A route to the Gateway

 

traveller

“You are up next. You would be number 47”. Robert kept the phone down. He had been expecting this call, but he never expected it to come so soon. He had been trained for this all his life, yet the news made him a little nervous. “It’s okay, calm down. We are in this together”, chimed in Vint, who had received the call just a second ago.

Both, Vint and Robert had a little chat before they rushed out of their rooms. They knew they had to get everything ready quickly before they set out on their voyage. However exciting and adventurous it sounded, they knew that they were risking their lives here. The phone rang again. It was the same voice, but a little bit grimmer this time. “Collect your bags from the 4th floor.”

“So, what do these suitcases contain?”, asked Rob to the person handing them the bags. He stopped as soon as he asked this question. “Don’t you dare to open this. We will know anyways if you do so.” “And what happens if we do?”, Vint interrogated. “You wouldn’t want to know!”. The wicked smile on his face said a million things. “I have heard the road to the destination is not very smooth. What if something gets broken? We ought to know what we are carrying”, Robert looked in no mood of carrying something he didn’t know about. “You should not worry about all that. There is a list inside the bags that tells what are the things present. The receiver will let us know if there is something missing.”  Scared, they picked up the bags and walked to the next room.

“Ah! Here you two are! Leonard?”, shouted Ron. He looked like a man in charge there. The only happy looking face they had seen in some time. Leonard marched in and hurriedly put some locks on the bags the two were holding. Surprisingly, he handed them the keys as well! “So, you two should now go downstairs and receive the instructions before you start your journey”, Ron bid adieu. Confused, both Robert and Vint went to the floor below them.

This floor looked like a call center. Lots of people were talking on the phone and the noise made it impossible to make out what even a single one of them was saying. Robert and Vint started to have doubts, if they were actually heading for a secret mission. “The path is clear. You two can leave”, whispered someone. “But where?”, Vint whispered back, not sure who he was whispering to. “The second floor guys would tell you that! Have they again hired newbies?” They remembered something of this sort from their training, but everything looked blurry now.

Donald escorted them to a room. There they received an itinerary, the destination they had to head to and the pit stops they could take on their way. They also received strict instructions, that if they took more time than it was written in their contract, the consequences would be horrendous. They had a few badges attached to their bags as well. Luckily, both Robert and Vint were headed to the same location. The addresses they received made no sense to them, yet none of them dared to ask. Nothing was falling into place. Moreover, it was a little difficult to understand what Donald was trying to say, though it sounded familiar. Perhaps, he spoke a different dialect.

First floor now. Each floor had just multiplied their confusion about what was happening around them. They were simply trained to carry baggage from one counter to another, but with so many people working and the secretiveness around what they were carrying was making them anxious. “We just talked with them. The train would wait for you two to get in and then move. Make sure you reach in time.” “But, the addresses we received upstairs makes no sense”, Robert dared to speak. “Oh don’t worry about that. You can follow this one”, he handed him a new address. This time it made sense. “Looks like we need to travel at speed of light to meet this timeline”, chuckled Vint. “Tell us when you reach”, shouted someone. “We will. It is in our nature.”

As they were about to leave the building on the ground floor, Robert asked, “Hey Vint! Do you know this could probably be the last time we two are travelling together?” “Someone once told me, that people tend to be more open when they travel. Perhaps, I will get to know most of the interesting stuff about you during this journey. Travelling first leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”, replied Vint. “You know I am happy we are not like the UDP guys. No one ever know what happens to them once they leave their organization premises.”

“True! But the network is pretty dangerous for TCP Packets like us as well! I hope the Router we meet is soft spoken. This place is creeping me out a little.” The two jumped into a binary converter of the Data Link Layer before they set out on their epic journey.

Rising Sands of Time

Image result for sand clock

He knew it was the end of their story. This was probably going to be their last meet after what Aarush learned about Chaitali, some time ago. Aarush kept looking towards the ground. His eyes motionless. Chaitali got up and started to leave. No sign of regret or remorse on her face. She walked fast, maybe trying to hide the true emotions that would have burst out had she stayed.

Aarush always found her graceful and she did look graceful even as she walked away from him. He wanted someone to be beside him as the kingdom he built was collapsing but the wrecker was the one he was seeking. A chain of her bag was open, her mind too occupied to notice such things. As she walked away in a rhythmic way, something fell out of it.


Aarush picked it up. It was her diary.  In a lot of their previous conversations, she had mentioned how she poured out everything that happened to her in her diary. Chaitali always anonymized all the characters in her diary, but being a good writer as she was, it was pretty evident who she was talking about.

He gave it a lot of thought whether he should read it or not. The manager in him did a quick SWOT analysis about it. The remark which convinced him read, isn’t that why people keep diaries? To be read by someone else? Aarush delved deeper into Chaitali’s world with every turning page. He was in tears by the time he finished reading it, especially by the last few chapters. He wanted the diary to go on, but unfortunately, no one can write about their future.

The Chaitali he knew about an hour ago and the one now were drastically different.  He held himself up and gave her a call immediately. He just had to get everything clarified. The two agreed to meet and put an end to the misconceptions that had kept arising between them.


They decided to meet at Chaitali’s house. An hours’ talk resolved most of them. Even though Aarush still had doubts about the things he heard from her, he seemed convinced. A phone call reminded her that she was getting late for her classes. She left in a hurry rattling her bookshelf and the table on the way.

“Always in a hurry! Take Care”, chimed Aarush. She just smiled back at him and kept walking. Her smile completed her. Her smile completed him. He kept looking at her pictures in the room. “Still the same!”, he said looking at them as he started to leave. He kicked something on his way out. After all, Chaitali’s collision had a got a flurry of things on the floor.


A lot of news around Chaitali had recently surfaced. Aarush was never bothered by them. He always turned down such ‘rumors’ to be just hearsay things. Chaitali was a smart girl. Aarush always thought of her as a mess of gorgeous chaos. She had beautiful brown eyes, making him think how he might be looking in her eyes.

The two of them shared an amazing relationship. They often talked for hours, getting to know each other better with every passing day. Aarush, being a very simple person was always open but had millions of things to talk about. Chaitali on the other hand always had an air of mystery around her.

He always tried to decipher her, but she was like an onion. However deep he thought that he knew her, there were always some layers to peel. She had just called him to tell him something important.


Both of them had been chosen to intern at the same place this year. “I want to go for Masters in the future”, said Aarush, during one of their ‘n’ outings during the golden internship period. “I am still undecided. Might go for Masters as well!”, she replied.

The two grew really close over this period building some immortal memories. No matter how serious their lives got, the two had each other they could be completely stupid with! Two years had passed since this. Their friendship changing from just stealing glances from each other to going out almost every day.


Aarush was sitting in the classroom of the university he had just joined. Just as he was introducing himself to his newly made friends, someone entered the classroom with beautiful brown eyes. Something about her clicked in him. He kept watching her as she took her place. Some old memories fresh, he chose to wave off this feeling!


“Probably, should have kept the feelings away, like the way I chose to do it 4 years ago when I first saw her”, thought Aarush as he kept his diary down. He believed in happy endings, but the only way his own story could have been happy was by reading it in reverse.


Title Courtesy for all short stories on this blog: Aditi Srivastava! 😀