Journey of Teaching Lifelines #8

(continued…)Sangeet nodded at the S.I and the S.I stood up and said, “Mr. Francis! You’re under arrest for being an ally for this entire operation and deceiving us that you were on the good side all along. You have the right to remain silent.”

Francis was taken to the holding cell.

Looking at him with desperation, I went outside and stared at the trees. The police station has enough space to park 10 cars in the front and the entirety is covered by huge trees around the campus.

It has been many years since I kicked the butt but I felt like having a smoke. My brother came and tapped on my shoulders.

“You need a cigarette, brother?”

Refusing it politely I asked him, ‘How is that man? Francis was her associate and he’s being framed. We were her friends. Why didn’t you suspect us? Just because he’s alienated from the gang, doesn’t mean he can go over our heads bro!’

Sangeet — “Look! He had the dossier of all the victims.”

Me — ‘What?’

Sangeet — “Learn about people man! Just don’t put blind trust in everybody. I still don’t get why you’re covering for a convict like him.”

As he walked away, I turned off flight mode on my phone. Moments later I received so many messages claiming missed calls.

It was a new number. Before I could check who it was, my rang again. Attended and it was dead silent at the other end. Why can’t they speak after trying it out so many times? Did they think it was still switched off?

‘Hello! Rahamat here. Who’s this?’

A whisper was heard, “The rabbit is thirty-five thousand and seven. Capture it!”

I couldn’t understand why this was said or who said it. Can’t guess if it was a woman or a man. Too short to trace the location. Then I immediately went back in. The S.I and Sangeet were talking and looked at me while I walked in. Being still mad about what they did to Francis, I asked the other staff to come outside.

Avanthika — “What’s wrong, buddy?”

Maaran — “You got any info?”

I looked back to check if any one of them are coming and said to my folks, ‘Yes, it’s very cryptic. Even the one who could decode is kidnapped. So, we gotta figure this out. I received a code.’

Jacob immediately said that he’d run to school and get my car. I passed on the keys and he jogged away.

Me — ‘I have no idea if it was a man or a woman. But all they said was — The rabbit is thirty-five thousand and seven. Capture it! That is all. Then the call disconnected.’

Avanthika — “Don’t you get it? We play this silly game with the calculator. Type that number and look at it upside down, it spells LOOSE.”

Maaran — “The rabbit is loose? and capture it? Who’s the rabbit here?”

Sangeet called me from the entrance, “Ray! Let’s go. It’s time now!”

Avanthika — “Ray and Maar! Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

I smiled and said, ‘I have no idea, Avi! Let’s see where it takes us. Abandon Gurney!’

Jacob swiftly came and screech stopped my car and we all got in. Sangeet saw us go and he called me.

Sangeet — “Bro! What… the…. hell are you doing man? You all are going into a trap. A huge bear trap.”

Me — ‘It’s not just me. I have got my people. Sorry I had to go over your head.’

Sangeet — “Fuck! Now it’s an additional burden.” And he disconnected the call. I certainly knew he was going to follow us.

Maaran — “Guys! Wait, where are we even going?”

Jacob pulled up a phone from his pocket and there attached was an OTG adapter to it.

Jacob spoke, “This is a phone snooper. This will snoop on the phone that is nearby. So, this has everything info that Sangeet had. Here, Rahamat! Do the honors. Get us the location!”

Okay, now the lives of so many people are in our hands and I went into the Google Keep where he stores the locations of many of his cases. The recent location was a hot one and we set a map. It was 4 km away and Jacob drove as quickly as he could.

Avanthika as she got down said, “Why do people always kidnap in old industrial buildings?”

Maaran — “Maybe kidnapping an entire mall didn’t work out” and he looked at me and shrugged.

I immediately replied, ‘Bring out the jets! Jake my man. Lead the way!’ and Jacob gave me a salute and pulled out the hockey stick from the back. He gave one to each of us.

5 minutes into the building we heard a violet flutter and as it neared, it was footsteps. Sangeet yelled, “Ray! Stop!”

He ran near and grabbed me by the shirt. “Who do you think you are? A superhero? What if the kidnappers have guns? A hockey stick is gonna defend you?”

Maaran tapped my brother’s shoulder with his stick. “No Sangeet! It will not.”

And his grip loosened then Maaran continued, “At least we got your asses up from that Sub-Inspector’s room. Save your anger! Leave us, or leave!”

Sangeet looked at Avanthika thinking she’d support him and she stared at him with piercing eyes.

Sangeet — “Alright Avi! Save your energy. Go save the kids. And I’m not going to help you, folks, anymore. You’re on your own.”

Me — ‘It’s alright, brother! Come on, let’s go’ and we proceeded to go into the second building and search. We saw their car drive away from the top level of the second building.

Jacob was around twenty feet from us and he signaled to come. A half-palm impression of blood. Dried and I couldn’t guess how long it could have been. Or whom. If it was my brother, he’d have known the victim.

The impression was of a rusty iron door and we open with ease which was a surprise. Maaran said, “It’s already been forced open. Look at the marks on the corner. We’re on the right path, I guess. Keep walking!”

Acknowledging him, Jacob stopped me from moving and asked, “Where’s Avanthika?”

Avanthika popped from behind machinery and said, “Sorry!”

Jacob — “Stick together please!”

A belt buckle was on the floor. It was a school belt buckle and of course, it was our school’s.

Maaran — “Looks like someone left a clue. Let’s follow the crumbs and the dark-dull-lit path led us to a spiral staircase to the ground floor. We saw everybody sitting on the floor. Jacob shushed us with action and gave me his hockey stick. He asked us to go back a few steps. Lying and crawling on the floor he assessed the situation from upstairs. Came back like a caterpillar and said a whisp in a whispering voice.

“Okay, the students are chained for each row. It is not easy and I see Pooja being tied. Kiran unfortunately is overlooking the crowd. Ray! Our suspicions are true. It looks like she’s bad.”

We thought for a while, and I said, ‘Jake! Hold my bat. You guys stay here. She’ll listen to me.’

Maaran — “Are you crazy? That’s your plan?

Avanthika interrupted, “More than us, Kiran would listen to Ray! We’re here. And we’ll guard the door. And watch our backs. Because we’ve seen in movies that during this situation, the people are being abandoned also get caught.”

Kiran just a couple of stairs away from us said, “Yeah, she’s not wrong.”

Raised my hands showing that I am unarmed and asked her, ‘Why did you join the dark side?’

Kiran winked, “Oh brother! You have no idea why I am here. First of all, I was threatened. Then, I kinda agreed to the statement” and she abruptly stopped to listen. We heard metal steps.

Pooja walked upstairs with a smile on her face.

Me — ‘Pooj! Et tu?’

Pooja — “Deliver us from evil!”

As anger took over, I clenched my fist, and I could hear Maaran gripping his stick tightly. The rubber grip on his hockey stick squeaked in his sweaty hands.

Me — “Bunny! Pooja, your childhood nickname was bunny. You are now free of harnesses and chains. The rabbit is loose.”

Kiran said to us, “Rahamat! Let me tell you why I joined the dark side.”

~to be continued

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