Sunday, July 14, 2013

Be on Time...


From the Frankly Spooking outtakes.

****


The jogging track was hexagonal, roughly – though one couldn’t really ascertain that for sure. It just closely resembled that particular shape. Joggers came in around 5 am, when the park gate opened, and one could see a lone soul or two, still jogging, even as late as 11 am. The shady trees around the track made things easier. The same routine repeated in the evening, starting around 5.30 pm, till almost 9 pm. That was when that scraggy old security guard came tapping his stick on the cement track, shooing the health freaks out. Of course, evenings also were a time for the kids to go screaming all over the place and couples to cootchie-coo to their hearts’ content, on the benches alongside the track, a little away from it.

Suresh came in at 4 am and jumped the compound wall. The security guard was not to be seen in his usual spot. It was still dark, and he wanted to make the most of it. Got too damn crowded afterwards. He quickly warmed himself up in the park and stretched a bit using all those parallel bars in the play area. Once he was breathing a little heavily and his limbs had loosened up, he stood by one of the benches and sipped some water from his hipster.

He completed two rounds on the track and slowed down a bit for the third one. He looked at his wrist-watch. Good time.

Somewhere during the fifth round, he heard footsteps behind him, accompanied by that all-too-familiar heavy breathing. Ah, it begins now. Soon the place would be teeming with joggers. He wanted to quickly finish his jog and move on to stretching. He had a favorite corner where he did that. Five more rounds and he was done. The gentle breathing behind him continued, but he didn’t look back. He moved to a side of the track – maybe the fellow wanted to overtake. Didn’t happen, though.

He was onto his sixth lap when he suddenly felt his speed increasing. Like someone had just given him a good, firm push. He slowed down and looked back. What the hell…

There was nobody behind him. Huh? Maybe it was his own breath, echoing in his brain or something. He continued jogging, puzzled. At the end of the seventh lap his feet picked up speed again. This time there was no sign of slowing down.

“Hey,” he said involuntarily, and ordered his muscles to slow down. Nope. The speed only increased. He was running very fast now, his heart fighting to cope, and his lips going dry. He winced and tried to run off the track, but his feet were stuck to the track and he just couldn't control his muscles and veer away.

He wanted to scream but he couldn’t. All his energies were being taken up by his heart, pumping blood through his veins, like a locomotive. His eyes were watering and head pounding. For a bystander, it would look like he was doing a 1500 meters sprint, only faster. The speed kept going up. He wondered how his feet were still on the track. His knees cried out and his lungs were about to explode.

Suddenly, the speed reduced until he was back to his normal jogging pace. But he was done. He ran off the track and collapsed in the middle of the park, on the grass. As he lay there, his breathing sounding like a hand weaver’s loom in overdrive, his eyes still adjusting to the view above, he heard the footsteps back on the track, and the heavy breathing.

“Who….who’s ….there?” He managed to say in between the heavy panting.

No reply, just the footsteps and the breathing.

A while later, when the blood had returned to his face, and his limbs (though beaten) were not groggy anymore, he rose and walked slowly towards the gate. It was still dark, but the gate was open. Shit, the guard is here.

He was about to walk through when he almost bumped into the guard, who was blocking the gateway.

“Damn, you scared me, man” Suresh said. The guard just stared back and stepped aside with a grunt. He glared at Suresh. "You are jumping wall and going. Not allowed. See?" He said and pointed at the sign-board.

Park Timing: 5 am – 9 pm

Suresh didn’t have the energy to argue with him and just nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I know.” He walked past the guard.

"You running very fast. I see from here. Don't run like that, that also so early morning. Mist. Cold. You will die.”

Suresh turned. "Huh? You saw me running?"

The guard grinned a toothy grin and nodded. Then he pointed back at the board.

"5 am. You come. Not before. Ok?"

Suresh brushed him aside and started walking away. “Ok, ok".

The guard laughed behind him and remarked. "Otherwise tomorrow you will run more fast."

Suresh turned. "Hey, listen it's none of your goddamn..."

There was nobody there... and the gate was locked.

****

8 comments:

Rohini said...

I remember reading this one..did not go for any morning walks after this.. :P

goingbeyondthepages said...

Reminded me of Jogger's park.. :)

Soumya said...

Oh yeah, this I remember. If such a brilliant one did not make it to the book, I can imagine how awesome the book will be :)

Can't wait.

P.S: Proved I'm not a robot.

Kanthu said...

Being punished for being early.?? That security guard takes punctuality too damn seriously. :P

Dwiti said...

Wow... I wonder why this one got rejected...
Really looking forward to the book now...

phatichar said...

Rohu.. :) Of course you do..

GBTP: Yeah? :)

Soumya: :P

Kanthu: He took everything so seriously he returned even after..you know what.. :P

Dwiti: Hmm...yeah, actually it was excluded out of the collection as the editor felt there were a few more like this (better, in her opinion) which deserved to be in the collection, so... (shrug) :) Thanks..looking forward to your reviews on the book.

Wings of Harmony said...

My hostel is rampant with spooks and now this. Who wants to sleep anyway? :P

PS: Milkha Singh hota toh kya hota? ;)

phatichar said...

MSM: Havan hota :P