“You sure we’re going correct?”
“Coz, I for one, don’t wish to spend my wedding anniversary sitting in a car!”
“No! No! No! I’m quite sure!! See, there goes the petrol pump. Now I have to turn a right and that will…”
“Look Up! Look Up!!”
“God damn it! What the f…?”
A man stood in front of the i10, his clothes were tattered; there were scratches all around; scars were visible on his forehead. He quickly moved to the driver’s seat.
“Please! Please!! You’ve gotta help me! My.. My friends!! Anya… God!! I don’t know where they are…!”
Prabhakar didn’t wait for more, he stepped on the gas.
“Hmhhh…. My friends…Blah Blah Blah”, he mocked, “The next second, he’d have a pistol at your face.. Fuckin’ lowlife..! I’m not a fool who’d….”
A loud scream filled the air, punctuated with sounds of metal crunching into human skulls, and into some more metal. The truck that performed the ritual, passed into the thick fog, in just the way it had appeared.
In dino, dil mera,mujhse hai, keh raha, tu jile zaraa….
“So…, where are we goin’ again?”
“And, why does Rawat think this is a bad plan??”
“Coz, we’re a week from sessionals”, screamed Rawat from the back to Sarthak’s enquiry. All of us fell about laughing.
Anya was still sleeping; the wind, flirting with her hair. God! How I loved this girl!!
“The Blue Lagoon”, read the neon sign outside the Dhaba.
The four of them; Patel, Rawat, Sarthak and Sharma got out.
“C’mon babe! Lets go!”
“Hmm”, she said; still toying with her dreams.
I took her in my arms; she giggled.
It was a chilly December morning; I was at her college, waiting. Official business you see!!
“Hey”, I forwarded my hand, “Sajal”.
She was looking stunning in whatever she had worn that day( I never pay due heed in this department :P)
“Heya!”, she accepted my hand. “Anya”, she continued, “So, you ready for the job?”
“All in for you, I mean IF”
The December frost shaded my nervous shaking. I giggled, “It’s cold!!”
The meal was fun, duly punctuated with my one-liners. It was 12:05.
“We need to hurry, C’mon!!”, Sarthak was adamant.
“Deadlines are not meant to be met…!!”, I said.
I did get the look on his face though, “Accha Accha!! Lets saddle up, guys!!!”
Our bunch moved on.
“Hey, I forgot my hand bag back there. I’ll just get it back”, she said.
“I’ll be in the hatch!”
She smiled at me, it was pristine.
I’m on a highway to hell..
“Would you change the track??”, this was almost the hundredth time, Angana was asking him to do so; and this was also the hundredth time, she was gonna get the same reply.
“God, why the heck am I stuck with you?! Why?!! Why?!!”
John laughed on.
“You sure we’re going right, coz…”
“Yeah, Yeah I’m dead sure. See….”, he pointed to the map, he had in his hand; “We’re currently on NH-20, a few kilometers more and we’d cross over into SH-33; then…”
“Look Up!!”, screamed Angana.
John pushed his foot down as hard and as fast as he possibly could.
The man in front of the Scorpio quickly moved to the driver’s window.
“Open up please!!”, “I… my friends.., are in danger!!”
John put his hand on the Glock and rolled down the window.
“W…We were at this Dhaba; then, I don’t know, I…., when I woke up, they were all gone. You, you have to help me. Please!! Anya, God!! I don’t know where she is!! How is she!!! I need to see her… Please! Please!!”
“Whoa whoa mate!! Easy! Easy! Come on in!! I’ll get a lil’ something for ya!!” John tucked in the Glock.
The man was in tatters, clothes were shredded, had scratches all around his arms and fore head. Angana passed him the first aid kit, “Here!”
“I don’t need this! You don’t understand!! I need to find my friends please!!”
John came out of the back, “Here, you need it”. He passed on a bottle of Gatorade.
“Can you please move on”, the man pleaded.
“Ya! But first you have to tell us what happened!”, demanded Angana.
The man went into a deep thought, trying to come up with bits of whatever little he remembered.
“We were on a road trip to Dalhousie….”
“She went in to get that bag of hers… “, he paused, “And that was the last time, I was with her, Anya…! Only God knows how she is!!”
“That place, hmm…, it’s.. It’s a few kilometers on this stretch; but…”
“Yeah! We’ll drop you there!!”, John cut her short.
John drove fast; the man was adamant; there was a dire need to reach the place, quick.
“Stop! Stop right here!!”, screamed the stranger.
“I know this place. Yeah! This is where we parked Fortuner. Yeah! But…”, the man looked all around, “Where is the Dhaba??!! I don’t get it..! God! Anya!!!”.
He screamed, “Anya..!”
John and Angana had joined him by now.
“Maybe you’re mistaken…”
A slight flicker of light shone in the woods. The man didn’t hesitate for a second; he ran straight in…
“Hey wait…!”, Angana shouted, but it was already too late; John was quickly back with his bag, “Lets go!”
“Are you kiddin’??!”
“What? Why? This is serious! We have to give it a dekko…”
“C’mon Now!!!”, John dragged her with him.
The woods soon gave way to a walled structure. The man went looking for a gate. A beautifully carved wooden gate stood in front of him. He did not have time for pleasantries, he pushed it open. The place had the look of an ASI monument, there were 5 domes, 1 central, the rest forming a sort of square. All were connected to each other via pathways. It was dim, The lone light shone on the central dome. A woman was standing in front of it.
The man didn’t have the time to let the woman finish.
“Err…! I’m sorry, this may sound a lil’ weird; and you might not be willing to help either, but, have you seen a silver Fortuner…”
The woman had by now turned.
“Why wouldn’t I be willing to..”, she put some light on the man’s face, “You?!!”
She reached for his face, “But.. But!!”
The man stepped back, “I’m sorry, but I don’t… I’m looking for my friends; one of them is a gal, Anya. Have you seen any of them?? Please..! This girl means life to me..!”
The expression on the women’s face changed;
“I don’t…. What are… Don’t you….”
She grabbed him and forced the dome onto him. In the flickering light, he could make out the text written on the fore.
22.11.91 – Forever
A bunch of white roses adored the base. The man got back in shock.
“No! No ! This is not….! You’re crazy! This is a lie!! I’m not…. Anya!!! Where is she?? You tell me woma, or I swear to God….!”
In the faint light of the dome, he could make out the small pendant around the woman’s neck.
“The chain that came with it wore down… Had to get a new one made…”, the woman quipped.
“I don’t understand… How is this…”
“You have to let go…”
“What if I don’t wish to…!?!”
“You have to!!”
“I can’t. I just can’t”
“Please Baby..! Do it for me..!”
“I love you. Remember that? ”
“I love you. Remember that!!!”
“We have to get this back”, John quipped.
“This; this right here is our ticket to fame. All these years…”
“No”, said Angana, “Some relations are too pristine, let’s not exploit them. Please?!”
John threw the tape down. A few seconds later, it was up in flames.
Some time back
“This has to be our most challenging job so far”, quipped Angana. John shook his head in support.
“This particular stretch has seen as many as thirteen road kills. All on this particular day May 3rd, all around 12 am, all in the same pattern”, John explained.
“Hmm.. Anything more?”, demanded the head honcho Sanjeev.
“Yeah. The first case, in which these five college kids got rattled; is the only one in which the vehicle which did the damage was found. In all other cases, only the victim vehicles have been found….”
“Hmm… So, which way is it gonna be?”
“We’ve got a plan chalked out… It’d be just the two of us; with a bugged vehicle. The other crew should be following at a 1km range. Plus I need a Glock boss..!! :D”, John grinned.
“You got it. Let’s bust this myth too!!!”, Sanjeev got up, followed by the team; “By the way the last job was nice”
As asked, they got a bugged Scorpio, and John , his Glock!! At around 9, John and Angana set sail…!
The story is also published at The Indian Fusion. Find it here