Puppet-Blood-Lighter by Hasan Al-Hamadi

“That was a good meal”, I said, after having dinner at a local diner that has a view of a parking lot. If Kuwait is an ant colony, then ants are the restaurants and the queen is the trendy one of that time. People would wait for hours to get a Falafel sandwich that was given a fancy name, something like “Fal Rojas” or “Clair de Fal”. So, all of a sudden, this 50-cent falafel sandwich is the trend and sold for $15 as the original Fal Rojas. However, if you want the super Clair de Fal you have to pay an extra $5for the special “La Gallo” sauce which is in reality a 25-cent hot sauce giving the red rooster on the bottle a spiky hair style and a nose job. But I am not here to judge, so hey, if it makes them happy, that is what matters really. 

I signaled to the waiter that I wanted the check. It is probably the only sign language I am really good at. The check arrived. It is always a unique moment because every restaurant tries to innovate with the check presentation; some put it in a book, which tells a story, …once upon a time there were hungry people…, others put it in a fancy box, as if you’re on a treasure hunt mission, some put it in a tin can, to be bohemian cool. This time, however, it was a traditional booklet with a credit card pocket on the right. I opened it and there was that piece of paper with some numbers. I was casually checking the total. Then my eyes got blurry and I blinked a few times, and then checked it again. It said “Grendizer”, then changed to “Sindbad” and then to “Puppet”. I know I am looking at a piece of paper, and I know that technology has not got that far yet, at least not to a Falafel joint in Kuwait! I closed the booklet and took a glimpse around to see if anything strange, opened the booklet again and saw “Puppet1972” then I thought holy crap… these are the passwords I usually use! Then a question appeared: “break the leg of the chair on the other table”? with 2 check marks “Yes and No”. A man was sitting on that chair and as soon as I selected Yes it broke! He fell on his back and hit his head on the kerb stone. He was bleeding. His blood, mixed with the water that was in his glass, made it look like a bloodbath. All panicked, I froze. I took the booklet and slowly approached the man. By then, everyone was trying to help, but he was breathless and wanted to say something which only the people next to him were able to hear. I asked him in a clear voice what he said. The man said something which felt very strange. I think he said “Puppet” …

Oh, please do not judge me. But who would pick “No” in a weird receipt paper claiming to control matters? Who would want to miss the excitement? Who would not be interested to know what would happen if they selected Yes”? I had no idea he would die in front of his wife.

I rushed to my car, closed the door and took a few seconds trying to comprehend it all. And then someone was banging on the car window; it scared the shit out of me. It was the waiter. “You did not pay sir”, said he. Too terrified to open the booklet, I guessed the total and payed double, saying, “keep the change please, sorry about that” with a smile that was harder for me to fake than proving the theory of relativity. “You forgot your lighter Sir. Here it is. Thank you, come again”, said he, and walked away. I do not smoke and therefore do not keep a lighter on me, but that was the least of my worries.

I opened the booklet. It said, “Want to fly?” And yet again “Yes” and “No” flashed. I closed it and opened it again, but the same question stared back at me. I have seen what this booklet is capable of, and it is giving me the opportunity to live the everlasting dream of humanity. I drove away cursing and thinking of the man who had just died. Then I looked again at the booklet on the passenger seat. Try as hard as I might, I Could not take the word “fly” out of my mind. So, I pulled over from the highway, and I clicked on “Yes”! . And the next moment, I was levitating like I was sitting on a cushion of air, floating. I stepped out of the car to see how it feels standing, I could walk normally, but if I wished I could lean and I could move, just like being on a mind-driven invisible Segway. I walked back to the car hoping that nobody saw me flying. “I have to keep it to myself for now, seriously whom should I tell?” How would I explain my floatation? They would eventually link it back to the accident in the restaurant because I was there and had fled the scene without paying. Having the check booklet on me now would be enough incriminating evidence for a death sentence; an eye for an eye and blood for blood.

Back in the car flying with joy literally, I opened the booklet and this time there were two questions. The first one was “a small accident (Yes/No)” and the second, “$ 3 million? (Yes/No).

I jumped to the second question and hammered the “Yes”. Only this time the question did not disappear like every other time before and nothing happened. So, I clicked on “No” for the “small accident” question to see both questions disappear. I closed the booklet in frustration and opened it again to see another set of 2 questions, “smaller accident” and “1 Million $”.   I knew the drill by now. This thing wants me to agree to both.

I clicked on yes for both. I mean what harm could a smaller accident bring? I was waiting for it, anytime for something to happen to me. Instead I saw that a bumper-to-bumper accident had occurred a bit ahead of where I had pulled over. As soon as they pulled over to exchange insurance information, I thought, “Thank goodness they are fine; it is the smaller accident”, and went back to checking the money and the sight of a million Dollars.

“That was indeed a good meal”, I thought to myself, while watching the 2 gentlemen smiling, and just as I was smiling along, and it appeared that they had reached an understanding, a ball was bouncing and a kid immediately followed to catch it. An 18-wheeler tried to avoid the kid and hit the 2 cars full speed. The kid picked up the ball only to see another car trying to avoid him but in the other direction to hit another car that caused it to spin and resulted in a 7-car pileup, while the 18 wheeler continued to drag the 2 cars till its tanker, flipped  and dragged on the street till finally everything stopped.

“I signed up for a smaller accident, this is just fate”! I kept telling myself. I fell sick to my stomach. All my senses were overwhelmed with emotions, looking at people getting out of their cars calling checking, looking… I tilted my head down and closed my eyes. I was breathing heavily. I opened my eyes again to see the lighter. I decided to burn the booklet, so I stepped out and heard a voice shouting, “Are you alright?” I signaled him that I was fine. Then, I lighted up the lighter to burn the booklet. Blood red flames rose up and attacked the booklet on my other hand. I panicked and let go of both to fall on the ground and that’s when both turned into dust that was curried by very worm breeze into a car involved in the accident, i rushed to it realizing that the floatation abilities is fading i reached the car to see a man coughing the same dust and saying “puppet” and pointing at me, I closed the passenger door and noticed some text on the side mirror, I came closer to see (in the mirror) the dead man from the restaurant walking towards me, I turned to check and it was the kid ! The mirror was reflecting another image of the kid. The questions on the mirror read: 1. “Kill All Puppets” (Yes/No) and 2. Super Powers (Yes/No). I clicked yes for both, every thing disappeared as if there were no accident and I found myself where I was in the middle of the highway, few meters from the 18 wheelers coming right at me full speed!

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