Sunday, 29 March 2009
“I am still not feeling comfortable about it. I think we shouldn’t do it”, I said while staring at the floor. I was avoiding any eye contact. It was as if my words just evaporated in the heavy smoke of cigarette. There was no response but I could feel his eyes on me; the eyes that were full of scorn. He took the last puff before throwing away the crimson stub on the ground and started walking. He didn’t crush it under his foot rather left it to burn out on its own. Merciless.
I hastily followed him to keep up with his pace. It was late in the evening and darker than usual. It was a cloudy day in the rainy season. We were cautiously walking on a narrow path as it was the only way to reach the building entrance. The area was inundated, partly due to rain water and rest with grey, thick liquid from the waste pipe. Once we reached the front gates of the building he had put on his best poker face. There were new faces at the gates; the security guards had changed the shift at 7 pm. The first shift change takes place at 7 in the morning. We knew about this routine and that’s why we (I, reluctantly) had selected such timing. We flashed our badges and the main security guard gave a nod to other guard. The gates were opened.
The building takes on a different form during evening. In the morning, the same place was buzzing with so many activities. And now, it seems so lifeless – just like a machine under maintenance – waiting for oil and grease before it starts churning into life. There was a second security check-point before reaching to the lobby – the registration. He, looked right into my eyes, asking me to follow him. In that moment too, I had expressed my hesitation. I thought he understood but perhaps it no longer mattered. We filled the registration book and signed against our true names. We took the elevator to level 5. We swiped our badges at the small black box placed on the side wall and the red light turned green followed by a sound of beep. Taking the left entrance, turning right and walking straight till the end of glass walls is the Finance department. There are 5 desks but one is always unoccupied. The person had left 3 months ago and was never replaced. The space is now occupied by a stack of files. He switched on one of the computers and a bright light emerged on the screen with a message – please enter the password. He punched few keys on the keyboard and a familiar blue desktop background appeared in front of us. We had a nervous smile on our faces.
While busy fiddling with the hard drive and CPU, we heard a noise in the direction of the main door. So far, we were the only people in the building. No one else should have been present at that moment. The footsteps were growing louder giving an impression that the person was moving forward in our direction. We were too numb to think of something else. In a fraction of second, we could visualize the worst possible repercussions that could happen to us. The footsteps stopped and a familiar face emerged from the corner of the room. It was the security guard – but from the morning shift. He was looking right at us. He ran and before we realized he was standing before us. He grabbed me by arm. Our worst fears came true. I looked at my partner in crime and gave a mixed expression of pleading and hatred. “See, I had told you.”
To Be Continued…
Written for Weekly Writing Challenge : Cliffhanger