So, Mi, it is fiction for you today. The serial sort we often play at home when the power goes out. Chinese Whispers, you know, that fun game where one person whispers a message to another, passing through a series of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. We are doing just that except through stories on our blog with nine participants. Blogger 1 began the story on August 1 and every alternate day, the story is updated by the blogger scheduled for that date. The story will conclude with Blogger no. 9. I am at no.7.

Catch up with the Story So Far:

Chapter 1: Like you know me better than I know myself By Richa
Chapter 2: The Dream I Dream… By Shilpa
Chapter 3: The plan unfolds By Pixie
Chapter 4: The Beginning By Pheno Menon
Chapter 5: First stroke of luck By Santulan
Chapter 6: Shishir’s Mind by Ayush

Now, onward….

Chapter 7: The plot thickens (you are here)

Oblivious to the evil smile playing on Chauhan’s face and the pitying gaze that followed her, Ankitha walked out in a daze, trying to process what he had just told her. She was shaken. She shut the door quietly behind her and decided to take the stairs rather than the elevator to give herself time to think.  As she stepped on the staircase, she missed seeing Rohan stride out of the elevator, walk across to the door she had just shut and let himself in.

* * *

Chauhan was gazing at the monitor in front of him, with a faraway look in his eyes, mulling over the events of the past few days. Who knew life would get so complicated?. He had to do something soon, or it would all blow out of proportions. Ankitha bothered him. He heard the quiet click of the door and turned to see Rohan make for the chair Ankitha had just vacated. It was time they had a talk.

* * *

Your Shishir”. “Master of disguise”. “Very special”.”Kruson legend“.  Shishir, masterminding a story? Ankitha shook her head to disperse the word jumble building up in her brain. Come to think of it, it was wholly plausible. The Shishir of old was capable of out-maneuvering the craftiest opponent.  But where did the Shishir with the dark chocolate and stammering fit in? She had to crack this somehow and there was only one way to find out.

Resolutely, she set off to their usual meeting place where he would be waiting for her, if she was to believe Chauhan. At this point, she really had no choice but to take his word for it. She hailed a taxi.

Back at the cafe, she looked around to see if she could spot him. Seeing him at their usual table, she smiled to herself as she approached him.  She froze when she saw him munching on a bar of the dark chocolate she had found in his bag. She was surprised when he looked up at her and smiled, looking almost like the Shishir she knew and loved. As she hesitantly took the chair opposite him, his smile turned into a grin and he winked at her. Confused, she looked at him, trying to come to terms with this transformation.

“What are you thinking, Ankitha?”

Not a hint of a stammer. How? “Shishir….a little while ago…you….”

“Oh that! Gotcha, didn’t I? If I can fool you, I can fool anyone.”

“You mean all that was an act? A disguise?” Relief flooded over her.

“So what did that idiot Chauhan tell you? That I was manipulating everyone? That all of you are a figment of my imagination? That I was playing with my dreams?”

The look on Ankitha’s face was enough to make him guffaw.

“Oh Ankitha! For someone so smart, you can be so gullible.  Come on! I’ve got something to show you.”

On the way, Ankitha filled him in on what she had been up to and told him about how she had been tailing Rohan. She said, “Shishir, don’t worry about a thing. We’ll solve this case – for that’s all it is. Just like old times!”

“Just like old times!” echoed Shishir.

They reached his flat. While Ankitha was happy with the way things were turning out, she still had a lot of unanswered questions in her head. Like a jigsaw puzzle, there were so many pieces that did not make sense. What about Sumana?. She had seen Rohan shoot her, hadn’t she? Was that staged, too?

Shishir’s voice shook her out of her reverie and she forced herself to concentrate on what he was saying. “Hey Ankitha, would you prefer tea or a cold drink?”

An alarm went off in Ankitha’s mind. Shishir knew she never touched tea and avoided anything cold. He had teased her about this on several occasions. A strange sense of foreboding filled her.  She needed a moment alone, to think clearly. She excused herself to go to the wash room.

Relieved she had gone, albeit for a few minutes, Shishir quickly took stock of the situation. Had he convinced her yet again? He hoped so.

There was no way he could tell her about his recurring dreams, nay, nightmares.

How could he tell her about how Chauhan messed with his head, controlled him? And that Sumana! Rohan had shot her in cold blood and nailed it on him, Shishir. How was he going to deal with that? He knew Ankitha had been tailing Rohan and had some evidence. Still….

Ankitha appeared, breaking his train of thought. She looked determined. He knew that look.  But what happened next took him completely by surprise.  As if in slow motion, he sensed her movement and found himself staring into the muzzle of the unwavering Glock in Ankitha’s hand.

The Plot Thickens Vidya Sury

* * *

Bhavya at Ishithaa:  will take the story forward with Chapter 8. Go on! You know you want to know what happened next!