#1 Explosive Beginnings
I woke up amid a world filled with gas cylinders. I could hear the hissing sound of flammable gas leaking from some of them. Praying that nothing unruly happens, I got up and hopped from one gas cylinder to the next. Landing my feet safely on the nozzle of each cylinder was more strenuous than I thought because their designs were different from each other. After crossing around twelve of those, I bent my legs only to notice large marks of red that I’d received by placing them on the sharp-edged nozzles. I still couldn’t see much else around other than a gazillion gas cylinders. The place reeked of gas but there wasn’t much I could do.
I kept going for another ten more minutes but this stretch seemed unending. I sat down over a cylinder wondering what to do. At that moment, I noticed a very old man (bald, probably in his early nineties?) at a short distance. He was sitting with his face (and body) towards the other side. I called out to him. No response. I tried a few more times but to no avail.
I concluded that he must be deaf and tried making my way to him. Eventually, I got to him and gently shoved his shoulder to turn him around… only to find him holding a Zippo lighter in his hand and smiling wide, revealing his toothless gums. Before I could say a damn thing, he popped open the fancy-looking lid and lit the lighter. There was only one word going through my mind then: BOOM!
*Michael Bay-styled explosion followed*
#2 The Bank Job
I woke up this time in office (or was it really?) sporting formals. Instead of the long tables and revolving chairs that I have in my office, it sort of looked as if my colleagues were seated at cash counters in a bank/hospital (my eyes swiftly caught sight of the signature small, circular opening at the counter where customers hand over their tokens and collect money). Perplexed by this new seating arrangement and wondering why my colleagues were acting like cashiers all of a sudden, I checked my watch and found that it was 3 PM in the afternoon.
Did I oversleep? How come I showed up ‘late to work’? While these questions ran through my mind, my boss accidentally bumped into me, hastily said ‘Sorry!’, gave off a wicked smile and walked past. My pocket suddenly felt heavier than before. Did my boss just slide a gift down my pocket? Weird. I reached out to my pocket and found a tiny device. That very moment, my colleagues closed the counters and signalled a thumbs-up. What was I supposed to do? One of them pointed at the device. I glanced at it. It had just one giant red button that read ‘JAM!’. Without giving second thoughts, I simply pressed the button. I noticed the CCTV cameras droop and turn inactive.
My colleagues immediately began emptying the cash in their desks into gunny sacks. I was still unsure as to what was going on but I quickly followed them into the garage with several bags containing wads of currency. An armoured truck had been parked there, with the rear door open. As my colleagues loaded the truck with the bags, I rushed to the front, switched on the stereo and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ started playing.
Damn! I was taking part in a bank heist. I couldn’t believe it! Sitting on the pillion seat was this cute little Labrador puppy. He let out a little woof as if trying to sing along to Ronnie Van Zant’s vocals. After the folks finished stacking all the bags, one of them closed the door and knocked on it twice. It was my cue to leave the premises as soon as possible. I sat in the driver’s seat, fastened the seatbelt for my furry friend, revved up the engine and smashed my way through the metal shutter of the garage.
A Grand Theft Auto-esque chase ensued with cops in hot pursuit. The track playing in the background quickly changed to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ as I shifted into high gear. In a matter of minutes, the cops were way, way behind. I drove the truck into our custom paint-shop, walked out of the vehicle in slow-motion, aviators on my face, with a feeling of having taken over the world like a true gangsta’ – puppy walking alongside.
*A professional bank robber? I wish!*
#3 Escape From Perdition
The mood just didn’t seem right. My parents were fighting in the other room. In fact, the reason for their household warfare was me. Apparently, this was the third time I had failed for six out of eight subjects in my school exams. Frustrated by listening to the never-ending squabble, I chose to end my life. I ran up to the terrace, climbed to one of its edges, and contemplated for a moment. My mind was as blank as a white sheet and there was nothing holding me back! I jumped!
But I landed in water for some reason, though there was no water-body around my building. I swam to the nearest shore. It seemed like a different world – dark, forested, and ominously silent. I waited for a little while for someone to show up. A mob of people (couldn’t see anyone’s face as it was inky all around) came up to me and asked in unison “Are you ready?” I did not know what or how to respond, so I just nodded. Four of them lowered a chair for me to sit. I followed their orders and sat down. They hoisted me (while seated on the chair) up on their shoulders and proceeded to a large open ground. Now this area was lit up sufficiently well with fire ploughs.
Firstly, I noticed that I was wearing a loose, medieval-era costume. And so were they! I could also see a large crucifix at the centre of the ground with an actual person bound to it using ropes. Was some sort of ritualistic sacrifice taking place? The audience members were either masked or had extensive tattoo-work on their faces, rendering them difficult to recognize. A sinister-looking priest who stood in front of the crucifix did some weird actions with his hands while chanting something out loud. They placed me in a position facing the crucifix and told me to follow the priest’s orders. Once he was done with his antics, he came up to me and pulled back my sleeve to reveal a quasi-futuristic wrist-mounted flamethrower. “Set his soul free!” he exclaimed as he instigated me to use the flame-thrower to immolate the person on the crucifix. I looked up at the guy’s face – it was melancholic and ready to accept death.
I took a long breath, rolled up my sleeve, and readied myself to set his unknown person on fire. I had a quick change of mind and directed the flame at the priest instead, charring his face. I used the flamethrower randomly at members in the audience before sprinting back into the woods, into oblivion. Who was that on the crucifix? Why was I sanctioned to kill him?
*Was that Purgatory? I have no idea!*