Chapter 5: Cutting the Obvious
Another chapter to the tale weaved by the Team Supernova
Read the previous part here.
The agony, pain, and fear in the passengers of Rajdhani Express was at par. Never had they thought that a journey towards their destination would take such a turn. But, more than others; Shekhar, Cyrus and Jennifer were the ones who knew it coming. Although, they did not thought of saying it aloud but each one hold a dark secret beneath them.
As the train slowly inched its way to their destination, the emotions of everyone in the train raced up and down. It was not normal Rajdhani Express but the one, filled with chaos, tears, wails, and suspense.
It was merely 20-30 minutes since the hijack announcement when another one sprouts. Instead of the recorded announcement, the speaker beamed with some harsh and heavy voice, “Listen passengers. If you do what I command you, no one will be harmed. Treat it as a warning. There are three people in this train with whom I have to sort things. Once I am done with them, others reach safely. Wait for my next announcement where I will relieve the name. After all we have a long way to go.” And, the voice faded with a tedious laugh.
The passengers in the train began discussing. It was a moment of doubt; everyone was eyeing his or her neighbor. Child, youth, or adult – everyone was now, being judged. Except Shekhar, Cyrus and Jennifer. Each one knew that, that announcement was for them. “It would be soon that my name when I will be revealed to everyone,” Cyrus said with a streak of tension on his head.
“No. I think I will be first to be summoned,” it was Shekhar quite calm and composed at this hour too.
It was quite some time before Jennifer spoke, ‘Guys, I want to tell you something.” Shekhar and Cyrus looked at her as they saw it coming. “I... I…”
Before she could complete it. The announcement was here, “Jennifer can you please come and meet me in the cabin 2. Jennifer from the coach number A2 and seat number 26.”
All eyes stared at her, as she was a runaway murdered. Whispers surrounded her and her face-lacked color. It was as her soul just withered away. Shekhar and Cyrus who by now were reaching some conclusion pacified the badly shaken Jennifer and asked her to meet him.
She slowly tip topped her way to the cabin. It was closed. She knocked softly and it flew open. On entering she saw him, Sasha seated there with his usual smirk.
“Welcome Jeff. Oh sorry, Jennifer.”
She gasped thinking, “Jeff is what my friend used to call me in college”.
“Wondering how I know that?” he joyfully said as he could read her thoughts.
“Y… Yes” Jennifer struggled for breath as she spoke in front of him.
“You are a good photographer, no doubt. But, you are a bad person altogether”, he sprang from his chair and walked around her. “Remember the time when I had come as temporary teacher? Teaching was not the purpose - it was you. I came to find out about you.”
“Me? Why?” Fear gripped her as her mind wandered to find reason.
“Ah! You do not remember. Of course, how could you. You were young and barely entered college when you made this mistake. Be seated first, we have enough time before we hit Mumbai.”
A nervous, frightened, and shaky Jennifer sat to the seat offered to her. Sasha took a seat right in front of her. He continued, “On your college tour, you were supposed to go nearby station but you and your friends sped up to Lonavala instead. You guys ditched your parents and used there money to go on a 5 day trip. There you banged in one of your friend’s farm house and had a gala time, without any rules,” a faint and teasing smile spread on his face.
Jennifer was worried. “Does he know what we did? It was personal. Does he have any proof?
But, why is he after me?”
“To cut your friendly night short, you were drunk and sleep derived. With everyone knocked off and the time being 2 am, you thought to take a strode in the garden, with your camera. However, in a drunken state, you did not knew what you were clicking or rather WHO were you clicking?”
“I barely remember that.” Jennifer said in a surprise tone.
“Yes. That is why it was hard to trace you.” He saw questions on her face and said, “Listen. That night, I was out on a secret mission in the farmhouse next to your friend’s. You, being in a drunken state started clicking here and there. Unknowingly, you clicked some of my snaps. And, some of the vital information laid bare in your camera lenses.”
“I was thinking it was something related to my friend, Alka.” Jennifer thanked her stars but now was rather curious.
“Who Alka?” Sasha asked surprisingly.
“No one. She is dead now,” she quickly added by cursing herself to utter her name out, aloud.
Sasha ignored it. “Not my concern. Anyways, being back to that photographs – it was me who kidnapped your English Professor and took his place for few days. I searched high and low for those snaps but could not find it. Now, until you do not tell me where it is, remember, I will be there lurking around, ensuring that you never have a moment of peace.”
“But.. I hardly remember where I have kept those pictures. That thing happened 4-5 years back,” she debated.
“I don’t care. You race your brain and let me know where those pictures are. After all we have a long journey ahead,” he gave a faint smile. “Now, you may go. Others are waiting.”
The door opened, half dazed, and half confuse, she walked back to her seat.
The constant prying eyes agitated her and she silently sat on her seat.
“What happened, are you alright?” Shekhar asked.
“I thought it was related to Alka, my dead friend but it is for some bloody snaps, which I even do not remember clicking,” she said faintly.
“What snaps?” a curious Cyrus asked.
“If I remembered, I would not be tensed,” she said quite furiously. Cyrus frowned and she apologized by saying, “It was on my fresher’s day, in Lonavala and I do not remember anything happening.”
“You were in Lonavala?” Shekhar and Cyrus asked together. All of them looked each other as they have found common grounds of being targeted. Jennifer repeated the story and the others heard intriguingly.
“I was too in Lonavala 4-5 years back. I was there in the same party,” Cyrus abruptly said.
“What? How?” Jennifer looked stunned.
“Yes. You were at Mohit’s place, right?”
“Yes. Yes. He was in college with me. How do you known him?”
“He is my dad’s best friend son and had invited me. I had gone to his place for party.”
“That is why I remember your face,” Jennifer said.
“Yes. Mohit soon moved to U.K after that party. He was never interested in studies. However, I used to be his father’s favorite. His father is a wealthy lawyer and I take inspiration from him”, Cyrus reminisced.
Shekhar who had been quite and who was noting all details carefully spoke, “So, we are part of same meal. Remember I told you, Sasha used to be our neighbor in Lonavala. It seems that unknowingly we were in wrong place at wrong time and are paying for it.”
Next announcement cut their discussion short, “Shekhar Dutta and Cyrus Daruwala from coach number A2, seat 26 and 27, please join me for tea in cabin 2”.
“Correct. We are the next persons to be whispered on. Come on, let us go”, Cyrus ironically said.
They both reached the cabin and sat opposite to Sasha. It was now, a men’s talk.
“Welcome Cyrus and Shekhar.”
“Can you tell us what do you want?” A frustrated and angry Cyrus said.
“Ah. Anger and all. It was hard to hack you e-mail. But, we are intelligent people.”
“So, what do you want now?”
“There is more and you know it. And, you Shekhar…” he turned his eyes towards him “You should be happy that your daughter and wife are safe”.
“I am. What do you want?” The usual calm and composed Shekhar was losing patience.
“You have some documents with you, which we could not lay hand on. And, I know you are travelling with them.”
Shekhar raised his eyebrows as Sasha continued, “Do you think, I am a fool? I will simultaneously plan the kidnapping, attack and hijack?”
“I do not have any documents with me” Shekhar shrugged away.
“Maybe yes, maybe no. All I know is, I want those documents on my table, or else no one in this train lives.”
The threat was enough to leave Shekhar and Cyrus crippled in thoughts. After all, there were innocent passengers with families on board or waiting at station.
“You may go now!”
Back in compartment, they all were silent. As someone just killed a part of them.
Jennifer started the conversation, “What does he want from you two?”
“Xombie information,” Cyrus said.
Shekhar chose to break silence and said, “Same here and I think same from you too, Jennifer.”
Cyrus looked in amazement. “How do you know about Xombie?”
Shekhar answered in question with utmost honesty, “My wife is a big time journalist. And, I am a freelancer. Back in Lonavala, when things were slow paced and we used to enjoy homely time, something happened. We received a letter, which was in Sasha’s name. Since, he was not at home, it came to us. Normally, we would have given him it as it came but that day, a fun filled Roohi sprung the letter opened.”
Jennifer and Cyrus listened carefully as he continued, “Tara was aghast at her behavior while I was trying to handle the situation. While, Tara was busy scolding Roohi, I was buy in making the letter a whole – like it was never opened. I accidentally, saw some logo or design that widened up my curiosity. I began reading and I knew that something was suspicious about our neighbor.
When Tara came, we both discovered it and thought to use it as a weapon to reach fame. We made the letter as one and passed on. But, secretly trying to find everything about it,” Shekhar gasped for air as he finished.
“How am I related?” Jennifer asked
“Maybe he was on Xombie secret mission when you clicked,” Cyrus said and Shekhar nodded.
The train slowly inched its way to their destination, the emotions of everyone in the train raced up and down.