Prologue: (2012 Delhi)
"Can't you make it quicker?" I demanded. The waiter nodded in reply. I laid my hands on the counter which eased some pain in my legs which had been standing for a while.
The waiter laid down the tray as casually as he could. I had to be at the airport sharp by an hour.i must be there at thhe air port to receive my friend.I had questioned him several times, why had he decided to go to Kathmendu and the religious regions around Nepal. I don't know why did he decide to but he says that it is the duty of Hindus to visit it once in their life time.
We both stay at the same room at Prague. I met him about a month ago when I came to Prague carrying an appointment order in my hands. He is an Indian alright but I am native to Czech. I had arrived at Delhi a week ago and am leaving to Prague tonight with my friend.
"Where have you kept you eyes?" a stout man shouted as I went into him. Quickly balancing my tray I dint mind to reply. This I thought was India, people and crowd everywhere. As usual the restaurant was swarming with people. They poured in and out. Some had serious deliberations with their friends but most had their cell phones to their ears talking endlessly. I noticed that no one in the restaurant minded a television that was tuned in a corner.
A news channel was tuned. I finished my burger and was sipping the coke. 'Flash News' the texts blazed on the screen. I was staring blankly at it not bothering the content.
A reporter was standing with a mike in his hands. I couldn't hear what he spoke because,
- The volume was almost zero.
- The noise of the crowd.
Behind the reporter, was a crashed plane. Police and people lifted the dead into the ambulance and helicopters. To this I read the text and showed some concern to it. 'A plane crash near the Himalayas.' it said. 'The plane had 25 passengers and 23 were dead. Two were badly injured…' I managed to read it though a man walked past me hiding the TV. I sighed this never ends. The images of the victims were displayed. One by one I glanced by until I reached the picture on the right corner… the face was familiar. The coke dropped from my grip, my mouth gasped open, my wildest guess had come true… It was my friend.
I wished I had shut my ears… the horn! I haven't heard such an agitating noise like that. The very sound of it makes my calthum (the substance with which we spirits are made of) ring with rage. I slowly materialized on the corridor.
Ah! I think that it would be better if you know me better before we proceed. Like all of my friends I'm a spirit. I died just about 810 years ago (as you see I am an attractive youth.) Nicknamed as spine chiller, (which I made up last night,) my name is Armocc. To say a limit for my power, numerous galaxies form at a swipe of my hand, countless enemies die as I crush my palm… every sole fears by hearing the name Armocc.
I would have wished the following to happen, but things are opposite. I am considered the weakest spirit in my section of work. Not because I am particularly weak but I do not like to do those works which needs strength. There is nothing much to say about my world. It is of two layers, on the upper layer everything revolves around our elder one and his 150 direct assistants whom we call, 'Haemors.' They assign us with duties. The bottom layer is where we rest.
The horn which I described earlier is the thing which opens up the door to the upper world (which always means work.) Though I'm not that strong, I am a bit brainier than most of the nuts here and that particular thing has made me the leader of my group.
My group floated over the corridor, me at the lead, Otavk at my right, Poskitt near him and peckeon behind them. Well they have a good strength but I'm the brain of my group. Without me they would be roaming in the upper world failing to locate the victim.
I organized my calthum into a hooded figure with a deadly axe in my hands. I prefer that shape to meet the Haemor. It makes me feel powerful. I finally reached the high table above which the haemor sits. Oh I don't like the feeling of my neck when I keep looking at that height. I always wondered what his age was.
Our group was not alone. Two more groups stood nearby Karbeck and Palthen, I recognized, both are the leaders of their group. Each had a soul in their hands, but I was barehanded. They have completed their duty but I dint (to bring souls of a living from the upper world.) Most of the spirit's job is this. The elder one orders when the life of a living is to end.
"Karbeck" the haemor whispered. Taking a step forward, Karbeck released the trapped soul in his hands. Hovering in the air for a while it gently glided to the haemor. Palther did the same way. But I stood still busily thinking of an excuse. I was so tired from running away from an angry spirit which suddenly took revenge on me (the reason not necessary here.)
"Armocc" he whispered. "ARMOCC!" he gave the table a hard slap. I raised my head but dint reply. "This is the eleventh time" he bellowed. "Would you be kind enough to give me one more day sir?" I requested. "You are nothing but simple talk… cant scare a lizard…" he kept in muttering, but I got what I wanted, an extra day. But I do not have time… I must materialize above and bring back the rotten soul.
I was waiting impatiently for the doctor to give me the report. First it was a great relief that my friend was one of the two who had survived. I crossed my legs (and my fingers too.) After about 10 minutes the doctor came out with a frown on his sweating face.
He did not look alright which made my stomach churn. My heart was shuddering. What will it be… he was right in front of me, "What is it…"I questioned. "Sorry, sir" he interrupted, "We are sorry… the injuries were so severe. There was internal bleeding from the time of accident…" "Will he be back?" I asked finally as I couldn't tolerate anymore.
"No chance sir, he's dead." Saying this, the doctor walked away. "DEAD!" I gasped. It can't be… This can change my entire career. We were working together. Its okay for me but my poor friend has come from India and his parents don't know about this. I was really concerned about my friend. I sat on the chair weeping silently. Minutes passed, I was about to ask if I could see my friend one last time before I call his family. A nurse came towards me, "You can see him if you wish sir." She said. I wearily got up, and then she asked a question that brought life back into me. "You are Mr.Heddleham right?" she asked. "Sorry, I'm Ryan a friend of Ankit."
"We render you our deepest apologies sir!" she spoke, "The death mentioned was a man called Roger. Another survivor of the plane crash." I breathed a sigh of relief. So my friend is alive and my heart is still beating. "So" I started, "How's my pal doing?" I asked more relaxed. "He's fast recovering sir; I think you could talk with him tomorrow, who knows even tonight."
I walked out, I certainly needed some refreshment. My mind is out of brains lately.
I sat on the chair, the doctor smiling in front of me. "Your friend has done well, Ryan. There is no big problem for now but he needs mental and psychological rest which one gets only in home. He's in shock, that's another issue but I'll discharge him today."
3. Armocc :
At last I traced the scent. Phew the population of the living souls has raised a lot these days. I know that we were already sent to get this soul … but due to some unfortunate reasons, we failed. This time as usual I have led my team to the victim and it's up to them to catch it.
We stood near the door watching the victim lying peacefully on his bed. It's a long time since I have rested on a bed. Every time I come to these upper worlds, I remember my past life. With a long sigh, I said "Come on Otavk, suck out his soul. He has had enough and that's what the elder one says."
90 % of his reaction to this is that, he would move toward the victim… but he stayed frozen. "Are you unwell Mr….?" I asked mockingly "Or your strength has gone down to Nil?" No reaction just stood still. "Then…" I started getting a bit alert, "Poskitt! It's the right time to prove your strength over Otavk."
"That's not amusing, I know I'm stronger." To this I started pondering how did they get this sudden brain from? "Why are you so dull today?" I asked hoping they will answer. "Yes leader, we are so tired and need rest. You are our leader after all. Try get this easy fruit into your belly."
Well it was my turn to be stunned. I imagined my past never in my life I had caught a soul. The only work I do is stand by a good corner and watch the show. I steadied my mind now… But I don't even know to take a soul out! I've learned it and I know it… but not in practical. The reason is that the victim does not stay at a place when I'm in action. (Okay don't stare at me like that! I know it sounds silly.) 'Okay Armocc' I said to myself, 'You are a leader and have to challenge things bravely form the front.' (I feel that I had done my part right. I had led my group here.)
I turned back… EESHHH they were gone! Abandoned a poor spirit alone on a alien world. Did I saw myself a poor spirit? No a leader on a mission! I collected my guts and thought of the consequences with the haemor if I fail to complete.
I crept towards the victim. Usually my group mates make themselves visible (On the 1st dimension) to the humans. They say that it brings creeps into the victim. But I'm creeping myself that is now another story. So I stayed on the second dimension (invisible to the humans.) I was near the bed now, Ooops I could not stay at the 2nd dimension for long. My fear had brought me to the 1st dimension… luckily I'm only visible to him.
I ate my last mouth of the hamburger and sighed about the condition of my friend. He was in shock. Though his wounds were healing fast, he was not still normal. I leaned against the sofa thinking…
'SCREAM' that came from Ankit's room. I sharpened my senses and stiffened. What was that one? A shattering sound of vase followed. I couldn't sit anymore. Getting up, I walked towards his room.
The door was closed, but I could hear stumbling footsteps and some more things breaking inside…. 'SLAM' there was a hard hit at the door (From inside.) I reached for the handle… a gush of air hit my face as the door swung open from inside.
"Ryan! Ryan!" he kept gasping for breath. "Cool Ankit, stay calm and say what's happened." He clutched my hands tightly, "Help me, save me from that devil Ryan." I froze… he's not cured yet? There's some problem with him.
I remembered the report, 'Needs physical and mental rest 'the doctor had said. He dragged me aside and, "He's near you…" I could feel that he was shivering. His eyes were wide open with fear. He kept his hands on my shoulder and, "He is going to catch me. Please stay with me and chase him away. My right arm is hurt. That's why I called out to you… take out a knife and slash it." He was in panic.
"My god!" I kept my hands on my head, "he's getting hallucination!" I held him tight with my grip. His eyes stared at me. "Listen clearly Ankit. You are alright and perfectly safe. There is nothing chasing you. Clear your mind and steady yourself… go to sleep… you are getting hallucination that's it. Don't make it a big issue go to sleep and hope that it cures by tomorrow or else we are visiting the doctor." I finished. That's all I can do for now I sighed. In fact I was more depressed than him. His parents do not know what has happened and he insists me not to say. Now I'm getting second thoughts.
I then finally decided to stay quiet for now. He pointed some invisible thing at the corner of the room. "What is it then?" he asked.
The door slammed shut behind me. "What is he thinking in his mind? Is he blind? Why the hell can't he see the deadly creature standing at the corner? " I sobbed silently. He does not believe me. "AM I MAD?" I almost shouted with rage. 'Hallucination' he said to me. That is where my mind lost control.
Hope for my survival is less. I'll die… the spirit will take me. Why can't he believe? My head was burning and my hands itching with anger. Ryan is the only one who knows what had happened to me… I let the consequences die in my mind. I rethought if I had over shown my fear which has made him see me like a mad. Overall, I have done a good job to control my fear. More than what had happened till now; the thing that sent chills in me was the fear that the spirit will return to see me unarmed without support like a fool.
Wiping out my nervousness, I sat on the bed and wished that I had a sip of water… too late I was locked. Another hour quickly passed by, I was pondering, alone about the present and the future. Damn my throat I'm really thirsty. My mind was a bit relieved as the creature had not appeared again. Oh! I really feel angry on my Ryan now.
I knocked the door… again and hoped that he opens. "You Okay Ankit?" a voice came from the other side. "I was always ok, except for that the creature has disappeared." I replied as opposing as I could. I think that made him to open the door. "Hand me a glass of water quickly Ryan, I'm dying with thirst." I ended the sentence with a stare.
I walked to the sofa and relaxed… only a bit. I think I saw something stumble near me. My mouth gasped open it was very near me now. I dint knew where it came from. My adrenaline was pumping me to do something. Gripping a night lamp on the table, I aimed at the creature… bull's eye! Right on its head.
I think I have made a mistake… right through its head. I was as such unharmed. I felt some bad feelings all at the same time:
- The creature has not got away from me as I expected.
- A sense of hopelessness that I could not even hurt it, loomed above me.
- It'll only go by accomplishing its task. (Most probably killing me. )
- My friend does not believe what I say.
All these made my weary head spin. I think I saw my friend move towards the wall fearing my next move. I dint have any more interest In saying him the truth, so I left it as such to imagine .
Now a heavy feeling formed in my stomach… is it only me who is experiencing this or all the people around the world, who are defined to have hallucination are experiencing the same. If this is true, I have a big responsibility to prove the world the real reason behind hallucination.
Well, then. I have to survive this creature first. Nervously Ryan handed me the tumbler. As cool water gushed into my throat it gave me some relief. I thought better of the situation. A thought that I was not in such a difficult situation was felt.
As I started to walk back to my room, Ryan started, 'I enquired the doctor about your symptoms… It is hallucination…and you will meet him tomorrow. I advise you to sleep well and hope that everything gets well before dawn'. I continued my walk towards the room and locked myself.
My mind was buzzing. If you place your hand on my head, I am sure it would burn your fingers. I was thinking hard to get rid of the spirit… No physical thing can harm it. I am sure there must be some other way. Time was scarce…At the worst possible time; the apparition entered the room, making the temperature to drip suddenly.
It was hovering right before me. I could feel its chillness. I was as helpless as a ties rabbit in front of a snake. The spirit wasted no time. It lunged towards me. I fell flat on the bed. A frail but freezing hand clutched my throat. I didn't really think I could feel the spirit. I must have been my fear.
I started to choke. My eyes were almost blank. I felt my life fade away little by little from me. I was helpless without any weapon to defend. I must not die like this. I must try something. I imagined a picture of my parents running towards me with open hands. I thought of the consequences if I die now and felt mild vibration within my body.
More than this, the urge and my ultimate desire to prove the world the reality behind hallucination built a big barrier of hope in my mind. I didn't know if that worked, but I realized that it slowed the spirit's progress. So I continued. The barrier increased and increased till I fainted. I lost my entire control. My hand spread lifelessly waiting for my death.
I knew I had done a mistake. But I had the right to save my skin. I didn't mind what I did and I didn't want to think of it either. As I materialized on my world, the first thing that greeted me was the three grinning faces of my team mates. Each face was grinning from ear to ear and me standing with a frown. My calthum was burning with rage.
'' Never expected to see you alive. "Said Otavk giving me a nudge. '' The problem is you don't really know my strength.'' I said not showing any more anger (for safety reasons.) I continued my float towards the corridor, avoiding the ruthless spirits there. I doubled over… and turned back to see if they were following me. No were just, SLAM!
I hit the table (things here are not transparent as the upper world.) The pale and frustrated face of the haemor peeped from the top end of the table. Before I could start, "Not a day more! Straight to the torture chambers" he shouted. I could hear my team mates murmuring from behind.
"I'll be the leader." said Poskitt. "Let me show you my arms." Spat Peckeon, "I will smash you both to the haemors face. Who talks about leader when a hero with unmatched powers stands right near you?"
I turned back and gave a warning stare. An especially cold one… they remained silent. "Haemor! I have brought the soul from the upper world and don't mistake me like any other fools." I ended by giving a turn towards my teammates for the last word.
I could see the shock on their faces as they realized that I had accomplished my task. I stretched my hand as I passed the soul to the haemor. He glared me suspiciously, but I stood still putting up a heroic pose. Without turning back, I walked back the way I came. Though I was satisfied with my condition in my group, I had a guilty feeling in my stomach which I tried to erase.
"Where can we find him?" Poskitt grunted. "Yes, it was the only job that the rat Armocc does." said Otavk. "Think of a better thing, he is down below resting peacefully as though he has defeated the elder one." said Peckeon.
They were on a new mission and Armocc at rest. The most expected thing happened as expected. They were roaming around unknown streets looking for the victim losing patience. They huddled at a corner as a car loomed near them and stopped. They sensed their surrounding… they were at a cemetery.
They were about to dematerialize as the man who got down from the car drew their attention. "Hang on!" Peckeon shouted, "Doesn't he look familiar?" "Wasn't he our last victim?!!! He was ordered to die!" "Then how come he's alive? Wait, we'll see the rest…" growled Otavk.
The man walked along the path into the cemetery and knelt beside a coffin. Peckeon drew closer to him. He could not see clearly what were the letters written on the coffin… then the Out worldly letters became visible.
"Ryan Campbell" he finally read after he struggled to decipher them. The group of angered spirits stared at each other. "Wasn't the victim Ankit something?"