I recently read an article about serious horror writing. It argued that one can write about evil only to an extent. Beyond a point the writer's reality and his/her fictional illusion begin to merge and this tango is dangerous to say the least! Talk about writers flirting with borders of sanity.
This flash story originally won in competition rounds and got published at http://www.apollos-lyre.com/ a couple of years back. I have posted it solely for my convenience and records. Dark, deep, and with a touch of nihilism.
Kundanlal is a bitter old man of 67, who looks 57.
He has retired after slogging as a senior accountant in the statistical department of India, Bombay office, for four decades. His secret of perfect health: “I have taken orders all my life and suffered my wife’s temper tantrums.”
Now he is forced to take care of the same woman because of her never-ending illness of chronic asthma. Every few weeks, she gets an attack; it is much worse during winters. Her endless coughing gives him sleepless nights.
He pays for the doctor’s visits and medicines. He knows that it is a waste of his precious savings. He can barely pay the recently increased rent from his pension money, but there seems no way out of this. His two sons are settled abroad, very well off, but he hates seeking any help from them; they have all but forgotten the old parents.
“This winter might be her last.” The doctor has assured him several times.
Kundanlal wakes up trembling from a ghastly nightmare - he was flying as a gracefull, dark angel of death swooping down on a delicious carcass.
It is well past midnight, his throat feels dry. On his way to the kitchen for a glass of water, Kundanlal decides to kill his wife. He picks up a hefty pillow from his bed and enters his wife’s room.
Taking care not to bump into any furniture, he circles her bed. By now his eyes get familiar with shapes and shadows in the darkness. The smells of medicines make him nauseous for a minute; a tired dog barks in distance. He bends carefully over the wife’s head, gently pulls away the tattered blanket and slams the pillow flat on her face.
“Goodbye,” he whispers and leans with all 80 pounds of him.
He keeps the pressure on for a full minute or more. There is no struggle; no flailing limbs, or desperate twists of the torso for that last lungful of oxygen. Her frail, saree- clad body lies like an old lump on the mattress.
Out of surprise and disgust, Kundanlal slowly removes the pillow from her face and switches on the table lamp. He feels for her pulse but the body is icy cold.
She is already dead, with a slight smile frozen on her face.