Scientist 1: So you are telling me time travel is possible.
Scientist 2: Indeed.
Scientist 1: And all these while, we did not have any idea how to make that possible.
Scientist 2: As a matter of fact, we always did. We always had it right in front of us but we could never see it.
Scientist 1: I am skeptical. All these while we knew about it still couldn’t travel in time?
Scientist 2: That’s true. In fact, a lot of us did, without even knowing.
Scientist 1: I’m confused. I am really confused.
Scientist 2: About what?
Scientist 1: Alright say we have a time machine. Say as you have claimed probably you have invented the time machine. But what about the basic questions and paradoxes about time travel?
Scientist 2: What about them?
Scientist 1: What about ‘Grandfather Paradox, Bootstrap Paradox or Butterfly effect? How can you avoid them while traveling in time? Or are you going to throw the multiverse theory at me?
Scientist 2: Naah, they can be explained without creating multiple universes as their after effect.
Scientist 1: I am eager to know.
Scientist 2: Alright, let’s take the Grandfather Paradox as an example.
Say someone travels back in time and kills his grandfather before he even met his grandmother. Obviously, that means deleting his family tree from his grandfather and then the time traveler cannot exist and that’s impossible because he just went back in time from the present and he exists in the present. Hence a time travel when travel in time will not and must not have the power to change the course of history. Now it is quite naïve to expect some divine power will stop him from doing so.
In that case, the most likely proposed theory is the time traveler will be invisible. He will be a mute spectator and not only that, while he is there in the past, nobody will be able to see him. To make things simple, a time traveler’s conscience, his mind will travel back in time, not his body. So he will be witnessing everything but will not have the power to change anything, at the same time because he will be invisible to all the people in the past, he won’t come across in any harm’s way.
Scientist 1: Let’s say we accept this theory, but then that will bring us to the Bootstrap paradox. What if a famous movie director yet to be famous in time decided to travel in future. There he came to know he will make a movie in another 5 years which will make him famous worldwide. He watched the movie in future, came back in present and made the exact copy of it. So basically the original screenplay, plot and the movie is actually a copied version from the future.
Scientist 2: Yes, that just can’t happen. You cannot create the original by copying from one of copied piece from the future. That paradox has only one solution. The time traveler shouldn’t remember any detail of his travel, because if he remembers any of that can change the course of the history or future. So as he will be traveling in past or future, once he will come back he won’t remember any events.
Scientist 1: What if someone travels with a camera or portable recording device?
Scientist 2: Technically it is not possible, I believe that will not work either, first of all, the person will travel without a body, only his mind. And if he could possibly take it also, the electromagnetic field that will be created while traveling will damage any electronic goods.
Scientist 1: So the points we got from here are
A person can only travel in time without his mortal body, just his mind and he can only see but possess no power to meddle with anything.
Once he is back in presence his memory will not be able to remember anything he saw.
He cannot record anything either.
Then what is the whole point of traveling into time? It’s useless then.
Scientist 2: If only you think of conventional time travel that feeds into our minds for centuries then yes! But the truth is, people have already traveled in time.
Scientist 1: When and how?
Scientist 2: Time dilation, as described in the theory of relativity. The time moves slower than earth in space, due to the gravitational force, the earth’s rotation on its own axis and also for orbiting around the sun. Every astronaut who traveled in space starting from Yuri Gagarin, they all came back to earth a little younger.
Scientist 1: So………………
Scientist 2: Longer you travel in the space, slower the time moves. And then when you come back to earth, you see you are ahead of your time, or perhaps behind it.
Scientist 1: I don’t know what to say!
Scientist 2: Time travel is a one-way ticket, my friend. Once you travel in it, there is no way to go back and forth.
Scientist 1: We were never formally introduced.
Scientist 2: You can call me an alien, as I left the earth 500 years ago.
Scientist 1: …………………..
Scientist 2: have you ever thought about it? The people you call alien or higher intelligent being, what if they are the human who returned…. !!!
Akhil was sitting near the lake with his Kashmiri shawl on, looking at the light green water of it. Most of the ponds, lakes and other waterbodies turned light to dark green as the days go by, because with no much maintenance and cleaning, the algae and water hyacinth slowly take them over turning the water greenish.
Akhil could see few of fishes were swimming under those water plants, small fishes, they looked like few dark shadows swaying through the shallow water. He sighed, it’s the month February yet the chillness of the winter is evidently here in this part of the country, although in rural areas winter stays a little longer.
As he tried to get up he felt his weakness is still there. Akhil suffered from Jaundice last month, not an ideal start for the new-year. As he recovered, he was weak and feeble after the yellow fever.
“Why don’t you go for a change, take a vacation and regain your health.” His family physician Dr. Dutta advised. “But make sure you’re in good hands, do you have any kith and kin in any hill station?”
Akhil shook his hand, he hates being a burden to somebody. But his students from the university were aware of his condition and eager to help. One of them was Abhimanyu, a brilliant student of psychology, doing his PhD under Akhil.
“Sir, you have to say yes.” Abhimanyu almost pleaded. “I wish I could come with you, but I’m so stuck with my thesis, but I have spoken the caretaker of my farmhouse there, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Everything will be taken care of.”
Abhimanyu Baruah, hailing from a small village of northeast, but he hardly lived there, he was born there, but brought up in this city, though he and his family visit their ancestral village time to time, they are well settled in the city.
Akhil was not so sure, he never liked to take favors from anyone, let alone be from his students. As he was considering to decline the offer politely, Abhimanyu spoke, “Sir, you won’t be disappointed if you visit my village. You might as well meet a very strange yet interesting character.” There was something in his tone and way of speech that Akhil couldn’t say no, and now here he is.
Well, he can’t complain, he is here for 4 days and the caretaker Ratanlal’s treatment was royal. As he was specifically instructed by Abhimanyu. Strict yet delicious diet of Juices, fruits, vegetables and soups, maid Rashida and gardener Charan are always on their toes to serve him 24 hours, Akhil felt as if he is truly a royal emperor in this small, hilly village of Northeast.
“You are not from here, I know all the faces in this village, you must be an outsider.” A sweet yet sharp voice nudged the web of Akhil’s deep thoughts.
A bit surprised Akhil turned his head towards his right shoulder, a girl most probably in her late teens was sitting beside him. Akhil has no idea when or how long she came and sat next to him. The girl was wearing a black and green Churidar, looking curiously at him. She got a scarf on her head.
Akhil couldn’t reply immediately, partially because he was surprised partially because of his weakness, he body response system became slow. As he opened his mouth to answer, she spoke, “Akhil Mitra. You are the guest of Abhimanyu, staying in Baruah farmhouse.” Her ringing voice was sweet yet piercing.
“Well, you already knew my name.” Akhil tried to smile and be easy.
“Naah! I just guessed.” She looked at the lake.
“You’ve guessed my name?” Akhil asked her foolishly.
“Yeah. I hope you like my village. I will come and meet you sometime in the farmhouse.” The girl stood up and walked away hurriedly.
Akhil sat there for some time, tried to think back what just happened. He noticed the girl was also wearing cotton gloves till her elbow, her scarf was hiding her head and good portion of neck. She was pale looking, must be around 18 to 19 years old. The only things noticeable were her sad yet glowing eyes and her sharp yet sweet voice. She didn’t smile as she was talking and claimed she guessed his name. And when she said I hope you like ‘My’ village, it was very authoritative, as if she owns the village.
Akhil started to walk towards the farmhouse, it’s breakfast time, he was sick of juices and fruits. All he wanted now to have deep fried Puri with potato and peas curry.
Midway he found the Rashida was standing, looking at him alarmingly. As he walked towards her she asked, “Did you meet Nalini?”
“Who’s Nalini?” Akhil asked in startled voice.
“The girl you were talking to.” Rashida replied with a hurried tone.
“Oh! I’ve no idea who she is. She just came and sat next to me. Asked me if I am Akhil Mitra, the guest of Abhimanyu, and walked away.”
“Alright, come along sir, your juice is ready. Rashida turned back and started to walk while mumbling something.
Akhil was sipping into his glass of carrot juice and making faces. It’s been an hour he came back from the lake side. For last few days he started to hate all kinds of juices. A bowl of fruit salad was lying on the dining table, as per the strict instruction of Abhimanyu, Ratanlal is following the doctor’s diet chart word by word. Akhil sighed, how good it would be to have hot and puffy oily Puris with spicy potato peas curry.
“Witch!” Akhil heard the whisper and turned towards the source of that voice which was full of hate and disgust.
Rashida was looking steadily out of the window, the pale looking girl whom Akhil met a while ago is seen walking towards the farmhouse, she was holding something in her hand.
In few minutes she entered into the dining room, she was holding a something covered with newspaper. She placed it on the dining table and removed the newspaper cover. A plate full of deep fried Puris with potato and peas curry, the way Akhil liked them, dark brownish Puris and melted potato and peas gravy.
“It was so rude of me not to introduce myself back there, I’m Nalini, Nalini Dev Burman, daughter of Niranjan Dev Burman. Once upon a time our family was the land lord of this village. I hope you did not mind when I mentioned as ‘MY’ village back there, it should be our village isn’t it?” Nalini was smiling impishly now.
Akhil tried to be as normal as he could, “I am on a strict diet, I am still recovering from a prolonged illness, no fried or oily food.” Akhil cleared his throat.
“But sometimes you just crave for what is forbidden, isn’t it?” Nalini is sharp voice again pierced Akhil’s ears.
“Let me know whenever you feel good, I can be your guide, can show you around our village, there’s nothing much though, but you can visit my place, it’s a 200 years old bungalow. It might intrigue you.”
Nalini spoke those word causally and turned back to leave when she saw Rashida, “Why did you call me a witch?” Nalini voice was pretty normal.
Akhil was at his wits end, Rashida whispered those words when she saw Nalini outside through the windows, she she was good 200 to 300 meters away from the farmhouse, there’s no way Nalini could hear it.
“Answer me, why did you call me a witch?” Nalini’s voice is firm now.
Rashida suddenly held her head and sat on the floor as if someone pushed her down. “Never ever call me that.” Nalini spoke angrily and left.
Akhil saw Ratanlal standing in a corner hanging his head down. Rashida was still sitting on the floor holding her head.
“Ratan, take them away, it’s tempting.” Akhil pushed the plate and tried to speak in a normal tone.
“Sir, at least have one. Else she will be angry.” Ratanlal pleaded.
“How will she know?” Akhil asked astonishingly.
“She will know, she always knows.” Rashida whispered.
At around 4 p.m. Abhimanyu called the landline. Ratan picked it up and passed it to Akhil.
“I met Nalini today.” Akhil started with that sentence without any small talk. There was a long pause from the other side and the Abhimanyu spoke. “Ohh!”
“Is there anything you want to tell me about?” Akhil asked in an assuring tone.
“I am ashamed to push you into something at this phase of your health, I am hesitatnt.” Abhimanyu sound embarrassed.
“You are my student Abhimanyu, and a teacher should and must help his pupil whichever way he can, so don’t hesitate and tell me.”
Abhimanyu took his time to arrange his thoughts and started.
“Last year, when I went to my farm house, I met Nalini at the market. She just stepped into eighteen and I was around 26. You can call it love at first sight.
When I was around 10 or 11 years old I had a babysitter, her name was Hiral, she was about 5 years elder to me. She loved me dearly and I was so fond of her, even I had a childish crush on her as well, I was too young and she was my fondest memory. When I was about 14 she died of snake bite. I was devastated.
The day I met Nalini I felt I found Hiral back, they were so alike. I was almost crazy for her and wanted to marry her. I fought with my parents, argued with her father as she was so young and tender to be married, but at last everyone came to terms and agreed for our marriage.
We got engaged soon and then there was a photo session, we got a photographer from the city. Before that we never clicked any photos of her or us. Once the photographer clicked the photos and sent them to me I was shocked. Nalini was a complete different woman in those photos, she is not even close to how Hiral used to look.
I showed those photos to my parents and other relatives, they argued that’s exactly how she looks in real, they were surprised and perplexed. I could swear on my life that she looks nothing like how those photos showed her. I was lost and depressed. My parents were worried and they were not ready to carry this relationship further, we broke our engagement.
After few days when I met her I was shocked again, she was looking exactly like Hiral, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She came to me and urged to get back together. Next day morning I stated for the city without telling anyone.
It’s almost been a year but everyday her thoughts eat me up. I don’t know whom to turn to, as everyone thinks I am crazy and I did her wrong. You are my last resort Sir, please help me.”
Abhimanyu took a long breath after finishing his story.
“Where are those engagement photos? Do you have them with you?” Akhil held the receiver tight.
I kept them in the cupboard of my bedroom, you can ask Ratan, he will give them to you.” Abhimanyu replied.
“Alright, let me look at them and see what I can do. Relax, I will do everything I can to solve this.” Akhil assured Abhimanyu.
After dinner Akhil took those photos to his study table and examined them closely under the table lamp. There are at least 20 photos of Abhimanyu and Nalini. Few of them are close up snaps. Nalini looked so happy and jubilant in all the pictures, with a shy smile in her face. But Akhil was unable to trace any abnormality in those photos, Nalini is looking as she looked today morning, though she had a scarf on her head.
Akhil gave up and switched off the lights, lying on bed he tried to take off his mind from all these.
As the time passed suddenly Akhil heard a sound of a gigging voice in his head, as if a girl laughing her head off.
“So you are going to solve the mystery, is it Dr. Akhil Mitra.” The giggling voice spoke. Akhil almost jumped off his feet and looked out of the window. There were no one, just a moonlight filled night and few trees are slowly waving their heads and leaves were making sounds.
“Who are you?” Akhil asked that question in his mind.
“Don’t you know?” The giggling voice answered with a question.
Akhil started to sweat even in a chilly February night.
Akhil stood there for some time with his sweaty palms and forehead. Then he realized the voice was gone from his head. It’s 3 days since the full moon night, the moon was looking big and yellowish, the dark craters of the moon are visible. Akhil tried to calm his nerves, he wasn’t absolutely sure but he knew the voice he heard was Nalini’s.
Akhil couldn’t have a sound sleep the whole night. He had few dreams, the one he remembered was quite weird. He saw himself wandering into a garden, more like in a tropical forest. Akhil was walking around aimlessly when he saw a giant python snake. It creeps down from one of the tallest tree and hanged it’s face right in front of him.
“Oh yes Adam, I was waiting for you, for so long…” The python spoke in a female voice. “Come and take you prized possession, come and have bite, eat the forbidden apple.” The python whispered.
“And why should I listen to you?” Akhil heard his own words.
“Because if you have no knowledge of Sin and evil, how will you know about Virtue and good?” The snake was nodding its head and then climbed down onto the ground.
“For centuries, people thought of me as evil, what if I am just your inner voice? What if I am a part you? What if I am……Eve?” As the snake was whispering so, it was transforming into a woman.
To Akhil’s bewilderment the snake slowly became a woman, wearing nothing. And she looked so much like… Nalini.
Akhil opened up his eyes, he could hear the fazar’s namaz from a nearby mosque. “It’s already dawn.” He thought, “And what a weird dream I had.” Akhil muttered.
He pushed himself out of the bed, it was still dark outside. Akhil wore his slippers and came out of the farm house in his shirt and pajama. It was cold outside but Akhil did not wrap his shawl, instead he started to walk aimlessly.
After half an hour Akhil stopped near a playground, The east sky became red already and bird were chirping, the trees and grasses were wearing the dew drops like crown jewels. Akhil inhale the fresh and clean air of this country side, and then he saw a small hut, a man selling morning tea with fuming glasses.
He walked there and sat on the bench, made of bamboos, the traditional Northeastern households’ furniture. Akhil had two cups of tea back to back, after a while as he was about to pay for the tea he realized he left his wallet back in the farmhouse.
Embarrassed Akhil felt helpless, “I am so sorry, I forgot my wallet. I.. give me some time, I will pay you the double.” Akhil felt ashamed.
The old tea vendor smiled, he hardly had few teeth left in his mouth, “Don’t worry sir, you’re the guest of Baruah family. You can pay me whenever you want. Here sir, have another cup.” The old man offered another cup of tea.
Akhil did not want to have another cup of tea, but he felt it would be rude so he took it, “How do you know I’m Baruah family’s guest?” Akhil asked
“This is a small village, we know almost about everything around, beside I know Rashida, she told me.” He replied while serving tea to his other customers.
“Oh so you know Rashida!” Akhil felt relived.
“Yes sir, from the days she worked in Dev Burman’s palace.” The old man smiled.
“Dev Burman Palace as in Niranjan Dev Burman, the land lord?” Akhil asked astoundingly.
“Yes sir, there’s only one Dev Burman family in our village, that’s them.” Tea vendor shook his head.
Akhil finished his tea and started to walk towards the farmhouse.
Once Akhil was back in the farm house he decided to ask few questions to Rashida.
She was in the kitchen making breakfast, Akhil walked in and sat on chair in the dinning room.
“Rashida, you used work for Dev Burman family once?” Akhil asked directly without any prelude.
“I used to, long back.” Rashida was caught off guarded but then she replied without fumbling, without looking at Akhil.
“You used to work there before Nalini was born or after?” Akhil was curious.
“After, they needed a baby sitter for Nalini, someone who could be with her 24 hours a day.” Rashida answered busily as she was making the breakfast.
“Was Nalini’s mother alive then?” Akhil asked.
“No, she died when Nalini was around 2 years old, her grandmother, Niranjan’s mother was alive then, she was taking care of her.”
“For how long you worked there? And why did you leave?” Akhil was feeling the uneasiness as Rashida was answering all the questions with one or two sentences, normally she’s a talkative lady but something of this conversation was putting her off.
“Around 4 years, I left once Niranjan’s mother died. I was not really comfortable there.” Rashida was cleaning the vessels as she spoke.
Akhil paused for some time and then he spoke again, “Rashida, I got a feeling that you’re extremely uncomfortable speaking about Nalini and her family, given the incident took place yesterday morning I don’t really blame you. But I really need to know if anything you know about her and her past. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to you.” His voice was calm and assuring.
“She’s a witch, if she wouldn’t be the daughter of the land lord of this village, she would been burned on the stake. I don’t know whom to blame for it, her or her mother. Nalini’s mother Madhavi was equally weird and mentally unstable. She committed suicide by hanging herself in one of the tree in the jungle behind Dev Burman palace.
Even Niranjan’s mother was found dead in the jungle under the same tree. That girl is a curse. Where ever she goes she brings chaos, she can enter into your head and can play with your thoughts, give you severe headache as if someone is cracking open your skull with an axe.
When I heard Abhimanyu was about to get married to her, I urged his parents not to even think about. Thank heaven Abhimanyu and his parents realized it and broke the marriage.”
Rashida paused, she was saying everything with the bitterest tone.
“I know she can hear each of my words but I couldn’t care less. She has her due punishment waiting for her.” Rashida was visibly furious.
“Nalini’s mother, Madhavi, You said she had a mental condition?” Akhil tried to bring her back on the track.
“Yes, Niranjan’s mother Suhasini was dead against this marriage, but Madhavi was the only daughter of childhood friend of Suranjan’s, Niranjan’s father. In his deathbed he made his wife and son promise him that they will bring Madhavi as their daughter in law in in that palace.” Rashida replied in a tired tone.
“What kind of mental illness Madhavi had?” Akhil was uncomfortable as he could she Rashida is getting tired of answering his questions, but his curiosity dominated his mind.
“I don’t really know, people say she was often seen wandering naked in the forest behind the Dev Burman palace. Niranjan and his mother were very embarrassed because of this. Who knows some evil power might possessed her while she was in there. All I know that once Suhasini died an unnatural death in those woods I knew I have to quit. I was scared for my life. Witches feed on others’ lives. Akhil understood Rashida’s mind is clouded with superstitions and other village myths as Black magic and witches.
“Even she (Nalini) goes into the woods regularly. I saw her going in there. She had a habit of sitting on the terrace for hours. Even in the scorching sun of May she would sit on the terrace for the whole day. Once I remember, she was only 5 years old, I was trying to feed her some milk but she was resisting, I lost my temper and slapped her. She looked at me like she’ll burn me down with those fiery eyes, and I felt a splitting headache, as if someone is hitting my head with an iron rod.
She did that to many people, even yesterday. That’s how she hurt people whenever she wants. She’s pure evil.” Rashida was breathing hard as she was speaking continuously.
Akhil stood up and slowly walked into his room, he drew the engagement photos of Nalini and Abhimanyu and started to looking at them again, after a while he was lost into deep thoughts.
Akhil was roving around the Dev Burman villa, or the people call it as Dev Burman palace. He could see a small yet dense jungle behind the villa. After a while without thinking much he went near the gate and knocked, a well-built man in his 40’s opened the gate.
“What do you want?” he asked in a rough voice. “Who’s there?” There’s another voice behind him asked the question.
Through the half opened gate Akhil could see a man standing with his while shawl on, his presence was aristocratic and authoritative, slender build, fair, tall, mostly in his mid-50 with salt and pepper hair and a thick mustache.
Akhil was sure that’s Niranjan Dev Burman, he rose his voice, “This is Akhil Mitra, I met you daughter yesterday. She invited me to see your palace.”
The man looked surprised as he walked towards the gate, “I am Nalini’s father, Niranjan, Nalini never spoke about you.”
“She must have forgotten.” Akhil smiled.
Niranjan was in double mind whether or invite Akhil over,
“I am staying in the Baruah Farm house. Abhimanyu is a student of mine.” Akhil spoke again.
“Oh! Well then you can leave, I have nothing do with that boy or his family, you must know how they humiliated us by breaking up the engagement. He came to my doors begging for her and then he just throw everything away. I hope you understand my rudeness.” Niranjan turned back started to walk as the doorman was about to close the gate.
“I am just interested in that forest behind your palace. I want to know the history of it.” Akhil again rose his voice seeing Niranjan was going to disappear behind the closed gate.
Astonished Niranjan turned back, “That was a garden during my grandfather Abhiranjan’s time, he always wanted a huge garden behind the palace, but after him no one cared and it became a jungle. Good day.” Niranjan threw his words at Akhil and disappeared inside the palace.
As Akhil was walking into the woods, it started looking unusually familiar, then he came across a tall tree and instantly he found why this place was looking so familiar to him. This was the exact place he saw in his dreams today morning. Possibly the same tree he saw the Python coming down from, it looked like a Banyan tree but it’s bigger and taller than normal ones.
He decided to explore further, as he walked deep inside, while occasionally moving the small tree branches which were obstructing his way, he came near a pond, a small one, almost as if rain water trapped in a crater. The bamboo trees and other unknown plants were grown around it.
Akhil almost had a mini heart attack when he saw a female sitting nearby the lake, she was not wearing a single piece of cloth, hair hairs are open and covered her face and upper part of the body, she was swinging and splashing her legs on the pond water. Akhil looked closely and got a jolt again, it’s no one but Nalini.
All of a sudden Nalini turned her head towards Akhil, with her piercing eyes which were only visible through her unkempt hair falling on her face, almost covering it. She giggled hysterically and then jumped into the water with splashing sound, few bids chirped and flew away with that sound. Akhil felt as if suddenly the temperature went down a few degrees.
Akhil felt he shouldn’t be there anymore so started to walk back, while he was returning he felt his lost his way, after wandering around for few minutes he was back next to that Banyan tree. He could smell a wild scent. Something of a smell when the grass were mowed or if a tree branches were cut, a strong and powerful odor.
Suddenly he heard a voice in his head, it was giggling again, “Akhil Mitra, what are you seeking?” It asked.
“Nothing.” Akhil sighed.
“What are you thinking now?” The voice asked again. Akhil was silent this time.
“I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking If only you were half your age at this time, you would ask Nalini’s hand and get married to her. Leave the city life and get settled in this small beautiful village.” The voice laughed again as it finished.
Akhil felt a jolt, he wasn’t thinking that at all, but he after the voice he felt like the thought was been pushed inside his head forcefully. The strong wild smell was getting stronger. Akhil was feeling dizzy, his felt week in his knee, with half open eyes he felt like the tree was weaving it’s leaves, and as if it was talking to him all these time.
The smell was blinding all Akhil’s senses now, he started to feel as if the shrubs and hedges near his legs were creeping up taking over his legs, hands and body. He was about to fall down when two strong hands held his shoulder.
“Akhil sir! What are doing here?” The startled voice spoke.
Akhil open his eyes with all his might and whispered, “Abhimanyu!!??”
Akhil hardly remember how he ended up in his bed from the forest. He vaguely remembered Abhimanyu was literally carrying him on his shoulder when Akhil was leaning in his shoulder.
As Akhil opened his eyes, he found Abhimanyu was sitting next to him on a chair, he was visibly worried. Rashida was standing near the door looking at him sadly.
“I should have never brought you here, it’s all my fault, I pushed you into this situation for my selfish reason. You’re not even half fit to carry on. I have arranged the tickets, we will travel to city by tomorrow” Abhimanyu was shaking his head remorse.
“What time it is?” Akhil asked weakly.
“It’s almost 9 o clock in the morning. You were sleeping from yesterday afternoon. Why did you even go there in that forest all alone? You could have taken Ratanlal with you.” Abhimanyu had a slight anger in his tone.
Akhil was about to open his mouth to answer when he saw something and his mouth was left open. It was Nalini who walked into the room, she was wearing a maroon Saari today, with a long single plait, her face look sad.
Abhimanyu turned back and saw Nalini, he was speechless as well.
“Sorry to be here unannounced, but I heard Akhil sir is sick. So I couldn’t wait to inform you first.” Nalini came and stood next to Abhimanyu.
“Amm sure, why don’t you sit next to him for some time, I need to arrange few things.” Abhimanyu got up from the chair and left the room in a hurry, as if he trying to escape from her, Rashida too left the room with a scared and disgusted face.
Nalini sat on the chair, her sad face slowly turned into an impishly smiling one, “So Dr Akhil Mitra, how are you doing now?”
“I.. amm.. I am kind of ok.” Akhil stammered while replying. Suddenly he felt he was looking a complete different girl. It took him back in his memory lane. Almost 15 years ago when Akhil started his career as a lecturer, he had student name Vidhya, she was calm and silent type of girl, used sit in the first bench. Something of her always attracted Akhil towards her, as if he had a crush on this student of his. In her second year she left college and Akhil had no trace of her again.
As Nalini was smiling devilishly at him, he suddenly felt Nalini is looking quite alike, as if Vidhya sitting right in front of him.
“Do I remind you of someone else Dr. Mitra?” Nalini asked.
“Yes you do.” Akhil murmured.
At that very moment Rashida came inside, she had a glass of orange juice in her hand. She came and placed the glass on the tea table next to the bed.
“Have this glass of juice, you will feel better. Nalini, I think we should let him rest. He is already weak and feeble.” Rashida spoke those words with a stone face.
“Sure, for once you are right Rashida. I will see you tomorrow Akhil sir.” Nalini got up from the chair.
Akhil drank the full glass of juice and called Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu came and stood next to Akhil. He was looking pale and uncomfortable.
“Abhimanyu, how did she look today? Did she look like Hiral or someone else?” Akhil asked in a easy tone.
“Every time I see her in front of me, I only see Hiral. When she came in today I rushed out and checked our engagement photos again, she looks a complete different girl in those pictures.” Abhimanyu answered robotically.
“So I thought, I too saw a different woman in her. By the way I hope my ticket to the city is arranged already you told me, I am going tomorrow.” Akhil answered while looking out of the window thoughtfully.
Abhimanyu looked at him with disbelief and then replied in a calm tone, “I guess that will be good for all of us, there’s no need for you to stay in this godforsaken village with such health condition. Let us move from here tomorrow.”
Akhil looked at Abhimanyu and smiled, “Only I’m going to the city, you need to stay here and have to collect few information for me. Don’t worry, I am not leaving this case half way. I have to meet my doctor for my check up as well as I have to do a little research. So you don’t worry, I will be back in another 2 to 3 days.”
Abhimanyu looked surprised now, “What information?” he asked curiously
“I will give you list of people you and you have to find as much information you can, don’t worry, they all resides in this village here, a few are no more but I need as much information you can gather about them. By the way you haven’t told me how and when you came here and found me in the forest?”
“I was restless after sending you here all by yourself, so I finished my thesis as soon as I could and submitted it and took the next train here. Once I spoke to Ratanlal, he told me you probably went to meet Nalini. I was looking for you everywhere when I thought of entering into that forest.” Abhimanyu answered.
“Did you see or feel anything unusual or saw someone except me there?” Akhil asked absent mindedly.
“No. Why?” Abhimanyu asked.
“Nothing, let me pack, the train is at 8 AM tomorrow if am not wrong.” Akhil sounded as if he is in a hurry to leave the village.
Once Akhil is back in the city the first thing he did was he met his physician Dr. Dutta.
“You told me to go for a change but you didn’t tell me I am so weak to even walk around, I was bed ridden for half a day after I took a hike in a forest.” Akhil spoke with mock anger.
“Really, lie down Dr. Mitra, let me check. Last time I saw you, you were weak but not so much that you’ll be bed ridden because of a little walk.” Dr Dutta said playfully.
Akhil told him about the incident in the forest but except the part where he saw Nalini or felt how the hedges and shrubs tried to grab him.
“Hmm! But Akhil if you are taking all the medication you wouldn’t be feeling so weak. In fact after initial checkup now I hardly find any of such. You are almost 90% recovered.” Dutta spoke in a worried tone. “Let’s run some more test and see.”
Akhil was about to tell him how even he felt weak when he was sitting near the pond and tried to get up his own feet, his head spun. But he did not mention it as he remembered something else.
Additional director Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences (DCPS) in Berlin was surprised to see a mail from Dr. Akhil Mitra, the renowned Indian Parapsychologist, he once met him in a seminar in New Delhi. They had quite a nice chat. Dr. Mitra in the mail requested his half an hour for a discussion in Skype. Friedrich was curious and was looking forward to have a video chat with Akhil. They started their session at 4 PM IST, the supposed half an hour chat turned into almost a 4 hours of intense discussion.
Abhimanyu was waiting in the station. It’s almost 5 days that Akhil has gone to city, he promised he would come back in 3 days but something took him longer. Abhimanyu has collected almost all the information Akhil asked him to, he was quite surprised by himself after knowing things about the people in his own village.
Akhil got down from the train, it was around 2 PM, Abhimanyu carried his luggage to the firm house.
“So, what did you do in the city?” Abhimanyu asked interestedly.
“I’ll tell you, before that, let know about your findings.” Akhil Asked. Abhimanyu gave all the details he found in last few days about few persons.
“Hmm, is it possible for you to arrange a meeting with Niranjan Dev Burman by tomorrow at Dev Burman Palace?” Akhil asked Abhimanyu after listening to him.
“I can sure try, but not sure how Niranjan will react, after all he doesn’t like me.” Abhimanyu replied thoughtfully.
“Alright, I will go to Dev Burman palace tomorrow, you come along with me, I hope Nalini will be there in the evening.” Akhil spoke.
Niranjan was looking at both of them suspiciously, Akhil was showing no sign of discomfort while Abhimanyu was looking uneasy.
Half an hour back Akhil and Abhimanyu came and knocked the gate of Dev Burman palace, as the door keeper opened the gate Akhil asked for Nalini. As the door keeper informed her, both Nalini and her father came out.
“What are you doing here?” Niranjan asked in an angry tone.
“I am here to talk to you and Nalini.” Akhil answered calmly.
“Regarding what?” Niranjan demanded.
“Maybe I can help you find some answers of few questions which are yet unanswered.” Akhil replied.
“We have no such questions. Good bye.” Niranjan barked and turned around.
“Nalini?” Akhil looked at her.
“Please come in, both of you.” Nalini spoke while looking down at her feet, digging her nails.
“Why are you inviting them?” Niranjan roared at his daughter.
“Because they are our guests.” Nalini answered firmly.
Now all four of them are sitting in the drawing room, a huge one right in the middle of the palace, the ceiling is as high as 10 meters from the floor, the double stairs went up to the first floor, the palace really looks royal. A huge chandelier was hanging from the ceiling.
The tea and snacks were already served on the tea table, Nalini took the tea pot and started making tea.
“1 spoon or 2?” Nalini asked to Akhil.
“Do I really have to answer that?” Akhil smiled. Nalini put 2 spoons of sugar in the tea.
“Tell us, what would you like to tell?” Niranjan was impatient.
“Are you aware of the rumors around in the village that they think Nalini is some kind of a sorceress, that she possess supernatural power?” Akhil started.
“Those illiterate villagers, they make stories all the time, I have no time for all those rubbish.” Niranjan made a face.
“On the contrary, I do believe Nalini possess some power and I’m sure you and Nalini both know it. It’s my student Abhimanyu who told me the astonishing story of him and Nalini falling in love and then falling apart. All I need is sometime to tell you the surprising tale.”
“Since the first day of my meeting with Nalini, I felt a strange power within her. In a very normal way we can describe it as her telepathic ability. But there is more of it. As I tried to understand her abilities the more surprising it felt.
Most of the people know or believe that telepathic power or ability is all about connecting minds with thought frequencies. But Nalini also possess something called ‘Emotive telepathy’ in Parapsychology research. It is the power to control emotions, thought process and even compel a mind to do something as she pleases. She also can communicate and also can inflict pain on her targeted mind or person.
Nalini also have developed something called natural hypnotic ability. As we all know hypnosis is about human mind or consciousness controlled by another person or mind. We often see the act of hypnotism in magic shows where magicians make any of their audiences to do as he/she pleases by hypnotizing them. Those are forced hypnotism by using mind control methods. But the natural hypnotic ability uses natural means, like continuous eye contacts, body fragrance or touch.
If I am not wrong Nalini started to feel her powers at her early ages, when she sensed she has the power over others mind and she can control, punish and manipulate others thoughts, she started doing so.
When I spoke to Rashida who worked here for some time, she told me all the servants including Niranjan were afraid of her, but for strange reasons they were not able to make up their mind to leave their jobs in the palace.
Now Nalini’s enhanced telepathic ability is rare but not unheard of. Few years back an autistic Indian girl Nandana Unnikrishnan stunned the researchers by showing that she can read the exact thoughts from her mother’s mind. It’s often seen that the autistic children or the children born with rare physical or mental deformity often has special powers. And Nalini too… is a special case…”
Akhil paused and sipped into his tea cup, the tea was already cold. Abhimanyu was sitting like a statue on the sofa just opposite to Nalini. Nalini was looking down at her feet and digging her nails. Only Niranjan was looking impatient.
“What are you getting at Dr. Mitra, so my daughter has powers and you yourself said that it’s rare but happens, so what?” Nirajan asked in an irritated tone.
Akhil took his time, got up from the sofa and encircled all of the members sitting there, he stood behind the sofa, leaned on with both elbow resting on the top of it and looked at others intensely.
“Before I go ahead speaking more about the abilities of Nalini, let me tell about someone else, about a family member of yours. My student Abhimanyu collected a lot of information about you and your family members, of course about the deceased ones as well.
Remember you have told me about the forest that grew behind your palace, which was once a garden of your grandfather Abhiranjan.
Abhiranjan was a botanist, he had a degree from ‘University of London’ and his area of research was Paleobotany, studying plant evolution and fossil plants, or the plants and floras which were extinct or assumed extinct from the earth. He was a globetrotter and collected many rare breed of plants and seeded and sowed and grew them in his backyard, which has become his ‘Garden of Eden’. He had also wrote many journals for few British research facilities and magazines during pre and post era of British India.
He was a disciple and a great admirer of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the greatest mind of India who established that plants have lives too. Abhiranjan was deep into the research of evolutions and physical changes of plants from dawn of this planet’s life.
His son Suranjan chose to be a lawyer and thus after Abhiranjan’s demise his garden was hardly been taken care of, as the days went by it slowly turning into a jungle. The high wall of the palace hid it behind and people of the palace slowly started to forget about it.
Niranjan’s father Suranjan was married to Suhasini, a very superstitious woman, Suranjan himself was a very open minded and rational man, probably he had the trait of his father. Suranjan gave his word to his childhood friend that his daughter Madhavi will be Suranjan’s Daughter-in-law someday. Madhavi was manglik, as per ancient Indian astrological chart she was supposed to be the cause of her first husband’s death. Perhaps because Surajan was above all these superstitions and knowing how hard it might be for his friend to marry off his daughter he vowed to make her his daughter-in-law.
Suhasini did not like that a bit, she never wanted her only son to get married to a girl could be a threat to her son’s life. Suranjan was adamant and he was a man of his word, because of his illness and early demise he couldn’t see it off that his son and Madhavi was getting married. But in his deathbed he made his wife and son promised that they will honor his words.
Niranjan had a profound effect of his mother on him, maybe because he lost his father in tender age. He is also quite superstitious. So the mother and son decided to take suggestions from various astrologers and as per their prescribed remedy, Madhavi was set to be married to a tree and then with Niranjan, another old ritual where it was believed that being the first of a manglik the misfortune will befall upon the tree.
But even after all these, the marriage between Niranjan and Madhavi never was consummated. Niranjan had this insane fear for his life which was fueled further by his mother and he never copulated with his wife. In fact they used sleep in different rooms. But being a rich son of a lawyer and landlord with his biological needs, he did have many lovers and concubines.
Madhavi, being married too early and pushed into a loveless relationship was always an unwelcomed guest in the palace, her husband’s indifference and her mother-in-law’s taunts were completely broken her down. Maybe people in the midst of the conversation, taunted of suggested her that, her actual husband is the tree got married to but Niranjan.
She was under immense mental pressure, perhaps she did not want to bother her family with her marital problems and keeping everything within her, resulting her subconscious mind actually started to believe that the tree she got married to, was actually her real husband.
A few villagers saw her wandering naked in that forest, that’s actually half true. Rashida and few other servants followed her and found she stood there hugging a tree in the forest without wearing anything.
Yes! Madhavi’s ritualistic first marriage was with the banyan tree or what it looks like I stumbled upon where Abhimanyu found me. She used to stand there embracing, holding the tree for hours together. Rashida is actually one of witness of this, when I spoke her for a long time, I found this details.
Here, my theory gets divided into two……”
Akhil took a long pause and looked at everyone again. And everyone else were looking at Akhil with probing eyes.
“The first theory is fairly simple and provided some answers, the second theory is complex and little far-fetched, nonetheless that provides a lot of answers.
Madhavi, being a young and married woman, who was completely ignored by her husband, unfulfilled desire of her body and mind forced her to take a paramour or a lover. But I doubt it if in her mental state was it really possible, what I feel is someone who knew her mental state and knew that she goes alone, unprotected, in the forest took advantage of her mental vulnerability.
Thus Nalini came into her womb, when she gave birth to Nalini, Niranjan knew it wasn’t his child. When I saw Niranjan for the first time, I was surprised to see there is hardly any resemblance between Nalini and Niranjan, Abhimanyu also found some old photos of Madhavi, they both were tall, fair and with sharp features where Nalini is short, petty and dark.
Madhavi believed it’s the tree who is the father of Nalini, and she also kept telling her daughter so. Nalini grew up knowing she is the daughter a tree. Madhavi even took her time to time in the forest to show her that tree. Which created a very complex situation for Nalini, already she was an offspring of a mentally instable mother. As it is known, such abnormal situations make the offspring exposed to a very complicated mental state which might causes her acquiring such powers.
There is a paranormal activity which comes under the research of botanist or plant scientists. It’s called Plant perception, Plant perception or biocommunication is the paranormal idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP(Extrasensory perception), and that they experience pain and fear, that it can see, smell, talk or respond. The idea is not accepted, as plants lack a nervous system.
The main difference between human and plants is the central nervous system or to be precise, human or animal has something called brain but Plants don’t.
Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, one of the brilliant mind of India, known for his amazing contribution towards the invention of radio and also the man who discovered and knew more about lives of plants, always believed that irrespective of no nervous systems plants can behave like any other mortal living beings. He dedicated a good portion of his life researching on it. Recently it was in the news again. Which actually says, “Plants are just very slow animals.”
Abhiranjan Dev Burman, Niranjan’s Grandfather was also researching on similar ground, in lot of his thesis he mentioned the true evolution takes place in deep forests like how a lot of unknown species breed in the deepest part of the sea. He mentioned his travel in deep jungle of amazon and Congo and founding many unknown trees and plants the modern world is unaware of. Many carnivorous plants and one among them the legendary ‘man eating tree’ are carrying the evidence that plants have their weird ways to live in this world.
I am quite sure that a lot of those rare breeds of plants were sowed and grown in his garden turned forest. The tree in the forest which was thought of a banyan tree and Madhavi was married to, is not a banyan tree. When Abhimanyu found me and took me with him, there were few leaves of that tree were stuck on my body. I took them to the city and tested them the botany lab, also shared the details of the DNA and molecule structure of them with Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm from Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences in Berlin. He had a thorough investigation on them but yet determine the actual species of plants it belongs to.
We have also discussed about few very diverse and out of ordinary topics. Like reproduction similarities between plants and human, how plants communicate and it’s defense mechanism. And most out of ordinary, if at all it is possible to have offspring if a human mated a plant.
If we look at the cell structure of Plants and animals or human, it is not very different in fact there are many similarities.
What if an evolved plant or a tree capable of mating a human produced an offspring and that offspring is Nalini. As many of Nalini’s powers can be explained. Her controlling telepathic ability, it’s is proven that plants and trees use unknown telepathic channel to communicate each other.
I remember when I met Nalini for the first time, I was about to get up from the steps near the pond when I felt dizzy and my head spun, cause senses were blinded by a wild scent, same I experienced in the forest when I was rescued by Abhimanyu. I saw Nalini there as well. At first I thought it was all happening because of my weakness but as I consulted my physician he declared me almost recovered, I realized the reason is something else.
It is a part of plant’s defense mechanism where they produces chemical signaling which they produce time to time every occasion they are threatened or harmed. Like when you pluck a flower, tear a leaf or cut a branch of a tree, you can smell that strange odor which can be sometime toxic and harmful. When Nalini attacks her victims telepathically they also can sense the odor and that makes them dizzy and nauseous, they experience the splitting headache.”
Akhil paused again. He could only see 3 faces with dumb and response less expressions
“Let me spare you all the complicated scientific explanations.
In simple words, my first theory establish that Nalini is having powers and abilities that can be only explained as a freak accident of nature. Where she is influenced to be delusional by her own mother that she is a daughter of plant, of a tree.
And my other theory deduce that Nalini is indeed an offspring of a human and plant. Which awarded her this magical capabilities as mutant, a mutation between flora and fauna. Which only can be established if we make scientific tests and experiments on her.”
Akhil started to feel tired, he sat on the sofa leaned on.
“If you are finished with your cock and bull story, you can now leave.” Niranjan got up on his feet edgily and was walking off.
“There is more to it.” Akhil found his voice was strong and hard. Niranjan turned back and looked at him.
“Madhavi’d death was not a suicide. During my long conversation with Rashida I came to know the night she was allegedly committed suicide, there was a huge fight between you and her. Rashida heard you and her screaming at the top of your voice and suddenly everything became quiet. Thought she claimed she left the job after the suicide of Madhavi, truth is she was fired with two other servants after that night.
My analysis about Madhavi tells me she might be delusional but not suicidal. It my strong belief that you killed her that night, probably by strangulating her in a blind rage. I believe it was almost impossible to bear the fact that your wife is staying under the same roof with someone else’s child known as yours.
The cruel irony is, to prove that she committed suicide, her body was hanged from the branch of the same tree whom she considered as her husband. If my 2nd theory is true and if indeed the tree actually reciprocated to her love and fathered her child I could only imagine what it might went through seeing her lifeless body hanging from one its own branch.
After this incidents few of the servants whom Niranjan suspected might know the truth were fired, Rashida was one of them. And then one day Suhasini was found dead under the same tree, cause of death was speculated as choked to death. If I know I better I would say it was the revenge of the same mysterious tree.”
“How dare you? I surprised to see your audacity to accuse me of a murder in my own house. Enough is enough, GET OUT! Or my men will throw you out of my house.” Nirajan was shouting like a mad man, his eyes were red as rotten tomato, his whole body was shaking in anger.
“Father, you know what he is saying is the truth.” The calm voice of Nalini made Akhil, Abhimanyu and Niranjan turned their head towards her, in disbelief.
“Yes Dr. Akhil Mitra, my father is a tree, my mother gave birth to a half tree half human. I know this man whom the world know as my father killed my mother. My real father told me everything. I am speaking to my real father from the age 4. When my mother took me to him and told me everything. We speak through our minds, people can’t hear us.
And you know what? There is more. I sit in the sun for hours with my feel in the water, you know why? Cause I make my own diet, yes, what human know as photosynthesis. My real father taught me everything. Remember the day you saw me in the forest near the pond?
Niranjan Dev Burman killed my mother, I have no regret, no complains. The real villain is my foster grandmother, his mother who poised his mind. And she got what she deserved. I don’t expect humans to understand me. But I cannot control myself punishing them when they do wrong, call me names.
Yes Dr. Mitra. You have successfully drawn the conclusion.” Nalini was smiling as she was talking.
“Or you are dangerously delusional as your mother fed all these ideas into your head from the very childhood, making you believe that you are a child of tree and you can speak to it.” Akhil murmured. “We can’t be sure of anything till we run tests on you, and I fear that might make you a lab rat.”
“ENOUGH!!!” Niranjan shouted at the top of his lungs. “I am tired of this crap. Because of this I killed Madhavi. I know Nalini is not my child, not possible as me and Madhavi never had a physical relation. But I tried to forgive her, I tried to ask her who Nalini’s real father is. And she kept telling about this tree. ABSURD!! I couldn’t take her lies anymore, so I killed her and hanged her on her beloved tree.”
“And she was true.” Nalini answered in a calm voice again.
“I will finish this story for once and all today. I will uproot that tree and burn it to ashes.” Niranjan clenched his teeth, “Raghu, get your men, get the axes and saws. We will cut and throw that tree.” He shouted at his men.
“No you can’t do that, you won’t do that.” Nalini screamed hysterically.
Niranjan was no mood to listen to anyone, as his men were gathering the saw, axes and other tools, Nalini ran out of palace. Akhil and Abhimanyu followed her.
When Niranjan walked inside the forest with his men carrying his double barrel gun, he saw Nalini was standing there hugging the tree, Abhimanyu and Akhil were baffled.
“You have killed my mother. I can’t let you kill my father.” Nalini was crying her heart out.
“Take her away Abhimanyu, else I will shoot her first.” Niranjan was aiming his double barrel at her.
When still Nalini did not move, Niranjan ordered his men to pull her away. As they did so, others advanced to cut it down. Niranjan, in his helpless wrath, shot few rounds at the tree. When his men started to cut it down, with each strike of axe, the tree was shaking violently. It almost felt to Akhil as if the tree is scream in pain and agony. But they were mute spectators, Abhimanyu was holding and trying to control the violent and hysterical Nalini as she was crying her heart out.
Akhil heard Niranjan murmuring looking at his men cutting and uprooting the tree, “Now from months to come you will burn in my kitchen and stable.”
It took almost 3 hours for Niranjan’s men to cut and pull up the root of it was in so deep. It left a big hole in there. The villagers heard the sound and gathered nearby, but did not have the courage to ask what was going on.
Nalini fainted in the arms of Abhimanyu. Tired Niranjan looked at them, “Take her upstairs and be with her.” He told Abhimanyu in a tired tone. “Dr. Mitra, I would be honored if you join me in dinner and stay in here tonight.” Niranjan sounded like a complete different man now, sounded like a warm welcoming host. Akhil was as his wit’s end, he did not know how to respond after all these. He just nod his head.
The night was uneventful. Niranjan called his family doctor to check on Nalini. The doctor gave her a sedative injection to make her sleep, cautioned that she had gone through a tremendous mental trauma and she needs complete rest. Abhimanyu chose to be on her bed side. In the dinner Niranjan and Akhil sat together.
“I apologies for my behavior. But I should have cut down that poison tree way back. It was solely responsible for this ungodly situations.” Niranjan was smoking is pipe after the supper.
“Well, I am still not sure which of my theory is right so I don’t know.” Akhil spoke in a thoughtful voice.
“I don’t want to know. It’s true I never loved Madhavi and I killed her, but laws can’t do anything to me, I am the law here. But I raised Nalini as one of my own. I don’t want her to be turned a lab creature. Let her be. It would be better for us if you leave tomorrow. My men will see you off in the station. For tonight you can be my honorable guest.” Niranjan spoke in a very easy tone.
“Akhil went to bed with multiple thoughts in his head. He woke quite early in the morning when he heard so many voices making noise. He opened the door and found Abhimanyu looking restless.
“We can’t find Nalini, she was in her bedroom sleeping, I was in the couch and don’t know when I slept, when I woke up I saw the bed is empty.” Abhimanyu’s said in a chocked voice. Niranjan and his men were hurriedly moving in every direction.
Something struck Akhil instantly. He slowly walked out of the palace and stepped into the forest. He stopped near the big hole which was dug to pull up the root, the trunk of the huge tree was lying nearby. Akhil slowly passed by that, he started to walk towards the small pond where he saw Nalini here last time.
As he stopped by the pond, he looked around. Suddenly his eyes fell onto something. There was another tree, it looked so green, hardly 5 and ½ feet tall, it doesn’t look like any known trees. It’s two branches were looking like 2 hands held above, the leaves were like hairs and upper portion was looking like a very familiar face. The face of Nalini.
Akhil closed his eyes. Hoping that if it is truly Nalini, she might speak to his mind one more time. He kept his eyes closed for some time and then as he opened them, tears rolled down from them. Akhil murmured the famous line of the famous physicist, biologist and poet…
“They who behold the One, in all the changing manifoldness of the universe, unto them belongs the eternal truth, unto none else, unto none else.”
(This story and characters are fictitious. Certain nations, long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.)
Part – I
It’s already 8 pm, Dr, Ishaan Roy was shoving his laptop into the leather bag, ‘Gone are those days when one was busy shoving the important files into the briefcase before leaving the workplace.’ Dr. Roy chuckled.
At the same time his cell phone started to glow and making a hissing sound like an angry cobra, obviously, he kept it in silent mode, the only thing he wants is to get disturbed by cell phone rings when he is concentrating on his work.
He looked out through the glass wall, his assistant Nethra was busy collecting and organizing some papers. The call did not land up in her desk in that landline else she would have just shunted the caller saying Dr. Roy won’t be able to attend the call no matter how important it seems to the caller. And if he gets a call on his personal cell phone, it’s obvious that the caller might be known to him.
Ishaan left out a long sigh, as usual, he is late, his work hour is 9 to 6 but he ends up working 8 to 8, not that someone is waiting for him back there at his residence. Nonetheless, he picked up the call.
“Dr. Roy speaking.”, There was a heavy voice which greeted him from another side, “Good evening, Dr. Roy, how do you do?”
Ishaan was surprised, it’s none of the voices known to him. “Good evening, I’m fine. May I know who’s speaking?” He replied with half surprising half irritated tone.
“You don’t know me, but is it possible to have an appointment with you tonight?” The heavy voice spoke again. Ishaan felt angry in his bones, It’s 8 pm and someone wants to meet him at this hour, that too an unknown person who happened to get his personal cell phone number.
“It is not possible, by the way how you got this number?” Ishaan’s tone was bitter
“It is quite important Dr. Roy, at least, could you make time for an early morning tomorrow?” The voice is almost pleading now.
“No!!” Ishaan cut the call and switched off the phone.
Ishaan stormed out of his cabin and was walking towards the lift when he heard Nethra calling him.
“Dr. Roy! You have forgotten your car keys again.” Nethra was walking straight at him with a smile.
Ishaan felt a bit impressed and a bit embarrassed, he smiled nervously and took the keys.
Nethra is working with him for 1 and ½ year now and by this time he became a complete dependent of her. He remembered the day when she came to him with an odd request, Ishaan already left his prestigious government post and joined as an R&D head of a startup geological survey based company, he had a small team and he did not have any secretary or PA.
Nethra came to him with a request to work as an intern. As the company has no such policies to keep an intern she agreed to work as a PA of Ishaan as well as his intern. The thing that surprised him was then 25 years Nethra was her identity. She is the daughter of Brigadier V Suryanarayanan, a decorated soldier, and commander of the army. She had completed her masters in Seismology and was perusing her Ph.D.
“You know we can’t pay you that well, and why us? You could get a job in some university, that would have helped in your further study.” Astounded Ishaan asked her while looking at the tall, dusky girl with a natural flair of beauty and a heavenly smile.
“I want to work with you, I have heard so much about you. I would like to work for a while before I get back to my study and research. I don’t mind how much ever you pay, if you want I can work even without a salary.” Nethra Suryanarayanan spoke those words with firm determination.
Ishaan did not stretch the conversation after that, his workload was increasing and he really needed a helping hand. Nethra turned more than a helping hand, she almost became a nanny to him who keeps track of his appointments, personal belongings, bills to pay and diet.
“If you would have gone down without these, you had to come back all the to 10th floor again.” Nethra was smiling at him, she looks really sweet when she smiles.
“I know I’m late and because of me, you are late too. You really don’t have to wait till I leave, once your work is done, you can go home.” Ishaan was visibly embarrassed when spoke those words.
“It’s ok Dr. I hardly know anyone in this city, it’s not that someone waiting for me in my empty apartment.” Nethra left a sigh, she sometimes misses her dad and family who are far away in another place in this country.
“Well, ride safe and let me know once you reach.” Ishaan started walking back towards the lift.
“I might have to take a cab or auto, I gave my two wheeler in a service center.” Nethra too was walking the opposite way when she replied.
Ishaan stopped there and turned, “You don’t have your two-wheeler? I can a drop you. Come along.”
“Amm I still have to wrap up few things, might take another 10 minutes,” Nethra replied.
“All right, I am waiting down in the parking lot, wrap it up and meet me there.” Ishaan did not wait for the reply and got inside the lift.
Nethra waited till the lift door gets closed and then shook her head as she recalls things about him.
Dr. Ishaan Roy was one of the greatest geophysicists in the country if not in the world. A brilliant academic and sharp, intelligent mind rose steadily in the field of geology and geophysics. The young and bright young man soon became an integral part of Government Geological department and became the deputy vice president when he is mere 35 years old.
Then 5 years back, everything changed, a storm came into his life and left it wrecked. Ishaan with his wife Kavita and son Soham was in Cairo, Egypt for a casual vacation. While traveling in a caravan, there was a desert storm. A lot of tourists were injured but Kavita and Soham were missing, the local police couldn’t trace them as if they got vanished from the face of the earth.
Ishaan tried all possible ways, including getting help from the embassy but nothing worked. Heartbroken Ishaan was changed since then, he came back here, resigned from his job and for a year mourning for his loss. Then he joined this small company for a living, his parents are no more and he hardly has any relatives here.
When Nethra thought of studying geology she always had Ishaan as his icon and she was overwhelmed when she got the chance to work with him. The tall, fair, 40 years old, babyishly handsome Ishaan is like an absent-minded child who sometimes can’t even find his specs on the table, but when it comes to his work and knowledge, he is like a sharp surgical knife, neat and precise.
Ishaan was leaning onto his Honda city waiting for Nethra, the parking lot is almost empty and dark, his radium watch is showing it’s 8:25 pm
Suddenly he saw two men are approaching at him, they both are wearing black coats, there was hardly any sign of any human except the security guard who is still sitting near the main gate under the light.
“Dr. Roy?” one of them asked in a husky voice, “Yes!” Ishaan replied in an unsure tone.
“Let’s go.” All of a sudden he felt a pair of hands grabbed his neck and shoulder and then felt the touch of a cold metal on his back, the gun was pressed against him by one of them.
“What.. is going…on?” Ishaan tried to resist but then the man who was grabbing his shoulder whispered, “One more word or scream and you’re dead. You should have taken the appointment.”
As Nethra walked into the parking lot, she was temporarily blinded by two big headlights lit up right in front of her and then a black van hush passed her in full speed.
Ishaan was inside the van sandwiched between two goons who just abducted him, when the van was started to move he saw Nethra through the windscreen, she was walking right towards the van. Ishaan tried to scream and warn Nethra but he only managed a muffled cry. When he saw the van hurried past her, he left a sigh of relief.
There are lots of question revolving in his head, who are these people, clearly, they are sent by that unknown caller, what they want from him. They did not blindfold him or not holding the gun against him anymore but they are faces are stone clad, sign of no emotions at all. Ishaan sighed again, who knows what is waiting for him?
They traveled for almost half an hour, the van stopped at last, the 1st goon jumped out of the van and roughly pulled Ishaan out of it, the 2nd one followed. They are standing right in front of a tall building, Ishaan vaguely recognize the place, it’s one of the rich and posh residential area of the city. Ishaan was immediately dragged towards the entrance then to the lift, there was the security guard who saw them did not react to the situation at all, as if it happens regularly and he witness so all the time.
The lift stopped at 8th floor, as usual Ishaan was dragged out of the lift and then they press the doorbell of the door 803. The door opened immediately, a beautiful brunette in her black apron answered the door, she saw them, didn’t utter a word and make ways form them. In a glance she looked familiar to Ishaan but he couldn’t recollect where he saw her.
As he was dragged and pushed to another room he saw a man sitting on the sofa, Ishaan could see him partially as his face was turned 90 degrees towards the TV.
“Hello Senor Dr. Roy, we meet again.” The man looked staring at Ishaan now while speaking those words in heavy Latin accent. Ishaan knows him pretty well. It’s Juan Carvalho!!
The 5 feet 3 inches half bald man, almost same in length and breath, flat nose and thick dark lips, was looking straight at Ishaan with his dark cold blooded murderous eyes and grinning constantly with those dirty rotten teeth. Juan Carvalho! The Columbian drug lord and one of the most wanted man in his nation and by Interpol.
“What happened Dr. You look surprised, Don’t tell me you aren’t happy seeing me again.” Again Carvalho spoke with his Latina accent.
“What you want?” Ishaan answered.
“Ahh, see Dr. that’s what I like about you, you never waste any time and get to the point right away. I don’t want much from you, I am just here to invite you, to an interesting journey.”
“But, you didn’t call me, I could have recognized that voice or that accent.” Ishaan suddenly remembered.
“Ohh, I have many men at my disposal senor Dr. Do not be worried. Now, now, all you have to do is apply for a long leave and start the journey with us, we are flying tomorrow. I guess it won’t give you much time to pack your things. Unfortunately, we are on short notice.” Carvalho was speaking as if he is inviting an old friend for a sudden surprise tour.
“Carvalho, do you really think I will come with you? Just like that?” Ishaan’s temper was rising.
For a moment Carvalho’s eyes sparked with fury, but then again he spoke in his sweet tone, “Dr. Roy, you are very well aware of what I can do, I know you don’t care about your life, but think about your relatives who are scattered around this country, think about your friends, think about your cute little assistant Nethra, you know I can hurt them, I can hurt them bad. Do you want me to be that cruel?”
Carvalho’s words jolted him, yes he knows what this devil is capable of. This is not his first encounter with Juan Carvalho El Diablo. He held his breath and muttered under it, “Where do you want me to come with you, to el inferno (The hell)?”
“Ahh senor Dr. you started to ask the right question, of course not to inferno but el Cielo, to the heaven. Now my men will drop you back at your apartment and you will collect your clothes and belongings for a month vacation. I want you to call your office and ask for a month leave for grave reason, maybe cause your uncle is in deathbed or something else, see I don’t want any loose end, I don’t want anybody gets alarmed of your sudden disappearance, so make up a good story. Buenas noches Dr. Roy, I will see you tomorrow.”
As Carvalho bid goodnight to Ishaan in Spanish, he was again held and dragged out by those two goons, the lady who opened the door was watching them, Ishaan remembered now, its Carvalho’s lover and right-hand women Ana Maria.
Ishaan was almost thrown out of the van as they reached near his residence, one more time one of the abductors warned him what might happen if he goes to any authority or police.
He, at last, reached to his flat, took a long cold shower and throw himself on the bed, though there was no sleep in his eyes.
Nethra fell on the ground as the black van speeding past her, she was angry and terrified at the same time, “How could be someone be so irresponsible while driving”, she thought.
She waited near Ishaan’s Honda city while unsuccessfully trying to call his mobile. The only answer she got was the mobile number is switched off and try again later. When it became 10pm she started to get really worried, she asked the security guard but he claimed he did not see anything.
While being worried sick she tried to contact the police, they told her the missing person FIR can only be registered if a person is missing for more than 24 hours, she also mentioned about the black van but as she did not notice the number plate even that was a dead end.
Tired, exhausted and frightened Nethra reached her apartment around 12 am, the OC of the police station was kind enough to provide her a police jeep to drop her at her place. While lying down in her bed she was imagining all kinds of gory incidents might have happened with Ishaan, Ishaan sitting in his place, was trying to find a way out of all these.
Ishaan knew for sure if he goes to police or any other authority they will promise to help him in all possible way, but knowing Cravalho, he won’t stop at that. “No, I can’t let him hurt any of my near or dear ones, or for that matter innocent Nethra.” He was sure there is no other way but accept Carvalho’s term. “What’s the worst might happen, I might die? What do I have to live for after I lost my family?” Ishaan, made his decision, it’s a one-way journey.
Early morning at 8 am Ishaan a dropped a mail to the director of his company that he is travelling out of station to deal with an urgent personal matter. He started packing from last night, Carvalho’s men will be there at his doorsteps any time.
Ishaan recollects his brief encounter with Carvalho in Cairo in those odd circumstances, his couldn’t but feel angry and helpless at the same time. With clenching fists and grinding teeth he promised himself he will give Carvalho a fitting answer when time comes.
Nethra couldn’t sleep at all in the night, once she is up in the morning she was thinking what she can do to find Ishaan. After a while, she decided to go to Ishaan’s residence and check there. Once she reached to his apartment to her surprise she saw Ishaan was getting into a car with two burly men with him.
“His car is still there in the parking lot and here he is traveling with two suspicious looking men?” She decided to follow the car and told her cab driver to do so.
After 45 minutes the car Ishaan was travelling in stopped in in front of the airport, Nethra’s cab reached there at the same time. She saw Ishaan pulling out his bags and started to walk towards the gate, a short, bald and fat man wearing a suit and a hat was waiting near the gate, she couldn’t resist anymore, she wanted to know what’s going on.
“Dr. Roy, where are you going?” Yelling those words Nethra almost ran towards him. Ishaan turned back and shocked to see Nethra.
“Nethra, what the hell you are doing here?” Ishaan barely speaks those words. “What’s going on Dr. Roy, I am looking for you since last night after you are vanished from the parking lot.” Nethra was almost in her tears, her voice was filled with anger and complains.
“Ahh, I see your sweet little assistant is here to pay us a visit.” Juan Carvalho was standing next to them with his devilish smile in his lips.
“Carvalho, keep her out of all these, she need not be dragged into this mess.” Ishaan protested, but he knew…
“Come on Senor Dr. you know I can’t let her go and alarm the authorities. Unfortunately, she gotta come with us now.” Ana Maria suddenly appeared right behind Nethra silently, before she knew, her hand and shoulder is grabbed.
Startled Ishaan and clueless Nethra were pushed towards the gates, Nethra looked at the airport security but then she heard Ana Maria’s hissing voice, “Anything stupid you do and you and your boss will die right here.”
Carvalho was busy showing some documents at the gate and then they are on their way towards the departure lounge. In few minutes they all were standing in front of a chartered airplane, a 16 seater private jet. Carvalho was smiling ear to ear, Ishaan was quiet and Nethra was wondering what on earth is going on!
“My prized possession senor Dr. Isn’t she marvelous?” Pointing at his Bombardier Challenger 850 Jet. “This bird of mine can fly more than a speed of 800km/h senorita.” Carvalho was speaking with his heavy Spanish accent to Nethra now hoping that might impress her. Nethra looked at Ishaan, he was looking so helpless.
They all got into the private jet and the journey towards an unknown destination started.
“Where are we heading?” Ishaan asked Carvalho. The Jet is really well decorated inside. Beautiful air hostesses are serving drinks and food, Ishaan and Nethra did not touch them.
“Patience Dr. It’s a virtue,” Carvalho replied while drinking his champagne and munching the pork ribs.
Nethra who kept quiet all these while leaned on Ishaan shoulder, “Will you tell me, Dr. Roy, what on devil’s name is going on?”
Though Nethra whisper those words to Ishaan, Carvalho heard, “Oh senorita, mine and Dr.’s history is pretty old. Someday Dr. Roy might tell you the story. Now enjoy the flight and have some food. We are for a long long journey.”
Ishaan woke up as the plane came to a halt on landing gear with a heavy jerk. Nethra was fast asleep keeping her head on Ishaan’s shoulder. Instantly the door opened and two hefty looking men walked in, “Monsieur Carvalho, the packages are ready.” One of them spoke in a heavy French accent. In reply Carvalho only smiled a little and walked out of the plane with them, as their footsteps faded, Nethra opened her eyes and whispered in Ishaan’s ear, “Quick, the bag.” indicating a black leather bag resting near Ana Maria ‘right hand, she was in a deep sleep.
Puzzled Ishaan opened his mouth to ask something but Nethra did not gave him a chance, she moved in a flash and grabbed the bag, when she was pushed into the plane Ana Maria snatched her mobile and kept in that bag. As she opened it to her disappointed she found the phone was dismantled and the sim card was probably thrown away. But there’s another phone, Ana Maria’s, but it is locked with a code.
Ishaan heard few footsteps and then the voices were getting louder around the door, he ran towards it hoping that might cover Nethra. Then he saw the familiar face of Carvalho and his assistants and two new faces.
Carvalho looked at Ishaan who was standing almost near the plane door, at first he was surprised and then he got a cruel smile on his lips, “Well well Dr. Roy, are you trying to escape? Ha ha, don’t worry if you want you can try.” He was laughing loudly while finished his words.
“Look I have got you company, your kind of people”, he pointed at the other two strangers, one of them looked like he is in his 60’s, tall and pale looking, he was looking visibly worried and irritated, but his eyes were showing his helplessness, the other one almost the same age of Ishaan, slightly bald and plump, he was looking happy.
“Dr. Antoine Valentin and Dr. Hans Schmidt.” Carvalho pointed out the old man and then the plump one.
Ishaan immediately remembered Dr. Valentin, the renowned French botanist, but what is he doing in this plane. “Pourquoi suis-je ici (Why am I here)?” Asked Dr. Valentine whose shoulder was grabbed by one of Carvalho’s men.
“All in good time gentlemen, now we must fly out of here. We are falling behind our schedule.” Carvalho immediately snubbed him down.
As all of them sat down together and the plane was on its way to another destination, Ishaan was still looking at Dr. Valentin with wide eyes and disbelief, here’s the man who was nominated for Nobel Prize for his work various rare plants, even he is a prisoner of Carvalho now.
“Bonjour Dr. Valentin, how are you? This is Ishaan Roy, remember we met in a summit in New Delhi.?” Ishaan tried to be friendly.
“Je suis d’être retenu contre ma volonté . Je ne veux pas parler (I’m being held against my will. I do not want to talk), Dr. Valentine answered with a grim face and turned towards the window.
“Hallo, wie geht’s dir (Hello, how are you doing)” The other plump and half bald guy extended his hand for a handshake. “My name is Hans Schmidt, Dr. Hans Schmidt, I have few degrees in chemical research, just a small chemist. And I am not been held against my wish.” Dr. Schmidt was grinning ear to ear.
“Then why are you on this plane?” Surprised Ishaan asked.
“Oh, Herr Carvalho offered me money, a lot of money to do this work.” Schmidt was still grinning.
“What is that work?” Ishaan’s curiosity was increasing. “I do not know yet.” He replied.
Ishaan sighed and leaned back onto the seat near to Nethra, “At least could you tell me where we landed a while ago?”
“Algiers, capital of Algeria.” Dr. Hans Schmidt replied with a cheerful tone.
When the plane landed to its next destination its 3am in the morning, the outside world was looking dark and calm.
“Welcome to San Juan my friends, we shall halt for few hours here and then will fly to our final destination,” Carvalho announced. Then they were taken into a two stored building near the airport.
There were two more guests waiting in that building, Dr. Aiden O’Connor, the Irish oceanographer, in his fifties, a large and powerful man in chains, his right black eye is carrying the evidence that he is also forced to participate in this voyage. And there was also beautiful Dr. Nina Petrov, she is in true sense a doctor, a Russian physician in her early thirties. For some strange reason she immediately took fancy of Ishaan, which Nethra did not like a bit.
After a small supper, everyone was gathered in the hall where Carvalho was smoking is favorite Havana cigars. Ana Maria was standing on his left and the other goons were scattered around keeping a careful eye on the prisoners.
“Ladies and gentleman, I greet you all, I guess you were already acquainted with each other, if not you’ll have plenty of time to do so. Now I just want to warn you about one thing, few of you are here by their own will and few are not. But if any of you try to create trouble or try to contact the outer world, remember such things are only punishable by death.” Ana Maria spoke in her thick Spanish accent, but she sounded she meant business. Carvalho was just sitting there smoking his cigar and smiling impishly.
“A geophysicist, a chemist, a botanist, an oceanographer and a physician. It seems like an odd team. Where are we going Mr. Carvalho? After a long gap Nethra spoke those words in a very bitter tone.
“We are going to an island.” Juan Carvalho grinned ear to ear.
Brigadier Suryanarayanan is a very worried man now. He received a text from an unknown number. His daughter is missing for more than 36 hours, local police confirmed she is not in her apartment and her office confirmed she did not turn up for work as her boss Ishaan is also not there. Both of their cell phones are switched off.
He read the text from his mobile one more time. ‘We are in grave danger, do not try to call or contact this number, but trace it if you can. – Nethra’
The private jet of Carvalho started next morning around 6 am and reached the destination within an hour. ‘It can’t be more than 500 to 600 km from San Juan’, Ishaan thought.
As the door of the airplane opened the stairs automatically rose. It was Carvalho and Ana Maria first who climbed down followed by his men and then the bunch who had no clue where they are or what is waiting for them.
“Any idea where we are?”, Dr. Aiden O’Connor who stood right behind Ishaan whispered. “I am not sure, but we are in one of those many islands in an around Puerto Rico that I am sure of, shouldn’t be very far from the main island,” Ishaan muttered.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the island, this piece of land is my very own and it’s not under any jurisdiction of any country. All of you must be wondering why we all are here, well I have bought this island for spending my vacation and fishing with my guests, but lately I am having a lot of issues. Some are even inexpiable, well at-least by me. So I gathered you all, the best minds of the world to help me out. Don’t worry, once you get me the answers and solve the issues, each one of you would be paid handsomely and you people will go home rich and happy men.” Carvalho was announcing enthusiastically while chewing his cigar.
“Je ne veux pas de votre argent . Je veux juste rentrer à la maison (I do not want your money. I just want to go home)” Dr. Antoine Valentin spoke in a bitter tone.
“Or you will reach home very dead, the choice is yours.” Carvalho finished while munching his last few words.
They all were marched or pushed towards the tents were made, at least 10 tents were made and they were quite big and specious. It was decided that Dr Hans Schmidt and Dr. Antoine Valentin will be staying in one tent and Ishaan and Dr. Aiden O’Connor will be staying in another tent. Nethra and Dr. Nina Petrov will be each other’s tent mats.
As they went inside, Ishaan found the tent is well equipped with all basic amenities, “Hi Dr. Roy, I am Aiden.” The 6 feet 4-inch gentle giant shook Ishaan’s hand, Ishaan felt like his right hand will tear off from his shoulder, “Ishaan Roy, geophysicist.” He replied back somehow.
“You are also here against your will I presume?” Dr. O’Connor asked eagerly. “Yes, of course I am.” Ishaan replied while massaging his shoulder. “Don’t worry, all we need to find how many men they got, if it’s less than 10 we have a good chance, I alone can take on 4 guys, and if you people chip in we can easily overpower them.” Aiden was speaking excitedly while shaking his fists. “I am also a heavy weight champion in amateur category.”
“Well, I am sure they have more men in here.’ Ishaan replied frightenedly. “Do they?” Dr. O’Connor asked with a disappointed voice.
After lunch the whole team were started towards the south as instructed by Carvalho. Few of his men were leading the way, the scientists were in between while Carvalho and Ana Maria were right behind them. The Island is covered by jungle and tropical trees, the paths are often covered by small and big bushes, the surface wasn’t smooth at all, rather uneven and graveled.
As they were slowly climbing up, Dr. Valentin was stopping every now and then and checking the trees, plants, and flowers, he was looking surprised and muttering something under his breath.
Nethra and Dr. Valentin kept falling behind, Nethra looked visibly tired. Ishaan saw it and asked Carvalho to have a short break, which Carvalho accepted gleefully.
Everyone has poured coffee from the thermos flasks which were carried by the men. Nethra who was sitting next to Dr. Valentin was curious, “You seems to be surprised every time you were checking the plants and floras.” Nethra asked.
“There are lot many plants and flowers here I am not able torecognizee, a good number of them.” Dr. Valentin replied with his broken English with French accent. “although I can’t claim I know everything about plants, but sure there are something which is making me uncomfortable.”
Nethra looked at Ishaan who was sitting on a big stone, she saw Dr, Nina Petrov slowly walked to him.
“So Mr. Geophysicist, tell me what’s going on.” She sounded fluent in English but the Russian accent was prominent.
“I am still figuring it out. This whole island looks like a plateau, a tableland. The island is covered with trees and forests but I have hardly seen any animal or even birds, the soil of this island is looking normal, but I can only be certain if I could run some tests.” Ishaan replied unmindfully.
“Dr. Roy, you always think about work?” she smiled.
“Err.. Dr. Petrov…” Ishaan was immediately cut off, “It’s just Nina, and I hope I can call you Ishaan.” The blonde, tall and fair Russian smiled again, Ishaan noticed she got cute dimples.
“I need to do a routine check-up for every one of your health, once we stop I guess I can start. And I shall have your check-up at the last, after everyone”. Nina spoke.
“Why after everyone?” Ishaan asked the question foolishly
“Because you need special attention.” This time Nina had a devilish smile on her face.
As they commenced and finished their journey at last. They reached near a big lake, surrounded by the forest as far as anyone can see.
“My friends, we have reached to one of our destination points, I would like us to tent down here for few days.” Carvalho announced.
Dr. Hans Schmidt slowly walked towards the lake and knelled down, Dr. O’Connor also walked a bit far along the lake shore. The water was blue and looking clean, as Dr. O’Connor bent down and took some water in his palms, immediately Dr. Schmidt yelled at him, “Stop. Don’t drink that water.”
Aiden looked clueless first then he roared back, “Why?”, “Mr Irish Oceanographer, don’t you see there’s no fish in sight? The water is transparent enough to see through, did you see any sigh of life? Hold on and quench your thirst from the water bottle, till I check it.” Hans replied with a mocking tone. “I thought you should know plenty about Sea and water life.”
Aiden was surprised at first and then angrily threw his hands, “I was not about to drink that water anyway, I was just checking it.” Hans still had that sarcastic smile on hanging from his lips.
“we will make our tents here for days, and gentlemen you people have plenty of time to run your tests. There are many more things going on in my island and I want to know everything about them.” Carvalho barked from behind.
Meanwhile Nethra came and stood next to Ishaan, “What that Russian doctor was telling you anyway.” Her voice was heavy.
“Amm nothing, she just wants to run some medical check-ups on us.” Ishaan replied absentmindedly.
“Be careful with that woman, I don’t trust her.” Nethra had a caution in her voice.
“Why, she looks fine to me.” Ishaan protested feebly.
“Every tall and fair blonde looks fine to you men anyway.” Nethra hissed, “They are always nice and good compare to darkish unattractive women.” The anger and frustration was unmissable in her voice.
The sun was setting in the west, the light of dusk was falling onto the tall, slender and dusky figure of Nethra who was looking straight ahead. She spoke again, “Nina Petrov looks too comfortable here, even Carvalho doesn’t bother her much and she looks quite authoritative with Carvalho’s men.” Then she looked at Ishaan, “And looked like she took a fancy to you.” Nethra walked away speaking those words furiously.
Ishaan shook his head and mumbled, “Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya”
Brigadier Suryanarayanan was worried and confused what to be done next. The army intelligence was traced the phone number somewhere near north Atlantic Ocean, it was transmitting the signal from the San Juan airport but after that the signal is lost.
It’s been more than 3 days his daughter is missing, he decided to discuss this matter with his superiors. As he was thinking so he heard one of his junior commander walking at him, “Sir, there is a call from Defence secretary, he is waiting.”
“I was about to call him Sir, my daughter…” Suryanarayanan was cut in the middle before he could finish.
“Listen Brigadier, we are aware of the situation, we are anticipating she is either abducted or travelled with Dr. Roy willingly. Now it’s a situation, not her but we are not so sure about Dr. Roy’s intention. So it’s a hush hush matter, I am already in a meeting with Vice Admiral of Navy. But I want you not to disclose the matter yet, is that understood? We are doing everything to get your daughter back.”
In reply Suryanarayanan could only nod his head and say yes. He was surprised to hear even Defence secretary is aware of it.
Lui Van Dijk, the air force pilot of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) woke up from his sound sleep as his mate Aaron Richard jerk his shoulder off. It’s an order from the high command and they have leave now. Lui checked his watch, it’s 2 AM in the morning, after an hour two F-16 combat airplane of NATO flown for an undisclosed location somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean.
INS Sindhuyatra was on its way, Captain Amrinder Singh got the orders from the highest possible level, and they are traveling across the Indian ocean to North Atlantic Ocean, in his 11 years of service in Navy, he never crossed the international sea borders. He is not even sure if it’s under the international Naval treaty. But his superiors told him they have necessary permissions.
Iqbal khan, the MARCOS commando leader was thinking the same, he and his 9 team mates are instructed to sail in this ship, their orders are so vague, the further orders will only be issued once they reach the destination, even which is where also not clear. He sighed, in his long career of Marine commando service he learned many things but one, how to question the authority.
In a bleak and silent night, the soviet made submarine was piercing through the water of Indian ocean 200 feet below, to its unrevealed destination. The body of the submarine reads, “Bhāratīya Nau Senā, Shaṃ No Varunaḥ (Indian Navy, May the Lord of the Water be auspicious unto us)
Dr. Hans Schmidt already proceeded with his equipment to test the water of the lake While Dr. Aiden O’Connor was looking at him curiously. Ishaan was sitting just a few steps away from him, he heard him muttering “These Germans!”
“Dr. Roy, here’s the lunch, have something, I am sure you’re hungry.” Ishaan looked up blankly and saw Dr. Nina Petrov is smiling at him holding a paper box.
“Thanks.” Ishaan took the box from her hand, Nina opened her lunch box as well and sat near him. A meatloaf sandwich and some boiled veggies were there, Ishaan suddenly started missing his usual lunch of rice, daal and fish curry.
“So Ishaan, I hope I can call you that, are you married?” Nina asked with dancing eyebrows.
“I was once; I don’t know if she’s even alive today.” Ishaan answered with a sigh.
“Terrible, but we all have lost our loved one once a while, you never fell in love again?” Nina asked with a heavy voice.
Ishaan shook his head, “No girlfriend?” Nina asked again.
“Nope, he is single and ready to be taken.” The answer came from a little distance, Nethra was standing there with a lunch box in her hand. “I see you already finished your lunch, how stupid of me to bring this for you.” Nethra’s target was Ishaan this time, her voice sounded like a wounded tigress.
Frightened Ishaan tried to defend himself as he was well aware of her temper “I mean, amm..err..”
“Tout est si étrange ici (Everything is so strange here)” As Dr. Antoine Valentin spoke all three of them looked at him, he was still examining a leaf from a plant.
“If anyone liked to accompany me down there, I saw unnamed, unidentified flowers.” Dr. Valentin looked hopefully at them.
“Sure Dr, Valentin, I will accompany you with pleasure. Anyway few people need space to talk about their private lives.” Nethra followed Dr. Valentin overenthusiastically
As they left within no time Carvalho appeared out of nowhere, “Ah Senor Dr. Roy, my I borrow you for sometimes from this beautiful Russian?” Carvalho had his trademark devilish smile on his face.
Ishaan almost immediately walked away from Nina and stood face to face of Carvalho, “I too need to speak with you, it’s been quite some time you’re beating around the bush, I want to know why Are are here?”
Before Carvalho can open his mouth they heard Hans speaking in a loud voice, “This lake is quite a unique one, but I need to observe it from the other bank as well, probably if I could just have a swim and dive, I hope you got all the equipment for diving.”
“Yes we do, my men will give them to you.” Carvalho answered in a same loud voice.
“So Irish scholar, would you like to join me for this expedition? Being an oceanographer I hope you hope some experience in deep sea diving, this is just a lake though. But if you are scared then leave it.” Hans Schmidt’s sarcastic comments were again targeted to Aiden.
“Of course I will, maybe I can teach you a thing or two.” Dr. O’Connor roared, and started to walk.
“I also have scuba diving as my hobby, could I tag along?” Nina Petrov was jubilant like a child.
“Sure thing, we can use the help of a doctor.” Hans replied immediately.
As those three started to walk towards the other side of the lake, Carvalho signed his two men to follow them.
“Come to my tent Dr. Roy, this is time when you and I have some real conversation.” Carvalho invited Ishaan to his tent.
Ishaan and Carvalho sat against each other, they were looking eye to eye at each other.
“Carvalho, no more games. Why are we here.” Ishaan questioned fiercely.
Carvalho lit one of his Cuban cigar and left a mouthful of smoke in the air, “Well, let me give you some facts and history and then you do what you do best.” Carvalho started.
“This island of mine wasn’t mine two years back; it was a property of Ana Maria’s grandfather. That old man was one cranky old b*****d. It was his property since 1950’s, I am not sure why he never tried to sell it as he spent his last days in poverty. As he died, being the closest kin Ana Maria became the owner of this land and thus became mine.
When the old man died, in his last minute he told Ana Maria not to sell this island and this will change her fortune if she could find the treasure in here. Well she had clue what he was talking about and those were his last words.
This island has a reputation, a lot of people called this a Isla Maldita (cursed island), fishermen are afraid of coming near this island as they consider this place is owned by devil.
I am certain that theirs is something valuable here in this place, maybe a gold or silver mine, maybe oil, maybe some rare medical herbs or maybe a real time treasure buried here somewhere. That’s why I god Dr. Valentin to check the growth of the plants, Dr Schmidt to check the chemical compounds here, Dr. O’Connor to research on the ocean water around it and you my friend, will tell me if there’s something really valuable in here. I chose you people as I knew you are the best in your fields.”
Carvalho spoke in one breath and then paused. Then spoke again,
“I had another expedition team landed 6 months back, the team ventured towards a small mountain situated on the other side of this island. After few days they all were found dead except one, they had bite marks on their neck and the blood was drained out of their body. The one who found alive died after few hours of rescue, even he had the bite marks but he died cause of high fever and his whole body was paralysed.
Even the fishermen nearby have given details about such encounters, during the night so many vessels and boats were attacked by human like figure, as per them it came flying and attacked few of them, bit their neck and drank blood. None of them who got bitten by that creature stayed alive more than two days.”
Carvalho stopped there and smiled.
“Are you telling me that Vampires are living here in this island?” Ishaan asked in a calm voice, “Cause if you are suggesting so, let me tell you, I don’t believe in them.”
“Don’t you?” Carvalho had that cruel smile back on his lips, “Did I tell you Ana Maria is actually Romanian, and her family is hailed from Transylvania, you know a place so famous for ‘Count Dracula.’Ana Maria’s grandfather often bragged about his noble blood, said he was from an ancient family of rulers.”
Before Carvalho finish his sentence there were some loud voice could he heard from outside. Both Carvalho and Ishaan came out of the tent as they Hans, Aiden and Nina were carrying one of Carvalho’s men. He was bleeding profoundly.
When Ishaan looked closely his eyes were bulged with shock and horror, the guy had deep wounds near his shoulder and neck, and which clearly looked like a huge bite mark of sharp canine teeth.
After few hours of deadly struggle, the man died of blood loss and paralysis, his whole body grew stiff. Dr. Nina Petrov tried her best to save him but couldn’t. During his last breath he was asking for water, as Ana Maria got the water and walked in the guy looked at Ana Maria as if he saw a ghost. Nethra still remember the scream of death and how the body of that poor man was twisted and twitched after seeing Ana Maria. That was the end of that poor soul.
“Did you see him, his eyes were popped out and he screamed as if he saw a ghost, why was he so afraid of Ana Maria.” Nethra who just walked inside Ishaan’s tent saw him sitting with a leather bag.
“Was Ana with you and Dr. Valentin?” Ishaan asked. “No, I thought she always stay close to Carvalho.” Nethra answered.
“Well, she was not, in fact I didn’t see her after lunch. And I spend a good amount of time with Carvalho, she wasn’t around.” Ishaan replied.
“What are you trying to say?” Nethra asked horridly.
“Nina, Aiden and Hans got some samples of soils and rocks from the other side of the lake.” Ishaan spoke in a very worried tone and then he took a stone and kept on the table. “Do you know Nethra what kind of rock this is?”
“I don’t see a diamond.” Nethra tried to sound easy and cheerful.
“No it is not a diamond. But this one is more valuable than a diamond in today’s world.” Ishaan finished his sentence absentmindedly.
Iqbal was restless, it’s been 24 hours but still there is no proper information about the operation he is leading. His teammates are constantly asking him how and when they need to prepare as they need some insights.
At last Iqbal couldn’t resist and ended up asking Captain Amrinder Singh, “Sir, where are we heading to, what kind of operation is this? Is it a search and rescue, covert operation or just monitoring and report? I need to get my team ready as per the situation.”
“I don’t have any clue Iqbal, just like you I am at sea.” Amrinder enjoyed the pun he intended to and smiled, “My instructions are to sail towards North Atlantic as per the latitude longitude given, anchor in the shallow water and wait for the next orders.”
“Have you ever been into such kind of operations sir? Where you don’t have any clear instructions?” Dissatisfied Iqbal asked
“As a matter of fact, No!” Amrinder answered in a worried and heavy tone.
The vice chairman of the NATO Military Committee Louis Peeters was not an happy man, one of his investigating officer who flown to an NATO aircraft carrier which is anchored near an inhabited island just reported.
Few days back the guards of the aircraft carrier were attacked by a bat like creature which looked like a full grown man, one of the guard died on the spot and two of them are in deathbed fighting to survive. There’s also a rumour that the island is cursed and Vampires were sighted by local fishermen.
Louis was scratching his head; could this be just rumour or there is a deeper conspiracy behind all these. Especially attacking an Aircraft Carrier located in such important location…
Dr. Hans Schmidt was busy examining few of the rocks from his bag, he was completely engrossed into the little tests he was performing.
“Am I interrupting?” Ishaan cleared his throat and asked.
“Oh not at all Dr. Roy, how you have been today?” This was the next day morning after the horrible death of that poor man.
“Dr Schmidt, so in all these fiascos I didn’t get enough time to ask you, so what happened when you reached the other side of the lake? Did you find something? What exactly happened?” Ishaan shot at him
“Well nothing much, we have collected the samples of the rocks around it and the water. It looked fine from outside but I was unable to find any trace of life in it. Not even any kind of algae or plankton. Which is kind of odd.” Schmidt spoke absentmindedly.
“Is there any theory you have about it? Confirmed of unconfirmed?” Ishaan asked eagerly.
“It could be for various reasons. Mainly chemical toxic compound waste in the water, but the water looks clean to me, also if there’s any shortage of oxygen in the water. I can’t say for sure till I ran some more test.” Hans looked worried.
“What did Aiden say? Does he have a theory?” Ishaan was restless.
Hans Schmidt had a crooked smile this time, “Our Irish boy is clueless, he calls him oceanographer but knows little about the water. He looks more like a weight lifter than a scientist. I wonder how I never heard his name, if he had some significant contributions in his field. Heaven knows from where Carvalho dug him out. On the other hand Nina was quite a handful. She has good knowledge about the wild and water lives.”
“Of course you will like her, she’s the only blonde in our team.” Ishaan replied grimly and walked out of the tent.
Louis Peeters was at sea as he is informed the third man also died battling with his life. The symptoms are grave and if because of this an epidemic starts in the carrier the situation will go out of hands. Hence he refrained from sending the dead bodies for post mortem back to base and instead ordered to bury them in the sea.
As his orders were carried out, he got a call from his cell phone, “Is it done?” A heavy voice asked.
“It is.” Now I’m on the way back to you.” Louis replied. “You better hurry.” The voice answered and cut the call.
Amrinder Singh has reached to the point he was ordered to wait. The submarine is resting in the shallow water, completely submerged. His orders are not to move an inch before the further instructions.
Iqbal looked at his commandos, they are looking bored and restless. He left a long sigh, as a MARCOS commando patience is also a virtue needs to cultivate. “Hope we will see some actions soon” He tried to cheer up his men.
“We are near a ship, away from few nautical miles, if I read the signs and information fed by navigation, I doubt it’s an aircraft carrier.” Amrinder spoke in his husky voice.
Ishaan came out of Hans Schmidt’s tent and started to walk when he saw the other man of Carvalho, he was also with Nina and Hans during the attack on the other guys. He was leaning on a tree and smoking.
“Hi there.” Ishaan greeted. “I am Dr. Roy; I don’t know your name yet.” Ishaan extended his hand to him.
“Karim Salah.” He replied. “Are you Algerian?” Ishaan couldn’t help hearing his voice.
“Na’am(Yes)”, he shook his head.
“If you don’t mind, may I ask you what happened last night. I mean your mate died, looks like something bit him.”
Karim smiled sadly, “Dr. Roy, if I am not wrong, we all will be a victim of this creature soon, It’s the island of the devil and the devil is with us.”
“What do you mean?” Ishaan was jolted visibly. Karim did not say anything and pointed him with his eyes, Carvalho and Ana Maria were discussing something standing at a visible distance.
“Carvalho?” Ishaan spoke. Karim shook his head negatively. “He is bad alright, but not the devil, She is the one, the Iblis. I guess Carvalho never told you, he had another expedition team 6 months back. He left them and his men to run their research for a week. When Carvalho came back, all of them were dead, all the blood from the dead bodies were drained.” Karim was shaking his head continuously.
“Why did you accept to do this if you are aware of the danger?” Ishaan was shocked now.
“I have 3 kids and my wife at home, I have to feed them. Do you have any idea how difficult the life is in North Africa? Even the places of opportunities in Europe are getting dried because of the economic meltdown. Life is hard Syd Dr. Roy.” Karim replied indifferently.
“And why you think of Ana Maria as Iblis?” Ishaan was still not out of his shock.
“Didn’t you see the guy screamed to his death after seeing her? The scientists were a little far away from us. She appeared from nowhere after the attack” Karim replied angrily.
“Could you describe the creature?” Ishaan asked carefully.
“It looked like a bat, but as big as a human, had a cape behind it, it was already dark then and it happened in a fraction of a second, I opened fire to it and it flew away.” Karim relived the horror for a moment.
Aiden O’Connor held the earpiece in his left hand on his right ear where his right hand was exploring various things on the table. “Yes, I guess I have found it, and I am not sure if he has already told him. I think we have to hurry.” Aiden was talking in a very tone.
“What the hell you’re doing here?” Hans Schmidt was at first surprised and then angry as he saw Aiden O’Connor was going through his stuff lying on his table. “Who gave you permission to enter into my tent and going through all my stuff?” he yelled.
“I.. I got a headache, I was looking for some aspirin.” Aiden replied dumbly. By the time everyone else were gathered there. “You should have asked me.” Nina Petrov frowned.
“I am sorry, I should have.” Aiden mumbled and walked out of the tent.
Ishaan saw Carvalho was examining Aiden inch by inch with his small yet cruel eyes.
Ishaan came back to his tent, suddenly he remembered something and almost ran out of it. Nethra was sitting near the lake on a rock, Ishaan ran to her.
“Where is Dr. Antonio Valentin? He was with you right?” Ishaan was edgy.
“I don’t know. We went down to checkout few plants and then he….” Nethra has to stop as they heard Aiden screaming. “COME HERE!!!! I don’t know what on devil’s name is happening here!!.”
All of them ran towards the other side of the lake where the attack on Carvalho’s men happened. As they reached to a point they saw Aiden O’Connor was standing like a statue, in a short distance Dr. Antonio Valentin was lying unconscious. But that was not the only scary scene. The part of the lake was covered with smoke as the water of that part was boiling. The temperature of that place was rising as the water vapour was spreading around.
Nethra heard Dr. Hans Schmidt speaking incoherently, “No wonder there’s no water life in this lake.”
“It’s a volcanic crater lake.” Ishaan uttered those words breathlessly. Everyone else looked at Ishaan blankly.
“It must be a volcano, possibly a dormant volcano or an inactive one. The crater or the opening of the volcano must have been filled with rain water, but as deep inside it’s still active, the magma must be leaking at some place which is making the water boil. Dr Schmidt has collected the water sample, I am sure a lot of sulfur and its compound should be found in it, as the water is boiling time to time, there must be a shortage of oxygen in this lake, makes it impossible for any life to survive in it.” Ishaan was extremely excited.
Dr. Nina Petrov was about to step off towards Dr. Antonio Valentin but before that Ishaan jumped to his feet and pulled her back.
“Dr. Valentin is unconscious because of the poisonous gas venting up with the water vapor, we are almost 5 to 6 feet away but it’s a safe distance. We need gas masks if we have to go near Dr. Valentin.” Ishaan cautioned Nina.
Carvalho’s men already brought some gas masks, Nina, Ishaan and Aiden wore them and rushed to rescue Dr. Antonio Valentin. A few hours of intense battle between life and death and at last death had the last laugh. Dr. Antonio Valentin did not regain his consciousness and breathed his last.
Nethra was awestruck was holding Ishaan’s arm all the time. “I was bored as he was examining the plants and flowers for hours, so when he told me he wants to explore some more area I excused myself saying I’m not feeling very well.” Nethra was looking pale.
“What the hell happened?” Carvalho was irritated and impatient.
“It’s the lake, I suspect it’s leaking Carbon monoxide and other deadly gases, it’s a rare phenomenon, but there are examples, such as crater Lake Nyos in Cameroon had a limnic eruption on 1986 and the gas cloud rose at nearly 100 kilometers per hour killing more than 1700 people, even insects weren’t spared. Similar kind of incident took place in Cameroon in 1984 at Lake Monoun. Lake Kivu on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda considered as one such lake which leaks enormous amount of such deadly gas causing massive water life extinction.” Ishaan was breathless while speaking those words.
“I think it is only wise that we leave this island as soon as possible.” Ishaan concluded.
The defense secretary was busy signing some papers when he had a knock on his door, “Come in.” he replied. The round face of his secretary, Mrs Mallik appeared through the half open door. “Vice Admiral Aniket Ahuja is here.” Her words were short and crisp.
“Send him in.” defense secretary wrapped the documents.
As Vice Admiral of Navy slowly walked into the defense secretary’s chamber, “Any news?” he asked. Vice Admiral shook his head, “Not yet.”
“Was this a mistake? Just like Cairo?” Vice Admiral was rubbing his palms.
“Relax Ahuja, our boy is stronger than you think.” defense secretary was smiling.
“I do hope so, on the contrary, I feel he lost his mind after losing his family in that operation.” Vice Admiral left a long sigh.
Juan Carvalho had lost it. He was throwing his hands in the air and jumping around here and there. “How is this even possible, even yesterday everything was right, nothing happened for last 50 years, and all of a sudden you’re saying this island is unsafe and there is an active volcano now.” Carvalho screamed while he was holding the collar of Ishaan’s shirt.
“I don’t know. My only assumption somehow there is a leakage in the bottom surface of the lake from where the magma is leaking. The situation is grave as the water from the lake is entering in through that crack, creating vapor and gas, because of which this volcano can erupt anytime. We must leave this island as soon as possible.” Ishaan blurted out those words in one breath.
“We must listen to Dr. Roy, our lives are in danger. We must leave.” Nethra spoke in a hurry.
“Do you have any idea what this island worth? Do you? You are a cunning bastard Dr. Roy, I know you already have an idea.” Carvalho spoke those words with immense resentment.
“I know Carvalho. This island is full of kerogen rocks. The most important alternative to petroleum and other traditional oil fields.”
Everyone looked at Ishaan with extreme curiosity. Carvalho had nothing but fire in his eyes. Ishaan ignored him completely and continued.
“The biggest problem our world is facing today is running short of conventional energy and resources, mostly like oil, coal and other non-reusable resources and minerals. One of them is surely the petroleum.
You must be aware of the sudden drop of oil and petrol price world-wide which is a big headache and worry for largest oil producing countries. It is mainly because, USA and few other developed countries have found the alternatives in Shale Oil. It is the art and science of producing oil from the organic rocks, mostly from the kerogen rock, a mixture of organic chemical compounds that make up a portion of the organic matter in sedimentary rocks.
The procedure of producing the oil from these rocks was costly and non-environment friendly. But in some recent developments there are ways discovered to produce the oil in more economic and less polluted way. There was even an article about it a few days ago.
Ana Maria’s grandfather was aware of the facts and knew sooner or later the island will have value in billions, that’s why he was persisting to keep this island.”
“Got it, but how can you explain the sudden turmoil in the inner surface of the lake?” Dr. Nina Petrov shot her question at Ishaan with a curious tone.
“Something or someone has disturbed the surface recently, although it could be a natural phenomenon.” Ishaan replied absent-mindedly.
“Now the important thing is to move out from here safe and sound, we must hurry.” Nethra was almost pleading to everyone.
All of a sudden two of Carvalho’s men burst onto the scene. “Boss, there are choppers and speedboats are approaching to the north coast. Every chance they are NATO forces, we have intercept few radio signals today morning.” One of them barked.
Immediately Carvalho held Ana Maria’s hand and hurried out from there, Dr. Hans Schmidt tried to follow them, but Carvalho’s men were having their guns targeted at them.
“Now you all wait here to die.” Carvalho threw those words at them with his poisonous look and rushed towards his private jet, his men followed behind.
Within half an hour NATO choppers have landed onto the island and arrested Ishaan, Nina, Nethra and Hans. Aiden O’Connor ran towards his tent as soon as he saw the choppers arriving. He was pulled out of the tent by NATO forces and seized few things from him. One of them is a heavy metallic rocket shaped thing looked very old.
Where are you taking Dr. Aiden O’Connor?” Ishaan asked the commander in charge as he was separately taken out by the guards.
The NATO commander smiled, “Dr. Aiden O’Connor died 6 years ago near the coast of Northern Ireland. That’s an imposter, name is Richard Doherty, an ex IRA (Irish Republican Army).
When Nina saw the rocket shaped shell she was left shocked and bulged eyed. Her family is one of the longest serving family in Russian Military and government, so she knows what it is.
A plutonium bomb, perhaps 50 to 60 years old. A prototype which is smaller but more powerful invented during and after the Second World War. The marking on it looks blur, but the letters USA is clearly visible.
Dr. Nina Petrov bit her right third molar or the wisdom tooth, she felt a tingling sensation as the micro transmitter inside her gum got activated.
“My poluchayem signal (We are receiving the signal)” An operator yelled. Building situated in the Lubyanka Square stayed on high alert. That was the headquarter of known to many as Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation)
Amrinder’s radio beeped for the 2nd time. As he answered it, the voice from the control room spoke, “There is an NATO Aircraft carrier docked near the island you are now. They are transporting few prisoners from the island to that carrier by speed boats. Captain Iqbal and his team’s orders are to intercept that and rescue the prisoners.
If the prisoners are already reached to the aircraft carrier, their orders are to ambush the vessel with non-lethal weapon and rescue the prisoners. I want this operation to be completely bloodless and no causalities, at no point they should reveal their true identity. And Amrinder, we have Dr. Ishaan Roy among the prisoners, I want him to be alive and well at any cost. Any doubts?”
“No Sir.” Amrinder shout back the answer though his mind was clouded with questions and doubts.
“Over and out then, we’ll contact you in another 30 mins.” The radio has gone
Amrinder knows who voice it was, Vice Admiral Aniket Ahuja. Amrinder wondered how big and important this mission is actually.
He turned back at the MARCOS commandos, “Listen to me carefully boys….” He spoke in his trademark calm and quiet voice.
Ishaan and Nethra are been put into different speed boats. Ishaan is with Nina and Nethra was paired up with Hans and they have no idea where they were to be taken.
NATO personals have already transported Aiden or as they know him now as Richard by the chopper along with the dead body of Dr. Antonio Valentin.
Ishaan still could not fathom what exactly happened to them till now, everything seems so blur and confusing. Ishaan left a long sigh, all he wants now to send Nethra home safe, she is in all these chaos because of him.
“What are thinking Ishaan?” Nina voice jolted Ishaan back to his senses. He chuckled sadly, “I’m thinking that even a week before everything was alright.”
“You need have patience.” Nina spoke in a slow and low voice.
The 12 MARCOS commandos who are in Atmospheric diving suit, slowly float out of the submarine which was still at over 100 feet below the water. Their mission was simple and straight, intercept the speed boats, topple them if possible and rescue the 4 prisoners before it reaches to the carrier.
Three speed boats were piercing the blue water of the Atlantic Ocean on a pleasant moonlight evening on their way, the NATO commandos were alert and watchful. Nethra and Hans were quietly looking at each other. The reflection of the yellowish moon can be seen on the water.
“Look up there, somethings up in the sky.” A NATO commando shouted out to the next man.
And then… there was a complete mayhem. The water level rose almost 5 feet above and the speed boats were knocked down. The NATO forces including Ishaan, Nethra, Hans and Nina were thrown off to the cold water of Atlantic. No one knew what happened.
As all of them were struggling to afloat and trying to swim out their way that night they witnessed the dreadful nightmare of their lives. Two huge black shadows almost covered the insufficient moonlight and landed upon them, two huge human like figures with wing from their shoulder to tail, with horribly disfigured face and drooling thick saliva from their mouths.
“My god, they are bats, they are… huge!!!” Ishaan heard Nina gasping those words who was holding his hand.
Rest of the people witnessed in horror as two of those bats sink their teeth on two NATO personals. This part of the ocean had become a living hell by the horrifying screams and shouts and prayers by the group of people desperately trying to survive in the ice cold ocean water and from the attack of the killer bats.
The MARCOS commandos were totally scattered by a heavy undercurrent wave, Iqbal was pushed away from his men to another corner. The submarine was displaced and thrown off to another direction.
“What’s happening?” Amrinder shouted at his navigators.
“I don’t know sir, but looks like we’ve been hit by powerful ultrasonic waves. One of them shouted back.
“Get us back into the same place, we’ve men out there, let’s gain some altitude and move towards the surface.” Amrider commanded.
Ishaan was watching the bats took off from their prey’s bodies. One of them was screaming with pain and fear and the other lifeless body is floating around, it was chaos everywhere, people are trying to swim towards the carrier, wrecked boats and heart wrenching cries making this moonlight filled night into a complete horrendous one
“Look there!!” Ishaan heard Nina screamed at the top of her lungs pointing something out towards the island. Ishaan could see now the smoke coming out of a particular side of the island.
Before Ishaan could react, a powerful hand grabbed his shoulder. “Dr. Ishaan Roy, come with me.” The heavy voice of Iqbal sounded heavier.
“Who are…” Ishaan couldn’t finish his sentence as Iqbal thrust the oxygen mask on his face pulled him into the deep sea.
INS Sindhuyatra was waiting in shallow waters now and the periscope camera was floating out of the water.
Amrinder looked relieved as he saw Ishaan Roy was almost carried by Iqbal in his arms into his submarine.
“Where is Nethra, where is she?” Ishaan franticly asked Amrinder.
“Don’t worry doctor, we have all 4 of you in here. Perhaps you’re asking for the young lady who is lying senseless over there, our doctor is attending her.” Amrinder replied
Ishaan hysterically rushed towards bed nearby as he saw the calm and senseless face of Nethra, holding her hands, after a long time today Dr. Ishaan Roy broken down in tears.
“I have my four men missing and there are NATO personals out there to rescue. I have to go back.” Iqbal barked.
“No, we must return, we have secured the people we came here for.” Amrinder shouted back.
“I can’t leave my men to die in the mid of ocean, we must help them.” Iqbal felt angry in his bones.
“If we stay longer here, we are as good as dead.” Ishaan spoke in a tired tone. “I have seen smokes from that island and as per my assumption there is an underwater volcano which can erupt any time now. The lake water is getting inside the volcano through a crack and creating a lot of gas while it mixes with the magma, the eruption can happen any moment.”
Ishaan looked at the tired and scared faces of Nina and Hans who were sitting not very far away.
“Iqbal it’s committing suicide going there, we have our orders to return ASAP and also you heard the doctor.” Amrinder pleaded.
Iqbal clenched his teeth and fists, and then sat on the floor. This was not the first time he lost his men, but he never left his team members left behind, alive or dead.
As INS Sindhuyatra turned it’s nose and started towards the east with full throttle, Ishaan held Nethra with both his hands, Nina got busy to help the injured commandos and Hans got inside a sleeping bag and slept.
After few hours INS Sindhuyatra felt a heavy tremors of undercurrent waves almost as if a quake under the sea, it was quite powerful but Captain Amrinder held his ship steady.
The whole journey, Ishaan couldn’t sleep a wink but only stayed awake and keep asking questions to himself, “Where from those bats came?
What became of the island after the eruption?
Where did Carvalho go?
What happened to that NATO carrier and its people?
And what happened to the plutonium bomb which was recovered?
“Where are we going?” Ishaan asked Amrinder as they were transferred to another Navy ship from the Submarine after 1 and ½ day.
“Well I have my orders to deliver you to this ship of Indian Navy. Some important personal would like to meet you.” Amrinder replied.
As Ishaan, Nethra, Nina and Hans were waiting inside one of the cabin of the ship, all of a sudden they heard, bullet sounds, people shouting and sound of heavy boots running. Perplexed Ishaan wait for 5 mins and then slowly opened the door of the cabin.
He stood motionlessly as he saw there are few gun men were moving around, Amrinder was shot and down on the floor with a pool of blood, Iqbal was kneeled on the ground with both of his hands on his head as one of the gun man was pointing a gun at him.
“So Dr. Ishaan Roy, how was your journey?” Defence secretary was standing there with a smiling face, there was also Vice Admiral Aniket Ahuja standing next to him, but he had no smile on his face rather a cruel cunning look.
Hans and Nina peeped behind Ishaan and they too were speechless, Nethra was sitting quietly inside.
Ishaan did not know where to begin, he looked blankly at the Defence secretary of the country. He smiled again.
“See Ishaan, I just want to know what you find in that island and explain all the bizarre and wired thing that happened over there, we know them in bits and pieces.”
“There was also a NATO carrier and their personals and choppers also landed in the same island, they have a Prisoner name Richard Doherty who was with us as Aiden O’Conner. Why don’t you ask them?” The Answer came from Nina, with a taunting tone.
“Ahh, Nina Petrov, how nice to see you. But if you don’t keep your loud mouth shut, then I have to shut it.” The sarcasm in the voice of Defence secretary was unmissable.
“Now Dr. Roy, please don’t waste my time.” He beamed at Ishaan.
“I… I have no.. idea…” Ishaan stammered.
“Come come doctor, I don’t insult your intelligence, please don’t insult mine. I very well know by this time you already have a theory, I would like to hear it.” Defence secretary couldn’t stop smiling at them.
“We were attacked by bats, giant bats, we are completely lost, we have no theory or understanding whatever happened there. Why don’t you people go there and see it through your own eyes.” Hans Schmidt barked at them.
“The whole island is gone, around 36 hours ago there was a huge eruption and explosion in that island, and it’s gone from the map now, even the NATO carrier anchored near it, wiped off from the face of the earth.” This time it was Vice admiral Ahuja who spoke while munching his words.
“Dr. Roy, I just need to know about your opinion and a logical explanation whatever happened over there. I know you are the sharpest mind among us, but if you are not co-operating with us, I have ask my men to shoot someone to make you talk, we can start with your cute little assistant.” Defence secretary grinned.
“Alright, I will tell you all about my theory and everything I gathered about, but you have to promise me that no harm will come to my friends.” Ishaan replied with a tired tone.
“Alrighty, start then…” Defence secretary curiously looked at Ishaan.
“When we all reached to the Island the geographical position of that inhabited island intrigued me. There was hardly a sign of life, Animals or birds. As soon as we found the trace of Kerogen rock which has a huge value in today’s world, we have also found various compounds in the soil which normally don’t exists.
During and after the World War II, USA and UK have done so many weapons testing including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons mostly in inhabited places including some islands. One of the known incident is the ‘Nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll’.
As we all know the chemical and nuclear weapons effect the very base of genes and DNAs causing mutation among the living beings who survive such occurrences. One of the live instances is of course the Chernobyl disaster gave birth to numerous mutant animals.
(Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl)
The bats who attacked us are most probably Desmodus rotundus or as simply know as Vampire bats. These creatures feed solely on blood. As bats mostly live in caves, my assumption is a few were survived from all these weapons testing but the poisons spread in the air definitely affected them, changed their very structure of anatomy and made them into these large blood sucking creatures.
Now as we know like dogs, even bats carry the virus of rabies which can create hydrophobia, fear of water. I can only think how deadly the virus have become within this mutant bat as they too evolved. I assume people who survived the blood loss died by the infected virus.”
Ishaan stopped to breathe for a while. “That’s why the man of Carvalho who died in the camp screamed when he saw water in Ana Maria’s hand. He was scared of water not Ana Maria.” Nethra spoke after a long time.
Ishaan paused for few seconds and the resumed,
“If I am not wrong Ana Maria’s grandfather acquired that island in late 1950’s. Probably when the experiments are all done and they no longer required it. Perhaps from some reliable sources Ana Maria’s grandfather discovered that the island is full of Kerogen rocks. Now the Shale oil extraction is costly and also health hazardous as it causes mule spinner’s cancer. Also as Middle Eastern countries have had so much of natural oil resources, Shale oil industry did not flourish that well.
But things started to change in late 90’s after the gulf war. The big players in oil industry understood they cannot solely rely on natural oil and gas as its non-renewable energy source and a renewable source must be found.
Recently USA and few other countries have found cheaper and safer way to extract shale oil started to produce in plenty causing a massive price fall which started to affect Russia and other Middle Eastern country as it is one of main source of revenue for them.
Again based on my assumption, I think several expeditions were took place by various teams that island after Ana Maria’s grandfather acquired it and thus he came to know about the kerogen. Time to time these expedition teams had encountered the killer giant bats attack as even the nearby fishermen also experienced, the survivors must be pretty less, hence it had gotten its name as Isla Maldita or cursed island.
So as the old man in his deathbed he gifted it to his granddaughter but I’m sure before tell her in detail why the island is valuable he died and through her Carvalho got it’s possession.
Carvalho is shrewd enough to have an idea that the island is holding some kind of treasure in some form, so he too arranged an expedition team and it failed as all the crew member died. Carvalho did not step back and arranged another team, this time with world’s renowned scientists, he offered them huge sum of money and who declined he ruthlessly kidnapped them as in most of us.
By this time another international group got interested in this island for a complete different reason, if I am not wrong, they are called New World Order (NWO).”
Ishaan stopped for the second time and then looked around, Hans, Nina and Nethra were quiet and listening to him carefully, concentrating to each of his word. The defence secretary and Vice Admiral looked a bit uneasy.
Ishaan paused for a longer period of time and looked at every face around, except the stone faced gunmen around rest all were looking curious.
“Ishaan’s voice started to sound tired but he continued anyway,
“New World Order is a secret and powerful organization of elite people who actually controls the events of the world. A lot of people believe it’s just a conspiracy theory. But it is also proven that a lot of events are been arranged artificially and with the help of powerful individuals, let that be army coups in various states of the world or let that be grave international affairs like ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’.
From the ages they are known by many names such as Illuminati, Free Masons or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and now as NWO.
This shadowy organization is also known to work for the mankind for its better and greater good though it means to be the necessary evil for the present.
The balance of the power (American Civil War, World War I & II etc), Population control (Black Death, stopping from inventing vaccines for killing diseases like Cancer, AIDS, Ebola), Alien technology and communication with extra-terrestrial (Area 51, signal from HD 164595) and also created powerful front organizations to control the world affairs formally (United Nations [UN], North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], etc)
As we all know right now the biggest crisis of our world is the population crisis and it’s already crossed 7 billion. Scientists have already gave warnings about the situation that in few years we will be in the point of no return and can push this world to an end.
At this juncture probably only one thing can check the population, a full-fledged World War III, a nuclear war. And it’s not easy as all the countries with nuclear power are well aware of the catastrophe a nuclear war might bring.
The only way is to of course keep provoking them and thus the deadly militant organizations like Al-Qaeda or ISIS has come into existence.
A very likely situation can only be created if there’s an unprovoked nuclear attack on sovereign nations, not one but many and so NWO is now on the hunt of lost or hidden nuclear weapons as they don’t have any ownership or trail.
Already there are 100s of incidents lost nuclear weapons in sea or lands during experimentation, plane crash or such so. A many of them are still containing the core undamaged and which are well hidden from the public domain. The New York Times wrote an article back in 1989 about it and since then it’s a well-known fact.
I am sure one such incident is also recorded somewhere that of a failed experiment caused a bomb lost somewhere in the sea, it actually dropped in the Crater Lake but did not go off.
Richard Doherty the ex IRA who was living the life of Oceanographer Aiden O’Conner, is most probably hired to search and find and helped to make his way through Carvalho’s team. I think his instruction was to search and find it. My guess is when Hans and others were dived into the lake, Richard identify where it was and later he went to recover it. The only explanation of the volcano became live as he might done something to surface beneath which made the lake water find way deep inside the magma. Created vapour and gas which made it go mad.
I am sure a part of the crew, if not the whole crew of that NATO carrier was involved as for sure NOW have also penetrated the organization like many others. They panicked when their people were been attacked by bats and also Dr. Antonio Valentin died, so they called it in and tried to show they are arresting Richard.
“Dr. Roy, you have been brilliant, as always, but this is as far as it can go. You know too much, so you need to be hushed up.” Defence secretary spoke that in a very light tone. “All we need to know how much you’re aware of, guess you have the whole picture.”
Ishaan was almost prepared for it, “You can do whatever you want with me, but spare my friends.” He pleaded.
“Tck tck, Sorry doctor, with you they too are now aware of everything and one of them is a Russian spy, you know it’s nothing personal.” Vice Admiral Ahuja spoke in jubilant tone now.
“Why are you even doing this?” This time it was Hans.
“Dr. Roy said is himself, NWO has penetrated all the international organizations in the world and believe me we are doing it for the better future of this world.” Defence secretary looked serious for the first time.
But he hardly finished his world when Nina kicked the gun man in his throat on the left and then a right hand karate chop to the other one. In the blink of an eye she pushed Ishaan and Hans back into the cabin, Nethra who was standing behind automatically pushed in. As they closed the iron door in a jiffy the heard the crashing bullet sound on the door but it was bulletproof.
They heard him saying, “It’s of no use. How long you can be in there? This ship is already in an isolated location and the Navy is told to stand down and not even sail towards this way by Vice Admiral here. We control this part of the ocean sweetie.” He chuckled.
“Why even wait, if you people don’t open the door till I count to 10, I’m gonna shoot this commando. No one is coming of your rescue.” They heard Aniket Ahuja barking.
“Don’t open the door, not even on my dead body.” Iqbal clenched his teeth and shouted.
And again Ishaan and others heard the gun shots, screams and thud sounds of heavy boots. Ishaan looked completely lost when heard Nina saying, “Rescue team is here.”
“But vice admiral said the Navy was instructed to stay down and not to act.” Ishaan looked at Nina.
“Not only the Navy controls this area of the sea, there’s another central armed force of this country with more than 15,000 men, 60 air crafts and with 150 vessels controls the territorial sea, you often forget them.” Nina smiled.
As everything gone quiet and there’s a knock on the door, Nethra cautiously opened it, to find a fleet of soldiers in white uniforms, as their badge on their chest read, ‘Bharatiya Tatrakshak, Vayam Rakshamah’ (Indian coast guard, We Protect)
Ishaan too came out of the cabin door, he was still confused what was going on, meanwhile Amrinder has been taken away and Iqbal was assisting the Coast guard commandos. Defence secretary was pinned down and Vice admiral Ahuja was at the gun point of commandos while he has drawn his revolver. All of a sudden he pulled his trigger pointing it to Nethra as she was in the range of his gun.
Ishaan saw Ahuja pointing and pulling the trigger from the corner of his eye and he had fraction of a second to react. He almost jumped to push Nethra out of the way and fell into the line of the bullet. The bullet hit him on his right shoulder and tore the muscles with a deep flesh wound. The very next minute Ahuja lifeless bullet ridden body was lying down on the floor, commandos hardly a second left to burst open fire at him.
Ishaan saw Nethra was holding his arm while screaming her lungs out. That was the only thing he remembered before everything went dark in front of his eyes.
Ishaan was lying down in the bed of the nursing home, Nethra, Nina and Hans were there in the room with nurse attending him.
“We had a hell of an adventure. But I am glad we all came out alive, few of us weren’t so lucky.” Hans shook his head, “But if I ever have to go for an adventure like this I sure want you guys by my side.” He grinned at Ishaan.
“There is a series of arrests going on across the world. The defence secretary has resigned on medical ground, media came to know that Vice Admiral has died in a freak accident. Chief of Naval staff is already briefed. After FSB got my SOS they immediately contacted your government, as they were not sure who all in the payroll of NWO from Navy, they decided to involve Coast Guards and planned for the operations.
Many higher officials and leaders are caught even in my country as well from US and European countries. Looks like The New World Order has taken a hit.” Nina smiled.
Ishaan only could reply with a weak smile, his shoulder was killing him, but he felt better when he saw Nethra is safe and sound.
“Feeling alright O ‘knight in shining armour’ after saving this ‘damsel in distress.’ You should stop trying to be a hero cause you are not one.” Nethra teased him with mock anger.
“So we successfully averted a third world war and saved the mankind, I am feeling like a hero already.” Hans was back at his own self already.
“Who knows, what they were trying was actually in benefits of the mankind in the future. And only the time will tell if we played the heroes or the villains for this world.” Nina relied absentmindedly.
“No you are not fiddling with that cell phone mister, you need rest, and your mobile is getting confiscated.” Nethra shouted at Ishaan when she saw he was trying to reach for his mobile.
“Alright lady Hitler.” Ishaan smiled weakly again. Nethra pulled the blanket on Ishaan and suddenly kissed his forehead.
“We should leave now.” Nina, Nethra and Hans came out of the room flowing the attending nurse.
“You should tell him you know, how you feel about him.” Nina looked at Nethra. Nethra felt if only she had a fair complexion like Nina, she would turn pink.
“Don’t forget me.” Hans chuckled.
Nethra decided, once Ishaan is recovered, she will open her heart to him.
Ishaan turned to his left when he heard the intercom on the table is buzzing.
“Hello.” He picked it up.
“Hello, Dr. Roy. Congratulations, for being alive.” The heavy voice spoke.
“You called me, the first day, in my office.” Ishaan was puzzled.
“Tell me something, do you still miss your wife and kid?” Ishaan felt a chill ran down his spine. “I do.” He replied.
“What if I tell you they are alive?” The voice spoke again.
Ishaan held the receiver to his ear as hard as he can, he couldn’t reply, his eyes were full of tears. He forgot about his wounded shoulder, his pain, everything.
“Get well soon Dr. Roy, you have to do something for me, and then maybe, I can tell where they are.” There was a brief laughter. Then the click sound….. And the line went dead.
Dr. Angshuman Bose was half lying on his arm-chair, watching his granddaughter Mili playing and giggling around him. “She means the whole world to me”, Angshuman thought, “And yet it’s almost time.”
His monitoring alarm started beeping again. “So they are closer now and they will be here soon”, mumbled Dr. Bose. He knew very little time left before they come and take away Mili and arrest him. Already a warrant is issued against Dr. Bose for kidnapping and violating the law.
When 6 years ago his only son and daughter in law died in a car crash, Mili was only 2 years old. Angshuman promised himself he will take care of his granddaughter till his last breath, provide her with both a father’s and a mother’s love. He looked at her again and sighed. It’s been 2 years now, Mili is still 8. She didn’t age a minute since that fateful day.
Around 2 years ago, when Angshuman, a well-known researcher and scientist of Electromagnetic field theory, was working in his lab he heard the news. At school, his little granddaughter fell down into the nearby water tank. After 4 hours they found her cold, lifeless body floating in there. That was the very day Dr. Bose had a breakthrough of his life.
During his research he found a very high reverse electromagnetic field can open a time tunnel for a very short period, through which it is possible to travel between parallel worlds. They are the parallel universes exist at the same timeline but carrying out different events of the history. In next two days Dr. Bose dedicated himself to find a parallel universe where Mili is still alive; he found one and travelled in there. He was astonished to find that the universe he landed, his whole family including his wife, son, daughter in law and Mili are alive and happy.
His heart twitched in pain, when he sneaked out with sleeping Mili in the dark of the night. He had some trouble convincing her that her Parents and Grandmother went on a long vacation, for initial days she was sad and crying but then she took it well. The only thing bothered Dr. Bose after few days was there was no sign of ageing in her, seems like she is stuck in time. Gradually he realized though she is the same Mili, but the timeline of this universe has no effect on her and she will not grow or change with the time of this world. It means she might live for eternity in this world and not even age a bit.
There was a time tunnel opened slowly on the left side of the room and the Intergalactic space police force stepped into the room. “Dr. Bose, you have to come with us, there are charges of kidnapping and violating the law of ‘parallel universe travel’ without permission. Mili should be returned to her own universe. Let’s go”.
Terrified Mili ran to Dr. Bose and hid herself behind him. “I won’t go anywhere, tell them Grandpa!”
(The concept of parallel universe is still foggy, anyone wants to put some lights on it, comments are welcome.)