9 Two Plus Two Equals Four
Julia felt sick, scared of whether to open her eyes or not. She checked her body from head-to-toe, touching her clothes to confirm she wasn’t naked. After all the checks, she slowly opened her eyes and looked down at her clothed body. A few minutes later, Julia got up from her bed and went to the kitchen to drink some water. In the kitchen, she sat on a chair near the dining table, downed the glass of water and started to question what was happening to her. Is it some kind of mental illness? Should she go to a psychiatrist? She felt that it must somehow be connected to her mental health, so she made an appointment. The appointment was in the evening, so she thought of staying home till the evening comes. While Julia was spending time in her backyard with mini, she heard her phone ringing. She quickly went inside and picked the phone, but mysteriously no one spoke. Julia said hello several times, but no one answered and shortly disconnected. Julia connected this incident with her kidnapping and again felt scared and unsecured. She was alone at home with mini, but after the strange phone call, she decided to go to Mrs. Khan’s house. In front of the main door of Mrs. Khan’s house, Julia waited for the door to open, and shortly Mrs. Khan opened the door and welcomed Julia and mini. She greeted Julia with a hug and said, ‘Welcome, Julia, my dear. I’m delighted that you have come to my home and today I will not let you go. You will stay for a long time, and I’ll make daal for you.’ Julia replied with a smile, ‘Sure Mrs. Khan today I have come for a special purpose. I’ve come to see and learn your secret recipe for cooking daal.’
‘oh… is that so? Do you want to know my secret recipe? Do you think I will give it away so easily? No! You are not getting it so easily, my dear. In return, I need something from you.’
‘I can give you anything that you want for the recipe.’
‘Really. Just ask and see.’
‘Okay, then I want a promise from you.’
‘What promise Mrs. Khan?’
‘I want a promise that very soon you will find someone to share your life with and get married.’
‘I said I would give you whatever you want but giving you this promise is a bit difficult for me. I don’t know if I ever possibly will get engaged with someone but if I decide something like that I’ll tell you.’
‘Okay, I can take this answer as a positive sign.’ Saying this, Mrs. Khan laughed and said, ‘Don’t worry my dear, I was kidding. You do whatever you think best for you. After all, it’s your life, your decision and I will show you the daal recipe today.’ Julia also laughed, and they went to the kitchen together to cook daal.
However, while in the CRI, John felt relieved after the call. Although he didn’t say anything, he heard Julia’s voice over the phone, and she seemed to be well. Before the call, John was feeling worried about Julia as she had a panic attack. He couldn’t resist himself to learn about Julia immediately and was in such a mental state that the urgency of learning Julia’s situation appeared essential for that moment. He couldn’t think what could be the impact of the phone call on that situation. Although John was confused at first in between the choices to call or not to call finally, he just made a call because John felt someone inside him was repeatedly telling him to call Julia. Thus listening to that urge, he made a call. While Julia received the phone and said hello, John felt a certain release of tension inside his mind and his heartbeat rate dropped down from fast to standard. John wanted to say so many things to Julia as if all those words were in the tongue, trying hard to come out but couldn’t. John somehow managed and restricted himself to talk. After the phone call, John felt a bit relaxed, but at that time, another thought showed up. He started to think of the possible consequences of the phone call. He again got depressed, thinking what if Julia gets scared after the call. John’s heart ached with the feelings of sympathy for Julia. He was feeling guilty thinking about what injustice he has done with Julia. He made a woman suffer who was already suffering from the pain of her dead husband and daughter. If something terrible happens to Julia, he will be responsible for that, and he would never forgive himself. All these thoughts made John depressed. John spent almost all day in depression and couldn’t concentrate on his work. All of a sudden, the wrong side of the research came out like a poisonous snake from the hole, and he was in such a situation that it was not possible for him now to back off from the project. Since powerful business magnets had financed this research, he can’t escape from it even if he wants to. His face covered up with fear and a thin layer of sweat showed up on his forehead with the fear of death.
Later in the day, Julia went to meet with a psychiatrist. The receptionist told her to sit and wait, as the doctor was still busy with another client. A few minutes later, the receptionist called Julia’s name. Deep in thought, she only heard it on the third time, before getting up and hurrying towards the office door she opened the door of the psychiatrist’s office, nerves and worry evident on her face. She was welcomed in by a pleasant and calming voice. ‘Hello, Julia. I’m Sylvia, nice to meet you.’ Julia tentatively replied, ‘Hello doctor. Please help me.’ ‘Yes Julia, I’m here to help, but first, I need you to relax, get comfortable and then tell me why you’re so nervous. Also, please call me Sylvia.’ Julia quietly replied, ‘Okay doctor, I mean, Sylvia.’
‘Julia, I can see you’re very nervous and scared. Please, calm down. Okay. Let’s take a deep breath. Listen to my voice and take a deep breath.’ Julia did as she was asked. ‘Now, release your breath.’ Sylvia instructed. Julia repeated this, each time feeling more and more relaxed. She stopped shaking, and Sylvia asked, ‘How are you feeling now? More relaxed? Now tell me what’s going on in your head? What’s bothering you so much?’
‘I was taken… somewhere, abducted by someone and kept for five days before I was taken back home.’
‘What!? What do you mean? Did you go to the police?’
‘No. I was, and still, am, so confused. I don’t know what’s happening. I can’t distinguish between reality and dreams. I’m so confused, Sylvia, I’m so confused. I feel like I’m losing my mind. Please, help me.’
‘Yes, of course, I’ll help you, Julia, but first, tell me what you remember.’
‘I don’t know how I was kidnapped, but when I opened my eyes, I found myself inside a room; a white, beautiful room, with a naked man.’ ‘A naked man? Did he do anything to you?’
Julia replied, ‘No, he was a good man. He was taken, like me. We stayed there together for five days. At first, we were ashamed to even look at each other, but we started to share things, day-by-day. But on the fifth day, he told me he felt different like he was wearing something lightweight. And then, we fell asleep. When I woke up, I was sleeping back in my own room. How is this possible, Sylvia?’
‘Julia, I understand your feelings, but you have to take control. I know it’s difficult for you to forget this memory, but you returned home safely, and now you’ve got to try to forget this in order to move forward in your life.’
Julia was shocked. ‘How can I forget this? Something really happened, and I can’t forget it without understanding what it was. And it hasn’t stopped… this morning when I woke up and went to the bathroom, I was naked again. I was so scared… but seconds later I was wearing my pajamas again. What is this? What is happening!?’
‘I think the fear of being naked has been rooted in your mind. You’re thinking about it too much. You should get some sleep. Try staying with your friends or relatives for a few days.’
‘Okay. I’ll try it.’ Julia replied in disappointment before exiting the doctor’s office. All the way home, Julia sat in thought, and when she got back, she sat on the couch and turned on the TV. It was impossible to concentrate as she channel-hopped from dramas to comedies, to the news, finally pausing on one with the host introducing the show, ‘Welcome to our Funniest Hidden Camera Videos Show! Today, we’ll show you some of the funniest hidden camera videos sent in by people from all over the country.’ The title caught Julia’s attention, remembering the small, hidden camera she put in her living room to record any odd incidents while she was away. She jumped off her couch and ran to the side table, where she hid the camera. She found it and linked it up to her laptop, scrolling through numerous videos of her weekend activities. Fast-forwarding through, she found the recording from the day she was returned back home. The footage showed two people carrying her inside the house, unconscious. She zoomed in closer to their faces; two men, neither recognizable to her. She looked closer, both of them were wearing some type of uniform. She looked for any name or logo on their uniforms… and she found one. On their left top pockets were a logo with the initials CR and I... She immediately google-searched CRI and scrolled through all the abbreviations until she found one for a company, a research institute called Choice Research Institute with an identical logo design. Julia impatiently clicked the link, and a webpage opened.