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Chapter 18: Keep Your Enemies Closer

Team Supernova is participating in a writing competition on blogadda. We have chosen a fast paced crime thriller as our theme. You can read the previous chapter here.

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"Don't over-think. All will be well." These words reverberated in Shekhar's mind.

He had definitely heard those words before, but he couldn't recall who told it and when. The food on his plate was the typical Rajdhani food. Chapati, curry, dal, rice, sweet and papad. The food had gone completely cold as it had been more than three hours since it was served. The dal has turned watery and the papad all soggy. He cringed at the sight of it, but his stomach growled. He then realized that he had not eaten anything for more than ten hours. He looked at Cyrus and Jennifer, they had the same expression on their faces too. Nevertheless, all of them were hungry and they ate in silence, thinking about what their lives have come down to.

Cyrus chewed hard on the chapati, suddenly missing the delicious food cooked by his mother. Ever since he had left home, he missed his mother's cooking. His room mate was a pretty decent cook, obviously considering that he was an aspiring chef; but still, it was not his mother's cooking. His mother had had to go through a lot, thanks to the issues between him and his father. But all that was now coming to an end. He was on his way to Mumbai, to meet his father and reconcile. He had decided to join his family business after all, but on his on terms. He wanted to set up a legal team of his own for the company. He had never thought of this, until his mother once mentioned discrepancies in the accounts of the family business. It was during the research of this issue, that he had stumbled upon the Xombie group. If only, he had decided on joining his family business earlier, he would not have been here today. He suddenly longed to see his parents and hoped that they see him alive too.

Jennifer had totally different thoughts. She had a photography exhibition to attend the next day. Six of her best photos were on display at the exhibition and she was hoping to win the coveted 'Photographer Of The Year' award. This exhibition was for amateurs and it encouraged them to no end. Along with a trophy, the winner would be given a cash prize of a lakh. She needed the money to take up a course on photography. No one offered her jobs, because she did not have a official degree or a diploma. She was hoping, this one victory would change it. But would she be able to make it to the exhibition to show case her paintings? If she doesn't make it there, she would be disqualified. She thought of Alka and that fateful night. She then thought of her parents at Cochin, waiting for her to make a name for herself. A lot of things were going through her mind as she slowly nibbled her food.

Shekhar threw his tray of food into the dustbin at the corner of their compartment. Half his food was still intact, but that was all he could eat. A second later, he picked it up again and examined the note on the tray. It was hand written albeit haphazardly with a black felt pen. The handwriting seemed familiar, but then again Shekhar's mind went blank. There was too much running in his head. He was worried sick about Tara and Roohi. Thinking about his daughter took him back to the time where Roohi spent more time with Sasha, than him. Since he always travelled on work, Sasha had been the father figure for Roohi. He read out to her and helped her with her homework and played with her. Shekhar tried to spend as much time as possible with Roohi, in order to make up for Tara not being there. But some how it was never enough. Roohi was born to them after years of trying, but then, their careers had always been their priority. Shekhar felt guilty as he thought of his family. But he was sure of one thing now. That Sasha would not hurt Roohi. The emotion he had seen in Sasha's eyes for her, were not fake. As a father, he knew that. Sasha just needed the Xombie information. But what if he decides to take Roohi too?

Cyrus suddenly starts coughing, as Jennifer hands him a bottle of water.

"Are you alright?" Shekhar sounded worried.

"Yeah, this stupid food. I can't believe, people pay for this." Cyrus spat out.

"Eat Cyrus, you will need the strength for tomorrow." Jennifer sounded weird.

When Cyrus looked closely he noticed that she was crying.

"I need to get out of here tomorrow. My entire career is at stake here. If I do not make it, then it is all over for me." She sobbed.

Cyrus leaned towards her and gave her a hug. She was only too happy to oblige. Shekhar just looked at them and smiled. In unimaginable circumstances the three of them had gotten closer. Life is an awesome reason to bond, and so is death. After all misery loves company. Jennifer finally calms down and lets go of Cyrus.

"I have a splitting headache." She says pressing her temples..

"Damn, let me see if I have a pain killer." Shekhar checks his case, but doesn't find anything.

"No problem, I might have some in my wallet. I usually keep them there, for my migraines." Jennifer digs into her purse and pulls out her wallet.

As she searches all the compartments of her clutch like wallet, something catches Shekhar's eye. He noticed a picture on the opening flap of her wallet. He looks at Jennifer in shock but she is busy checking for a tablet. He looks at Cyrus, he is staring at his cigarette packet, all set to go have a smoke. He points to Shekhar and leaves for the washroom, the only place within this train where he can smoke.

"Got it!" Jennifer claims and immediately gulps down the tablet.

"I am tired too. I shall lie down for a while." Shekhar says and climbs up his berth as Jennifer lies down on hers.

Shekhar is still reeling from shock at the truth that he just stumbled upon. What was a picture of Purohit Sarkar's son, doing in Jennifer's wallet? He was her friend Alka's boyfriend right? Then why did Jennifer have his picture with her? A thousand thoughts raced his mind as he felt his breathing get heavy. He grabbed his bag and put it under his head to lie down, but soon realized that it was Cyrus's bag instead. As he put the bag away, he found Cyrus's hand book inside it. Without a thought, he opened the book and his eyes went wide in shock. This was the same handwriting that had been on the note of his food tray. Shekhar's mind was completely clouded now. Why would Cyrus write a note? And only to him? Was he just trying to calm him down? But then he could have told him directly, instead of sending him the note. What the hell was going on? Cyrus had disappeared enough times by now, in the pretext of having a smoke. Where was he actually going? And Jennifer carrying Sarkar's son's photo meant something too. But what?

In a minute, the truth dawned upon Shekhar that he was definitely trapped in all possible ways. The people whom he was now considering his friends, might not be what they seem after all.

You can read the next chapter here.

Me and my team are participating in Game Of Blogs at #CelebrateBlogging with us.