(This is the eleventh part of the short story The Blue Pill. You can find the entire story here .)
Yosemite National Park was a beautiful place. Dr. Roy was fond of driving. His wife and he took the almost six hour drive and reached the Yosemite hotel Torrance had booked for them by late afternoon. They checked in, freshened up and then went for a walk.
After dinner, Dr. Roy called Torrance and thanked him for sending him to this beautiful place and apologized again for doubting him. Torrance asked him not to think about work for a week and get all the rest and rejuvenation he needed.
Dr. Roy told his wife that was he feeling very guilty about what he did. Why did he doubt Karl? Karl was the reason he would finally be able to achieve his dream of bringing the device to the world. Without Karl, he would still be struggling for day to day funding of his project. With one stroke, all his financial worries were taken care of. All he needed to do now was to focus on the work.
The week passed by quickly. The next morning, Dr. Roy and his wife were to head back to Los Angeles.
The Roys had a relaxed dinner at the hotel’s restaurant and returned to their room early. They were packing up their stuff when they heard a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it”, said Dr. Roy and went to open the door.
There was a stranger at the door, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans with a coat.
“Dr. Achinta Roy?” he asked, mispronouncing the first name badly.
“Yes. How can I help you?”
The stranger put his right hand inside his coat and pulled out a pistol. Dr. Roy froze.
Just then, there was a loud shout.
“ON THE FLOOR, DR. ROY!”
Someone sprang from out and grabbed the stranger’s hand. The stranger fired as his hand was thrust upward. The shot hit the ceiling. Dr. Roy’s wife ran towards the door and screamed on hearing the shot.
“ON THE FLOOR, BOTH OF YOU!”
It was Kanwal Nambiar, the reticent executive who had accompanied Satish Raju on the initial meetings in Kolkata!
“ON THE FLOOR, BOTH OF YOU!” he shouted again!
Dr. Roy and his wife both crouched.
Nambiar and the stranger were struggling with each other. Nambiar had not yet let go of his hand with the pistol. The stranger was pulling with all his might. He shot again. The bullet hit the floor. Nambiar was trying desperately to move the pistol away from the inside of the room. The stranger managed to get it in line with Dr. Roy and shot. Just then Nambiar jerked his hand and the bullet narrowly missed Dr. Roy.
Dr. Roy and his wife were trying to make sense of what was happening.
Nambiar gave the stranger a punch in his eye with his left hand. The stranger cried out in pain. Nambiar squeezed his hand. At the same time he kicked him in the groin with his knee. The stranger yelled out loud and at the same time let the gun go. Nambiar grabbed the gun and aimed at the stranger. The stranger put his hands up. Nambiar looked to see if Dr. Roy and his wife were all right. The stranger jumped and reached for Nambiar’s legs in an attempt to make him fall. Nambiar shot. A bullet hit the stranger’s leg. He screamed in pain while falling on the ground. Nambiar aimed at his head. The stranger lay motionless.
Nambiar ran towards the room’s telephone and called the reception. “SOS. Emergency at room 2574. Gunman inside.”
Within seconds sirens were heard. By the time Nambiar was done with the call, the stranger had disappeared. Nambiar ran outside. The stranger was nowhere to be seen.
“Dr. Roy, ma’am, let’s get out of here. You’re not safe yet.”
“Nambiar, can you first explain to me what is happening?” demanded Dr. Roy.
“There is no time for that really, Dr. Roy. You must trust in me. Let’s get you to a safe place. I promise I will explain everything.”
Dr. Roy was totally confused. He was completely shaken with the incident. He looked to his wife. His wife nodded. They had no option but to trust Nambiar.