He felt odd. He felt cold.
His limbs felt loose. And light. Lighter than the air around him.
Something was not right. But he could not make out what. He spent some time thinking. Recollecting.
He opened his eyes. The environment around him appeared blurry. He had an old computer with a below average graphics card at his apartment. He had tried to run some graphically advanced games on his PC with a low environment detail level some days ago. Strangely, the world around him looked similar. Pixelated and crude. The colors appeared rough. The whites appeared bright though. Blindingly bright. But the colors were pale. Probably the dark of the night was a tad bit darker than it should have been. He rubbed his eyes.
“Nope. No change.”, he thought to himself. He found it strange.
He tried to remember what he had been doing till then. Memories of numerous shots of tequila dawned upon him. Ten? Or was it twelve?
“Alcohol is definitely one of the greatest inventions of mankind.”, he thought.
He remembered that there was someone he had picked up at the bar last night. A girl. She was beautiful. She was smart. Probably way beyond his league. He remembered the banter. He remembered the flirting. He remembered the music.
He remembered walking with her down the alley towards his studio apartment. He was not particularly rich. He had a job that paid him enough to cover his grocery and utilities’ expenses. He lived in an apartment in which a single room served as a living room, a dining room and a kitchen. He cooked his meals himself. It gave him a sense of achievement. A sense of control which he presumed he had on his life. But life, as they say, has its own funny ways. They were walking down the road laughing and joking. He remembered seeing an ice – cream parlour on the other side of the street. He remembered the girl asking him to go get a chocolate chip ice – cream. He remembered walking towards the brightly lit place.
He realized that he was standing in the middle of the road. He crossed over to the side of the street which had the ice – cream parlour. He could see the girl at some distance on the other side of the road.
“Was she crying?”, he thought.
He couldn’t tell. His blurry vision didn’t help either.
“Eh! What the hell. Let me get the ice – cream first.”, he thought to himself.
If it’s one thing that he had learnt from his mother, it was that girls get really cranky if they do not get their ice – creams on time. He did not want to make this girl cranky. She was one hell of a catch.
The door of the ice – cream parlor was open. He entered. There was a disinterested looking kid at the counter. He looked like one of those kids who study in a mediocre school during the day – time and work at night to support their mothers in paying the tuition fees. His father had probably died or deserted the family. It was late at night and he certainly didn’t expect any customers at this hour. Even couples struck by Cupid’s arrows looking for ice – creams at this hour were far and few in between.
“One chocolate chip ice – cream, single scoop, cone and one strawberry, single scoop, cup.”, he said.
The boy didn’t seem to pay attention. He waited for sometime.
“One chocolate chip ice – cream, single scoop, cone and one strawberry, single scoop, cup.”, he repeated, louder.
The monotonous sound of the TV probably irked him. The music certainly didn’t appeal to his taste. The kid at the counter still ignored him.
“Damn you and damn your ice – cream parlor.”, he shouted and started walking out.
Mentally, he added this place to the list of places he was never going to visit again which included the bar near his apartment where he had insulted the bartender and the patisserie at the corner of the street where he had got the pastry he had ordered on credit and had conveniently “forgotten” to pay.
His lady was certainly not going to get her ice – cream tonight. This concerned him. She was probably going to very cranky. He started thinking of excuses that could make the situation better. He started walking towards her. She stood there at a distance on the road side.
“Is she crying?”, he thought again. He could not figure out. He walked closer.
He started walking across the street diagonally. He came nearer to her. She was standing on the edge of the road. Her face shone in the moon – light. She was indeed crying. She looked helpless. For a moment, he could not understand.
“What could have gone wrong?”, he thought.
He looked ahead. The road was deserted. It turned left some distance away from where he was standing. The edges of the road sloped down and there were bushes on both sides of the road. The only thing that bothered him was the skid marks. They appeared to have been made by a heavy vehicle. Weird. There was a slight tingling sensation on the left side of his body.
“What’s wrong baby?”, he asked. She did not reply. Her wails grew louder. She was becoming inconsolable with each passing minute.
The silence of the night was disturbed by a shrill sound. The familiar wail of the siren was disconcerting. Two vehicles approached the lady. One of them was a police van and the other was an ambulance. She was still in tears. She pointed to the exact point where the road turned left. There was something on the edge of the road. A couple of male nurses carrying a stretcher piled out of the ambulance and dashed towards the object.
The police man began his enquiry. “How did it happen?”, he asked in a rather grumpy voice.
“He was crossing the street to get an ice – cream for me from the parlor there.”, the lady said pointing her finger to the opposite side of the street, still crying.
“There came a truck. No head – lights. It happened within a fraction of a second. I didn’t even have time to react. The truck skid. He was flung. I screamed. And within a moment, the truck had gone out of sight. Unable to think of anything to do, I called up you guys.”, she could barely utter the last words before she broke down into a gut – wrenching wail. She cried her heart out. The police – man put his arm around her to console her.
The male nurses arrived with the body on the stretcher.
“Dead on arrival”, they announced to the policeman.
He looked at the face of the dead body. It was like looking into a mirror. Only bloodier.