Red for Danger

by Lyyod Nehulkar

Jims voice was animated. An hour had passed and still Jim hadnt finished his sordid tale. The fear in his hollow, sunk eyes was clearly evident. He babbled non-stop as if there was no tomorrow. Sometimes his voice came clear and distinct and sometimes it flickered like a candles flame in the face of the gushing wind. He was in a hurry to clear his tumultuous mind of the cobwebs that hindered his freedom. He felt that as if he was chained to those vicious thoughts and could not break free without someones help. And this someone was none other than Dr. Charles Thomson a renowned Psychiatrist, with flourishing practice anyone envied.

Dr. Thomson had been in this esteemed profession for the last 20 years and had expertise in untangling the weary patients from the harrowing thoughts that confronted them and made life miserable.

Dr. Thomson was known to have keen wits and at the moment was minutely scrutinizing and jotting down on his scribbling pad every detailed information that came out of Jims mouth. Every word had some meaning, intrinsic value which could help in solving the deep rooted problem. Dr. had the uncanny ability of probing the patients mind like a laser beam which could uncover the labyrinth of thoughts to the awe and amazement of the patient.

It depended upon an individual case of the patient, as to what type of treatment would produce results. For mild cases, tranquilizers would suffice. For others, some sittings in hypnotic trance would lead Dr. Thomson into patients subconscious mind and hidden feelings which had been repressed and thought to be long forgotten, but had taken the form of dreaded bugaboos, which haunted many.

Dr. Thomson was head and shoulders above the other head shrinkers and was credited for curing numerous patients who had lost all hope and had turned morbid. He treated them with utmost care so that he could give them clean bill of health.

            Jim too, had visited Serene Mind clinic as pall of gloom was hanging over him like a cloudy, disturbed sky without any ray of hope in sight.

At the moment, Jim was narrating that horrible incident which scarred his soul perpetually.

Six months ago

            It was on the 25th December that Jim had taken a flight to Bangalore. He was on honeymoon.

In Hill View deluxe hotel, he had booked a suite for two. After check-in he had asked the attendant to pin up a Do not disturb board on his suites door. The attendant had nodded mischievously accepting the generous tip Jim had given to him.

Thank you, Sir. If there is anything that I can do, I will be much obliged.

No. Thats all for today. Jim said curtly. He was very much keen to have privacy.

As you wish Sir. Bowing his head, the attendant left.

            Jim closed the door hurriedly. Turning back he crossed the floor in a jiffy and stretched his arms. Della, his wife melted in those arms. It felt heavenly. Then suddenly she asked,

Did you have to be so generous?

Come again?

Its the tip I am talking about. Della enlightened him.

Ah, so, whats the big deal? Come on now, we should not be so stingy, honey. We are here on honeymoon. We shouldnt let these petty thoughts dwell in our minds. See how romantic this atmosphere is? Lets enjoy. He said embracing her further.

He looked into her doe-shaped eyes which were inviting him. Her red lips parted and he kissed her. A surge of happiness went through her beautiful body.

For the last six days they were enjoying the picturesque beauty of Bangalore, Mysore and Ooty, India. Ooty, being the Queen of all the hill-stations gave them memorable time. Those winding paths, the lush greenery, the majestic mountains piercing through the sky.. It was feast to the eyes. They had clicked innumerable photos so that they could relive the beautiful moments that were fleeting away.

It was the last day. Jim had turned down the polite request of the Hotel Manager, to hire a taxi. He wanted to stroll all alone without those inquisitive eyes probing their privacy.

He wanted to explore Ootys beauty on his own. Eat whenever and wherever he had the feeling. Rest, relax under some shady tree. Then again, hitchhike. That was his plan. Della had endorsed it.

Chit-chatting they had reached One Tree point. It was the zenith of Ooty. The view was breathtaking.

Its fabulous. Della squealed joyfully.

Yes. I agree. Jim said surveying the lush greenery that unfolded before him and left him mesmerized.

The sky was purple blue. Clouds were roaming aimlessly as if they had nothing to do. Below were the Blue Mountains covering themselves with green sheets of tall trees. A huge Gorge ran down from the crevice of the mountain from where the freezing water fell down splashing and foaming.

I havent seen such a beautiful sight in my life. She said excitedly. Her delight knew no bounds.

It is magical. Jim said, looking around.

Jim then captured her gorgeous photos with blue Mountains behind her.

As the sun started its lone journey to the west, Della said, somewhat concerned,

I think we must leave now. It is getting darker.

Yes. Lets move. Jim said in agreement.

Suddenly they became aware of the fact that they were alone. Sparse tourists had disappeared from the spot. Sky above had turned crimson. The murmuring soft winds had turned raw and pointed carving its way under the skin. Fog had started rising from the chasm below engulfing greenery. Trees long shadows were now spreading as if casting a spell of darkness. Twilight was creeping stealthily.

As they were scurrying down the narrow path a bald, stout man of around 30 years came from nowhere and obstructed their path. It was clearly evident from his behavior that his intentions were dark and dreary. Jim glanced at him, and tried to squeeze his way, but could not. Suddenly two to three men appeared on the scene. Something ominous was going to happen, Jim realized instinctively. But he could not do much. He stopped abruptly.

What is it, Mr.? Jim asked angrily.

The goon in front of him gave a sly smile.

Lets have a look into your wallet. He said winking to two other goons. They grinned and winked back.

What the hell? You arent touching my wallet. Jim said furiously. His hands had turned into fists. His pulse was racing unabatedly.

Della was trembling with fright. Her hands had turned moist and mouth dry. She clutched to Jims shoulder for reassurance.

Give it to them. She pleaded to Jim but the words fell on his deaf ears. He was beyond reasoning.

On my dead body. He quipped.

O.K. then, lets have your girl.

The second skinny goon in early 20s said flashing a razor sharp knife from his trousers pocket. Della screamed and her eyes widened with horror. Her heart pounded heavily. Jim felt paralyzed. He could not muster courage to defend his beloved.

Take one step and you will find yourself in a grave. The goon said menacingly.

Please. Please leave her alone. I beg of you. He rumbled, sweating profusely. The sight of the naked blade paralyzed his spirit. His knees began to buckle.

Suddenly the second goon hit him on his chest. Jim felt excruciating pain running through his body. He fell unconscious. The goons left him to his fate with Della screaming for help, echoing back to her.

It was a prelude to Jims tragedy that was going to unfold and make him perpetually desolate. The imminent fatality was awaiting him.

When Jim had regained consciousness, he saw Della some feet away lying in overgrown thick bushes, stabbed, bleeding profusely and raped brutally.

   #

Jim could not delete that traumatizing incident from his mind as if it was etched on it permanently. On any other day, he was a usual guy doing routine jobs. But on full moon, something in him would slowly creep outside. The dread for the red colour would ooze into his conscious mind from the subconscious level and suddenly his fear would get transformed into fury. Rage and contempt would engulf him.

Those unknown goons, the hideous rape..the wound made due to the stabbing red thick blood oozing out of her mutilated body.

The past memories would flood his mind and haunt him. He had tried to shake them up but to no avail. They remained rooted in his mind. However hard he tried those dark thoughts came again with vengeance to destroy his serene soul, which quickly dissipated his energy. On few occasions, he had controlled himself from hurting grievously some unknown persons as they had something Red on them. It was his sheer willpower that had helped him override the upheavaling and turbulating emotions.

But he had soon realized that he could not suppress those thoughts for too long and something terrible would happen on any Full moon night. And it would not be before long he would find himself behind bars or locked in the gloomy, dreary asylum.

                          #

Dr. Thomsons mobile buzzed. He signaled with open palm to Jim to stop his narration. Jim nodded. He had nearly finished his tale. He was quite exhausted. But he felt relieved as he had unburdened his heart which felt crushed due to the tormenting thoughts.

  Dr. went near the open window so as to get clear signal and murmured softly. Then switching off the mobile, turned and sat down on his large, swiveling chair, behind his mahogany table.

Jim was seated at the edge of the chair, with hunched shoulders, brooding over the past events. His face was pale, with worry.

Dr. looked at him inquisitively, putting down his gold tipped pen on the table. Jim licked his dry lips so as to make them moist.

Dr. handed him a glass of plain water which he drank in one gulp.

Feeling better, Dr. asked with a smile.

Yes

He was feeling much better. His gloomy thoughts for some moments faded away like a fog thinning out in the sunshine.

What is your opinion, Doc.? Will I be able to get rid of these thoughts or will they haunt me till eternity? Please.please tells me the truth. Dont hide anything from me. Jims voice was shallow. He wanted reassurance from the Dr. that everything was o.k.

Dr. took deep breath and then said, I think I will be able to help you.

You think so. Jim asked, hardly believing his ears.

Yes. Dr. nodded affirmatively.

Oh, thank God. I was very keen to hear these soothing words. Jims face brightened.

You need not worry. You can rest assured that you are in safe hands.

But why are these thoughts tormenting me now? I believed that I had long forgotten them. Jim asked, becoming more inquisitive.

Look here, many a times we think that we have forgotten the incident. But it is not so, it still lingers in the subconscious mind of which we are hardly aware. Something stimulates that incident and the whole hazy picture starts popping on the conscious level. Same thing happened with you.

The problem with you Mr. Jim, is that you are obsessed with those dreadful thoughts and your thinking is getting cloudy. We will have to erase the whole incident from your memory. You are suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Dr. Thomson said after glancing through his notes lying on the mahogany table.

Isnt there any remedy? Jim asked anxiously.

I want to be fair with you. It will take time. Your mental wounds are deeply entrenched into your mind. But with the help of medication, cognitive reappraisal theory and Hypnosis, I think I will be able to help you. Dr. Thomson stated, tapping lightly with his fingers on the table. Jim nodded as if he understood and then a question suddenly popped in his racing mind.

Doc. could you please tell me as to why does the dread of Red occurs on Full Moon and not on any other night?

Good question. I will answer it. On Full Moon day, it has been scientifically proved that persons having mental problems tend to suffer more. Anxiety level increases in them. They feel gloomy and morbid. Sudden and inexplicable changes are noticed. Dr. Thomson reasoned.

Hmmm.

With the help of medication and some treatment you will be able to get rid of these thoughts.

Dr. Thomson prescribed some mild tranquillizers. Jim went through the prescription but could not make a head or tale out of it. He then shrugged his shoulders, folded the paper and shoved it in his trouser pocket.

Take these pills for 6 days. Then on next Sunday meet me at 9 p.m.

But it is a Full moon night and I rarely venture out. Jim said hastily. The very mention of the full moon made him feel jittery.

I knowI knowthats why I am keen on meeting you at that night. I want to see the pattern of your behavior, your body language and the unabated emotions.

But I fail to understand Jims voice trailed into silence.

It is called Implosion Therapy or the Flood Therapy in which a patient has to come face to face with the haunting fear. He may become anxious, perspire, feel like exiting the dreaded thing, but after some sittings, calms down and is able to take stock of the situation and eventually obtains freedom from the vicious cycle. Dr. Thomson explained in lay terms.

Very well. I will be at the clinic at 9.p.m.sharp. But it will be Sunday and I presume that your clinic is closed.

You need not come to my clinic. I live downstairs. Jim nodded as he stood up to leave.

Thank you, Doc.

Welcome Doctor smiled.

Jim turned and closed the heavy wooden door behind him and started descending the steps, feeling relaxed and easy.

                                             #

As soon as Jim had left the clinic, Dr. Thomson pressed the buzzer on his table. Nora, his secretary, immediately came in.

Yes, Doc.

Doc. Smiled broadly.

You seem to be in good mood. Nora said.

I am. You know, my dear, I have found a solution to our problem. Comfortably sitting in his chair, Dr. said cheerfully.

Really? She exclaimed excitedly. She could not believe her ears.

Yes. This patient of mine, Mr.Jim is going to get rid of my wife,Mary. Then we will be free to marry. You thought that I was procrastinating our marriage plans unnecessarily. But no, my dear, I wanted to get out of this sticky situation without any uproar. Dr. Thomson clarified.

You mean to say that Jim is going to kill your wife. Nora asked doubtfully.

Yes. Thats my plan.

But how? Nora was quite puzzled.

You need not worry about that. It is going to be fool-proof. lighting a cigarette, Dr. said confidently.

Nora looked into his eyes. He purposely blinked them in assurance. She smiled and was about to kiss him when suddenly she heard a knock on the door.

She turned back and frantically opened the door. Another patient was keen on seeing the Doc. She waved him in and left.

                                                                        #

Mary, Docs wife was utterly surprised to find Doc. in good spirit. Many months had passed and the tension between them had grown from bad to worse. Nora, docs secretary was the bone of contention between the two. Mary had got a wind that something was brewing between her husband and Nora. From that day onwards, she had insisted on replacing Nora. But Doc. had ignored her requests. She was getting paranoid. She had asked him directly as to what was transpiring between him and his secretary. And after much deliberation he had admitted the fact that he had fallen for Nora. That was the last thing she wanted to hear. It traumatized her immensely. But after coming to terms with the fact, she had tried to bridge the chasm that was being created by the odd relationship.

It had not bore fruits. Dr. was way ahead and had no intention in returning back. He had pleaded his wife for mutual divorce but she was against it and now the time had come where he had to severe the lifelong bondage.

With ulterior motive, he had purchased a dazzling new RED dress for her.

Right now, she was appraising herself in the mirror in their bedroom. She felt satisfied.

Why did you have to buy such pricey dress? She plated her blonde lustrous hair and asked raising her lovely eyebrows.

Its not pricey, my dear. When you wear it, it gets the tag. Looking deep into her eyes, Dr. stated without feeling guilty whatsoever.

Oh my God.You sound so poetic. Did you read any of the Mills and Boons lately? She asked with mischievous smile.

I do not have to read. Its in my blood, my veins are full of poetry, darling. Taking her into his arms Dr. said.

She felt as if heaven had bent down to touch earth. She blossomed inside. A sense of fulfillment left her somewhat dazed.

She had long forgotten these sweet words and for many months endeavored hardships to steady her capsizing boat. She had achieved it. At least this was what she was thinking about, just now.

But Dr. was already in another orbit. Floating in his mind was the lovely picture of Nora.

That night Mary was in the 7th Heaven. They had gone to the Shopping Mall, purchased to the hearts content and had good food in a fine restaurant. She was pleased with him but he wasnt.

                                #

Full Moon Night.

Mary was sitting in the living room, of their Bungalow, surfing channels on LCD.

Nothing interesting, she muttered to herself and switched off the set. Then she looked up at the watch kept on the mantel. 8.30 p.m.

Dr. had told her that he was busy upstairs in his clinic and that he would come downstairs at sharp 9.p.m.

She yawned and slouched in the comfortable sofa reading a mysterious Novel. She became engrossed in that fictitious story. Half an hour passed.

Suddenly the bell rang. Her heart jolted for a moment then she realized that someone was at the door. Keeping the book aside on the table, she sprinted towards the door. She opened it without even checking through the eye-hole.

Jim was standing at the door.

Yes? She was startled to see a stranger as she was expecting her husband.

Dr. Thomson?

He is upstairs, in his clinic. She answered.

But but Dr had told me to meet him here. Jim explained. He was perplexed as to why Dr. had called him at his house when infact he was upstairs, in his clinic.

Oh.then please come inside. She gestured towards the overstuffed brown sofa.

Please be seated. He may come downstairs any moment.

She went inside to bring a glass of water without having faintest idea that death was lurking nearby.

Jim tried to relax on the sofa. But did not feel comfortable as Dr. was not present in the house and more importantly, Mary was wearing a RED dress presented to her by her loving husband. He could actually feel the molten lava boiling and bubbling inside him.

Mary came out with a glass of water. Jim took the glass. His hands were unsteady and his eyes glued to her RED dress. Initially Mary did not notice it but when he cringed his eyes she suddenly became aware that something was wrong with the guy.

He had become anxious, heartbeats had jacked-up. He felt as if something ominously moved inside him. A feeling of hatred suddenly took charge of him. He threw the glass on the floor and clutched Mary. She screamed at the top of her lungs and tried to set herself free from his iron grip. But could not. His grip was that of an animal. She slapped him hard and then again gave a kick on his groin. He growled and fell with a thud on the ground. She swiftly went inside the kitchen and tried to lock herself up. But Jim had recovered from the blow and had darted after her into the kitchen. Now he had blocked her way. He looked around. A knife was lying on the left corner of the kitchen platform. He picked it up and charged towards her. She felt frozen. She could not even scream. The razor sharp knife pierced through her body. Thick blood started oozing out of her body.

Jim was seething with anger and muttering to himself.REDRED..as if some spirit had possessed him.

                          #

Dr. Thomson was anxiously pacing up and down in his clinic located upstairs of his bungalow. He threw a glance at this gold wrist watch. The hands showed 9.30 p.m.

My plan must not fail.it has to worknothing can go wrong now nothing .. he may come any moment. Dr. said to himself, so as to calm his jittery nerves.

Within 5 minutes Jim barged in to the clinic holding blood stained knife in his hand.

There was horror in his eyes.

Dr. was delighted to see him. He had used his psychoanalytical skill to finish his wife, Mary.

Dr. I.I. . Jim stammered.

Dr. gestured to him to calm down and sit. Jim sat, putting the blood stained knife at the edge of the table. His heart was thudding, lips were dry and mind hazy.

Dr. II do not know what happened. But there was intense pressure from inside to kill your wife. II had told you that my blood boils whenever I see something red and that too on this full moon day. But... you had insisted and see where you have landed me. Jims voice chocked. He could not utter a single word.

Dr. Thomson looked at him intensely thinking that Jims fate was sealed. His plan had paid-off. Now there was no obstacle and he could marry his sweetheart, Nora, anytime.

What are you going to do now? Jim asked flinchingly.

Dr. Thomson smirked and said, What would you do if you were in my position?

Jim moistened his lips, gathered some words and then said hesitatingly,

Call the police. I know that I have committed a crime. Maybe its not entirely my fault. But then, I cannot live with this guilt forever. Jim suddenly had become stoic.

Thats what Dr. Thomson was going to do. He dialed the number of the police station and then sat behind the mahogany table pleased with himself. He started visualising. Police would arrive soon and take Jim in their custody. Then he would telephone Nora and give her good news.

Suddenly a siren wailed somewhere down the street. It jolted Jim who was lost in a whirlpool of morbid thoughts.

He looked up, for a brief moment his eyes were vague, then suddenly his eyes blazed as he became aware of the fact that Dr. Thomson was smoking a cigarette and its tip was glowing RED..RED.

                                        THE END.

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