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The Weird Mock Drill

The Weird Mock Drill

16 mins 16.4K 16 mins 16.4K

“Boys and girls, please assemble fast. We are running out of time here,” the mock drill coordinator announced in mic.

Despite his announcement, the students were still mumbling with each other as they came down from the stairs slowly. The college had three floors in each block, and the whole campus had three blocks in total. The mechanical engineering students and civil department students were asked to come and join initially. The other departments weren’t invited yet to join this mock drill. The coordinator had already discussed with the professor and took permission from him to conduct the mock drill program in a batch wise. He didn’t want to clutter the space with thousands of students standing for this mock drill at the same time. He wanted to conduct a quality drill to let every student benefit from this program.

“Hey, Jyothi. Don’t push me hard ya. I have neck pain already,” Renu said. She was beautiful girl in the college campus. There is no doubt about it. Most importantly she was audacious girl and had won three trophies in 300m race, and shuttling and in table tennis. She was athletic and at the same time, she was brilliant student too. Even her close friend had envied her sometimes.

“Is it? What happened? Did you chat with Naren for long time, yesterday?” Jyothi said and giggled. Her other friends Jansi and Suhana too joined her.

No, she didn’t have boyfriend. But they used to tease her because he had twice tried to propose her, even though she said ‘no’ strictly.

“Hey, don’t bring this topic now. It’s hurting me. By the way we have to join them immediately,” Renu said and pushed her friend Jyothi in the front. Her feet tripped off in the stairs but she didn’t fall. She had grabbed Renu’s hand and gave her a stealthy look. They came down and joined along with boys who were standing close to the coordinator. He had the kerosene canister on the ground and few gunny bags spread just behind it, also there were few sand bonds could be found. He was still speaking through the mic to let the crowd assemble. Boys were already stood in the open ground (just opposite to the college block) and Naren had started transmitting the love signals to her. He was a charm guy, but didn’t have a good attitude as Renu expected. He had already gone behind two girls and the whole college knew about it.

“Thank you for joining us. Shall we start the mock dill now?” the coordinator said. He had swarthy face, a crooked nose, and week stubble on his chin. He took this profession after his twelfth grade and he hadn’t interested in the studies further. He had just chosen this job because he wanted to earn money that time. He had come from poor family and both his parents were coolly workers. He had joined along with his friend and who had recommended this job for him. But he was doing this job quite good for four years, though sometimes he hadn’t followed the rules very strictly. Also he was caring type and very confident about what he was doing, and didn’t want any student hurt from these mock drills. He was good at it so far.

“Yes sir,” everyone hollered. Few girls and boys were giggled as if they thought he was making them feel like kids.

“Okay,” the coordinator said. He smiled. He held the canister in his hand and called few boys to spread the gunny sacks in front of him. Two boys came forward and did it. “Boys and girls, be ready to play with the fire. It is very important not to fear while you deal with sudden fire break out. You don’t need to panic. All you have to do is stay calm and think positively. It may sound weird for you, but believe me most of the people were dead in the fire incidents only because of panic. They couldn’t clearly think what they were doing and fall in the trap of fire. I think you guys are very talented and I don’t think fire can eat you alive. In fact, girls have changed so much these days. They can handle any problems, is it correct guys?”

The girls were giggled and said, “Yes sir. We are the best,” some girls pumped their fists in the air. Renu too had joined the other girls. She was looking beautiful as smiled, and you could see the sparkling front teeth. She brought her floral hand kerchief to her mouth to hide her smile from others seeing her, particularly, that Naren who was still kept watching her like owl in the night.

“I wanted to hear more voices. The sound is not enough. Did you have your breakfast or not?” the coordinator said, he pampered his round stomach as lightly laughed in front of students for his own joke.

The students were mumbling now. They didn’t give an answer because they thought it was a weird and vague question and it mayn’t be answered. Though few boys had responded him with sour faces as if they hadn’t eaten anything from morning, the girls were still looking cheerful.

“Should I call your principal and tell him that they should give you food first before we start doing this mock drill?” the coordinator said, still gleaming.

“Noooooooooooooooo,” the girls crooned now. Boys too joined them.

“That’s good. Okay guys, let us fight against the fire now. See there are two gunny bags on the ground, now I am going to pour the petrol on it. If I threw the matchstick on it, what will happen?” the coordinator lightly teased them. Just to ensure if everyone was on the same page.

“It will fire,” everyone said in a roaring sound.

“No, it won’t fire until I threw the struck matchstick on it,” the coordinator gleamed once again. But this time few girls mourned and dropped their shoulders as if it was a tedious joke.

“Fine guys, I know it was a scummy joke, but I need your attention. That’s why I had to speak like that,” the coordinator said, “here now we are going to see the live fire and we should be ready to face it. Guys don’t panic as I said earlier. That’s very important to save our lives. Let me ask one boy and one girl come from this first and second row respectively,” he looked but no one was ready to take charge, everyone had looked at each other faces as if they were seeing for the first time.

The coordinator had looked at the watch, already one hour was elapsed and clearly he was running out of time. The principal had given him two hours to finish this mock drill. He wanted to close it before lunch hour. He thought these mocking tests were not going to help students to come clean with the real fire accidents. He thought it was waste of time. In fact, he wasn’t interested in conducting this mocking drill at all, because he didn’t want to divert the attention of students from studies. But he had accepted it for the sake of having clearance certificates.

“C’mon fast. You…. that yellow churidhar girl and that blue color shirt boy,” the coordinator said into the mic.

The yellow churidhar girl hesitated for a second but joined him later. The blue color boy had no hesitation at all and he was ready to plunge into this firefighting.

“Good, now you pour the petrol into the gunny sack,” the coordinator instructed at the girl. She was relieved and ready to do such a small task. She thought he was going to ask her to stand close to the fire and douse it.

“Boy, you take that Carbon dioxide cylinder and get ready. Once she poured the petrol in it, I will put a matchstick on it. On seeing the fire, you have to douse it by sprinkling the Carbon dioxide. You know how to press that black handle bar in the cylinder, right?” coordinator asked with doubt. He thought the boy was going to suck because he didn’t have any experience. But he wanted to test his real caliber without giving a rehearsal on how to do it.

“Okay sir,” the boy said and already tucked the cylinder under his armpit and eagerly waiting for his mission to start. On the other hand, the yellow churidhar girl was holding the canister in her feeble hand and smiled at her friends. Though she was confident in doing this task, she felt awkwardness in front of boys.

“Now let’s begin this drill,” the coordinator boomed.

Immediately the girl poured two liters of petrol on the gunny sack and she went back in safe distance. And the coordinator struck the matchstick and tossed it on the sack, which was fired and red flames danced in the air. The sudden buuuuuumm sound echoed from the fire. Few students who stood in the front went backward because the heat had rubbed their skin. The blue shirt boy had fumbled with the black handle as the Carbon dioxide didn’t spew from the nozzle of the red cylinder. The coordinator shouted at him to press harder, so did the boy, and suddenly the copious Carbon dioxide was spit on the flames. The fire was immediately doused. The boy breathed harder as if he had really saved someone with his rescue operation.

“Good. Boys and girls give them a big hand for doing this brave act,” the coordinator said. From everywhere cheers erupted as they clapped louder. Some girls raised their hands and showed their strength against the boys.

“Now, one girl from third row and one boy from fourth row should come here now,” the coordinator said. He was beaming with pride for letting girls do this job. He always found it was fascinating job to let the girls show their bravery. He wanted lot of girls to join in this drill operation fearlessly.

“You, yes…the maroon color churidhar girl and that checked shirt boy,” the coordinator said now. Renu was stunned on hearing this. She had never expected he would call her. In fact, she was almost hidden her face from showing it to him, just to escape from participating in this drill. But the coordinator was stubborn and he kept calling her. Renu didn’t want to go at all, though she had confident that she can able to do this job. She thought pouring petrol wasn’t a daunting task, though the hot dancing flames might threaten her. But she wasn’t yet ready for this. She stayed where she was, immovable and immobile.

“Go Renu, he is calling you only, no,” her friends said and pushed her. But Renu didn’t budge, she stayed there. Her breath was shallow and her heart was racing inside her chest. It’s like she was going to jump from the third floor to the ground floor. She really felt like that now. She didn’t move her feet at all.

The checked shirt boy already came to the spot and fiddling with the cylinder. He wore the green mask which was kept behind it, even though it wasn’t recommended. He didn’t want to wheeze in front of everyone. He was waiting for his chance like he was going to fire the bullets against the war group. But Renu had held her both hands on her head and shook it, saying ‘I can’t do this. Please someone go.’

“What’s her name?” the coordinator asked from few girls in the front.

“Renu,” they said in chorus.

“Hah, Renu. If you won’t come here, we are going to bring this setup to your place and finally you have to save everyone, mind it,” the coordinator said as everyone laughed. Renu felt the embarrassment streaking down her face like the sweat was dripping down. Only because she couldn’t mute the embarrassment, she acceded to go and face this trial upfront. The fear was so fierce in her. ‘Don’t go it is very dangerous,’ her voice was continuously echoing in her mind. On each step, she felt like going back to her classroom again. She felt so feeble and drained of energy. Though she was good at studies and other events, she was going to face fire for the first time in her life. She had fear of fire from her childhood, because when she was doing her fifth grade, a small boy from her neighborhood house was injured due to fire outrage. The family was sleeping in the midnight, there was no power that day as thunderstorm was wreaking the whole city. A small candle was lit on the small table close to the bed, and the window was opened because they need some air. Everyone was in deep sleep that time, the wind roared outside as the candle flipped aside and fell on the bed. The small boy was sleeping and the fire had bitten his left arm before their parents had saved him. She still had the image of that small boy in her mind. Whenever she sees his one chipped hand she always thinks about that fire incident. No wonder why she was frightened about fire.

“C’mon Renu. It’s getting late. If you done this job rightly, I am going to give this gift for you,” the coordinator said and drew a Cadbury chocolate from his shirt packet.

“I need that……I need that,” the yellow churidhar girl screamed from the second row.

“No it is only for Renu, because she is going to be a good example for all of you. She has that ability. C’mon let’s give a big hand for Renu,” the coordinator said. He had meant it. He had a noble thought of making Renu fearless about the fire. But Renu was full of fear and she swallowed down the lump twice as she headed to the spot.

“Boy, you hold this petrol canister. Let this girl have the Carbon dioxide cylinder instead,” the coordinator said. The mumbling sounds erupted from the girl's side. But few of them had clapped to cheer for Renu, especially her close friends Jyothi and Jansi and Suhana. On hearing this, Renu’s heart was jumped out of her chest as fear trodden her soul. Her hands were shivering badly now as if she had killed someone with knife. Her eyes were already turned purple and her breath was swaying inside her nostrils. She didn’t even know how to hold that cylinder in her hands. All she can do was to trust in the name of God and pray for her well being. She can’t do anything more than that. She thought she was really going to faint like a child on seeing the waves of fire.

“I think you know how to press that black handle, isn’t?” the coordinator said.

Renu didn’t know what to say, she shook her head at him.

“Let the game begin nooooowwww,” the coordinator boomed.

The boy was reckless when threw the petrol to the gunny sack, it was littered on every side. A blob of petrol fell on Renu’s dress and close to her on the ground. But no one had noticed it. Even the coordinator was getting ready to strike the matchstick and Renu was still fumbling with the cylinder. She didn’t have an ounce of confidence that she was going to douse the fire successfully. Because she had lots of doubts running over her head. What if the black handle didn’t work? What if the Carbon dioxide was not inside this cylinder? What if someone from behind pushed her into the flames? What if the fire had caught her?, she thought nervously.

The coordinator threw the matchstick on the gunny sack and it was boomed with sudden roar. The fire was immense as the boy had poured plenty of petrol. The red and blue flames were dancing up everywhere. It was the time to douse it. But on seeing this fire Renu’s mind was shut up. She didn’t know how to react. Because the fire was heavy to bear, she could feel the fire was heating up her skin as if she had tossed herself in on it. The fire was coming close to her as if it wanted to hug her now. “C’mon Renu, release that Carbon dioxide right now,” the coordinator bellowed in his top of the voice.

The fellow students were screaming too. Particularly, Renu’s friends were gone in a frenzied state on seeing these roaring flames. But Renu was too novice to douse this fire, she was still fumbling with the handle as she wasn’t able to gush out that Carbon dioxide. It came in less quantity like some mucus had come from its mouth. It wasn’t enough to douse that fire at all. Renu was panicked now. She slid down and reached closer to the flames as if the small amount of white powdery Carbon dioxide was going to save her from the fire. The coordinator now sensed the tragedy. He was already sure that something bad was going to happen, because he hadn’t expected Renu to get close to the fire. He was kept calling her to come back. But his calling was too late. The fire had already trapped Renu and her dress was burning now.

Rampant screams came from the students. It was almost disaster to see a girl was burning before their eyes. Everyone was scattered to fetch the pail of water, but they couldn’t get it from anywhere. They had to go to canteen to bring this water, and it was almost a kilometer distance from the college blocks. Few had thrown sand on her, but it wasn’t enough. Renu was hollering and screaming as she danced with fire on her body. You could see her clothes were burnt completely now. Her skin was shrinking like a plastic mould and getting black. There was no beauty in it. She was getting into ashes. The coordinator didn’t know what to do. He was kept calling the students to bring water, but they were throwing glass of drinking water on her body, yes, they took it from the water purifiers in the block. It wasn’t enough to douse such arrogant flames.

They were tired of doing this. Few boys had already gone to the canteen to fetch water, but it was too late. Before they reached the spot, Renu had fallen down without heartbeat. She was dead, though her burnt body was flexing its muscles in the heat. Principle and coordinator were seeing each other and ducked down their heads. The coordinator had never seen such a rampant show before. He had never seen a soul die before his eyes while conducting the mock drills earlier. He didn’t know whom to blame. Definitely he didn’t want to blame the girl for sure, because he had motivated her to do this. Though he had done this for the sake of her goodness, he had never imagined she was going to die. He wanted the girl awake and tells everybody that he wasn’t culprit behind this issue.

But he was helpless in this matter. He knew if only he had followed this mock drill as per guidelines, he would have kept ready barrel of water just behind this place. First time, he had realised his mistake, and it was too late for him to analyse the reasons now. The principal had only given a morsel of attention towards this mock drill, and he hadn’t questioned him for the safety at all. He was immersed in some research works and didn’t even aware of what’s going on here. No one cried but the coordinator cried as knelt down before her body and held her body close to him as if he had lost his best friend in the world. He cried and cried, for realising his mistake and for letting her die.

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