Samar didn’t realize when his mobile phone screen lit up. An unknown number flashed as it vibrated on silent mode. He had to finish off a truckload of work and couldn’t afford to look beyond his desktop monitor. He had mentally convinced himself to pull an all-nighter in the office itself, so as to not get into trouble with his awful boss again.
He tore himself away from the computer after what seemed like ages and walked towards the cafeteria for a breather. The office was semi-dark and deserted. He felt a chill run down his spine. A picture of his office team hung above the coffee machine. Vinay’s bright face smiled back at him. Vinay Sharma, his colleague and buddy. Samar missed him and wished he’d just come back; wished he hadn’t left them so soon; wished that terrible accident had never happened.
Just as he sat himself down to work again, he noticed the cell phone. It displayed 40 missed calls, all from the same number. “Who is it and what could be so urgent?” he mumbled. It was then that his office landline rang. Startled nearly to death at first and extremely confused consequently, he ignored it. No way was he taking a random call at 2.20 A.M, that too on the office telephone.
Barely had he resumed punching figures into the MS Excel Sheet, when his mobile screen glowed again. Apprehensive and trembling slightly, he received the call – which would’ve registered as the 67th missed call if he hadn’t. “Hello?” He hesitated into the receiver. *Scratch-scratch-scratch*, a lot of static, and *click* it disconnected. No one spoke from the other end. This continued for the next hour, at once every 15 minutes. Sweaty now, even though the AC was blowing chilled, he stood up and staggered to the window. “This is creepy,” he stuttered, “so creepy.”
Frightened and walking swiftly away from the phone that rang for the nth time, Samar stumbled into his boss’ dark chamber. ‘That’s odd,’ he thought. ‘This place is supposed to be locked, isn’t it?’ Switching on a light, he decided to snoop around a bit. ‘Might help clear my mind,’ he figured. He had no choice but to stick on in the office anyway. Mr. J. Patel, a little golden plate glinted on the table. ‘What a horrid man!’ To Samar, it had always seemed that his boss hated Vinay and it was because of this that Samar had despised Mr. Patel in turn. ‘A monster in human skin! Yes, that’s what Patel is.’
Vinay’s worried voice drifted into his mind. It had only been 2 days. He’d frantically tried to say something about Patel. What, Samar shall never know, as the call had been interrupted by loud, beeping sounds and disconnected before he could finish. It was Vinay’s last call on that fateful day, about an hour before the accident. A puzzling accident no one knew much about. Neither Samar, nor Vinay’s family and surprisingly, not even Mister-nosey-Patel (though Samar really doubted it).
Rudely jolted back into reality, when the landline on Patel’s table rang, Samar was scared out of his wits. Quivering, he answered it. A whisper and *click* it disconnected. Drawer. Yes, it sounded like the voice had said ‘drawer’. Looking down, Samar noticed the desk drawer ajar. His jaw dropped. Patel’s desk drawer, which was always locked, had somehow slid open.
Managing to pull himself together, he began rummaging through it. A note fell out onto his lap. The words Samar read and the name signed at the bottom, brought tears to his weary eyes.
He called the police immediately. Patel was arrested. Next day, the news read, ‘Boss accused in suicide note…’ Turns out, Vinay’s ‘accident’ hadn’t been one at all. Samar’s suspicion held true; Patel not only knew (and concealed) what others didn’t but was responsible for it too.
Patel is under trial for psychological torture, ever since. Samar has faith in the judiciary. He believes justice will be served. Samar’s colleagues celebrate him as a hero in the office, even today. He in fact does feel like a hero to his late best friend, though he isn’t sure how it all happened.
How a chance discovery (or was it?) of the note led to the path of truth. Strange, how a missed call led to the discovery in the first place. And mysterious still, Samar was never able to find out who had been trying to call him. For, when he dialled the number, a voice amid loud static whispered, ‘Please check the number you have dialled.’ *scratch-scratch-scratch * ‘This number does not exist,’ *click*.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.