A typical hospital bed of a dingy ward in the City Hospital.
The mortal frame of flesh and bones on the bed, wrapped in a pale green hospital gown, shows no movement as we speak. The ward was no pigsty, but it could not be called appealing either. The room was a typical blend of the pungent smell of disinfectant and desperation to hold on to dear life. The tiny overhead lights cast a gloomy glow in the beige and white themed room. The air around was frigid and silent, except for the riotous noise from the television opposite the bed that showed some fanatical fellow moderating a debate between equally insane participants. At the rear end of the room, pale yellow half-drawn curtains draped the windows through which God’s morning star peeked into the room. The frame seemed to be slowly coming around blinking to see what’s around him. He is trying to get up but is struggling to even move. Who is this chap? Why is he here? He seems to be ready to give us all the answers.
People call me Dev and I am known for having vivid imaginations. I have always wanted to become a painter, but now I have grown accustomed to being a boring software engineer in a city-based MNC.
It all happened on a Thursday morning, late in the winter. It would have been a typical day if I hadn’t dozed off for that extra five minutes after the alarm went off at 6:30 AM. Then, everything got screwed up – the electrical power was switched off, certain plumbing issues, running out of coffee. And eventually, I was running late for work. I ended up taking the bus that usually followed the one I used to take for my routine commute.
Everything seemed to be slightly different that day. The temperature had dropped down a few degrees. The Angel, as the town bus was called, showcased many interesting morning sights. There were close to twenty-five people on board that day. A heavy man asleep in his seat, over-perfumed women, uniformed students and their excited chats, a woman with a wailing child, working women, a weird guy, etc. The driver – a heavy-set man with a grumpy face who did not look very excited about his job. I consumed the happenings around yet I missed those regular nodding recognitions. There was some traffic that day but it wasn’t all that busy.
The world is constantly changing. Look at the climate. Life simply happens at the end of it all. I thought. Some music I couldn’t make out was playing in harmony with the world outside as this steel box headed to a certain destiny. And I, a spectator, watched the scenes soullessly swirling past me, controlled by a stubborn puppeteer.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I simply did not see the large looming shape heading straight at The Angel, as if from nowhere in a blink of an eye. In that horrifying moment of impact, all I heard was a huge thundering noise followed by the shattering of glass and the sound of squealing tires. The Angel then swerved to its right due to the impact of the head-on collision with the trailer. From there it was all fuzzy. A plume of smoke followed by shards of broken glass, metal, and debris was all that remained.
Exactly two days later I was in this hospital bed with cuts and burns all over and some minor fractures. I wondered if everyone made it alive out of that mangled bus. I was lucky or probably it was a miracle that I made it out alive in time.
“Hello Dev,” came a voice that interrupted my thoughts. A face. A familiar face. God! It’s him. That weird guy in The Angel. He made it. I was excited. But how does he know my name?
“Hi… I am so glad you made it.” I replied as I looked at him from head to toe. He did seem bruised but not all that serious. But there was some strange aura of mystery around him. Something I couldn’t put my finger on.
“Hmm…Dev… we are here to speak to you… we need your help…”
“We?” I questioned. I looked over the guy’s shoulder. I looked at each one of them. They were all my fellow commuters on The Angel on that fateful day of the accident. Are all of them alive? How’s this possible? Was I imagining things?
“What kind of help?” I asked inquisitively, still trying to reel from the shock.
“The crash…it was no accident. A cleverly plotted murder…” they said in eerie unison.
“What? What are you saying? Are you kidding me? And… how can you be so sure?”
“We know it, Dev. And please know that you were not part of the plot. Somehow you walked right into it. You being brought in was all destined. Probably to bring out the truth,” one of the over perfumed ladies added.
“I just don’t get it. I mean. Who would do it? And…why?”. I was perplexed at the unexpected turn of events. I glimpsed at the faces around me. Totally expressionless. Creepy.
“One more thing. Be safe. If they know you are alive they will definitely come back for you too.” And with that, all of them made it out of the room leaving me hanging. Wondering what the hell was going on.
All of a sudden three loud knocks sounded at the door which interrupted my thoughts. Who is it now? I thought. The door slowly opened and a head poked in. A well-built guy in a police uniform stepped into the room.
“Dev… I am Inspector Ramlal, in charge of the accident investigation. I needed a few details. Would it be the right time to talk?”
“Yes, it should be fine.” I replied.
“So tell me…Anything you could recollect about the accident would be of great help.”
“Sir… this was no accident I heard. You probably should be questioning my fellow commuters as well. They would be able to give you some good inputs. Did you get a chance to visit them yet?”
It was the inspector’s turn to look stupefied now. “Dev… What are you saying? Your fellow commuters? Do you know why I am here to enquire with YOU regarding the accident?”
“Because you are the only survivor of that terrible motor crash. No one has made it out alive except you.”
Inspector Ramlal’s words were a stab in my chest. I couldn’t digest what I just heard. The conversation with my fellow passengers just minutes earlier played over and over again in my mind. Every single word of it.
The television news confirmed what the inspector just told me.
MIRACLE TECHIE SURVIVES A ROAD MISHAP THAT KILLED 24 OTHERS AS A BUS TRAILER COLLIDED ON THE HM HIGHWAY.
I smiled… from the television screen!
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Dear readers, I am Pooja Warrier, at least thats what my birth certificate says ! Since I failed miserably in finding a magical gemstone, I am an HR Generalist who works to earn a dime . As a creative writer, I have published a couple of articles on The ArmChair Journal and also coauthored some anthologies. Roles I juggle on the personal front : an unruly daughter, a pestering wife, a nagging mother and an overprotective elder sister. I admit having a somewhat unhealthy obsession with dancing, sketching and drawing. Would that be enough?
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