Chapter 8 by Mira Shah
Hither and thither it all lay, Adi's growing apprehension, Nadia's tribulation, Rob's simplicity and, a stranger's call.
Tara's thoughts were in complete disarray at this point. The pang had subsided but left her with doubt. Doubt in herself, to why this transpired and why now? Why? She had invited that question many times with the choices she made in her life along with her inability to understand her friend's deeply rooted predicaments. It seemed like she had it all, yet she had none of it.
Through Budlyt-19, she had hoped for longevity in her solitude, away from those who fought for rights and sought the truth. Questions that angered her as to why it all pointed to everything and nothing at the same time. Through the thinly drawn veils of Finsta, she stayed true as a nihilist unbeknownst to anyone.
"If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning and if we can affirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has any importance" – Camus' words tugged at her heart, as she looked at the nightscape drowsily through the cloudy glass of the phone box.
A knock on the phone box, she turned to find Adi standing tall with a syringe in his hand, knocking still, smiling meekly. She was jolted awake by a security guard noisily knocking his baton against a residential gate across the street as dawn was starting to break. Used to waking up to the bustle of noise, the smell of freshly ground coffee, and to those that strode off to work with the promise of a new tomorrow, this new norm of silence was deafening.
Despite her bleak outlook on life, she found a purpose to finally do right, a selfish motive perhaps. Her thoughts unclouded, she knew what she had to do next. Whisking off the dust, she ran and looked around her astonished that she didn't get snagged by the drones. How luck had been bereft with the unfortunate yet convenient to those deemed unworthy.
Rob woke up disoriented to the sound of his phone. It was 6:55 am, a bit too early from his usual, he checked his phone to see if either Nadia or Tara had called before trying to go back to sleep. It was a bit strange that he hadn't heard from Tara, she's always online, he thought. A gentle chime cut through his thoughts. It wasn't his phone. The doorbell was ringing. Rob hesitantly dragged himself out of bed, tripping on the ashtray that powdered his carpet grey. As Rob slowly unlocked the door, Tara barged in and walked uninterruptedly towards the jug of water.
"Those 10 miss calls from last night isn't a beacon call to show up unannounced at my house," said Rob. Tara glared at him, trying to catch her breath after chugging the water dry. "I need your help," Tara said.
"It's an urgent Finsta photoshoot you want my help with, isn't it?"
"Shut up, Rob! This is serious," she said. She sighed, wondering if she made the right decision to seek help from this ex-jock who dissipates his time amusing himself by getting inebriated.
"Okay, this is going to sound unbelievable, so I need you to take a minute to process this before you laugh your head off."
She told him word for word what had happened in the past 12 hours, anticipating peels of laughter.
"Oh, and he said to meet him in Byde Park in 15 minutes as a matter of fact. I know this sounds crazy but...," Rob gave her a long hard look before grabbing her hand and walking urgently towards the door. "There's no time. Let's discuss the plan on the way," he said.
Before Tara could get another word out, Rob interrupted as if he'd read her mind, "It isn't that hard to believe. I've known Adi for a while now and trust me there is something sinister about that perfect boy image."
"Okay then, I'll get right to it." said Tara, "I will be the one to communicate with the stranger and in no way are you to interrupt unless I've been compromised."
"So basically, you want me to be the hitman?"
"No, you goon! I'm not sure how he would react if he knew there were two of us since he only called me. Besides, we still don't know his motive behind all this. We need to be one step ahead of him," said Tara, "and I need your help watching out for the drones."
The conversation dampened when one thought crept into their minds. A real danger lied ahead of them, paranoia from the aftermath was certain. The past, present, and future interconnected and time slowly started to wear her down with despair. Running in this readied state, thought Tara, nothing is more vexing than knowing there could be no tomorrow.
A little further ahead, they could see the silhouette of a man sitting on the park bench. Their fire red hair appeared to burn in the sun. As expected, the park was empty and filled with white noise from the fauna hidden amidst the shades of green.
Rob gestured Tara to go ahead and hid behind a tree. Tara could feel a lump in her throat as she daintily walked towards the stranger. Right then, Rob received a message notification. Tara turned around immediately, signaling Rob to turn off his phone. Rob's eyes widened as he read Adi's message.
Fear seized his bloodshot eyes as he looked up at Tara and dryly mouthed the words, "Run!"