A long time ago.

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In a galaxy far, far away.

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DO or DO NOT. There is no TRY.

Darth Vader

No, I'm your father.


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Long live the Rebel Alliance.

January 11, 2012

The Price

The following piece of fiction is written for KFC 'Sets you on fire' contest at details for this contest can be found here.

Simran stiffened as she noticed Radhika standing beside her at the coffee machine.She quickly filled her cup and retreated to her office,averting Radhika's gaze.Radhika looked on in the direction Simran left and an inaudible sigh escaped her lips.Barely a month ago,they had been inseparable;lunches,snacks,weekend hangouts-they clung to each other for everything.But four weeks back,things became..a bit complicated.
"A new person will be put in charge of finance,"Mr.Mehra had said,slowly scanning his eyes across the group of five executives assembled in his office."Seventy K salary plus perks.You will be pleased to know that management has short-listed you folks for the post."

Not able to contain her excitement,Radhika had nudged a still Simran while Mr.Mehra paused for effect.

"I will have the final say as to who bags the promotion."For some queer reason, Mr.Mehra's voice had suddenly started sounding ominous to Simran.For a split second,she sensed his eyes boring into hers.Or did she just imagine that?

As they had shuffled out of Mr.Mehra's plush office,Simran was awefully silent.Radhika had asked her what was wrong,but Simran merely shrugged the question off.From that day onwards,Radhika noticed subtle changes in her friend's behaviour.She didn't seem so eager anymore to co-operate in their assignments.She mailed the status reports to Mr.Mehra without keeping Radhika in the loop.She even started inventing excuses to skip going to lunches and snacks together.

For a few consecutive days,Radhika noticed her friend was staying back late in office.On being aksed about it,Simran had nonchanlantly replied that she was clearing off some backlog work.One day,Radhika entered office to find Mr.Jaiswal,Mehra's immediate boss,praising Simran profusely.

"What was that all about?"Radhika quizzed Sakshi,one of her colleagues.

"That assignment Mehra had assigned to both of you-Simran just completed it single-handedly.Mehra brought it to Mr.Jaiswal's notice and he was pretty impressed.He even asked her to work on some important client presentation.Looks like Simran just went a couple of notches higher towards grabbing that promotion,"Sakshi chuckled mirthlessly.

"Assignment?What assignment?"Radhika gaped at her colleague.A bewildered look clouded her face.

"What?"Sakshi stared back at her."You mean Simran didn't tell you anything?"

"Nooo,"panic crept into Radhika's tone.

Sakshi's eyes assumed a look of sympathy as the realization of what Simran had done to her dug it's teeth into both her and Radhika.
Her so-called best friend had just jeopardized her shot at the promotion.How could she sink so low?That bitch!!!!
After returning from the coffee machine,Radhika paced her cabin floor frantically.Simran was desperate for that promotion.But she needed it too.Direly.
"Eighty lacs,"the surgeon stated coldly.

"Eighty lacs?"Radhika's father repeated,aghast at the sum quoted.

"I am sorry,Mr.Sharma,"the surgeon's tone became a bit apologetic."But we are talking about a bone marrow transplant here.Your wife's leukaemia can't be treated otherwise."

Radhika slipped her fingers into those of her father's and tried to speak with as much conviction as she could garner,"It's ok,Dr.Dhawan.We'll arrange the money."

She had no idea how they would be able to arrange that kind of money.Hers was a family of modest means.Her father was retired with a meagre pension.They lived in a rented single-bedroom flat.When she had been younger,her parents had difficulty making both ends meet in their efforts to get their daughter through a decent school and college.She had still not been able to repay in full the loan she had withdrawn for her MBA.There was no way she could raise that astronomical sum through another loan right now.Not without somebody who could pull the strings to get the loan sanctioned anyway.And she knew nobody.
As the conversation with the surgeon replayed in her mind,Radhika clenched and unclenched her fists in nervousness.She knew she would hate herself for what she was about to do.But what choice did she have?
As Simran made her way back to her cabin,she was surprised to see Radhika slip out of it.

"What were you doing in my office,Rads?"Simran noted with dismay that her tone sounded more accusatory than she had intended.

"I..I needed the stapler,"Radhika stuttered."Mine just ran out of pins.Sorry."

Simran noticed Radhika was trying to evade her eyes.Must be damn uncomfortable after the way I have been treating her,she thought.A flood of guilt was about to sweep across her,but she steeled herself and fought it back.
I can't let that worry me now.Sorry,Rads.I hope I can make it upto you later.

"Good night,Rads." She forced a smile as she wished her former friend.

"Good night,Sims." Saying this,Radhika walked away briskly.Simran looked at her watch.Eleven pm.She stifled a yawn.She would have to call the office cab now.The presentation Mr.Jaiswal had asked for was ready at last.She had been slogging her ass off for the last two days to get it done by tonight.Tomorrow,she would show it to Mr.Mehra for his approval.She was pretty confident he would not have much to add.She had prepared the presentation with meticulous care,ensuring absolutely nothing was amiss.She hoped after this Mr.Mehra would be impressed enough to let her have the promotion.

Simran and Mr.Mehra weren't exactly on the best of terms.She had caught him throwing lecherous glances at her many a time.He complimented her on her looks often.He had even gone to the extent of expressing his crush on her stating that he dreamt about her every now and then.She had felt her skin crawl at his promiscuity.She had told him summarily to forget about it and he had not pressed the matter further.

I don't need to sleep around to move up,you horny bastard!She thought to herself as she got into the cab and left for her home.
"The figures are all messed up,Simran!" Mr.Mehra bellowed at her next day as he went over the presentation."How on earth could you be so careless?"

"Wh-what?"Simran's mouth dropped open as Mr.Mehra's harsh words registered in her ears."They can't be!"

"Here,look for yourself."He turned his laptop towards her with a hint of menace."The Operational Expenses matrix is configured all wrong.So is the Financial Income statement.You expect me to show this to Mr.Jaiswal?"

She peered at the screen.He was right.The calculations were all screwed up.But how?

Suddenly it hit her like a bolt."My god,Radhika!" She gasped.

"What?" He cocked his head towards her.

"Radhika.She was in my cabin last night.She must have tampered with my presentation."  She trembled as the words left her mouth.

"Stop blaming others for your lapses,Ms.Mehta!" He admonished."Are you aware what kind of an accusation you are leveling against her?"

"Sir,you have to believe me," she answered in a shaky voice."Radhika.."

"You can say good-bye to that promotion,Ms.Mehta.There is no way I can recommend a careless person for that post."

"Sir,please.You have to listen.I am not making this up." Simran felt herself on the verge of crying.

"Do you entertain even the slightest hope that Mr.Jaiswal is going to allow your promotion once I tell him about this?"

"Sir,please.I am not lying."She choked.A lump was forming in her throat making it difficult for her to speak.She started sobbing."Please don't do this to me." She begged between her sobs.

"Why shouldn't I?" He smiled with malicious relish."Until and unless you make me an offer I can't refuse."

Simran looked at her boss with tear-filled eyes.Her soul revolted.She wanted to throw up.

"Please excuse me,sir!"She fled from the office room.
Simran wept in her cabin.What would she tell her parents back in her hometown?They had never sympathized with her ambitions.When she was in school,her father always wanted her to back home before eight,while no such restrictions were placed on her younger brother.Throughout her growing up years,she saw her brother getting the stuff she wanted desperately even without asking for them.While she was denied those outright. Despite her qualifications, her parents ultimately expected her to fall into the traditional mould of wife, mother and homemaker. Her parents had wanted to discontinue her education right after school but she coaxed them into sending her to college and she did her MBA from a prestigious business school.But despite all this,she was under intense pressure from them to get married. To her sheer frustration,it didn't seem to matter to her parents that she was doing so well in her job and that she had certain career aspirations. Marriage just did not figure in her plan right now. And she just knew that they would see no harm in her being expected to give up her career if her prospective husband makes that a condition.

She had pegged her hopes on this promotion.She would finally have something concrete to show her parents and convince them not to push her into marriage.But now she had nothing.


Twenty minutes later Simran strode into Mr.Mehra's office.As he looked up at her,she said in a matter-of-fact tone,"My place or yours?"
Two days later,Mr.Jaiswal announced Simran's promotion.After everybody finished congratulating her,she noticed Radhika staring at her from a distance.She walked over to her,smiling contemptuously and asked,"So Rads,was what you did really worth it?"

Radhika's face clouded.But the corners of her lips still twitched into a smile and she said,"Congrats,Sims!You deserve it.After all you have been through for it."

Simran's brown eyes narrowed.Did she know what went on between her and her boss?

Radhika didn't stay.She turned on her heel and left.Simran's question rang in her ears.Was what she did really worth it?
Three days earlier
"So I screw up her presentation.You refuse to believe her I did it.You threaten not to promote her.She needs the promotion so badly,she will definitely give in.You promote her afterwards.She gets what she wants.You get what you want.Simple." Radhika smiled as he summarized her plan to her boss.

"What if she refuses?"Mr.Mehra asked,steepling his hands.

"Then you don't sanction my loan." Her eyes gleamed.

"Eighty lacs is a huge sum.Even with my contacts,an interest-free loan on that scale might be difficult to arrange."

"Oh,cmon,Mr.Mehra,"she pursed her lips."Both of us know,with your influence at the bank,they will give you anything you ask."

"Even then,why on earth should I promote her?There are four other candidates,including you."

"I don't want the promotion.I just need the money.And you know as well as I,Simran is much better at what she does than any of Sanjay,Kishore and Rakshit."

Mr.Mehra lapsed into silence as Radhika tried her best not to fidget in her chair."Alright,Radhika,"he broke his silence."We have a deal then." He stood up to offer her a handshake.

"It's my pleasure,sir!" She smiled as she took his hand.

As Radhika left Simran,her cellphone beeped.It was a text from Mr.Mehra."Your loan has been sanctioned.Congratulations." A smile of satisfied accomplishment spread across her lips.

Radhika was well aware of Simran's family situation .She couldn't bring herself to take away Simran's promotion from her.That would be too cruel.She hit upon a plan where everyone got what they wanted at the end.Of course,she still had her conscience to grapple with.And she felt a pang at their lost friendship.Deception and betrayal..neither she nor Simran had seen that in the friendship contract.But as they say,you lose some to win some.

Everything comes at a price.
**The End**



  1. OH MY GOD!!!!!
    If you were reading this out loud I would've gone all out and given you the loudest standing ovation anyone has ever gotten.!
    This is unbelievably amazing.and i thought 'Alright 'Ol Boy" was your best work, but believe me this tops everything.!
    I mean everything! even 'The Sad Clown. :) x

  2. * mouth wide open * what a plot!

    this is so good..!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    you are right ..we are all victimized victims.. :)

  3. brilliant would have been an understatement , this was simply fabulous ... loved the twist ... totally kikass ....

  4. FUCK.
    Wow. What a plot. What writing. What a story. OMG.
    BRILLIANT *standing ovation*
    Pure genius this.
    I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. OMG this is beautiful. You had me till the end. I mean there was no way one could have guessed the ending.

    I pity Radhika though. She is the one who ll have to with her conscience all her life. But then as you said Everything comes at a price.

  6. I loved the plot Rahul...and this you come up with after declaring you are gonna give up blogging!!!

  7. @The Dragon Thank you so much,Priyanka.I tried my level best to come up with an interesting plot.Thank heavens,it clicked.
    @Nia Charms This is a story which is full of grey characters.I tried to end my story in a way where everyone gets what he/she deserves.
    @BlahBlah I am so very glad you enjoyed it so much.Thanks you.:-)

  8. @Menachery Ahh well,this is the first time I deliberately tried to introduce a twist at the end.I am thankful people are appreciating it.
    @Demure Me :-) I am just glad you found the story likeable.Having brilliant writers like you as my followers automatically means I have to work extra hard to come up with good material.
    @Rachika I try my best.:-) AND I am fortunate to have followers like you.
    @Atrocious Thanks bro.:-)

  9. I think you should start writing movie scripts. Brilliant Rahul..nice twist in the end! Awesomely brilliant :)

    All the best for the contest..I really hope you win:)

  10. @Pooja Give me an honest opinion.Do you think,considering the theme of the contest,it is ok to enroll this story as en entry??

    I am soooooo stupid :( why cant I come up with such plots :(
    This was great! Hope u win

  12. Simply amazing!! :D If you could see me I was all like (O.O) Haven't read anything so gripping in a while!

    Rooting for your win :)

  13. @ Rahul: Well..I certainly think it is one of the best posts for the contest. It is fiery, tackling a situation with a sharp mind. It has all the ingredients..

  14. Everyone manipulates at a point :P
    Great thinking! Loved the plot!

  15. @Karima Thank you so much.I was really apprehensive whether people except my regular followers would like my story.You put my fears to rest.Thank you so much.:-)
    @Pooja You are most kind.:-)
    @Philo I tried.I am just glad I have been able to come up with an entertaining plot.
    @Anonymous :-)

  16. Nice post..
    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :) Would like to read more!

  17. @I do, I do.Thanks :-) I am glad you liked my stuff.

  18. 'Everything comes with a price' its true n a fact.. n this just a perfect example for it.. really well written.

  19. @RoohaniThanks :-) Glad you enjoyed my story.