Siddhi Khandagale

Horror Crime Thriller


Siddhi Khandagale

Horror Crime Thriller

The Lab

The Lab

7 mins

"And that's why the concept of afterlife was such a pragmatic part of the lives of ancient Egyptians.", Dr. Hawke concluded his lecture on afterlife in ancient Egypt. 

Kartik sat there still mesmerized by the details the professor had shared. Dr. Hawke was a popular Egyptologist and the prime reason of Kartik's seeking an admission in this particular college in the US. He was immensely interested in the Egyptology, especially the afterlife in that period. 

After all the students had left the lecture hall, Dr. Hawke saw Kartik still sitting there, staring at something in his hands as if in a trance. 

"Mr. Desai, do you have any doubts or concerns?", he asked. 

His voice broke the trail of thoughts in Kartik's mind. He shook his head and replied with a smile, "Oh, nothing like that doctor. It's just that this has always been my interest and listening about afterlife today, especially in your lecture is like a dream come true."

Dr. Hawke chuckled lightly at that. 

"So, what are those notes in your hand about, if I might ask?", Dr. Hawke questioned in a curious tone. 

"Oh these. These are some of the notes which I have jotted down while studying afterlife. Now, even though the reference point is Egyptian afterlife, I have also studied about the afterlife in various ancient religions and modern religions. Also, its significance in today's world. So yeah, that's pretty much it.", Kartik replied humbly. It was a dreamlike experience for him to have gotten the opportunity to share his research with his idol. 

Dr. Hawke's eyes widened at the expanse of Kartik's studies. He had not expected such a level of dedication from a person of Kartik's age. He was impressed. 

"Wow. That's really wonderful Mr. Desai. I am totally impressed with your dedication to this topic. Woah."

Kartik smiled shyly at his professor not aware how to take his complements. He however, felt a serene satisfaction at those words. 

The next hour or so was spent by the two of them together glancing through Kartik's notes with Dr. Hawke providing the relevant insights and suggestions wherever required. It was like two long lost friends having a deep conversation on their favorite topic. 

"Kartik if you don't have any plans for today, would you accompany me to a research center. I have a friend, he's also a scientist, however he conducts experiments which help him understand afterlife. So, what say, will you come with me.", Dr. Hawke extended an invitation to Kartik. 

He simply could not believe his ears. This was once in a lifetime chance, and he could not believe he had been given this opportunity by his mentor. He almost jumped with joy and went ahead straight to hug Dr. Hawke.

"Oh, my goodness. Thank you doctor. Thank you so much.", he exclaimed in happiness. 

He then seemed to realize his blunder out of enthusiasm and stepped aside to stare at Dr. Hawke. He found a strange emotion swirling through his professor's eyes. One which he could not really pinpoint. 

"Um, sorry doctor, it's just that, I was really excited.", he said sheepishly. 

Dr. Hawke chuckled at that and shook his head stating, "Don't worry dear."

Kartik noticed a change in Dr. Hawke's demeanor once they reached the research center. It was as though he was lost in his own thoughts and was contemplating something. Kartik only hoped that he did not regret bringing him here. 

"Doctor, are you okay? Is everything fine?", Kartik questioned nervously. 

"Oh yes, it's fine. Seriously, it is.", Dr. Hawke replied with a forced smile. 

Kartik nodded and glanced around. The lab was fascinating. There were multiple boards and charts all around with such sophisticated equipment that he hadn't even distantly known of. All in all, it was a dream for someone into studying afterlife. 

A tall, well-built man came into Kartik's viewpoint. He looked like a scientist. 

'Perhaps, he's the scientist doctor was speaking about.', Kartik thought. 

"Oh Kartik. Meet my friend Dr. Brian Smith. He's the lead researcher here. Brian, meet my student, Kartik Desai."

The two of them shared a look which Kartik could not really decipher. 

"Hi Kartik. Nice meeting you. Although I think you might not feel the same.", Brian said in a really cryptic tone. 

"What do you....ahhh", before he could even complete his statement, he felt a prickling sensation at the back of his neck and dark spots in his vision. Kartik collapsed into darkness. 

When he woke up, he found himself in a room. However, he had his arms and legs tied up firmly. There was some really advanced equipment in front of him. As his gaze wandered across the room, he found a lot of other people, near about his age also in the same condition as his. However, a few seemed lost somewhere, the others seemed in some sort of a pain, not physical, he could feel it, but yes, they did seem in pain. He was simply not able to comprehend what had gone wrong. 

'Possibly they injected me with something. But why? And how can Dr. Hawke do this to me?', he thought exasperatedly. 

He tugged at his arms and legs where he was tied, but to no avail. 

"So, Kartik,", a loud voice startled him. 

"By now you must have guessed something's wrong. Well, you know what, it is. This is a simulator lab.", Brian stated with an evil glint in his eyes and an even evil smirk on his face. Dr. Hawke stood alongside with a blank face; however, Kartik could see guilt swirling in his eyes. 

"You see. Your professor over here, lures students into coming here, and then I conduct experiments on them. After all, you are so interested in afterlife, why don't you just experience it, huh? This lab conducts those experiments on humans which other scientists conduct on rats. Isn't it interesting? I so can't wait to unravel all the secrets of afterlife.", Brian stated with a malicious smile. 

Kartik's eyes widened with fear. He was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it. He looked at Dr. Hawke with an accusatory glare. He could not even meet his eyes. 

"Don't even think of shouting young man. You see all of these people around you. They have been caught up in a trance and a few are in the same condition as yours. So, it would not really be wise of you to scream and shout. There would be no use, trust me. Ah! Let me get the required drugs now. You will be now introduced to a drug which will sedate you in such a manner that you will have the afterlife experience. See this equipment around. It will maintain you in that state for the duration we want. Oh, but I must warn you. This drug, after its effects wear out is going to cause you a lot of troubles. Not that I care, but you should be thankful I warned you. By the way, if you are not so lucky, you might even die. But hey, good for you. You then officially get to enjoy afterlife.", Brian said, chuckling sickly. 

Kartik's eyes welled with tears. He just kept staring at Dr. Hawke with glassy eyes. Anger, frustration, fear and a tiny glimmer of hope reflecting in his eyes. 

When Brian left to get the drug, he said, "Please doctor. Let me go. I won't even breathe a single word of this to anyone. I will even leave this country, leave everything behind. Please let me go." He pleaded. 

"I cannot.", Dr. Hawke said with a straight face.

"Please. How can you, you pathetic man? You and I, we both know, I am going to die. And remember, if there's afterlife in fact, which I believe there is, where do you think you will land, huh?", Kartik said out of sheer, unadulterated anger. 

Dr. Hawke had guilt plastered on his face. Yes, it was true that he had lured a lot of people in here. But something was different with Kartik. He saw the young him in this scared boy sitting in front of him. He had a lifetime of wrongs until, but today he wished to set Kartik free. 

He stared at the multiple security cameras around and then glanced towards a tear-stricken Kartik. He quickly untied his arms and legs and dragged him towards the exit. Kartik was stunned. He simply went with the flow. Not that he had much of a choice. 

"Leave now. And remember, not even a word. Or the next time, it won't be just you. Your family would be here, alongside.", Dr. Hawke warned in a low voice. 

Kartik simply nodded, still unable to believe that he was set free. 

"And Kartik, leave this country, but not the studies. You...I... just leave.", Dr. Hawke said in a surprisingly soft tone. 

He did not even wait to decipher what he had meant to say in the end and ran for his life. 

The last few hours of his life now seemed as the most brutal nightmare for Kartik. He had already booked a flight back home, never to return. As he lay in the bed that night, he could only feel one thing, 'he might have studied afterlife, but this near-death experience had now traumatized him for a lifetime and beyond.'

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