Fatal Urge Carefree Kiss
GOD of a man
Eternity Versus Eternity
“Success is what never stopped at a failure.”
Chapter Thirty: The calling
Dated: 26th December, 2459 – 1st January, 2460
There are people who believe in destiny, and then there are those who are successful. Winning a lottery is neither comparable, nor everlasting like success. Probability can surprise with its’ lavish endowments, but a mind not adept at evolving with dynamic realities will squander much of the unexpected windfall. True success is built brick by brick from hard-work and perseverance. An individual working hard to achieve their goals is not just seeking an ultimate goal, but is also learning a wealth of expertise and developing an array of qualities. The resulting intellectual development and advanced improvisation skills will enable them in future, to not only build upon their eventual success, but also negotiate those tricky situations that might strip the gains off a raw but lucky one trick pony. The head-start given by a lucky break is generally lost at the very first few hurdles.
An intrinsic feature of those who are successful is their refusal to quit even in the face of repeated failures. Legends have always only been known to have treated failures as learning points. They quickly analyse what went wrong, and then move forward with a renewed vigour and a better direction. They continue seeking success until they are able to lay their hands on it in flesh and blood, and then build on it from thereon. Failures deter those who never succeed!
A very important pitfall to avoid, however, is the tendency to keep repeating the same mistakes until one makes through in some random attempt. What a waste of hard work if all one is working for is to get lucky! And it’s a waste, for what worth is an effort that yields no learning! Seek excellence, and success will come on its’ own. Seek success and you will get a flash in a pan. The difference between a one hit wonder and a legend is; while the former masters the art to create one wonder, the latter masters the knowledge that provides a ripe substrate for brilliance to grow. But today it is really hard to envy the best of New Saisho, for they have been allowed no luxury of a failure. They need to learn without the liberty of getting away with a mistake.
It was hard not to feel the chill piercing the bones as you walked through that lonely corridor and the rooms lining it, lonely for everyone in there was alone with their own past. There was bright white light coming from every corner, light that felt like a shadow. Save the clock on the wall, it was hard to tell when the dawn broke outside. The sun however did show up, bright and beautiful.
“Hello, are you Miss Jenny?” the sun asked with a big smile.
Jenny looked up, her arms still wrapped around her knees. She had been sitting like that all night. “Yes,” she replied in a faint voice.
“My name is Doctor Rukhsana Leung,” the sun replied, “I am the junior doctor on the morning roster, and I am here to check-up on you. Have you had your breakfast yet?”
Mornings have an inherent sense of urgency about them, perhaps because they offer a hope, a hope that today can be better than the previous day. The impetus is there, the intentions however need to be discovered.
It’s not that grey is not a colour. It’s just that it is too monotonous to satisfy the appetite of an artist. And if that grey happens to be the dominant colour of a big dining hall, lined with metal top cement base tables, the solitaire of that room becomes more obvious than a lonely soul sitting in a corner, disinterested in the plate full of food that lay in front of her. A continuously dripping tap provided the agonising background beat to the solitude.
“You’ve been up all night,” Doctor Xavier asked Suzanne as he joined her with his breakfast.
“I love my mother,” Suzanne said wiping her nose with a tissue as her eyes, already red and swollen, swelled up again.
Doctor Xavier’s own eyes were filled to the brim as he raised his arms, “Oh my poor baby, c’mon, let me give you a hug!” And the two good friends tried to comfort each other. So intense was the grief, they didn’t even hear the footsteps that announced the arrival of Anne in the room. She had to clear her throat twice to gain their attention.
“Oh, we are sorry Miss De Villiers, didn’t realize your presence,” Doctor Xavier apologised.
“That’s alright Doctor Adams,” Anne replied as she put down the file in her hand on the table in front, “I see you two are up early. That’s good! We can get so much more done today.”
“How are you feeling today, Anne?” Suzanne hesitatingly asked.
“Very well Miss Dillon. Thanks for your concern,” Anne replied adjusting her glasses and gazing through the file, shifting sheets of papers quickly, “Now if you two have your set of files with you, I would like you to skip over the next two profiles for the moment, and switch over to the three after them. I am sure you would have already familiarized yourselves with these prospective candidates?”
“Oh I am so sorry Miss De Villiers, but I haven’t gone through any of the other profiles yet,” Suzanne apologized, perhaps a bit ashamed of having let herself down by not putting in the extra effort her own professionalism expected of her, “This whole thing has been so overwhelming for me so far.”
“I understand that Miss Dillon, but as you would know, we cannot afford to be complacent with our work,” Anne looked up at Suzanne from above the rim of her glasses, “It would be much appreciated if you would familiarize yourself with all the contents of this file at the earliest.”
“My apologies Miss De Villiers,” Suzanne replied, “I will not give you another reason to feel let down by me.”
“Thanks Miss Dillon,” Anne accepted her apology, “Now for this time I may mention here quickly, the next three people you will be examining will complete Captain Chris Davis’s flying team, and then there are two scientists from National Space Research Institute, who would be an integral part of the flight control and navigation unit for the mission. A second similar team will also be constructed at the earliest. The reason we are going to evaluate them first is that the space craft will be ready for its’ first test flight in just under a week, and we want the entire flight control team to be ready for it. The two profiles that we are skipping for the moment are of two highly decorated young army officers, Captain Aman Ahluwalia and Captain Bradley Connors. They both are out in the field on some current assignments, and will be most likely evaluated the last. Any questions you may have?”
The mention of Captain Bradley Connors name rang bells in Doctor Suzanne’s ears as she realized for the first time, there was another angle to her predicament. As she was left dumbfounded, Doctor Xavier realizing her chain of thoughts answered Anne’s query, “No questions for the moment Miss De Villiers.”
Anne looked at Suzanne, trying to guess her thoughts, but replied to Doctor Xavier, “Alright then. I’ll leave you two to finish your breakfast. As soon as you are done, please start with the next candidate.”
As Anne walked out of the room, Doctor Xavier turned around and looked at Suzanne, “You are not thinking what I am afraid you are?”
Suzanne was in a state of shock however, “I can’t do this! I can’t!”
“Do what?” Xavier asked, hoping his fears were unfounded.
“It’s Bradley,” Suzanne replied as she started crying again, “I can’t give him the medical clearance.”
“You can’t!” Xavier exclaimed in horror, “But why?”
“You know it very well,” Suzanne was flummoxed by his question, “He’s infected!”
“With what,” Xavier asked.
“I don’t know,” Suzanne replied, “But you know exactly what I am talking about. I cannot issue him a fitness certificate. Who knows what it is?”
“But how do you know it is bad?” Xavier asked, “He is the only person amongst the entire humanity who has interacted with matter from the other universe, a perfect subject to study the effects.”
“A perfect unknown medical threat to the entire mission, a live incubator to an unknown pathological condition,” Suzanne put things in perspective, “There is too much at stake in this mission. It’s neither time, nor place for experimentation.”
“I think it is all the more important to have him around so we know how the elements and environment of the other space can possibly affect us,” Xavier put forward his defence, “If the need be he can be easily quarantined, and in a worst case scenario, we can always swallow the bitter pill. Nobody on the mission will complain extra available resources.”
“But why risk the entire crew?” Suzanne wasn’t impressed however.
“Because sooner or later we will have to confront the other side’s reality, and we better be prepared for all eventualities,” Xavier explained, “You are forgetting; this is not a one-off mission set to return. It is the only way of life for us and our future generations from here on.”
For something as obscure as future, it sure occupies the most prominent place in the scheme of things. But what aspects of human nature are most concerned about it? Perhaps for once it is the fear that dominates desires. Fear of the worst is more compelling motivation to strive for a safety net, than the desire for accomplishments. Little does humanity realize, for every threat to future covered, another door for eventuality is created.
The road that lay in front of the bumper looked deserted as usual. The sun had yet to rise above the city’s skyline, but there was a sense of urgency with which the stretched black limousine zipped past lampposts. A phone could be heard ringing inside its’ cabin.
“Now Doctor, I was heading towards your hospital for my appointment. What’s the emergency?” Mrs Gabriella Downing wasn’t pleased the least with the phone call.
“I am sorry Mrs Downing, I know your instructions are to not disturb you,” the doctor replied discreetly, “But seems like one of the junior doctors have a second opinion about your case.” The doctor tried to inform Mrs Downing indirectly about what was happening at his end, “The junior doctor is insistent that there is nothing wrong.”
“Well Doctor, who’s the senior?” Mrs Downing asked incensed.
“In psychiatry things don’t always work in a straight line Mrs Downing,” the doctor tried to explain his position, “It is all about balancing various opinions, for psychology is not a science. It is merely an implementation of scientific method to the matters of observation in a field of arts, in order to form a non-prejudiced opinion. And as such, even a junior doctor’s opinion is important, especially when it is in complete contrary to the senior’s.”
“I get your point Doctor,” Mrs Downing quickly answered, “You don’t have to ring me again on the issue. I’ll take care of it myself.”
Fear is like a strong smell; overpowering. And just like smell, fear is an important indicator of the yet unseen reality. Fear is not bad for fear alerts one about the possible eventualities. It is the deeds leading to those eventualities which are good or bad.
The morning might have still been young, but the breeze was already warm. The sand occasionally tried to lift itself up in the air, but consistently fell short of stepping inside the cabin that formed a makeshift office in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps it was the fear of the sinister hearts inside that the sand desisted risking such a venture.
“The good news is; they are testing the space craft in six days time. So won’t be long before we know if the craft is travel ready, or how much more work it needs, but,” Colonel Davison looked very serious as Viper stood in attention for his orders, “The bad news is; Captain Connors will be here in five, and we still need time.”
“Should we,” Viper was about to say something when Colonel raised his hand and cut him short.
“If we jump the gun, the high command will never let us anywhere near New Saisho. Rather we will end up getting cooked right here in the middle of nowhere,” Colonel continued, “Eighty Three has been instructed to ready a safe house for us in New Saisho, and we leave for it on the sixth morning, the next day after the Captain’s first visit.”
A visit itself is never more significant than the reasons behind it. The occasion however can serve to galvanize the issues on the agenda.
The big hall outside the impervious psychiatry ward was lined with service windows, meant to cater to both the patients and the visitors to all sections of the hospital. Expectedly it was full of people lined up at various counters. There were fixed comfortable chairs in the middle of it for people to sit down and wait. One of those chairs however had an occupant that looked completely out of the place, dressed smartly and reading the morning news paper, as if completely oblivious to the noise in the surroundings. As the police officer walked past him, he immediately recognized him. The gentleman however only raised his eyebrows to look at the officer in his eyes, and then gently smiled and nodded his head in greeting. The officer smiled and returned the greeting, but as he walked past him to go inside the psychiatry ward, the officer couldn’t help but turn around and look at the gentleman again, evidently perturbed by his presence. The gentleman however was once again engrossed in his paper, as if he never saw the officer walk past him. The officer had a word with the nurse on the intercom and was let in. In less than five minutes the officer walked out of the ward, accompanied by the doctor as well as the damsel in distress; Jenny.
“Here officer, hand this envelop to the judge,” the doctor was instructing him as he handed the officer a sealed envelope, “It contains my expert assessment of the patient’s mental condition, and also a brief mention of my junior’s observations.”
“And you will send the rest of the papers to my station after completion?” the officer asked.
“Yes, yes! As soon as I have carefully prepared all the reports,” the doctor assured the officer as Jenny, in handcuffs, looked helplessly at the floor, dejected and without hope.
“Good morning Doctor, what a lovely day,” the gentleman however interrupted their conversation and greeted him lively. He folded away his paper and picked up his briefcase from the floor, “Allow me to introduce myself. I am John Shane, Miss Jenny’s lawyer.”
Introductions are best presented by a man’s work than his words. When your work walks ten steps ahead of you, men feel obliged to give their respect.
The fading light still hadn’t mellowed down the burning desert, but the site lined with military trucks looked deserted. Perhaps all the occupants were entrenched inside the air-conditioned cabins, or were working at a location away from the current view. Finally the first foot was put down from the four wheel drive, and it immediately raised a puff of dust. As it marched along with the other half of the pair, two more pairs of feet joined him behind. The leader of the pack marched firmly towards the truck parked in the middle, which housed the site office, while his two men did a quick reconnaissance of the surrounds. They had barely reached the precincts of the main cabin when its’ door flung open.
“Captain Bradley Connors,” Colonel Davison welcomed the new arrivals with open arms, “This humble army man welcomes the legend of the seven seas.”
“Good evening Colonel,” Captain Bradley Connors however was completely formal in his address to an equal ranking officer from a different arm of the forces, “I am sure you would be aware of the business behind my visit.”
“I sure am Captain,” Colonel acknowledged, “And I would like to assure you that myself, and my men will be glad to assist you in any way.”
Bradley wasted no time in getting down to work. As his two trusted men stood guard outside the cabin, he worked diligently through the records of all the vehicles under Colonel’s command at the site. Once he was finished with the paperwork, he went out to examine all the smaller vehicles at the sight and compare their odometer readings with the records. The night might have fallen, but the soldier wasn’t ready to leave his job unfinished. Colonel and a handful of his men stood nearby, pretending to be there to assist the Captain, but ready for an ambush in case their game was exposed. Viper tried hard to conceal his impatience as he repeatedly felt the gun concealed under his dress, so much that Colonel had to physically grab his hand and pull it away on an occasion or two.
“Colonel, where is this particular vehicle,” Slipknot’s missing vehicle couldn’t have however missed Bradley’s keen observation.
“Oh that Captain,” Colonel swallowed a lump down his throat, and as Viper’s hand went to his gun, Colonel walked up to the Captain and tried to explain, “This vehicle is with one of the men, Private Dean Baser. I have sent him back to his base to get us some urgent stationary items and ration supplies. You know how men can be like children if without their favourite beer.”
“But I was there just yesterday, and I didn’t meet anyone by the name Private Dean Baser, or saw this vehicle there,” Bradley’s suspicions rose immediately.
“He just left today morning,” Colonel exclaimed, with a forced smile on his face, “Didn’t you see him driving down the road?”
“Colonel, I need to track his GPS signal right now,” Bradley however wasn’t easy to be fooled.
“That I am afraid won’t be possible Captain,” Colonel replied, “You see, the GPS unit fitted in his vehicle failed the other day and we are yet to get it fixed. I mean, to get it fixed we would need to send the vehicle back to New Saisho, and it would take weeks. We need each and every vehicle at our disposal here.”
“Have you informed the head-office, that one of your vehicles got a faulty GPS unit?” Bradley’s suspicions were now fully aroused, but he didn’t want to fault an honest officer and judge him by mistake.
“I am sorry Captain,” Colonel said, “I’ve been a bit complacent this time. I should have done it yesterday, but I left it for today. And I forgot to do it until now when the issue has come up in my face. But it is no big deal. He will be back here tomorrow morning, and you can inspect the vehicle when you wake up.”
Bradley however wasn’t convinced. He immediately radioed Private Dean Baser’s home base which informed him that Private Dean Baser never reached the base.
“That is strange,” Colonel started acting as if he was really upset at Baser, “How can that man be so irresponsible? I will get him dismissed from service Captain Connors, just give me some time.”
“Dismissed from service he will be Colonel,” Captain Bradley Connors firmly replied, his suspicions getting deeper by every passing moment, “And I assure you, you will be hearing from the head-office first thing tomorrow morning. If I were you, I would spend the rest of my night drafting a legitimate response. Your career is on the line.” Bradley then turned to his men, “Lets’ go guys. We need to find this man, even if we have to search the entire desert for him.”
Viper had almost pulled out his gun but Colonel motioned to him to stay low. “For all we know Captain, his vehicle might have broken down somewhere, or he might be in some medical emergency,” Colonel reasoned as he followed Bradley and his men as they marched towards their vehicle in full urgency.
“He better be Colonel, or I will put him in one,” Captain Bradley replied as he climbed into the passenger seat, “And if by any chance he shows his face here tomorrow, make sure he doesn’t leave, for I will be back.” And the Captain slammed his door shut as Private Mathew Kline pressed hard on the accelerator.
But their vehicle had barely hit the dirt road when Captain Bradley’s phone rang. “Hello mom, what happened? Is everything alright, you are calling me at this hour,” Bradley asked Mrs Ahluwalia.
“Your friend John Shane, the lawyer,” Mrs Ahluwalia could be heard very concerned at the other end, “He was found murdered today evening.”
“What?” Bradley was left shell shocked.
“What should I do now?” Mrs Ahluwalia asked sobbing.
Bradley looked out of the window and far into the darkness by the side of the road, his voice grim, “Now you call Aman!”
The shenanigans that accompany the welcome extended to those keenly awaited, may sometimes be such an understatement to the dire needs they are expected to serve. Those who know their job however, are not distracted by the loud cheers.
Music from scores of drums, horns and pipes was filling up the morning air and creating a festive atmosphere at the port. Not meant just to usher in the New Year, but to welcome the triumphant warriors who had yet again accomplished a task beyond ordinary expertise. As the military band triumphantly blew bugles, and navy men in full ceremonial uniform awaited ‘NSS – The Mighty’ to dock at the port, Captain Aman Ahluwalia stood firm on the deck, a handful of his men in close attendance.
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