CHAPTER TWO: SATRA

“Hang on, Sarthak!” I yelled as I was forced to save my buddy from falling off the cliff. It was a coincidence that Sarthak could still breathe and was in good mental state after what he had been through. The bullet had narrowly missed the heart as it made his cleavage the unintended target.

The masked man was desperate to land the bullet into my head thereby leaving any traces of eyewitnesses. Or maybe, he knew somewhere in his heart that I had known his deep secret and could instantly wipe out the fame that he had garnered in the underground world. Maybe, the anonymity that he made his power was, he hypothesized, a suicide weapon if words came out about his illustrious academic career turned mafia business.
“Daniel, I am sorry that, ahem ahem, I couldn’t assist you in rescuing your lover,” Sarthak coughed with intermittent pauses in between,”but, I have some information that will help you in your mission.”
“Sarthak, don’t talk! Just wait for a moment. Maybe I can climb up the cliff and spot a stranger to rescue us.” I was in no mood to listen to the advice that Sarthak was describing. How could I? I had known him for the past twenty years. 
“Oie, oie, there is no reason to cry. Once we are born, we all ought to die. I had never thought that he would return as a serial killer. I have little time left here. So, listen carefully. During my post graduate years, I had engineered a zoned-out machine that can interconnect the reality with zoned-out universe that you experience. The government confiscated the machine and kept it in the laboratory located at Tadapani, Kaski. However, only the Rudra Bros are capable of infiltrating such a state of the art lab,” Sarthak hadn’t known that his time was ending up.
“Why are you so relaxed at this moment, Sarthak? I will never erase you from my mind,” I hadn’t realized that tears were already flowing from my eyes.
“I guess this is the end. Good bye, Dan.”
Sarthak had let go off my foot. I was numb as I watched him fly in the air.
“Saaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrttttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk……..,” my words echoed across the mountainous terrains until I did not see any trace of him. 
***
Seventy-two hours earlier…
Sarthak as featured on the national magazine “Zoned-Out” Issue:4
“Welcome to my lab, Daniel.” Sarthak introduced me to his recently postulated theory about the possible inception of implanting ideas in the zoned-out universe. 
“Since when had you known about my abilities?”
“Ever since I stepped my foot in Budhanilkantha twenty three years ago,” Sarthak said.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps coming from another room. The room was pitch dark and I couldn’t see anything. The air suddenly became dense and noises were beginning to cancel out. I never felt such an intense atmosphere in my life. 
“What’s happening, Sarthak?” I questioned my friend in the sudden change of the situation. 
“I am in dilemma. It’s strange that my infrared security camera did not pick him up. There’s something going on here.” Sarthak’s breath immediately grew dense.
Across the hallway, I saw a figure that I sensed I had met him somewhere in my life. As he neared, the footsteps grew more strong and slowly the figure started to take shape. He sat in the chair next to us. With a rigid stare, he called out my name. 
 With a rigid stare, he called out my name. 
“How’s life going on, Daniel? Perhaps you have forgotten me, but I have not. Not ever since you mocked at my own zoned-out fantasies!” the masked man said as if he knew me pretty well.
“Sarthak, who is he?” I asked.
“Try to remember, Daniel.”
As I started to inspect the masked figure, I knew who he was. 
“Sunil??” I mumbled.
“Is it that I didn’t hear properly or are you making a fun of my old name? Sunil is no more here. I am SATRA…RAA..AAAA. Haaaaaahaaah ahhaa haa ha”
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