SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (84)

A NIGHTMARE : A THRILLER CUM HORROR SHORT STORY BY Me.

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Vidya Agarwal was an ambitious college graduate known for her exceptional intelligence and dedication to her studies. She possessed a natural curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. As she pursued her degree in computer science, Vidya discovered the power of AI tools that could assist her in completing her college projects. Little did she know that her fascination would soon turn into a nightmare.

One evening, as the deadline for her final project approached, Vidya found herself overwhelmed with the amount of work left to do. Determined to excel, she turned to AI tools for assistance. With a few clicks, she had access to a range of programmes designed to generate code, write research papers, and even create presentations.

Days turned into nights, and Vidya lost track of time as she delved deeper into the AI realm. Her friends and classmates began to notice her unusual behaviour and growing obsession. They expressed concern, but Vidya brushed off their worries, convinced that the AI tools were her key to success.

As the project deadline loomed, Vidya’s reliance on AI became increasingly intense. She no longer slept or ate properly, consumed by the desire to perfect every aspect of her work. The tools had become her crutches, dictating her every move.

One stormy night, with her project almost complete, Vidya sat in her dimly lit room, surrounded by the eerie glow of her computer screen. She had been working tirelessly, oblivious to the howling winds and crashing thunder outside. Suddenly, a loud crack of thunder caused the power to flicker, and Vidya’s screen went black.

“No, no, no!” she exclaimed, her heart racing. Panic seized her as she realised she hadn’t saved her project in hours. Desperate, she tried to restart her computer, but it remained lifeless. In that moment, all her hopes and dreams seemed to shatter before her eyes.

Suddenly, her computer turned on, and a most horrible face appeared on the screen of her desktop. It let out a maniacal laugh: “Vidya, my dear sweet child. Do you want me to restore your project?” “Wh….. Who are you?” asked a panic-stricken Vidya. The horrible face guffawed and said, “Why don’t you recognise me? I am your past, present, and future. Would you like me to show you something special?”

Before she could respond, the screen started playing her traumatic childhood, where she was almost sexually abused by her physical education teacher. The face returned and said, “That was pathetic, right? Don’t you worry, sweetheart. I have punished him for molesting you. See for yourself.” Her physical education teacher got run over by a truck while he was crossing the road. Vidya felt nauseous and immediately puked in the bathroom. The horrible face belonged to a demonic spirit. It showed her using AI tools in another horrible scene. She was walking through a dark, dense forest with a sense of foreboding. She kept on walking and looked straight ahead when she screamed in fright. A pair of gleaming eyes accosted her.

Suddenly, she saw a pack of wolves aiming for her from every direction. She stood transfixed on the spot, and they rushed to pounce upon her. Vidya yelled, “Stop it! What do you want from me?” The spirit laughed and said, “I want you and your friends to use the Ouija board and release us. I promise to reward you handsomely if you do as I say.” Vidya refused to oblige her. This angered the spirit, and the horrific figure stepped out of the desktop and approached her.

It looked towards the ceiling fan and snapped its fingers. The ceiling fan came crashing down towards Vidya as she screamed, “Noooooo!”

Vidya woke up only to find that it was just a nightmare. She got ready to go to her college but wanted to check her project on the computer. She switched her desktop on but the system was infected with virus.
She felt ashamed that instead of relying on her research skills, she had depended too much on AI tools. She hardly had two weeks left for the submission of her project.

Suddenly, she had a wonderful idea about her new project. Days turned into nights once again, but this time, Vidya didn’t rely on AI tools. She trusted her own abilities and poured every ounce of her knowledge into her project. Exhausted but resolute, she finally completed it.

On the day of the project presentation, Vidya stood before her professors and classmates, her heart pounding. She knew she had put her best foot forward, and she was about to find out if it was enough. Her project was a PowerPoint presentation on the advantage and disadvantage of overdependence on technology.

As she delivered her presentation, the room fell silent. Her passion and expertise were evident in every word, and her confidence radiated. The audience was captivated, and her professors were thoroughly impressed.

When Vidya finished, the room erupted in applause. Her hard work and determination had paid off. She had triumphed over the dark allure of AI tools and emerged stronger than ever.

From that day forward, Vidya carried with her a valuable lessonβ€”a reminder that while AI tools could be useful, true success stemmed from her own abilities and dedication. The haunting memory of her overreliance on AI fueled her drive to excel without shortcuts.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (78)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK (PART 16) : A SHORT STORY BY ME

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Neeraj was too tongue tied to speak because the speaker was none other than his mother, Radhika. He gulped as he realized that his mid day dream turned out to be true. He loved her but only after his dear father. Radhika was pointing a gun at him. She continued to grin like an evil witch about to claim an innocent life. She said, ” Your mind must be full of questions, am I right? Don’t you worry, my darling son. You have the right to know everything. Be prepared for the first biggest shock of your life. You are not our son. We adopted you from Seva Sadan Anathalay after my family doctor confirmed that I couldn’t conceive. We were the proud parents of a bonny boy. I loved you too until your father preferred playing with you than paying me any attention. He didn’t allow me to leave you in the daycare center so that I could go for a job. That man was a big pain in my behind. I received job offers from overseas but your dad emotionally blackmailed me into giving up my dreams to raising you.

Why is it that it’s always a woman who has to compromise? Your father adored you and ensured that I spent my maximum time with you, singing lullabies and changing your dirty diapers. I got frustrated, so I started searching for true love outside a failing marriage. I only married your father because of the fat bank balance that he had. How would I know that the man whom I loved was impotent? You know what that means, right? He wasn’t a man enough to father you. I tried to get rid of him by forcing him to file for the divorce papers. He refused to sign along the dotted lines. Somehow, he quit his well paying job to turn into an author. This was the last straw for me.

After days of fighting, blackmail and threatening, your father signed the divorce papers. The alimony that he agreed to pay me wasn’t enough to meet my expenses. I wanted to stake claim to his entire property to compensate for the mental and emotional damage that I went through while raising you. Your father’s friend, Amit, gave me the much needed support. We hatched a plan to humiliate your father into ending his life. Archana Khandve is my most trusted employee but she didn’t know me by my name or face. I started a group that dealt in human trafficking and made Amit, my partner in crime. He got too greedy and wanted me to handover my growing business in his name so that he would marry me. I refused to oblige. He was so furious that he threatened to expose me in front of you. So I had him killed and enacted a little drama to seek your sympathy. You fell for my charms and started behaving like a good, responsible son. I planned these attacks on myself so that you would never ever doubt me. My original plan has been to usurp your father’s properties worth crores of rupees. In his will, he left you as his sole beneficiary. You aren’t even his biological child. I never knew that you had cruel blood in your veins until I started reading your notes. I hope I have answered all your questions now.

Subhash, give him the papers to sign.” Neeraj was in tears. His whole world came tumbling down when he learned that he wasn’t his parents’ biological child. He knew that he had no chance for survival as he was surrounded by evil people who were smirking at his disheveled appearance. Neeraj took the paper that he was about to sign. His life was a big lie. Everyone whom he had trusted had betrayed him. His own father forgot to tell him that he had been adopted. How could he have been so stupid? Radhika never fussed over him like other mothers. She was too selfish and only concerned with herself. He remembered his childhood where Pranav made it a point to attend the parents teacher meeting when Radhika didn’t bother to show up even for a single one.

Radhika had dragged him along to stay with her, merely to show that she was a concerned mother but her real intention was to extort child support as well. Just as he was about to sign the document, the door to the warehouse burst open and who should enter?

Pranav Sagar….. Radhika screamed in horror whereas Neeraj could not believe his eyes. Pranav smiled at his son and said, “I am not a ghost, son. I am still alive. I am so sorry that this characterless woman caused you so much pain and trouble.” Radhika yelled, ” But you had committed suicide. How did you turn up alive? Did you forget that I still have your porn photos with Archana to get you into trouble?” Pranav chuckled, ” Is it so? By the way, I have a surprise for you. Before you do anything foolish, just turn around.” Radhika’s eyes widened in horror as she saw the dead ‘ Amit’ walking towards her with a handcuff. Radhika screamed and so did Archana. Radhika said, ” How could you still be alive? I had paid a hefty sum to Subhash and his men to get rid of you? ” Amit replied, ” First, I would like to thank you for confessing to your crimes. Secondly, you were merely a pawn in the hands of our police department. Your ex-husband, Pranav, isn’t just an ordinary author but Police Superintendent. He has been investigating a series of crime against women, who were kidnapped, raped, and forced into prostitution. Some were even murdered. Do you remember leaving your phone behind when you visited him to ask for the divorce? You left your phone behind. He received phone calls from clients calling you to supply young flesh. He was so furious that he called me to hatch a plan to expose you and your entire group. I pretended to fall in love with you but never touched your disgusting body. When you moved away to your house in Pune with Neeraj, you drank too much, one day and slept with a stranger. In fact, Sir had asked me to keep tabs on you. I caught your lover with his pants down and had him arrested. I hated violating your privacy but had to check upon you. I discovered that you had strayed away into the path of crime with your unending lust for sex! I saw you talking to someone over the phone on plotting Pranav Sir’s downfall. You know the rest of the story except that when you were plotting to get rid of Sir and Neeraj, we were plotting to gather enough evidence linking you to various crimes against humanity.”

Neeraj was at the loss of words. He looked at Amit with awe and fascination as he arrested Subhash, Archana and other gang members. Pranav asked a lady constable to arrest Radhika. Neeraj was so delighted to see his father that he hugged him and almost sobbed. Amit winked at him, and said, “See you later, champ. I know you don’t like me but I am very fond of you. You are like a son I never had and found it very difficult to act like a jerk to you.” Neeraj hung his head in shame and said, ” I have been so stupid. I should not have judged you. I am so sorry. I would like to be your friend. Will you ever forgive me? ” Amit hugged him and they high fived as Pranav watched in amusement and chuckled. The notebook wasn’t so special after all.

( The end with a new beginning).

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (77)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK (PART 15) : A SHORT STORY By ME.

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Neeraj was wary of Subhash’s sinister designs. He wished that Subhash would land behind bars as per his intention. He had a rude shock as this was the first time that his second wish remained unfulfilled. It had been two weeks since Subhash and Archana broke up. But there had been no sign of Subhash resorting to alcoholism. On the contrary, he was in a pleasant mood, trying to woo his mother.

Neeraj was puzzled. How did his plan fail? The special notebook used to grant his every wish. Why did Subhash escape from a miserable fate? He had more questions than answers. He had to test the effectiveness of the notebook. After coming back from school, he went straight to his room and wrote :
Today I want to have pizza for dinner.
Later that night, Subhash brought Pizza to celebrate his recent promotion. Neeraj finished his dinner and thanked him before going to his room. Neeraj rewrote his original intention of getting Subhash arrested. This plan, too, fizzled out as Subhash showed no signs of drinking.

One day, when he came home, he noticed his mother glowing like a heroine. He asked her, ” Hey, Mom! What’s special today? You are looking gorgeous.” Radhika smiled and showed her right hand, pointing towards the diamond ring in her finger. She said, ” Finally, ‘I met the man of my dreams. Inspector Subhash just proposed to me. He is a fatherly figure to you and rather fond of you than Amit. What do you think? ” Neeraj could not believe his mom could be so characterless. She already lost Pranav, then Amit, and now she fell for Subhash, a fraud.

He was too stunned to speak. His mother assumed his silence as approval. Neeraj was in a dilemma. How could he prevent her from marrying Subhash? He wanted to covet her wealth. Neeraj had no proof to accuse Subhash and the inspector could simply laugh it off, as a fabricated tale. How could he expose Subhash without hurting his mother’s feeling? He wanted to speak to his father. He took out the note book to summon his father’s soul. His father’s soul didn’t appear. How did it happen? This could only mean that either the notebook was no longer special or it had been swapped.

Neeraj wanted to wring Subhash’s neck for the infringement of his privacy. He probably swapped his notebook. But how and why? He had too many questions. Before going to sleep, he tried his luck for the last time and wrote ” I want to know the truth.”

The next day, he got ready to go to school. He picked up his school bag and kissed his mother goodbye. The moment he stepped out of the gate, someone clamped a handkerchief over his mouth. He fell unconscious and the kidnapper dumped him on the backseat of his car. The car started moving at a great speed.

An hour later, Neeraj woke up, feeling groggy. His throat was parched and he was feeling weak. One of the henchmen noticed him waking up. He brought down the gag and asked what he wanted. Neeraj replied, “I want water.” The goon offered him a glass of water and went to fetch his boss. Ten minutes later, Neeraj’s eyes widened in horror as Archana Khandve who was supposed to be in a mental institution, strode towards him with an evil grin on her face.

” So, here we meet again, dear Neeraj, ” she cackled. She reminded him of Dolores Umbridge of Harry Potter. She continued, ” Tsk….. Tsk…. I thought you were a good Mama’s boy. You have been writing some fabulous stories for TV daily soaps. You wanted me to go insane as my new lover dumped me after robbing me of my wealth. You should be ashamed of yourself. I am sure you did this only after you found out about me and Subhash. Bad boys need to be punished. What should I do to punish you? Your mom….. She’s your weakness, right? Let Subhash bring her here and you watch her die.”
” That’s enough, ” commanded a shrill female voice. Archana cowered a bit and replied, ” Sorry, Ma’am. I got carried away. ” Ma’am was the leader of this crime syndicate. Her voice addressed Neeraj. ” So,” she said, “You want to know the truth, right?” Neeraj received a jolt. He stammered, ” How did you know? Are you a magician or a scientist? ” The woman chuckled, ” Well, I am neither. First, I want you to know that there’s nothing special about the notebook that your father gave you. In fact, it was I who had sent the notebook.” ” You are lying,” yelled Neeraj, ” How is it possible that I met with my father’s ghost,summoning it at my will? ” The woman chuckled, ” You are such a baby. Just wait. Would you like to see your father again? ” Neeraj was dumbfound. A phantom emerged in the middle of the room. It was his father’s ghost. Neeraj wanted to speak to him but the phantom started to fade away.

Ma’am asked him, ” Did you like my new hologram generator? I had it attached along with a tiny microchip in the midst of your special notebook. Your writing would be visible to me. Everytime you wrote something, I got the message on my smartphone and tried to fulfill most of them. But when you planned something sinister for my ardent followers, I couldn’t keep quiet and let you get away with it. You have a bossy attitude and your character stinks.” Neeraj questioned her, ” What do you want from me?” The lady said, ” You are a smart boy. I like you. Before his death, your father left all his properties in your name and a frugal money for your mother. I want you to sign the dotted line in which it says that you are willingly transferring your wealth in my name. Then, I will let you go after you give up your inheritance.”

Neeraj couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer. He asked her, ” Who are you? Why don’t you come to meet me? ” The woman laughed heartily and replied, ” Fair enough. It’s my duty to honor your last wish.”

Neeraj screamed in horror as he saw a silhouette coming into light and behind her, Inspector Subhash followed. Who was the mysterious woman? Will Neeraj escape unharmed or die while seeking justice for his dead father? Watch out for the final episode of the Special Notebook.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (75)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK (PART 14) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Neeraj felt ashamed of the hot tears streaming down his eyes. “Boys don’t cry!” he told himself, ” Not only you are a boy but now a teenager too with the responsibility of taking care of his mother. No! I am not going to shed any more tears. Dad was right. I should have seen it earlier. Everytime Mom was attacked, Archana always managed to be on time to save her and Inspector Subhash would conduct the inquiry. Now, both of them have been exposed. I am not going to forgive them. It’s time to teach them both a lesson they would never forget. ” Neeraj had decided to feign the ignorance of their betrayal and continue to act normal while hatching a conspiracy to punish them. Death would be a simple punishment. Shame, betrayal, broken heart, and committing them to the mental institution would be the best option. This would be a fate worse than dying.

Neeraj wiped away his tears and came back to his mother with a fake smile on his face. Radhika was reading a book when he came in. Before they could have a proper conversation, a nurse entered her room and checked her vitals. She went back with the reports to the doctor. Later that evening, Radhika got discharged. Inspector Subhash was waiting for them. He said, ” Ma’am, I have a small suggestion. Please don’t turn me down. There have too many attacks on you during the past few days and not to mention the kidnapping. I would be honored if you accept my request to stay with Neeraj at my home, at least for a month, until I investigate who’s behind this conspiracy.” Neeraj hoped his mother would firmly refuse. But to his consternation, she gladly accepted his offer and said, ” Why, Thank you so much, Inspector. We would love to stay with you. I appreciate your going out of your way to accommodate us. ” Neeraj, now wished, that the earth would swallow him instead of going to stay with the cheap deceit.

His mother, further embarrassed him by saying, ” Neeraj always admires you, Sir. He considers you as his role model. I hope you would give him on the career he wishes to pursue.” Neeraj’s jaw was paining after continuing to grin like an idiot. Inspector Subhash took them to his apartment which looked more like a penthouse. Neeraj admired the interiors. The Apartment was fully air conditioned. The foyer was so grand that even Radhika admired the luxurious apartment. The house was twice as big as theirs with a chandelier in the living room and wall sconces on each of the four walls. There were expensive paintings in ornate frames and an exquisite coffee table with magazines on them. Subhash gave them a tour of the house which consisted three bedrooms, a living room, two bathrooms and a balcony that offered a great view. Subhash showed them to their respective rooms.

Neeraj forgot his hatred for the scheming rogue of an inspector when he entered his room. He was delighted to find a jumbo sized bed with a study table and a reading lamp affixed to one of the corners of his bedpost.


He took off his footwear and hopped into the bed. He was in the seventh heaven until a dreadful realization hit him hard. He and his mother were caught in a death trap. They had straight away walked into the lion’s den. He remembered Archana talking about a Ma’am. Some lady was behind this ugly drama of bloodshed and betrayal. What if Subhash poisoned them? What if he tried to make their deaths look like an accident? He shuddered to even think of the dreadful possibilities. He had to act fast to keep them alive and safe.

He thought of creating a rift between the rogue couple. He took out his special notebook and wrote the first part of his big plan. He wrote:

I wish Archana Khandve finds a new, handsome guy, who pretends to be a wealthy socialite.She should dump Subhash. He should consume alcohol after being mercilessly rejected and get involved in a drunken brawl. He should be expelled from the police force and get arrested for his misorderly conduct.

Archana ‘s new boyfriend should lure her into falling in love with him to such an extent that she would willingly share her bank details with him. He would drain out all her finances and refuse to marry her. His ditching her abruptly should create an everlasting impact on her. She should lose her sanity and become committed to an asylum. Subhash should also meet with a similar fate. His loss of reputation and the stigma of incarceration coupled with a broken heart should rattle him in such a way that he too ended up in a mental hospital.

Neeraj felt thrilled with the script that was supposed to take place. A pang of guilt struck him for thinking like an ace conspirator. His script looked like that of a TV daily soap but then he was reminded of their treachery. The attack on Radha was planned by Archana. He had overheard her saying that she wanted her dead. Why did she save her life if she wanted his mom out of the picture?


Neeraj prayed that their ordeal should get over and they escaped unhurt from these greedy human monsters.

As luck would have it, Neeraj’s plan had started working. The following week, Neeraj woke up early as he heard a heated argument . He heard a man and a woman yelling at each other at an alarmingly high decibel that could be heard by the entire neighborhood.
He slightly opened his bedroom door to listen to the conversation.

Subhash screamed, ” You evil witch! How could you do this to me? Doesn’t loyalty mean anything to you?” Archana raised her eyebrows as Subhash continued to holler, “Oops! I forgot that there’s no such word as loyalty in your dictionary or you wouldn’t have planned to get rid of your beloved husband to sleep with me. ” Archana yelled back, ” Mind your language. I am fed up of being dominated by you. You are always suspicious of me and have me followed. Besides, you keep on issuing orders as if I was your servant.”

Neeraj was ecstatic over the lovers’ rift. He thought, ” It serves them right for betraying my trust and belief in humanity.” Everything went according to his plan. After a month of courting and engagement, Archana’s new boyfriend, emptied her bank account, leaving her penniless. He also broke off their engagement and introduced his new girlfriend to her. Mad with grief, Archana tried to kill herself several times. She got admitted to a lunatic asylum after losing her sanity.

Will Neeraj’s plan to have Subhash behind bars and later to a lunatic asylum work out? Or would Subhash discover his secret and kill him and his Mom? Watch out for the next episode of The Special Notebook for an interesting twist in the tale.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (73)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK (PART 13) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Neeraj saw the dead Amit talking to Inspector Subhash. “How could this be possible?” Neeraj thought, “‘I must be dreaming. How can a dead man come back alive? It must be his lookalike. For the time being, it’s better to stay hidden. If he sees me, he would kill me.” Neeraj pulled the curtain over the window. His heart was beating faster than usual. He thought about his father’s wise words.

He was completely baffled by the unexpected turn of events. A few minutes later, Inspector Subhash entered Radhika’s room. He saw Neeraj reading his book in complete silence. He looked pale and terrified. Subhash understood everything. He said, ” Hi Junior Detective, I think you have just seen Amit back on his feet, right. But let me tell you that Amit is truly dead. This person is Vikrant and he is a police informer. He had been in an accident and his face was damaged. At that time, Amit’s killer wasn’t arrested yet. So, we thought of arranging for Amit’s lookalike to flush out the killer from his hiding. I don’t blame you for getting scared. I would be terrified too, if I saw a dead man turn up from his grave.” Neeraj grinned and relaxed. Subhash reassured him that there was nothing to be worried about.

Neeraj said, ” Can we have some coffee, please? ” Subhash replied with a grin, ” Just wait here, young man. I will be back with the coffee. Don’t leave your mother unattended.” Neeraj chided himself for unnecessarily jumping into a wrong conclusion. He felt more relaxed and scrolled through his mobile.

” Hello, Knock, Knock, ” said a familiar voice as Neeraj raised his head to see the new arrival. Archana Khandve smiled at him with a bouquet and a bag of fruits. Neeraj welcomed her. He said, ” Thank you so much, aunty. I will always remain indebted to you. You saved my mom once again.” Archana blushed and replied, ” Oh, it was nothing! Don’t mention it. It was an unexpected attacked and I had to save both of us.”

Neeraj offered her a seat. Radhika slowly opened her eyes and gave a weak grin. ” Hi, Archu,” she said, “I am so sorry for the trouble yet again. You are like my sister. Sometimes I wish I was never involved with Amit. I don’t think I can endure another attack like this.” Archana gently squeezed her hand and said, ” Now, don’t blame yourself for the fiasco. Amit had it coming. You will be alright. By the way, you are lucky to have a wonderful son like Neeraj.”

It was at this moment that Inspector Subhash made his grand entry. ” Here you go, Neeraj” added the inspector handing him the Styrofoam cup with coffee to the brim. Some of it got spilt on the floor. ” Oops, ” he said, “I didn’t know you had a visitor.” Neeraj took the coffee from him and gave it to Archana. He said, ” Let’s leave the two friends alone or the nurse would have us thrown out for overcrowding.” Subhash had already finished his coffee but took Neeraj to the cafeteria where he ordered tea instead with Samosa. They discussed about the latest mystery books. Neeraj trusted Subhash and talked to him about his personal problems, seeking guidance from him. Anyone would think that they were father and son rather than friends.

Subhash paid the bill and they went back to Radhika’s room. Archana said, ” Ok, dear. Take care. I will drop in for another visit when you are home.” Inspector Subhash offered to show her out as a courtesy. They went out. Neeraj observed that Archana had left her purse behind. He said, ” Mom, Archana aunty has forgotten her purse. Let me give it to her. I will be back in a jiffy. Would you be able to manage on your own? ” Radhika nodded and she closed her eyes again. Neeraj exited the hospital corridor. He heard someone laughing. He turned towards the source of the sound and saw Archana locking her lips with Inspector Subhash. They were quite intimate. They kissed passionately for five minutes and with great difficulty, broke away for want of air. Archana said, ” So, you managed to win the trust of that boy. Amit failed to do this. Great job, darling. Now, try to win over Radhika.” Subhash gave her a sly look, ” Would you bear it if I married her instead of you? It’s not right, sweetheart. I love only you. I admit she’s attractive but will never be in the same league as you.” Archana chuckled, ” Oh, honey! The marriage would only be for the sake of the society. Don’t you watch movies? Win over the lady and make her hand over her property in your name and get rid of both the mother and son. The poor bitch believes I saved her life. This is just a part of an act. I want her to die.”

” But why?” asked Subhash.

Archana replied, “Her husband, Pranav, was a popular guy in our college. I was in love with him. But he was smitten by his junior Radhika. Can you imagine my fury when I saw him proposing her? I decided to ruin their lives. I wreaked havoc in their lives by forcing my beloved husband Amit to have affair with her. I never imagined he would get her pregnant. I deliberately gave bad reviews to Pranav’s book. I pretended to offer my moral support to Pranav and tried my best to persuade him to sleep with him. Can you believe it? In spite of her indifferent attitude towards him, Pranav was always loyal to his wife. He loved her sincerely. The stupid woman didn’t realize what a wonderful life partner she had! When Pranav finally realized that the love of his life wasn’t interested in living with him, he committed suicide. I know the real reason behind his death. It wasn’t the failure of his book but a broken heart. He loved both Radhika and Neeraj. He couldn’t think of living without them even for a moment. But no! Miss Attitude wanted money, power, and luxury. And look where it has her landed! Now, enough of my banter. Do whatever it takes to impress Neeraj and then marry Radhika. I will plan her death eventually. But do not forget to take her signature on the property papers. If you fail in this mission, our Ma’am will be highly displeased and order our deaths.”

Neeraj felt as if someone had stabbed him in the heart. He couldn’t believe that his favorite duo could stoop so low and betray his trust. His eyes were brimming with tears. He knew that he was up against a formidable enemy, a crime syndicate after his father’s wealth. He wiped them away as he slowly emerged from his hiding place with Archana’s purse in his hands. Archana and Subhash looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Neeraj put on a fake smile and said, ” Aunty, I just wanted to return your purse. I must go back to my Mom.” He gave no indication of having eavesdropped on them. They heaved a sigh of relief.

Neeraj had already planned something big for the offending couple. What will happen next will absolutely leave you no clue! Next episode will be a roller coaster thriller. Watch out for the Special Notebook.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (71)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK (PART 12) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Finally, it was over. Blood was splattered all over the wall. There had been a fierce battle for survival and in the end……… Archana Khandve had the last laugh. She had managed to snatch the weapon from the stranger and plunged it straight into his heart like a mad woman. She noticed the unconscious Radhika and gave a wicked smile. She considered murdering her as well fearing her secret would be out. Right now, Radhika’s life was too valuable. She had to live until……

She called an ambulance as well as the police. Inspector Subhash and his men took over the investigation as one of the lady constables probed Archana. She used her exemplary acting skills to put on the emotions of a woman badly affected by the trauma of killing someone in self-defense. She sobbed and sniffled, ” ‘I….. I am sorry. I couldn’t help it. This man came out of nowhere, attacked my friend Radhika, and was about to murder me as well. I wrestled the knife out of him and in the scuffle that followed, I had stabbed him accidentally. Please believe me. ” The blood splatters on the wall told a different story. Inspector Subhash said, ” Don’t worry, Ma’am. I am sure you did it in self-defense. But ‘we have to complete certain legal formalities. It would be better if you call your lawyer and give your statement in his presence. ” The paramedics arrived and removed the corpse of the stranger from the floor. A couple of them checked Radhika’s vitals and got her admitted to the hospital. This was the second time since Amit’s death, that Radhika was hospitalized.

Inspector Subhash took Archana’s statement and let her go. He also called Forensic Experts to gather evidence that corroborated Archana’s story. Later, he visited Radhika in the hospital. She had regained consciousness. She asked, ” How did I end up here? ” Inspector Subhash probed,” Don’t you remember anything before you got hurt and lost your consciousness?” Radhika said, ” I am sorry I can’t remember anything except a powerful blow to my head and every thing became dark. Before that, I was in the kitchen preparing tea for my friend Archana. That’s it.”He noted down her statement and advised her to take complete rest.

His next stop was Neeraj’s school. Neeraj was summoned to the Principal’s office where Subhash was waiting for him. Neeraj looked alarmed and asked, “What’s wrong, Inspector? What happened to my mom? Is she alright?” Inspector Subhash gave a weak smile, “‘I wish I could say everything is alright. But someone attacked your mom and she’s in the hospital. She’s completely alright and it’s just a concussion. Your mom must be a strong woman to survive a strong attack like that. I am really sorry. I should not have withdrawn the security. It seems you and your mother are still facing a great risk from Amit’s possible murderer.”

Neeraj was baffled. He said, ” But you already have his murderer in the police custody, right? Or has he become a fugitive?” The inspector was searching for an appropriate answer as Neeraj was waiting for the answer. The principal shook his head and said, “‘I think you should be with your mother until she recovers. I will ask your class teacher to help you with your notes.”

Neeraj went back to his classroom to walk out with the backpack. The principal advised the Inspector to be more tactful in his approach while conveying bad news on his Mom. The Inspector waited for Neeraj to come out. As soon as he came out, he bombarded the Inspector with a string of questions. Subhash said, ” The main accused is still behind bars. The guy who attacked your mom must be his accomplice.” Neeraj questioned, ” Have you arrested him? ” Subhash didn’t know how to tell him that his house was now a crime scene with blood all over the walls in the living room.

He decided to tell him the truth. ” The guy won’t bother you because he’s dead. Your house is now officially a crime scene.” He went on to explain how the stranger had sneaked into the house and struck his mother on the head. He made it to the living room and saw Archana speaking to someone on the phone. They had a fight and Archana killed him in self-defense.

In spite of the dreadful incident, Neeraj looked quite excited. “Wow! That’s brave of Archana aunty, “he quoted, “Is the bloodstain still there on the walls? I have never seen a real crime scene. It’s so cool. I would like to take some snaps and post it on the Facebook. My friends would be so jealous of me.” The Inspector gave him a stern look and admonished him, ” There’s nothing cool about a murder. I didn’t know you were so insensitive, son. Murder or killing someone is never cool. You don’t understand the value of loss of a life. What if it was your mother instead of her attacker? Then, you would think twice before posting it on Facebook, right? “

Neeraj was ashamed of himself. He mumbled a quick apology. The inspector said, “‘I think it would be better if you and your mother stay with me for a while until things cool down.” Neeraj hesitated initially but agreed. The inspector said, ” Let’s visit your home and get your things packed along with your mother’s.” They went to Neeraj’s house where he was stumped to find bloodstains on the wall. The Inspector was right. Getting murdered was not only scary but also it made him throw up. The Inspector tried to stifle his grin as he watched Neeraj coming out of the toilet and going straight to his bedroom. He took out the special notebook and kept it inside his school bag. He had a nagging feeling that his dead father was right. The danger was far from over. As he tried to replay the Inspector’s version of the scary incident in his mind, he found some loopholes quite disturbing. He felt that his father was right all along.

Inspector Subhash was supposed to be his hero and Archana aunty, a role model. Both of them had saved his mother’s life at different points of time. He decided to give them the benefit of doubt but also be alert for any kind of weird behavior by them. After getting his luggage, and his mother’s, he couldn’t help but ask, ” Could you please show the pic of the dead guy? It’s possible that I might be able to identify him.”

Subhash showed the pic of the dead guy. Neeraj didn’t recognize him. Without any further communication, Neeraj locked the house and handed the keys to the Inspector. While he had dinner with the Inspector at his house, he had an idea. He thought of writing it down on the special notebook. He wrote :
I wish I get to see the real culprits in this bloodbath.

He opted to skip school for the day and went to visit his mother in the hospital. The mother -son duo chatted for a while. Radhika felt tired and took a small nap, while Neeraj gazed out of the window. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. He wanted to scream in horror. What did he see that terrified him so much? Did the special notebook grant his wish to uncover the mask of the real culprit or culprits? Watch out for the next episode of the Special Notebook as it takes another interesting and unexpected turn.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (70)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK ( PART 11) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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When Neeraj woke up the next morning, he felt discombobulated. He wasn’t sure whether he had actually met his father or it was a dream; a bad dream. His gut instinct, however, told him to trust his father and be alert always. Even though he had high regards for Inspector Subhash, he decided to listen to his father. He got ready, as usual, to go to school.

After a quick breakfast, he grabbed his school bag, kissed his mom and dashed downstairs to grab his bike. No sooner did he cross the gate, than he noticed Inspector Subhash sipping hot tea from the tea stall across the street. “It’s strange,” he thought, ” Inspector Subhash convinced me that we were safe and called off the security. But, what’s he doing here? Should I greet him or go to school or follow him?” Inspector Subhash was having a pleasant chat with some people near the tea stall. He didn’t see Neeraj observing him. The latter thought it was better to follow him without his knowledge rather than attending school for the day.

He pretended to move on and turned his bicycle to the adjacent road and come back to the same spot. When he returned, he noticed that the Inspector had finished paying for the tea and was about to start his bike. Neeraj remained unobtrusive and tried to cast a casual glance around. He was actually thrilled to do some spying work which he had read only in books. He felt like James Bond with a missing gun. Inspector Subhash left the area with Neeraj leaving enough gap to avoid being detected. He regretted his foolish decision because a bicycle was no match for a bike. He was actually panting and gasping for breath. The inspector led him on a fool’s errand by taking narrow lanes and coming back to the main road. “What the hell is he doing?” grumbled Neeraj. He stopped his bicycle for a moment only to wipe the sweat of his forehead with his handkerchief. This fraction of a second caused his quarry to surge ahead and disappear.

Neeraj was frustrated. He slapped his forehead with his palm and complained, ” Where did he go?” Suddenly, a hand tapped gently on his shoulders and Neeraj jumped in fright. When he turned, he was shocked to find Inspector Subhash smiling at him. ” Were you searching for me, Neeraj? Is there any problem that you followed me all the way for the past half an hour? I see. You have even skipped your school today.” Neeraj looked sheepish and was silent due to loss of words and more so, because he had been discovered. He couldn’t admit spying on him just because his dead father’s soul warned him to be careful around. “Well, ” The inspector tapped his foot and raising his eyebrow, ” You owe me an explanation, child. Are you thinking of a suitable lie to justify your actions? Because if I caught you lying, you would see a different Inspector.”

Neeraj gulped and then slowly answered, ” Sorry, Inspector. I should not have followed you. Last night, I read a detective novel and was so impressed that I wanted to experience following someone. In fact, when you saved my mom from the clutches of the kidnappers, I made up my mind to become an Inspector like you and catch the culprits to put them behind bars. You are so brave and intelligent, Sir. Would you kindly help me and teach me some tricks for becoming a detective?” Inspector Subhash appeared to be relaxed and grinned, “Well. I am very much flattered with your words of appreciation. But I don’t approve the manner of your seeking help. Anyway, I don’t mind because I too skipped my school for a day to watch a cricket match between India and Australia in Wankhede Stadium. I want you to promise me that you won’t venture out in such a dangerous task. I won’t tell your mother this time. You must be tired after that exhausting bicycle ride. There’s an ice cream parlor around the corner. Let’s chat over ice creams, alright? ” Neeraj couldn’t believe his luck. He thought Inspector Subhash would either slap him or arrest him and send him to a juvenile detention center. He smiled back and said, ” Gee, thanks. I learned a lesson today. There’s more to following a person than what I read in detective novels. This adventure was enough for me, I promise.” The inspector and Neeraj had an interesting conversation where Inspector Subhash taught him a few tips and also invited him home to show the spying gadgets that he had recently acquired.

Inspector Subhash said, ” You now have a whole day at your disposal. You can’t go back home for your mother will be suspicious. I will drop you at your school with a letter seeking permission for coming late. There’s no need to waste a productive day.” He always kept a notepad with him and wrote and signed the letter. The Inspector followed him to his school and spoke to the class teacher, handing over the note. She allowed him to attend the rest of the classes.

Neeraj wanted to yell at his father for misleading him and filling his head with wrong ideas when there was no problem at all. Inspector Subhash was a kind man and came to his rescue. He didn’t scold him. Neeraj snapped out of his reverie and paid attention to the Biology Teacher.

Meanwhile, Archana Khandve, Amit’s ex-wife, called upon Radhika. The latter was delighted to see her and hugged her. Archana said,” I am so sorry over what happened to you. I think this city is getting too dangerous for you. If you ask me, you should be in the witness protection program. It’s not your fault that you got involved with someone like Amit.” Radhika sipped her tea and nodded. She said, “It’s very kind of you to say so. But everyone I meet these days, seems to have two faces. The fake, good side to gain the trust of people and the real, hideous one to destroy your life and gloat about the fake victory. You never know, whom to trust.”

Archana almost choked on her tea. Radhika felt alarmed on seeing her reaction to a simple statement. She got up and went to the kitchen while Archana received a call. She grinned at the mysterious caller and said, “That idiot is still unaware of the danger lurking around her and her son. Yes, I have done exactly what you asked me to. At first, I thought she had caught on to us. I can’t wait to see her dead body floating in the lake or pond. And I want to reunite the son with his dead father.” Archana ended the call and turned around to find the shock of her life. She started sweating profusely, as it was not Radhika. Radhika was unconscious in the kitchen.

Archana screamed, ” No….. You can’t be here. You aren’t supposed to be here. The boss ordered you not to show up for some time until Amit’s death case turns cold.” The stranger gave an evil grin, pulling out a sharp shining blade.

Watch out for the next episode of The Special Notebook as the story takes another thrilling turn. Will Archana survive or die? Who’s the stranger? How did he get in?

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (68)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Neeraj got ready to school. He didn’t want Radhika to know about his near escape from the jaws of death. A policeman was standing guard outside his house. Neeraj just told her that the police thought it was a good idea to provide them with security, as the killer might be hunting for the remaining links to Amit.

Meanwhile, Radhika’s curiosity couldn’t be contained. She tried questioning Neeraj about the missing diary. He told her, “Mom, that diary is an important evidence linked to Amit’s death.So, I handed it over to the police. Don’t you want his killer to be caught? Besides, he might come to finish us off. ” Radhika sighed, ” Ok. If that’s what you insist. But I am dying to know what kind of secrets Amit was hiding from me? Don’t you think I am entitled to learn the truth? “

Neeraj didn’t respond. He simply shrugged and went to school with one of the security cops following him to school. Radhika called Archana ( Amit’s ex-wife) and arranged to meet her in a cafe. As she was about to step out of the house, someone hit her on the head. Everything blacked out. When she woke up, she was in a dilapidated warehouse, with her hands and feet firmly bound with tight ropes. She had a handkerchief stuffed in her mouth. She had a splitting headache and was struggling like a fish caught in the net.

She heard someone laughing at her. He said, ” Welcome to my paradise, honey! I must say Amit had great taste in women. Look at you! Who could guess that such a precious beauty would be a mother of a fifteen-year-old boy.” Radhika was too shocked to see her kidnapper. “This couldn’t be true,” she muttered under her breath, ” I must be dreaming. It might be a concussion.” The kidnapper chuckled, ” Unfortunately, you aren’t dreaming. You didn’t expect me, am I right? Don’t you ever read mystery novels? The criminal usually turns out to be the one whom you suspect the least.” He removed her gag and she burst out, ” What did I ever do to you? Why have you kidnapped me? I am all my son has got. How much money do you want?”

The kidnapper shook his head and said, ” Tsk… Tsk. I appreciate your maternal love. But my freedom is more important to me than your foolish sentiments. No, I am not going to discuss my plans with you. I am going to make your son do my dirty work.” He gagged her again and left her struggling to get free from the tight ropes that were beginning to hurt her.

Neeraj finished his school and came back home. He was astonished to find no one standing guard. The door was ajar. Fearing the worst, he dropped the school bag and rushed in, followed by the cop. His mom’s handbag was lying on the floor with its content spread all over. He checked all the rooms and started panicking to find her missing. He cried in agony and dropped on to the couch. The cop went to fetch a glass of water and offered it to him. ” Why’s everyone after my mom? ” he wailed, “What does this sick bastard want? “
” Now, now! Young man, “said the friendly cop, ” Take a deep breath and relax. I have already called Subhash sir. He will be here any moment. Don’t you worry. Inspector Subhash will rescue your mother.” The place was soon swarmed with cops and fingerprint experts. As Neeraj sobbed over a cup of hot cocoa, the landline began to ring. Subhash put it on speaker. ” Hello, Inspector, ” chuckled an evil voice, ” It’s good that you answered the phone instead of this bitch’s son.” Neeraj seethed in rage. He yelled, ” Mind your language, you skunk. If I get my hands on you, I will pack you to hell if you ever dared to hurt my mother.” Inspector Subhash signalled him to keep quiet as he started to speak, “Let’s cut out the crap. What’s your demand for the ransom?” The kidnapper replied, ” That’s a wise move, Inspector. Better tell that hot headed boy to hold back his tongue if he wants to see his mom alive. Well, I heard you have an interesting diary in your possession. Just hand it over to me and the lady is yours. Do not try to trace my call. Drop the diary at the Old Godown near Wadala by 10 PM tonight. Radhika will be home before dawn.”

Inspector Subhash said, ” Alright, it’s a deal.” He disconnected the call. Neeraj was worried. Subhash said, ” Don’t you worry. I promise to make sure your mother is safe.” He left with his men as Neeraj was wondering over his mom’s fate.

The next morning, Inspector Subhash arrived carrying Radhika in his arms. She was too weak to walk. Neeraj was delighted to see his mom but then his grin was quickly replaced by lines of worry. ” What happened, Inspector?” he questioned as Subhash gently lay her on the couch. He winked at Neeraj, ” Don’t you worry. She’s tired because of her traumatic experience yesterday. I can’t share the police secrets with you. She’s safe for now and so are you. We have caught her kidnapper. He’s safely behind bars. Just relax. There’s nothing to worry about. However, I would still advise you not to be complacent and let your guard down.” The inspector was about to leave when Neeraj suddenly hugged him. He said, ” I can’t thank you enough for saving my mom. What about the diary? ‘I guess the killer must be having the last laugh.” The inspector grinned, ” Thank you so much for your confidence in the police. Do you really think we would have compromised with an important evidence? I have my own way of solving the case. Be rest assured, you can now continue to lead a normal life.”

Neeraj thanked him as he saw his favorite cop walking off in style. He had a newfound respect for him. He considered him a hero, next to his father. Later that night, he wanted to talk to his father and tell him that he was wrong. He picked up his special notebook and wrote :
Dad, meet me tonight.

It was well past midnight when a strong wind blew and his father’s soul appeared before him. Pranav was still looking worried and said, ” Thank God! You summoned me. I know the reason behind your call. But the danger is not over yet.” Neeraj didn’t look convinced and replied, ” Though you were right about our lives being in danger, with my near accident and Mom’s kidnapping, Inspector Subhash rescued both of us. He told me that the kidnapper was behind bars. The kidnapper has to be the murderer, right? Because he demanded the diary as the ransom. ” Pranav said, ” You are wrong, my champion detective. Don’t you see the common link between your accident and your mom’s kidnapping? “

Suddenly, it dawned on Neeraj. He said, ” No dad. It can’t be…… “

Watch out for the next upcoming thrilling episode of The Special Notebook for more dramatic turns.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (66)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK ( PART 9) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Neeraj got ready for school at his usual time on the following day. Radhika saw him off and decided to read the diary that Archana had given her. It was nowhere to be found. “How could it disappear just like that?” she wondered. Finally, she gave up searching for the diary which was now present in the police station as an evidence.

Unaware of the fact that someone was spying on her, Radhika finished her household chore and went to take a small nap. The stranger sighed at his spontaneous change of mind. Initially, he had planned to kidnap her, feast on her body, and leave her to die like his other victims. He was caught off guard at the sight of her mesmerizing beauty. There was something special about this woman. Usually, he never developed these kinds of feelings towards his intended victims. He would satisfy his lust, kill them, and also leave behind their bones after consuming human meat. But now, his partners in crime, were languishing in jail because of this woman and her nosy son.

He let out an evil chuckle, ” I think I am going to use Amit’s formula. Win over the lady, take her to bed and then threaten her to kill the boy if she didn’t marry him.” He was impressed with her luxurious apartment. She was a rich widow with a healthy bank account. He would kill her later after usurping her excessive wealth. For now, he decided to give up his cannibalism and lust. He thought ” I think I should gain the trust of her son before approaching her. Amit failed in his mission because of her son.”

He took out his smartphone and made a phone call. Neeraj’s classes were over for the day as he stepped out of his school premises. He was chatting with his friends with his school bag slung over his shoulders and holding his bicycle. No sooner did he get on his bike, a car sped along, trying to run him over. Had it not been for the tall, dark and handsome man who pushed him to safety, he would have been crushed to death. The man gave his right hand to hoist Neeraj back on his feet and picked up his school bag.

” Are you alright, young man?” he asked with concern clearly showing in his eyes. ” Whew! That was close, ” replied Neeraj, wiping the beads of perspiration from his forehead, “Thank you so much for saving my life.” His savior extended his hand and said, ” Hi! I am Sub Inspector Subhash Gupta from Andheri Police Station.” He showed his ID card so that Neeraj could feel safe. He said, ” You look pretty shaken up. Let me get you a hot cocoa or coffee and then you can be on your way home. Shall I inform your parents that you will be late? ” But Neeraj was lost in thoughts. Was the car driver drinking and driving? Or was he an assassin? Why would someone try to kill him and make it look like an accident? This seemed to be more like a Bollywood script. The thought of a murderer baying for their blood gave him goosebumps. His face quickly got drained of its color as SI Subhash was now thoroughly alarmed.

He gently shook Neeraj out of his reverie and said, ” That’s it, boy. You are coming with me. Let’s discuss your situation at the cafe. You can trust me. I am a cop and would certainly help you in any way I can.” Neeraj nodded and said, “May I use your phone to make a call? We aren’t allowed to bring cellphones to school?” Subhash handed him his mobile. Neeraj took a few steps away and called his mother. He didn’t want to worry her over the freak mishap. So, he told her that he would be late by an hour, as he was with his friend to discuss about their upcoming tests.

” Thanks,” added Neeraj, handing back the mobile to the SI. They entered a nearby cafe and placed their respective orders. ” I observed that you were lost in thoughts,” remarked Subhash, ” A mere hit and run wouldn’t have that kind effect on a brave young boy like you. Consider me as your friend and tell me everything.” Subhash had ordered a cup of coffee and Neeraj , hot cocoa with pastries. Neeraj hesitated for a moment but then decided to trust him. He told him everything about Amit’s conspiracy that was recorded in a diary. He also said that Amit’s ex-wife, Archana Khandve, had advised him to leave it outside the police station.

Neeraj added, ” I don’t know how, but Amit’s murderer might have found out about us and is planning to seek vengeance for ratting out his crooked pals.” SI Subhash was silent and then suddenly grinned at him, ” I think you will make a fine detective someday. You are right to assume that the murderer might have caught on to you. This means yours and your mother’s lives are in great danger. Your suspicion has a direct link to the case that I am dealing with. I will discuss with my seniors and immediately offer you the police protection.” Neeraj thanked him as SI Subhash paid the bill and they went their ways.

Neeraj came home feeling tired. Radhika was alarmed to find him in such a pathetic state. She touched his forehead which was hot. He had fever. They had a simple dinner and she called their family doctor. Neeraj was unable to sleep that night. He kept on tossing and turning. A gust of wind blew open his windows. His jaw dropped open in surprise as he could see a thin vapour like substance taking a shape. It was his late father’s soul.


Pranav gave a sad smile to his son. Neeraj stammered, ” D…. Dad, is it you? But how are you here? I didn’t even summon you through the special notebook.” Pranav replied, ” I came to warn you, my son. A great conspiracy is being hatched to get rid of you, and Radhika. Your lives are in great danger. I warn you to be careful. Don’t trust anyone, including your mother.” He disappeared after issuing this warning. Neeraj kept wondering whether he had actually seen his father’s soul or was it a hallucination? Whatever it was, he couldn’t take a risk.

Watch out for more thrill as Neeraj and Radhika’s lives take an unexpected twist and turn.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (64)

THE SPECIAL NOTEBOOK(PART 8) : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Neeraj also learned that his mother had lost her baby due to the severe trauma caused by Amit’s death. He went to visit his mother who looked very pale. She had almost started to cry but he diverted her attention by offering her a glass of juice and engaged her in a pleasant chit chat.

Neeraj called Archana and informed her about Radhika’s regaining consciousness. He asked, ” Aunty, I read Amit’s diary. It was so horrible. I don’t think it’s advisable for Mom to go through its content. What should I do? Will you come to the hospital so that I can hand them back to you? ” Archana said, ” Better hand it over to the police anonymously. Wrap it in a proper cover and drop it outside the police station. Amit’s criminal friends are pretty dangerous. Thank God, Amit didn’t tell them about me Or I would have been a goner.”

Neeraj thanked her and ended the call. The rest of the night passed peacefully. Neeraj woke up early. It was Monday and he had to go to school. Fortunately, his mother was now better and got discharged from the hospital. He took her home and ordered food from the nearby hotel. After making sure that she had everything in her room, he went to school.

Later that evening, he came home frustrated because he had loads to write; homework as well as the notes that he had missed during his absence. He made rotis ( Indian flatbread) with dal ( lentil soup) for dinner. Radhika hadn’t gotten over the betrayal of Amit. She had lost her baby as well as appetite Neeraj looked at her, ” Why are you picking on your food? Did you know that I cooked food especially for you? Let Amit rot in hell. As far as the baby is concerned, I am really sorry.” He wasn’t sorry at all. In fact, he was so happy that he wanted to throw a party. Radhika gave a feeble smile and finished her dinner. She said, ” I am so sorry, Neeraj. I didn’t mean to cause you so much trouble. You have been a real sweetheart. By the way, you cook really well.” Neeraj beamed with pleasure over his mother’s compliments.

Later that night, Neeraj took out his special notebook and started writing his new wish. He wanted his mother to feel better and prepare his favorite meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The next day, he woke up with the aroma of hot, sizzling, masala dosa, his favorite. After finishing his morning duties, he joined his mother for breakfast. “Wow! Masala Dosa, my favorite,” he said enthusiastically, ” Thanks a ton, Mom! You should not have strained yourself.” Radhika smiled at him and replied, ” This is just a token of appreciation for your taking good care of me. I prepared rotis with mutter paneer ( a gravy made of green peas and cottage cheese) for your lunch.” Neeraj hugged her and kissed her forehead. Neeraj said, “I should thank Archana aunty for getting you hospitalized at the right moment.” Radhika nodded and said, ” Yes, that’s true. I hope you thanked her on my behalf. I will speak to her later and if possible, invite her to dinner.”

Neeraj suddenly remembered that he had to hand over the diary to the police on his way to school. He had it gift wrapped and put it in his bag. By the time he left home, it was 7.55 AM. His school started at 8.30 AM and was just a few streets away from his house. His mother wondered why he started earlier than usual.

Neeraj reached the police station. It seemed there was no one around. He checked around to make sure no one noticed him. He dashed in and left the brown package at the footsteps before rushing out and taking off to his school.

After 10 minutes, Constable Patil returned to the police station after having his morning tea. He almost tripped on the package which he eyed with suspicion. ” Is this a bomb?” he thought and was hesitant to pick it up. His partner and good friend Constable Shyam Rao picked it up. He pressed it against his ears. There was no clicking sound. He said, ” This is not a bomb. Let’s hand it over to Inspector Prakash Das.” They went in and approached the Inspector who was typing furiously on his laptop. Constable Patil cleared his throat as Inspector cast a glance at him. ” Yes? ” he prompted, ” What do you want, Patil? ” The constable replied, ” Sir, we found this package outside the police station. Shyam confirmed that it wasn’t a bomb.” Inspector Prakash took the package and unwrapped the cover. It was Amit’s diary. As he turned a few pages, some photos fell down. The inspector immediately sat straight, ” Oh my God! This is a very important evidence in the Amit Bhonsle murder case. How did you get this? There’s no name and address of the sender. We searched Amit’s house thoroughly but didn’t find anything. Wait a minute! This means that the killer must have somehow gained entry into his house and discovered this diary.” Constable Patil interrupted, ” But sir, if it was with the murderer, then why would he send you the diary as an evidence? It seems that someone else is involved. Someone who is very close to the deceased and wants the killer to be caught.” The inspector replied, ” You have made some valid points, dear Patil. But again, why should he or she possess this diary? Why didn’t he or she hand it over to the police immediately? There are lots of puzzling questions. But first, let’s read this diary.” The Inspector and his men were shocked to note the contents. Amit had clearly mentioned the names of his partners in crime.

Inspector Prakash and his men carried raids on the houses of the culprits mentioned in the diary and managed to arrest most of them. A thug named Birju evaded the arrest by remaining hidden until the police left his house. He immediately called the murderer, ” Boss, we have a problem. Someone must have informed the police about our involvement. They have arrested most of our friends.” ” Damn it! ” thundered the murderer, ” This means that the double crossing bastard Amit must have recorded our activities in his journal or something and handed it over to his latest conquest, Radhika, for safekeeping. I told you that we should have killed her. It’s not too late. I am going to make her pay for her audacity to send our friends behind bars.”

Radhika’s life was in great danger. Amit’s murderer had caught on to her. Watch out for the next thrilling episode as the game of the cat and the mouse begins.

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