Unknown | 6/11/2014 |

It happened one day.

Nina stopped dead on her tracks as she opened the apartment door. Her telephone was ringing. She couldn’t believe her ears – the instrument has been lying silent on its little three legged table since eternity. Its shrill tones made her almost go out of the door again.
Nina hates the telephone. There was a time, in her youth, when she spent hours on the telephone, first with her girlfriends, chattering about nothing. And then later, to boys and men, while her father complained roundly about escalating telephone bills and her brother joked about the overheated wires and relays. But all that was a long long time ago.
Nina now has a phobia for telephones. In her workplace, in the immaculately white laboratory where she spends her time looking at blood samples under the powerful microscopes, there is no telephone. Her cell phone remains switched off most of the time, stowed neatly in the tiny pocket of her handbag.  But she never got around to disconnecting the land line, just unlisted her number, mainly to avoid people trying to sell her cars, or insurance, or nec plus ultra smart phones. She even received a call once from a mortuary selling funeral plans, complete with the song she wanted to be played…..
Her immediate reflex was to run away, to unplug the phone, to silence the sound that still made her stomach churn. That still conjured up images of death, accidents and betrayal. But today, for some reason, she decided to pick it up. Mainly from curiosity – she couldn’t, at that moment, recall even one person who had this number.
So Nina picked up the receiver and in the unpractised voice of someone who had never used a telephone before, said hello. Her voice sounded strange to her own ears – the faint echo on the line made it even worse. There was no sound at the other end. ‘Ah, a heavy breather’, she thought in some relief, ‘must have dialled a string of numbers that came into his head’, and she was about to put the receiver down, when the voice came:
-“Just give me a minute, please, don’t ring off” - a nice voice, well modulated, no identifiable accents. Her curiosity won, as she stood there holding the white handset.
She heard faint noises in the background, a car horn, a timer going off, the roar of a motorbike, and then the voice came back
-“I am so glad to find you, never thought you’d have kept the same number. It’s been a long time – at least five years, isn’t it, if not more?”
And then Nina knew that the call was for someone else – she has moved into this neighbourhood only two years back. She was about to say so, when the voice went on :
- “I promise I meant to call you, but can you believe it, I lost the piece of paper on which I had written down your number. And even more unbelievable – I found it only today, stuck in a book that I must have been reading at that time. Can you forgive me? How have you been?”

Nina bit back the sentence she was about to say, and was suddenly tempted to impersonate this other person – whoever she might have been. She had absolutely no idea what the relationship had been, and while one part of her brain advised caution, the other part egged her on.
- “Er yes, it has been a long time”, she managed to say. “This is quite a surprise, I must say”– this, at least was the truth. 
-“Well, I’m just glad to find you again”, he said, “and this time I’ll not lose the number again. But we have to start from scratch, sort of, five years is a long time. So what do you say?”
Nina struggled to find an answer. What would be the right answer? How well had these people known each other? Was it a one night stand? Was it more than that? And why was she playing this game?
- “Don’t answer right now if you don’t want to. I can wait. But you see, I found this bit of paper today, and saw you before my eyes, in your lovely red dress….”
Nina hated bright colours, had always done. She was into muted shades, pastels, greys, but above all black & white. She digested this bit of information, and figured out, at the same time, that the relationship had not got very far. Yes, a one night stand, she decided. So maybe she could keep playing this game.
- “I guess I’m too surprised to hear from you”, she said, gaining confidence in herself. “But I’m glad you called….”
-“I’m not going to ask you embarrassing questions about your life”, he said, “We agreed on that. I just don’t want to lose contact again. Is that all right?”
That was when Nina took the big step and said yes, it was all right…..
And the curious relationship started. He often called, and they talked about different things, but never about their personal lives. She started getting glimpses of his persona – he liked reading, was a keen hiker, hated television, loved musicals. She talked easily about whatever the topic under discussion was, loved the sound of his voice, the easy laughter. It became obvious that he did not know the girl very well, and which made her bolder. She kept her own life secret, but talked freely about a poem she had read, a song she had heard, about political turmoil or natural calamities. She discovered the pattern of his phone calls – the days of the week, the time he called in the evenings, his occasional mood swings. She made it a point to be bright & chatty, and that seemed to work.
Nina discovered that suddenly, there was a bounce in her steps. She caught herself humming in the shower. She even took down the dusty instrument, her onetime companion. On her way to work, she now watched single men with curiosity – she had no idea where he lived, but a sudden smile or a pair of bright eyes or an athletic stride would make her wonder if this was the man at the end of the phone line. She called her girlfriends on her cell phone, who were overjoyed to see her happy. She went out with them a few times, and realised that all this was still fun, as it used to be before. She even tried on a red dress in a funky shop, and in spite of the pressure from the salesgirl and her friend, she did not finally buy it. She knew she was being fanciful and rather silly, but suddenly, it did not seem to matter.
She wondered why he never asked to meet, though that was a great relief, and thought that maybe he lived in a different place. She was slowly building up a person in her head, from the snatches of conversation – it was like working on a jigsaw puzzle. Nina had loved puzzles when she was a young girl, loved the way the picture emerged at the end, and then how all the individual pieces lost their own forms. She wondered whether he was doing the same, but never dared to ask. And she was happy as she had never been before, living in her real and imaginary world.
It was a bright spring morning when her telephone shrilled. She almost dropped the coffee mug she had in her hand. She stared at the phone for a few seconds, but the ringing was insistent. She picked it up with a strange foreboding.
- “Good morning, Ma’am, this is Officer…… calling from Mr…. home” said a gruff voice. And with immense relief she answered back :
-“Good morning. I’m afraid you have called a wrong number. I don’t know any Mr….”. She was about to put the phone down, when the voice came back.
-“No, Ma’am, this is the right number. I’m calling you on a serious matter. I found your number on his phone – he calls you regularly, isn’t it?”
-“I’m telling you I know no such man….”
-“Hang on, lady”, the voice was rougher now “I’m not in the mood for a joke. The only calls this man has made is to your number, apart from those to his bank, his garage and so on. We checked on all that. Now what did you say your profession was, Ma’am?”
- “I didn’t say, and you didn’t ask”, Nina retorted, “and how do I know you are who you claim to be? And why should you ask me such questions, in any case? Am I under investigation?” She was amazed at her own bravado, and hoped it would last a little longer.
-“Ma’am, how else would I find your number? Be reasonable. You have been talking to this person regularly and for long periods too, if his phone record is anything to go by.”
-“That’s not a crime, is it? And I insist – there is some problem. I really don’t know this man”.
-“I’m afraid there is no mistake, Ma’am. Now will you be a bit more cooperative, please?”

Suddenly Nina was gripped with panic. Of course, the officer was talking about him. And of course, she didn’t know his name – she never asked, just like he never asked her. She sat down on her bed now, trying to calm herself down.
- “Ma’am, you there? Listen, lady, you really need to come down here….”
-“What is the problem, Officer?”
-“His house has been broken into. The neighbours informed us. But there is no trace of the man. Now we’re wondering if this is the work of a gang. The neighbours say that they haven’t seen him in quite some time. Now if you know about his whereabouts, you need to tell us. And right now, if you please.”
-“Well, I did talk to him few days back, but Officer, I honestly don’t know where he is. I don’t even know where he lives. We just talk on the phone….”
A moment’s silence, and then the voice came back, with a contemptuous note this time.
-“I see. So you are one of those…..”
-  “No, I’m not, and you better believe me. Look, I’ll give you my address, and tell you where I work. Check me up if you care to”. She dictated her address to the man, gave the name of the laboratory where she worked.
-“Well, why don’t you come down to the station, since you live so nearby? I will meet you there, and leave my colleague here.” He gave her the street number, and said he’ll be there to meet her.
Nina was dumfounded. So he lived in this city! And judging by the address of the police station, almost in the same area. Maybe they have crossed each other a hundred times, on the bus, in the metro, in the shopping mall. Maybe he was in the restaurant she went to last Saturday with her friends. But what had happened to him?
She sent up a silent prayer to some unidentified power while she got dressed, and almost ran to the police station. True to his words, Officer….. was waiting for her, a very sour and dissatisfied look on his face. Nina cringed under his level blue stare. Did he really believe that Nina was one of those girls?????
Half an hour later, he seemed to be satisfied with what she had to say.
- “Of all strange things” – he muttered under his breath. “Wouldn’t like my girl to be in this kind of a situation”, he stated.
- “But what are you going to do, Officer? I mean, you have to find the man….” she ventured.
- “Yes of course. That is going to be my headache for now. Hope the poor bugger is still alive. And no one seems to know what he did for a living. Was sort of private, don’t you see? Hardly had any contact with the neighbours…..”
Wild images danced before her eyes as she sat petrified in that horrible brown room. Closed trunks, rotting flesh, garbage dumps, stagnant ponds – images from all those thrillers she had read voraciously. She was about to say something, when there was a huge commotion just outside the door.
A wild looking man rushed in, hands handcuffed behind his back, with a youngish policeman in badly creased clothes following close behind. Nina cringed. She had heard lots of stories about what goes in police stations, and sprang to her feet. 
The dramatic entry was followed by a string of oaths as the man planted himself in front of desk where Nina was standing.
- “Now, may I know why I have been handcuffed and brought to this station, Officer?” he screamed.
The officer looked at the young policeman.
- “Well, Sir, he was creeping into Mr…;’s house, came in through the shrub, sir, not the main gate, like. Has to be the burglar, I thought, so snapped the cuffs on. Asked who he was, Sir, but he didn’t answer me. Never showed any ID, either…..”
- “I shall come into my house any way I choose. Through the window if fancy takes me. And how could I show you any ID, moron, my hands were tied.”
- “Excuse me, are you Mr……? Where have you been, Sir? Your house has been broken in.”
- “Of course I’m Mr….. And don’t you think you should try catching the burglars and not the owner of the house? As to where I have been, that is none of your concern, is it? Now, can I please request you to undo my handcuffs?” he roared.
-“Yes, but I’ll need some proof of identity, Sir. Do you have any papers on you?”
- “No, I don’t, they are in my car. So you’ll have to come back with me. And be very sure, Officer, I’m not going to let this go.”
-   “I’m very sorry Sir. And I’m sorry, Miss, to have bothered you. Very kind of you to drop by” said the Officer, contrite, but did Nina catch a twinkle in his eyes?
Now he noticed her for the first time, totally baffled.
- “Who is she, Officer? I don’t know her. Is she here for me? Dear God, can’t you guys do anything right?”
- “Yes Sir, she told me she didn’t know you either. Except that I didn’t quite believe her. After all, you have been talking to her for all these months. Got her number from your phone records, Sir.”

He turned and looked at her, amazement giving place to wonder and then comprehension. She wanted the earth to open up, an earthquake, a tsunami, anything that would wipe off this rummy police station. She picked up her bag, avoiding his eyes, ready to go out.
- “You’re not ……” he stated.
- “No. I’m sorry. It was just….”
That is when she heard the laughter.
-“God be my witness, I never ever dreamt of this. Who are you, then? Come, you can tell me all that once I’ve proved I am who I am.”
She looked up and smiled right back at him. A dazzling smile. She had come home.
Nina looked at her watch, jolted back to reality. In all the excitement, she had totally forgotten about calling the lab. She should have been there almost an hour back, started on the complicated test she had programmed with the lab technician. He would be livid, and so would be Dr.Ray. And even now, Lily was probably trying to get hold of her frantically, on her cell phone which was still lying beside her pillow.
-“I have to go to work, in fact I need to be there as fast as possible”, she said, hailing a cab. “But we can meet later. You have my number, we’ll fix something up” she added, jumping into the cab.
- ‘Yes Nina, I’ll call you’, he said. ‘You really are amazing’!
Nina went through the day in a kind of haze. Neel, the techie was indeed mad at her. And Dr.Ray, in his usual suave way, did let her know that he was somewhat disappointed with her lack of professionalism. Lily was annoyed, but soon succumbed to her curiosity. She wanted to know all about the mystery man….
She couldn’t wait to get back home. And she wanted a new telephone, the kind that stores numbers, with an inbuilt answering machine. For once, she joined the ‘five o clock crowd’ and made her way to the jazzy telecom shop on the mall. She managed to cut into the cheery chatter of the young salesman about the different types of smart phones, firmly describing the kind of instrument she wanted, and much to his disappointment, bought a relatively basic model. In spite of her scientific and technical skills, Nina was a babe in the telecom woods…..
The new telephone was now installed on her bedside table. It was early evening, and she was pleasurably surprised to see how the setting sun lit up her apartment, making everything look faintly translucent. A thousand moats danced in the shaft of sunlight, the dwarf orange tree glowed. Any other day, she would have sat still and enjoyed these things, probably vowing to leave office earlier every day. But today Nina was distracted. She could not concentrate on anything other than the telephone. Which, as usual, was silent.
She knew it was too early for the call. She had not been home so early in a very long time. She looked at the marvelous weather and debated about going for a walk. But she stayed put. Going around in circles in her flat, incapable of settling down with a book or turning on the stereo. In a kind of frenzy, she scrubbed the bathroom till it was gleaming. Cleaned the tiny kitchen, and decided to actually cook something for a change, have a proper meal. She even found a bottle of wine someone had given her on some occasion.
And the telephone did not ring that evening, nor the following….., maintaining a stubborn silence. There were no registered calls, the red light of the answering machine never blinked once. Nina scanned the on line telephone directory, but did not find the man she was looking for. And realised that all she knew about the man in the police station was a name….
And days passed, then weeks. Nina’s life was now back to ‘normal’. Or was it really? Why had she got into the habit of taking long walks in her neighbourhood? Why was she frequently in the public library during the lunch break, spending more time looking at the people walking in and not at the newspaper or magazine she had in front of her? Why did she make a detour every other day to pass before the police station, hoping to meet the officer who had dealt with her ‘case’, just ‘by chance’? She was even seen walking through the public park that she shunned normally, because of its denizens, both human and animal. Nina no longer went out with her friends, and soon they stopped calling her. Nina was exhausted when she got back from her various prowls, but could not sleep. She made an appointment with her acupuncturist, and then cancelled it. At work, she was her usual self, confident and efficient. But Lily and Anita and Tania no longer dared invite her for a coffee and a chat. Neel and Ari stopped pulling her leg about her funny ponytail, her ‘nutty’ lunch, her fierce ‘green’ convictions…. Nina lived in a bubble, or so it seemed to others. She herself was totally oblivious.
It was a blasty evening, succeeding what Nina often thought of as a hide and seek day between the sun and the clouds. Bits of debris danced in the air –plastic bags, leaves, scraps of paper. The flower pots on the balcony opposite her office seemed precariously balanced on the narrow ledge. A lone woman crossed the street, clutching at her clothes and handbag. The turmoil outside somehow reflected Nina’s mood. She could no longer concentrate on the slide under her microscope. The walls seemed to close in around her, the stain under the powerful ‘scope took on the shape of a multi fanged ugly monster. The bright neon lights and the spotless tables made her think of the morgue she had visited long time back with her class at the Grad school.
She snatched her bag and scarf, locked her room and walked straight out of the office, totally unaware of the amazed stares of her colleagues she crossed in the corridor or the hallway. She walked out of the building, and just kept walking. The wind tore at her hair and her clothes, stung her eyes, nipped around her ankles. She hardly felt all this. She walked, mechanically crossing roads, avoiding collisions with people hurrying towards shelters, side stepping the occasional pothole. She had no idea where she was, or where she was going…
All nightmares eventually end. And at one point, Nina woke up too. She looked up to find herself in front of an underpass, under a busy motorway that sounded like a distant stream. Evening was falling rapidly, and through the gathering dusk she could see a small park in the distance, a derelict swing with a rusty chain buffeted by the wind, a broken see-saw stranded on the sand pit, a few straggly bushes bent by the strong wind.
Nina had no idea where she was. She could see a few houses in the distance, but no lights, no cars, no sign of any human occupation. The underpass looked like a gaping toothless mouth. There was a strange smell as well – a smell of decay and decomposition. Nina was not a particularly brave person, and should have panicked. She should have taken out her cell phone to find out where she was. She should have turned right around, and walked back the way she came, she should have…..
Instead of which she started walking towards the underpass, not knowing what was on the other side, where it led to. She did not think of the recent reports about people mugged in the numerous underpasses of the city, about the hypothesis put forward by the police that a dangerous gang was operating in the area, urging citizens to be careful and avoid these places if possible. It seemed that she was drawn forward by an unknown power. It seemed she was under the spell of a malicious witch.
The stench that hit her once she had crossed the threshold finally brought her back to the real world. Her ears detected faint scurrying sounds, the swish of traffic overhead, the ululation of the wind blowing through the tunnel. And now panic gripped her. She hated rats, and suddenly became aware that she had stepped into their territory. The vile creatures were everywhere – she could even discern the malevolent red eyes peering at her. She hated closed spaces, she hated tunnels, she hated gutters. Her head began to spin, she began to feel faint, she thought she’d gag from the stench, she thought she’d die right there, in the middle of this foul tunnel to hell…But she had to keep walking, had to get out into the open air. She quickened her pace, aware now of the stupid risk she had taken.
And slowly, she became aware of another sound – that of a saxophone, coming, it seemed, from a great distance. Now it was the music that drew Nina forward, and gradually, she could hear it better. The notes were pure, magnified by the tunnel, bouncing back towards her from all sides. They rose and fell, sometimes touching the arched ceiling, sometimes sinking into the nauseous gutter that lined the two sides. Nina was mesmerized. She forgot all about her panic – this was heavenly music, dragging at her heart strings, vibrating in her nerves. She was buffeted by the music, sensuous, sad, joyous, hopeless.....
Now she could see the end of the underpass, the faint luminous exit with the promise of a brighter world outside. She hurried on, suddenly desperate to be at home, safe and cosseted amongst the familiar things in her apartment. And the music continued to draw her forward – she clung to it because there was a human presence somewhere, nearby. A person capable of coaxing an inanimate object to such beautiful music.
Nina was now out of the tunnel. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw the man playing the sax, his face covered by the hood of a dark garment. There was no receptacle in front of him as is usual with musicians who play for money. Nina did not have the courage to stop and talk to him. She just walked past, into a wide empty street, badly lit now by a few street lamps – most of them were not functioning. She still did not know where she was, but felt somewhat heartened by the wide avenue – it had to lead somewhere, back to civilisation, she thought.
She quickened her pace now, desperate to see cars rushing past, houses, people walking dogs. But all was silent ahead. It was as if the city had suddenly stopped living. And she was the only living soul. It was then that she heard the sound of footsteps. Someone was walking behind her – she could hear it clearly in the heavy silence. Not the shuffling footstep of a tramp, or the bouncy steps of an adolescent walking in time to the music blaring from an earphone. These were firm and even steps, purposeful, steps that knew where they were going.
Nina now knew that there was someone behind her, going the same way. At first, she felt relieved. And then panic gripped her once again. Now she started remembering all the mugging reports she had read in the papers. She quickened her steps, but it seemed the steps following her did the same. She could not slow down, she felt the urge to run. But Nina was not an athlete, and she knew that running would not help. So she kept plodding on, the footsteps behind her beating a constant rhythm....
Suddenly she found herself at a big crossing. Cars were rushing past in both directions; the broad avenue was well lit. Nina inhaled the exhaust fumes, glad, for the first time in her life, to do so. She would be able to get a cab here which would take her back to the world she knew. She heaved a sigh of relief, and stopped at the cross roads, obeying the ‘don’t walk’ sign. In her elation, she even forgot to listen for the footsteps.
Someone else was also waiting to cross the street, but Nina wasn’t bothered about that anymore. She just wanted to cross the street, stand under the bright lamp post and hail a cab.
She swung around. Had she heard wrong, or did the man standing behind her, an instrument case on his shoulders, had actually spoken her name? She looked at the man, his face half hidden under a black hood, and recognized immediately the man from the police station, who never kept his word – the man she had been waiting to hear from for such a long time. She just stood there and stared, though the green ‘Walk’ sign was now on. She stayed rooted on the spot, mesmerized, looking at the man she had been searching for so long. She detected a distinct smell now, faintly nauseous, somewhat like a rotting fruit. It was almost dark by now, but she clearly saw the glazed look in his eyes. It seemed that he had slept in his clothes, and the overall crumpled look made her feel distinctly uncomfortable. The rage that was rising inside her when she recognized him died down suddenly. She shivered as if an icy finger was trailing down her spine. But she turned to the man with a bright smile.
- ‘Hello! What a surprise to see you here. I suppose you live in this area. I’m totally lost – haven’t got the slightest idea of where I am. Is there a bus downtown from this area?’
He looked at her in some surprise, as if he was expecting to hear something quite different.
- ‘No, I don’t live here, but I know this area well. I often go to the tunnel to practice my music – it has amazing acoustics. I recognized you when you walked past me. So I followed you…. There are certain things I need to tell you…’
- ‘Ah, so you’re the sax player then? I heard you while walking through the tunnel. It was very good’ she said. ‘Now can you tell me where I am? Or even better, tell me how to get to the nearest bus stop? The weather has really turned nasty….Or else, I could call a cab. Yes, maybe that’s better….’ She babbled on. She managed to find her cell phone, though her fingers were trembling. She felt like a taut string ready to snap any moment.
- ‘I’m afraid you’ll have to walk a long way to get a bus downtown’ he said. ‘But Nina, I really wanted to tell you something… Unless you don’t want to listen?’
Nina was desperately peering at her cell, trying to find the number of the taxi service she normally used. To her utter dismay, it was not stored in her directory. She started scrolling down the call register, hoping she would be able to find it quickly, cursing her habit of erasing messages and numbers regularly from her cell phone.
- ‘I have to go home now’, she said, ‘I can’t stand eternally on this crossing. Can you help me or not? You just need to tell me which way to go.’
The man’s face was lit up for a fraction of a second by the lights of a passing car. Nina just had time to see the twisted lips and narrowed eyes, and suddenly she began to feel afraid. Other than cars passing by at high speed, she could see no one else on either side of the wide street. He was still watching her, also tense, his eyes never wavered even once.
-‘Will you walk with me to stop, then?’ she asked sweetly. By now her limbic was warning her of clear imminent danger.

- ‘It is a long way to walk. Couldn’t you not find the number for the taxi service then? I can see that you are not in the mood for a chat….’
- ‘No, I must have erased it. Don’t you have a cell phone? Maybe you have a number…’
- ‘If I had I would have called a cab long ago. It is not my habit to chat up women at pedestrian crossings. I could have been on my way a long time back. But this neighborhood is somewhat deserted. Not a place to walk on a wild windy night. I can leave you here you find your own way. Or I can put you on a bus – upto you to decide, really.’
Nina by now was in a dilemma – unable to think clearly. She glanced at her watch – it was not late. The downtown would be buzzing, in spite of the nasty weather. She suddenly had the enormous urge to be in that crowd – inane teenagers gaping at the shop windows, stately couples on their way to a quiet dinner, roadside Romeos checking out every young girl drifting by. But the long walk ahead frightened her. Not a single cab was in sight either to save her.
- ‘It seems that I have no choice, really’, she said ‘yes, please, I would like you to show me which way to go. But I wouldn’t dream of inconveniencing your. You must be on your way home’.
- ‘Yes, you could say so. But it isn’t a problem, really. I don’t mind walking with you. After all, I don’t have any important appointments to keep. The nearest stop is not far from the tunnel you came through’, he said. ‘I’ll tell you which way to go after we’ve crossed the tunnel.’
Nina cringed at the thought of going through that tunnel again. And there would be no music to draw her forward this time. She was distinctly scared of crossing the dark gaping hole with this man. There was something not quite right with him, but she did not as yet know what.
In silence they started walking back towards the tunnel. The weather showed no signs of improvement. The wind was now cold. The sidewalk was uneven, full of small potholes. It was totally dark by now. She had to walk very carefully, watching every step. He seemed oblivious, keeping pace with her easily. They walked in a total, ominous silence. Nina racked her brains to say something, anything, to start a conversation. But by now she was footsore and cold and tired. The stoic silence of the man next to her did not invite any small talk either.
Soon they were at the mouth of the tunnel, darker and more sinister now. Nina was almost choking with the panic that surged up inside her. She did not want to go into the gaping hole again. She smelt her own fear in the stench that reached her now. But there was nowhere else to go, no way around. She drew in a deep breath, and stepped in…..

It was pitch dark by now, and she felt like she was walking through a viscous mass. She walked carefully, trying to see where she was going. It seemed narrower than before, they could not walk side by side. The walls were closing in on her. The stench was unbearable. The faint sounds she had heard before were louder now. All she could see ahead was darkness.
And that was when it happened. A huge rat, or maybe something else, scurried across her path, brushing her feet. She screamed and tumbled. His arm shot out, hard as steel, and pulled her back. His face was close to hers. And she smelt that smell again – strong and unpleasant. And she continued screaming, totally hysterical by now, till a large hand with a strong nicotine smell covered her mouth. She bit at the hand in desperation, by now almost unable to breathe.
The slap was hard and stinging. She felt herself pushed against the wall. She could feel the damp through her clothes as strong arms pinned her against the foul wall. His acrid breath almost gagged her. Her throat was parched, she could feel her lips bleeding.
-‘You made me do this, you bitch’ – he hissed. ‘I tried my level best to do the right thing by you. But you would not listen. Except that you have no choice now, do you? And you shall listen, if these are the last words you hear, before everything becomes dark forever. I have no qualms anymore. You’re just like the others, those who forced me into my personal hell. And like others, you too will have to pay. You liked my music, didn’t you? Now you’re going to understand its true meaning.’
He started speaking, except that it made no sense to Nina. She could discern the sound of his voice, but could not understand what he was saying. The darkness was a solid wall around her. The wind whistling through the tunnel made the words fly any which way. She could not stand any more. Her legs seemed to be melting under her. She felt totally calm, though. She knew that this could not last for much longer.
Suddenly the tunnel was reverberating with the sound of voices, magnified by the arching walls. She could also hear the sound of wheels scraping the floor. And the steel arms pinning her to the wall loosened. She heard the sound of running feet. And all at once, there was a babble of voices around her. A teenage gang on skateboards was whizzing down the tunnel. She made one last effort and screamed – a banshee howl that echoed around the tunnel. Scores of malevolent red eyes watched her in amazement before she crumpled on the ground…



  1. Wonderful piece of intelligent literature.kept me glued till the end.and what details.fantastic.

  2. Thank you. I am very grateful for your comment.


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