Ishani kept struggling with the ropes but the cold water had made her muscles numb. She tried to move her fingers but in vain.
Her energy started to diminish with every passing second.
And finally, she realised it was futile to struggle.
Nobody knew where she was.
Nobody is going to look for her.
Nobody is coming to get her out.
As her breathing started to get constricted, she tried once again to move her body but it just refused to co-operate.
Ishani felt her brain starting to get numb and her breathing gradually becoming non-existent.
Familiar faces flashed in her inner eye and she watched as one by one they faded into oblivion.
Tears of pain and helplessness trickled down as shivers and spasms racked her body.
And with one final convulsion, everything went still.
Her body started to sink to the lower depths of the container as she slipped into a deep abyss of eternal sleep.
Rudra sensed that there was nobody in the building as he stepped into a door-less room right where the blood had been.
But it was completely empty.
He looked up the whole room but found nothing. Stepping out, he started going forward and entered another room to his left.
Somehow the moment he entered the room, the pungent smell of bleach assaulted his nose. Even though the floor was not wet, still his feet were constantly slipping. Steadying himself, he trod a little carefully than before and rounded a corner. The wall and floor of the corner were squeaky clean and the pungency in the air was the most overwhelming here.
He was about to step a little closer to look when the walky-talky in his belt holster suddenly beeped.
“All clear Boss. We are coming in,” he heard Shastri say.
Acknowledging him, he stepped closer and looked around but other than the strong smell he couldn’t find anything else.
His senses were already heightened so just as he felt a presence behind him, he turned.
Arvind was standing with his men in uniforms.
“This place has been cleaned with bleach recently.”
Arvind nodded and then ordered his men to spray luminol all over the place.
Just as the reaction started, the semi-dark room lit up with the cool blue glow of the chemical and spread like wildfire through the corner and reached a door on their right.
A cold and unpleasant shiver ran through his body as Rudra’s eyes fell on the trace. He clutched the gun hard trying to calm down but it didn’t help at all. Ignoring the sense of dread settling in him, he strode passed the trace and came and stood in front of the door where the trace had ended.
Ram moved the police photographer, who had suddenly become click-happy, a little aside as he stepped closer to Rudra.
“Lights!” Rudra ordered just as the glow diminished totally.
As flash and emergency lights came on, the heavy door came into visibility. Just like the room, this door had also been used recently. The unpleasant feeling inside him kept increasing as he stared at the door.
Shastri came and stood next to him and looked at the door.
“Boss, we will have to cut this down,” he said and gestured to some men who instantly went outside and got the necessary equipment.
Rudra stepped away and waited with a lot of impatience for the door to be cut down. Trying to calm himself, he clamped his fingers around the gun harder than usual but the dreadful premonition just kept soaring higher and higher.
The moment the noise died down and the men moved the equipment, Rudra didn’t wait any longer. He stepped closer to the door and pushed it hard along with the other men.
The door fell down with a deafening thud.
Cold air attacked them in great torrents just as it fell. Some of the men shivered and moved away. But Rudra couldn’t, for his eyes were fixed on the thick trail of dried crimson on the floor.
He stepped inside and started following the trail. No matter how unpleasant the chill inside the room was, Rudra only felt the heat rising in him.
The trail ended near a box and the moment he looked at it something exploded inside his mind. He tried to lift it but it didn’t budge.
Ram, who had followed him looked at the side of the box and gestured.
It was almost as if Rudra didn’t hear him, instead, he kept looking here and there. Letting the lid go, he quickly moved away from the box and started looking at the walls around it. Suddenly he stopped at one and turned a lever down.
Then he rushed back to the box and took the iron rod from Ram, and struck the lock area hard.
And then multiple blows.
Ram was about to stop him when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t!” Viman said watching his brother.
“Get something else,” Rudra ordered raising his hand in the air preparing for another blow.
Ram rushed out and asked the men to haul in the oxygen cutter.
Rudra struck another blow but still, the lock didn’t budge. Losing patience, he raised his hands high up in the air and struck with all his strength.
The lock area cracked and the lid lifted a little.
He let go of the rod and rushed to the front of the box. Lifting the lid fully, he looked inside and within seconds the blood in his veins turned to ice.
A thin icy cover had formed on the top but it was nothing to hide the woman lying motionless beneath it.
In the corner of the eye, he saw Ram and Viman rushing towards the box.
“STOP!” he shouted at the top of his voice halting their footsteps.
“Clear the room. Ram, get my spare suit trousers and shirt from the car. And get Annie. Viman, close the door and stay outside and don’t let anyone enter except Annie,” he relayed the instructions one by one.
But his eyes didn’t leave the figure inside the box for once.
Just as the room emptied and the door closed, he punched the thin layer of ice cracking it all through.
He pushed both his hands inside and grabbed her body, and then lifted it off the water.
Slowly he lowered himself to the floor and clutched her to him.
And then finally looked at her face.