ShortStory, suspense

Desolation of the mind

Imagination is a marvelous thing for us – is it not? We make castles, build empires, dream our happy endings and what not. But somewhere in all that muddle and glamour we find ourselves questioning our lives and our work. Sort of surrealistic echoes of our longings prevail and despair for the incompleteness and emptiness. We dream not for the future but rather dreams are a lamentation of the irreparable past lest behind to gather dust in the annals of time. An eternal turmoil fueled constantly by impressions and wild thoughts.

The rippling waves lapping the shore with its gurgling sounds, the blue sky and the floating clouds attract the wanderer, beckoning you to move on and explore. That gorgeous girl in the polka dot skirt dancing along the promenade catch your attention with the wind blowing her hair and the sun just glancing off her golden locks. The thoughts lose sequence with the rush of people – the old man still standing out among the crowd watching the seas. The day wanes and the tides returns to pull you in and throw you back with sheer force into the mad throngs jamming the walkways and shops lining the desolate street. You walk on alone just to keep away your thoughts. The darkness of the night returns with the cool sea breeze. The black waters hiding all that passed and may pass. The sea churning up new dreams, new thoughts to bring you back to life.

The waves keep crashing on the beach like the thoughts churning inside your head. You mind them not, but like an insect swat them aside. The bees buzz around you, the fresh smell of earth just watered, the soft grass – a new dream rears itself. The quiet morning is broken by the cackle of geese as they pass by you sitting on the park bench. The joggers run by glued to their blood pumping music. The couples along the riverside railings, the businessmen with their newspapers sipping steaming coffee, the slow barges sailing by spewing black smoke – it’s a dream but it is reality intertwined. The rush is gone, dusk falls as the lights turn on. The occasional tramp with their trolleys pass by, more young couples come in – some cozy up while others just enjoy the calm and the company. The barges look exceptionally beautiful tonight – there’s one decked up for a marriage I think, prim and clean, soft romantic music gently creeping over the waves to reach my tuneless ears. The wrinkled old man watched the tender ones, in the fullness of vitality and a spring in their step, with sadness in his eyes. He thought of her – decayed and fragile, lying buried in that wooden box back there. The emptiness engulfed his mind, the sweetness of the spring air and the music lost in the dark recesses of the mind, he crept into the darkness and the light died within.

On the other side of the murky river, light shone as the little grey cells worked up with excitement. The case was solved. The missing links fitted her theory perfectly. She stared out of the clear windows of the police precinct into the foggy night. She could prove herself to be the beacon of women all over, the shining example – the leader. Her thoughts turned to the tattooed, dirty man whose body was found by the riverside. That cunning, that brain, that physique which destroyed 12 innocent, not innocent but maybe just, souls stuffed in steel trunks filled with scorpions and snakes – bodies belonging to beautiful young beings just enjoying the beauties and innocence the world offered. Her insides boiled up thinking about those bloodied, poisoned remains as she imagined the screams, the anguish and the pain. He had evaded the police for long and had hidden the evidence deep. But she had succeeded at last. She would finally get the promotion and the case would be closed. It was a clean case. The dresses, the woman, the disappearance all fell into a pattern. No one thought much for the old man on the beach lazing around the promenade in sultry autumn afternoons or the young girls he escorted back home, never to be seen again. Devious minds with dark clouds swirling within had exacted themselves on crumbling minds. The desolation was too much for him. He had missed her, her warm embraces when he came home, her exceptional cooking, her company and her presence. Youth helped him regain a bit of that – the young eager mouths encouraging him, directing his vitality, his energy. The pages of his notebook recording the ecstasy and sense of fulfillment earned from each one – one for each day his wife suffered, each day from the accident that she died. The detective looked up at the paling dawn – she had solved two cases in a night. She clearly remembered the accident – two young girls, driving to a new pub after being drunk ran over a young couple on the seaside road. The wife was in a coma and died in 12 days – 12 young girls for 12 days of pain and misery. The husband had been perfectly normal – quiet and reserved. For 12 years now he used his cellar for the gruesome deeds.

The desolation of the mind was a fearful thing. She imagined the girl in polka dots, her hair blown by the wind and the sun shining through them, the gay laughter on the beaches – all destroyed and lost. She got up from her desk and went outside – the cold morning air made her shiver. She got into her car and drove to the beach. The chilled morning air filled with the smell of salt and decayed weeds and garbage floated in by the sea. The tide was low and the waves gently lapped the sandy beach. The morning sun rising on the horizon signaled a new day, a new dream, and a new start. The sun cleared the darkness of the mind, the fresh sea breeze invigorating the senses. New thoughts, new adventures and new dreams beckoned you to move on – explore more, dream more. This time perhaps she would dream about the new penthouse or maybe the old place with a lawn out front with hedgerows.

Shirshadeep Bhattacharyya | PGDM 2015-17