The Old England Gentleman's Club ~ Tales from the dark side

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Old England Gentleman's Club







1920.

The world is in turmoil. A world war has shaken the very foundations of every European country.

The colonial power of the Great Britain is being challenged all over the world, many countries are on the verge of breaking free from the commonwealth.

In the midst of that the Indian freedom movement has found a new voice in the form of a saint by the name Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Till then a war which was being fought by guerilla mercenaries against the British Government had suddenly turned into a peaceful movement. Non Cooperation was the new weapon that the Indian National Congress was using against the British Government. The spirit of complete freedom had engulfed the entire country. The British saw in this a beginning to the end, and they tried to avoid the day of reckoning by entering into negotiations with the Congress.

A path was paved out for the successors of the Indian Freedom Movement, by transforming the tyrannical British Rule into one that was willing to negotiate.

Bombay
December 21st, 1920.

A lone constable was patrolling the streets near Churchgate. It was around ten in the night, and his duty had just started. He was Indian, six feet tall and well built, and had just joined the force. He had no family or relatives. His name was Vishnu.

Someone was watching him, perched on one of the spires of Churchgate station, he was looking down.

"Perfect", he thought.

He jumped.

He performed a perfect arc in the air, and landed with his feet on the square. The jump must have been about a hundred feet.

He stood up, and started walking in the direction of the policeman.

Vishnu hadn't seen the man jump from one of the tallest spires and land neatly on the ground. He just saw a man walking towards him, dressed oddly for the climate in a long black overcoat and a peak hat. The man seemed to be walking towards him, for reasons unknown to him. He was alarmed, and had one hand on his service pistol. The man was getting closer, his face was hidden by the hat he was wearing.

"Halt!", Vishnu shouted.

The man stopped. His face was hidden in the shadow of his hat.

Vishnu didn't have the courage to move any closer to the man. Even from a distance of ten feet the man seemed to overshadow in size even a person built like Vishnu. The man was built like the Gods that Vishnu had read about in the Epics. Vishnu stared at him for a moment too long, before he finally gained his composure.

"Where are you going?", he asked.

The man didn't answer, a cold wind swept Vishnu's face. It was going to rain. They stood like that facing each other.

"Vishnu Bhattacharya", the man smiled.

"How do you know my name?!"

"The question is not how, it is why?"

"I don't understand, what do you want?"

The man smiled again, the street lamps illuminating his jaw, the top half of his face was still in shadow.

"Come with me", the man ordered.

"Where?", Vishnu was regaining his confidence.

The man didn't answer again. He moved towards Vishnu, Vishnu was alarmed again, his left hand automatically moved towards the holster.

"There will be no need for that tonight", saying this the man grabbed Vishnu by the waist, lifted him up as if Vishnu's 85 kgs was no weight at all, and ran. At a speed which was impossible for a human being to run. They flew through small and dirty lanes.
"This man is the devil", Vishnu thought, but somehow he wasn't scared, his instincts told him the man wasn't going to hurt him.

They travelled like that for sometime. And then they stopped in a narrow lane, infront of a small pub, a single light illuminated the board which said "The Old England Gentleman's Club".

"What are you?", Vishnu asked, amazed.

The man didn't reply, he walked towards the door, Vishnu followed him, the happenings of the last ten minutes made him question his faith in science, and human logic. The gravity of the situation still hadn't sunk in, and he felt as if he was dreaming. Vishnu followed the man like a zombie inside the club. Vishnu looked around, the club seemed all European. Men and women were sitting on the tables chatting loudly and laughing at each other's jokes, unlike the quaint exterior the interiors were tastefully furnished, the wood in the tables and chairs and the bar counter were obviously expensive, chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The people inside were dressed well too. Definitely not a club for policemen or soldiers.
Vishnu attracted some attention with his brown skin, but noone said anything, which was strange, Vishnu thought, he ought to have been thrown out. But this night's happenings had surpassed strange a long time ago, so Vishnu decided to give his logic rest. The man walked into a side door, Vishnu followed him. They entered a dark room illuminated by torches which hung to the walls by brackets, which was odd in the age of electricity, Vishnu couldn't help but think.

Three men were sitting in chairs around a round table. They looked up at the two of them as they entered. Two chairs were empty, the man took one, Vishnu took the cue and sat down on the other.

The men were dressed formally in suits. "In this weather!", Vishnu thought, but let it rest.

The men were looking at Vishnu, oddly they were staring at his temple. The man in the middle lowered his gaze, he was now looking at Vishnu in the eye, a slight lop-sided smile appeared on his face.

"Vishnu Bhattacharya. May I say it's a pleasure. The confederacy has been waiting for you for much too long".
Vishnu looked confused. The man smiled again. He looked at the man who brought Vishnu in,
"Devdatta, were there any obstructions?"
The huge man spoke,
"I got him before they could get to him, just in time, I think".
Vishnu could see his face now, he was Indian, like him, unlike the others in the room.
"Good, I anticipated problems". He now turned his attention towards Vishnu
"I am sorry, let me introduce myself. I am John Barker", he didn't bother to introduce the other two men.
"I imagine tonight has been full of surprises, Vishnu?"
"Yes", Vishnu said.
"You must be wondering why you have been brought here?"
"Yes"
"Before explaining that, there is something you must do for us, Vishnu"
"What?"
"Take off your trousers"
"What?!"
"Do not take me otherwise, there is a reason for my request, indecent as I can imagine it must sound, I can assure you our intentions are pure"
Vishnu hesitated for a second, but then he pulled down his trousers. He was now only in his underwear.
"Check him, Devdatta"
The man named Devdatta bent down, and was checking this thighs, he started with the left one. Vishnu wasn't sure what they were looking for. Then he was checking Vishnu's right leg, and then he found it.
"It's there", Devdatta confirmed.
"We couldn't have been wrong", John said
"I hope you will excuse us for this inconvenience Vishnu. Now I must explain", he aplogised
"Do you believe in God, Vishnu?"
"I don't know"
The man smiled.
"Do you believe in death?"
"Yes"
"Do you believe in the deathless?"
"You mean, immortality?"
"Exactly, you have got my point. Do you believe that there are men amongst us, who don't die? Men who defy the only all pervading force of nature, death"
"I don't know. I have never seen one", Vishnu feebly attempted at a joke.
"What do you have in your pocket Jimmy?", Barker asked the man sitting on his left.
The man named Jimmy stirred at the mention of his name, he brought out a pistol from his pocket and placed it on the table, it looked like a Colt.
"Take it", Barker said.
Vishnu took the pistol.
"Now shoot me"
"What?!"
"Shoot me", he repeated
Vishnu wasn't sure. But he aimed the pistol at Barker's chest, his hands shaking. He pulled the trigger. There was a loud noise. Vishnu closed his eyes.
"Open your eyes Vishnu"
"What?!", Vishnu thought, "I just killed this man"
"Open your eyes, I am not dead, look at me"
Vishnu opened his eyes, and in disbelief he looked at the man's chest. The shirt had a hole where the bullet had passed, but there was no blood.
"This is impossible!", Vishnu said
"Tonight, your definition of impossible will be changed", Barker said, smiling. The three other men smiled at Vishnu too.
"But I killed you!"
"You thought you did"
"What are you?"
The man was silent.
"The question is not what. But who we are. We are immortals"
Vishnu was silent.
"There are nine of us. Four of us are sitting in this room"
"Four?", Vishnu was scared but amazed
"I can't see anyone else but the three of you"
"The fourth one is you, Vishnu", said Jimmy.
"Me?! That's impossible. I would have known"
"You do, Vishnu. Think"
Vishnu thought about the time he fell down from the terrace in his house in Kolkata, he had emerged unscathed, at that time he had thought it was luck. Now, in hindsight, he realised it was impossible for a person to have survived that fall.
"I still can't believe it", Vishnu said.
"You will", Barker said.
"You said there are nine immortals. If I am one, that makes four of us. Where are the rest?"
"Slow, Vishnu. Not now. I have other things to tell you"

1 comments:

shrimoyee said...

nice and interesting.....

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