And Then…. ( Part – I )

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“Hello Mr. Becker. Please take seat.”, said Dr Kaufmann in a cordial voice. “What happened?”. “It’s the same thing again doc.”, answered Mr. Becker, with a terror in his voice. Dr. Norman Kaufmann was now surprised. Despite his knowledge and 25 years of experience in handling number of weird and difficult cases of psychology, this was something which left him clueless. “This is really strange. Though I already know the issues, there’s no harm in telling your whole experience again. You know, there may be some minute details, which I may have missed.”.

Mr. Becker took a deep breath, cleared his throat and began his story, ” Doc, you know that I am facing a strange problem. I am seeing a dream – repeating everyday. This is what I saw yesterday. I am trying to express every detail I recall.

I felt at first I was floating adrift. The only thing I could see was the clear sky above. I was moving randomly without any destination, just like a lost ship. It seemed peaceful, relaxing. All of a sudden a series of waves seemed to emerge right beside me. They were huge and came down roaring towards me. I couldn’t understand what or why it was happening. Suddenly a voice instructed me out of nowhere, “Run Andrew run!!”. I started running wildly and voice continued to guide me. I didn’t recognize the voice but it seemed, very strangely, the voice knew me!! The instructions led me to a house. It was a two storied house, worn out due to it’s age and seemingly abandoned. I was about to enter through the gate – just then, a person came out of the house to take me inside. And just at that moment I heard a sound from behind. I turned around and saw a stranger with a gun in his hand, guarding the main gate. Just in front of the house, two graves were dug. The person who came out of the house, tried to save me but a blasting shot from the stranger’s gun took him out. I shrieked in fear and tried to run away, but something kept me still by force. I couldn’t move. Then I saw the man shooting at me. I saw a splash of blood coming out of my heart and everything went black.

I woke up in my be, panting hard. After I felt it was a dream, I went to sleep again. But no it was not!! The same sequences repeated again exactly in the same manner!! I was desperately trying to wake up thinking it as a dream, but all efforts were in vain. I was shot again and and everything went blank again. This time, I woke up in my bed again. I pinched myself to understand the I was not dreaming, and finally I was sure that I was not dreaming anymore. For the rest of the night, I just couldn’t sleep. Do something doc – I beg you.”.

The last sentence of Andrew sounded like a heart wrenching plea, begging to stay alive. Dr. Kaufmann was pretty anxious. He had been treating Andrew for a month, but it seemed that the dreams are getting more and more detailed. It was a queer case. This was not an usual case of stress, hallucinations, depression etc. It seemed more serious, intense, deep. It seemed that the roots of this case lay in Andrew’s personal life. He placed his comforting hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “Mr. Becker, don’t get upset. I am here with you. We will definitely solve it. But tell me one thing, I think the second part you said was new, right?”. Andrew nodded, “Yes, it is. I never had this experience of experiencing a dream twice. I am pretty scared now.”. “Don’t be scared. It is only a dream. What we want to find is why you are experiencing this. Stay calm and call me anytime you need. Okay?”

Andrew was somewhat relieved to get Dr. Kaufmann in his side. He told about this dream to his wife and she reacted as if Andrew was drunk. He visited numerous psychologists to get rid of this, but none actually did took the problem seriously until Dr. Kaufmann. So he got up, shook Dr. Kaufmann’s hand cordially and left for home.

After Andrew left, Dr. Kaufmann reclined back in his chair and closed his eyes. He knew no traditional way could solve this. He sensed there were some threads in his dream that needed to be picked up. But what were these threads and how to identify which are useful? He thought and thought and finally decided to call his most ingenious and most reliable school friend, Norby.

To be continued………

Adrift

The Last Job (Part – III – Finale)

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It was evening already when he reached the final destination. It seemed that Eddington street was not a very populous place and it was easy to find 71/C. The house was situated at one of the remotest places along the road, marking the far end of the road itself. It was a two-storied building, seemingly pretty old but decently maintained. As the house was situated at a corner, it could not be viewed easily, which made the house a decent place for hiding. The few neighboring houses seemed either empty or lights out and the scarcity of street lights made the place enough desolated. Grieg hid behind the long shadow of a building and kept waiting for the clock to strike twelve.

He waited and waited. The bustling noise of traffic from distance became fainter and fainter. It was deafening silence. Suddenly he saw a shadow moving. It was approaching towards the house. Grieg kept watching. The shadow stopped in front of the door, tried to find something from his pocket, probably the key. From the faint light coming from distance, the shadow seemed somewhat familiar to him, but he couldn’t be sure. Then the shadow disappeared inside.

Grieg came out of his hiding and stealthily approached the house. The door was locked from inside. He took out the key he got from the briefcase and entered quietly – like a cat approaching with it’s velvet paws to grab it’s prey. No sound was heard inside – just a dim ray of light seemed to be coming from a room, presumably the master bedroom. Grieg climbed up the wooden staircase, removing his boots to avoid noise. The door seemed to be left ajar. Peeking inside, Grieg saw a tall man sitting on a couch with some papers in hand. He couldn’t see the man’s face as he was facing backwards. Grieg pushed the door to go inside and just then the man spoke from his couch – “Welcome Sergei. So we meet again.”

Grieg was so stunned that he just dropped the gun. He knew this voice. It was his unknown employer sitting in front of him!! But how did he know this?! Grieg was sure he wiped out every traces of his previous life before he came in here. But this name “Sergei”?? The man spoke again – “Take a seat Sergei. You don’t recognize me, do you? Now you will.”. Grieg walked up like a robot and sat down on a couch in front of the mystery man. Once he saw the face, everything came back in his mind like a flash.

“Nikolai !! You are alive !!”.

“Yes I am Sergei – and it seems you are not very happy to see me.”

“Why have you come back? Why did you played with me like this? You are trying to make me a criminal again. Why?”

“I am not trying to make you a criminal – you ARE a criminal Sergei. Just one thing I had to do, just like old times, offer you an amount you can’t refuse. And I succeeded !! I achieved what all I wanted. Now, I guess you know why I tempted you to be here tonight.”

Grieg knew he was in a trap. The arrival of Nikolai unraveled a dirty, notorious past life he had once – which he thought he buried long ago. Sergei, originally from Mexico, was Grieg’s parental name, though he lost both his parents in a car crash in Mexico. At a very young age Sergei was thrown into the rough, illegal world of drug trafficking – for earning the money to stay alive. Nikolai happened to be one of his partner and worked as a messenger. Sergei happened to be a quick learner and became a master handler withing a few years. He with his three partners Nikolai, Jose and Antonio formed a gang to deal with big drug dealers and collecting ransoms from the clients. This gang was a terror to all and was known as “Black Gang” in police records and all of them were most wanted. But for 20 years, nobody could even touch them.

One day, while collecting payment from a drug dealer, a heated argument broke out regarding payment and in a fit of rage, Sergei shot him in head from point blank range. After that accident, all of them decided to rob the dealer’s house and flee away forever. It was decided the looted booty would be kept by Nikolai and afterwards, four of them would be dividing it. But when they fled from Mexico, none of them could find Nikolai. He vanished. Jose and Antonio parted ways and went under cover. Sergei got himself a new identity, became Grieg and started afresh.

“You found Jose and Antonio, right?”

“Yes I did. In fact, you set the killer traps for Jose a day before. Remember?”, Nikolai gave an evil smile.

“Joey.. It was Jose?? YOU ******* !!! After taking all the money you have come back now to kill all of us you dirty ******* ? You think you can escape this? I left a goodbye note at home. I don’t return and you will be hunted down by the police.”

“I worked with you Sergei. You always told, “Never leave a trace”. That’s exactly what I am doing now Sergei. I am sorry. I have a family too. But you know, you need to clear your path always so that no thorn is left to make you bleed – even by mistake.”

Saying this, Nikolai took out Grieg’s Beretta, put a silencer and said in a cold voice, “You know Sergei, relax. It will look like a suicide only. Believe me, I am a professional.” Grieg jumped upon Nikolai with full force to resist him. Nikolai tried to throw him off and in this scuffle, the gun was fired clumsily and a 9mm. bullet pierced Grieg’s right lung. As Grieg staggered back, Nikolai put another bullet aiming the heart. Grieg collapsed on his knees knowing it was the end. He heard the footsteps of Nikolai, descending the stairs hurriedly and suddenly a fierce explosion rocked the whole house.

Grieg was laughing for the last time. He knew his plan worked. Sensing danger, he had set a booby trap under one of the stairs – which Nikolai missed in his hurry. All Grieg tried to think was of Jane and Alan at the last moments of his life and finally everything went dark before his eyes as his heart stopped beating.

**************** The End ****************

Notorious

The Last Job (Part – II)

Previous -  The Last Job (Part - I)

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Grieg was dumbstruck. He knew it would be an unusual task, but a murder!! Good God!! He was indeed a lawbreaker but to be identified as a murderer? That too at the whim of a mad man? Grieg just couldn’t accept it. But he knew, his employer won’t like to hear “no”. So he just stayed silent, sweat passing over his forehead even in that chilly wind. The man asked after a short pause, ” Are you scared?”. Grieg gathered some courage to say, “Sir….. I…. I never committed any murder. You are asking too much of me. I am just a petty criminal.” The man stood there, silent. That silence shattered Grieg’s nerves and he started trembling. The voice then talked, ” You promised me, you will do any work for me – no questions asked. Now you deny. You break promise. You know the outcome, don’t you?”. Grieg wiped out the trail of sweats from his eyebrows and replied in a trembling voice, ” Sir, please understand….. I have a family…”. The voice now became cold and stern like steel, ” I don’t honor someone who don’t keep promises. Decide for yourself, for your family. And if you think of running away – well, I will find you, and then we both know what’s going to happen.” Grieg knew he was out of options. There was no possibility of mercy. With a long sigh, he replied, “Yes master, I will do whatever you say.” The man seemed to be pleased. He replied, “You will get the address and your payment tomorrow morning. Remember, tomorrow midnight.”. Saying this, the mystery man turned back and disappeared into the darkness again.

Grieg collapsed on his knees, still trying to grasp the reality. It seemed to him that he was swerving towards the edge of the precipice. He cursed himself for his greed and tried to think a way out, but all his efforts were in vain. He stood up and started walking towards his home, drenched in the rain – like a worn out machine, torn into pieces, to be scrapped in a few hours. Jane, his wife, was shocked to see Grieg at the door in such a shape.

“You look terrible honey!! What happened?”

“Nothing.. Just got caught in the rain. I am super tired. Where’s Alan?”

“You are very late today. He fell asleep while waiting for you. What happened? It seems that there is something you are not telling me.”

“No… Nothing.. I just… need rest… Please don’t mind honey, I have a job to get done tomorrow.”

“I don’t like the amount of stress you are handling these days. We were so happy just a couple of months back – playing games, going movies. This new job of yours seems to break you completely. Why do you do such work?”

“I get more money Jane. I am doing this for you, for Alan.”

“I don’t know what your job is Grieg. But whatever it is, it is not good. Leave it. I don’t want to lose you.”

Saying this, Jane went away towards the kitchen. Grieg’s heart was wrenching in pain. All he wanted was to go away, to somewhere safe – for Jane and Alan. But where could be the safe place? He had no idea. He peeked through the bedroom door of Alan, left ajar. His only son was sleeping so calmly, without knowing about the incoming storm. Grieg heaved a long sigh and went away towards his bedroom.

Next morning, when he woke up, he found an envelope slipped under the door. He opened the envelope to find two pieces of paper. One contained a rough sketch of the plan of a house and a red “X” mark on the other side, but no address. The other note said – “128/A, 8th Cross Street, 2nd Floor – Store Room, Grey Briefcase, Combination – 3-1-4”. Grieg knew it was time for him to get going. He decided to leave immediately and rushed off hurriedly, leaving a goodbye note for Jane and Alan.

The journey to the address took over three hours. Upon reaching the address, Grieg found a medium size gray briefcase. Following the instruction, he opened it and found a hundred thousand dollars in cash and and a small note with a key. The note mentioned – “71/C, Eddington Street. 1st Floor, Master bedroom.” . Grieg knew this was it. For some reason this address seemed familiar to him, but he was not sure. “No point thinking anymore, this is another job only.”. He shrugged off, closed his eyes, took a deep breath to get a grip, took out his Beretta 92 F, which one of his friends gave to him and went out to find the address of his last job.

To be continued…..  (and next part will be the finale…)

Precipice

The Last Job (Part – I)

953b21878528f38631ea6f892e126959It was a dark, stormy night. Violent wind was blowing hard, sending shatters on the window glasses and wheezing through the branches of the juniper trees, creating a strange, hollow sound. Tall, huge trees were swaying violently, indicating the fierceness of the wind. Lightnings pierced through the dark sky in short intervals followed by blasting thunders. Heavy rainfall drenched the streets forming puddles at the sides and reducing the visibility to near zero. The light coming from the street lights got dimmed by the heavy downpour. Not a soul was to be seen or heard on the streets or any lanes or by-lanes. The whole area seemed to be dark, gloomy and somewhat creepy.

Grieg was waiting under the shade of a lonely, abandoned garage, situated at the far end of the road, around the curve. The garage once used to be owned by a retired army officer who resided in a house just beside it and served as the storage space for his collection of the “war relics” of WWII. His death was an unusual one and rumors spread that the house was cursed. His sons and daughters just abandoned the house almost thirty years back. The wrath of time shattered the house, reducing it to mere skeleton, along with the garage. The dark, shabby ruins looked pretty spooky at night and on a night like this, the creepy feeling along with the chilling wind sent shivers down Grieg’s spine.

“What the hell I am doing here? Why did I come here? I am such a jerk…. Damn.. “, Grieg was feeling very uncomfortable and scared. But he knew there couldn’t be any turning back. He was trapped in a maze, where there was no way out. He was waiting for him and he knew this time the meeting won’t be a pleasant one. This unknown person, with whom he was collaborating for a month, had put him on a contract for his jobs. But these jobs were pretty unusual and some of them were illegal too. Grieg was not a clean person in police records as well, though he was never tried for any serious offences. But this time, his unknown employer’s work was getting riskier. Grieg knew he was going into troubled waters but the payment was insanely high and that resisted him from cutting ties with him. But today, he knew it would be a big job, as this unknown person was going to pay double of previous job – i.e., setting up killer traps around the house of a person named Joey. Grieg had no idea what it could be, but he sensed a storm coming from the suppressed excitement in his employer’s voice on the previous day.

Suddenly, a long, dark shadow emerged from the other end of the road. A person was coming out of the darkness. Grieg became alert and his heart started beating too fast. It was him, no doubt. He was wearing a waterproof cloak, covering his tall figure fully. His face could not be seen as it was under the hood. The clicking of his boots echoed through the empty street. Grieg knew this. This was the attire of his unknown employer every time they met and it was his instruction to Grieg to stay in the garage for today’s meeting.

The figure drew closer to Grieg and stopped right in front of him. A deep, hollow voice came from inside the hood – “Hello Grieg. I guess I am not late.” Grieg was standing like a wooden doll. In a feeble voice he replied, “You are on time, as always sir.” The figure started talking, ” I have a special job for you Grieg. And this will be your final job. After this, we will never meet again.” Grieg stood speechless. The voice continued, ” As I say it’s a special one, your reward will be special too. But this time you will get it before the job is done. Because as I said, we won’t meet again. I guess I can trust you with this.” “Of course sir. But you haven’t told me yet, what my job will be.”, Grieg was sensing the storm in his heart. “Tomorrow, at sharp midnight, you will kill a person. I shall give you his address and the plan of his house. But I need the job done sharp at midnight. It should be clean, one shot in head. That’s all.”

To be continued……….

Collaboration Final Maze

Lost and Found

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On a lazy evening, sitting on a couch, Norman was just staring blankly outside the window. The Sun was setting down and the soft, crimson red rays was coming inside through the open window. The flocks of birds were flying home. Norman’s mind was wandering too – but in the past. The old book of memories was open in front of him and the grey, dusty pages were being turned over one by one, automatically, in the backdrop of a half darkened room.

He never saw his real parents. His foster parents were everything to him. But his luck never favored him. He lost his parents in a freak accident when he was in his early twenties. He became an orphan again. He had good grades in college, but struggled to get a good job. His only hope was his first love whom he met in his college and married later. But his stars laughed at him again. His marriage life was not a happy one and they were on the verge of separation. He was living in his forties, but it seemed to him that he had been living for ages. He didn’t get any idea why he was living and what he should do. He just forgot to be happy. He lost himself in the grim darkness.

So there sat Norman, with lights turned out and only the dying light of dusk was present. Suddenly he heard a low, painful tweeting of a bird. It seemed to be coming right from his window pane area. He got up and discovered a small bird – probably attacked by a predator bird, but somehow it escaped and fell down beside his window. It was in shear pain. Norman picked up the bird, lit the lights of his room and tried to clean its wounds with a cotton ball softened with water. Then he warmed little bit of milk and fed the injured bird with the help of a cotton nipple dipped in the milk. While nursing and caring that little creature, his heart was filled with a strange sort of happiness and peace. He felt a selfless bond growing between him and the small bird. Was the common injury the fact that felt uniting them? He didn’t know. He kept the bird in a small, soft box and went to sleep.

Next morning, Norman woke up earlier than normal. It was the time of sunrise. The room was filled with the yellow rays of the shining Sun, indicating the beginning of a new, fresh day. Norman never enjoyed the sunrise so much as he did today. The birds were chirping merrily outside. He remembered about the bird he found yesterday and rushed to check it. To his surprise, he found it was gone!! He mistakenly kept the box beside the window and the bird, being healed decently by overnight, just flew away seeing the morning Sun. He was sad inside, losing his companion for a night. But the bird, the small creature, showed him the purpose of his life. He was happy from within. He knew that his grey, dusty, gloomy memories won’t drag him in the darkness anymore. He found the road to inner peace and tranquility – by serving selflessly.

Suddenly he heard a bird chirping by the window. When he looked out, he was overjoyed to see that little bird again!! It came to him to thank him!! The bird chirped merrily, sat on Norman’s shoulder and pecked on his cheek and then flew away. Norman watched the bird flying swiftly to far – very far away. Norman’s heart was filled with joy. He jumped in a new enthusiasm and began planning for his new journey in life.

Gray

Free

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“Alan, why are you still sitting idly? You have got your lessons to finish.” – yelled Jane, Alan’s mother. Alan was sitting by his study table but his mind was wandering somewhere else. He was sad inside. His parents always took good care of him, he studied in a well known school, he always scored very good ranks in school exam, he was good at swimming and drawing – in short, he never faced a situation where he didn’t get something he wanted. But still, today he was feeling empty. He was feeling as if jailed in a cage – spiked all over with “study”, “carrier”, “success”. His parents were always too concerned about his studies and extra curricular activities – and as a result, Alan felt suffocating at times. He had friends in school – but competition was there as well. So he always felt lonely.

So, Alan composed himself and started studying again. He tried to concentrate but failed again and again. Knowing it’s a failed attempt to study now, Alan rose and stood by the window. The clear blue sky seemed like a vast never ending ocean and the white soft clouds were like ships, sailing on a voyage in the quest for the unknown. Suddenly, a small cloud came down by the window and tapped on the window, indicating Alan to open it. Alan was so surprised that he just opened it without any word and kept staring at the small cloud, who seemed to be chuckling at Alan’s astonishment.

“Hey Alan, you want to come with us?” said the small cloud with a joyful voice. Alan was too surprised to talk. A cloud can come down!! And it can talk in a human language!! Good Heavens!! But Alan was really feeling good in it’s company. He had lots of friends in school, but this small cloud had such a cordiality in it’s voice, which mesmerized Alan and he felt it was his best friend.

“Who are you? Are you really a cloud? How can you talk like us?”, Alan had a bunch of queries obviously. “Yes, I am. We come here a lot my friend. So we have learnt your language.”, said the little cloud. “We are just returning in our home after a long trip. I just saw you by the window, standing sadly. We are very sad when we see someone sad. So I just came by to meet you. Would you like to go with us in our home?”, said the little cloud in an extremely sweet voice. “But… My Mom would worry about me, and my Dad will be angry.” – Alan sounded anxious. “Oh, no one will worry. Come with us, you will like it a lot. Quick, hurry up!! I am getting late.” – the little cloud held Alan’s hand, and soon both of them were floating side by side.

Alan was so happy to get outside. He was astonished to see so many clouds – some big guys, some lean and thin fellows, some small ones as well and so many more. The open sky welcomed Alan – “Hello my friend, hope you are feeling happy !!”. The other clouds greeted him cordially. The gentle breeze shook his hand cordially and gladly accompanied him. The Sun was smiling and guided the way towards the wonderland of clouds. The little cloud friend narrated lots of stories of their voyages, lots of new places they visited. Alan was surprised to know all those. He read so many books, but none of them showed him the world like this. Time flew away and Alan just forgot everything – his studies, his loneliness. He felt he was a free bird – he broke the lock of the cage and was flying along with the wind.

Suddenly, he felt the breeze became a bit violent. It felt like being shaken up. The little cloud was calling his name frequently – “Alan!! Alan!!”. Suddenly he came back to his senses. It was his mother, Jane, who was trying to wake him up. Alan realized he was sleeping on the study table and all he experienced was a dream. Jane was scolding him for sleeping at the time of studying, but Alan didn’t paid much attention to her. He was feeling happy. He was feeling an unquenchable thirst for adventure – quest for the unknown world around him. He decided that his aim was not to be tied in a cage of “normal life” – but to be a free bird, to sing freely and live freely. He was a bit sad that he couldn’t visit the world of clouds, but was sure of one thing – he will find the wonderland of clouds for sure.

Spike

Mysteries Unraveled?

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We are human beings. We are curious by nature. We like to explore new things. We like to invent new technologies. We possess an unquenchable thirst for adventures that drives us to discover new lands, climb dangerously beautiful mountains – all because we want to know the secrets that our mother Earth and the universe possesses.

We believe in science and technology. We are creating state of the art technologies, taming the raging wind and sea to use their energy for creation of electricity and other purposes. We are researching on nuclear physics – controlling particles. Why? All because we want to invent new things. In this process, we begin to believe that we are the creator of everything. We think we can control all the outcomes. We think science can explain, if not create, everything in this world.

Take an example – Solar Eclipse. During eclipse, the Sun, the Moon and the Earth come in the same line, in the same plane and position in such a manner, that the giant Sun is covered completely by the tiny Moon. See the beauty of alignment. Why does this happen? Who decided this precision? No scientist can answer this “why”. Ask a scientist, “You say universe is expanding. But why?”. No one can answer this. How did universe came into existence – “Big Bang” or something else? Who built the Stonehenge? Who drew the Nazca lines? The figurines in the Easter Islands – how did they come there? There are innumerable mysteries surrounding us – in Earth, outside Earth, in our solar system, outside our solar system – still awaiting to be unraveled. No science has been able to solve these mysteries of universe.

This is where the ability of science becomes limited. We can create a limb with the help of stem cells, but we can’t create life. We can discover many things, but can’t really reason out all the phenomenons surrounding us . That’s why the concept of “God” comes into picture. Whether you are an atheist or not, you can’t unravel these mysteries, at least till now. So, no one can unravel these mysteries ever? Only time can tell.

” The more I try to unravel the mysteries of the world in which we live, the more I come to the conception of a single overruling power – God. “

Henry Eyring

Unravel