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THE INSCRUTABLE NIGHT | Anwesha Mitra

Incomprehensible noises turning into loud perceptible noises, he can hear footsteps-a lot of them- someone talking about fire - faint sirens. With some effort, he opens his tired eyes, two pairs of feet rushing towards him, and seconds later, they pull him up and aid him in getting back on his feet. As his vision clears, the flaring yellow lights seem brighter while the air reeks of burned odor. Two cops on either side are clamping his arms. He turns back, staggering to find the warehouse engulfed in flames. "THERE'S A FIRE," he gasps in terror.


"We are aware and handling it," one of the cops utters, "luckily, but not for you probably, the fire didn't go wild."


Those words strike him. "Not for me? What do you mean? That is my warehouse. My warehouse is on fire!—" he yells.


"Some passersby are claiming they saw you starting the fire," one of the constables adds, looking at him.


"Why on earth would I set my property on fire? And fire scares the hell out of me." he argues, "the only reason I came back after twenty years to this worn-out town is to sell off these properties; why would I cause my loss–"


Before he can finish, the cops lead him to a concrete bench near the warehouse, offering him water. "I know who did this; it's Dani; she loathes my very existence."


Suddenly a firefighter and a cop come running from behind the flame-engulfed building. "There are heaps of charred smuggled goods inside the building. It seems the primary target was to destroy those".


"So that's why you set your property on fire?" The inspector asks.


"SMUGGLING?" He yawps before letting out a bitter laugh. "Are you out of your mind? I am an athlete; I own a renowned chain of gyms, there's branches all over the city; I don't need to do such things" He tries to free his arms, but the constables keep clamping them. "I got it. I got what's happening here; it must be Dani. Her businesses are shady, or maybe Bill, he has despised me since middle school, or it could be Conrad. The lab he owns isn't even authorized; they must have started conspiring against me when they heard I came back to this town. But they didn't think I, too, had dug up information about them."


"Mr. Adam Cooper, I don't think you would want to say anything that might go against you, as much as I want a confession, but it's my duty to inform you," the inspector raises her hand to stop him "bring the cuff" the inspector orders one of the constable holding him. He goes to fetch it in the car.


"Are you going to arrest me?--I get it now, you too are involved" he keeps yelling, but the inspector walks off to attain a phone call ignoring him. Skepticism begins to latch onto him; what if all of them are a part of the plan? They are all trying to frame him - here, he can trust none. His mind echoes with his thoughts, sirens and chattering reduce to background noises. He darts his eyes. Everyone's focus is on the fire, the constable is still near the car with a cuff in his hand, talking to a firefighter, and the other holding him seems distracted.



Removing the gun from the holder warily, he pushes the constable beside him, causing him to topple down. He bolts into the woods amidst the commotion caused by his action and the repeated warnings. Screams of the cops ordering him to surrender and heavy boots chasing him echo in the woods as he heedlessly runs through the spaces between the trees. Heart hammering in his chest and his mind going numb, suddenly he hears the inspector announcing, "This is the last warning, surrender yourself or we have to start shooting!" but he paces up, preparing the gun he snatched. Within seconds the sound of the first shot shakes the night. Moments after another shot, Adam turns back to fire a bullet while running for his life. The cop tailing him fires another though he keeps hiding in the darkness of the night. After running a few more minutes, panting hard realizes he is hugely outnumbered, so he scampers to seek refuge behind the tall rock maize in the woods. The cops arrive at the place with flashlights and guns; he looks from behind the rocks, holding his breath. Adam silently slides from one stone to another. He has known this maze since childhood; he got lost and found his way out of it countless times. As the three cops rummage through the trees and behind the rocks, he keeps switching his hiding spot until he gets the right moment, and he rushes out of the place while the cops keep wandering in the maze. He keeps running until he collapses on the grassy forest floors panting; notices the sirens and the voices are no longer audible. Gradually he starts trying hard to wrap his head around the event of the last hours- how did he end up in the warehouse? Why can't he remember anything- only a faint, faint memory of some people, a bunch of lines on a huge paper, and a dull buzzing noise? He clutches his head in frustration, but then he returns to his senses. He is being framed! But by whom? He needs to find out before the night ends because if the cops get to him again, there will be no escape, so he must find evidence against the person behind all this. Desperately getting up, he sprints away.


A few miles of the hasty walk leads him to the outskirts of the town, where a few tiny houses are lining the street. His footsteps and the sounds of crickets are the only noise amidst the dead silence of the night. He still remembers the rugged old house of Bill Brown; he squeezes his big frame through an open window. The inside of the house smells of alcohol and dampness, "still a stoner", he mutters, walking over the clothes scattered on the empty house floor. He combed the whole place frantically but in vain. While coming out of the house, he finds a rusty bicycle beside it; without further consideration, he starts paddling toward his next destination. Sounds of police patrolling and sirens are getting louder, wearing off the silence as his cycle gets closer to the town. They are searching the entire town; time is getting away faster than he anticipated. Riding stealthily, he reaches the neighborhood where Dani and Conrad's houses are, but the police guarding all corners seem like an impossible fortress to penetrate. Immediately he speeds away from the place, heading towards Dani's yacht, from where she operates her business.


At the dock, a small ship unloading some goods, at a distance, the only yacht in this small town is parked among the boats. Scampering through the shrubs near the dockyard, he reaches the yacht and leaps inside. The exterior has a lavish look, but the interior lacks maintenance, with machine parts, big cans piled in a corner, and tools lying around. Sneakily he goes into the cockpit to search; then he enters the only tiny cabin of the yacht, lights hanging from the ceiling. Scanning it, he finds a desk with four drawers, one of them locked. He hauls it out of the frame revealing a piece of paper with a date fives days before he arrives in the town and a shipping number. Below the paper lie several similar envelopes "this must be the ship in which they brought those goods, and then they planted in my ware–" Suddenly, he notices a logo at the corner of all the envelopes; the emblem of Conrad's lab. Crumpling the envelopes, he picks up a couple of tools before storming out of the factory in rage. Before returning to his hometown, he dug up all the details he could about those who can cause him trouble, he has always been a step ahead, so he decides to begin untangling these knots with Conrad, who is supposed to be at his lab instead of his house. While cycling over the muddy fields, he saw police cars passing through the concrete roads with sirens and flashlights. The night's end has already begun with the lighter shade of the sky.


Concrete walls and fencing wires surround the two-storied lab, and a couple of guards roam around the front gate. At a spot away from the guards, cutting the wire fence, he dumps the pliers and breaks a few spokes from the cycle tier before entering. Picking the back door lock gingerly with the spikes during the interval between the surveillance, he gets into a dark corridor leading towards a stair. The rest of the ground floor is hard to see; the only light source is bulbs outside the lawn, penetrating the glass doors. He starts climbing the stairs with alert steps and clutching the gun tightly. Suddenly a faint thudding sound vibrates through the air; he swirls with a jerk pointing his gun at a guard already pointing a gun at him. They both stand unmoving for moments "what are you doing here? Get out of here, or I'll shoot you", the guards slowly advance towards him. "And I'll shoot too," Adam jeered while trying to trace the last steps of the stairs with the back of his feet. Hopping up to the second floor, he nearly loses his balance but manages to drag himself away from the stairs dodging the guard's bullet. Sweat drips from his forehead, throat drying with the agitation of not knowing how many more guards are in the lab or where they might be, though he keep his grip steady.


Sprinting through the first floor, he turns right, pressing his body into the wall to ditch the guard, but the guard advances towards the wall he hides behind. Scuttling through a room with a locked door, he gets behind a massive cupboard while focusing on the footsteps trailing him. He sneakily follows one of the footsteps, knocking a guard out before the other guard can see him. The interconnected room has huge machinery, tangled wires, and blinking lights. Just as he touches the knob of a glass door, the blaring of the alarms intensifies. Taken aback, he rushes inside, but a series of lights blink rapidly. Swiveling with the gun, he sees a man in a white coat with a walkie-talkie.


"How did he get inside?" Is this what I pay you for? I need more security. Find him now!" the man marches towards the glass door with a taser; Adam moves away in a trice to blend in with the room's darkness until the man in the white coat is an inch away. "Conrad, are you considering 'getting away after framing me' an option? "You should have known that I'll hunt you down to your very end," he says, tightening his grip on Conrad and making him wriggle. "I..I.. don't know...thing." Leave me!" Conrad tries to scream with a strangled voice; two guards swarm on the other side of the glass door, ready to shoot Adam down, but the gun at their boss's forehead forbids them from moving. "Now it's quiz time, and if you don't answer obediently, these bullets will rush out from the muzzle sticking in your brain, breaking through your skull." He makes Conrad sit on a chair and tie his hand to his lab coat. "Ah, you know this works, so let's start: who set fire to my warehouse?"


"I have no idea; I don't know."

"TELL ME! Or I'll shoot you right here" he pokes the gun into Conrad's forehead.

"I know nothing about the fire; trust me--Trust me."

"You and Dani set me up to put those smuggled stuff in the warehouse."

"I…I know nothing about it; I have no business with Dani."

Yelling in a fury, Adam fires, aiming at Conrad's legs; Conrad wails as blood gushes out of his wound, "So now, now you know something?"


"Da…Dani sponsored my lab, and in return I…I assist her," he groans before continuing, "then the smuggled goods came in. Your warehouse was empty, so we kept it there. We had no idea you were coming back, Dani–" he clenches his jaws. Whimpering, he continues, "is going back in your warehouse to plant evidence against you for the police to get when they scour the place in the morning."


"Yes, I did come back, and I'll make you two drown" seeing him move, the guards get alert, and they quickly pull Conrad up from his seat and makes him limp in front of him like a shield. They walk backward from the glass door, but suddenly, a guard bursts in from a side door and starts shooting. Trying to step back in a hurry, Adam bumps his elbow into a wall which causes his gun to fall off his hand. Immediately, he shoves Conrad toward the guard, making them both stumble back and crash to the ground; the other guards rush in. Adam searching for an urgent escape notices a slightly opened sliding metal door; without wasting a second, he hustles to get inside. As he closes the heavy door, he hears Conrad scream, "NO, NO, NOT THERE", but then, as the door closes, the noises from the other side can no longer be heard. At that moment, he realizes he is inside a vast room that looks like the inside of a machine, bunches of tangled wires hanging from the walls and ceilings running across the rooms like lines on paper, big lights in the walls blinking in a sequence and the floor packed with switches and circuits. The deeper he gets, the beeping sound intensifies. Stepping through the narrow space on the floor, he discovers a big circular frame wrapped in wires in the middle of the room. "Crazy Conrad made a mess in the name of a lab. Getting through the frame, he stumbles over tangled wires on the floor and falls hard on a control panel. Suddenly the lights in the wall start flickering, and piercing laser-like lights project from the walls, along with a high-pitched buzzing noise. Though the blinding lights make it hard to see, still getting up promptly, he looks back to check if they are coming inside, though surprisingly, no one has opened that door since he came in. He quickly exits the glass door behind the circular frame; it opens into interconnected rooms similar to those on the other side. Outside, stairs lead to another corridor downstairs and a door to exit the building. Avoiding the guards, he escapes the premise. Outside seems dark; the pale sky has turned black. He runs through the woods again, crossing the maze and continuing until he hears tires screeching. As he gets closer, the perfect condition of the warehouse startles him- it was on fire hours ago. Why doesn't this look like that? The surrounding is quiet like nothing ever happened. He shifts his focus to Dani and a man getting inside. Immediately, he rummages through her jeep and finds a small jar of gasoline, a few rods, tools, and an old lighter. Right away, he starts hiding the gasoline can and the lighter behind a bush when a voice startles him "so you're already here" he looks back to find Dani staring at him.


"It's over now! You thought you would frame me by putting those things here and setting the fire."


"No! I never made such an amateur plan! I thought about moving those, but now I have changed my plan! Before leaving the town, you robbed my dad, even your father; my father and I had to live on the streets because of you. Not even once you looked back; everything you own now is from stolen money. You forgot everyone existed but we couldn't. And your dad, he loved you so blindly that he acted as if you never even left; all of your dad's ships and cars still belong to you, the same vehicles used for smuggling these. The cops are gonna figure out about the ship these smuggled goods were brought in. And then that will lead them straight to you, Adam" Dani walks off in exasperation.


He stands still until he begins anticipating the difficulty these could land him in. He dashes to pick up the gasoline can he found in the jeep and spills it all over, and while trying to find the lighter, a group of passersby yells at him, questioning his activities. Afraid of getting caught, he sprints inside and throws the lighter over the gasoline-soaked stuff. Blaring flames start to engulf the goods, his phobia crippling him, screams of people from outside break his trans- it is him who has set the fire. But how is this happening now? It had already happened; it was in the past. Losing his ability to think, he starts screaming in fear as the roaring fire spreads rapidly like a monster advancing to consume him, dazzling flames blurring the vision. He cracks down a tin door and jumps out of it but stumbles 6 and becomes flaccid.


He opens his eyes to some incomprehensible noises, slowly turning into perceptible ones, and the sounds of footsteps.


Anwesha Mitra

Guidelines for the competition : https://www.fanatixxpublication.com/write-o-mania-2023


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Guest
May 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very nice

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Guest
May 21, 2023

Nice

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Guest
May 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Good

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Guest
May 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Good

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May 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep getting better

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