It all happened so suddenly that Raj felt that he was in a nightmare. His colleague Prakash lay crumpled at the bottom of the stairs inside their duplex bungalow.
It all started with a heated exchange of words between them, when, on returning from the office that evening, Raj found Prakash searching his bedroom.
Coming out of the room, the argument turned physical and in a sudden fit of rage, Raj pushed Prakash down the stairs.
Seeing Prakash lying there motionless, Raj rushed down and frantically searched for a pulse on his colleague’s limp body. There was none. Prakash was quite dead. A cold sweat broke out on Raj’s forehead.
Prakash & Raj were both brilliant scientists engaged in senior positions, and had been working for more than a decade in a company engaged in supplying equipments to the Navy.
Though they had been working in the same office complex, they barely knew each other as they were engaged in different projects.
Three months back, the company decided to foray into the research of a sophisticated missile system. Prakash and Raj were assigned to conduct the research jointly.
The project was top priority and had to be completed quickly. For this purpose, the company had arranged for their stay at a duplex bungalow, very near to the laboratory, so that they could avoid commuting over long distances.
Raj had no family. So he immediately shifted to the new bungalow. Prakash, reluctant at first, also shifted after a week.
Even though they stayed under the same roof, they hardly talked to each other on matters other than the progress of the project. In fact, after finishing their work at the office, they returned to the apartment separately and retired to their respective rooms. They never went to the living room for small talk or watched TV or engaged in other such activities.
Normally, on weekends, Prakash went to the city to stay with his family. He had informed Raj that if anything urgent came up, he would be available on his cell phone. Raj did not even bother to ask him about his family or how he spent his time during the weekends. As far as he was concerned, Prakash’s life was unexciting.
Raj was quite the opposite. He spent his weekends in the hottest nightclubs of the city. He was also addicted to gambling in cards, especially the ones with high stakes.
In fact the huge gambling debts that he had accumulated had recently landed him in serious trouble. The syndicate from whom he had borrowed money had somehow managed to find out about the sensitive nature of his work. They had threatened him to either pay up the money or get them a copy of the blueprint of the missile guidance plans that weekend, or else face the consequences.
Raj was aware of the horrendous retribution of the Mafia, but he had no money to settle his debts. So he decided to get them a copy of the top secret plans. He managed to sneak it out from the laboratory on Friday night and kept it concealed in his room.
The idea was to handover the plans to the Mafia on Saturday night.
But unfortunately Prakash had got wind of it.
Now, sitting beside his colleague’s lifeless body, Raj’s mind was working rapidly. He had to dispose it off quickly. Being a Saturday, someone from Prakash’s family might call him any moment to enquire about his plans for the weekend.
Their bungalow was in a posh suburban area, dotted with a few houses belonging to the ultra rich. Normally, the area wore a deserted look. At that moment it was quite dark outside and there was not a soul in sight on the road.
Raj put the limp body of Prakash in the boot of the car and started to drive towards the woods that were just a few miles away. He took the smaller roads so as to avoid crossing toll booths .
Finally he came to the woods which were about a quarter of a mile from the road. He was relieved that the colour of his car was black and therefore would not be visible to anyone from a distance. Parking his car among the trees, he started digging.
When he had finally finished digging a sizeable hole, he opened the boot and dragged the body towards the hole. Unfortunately the sack containing the body suddenly opened at the top. In the moonlight, Raj saw the lifeless eyes of his colleague, staring back at him. The sight seemed to bore into him and sent a chill up his spine. But he somehow managed to dump the body in the hole and cover it completely.
By this time, he was sweating profusely and completely exhausted.
But he had no time to rest. He had to go to the bungalow, get the plans and then go to the city and hand it over to the Mafia.
Parking the car outside the bungalow, he opened the gate and started walking to the door. Then he stopped abruptly. He could see somebody standing in front of the porch. The person, on seeing Raj, began to walk towards him.
At the same moment, the moon came out brightly from behind the clouds. Raj could now see the man’s face quite clearly. It was none other than Prakash .
Seeing the apparition, Raj let out a cry and started running madly towards the road. He did not see the truck hurtling down the road at full speed and ran headlong into it. He was crushed under the heavy wheels and in a matter of seconds was dead. The truck sped away.
“Why the hell did the poor guy bolt on seeing me. It almost seems as if he had seen a ghost“, wondered Deepak, Prakash’s identical twin brother, deeply shocked by the accident.
He then took out his cell phone and called the police to report the incident.