Tilak, Mona, Goutham and Jessi had their eyes glued to the video receiver screen. Was Riyaz dead? This was the question deeply disturbing them. Though they knew the answer which was very obvious, no one had the courage to accept it. They were still hoping that camera would turn on again and that Riyaz would come back alive. After what seemed to be hours, Goutham switched off the receiver. Only then did the rest come back to the reality. In any other scenario, they would have cried their hearts out for their dear friend. But now they were still in the zone of the creature that killed Riyaz. If knowing ‘some one is going to kill you’ is scary, ‘not even knowing who the killer is’, is dreadful. It was a question of who will break the ice. Unusually Tilak initiated the conversation.
“So guys…ummm…shall we focus for a second here?”
No one replied. No one was even in the mood of accusing him.
“I…I can understand your pain, but….”
“No, you don’t”
It was Jessi who replied. She had a huge respect for Tilak. But not this time. It showed in her voice.
“What do you mean?”
“You very well know what I mean”. She tried to smile sarcastically, but choked and started crying.
“Can you just shut it?” Tilak almost ordered.
He did know that it was his mistake. But the default human behavior when one is confronted directly is to defend. That was exactly what Tilak was doing now. Jessi had never seen Tilak like that before. So she immediately obeyed. But this triggered Goutham to explode.
“Shut it? Did you just say that? Do you even realize what you have done to us? If not for you, Riyaz would still be with us now”
Tilak glared at him for a long time. Then as if he made up his mind, he shook his head and continued…
No one replied. Tilak expected to get a reply. But he got the message that they just wanted him to continue. So he went on…
“Two days back when Sarala mam called us, she was not entirely truthful with us. Sensing that we did not seem convinced, she called me yesterday alone to speak”
23 hours back…
Sarala did not how to begin. Tilak was seated opposite to her. His eyes were fixed on her face. It was like he was trying to read her mind.
“Tilak, I am sure you would be having an idea as to why I called you at this late hour?”
“Yeah, may be now you are ready to come out with the true facts?”
Sarala was indeed pleased with him. She smiled at him, but only for a second. She immediately became serious, her face showed no sign of any emotions.
“This morning I was talking about Ashoka and the stone he had that can rule the World. Whatever I told you was true, but the stone was just a metaphor for something else that Ashoka possessed. One of the major battles fought in the Indian History is the Kalinga war. When it came to an end, Ashoka should have been all the more happy. But the outcome of the war was a total massacre. He became very guilty for what happened. It was during this time that he adopted Budhism.”
Though Tilak was aware of this History, he patiently waited for Sarala to complete.
“But Ashoka was not relieved. He is said to have possessed immense knowledge in various fields, including Medicine, Physics, Biotechnology, Communication, etc. He was scared that this information may fall in evil hands. So he founded a secret society called the Nine Unknown Men. These men excelled in their respective domains. They traveled around the World, interacted with innumerable people, did a lot of research. Their works were published as nine different books, each book governed and maintained by each one of them. These men are said to have supernatural powers and they hid the book well enough not to be discovered for 2000 years.”
Goutham interrupted at this point.
“Oh…they traveled around the World, huh? Now that explains the origin of the wax tablet” he exclaimed.
“Err…what?” Tilak did not understand what this was about. He was almost lost in the Ashoka Empire, while reciting the tale. Goutham did not want to remind anyone about Riyaz, so he just prompted Tilak to continue…
Tilak was so deeply engrossed that he even forgot he was not breathing. He was holding his breath, gulping in each and every word uttered by Sarala.
“Just imagine, there are 9 books, each one dedicated to a field of science, which had immense knowledge far beyond our imagination, hidden somewhere in India. Do you understand its importance?”
There was a small ray of greed that glowed in Sarala’s eyes.
“Do not tell this to anyone, including Mona. We can never predict human mind and how it works. Anyone would want to own the 9 books, if they knew the truth. Am I clear?”
Tilak could only nod his head.
Though Goutham knew something bad was going to come, never did he expect this in his wildest imaginations. Mona and Jessi were staring so hard at Tilak, they almost forgot to blink.
“Now tell me, have I done anything wrong?”
Tilak pleaded not guilty. But Goutham was not done yet.
“What do the 9 books consist of? Do you have any idea?”
Tilak became instantly enthusiastic.
“Yes of course
Book one is about Propaganda and Psychological warfare. It is about making people do what we say
Book two is about Physiology, a study of mechanical, physical and biochemical functions of living organisms. Judo is said to be derived from this book
Book three is about Microbiology. It is said that river Ganges is purified by special microbes specified in this book
Book four deals with Alchemy including transmutation of metals
Book five deals about Communication, even with extraterrestrials
Book six is about Gravitation. It is said to even contain the design of our modern airplane
Book seven is about Cosmology, including time travel
Book eight is about Light, including methods to increase or decrease the speed of light
Book nine is about Sociology
If only we could lay our hands on these books, just think…”
Precisely the second Tilak uttered it, they felt something move under their boat. Instantly Goutham became alerted. He shouted…
“Guys, watch out. Hold on to something in the boat”
But he was too late. Whatever it was, it pulled the boat with a huge force that they could not do anything but dive in the sea. Tilak screamed
“Hurry, get all that you could grab and dump in your bags. Let us head to the temple top”
They swam as fast as they could. Tilak was the first to reach. Mona reached second. Goutham almost made it when he found Jessi missing. He turned back in search of her, but could not find her. Against the protest of Mona he headed towards their boat. Now the boat was almost fully underwater upside down. The force that seemed to pull the boat had stopped. Goutham went around the boat in search of Jessi. His heart was pumping so hard, but he did not care. The only thought that occupied him was to save Jessi. Just then he heard her cry. He turned towards the direction, only to find Jessi who had already reached the temple top.
She was waving her hand fiercely at Goutham, in an attempt to get his attention. She was also shouting something. But he could not hear her voice. Then she pointed at something and he followed her direction. There he saw something moving fast towards him underwater. He quickly got over the top of the boat and tried to get a glimpse of the creature. It came close to the boat. Tilak and Mona were shouting at him something. But he did not care. He peeped inside the water, but could not see anything. But he sensed that the creature was staring back at him. He suddenly felt a strong feeling to dive in the water. However hard he tried to resist, he could not control. Just when he could not control any more and decided to jump in, there was a sudden movement in the water denoting that the creature moved away, deep into the sea. Only then did the feeling stop for him and he collapsed on the boat.
Mona and Tilak who were watching all this from the temple top relieved a sigh after seeing that Goutham was safe. But Jessi was restless
“Our boat is gone. What do we do now?”
“No worries! Fishermen would come this side anytime now. They will rescue us” replied Mona
Jessi looked at Tilak’s face for acknowledgement. But he avoided looking at them.
“Hey Tilak, what happened?” asked Mona in a concerned voice. Already she was angry that he hid such a big thing from her. She could not bear that Tilak had something more to hide.
“Well Mona, this morning when you asked me if any dangerous creatures are here…”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“Ummm, actually fishermen do not come to this part of the sea.”
Though Mona knew the answer, she hoped she would hear something different. But Tilak’s response destroyed all the hope she had in getting rescued.
“For some unknown reason, they are no fishes in this area. Earlier today when we dived in, do you remember seeing any fish?” asked Tilak. Mona shook her head.
“That is it” told Tilak and stared at the sea.
With no boat and no one to rescue, Tilak, Mona, Jessi and Goutham found themselves stranded in the middle of the sea with some unknown creature waiting for the best chance to kill them.
The nine unknown men is not entirely my imagination. You can google it, you will find more information about it