Heavy snow had dressed everything in neighborhood in white. The streets were empty. But not Dr.Ranjana's office.
Dr.Ranjana,with Ph.D in Psychotherapy,sat on single-seated Recliner-Sofa opposite to a depressed,silent man lying on
Dr.Ranjana:-The death of those MARCOS-commandos on Bombay-High oil-rig 1-year ago was not your fault. You couldn't have
done anything to save them. They sacrificed their lives so that a big attack could be averted.
Captain:-I couldn't save him either. It's as if my life is marred with failures. I feel deep pain in my heart.
Dr.Ranjana:-Ah..yes..the boy! I heard about it in the news. (pauses)Tell me from begining.
Captain:-It all started a week ago. I had just reached my home after our session. It was around 7:00PM when I heard
somebody's cry. I put my trench-coat,hat and ran out to check. 5-houses away,2-men were forcefully dragging a kid in
black-van. Seeing me,one of the goon started firing.None of the bullets hit me but it gave them sufficient time to escape.
I dialled City-Police-Station number and went inside the boy's house. The residents--Husband and Wife,were brutally
murdered. Soon,police arrived. They started canvassing the area. A sketch-artist drew kidnapper's face according to my
Dr.Ranjana:- Quite a memory you've Captain.
Captain-Manabendra:-Yeah. 3-days later,I was again called at Police-Station. Inspector.Karan was worried. It turned out
that kidnapped kid Suman's parents were murdered using a knife that belong to cult Brotherhood. It had been terrorizing
Shimla for past 6-years. I was asked to help with the case,as I had witnessed the incident and my training-expertise. Each
year,they would kidnap and then kill young boys in September. There was no pattern of kidnapping except that kids were
murdered on dates matching their age. Suman,aged 13,was going to die on 13thSeptember. We had only 3 days to find him. We
were wondering what to do next,when police-station phone rang. It was from coroner's office who revealed a startling
information. The kidnapper Franklin-D'Souza had committed suicide 2-days ago.
Dr.Ranjana:-He too? As many as 5-people have killed themselves in past 3-weeks. Was he Brotherhood member?
Captain:-To investigate this,we went to Mr.Franklin-D'Souza's house. We started to look for every minute details.
Suddenly,I came across his Study-Table. For some reasons,it seemed quite odd. It was as if I had seen that table before. I
found a button hidden cautiously under the chair,pressing which a secret-compartment opened in the table. In it there was
an ancient book whose cover contained tattoos of Brotherhood!
Dr.Ranjana:-So,Mr.D'Souza was Brotherhood-member after all.
Captain:-To gain more insight on motives and methodology of brotherhood,we read the book. It turns out Brotherhood
worships a demon Kalala who was killed by the local-gods centuries ago. They believe,they can revive him,reincarnation if
you may. To do so they have to perform a ritual and kill 7 kids under age of 14 in month of Septemeber when Kalala was
killed. Suman is going to be last victim and to complete ritual,5-members must also sacrifice themselves.
Dr.Ranjana:-Doesn't it looked like a cliched motive. I have seen dozens of movie where a cult tries to "revive their
gods". Reincarnation as a conept is not bad. Think about it, being born again to serve humanity. I consider this to be a
Captain:Doc, I believe if someone is worthy enough, one life is enough to serve human-cause.
We also found an image of elements---Sand,Moon,Water and Blood with cryptic-verse that indicated the location of their
ritual-site. "Like the phoenix, master shall rise in shadows of four-elements bathing in blood of light-souls". Light-
souls here meant the children. We had to find out what four-elements junction was. Luckily,that wasn't necessary.
Inspector.Karan found a certain type of mould in Mr.D'Souza's boots. The stench from mould screamed of The-Barogh-Tunnel,a
haunted tunnel. What place can be better for hiding than a haunted place where nobody goes.
Thereafter,along with 20-armed police-men we went to The-Barogh-Tunnel. Upon reaching,Brotherhood-members started firing
at us. The surrounding area of Barogh-Tunnel has lots of hiding-place. The Brotherhood members were aware of those
locations. Shootout lasted for several-hours. Eventually,they were all killed. We entered the tunnel and started walking
along the old,rusted railway-tracks. The torch-light was only thing lightening the black tunnel. We kept walking and
eventually came out of other end. Surprised,We tracked back the tunnel,again we didn't find anything. However,I noticed
the oddness in lever-switch at mouth of tunnel that was used in old days to manually switch the track. The tracks were
very old and rusted. But corrosion on lever-switch was very-less. Inspector.Karan,with all his might,pulled the lever. A
boulder right in middle of tunnel moved to pave the way for secret-room. Again, inside the room,I had deja-vu
feeling...like...like I had been there before. We had almost saved Suman. But our happiness was short-lived. The secret-
room was filled with all types of tantric-totems and symbols. Right in the middle was a burnt body of kid. We couldn't
save Suman. With his blood,message was carved---"You failed Captain-Manabendra just like last year"
Captain-Manabendra took a deep breath.
Dr.Ranjana:-Captain,these past events,they are merely a distraction. Your improvement ha...
Captain-Manabendra had a moment and suddenly he jumped in delight.
Captain:-Yes,it makes sense...I'll do exactly that.
Dr.Ranjana:-(more-confused)What are you talking about?
Captain-Manabendra didn't answered her. Instead,he started dialling Inspector.Karan's number.
Captain:-Suman is still alive Inspector! The body that we found was a decoy. The sacrifice is going to happen tonight.
They burnt the body so that we cannot identify him,contrary to previous murders where kids were not burnt. I think the boy
who died must be someone from a follower's family. If they are ready to kill themselves,then they are deranged enough to
sacrifice their own children. Now the question that remains is where is their ritual-site.
Inspector.Karan:-Captain,story mentioned in Brotherhood-book has striking resemblance to one my mother used to tell me
when I was small. A demon was killed by local-gods in place,now known as Chadwick-Falls. But the problem is that,the base
of fall is junction of 3-elements---Sand from ground,Water from falls and Blood as in Suman. What about Moon though?
Captain:-(excitingly)You can get the moon's reflection.
Inspector.Karan:-(lowering-volume)We've found the location. But we don't know whom to trust. For all we know,anyone can be
Captain:-I agree with you. If we move now,we can make it to Chadwick-Falls by night-fall. Meet me at Heun-village.
Captain:-You're right Dr.Ranjana. Dwelling on the past only brings more pain. I couldn't have saved them.
Dr.Ranjana:-Finally! But you don't have time. Hurry! Save the kid,Save yourself.
Chadwick-Falls is situated in middle of dense forest. The forest starts from remote Heun-village. The paths are very
narrow and dusty,hence upon reaching Heun-Village,they had to cover the distance by foot. The howls of wolves grew louder
as they ventured deep into the forest. After half-hour walk they could see the base of Chadwick-Falls from distance. 5
Brotherhood-members were standing in circle,around unconscious Suman,who was lying in shallow water of Chadwick-Falls. The
moon was shining brightly on Suman. The brotherhood members were chanting some verses. A priest with Axe proceeded to kill
Suman. However,a bullet in his head stopped him from even reaching close to the boy. Seeing this,remaining 5-members
started to flee,but trained naval-officer Captain-Manabendra and Inspector.Karan arrested all of them.
Captain:-Are you all right?
There was no response. As he proceeded to untie the unconscious kid,he received the biggest shock of his life. He started
sweating profusely. It was as if he had seen a ghost. The kid had face of MARCOS Major.
Captain-Manabendra:-Its not possible!
Kid:-Thank you for saving me!
Suddenly,from all directions sea-water rushed in. The trees,fall,Inspector.Karan----all started to dissolve. In no time
there was water everywhere. The fierce water formed a whirlpool beneath him,sucking Captain-Manabendra in it. There was no
point in fighting the whirlpool. He quietly surrendered and closed his eyes.
Captain-Manabendra didn't know how much time had passed,when he opened his eyes. He was lying on solid white ground in an
empty realm filled with white light. There was no begining,no end,except for a gray sphere hovering some distance from
him. He touched it which then transformed into Dr.Ranjana.
Dr.Ranjana:-Congratulation! You're now ready to move on!
Captain-Manabendra:-Wai..wha..what?Move on? Where am I?
Dr.Ranjana:-While returning from Dr.Ranjana's session last-week,you had heart-attack. You died!
Captain-Manabendra:-I don't understand. If I died,then this whole search for kidnapped kid...what was that?
Dr.Ranjana:-Every person in his lifetime obtains a baggage which he carries for his entire life and in death too. For some
sit's hatred,for some grief and so on. For you,it was regret. So when someone dies,in order to move on,he need to shed
that baggage,for which he is given one last chance. We call it Trial. For you,it was saving child version of Major and
realizating that you couldn't have done anything to save original him. Once,someone completes Trial,I visit them.
Captain-Manabendra:-But it all seemed too real.
Dr.Ranjana:-Obviously. The whole Trial scenario was formed by your memories. That's why all the places and people seemed
familiar to you.
Captain-Manabendra:-So,if I'm dead,then are you god? And this place,is it heaven?hell?
Dr.Ranjana:-I am just a Guide. And this place is both heaven and hell. We call this place Canvas. Your trial was your
Captain:-So now what?
Guide clicked her fingers. Two-closed doors,red and blue colored appeared behind her.
Guide:-You can stay here as long as you want. It's your heaven. Whatever you wanted,you can have in here. Promotion to
Admiral of fleet or a happy family...perhaps lost love. Just by thinking,you can transform this place into your most
beautiful memory. Think about you're happiest moment.
Captain did exactly that. Suddenly,Canvas transformed into his childhood home.
Guide:-Stay here as long as you want. Once you're ready,choose one of these doors. They will be here even when I'm gone.
Captain:-What's behind them?
Guide:-The blue door will give you rebirth as new person. This red-door is especially for you. Time in Canvas is faster
than outer world. It has only been 7-minutes since your death. Red-door bring you back to life. But hurry,it will only
last for next 4-minutes.
Captain:-This place...this..this Canvas is fake. How can I stay here after knowing that.
Guide:-You can have anything you want.
Captain:-I've made my decision.
Captain moved forward. He turned the door-knob. A flash of light covered him. Whole Canvas disappeared.
Rating - 140/200
Judges - Pankaj V. (Shaan), Mayank Sharma and Mohit Trendster
Total Rating (3 Rounds) - 385/600 (64.17%)