Maynia – Day 24: Half-Past Eight

11개월 전

Background

Here is one of the most exciting contests on the Hive blockchain. It is a challenge to write about 50,000 words in a month.

You can decide what you wish to do with the 50,000 words. Do you want it to evolve into a novel or just some exciting story series or something that you like? You decide.

So, a words/day rate of 1,700 should take you over the 50,000 words mark in thirty days. There are rewards too.

Check out most about the contest here.

The contest is exclusively available on Hive.

Line_Divider2_Trunc.jpg

Prompt

*** Today's Maynia Prompt: steel fortress***

*** Today's Daily Freewrite Prompt: none***

Writers can choose to use one of the prompts, both the prompts or not use the prompt at all. It is all up to you!

I wish to make this into a sci-fi novel. Let's see how it progresses! 😊

Line_Divider2_Trunc.jpg

Half-Past Eight - Day 24

Continued from Day 23. You can read it here.

Time: 00:00 a.m.

Date: 23rd February 2015

"Surprise!!!" Jerome yelled. "Happy birthday mommy" It was Caroline's birthday, and Jerome stayed awake with Norman to wish mommy. Mighty late for three-year-old but because he did not have school the next day, it was fine. Anyways, birthdays come once in a year.

"Oh my God!!" Caroline could not believe what she was witnessing. Her baby and husband stayed awake late to see her cut the cake. Caroline, herself, used to hit the sack late in the night but unlike Norman, she got up early too. She did not believe in sleeping for more than 3-4 hours and today, staying awake was worth every single bit.

"Happy birthday, darling," said Norman. "How do you like the cake?"

"Fantastic!" Who's idea was this?" Caroline asked.

"Which part? The staying awake part or the cake part?"

"Yeah, mommy which part?" Jerome ran around, repeating his Dad's words without really looking forward to the answer.

"Well, both. Both are amazing," Caroline said.

"Okay, the cake was totally Jerome's selection, and the staying awake part as well, again, thanks to Jerome," Norman said. This was the first time since Jerome was born, did Norman plan a late-night cake cutting. Before Jerome and after their marriage it was a regular affair.

"Thank you, baby," Caroline picked up Jerome and kissed him on his cheek. Although, Caroline knew Norman had a big hand in all the arrangement but who would protest Jerome taking the credit.

"I am not a baby," Jerome protested. "I am a big bro." Since the time Norman's elder sister's daughter, Anna was born, Jerome had become a big person and hence did not like being called a baby. He was big now and a big bro at that.

"Alright. Silly me! Sorry big bro," Caroline said and kissed him once again.

"Thanks, Norm."

"You are most welcome, mam!! And now may we cut the cake, my lady? Jerome and I can't wait," said Norman.

"Most certainly," said Caroline. "I can't wait either." Caroline walked towards the cake which was rectangular and bore the picture of Kung Fu Panda, one of Jerome's favourite characters. The Dutch chocolate-flavoured cake from Monginis was Caroline's favourite, and Norman ensured that he bought that. The two-kilogram cake was enough to last for Jerome, Jerome's friends, Norman and Caroline's colleagues in the office. Though, this year they did not plan to have a party for Caroline's birthday. Only the closest and dearest were invited.

Caroline blew the only candle that was on the cake. "Am I only a year old?"

"No, but Jerome and I were too lazy to search for the remaining seventeen," Norman said. Caroline laughed. She then cut the cake and got a piece out and gave Jerome, while Norman reached for a piece and gave Caroline and naughty as he was, applied good amount of cake on her face. Caroline laughed, but Jerome was confused.

"Why did you do that, Daddy," he innocently asked.

"Oh, I am so sorry, Jerry, my hands just slipped," Norman said while he winked at Caroline. Caroline smiled.

They then sat down around the table and continued with cake pieces, some burgers and more importantly, a family chat. Of course, Jerome was happy to jump from sofas to chairs and made every second of his new found freedom count. By 12:30 a.m., Jerome went to sleep. After about fifteen minutes, Caroline and Norman put all the eatables in the fridge and went to their room. Sleep was on neither's mind since the night was long and Norman was yet to see her in the new silky black lingerie. One of her birthday gifts!

Time: 10:15 a.m.

Date: 27th February 2015

'Where are you, Caroline?' Norman asked, not expecting a reply. With every passing minute, he realized that there was something wrong, and it was no more a practical joke. It was one of those moments when you expect even the impractical to happen. An entire society of three-hundred members couldn't be hiding for an hour, though. He was crouched on the bench and was at a loss of ideas and thoughts. He also realized that when he was in the bathroom, his neighbour's dog stopped barking abruptly; as abruptly as Caroline's calling out to Jerome.

'What could have happened?' he thought. Whatever did happen, and wherever they had all gone, he was not sure as to why he was left behind.

Norman walked back home again to check once again. Maybe they were at home, and he missed something. Maybe Jerome and Caroline were, in fact at Mr Ajay's and they were unable to contact him since his mobile was not working. He pressed the elevator button, and it started to move down from the fourteenth floor. Norman could not wait, so he ran to the fifth floor, huffing, puffing and panting like crazy. After all, he was a university-level athlete. He did not like the sight he witnessed. Mr Ajay's door was still closed, and their own door was still open. He was at a loss for words. He sat there on the stairs, and tears started to flow down his cheek. The feeling of hopelessness was becoming more and more evident!

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Date: 2nd March 2015

Norman switched off the mobile alarm. 9:00 a.m. was his new early morning. There was no need to get up any earlier since there was nothing to do – no job, no work at home, no family to take care of, no obligations whatsoever. Honestly, this was something he had wished for when he was really stressed for time, but now when it was here, he did not like it at all.

He had started to accept the new reality. A reality where not only his family but also his neighbours and everyone he knew were consumed. Telephone and mobile lines were still not working, but he did not know what to do even if it did work. Chances were that the policemen, firefighters, doctors and all his friends would have already gone, wherever his own family had. He had literally placed himself under house arrest and did not venture out at all, just in case his family appeared as mysteriously as they had disappeared. That, of course, did not happen. Today, therefore, was going to be different.

Norman put on his jogging shoes and started running towards BKC, one of the business complexes in Mumbai's suburbs and his usual jogging spot. On his way, he noticed vehicles stranded on the streets and the Western Express Highway. Something was interesting about the cars, he felt. The drivers of the car, if they had gone up in smoke as suddenly as his family, then the vehicles should have continued in their paths of motion and crashed against each other. But that was not the case. The vehicles seemed to have stopped well short of each other and not many crashes. If at all, there were very few signs of contact and that too mild touch, not crashes. There were tyre burn marks, the kind which is left on the road under heavy and sudden braking but nothing more than that. The confusion, though, was that whether these drivers were aware that they were going to be taken and hence braked or was it some reflex action to whatever happened to them. The only visibility of crash were the bikes on the road which were lying down entirely and in some cases were resting on the cars next to them. Norman reasoned that he was not going to get any answers, so he continued.

Usually, when Norman used to jog to BKC, at about 6:00 a.m. regular days, he would see other joggers there and an occasional vehicle whizzing past him on the empty road. Today he was happy that there would be no vehicle whizzing past him to break his concentration, while a tad unhappy that he was the only one left. In fact, he also longed to see those kids who used to practice skating on roller skates. That was an everyday affair except in the monsoons. He would see parents driving in their cars, close to the divider behind the kids, who appeared professionals, skating from one end of BKC to another and back. He distinctly remembered the vehicles driving slowly, behind the kids with their parking lights on. It was to ensure that any other vehicle travelling at breakneck speed did not become a hazard for the kids. Although Norman called them slow, the cars were driving at about 21-25 kmph, which also meant that those kids were skating at that speed. Norman gauged their speed by the fact that he could cycle at 22 kmph and there would be times when he would see the kids skate past him. It was a rather embarrassing scenario to be overtaken by kids on roller skates, especially when you were on a cycle, but Norman enjoyed seeing them nonetheless. He was feeling sad all of a sudden.

"Norm, you can either feel bad about all that has happened and cry for the rest of your life or accept what has happened and move on," he said to himself. He was hoping that all this was a nightmare which would get over soon, but for now, he continued jogging.

He had done about 8 km and was returning home through the Western Express Highway with absolutely no need to look for oncoming traffic. That is when he saw a Mercedes GLS 550 on the road. It was one among many which had stalled on the fateful day. GLS class Mercedes was his dream SUV, and here it was right in front of him. He wanted to take a ride but knew that it was incorrect to do so. The vehicle did not belong to him, after all.

"Come on, now, I am only taking a test drive and not stealing it," Norman spoke loudly, not particularly to anyone. He opened the driver side door and sat behind the steering wheel with his sweaty body wetting the leather seat.

'Must be faux leather,' he thought. He then wondered whether the car would start. He hit the start/stop button, and the Mercedes roared to life. He realized that whatever did happen, it only knocked off the engine and not fried the circuits. This could be true for all the electrical equipment, including the other cars and bikes on the road. So he had many cars to choose from if he wished to drive to someplace, and if there was enough place to manoeuvre through the stranded traffic. He then turned back to the task at hand or rather the Mercedes at hand. The fuel gauge was showing full, which meant he could have a leisure trip all day long. That is if he wished.

He drove the Mercedes from near the Kalanagar flyover on the Western Express Highway up to the Kherwadi signal, after which he saw an opening on the road. He just stepped on the accelerator, and the Merc responded without any lag. It just shot through the road and in less than 10 seconds, Norman was doing 100 kmph.

'No need to worry about people crossing the road,' he thought. He was now on the Vakola flyover and still gunned the throttle. The vehicle had no inhibitions whatsoever to smoke the road. Norman was in two minds. His conscience was bludgeoning him while his adrenaline was cheering him.

"Come on now, what wrong have I done? No one is going to use this car at the moment and by the looks of it, never. This vehicle is just going to stand there and rust. I am just giving it a run," Norman said.

"It is not your vehicle," a voice inside said.

"I am not going to feel terrible about what I did," Norman responded.

"Don't feel terrible but then there is nothing to feel good about either," the voice said.

Norman had heard enough. He went under the airport flyover at Vile–Parle and took a U-turn to Bandra. He gunned the throttle again, and the vehicle was gliding through despite the considerable size. He had to tackle the other stranded cars, which were few, maybe because of the time of the incident. It was 9:00 a.m. when the world disappeared, so Norman reasoned the traffic would have only started to build up. Thankfully for him, it meant open roads.

Norman reached the Kalanagar flyover and took a U-turn under the flyover and came back to the spot from where he picked up the vehicle and left it there. He loved the drive, and somehow he fancied himself to have returned the vehicle.

"I am going to buy you soon," he said. It was probably the adrenaline speaking since logic would have told him that commerce seized to exist the minute people did.

"Good job Norman! You did what a man of character does," he said to himself. His mother used to always tell him about the story of the hypocrites from the Bible, who used to do all the right things in front of people, whereas not bother when no one was watching. A good man, a man of character, does only the right thing irrespective of the people around him. He was reminded of his mother's story and felt good. He had lost his mother just a while back and was feeling guilty that he could do nothing much for her, and now his wife and son were missing too. At least with his mom, he had the faith that she was with the Almighty in eternal bliss, whereas he had absolutely no idea about his wife and son.

Somehow, Norman felt the urge to rush back home. He walked back, hoping to see Caroline and his baby. He knew the thought was futile; however, there was no harm in hoping.

He reached his building and entered a deserted home!

Time: 9:00 a.m.

Date: 23rd March 2015

Norman, as usual, put off the alarm on his mobile. He sat on the bed and prayed. God was his only companion in life now. It was precisely a month since Norman and Jerome celebrated Caroline's birthday and today it was his birthday.

"Happy Birthday Norman! Happy Birthday, Honey! Happy Birthday my son! Happy Birthday, Dada" Norman wished himself the way his Dad, Caroline, Mom and Jerome, respectively, would wish. With no one to wish him, he thought he would do the honours himself.

It was almost a month since the world collapsed around him and he was still searching for answers. Of course, this search could be a never-ending one, but he hoped that his family would reappear the same way they had disappeared. This was a thought which he woke up with every single day of his life since the disappearance. So strong was his hope of seeing them that he did not try to venture out too far from his home.

'What if they reappeared and if he was too far?' he used to ask himself. The reason to stay close to home was so strong in him that a Psychologist would classify him as a patient suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. But then again there would be no Psychologist and Norman could be forgiven because no one in the world would have ever experienced what Norman was experiencing nor would they ever will.

"Jerry, I know you will jump off the closet and shout - Surprise! – so why don't you do it? Jerry, can you hear Dada?" There was nothing but silence. Norman, even in his wildest dreams, wouldn't have thought that he would be celebrating such a birthday. He could not deny the fact that taking his life was a thought which crossed his mind more than once, but there again his mother's Christian way of life and her teaching were too strong for him to disregard.
"You are not the Giver of life, nor do you have the right to take it," he remembered his mother saying when she used to read the paper about suicide victims. "I hope God forgives them and takes them in his fold."

Besides his mom's words, he sincerely wanted to know as to what had happened. He was a consultant by profession and was used to finding solutions to seemingly severe problems.

'Solutions to problems are usually simple; it is our processing of the problem, which is complex,' he remembered his boss telling him. 'Always pen down the observations, it will help to pin down the problem.'

Norman took a pen and paper and sat with his cup of tea. He realized even the tea leaves were over and he had to buy some more, but that was not a big problem for now. He started writing on the paper and gave a heading as - 'Events on 27th February 2013' – and went back to the day of the disappearance. He jotted down the events.

  1. Caroline woke me up at 8:30 a.m.
  2. Neighbour's dog was barking
  3. Jerome was sleeping
  4. Caroline gave me a cup of tea

He then remembered that Caroline did not come to give him tea, but she gave him when he passed her. Not much of a difference but he thought he'd rather be specific. Norman rewrote point 4.

  1. Caroline gave me the cup of tea when I passed her in the kitchen
  2. I was reading the Times of India
  3. Caroline asked me to take bath
  4. I went to the bathroom
  5. Dog was still barking
  6. Caroline knocked on the door twice, asking me to hurry up
  7. Caroline called out to Jerome
  8. The dog stopped barking

At this point, he was not sure which happened first, whether it was the dog which stopped barking first or was it Caroline calling out to Jerome first. He then closed his eyes and cupped his face with his hands and went back to the two points. He faintly remembered that though he was in the bathroom, he was dreading coming out, since he thought he probably would be furious and end up banging Mr Ajay's door while asking him to shut his mutt up. He distinctly remembered the phrase, 'Shut your mutt up', something he thought about then. He then remembered that he was, in fact, subconsciously hearing the dog, while reading the newspaper in the bathroom. It suddenly hit him that he heard the dog stop barking abruptly and then immediately Caroline calling out Jerome. He also remembered that Caroline called out in distress. He renumbered the two points and continued with the list.

  1. The dog stopped barking
  2. Caroline called out to Jerome in distress
  3. There was complete silence
  4. I came out and walked to the bedroom
  5. Called out to Caroline few times but there was no response
  6. Phone and Mobile were not working
  7. Bahadur was not there in the front room

After writing point 16 Norman realized that the significance was only till point 12, because the incident had already happened by then and the points after that were not as much significant. He nonetheless, let the remaining points remain. He once again went back to the dog episode and Caroline calling out to Jerome. He realized that those events happened very fast, maybe with a difference of a matter of seconds or even a fraction of seconds. So, he could deduce that whatever did happen it consumed the dog first, then Jerome and then Caroline. Caroline must have seen it happening to Jerome, and by the time she reacted by calling out to her, it occurred to her too. Norman circled point 10 and 11 and wrote down next to it.

a. The event was probably happening in sequence from a particular direction, and hence it hit the dog first then Jerome and then Caroline.

He looked at the list and his deduction from the list. He went through it once again in detail. He realized that whatever happened, it impacted living beings - the dog, Jerome and Caroline. In fact, the whole neighbourhood.

"What if this event is local only and other people are still there?" he asked himself. He then turned to pick up his cell to call his sister Veronica, who stayed in the extended suburbs, since chances were that she was alright. It suddenly occurred to him that his cell was down and then he looked back into his list. He noticed point number 15 and wondered what if the phones also got disconnected because of the event. He then remembered the cars on the road and realized that the incident impacted not only living beings but also cells and vehicles.

"Is there anything common between cell phones, cars and bikes?" he asked himself. He realized that the electricity was gone just before Caroline yelled or in fact, even before the dog stopped barking. He had not noted down that point. He wrote it as point 10. He then realized that the common point between cell phones, cars and bikes was electricity. Electricity was knocked down that day, probably that is what hit the telephone switches at the places where the switches were maintained, and that is what caught the cars and bikes too. He also remembered that on the day of the event when he pressed the elevator it did work and the GL 550 on the road did start. Now he was confused.

"How could it possibly be that these things were working when electricity was not there?" he asked himself. He made the list once again on a new page.

Events on 27th February 2013

  1. Caroline woke me up at 8:30 a.m.
  2. Neighbours dog was barking
  3. Jerome was sleeping
  4. Caroline gave me the cup of tea when I passed her in the kitchen
  5. I was reading the Times of India
  6. Caroline asked me to go take bath
  7. I went to the bathroom
  8. Dog was still barking
  9. Caroline knocked on the door twice, asking me to hurry up
  10. Electricity was knocked down
  11. The dog stopped barking
  12. Caroline called out to Jerome in distress
  13. There was complete silence
  14. I came out and walked to the bedroom
  15. Called out to Caroline few times but there was no response
  16. Phone and Mobile were not working
  17. Bahadur was not there in the front room

I Deduce

A. From point 11 and 12, I deduce that the event was probably happening in sequence from a particular direction and hence it hit the dog first then Jerome and then Caroline.

B. From point 10, 11 and 12 and the facts that I have noticed outside, I deduce that the event was having an effect on living beings and electricity

Anomaly

i. Electricity, though was knocked out, it started working again without any intervention. Like in the case of the lift and the car on the road

Norman looked at the sheet once again and was satisfied that he had made some headway on the event, though he was not sure if at all the things were going to improve. After all, he was the only Human left. Just then the most significant anomaly revealed itself. He was the only Human who was not affected. He noted down the point under the head Anomaly. Norman was too tired to go any further. He was sure that the thought of the event was tiring him mentally and therefore, he just took a last look at the list.

Events on 27th February 2013

  1. Caroline woke me up at 8:30 a.m.
  2. Neighbours dog was barking
  3. Jerome was sleeping
  4. Caroline gave me the cup of tea when I passed her in the kitchen
  5. I was reading the Times of India
  6. Caroline asked me to go take bath
  7. I went to the bathroom
  8. Dog was still barking
  9. Caroline knocked on the door twice, asking me to hurry up
  10. Electricity was knocked down
  11. The dog stopped barking
  12. Caroline called out to Jerome in distress
  13. There was complete silence
  14. I came out and walked to the bedroom
  15. Called out to Caroline few time but there was no response
  16. Phone and Mobile were not working
  17. Bahadur was not there in the front room

I Deduce

A. From point 11 and 12, I deduce that the event was probably happening in sequence from a particular direction and hence it hit the dog first then Jerome and then Caroline.
B. From point 10, 11 and 12 and the facts that I have noticed outside, I deduce that the event was affecting living beings and electricity

Anomaly

i. Electricity, though was knocked out it started working again without any intervention, like in the case of the lift and the car on the road
ii. Norman was the only Human to have been unaffected by the event

Actions

a. Analyze the anomalies

He then put the pen on the table and went back to lie down on the bed. It was 12:30 p.m. and was nearly three hours since he started writing. Three hours of living the worst moments of his life, once again, was taking a toll. He slid back to sleep, the only possible way to stop his mind and probably, celebrate his birthday.

Line_Divider2_Trunc.jpg

 

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
STEEMKR.COM IS SPONSORED BY
ADVERTISEMENT