The Black Curtain chapter XXVII

“Have you seen the letter? Marco asked me.

“I am seeing it for the past three hours.” Reasha replied.

“Great, what do you know?” He was smoking again.

“This is an eight page story.

First page is written to you.

Next two pages is written to me.

Fourth page onwards is the poetry stretching to the eighth page.

I have read my part thrice. I haven’t reached the poetry in depth frankly.”

“Great. But what do you see?”

“Ammm….nine names, nine names of countries, with cities. A para each for each place.”

“Great.”

Marco left me alone. I sipped my cold coffee which Martin brought me.

Martin and Rocky were given a nice room and they planned to sleep the whole day.

“My mobile is on. Anytime you need us, let me know. There is not much you can do with captivity which does not punish you.” He whispered into my ears before leaving.

*************. *******************. *******************

“Why don’t you read it again? To be very honest I don’t have much time.” Marco exhaled a ring of smoke.

“Who is the Boss if not you? After a smooth ride, a detour to show her a creation, she expected least of all an answer which portrays Marco as a victim.

“Many bosses. This is far more complicated than you think. I am sorry I had to drag you into this, I had no other choice. The day you found me, from then I have only six months. My daughter is with them. She works in a facility which is owned by these people and she does not know that. If I fail she would not be found again.”

“What?” Reasha did not know what to think. It seemed again a total upsurge.

“Trust me. I can only talk to you aloud in this room. But on the outside I do not know who is who?” Marco was smoking another cigarette, he was done with the first.

“How do you know this facility is safe?” I looked around, a small room with a coffee vending machine, a table full of cookies and three chairs and a single table, all white, flaming white. Reasha sat on one, Marco sat on the other chair and one chair was left blank.

“Xi and her guy, are the only one who are aware of it’s presence. It is actually a toppled position and people store garbage below it. They think the terrace was extended to the roof for ease.” He threw the ash on the floor, he looked tensed. No longer laughing, no longer forming poetry, no longer the carefree man, but a more somber, detached individual.

The Black Curtain chapter XXVI

Marco folded the yellow paper before presenting it to me on a tray made of very fine porcelain I could see.

“Here.” He looked at it like it was a cooked delicacy to be savoured immensely.

There was total absence of everything called life in that moment of rush, rush of adrenaline to the brain, to the nape of my neck. Everything was on fire like I was right in front of my love and not able to meet him.

“Do you know the cost?” He lowered his eyes bringing it close to me.

“Cost? What cost?” I screwed my eyes.

“The tray you are eyeing? Of course, you are not looking at the paper. It holds significance yet it’s not glitterati.”

“Really?”

“I saw your eyes. You cannot feign them.” He admitted.

“It is?” I searched his eyes for more.

“It’s four million dollars. It’s Chinese. It was made during the Ming dynasty and housed the royal palace for long. Then, during Crusade IV it was stolen from the Shaolin temple and kept in the possession of a Khalif Abdul Rashid bin Kasem, a little known but active participant of the Crusade IV. He was killed and his camp was ravaged by some savages. They looted this priceless possession and delivered it back to the Chinese. They had laid this trap for this particular piece which stands right in front of you. It was with the ottoman emperors for some two hundred years in between this period. It was taken back to the Shaolin temple. It was stolen again and delivered it to me via a lot of people over a period of two hundred years.”

“Really? Amazing, it’s obvious it is with you.” I knew he had done nothing with the money. Having such a possession did not seem startling, in fact what seemed startling was the huge hangar which had five times more space than it had originally seemed from the outside.

I opened the letter, but then few words were blur….blur with my sweat, my fear, my loss.

The Black Curtain chapter XXV

“Hey there! How does it work?” I was astounded by it’s mammoth size.

At least a million gym sized lockers packed around a space equal to the court in which you could play long tennis, stuffed one above the other, all brown with a blotch.

“You shall see.” Xi nodded.

She hit an old fashioned lever and the whole system came alive, drumbling, rumbling, as though an earthquake had hit it. The ground on which I stood shook due to the percussions.

I took a step back as it seemed like it was a violent process.

Every inch of it was shaking and quacking.

Then, slowly they all moved in rows and she hit a number on a key pad punching it fast.

“…………..492……….”

They moved more, jarred, creaked, crunched, wobbled and danced above all, till I saw a locker sliding past all at lighting speed and landing straight in the empty box which sat in front of Xi, the only infilled box in the line.

Marco waited on a stool, Xi kept cracking her fingers.

I stood near the door.

But as soon as the box was near, Xi looked back and smiled at me, beckoning me to follow her. Marco stood up, for he needed no invitation.

“The key?” Xi laid her hand out, her left one to Marco.

It was the seventh day today and we were almost fifteen days away from the places we called home.

Rocky was a Scandinavian, Martin was Irish.

I was an Afro American, born and brought up till the age of eight in Brazil and moved to United States straying away to a home which adopted me for twenty years till the lady became bald and gave away, the daughter, Milawi was broke and ran her debts on my help mostly. My mother was an Indian on her father’s side and a Mexican on her mother’s side.

I did not know what it would lead me into, but I knew it would lead me to something and not nothing even if it was my release from the life and transfer to my death or shift from one door to the next.

“What is this thing?”

I craned my neck to shout out, since the gyrations from the machine were still dying.

A gift.” Marco wheezed curling his nose.

“Gift from whom?”

“The Magi people.” Marco was wiping his moustache with a tissue, as his beard hung loose.

“Ahh! Harry Potter.” I laughed at the old man.

“Not HP please, the real people of Magi. But that’s a story I save. You can hear it only when you go through all this parts of it,” Marco gave her a torch like object, after plucking into his pocket.

“From the shallows of time,

Comes darkness, pain, comes the dime.

From the depths of time,

Comes the light, gifts, the peaceful chime.”

Marco was incorrigible,……”Aghhhh!”

The Black Curtain chapter XXIV

“So, will you go around? Or shall, I bring it to you?” Marco was still the tough guy. He had not changed much from the percussions that life had juggled him with, Marco was still strong.

“I can come around.” I had felt perhaps a slight guilt hitting an old man, even though practically I did not see him making an effort to help me survive. However, I did drop in the place from where my life took off, I mustn’t forget that part.

“You want us to come?” Xi seemed very attached to the man.

“Yeah Xi, please come, it’s time, I guess. Lest she blows up again.” Marco rubbed his forehead and his tired eyes seemed to have no happiness. All of a sudden, things changed. He was laughing and now he was not. The words I heard in the end did not comfort me, I could tell that well.”

“Okay. Let’s move then.” Xi led the way. Lawrence, Martin and Rocky stayed back. I could see Rocky was already giving side glances to the dining facility board which hung loose pointing to the closed door.

“Hey, Marco. This way.” Xi led the way.

The facility where we stood once few seconds back was far from us.

It was a huge blank room. Nothing could be seen, except the white washed walls, the ceiling which was barely visible amidst thick and thin pipes which carried almost all the colours present in the colouring boards we had in our fine arts classes. Neon blue, neon pink, neon led the way. The colours made it a colourful zig zag. If you could only know how to look through these pipes, you might reach the roof way above those pipes.

The facility was consisting of two armed guards, there was a retina scan, a hand print and a laser device to wipe you out. The whole place had lasers or laser impact, each was laser toned or laser tuned.

This whole facility was built with tin being the main ingredient, asbestos also and probably what not.

Marco walked behind me and Xi was ahead of me. After a huge long, broad corridor which was monitored with three stations and the face was washed with a dab, in the next it was wiped with a brush and in the third it was a little amount of skin pinched in the neck and the jaws. The pinching was painless for Xi, who seemed quite used to it, but for Marco the ouch sounds kept beeping until he reached the end of the corridor.

“You don’t have a walking measurement rod like we usually see in Mission Impossibles?” I taunted.

“Sort of, off beat and not full proof.” Marco winked still wincing in pain.

Xi had vanished behind the door, we opened it. It was nice to see an ordinary door walking in motion sensors and after crossing almost a dozen hefty men in each stop, who were also monitored the same way, once they left and entered the facility.

They also had to undergo some additional checks which included some specific blood counts which were done on days they had their duties. No one left the facility ever. They had a market and a whole world within.

Their friends, families and children received best of care.

“How much money did you route?” It was beyond my imagination.

“Right here.” Xi’s voice clearly swam through the emptiness. It was a small room with too many lockers that reached almost close to the roof.

“Woooowww!” I looked up, “Do you go up?” I pointed upwards.

“No, absolutely not. They come down.” Xi lifted her nose and face up, making it quite evitable that she was feeling the feeling proud, as per the prima facie for me.

The Black Curtain chapter XXIII

“Where is that poem? I am amazed my father left back a poem and such great minds cannot solve it.” Since, the time I had picked up Marco life was not within my own control, it was sweeping past me at a rhythm not my own.

Rocky seemed to immensely enjoy but Mic was equally sad and remorseful, worrying, scared perhaps.

A beefy muscle and a gun or a tag does not make a human, non human. Every human is scared even the soldiers when they fight. That fear can be transformed into violence is the most amazing weapon humans have ever used against fellow humans and animals. I was incredibly impressed by the MIT scientists who ran the experiment.

Milawi was working on an experiment and one day while we shared a puff in the backyard, she told me,

“You know I would further a research in this stream. How violence in humans is controlled only by one very potent switch called fear. How humans over the years or animals have not attacked just only because they felt threatened, instead they felt fear- fear of survival, fear of losing, fear of everything they considered true at that moment.”

“That is what also drives humans insane.” I added.

She had no place to go and she had been under a lot of debt which she had borrowed. I had cleaned half of her debt and that’s how we became friends. Often brilliant minds are broke, a perfect place where the world wields it’s attack. But, then I became a broke while helping her. This could have taken me two ways- either made me hate her for losing my helpline helping her or could have made me have more compassion for her, but I chose to ignore both ways, I chose the middle path. It was neutral, non hateful and compassion paved the way of course.

“Fine, I must be away for work. You take care girl. Don’t take any more debts. I have left some money use it. Please cut down on everything that is taking you to destruction. You are a strong mind. You can counter nonsense well.”

“I was trying to become a part of this world. Since, now I have decided no longer to do that, you know the demons don’t even swim closer to my head.” She pressed the cigarette beneath her feet.

“How long would you be gone? She looked up from the burning cigarette.

“As long as it takes for the job and to fill back my bucket bringing it back to survival mode. I am penniless, do you know that? I have just 100 dollars to reach the airport and this one pair of dress and just one more in this bag.”

She smiled, “You always believed in travelling light.”

The taxi stopped and I was on it. The gleaming evening lights, the dim human figures, the drizzle all was a haze now.

The Black Curtain chapter XXII

“My dad never showed it to me.”

“In fact I think otherwise, he might have.” Lawrence had perhaps no idea or maybe all of it.

Marco was perhaps not feeling that bad now. He stood up, the shield was removed, We later knew it was a laser beam channel which activated as soon as anybody entered the circle, visibly there was no way to get rid of it since it ran down fifty feet below and up to the roof. It covered all major vaults and all the water and sanitation facility, so basically anyone within that parameter of fifty feet would be caught, since the wall would come up automatically alerting the security. It did not run on electricity and hence stopping electricity was not an alternative. It ran from a reservoir which contained the lightning ⛈ and generated electricity only to cover this mammoth invisible giant.

“How did you do it?” Rocky seemed so absorbed in everything he heard.

“Well, it’s easy you see. We capture small gushes of lightning. We do not capture anything which is generating huge fields, yet those are enough to protect the reservoir from invasion since they slowly amplify in the reservoir and also facilitate its use as and when required.” Xi seemed proud of this ghost facility.

“Okay, I suppose rest of the questions cannot be answered for security reasons.” Lawrence added.

Rocky nodded like a good boy.

“What about the letter? Is anyone showing it to me?”

Just then the gamma radiator switched off and within a second the Black Curtain was in Marco’s hand. But, we were again wishing the white spurt or fountain of puffy light emanating from the laser beam.

“Does this make sense?”

I took it in my hands. It had not changed. The cushion like object which could be stretched into a curtain and could be squeezed into a match box, was never away from my memory. Earlier I had never wondered about what it was? What it was made up of? What comprises it’s molecules? What could be done with it? I was happy then, now I was not, since my mind was not blank, it was an active volcano.

Marco took it from my hand. He placed it back in its place, covered it with an equally soft white piece of muslin cloth and boom! the gamma lantern came alive.

The two men took position and switched off the laser beam. The beam had to be switched off on either side at the same time. A second’s delay could be fatal.”

The Black Curtain chapter XXI

“Run.” Rocky put us in a mode where our minds had already began running whereas our bodies were still deciding if to follow the mind.

“Don’t. It’s impenetrable.” Lawrence was no longer sweet honey. His face was contorted and red.

“See, we don’t want you guys to unnecessarily trap us, we can always make a deal.” I was looking for an alternative.

“Yes, please listen to us, the message that we have called you to solve is all you are here for, it was not supposed to be this way but then this is it.” Xi’s lean body leaned on the table.

“What kind of code?”

“Not a code but a poem which could probably take us to the next level ending this horrible wait which is existing for many years.” Lawrence was sugar honey again.

“What is it? Don’t you have the best man for it here?”

“I did not think in my mind it would go this way, but then let me tell you, it is your father’s, the specifics we are not able to match and what it is talking I cannot tell.” Xi was talking again.

Apart from us six, the gamma green wall sat in the centre with the harmless looking kerchief of my beginning of my early childhood.

“Can I see it?”

“Yes, but this has to wait. He has to recover from the recoil.”

“Fine. Pull this down. Give us a place to rest, if we are not captives.” Rocky winked at Xi, I cannot tell Why?

“Great. Please help me to make this man sit up.” Lawrence moved forward.

“I am more than fine. I hold no offence.” Marco did not seem hurt.

“I am still….” I hesitated. He was old though and if he meant no harm, it was really odd.

” It’s fine. As I said I am not offended. I understand, a recoil is always more than welcome.” Marco sat up on the floor.