Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Bargain with the Devil

“Dang!” Varnith said and jumped up and down a few times with his left leg in the air.

“What happened?” Jules asked.

“Same old thing. Hit by a prick. Can you please help?” Varnith said and sat on a rock nearby. Jules picked out the thorn from his foot and gently wiped the blood clean. This was the third wound Varnith had had during the past two hours. Jules was impressed that the number wasn’t higher considering the foolhardiness shown by her boss.

“Why don’t you wear the shoes I had brought for you? They would work perfectly for you.” Varnith ignored her as always. She bit her lip but remained silent.

“We are almost there. No need for the shoes.” Varnith said after 5 min of more traveling. The place looked beautiful and yet had a rustic feel to it.

“Wow!” Jules said looking at the grandeur in front of her. She hated her boss’ eccentricities most of the times but she was awed by his knowledge and taste. Most of the weirdness shown by Varnith, she attributed to his being uber-rich. Varnith was one of the richest men in the world and unlike other people, he was not a one-trick pony. He had invested again and again in multiple business, held several PHDs in multiple fields and had even received a Nobel Prize in Physics. As far as Jules knew, Varnith was what happened when Iron Man was on steroids.

And with all this, he would find time to find exotic and pristine places.

“So, do you think it would be a good place to start the next project.”

“Yeah. I suppose. But I still don’t understand. Why do you want to learn music and why do you need a place like this for that?” Jules asked. Varnith had one day woke up and decided he wanted to be a musician. No one questioned him.

“Oh Shit!” Varnith said and fell down. His foot had hit a huge boulder and a part of the stone had cut a sharp cut.

Varnith looked at the blood and promptly fainted.

“Wha.. What happened?” Varnith said after waking up.

“What happened is that you saw blood and fainted. After that, I had to pick you up and do the first aid. For the past hour, you have been easily sleeping while I have been trying to clean this wound. This would which seems infected.” Jules said tears coming out of her eyes.

“The boulder had some sort of vine on it. Maybe this is some kind of poison.” Varnith said calmly.

“P.. P.. Poison.” Jules said her eyes still moist with tears.

“It’s alright. I’ll be fine. I have a long life to live. This is just a tiny torture.”

“Tiny torture. Really! Poison is tiny torture.” Jules said her voice rising.

Varnith smiled at her and lied down again.

“Lie beside me Jules. You can’t do anything more there. Might as well rest.”

“No! I have to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread.”

“Jules. Your work there is done. Now rest.” Varnith said in an authoritative tone. A tone he rarely used, or needed. Jules immediately complied. Despite all his casual attitude, everyone who worked for Varnith feared this tone.

“Now, have some sleep.” Varnith said in a soft tone and Jules closed her eyes, still worried about Varnith’s infection. Soon, she dozed off.

She woke up to the tune of a flute. This was the best flute she had ever heard and when she saw who was playing it, she was shocked.

“Varnith! I didn’t know you could play flute.” She asked. He seemed perfectly at ease.

“And your infection?” She said looking at his leg. It was completely fine.

“I told you I’ll be fine. And I did come to learn music. Didn’t I?” Varnith said smiling.

“This can’t be. How do you do this? Are… Are you human?” Jules said scared.

“Last I checked.” Varnith said calmly.

“Then how do you do THIS.” Jules said just pointing at everything. Maybe it was the sleep or the weirdness of the location but for the first time, Jules realised that Varnith wasn’t just good, he was inhuman in his success. No one can actually achieve this much.

“I had been thinking of telling this to you for sometime now. But now that we are here, I am scared.” Varnith said softly.

“What?” Jules said listening intently.

“I.. umm.. like you Jules. You have been there for me more than anyone ever. I love talking to you and I would like to share more of my life with you. If, you are interested.” Varnith said, losing none of his panache and yet seeming hesitant.

Jules sat down. She had never given this a thought. She had been at this job for less than a year and she never thought Varnith and she had had any special connection. She was told that Varnith was a recluse and she never found this to be true but other than that, she didn’t think that Varnith thought of anything special about her. She realised, she was wrong. Varnith did think of her as special. That made her blush.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I gathered that from the 5 minutes that passed in the meantime.” Varnith said laughing and started playing the flute again.

“You didn’t tell me how you learnt to be this good.”

“This… This is not all me. You see, I sold my sole to the devil. In return, I got to be good at anything I do.” Varnith said.

“You sold your SOUL to the DEVIL. Come on! I am not that gullible. Tell me the truth.”

“I’m telling the truth. However, perhaps my sole is different from your soul.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I had intended to sell my soul but there was a typo in the form and I went with it. So, my spirit is safe. However, as you can see, I can’t protect my feet.”

“You sold your SOLE. Are you kidding me?”

“As good as the devil is in being devil, he isn’t good with paperwork. Lots of typos and errors. I corrected a few that helped me but left this one out.” Varnith said winking.

“You are joking.” Jules said.

“I have not joked or lied about anything I have said in this place Jules. However, you still haven’t given me answer to the first question. Can you be with a guy who sold his sole to the devil?” Varnith said with a wink.

“You will always be bare-feet.”

“Yes. Can you live with a bare-feet boy?”

“I suppose I can try.” Jules said smiling for the first time.