Naisia Corp was the top most company in the city of Clayport. It had offices in about four major places, each spreading over many acres, and boasting over 10,000 employees. Getting a job in there is a Herculean task, but once you get in there, you’ll never want to come out. Its founders- Jason and Alicia Hernandez, were born with a silver spoon. They married when they were in their late twenties, and proved to be the “Power Couple” of Clayport. The company had been in the numero uno position for five consecutive years.
William Brown, the Chief Executive Officer, was the go-to man. He developed a friendly relationship with almost everyone. A wide grin enough to please clients, and a convincing talk enough to end useless conversations. Many a times, Jason would turn green with envy, and be up with his arms. He wanted the employees to be independent, less talkative, and more diligent. Lisa Terres, the receptionist, was a slim,cute, aspiring woman in her early thirties. She was the crush of young men out there, many would hit on her during teatime.
Hannah Meyer, the auditor, was a talkative,pale faced, fat, short-tempered lass in her late twenties. Her eyes frightened many, and her manly voice refashioned conversations over phone. Her whisper seemed like a snore, her screams seemed like roars. She loved to have talks with Lisa, conversations that would seem endless and immortal.
Mitchell Koch was the tea man, tied to the company for twenty six long years, so was his twin brother Shane Koch, the baker. Abandoned young, on the streets of Vitilia, a small town twenty five kilometres from Clayport, they were introduced to the company by Jason. “What do you guys do ?”, he asked them with wide eyes and a pleasant smile. They looked at each other colourlessly before telling, “We don’t do anything. We just know to cook.” “Well then, wanna chip in to my home ? You’ll be paid handsomely.” That was, perhaps a turning point in their life, they atleast get to fill their flat tummy.
It was a beautiful Friday evening, and all the employees were looking at the big pendulum, waiting for it to strike a half past eight. A second Saturday meant staycation, no Hello Sir – calls, and a day off from the soaring BP levels. William Brown was in his cabin, as usual, perhaps glued to the screen, alike other Heads. Lisa was in her place, her ears pressed against the Wall Touch Phone, her lips in constant movement, and her left hand often brushing aside her hair. Hannah Meyer was constantly punching those goddamn keys, her nails adding metronome to the beats, and her legs rubbing against each other. The Kochs were busy wrapping up all the drinks and cleaning the pantry. Jason and Alicia had paid a surprise visit, just to keep a watch on the employees in the first and third floors.
It was 8:12 pm when Mitchell knocked on the door of Brown’s cabin. “Sir ? Would you mind if we leave early today ?”, he asked nervously as he tapped the door thrice. “Don’t disturb me for twenty minutes.” The reply was bold, yet friendly. Mitchell’s nose wrinkled. He rubbed his ears before repeating, “Sir ? Would you mind if we leave early today ?” Silence. Barging into his cabin would mean disrespect and indiscipline, and Brown had often told the staff, “If I don’t answer, it means I’m busy, so take it to be a yes.” He remembered that. He smiled. He immediately put on his footwear and left along with his twin brother waving a goodbye to Lisa with a wink.
It was 8:23 pm when Hannah knocked the door of his cabin. No response. She knocked again. “Don’t disturb me for twenty minutes”, was the reply. “Sorry Sir, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m leaving now. I have a dinner date with James. Don’t worry Sir, I’m done with my work for today.” Silence. ”My silence means a yes.” She grinned. She packed her bags and met Lisa. “I’ve gotta go now. Don’t disturb Sir for twenty minutes.” Lisa gave a thumbs up and bid goodbye.
Lisa looked at her watch. It said 8:43 pm. It was getting too late. She needn’t ask permission. Yet, her conscience pricked her. She walked towards Brown’s cabin. “Sir ! It’s getting late. I’ve gotta leave now.” No reply. She knocked. No reply. Knock again. Pause. He might be busy, I think I’ll leave, she thought. She left gasping for breath.
At 9:12pm, The Kochs, Lisa and Hannah received calls from Alicia to assemble at Mr.Brown’s cabin. As they reached the spot, they found Brown, motionless, eyes frozen, mouth wide open, his hands firmly gripped to a dagger, and his legs firmly placed on his desk. No stain of blood. Things haven’t been out of place. No sign of violence either.
What could’ve possibly happened ?
“How did this happen ? “, asked a trembling Lisa.
“How would we know ? We broke open the door”, Jason said as he fiddled with the knob.
“You broke open ? “, asked Hannah before treading towards the empty water bottle kept near the corner.
“Yes. It was locked from the inside.”
“Locked from the inside ?! But… he-he is not moving!”, Mitchell yelled as a drop sweat fell off from his forehead.
Alicia was speechless, her eyes were welled up with tears, her face turned as pale as grey, and her palm covered her mouth.
“You sure Sir?”, asked a doubtful Shane, looking straight into Jason’s eye.
“Was it really locked from the inside ? Or you-“
“Why the devil would I lie ?! “, he was about to blow a fuse.
“S-Sorry Sir, I just wanted to confirm”, he said putting his chin down.
All of them were a bundle of nerves. None of them spoke for two minutes. They were hesitant to enter the cabin, as every time they looked at Mr.Brown, a dash of ghostly terror passed through them.
“What do we do now?”,Alicia finally spoke.
“We shouldn’t enter, let’s call-“,Hannah paused as all of them looked at Jason. He was glued to his phone, hitting the numbers on the keypad, and pressed it against his right ear.
“What are you d-“,Hannah was getting restless.
“Hello, 911 ? Please come here. Naisia Corp. First Floor. Emergency. A murder perhaps.” Jason put his phone down as Shane firmly placed his elbow on his thigh and sat down leaning on the wall.
“What did you just do ?”, they asked in unison.
“I did what needs to be done”, Jason said.
Within eight minutes, four men arrived. Three of them in uniform, each standing a five-nine, and one, wearing a black suit,long boots, and a pair of rimmed spectacles kept falling from his nose. His moustache was, perhaps, the most significant feature. He kept quiet as one of the cops spoke in a bold tone. “Where’s the-” , ” The spot ? There”, Alicia finished as she pointed towards the cabin.
“Lemme go in first”. David Sebastian finally spoke whilst removing his gloves.
“Y’re a detective ?”, asked Mitchell curiously.
“He’s not moving Monsieur. We don’t know what exactly had happened. And no one has entered the cabin.” Alicia was in tears as Lisa and Hannah consoled her. Jason and Shane stood clueless, staring at the broken door knob.
David entered the cabin, and his eyes travelled from Mr.Brown’s immobile figure to the book shelf at the right corner. As he went in further, he noticed an empty pen stand, a pile of books lying under the desk, a miniature of a piano,a typewriter, a vintage diary, an small old gramophone, a portrait hanging right near the book shelf and a beautiful night lamp. Brown was seated on his desk chair, perhaps, in the most comfortable way, one of his arms placed on his left thigh . The other, with a dagger.
“None of you entered the cabin ?” He asked rubbing his nose.
“No”. Perfectly in unison.
“Very well then, please come in and look at this.”
He pointed towards Brown’s back.
As they all bent their heads, they saw three knives perfectly inserted.
“What the-” , “Heck “, Alicia finished Lisa’s statement.
The cops remained unfazed. David kept staring at the knives, and said, “no trace of fingerprints. Wiped clean.”
“What do we do now, Sir ?” Inspector James asked rubbing his palms.
“Lock the cabin and no one should be let in till tomorrow morning. All of you can go now. We’ll get to know things tomorrow morning.” He grinned and put on his jacket.
“But Sir-“, James was getting impatient.
“No ifs and buts. By the way, was it locked from the inside?”
“That’s what they say.”
“But Sir, I just don’t understand one thing.” James spoke as he and David walked down the stairs.
“Ah. Well, I don’t understand anything.”
“We haven’t questioned them yet, but I think we need to keep an eye on that Jason guy.”
“Well, the case seems to be very, very interesting.”
“But are you sure that no one would enter the cabin until tomorrow?”
“We really don’t know anything as of now. We need to be like a flamingo, wait, and seize the clues.”
The following morning found the six of them seated on the couch at the reception.
David took a closer look at the room again, and James began the investigation.
“Mr.Jason, if you could please…”
“James, I’d like to investigate.”
David gestured him to leave the room.
And in front of him, stood six figures, who would face the toughest questions of their life.