Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
The following is an excerpt from an unpublished sci-fi/horror novel by Omar Iftikhar, curated by digital guest editor Dr Javaria Farooqui under her theme of popular fiction in Pakistan.
“No!” Aitmaad screamed.
He ran out of the cabin in the forest towards his home. Zoraiz knew what had transpired. She was afraid that an event of such nature would eventually transpire. People were running and chaos was increasing by the minute. Aitmaad kept running. He saw farmers screaming and scurrying their way across the lanes of the city. They were coming out of the farm.
“The crops are killing everyone!” one farmer screamed.
“The crops are stinging everyone to death!”
Aitmaad heard another man as he ran across the lane while shouting at the top of his lungs. He was fearing the worst. His father was in the field. He sensed danger. The uneasy feeling began from his head before it trickled down to his spine. He knew his time to shun all his fear was upon him.
Malvagio had finally unearthed and fathomed the very meaning of the Satanic Scriptures. Every word written in these Scriptures was now making sense to him. As a sorcerer, he could perform all kinds of evil spells. Now, he also had command over animals and plants. When he performed the spell on the crops, they turned into poisonous sentient beings.
Malvagio ordered all crops to sting all humans and pour venom into their bodies. The farmers were either lying on the ground writhing in pain or were running hastily away from the fields. Although the crops could not extend themselves to a greater area, they were using their leave blades and branches to attack humans. Within fifteen minutes of the attack, the crops injured seventeen farmers and killed four. Aitmaad’s father was among the injured. Masroor was trying to escape the field when he saw a fellow farmer fall to the ground. He was stung on the shoulder by the crop when he was helping his injured friend.
He felt a piercing pain before falling unconscious. Two farmers brought him to his home.
Aitmaad felt his heart sink when he saw a crowd gathered in front of his home. His father was lying motionless—his face had turned green. His mother was crying hysterically. The neighborhood doctor was attending to other injured farmers so he was expected to arrive shortly. His father slowly gained consciousness but was too weak to say a word. With half-opened eyes, Masroor held Aitmaad's hand.
“My son, I always wished you were not the chosen one. I did not want to lose you." He said with a frail voice. "Now, I cannot come in between you and your fate. The prayer chose you! Live your destiny! Save us!”
His father closed his eyes. Aitmaad placed his right hand on his father’s injured shoulder to cast the remedial spell. He squinted his eyes as he transferred his healing powers to his father. Aitmaad felt a hundred needles puncturing his skin. The spell cured Aitmaad’s father but reduced his strength. Aitmaad stood up. He had to stop Malvagio from taking over Fikrgrove. It was time for him to prove that he is the chosen one.
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar, a Karachi-based fiction writer and columnist, has over 17 years of writing experience, with several hundred articles published to his name in print publications. He is the author of Divided SpeciesI (2020), a science fiction story set in Karachi. He is currently working as Assistant Manager, Public Relations at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM), Karachi.
Hassan Sheikh is a Lahore-based practicing artist. He completed his degree in visual arts from the National College of Business Administration and Economics (NCBA&E) in 2015, with a major in miniature painting. He also learnt photography to enhance his artistic expression. Sheikh has been a part of a number of group exhibitions at home and abroad. Some of the places he has exhibited at include: Taseer Art Gallery (Lahore), Satrang Art Gallery (Islamabad) and Twelve Gates Art (Philadelphia, USA) as part of the show ‘Tales of the Future Past’ for their 5th annual fundraiser gala.