By Roy & Dee Kay
A thin stream of sweat emerged from underneath the fringes of my hair and trickled down the temple rushing over the edges of the left cheekbone. The cool breeze of the air condition blew it off my face, depriving me of the warmth that I so desperately sought at this moment. I was nervous to the extent of hopelessness. I was scared to the limits of giving up. I was lost to the degree of accepting my fate.
The clock broke the silence in the room for a short duration while I listen to the chaos outside the window. The utter silence in the room was slowly creeping onto me. The word ‘fate’ kept resonating in my head. Fate is such a small word yet more than often, it is off loaded with every blame in one’s life though it can perpetually withstand all the accusations.
The door of the room closed with a thud and brought me back from my panic-induced introspective mode to the reality that was awaiting me. A guy, seemingly in his late thirties, walked inside this lavish five-star presidential suite. He slowly manoeuvred towards the king-size bed, where I had been restlessly anticipating someone’s arrival. I could hardly look at him as I kept staring at the wristwatch trying to figure out his next move, or mine.
I heard the clock mark its presence again as I finally muttered the strength to look up. I saw him standing at a distance peering at me. The way he inspected me while approaching me, made my stomach to churn inside as if I am just a piece of meat. There was no sense of feeling dwelling within me except one and it was only fear. My heartbeats pounded furiously below the skin and the nervousness summit its peak with every step that he took towards me. I was shivering by now.
I looked up at him as he stood in front of me. The plush upholstery of the bed did not feel comfortable. The incense fresh flowers in the room suffocated me. The luxurious ambiance, of which I had been familiar since childhood, felt alien. The anxious feeling of the past mistakes that led up-to this moment gave me chills. The last hour was unbearable, waiting for his arrival and the next moments were going to be brutal in his presence. Whatever be the outcome, I just hoped that I was ready for him and so I silently looked forward to his next step.
The clock screamed so did my mind as he looked around the room, scanning everything with uttermost detail. I was trying to control myself from shivering as so many questions came in my mind. He, then, walked towards the nearby table and pulled the chair in front of me. Applying pressure on the chair with the knuckles of his big fists, he determined the firmness of the cushion.
“This would be better. “ he whispered to himself.
Then he looked at me and directed me towards the chair.
“I want you to do everything exactly as I tell you. We don’t need to rush through this.”, he said with a smile while I followed his instruction like a lamb. I didn’t want to be there nor did I want his company all alone in that room but destiny played its game alongside fate. And so, I ended up in that hotel room with a complete stranger, who stood glancing at me from head to toe. I got up very slowly and carefully sat on the chair.
“I…”, I was about to say something but he shut me down.
The clock made me nervous while his eyes only got bigger. I could feel his gaze coming down from my face to my chest as another drop of sweat trickled down my nape. He bent his knees and came on his haunches, sitting a few inches away from me. He was so tall that even on his haunches he was almost leveling my height. I could see the immense confidence in his eyes as if he was some sort of a veteran in his job and had done that hundreds of time.
“You are in the safe hands.” He said with a smirk on his face.
I flinched as his reply made me jittery. His stares moved down so did my hope. I could see in his eyes the determination and the will that he wants to complete his work. I took a deep breath when I heard the clock tick again.
I don’t remember the last time I ever paid heed to the ticking sound of the clock as I looked at my wristwatch. With each passing moment, I can see his stares getting intensified as if he is not looking at me but looking within me to find that vulnerability. I need to divert my mind or else I will not be able to perform the way he would like me to do. It’s funny how one can be in a situation like this and his mind be so calm and compose.
He is intimidating. His silence is creeping me out.
He reminds me of my ex-boyfriend. Wait! What? Why am I even thinking like that? I need to kind my strength, not the weakness lurking in the dark corners. I cannot be weak in front of him. He shouldn’t see me like this. Just as I was thinking, he moved his chair really close to me.
“Deep breathes… Deep breathes…”, I told myself as he continued looking at me.
Tick-Tock… The clock made the sound as I tried to divert away from this place.
My ex…… My mind drifted back to him.
As I was trying my best to keep my mind busy, I felt this man’s hand on me. A chill ran up my spine as he began to disarm my defenses. His hand moved on my neck as he brushes off my hair from my shoulders. My breathing started to increase with each touch of his while my mind pushed me into the time zone when I was with my ex in a similar room.
That day my ex was paying more heed to my body than my spirit. His hands moved all over me while our lips met for the first time. I don’t know why but that day everything was just too much for me to grasp as I tried my best to enjoy the moment though I just couldn’t. He was not a bad person though he wasn’t perfect either. He would do the most romantic things and later he would also fight with me on the smallest ones. His big brown eyes were pretty when he used to trace my curves with them.
Wait!! The man in front of me also has brown eyes. I can see it now as he sits so close to me. His breath is impassive and his face is relaxed. Why am I thinking like this?
He moved his hand to my shoulder as I anticipated his touch. His warm hands were on my drenched shoulder. I closed my eyes. He slowly leaned in as he put his hands around my neck, removing the necklace that I wore. I could feel the roughness of his hands against my soft skin as his fingertip seems to trace its way down my arms and onto my wrist. He took his time to remove the wristwatch and other ornaments.
I was still breathing heavily when once again I went back in time to the moment when my ex’s hand moved to my back. He slowly tried to unzip my dress while still sensually kissing me. I wanted to enjoy that moment as it would have been my first but there was a fear inside that just wouldn’t fade away. I was reminiscing when I saw the man in front of me remove the jacket from my shoulders. He is being gentle while my heart is racing and my mind is getting blank. He touches the bare skin, accidentally or not, I can feel his fingertip caressing my body as he removes the jacket.
Tick-Tock, another minute pass by as I open my eyes. He is still staring down on me as he gets up to stretch his arms before he could dwell down on me. I was mentally preparing myself for the decisive moment. Just as he moved the chair and his hands moved on me, he looked me straight in the eyes. For a moment and just for that moment, I forgot where I was and what was about to happen. I was lost in his calmness.
“It’s time.”, he said breaking my trance and bringing me back to the reality.
I closed my eyes in those split seconds I saw myself standing there in front of my ex and telling him, ‘no’. I do not know how I ended up from there to here sitting in front of this stranger as he disarms the jacket away from me. His hands moved slowly towards the vest wrapped around me. He examines the wiring around the vest as he occasionally touched my hand to brush some of his placid composure over me. It was the first time I notice that he’s been shot in the back and have lost plentiful blood. I wanted to tell him but he is the one with the injury so I guess he already knows about it. He took a deep breath as he pulled out few wires from the bomb lad vest.
The final minute began of the timer that was strapped on my chest. The bomb was ticking its final minute. The pool of the blood of the dead terrorist made its way through the gap of the front door. Few soldiers stood at the entrance, hoping for all of us to make out of the hotel alive. There was a lull in the ambiance, cries and shouts from the lobby had already faded. The gunfires that I kept listening for the last few hours had died down. The noise of ruckus has transformed into silence. It was just us in that vacated hotel and those few soldiers outside in the corridor. Even with all the terrorists dead and all the people evacuated, with no casualty, the army wasn’t going to say this their win until the bomb that lay fastened to my chest was diffused. It was all in the hands of the person clad in an olive green uniform, sitting in front of me.
My mind raced against time as it showcased the entirety of my life in front of my eyes; the good, the bad, and the worst in a single montage of memories. He was sweating now as he was in the same race as I, though he had two lives in his hand unlike me. I am the one responsible for this situation and if it didn’t work out then I would be responsible for his fate too. I really didn’t mean this to happen nor did I wished to be the reason for this yet life played his greatest tricks on me.
I could see a slight tinge of hesitation in his eyes. I guess this is the unavoidable antecedent to the faith that follows next. I held his right fist that clutched the switchblade hoping to transfer the trust that had helped me survive the tick-tocks of the timer till that moment. Maybe my trust would help him cope with the initial reluctance. He looked into my eyes, one last time as his fingers slashed the wire.
His eyes spoke a thousand words or maybe it was mine. I noticed as a smile carved on his face. Maybe he didn’t want me to have the last memory of life as a blank face but rather a smiling one or maybe it was his own last wish to depart from the world with a smile on his face. I smiled as tears roll down my eyes. This was the moment. This could be either my life’s final chapter or the beginnings of a transformed one.
He slashed the wire in one go.
The timer said at last…
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