It was twenty minutes to midnight. Anton waits for his car, seemingly intoxicated to the hilt. His night of partying has ended in a rather abrupt fashion. The valet drivers attribute his grumpiness to the booze in his body. Little do they know that he carries the genes of some of the heaviest drunkards to walk the earth. The reason for his frustration seems only too obvious to the people inside the club – Anton has just walked out in the middle of a huge fight with his girl. He desperately tries to hold himself together as his car arrives from the parking lot. Anton hastily tips the valet and drives out of the hotel. In a bid to calm himself down, he hurriedly lights a cigarette. The fact that he is setting the streets on fire suggests that his efforts aren’t working. Anton’s fragile state of mind blinds him from noticing the head-spinning speeds that he was clocking. The loud ringing of his phone saves the unaware street dwellers ahead from certain death. He lets out a frustrated sigh on noticing that it was his girlfriend. Anton slowly brings his car to a halt on the side of the road and picks up the call. Another fifteen minutes of mindless exchanges on the most pettiest of issues ensues. On realising that there was no amicable solution on the horizon, both of them simultaneously hang up the call. Anton sits back in his car for a moment and wonders about how he had gotten himself into such a fucked-up situation. He is now clenching his teeth real hard trying to burn some stress. An empty stomach only seems to fuel his anger. Anton promptly picks up his phone and orders himself a pizza from a local night-time diner. He pulls out his wallet to realise that he was running low on cash. An irritated Anton gets the engine running and begins speeding as fast as before. He brings his car to a stop outside an ATM on Destiny’s Lane. After a great deal of struggle, he finally finds the right debit card among a stray of similar looking ones. A homeless man in half-torn clothes looks intently at Anton as he walks into the ATM. Anton withdraws the money in a jiffy and exits. A stray dog greets him outside as it happily takes a piss on his newly changed tyres. This enrages Anton to such a degree that he is pushed beyond his breaking point. He swiftly jumps towards the dog and gives a strong boot to its face. The spontaneity of the attack catches it completely off guard. Before it could make any sense of what had happened, the dog collapses to the ground and passes out. Gasping heavily in shock, Anton kneels down to check if there was any sign of life. On realising that it was probably dead, he rapidly picks up the dog and puts it on the side of the road. He says a silent prayer and starts to leave. Suddenly out of nowhere, Anton hears a high pitched growl not far from him. He briskly turns to find that the homeless man was running towards him with a stick. A fresh bout of adrenaline reshoots through his body. Galloping towards the man, Anton grabs the stick with his left hand and punches him on his face. The blow knocks the man unconscious as he falls back to the ground. Without a moment’s hesitation, Anton quickly gets into his car and speeds away from the scene. After tripping for a few uneasy minutes through endless green fields, the homeless man finally regains consciousness. With a great deal of trouble, he gets himself back on his feet. He looks beside him to find the dog lying motionless. He also sees a small puppy licking the lifeless body of its mother frantically hoping that it would come back to life. The hair on the back of the man’s neck stands up on seeing this tragic sight. He lifts the puppy with a broken heart and takes it away. Leaving the pup at a safe distance, he returns back to the scene with a small plastic bottle filled with kerosene. Reciting a quiet prayer, he pours the liquid over the dog and lights it on fire. The man now turns back and picks up the orphaned puppy before disappearing into the darkness.
Seven years later -
“This is one of the most reputed positions in our company” said one of the executives from the corner of the room. The chairman quickly interrupts him and speaks – “Alright! Let’s cut to the chase. It's getting late. Anton, we are offering you the position of chief executive officer in the financial division of our company”. Anton now has a lump in his throat as his moment of coronation finally arrives. The chairman continues – “This would make you the youngest CEO in company’s 127 year history. We can discuss about your package and other incentives in-person tomorrow. But we assure you that you will be taken good care of. So, do you formally accept our offer?”. “Yes sir, I do. Of course, I do” said Anton in a rather weak tone overcome by the occasion. "Good, we will talk about the rest of the things tomorrow. Let’s call it a day gentlemen" the chairman concludes. Everyone in the room gets out of their seats and exchanges a congratulatory handshake with Anton. The sense of happiness in his face seems to multiply a hundred-fold with every passing second. Anton exits the conference room last and goes in to his cabin. Without wasting a minute, he picks up his bag and starts walking to the parking lot. An incessant downpour greets Anton on the outside. That hardly seems to deter his morale, as he happily strolls to his car getting drenched in the rain. The gravity of the situation finally begins to hit him as he sits down inside the car. His eyes slowly water enough for a couple of tear drops to roll down his cheeks. Like it was the natural scheme of things, he lights a cigarette and starts back home. This was probably his second best car ride back from the office. Only bettered by the time when one of his colleagues had blew him inside her car a few years ago. Anton speeds through the empty midnight road splashing a tidal wave of water on either side. The visibility levels are shrouded by the steady stream of rain falling from the sky. The wipers weren’t helping in giving Anton an unperturbed vision of the road either. As he drives into Destiny’s Lane, things get a whole lot worse when the street lights too give way. Total darkness now engulfs the road. In a desperate effort to get a better view, he switches the lights to high-beam. Just as he does that, Anton spots a dog standing a few meters ahead of him. The dog’s eyes seem to be glowing brightly in the dead of the night as it gives a perplexed look. He immediately applies the brakes, but the water-logged road makes sure that the car begins to skid. In a last ditch effort to avoid the dog, he swerves the steering violently to the left which causes the sedan to spin out of control. Anton manages to narrowly miss the dog, but ends up crashing head first into a tree. He is instantly knocked unconscious. No one notices the dog’s sorry cries for about five minutes. A man finally comes into view from the rear of the car to check on the mangled remains. It is the homeless man who has inhabited these streets for a few years now. The man in ripped clothing checks on the battered driver. He recognizes at once that it was the same man who had knocked him out and killed an innocent dog seven years ago. He then checks Anton’s vitals for any sign of life. The CEO-to-be still seemed to have a mild pulse and required immediate medical attention in order to survive. The man instinctively reaches into the bag on his shoulder and pulls out a bottle of kerosene. Without wavering for a second, he pours the liquid over Anton’s body and lights him on fire whilst he was still inside the car. He speedily walks away from the scene with his dog and disappears into the darkness. Anton is burnt to death. The police register a case of arson amounting to murder. It remains unsolved to this day. The homeless man haunts another street a few kilometres away.
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