This adventure began when the hooded figure arrived at Runners lunch table few days ago.
“You are here,” said the hood looking at the Kheema Pav, Runner was gobbling.
“What the f***,” Runner spat the morsel he was eating looking at the hood, “You again? I told you I am not available.”
“You come with good credentials,” the hood said, “My brother Death speaks highly of you.”
“Oh you are his brother,” Runner said, “I thought it was someone else. What do you want?”
“Help,” said the hood.
“You are Deaths brother you say? What are you?” The Runner asked.
“A forgotten entity, my name isn’t important,” the hood said.
“It is,” Runner replied, “Your family has a knack of disturbing me during my lunch hour, “I damn well have right to know who you are.”
“You can call me the Shiver man,” the hood replied calmly, “Because I can give you shivers.”
Runner considered for a moment and then replied, “Fine, that will do. What help do you need?”
The problem with these supernatural entities was that they were very egoistic with a flair of drama, thought Runner as he jumped across the boulders. Why can’t they pop into my office like the rest of the clients?
What was it about this dusty old book that he had to fetch, thought Runner. He was mounting the Desert Bike arranged for this adventure. He dialled the coordinates given by the mysterious hood into the navigation GPS. It was a simple task, in the middle of the desert was a dry well. The well was the secret opening to an ancient library that held many secrets, all Runner had to do was jump in the well, grab an ugly book and well... run.
“And tell me again, why can’t you do it yourself?” asked the runner at the lunch table when the hood was explaining the mission.
“Because there is a monster waiting for me inside,” Shiver man said, “Expert in illusions and it gives me the shivers. But don’t worry it won’t hurt anyone but me, it is bound by an ancient law.”
“I need a million rupees,” Runner said taking a stab, no one would give him a million.
“Done,” said the Shiver man.
If only life was that easy, thought Runner as he had entered the library through the well and realised that it was 20 floors down the ground with a gaping hole in the middle. Each floor having more than thousand books and some dirty looking statues and were spiralling towards the ground. He paused to examine the statues, mostly in supernatural horror movies, the statues come to life, but they were statues. Moving on, he realised that he had to boringly look for that book in this dusty library which seem to have no security at all. Or did it?
Runner turned back to double check if the statue moved but it did not. He was alone in the entire library. Its a small library, you will find the book on the bottom of the bottommost shelf of lowest floor. Instead of climbing down the stairs he decided to climb down a rope to the lowest floor. He secured a knot on the railing on top and tied the other end to his hip.
Slowly he lowered himself to the bottom-most floor and saw a firm ground. This is it, he said, firm ground. There were more statues on the ground floor and only one shelf. That is helpful, Runner thought to himself and he softly landed on the ground floor. He double checked the statues to confirm they were nothing more than statues and finally flipped a coin. The rest was easy, wasn’t it? Just grab the book and do the one thing you are good at,
“...RUN,” screamed a woman rushing from the darkness towards him.
“Wha....,” he didn’t get time to complete his sentence as he saw why she was so keen on running away. There was only a giant nine foot monsterish duck chasing her.
His mind raced fast towards the escape rope only to find the woman halfway up there. The duck did not bother looking at him but was chasing after the woman. Runner held his breath as the duck brushed past him and quietly he picked up the dusty old book.
The moment he picked up the book, the duck paused and turned back.
“Oops,” smiled the runner and started running in opposite direction. The duck having change of plan started chasing the Runner. But he used his skills to hop on the statue use it as a platform and haul himself on the rope. The dusty book safely tucked in his handy backpack.
Easy peasy, thought the Runner as he climbed his way up the rope. One big monstorish duck escape. He looked up for his escape route and found that two statues were looking down at him.
“Thats a cliche,” screamed the runner and climbed onto to the upper floor. The statues were all looking at him blocking his view for the doorway. The girl who had run out previously was held by those statutes.
Runner dabbed his hand inside his pocket and pulled out a black powder. “And we say the magic words,” with this he threw the powder in the air and it blasted into vibrant colours.
“RUN...” he screamed charging at the startled statues and grabbing hold of the woman out of the open doorway.
In the next few seconds he was on his desert motorbike and she sat as his pillion.
“You came to pick the book from the bottom shelf?” she asked curiously, “You do know what that book contains?”
“No, not really,” The runner replied, “I have a service, no questions asked.”
“That is called the book of destiny,” she replied, “And it contains destiny of all the people in the world. According to legend the book was supposed to help Chitragupta on judgement day but he refused to be prejudiced. It was gifted to a lesser known demigod who promised to assist Chitragupta. The demigod took a pilgrimage towards netherworld. Since the book cannot enter netherworld he kept it here.”
“Thats nice,” the runner said, “Did the man ever return?”
“No not really,” she said, “But the monster is waiting for the man to return. Who send you to pick up the book?”
“Now that you mention, I don’t really know him but he said I will know where to meet him after reading the book.”
They reached a makeshift airport where his chartered plane was waiting for him. Once airborne, Runner opened the open on the bookmarked page.
“It is said that the book of destiny is written somewhere in the future and it travels backward. So things that are past for us are future for the book and things that are going to happen in future are past.”
“Thats...” The runner racked his brain but gave up, “According to this I have met him at the railway station next to the lottery centre on the 3rd day of the 4th month. That day the lottery number will be...”
Suddenly the girl jumped on his chest, “Don’t miss him,” she said in a hoarse voice, “I won’t leave him this time I will meet you at the railways station. Good bye.”
With the puff of air she vanished leaving the Runner confused as what happened.
Runner finding himself holding destiny in his hand decided to skip his meeting. The girl would anyways kill the hood won’t she? He decided to play the lottery and to his surprise he won the bumper price. Runner decided to exploit this further. A few million later the book predicted there was an impending tax audit on him. Runner decided to pack up and leave the continent in a private airliner.
As he boarded the plane a familiar voice startled him.
“Thank Goodness you are here,” said the hooded man said, “I thought you will miss the flight.”
“Sorry for that,” The runner said, “I hope the flight was not delayed a lot because of me? Damm”
“Nah,” said the Hood, “Don’t worry about it. Did you bring the book?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” said the runner.
“Really?” The old man said.
“Ok I know, but we had agreed upon a million upon completion of the task?” the runner said.
“Didn’t you win from lottery tickets?” The hood replied.
“Yes but didn’t the girl chase you at the railway station?” asked the Runner confused.
“I never planned to meet you at the railway station,” the hood said, “It was a ruse to throw her off my scent.”
“But I thought but I thought we were destined to meet that day?” said the Runner, “Did the destiny change?”
“The thing about destiny is,” said the hood, “It changes a lot, it remains as it is only if you believe.”
“And you choose to meet near the lottery centre to tempt me to play the lottery,” Runner said finally realising.
“I was hoping you would,” the hood shrugged, “I did not have the money to pay you back. I waited until you won a million from those lotteries.”
“That monster,” the runner explained, “She was the girl not the duck.”
“No, the duck was my faithful pet,” the hood said, “The girl was...a not so nice... past,” the hood said as he asked for the book, “I gave you the money and you gave her a lifetime of sorrow.”
“She is still mad is she?”
“...At me yes,” The hood said, “She is bound to that library you see, she will have to go back eventually.”
The runner handed over the book.
“This plane is yours by the way,” The hood said, “A gift to help me in my domestic issues.”
“Domestic issues,” Runner spoke, “Thats cute.”
But then as usual he was alone in the plane and a confused air-hostess was looking at him. He still had the plane.
"Sweet," Runner thought and ordered his private kitchen to prepare another Kheema Pav.
Did you know Runner has outrun his death too? Read what happened when he met Yamadeva