The Ghostwriter and other short stories

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The Kidnap of an author

“Let’s make a bet!” said Sunil “The one who catches more fish wins and the one who loses would pay for dinner tonight.”

“Okay, no problem” replied Sahil.

“Well then, get your wallet ready for tonight!”

“We’ll see that.”

Sunil was driving the camping bus and Sahil was sitting in the first row reading a book.

“You really are a bookworm man!” said Sunil.

“Thanks!” replied Sahil.

“Well we are here get your fishing rod ready and also your wallet!”

So they got off the camping bus, took their fishing rods, some food and went near the river. Just then they heard the bushes behind them moving as if someone was hiding there and ran away seeing them. They turn around but there was no one there.

“I think someone was here” said Sahil.

“Oh, don’t worry, must have been an animal or something. There are many of them here” replied Sunil.

Then they started fishing. After five minutes Sunil exclaimed –

“I got something in my rod! Let me pull it out, it seems to be a big fish!”

Sunil pulled out his rod and to his surprise instead of a fish there was a boot which was attached to his rod.

“Oh, that’s a really big fish!” said Sahil sarcastically.

“Oh man! I thought it was a big fish but what is this, a size 7 boot?” said Sunil.

Sahil laughed at Sunil and Sunil threw the boot behind them. As the boot landed on the ground they heard a ringing sound as if some metal utensil has fallen from a height. They both turned back and found a small iron box on the ground lying besides the boot Sunil threw. Sahil went up to the box opened it and found a small piece of paper in it. On this piece of paper this was written –

TP - 64

23, 4, 8, 17, 52

1-24-6 63

45 35

“What is this?” asked Sahil.

“How would I know?” replied Sunil.

“This must be a secret code written by someone asking for help I must decode it at once” said Sahil.

“Oh man, just ignore it it’s nothing I tell you.”

“No I have a bad feeling about this. I am going back to the camping bus you can continue your fishing.”

“You really are reading a lot of those detective books I tell you!”

Sahil went into the camping bus and kept the piece of paper on the table and kept a book over it then gazed over it for sometime. Fifteen minutes later Sunil returned and said –

“This river is not good for fishing at all! Besides there is no fun fishing alone” he said. “Found anything out of that code?” asked Sunil.

“Nope, nothing yet” replied Sahil.

“See I told you that –”

“But I would definitely figure out something.”

Sunil didn’t say anything and sat on his seat and started the camping bus. Sahil sat down on the same seat on which he sat before and kept on looking at the paper the whole time.

Next morning when Sunil got up he found Jay, their friend who was a private detective in their living room. He and Sahil were sitting besides the table and discussing something.

“Good Morning Sunil!” said Jay.

“Good Morning. So what brings you here, a new case?” Sunil asked.

“No Sahil called me to talk about this.” He showed the piece of paper Sunil and Sahil found yesterday.

“Oh this, did you find anything?”

“I just came and had a look over it. We’ll surely figure out the mystery behind this code.”

“Well then, continue. I’ll make tea for both of you.”

“Thank you Sunil.”

Jay now turned to Sahil and Sahil said –

“It seems to be the pages of some book.”

“Certainly” replied Jay.

“Let us consider them to be some pages of a book.”

“Well if they were to be the pages of some book then the book must be famous enough that the writer of this code thought that anyone who finds this code must have that book.”

“Yes you are correct.”

“Then this TP should be ‘Total Pages’ I believe.”

“Yes I think so.”

“So in front of TP, 64 is written that means that it is a famous book with 64 pages.”

“Yes! And the Sharma can be Ram Kumar Sharma, the author.”

“Brilliant Sahil, reading books have their own benefits. Then it is a famous 64 paged book by Ram Kumar Sharma.”

“A sibling crime!” exclaimed Sahil. “I have read it. And I also have it in my library.”

“Then bring it at once Sahil.”

Sahil brought the book and Jay said –

“Now open the pages I tell you to. Page number 23; there is no continuation of line number or word number so let’s consider the first word. What is it?”

“He.” Replied Sahil.

“Now open page number 4, 8, 17 and 52 and tell me their first words as well.”

“The words are – ‘is’, ‘trying’, ‘to’ and ‘kill’.”

“Now open page number 1, 24th line and 6th word.”

“Me.”

“He is trying to kill me!” Exclaimed Jay. “Let’s decode the full code fast.”

They completed decoding the code and it turned out to be –

‘He is trying to kill me. Please try to save me.’

“Then the ‘Sharma’ written in the end shows the man whom the writer of this code is referring to as he is Ram Kumar Sharma!” exclaimed Sahil.

“I don’t think so because if he could write the name in the end then he would have written it in the place of he only. Besides no one except the author knows his book best and would know the placement of each word. So this must be that the person who has written this code is Ram Kumar Sharma.”

“I think you are correct. So that means Mr Sharma is in danger!”

“Yes. So do you know where he lives? We may find some clues.”

“Yes, I know where he lives!”

“So let’s go there at once.”

They both were leaving for Mr Sharma’s home when Sunil stopped them and said he would join them too. So they all left for Mr Sharma’s home in Jay’s car. When they reached there and rang the bell a servant opened the door. Jay asked him about Mr Sharma, he replied –

“I was on the first floor doing my work and sir was on the ground floor. He was getting ready for going somewhere, I don’t know where. Just then I heard him shout in pain so I rushed back and went to his room but he was not there. I thought that he must have fallen down but then got up and left so I went back and continued my work. Sir is missing since then.”

Jay thanked the servant and then they left for their home. On their way back to home Sunil said that if you draw an outline around the second set of the code; it takes the formation of ‘A’. He took out his pen and drew an outline to show them.

The next morning the three of them left for the place where they found the boot and the iron box. After some time they returned back to their home. In the evening they both went to New Lotus Street and then went to house number 192. They rang the bell; the door was opened by a servant. Jay went up to him and said something to him. The three of them entered the house and went in front of the room and Jay kicked open the door and then from his pocket emerged a pistol whom he pointed towards the man sitting inside the room. He said –

“Hands up Aditya! I am here to arrest you for kidnapping Mr. Ram Kumar Sharma. How can you do such a thing? You are a renowned man and then why did you try to kill Mr. Sharma?”

“What? I didn’t do anything like this” said Aditya.

“Oh really?” Then Jay called – “Mr Sharma please come in!”

Then Mr Sharma entered the room. On seeing him Aditya became furious and said –

“Impossible! How can you escape from the underground base? I hid –“

“We saved him.”

“But yet you can’t arrest me, you don’t have any proof!”

“Oh, we actually have! Mr Sharma!”

Mr Sharma took out his phone and said –

“I have those calls recorded in which you threatened to kill me!”

Aditya got very angry and rushed towards the shelf from which he drew out a pistol hidden behind some books. He pointed it towards Mr Sharma and pulled the trigger, but to his surprise, the bullet didn’t come out.

“How can this be?” He said.

“Well, the credit for this goes to Gopal. Gopal!” Jay called him and then emerged the servant whom they met on the door.

“You betrayed me, Gopal?” Asked Aditya.

“No sir, the sir here said he was from the police so I had no other choice,” Gopal said.

“Look mister, if you want to take me then take me but don’t even try to lay a hand on my brother,” said Aditya.

“Oh, your brother! He is a good author too. ‘A dead man’s walk’ I have been reading that book of his. But if your brother isn’t getting popular because some other author’s work is getting more appreciation then this doesn’t mean that you would threaten that man to kill him, come to his home hit him on his head and kidnap him. Mr Sharma was smart enough to write the secret code and hide it in his boot before going to the police” said Jay.

Just then they heard the sound of siren of a police car and twelve policemen came in, arrested Aditya and took him in the car. The police inspector asked everyone on the scene to come to the police station for the details of the crime. After coming back from the police station Sunil said –

“Sahil, you would pay for the dinner tonight!”

“Why!?” asked Sahil.

“Remember our bet? I have indeed caught a big fish this time!”

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