The name of a psychic, Barry, echoes through the night. It is a name no one could have expected to hear, no one except the one who said it.
Ro: “What … do you mean?”
The darkness has not left Ro’s face, but the shock is apparent. On the other hand, Sneha is standing still as if petrified.
Sneha: “But he … he’s dead, isn’t he?”
Sneha Stone too hadn’t expected to hear that name. Even if she had been working with Ethan, she knew not much about him. There was just no way she could have predicted what he would say, but still, there was a level of unpredictability which she thought even he would never be able to cross. Alas, she has been proven wrong.
Ro: “Explain yourself! What do you mean by that? He’s dead, isn’t he?”
Ro shouts. Anger clear on his face, he threatens Ethan.
Sneha: “Answer him, Ethan. Was that supposed to be a joke?”
Seeing the two react in this way, Ethan Kales is overjoyed. Bringing pain to those stronger than him brings joy to him. He is a true sadist.
Ro: “Say something, damn it! He’s dead, right?”
Ethan: “If so, why are you so agitated?”
Ro suddenly realizes how much he overreacted on hearing that name. Ethan’s point is on the mark. If Ro knows he is dead, why would he be this bothered when hearing his name? It doesn’t make sense unless … unless he had doubts of his own.
Ethan: “Finally starting to face your doubts?”
Ro: “S-Shut up! There’s just no way it can happen. That bastard can’t be alive.”
Sneha: “Ethan, this isn’t funny. Don’t joke around like that.”
Ethan looks at Sneha whose eyes opened up wide as she says those words. This shock is the testament to the fact that she too had doubts of her own about this, and she too had tried to run away from them.
Ethan: “Don’t bother. I’m completely serious.”
Ethan says that with a smile on his face, but it is clear that he is telling the truth. Neither Ro nor Sneha want to believe what they just heard, but there is no choice other than believing him. If not,
Ro: “I don’t believe you. You are making this up. That’s it. You are trying to psych me out. That’s all there is to it.”
Ethan: “Even if that were the case, I would say it was working well.”
Ro: “You bastard!”
Ethan: “But unfortunately for you, no matter how much you deny it, the facts don’t change. He’s coming for you.”
Ro: “P-proof? Show me the proof he’s not dead.”
Ethan: “Well, he’s dead alright.”
Both hang their heads in bafflement. This show of surprise is justified. Only a moment ago, Ethan seriously said Barry is coming for him and now he’s contradicting that.
Ro: “What the hell?”
Sneha: “That’s it, right?”
Ro and Ethan turn towards Sneha. She has a smile on her face along with the expression of shock.
Sneha: “You were trying to psych him after all, right?”
Ethan doesn’t answer but his eyes clearly say he is serious. So how could both be possible?
Ethan: “Ever heard of ghosts?”
Ethan says something shocking again. The two of them are shocked to hear it again. And Ethan loves seeing their expression again.
Ethan: “I’m sure you already know this, but they are souls of the dead. That’s the form Barry has right now.”
Ro: “Just hold on a moment. What you are saying is complete bullshit?”
Ethan: “How so? You don’t believe in them?”
Ro: “Of course I don’t believe in them.”
Ethan: “And I thought psychics were capable of communicating with them. Shouldn’t their existence be common knowledge among you people by now?”
Seeing Ethan refer to Spirit Mediums and such as a part of the psychic community, Ro grits his teeth. In fiction, they might be considered the same. But in reality, there’s no such thing as ghost or spirit medium. That is, at least, as far as Ro knows.
Ro: “No psychic has ever talked to a ghost. There are no records of it happening sometime in distant past either.”
Ethan puts his hand to his chin and ponders on what he has just heard.
Ro: “So that’s it? You were lying about it the whole time.”
Ethan’s straight denial is hurtful to say the least. He would smash their hopes whenever he’d get the chance to.
Sneha: “Then how can … it be? Ghosts shouldn’t exist.”
Ethan: “Well, sorry but they do. I’ve met quite a few in fact.”
Ethan is the sort of person who would casually say something like he had met ghosts. But knowing that didn’t make it any easier for the other two. They just couldn’t believe that something like this could be true.
Ethan: “Is it really that hard to believe? You people yourselves are in the realm of supernatural.”
Indeed, Sneha and Ro are both capable of things that one would call supernatural. And so they shouldn’t have this much problem believing some other supernatural phenomenon like the existence of ghosts.
Sneha: “But that’s … not the issue.”
Just as Sneha says, it isn’t the idea of ghosts’ existence that really bothers the two, it is the idea of ghosts’ themselves that bothers them.
Ethan: “I see. So that’s how it is.”
Hearing Sneha’s words, Ethan comes to understand what is so unbelievable to the both of them. It isn’t that ‘ghosts could be real’ that is bothering them. That they would accept as just another supernatural phenomenon in the world. The thing that bothers them is who those ghosts would be. Will they be those who have died? Will it be every dead person?
Ethan: “You people are afraid of meeting those who you have seen dying.”
Ro: “That’s …”
Ro couldn’t finish his sentence. Ethan understands now why they are so in denial of ghosts. They would obviously love to see those dear to them who have passed away but,
Ethan: “You are afraid of meeting those you have killed.”
He strikes the heart of the matter. He isn’t in the mood to play around or taunt. He has lost the smile on his face. His face is serious, not happy, not sad, but just serious.
Ethan: “Well, that wouldn’t change the fact that ghosts exist. I don’t know about those people you are afraid of meeting as ghosts, but I do know Barry is a ghost.”
That is another big concern for the both of them. Barry was one of the most powerful psychics in the world. But 12 years ago, he died. The events surrounding his death are said to be an accident, but the truth was clear to anyone who wants to find out. He had committed a crime, the likes of which shook the world, and had been killed.
Ethan: “From that day 12 years ago, he had been a ghost. By now he would have gained a lot of power as a ghost too.”
Ro: “So you are telling me he is now even more powerful than before?”
Ethan: “I am. He might be the most powerful existence in the world right now.”
Sneha: “But then …”
Ethan: “Yeah, now that the war is drawing near, he would be coming for his brother. I wonder what his reaction will be … when he finds out the truth.”
Ethan Kales is fairly more interested in seeing Kais in shock than the two people present there. He really wants to be there when Kais finds out about it for the first time.
Ethan: “Yeah, I really wanna know.”
Ro: “What the hell are you on about?”
Ethan looks at Ro.
Ethan: “You know I have noticed something.”
Ethan: “You have had quite a foul mouth for a while now. But I am sure you didn’t talk like this before.”
Ro: “That’s it?”
Ethan: “Well, that’s just an observation.”
Ro: “Who gives a damn about that?”
Ethan narrows his eyes to look at the half-psychic in front of him.
Ethan: “Maybe this is how you truly are.”
Ro looks at Ethan with hostile intent. He doesn’t plan on saying anything to that comment by his target.
Ethan: “Have you been putting up a façade so you could act like a well-mannered person in front of your superiors?”
Ro: “Who cares? Maybe I was.”
Ro doesn’t deny it. There is no reason to put up such a façade in this situation in front of the man he has started to despise.
Ro: “I can see now why people want you dead.”
Ro puts a hand in his pocket to take out a knife.
Ethan: “Are you telling me these ‘people’ are afraid of me?”
Ethan asks with a smile on his face. This is the same smile that he had till some moments ago and the smile that would annoy anyone who didn’t like him; which basically means pretty much everybody he has ever met.
Ro: “I don’t think so. They are probably just disgusted by you.”
Ethan: “Now that really hurts.”
He still has the smile. It is hard to tell whether he is truly hurt by that comment or just making fun of Ro.
Ro: “I’m taking you down, right now.”
Ro puts up his hand holding his knife and threatens Ethan. Ethan takes a glance at Sneha.
Ethan: “Would I get bailed out of this?”
Sneha doesn’t answer. Her face is covered by her hair and it is hard to tell what her response would be. Ethan isn’t sure he would get her help at that point.
Ethan: “Well, I guess I’ll try taking care of this one myself.”
Ro: “You think a mere human like you …”
Ethan: “See, that’s the problem.”
Ethan: “You guys like your clichés too much.”
Ro gets annoyed by hearing that as Ethan says it with the same smile.
Ro: “Enough is enough.”
Ro charges at Ethan, knife in his hand.
Ethan: “Good grief.”
Ethan puts his hand in the safari and takes out a gun.
Ro: “You think that would work?”
Ethan: “Probably not on you.”
As a half-psychic whose ability didn’t have any offensive applications, Ro has been given special devices that he could activate and de-activate on will to protect himself against things like guns. One of them was a barrier that could reflect the bullet. In short, even if he is technically only as strong as a normal human, he wouldn’t lose to one. But Ethan had never planned to use it on him anyway.
Ethan: “Here we go.”
He puts the gun to his head. This stops Ro in his tracks and brings Sneha’s attention back to what was going on.
Sneha: “What are you doing?”
Ethan: “There’s someone who wants something they can’t get by themselves. They need my help to get it. So if I try to kill myself, they would definitely try to stop me. That’s what I am assuming anyway.”
It is unclear who he is talking about. But it is clear he isn’t just joking around. He really would shoot himself. Provided his assumptions are right, he would get what he wants. If he is wrong, he’ll die and that’ll be the end of it. It is such a simple way to deal with the situation. Ro frowns at the twisted logic that makes Ethan do something like that.
Ethan: “Well, I don’t see how stopping will help me.”
Ro: “You … don’t do this.”
Ro tries to get near him, this time without the intent to kill.
Ro: “Who the hell are you talking about?”
Ro needs to know. He has no problem with Ethan dying there. But he needs to know who may need his help and would try to stop him. There is a chance that person could become their next enemy.
In the next instant, a gunshot rings out. Blood splatters everywhere. It is no miracle where the bullet is stopped midair. It is no uncanny spectacle where the bullet hits but the person doesn’t get hurt. The bullet hits a completely normal human, so how could it not pierce through the body and fatally wound the person? And that’s exactly what happens.
And then the answer to Ro’s question came.
Ethan: “No one.”
Ro has a hole in his stomach. He looks at Ethan – at his other hand where a second gun is held. The only difference is that this gun points at Ro and not himself.
Ethan: “You dropped the barrier thinking no attack is coming at you.”
Ro: “You … bastard!”
Ethan: “Don’t blame me.”
Ro falls on the ground as the blood flows from the hole in his chest.
Ethan: “It’s okay. You are not going to die. Not yet, anyway.”
Ro: “What … you … mean?”
Ethan: “I mean you are going to die after you give me all those devices that you use to protect yourself.”
Ethan: “You are not getting any prizes for abusing me, you know. Anyway, I am going to take on a horde of monsters with this completely human body of mine. I can’t afford to not take any help I can get.”
Ro: “You … won’t make it.”
Ethan’s smile vanishes upon hearing that.
Ro: “You don’t … have … what … it takes to … beat … the psychics.”
Ethan: “Whether, I win or not,”
He bends over to look Ro in his eyes.
Ethan: “I’ll decide that.”
Sneha looks at Ro’s dead body with a complicated emotion.
Ethan: “Don’t tell me you actually cared about him.”
Sneha: “Compassion is a thing you know?”
Ethan: “Well, I have heard of it, never knew what it meant though.”
Sneha doesn’t take that as a joke. After all, she knows it isn’t.
Sneha: “That’s truly pitiful.”
Ethan: “No thanks, I don’t need your pity.”
Ethan gets into the safari while Sneha still stands near Ro’s body. Ethan shows no reaction to it and just focuses on starting the vehicle.
Ethan: “Well, do whatever you want for now. You know when and where to meet next?”
Sneha: “Yeah, I do.”
She turns to look at Ethan sitting inside the vehicle.
Sneha: “Its tomorrow night at the airport.”
Ethan: “Well, I’m glad you remember.”
He waves to Sneha and starts driving to leave the place.
While in the car, reminiscing how everything more or less went according to his plan, he thought about their reason for meeting at the airport the next day.
Ethan: “Well, I hope you are having much fun there, Kais. We are coming to join you in a day.”
He laughs, unable to control his excitement.
Ethan: “Well I guess, for you, more than a day would have passed by now. So it will be approximately two more days for you there – two more days to prepare before the real game begins.”
Ro, in his last moments, sees the man who shot him and thinks to himself if this man could really manage to defeat the people on top.
Ro himself had once thought of doing so but couldn’t. But this man has played Ro for a fool. So maybe he could be able to.
That is, if he could also manage to get out of the upcoming storm. Before coming here, Ro had messaged his friend that he needs help. When his friend comes there and finds Ro dead, will Ethan be able to take care of that too? This ‘friend’ is not a half-psychic like Ro or Mohammed. He was a real psychic. He is someone capable of overpowering Kais and Sneha. Will Ethan be able to defeat him? Ro is sure he wouldn’t be. That man could even rival Barry. There’s no way Ethan would win against him.
‘There’s someone else you have made an enemy out of’
And just then, the true meaning of Ethan’s words became apparent to him.
Ro: “You … bastard.”
He understands now. The realization finally hits him. He is dying right now and he thinks that would be his end. But he just came to know that ghosts exist. He has come to know that souls of the dead continue their existence. Then that means,
Ro: “You … telling me … I’m going to … meet … that bastard … now.”
Until now, Ro had not realized how big of a thing it was for ghosts to exist. If souls of the dead continue to exist as ghosts, then that means whenever anyone dies as a human or a psychic, they could come back later as a ghost.
Ro: “This … is … a …”
What word could best describe this truly saddening fact?
At that moment, all of Ro’s emotions come out in those words – the words that might become his last as a living being … would be an accursed description of life.
At that moment, Ro understood why Ethan is such a dangerous force. Everybody has goals, everybody makes plans and everybody works on them. But they all include the restrictions of life. Ethan Kales does not. His goals, his plans and his approach to anything constituted the knowledge that life continues after death.
Ro’s consciousness is almost out, so he doesn’t know if he hears someone else say it or it was his own thought, but a description very true to the nature of the world comes to him.
‘This is a hell that you can’t escape, not even by dying.’