Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Alive!

Swapnil picked up the diary and started reading a random excerpt.

There will always be something or the other than bothers me. Life isn’t about having a cool life but about having troubles of the mind. I do realise that I have more peace when I am single and when I am not chasing after romance. I am more able to look at myself and improving myself. However, no person wants to live alone. No one wants to have a life that is not shared.

The social animal in me roars for a company. The human in me detests it. I don’t know what is the solution to this problem but I am assuming that the solution is going to be simple.

Swapnil was intrigued by these words. The victim was a curious person and if he would have been alive, Swapnil would have definitely wanted to talk to him based on his diary excerpts. However, it was not so and all Swapnil could do was find out what actually happened.

The most likely theory was that he committed suicide. He was single, alone and according to the neighbours, a quiet and reserved person. Most people living around were more surprised to know that he still was alive than by his death.

Swapnil had made a habit of reading this diary for the past three days. The material gave him insights about the person and he hoped to find some clue in those insights. Swapnil was also enchanted by the word flow and the quality of writing. It seemed that the person was a habitual writer — a professional even. Unfortunately, Swapnil couldn’t find out his profession yet. Other than the fact that he was rich enough to afford the place he was living in, the guy had little possessions.

An old television set, a pair of headphones and a laptop. This was his entertainment. Add to that three sets of clothes and it was no wonder that barely anyone ever knew him. This man never wanted to go outside.

These facts made the diary all the more interesting. The diary implied that he wanted to go outside and there was a fight between the social and unsocial part of him.

“Somehow, he thought that the unsocial part of him was human.” Swapnil spoke out loud. Everyone around him started to look at him. He sheepishly grinned and went back to the diary.

One thing I have understood about life. Whether alone or among a million people, life is beautiful.

Swapnil read it and his mind started to race. This man wouldn’t commit suicide. At least the man in the diary.

“You seem a bit too engrossed for an open and shut case.” Arpita said patting Swapnil on his head.

“This man doesn’t make sense at all. The diary shows a man who loved life and while he was a bit antisocial, he was also not a socially awkward person. On the other hand, he has barely any possessions, no one knew about the person in the building and no one seems to know him outside either. Heck! We haven’t been able to find his profession yet.”

“Now that you mention it, another thing is very interesting.” Arpita said looking through the photographs.

“What?” Swapnil asked.

“He is physically fit. Extremely fit per the medical report.”

“So.”

“You can’t maintain this kind of fitness level without a regime. You need a gym and a trainer or you need to have equipments at home.”

“There were no equipments at home and no membership cards etc. were found. No one ever saw him exercising as well. But I will check the nearby gyms.” Swapnil said.

“You still don’t understand. He was too physically fit and he was doing this without anyone finding it out. It’s almost as if he was preparing for a fight.” Arpita said with a glint in her eyes.

Swapnil looked through the reports once again with this new perspective.

“Oh no!” Swapnil said and ran.

“Wait! I’ll come.” Arpita ran after him.

“What happened Swapnil?” Arpita asked as the two moved towards the victim’s flat in his car.

“The flat wasn’t his house. He was meeting someone there. Someone with whom he was going to have a fight.” Swapnil said in one breath.

“This means there must be some other place where he lived.”

“Yeah. I have told Jacob to broaden his search to the whole city.”

“But someone was living there. Otherwise people would have said it was empty.”

“I know. There is one wild explanation I have but I can’t prove it right now.”

“Care to share.”

“What if everyone’s lying?”

“The whole building.”

“What if they are protecting the murderer. The person who actually lived at that place.”

“Yeah, it’s a crazy idea alright.”

Swapnil and Arpita reached the flat and started looking around. Arpita didn’t know what she was looking for but assumed that anything different from the last time would be good.

Swapnil moved around with fervour as if possessed.

“Yes.” Swapnil said and turned towards Arpita.

“It’s a photograph.” Arpita said disappointed.

“Yes. Now look at it.” Swapnil said shoving it in Arpita’s hand. It was a photograph of the victim.

“What’s the big deal about it? It’s the victim’s photo before he died.” Arpita said.

“Check the date.”

“It’s 2 days before his death.” Arpita said. Swapnil smiled like a maniac.

“Now, look at his physique.” Swapnil said.

“Oh my God!” Arpita said and dropped the photo.

Swapnil picked the photo and kept looking at it.

“Something crazy is going on. The guy who died can’t get this physically fit in 2 days. We are missing something crucial.” Swapnil said.

“What are you saying?”

“I am saying that I will solve this case.” Swapnil said.

A knock on the door woke up Graham. He moved shabbily towards the entrance. He opened the door and a look of shock filled his face.

“Happy Birthday Graham! You didn’t think we would forget your birthday.” A teenage girl squealed and entered the house, followed by half the building.

Graham looked at them grumpily. He hated socialising but didn’t want to avoid it either. He did wish he looked better so he could actually ask someone out. As far as he could see, building people were more courteous to him than caring.

He did hope that he would be able to change all that with the research he was working on. Hidden in his other room was his creation that he believed would change the way he lived.

“How’s your work coming along?” Jennifer asked. Graham’s heart elated. No one actually knew what the research was about but they still asked how it was moving. And Jennifer knowing about his research was a reward in it’s own.

“It’s going well. If everything goes as per plan, you will see a new me in two days.” Graham said excited.

“A new you.” Jennifer spoke, confused.

“Just wait for two days.” Graham smiled, while cursing himself slightly for saying more than he had meant to.

Jennifer smiled.

The party moved along smoothly and when it finally ended, Graham relaxed on his chair.

‘Two more days.’ Graham thought and went to his room for more tinkering.

“Hi Jennifer.” Swapnil said in a soft voice. Arpita sniggered behind him.

“H.. hi..” Jennifer said. Her voice was cracking and she was on the verge of tears.

“I know Jennifer that it is a weird case. You can tell me whatever the truth is and I will believe you.” Swapnil spoke in a soothing tone.

In the past three days, he has racked up every theory about what might have happened. Had the past version of Graham came and got killed by the present one? Were there twins? Or was it all a hoax to fox him. He had interrogated the whole building again but all of them had been silent on the matter, saying that they had not seen Graham for some time. Except for Jennifer, who had accidentally spilled that Graham’s birthday was two days before his death.

“I don’t know what happened.” Jennifer said trembling.

“But you know that something weird has happened. Right.” Arpita spoke from behind, in an even calmer voice.

Swapnil could smell victory but before he could prod Jennifer, Arpita put her hand on him and stopped him.

“You liked him, didn’t you?” Arpita said carefully.

Jennifer nodded and wiped tears from her eyes.

“Tell us the whole thing Jennifer. I know that you haven’t killed him. You have nothing to be afraid about.” Swapnil spoke taking cue from Arpita.

“We dated a few years ago. At that time, he was the jolliest person I knew. He was well liked in the whole building. No one actually knows how he earned money but most guessed that either he was wealthy or worked from home.

However, he was very conscious of how he looked and crazy about having the best looking body. When he started gaining weight, he became obsessed about improving his health. However, doctors said that it was a hormonal issue and while they can help him control the weight, he won’t ever be in the same shape as before.

He started having mood swings and became sad. He dumped me saying that he didn’t want to inflict himself upon me. I tried convincing him that it doesn’t matter but he won’t listen. We talked on and off and he hinted to me that he was working on a solution to get his old body back.” Jennifer spoke with intermittent of sobbing. Arpita put her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and squeezed it.

“So, the body we found was…”

“…how Graham used to look. But I had seen him two days ago and he was not looking like this. He did mention he would have a new look in two days. I don’t know what he did but it was weird. The whole building is spooked by seeing the old Graham’s body. No one actually believes it’s Graham. They think he is hiding somewhere. Some think he was doing some ritual that failed.”

Swapnil and Arpita looked at each other. The story filled a lot of gaps but they still didn’t know how he died.

Jennifer’s phone vibrated on the table. She looked at the two, asking for permission to pick up the phone. Swapnil nodded. Jennifer looked at the message and squeaked. She dropped the phone and moved away from the table.

“What happened?” Swapnil asked urgently.

“The message is from Graham.”

Swapnil picked the phone and checked the mail.

Hey Jennifer.

If you are reading this mail, it means my experiment failed. It also means that my experiment succeeded.

I tried to create a perfect body all my life and then, it failed me due to faulty programming. Hormones, which were supposed to help me become better retaliated against me. However, I could never give up.

I started working with researchers across the world to create a tissue body for me that would be perfect in all ways. The trouble was how to shift my consciousness into the new body.

The challenge was big but I tried by best. No hard disk was big enough to store the whole consciousness. That’s when I got the idea that changed my life. I used a distributed network to disperse my consciousness.

Thus, it became a two step process. First, I removed myself from the old body. Second, to put it in the new body and reboot the body.

I had started the process of dispersion a few months ago. After the birthday, I put my new body in the house while removing the old body forever. The plan was to show you the new me, as a return gift to you.

Unfortunately, if you are getting this mail, it means I did the first step correctly but failed in the second step. Maybe the body didn’t reboot or it failed in some other way.

I loved you a lot Jenny and I’m sorry for failing to become better.

Goodbye!

Swapnil read the whole email and sat down. All three of them looked at each other. Jennifer’s hands were on her mouth and Arpita was looking from Jennifer to Swapnil to the phone.

“It can’t be possible.” Jennifer spoke first.

“I don’t know.” Swapnil said honestly. Of all the theories he had thought, the truth still beat him in weirdness.

“What is a distributed system?” Jennifer asked.

“Any system that shares resources. For example the internet is something like this. Theoretically, one can use the processing and storage power of multiple computers for a single purpose.” Arpita explained.

“Like creating a consciousness.” Jennifer asked.

“I don’t think that’s possible.” Swapnil said looking at Arpita.

The phone vibrated once again.

Hey Jennifer.

I am alive!

It’s incredible. I thought my consciousness would dissolve once the experiment has failed but I can feel everything.

I have finally found the perfect body. Now, we can be together forever.

I love you.

Graham.

Swapnil finished the sentence and a silence fell in the room.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Rule

It was not what Nishit had expected but he went with the flow anyways. He knew that the amount of time it would take to change the whole plan was more and the effort tedious. Better to just follow along the plan and make a switch at the last moment.

“Tricky stuff.” A voice said in his head. The first time it had happened, Nishit had jumped a few feet in the air. Now, it was a voice which was sometimes a council, other times an annoyance but almost always, a friend.

“Yeah. But no other way.” Nishit whispered. For some reason, this voice wasn’t able to hear his thoughts. He had to explicitly state the words from his mouth. Even if whispered inaudibly, it would work but not before that. He sometimes wondered why it was so.

“May I suggest an alternative.” The voice said with glee. This was a bad sign. Despite all the good things about the voice, there was one major flaw.

“We can try to switch now instead of later.” The voice said.

“We would die if we did that.” Nishit said annoyed.

“And the downside being?” The voice said genuinely confused. The voice was extremely suicidal. This meant that almost all first advice from the voice was risky and dangerous. Nishit had learned this the hard way. Luckily he escaped unscathed from the event, primarily because he was skeptical of the advice during the early days.

“Any other advice?” Nishit asked patiently. The voice went silent for some time and then spoke.

“Don’t make the switch at all. Instead, make the switch irrelevant.”

“How?”

“Credibility is required for the action she’s taking. No credibility, no result would come from her action.”

“You really think that would work.”

“Better than switching.” The voice said seriously.

“We will own the High Tower then.” Nishit said smiling.

“Yes. And we can jump off it too.” The voice said again filled with glee.

Nishit knew what he had to do. To own the High Tower was his biggest dream. And he knew that it wasn’t possible until Minerva left the High Tower. Nishit had been trying to find various methods, most unsucessful to get the High Tower. That was before the voice.

The voice, for all its flaws, was cunning. All its plans (the non-suicidal ones) were spot on and never failed.

Minerva sighed and got to bed. She was tired but knew that she won’t be able to get more than a couple of hours of sleep. She didn’t remember the last time when she had slept without someone waking her up for any of the umpteen stupid reasons.

If there was one thing that Minerva wanted, it was to leave the High Tower and live a life of peace and rest. Unfortunately, the law of the land dictated that the only way to change the ruler in the high tower was to overthrow him or her. Besides, the people won’t let her live in peace if she left the Tower. Enemies would still find her a threat and try to kill her. She wasn’t bothered by the fear of death as much as annoyance of attempts.

“What are you thinking? You are doing the right thing.” Minerva said to her mulling over the events that had just transpired. Nishit was her favorite enemy. While others were toiling for the High Tower, Nishit was actually working for the people. He wasn’t even ambitious before Minerva got into his head. She couldn’t hear his thoughts but whatever he talked about was gentle and made her happy. Nishit was the right heir to her.

Unfortunately, the only way for him to rule over the High Tower was to remove her.

“I hope it works as well as I have planned it.” Minerva said to herself before putting on the blanket. If all went as she wanted, within a year, she would be sleeping as much as she wants without anyone every coming to torture her. It would be Nishit’s problem then.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

The Last One

Whenever I used to watch the tales of immortal beings — I used to get a thrill. Part of it was because how idiotic it all looked. Whenever people envisioned immortality, they would picture vampires or other similar creatures. Hideous, heinous and horrible. Either that, or it was pictured that it was happening through some scientific discovery that was only available to the rich. The third option of course was to be a god. All in all, being immortal was considered either a curse or a boon. It wasn’t an option available for humans.

The second reason for the thrill was because I’m immortal. I know… I know… You are surprised. I know what you people are thinking — “Come on Arvindraj. Surely you are joking. You don’t look over 25. How can you be immortal?”

But you see, that’s the thing. 25 is the peak human physical age. And I stopped at that point. My body doesn’t age and I simply regenerate any tissue or damage. Diseases are rare and infrequent. And most don’t affect my perfect immune system.

Now, I’m not here to brag about how awesome living forever is. I mean don’t get me wrong — it’s awesome — but there is more to this than just living forever. You have to watch your people go.

Saying this, Arvindraj clicked the camera and shut it down. He couldn’t carry on any further. He sat there for a few minutes thinking about the last time he had to let go. That was the most pain he had ever felt in his entire life. 500 years have passed since that incident and yet, he has not yet forgotten the day his species, sans him, ceased to exist.

Over the past 3500 years, he had lived through many catastrophes including the great floods and the bubonic plague. He had seen the people he love pass away. His friends, kids, their grandkids and so many more people. However, he had never anticipated in his dreams that he would ever see the end of human race.

“We seemed so durable.” Arvindraj said to himself before a flash light brought him to the reality.

“I’m sorry Mr. Human. Can you give me your autograph?” A small kid asked in a grating tone. The sound reminded him of turning wheels screeching on the road. His English was clearly broken and weak.

“Sure, kid. What’s your name?” Arvindraj asked the kid. He was around 3 feet tall, with three feet. One of the feet was basically a wheel that could balance on itself. There were twelve eyes that Arvindraj constituted as triple vision he had heard about recently. This kid could see more colors than Arvindraj could imagine. His hair were small tentacles that could be used for smelling and he had gotten one of his hand replaced by a mechanical arm.

‘Typical Homo Supreme kid.’ Arvindraj thought.

“My name is Kryznk.” The kid said. Three individuals were looking towards Arvindraj wondrously. Arvindraj assumed they were Kryznk’s parents. Arvindraj couldn’t distinguish between the parents as mother or father. He found it difficult to do with Homo Supreme. Especially since they had three sets of DNA, aside from the multiple machine parts.

Arvindraj wrote a few words in English and then in another language that he knew was Kryznk’s local tongue.

“You can speak this language.” Kryznk said awe-struck. Arvindraj had heard this tone several times. Most Homo Supreme people assumed that he was some prehistoric creature who would barely understand what they were saying. And while it was true that Homo Supremes were more intelligent due to their two brain structure, Arvindraj was no slouch. He had over the millennia learnt hundreds of languages and he could pick them up as quickly as any Homo Supreme. Besides, the fact that all Homo Supremes speak the same language gave Arvindraj more incentive to learn the language.

“Kryznk!” One of the parents’ whispered. Arvindraj was sure that the parent must have spoken more but it was difficult for Arvindraj to pick up the frequency. The kid however seemed to understand.

“I will go. Bye.” The kid said and left Arvindraj. Arvindraj looked around the room and checked the clock. He decided to call it a day. Arvindraj went to the reception area of the hotel where he was staying.

“Can you bring these items for me?” Arvindraj said giving the creature his list. This person had only three eyes and one of them was a compound eye and a second one was bionic.

The creature nodded. The kind of food Arvindraj needed was no longer easily available. Arvindraj knew that if he wasn’t on government payroll, he wouldn’t probably even be able to afford most of it. Thankfully, once Homo Supreme government realised that Arvindraj was immortal and the last of his species, they decided to keep him on their expense.

It was soon after the last human mother gave birth to a Homo Supreme baby with her husband, who was a homo supreme. Arvindraj had always thought that human race would end in a war. Instead, they were just assimilated into a superior race. It was no anti-climactic that Arvindraj could have never guessed it.

“Your food sir.” A person with tiny wings gave him the food and went away.

Arvindraj sat down and ate the food while looking at the itinerary for the next week. As part of the deal, Arvindraj had to attend 12 exhibitions every year where he was paraded along with several near-extinct species. This, along with weekly tests to see how he was immortal were the two conditions that helped him escape confinement.

‘With each Homo Supreme connected via hive mind, running away would have been futile anyways.’ Arvindraj thought to himself as he munched down on some chicken and rice.

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Purgatory

Biswadip screamed and fainted.

“Finally! I have been waiting for you to be up for some time now.” A sweet voice spoke. It was a little high pitched but Biswadip couldn’t discern whether the voice was male or female.

Biswadip opened his eyes to a dim lighting.

“Thank God the lighting isn’t sharp. In all the movies, they show that people wake up to bright lights.” Biswadip blurted.

“Well. I guess you can thank the God for the idea. But I was the one who adjusted the light to your perfection. Along with the room decor, it took me almost 5 years of fine tuning.”

“Huh!” Biswadip finally was up. He looked at the room. It was his own room along with a few modifications. The things that needed fixing were fixed, there were a few things he had wanted to get added. Those were added.

“You like it?” The voice said excitedly. Biswadip couldn’t still find a source of the light.

“Where are you? Who are you?” Biswadip said confused.

“Oh! I am sorry.” The voice said and bubbles started to form infront of Biswadip which then translated into a cloud. The cloud started to take a human shape. Biswadip couldn’t recognise the person but it was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

“You are beautiful.” Biswadip said.

“Thank you. I was hoping to take a shape that is pleasing to you.”

“Taking a shape?”

“We don’t have a shape in general. However, we attempt to take a shape that is pleasing to the guest.”

“Guest?” Biswadip finally was up and looked around carefully. He realised that this was not his home.

“Oh yes. You have been our guest for the past 5 years. However, only now have you woken up.” The woman said smiling.

“What is going on?” Biswadip said panic rising in him. The heartbeat increased and he got up from the bed looking for a door.

“Oh you poor soul. Please let me show you a video.” The woman said and the wall in front of Biswadip turned into a giant television.

“Welcome to purgatory. You favorite place before you find out where your future lies.” The video started with a light blue screen and a deep voice.

“Purgatory?”

“We call it Limbo as well.” The woman suggested helpfully. The video had automatically stopped when Biswadip spoke and started again when the room became silent.

“You are here because you finished your life on Earth.” The video continued.

“I am dead.” Biswadip whispered. The woman nodded smiling.

“How?” Biswadip asked.

“Shh.. See the video.” The woman hushed Biswadip.

“This place is adjusted to your every need and wish. It is supposed to be your stay until you get your judgement. After that, you will be sent to heaven or hell as per the judgement. Hope you like the facilities. For any requests, just ask and Shaila would be at your service.”

“That’s me.” Shaila said smiling.

“How long have I been dead?” Biswadip asked.

“You have been here for the past 5 years. It takes different time for each person to wake up. Some take a few seconds, others more. There is a girl five cabins from here who is yet to wake up. She died almost 2000 years ago.”

“And how long before I get my results?” Biswadip felt weird asking about whether he would get heaven or hell but he didn’t even remember much as of now so this seemed the most prudent of questions.

“Oh! They will be here any time now.” Shaila said as the television flickered again.

“Hi Biswadip. Your results are decided. Please get ready for your travel.” The TV said and then closed.

“But I have just woken up. How did they it so fast?”

“Oh dear. You really didn’t think our service would be slow.” Shaila said and giggled.

“What do I do now?”

“You just have to cross that door. You will reach your destination.” Shaila said pointing towards a door.

“I don’t understand. If I had to spend only this much time here, why take so much effort on this room. Why are you here? What are the services for?” Biswadip asked confused.

“Because dear, it is up to you as to when go through that door. Today, tomorrow, next year. You can choose to stay here as long as you want. When you want to see your decision, you can go through the door.” Shaila said.

“Okay. But then, why would any evil person go through that door? If they know that they will go to hell.” Biswadip asked.

Shaila looked at her smugly.

“Most people believe that they will go to heaven. Besides, curiosity comes into play. Don’t you want to know what was the sum worth of your life? Finally, humans desire change. This place becomes boring for them — to the extent that they would rather go to hell than stay here.” Shaila said.

“Oh. Okay. Can I stay here for sometime?”

“As long as you want.” Shaila said.

“What has been the longest stay here?” Biswadip asked.

Shaila smiled.

“Goodbye. Let me know if you need me.”

Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Tree of Life

The time was moving slowly but it didn’t mean anything to Juniper. She had seen time since ages and its pace didn’t affect her anymore. In fact, she had become used to the current pace and hoped that it remained this way for some time. After all, she could finally understand humans a bit due to this pace.

Humans were fast creatures. By the time Juniper understood something about a human, the person would change both physically and mentally. Fickle minded and fragile, that’s how Juniper had perceived humans since ever. This change of pace had helped her look at humans in a better light. Apparently, some of them can slow down and remain calm. Juniper kept looking at the individual sitting under her branches.

Rakesh had lost all sense of time. He didn’t know when was the last time he had left this place. He was tired of the world and decided to find its meaning before dying. Now, neither was happening. For some reason, his body was sustaining itself without any food and water. He wasn’t even getting tired. Just in a void! The only solace was the tree which was giving him company for the whole duration. He had not yet started talking to the tree, thank God for that. However, the tree was a companion in his journey to the truth. However long it took.

Juniper turned her branches slightly to get more sun. It helped her live. She did not understand how it worked but for some reason she felt tired without the sun. The human needed nothing. Earlier, Juniper used to think that humans needed to move so much to survive. She had seen glimpses of humans eating plants and other animals but this individual defied her understanding. ‘Was he different?’ Juniper thought. Maybe this wasn’t human but some new being different from humans. That made sense. Nevertheless, she was fine with trying to comprehend this being as well.

Rakesh had a million thoughts in his mind. He had thought meditating was going to be easy. Emptying the mind of all thoughts and focusing on a single point. Ha! He might as well start flying. Rakesh hasn’t opened his eyes for so long, sitting in the same position, but nothing close to an empty mind was happening. If anything, his mind was fuller. His imagination had start forming ideas and thoughts that he didn’t even understand. Ideas of humans flying in giant boxes, moving around in metal containers, and so many of them. When Rakesh had left his tribe to find the truth, he had known only 15 of his mind. 8 in his group and 7 in another tribe. He had expected more in other places but the idea that the whole world is filled with humans was absurd. Rakesh knew his mind had turned to mush. When he thought of logical problems like communication and travel, his mind was people talking on devices that aren’t connected to anything. Rakesh then tried to shut his mind. He wanted the answers to his questions and not succumb to madness.

Juniper had over the years formed a circle around the individual. She started doing it when he began to glow. It made sense as he radiated some thing as the sun. This meant she was never tired. This also protected him from other creatures, curious creatures who were fast, too fast for Juniper to react. The energy also showed her images that reflected some of the things she could glimpse in reality. The images were slower and helped her understand what truly was happening. Juniper didn’t understand how that was happening but she took it for granted now, as she took her own life.

Rakesh felt a sudden charge of energy. He didn’t know what it meant. He was tempted to open his eyes to see but the feeling lasted just a second. He decided that it was nothing. And then his mind went blank.

Juniper was getting attracted to the energy that the human was glowing with. She tried to touch him with her branch. A shock went through her and she went numb. Before her slow senses could comprehend, flashes of signals went through her. She began to grow faster and before she could stop or understand, the human was gone. She had devoured him. She felt a rush of guilt when a voice came from within.

“Are you God?”

Juniper couldn’t recognise the voice, never heard him before. However, she recognised the energy.

“No. What’s happening?” Juniper said fear pervading her voice.

Rakesh’s mind opened to a vastness. He couldn’t feel his body but instead felt infinite. He felt another presence too. Afraid but giant.

“Let’s find out.” Rakesh said and searched for the second presence.

Juniper felt his touch. It was soft and soon the two consciousnesses started to move around each other. Like a binary star, they moved and interacted. Years of knowledge passed, centuries of communication happened, all in a single moment.

Finally, Rakesh opened his eyes and Juniper could see everything.

“Are you sure this is the place?”

“Yes. This is the tree of life. It is said that this point here is the origin of life.” The girl replied.

“You really don’t think life began with this.” The boy laughed.

“You remember the earthquake 5 years ago. This tree was at the centre of it. And yet, everything five kms of here is like garden of Eden. And it’s growing. There is something incredible about this tree.” The girl said.

“Or something sinister.” The boy said shivering.

“Either ways, I’m going to find the truth.”

Juniper and Rakesh looked at the two individuals.

“5 years since we met.” Juniper sent to Rakesh.

Rakesh sent back warmth. He had spent more than 15000 years in search of the Truth. He found it not alone but with someone to share the knowledge as well. Without Juniper, his journey would have been a futile one.

“Hopefully, these two find the truth as well. Together.” Rakesh shared with Juniper.

“And hopefully, faster than us.” Juniper teased. Rakesh laughed and the two consciousnesses moved faster around each other.