Prithviraj Chauhan and his men, dressed in their battle-worn armour stepped out of the pod. The sun concealed behind the tall structures struggled to move into the limelight. Some clapped in glee, fascinated by the sights around them. A few others registered contortions of alarm on their face. The human figures hovering overhead reminded them about the winged creatures of witchcraft.
An armoured figure turned its head in 360 degrees and spoke with a shrill timbre, "Welcome. I am Chitti version 101. Today is the 6th of September 3021. How may I assist you?"
Prithvi squinted and shielded his eyes from the metallic sheen. Hundreds of armoured people marched around, emitting a strange buzz. He sensed the beginning of a headache from the glinting surfaces. The gravel crunched beneath as Prithvi stood erect, attempting to find Chitti's eyes.
"It looks like we are back in a warzone," Chand said in a grave tone.
"Yeah, these guys are wearing armours but are not carrying any weapons."
"Shhh. Don't disrupt my concentration. I cannot find his eyes to decipher if he has good intentions." Prithvi waved his hands in front of Chitti.
"I am Chitti. How may I help you?"
"I am Prithviraj. I want to meet your king?"
"Chitti does not know any king."
"Oh God, why do you keep sending more troubles?" Prithvi looked above, hoping for a miracle. Instead, a lady flying overhead gave a nasty stare and whizzed away.
"Chand you speak with this…. What is this? A man? but his voice sounds like Samyuktha's mother. It grates on my nerves."
Chand covered his mouth with his palm lest a chuckle should escape, "Chitti take us to someone older. You look like a small boy."
"I am 99 years old. Come with me. I will take you to my master."
While the few good men followed Chitti, aping at the shimmering surroundings, we can digress to fill you in on the backstory of our Prithvi.
Prithviraj Chauhan, the greatest Rajput king in the twelfth century, fled with a few of his trusted men to the caves in the mountain from the battle of Tarain. His men had built a tunnel. When they opened the tunnel's entrance, amidst thunderous explosions and blinding light the cylindrical Hyperloop, one of the greatest inventions of the twenty-first century carrying the minister of transport Ranjan Godbole and his men in black, because of a bizarre screw up by a gang called the Chekov's Guns landed precisely inside the cave in Tarain. It is such a farfetched plot but blame it on the guns. Anyways following a pattern of the comedy of errors Godbole gets stuck in the 12th century and Prithvi and his few good men get transported to the 21st century only to be again shot off into 3021.
Presently, Chitti announced the weirdly dressed men's arrival to his master, one of the greatest men in the 31st century. The master's face darkened at being disturbed from the reading nook, where he compared the merits of Artales versus ArttrA. The master Z, with the appearance of a teenager, stepped down from his high pedestal and peered at the gangs of Rajasthan. Chand cleared this throat to explain their predicament. Z gestured him to move back and proffered his hand to Prithviraj.
"I know everything about you. Not a single thing that happens in Room 8 gets past my attention. I run a tight inn. I warmly welcome you and your team members to check-in at our Room 8. It is a lovely place…"
"Thank you for your hospitality. I sincerely hope the glitch is sorted and we could get back to our kingdom. My citizens would be missing their king, and I miss my queens. This palace looks excellent. Please accept these green hearts, which is our dynasty's symbol."
When Z and PC were canoodling with each other, the greatest beauty on earth sashayed into the room.
"This is my daughter, Meme. She's my youngest. She makes me proud. She will one day inherit my inn." Z droned on pushing the unruly mop of hair.
Prithvi's jaw dropped, and he clutched his heart gazing at Meme. Chand muttered under his breath, "Looks like I have to plan another elopement."
Chitti whispered in his master's ears that the Geeks room needed him. Some troublemakers were creating mayhem with their quizzes and one-liner. Prithvi gestured his men to vanish, and he approached Meme.
"Can you tell me a joke?" Said Meme.
Prithvi wiped his sweaty palms on his armour and tried in vain to recall a joke. He tried to work his charm, "You are a beauty, Samyuktha pales in comparison with you. I am in love with you!"
"What is 'love'? I have never heard it before."
"Oh, Love is the emotion, the bond, the attraction, the all-encompassing feeling…."
"Boring. Make me laugh. I like a good joke!"
"Meet me tomorrow in the garden. I will come prepared to make you laugh."
"Garden? What is that?"
"Yes, where there are plants and flowers. We can sit surrounded by the fragrant blossoms and whisper sweet nothings to each other."
"You know, you are weird. I don't understand what you say. There is nothing called plants, flowers or love for that matter in our universe."
Prithvi trod closer to pull her into an embrace. Meme pinched her nose and said, "Eww! When did you last have a bath?"
Prithvi stared at the fleeting figure. His eyes fell on Chand and Chitti with their arms on each other's shoulders walking in tandem. Prithvi pulled Chand aside and sought a remedy for his love-struck heart. Chand assured the king that he would come up with a solution.
While the master and the king rested in their respective rooms, Chand gleaned all the information from his new buddy Chitti. Chand stood spellbound at the massive library which had rows of glass cabinets with huge bound manuscripts.
"Why are all the cabinets locked?" Asked Chand.
"These are endangered specimens. They are called 'Books'. Once upon a time information was stored in these."
"Ohh. Now, what is used to store knowledge?"
"We have tiny chips that project the cryptic coded information on thin air. With a password, we can decipher the coded details. It can be either read with the help of eyes or if you carry a reader chip embedded in your brain the information can be directly assimilated by the brain cells when you unlock the chip."
Chand let out a low whistle, "Whoa! Half of what you said went above my head!"
Chitti showed great patience in handling the king's men. He explained every single detail with demonstrations.
"Hope you people are not from Pluto? My master Z has issues with the people from Pluto. He does not allow them to enter his room or take part in the monthly revelries the watchers organise."
"No. We are from the Chahamana dynasty. We have nothing to do with Pluto."
Chand spent hours cloistered in the library reading books on various topics suggested by the librarian KB, a learned scholar.
1. How to woo a woman in the 31st century? Thesis by Dr Rajkamal, 'The Match-maker'
2. List of best pick-up lines by 'Love Guru' Priyan.
3. The subtle art of administering the Love potion by 'Love Guru' Priyan.
4. The Love Capsule by Dr Rajkamal, 'The Match-maker'
The next day, weighed down by the knowledge gained from the exalted men of love sutra of all Centuries, Chand bowed his head to the statues of Priyan and Rajkamal and loped to meet Prithvi.
The Rajput king sulked in the corner of a concrete garden. Blood trickled from the torn cuticles of his fingers.
"Everything is under control, my dear friend. We can recreate history again by eloping with your latest heartthrob Meme. When I am there, why do you worry?"
"Ahh, my dear Chand. You are my moonshine! I get high looking at you. Come, tell me how to win Meme. Telling jokes or clowning myself is not my cup of tea, added with honey drops or sugar whatever. I can get love poems from the parlour and recite them in a singsong manner. I can dance. Tell me what needs to be done."
"Erm, your majesty need not stoop to such levels. Gone are the days when men wrote love letters and couriered it through swans or messengers. Neither we need to sing paeans of the beauty of the maiden or memorise pathetic pick-up lines. Nor we need to dance and prance around. Things are much simple nowadays!"
"Ohhhh. Please do not make me wait longer. I want Meme. I want her. I am going through pangs of separation since she thwarted my attempt to embrace her."
"All you need to do is drop in a pink pill surreptitiously in her drink and engage in a conversation with you for precisely '7 minutes.' The pill or the love potion will enter into her bloodstream, and she will fall passionately in love with you."
"Is that all? Where do I get the potion? Tell me, Chand, that you have it with you now. Give the magic pill to me."
"No. I am sorry, my dear friend. The pill is strictly issued under the discretion of the ministry of love. There were cases of misuse reported a few years ago, since then they follow a protocol. I heard that Z has contacts in high places, and he would be able to secure it. But…"
"What is the issue now?"
"I am not sure if he will agree to help you if he knows it is to woo his daughter."
"Ahh. That is a thorn in my …"
"We can say that we need it to woo Chitti."
"What? Chitti, a man! How can you suggest such a thing?"
Chand persuaded Prithvi, citing facts of the world in the 31st century. Prithvi reluctantly agreed to go with the charade. After all, 'All is fair in love and war.'
Z was in awe of Prithvi's profession of eternal love to his slave Chitti. Prithvi's undying ember of love dissolved Z into tears. He gave his consent to the match and promised to procure the 'Love pill' using all his goodwill with the Minister of Love.
"I have promised my daughter Meme to the minister. He will agree to whatever I ask!"
Chand and Prithvi gulped down their words and nodded their head.
Prithvi had a long-drawn bath in his glass tub. Strewn with rose petals and filled with milk, the tub emanated fumes. Chand added a dash of turmeric and musk oil to it. Prithvi immersed himself and soaked up. Dressed in golden clothes, he waited for Meme. To capture her attention, he memorised a joke.
"You are looking clean and scrubbed! Are you prepared to make me roll on the floor laughing?" Meme walked around appreciating Prithvi's studied elegance.
"I am ready to roll along with you, dear lady."
Chand kept two glasses of wine and winked at Prithvi.
"Do drink this wine first. Then I will tell you the joke."
"So many conditions!" Meme downed the glass in one go and gazed at Prithvi.
"An Irishman, Englishman and Scotsman walk into a bar. All three order beer…" Prithvi stuttered, he had forgotten the joke and called Chand to tell the rest of the joke.
And the rest… as they say, was history.
Prithviraj disowned his friend Chand. With the help of Chitti, Prithvi resolved the glitches in the hyperloop. On the day of his journey back to the past or the future, Prithvi stood on the Hyperloop pod's threshold and spread his hand toward Chitti. Chitti looked at his master for permission. Chitti had grown fond of Prithvi while they worked on the Hyperloop over the past few days. It was a 'mechanical miracle.'
"Go away, Chitti. Go, live your life!" Z wiped his tears before anyone could notice.
Prithvi and Chitti were last seen orbiting the moon.
Chand and Meme settled in a cosy life at the inn. They had Unik, Artales, ArttrA and the like to keep them entertained. Chand recalled the lines of Z when he first welcomed them to his humble abode, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!"
I had no plans of writing for this prompt. The dystopian scenario was definitely not something that I could imagine attempting. Still, on a lazy afternoon, after Valentine's day, I had this urge to write something crazy. This was typed effortlessly in a single sitting. I tweaked and edited a teeny-weeny bit after a few hours.
But to enhance the pleasure of savouring this crazy story, please read my earlier work written for ArttrA 'The Pride of India.'
This is a work of fiction and not intended to hurt the feelings of any person dead or alive or anyone vaguely related to them.
The lyrics of Hotel California by Eagles have been used in this story.