The Release

Thanks everyone. Thanks a lot.

Rohan passed a fake polite gesture of gratitude to all the members who were on the call— some spread across India in the offshore teams and some onsite in California, US, as he disconnected the call. It was as pretentious as the ones that he received. He knew. Who would like to work on Saturdays and then again on Sundays till late night or rather early morning?

His whole weekend was spoiled. He had plans of taking out Jenny on Saturday and spending the whole day with her. He had promised to take her to the newly released Hollywood movie Kingsman and later going out for dinner at the MunchOut- their favorite eatery. And then he got the message, from the onsite guy, Suraj on Friday night that ruined everything: You guys got to do some work on Saturday evening from 3 pm Indian time. Reply as soon as you seen my message.

Rohan felt like switching the phone off and throwing it away. But then the status of the message would be seen and the onsite guy would know that he ignored the message.

Rohan replied back: Suraj, I have some plans. Will it be okay if Piyashree alone works?

Piyashree, Rohan’s colleague, was the only other member in their Mumbai offshore team. There was one or two in Hyderabad, one in Bangalore and most of them were on site in US.

The reply came promptly: It’s critical. You got to be there. It’s just 30 minutes work.

And Rohan knew very well that ’30 minutes’ were never 30 minutes. But Rohan had no choice but to comply and say ‘Okay Suraj. I’ll be there’.

It would have been easier for Rohan to go to the border and convince the Pakistanis than to explain Jenny. I hate you— she replied. We had planned for this since so long!

‘What can I do?’ Rohan asserted and sent a screenshot of his chat with Suraj.

‘It’s just 30 minutes. Come with your laptop; I’ll bring my dongle. You get online from anywhere we are’– Jenny said.

Rohan knew he couldn’t take the risk. What if there is network problem. And what if he has do just work till hours…

So he cancelled the plan.

And as he worked for 4 long hours on Saturday afternoon from 3 pm, Jenny sent him photos after photos of her with some other guy, whom she took out with, just to make him jealous.

Damn these girls! Rohan Thought.

The next day, Rohan reached office early morning as he had to join the call for the Quarterly Release from 9 am. He had to work for the Pre-Deployment activities till 4 pm and then again at night, he had to work from 9 pm for Post-Deployment activities. The day shift was crowded as most of the teams had their releases, but the night shift was deserted and by the time 10:30-11:00 pm all were gone except him. Piyashree too, being a lady, was also asked to leave as it was the last escort time. But Rohan had to continue alone—another victim of gender discrimination. There must be a security guard outside the ODC (Offshore Development Center) door, which too he can’t guarantee; he had not gone out since 9 pm.

It was 2:13 am by the time the Release activities ended. Rohan had planned to spend the night there itself as it would be difficult to find transportation that late, and considering the rise in the criminal activities in the city that was believed unsafe. And as the rainy season was on, a sudden downpour could put him in real trouble on his way home.

Rohan went to the washroom; it was inside the ODC. The entire ODC was illuminated by only one light—above his seat other than the ones in the washroom. And besides that, the entire ODC, which accommodated perhaps as many as 500 employees, was dark except the faint moonlight that sneaked inside through the glass walls.

Rohan took a leak, sprinkled some water on his face and went back to his seat. There was something eerie about the environment and Rohan felt uncomfortable being all alone in the huge ODC, at that part of the night. But Rohan could not have second thoughts; the rain had already started pouring, the clouds hiding the moon, making the already dark ODC even darker; and it would have been terrible idea to head back home under such conditions.

Rohan thought of Skyping with Jenny. She is a night-owl and Rohan knew she must not have slept till then.

Rohan clicked on the skype app, send her a request and in no time they started talking. Everything was back to normal. And Jenny started talking as lovingly as she did in their initial days.

How childish is she! Rohan thought.

They were in their romantic conversation when Jenny suddenly stopped. She looked perplexed and her eyes seemed probing something. Who’s in the cabin behind you? She asked.

Who? Rohan repeated the word and looked behind. Rohan was pretty much sure there was no one in the ODC besides him.

The glass cabin, occasionally used for meetings and discussions, made of frosted glass was translucent and passed enough light to ascertain the presence of people inside, provided anybody was in.

Rohan scanned the room from his seat as carefully as his eyes could see, but didn’t find any hint of someone being there.

No one is in there Jenny’, Rohan confirmed.

I felt as if someone was staring at us from there’ Jenny said, but she dismissed her thoughts and continued with their love chat. And Rohan wondered how cute Jenny was that he fell in love with her over and over again.

Jenny went with her blabbering and Rohan just stared at her and listened, as always.

The temperature had fallen by the night and AC was high enough that started to give him shivers. He cursed himself for not remembering the Phone number of the facility.

Jenny, excuse me for a minute. I’ll just go to the facility and ask them to switch off the AC. I’m feeling cold’, Rohan said and walked out towards the ODC door. He swiped his card on the door lock, but to his horror it didn’t open.

Damn! What happened to this now? Did the security guard lock the door from outside thinking no one was in? Rohan wondered as he had a sudden jolt of fear.

But he had no choice but to go back to his seat and bear the cold and the jinx that the night had casted upon him. He tried to pull himself together and consoled his mind that everything was okay; he just had to pass the night in which only a few hours were left. He could have called someone among his friends and asked for the number of the facility, but, calling someone at 3 o’clock at the night didn’t feel like a good idea and he didn’t want to disturb anybody. Moreover it would have exposed his panic making him a laughingstock in front of his friends for a few days and he didn’t want to risk his ‘reputation’. So here he was alone, locked in the ODC room.

Rohan shrunk back to his seat.

Before he could say something Jenny uttered, ‘I think I saw someone. Someone is in the cabin.’

C’mon Jenny! I’ll not fall for you trick’, Rohan said. He was a bit irritated now. He had seen Jenny’s mischiefs earlier and was sure this was another of her trap to fool him. She just likes playing with him.

Are you trying to take revenge on me as I didn’t take you out in the weekend?’, he said trying to lighten up the mood.

Jenny smiled back, ‘No Rohan, I seriously felt someone was there’.

Maybe the ghost of your one-day boyfriend with whom you went outside Saturday is roaming around; jealous that you’re back with me’, Rohan joked and they both broke into laughter.

They had just continued their conversation for few minutes when they heard a sound; a thud as if a pile of books had fallen on the floor.

Now Rohan, I’m dead serious. You better take me seriously or else I’ll kill you’. Jenny shot back.

Rohan could not deny anymore. He too had distinctly heard that sound. His jolly face suddenly turned grave serious. He looked towards the cabin and then looked back to the screen.

See the chair is moving’, Jenny shouted.

Rohan tried hard to hide back his horror from his girlfriend. But his heart beat was racing like a wild horse running for his life from a predator.

He looked towards the cabin again. He got a shiver down the spine when he really saw the revolving chair moving in slow rhythmic circular and anti-circular motion, like a pendulum, that was so slow that it was hard to ascertain; and blurry image seated upon it. He couldn’t make sure what it was. He started to sweat in the cold AC room and a sudden look of fear crouched upon his usually calm face.

He saw that image getting up from the chair and slowly moving back and forth and finally heading towards the cabin door.

Everything went silent for a few seconds.

What happened? Where did it go?’ Rohan regained his composure only when Jenny spoke those words.

Okay, I’ll go inside the cabin and check’, Rohan said. Even though he was scared to death, he wanted to have a closer look. Deep down he still hoped it was his mind playing tricks under the influence of naughty Jenny.

No no… Please don’t go in’, Jenny pleaded.

But Rohan wanted to be sure if someone was really in or was it just Jenny fooling him again. So he went inside the cabin.

He scrutinized the cabin thoroughly. He even sat on the chair and looked beneath the table just to be sure. There was no one. So now he would go out and Jenny would burst into laughter shouting ‘Finally got you’.

Silly girl! He thought finally relaxed.

He walked out of the cabin and as he opened the door, he almost had a heart-attack of what he saw; someone his size and wearing a dress exactly like his, was already seated on his seat. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled and he could hear his own heart-beats.

See I told you. There is no one’. The voice said, which sounded creepily familiar.

No someone is there; he has just walked out of the cabin’ Jenny uttered in a voice that sounded terrified.

As Rohan walked near his seat Jenny started to shout, ‘Rohan, he’s coming to you…run…run’.

But the person didn’t move from his seat.

Rohan’s breathing quickened severely and he started shaking a leaf caught in a storm

He took a few steps and stood behind his seat. He looked at the computer screen. The image that he saw on the self-view screen petrified him.

Noooo…..’ Jenny shouted with eyes wide open— finding hard to believe, and the person looked back with a sinister smile on his face.

It was Rohan’s own face.

The light flickered for a second before everything went out dark.



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