlong from where they lived.

As the shadows darkened an eerie silence hung all over the derelict place.

“No ways. Uncle Tom’s warned us not to get anywhere close to this building. Says it’s infested with demons.”

‘What a load of crap! I’m going in, you sissy. I aint afraid’.

Oscar watched, his heart thumping faster than an unhinged yo-yo, fear writ large over his twelve-year-old face.

A jaunty pull over nonexistent fence, a clumsy hop and a skip thereafter, and Jonathan had swaggered in through the crumbling façade of the two storied ghostly post office.

By the time the screams erupted, Oscar had collapsed to the ground.





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By Neel Anil Panicker

Happiness is a relative term. Take, for instance, Tomoe Murao.

Tomoe Murao

One would be deceived by those sparkling eyes that smile from behind rimless glasses, the delicately hair brushed bob of hair that crowns a face attractive enough to prise open doors and hearts.

At 55, she’s a happy woman.

Happy that she’s alive, happy that every morning she gets to see the vast Pacific Ocean, the sound of the gurgling waves music to her ears, happy that the little convenience store that she runs alongside her husband is up and running, even if it means a trickle of patrons stepping into the road facing shop that doubles that doubles up as their residence.

But then she’s also an intensely unhappy woman.  Sad because her entire extended family, or whatever was left of it, has abandoned nee was forced to abandon Naraha, the town of their ancestors, the town they called their own until the nuclear accident.

‘I hope they’re back’, she says. But there’s no hope in that voice.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #whatpegmansaw #fiction #flash #shortstory #fukushima #japan #radiation #nuclear



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Playing at a theatre near you

17 Anonymous 19 November 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

A ghoonghtaless brave Rajput princess bedecked in mesmerizing regal wear, prancing around in her own magnificent gold bedecked palace courtyard, dancing her heart out in gay abandon, her swirling lehanga swishing wildly in huge concentric circles while her dainty hennaed hands rise up to the skies above, her beautiful kohl-lined eyes sparkling with divine love, her lips a prayer, ever seeking blessings for the earthlings below.

Deepika-Padukone Ghoomar-song_1

Or, a near desperate woman forced to step out of her home in search of her ‘missing’ husband, overnight losing her moniker Goddess Durga; instead finding herself metamorphosed into a mere object of man’s lascivious predatory instincts.

Still another, bogged down by the vicissitudes of fate, compelled by the dire need to keep body and soul together, sheds her clothes under the harsh glare of arc lights, only to rejoin her starving family of five including a paralytic father and three mother-less younger siblings, their hollowed eyes hooked onto to the bread crumbs that she clutches in her hands, her paltry wages of the day.

Disturbing, uneasy, uncomfortable… is that what these images evoke in us?

Yes, and that’s because it’s we, the male of the human species, who decide the status of women in this world. It’s we who decide whether women are to be revered or reviled.

For us, especially, the men of India, women are a binary.

It’s easy slotting them. They are either good or bad, the compartmentalization arrived at from the periscope of our ever vigilant male eyes.

We decide who is to be worshipped and who is to be crucified; we decide who is to be hailed as a princess and a goddess, and who is to be hauled to be coals and branded a witch, a siren, or a slot. It is we and we alone that decides who is a good woman and who is a bad one.

And woe betide anyone who dares to defy us, challenge us, question our unquestionable hegemony over all such matters.

We vow to throttle all such voices; swear to ban, burn and bust them, crush them to pulp__all ye ‘uncultural voices’.

Such pests must best be put to rest.

Long live the Indian male, long live India, the India of our dreams, the India of our vision, the India of only our vision.




Note: I have slightly deviated and written a longre non-fictional piece as i felt this is a story that needed to be told in the present context that is playing out in India. Hope you shall forgive me for this rather off beat, long piece.



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St. Petersburg, Russia


(GENRE: Historical Fiction)

By Neel Anil Panicker

As the eight door state car, a shining black limousine screeched to a halt, a sprightly six foot tall man in an overall coat quickly ran upto and held the back door open.

A few moments later, Joseph Stalin, the most powerful man in Russia spoke.

“Nikolai, we’ve a problem. We aren’t killing them fast enough.”

‘Comrade, I’m aware of that. I have a solution. Have a look at this.’

“That’s a bread van, you fool”.
‘Only from the outside. It’s in fact a Dushegubka.’

“Now what’s the hell is that?”

‘It’s an airtight mobile gas van. What we do is simply strip our enemies naked, tape their mouths and bundle them into the truck. The piped fuel gas will ensure that they all die inhaling carbon monoxide even before the vehicle reaches the graveyard.’

“Excellent. Easy and quick riddance. This way we save on the bullets too. Long Live The Revolution.”
‘Comrade, there’s one small hitch. The driver would be able to hear the screams as the victims die slow, painful deaths’.

‘Oh, that’s wonderful. He gets free entertainment.’

©neelanilpanicker2017 #fiction #flash #historical fiction #whatpegmansaw #179words


The gas van was invented and used by the Soviet secret police NKVD in the late 1930s during the Great Purge.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

The Great Purge or the Great Terror (Russian: Большо́й терро́р) was a campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938.[1] It involved a large-scale purge of the Communist Party and government officials, repression of peasants and the Red Armyleadership, widespread police surveillance, suspicion of “saboteurs”, “counter-revolutionaries”, imprisonment, and arbitrary executions.[2] Mobile gas vans were invented to execute people without trial.[3][4][5] In Russian historiography, the period of the most intense purge, 1937–1938, is called Yezhovshchina (Russian: Ежовщина; literally, “Yezhov phenomenon”,[note 1] commonly translated as “times of Yezhov” or “doings of Yezhov”), after Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, who was later killed in the purge. It has been estimated that 600,000 people died at the hands of the Soviet government during the Purge.[6]

It was later widely implemented as an extermination method in Nazi Germany to kill enemies of the regime, mostly Jews.[8]

The Nazis began experimenting with poison gas for the purpose of mass murder in late 1939 with the killing of mental patients (“euthanasia”). A Nazi euphemism, “euthanasia” referred to the systematic killing of those Germans whom the Nazis deemed “unworthy of life” because of mental illness or physical disability

One of several methods used was the gas van. Such vans were first deployed in 1940 in “Euthanasia” operations. Hitler delegated the “Euthanasia” operation to Reichsleiter Philip Bouhler, Dr. Karl Brandt, and several doctors of their choice.

Prior to gassing, the victims were ordered to hand over all of their valuables. They then had to undress themselves and finally entered the gas vans. The two doors at the back of the wagons were closed, the tube then locked to the exhaust. To calm down the naked victims a lamp was switched on for some minutes. The driver then started the motor, which ran in neutral gear for about ten minutes. During this time the motor produced enough carbon monoxide to suffocate the victims. As they were so crowded together there was lack of air anyway. When the screaming and pounding had stopped, the driver started the drive to the cremation.

Nikolai Yezhov

Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov (Russian: Никола́й Иванович Ежо́в, IPA: [nʲɪkɐˈlaj jɪˈʐof]; May 1, 1895 – February 4, 1940) was a Soviet secret police official under Joseph Stalin. He was head of the NKVD from 1936 to 1938, during the most active period of the Great Purge. His time in office is known as the “Yezhovshchina” (Russian: Ежовщина),[4] a term coined during the de-Stalinization campaign of the 1950s.[note 1] After presiding over executions and mass arrests during the Great Purge, Yezhov became a victim of it himself. He was arrested, confessed under torture to a range of anti-Soviet activity, and was executed in 1940. By the beginning of World War II, his status within the Soviet Union became that of a political unperson.[5]



FRIDAY FICTIONEERS hosted by the charming Rochelle at

1 September 2017


By Neel Anil Panicker                   (word count: 99 words)

The man looked askance at the promontory spread out before him.

Who would believe that a mere 90 days ago it was a wild swampy mangrove.

Each cell, a mere 13.5ft by 7.5ft, comprised a 6ft by 3ft wooden bed. A  barred 3 feet by 1 feet grate served as the sole ventilation.

Richard Carnac Temple, chief commissioner of the Andamans, turned to his aide.

“Week one all prisoners to be manacled, hung upside down from wooden pegs, flogged, and force fed gruel riddled with crushed lizards. A fate worse than the hangman’s noose awaits those who do survive.”

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FF #fiction #kalapani #andamans


Inside Cellular Jail: the horrors and torture inflicted the Raj on India’s political activists



Sunday Photo Fiction – August 20th 2017

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Hosted by J Hardy at 


209 08 August 20th 2017

By Neel Anil Panicker

My name is Galileo.

Galileo who? Galileo what? Did I hear you say?

Well, not surprising, though.

In this fast paced emoji driven, information pumping adrenaline high robotic age whoever has the time for digging out relics of some hoary past?

Well, if it’s any consolation, I’m the one to whom is attributed the famous phrase Eppur si muove.  It refers to my claim that it’s the Earth that revolves around the Sun and not the other way around.

Big deal, you might say.

But I tell you, in my day around 500 years ago what I said was considered a sacrilege.

The omnipotent, omniscient custodians of the Church (read God) took serious umbrage to my utterances.

I was incarcerated in a deep dungeon, and made to drink poison.

Hey, why am I telling you these things? It’s a story long interred and buried in the dustbin of history?


Well, folks, I’m doing this so you and the generations that would follow yours learn to stand up to all manner of wrongs and injustices perpetuated in this world in the name of God, that you understand there can exist a happy marriage between science and morality devoid of mass hatred fueled by religious bigotry.

(neelanilpanicker2017 #spf #fiction #200words

BACKGROUND: And yet it moves

“Eppur si muove” redirects here. For other uses, see Eppur si muove (disambiguation).

And yet it moves” or “Albeit it does move” (ItalianE pur si muove or Eppur si muove [epˈpur si ˈmwɔːve]) is a phrase attributed to the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant his claims that the Earth moves around the immovable[1] Sun rather than the converse during the Galileo affair.[2]

In this context, the implication of the phrase is: despite his recantation, the Church’s proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move (around the Sun, and not vice versa). As such, the phrase is used today as a sort of pithy retort implying that “it doesn’t matter what you believe; these are the facts.”





FRIDAY FICTIONEERS hosted by the prima donna of short fiction Rochelle at

18 August 2017


(genre: historical fiction)

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


By Neel Anil Panicker

A week ago Asha watched on TV the heart wrenching visuals of countless Blue Whales swept ashore, their glistening gargantuan lifeless forms on the sandy ocean bed.

Quite a few had turned this vista into a photo-op, clicking selfies while poking, nudging, pricking at the creatures in a misplaced show of braggadocio.

Watching the horrific grainy images, Asha had dropped more than a tear,

her heart breaking out in silent prayers for the departed.

A week later it was revenge time; the blue whales played a game on her only son.

A mother paid the price for a son’s hubris.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #FF #fiction #she’sgottheblues #100words


Blue Whale (game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Blue Whale Game (RussianСиний кит, Siniy kit) also “Blue Whale Challenge”, is an Internet “game” that is claimed to exist in several countries. The game allegedly consists of a series of tasks assigned to players by administrators during a 50-day period, with the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide.[1][2] The term “Blue Whale” comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is linked to suicide.

Blue Whale began in Russia in 2013 with “F57”, one of the names of the so-called “death group” of the VKontaktesocial network,[3] and allegedly caused its first suicide in 2015.[4][5] Philipp Budeikin, a former psychology student who was expelled from his university, claimed that he invented the game. Budeikin stated that his purpose was to “clean” the society by pushing to suicide those he deemed as having no value.[