Karan had no idea as to why someone was so cruel as to keep clobbering his head.
"Peas!" Karan begged wondering why it was so dark around him. His eyes...Karan realized that something was really wrong with his eyes and the realization was just making Karan more nauseous.
"OPEN UP!" Someone screamed.
Karan groaned struggling to say something and found that his throat was also not in any great working shape. All Karan wanted to do was explain to the person that he could not open his eyes because there was something wrong with it. But Karan was having difficulty articulating that tiny thing. And things were still dark around him.
Karan groaned turning over again as his headache went another notch up. And that was when the impossible truth occurred to Karan – it was not dark around him. Karan realized that his eyes were closed.
Not that the realization helped Karan with his headache. The clobbering and the shouting were still on and Karan was trying to open his eyes. His eyes seemed glued shut and Karan rolled over, as he found that the floor under him was hard and cold.
Slowly, Karan managed to open his eyes and found that things were slightly better. Karan squinted and wondered whether seeing things which were greyish, hazy and moving without any normal pattern could be considered as "better".
"Open up!" The scream was so loud that Karan nearly whimpered begging the person to stop talking. And that was when another stark realization occurred to Karan. The clobbering was not in his head as he had thought. No one was asking Karan to open his eyes. The sound was coming from further away.
Karan made another herculean effort and pushed himself up, and stumbled back twice.
"POLICE!" The voice screamed again. "Open up!"
And Karan was willing to swear that it was because of the voice alone. There was absolutely nothing more menacing than the shouts of the policemen knocking on the door. That Karan knew from experience. And that voice was terrifying enough to probably even wake up the dead. Karan was still among the living and pushed himself to a sitting position almost immediately.
Things were blurred and hazy and Karan could feel his headache almost pounding him. And Karan made three discoveries. Three terrifying discoveries – Karan had no idea where he was. The small dinghy, slightly lit room was definitely not a place he knew. The second discovery which Karan made was even more scary. Karan had no idea how he ended up in the room. Karan just could not remember. And the third discovery was that there was no one in his room. Not one single person...
"BREAK DOWN THE DOOR!" The voice which yelled "Police" sometime back yelled in pretty much the same tone.
Karan nearly yelped as he looked at the room and that was when Karan made the fourth discovery. The cop who was so horrendously screaming his hearts out was not outside his room. The cops were probably in the next room and they were so loud that Karan could hear it too.
Karan stumbled and got up and that itself took him two minutes as he could hear a loud jarring from the next room, as he heard the sound of something metal jarring badly with the door from outside his door.
Karan pushed himself up, stumbling and falling twice, as he made his way to the door and was trying to open it, pulling his heavy jacket tightly to cover himself. It really spoke volumes of the state of the mind of the crime reporter that he was trying to push the door open without even opening the latch of the door.
And just when Karan was beginning to realize that something was really wrong with the lock of the door Karan found that his feet just could not support his weight anymore as Karan collapsed on the floor with a loud thud as he was groaning.
The sound of Karan falling would have woken up almost everyone in the vicinity, except for the fact that there was something louder in the room next door.
The people who were trying to break the door down, were successful at that exact minute and the next room opened with a thud at the same time that Karan had fallen.
Karan's head was hurting him real bad and he was squinting painfully trying to control his pain as he was trying to get up.
And that was when he saw it. Beside the tea table near the bed. Karan had been lying on the floor of the bed.
And some sub-conscious of Karan's mind was telling him that this dinghy room was a hotel room. Exactly how he got here Karan just could not remember. But now that Karan thought about it, Karan realized that he had come to this hotel sometime before. Once when he was trying to save a witness from a mafia group. This very same hotel. But Karan had no idea why he was here now.
It almost seemed to Karan like someone had ransacked his head and left him here.
And the sound from the next room went down immediately as Karan realized that the yelling that he was hearing was actually the TV. The TV from the next room was too loud, which apparently someone had turned down right now.
But right now Karan was thinking of none of these things. Karan was walking up to the cupboard. The slightly ajar cupboard which was in the far side of the room.
On the way, Karan saw an impossible sight – a tall, slightly well-built man, with glazed looking brown eyes was staring blankly at the mirror...And Karan realized that he really looked horrible. And it terrified Karan. Because Karan realized that his eyes looked haunted. Actually and properly haunted.
Karan nearly yelled as he heard hammering or rather knocking on the door. And this time the knocking was outside his room. Not on the door. But the knocking came from the side of the room.
Karan turned sharply and almost stumbled as he saw that there was a connecting door from the next room to the room that he was found himself in – the connecting door room which was presumably locked on the other side.
Karan could hear the latch on the other side being opened and did the only thing he could do. He ran towards the connecting door and pulled open the door and tried to reassemble his features into something else other than what he had seen in the mirror, as he called out. "What is it?" Karan asked trying to infuse some character into his voice.
This time there was some silence on the other side.
"Who is this?" A voice of great authority came on the other side of the door.
Karan was again taking in deep breaths to control his nausea and his headache.
"I..I am Karan!" Karan said his voice sounding hoarse.
"Open the door," The voice sounded as the latch from the other side was opening. Karan looked around his room a sudden fear gripping him. There was nothing obviously incriminating...Karan's eyes studied the cupboard again and his heart was thumping strangely.
Karan was struggling to calm himself as the door from the other side opened and Karan realized he was right.
It was the cops. Lot of them...Karan was praying to all the Gods he knew that....Varun would not be here.....
"Karan, what are you doing here?" Inspector Varun Tarek called as he stepped inside Karan's room.
Escaping from my perfect brother, Karan was tempted to scream on top of his voice.
But with great difficulty, Karan was able to keep his mouth shut, as he stared at the perfect features of his brother. There were times when Karan's mother was very surprised. Both the brothers had similar features. Both were very tall and were built on similar lines. But the brown eyes and the broad jaw which were somehow easygoing on Karan, were looking very dignified and trustworthy on Varun making Varun look tough.
"Following up on a lead," Karan said as he crashed down heavily on the bed, his feet just not able to take his weight.
"You spent the whole night in a hotel for following up on a lead?" Varun demanded as he looked angrily at his brother. Varun pulled up his brother's crumpled collars angrily, "Mom was worried at home." Varun said nearly slapping Karan.
Varun pushed Karan back as Karan fell back, trying to balance himself. The whole night? Karan honestly was shaken up as he stared at his watch.
The skewed clock hands of his very old gray steel watch was showing the time to be 6.30 in the morning.
And that was when Karan's heart was beating unimaginably hard. His watch...Karan was nearly hyperventilating as he was staring at the watch in his hands.
"Is that blood?" Varun's voice came to Karan from somewhere very far away. A long tunnel on the other side of nowhere. Karan could see Varun nearly twist his arm studying the watch.
"Watch him!" Karan could hear Varun savagely speak from somewhere as he was feeling numb.
Naturally things had to go worse.
All the people were watching the room a little warily and one of the constables – Mr. Nataraj was going towards the cupboard.
And Nataraj opened the cupboard. And suddenly he yelled scaring all of them.
Karan's head whipped hard as he was struggling to control himself.
"Sir..!" The constable looked shocked and stepped back hard.
Karan was watching horrified as something fell out of the cupboard. Something wrapped in a black flowy dress fell out of the cupboard with a loud thud. A sickening loud thud.
Varun swore as he walked towards whatever it was which had fallen out of the cupboard.
Karan found three cops around him, all pointing their guns at him. And honestly, Karan felt like his feet had turned into jelly.
"You bastard!" Varun screamed and it looked to Karan like Varun was struggling to calm himself and not making a very good job of it.
Karan did not even know what hit him as he felt Varun pull him up by the scruff of his neck shaking him, pure rage shining through his face. Varun was almost choking Karan, as the other police officers were trying to pull Varun away from Karan.
"You bastard," Varun screamed again pushing Karan hard to a side.
Karan's head hit the wall hard, as his vision blurred, and he collapsed on the floor as something dark and metallic was seen poking out his jacket.
Through his blurred vision Karan could see the cold hard gun in his left pocket, falling to the ground.
The policemen around Karan kicked the gun away and pushed Karan hard against the wall.
The police man frisked Karan real hard as Karan winced when they pulled out a bottle from Karan's pocket.
Karan frowned as he saw the bottle as the policeman opened the bottle and whiff went throughout the room.
Karan nearly collapsed as his legs were feeling really weak because Karan knew that whiff of smell. Really, really well.
"It is pure sir," The policeman said chocking. "Drug addicts would kill for this." The policeman said looking at the bottle and then looking at Karan with utter hatred.
"I didn..." Karan started in a hoarse voice as he was finding it difficult to talk.
Varun pulled out a torch from one of the police officers and showed it straight at Karan's eyes. Karan blinked trying to push Varun away as Varun nearly slapped Karan again.
"Pupils dilated. High heart beat. Feverish. You are drugged again, aren't you, you bastard!" Varun yelled. "You killed her, didn't you?" Varun asked nearly sobbing with rage, whispering in Karan's ears as he was savagely cuffing the mute Karan, behind his back. "Charu came to meet me a few days back. She told me it was something about her work. But she said nothing and just walked away. I am sure she wanted to tell me that she liked me more than she liked you," Varun said savagely turning his silent brother. "When you came to know this, you asked her to come here and killed her!" Varun slapped Karan hard, as Karan winced falling to the ground. "And you started using drugs again, didn't you?" Varun screamed angrily, pulling Karan again. "You killed her!" Varun shouted kicking Karan as Karan collapsed on the ground.
One of the constable pulled a panting Varun to a side, because Varun actually looked like he would kill Karan, in anger.
"And I think the guy in the next room knew about it and you strangled him!" Varun screamed as he savagely pulled the gun from Karan's pocket with a handkerchief as Varun snarled at it and put the gun inside a plastic bag and the bottle of cocaine in another bag.
"Take him away," Varun said pushing Karan away.
Constable Nataraj was a worried man. He was the neighbour of Inspector and he knew a little of the problems of younger brother. It was painfully obvious to all the people who saw the family. The elder boy – the stern and serious one who was always the more responsible one. The younger easy going brother, and no one in the family would let the younger brother do what he pleased. And the people in the family claimed that the younger brother was just not responsible enough to be trusted to do as he pleased.
Nataraj knew that there was a time where the older Varun was very keen in making the younger Karan follow his footsteps and join the Police Force. The fact that the younger Karan was a born writer was happily ignored by the whole family. But the younger brother was not anyone's YesMan.
It was tough for the young man. All the way through. But still Karan joined the local newspaper, much against the wishes of the entire family. And even right now, Karan was right now slightly lesser paid than his brother – another thing that absolutely no one in the family let the brother forget.
And things had become really worse when the younger Karan had fallen in love with a Charulatha Sundar, chemist working in the startup company. That by itself was not bad. What was bad was that Charu's parents were looking to marry the elder and more serious brother with the girl.
And one thing led to the other...the last Nataraj knew was that the entire proposal was dropped by both the families and the younger brother was forbidden from seeing the girl again. Nataraj did not know what had happened after that. Until now. And judging from the expression on the Inspector's face, Nataraj could see that the dead woman could be the same girl....
Right now, all these facts just tumbled down Nataraj's head as he was leading the young Karan to the police jeep downstairs.
And what was really scaring Nataraj was that Karan was listless.
The young man was saying nothing. Nothing at all. And that was always bad. Because only when people had absolutely nothing to explain that they kept silent.