The Last Mile
by Shwetha Krish
Sam was staring at her just as she opened her eyes. She hugged him, she knew she wasn’t going to see him in a long time.
Arya stood by the window and stared across the river Thames in the distance. She had received a call from her friend that evening saying that Sam was not keeping well and she had to rush to Dalhousie. It had been three years since she had moved to London and bid goodbye to Sam.
“Hello David, I want to take leave for a month. It is an emergency! I have to go to India.”
“Oh! What happened Arya?”
“My friend is not well, I have to go. He is very sick.”
“Okay one month it is, do let me know if you need any help.”
“Thanks a lot David.”
She stared at her phone for a while and screamed. She did not have time to cry she had to get going.
She booked a flight to Delhi and packed her bags. She still had six hours ahead of her and walked out of her apartment for a breath of fresh air.
Arya walked on the bridge by the river thinking about her times with Sam. The fun, the games, the affection and all the times spent at their favorite place, their home in Dalhousie. She wrapped her brown overcoat around her lean body, the air was chill now.
She still had a couple of hours before she could leave for the airport. She walked into a nearby Café and ordered for a double espresso and sat at the far right corner at the café where she could get a view of the busy street.
But her mind and heart was with Sam.
'Sam don’t leave me. You have to get better. I am coming for you.'
Arya rushed out as she was getting late and banged into a man in a long grey overcoat who had a weird hairstyle and funny glasses on. Arya muttered sorry and rushed to her apartment.
She put on a blue sweatshirt and jeans. She looked at the mirror and checked on her black rimmed glasses and set her black wavy hair to a pony. She knew she had lost a lot of weight since the time she had come to London and she admired her petite lean self in the mirror. She picked up her luggage and off she went to hail a taxi.
She reached the airport and was just in time to board her flight to Delhi. As she got into the flight she saw the man from the café with the weird hairstyle trying to put his luggage into the cabin space. She brushed past him and found her seat next to the window. There was an old woman sitting next to her and smiled at her.
Arya tried to catch some sleep as it was going to be a long journey. She just got up to the snoring of the old lady next to her. Just as she was trying to sleep she saw the ‘weirdo’ staring at her and looked away suddenly.
She found it spooky but she was too tired to think and fell asleep.
“Good morning everyone! This is your Captain Vikram, welcome to Delhi. Request you to please fasten your seatbelts for the touch down!”
Arya was happy to be back in her native land, India. Just as she breezed into the airport and out to the taxi counter she could hear the bustling of the crowd, the cacophony of the taxi drivers trying to get the customers for the day and she was happy to hear people speaking in Hindi all over the place. Well she was home!
Arya went to the rental car counter and booked one from Delhi to Dalhousie. As she was putting her luggage into the vehicle, she could see from the corner of her eye that the “weirdo was also renting a car!”
Oh damn! Is he following me? What the hell!
She got into the car and pressed the accelerator and off she was in a jiffy.
She heaved a sigh of relief as she hit the highway. But when she saw in her rear view mirror, that same car was right behind her.
Arya’s heart raced and she was thinking about the cases that she had handled in the law firm.
Was any client pissed off? Maybe somebody is planning to take revenge and have me dead! Should I call David? But what would David do.
She then calmed herself by telling her that maybe it is just a coincidence that he also might be going to Dalhousie.
But she was fidgeting the whole time and checking the time on her watch. It was still six hours away and each time she looked at the mirror, the car was right behind her. She planned to stop at a restaurant or any good hotel on the way. She thought if the ‘weirdo’ also stopped then she would confront him and since
it was a hotel, people would be around and nothing bad could happen.
But the car just whizzed past her. She heaved a sigh of relief and had a quick bite at the restaurant. She called her grandfather and gave her car details to him just for safety reasons.
She got into the car for the final journey of two hours.
Her thoughts went back to Sam, she hoped that he would get better soon. She would see to that he would get better.
There was no sign of that car and Arya enjoyed her drive up the hills. The weather was chill and she felt the wind against her face and took a deep breath. She had missed these hills for three long years.
She reached Dalhousie and it was the last house on the hill and it would take about half an hour to reach.
Just as she veered right at the junction, she saw the ‘weirdo’ again who was now getting into the car. Their eyes met for a split second and Arya’s heart was racing.
Why? Who is he? I am sure he is here to avenge one of the clients or he must be a psychopath!
It was thirty minutes past six. It was dark already. She switched on the headlights. She could see two tiny lights following her and she knew she was being pursued.
What if I take the route across the woods? I would reach faster. I would for sure know he is after my life. But the road will be deserted and trees may have fallen on the path. What do I do?
Arya could see a sharp turn towards the right and a small narrow road across the woods which was a little towards the left. She had to make a decision in the next thirty seconds.
Ok. Here I go. Even if the route is blocked I know my way through the woods, I will outrun him.
Arya took a dangerous turn towards the left and off she was into the woods. She could hear the screech of the tires against the muddy path.
She prayed for the car not to follow suit but it did. She now knew… ‘He wanted to kill her!’
It is another ten minutes and that sharp turn. I hope there is no tree fallen on the way. Oh God! Help me!
She prayed and looked at the mirror; the car was charging on, she could see the headlights of the car following her like two fiery eyes of a devil.
Arya took the steep turn and did not move her leg from the accelerator. The car followed her. She could finally see the house five hundred meters away and sped on.
I have to reach home soon. I hope the front door is open. If not, I have to go the back door and knock. It will take time. What if he comes and kills me by then? I just hope someone is around the house.
Arya had a sudden adrenalin rush and sped her vehicle like a crazy woman. She pressed on the brakes at the gate. Jumped out of the car and ran towards the gate. It was open and then she quickly banged on the front door.
She looked back, the car had halted too, he was getting out…
Nobody answered the door, she banged thrice on it. She did not have the time to run to the back door. He was at the gate…
Just as Arya decided to scream out loud, the door opened. It was her grandfather and she hugged him and asked him to close the door.
But where is Dr. Roy, he was supposed to follow your car. He had called me from the junction saying he had forgotten the route. I had told him that you were on your way too and had messaged him the details of your car.
Arya went back to the door and she could see the weird man, her pursuer but now Dr. Roy at the door. He greeted her grandfather and smiled at Arya.
Her grandfather introduced her as the young lawyer working in London and him as Dr. Roy the young cardiologist at London who was Sam’s best friend during his stay last summer at the Sharma’s house. Both smiled at each other.
“Mr. Sharma your granddaughter is quite an amazing driver!”
Arya could not believe to what had just happened and put on a flat smile.
Just as they entered the drawing hall, she saw Sam sitting near the fireplace.
He looked at Arya and made a noise. Arya went and patted his head and let her hand move across his fur. She hugged him and kissed on his head. Dr. Roy went and patted him too. He was too tired to get up and wag his tail and bark but he knew the two people he loved the most were there next to him. And he was ready for the best sleep ever! ***