She was speechless. Her world had fallen apart in front of her eyes. Her dad shot to death and she could not do anything about it. Leaning down upon his fallen body, she kissed him on both cheeks and whispered into his ear, “Goodbye Dad, I love you too.”
She got up and wiping her tears, turned around. Her heart missed a beat. She was alone. Atul was gone. Fear gripped her. Slowly she walked back to her car. She knew not what to do next. So she drove home, slowly, and exhausted, fell on the couch. She tried to sleep but she couldn’t. Every time she tried, all she saw was her dad. Her childhood memories of him, coming home after work and lifting her into the air while she laughed happily, playing hide and seek with her… she cried into her pillow, silently.
Time flew. A sound broke her thoughts. She looked at the clock above the door. The time was ten to midnight. Yet the knocking on the door persisted. She looked through the keyhole anxiously. Relief flooded her face and she threw open the door to find Atul there. She walked slowly toward him, as if in a trance, unable to believe it. She then hugged him tightly and burst into tears.
“Atul… he is gone. He is gone. It’s all my fault… if I hadn’t called him to talk about it, maybe he might not have died… “
She felt a tiny prick on her arm. She saw the tiny hole made by a syringe, the syringe which was in Atul’s left hand.
“Why?” was all she could say before she fell into a deep trance.
She woke up hearing the sound of the birds nearby. She wondered where she was and stood up from the bed where she had apparently slept the previous night. There were bars on the windows but she was not tied or bound in any way. The room was large and had an attached bathroom as well. To her surprise, her entire wardrobe was there in boxes on some chairs near a nearby dressing table. The door suddenly opened and she found Atul there. She wanted to hit him badly but found no strength to do so. With a pang, she remembered the happenings of the previous night. She looked at him angrily.
“Your breakfast is nearly ready and it will be brought up in an hour. You cannot escape from here. So do not bother to try it. If you want anything you can tell me and I will bring it to you.”
His unwillingness to explain anything to her infuriated her even more.
“Yes, I want something. I want you to get out of here. Now”, she retorted.
His face showed no sadness, no anger as he left the room and left her to her thoughts. She went to the bathroom and washed her face. Took a quick shower and changed her clothes. Her hopes after her dad’s unexpected death were being burnt in front of her eyes.
The door opened again. It was not Atul, but another person she assumed to be the cook. He had brought up her breakfast. He looked very friendly and gave her an unexpected smile as well.
“Hello. I am Neel… the cook around here. Breakfast is served. I have toasted bread, Spanish tortillas and jam. I can get you tea or juice whichever you prefer. Hope you like it madam”
His friendly introduction cheered up Cat quite a lot and she felt a bit better. She said she preferred juice and he went out to get it. She took that opportunity to go out the door of her room and look about. She was in a three floor mansion. “It must have ten rooms”, she thought. She saw Neel returning with the juice and she went back in. He came, placed the jug with fresh apple juice on the table and sat on the bed while she ate.
“Neel, where is this place and how long have I been here?” she asked him.
“Madam, this mansion is called Heaven’s Heart. It is twenty miles from the city, but quite close to the sea. You were brought here two nights back. The drug you were given was powerful so you were unconscious so long. I am caretaker and cook here. The masters come and go as they wish”
“Your masters? Who are they?”
“They will tell you themselves madam. They have gone out right now but will be back soon”
She finished her breakfast.
Curiosity getting the better of her she asked him, “Is Atul still here?”
He did not answer her but just walked out of the room silently. She washed in the little bathroom and went out of the room. A showcase greeted her near the stairs. She was on the second of the three floors. Absentmindedly she looked here and there. She saw a photograph. She could not believe her eyes.
“Welcome to my mansion, Miss Tripathy”, said a voice behind her.
(to be continued…one last time…!)