Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Unlocked


Ritesh got into the car, at the basement of their apartment building. They had to get to the other end of town for the wedding reception, and they were already running late. He looked at his wrist watch for the 3rd time when  Alka called.

“I’m so so sorry, honey. I got stuck in this godawful meeting and… anyway, where are you?”

“In the basement, bringing the car out, just as I'd told you. Are you here yet? I’m just coming up. I'll pick you up at the gate.”

“Yeah, I'm in the building. But sweety, please give me 10 minutes? I'll dash upstairs and change my saree. Just 10 minutes.”

“Ok, but what’s wrong with the one you’re wearing. Moreover... you look good in anything.” Ritesh laughed playfully.

Alka had indeed worn a saree to office, as it was ethnic day for her team. But she wanted to change into another one.

“Ha..flattery. Are you nuts? In this saree? No way..Ok, bye.”

“Hey,wait,  listen..” Ritesh started.

But she’d hung up. Must be rushing like mad now. Ritesh hoped the elevator didn’t act up today. He also had a couple of things to tell her, but remembered just one. He wondered what the other thing was. Oh well..he’d remember. Wasn’t earth shattering anyway. He pulled the car out of the basement.

***

Alka found the door open and pushed it. God, this Preeti. How many times to remind her to lock the door from inside?

Preeti was their cook who normally came in around this time and cooked supper for them. She wondered why she was here now. They weren’t going to eat supper at home anyway. Maybe Ritesh asked her to come prepare stuff for the following morning?

She heard Preeti tinkering around with vessels in the kitchen. It was around 6.30; and some natural light was still around, so she didn’t bother with the lights. And moreover, she didn’t have the time to think. She changed quickly and came to the living room a few minutes later.

“Preeti?” She called out and headed to the door without waiting for a response.

She wore her slippers and was about to step out when she remembered she’d forgotten the keys at the dining table. Usually, Preeti handed over her set of keys to the neighbor, so Alka always kept theirs with them.

She turned and jumped out of her skin, a hand on her chest. Preeti was standing right behind her, her hand outstretched, keys in hand.

“Gosh, you scared me. Respond…at least,” She laughed nervously,  took the keys from Preeti and rushed out. She wanted to give a couple of instructions to the girl, and also warn her about the door, but she didn’t want to hold up Ritesh anymore.

“Ok…bye. Be careful around the house,” she said. Preeti smiled and nodded. She was always the quiet girl, rarely spoke. Alka left the door open and rushed down the stairs, saree and all. She wouldn’t do this normally, but today was an exception.

She was on the first floor when her cell rang. She had several missed calls on her display. She then looked at the ringing number and frowned. Ritesh.

“Yes, Ritesh?”

“Baby, have you left already?”

“Yeah..I mean, I’m on the stairs. Why?”

“I forgot my business card holder honey. Can you please get it? Rakesh wanted a few, for some of his clients. We’re meeting him at the function, so…”

“Oh, Ritesh..no,” Alka protested. “I’ve come down half way.”

“Please, baby?” Ritesh coaxed. She sighed and ran up again.

She was standing in front of their door now; noting thankfully it was locked from inside. Just then, Ritesh called again.

“What have you forgotten now?”

Ritesh laughed. “Oh nothing. Just remembered. Preeti’s father called today from her number, said she was very sick and they had to take her to the village. We should call and inquire…”

“What?” Alka said, freezing in her tracks. “That’s impossible.”

Just then, she heard a click, and the door to their flat opened on its own.

Slow... and fully wide…with a gentle creaking sound.

****

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

P(r)oof...!


The inspector wondered. How could a thief steal so much stuff, and disappear quietly? That too with all doors and windows of the house closed?

How?

Just then he fell with a thud, his blood rushing to his head.

His chair had vanished.

His head was still reeling when he heard the invisible snigger.

****

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spirited persuasion


Vijay opened his mailbox. 12 comments for his blog posts. He started reading them. Then he opened the last one.

“This happened with a friend of mine. I wonder what happens next.”

Vijay raised his eyebrow. Interesting. The reader hadn’t linked himself, so there was no way Vijay could hop onto the other blog, but right at the top of his inbox, was an email from the same person. He opened it.

“Vijay, it is striking how you could document this incident as a story. It’s exactly how things happened with my friend. How did you get the idea? Did you read it from the papers?”

Vijay frowned. Great. Now this guy will want to badger me with questions, copyright issues, this and that. Just because something similar happened to his friend…And Vijay had no idea the incident had appeared in the papers. Well, a strange coincidence, that’s what it was. Nothing more. Shouldn’t break your head over it a lot, he told himself.

He shut his mailbox and his laptop after about an hour and decided to hit the sack. It was late.

The cell phone rang at around 2 am. It took a while for Vijay to realize it. He got up sleepily and saw the number on the screen. Unknown number. He cut the call and went back to sleep. The phone rang again after a few minutes.

“Who the hell was this now?”

Vijay answered the call impatiently. “Who is it man, it’s …” He didn’t know the time, but knew it was an unearthly hour.

“Vijay, you have to tell me how you got the idea for the story…”

“Wha..?”

“The story. You wrote on your blog. I must say it is…”

Vijay disconnected. “Moron.”

The phone rang again. This time, Vijay got up and switched it off. “There. Keep wondering about the story now.”

A remote part of his brain was wondering about the caller though. How on earth did he get his number? He’d just about gotten back to his slumber, when the phone rang yet again.

From below the pillow, Vijay’s eyes opened weakly. And then flew wide open. “What the hell…?”

He turned and picked the phone in his hand. Same number. But that was impossible. He’d just switched it off. Maybe he hadn’t done it properly. He disconnected, and frowned. The phone hadn't been switched off. He switched it off a second time.

But then it switched back on, on its own.

And rang again. Vijay took it this time.

The caller laughed on the other end.

“Switching off the phone on my face, huh? Don’t.”

Vijay ran a hand back on his head. “Who’re you, dude? Some sort of freak?”

The caller laughed again and ignored the question.  “The important question now, Vijay, is ..who you are.  You see…” The caller paused to cough. “You’ve written a story that happened to my friend. Exactly the same way you wrote it.”

“So? That’s not my fault.”

“Yeah, but I want to know what happens next.”

“You’re kidding. Listen..I’ve no idea who you are, who your friend is, and how it happened to him, or why it happened. I wrote the story just the way it came to my mind. That’s about it. I’ve not heard it from anyone, read it from any place, or whatever else there is to it. Ok? It’s just a goddamn story that originated in my head. And now its over. There's no 'next.' Now, please leave me alone.”

“Leave you alone? No way.”

In reply, Vijay just disconnected the call again, flipped the phone open, took out the battery, the SIM card and threw it all on the floor.

“Freak.”

He sat on the edge of the bed now, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. But the silence was deafening.

“What a pity…”

Said a voice from behind.

****

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book lover


Ranveer pushed the book towards the librarian, who looked at it with a frown.

“But I thought you wanted R.L. Stine’s Who Scares You the Most?

 “Well yes, but an elderly gentleman was reading it. Didn’t have the heart…”

The librarian smiled and shrugged. “Ok, as you wish.”

Ranveer took the book and turned to leave when he saw a garlanded portrait on the wall, above the librarian.

He turned to the librarian. “Uh, sir, who’s he?” He pointed up.

The librarian looked up and then laughed. “Oh that. He’s my grandfather.”

Ranveer nodded, still looking at the portrait.

The librarian added – “Oh incidentally he too loved reading horror books, just like you.”

Ranveer licked his parched lips. “I’m sure he did. He’s still doing it. Upstairs.”

****

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Silence speaks...




Ever looked at the portrait/picture of a person, in the eye, for more than a minute? Preferably when alone?

***