I have never done this before. I have no idea how to do it.
Writing a journal has never been my thing. I prefer medical blogs and articles rather than wasting my time in writing daily chores in a diary, or as in this case, a journal. Ah, well, I guess everybody needs to evolve in life. In any case, life is all about changes. That was what Professor Bloombelt used to say.
The reason for me writing this journal happened in the morning today. I was in the hospital when–
Oh, I am sorry. Even though this is my personal system, I should introduce myself here. So, here it is. I am Dr. Aarnay Mitra. Not a surgeon, a cardiologist, or neurologist, mind you. I am just a Psychotherapist. Most people back in India do not even think of Psychotherapists as real doctors. I was born in Kolkata, India, but most of my life has been spent in the US, at least since I started college at Columbia University in 1990. And for the last thirty years, this country has been my home, twenty of which has been in my current apartment in Merrifield, Virginia. Now, I cannot even imagine myself living anywhere other than this place.
Life has changed a lot. When I first came to the US, I was a young guy with a lot of energy. Now, as I look into the mirror, I see a frail middle-aged man with a fully shaved round face and similarly curved glasses donned on his eyes. The matching gray hairs around the temples and thinning hair in the middle is just another add on to my miserable aging body. Running a couple of miles every morning doesn’t seem to do much good.
Oh, I am deviating from the main topic. I should write about the unusual thing that happened today before I diverge again.
So, at 10 in the morning today, literally twelve hours ago, his son made the appointment, and an hour afterward, I met them.
‘Hi, Doctor.’ The younger person, around thirty, tall, handsome, blond with gray eyes, entered my office. ‘My father had an appointment at eleven.’
‘Is that Mr. Peter Young?’ I said, looking at the system in front of me.
And then I saw him. Peter Young, sixty, with white and thinning hair, pale skin, a bit hunched, and similar gray eye as his son. He came up timidly behind his son, looking at me with, shall I say, hopeful eyes?
‘So, what is it that you want my help with?’ I asked the son.
‘Yes, Doctor.’ He said while helping his dad sit in the chair opposite me. ‘My name is Bill Young, and he is my dad, Peter Young. We live in Montgomery Village.’
‘Ok.’ I nodded and urged him to continue.
‘Yeah. Last week, while driving to the supermarket, dad lost control of the car and hit a tree near the sidewalk.’ He looked at his father, who seemed to be miles away from our conversation. It looked like he has found something of real fascination outside the window of my office on the fourth floor of the George Washington University Hospital. I know there was nothing outside other than the skyline of the Washington DC, something I have already been bored of seeing.
To my experience, he looked to be suffering from Schizoid Personality Disorder, a medical condition that involves disengagement of social relationships.
But before I can conclude that, I needed to know all the details. Therefore, I waited for Bill to go on.
‘They took him to the hospital then and there, and the treatment started. There was a lump on his head—–‘.
I had already noticed the bandaged area on Peter’s temple and guessed as such.
‘–and the doctor said that he had a minor concussion. They treated him for three days and released him just a couple of days back.’
Bill wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead before continuing. With the air conditioning in the hospital working fine, there could only be one reason for him perspiring. I just waited for him to continue.
‘But once he came back home, something had changed inside him.’ The young man said. ‘He has been speaking about absurd things and—‘
‘What kind of absurd things?’ I asked, stopping Bill, who shifted in his seat, looking uncertainly at his father and then at me.
‘I… I think it is better if you hear from him.’ He said and then touched Peter’s shoulder gently, who seemed to be startled and—
‘No, no, Don’t.’ The sudden shout echoed throughout the office as the older person jumped out of his chair and looked at his son with red-rimmed eyes, shocking even me.
My secretary Helen opened the door with her eyes wide, looking at the room. I guess she heard the commotion and must have thought that someone attacked me.
‘N….nothing, Helen.’ I assured her and urged her to leave us as I stood up to take hold of my patient.
‘This is a glimpse of what has been happening with dad for these two days, Doctor.’ Bill said, nervously looking at his father, who was back to being calm again. As he sat on the chair slowly, I caught his eyes darting left and right rapidly, as if reading things from thin air.
Clearly not the Schizoid Personality Disorder. It is more like Paranoid Schizophrenia.
‘Yesterday, he tried to attack my son, who, according to him, was something called 2001119 and 846.’ Bill continued once I sat back on my chair.
‘9920.’ My patient suddenly said in a grumpy voice. As I moved my eyes towards him, I found him staring straight at me.
‘What’s that number, sir?’ I asked, curiosity driving me now.
‘2110.’ He said again, now bearing the trembling index finger of his right hand pointing straight at me. ‘9920 at 2110. BOOM.’
The whole thing looked very unusual to me. I have seen people with Paranoid Schizophrenia, and this patient exhibited all the symptoms of that, but something seemed to be out of place. Something clicked on the back of my mind, but I couldn’t place what it was.
The person in question implied to have lost all his energy as he started sweating profusely, and his chest heaved. For the next ten minutes, I checked him physically. Except for his pulse being high, nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. Peter Young seemed to be completely fine if you ignore the bandage on his head.
I recommended a few tests and some medication that will help the older Young to sleep well at night. Right now, there is nothing else I can do without the reports. I asked Bill to come next week with the results so that I can decide on the next course of action.
Even though I was busy with other patients the whole day and the Doctor’s Conference in Washington DC for the evening, I couldn’t bring myself to forget about Peter. There was something distinctive that has been striking the back of my mind, specifically about his numbers. Those digits kept on reiterating in my head as I drove towards my home at night.
What would that figure 2001119 mean? Perhaps one of his bank accounts, or maybe a voucher number? It could even be something else, or probably nothing.
As I was pondering over those numbers, my eyes were briefly off the road. As a result, I jumped a signal and brought the disaster on myself.
A car that came from the right and grazed–
I praise my good luck that it was just trying to turn and accidentally hit my car on the right. If it was any different, I might not have been here to write this journal today. It took more than an hour to complete all the formalities with the patrolmen and the insurance before I could be back at my residence. With the dinner done at the conference, there was nothing left for me to do, except to start reading one of the novels I bought last weekend.
But that was not to be.
As I started taking a hot shower, suddenly something struck my mind. And in a flash, I found out what it was that had been bothering me about Mr. Peter Young’s numbers.
The figure he told me while pointing a trembling finger. It was……it was my car’s license plate.
My license plate read: BJS 9920. Can it be a coincidence?
As soon as I remembered that, another thought hit my mind. Without bothering to dry myself off or wrapping the towel, I came running to the living room and rummaged through my wallet. I took out the thing that I had thought of just a moment ago and checked it.
And there it was, the receipt of my fine to the cops. I double-checked the time. Sure enough, the time of my accident was 21:10, written clearly by the cop.
And then I thought about the first number Mr. Young said in the morning.
2001119, and 846.
20:01:11:19? No, it does not add up.
It took me ten more minutes, standing in front of the table with a notebook and doing permutations for the number before I understood what it was.
2001/11/9 at 8:46 AM.
It was the date and time the Twin Towers got hit. The darkest day in the history of the United States.
Even though the date was well known to the whole world, the exact timing was not something everybody knew. I even had to Google it to get a specific time.
How could he know the exact timing of the attack? Moreover, how could he have known about my accident at that specific time?
That was when I decided to keep a record of this unusual incident here in the journal on my laptop.
I must check more on him once he is back next week.
I am writing the journal exactly after seven days today, and that too for a justified reason.
I had promised myself to record only the special events in this journal, so not writing anything in between the week should not bother me. Anyway, before I deviate again, I should write down the events as they occurred.
As discussed, Bill Young came today with his father and the respective test reports in the morning. Checking those, I became sure there was nothing more than a glancing blow on the Occipital Lobe of Peter Young. There was no internal damage, no clots, nothing. It’s supposed to be a happy thing, though I didn’t feel the same. If there were any injuries, at least that would have explained the reason behind Peter’s newfound abilities. But now, the mystery of his numbers remained hidden, unsatisfactorily.
‘The reports are fine, Bill.’ I told the younger person sitting in front of me, while his father seemed to be miles away from our conversation, like the day we first met. ‘There’s nothing unusual with Peter at all, at least not from any internal damage.’
Bill sighed as he tried to grin. But his smile faded as soon as his father started to speak.
‘04071030’. Peter whispered as he tried to focus on the ceiling of my office.
‘This has been continuing for the past week?’ I asked his son.
‘Yes, mostly. Dad has been uttering random numbers frequently. Mostly 623.’
‘And the rest of the time?’
‘He hardly speaks with anybody among us, Doctor.’ Bill sniffed. ‘He is always confined to his own thought and in his room.’
‘Hmmm.’ I nodded as I took another look at the person in question.
‘Bill.’ I exhaled and looked at the younger person in the room after observation. ‘I would suggest you keep him in the medical ward here. I want to keep a close watch on him for a few days.’
I tried to be as reassuring as possible. After all, it would be good if Peter stays here on my watch. I needed to figure out what was happening with Peter.
‘That’s….that’s completely fine with me.’ Bill smiled a bit, the first actual one since we have met.
I asked him to complete the formalities and get Mr. Peter Young in the hospital by the afternoon.
It was 2 PM when Peter was admitted here into my care, in bed number 623, surprisingly, as that was the only one left unoccupied. But Bill seemed oblivious of his father’s abilities. Am I the only one who noticed the numbers Peter has been muttering about and their uncanny relation to something or the other in the real world?
Anyhow, with all the patients and work in my hand, I barely had time for Mr. Young before leaving in the evening.
‘What’s happening to me?’ Peter asked, whimpering as I neared his bed before retiring for the day.
‘Nothing Peter.’ I replied, smiling, trying to calm him. ‘How are you feeling?’
It was the most normal I had seen him since we met.
‘I……it feels weird.’ Peter blinked. ‘I can see numbers randomly jumping, somersaulting, running around me, everywhere. But sometimes, a few numbers come together and glow in front of my eyes.’
‘Oh, is it?’ It is needless to say that I was intrigued as I sat on the chair. The incident with my car last week has been an eye-opener for me.
‘38.89.’ He suddenly said, looking somewhere behind me.
I turned back to see the door behind me and nothing else. Peter can probably see the numbers again.
‘What is it, Mr. Young?’ I said, my breathing hard now as I tried to take his hand.
‘38.89.’ He stopped for a second.
‘-77.009.’ Peter said again.
Negative numbers? What the–
‘-4.25.’ He muttered, this time looking at me. ‘And -2.5.’
‘What are you—-‘
I could not finish my words as I suddenly understood the meaning of the last numbers. I unconsciously pulled my hands away from him and took the glasses from my eyes, looking at them and then back at him, unable to breathe.
What Peter had just told me was the power of my glasses. They were -4.25 in the right eye and -2.5 in the left.
How does he know?
I had called the hospital just fifteen minutes back, and as expected, Peter was sleeping. But till he went to rest, it seemed he had been muttering numbers. Asking about which numbers, the person gave me a list of them.
And a few more.
I tried to understand what these digits mean, but nothing came up.
But the biggest surprise came as soon as I opened my laptop. Like thunder striking, I suddenly understood the meaning of one of the uttered figures.
That is my birth date and year.
How could Peter know about my birthday?
The last few days have been busy for me. Due to a seminar on Psychiatry in New York, I had been away from Washington. It was tough to keep my curiosity on Peter’s case aside and go to New York, but there was no way to avoid it. As a notable Psychotherapist, I was among one of the speakers in the seminar. Apart from the respect they provide me with, these seminars also help me get in touch with some of my old friends. And I didn’t want to miss that.
Anyway, when I came back last evening, my priority was to call the hospital and check on Peter. A perfect combination of abilities like — Precognition, Remote Viewing, and Retro-cognition was too rare a thing to miss. And in this case, more so because all this ingenuity is related to numbers.
‘He was a bit agitated this afternoon, sir.’ The attending nurse said in an irritated tone. ‘But a small dose of Zolpidem helped him to go back to sleep.’
‘Ok, let me know if anything happens.’
Still, groggy from waking up, the first thing I noticed was the clock. Messaging the kink on my neck, as I tried to determine what woke me up at 2:30 in the morning, I heard the phone ringing again.
Who the hell was calling me at this hour?
As I noticed the caller, all my uneasiness disappeared in an instant. It was from the hospital. Damn, what happened there?
‘Hello.’ I said, my voice trembling. ‘What happened?’
‘Doctor. You asked me to call as soon as there was something up with Peter.’ The shrill voice of the night nurse came from the other side.
‘Y… yes. What is it?’ I was fully awake by then, with all traces of sleep gone.
‘Doctor, please come here. Quickly.’ The nurse said hurriedly in a frantic voice. ‘Peter suddenly is acting too much strangely. He is repeating the same numbers over and over. I…….tried to stop him, but Peter…….he attacked me. I tried to give him a dose of sleeping injection, but he threw it away. Please hurry.’
Without delay, I hung up the phone and started getting ready. It hardly took me more than fifteen minutes after the call to get into the car and reach the hospital. By the time I reached the third-floor medical wing, I could hear a commotion coming out from the far left room.
I quickly came through the door and entered the room to see–
‘It’s fire there. People died. DEAD.’
The shouts were easily heard, and all from Peter, while the nurses tried to keep him in check.
Peter’s shouting has increased tenfold since the last time I had seen him more than two days ago. He always seemed to be calm to me, so I have not thought of restraining him or giving him shock therapy. But seeing the incident in front of me, I wished I had done exactly that.
There was blood strewn everywhere, droplets of blood all over the bed. The red stains on the white sheets of the hospital bed and the carpet looked like bullet holes in a naked body. Instantly my eyes went to the source of the blood.
It was nothing other than Peter’s wrist. He somehow got hold of a knife and tried to cut his wrist.
‘Intermittent Explosive Disorder.’ I whispered as I approached.
It was ten minutes later that Peter drifted down to his sleep, courtesy of the injection I just gave him.
‘What was he muttering about?’ I asked as my patient finally slept.
‘No idea, Doctor.’ Marie, the head nurse, said, shaking her head. ‘He slept around 10:00 PM but woke up suddenly at 1 AM. From then on, the guy has been yelling those numbers and ranting about death and fire. When we tried to stop him, he attacked us. He got hold of the knife and said that he wanted to die rather than seeing people dead and doing nothing. If we had not intervened, he would have already been dead.’
For the last few hours, till the time I reached home at 5 in the morning today and even now typing the things in this journal, I have only a single thought.
What do those numbers mean that Peter even wanted to die for?
My life has always moved in a straight line: my studies, job, and home. My days have revolved around these three things. I love to read books on diverse topics and also travel a lot. Most of my travels are either related to some Medical Conference or solo vacations. It may be because I am a less adventurous person than most, or it might be because I am a private person. I don’t like to speak with unknown people much outside of my professional work.
But after the last two days, I cannot say that.
Things have drastically shifted in my life in these two days. Even now, my head pains making me still remember —
No. Let me start from the beginning.
In my last note, I wrote about the call from the hospital and the lunacy of Peter. Once back at my home, after handling the cops and all, there was no way I could sleep anymore.
My mind was full of the details of all the numbers Peter was saying. It was clear that each figure he was uttering had a broader meaning. It was not by coincidence that he could smoothly tell the power of my glasses, my birthday, or the timing of my accident. And if that is the case, then it was also clear that the other digits also had some meaning.
But what? And how to verify those?
As the morning progressed and I scribbled all the numbers one by one told by Peter in my notebook, it seemed more and more complex to solve.
You are just trying to find meaning in something where there is none.
And I won’t deny it. Maybe I was overthinking. Maybe, I wanted to ignore the fact that Peter is a mentally ill patient who needs treatment, not my confirmation to attest his numbers. And after that night’s incident, it was probably time for a shock treatment.
A look at the clock told me it was 8 AM. I sighed and took my phone out to dial the hospital.
‘Yes.’ I said as someone on the other side picked up. ‘Please cancel all my appointments today. I will go to the hospital to oversee treatment in the morning, but I won’t be able to see any new patients. And please call Mr. Bill Young, son of Peter, and ask him to see me at 10 in the hospital today.’
Giving a few more instructions, and once confirmed, I hung up, getting ready for the day.
In the hospital, there was only one thing of note that happened.
‘I am fine as long as dad recovers soon.’ Bill said, taking a deep breath when I told him my decision to start the shock therapy.
It was when I introduced shock therapy that the incident took place.
‘Doctor…..’ Peter suddenly said as he was getting transferred to the therapy room. ‘Save…s…save them. They will die.’
I neglected the comments and continued with the procedure. But, as the therapy ended, Peter’s blurting started again, figures this time, as usual.
He was repeating the same four digits from last night.
Ignoring the numbers, I ensured that he was taken to his cabin and given lunch before he drifted off to sleep.
Once he was asleep, and with no more patients to see, suddenly the fatigue caught up with me. And along with that, yearning for Blueberry Pancakes and Indian food. It was when I was striding through the corridors of the hospital that I suddenly recalled a place. It was the Eastern Market in Washington, where both of my cravings can get fulfilled.
It took me 20 minutes to reach my destination and half an hour more to fulfill my hunger.
With my day off and nothing else to do, I had time to visit the Library of Congress to check some new books on Psychiatry today. With Peter’s numbers still playing in my mind, I opened the door to my car and started the Google Maps for navigation.
And suddenly, a thought struck me as I entered my destination there.
Without delay, I entered two of the four figures that Peter was repeating.
Can they be latitudes and longitudes?
In my parked car, I started doing permutations and combinations as scores of people came and went into the Market for the next fifteen minutes. Using a Geocoding conversion app and the numbers, I finally found two options if these were really latitudes and longitudes. The first one is Antarctica, and the second one is the United States Capitol, the north-eastern part of the building.
With one of the options just five minutes away from my current position, I decided to follow my instinct.
By the time I completed a full tour of the United States Capitol, my first in three decades, it was already evening outside. The sun was about to set on the horizon, behind the Washington skyline, turning the sky a shade of yellowish-orange that I always enjoyed as a college student. For a minute, it felt like I was back to my youth, as I watched the sun fully set.
With the thought of House Chambers, The Apotheosis of Washington, and the Crypt lingering fresh in my mind, I started the engine of my car. Still, I was not sure if it was the place Peter wanted to signify, but he did me a favor anyway. Without searching for the coordinates, I might never have visited the Capitol.
Just as I was about to reverse my car, something caught my eye.
A car crossed me from the parking and turned slowly towards First St NE, with two people inside. It was not the passengers or the vehicle itself that seized my attention, but the license plate. It read DJS 00378.
Keeping the car still in the parking lot, I quickly rummaged through my bag as something struck my mind.
Can it be…..
Yes. There it was, in my notebook.
I opened the page where I had been scribbling in the morning all the numbers that Peter was uttering.
And I saw it. The last number in the list. It was the same as the license plate of the black Nissan that just crossed me a couple of minutes ago.
I have never been a risk-taker in my life and thought of leaving the wild goose chase behind.
But another part of my brain wanted me to pursue the mystery of Peter’s numbers. And so I did.
Without delay, I quickly reversed and floored the gas. My car shot off the parking and jumped onto the First St NE, the same street where the other pickup had gone. Without thinking, I veered my vehicle left and right, crossing the cars and trucks on the track, before quickly turning left on to the Northeast Dr. And then I saw it.
The other car was just a couple of hundred yards away from me as it moved casually. I could see the bald driver and the blonde passenger talking to each other as the car moved at a speed of 55 mph.
What the hell am I doing?
Ignoring once again my inner voice, I followed the black Nissan that was just a little more than a hundred and fifty yards away.
A Hundred yards.
And then it happened.
Without warning, suddenly, the lead car started speeding. I saw the blonde passenger looking back at my car and say something to the driver. The next second, the vehicle veered left and accelerated.
I could hear a distant siren somewhere as I followed the vehicle. I have to save whoever might fall into an accident in that car.
But I was not ready for what happened next.
It sounded like thunder as I saw a flash of light from the Nissan. The next moment, my windscreen smashed, and the car started skidding. The wind rushed inside my car, screaming into my eyes, as I tried to slow down.
But the car has already lost balance.
Am I going to d…
And everything went dark as my eyes closed.
White light exploded as I opened my eyes for a second and forced me to close them again.
The next time I opened them, the intensity of the lights was less. But another pain forced me to close my eyes for a moment.
‘Aahhh.’ I held my head with both hands, trying to lessen the ache.
‘Please. Please don’t get up.’ A soft feminine voice told me from the side. ‘You are hurt.’
‘Where….. Where am I?’ I asked, trying to take in my surroundings.
It seemed like I was in a hospital cabin, on a bed with my head wrapped with a bandage. A young female doctor stood by the side of my bed, her brows furrowed together. The beeping of the heart and pulse monitor made me aware of their presence in the room behind me. There was another person present in the room, but I could not focus on him at first. My head seemed to be on fire.
‘In Hospital.’ Someone else said from the door to the cabin on my left, in a smooth but firm voice. ‘You have some minor scratches and a concussion, but it looks like you are fine.’
I focused my vision on the owner of the voice, squinting my eyes. It was a man in a black suit, tall with pale skin, somewhere in his mid-thirties. He had a smile on his face that instantly made him likable to anybody.
‘Hi, I’m Agent Jacob Farris.’ He said, extending his hand to me, still smiling. ‘FBI.’
‘Hi.’ I said, stunned.
What has the FBI got to do with me?
And then I noticed the other person in the room. He was also similarly attired like Farris, just a bit older with salt and pepper hair. His badge read Klowal Jed.
‘Can you tell me exactly what happened?’ Farris asked, taking a small notebook out of his hands as Jed neared my bed.
‘I…..I….’ I started, as the pain intensified a little, making me keep my head still and rested on the pillow. ‘I was following the car and…….’
And then I recalled. Oh, God! It was…….
‘Oh, my God!’ I yelled, looking at the Agent. ‘I….they fired a gun at me.’
The Agent seemed unfazed by this revelation. Almost as if…..
‘The two people in that car were from the Jihadi Movement.’ Farris said, increasing my curiosity. ‘The traffic cameras have picked their identities as Ali Ansari and Zubeidar Khan. Two of the most wanted terrorists suspected to have links with Al-Qaeda.’
I gulped, trying to understand what he was saying. Al-Qaeda? But why would…….
‘Why were you following them?’ Jed asked in a gloomy voice, looking at me, all the while under the watchful gaze of the doctor.
‘I….I…’ I tried to find an answer to the question. Inevitably an FBI agent was not expecting to hear the story of a Psychotherapist chasing a couple of terrorists based on a number told by one of his patients in the streets of Washington. ‘They seemed suspicious to me. They were looking at the……’
And it struck me. The actual meaning of the numbers that were told by Peter last night. The figures for which he was ready to die. But then……
‘They….they seemed to be looking at the Capitol building while driving.’
I had to control my impulse, to tell the truth to an FBI officer. I need to be sure first.
Farris furrowed his eyebrows for a moment and exchanged a glance with his partner before looking back at me.
‘I see.’ He said, noting things down in his little notebook while tilting his head. ‘Anything else?’
‘Ummm….nope. Nothing else.’
Did I just now lie to a Federal Agent?
My heart thumped in my chest as I kept staring at the card he left me, thinking about what I have done just now. But there was nothing I could do except verify my theory.
For the next few hours, I waited eagerly for my release from the hospital. Finally, when I got discharged, I nearly ran to the street to get a cab to my home.
I was not even sure if whatever I was thinking made any sense, but I had to check. The whole way, I was silent, till I entered home and sat down on the couch with a notebook and my system in front of me.
Are you crazy? My mind screamed at me.
‘You’ll see.’ I whispered to myself as I started scribbling something on the notebook and went back, typing into my system.
It took me five more minutes to find out what I was looking for on the laptop.
‘YES. Yes. Yes.’ I yelled, punching the air for a moment as I sat up straight, shooting a stab of pain in my head. I looked at the laptop once and then back at my notebook. There, I had written something like this –
-77.009 E — The Capitol Building.
04071030 — 4th of July at 10:30 AM.
00378 — DJS 00378 — Ali Ansari and Zubeidar Khan’s car — Al-Qaeda.
Fire — Everyone Dead — Bomb?
If I was correctly deducing whatever Peter wanted to convey, it meant that he was talking about the coordinates of the northeast wing of the Capitol Building, the Independence Day of America, and the car of two Jihadi terrorists. If I add my patient’s shout about everyone dying and fire, only one thing made sense.
If everything was as I interpreted, it suggested that there would be a bomb blast waiting to happen on the 4th of July in the Capitol Building at 10:30 AM.
I took my phone out and dialed a number.
‘1934.’ Peter said, his eyes wide and red, as I sat with him the next morning. ‘1…19..34. Yes.’
I came out as Peter went to sleep while the Congressmen started the arrangements in the Capitol Building for the Independence Day on the eve before the actual celebration.
‘Hello, Dr. Mitra.’ Agent Farris said, his face pensive, as I reached the Capitol Building. ‘You are five minutes late.’
I looked at my watch and saw it pointing at 10:05 AM of the Independence Day of America, the 4th of July. I have already seen the celebrations happening throughout the city as I came by cab.
‘Yeah, Agent.’ I said, smiling. ‘My car seems to be in pieces and giving a hard time to the insurer. It might take some time before I can drive my own.’
‘That’s fine.’ Agent Jed replied. ‘So, this patient of yours? You really think you’re onto something?’
‘Let’s find out.’
As I spoke the words, I, Agent Farris, Agent Jed, and at least ten more field agents moved with purpose towards the Crypt. The place looked serene as we entered the Crypt of the Capitol Building. Originally created to be the tomb of George Washington, but never fulfilling that purpose, the Crypt was a central attraction for all tours in the Capitol.
‘So, we have captured the two terrorists early morning today.’ Jed said as we looked around in the Crypt. ‘Both Ali Ansari and Zubeidar Khan have been seen in and around this place for the last three days. The security cameras have picked them up with different makeup each time. We suspect that they want to do something big here, but we don’t know what or where. But they haven’t given us anything yet.’
The Agent stopped for a moment and looked at me, while Jed moved inwards, admiring the marble statues.
‘We have Psychotherapist Dr. Aarnay Mitra here, who thinks he is onto something.’ He smiled, shaking his head. ‘But, we need to be cautious. So, everybody fan out and keep in radio contact. Anything unusual, raise the flag then and there. Go. Go. Go.’
As the agents fanned out in different directions, I could see the Congressmen moving into the place, getting ready for the celebrations.
‘I have risked getting you here.’ Farris whispered. ‘I don’t know what story you are cooking, but if there’s anything you can help us with, now is the time.’
And he left me.
As I roamed around the Crypt, only one thing was going through my mind.
1934. That was what Peter had said to me in the hospital. It must have some meaning. I saw the Magna Carta replica and the case, I noticed the thirteen statues all around the area, and then I noticed the Compass Star that marked the four quadrants.
More than thirty people here, if I don’t count the FBI agents and the security guards.
Think. Think fast.
I looked at my watch. 10:15 AM.
‘1934.’ I whispered to myself. ‘What could it be? A fresco number? A particular column details? Or another coordinate?’
As I moved to the northeast section of the script, my mind only tried to make sense of the number.
And then I saw it. The statue of Caesar Rodney looming above me. The white marble statue was a work of art beyond measure. I tried to remember all about him from my last visit just a couple of days ago.
Caesar Rodney was born in Dover, Delaware, on October 7, 1728, and died on June 26, 1784. Nowhere near the number I was searching for. I tried subtraction, addition, and even multiplication of the digits, but nothing came close to 1934.
And then I remembered. Yes, of course. This statue had something to do with the year 1934.
This statue of Caesar Rodney was given to National Statuary Hall Collection by Delaware in 1934. As I recalled that, the blood suddenly inside me started to boil.
There must be something here. For the next couple of minutes, I searched near the statue, but without any result. There was nothing, simply nothing, anywhere near the sculpture or its base.
Am I wrong? Maybe.
But what if I am right? And I didn’t find the bomb planted by two terrorists? It would be a disaster, with me in it.
And then I saw him. A man, wearing the same suit as those of the congressmen. Nothing was alarming about the person, except his eyes. They darted left and right, before settling on a person wearing a black suit. I tried to keep an eye on them while trying to find whatever it was near the marble statue. The black suit seemingly ushered the person to come with him, and they were gone from my view the next minute.
Shit. Just six minutes left.
I frantically searched everywhere around the statue, as Farris reached me and put his hand on my shoulder.
‘Found something doctor?’ His eyes seemed to humor me.
‘N….no. Not yet.’ I replied, my voice trembling a bit in anticipation. ‘But I…….’
I stopped mid-sentence as I saw the newcomer and the black suit approach the statue where I was standing.
And my eyes fell upon the hands of both the black suit and the newcomer. And I scr……
The next moment, even before I blinked, Farris was thrown forward flying, and I heard something whooshing past my ear, missing me just by a centimeter. Before I understood what happened, instincts and adrenaline kicked in.
I shouted and ran at the same time.
My sudden shout seemed to stun both my attackers for a second as they stood rooted to their place, giving me the precious time to slice through the air and hit straight into the midsection of the newcomer. A jolt of pain coursed through my head as we collided and fell in a heap. I ignored the agony, as I sensed it was not muscle and tissue that I had smacked. It was something else, a little harder below his jacket. We both tumbled to the ground, but he was quick on his feet.
He sneered at me and kicked hard on my face, causing my lip to split and bleed. The black suit pulled his silenced gun and pointed it straight between my eyes.
‘May Allah have mercy.’ The newcomer cried out loud as he lifted both his arms, the right one holding a silver tube with a red button on top of it that I had seen a moment ago along with the gun in the black suit’s hand.
I closed my eyes as the man lifted his thumb to put pressure on the red button.
Bam. Bam. Bam.
I opened my eyes just in time…….
To see the lifeless glassy eyes of the newcomer looking back at me, just a few feet away.
And I fainted.
‘Welcome back to the world of the living.’
I opened my eyes and saw a bandaged Agent Farris sitting cross-legged in front of me. His eyes were glinting while the whole place was ablaze with activity. Cops ran around, the two body bags getting removed, and so on. A look at the watch told me I was out for nearly ten minutes.
‘Welcome back, Doctor.’ The Agent said as I slowly got up. ‘If it is not for you, the suicide bomber Jahir Abbas would have turned the place to dust. And I believe it was because of your scream that Agent Jed was not able to kill me. So, thank you for saving an FBI Agent, and the Capitol.’
‘Who….who killed them.’ I asked, my throat dried up.
‘One from me and two from a couple of other FBI agents.’ Farris replied, his face twisting in pain as he tried to stand slowly. ‘Your shout helped us. I had never thought that Jed could be helping the terrorists.’
‘That actually makes sense.’ I said, thinking out loud. ‘That bomber Abbas must have needed someone inside to get the bomb and the vest in through the Capitol.’
‘Yes.’ He said as he stared at me with a smile on his face. ‘You know what doctor? I had thought that old doctors were never fit enough to take care of themselves. But your running and tackling Jahir today changed my view. I will keep an eye out for any young doctors aged around 55 next time.
And that bullet just grazed my shoulder. Jed was always a lousy shooter, thank god for that.’
And we both laughed together.
It finally took me more than a couple of hours to come back to the hospital, with my energy absolutely drained.
‘Doctor.’ The hospital called me as soon as I sat on the couch in the living room, feeling exhausted.
‘What is it?’ I whispered.
‘You should come and see Peter.’
Hearing the worry in the nurse’s voice, I wasted no time driving back to the hospital.
‘Thank you, doctor.’ I heard Bill say even before I saw him. He sounded happy and beaming, as was, interestingly, Peter.
‘Thank you, doctor Mitra.’ Peter said grinning, happily. ‘Without your help, I might not have recovered back.’
‘What…what do you mean?’ I could not wrap my head around the fact that Peter was speaking normally to me, without uttering a single number.
‘Yes, I felt fine after my breakfast today.’ Peter replied in a completely normal tone. ‘The numbers were not there anymore. I could see and think clearly.’
This was unbelievable.
I wanted to observe him for a day more, so I asked Bill to wait till tomorrow. But I think Peter will be fine.
I cannot explain the phenomenon of Peter getting better, but my mind was telling me something else. Peter had the duty to stop a terror attack in the city during the Independence Day, and he has fulfilled that. Maybe, someday when something worse is about to happen, he will regain his power of numbers.
I don’t know, but I hope he doesn’t have to.
Angandeep Kr Chatterjee is an IT Engineer, working out in Kolkata, India, in a software company. He has been part of the Indian storytelling contest, Inspitale, the 2020 TU-Dublin-Short-Story-Competition. His short stories have been part of other magazines and journals including – The Thanksgiving Revenge in October 20 edition for Ariel Chart. His hobby and passion are to read and write books on various genres including literary, commercial, and historical fiction, fantasy, etc. His work in progress includes a historical treasure hunt and a fantasy novel. Some of his favourite authors are – Matthew Reilly, Andy Mcdermott, Dan Brown etc.