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As soon as Tara had left for Roohi’s school to pick her up, the two friends left for Aryan’s. His bungalow didn’t have any watchman instead a CCTV camera turned towards them, sensing the motion near the gate.
“Who is this?”
The sudden sound left them flabbergasted. The little box on the gate asked again – “Who is it?”
“Hi Shekhar here, Shekhar Dutta, your neighbor, and this is my friend Jennifer. We were hoping if we could meet you”, spoke Shekhar in the surveillance box.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“I am afraid no… but it is urgent and we would be grateful if you could spare some time for us.”
“Ok come in,” said the voice and with it the gate opened just enough for the two of them to pass in.
Aryan Ahuja opened the door himself. He seemed as old as Shekhar but looked a little distressed.
“Hi Aryan, we were hoping to talk to you for something.”
“Come in please”, Aryan looked on both sides of the front door to ascertain no one else was present apart from the three of them.
The living room was exceptionally dark. Dark maroon thick curtains curtailed any day light that could pierce through. The living room boasted of a large LED screen. It wasn’t a normal TV but an exceptionally large screen.
“How can I help you?”asked Aryan
“We saw your participation in ‘Message from Beyond’ and was wondering you have such great knowledge,” said Jennifer slyly and stared at Aryan directly in his eyes. The mention of the name ‘Message from Beyond’ unnerved Aryan, the anxiety was clearly visible in his eyes which Jennifer was quick to spot.
“How do you know about Message from Beyond” he asked
“We share the same passion Mr. Ahuja”, we are members of FOTA.”
“Ohh…”Aryan sounded little relieved.
“If I may ask, how do you know so much about them?” asked Shekhar.
“Let me clarify, I do know a lot about them. But I am trying to know more… beyond what you can know from books or the internet,” clarified Aryan.
“How is that possible? Where else do you get information from?” asked a surprised Shekhar
“I am an exobiologist.”
“Exo what?” asked Shekhar, blinking his eye.
“Ohh My God, really?” said Jennifer with a glint in her eyes.
Shekher gave a i-am-not-getting-you-two look towards Jennifer.
“Exobiology covers the search for life beyond earth and they study alien life form”, explained Jennifer
“Thank you,” said Aryan with a nod.
Shekhar kept staring at him with wide eyes.
“Have you studied a live alien?” Shekhar asked in excitement
“They don’t roam around like stray dogs in Mumbai, else I would have”, replied Aryan with a sarcastic tone.
“I am sorry Aryan, forgive my friend, he is just too excited”, said Jennifer trying to calm him down.
“Have you seen or felt an alien around?” she asked this time with a deep voice.
“Not completely”, said Aryan
“I have”, she replied looking into Aryan’s eyes. She watched his pupils dilating with that statement of hers.
“What? Where? I hope it’s not a joke” stated Aryan in a jiffy
“I am serious, I saw at the FOTA conference here in Mumbai”, she declared.
“It was here!” Aryan looked concerned
Ohh, so I am a step ahead of you two, Jennifer thought and felt proud of herself.
“I am getting closer I sometimes get signals but sometimes it is all blank”, explained Aryan
“Signals?” asked a surprised Shekhar sounding concerned.
“Wait I’ll show you something”, said Aryan.
He took them to another room which was even more cluttered and dark. The only lights were from the several monitors. The effect was similar to that of a sci-fi movie laboratory were covert experiments were conducted.
Update: Read the next chapter here.