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



GET LOST mexico

By Neel Anil Panicker

Alfred smeared the sand off his eyes and looked upwards as the mid-summer July sun shone hard on his bald as an eagle plate.

Turning around, his groggy eyes swept past the sandy stretch, past the spartan rows of thatched dwellings, a lone leafless palm tree wedeged in between, beyond the solitary battered windowless vintage-era car that stood, its apology of a bonnet looking into the sea, its waves sprouting salty froth into the jagged rocks that fronted the mile long desolate beach.

It was then that he remembered where he was- San Jose’ el Huate, Chiapas, Mexico.

A slow smile creased his thick as a ‘Subway double decker chicken sandwich’ lip.

Not bad, he mused.

Not bad at all for a fifty-year-old master international swindler who’s just broken through the high security state prison at Sacramento, over a thouand miles away in distant California.

Al stood up and wiped the dirt off his legs; the earth, fifty feet under, housing his only wordly possession__a much used pure leather Samsonite bag that contained ten million American dollars.



Thursday photo prompt – Alone #writephoto

Hosted by the gracious Sue Vincent at


By Neel Anil Panicker

Prisons make for great camaraderie.

Call it brotherhood of the underdog, survival instincts, or sheer boredom,

it is not unusual for two people locked in a common cell to turn into best buddies over a period of time.

It’s two in the morning, though within the darkened walls of a prison cell, time is but a mere statistic, meaningless and of not much value.

Crouched in a corner and still holding in his hands the tiny cell phone, Ali just about had time to digest the earth shattering news that Moosa had conveyed to him seconds ago when he looked up to find his prison mate not just wide awake but staring down at him from across the cell room, a mystery smile playing on his lips.

It was a look that transported Ali back to his childhood days in his impoverished village in Gorakhpur; a look the landlord’s henchmen at the orchard farm used to give him when they suspected him of stealing mangoes.

Momentarily shaken, Ali quickly regained his composure, and looked his cell mate in the eye.

The two locked horns for what seemed an eternity. It was his cellmate who broke the stare and flashed a smile, only this time it was a wide, friendly smile, a smile that seemed to say, “don’t worry man, we’re both sailing in the same boat. All your secrets are mine too and shall remain so, forever buried in my heart’.

It was not long before the two convicts got talking. Before daybreak, Ali and his cell mate, whose name he came to know was Lakhi alias Lambu had become thick buddies.

Within the next few days and nights, the two had shared enough of their lives and confided just about enough to forge a strong bond of friendship.

Come nightfall and as the prison would plunge darkness, the two friends would huddle around the bed and converse for long hours till they fell prey to sleep.

It was while in the midst of one such nightly conversation that Ali received a call from Liza, a call that had the potential to change the course of his life.

©neelanilpanicker2017 #alonelyvigil#parttenofadangerouslove#ofprisonnights#358














WAITING FOR DEATH   (248 words)

By Neel Anil Panicker

Tiptoeing past the balcony, and with his body half crouched to the floor, Peter

slid his way down the stairs, and on the first landing dragged himself behind the sandstone pillars.

He needn’t have done so__the house and its surroundings were pitch dark.

He had ensured that, having turned off the lights an hour ago, moments after seeing off his wife  wife and the two kids.

“Why don’t you spend the night at Annie’s? It’s been a while since you two met”, he had suggested to Mary during lunch.

And then looking at the way she had brightened up at his words, he had added, “and do take the kids with you, dear. You know how much they love granny”.

That had sealed it. Any opportunity to meet her sister, kids in tow, pleased Mary no end.

And now, an hour after they had left, leaving the two storied mansion to himself, Peter waited, his breath on hold, as an eerie silence pervaded the place.

Emmanuel was in town. A week ago he had read of his release. A day ago he had seen a figure hurriedly retreat into the lane.

A shiver had gone down his spine. Immanuel’s parting words before the police bundled him away rang in his ears, “I’ll be back”.

His boss was not one to give empty threats. Had no mercy for double crossers.

Above, something dropped on the velvety floor. Immanuel was in his room.

Below, Peter waited, gun in hand.


Thursday photo prompt – Waiting #writephoto


Written for Thursday Photo Prompt Challenge hosteed by Sue Vincent at


PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

THE TUNNEL   (100 words)

By Neel Anil Panicker

Life’s a crawl when I bump into Charlie, childhood buddy, fresh out of jail.

 “Mat!” he screams, his whisky scarred voice a slur.

Man’s a toughie; mean as they come in Cox Bazaar.

“Wanna make some cool money?”

Months back he had come to my shack with his sister, who was friends with Karen, who is pregnant with our baby.

‘How much?’  I ask, mindful not to sound too excited.

“Twenty grands, ten upfront, rest after the job”.

I bite my lip and walk past.

 “I’ll come with the dough. Tonight”.

I don’t reply. He knows what my answer is.


This wonderful challenge is hosted by the wonderfully sweet and talented Rochelle at


Erie Canal

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