Silence was sneaking through the only window of the room after a loud conversation ended behind the closed door. Gautham had been unconscious for quite some time. He had so many nightmares during all this time that even the characters of one nightmare appeared in the other.
In a confused state, he struggled to open his eyes which were otherwise wanting more sleep. The wooden room had a wall clock which was hanging inverted. It took him a conscious 2 minutes to realize that it was he who was hanging inverted. Tight ropes were squeezing his wrist nerves and making his ankle go numb.
More than the body weight, it was his hunger that made him feel heavy under gravity. His thoughts were wavering and he couldn’t recall exactly what happened after the meeting at Live ur life restaurant.
There was a camera in the top right corner of the room which had already alerted the kidnappers that Gautham has woken up.
“I would rather leave you than see you suffer in this project. You are ruining our future dream because of these dreams. I would be the dream that you never will see in reality. Sorry and goodbye”.
Priyanka’s final words before the break-up kept reverberating his unconscious thoughts again and again. He could not leave the project as it was a game-changer to mankind.
Gautham had a brave personality and his vision never succumbed to unnecessary hurdles. However, the break-up had left only a maudlin whiff of air for him to breathe. He could hear a church prayer song nearby and since it was 10:00 am, he realized that it was a Sunday.
“You guys have no mercy. Why would you want to rush? He is already weak. Let me check him.” said the old man who opened the door and entered with a smile.
The old man approached Gautham saying – “I am Malik. Hey, I am just a worker here. I am going to untie you. Don’t hurt me. These people are really mad, I must say.” He placed a pillow right below Gautham’s head and got a chair to untie the ropes. As the old man cut the rope with a knife, Gautham fell down banging his head on the pillow. .
“I am sorry if that hurt but none of these lazy guys accompanied me. They don’t respect me as I am old. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Old people and respect have become a mockery these days”, said Malik in a frustrated tone.
“Water… water…” said Gautham with his eyes closed and hands still tied at the back. “Just one minute. Let me untie you completely”, said Malik and cut off the rope relaxing Gautham’s hands.
Malik opened the shelf that was behind him and took a bottle of water. Gautham slowly tried to raise his hands but in vain.
“Let me give it to you. Here you go” said Malik and fed Gautham with water,
As soon as Gautham lifted his head and tried to ask a question, Malik hurriedly said “Please do not ask me where you are, I am not supposed to tell you that. They would kill me. This room is under surveillance too.”
“Can you at least tell me why I am here?” asked Gautham just for the sake of asking though he had doubts that he had been kidnapped for the 3:43 project.
“This job feeds my family and I seriously do not wish to put myself in trouble”, said Malik and left the room with a tough heart. Gautham observed that Malik was not such a rude man but the situation compelled him to reply above-board.
Gautham laid on the floor and was surprised to see that the door was left open. It was obvious that the abductors were in a proximate distance. Gautham didn’t have the stamina to plot an escape as he could hardly stand.
Gautham was trying to see as far as possible through the only path visible and all he could see was greenery. There was another wooden house standing at the corner of the path. A swarm of butterflies circled the beautiful flowers that decorated the bounds of the house. The butterflies reminded him about the “Tell it out” day celebrated a year ago at a corporate event.
“Tell it out” was a corporate get-together held every year at the Chennai headquarters of Shadow Reals Inc. Shadow Reals was one of the emerging start-ups of the decade that had encircled itself with innovation for the future generation. …………….The event adorned itself with senior level executives and some engineers who worked in 3:43 project.
“Hey he looks handsome. I am just going to start a conversation with him. Let’s read his mind girls,” said Sheryl Dsouza. Priyanka and Rithika were skeptical about this plan but knowing how unstoppable their prank buddy Sheryl is, they just remained silent.
Sheryl walked toward Gautham with a plan. She made sure that he didn’t notice her coming and moved waveringly maintaining deceiving angles. As soon as she approached him, she forcefully dashed him from behind.
Gautham dropped his glass of lime drink and turned around in haste. She was sure he would respond in an angry tone.
“Sorry, did I block your way?” – came the response from Gautham.
Sheryl’s mind voice echoed inside – “Oh my god, how do I respond?”
She stammered, Ahhh..I am sorry. I was in a hurry to catch a friend and .. and…
Oh that’s fine. By the way, I am Gautham.
Why is she nervous? asked Priyanka to Rithika.
I have never seen her this confused and nervous. I think she fell for him, said Rithika.
Hello, I am Sheryl. Nice meeting you. I am here with my friends. The party is a bit boring. We were planning to leave, said Sheryl taking a fast glance at Gautham’s interesting professional attire.
Oh! I am an Innovation Consultant at the Chennai Office. I have joined recently. Everyone is a stranger here, said Gautham in a soft tone.
Sheryl didn’t want to miss the chance to open a friendship bond with such a handsome guy.
“Come on, join us if you don’t mind. Let’s dine at the garden buffet beside.” said Sheryl and turned slowly to check out what her friends were gossiping about her new stupidity that was happening here.
Sheryl walked Gautham to introduce her friends and Gautham for the first time made an eye-contact with Priyanka.
Priyanka turned towards Rithika for a conversation. However, her heart was beating fast expecting Gautham and Sheryl any moment now. Rithika’s words flew over the head of Priyanka and subconsciously she was rehearsing as to how she should introduce herself.
Sheryl approached Rithika and said “Hey, this is Gautham.” Gautham, meet Rithika and Priyanka.
Rithika nodded her head with a welcoming smile and shook hands with Gautham and Priyanka said “Hello”.