Quick – Finale – Chapter 9

Sometimes it seems you live a dream in its entirety.

The cipher the man gave was insolvable. I don’t even remember what it was, but it was well beyond my limits. I was no codebreaker, and had no course on cryptography when I was at the university. I tried to explain this to them, but they wouldn’t understand. Clearly, they had chosen the wrong person. Or probably they were mistaken. I have no clue, but I couldn’t give them what they wanted.

Ten days drew to a close. I had to pack my bags and leave. Just as I was about to check out of the hotel, I got another call.

I didn’t pick it up.

Two minutes later, the phone rang again. It kept ringing and I kept ignoring the call. They had all found out the truth.

Juliett Macber, just a name, that I had forged for her. She never knew that. She couldn’t. She had never seen her boss, only talked to him on a computer screen. The whole concept, built, tested by the same person who they were constantly trying to put on at the other end. But only I was, on both ends. I picked up the call.

“Hallo?”

“Sir, our client couldn’t solve the code. He says he isn’t used to all this. What should we do?”

I smiled. Laughed to myself a little bit. Probably they’d never know why I plotted this entire scheme, why I did what I did, and what consequences this would have. It would but forever remain a mystery to them, for they would never be able to talk to their boss anymore, nor to the client, both one and the same. All I needed to do was press a few buttons. Only a few buttons. They would all die. All of them. Terrorists. Trying to cheat the common man. They didn’t know the power that the regular citizen had. Yet they would feel it, now.

I pressed the buttons. Somewhere in the other corner of a city, a room exploded. A thousand Juliett Macbers died. And with them the story. That I did quickly enough.

Quick – Chapter 8

A week later.

My beard had grown from a stubble to one which made me look like a beggar. I had been asked not to shave, and the reason that I could only comprehend was they were stupid. Turned out they weren’t.

A guy turned into my room. Name Charlie. Okay, I had got a second chance at figuring out what exactly this was about. Though I was almost sure nothing would turn up, just like always.

“Hallo,” said he.

“Hallo.” He looked strange; standing tall, almost one and a half my height, and had only one hand. His left eye was bruised, and his beard unshaven for almost half a year. In his only hand, he had a ring on each finger, thick rings, made of steel. He looked strong too.

“Komm, will mein Manager, Sie kennenzulernen.”

A week had rendered me useful in but one way, I now knew bits and pieces of their language. “in Ordnung,” I said.

The manager was strict, and a man who liked to speak to the point. “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“Nein! Only little bit.”

“Then in English we must talk. Little bit I know English. We make comfort in that. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Cipher, you know? There is one. No one solves. Everyone foolish. I hear you good. Do it, and be free.”

“Okay.” So finally they give out why they keep me. Hah.

Quick – Chapter 7

She was there, turned into a fairy, flying about in the room. I could sniff blood around, and taste it on my lips as well, a salty taste; and then I woke up.

“Too much whisky, eh?”

“No, not much. That was only a quarter.”

“Yeah, and you’ve slept for four hours, on my bed, alone.”

“What?”

“Yeah. I’ve got a message from the headquarters. You are to be killed.”

“What?”

“Can’t you hear me, boy?”

“I can.”

“Good then. But I am not gonna kill you, so soon at least. Tell me what you know of this business.”

“What?”

“Tell me what you know.”

“Nothing. I thought you were to break it to me.”

“Yeah. Too late though.”

“You know I can’t understand a penny of what you speak right now.”

“You’ve got a new life boy. A new name, a new identity.”

“What?”

“Stay here, and you will know soon. Bye.”

“Bye.”

Quick – Chapter 6

“Hey, hey, are you even listening?” she said.

Ah, snap. So she weren’t dead. It was a pleasant dream, though.

“Yes, I wanted to hear the long story.”

“Yes, and I already told half of it before I realized you were in some different world.”

“I wasn’t,” I said, trying to mock her.

“Yes you were. Okay so why don’t you tell me what I said?”

Silence.

“Okay, fine, I wasn’t listening. Got caught up with some work in my mind. Care to tell me again?”

“Yeah, and I won’t.”

“Fine.”

“Fine. But listen now. We will be reaching my room in two minutes. Then we can talk, and I will brief you on whatever you wish to know.”

“Two questions.”

“Fine. Throw them?”

“Got any wine upstairs?”

“Yeah.”

“And a comfortable bed?”

She smiled. “Yeah.”

We got off and walked into the building.

Quick – Chapter 5

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“Why the hell are you staring at me?”

“I am not staring at you.”

“Yes, you are.”

Silence.

“What about her?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Should I care?”

“I really think you should. Couldn’t you pretend this to be more of an accident?”

“I did. I am drunk. Isn’t that sufficient?”

“Do you think it is?”

Silence.

“What next?” she said.

“Nothing. We wait. Thanks to your foolishness, we’re done with one. Now we will have another.”

“You sure of that?”

“Oh yes. I have a feeling there are another thousand Juliett Macber’s in this deal.”

“So killing her was a waste of time?”

“No, just hope the next one who they send tell me more about what we are in. And maybe they’d open up a bit more this time. I don’t know. You had to injure her so that we could get things out. You freaking killed her.”

“We? You are into something. I am not. They don’t know me.”

“You sure?”

Silence.

“Anyways, you ought to leave now. It’s best that they think I am working alone,” I said.

“Yeah probably. I fear the consequences won’t be good though.”

“Yeah we will see that. They wouldn’t be good anyways.”

“Cool.”

“Yeah, bye.”

Quick – Chapter 4

As I sat in the car, the phone buzzed again.

“A futile attempt, Sir,” said she.

“What?” I turned around to see anyone following me. No. No one on the street. “Are you following me? What do you want?”

“Don’t talk foolishly. There’s a GPS in the car. We don’t need our eyes fixed on you, do we? Did you enter the house?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Oh good. I should then let you know that we have your fingerprints on a cup as well as the key now, which places you at the scene without any doubt, in case something happens there. So please refrain from interrupting our plans with yours.”

“Who are you? What can happen at the house?”

“See you at golf today, Sir.” She hung up.

“Where are we going?”

“To Hotel Ganymede, Sir.”

“What?”

“Hotel Ganymede, Sir. I have been asked to drop you there.”

“Okay.” I wanted to know how in heaven’s sake golf was even remotely related to it, but I kept quiet. It seemed the right thing to do.

I sat back in the car, reading the local news on the tablet. The phone call was on my mind. I felt it was the same voice that had called earlier that morning, but the number was different both times. My thoughts shifted to the hotel. Ganymede. Named after the biggest satellite in the solar system. The satellite was discovered by Galileo in the 1600s, or so I had read. I imagined the hotel to be quite big and fancy, given it was named after the largest satellite of the largest planet. Fifteen minutes later, the car stopped. “Hotel Ganymede, Sir.”

I came out. By far, this had been the biggest of all disappointments. Ganymede looked more of a place where a guy would spend the night when he had an empty wallet. It was a one-storeyed apartment, with the entrance opening bang on to the reception. The reception had a desk, and there was one corridor ahead. The only corridor in the hotel. It had six rooms, three on each side, with the numbers painted in white on the doors.

“Mr…,” I looked at him.

“Zimmer Nummer fünf.”

“English?” He shook his head to a negative, then raised his hand and showed five fingers. I presumed he wanted me to go to room number five.

I knocked. The door opened, and there she was, again. So, I had been looking for her unaware of the fact that I was going to meet her. Okay.

“Hi, I’m Juliet,” she said, handing over her card.

I took the card and glanced over it. Juliett Macber. So Juliett had a double t.

“Hello, Juliett.”

“I know you really need some answers, don’t you? We have five minutes before we leave. So I think we have time enough for may be, one question?”

There was only one question in my mind right now. And probably if her answer matched what I was thinking, many more questions would be solved. “Why do you spell Juliett with a double t?”

She laughed. “Give it a guess?”

“It isn’t possible that you do so for French speakers, who may otherwise treat a single final t as silent, is it?”

“Well, for a starter, you seem quite intelligent,” she said with a smile.

And instantly, I realised what the whole situation was about. Everything was now clearer. It now seemed every bit had its own explanation. My coming from India, playing golf at Ganymede, and meeting Juliett. I had been skipping the old treasure for a long time. It was time I got back to it again.

“Why am I here? What are we doing?” I asked.

“Alright, time to leave,” she said.”Where are we headed to?”

“My apartment.”

“The real one?”

She smiled as we got back into the car.

“Talk to me,” I said. “What am I doing here? What’s the issue?”

“You want the long story or the short?”

“The short, for now.”

“We have a riddle to solve.”

“Okay, and?”

“That’s the short one.”

“No, I want to know the long story then.”

“Haha. Okay.”

“Tell me?”

“Yes, I am thinking where to start from. Well, to say, our decoders have been trying to solve it for a long time. They believe that the answer will lead to — Oh my God!”

A car from the opposite direction was speeding up towards us. A girl was driving it. Our chauffeur pressed the brakes harder than ever. No use. Bang!

The chauffeur felt it was his responsibility to inform the girl’s parents about her death. Meanwhile she kept staring at me, dumbfounded.

Quick – Chapter 3

There were a hundred things that I could not comprehend right now. The most important was what to do next. For clearly, there were at least two things that had engulfed my mind so much that I could not think of anything else. One was that house. How could one possibly live in such a small house? And I still felt something important was missing from that house. I could not make out what, but something wasn’t there, it felt incomplete. Second, why did I have to say, “I am from India too”? I was from India okay, but she kind of didn’t look much of an Indian. What was I missing out on? The week had only started and I was already full of questions. I had to stay here for another ten days. Just ten days. Keep calm and you can return home happily after ten days. But what was missing in that house? The thought kept coming back. The phone buzzed off.

“Hello?”

“Hi,” said a voice on the other side. “Sir, are you from India?”

“Yes,” I said, unsure of what else I could say.

“Cool, Sir. Your cab is waiting in front of your building. You have a golf match in an hour.”

“What? But I..”

She hung up.

In all my life, I had seen only one golf match, let alone play one. What was going on? I had an eerie feeling something was not going right. I needed to talk. I needed to see her. I needed to know what was happening. Dressing up took another ten minutes and I was downstairs.

“Guten morgen”, said the chauffeur.

I responded with the only four words I knew in their language, and which I had been using for the whole of yesterday. “Ich verstehe nicht Deutsch”, I said. I had to go to her house before we went to play golf, or whatever that meant. I asked the chauffeur if he knew English.

“Little bit.”

“Okay, so we’ll first go to…”, I said, handing him the address which I had written down on a piece of paper.

“Okay.”

Once I reached, I sprang down and paced up to her house. It was locked. I asked the neighbor whether he had an idea when she would return.

“No Sir. To the best of my knowledge, no one stays in this house.”

Rubbish. I thought I should write a note and slide it through under the door. She would probably read it and respond.”Hello, I came to your house today. It was locked. Your phone isn’t reachable either. Please let me know when you would be here.” I was about to slide it through under the door, when I suddenly realised how futile it was going to be. The keys had been slid through already, and it was intentional. She wanted me to open the door. I took the key, a single one, no bunch, no fancy. Once I was inside the room I looked through the entire house again. I had to comprehend what it was that was missing.

After a few minutes, things started becoming a bit more distinct. There was indeed something missing. There was no cupboard. No place to keep her clothes. And there were no clothes anywhere else yesterday. The neighbor was correct. No one stayed in this house. I locked the door, slid the key under it, and left.