CHAPTER 1 – The Team
“Unexplained death cases are on the rise,” stated Kajol, the news anchor of Bulletin24x7, in a calm tone. Then, suddenly, her eyebrows straightened, her mouth opened widely as she paused, unable to speak another word.
Reporter Kajol’s eyes were moving left to right, searching for something, when we observed her trembling right hand move towards a glass of water. Fear was written all over her face as she hastily drank the water, post which she continued saying, “The V…v… victims were p…pet…petrified to death!!”
“Whoa, Petrified!!” I exclaimed, moving back nearly inside the red velvet sofa, trying to make myself comfortable. “It sounds right out of a Harry Potter Novel,” I added, turning my head to the right to look at my four colleagues.
“There have been rumors of a GHOST!!” mentioned Urshita, the newest addition to our team. In the past few months, she had proved to be one of the quickest to share her opinions without hesitation.
“In all our experience, we have never come across something like this before,” I stated, getting up and walking towards the mini flat-screen TV to get a closer look at the image reflecting next to the presenter.
Till now, Zariyah was silently drinking a cup of steaming black tea, closely observing the ongoing discussion. Then, finally, the leader of our pack intervened to say, “The anchor herself got petrified just looking at the gory image of the victim’s body.”
The four of us nodded in agreement as Zariyah continued, “We need to be prepared; we could get called into action soon,” after which she got up and walked towards her cabin situated at one end of our lair.
Our den was situated on the outskirts of Mumbai, a property surrounded by mangroves and pine trees. Garden snakes often visited us, especially during the monsoon season. Faneesh, the fourth member of our group, was an expert at handling serpents. He was born in Chennai but had spent a lot of time in the jungles of Anamalai, which made him adept at surviving in extreme conditions. Above all, the word FEAR did not exist in his dictionary.
“Hey Shar, we are out of Caaffee, man!!” he stated, looking at me holding an empty kettle in his right hand.
“Don’t look at me, man; I prefer coconut water,” I replied with a smile. Additionally, I controlled myself not to correct Faneesh’s unique dialect of pronouncing Coffee. The last time I did that, I ended up in a soup as I spent nearly half my day training him to say “Automation” instead of “Oodomation.” Believe me; it was a laugh riot, and above all, Faneesh was an absolute sport.
Kajol had just finished her trembling presentation when our lair was filled with echoes of Idhant’s shouting something.
Urshita fixed her spectacles and questioned Idhant, “Huh!! Now what does that mean?”
Idhant smiled as he responded, “It’s a Japanese proverb which means, What goes around comes around!!”
“Couldn’t you have just said that? You love bringing a Japanese angle in every aspect, don’t you?”
“I can’t help it!!” he stated, looking at the antique grandfather clock, which gave us a broad smile.
Idhant was unique in every manner; he had lived in Japan for many years, where he was trained in the art of jujutsu. In addition, he pursued a degree in Parapsychology, a branch of education focused on studying paranormal activities.
“Jak…” As Idhant was about to say something else in Japanese, the room was filled with a familiar sound.
The ringing sound was coming from our landline. A couple of rings had just passed when we saw Zariyah dashing out of her cabin. In parallel, the remaining four of us started to march toward the only table in our den.
Zariyah looked at our black conference phone and confidently mentioned, “The ringing sound is different than normal; I think it’s a call from outside!!”
“Shar,” she said, looking at me as I was closest to the device. “Put it on speaker,” she added, pointing towards the yellow speaker button on the phone.
“H… H.. Hello!! Is… is… is this the office of the Sh.. Sh.. Shadow Breakers?” came a trembling female voice from the other side of the device.
“Yes, Shadow breakers here,” I replied calmly, “How may I help you?” I inquired.
“W.. We need your h… h… help.”
There was an eerie laughing sound coming from the background as I asked, “Where are you located, ma’am?”
“Mansion of Truth!!”
“Mansion of Truth!!”
“Help, Help, Help”
We all looked at each other as we received our first case of the night.
Zariyah did not like wasting time as she stated, “Alright, folks, time to get into action,” while clapping her hands.
We walked out of the room, locked the door, and sat in our custom-designed purple-colored Van.
“By the way, Idhant, what were you trying to say before the call came?” Urshita asked, looking towards her right, seated in the passenger seat behind Zariyah, who was now driving at the speed of knots.
“Jakuniku kyōshoku,” replied Idhant.
“Huh!! English buddy, English!!” stated Urshita with a look of disdain. Idhant had an expressionless face when he responded, “Survival of the fittest!!” as we ventured towards our location, “The Mansion of Truth,” guided by our able friend ‘Google Maps.’
————————————– * * * ————————————————–
If you would like to read more about The Shadow Breakers, do leave a comment.