The holograph repeated the same to the two aliens. They spoke back.
“You come here. We no come here. You are alien.”
“Yeah, right,” Vikas said, thinking out loud. “It’s the same with us and dogs, right? Dogs think all humans look alike. And I look like an alien to you guys. What’s so new about that?”
The holograph spluttered and gurgled some more and then replied.
“Did I thank you whackos for anything?” Vikas said. “Yeah, I mean – thanks for invading our sweet little planet, but no thanks. Now will you please go ahead and just unplug yourselves? I mean..you gotta be running on batteries of some kind, right?”
“No. You run on battery. We run on the source.”
“And what might that be?”
“Like that’s supposed to explain it all?”
“You need to be taken to our evaluation center. For study.”
“Great, now I’m a guinea pig? What’re you gonna do? Tear me apart and do an autopsy of sorts on me?”
“Cannot comprehend ‘Autossy.”
Vikas waved his hand. “Never mind. Look, I want to go home. Could you please call the cab service?”
The holograph and the aliens didn’t respond. And then they disappeared.
“Shit..what the..” Vikas kept looking at the four walls, feeling stupid all of a sudden. Was he speaking to the walls?
He quickly headed to the stairway. Light or no light, I’m going to get out of here tonight, he decided.
His mind raced. What was he doing before he fell asleep? He couldn’t remember a thing. He was sure he was working on something important. But he just couldn’t remember what he was doing. He came to the main lobby of the office. The doors were open. Thanking his stars, he bolted out.
The cool night air was a welcome change after the bizarre experience inside. He looked all around. The night sky was clear. He ran to the parking lot in the basement, circumventing the large portico. He didn’t want to go to the basement from inside the building. God knew if there were other aliens waiting for him there. Or maybe these three clowns themselves would appear again.
He wasn’t surprised to see the parking lot empty as well. This wasn’t his night, for sure. But then he wondered if the entire planet felt the same way. He was desperate to see another human being for now.
Get out of here, first.
He heaved a loud sigh of relief when he found his car parked in its usual place. That’s strange, said his sub-conscious mind though. How come only my car is here? But there was not time to think. As he neared the car, the driver side door swung open.
Whoa. He stopped about two feet from the car and looked at it. How did that happen?
He got into the car. The door shut on its own. The car sprang to life, and started reversing on its own. Vikas just sat dumb-founded. The car drove out of the parking lot and headed to the main exit, onto the road.
The car was now heading north of the office. That’s strange. It knew where he normally went after work. Home. He looked at the traffic and relaxed. At least things are back to normal outside. Then he noticed something weird. The traffic looked normal. But not the people inside. A car appeared alongside his, headed in the same direction. Vikas turned and looked at the driver. A girl. She too wasn’t driving her car. But it looked like she knew it and was ok with it. How did he arrive at that? Simple. She was busy talking to someone on her cell phone. And her other hand was placed on the adjacent head-rest.
Well, well, well. At least, the world hadn’t come to an end. He thought of his narrow escape back in the office. What did the aliens mean when they said he was here, and not them? His mind wasn’t functioning all that well. He couldn’t remember a whole lot of things. Important things, he was sure of that. But not all of it. All that running had made him forgot. But now he felt it. He needed to pee. Shit, how the hell do I stop the car?
No sooner had he thought, the car slowed down and pulled up on a service road. The door opened.
“Are you reading my mind?” He said, looking at the steering wheel, and then his eyes roved, trying to locate some sort of transmitting device, a sensor that was probably planted to automate this car. But what sensor read minds?
He completed his work and came back to the car’s open door. He just stood and looked around. Everything seemed so normal outside. How come? He saw a few shops across the road and decided to go check.
“Uh, excuse me…,” he said, approaching a bakery. The guy wasn’t looking at him – continued doing business with other customers. Vikas tapped his fingers on the counter and looked at the others.
“Umm..hello, sir,” he said to the guy standing next to him. But he didn’t respond. Forget responding, he wasn’t even looking at Vikas.
He tapped the man’s shoulder. Still no response.
What on earth was happening?
Then on a hunch, he slapped the back of the man’s head. Still no response. Panicking, Vikas looked all around. Then he went to a mirror on one of the pillars of the bakery.
I look different.
Were those aliens playing around with his mind? Was he already being studied somewhere, while this version of him was just some sort of a non-entity roaming the road? Then suddenly, like somebody were flicking switches, the people around him disappeared one after the other. A new set of people appeared. The baker had changed. The place changed, in fact. It was now a jewellery store. Vikas laughed.
He felt like a jack-ass. No wait. He was mad. That was it. This was some sort of brain drain thing happening. The aliens had come and...
Better leave. He turned to go.
“Sir? May I help you?” A man in a suit said.
Vikas nearly jumped. “Can you see me?”
The man smiled sympathetically, like he were a patient in a hospital. “Of course, sir. Were you looking for something?”
"Phew." Vikas looked at the man for a moment. “Umm..where are we?”
“Sumangali Jewels, sir. We’re very well known….”
“I know, I know this is a jewellery store, I’m not blind. I mean, which city..?”
The man opened his mouth, but suddenly made a sound similar to the alien back there.
Vikas looked at him for a minute. He panicked. Shit, this couldn't be happening. He ran out. Only to find himself in a closed room, metallic and drab.
Tired, he just collapsed on the floor, his last conscious thoughts being about his bed back home. Funny, how he remembered that, of all the things.
Read Part 3