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Dr. Sudarshan Upadhyay

Drama Action Thriller


4.8  

Dr. Sudarshan Upadhyay

Drama Action Thriller


Yearnings of Amber : 3

Yearnings of Amber : 3

8 mins 262 8 mins 262

Senthil had dropped Charu at home after the ordeal. She had slept like a baby, her mind too exhausted to telecast any weird dreams. She passed the next day huddled in her room. Senthil had called her thrice but she had not answered. The next night she had another dream about the lake and the sword which left her more befuddled than afraid. 

Her friend Yuvaan had come over. She told him everything and he listened intently taking a macabre enjoyment in it. He was a bit of conspiracy theorist and came up with many absurd theories about the dream. Although some of his questions about Uncle Vincent's sudden travel plans to Egypt did make sense. He had provided her with the blue-prints but was unreachable since then. She had called him many times to no avail.

She felt a deep urge to check out the UG4 parking but was afraid to leave the house. She had not discussed the attack with anyone. Not Yuvaan not her grandfather. She decided to call Senthil but stopped herself. Senthil had helped her out but apart from that she knew nothing about him.


'You can't live in fear' her mother had always told her. Steeling herself she decided to check out the mall. Only this time, she would be a little more cautious and well prepared. She went back to her room and filled her green-tanned backpack with a water bottle, a heavy torchlight and a pepper-spray which she had half-emptied just by testing and fooling around. Wearing a faded blue jeans with a black top she observed herself in the mirror and found that her attire matched the Nurse's. This gave her an idea and she waited for the Nurse to return. As soon as the Nurse was back she put her plan in motion.

'I am going out and the sun seems severe. Can I have your umbrella?' Charu requested her.

'Off course' the Nurse smiled and handed it over.

Charu was not entirely sure whether her house was being watched but this was the only plan she could come up with on the fly.

'A leaking bucket is better than no bucket' she thought. She took out her IPhone and left messages for Yuvaan, her grandfather and Uncle Vincent. Angling the umbrella downwards over her face, she walked out hastily. Hoping that if anybody was on the lookout she would be mistaken for the nurse. She was not entirely mistaken.

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She arrived at the mall by bus, although she hated the public buses but somehow felt safer in them. Her metal torch did not ping the detector as she walked through it.

'So much for safety at the mall' she thought. 'If I can bring a metal torch, then anyone can bring in a metal. Metal like iron or steel. Steel used for making a gun. That means, anybody can bring in a gun and she had been fired upon by a gun not two days back'. The thought filled her with dread.

She spun around the central foyer of the mall as if trying to take it in all at once. Trying to identify faces, looking at peoples bags trying to guess if they had guns. This went for a minute until she laughed out at the absurdity of this. There was no way she could identify if someone was after her by studying their faces nor scan their bags for weapons.

She had read somewhere that when the prey could not escape it tried to hide in plain sight. It was called Camouflage and she would do the same.

She went inside one of the big accessories store. She brought a white T-shirt, pink pastel lipstick, a scarf and oversized googles. She paid with her card and directly went inside the ladies restroom. Here she changed her T-shirt, applied the lipstick, wound the scarf around her neck and head. The googles went next and this ensemble covered most of her face. She hoped nobody would recognize her. Feeling a little more confident she headed out. She walked at a steady pace, taking a roundabout path which would ultimately lead her to underground parking level 4. The UG4. She stopped every few steps, always in front of a glass facade. As if checking out the display but in reality using the glass to see if anybody was following her, which was an exercise in futility as everybody was walking in every direction. It was a mall after all.

Finally she took a lift but could not find any button for UG4. The buttons ended at UG3. She got out at UG3 and looked around while everyone else walked to their cars. A female security guard approached her.

'Can I help you Ma'am?' she asked good-naturedly.

'Ah'.... Charu hesitated, 'My friends told me they parked at UG4'.

The guard smiled and shook her head.


'There is no UG4 Ma'am. There is a lower level but it is for storing scrap and such and it is cordoned off. Your friends tricked you, I think'.

'Huhh' Charu murmured with wrinkled forehead. 'No, I am sure they said UG4'.

'Can you call them and confirm please, Ma'am'. The guard replied but her smile was little strained.

Charu made a show of taking out her mobile and swinging it around.

'I don't think, I have reception' she told the guard innocently.

The guard rolled her eyes and gestured towards the far-end.

'Please try near the stairs' the guard was not smiling any more.

Charu thanked her with a mocking smile and hurried towards the stairs.

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Charu's eyes lit up as she saw that the stairs also went down. She looked back at the guard who was talking to another person now and rushed down the stairs. One flight down, she could see the wall marked as UG4. In typical mall fashion they area was cordoned off with nothing more than a yellow retractable barricade tape. Charu just needed to walk two steps bent down and she was in UG4. The only problem was that there was nothing there. It was just a vast dimly lit parking space having containers, trolleys and other broken, old and obsolete items strewn around. It looked like nobody had been here in months. Still she decided to look around at least once.

She kept the pepper spray in her back pocket within easy reach. She moved forward warily, the torch eerily bright in the basement. Moving around one of the fat pillars of the basement she saw the flickering light of the ladies washroom. Charu was drawn towards it like a moth to fire. Inside was more of the same. The floor was dirty, the marbles cracked and one corner pooled with dirty sludge. She moved past the stalls with doors missing, broken or hanging askew. All of the toilet seats were either gone or were open. And as brave as she was, she still could not gather the courage to even glance inside any of the stalls. She moved her torch towards the last stall and a pair of jewels shone back. Piqued she move forward just as a black shape streaked past her. Shining her light in its direction she saw a large cat looking back. The cat growled once as if admonishing her for the disturbance. Then it took a leap and entered the AC duct above swatting aside the tattered ribbon swaying from the duct.

The last stall surprisingly had an intact door. Although not squeaky clean but it was still in a better shape than the others and the seat was down. On an impulse she lifted the seat up but nothing happened. No door opened, no number pad or iris scanner poked out of the walls. That is until she moved back a little. Then things happened quickly. The air rushed out with a soft swoosh, there was whir of gears and the whole toilet collapsed in on itself exposing a shiny metal corridor. Clean as a blue sky in the summer. Before Charu could comprehend all this she found herself inside the long corridor. She walked ahead, her feet moving on their own accords. The corridor was interspersed with doors and other narrower hallways leading deeper inside. She had not yet seen anybody or any signs of other people but somebody had to maintain this place. The place was in pristine condition. The pitter-patter of her steps felt as an invasion in the silence of the place. The hall started going deeper with a barely perceptible decline. Finally it reached a strong door and this one had a screen. As she moved nearer, a laser sprang out the screen scanned her retina and the door hissed open. Inside was a circular space curling outwards like a flower with doors at each end of the petals. There were total 10 doors and each was assigned a code in block letters. She walked past each of the shut doors until she reached the 7th petal. The code on the door filled her with dread. It was MV02FK09. Thankfully the door did not open. Offering a silent prayer she turned back to return only to find Ruth staring at her.

'Ruth' she murmured.

'Seen enough' he asked with a smile and stalked forward.         

The smile somehow felt shark-like to Charu and she moved back her hand back instinctively grabbing the pepper-spray.

'What are you doing here' she tried to sound calm but couldn't stop her voice from stuttering a little.

'I got your message' he said and smiled again. 'How did you get in?'

'I…uh..the door was open and I'. Charu was a lousy liar.

Ruth just stopped and suddenly there was a nightstick in his hand. He started banging it slowly on the metal walls. Each thud sounding like a hammer in Charu's head. He frowned and lifted his hand in questions and then rushed forward.

Charu brought up her pepper-spray and sprayed it in an arc. Ruth swayed away from it but was still able to deal a glancing blow to Charu's temple. The last thing she saw before darkness took her was Ruth sprawled on the floor squirming in agony.


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