Rajat Bundela walked up to his study and opened the second drawer.
His eyes scanned a rectangular glass box.
He bent forward, nimble fingers extricated the lone silver coin from its case.
He then looked at the table edge, at the framed photograph of a bald headed man with a salt and pepper beard, a seer like visage that seemed to have jumped straight out of a yesteryear mythological serial.
Holding the coin between his index and thumb fingers, he flicked it into the air.
He watched the coin do its little dance in space. For that nanosecond, he held his breath.
The coin fell back into his palm.
It was TAILS.
Overcome by delirium, Rajat felt an orgasmic delight, a deeply gratifying release the kind he hadn’t felt even during sex.
He knew what ‘TAILS’ meant.
He stabbed his phone recorder.
A deep baritone invaded the spartan room.
“YOU ARE CURSED TO DIE BEFORE YOUR 30TH BIRTHDAY. HOWEVER, THERE IS A WAY OUT. IF YOU FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS YOU WILL BE REMOVED OF THIS CURSE, AND LIVE TO THE AGE OF 150.”
Rajat had heard the tantrik’s missive a thousand times.
The voice continued…“THE WAY OUT IS SIMPLE: ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS KILL A PERSON EVERY WEEK FOR SEVEN CONSEQUTIVE WEEKS. REMEMBER: ALL THE KILLINGS MUST TAKE PLACE ON A SATURDAY. ALSO, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, FOR A KILLING OF SUCH NATURE TO HAPPEN, YOU MUST FIRST TOSS A COIN AND IT HAS TO FALL ON THE TAILS. IF THE COIN, EVEN ONCE FALLS ON HEADS, THEN THIS MISSION IS A FAILURE AND YOU ARE DOOMED TO DIE BEFORE THE
AGE OF 30″.
Rajat’s eyes fell on the wall calendar.
Tomorrow was Saturday; two days later he would turn 30.
A steely determination creased his eyes. He knew the trantrik was no ordinary one. He had powers, genuine oracular powers. He had heard innumerable stories about his prowess.
Rajat knew he had only this Saturday to carry out the last of his seven murders. It was a binary threat like no other he had faced so far.
Do X, or suffer X.
At that instant his phone buzzed. It was a notification.
He swiped the screen.
“Hi Rajat, tmrw’s off…lunch, dinner, long drives… cya…my love, Roops”
SHIT! Rajat coursed out aloud.
Now what would he do? He had to complete his mission. The murder needs to happen on this Saturday itself. It wasn’t a date or an office project whose deadline he could shift.
He didn’t think.
He stabbed the keys.
“Sorry…babe…am leaving tmrw… Chandigarh. Office project…bck n Sun. Shll mt…LUV”.
Roopali Chandok read the message. Over and over again.
This was the seventh time, and all on a Saturday when Rajat had avoided her. Was he over her? Planning to dump her? Another girl? An affair on the side?
Hot beads of sweat trickled down her temple. Her crimson red face changed colour. Something seemed fishy. She just needed to find out what.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2021
TIME: 6.30 PM
PLACE: LONELY DESOLATED STRETCH OFF NH 24, DELHI
Even for Roopali this was a first. She hadn’t come to such a godforsaken back of beyond place ever. She parked her car and gingerly stepped out, hiding her stocky five foot five inch frame behind a truck.
It was only 7, but it seemed darker than midnight. Sans human habitation, sans electricity, an eerie silence enveloped the place.
What was Rajat upto? Definitely, this decrepit place didn’t quality as an office project.
As Roopali pondered over, she heard the faintest of sounds.
She narrowed her eyes.
It was Rajat. He had opened the dickey.
She watched with baited breath.
He had pulled out something.
Under the fading light, she saw what it was.
A huge boulder.
The kind used at constructing sites.
She heard human feet.
Wait…there was someone else, too.
A man…a skinny old man…shabbily dressed…shaggy haired…legs wobbly…
With a growing fear, Roopali watched. The beggar was now within a feet of Rajat.
Rajat lunged, raised boulder aimed at…
A gasp escaped Roopali’s lips.
In a flash, Roopali whipped out her gun
and took aim.
The next instant, Rajat fell, his brains splattered all over the muddy road.
Inspector of Police Roopali Chandok realised, albeit a little late, that the man she had been dating for the past one year and had hopes of settling down with was none other than the dreaded ‘STONE MAN OF DELHI’.
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