Friday, 29 March 2013

The Quest: Lady, Love and the Revolver

Origin of the story
One day, while I was watching Christopher Nolan's Memento, an idea struck my mind - 'why don't you try and apply this kind of complex narration in a different kind of story?' I immediately sat down in front of my computer and started to play with the keyboard keys. All the thoughts were spontaneous (no homework done in shaping up the scenes) and that will be the ultimate specialty of this story. I completed this in a full stretch (4 to 5 hours, I don't remember the exact time taken to complete it) without taking a minute break. The narration of the story has been inspired from Nolan's 'Memento' and it is not a complete rip off (you'll get to know once you start reading the story). 

Genre of the story
Romantic Action Thriller (my style of mixed genres)

Summary of The Quest
Harshavardhan, an employee of a news daily, has got only one option to win his love and take his girlfriend back home. But, things turn complicated when the truth unfolds. 

THE QUEST: LADY, LOVE AND THE REVOLVER

‘Where am I?’ He looked out through the window and muttered to himself, ‘I am just 30 miles away from Los Angeles.’ He sat back and relaxed. ‘I am not supposed to do this, but, I have no other option.’ He looked at his watch. It showed him 5:00. ‘I do not regret for doing this. Why should I regret?’ He looked out of the window. The view was not clear as it was covered by mist. He sat back and closed his eyes.

Mangalore, Karnataka
Harshavardhan, an efficient employee of leading news daily in Mangalore, seemed nervous as he sat at his table in his office. He kept tapping the table with his fingers and staring at his cell phone. He was expecting a phone call from someone. His cell phone rang and he picked it up.
‘Hello,’ he spoke.
‘Sir, this is John calling from Regal Bank. Am I speaking to Mr. Harshavardhan?’
‘Mr. John, can you call me tomorrow. I am quite busy right now,’ Harsha hung up the call.
Harsha was somewhat tensed. ‘What’s wrong with her?’ He muttered to himself and he continued to look at the cell phone. He then took it in his hand and dialed a number.
‘Hello Harsha!’ It was a girl’s voice who greeted Harsha from the other end.
‘Hello Priya, what happened to Soniya? I’ve been trying to reach her for the past one hour. I am supposed to…’
Priya interrupted, ‘Harsha, you are not kidding, aren’t you?’
He was confused for a second, ‘hey, come on, it’s not the time for fun. Tell me where she is?’
‘Oh, Harsha, I’m, I’m sorry that Soniya hasn’t informed you about her departure.’
‘What departure?’ His voice appeared tensed.
‘She is on her way to United States. Her flight would have been left by now.’
He hung up the phone after getting the flight details from Priya and immediately rushed to the airport. It was too late and by the time he reached the airport, the flight was already in mid air. He was disappointed.

‘Where did the bus arrive?’ He looked out. The sign board indicated that he was 20 miles away from Los Angeles. ‘Do I have the courage to do this?’ He said to himself. ‘Okay, relax, just 20 miles left.’ He looked out once again. The mist began to clear. He leaned to the side of the window and stared at the view outside.

Gokarna, Karnataka
Soniya and Harshavardhan were having a conversation as they walked along the coast line.
‘How do you feel now?’ Harsha asked.
‘Good. I’m feeling great, actually,’ Soniya said looking at Harsha.
‘Yeah, it’s been a long time since you stepped out and it is natural to feel that way.’
‘Mm… Hmmm,’ Soniya nodded and said, ‘hey, look at you. You look quite good today.’
‘Thanks,’ he smiled. ‘Shall we go for a ride?’ He said looking at the motor boat.

After going for a ride, he took her to a nearby restaurant where they had their dinner and then he dropped her home that night in his car.
Soniya, as she was about to get down from the car, spoke, ‘Harsha, thanks for making the day special. I really had a good time with you. Thank you.’ She gave him a kiss on his forehead and got out of the car. Harsha then got down from the car and walked towards her. He held both her hands and looked into her eyes for few seconds.
‘What?’ Soniya asked him.
He kept looking at her eyes. After few seconds, he whispered in her ear, ‘will you marry me?’
Soniya pushed him aside and said, ‘sorry… I’m sorry Harsha. I… I can’t.’
Harsha said, ‘hey, look at me. Don’t you like me?’
She replied, ‘yes, but…’
He put his forefinger on her lips and said, ‘don’t say anything. Go home, take rest and think about it. I will be waiting for your call tomorrow.’
Harsha walked back to his car while Soniya stood there watching him getting into the car and driving away from the location. Next morning, Harsha was in his office, tapping the table with his fingers and staring at his cell phone. He was waiting for Soniya to call him back.

The bus reached Los Angeles. He got down at Chinatown and walked towards Millennium Hotel. It was almost half a mile from Chinatown. The mist vanished and the sun shined. ‘People say that falling in love can change their life, but, it was not the same for me,’ he said to himself as he walked through the streets. ‘What’s more powerful than love in this world? If you want to know it, you need to feel it. It will make you do anything. Anything, anything you are capable of. Sometimes it will take you to extremes.’

Mangalore, Karnataka
Harsha was at Soniya’s house preparing her a coffee.
‘You want me to add extra sugar?’ He asked Soniya, who was lying on her bed and her hand was tied with a bandage.
‘No, it’s okay,’ she said softly.
He gave her the coffee cup and sat on the couch next to her bed.
Soniya, after sipping some coffee, asked him, ‘Harsha, have you ever been selfish?’
Harsha gave a strange look at her and once again, she asked him, ‘have you ever been selfish? I mean, is it good to be selfish?’ She sipped some coffee and continued, ‘what makes people act so mean?’
‘Hmmm, it’s the human nature. You, me, not even the creator can change it. You know what, selfishness is something special. It shows how much you are concerned about yourself. It makes you feel special about yourself and only yourself,’ Harsha replied to her question.
‘Have you ever been selfish?’ She asked him.
‘Yeah, for almost half of my life I’ve been selfish. Now what’s wrong with you?’
‘I was just thinking,’ she placed her coffee cup aside and continued, ‘about something. Okay, leave it. Can you take me out somewhere far away from the city?’
‘You must be under rest for a couple of days. Are you kidding?’ Harsha took her coffee cup to the kitchen and washed it.
‘Please Harsha, I need some fresh air.’
Not able to deny her wish, Harsha took her to Gokarna beach. They walked along the coastline having a conversation, and then went for a motor boat ride.

He reached the entrance of Millennium Hotel in Los Angeles. He sat there near the reception and relaxed. He looked at his watch. It was 7:00. He waited there. Meanwhile, a person from the reception came to him and asked, ‘sir, whom you are waiting for?’
‘I am just waiting for a friend of mine,’ Harsha replied to the receptionist.
He took the newspaper that lay to his side and started reading it. After some time, he saw someone entering the hotel. It was the man whom he was waiting for. The man appeared old, almost in his early sixties. Harsha got up and followed the man. They got into the elevator and reached fourth floor. Harsha followed him until the old man stopped walking. The man turned back and asked Harsha, ‘I know that you are following me. Who are you and what do you want?’
‘I want to talk to you. Let’s get into your suite.’
Harsha followed the man to his suite. The old man made himself a drink and sat opposite to Harsha. ‘Who are you?’ asked the old man.
Harsha took out the revolver from his pocket and placed on the table.

Mangalore, Karnataka
Harsha was inside an ambulance with Soniya who was unconscious and bleeding heavily. Harsha held her hand and sat there while the nurses gave her first aid. The ambulance reached the hospital and Soniya was taken into ICU. Harsha waited there and decided not to leave. Two hours passed, and a doctor from ICU came out and took Harsha along with him to his room.
‘What happened doctor?’ Harsha asked the doctor while the doctor looked at Soniya’s reports.
‘She is lucky that she survived. There’s a fracture in her right hand which will be set right in few days. She is in shock and it will take some time for her to recover. All she needs is bed rest.’ The doctor placed the reports aside and asked, ‘by the way, in what way she is connected with you?’
‘Ah..! She is… she is my friend. Yeah, she’s my friend,’ Harsha replied hesitantly.
‘Okay Mr. Harsha. Pay the bill at the reception and you may discharge her after ten days.’
For the first three days, Soniya didn’t gain her consciousness. He stayed there and looked after her. He tried to get contacts of her but there were no clues left behind. He waited for her to recover. On the fourth day, Soniya gained her consciousness. She looked at Harsha, who sat beside her, and held his hands; and said, ‘thank you.’ Harsha held her hand and replied, ‘that’s okay. You have recovered. Take some rest.’
‘Where do your parents live?’ Harsha asked her.
‘They live outside the country, in California,’ she paused and said, ‘I’ve a friend and you can inform her. Her name is Priya. Perhaps she doesn’t know that I’m in a hospital right now.’
Harsha noted down Priya’s number and spoke with her. Priya then came to visit Soniya. For the next few days she took care of her friend. One fine day, Soniya got discharged from hospital and was taken to Priya’s house. Harsha used to visit Soniya regularly.
One fine day, Harsha got a call from Priya, ‘hello Harsha, can you do me a favor?’
‘Yeah Priya, tell me.’
‘I’m going out of town for tonight. Can you come over here and look after Soniya just for today?’
Harsha replied, ‘don’t worry. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.’
Harsha was at Soniya’s house. Priya left the place as soon as Harsha arrived. Harsha helped Soniya walk to her bed from the living room and then prepared her some coffee. 
‘You want me to add extra sugar?’ He asked Soniya.

The old man kept looking at the revolver. Harsha prepared a drink and sat opposite to him. The room was wide and it had a dull lighting. There was a table at the corner of the room. Both of them sat opposite to each other at the table. They had a conversation.
‘Who are you?’ The old man asked Harsha.
‘Mr. Sharma, why do you want to make such complications at this age?’ Harsha asked.
‘I asked who you are.’
‘Ah! You need to answer few questions before I reveal myself. So, tell me Mr. Sharma; you regret about something, don’t you?’
‘I’m not going to answer until you tell me who you are.’
‘Calm down Mr. Sharma. Okay, let me come to the point. Tell me the easiest way to kill you.’

Back from the Airport
Mangalore, Karnataka
Harshavardhan came back to his office from the airport. ‘How could she do this to me?’ Harsha said to himself. He made a phone call. ‘Hello, Mr. Singh, I need to talk to you in person.’ He then hung up the phone and went to Mr. Singh’s cabin. Mr. Singh was Harsha’s boss and his well wisher. Singh was staring seriously at his laptop when Harsha entered his cabin.
‘Come in my boy. What’s the matter?’ Mr. Singh said.
‘Mr. Singh, I’ll take the assignment.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, I am sure. My decision is final. I’ll go ahead with it.’
‘That’s good Harsha. It’s a golden opportunity. Okay, I’ll go ahead with the formalities. You will be departing in a couple of days to United States,’ Mr. Singh said this as he signed on some papers.
Being a journalist, Harsha always dreamt of traveling abroad to take his work a step beyond. Few days ago, Singh offered him a choice to go to United States to complete an assignment for which Harsha said that he would think about it. Now, Harsha thought it would be the only way to get back to his love, Soniya, who left the country.

The old man, Sharma, sat there listening to Harsha. He took his hand under the table and pressed the button. After few seconds, the door bell rang.
‘Come in,’ said Sharma while Harsha took the gun and put it back in his pocket. A man entered the room. He took a stick, which lay at the corner of the room, and hit hard on Harsha’s back. Harsha fell down on the floor and fainted.
Harsha opened his eyes and found himself tightly tied to a chair. His back was hurt heavily and he could feel the blood oozing out from the wounded spot. The old man, along with the guy who hit Harsha, stood there looking at him. The old man said to Harsha, ‘why are you trying to kill me? Who gave you the assignment? I know that you work for someone.’
                                        
Oakland, California
It was the beautiful city of Oakland where I was asked to complete the assignment. I had a total of five days. I did complete the assignment in three days and I had a couple of days left in my hand to find Soniya. I realized how tough it was to trace out my love in an anonymous country. I knew no one. I knew nothing. I needed some clues, a small clue that will take me to Soniya. Then, I realized something. It was Priya. I called her.
‘Hello, Priya. This is Harsha.’
‘Hey, where have you been?’
‘Listen, I need Soniya’s bank account number. You have it with you?’
‘Can you hold on for a second?’ She said and I was waiting for her to get back. She replied after a couple of seconds, ‘yeah, note it down.’
‘Thank you very much.’ I felt a sigh of relief after getting the details from her.
‘What? You sound exciting. What are you going to do with that?’
She was eager to hear something from me. But, I didn’t want to disclose anything until things turn fruitful. I decided to hang up the phone.
‘I will let you know later. See you soon.’ And, I cut the call.

Millennium Hotel, Los Angeles
‘Why did you get her account number?’ Sharma asked Harsha.
‘I thought it will be the easier way to find her.’
‘What?’ Sharma asked.
‘It’s simple. The purpose you will use your bank account will be either to withdraw money or to make a transaction. With the help of few of my friends, I traced out her most recent location using the last transaction made.’
‘Interesting, continue the story.’

Oakland, California
I somehow managed to trace out Soniya’s location with the help of my friends out there in the banks. The location was traced out by viewing the records of the last transaction made by both electronically and manually. It was Santa Cruz, just a couple of hours away from my place. I was excited, not because I found out the location. I was excited because I thought it would be a surprise for her to see me in her place. The good news was the transaction was made just 45 minutes ago at Hotel International Inn, which means she might have either checked in or checked out from the hotel. I thought the hotel might be the second clue which may further lead to her. I went to Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz, California
Hotel International Inn, the grand luxury hotel was located at the heart of Santa Cruz. A normal person cannot afford to stay in this hotel and I thought how Soniya could have managed to pay for her stay? I had several doubts that ran in my mind that time – ‘Was her credit card stolen? Is she a daughter of a big shot? Why does she want to check in to such a cozy hotel? Where is she?’ I went to the reception. I said that I was there for an investigation. They believed that I was from a private detective agency. I lied to them just to get the right information. The guy at the reception quickly browsed through the records and said, ‘she checked in today, hmmm, Room number 24B.’ I thanked him, not because he didn’t ask for my ID, but for providing me valuable information. I waited there at the lobby for more than an hour. Then, I saw her. I saw Soniya walking towards the main door from the elevator. But, she was not alone. She was accompanied by a fellow human being, who was indeed a male sporting a thick black beard and a moustache. She was conversing very seriously with him as they exited the hotel. I followed them in secrecy. They went to the mall, I was there; they went to the casino, I was there; they went to the theatres, I was there; finally, they were walking on the streets, I followed them wherever they went. After walking a few yards, the man got into a car and left the place. She waved him ‘Goodbye’ and continued to walk. I went behind her until she was vanished in the huge crowd down the street. I walked further until I found someone pulling me aside. It was Soniya. She hugged me tightly for almost two minutes. It was the longest hug ever had in my life. I deserved it.
‘I missed you,’ she said.
‘Okay, come with me.’
‘No, no,’ she paused and continued, ‘come to this place at six in the evening.’
She dropped a paper in my pocket. It had an address of a coffee shop.

Coffee shop – Santa Cruz, California
‘How did you find me?’ She asked me as we both were sipping our coffees.
‘It was simple. But, tell me, why did you leave without letting me know?’ I asked her.
‘I’m sorry, but I had to.’
‘Okay, come with me. I’m taking you,’
‘Calm down Harsha. Sit down and listen, I can’t come with you now.’
‘I love you, Soniya. Did you hear me? I love you, okay?’
‘Oh! Do you mean it?’ She asked this and put her coffee cup aside.
‘What are you saying?’
‘Do you really mean it? Will you do anything for me?’
‘Yes, I will. I will do it and you know what, you are coming with me. That’s it.’ I took the coat from the table and put it on my lap.
‘Well,’ she sipped some water and continued, ‘in that case, you need to do me a favor.’
She took out a photo from her handbag and handed it to me. Then, she took a revolver and placed it on the table. I was completely shocked. ‘What was revolver doing with her?’ I thought as I looked into her eyes. It was filled with fury. I have never seen her like this before.
She said, ‘I need you to kill someone and then, as you said, I will come with you.’
Without saying anything, I got up from there. I put on my coat, took the revolver along with the photo and walked away from that place. There was an address written at the back of the photo – Hotel Millennium, Los Angeles; and the name was mentioned as Sharma. Los Angeles, it was six hours away from Santa Cruz. I boarded a bus that brought me straight to Los Angeles.

‘Who’s Soniya?’ Sharma asked Harsha, who remained tied to the chair.
‘She was the one who sent me to kill you,’ Harsha replied him.
‘Jeff, search his pockets,’ Sharma said to the man who stood next to him. Jeff found a photo of a girl from his pocket. It was none other than Soniya.
‘Mr. Sharma, here it is,’ Jeff said as he handed over the photo to Sharma.
Sharma looked at the picture. He smiled and that irritated Harsha.
‘She sent you?’ Sharma started to laugh out loud. ‘She sent you, really?’ Sharma repeated that again and laughed. ‘Do you know who she is? Harsha, do you know who she is?’ Sharma took out a similar photo of her from his pocket. ‘She is my daughter.’ Sharma said, looking at the photo. ‘She is my daughter. Soniya, is that her real name? I don’t think so.’
Harsha was left speechless. Sharma turned to Jeff and said, ‘Jeff, untie him.’ As Jeff was hesitant to untie, Sharma said, ‘don’t worry, he won’t kill me.’
‘Why does she want you killed?’ Harsha asked Sharma.
‘Leave that, now tell me, isn’t she pretty?’ Sharma asked Harsha, pointing at her photo.
‘Yes, she is pretty.’
‘Na, she isn’t pretty as she appears to be. She is a poison. You know what a poison does to you, Harsha, you know? It will slowly get into your nerves, damages your nervous system and it will cause you death. Death, that’s what she is. You know her, Harsha? You know everything about her?’ Sharma continued, ‘you seem to be a good man, Harsha. You don’t deserve this. Stay away from her and stay away from this mess. It will cause you death. Yes, you heard me right. Go away from her.’
Harsha was unable to react to what Sharma said. He stood up and drank some water. He washed his face and saw himself standing before the mirror. ‘Why is this happening to me?’ He asked himself as he looked at himself.
‘Where is she now?’ Sharma asked Harsha.
Harsha recollected something which was said by her at the coffee shop I need you to kill this man and then, as you said, I will come with you. After completing your work, come back here. I will be waiting for you at the town center mall.
‘She is at Santa Cruz. Can you explain me what’s happening?’ Harsha asked.
‘Not now Son, there’s not much time left with us. I need you to do me a favor.’

Los Angeles to Santa Cruz – Journey time: Approximately 6 hours
The words said by Sharma were kept echoing in Harsha’s mind as he traveled in the bus.
Harsha, everything is up to you now. You need to find out who’s behind her and what their plan is. You are doing this for California. You are doing it for the sake of innocent people of the United States just to save their lives. She is a very dangerous terrorist. If you let her go, my guess is that she will be solely responsible for the death of thousands of people who live among us, in our neighborhood. Remember, as a father, I tried to kill her thrice, but I failed. Now, I leave it you. Kill her. Let the evil vanish.
Everything got reversed. I planned for something but some other thing is happening with me right now. I don’t know whether I’ll be dead or alive, but I want to make sure that no harm should happen to Soniya. Whoever she is, a terrorist, an assassin, a criminal, I don’t care. I am going to confront her and take her away from those criminals who are trying to make her do dangerous things.

Town Center Mall - Santa Cruz, California
Harsha went to the mall after he arrived at Santa Cruz. He went to Shop no. 20, where Soniya was supposed to meet him. He waited there for her. An hour passed by and Soniya did not turn up. He walked around and then started to search for her at the mall. He went to the first floor, second floor, elevator, furniture shop, food court, but there was no trace of her. He stood there, at the fourth floor, looking around to get a glimpse of her. Then, he found her. She was there at the second floor, getting into the elevator with a black beard man accompanying her. Harsha made sure the gun was loaded with bullets and he keenly looked at the elevator. It stopped at the sixth floor. He ran to the escalators. He reached the sixth floor and confronted her.
‘Stop, stop right there,’ Harsha said to Soniya.
‘Harsha, please step aside,’ Soniya said and walked forward.
Harsha held her arms and said, ‘no, you can’t. I won’t let you do it.’
‘No, Harsha. You don’t understand. Get out of my way.’

Soniya pushed him aside and walked with the beard man. The black beard man whispered something in Soniya’s ears and he walked away leaving her. Soniya stood there without moving an inch. Looking at her, Harsha went to her. He noticed the tears coming out from her eyes. She looked at Harsha, deep into his eyes and said in a low voice ‘I’m sorry’ and then stabbed him in his abdomen with a knife.
Harsha’s eyes were rapidly filled with tears and he yelled out in pain, ‘why?’
‘I told you to go away,’ Soniya said this as she stabbed deeper into his abdomen and Harsha fell down on the floor. He didn’t lose his consciousness.
The black beard man was standing opposite to Soniya, and was signaling her to finish him. She stood there looking at Harsha. The black beard man started to load his gun. Looking at that, she wiped her tears and pushed Harsha aside. Two bullets were fired. Soniya got those bullets, one in her chest and the other in her right leg, and fell on the floor. Harsha’s eyes were swollen and he wasn’t able to move. He looked at the man and noticed that he was still loading the bullets into his gun. The gunshot came from somewhere else. Few feet away from him, he spotted Jeff, who stood there with the gun that was aimed at Soniya. Jeff then took out the cell phone and dialed Sharma’s number and spoke, ‘Mr. Sharma, your daughter is dead.’ Jeff put the phone in his pocket and walked away from the place.

Millennium Hotel, Los Angeles
Sharma was in his office, waiting for the call. After sometime, he got a call from Jeff.
‘Yeah, tell me Jeff,’ Sharma said over the phone.
‘Mr. Sharma, your daughter is dead.’
Sharma took a deep breath and replied, ‘good, your money will be credited to your account.’ Sharma cut the call. He took out a gun from the draw and placed on the table. He loaded the gun with a bullet. He took the gun into his mouth and then for no reason, he took it away. He had his daughter’s photo placed on the table. Looking at that, Sharma said, ‘she’s my daughter.’ He sobbed and repeated that again and again, ‘she’s my daughter… She’s my daughter… She’s my daughter.’

Gun Shot.
Written by Ashwin Kumar

6 comments:

  1. Little Metallic : Gun shot, bullets, Revolver, Terrorist ... On the whole so nice ... Jeff i liked the naming also.. Soniya got those 2 bullets pushing harsha aside. Love is some where hidden even in terrorist wow nice ...

    Finally Sharma sobbed himself is emotionally touching .. Loved it :-)

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  2. liked the way the story traveled between the past and the present. but when I visualized the climax I felt it was bit slow in actions even with the flying bullets. over all its a good read. :)

    seems you like the name Soniya ;)

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    1. haha.. yeah, i like that name :P
      anyways, i'm glad that you liked the read :)

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  3. Awesome storytelling..beautifully narrated and even if there was a chance mess the whole thing up you magically aligned them and nicely kept up the illusion in reader's mind. :)
    It felt like I was watching some movie. Stupendous. :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm very much excited after reading your comment. It's literally like a boost up. Thanks for sharing your response and I'm really glad that you liked my writing :)

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