Crime Others Horror
Chronicles of Detective Roy Arora: Episode-2. The case of the Haunted Mill
By Trambak Ray
My past years with Roy have been full of surprises. There were so many cases. Some, easily solved within hours. Others, took days, even weeks to wrap things up. We never backed down though. Roy always said he was lucky to have me with him in solving cases but it was vice versa, in fact. The action, adventure, crime-hunting life I always fancied as a teenager and a kid was being fulfilled now. In fact, things were going so interesting for me that I moved to Delhi to live in Roy’s apartment as the excitement of cases just didn’t seem to fade away. I permanently took the transfer to Delhi so that I could still be wrapped up in the case-solving excitement. There are some cases though, which are worth remembering. Just like some major road accident, or a big proud moment of accomplishment, some cases leave a mark in your mind forever and whenever you rewind it in your mind, you could see each second clearly. The 'ghost at the mill' was one such case. I never really believed in ghosts but when spooky things and experiences come in my way, I easily get chills. By chills, I remember, it was the winter of 2029, just days before Christmas that we got a really frightened and an unsettled guest at our apartment…… December 20, 2029 40-C, Victoria street, Delhi “Horrifying chill, this. I hear people from London go back home telling stories how cold the winters in Delhi are,” I said.
“True. The additive factor is, people don’t really use heaters here. Plus, we don’t have a dry climate so things get worse,” Roy said. It was just around 8 o’clock in the morning and we were sipping fine, Darjeeling tea Albert had just made. Feeling really bored, I went near the window to take a look around. The streets were empty. Being one of the busiest streets of New Delhi, Victoria Street was surprisingly silent. The winter did its business. But there was a particular person I saw who was running from something. He looked young, and he was running so fast he almost bumped with a car while crossing, stumbled two times and was running up and down the street. I closed the curtains and went back in. “That one’s a hell of a troubled individual.” I said. “Was he running?” Roy asked. “Yeah,” I said.
“Up and down the street?” Roy asked.
“Did he stumble?”
“Of what I could see of him, yes, twice.”
“Almost got hit by a car?” Roy asked.
“He’s alive,” I said.
“Good. We have our next client. The bell rings in 5, 4, 3….” Instead of the bell, there were continuous poundings at the door. I quickly opened it. And there he was, like Roy deduced, the troubled runner. “Are you Roy Arora?” He asked rapidly. “I’m right here!” Roy exclaimed. The man ran and bashed in our apartment and while doing so, stumbled upon the carpet. “There, there, young laddy. Get up. Get some brandy, Albert!” Roy said. I and Roy lifted him and made him sit on the sofa. He was really one troubled individual. His eyes were bulgy, his mouth hung lose like a pug and his face clearly showed fear. He was terrified and he was panting like a dog. Albert came in and gave the young man some brandy. He took slow sips and kept looking at the floor. After some time, his panting eased and he looked up. “Yes. So, Mr—” Started Roy.
“Anil. Anil Sharma.” He said. Roy observed him for some 30 seconds and began his show-off.
“You didn’t sleep last night, did you?” He asked. “No I—”
“Or the night before?” Roy asked. “No but—” “Chicken. How was it?” Roy asked. “It was good but how—” “That was a rather fast journey from Agra, wasn’t it?” Roy asked. “Yeah but—” “Agra express. 7 in the morning. Then you almost cut your pant getting on the taxi, right?” He asked. “Roy, enough. Let the man breathe.” I said. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. I’m in a big trouble and now you’re making all this deductions. Did you follow me?” Anil asked.
“No. Of course I didn’t. Let me explain—”
“NOT NOW, ROY!” I shouted. He ignored me and started to talk. “Your eyes are bulgy. I am insomniac myself so I know how many nights it requires to get your eyes loose like a pug. So, from personal experiences, that’s two sleepless nights you’ve got. There’s a fair bit of a food substance anyone can see. Now, how did I get chicken? Well, while eating chicken or fish, there’s no way even a small amount of smell goes away within an hour. So that was certain you arrived an hour earlier. Now, if you lived in Delhi and knew my address, you would’ve been here at least before 45 minutes. Since that wasn’t the case, I know you were from outside. Now, you are wet. And in every place nearby, the only place which is cold as hell and has rained a little in the past day or so is Agra. So, you are from Agra. And you arrived this early. You couldn’t have taken a bus, or a car to reach here that fast. No offence, but you don’t seem like a person to take a plane just to travel to Delhi. So, your shirt is a little bit wet, you run to the Agra station and catch the first train in the morning. You reached, quickly called a cab, but you were just too desperate to come here so you got on quickly and scratched your pants in the process, which is clearly visible. As for how I know it was Agra Express, there’s only one train today that can bring you here this fast-Agra express.” Roy said.
Anil was holding the brandy at one hand and looking at Roy as if he asked him to donate his kidney. After a minute of staring, Anil finally spoke. “Amazing. That was just brilliant,” he said. “Yeah, I get that often,” Roy said. “Show-off,” said I. Roy ignored me and started talking. “So, what brought you here, Anil? Seems like a ghost chased you,” Roy said and laughed. Anil rather looked dull a bit more surprised. “How did you know THIS too?” Anil asked. Roy stopped laughing and we looked at each other. “I-I beg your pardon?” I asked. “How did Mr. Arora know I was chased by a ghost?” He asked. I and Roy again looked at each other in confusion. What the hell was this kid talking about?
“Albert, bring some cookies and a bottle of wine,” Roy called. Albert came in a few minutes and brought those things. “Now, Anil, it was pretty nice meeting you. But seeing that you are just going through a nightmare or a trauma, here’s a gift from us, eat these cookies. Wonderful they are. Imported. And I hope your return journey is just as fantastic as your arrival. Ciao,” Roy said.
“What-NO! You have to believe me! I went to the police but they laughed it off and so you were the only person I could come to! Please, believe me!” Anil said.
“I can go to that extent to agree that maybe gods can exist. But ghosts? Are you out of your fucking mind? Go and get some sleep kiddo,” Roy said.
“There have been murders! My dad and one of my brothers! They have been killed by the ghost and I merely escaped and you think I have a mental problem?” Anil said. “I’m sorry. Can you repeat the last line?” Roy asked. “You think I have a mental…”
“Not that. Before that.”
“Murders. My dad, my brother and several others have been killed by the ghost.” He said. Roy stood still for some seconds and then jumped in joy. “Yes! Murder! By a creature that doesn’t even exist. You, Anil, sit down. Albert, open the wine and cookies and let’s hear about what this young lad has to say!” Roy said. “My dad has been murdered and you’re happy about it?” Anil asked.
“No. No, I’m sorry. I was happy because there’s a murder involved. Sorry for your dad,” Roy said.
“Excuse him. Actually HE is the one who needs a mental treatment,” I said to Anil. “Ignore my best friend, Anil. Go on with your story. No. Wait till we get served the wine. Fast Albert, FAST!” Roy shouted. After we had our sips, Roy broke the silence. “We’re all set. Anil, start. AJ, you know what to do.” He said. Yep. I usually kept the laptop and Google opened when a client came in. Just to gain some extra information. I also made notes. Roy said he didn’t need those but my notes have been helpful in many cases. Anyway, Anil started his story…
“I come from a rich family. My family heritage has been passed on through generations and we have many properties across Delhi and Agra and some in a few other states. When my grandfather was alive, he built a paper mill in a village, just on the outskirts of Agra. My grandfather was an honest man. Even though he got some of the property from my great grandfather, he was the one who started the Sharma group of industries. We had paper mills, factories and chemical research labs. A new paper mill was planned outside Agra as the old one was burned down due to a silly calamity by a worker. This mill was built in the village Kalash, just 45 km from Agra. Initially, there were many disputes. Farmers were protesting and even became violent. But that was dealt with. The paper mill later opened and it was really successful until one day. This was a story my father told me.
“As any businessman, my grandpa had enemies too. And back in those days, rivalries were taken seriously. There was a business firm, Alok Industries, whose owner was Alok Acharya. He had a serious dispute with grandpa over one of the chemical research labs, saying that the land was getting destroyed and accusing my grandpa over blackmailing him and hijacking the bid to take over the land. Grandpa didn’t do anything to him but still he put the bid and got the land. After some years, Alok Acharya was found dead in the paper mill at Kalash that my grandpa owned. He was found with an unused explosive as he died because a steel ceiling fell on him. Some days after his death, strange things started to happen at the paper mill. Workers said that they heard noises at night and that someone whispered into their ears. There were reportedly two most bizarre incidents. First was the white shadow seen, which screamed noises loudly for about 40 seconds, was believed to be Alok’s ghost. Second reported incident was the flow of blood in wash basins. After 8 in the evening, instead of water, the workers reported that pure blood was flowing. These stories became quite popular and workers didn’t go to the mill after evening. Frustrated, my grandfather went one evening with his colleague to the paper mill. He didn’t return home all night and the next day his and his colleague’s bodies were found. They were dead. There was no sign of blood. Incidentally, grandfather had taken a camera with him which was gifted to him by a British Viceroy. In those times, those cameras had instant photos coming out. So, there were two photos lying around. One was a simple photo of the empty mill and in the other photo, on the left hand side, there were two eye-like white apparitions clearly visible.
“After his death, the mill was permanently shut down and it was announced as a haunted place. After my dad took over Sharma industries, he tried to reopen the mill and to erase the ghost rumour. He solemnly believed that grandpa was murdered and the stories were fake. But mother and grandma didn’t let him go to the mill. But still, one day, when I was little, dad was going somewhere. I found him and my older brother talking about going to the mill. After I heard, I asked him if I could go. He refused to take me so I threatened him that I’ll tell mom. So, I, he and my brother went to the mill. It was dark and barely some lights, except the car headlights, were on at Kalash. After reaching the mill entrance, I was forced to sit with the driver. Some 30 minutes later, I heard a scream. It was so loud that some nearby villagers came rushing in. After breaking the door and entering the mill, we found dad and brother dead. There was no blood. They were right in front of me, dead.
“It was an awful time for me and mom. But later, the time passed and I grew up and took over Sharma industries. Of all these years, the image of my dad and brother and the fear of the mill has permanently remained in my mind. Still, some days earlier I made a plan of going there and to try and find the cause. It was evening, the sun was just about to set. I went in and turned on the torch. I even took a video recorder. I’ve brought it right now, I’ll show you soon. So, after I went in, for 10 minutes nothing happened. No noise or movement. The silence was deafening. I was thirsty so I turned on the tap and instead of water, pure blood started flowing! I freaked out and just seconds later I heard a loud, spooky voice that shouted, “AAAAAAAAAA” in a really high pitch for several seconds. Then, I started to run and I heard footsteps other than mine. Just before I reached the exit, I stumbled and saw a white apparition far off. It was coming towards me fast. I pointed the video camera towards it for two seconds, and then I ran out. It was the day before yesterday that the event happened. The police laughed it off saying that it’s a waste of time. This place was even shown on TV and is considered one of the most haunted places in the country. Still, they didn’t help me and I came running to you as fast as I could. Please, you have to believe me, what I saw really happened. Here is the video camera. Watch it later.” Anil gave us his video camera. Roy was silent and his eyes closed and his hands crossed. That meant he was thinking deeply. Anil was about to say something but I silenced him with hand motion so that Roy couldn’t be disturbed. After around five minutes, he spoke up. “Has the building been renovated ever?” Roy asked. “Never. Grandpa was planning it but well…” Anil said. “This Alok Acharya, was he married? Did he have any children?” Roy asked.
“Yes, he was married. But they weren’t able to conceive. And they didn’t adopt as far as I know.” Anil said.
“You said that after your grandpa died, the place was announced haunted. During the night your dad died, did someone live nearby?” He asked. “No. There were two houses which belonged to farmers but they had left in fear.” Anil said. “And when you visited, was anyone’s home nearby?” Roy asked. “Yes. There are 5 buildings. Three are farmers and their families. They are on the east of the mill. One is of the caretaker of the mill. I mean, his ancestors managed it but since he was in charge, he built a house near it. And another building is a small guest house with 4-5 rooms built by the sarpanch as some young lads visit the mill during the day.” Anil said. “And how is the connection of the mill to the main road or highway?” Roy asked. “Not good. There’s only one muddy road to the mill and it’s a pain to take a vehicle there. Especially during rains.” Anil said. “Okay. Thank you Anil. Now I and Arjun here, I call him AJ, will visit the mill day after tomorrow and we’ll stay for 2 nights. Make arrangements with the guest house and book two rooms. Inform the caretaker beforehand. And you don’t go near the mill for a week and stay in touch. In short, I’ll take the case.” Roy said.
“Thank you so much.” Anil said. “Don’t thank me till the case is solved. Take this wine, go home and sleep. I’ll give you the video recorder later.” Roy said. After Anil went, I got frustrated at Roy because I had office. “I and AJ will go together? I have damn work, smartass.” I said. “You’re an IAS officer. You have benefits. Use them and take a week's leave. I don’t ask you every day, do I?” Roy asked. No he doesn’t. “Anyway, I searched. The story the guy said is 100% true. I mean the deaths and all. There’s also a news channel’s footage that covers the story of the mill.” I said. “I don’t give a shit about the channel. Just plug the video cam in and let’s see what the young lad got.” I plugged the video camera to the computer. For the first 5 minutes, there was no movement. Then, Roy suddenly spoke up. “Stop. Zoom to the left hand side corner. See.” And there was something black and unusually shaped. Like a shadow. “Ghosts don’t have shadows, do they?” Asked Roy. “Absolutely no idea.” I said. Then we saw the rest of the footage. We saw the blood coming out of the stopcock. Though Roy refused to believe it was blood, it was really close enough. Finally, we saw the end of the video where there was a really scary face with a terrible white apparition and pure black eyes. “Wow. Some scary stuff, eh?” I asked. “It is rather interesting. So, let’s gather all the stuff. We’re heading to Kalash day after tomorrow, after all!" Roy said.
December 22, 2029 The mill road, Kalash, Uttar Pradesh. After reaching Agra by train, we hired a taxi and were en route to Kalash. “Ghosts haunt there, sahib. Sambhalke jana. Bohot khatarnak ha,” said the driver. I looked at Roy. After talking for 10 minutes, he was back in his thinking pose. Arms crossed, eyes close, head down. It was evening when we reached. We reached the guest house by a bumpy and ill-maintained road. From the guest house, we could see the old mill. It was just two minutes away. The mill really looked withered. It was built in 1859, just after the First Revolution of India. It hadn’t been renovated ever since and looked like it had been burnt down. We went in the guest house and talked to the manager, Mohan. “It is really good that you both are here to help this mystery. Although I must say that we strongly believe the ghost of Alok Acharya is still there.” He said. “Anil said many others have died, am I right?” Roy asked. “Yes. After Mr. Sharma, Anil’s grandfather died, many bids were placed and some bidders came to see the place. Two-three people told that the ghost story was rubbish but they were later killed. Over the last 75 years, there have been 8 deaths. All those who dared to go in. I must insist, sir, even if you don’t believe in ghosts, that you shouldn’t go there.” Mohan said.
“Leave that decision to us. Show us our rooms for now,” Roy said. I got the room which had the direct view to the mill. “Stay awake at night, and say 'hi' from the window to Mr. Alok Acharya’s ghost.” Roy said and laughed hard. “It’s not funny.” I said. “Now, you’re not into believing in ghosts, are you?” Roy asked. “No, I don’t. But seeing the video, and hearing all these stories and the deaths and all, it does make me wonder….and I do get some chills.” I said. “Well, that’s true. Anyways, I’m going to sleep. We’ll meet the mill’s caretaker tomorrow. Till then, Good night. And AJ?” Roy asked.
“If you see a ghost, don’t forget to use nimbu-mirchi. HAHAHA.” Roy laughed.
“Bugger off.” I said. I gave the mill one last look and turned off the lights. The next three days were going to be long. Very long. I and Roy went early in the morning to the caretaker’s house. It was just 5 minutes east of the guest house. His name was Shyam. “I just want to confirm. This building was never renovated since its inception, was it?” Roy asked. “Never. Not once.” Shyam answered. “Okay. You brought the keys?” Roy asked. “Yes, sir. Here.” Shyam gave us a set of keys. “Blueprint and the village map?” Roy asked. “Here they are, sir. But I’m afraid the map is too old. There are only three more houses which belong to the farmers. The map shows just two.” He said. “It’s okay, Shyam. We just needed an overview. Goodbye and thanks.” Roy said.
“Sahib?” Shyam asked. “Yes?” “Please, don’t go in. The ghost is not kind.” Shyam said. “Well, If the ghost is a prick then I am an asshole. I can easily beat him. Goodbye, Shyam,” Roy said. After the meeting, we went to the entrance of the mill. I went to open the gate when Roy shouted. “What in the world are you doing?” Roy asked. “Opening the gate. Don’t you wanna investigate?” I asked. “What? No! Not today or tonight. We’ll have a look at the surroundings.” He said. “What significance will that bring?” I asked. “You’ll see,” Roy said. Then we went round the mill. Roy bent over and picked some specimen or the other. He put one in his technical watch which detected chemical elements. It beeped once meant the watch had found something. When I asked, Roy said it wasn’t important. Anyway, while we were at the back garden, there was someone jumping out of the building. “AJ, see that?” “Yeah.” I said. “Give me your gun. I’m gonna catch this fucker.” He said. Just as we went near, the teenager saw us and started to run. We chased after him for 1 minute. Man, this kid was fast. Soon, Roy pounded him to the ground and pointed the gun at his head. “Tell me what you were dong otherwise I’ll blow your brains out!” He shouted. “I am a gardener.” The kid said. SMACK! Roy hit him with his fist. “AJ, bring Shyam ASAP.” Roy said. I ran and brought Shyam with me. Soon we reached and Roy was still holding the kid. “Shyam, you know this kid?” Roy asked. “Of course. He’s the gardener of the mill. Just carrying his family tradition like I am. Right now is his time to go.” “I told you!” The kid shouted. SMACK! Another hit by Roy. “Then why the fuck where you running when you saw us?” Roy asked. “Because you had a gun in your hand!” The gardener said. Roy let go of his grip. “And what where you doing up on the first floor. We saw you climb down. Don’t say there’s a vertical garden now.” I said. “Sahib, I was just taking that cycle wheel. I saw it so I took it. Then you chased me. See, the wheel is still lying on the ground.” He said. Then we saw and the wheel was there. “Let’s go, AJ. Sorry for the inconvenience, Shyam. And whoever the fuck you are.” Roy said.
“Whatever,” Roy said.
Then we went to the guest house to start again the next day. We had just finished dinner and were sipping coffee that Mohan made us when Roy spoke,
“The kid is not a gardener,” Roy said. “
What? But Shyam…”
“Shyam doesn’t know. Remember what the kid said when I asked him why did he run?” Roy asked.
“He said because you had a gun in your hand,” I said.
“Exactly. I didn’t,” Roy said.
“What?” “When you handed me the gun, I kept it in my pants under the jacket and ran. It wasn’t visible. I took it out only after we caught him.” Roy said. “So…”
“So, he was deliberately lying. And he wasn’t taking the cycle tyre down. He was doing something inside the mill and climbing down when we saw him. And…” Just as Roy was about to complete the sentence, a big stone came crashing in and the window shattered. It landed right on the table where we were drinking coffee and breaking my cup. On the stone, a paper was stuck with something written. I read it.
“What’s it say?” Roy asked.
“It’s written: ‘Run now or both of you will die. No one gets away hampering the spirit of Alok Acharya.’” I said. “Wow. Now, I am so determined to catch this piece of shit.” Roy said. “Do you think the Ramu guy is the ghost?” I asked. “Of all the cases I’ve solved and we have solved after you came, I am always favoured by luck. But I get unlucky in one common thing: Coincidence. Something coincidental happens which makes me think the other way but I have learnt to just assume things as minor. No, we can just assume that the gardener is not the ghost. But we have to accept the fact that he’s up to no good. This stone might be thrown by him. Who knows? So, let’s just sleep now and rest the whole day as in the night, we’re going to kick the ghost’s ass,” Roy said.
December 24, 2029 Time: 9:45 P.M. Place: Inside the mill, Kalash, U.P.
We rested the whole day and set out for the night. Roy told me to bring nothing but the flashlight and of course the keys to the mill. We went out at 9:40. It was dead silent and totally dark except the small streetlight outside the guest house. We slowly walked towards the entrance. Roy had brought two complete radium watches just in case we lose the flashlight. We went near the entrance and Roy opened the door with the key. “You ready?” He whispered. I nodded. And we went in. We knew where the location of the “blood tap” was so that was our first checkpoint. The building was really smelly. And the floor creaked when we walked. Suddenly there was a loud voice. But it was just a dog’s cry nearby. Through what we could see from the flashlight, the building looked ancient. It was so old anybody could’ve mistaken it for being burnt once. Suddenly there was thumping above. Roy quickly pointed the flashlight but it was just a falling box. We saw our course. We walked slowly and reached the water tap. Suddenly, a really cold chill came. The windows were totally sealed and the door was far off the south. The chilling came from the east. “AAH!” I shouted. A glass cup flew and broke into pieces right near my right ear. It was totally frightening. “It’s okay. Stay the course. Turn the tap.” Roy said. Just as I was to turn the tap, a box fell from above on the far end of the mill. We both got astonished. Just seconds later, an opera music started playing. “Roy, forget it man. This place is haunted. Let’s go,” I said. “We aren’t going anywhere,” Roy said. “Hey asshole, whoever the fuck you are. Why don’t you fucking show yourself you fucking pussy? Come and show your face so I can kick your ass!” Roy shouted. “What the hell are you doing? SHUT UP!” I said. “Turn the damn tap!” Roy said. I turned the tap. But it was just water. “It’s just water.” I said. “Close it, count to 10 and turn it again.” Roy said. I counted to 10 and opened the tap again. Suddenly a red liquid started to flow! “Roy! It’s blood!” I said. Roy leaned in and smelled the liquid.
“It’s salty. And I can’t taste it. Could be risky. But it’s thick. So…”
“So? SO! It’s blood. Now let’s get out and…….Roy…RRO..”
“Back…the-the-the,” Roy turned back to what I saw. A white apparition was staring at us from distance. We could see his face. No hair.. Just pure black eyes..I mean…fully black, as if it had no eyeballs and it was grinning and his mouth had blood…suddenly he looked at us and screamed, “AAAHHHHHHAA!” And started laughing. I was frozen. “AJ?” Roy said.
“RUN!” Then we ran at full speed. Roy stumbled across a box but he got himself up fast. We didn’t care about locking the door and ran at full speed towards the guest house. We quickly went up and locked ourselves in a windowless room. We both were panting terribly. I was totally terrified. “Roy. Roy, we saw a ghost. We saw a freaking ghost who tried to kill me with a glass jar.” I said. Roy didn’t say anything. He just stared blankly at the wall. Then he spoke after 5 minutes. “Tomorrow. At noon. I’m going in the mill to investigate. Come if you wish to.” He said. “But you saw what happened!” I said. “I know! But I just won’t believe there’s a ghost. I’m going in. With or without you.” He said. “I’m not leaving you alone.” I said. I don’t even know why I said it. “Okay. We’re going in at 12 noon.” Roy said.
December 25, 2029 Time: 11 AM Place: Kalash, U.P.
“You said 12.” I said “Yeah. At 12 we’ll go in the mill. Right now we’re going to steal from someone.” Roy said. “From whom?” I asked. “Ramu the ‘Gardener’,” Roy said.
“But you said he can’t be the ghost.”
“He isn’t.” Roy said.
“Then will you at least reveal your plans?!” I shouted.
“Look. I make deductions and until and unless I can confirm that they’re 100% correct, I won’t tell them. Get it?!” Roy said. We took Ramu’s address from Shyam. It was a bit far-off into the fields. We were heading there sneaking when we saw Ramu lock the door of his house and went out. “People in villages usually don’t lock the doors. This kid does. Know what it means?” Roy asked. “He’s hiding something.” I said. “Exactly.” Then we reached his house. “It’s locked.” I said. “Nothing is locked for Roy Arora,” said Roy. He took two big steel needles and started to mend the lock. Within seconds, the door flew open. “After you,” Roy said. It was a pretty modest house for a villager. There was decent furniture and all. We searched everywhere but all we could find were clothes, gardening utensils and some useless letters. “There is nothing here,” I said. “There is ALWAYS something in the house of the suspect,” Roy said. Then, he started knocking on the walls. “What exactly is it that you’re doing?” I asked. “Searching. And I could do with a little help,” he said. I had nothing else to do anyway so I too started tapping on the walls. Suddenly, I heard a sound. I tapped on the concrete wall and a wooden sound came. “Roy, that’s a rather strange sound,” I said.
“You found it!” Roy exclaimed.
“Found what?” I asked.
“The secret storage. There’s a wooden storage painted just like the concrete. Here, wait.” He tapped on the concrete that made the wooden sound and he scratched it with a finger and suddenly a key hole came into existence! Then he picked the lock and a wooden box flew open from the walls! “Amazing!” I said. “No time for compliments. Put this box on the bed.” He said. We opened the box and found 7 blueprints and a switch. We put the blueprint on the table and analysed it. “These are blueprints of the mill.” I said. Then there were some places which were marked “X”. “See this, AJ? See the locations of the X’s. One is right here, near the tap. The other where we first heard the box fall, right here, on the second floor. There’s another one where we saw the so called “ghost.”” Roy said. “So, it is all a plan? To frighten and kill people?” I asked. “That’s not our question now. Take a photo of the blueprint now. And switch on the Bluetooth,” Roy said. I took the photo and turned on the Bluetooth. I saw one device nearby and saw Roy’s watch beeping. “Send this to the device name,” Roy said. “Your device name is Pikachu?” I said and laughed. “Just. Send. It.” I sent and the beeping stopped. “Analyse.” Roy said to the watch. “Don’t think I’m mad, I’m talking to the AI (Artificial intelligence).”
“Whose name is Pikachu,” I mocked.
Then we put the blueprints in the box and everything at the original place and headed towards the mill. The entrance was open as we didn’t lock it. Roy stopped and looked around for some seconds. Then we went near the tap. Roy turned it on. It was just water. “It’s just water now.” I said. Roy wasn’t hearing. He was looking at the pipe. “AJ, give me the needle.” Roy said. I gave him his needle and he started scratching the pipe that connected to the tap. Suddenly, the rust on the pipe fell and a shiny metal surface came up. “What the—” “The building hasn’t been renovated. But the pipe has been hampered. It is new as hell.” Roy said. “But the rust?” I asked. “Just a coating.” Roy said. Then he walked along the pipe until he came to a stop. “ AJ, get me that stool.” I got him the stool and Roy climbed up. There was a sort of bulge in the pipe. Roy inserted the needle in the middle and suddenly the bulge flew open in two pieces. Inside, there was a huge container which was divided into two parts. One was red coloured and the other white. “What in the name is that?” I asked. “Just as I deduced.” Roy said and came down. “But what did you deduce?” I asked. “You’ll soon know. Wait here.” Then Roy walked away. After some time, he shouted. “Open the tap!” He shouted. I quickly went and opened it. And it was blood! Not water! “Blood is flowing!” I said. “Now close it! And open again!” Roy shouted. I closed the tap and opened it again. It was normal tap water! “Now come here!” Roy said. I went there and saw Roy touching something inside the wall. It was a controller sort of thing! “What is that?” I asked. “Generator.” Roy said. “A what?!” I asked, astonishingly. “A generator. It controls the water and the blood. Remember the switch we found at Ramu’s home? It was this switch.” He said. “What the hell. But, it’s not blood is it? And how does he control it?” I asked. “I’ll explain. First of all, no. It is not at all blood. It is phenolphthalein. Remember two days ago when we were roaming outside and I found something and put it in my watch? You asked but I didn’t answer! It was phenolphthalein. When it’s liquid is mixed with water and solution of calcium carbonate, a red liquid is produced which looks like wine. But if we add salt and sugar to it, the solution thickens and it looks like blood. Now, the cylinder that we saw on the pipe was nothing but a storage of the chemicals. When the switch is off, the cylinder prevents the mixing of water with the chemicals but when it is on, the phenolphthalein reacts with the calcium carbonate at the base and salt and sugar and because of that, we get blood like liquid.” Roy said. “But, Anil said his Grandfather saw this liquid. How come this technique be used then?” I asked. “There was an old generator and this technique was obviously used before. As we saw the pipe, it was new. That means, this pipe has been here for only some days. It is being replaced from time to time.” Roy said. “Amazing! One mystery solved!” Just as I said, Roy’s watch beeped and said: ‘Blueprint scan complete.’ “Wrong. Two mysteries solved.” Roy said. Roy saw his watch and we followed the directions it gave us. We soon came to the spot where we saw the ghost. “The ghost was right here, wasn’t it?” Roy asked. “Yes.” I said. “Scan for holographic signatures.” Roy said to his watch. After seconds, the watch beeped. ‘Scan completed. Signature is 90 cms above you on the right.’ Then Roy put his hand on the wall and started knocking again. Suddenly, a small disc like device fell. Roy picked it up and pressed it and wow! A transparent white figure was right in front of us! “Mother of god.” I said. “Well, there’s your ghost.” Roy said. “You mean, it was just this hologram?” I asked. “No. There was an actual person behind it. This small device produces a holographic image. But to control this, a real person has to operate it. This is an extremely costly device and rare. Even I don’t have it and I can’t make it. The question now remains. Who is being this ghost and why?” Roy asked.
“Well. But that watch you made is freaking awesome. Where did you learn to make an AI?” I asked “Not in our school textbooks at least,” Roy said and we laughed. “Okay, Now here’s the deal. The man is going to come back today too. We’ll keep everything as it was and head to the guest house and scan the blueprints. You brought the UV glasses, right?” Roy asked. “Excellent. Now let’s eat something and rest. Oh, and tell Anil and detective Patil to visit tonight.” Roy said. We reached the hotel and we were looking at the 7 blueprints' pictures. We were sitting blankly looking at the pictures when Roy suddenly jumped,
“Wait. There are 7 blueprints. Okay. So, today is Thursday, right?” Roy asked. “Yes,” I said. “Okay. Show me the third pic.” Roy said. “You took the photos in sequence. From top to bottom, right?” He asked. “Yup.” I said. He looked and said again.
“I found the series!”
“It’s simple. The first blueprint is Monday. The second Is Tuesday and so on,” Roy said.
“But how?” I asked. “Okay. I asked you to show me the third blueprint. That was Wednesday. So, you remember the attack on you, right? It was near the tap. See the blueprint. There’s a white coloured “X” marked exactly there. The box fell on the second floor. There’s another white coloured “X”. Exactly there. And we saw the ghost at the far end. A red coloured “X”!” Roy said.
“Excellent! So all we have to do is to look at the fourth blueprint and….”
“And we catch that cocksucker!” Roy exclaimed. We marked all the spots that were on the fourth blueprint. “Okay, the ghost-man is clever. He used UV boot prints to move about. But he’s not smart enough. I asked you to bring the UV glasses and you questioned me then. See!” Roy said.
“Yeah, yeah. So we just chase him through the glasses and we catch him. That’s all?” I asked. “No. He’s sure to carry a gun. We need a third person. Call Shyam. Tell him everything and ask him to join us. If needed, give him some money.” Roy said. I went to Shyam and somehow convinced him. And tonight, the piece of crap ghost was gonna pay. Badly.
December 26, 2029 Time: 12:00 AM Place: The mill, Kalash
I, Roy and Shyam entered the building. Just as we entered, we put our UV glasses on. Anil was waiting outside as I had called him. He had to be present. Shyam was terrified but we calmed him down somehow. The ghost was to appear at the far east end. So, Roy went there. I went towards the tap and Shyam went to the second floor. We had our microphones on. “Nobody here.” Roy said. There was nobody near the tap too. But there came no sound from Shyam. In the UV glasses too, we couldn’t see footsteps. Moments later, we heard the voice from the second floor. But later, Shyam screamed and fell from above! I was about to run when Roy stopped me. We put our nightvision UV glasses and suddenly, behind a box, I could see a heat signature. It surely looked like a man. “It’s him.” I said on the microphone. “Yes. I see him too. Right behind you on the right,” Roy said. “No. He’s on the second floor!” Just when I said, there was a gunshot and it hit Roy as he screamed in pain. I looked around and saw two heat signatures! Two bodies! One was marching towards Roy when someone shot him! It was Shyam. “Go after the fucker!” Shyam said. “The other guy quickly ran from the second floor and I followed him. I had a gun too. Then we both went outside the mill and ran towards the field. He shot once or twice but he missed. I was just little bit nearer to him when I decided to halt and take a shot. I stopped, aimed and took a shot and brought him down! I hit his leg. Then I pointed the gun and looked at the guy. He was Ramu the gardener! “Ramu! What were you doing there?!” I asked, but instead of answering he spit on me. Frustrated, I kicked him where I shot and he screamed in pain. I pointed the gun at him and said, “Tell me or I’ll shoot you right through your eyes.” Just then, a car came. Anil was driving it and Shyam, Roy and another guy were there. Roy was bleeding badly on his right shoulder. “Oh my god, Roy. Are you okay?” I asked. “Yeah, I took a bullet but I’m fine. Yeah, take that prick out of the car.” He said. Then Anil threw the young lad out of the car. He was shot in his right thigh.
“Don’t hurt us more. Please. I’ll tell you everything.” He said. “You better hurry before I blow your brains out,” Roy said. “My name is Hari. My grandfather was Alok Acharya.” He said. “That’s impossible! Alok and her wife couldn’t conceive!” Anil said. “I was adopted. Ramu here, too. His name is Rohan.” He turned to Anil, “Your grandfather was a liar and a cheat. He stole a land that didn’t belong to him and didn’t even let others buy it. That land, in fact, was our ancestor’s. He was so frustrated that he went to plant explosives at your mill but unfortunately, he died. My father and uncle couldn’t see that. They were extremely saddened by what Alok did. And my uncle was a chemical engineer. So he designed those pipes to scare people. During those times, they didn’t have holograms so they used recordings to scare people. And when your Grandfather came, my uncle killed him. Yes. He killed him in cold blood. And do you know who killed your father and brother? My father!” He shouted.
“You fucker!” Anil started kicking Hari where he was wounded. We somehow stopped him. “And so just for family revenge, you tried to kill Anil too. But I don’t understand. What about those other bidders who were trying to buy the mill in the recent years? Why kill them?” Roy asked. “Because we were bankrupt and we needed money. We killed them and later looted all the cash they brought and later, their credit cards.” Hari said. Just after he said that, a police van arrived and detective Patil stepped out. “Well, hello Roy. Did I miss something. Oh, my. You caught these two fuckers?” he asked.
“We did. Why?” Roy asked.
“These two are mass murderers. They were in Delhi for some years for murders and theft of some 14 people and then they vanished. Sketches were made and we called them the vanishing fliers.” Patil said. “Wow. Some history you might have. So, anway Patil, they’re all yours unless Anil wants to sort some things.” Roy said. “No, they’ll get their punishment in court. Take them away.” Anil said. After Patil took them, we talked with Anil.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Arora and Mr. Bakshi. I’m sure my family has gotten the justice they deserved.” He said. “No, we need to thank YOU, Anil. What an amazing stay we have had here!” Roy said. After saying goodbyes, I and Roy sat on the first train to Agra. “So, this was a hell of a case, wasn’t it?” Roy asked. “Yes. This is going to be in my diary in “top cases” section. Although I need to ask you something,” I said.
“You freaked out when you saw the “ghost”, didn’t you?” I asked. Roy laughed and said, “Well I was more afraid of reaching home after 7 because mom would scold me.”
“So you do admit you freaked out,” I said.
“It’s been a long night AJ, let me have some sleep now.” Roy said.
“Haha. Right, smartass.”