16 January, 2020
Story by Amisha Balwani has won the best story award in 999 Not Out – a story writing competition organized by IGenPlus.
A few people sleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Caroline was not one of them. She wondered about her day, gazed at things around her room and went over a dozen times to the kitchen to have a midnight snack until finally she is able to sleep.This time too she had stepped out of bed for a snack but little did she know that an unexpected adventure was waiting for her.
While walking casually towards the fridge, she saw her father go out through the backdoor. ‘Why would dad go out at this time?’ she thought.
Caroline first thought of going back to bed but then she couldn’t resist finding out what her father was upto,so she followed him.
Her father walked quietly through the woods without even the slightest shiver in such a windy weather. His body language so confident and determined made Caroline even more curious.
Caroline tried to maintain good distance from him so she wasn’t caught. It took a long walk of 10 minutes towards the flat area of the cliff, when she was finally able to see it arrive.
It was a huge ,all black helicopter ,it landed to take her father some place. Her father got on it and off he went. Caroline was perplexed.
Through a last glimpse of the departing secretive helicopter , she managed to see a bug white capital E written on it. Caroline then returned home and went to bed.
For the next few days, she thought continuously about the big white E she had seen. She tried researching about the big capital white E but had no luck. But, her inner detective wasn’t going to give up so easily.
She was losing patience and couldn’t wait anymore to find out the secret. She decided to follow the helicopter through the woods and got equipped for the journey. She took the keys (more like stole them) of the motorcycle and followed her dad out of the backdoor again that night.
After crossing the woods, she watched her dad getting into a car. She followed the car to a shady corner building about 5 stories high.
Her father went inside it along with a few other men, all with black suitcases. Caroline went towards the building’s gates. She felt like lady Jack Ryan, and also a terrible nose parker,but there was no stepping back now.
There was a fingerprint lock at the entrance.
‘There is something very fishy about this place’, she felt.
She tried putting her fingers on the lock,hoping her print would be similar to her father.As soon as she pressed her finger on the device, there were sounds of footsteps running towards her.
Guards , all men in black, with a stern expression on their face gathered up around her. They all looked at her as if she was their prey, ready to be attacked.
“DAD! Dad, please come out, I’m in trouble! DAD!” Caroline shouted with all her strength.
Then her father came out , shocked to see his daughter there. His face had a worried yet angry expression.
Caroline was afraid of how he was going to react but but above everything else, she was relieved to see him. She felt saved.
Caroline wanted to apologise for the mess she had created but even before that she wanted to know what was going on,she was dying of curiosity.
She followed him to a grey room where there was just a table and two chairs.
“You shouldn’t have followed me here, ma cherie”, he said.
“I am sorry dad, but I still want to know about this place. Please, don’t hide it from me, I can keep secrets, I am a big girl.”
“I know, baby. But,I can’t tell you things that can put you in danger.”
“What is that supposed to mean, dad?”
“The truth is that I work as a secret agent for the government not as a desk officer. All the men you saw are commandos, here for the station protection. They mistook you as threat and that is they gathered around you.
Caroline was puzzuled, amazed, excited and shocked all at the same time.
“So, you are like james bond and this might be MI5?” she asked jokingly.
“No no, my dear “, he chuckled and said.
“I am not like James Bond. And our organisation is called Eros.”
‘God, now that big white E makes sense’ , Caroline said to herself.
“But daddy, pray tell me, all these years you hid this from us. But now,you tell me all about it without hesitation. Why?”
“You’ll soon find out,ma cherie. Here, drink some water and let’s head home.”
Caroline obediently drank some water from the bottle he gave to her and they headed home together.
The next morning, she woke up in her bed. Rubbing her eyes, she freshened up and went to the breakfast table.
She felt dizzy as if she was awake the whole night. Her mother offered her pancakes but Caroline was deep into her own thoughts.
“What’s the matter,Caroline? You look a bit off,” her mom asked.
Yeah, I feel tired.
Why? Weren’t you sleeping the whole night?
I was but then I woke up. It was still dark. I saw dad going towards the paddy fields. The air was dry and the sky, cloudless. I got up to go towards him.
Her mom was smirking and it was clear atht she didn’t believe a word Caroline was saying.
Caroline couldn’t remember anything after that. It was all gone, as if a memory was deleted from her brain.
“Then I don’t remember, mom!” said Caroline with a troubled look.
“You probably were just dreaming,honey. Here, have some pancakes.”
And hearing this from the kitchen, Caroline’s father smiled.