The clock struck seven in the morning, Samantha woke up to the shrill of the alarm. Rubbing her eyes, she sat up straight in bed. Her last memory of falling off the cliff suddenly reignited in her mind. “What a terrible nightmare! But it was so realistic, I could actually feel the wind rubbing against my body and my sore throat after screaming for help. Thank God I woke up.”, she said to herself with a sigh of relief. She came out of her room and went downstairs to the living room. Her stomach was growling for some breakfast. Pouring herself a mug full of coffee, she started calling out, “Halley, Harry come down for breakfast.” Her voice echoed around the quiet house.”Mike, where are you? Where are the kids?”, no one answered. Sam got up and looked around the house, it was empty. The rest of the family members were missing and so were their belongings. Sam was shocked. She opened the refrigerator to grab a bottle of water, there was a post-it note stuck on it. It read,”Hey Sam, Chris here. Wait for me, I’ll come home by seven in the evening.””Who’s Chris? Is this a game? What was this mysterious Chris doing in my house?”, she thought to herself.
Samantha became very restless, she went out to search for her family in the area nearby. Going door to door, she asked where her children were. It proved to be useless and a complete waste of time. The clock was ticking quite fast. She decided to file a missing complaint with the police. Upon reaching the site of the police station in Tempus, Sam stood there dumbfound. Her body froze, there was no police station. A young man walking down the street asked,”Maám, you need some help?” “Oh yes! Where is the police station?” ”What are you talking about? There is no police station. There isn’t one in this entire town.” Sam was more confused than ever, she looked at her watch. It was half past seven now. Sam went home, hoping she could get some help from this Chris guy.
“Welcome Samantha! I want to tell you something important. Perhaps you should sit down for this.” Sam walked into the living room and settled herself down on the sofa.” Yes you must be Chris! Why do I constantly feel like something is missing in this town since I woke up today.”” You were passed out for a week Samantha. You have been outside right? Haven’t you guessed something, Ms Smartypants?”
Whereas in the library, a thought stirred up in Halley’s mind. A bag of Sam’s belongings was sitting in the corner of her room. Halley decided to comb through her journals to see if she had left any message about where she was going. “Harry, I have found a job for us. This will probably tell us something about mom.” Harry joined her and opened the chain of Sam’s sack. Removing Sam’s journal and her camera from the sack,”You know, writers reflect their actions through writing.”, said Harry. “You are right, let’s go through this.” Sam’s journal was full of stories about different folks from different walks of life. It was really so interesting that one could read it like a book for hours. Wonderful colorful photos near the margins of the pages held a ton of stories. However, Halley started reading about Sam’s last expedition. It read,
“The people living here, on the outskirts of Tempus are diverse yet united. This small yet sweet locality consists of folks from different social, cultural and economical backgrounds. But they blend in so well, as if it’s like a family made of love and respect. Conversations with them are the best.
Had a weird encounter with an old lady dressed in black gown tonight. I have no clue what she was saying but it sounded like a warning. She quoted when one door closes another one opens and walked away. I asked her what she was talking about. She didn’t say a word. This experience was so…”
“So mom met this old woman before disappearing and she left the last word incomplete. She would know something. Let’s go Harry, let’s find out some answers.”, Halley said breathlessly. Harry accompanied Halley, as she ran downstairs to the garage, pulled out a swift red scooter and rode away. Hence a frantic search began. They drove everywhere like a duo of detectives, asking questions to the local people. A few folks had seen the old lady in the black gown quite recently. Halley’s hopes started rising. By the end of the day, they reached the locality on the outskirts of Tempus, where Sam was last seen. Harry asked an old man,” Sir, have you seen this old woman in black?””Oh yes my dear boy! That’s Kekat, she’s not feeling well kiddo, do you need anything?” Halley interrupted saying,”Hello sir. I’m Halley and this is my brother. You must have heard about my mom. Her name is Samantha and she went missing almost a month ago. We were just going through her journal, combing through her travelogues. The last entry was about Kekat. She was the last one who talked to our mom. If you don’t mind, could you please take us where she is? The old man hesitated,”She’s really unwell my child. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”” Please! This wouldn’t take long, we just have a couple of questions.”, begged Halley. After looking at her desperate face with puppy eyes, the old man guided them through an alley. Halley was astonished to see numerous people sharing small houses and living so happily together. Within a few minutes, they reached a small, crude shanty where Kekat lived. The siblings stood there in awe.
It was an atrocious scene to watch. Old Kekat laid still on the bed, her son was stroking her hand. She looked very pale. Halley resisted the urge to ask her questions about Sam. Kekat looked at them with her dark black eyes, she said “I know who you two are. You must be Samantha’s children.” Halley paused for a second. She said, “ How do you know about us? We know you because our mom mentioned you in her travelogue.” “ I...I know m..many things..s my dear..r.”, Kekat replied with a nervous stutter. “ Do you know where our mom is? Please tell us. Did she say anything about where she was going?”, Harry asked impatiently. Kekat said, “ Samantha herself had no idea. Going away from you wasn’t her plan. She didn’t have a choice, my children. Believe in destiny.” “What are you talking about? Just tell us where she is and we will leave.”, questioned Halley. Kekat’s breathing was more laboured than ever, she said, “ I’m happy to see you two are safe. You will understand how the universe works somed....”
Author ~ Pranoti Abhyankar