30 Minutes (Part 1)

Note: This is an unfinished story and is probably going to remain a work-in-progress for some time to come. I am, however, aware that this piece isn't immune to attacks from grammar nazis and it may even have a couple of factual/spelling mistakes, just putting this up here for you to review, comment and appreciate (if possible).

"Ladies and gentlemen", began the masked gunman, verily and with an ardent eloquence far surpassing that of those facing the barrel of his loaded gun.

"Let's not engage in theological debates right now" he continued, a bit louder than before "for time, is very much of the essence here". Everyone in the great hall gaped at him with a blend of awe, surprise, dread and loathing that people generally reserve for such threateningly unanticipated situations.

It was an innocuous gathering of distinguished people from all walks of life. One of those parties where people of intellect and conviction often meet to praise or mock each other with the kind of subtlety not known to passionate heathens. The party was in full swing when suddenly, out of nowhere, our protagonist- the masked gunman, appeared to swing moods in a completely different direction. Anxiety was easily introduced in the ballroom with the help of his little shiny pistol. All celebrations occasioned by a broken mould of mediocrity came to a perfect, sweaty standstill.

Vanity is often marked by a stark absence of any sort of passion, which in turn, is often marked by a lack of raucous that usually accompanies human temperaments when subjected to a harsh stripping away of social security. This was exactly the case tonight, women who wanted to shout and scream couldn’t do it because they were too sophisticated for that sort of behavior, men who wanted to run away pretended to be exceptionally calm in the face possible death. They had to, because some of them would still be facing their wives in the morning, and a few others dreaded facing the mirror.

At this moment, the gunman stripped away his shirt to reveal a belt of nicely stacked and possibly home-made sticks of dynamite attached with some colored wires to a digital timer. The whole contraption seemed to lay dormant as it circumnavigated the gunman’s chest.

This was it.

In moments of extreme surprise, even the obvious needs the crutches of reaffirmation to be effectively communicated. Reaffirmation came aptly when a lady yelled out at the top of her lungs “IT’S A BOMB”. Inevitably, chaos ensued. The mob frantically rushed towards every exit facilitated by the building‘s design. It was a decision made by their collective subconscious, the justification was simple: because the gunman has a finite number of bullets in the gun, so let’s just let the game of survival take over the situation for the greater good. Some people might get hurt, others might die, but most will manage to escape the bomb.

Fortunately, denial gets no one nowhere. This was precisely what the gunman had expected. He wasn’t new to this blatant display of terror and neither had he undermined the pitfalls of human psychology to underestimate the underestimation of his intellect by the so called intellectuals in the room.

All exits were perfectly sealed. All modes of communication disabled. This was like a little island of prisoners where the masked gunman was the king out of necessity. So, needless to say, the mob could do little more than stand where they stood and squirm. Which they eventually resorted to, once the anxiety was cooled off by a couple of shots fired in the air causing the cheap distemper on the roof to sprinkle down over the masked gunman’s shoulder. Within seconds, all frantic activity subsided to a few gasping leaks of scented breaths and half-hushed tapings of crocodile skin shoes.

“You have two options”, the gunman started to speak again “the bullet, or the bomb, and if I were you, I’d certainly choose the bomb. It’s much less painful, because it’s much more confusing”.

While their potential assailant waited for people to contemplate the wit in his words, a hopefully brave (or profoundly stupid) voice chimed in “What do you want from us?” For a second, the gunman tried to locate the person who had the temerity to speak at such a grave situation, but then he continued “I have a third option for all of you, one that doesn’t involve death”. One could feel a slight sense of relief stroking gently through their auras. The gunman continued “But then again, we’re all going to die eventually. Unless, that is, we find a way to become immortal. And that, my friends, is what I want you to do.” He paused. Looked at their obviously puzzled faces and said “Reincarnation, I believe, is the only logical extrapolation of the law of conservation of energy which seems to fit so well within our normal purview of the sciences that describe our physical world, that it’s undeniable. So would I, my friends, be a fool to believe that I might be reincarnated as something or someone else after death?”

As the gunman’s tone swayed over the contours of the mob’s attention, it was plainly obvious that his intentions were not so much as to harm the public, but to rid himself of the phantoms of thought that haunted him. Also, he seemed to be less authoritative and more approachable with each word he spoke, perhaps this was all part of the plan, the skepticism still hung raw in the atmosphere.

“What I need from you”, he continued “Is not a way to reincarnate myself after death, but to work with me on the presupposition of the existence of my reincarnated self, and then, devise a trick that would enable seamless communication between any number of consecutive or non-consecutive reincarnations.” After pausing a few seconds to gauge the reaction of the mob, he continued “I’ll give you two more assumptions to work on here: One, that I shall always be reincarnated as a human and two, that my soul will never be hosted inside the body of a mentally challenged person.”

The crowd, utterly perplexed by the futility of the entire endeavor seemed torn apart between confusion, indifference, and perhaps even anger. Seeing this, the gunman introduced the much needed  catalyst for motivation - a deadline. He said “I’ll also allow you thirty minutes to answer this riddle, or this bomb on my chest will turn us all into human lard. However, if any of you is able to satisfy me with a logically reasonable, and by which I mean, “practicable” idea, then I promise to diffuse the bomb and surrender myself to the appropriate authorities. That is all.” He pressed a little button on the side of the timer and it began it’s final digital voyage, merrily ticking towards 00:00.

Silence. 29:34..29:33..29:32

“But that’s crazy! You’re crazy!” Yelled a female in a bright red cocktail skirt.
“Do you think sane people discuss philosophy at gunpoint, mademoiselle?”, his reply was cold as ice, which gave it all the more credibility.

“But I don’t even believe in souls”, a young man in a suit said irritatingly.
“Oh but you do believe in death, don’t you?”, said the gunman as if illustrating a secret matter-of-fact by sticking the pistol to the young man's cheek.

To be continued...


abhishek said...

please...please continue...veru powerful part of the story...nice play with people's psychology...

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