30-second thriller #2: Shoes have tongues
"This has got to be the worst day ever," Y thought.
Earlier that day, as he had stood outside the Chattrapati Shivaji Airport, he had experienced what can only be termed as an 'Anxiety Attack'.
Despite his meticulous planning and the minute detailing, as soon as Y had seen the policemen at the entrance of the Arrivals Lounge, he had immediately aborted his mission.
Maybe it was the way the policemen had their automatic rifles slung on their shoulders, or may be it was the sniffer dog that Y could have sworn was looking at him.
All Y wanted to do was turn and run. But, he couldn't have even if he wanted to because his heavy Timberland shoes would have come apart.
Only the previous night, Y had carefully scooped out the insides of the thick soles and filled each with 100 grams of the deadly C-4 plastic explosive. Unfortunately, Y had just stuck back the soles to the uppers with Rubber Adhesive. After all, he had thought, they just needed to hold together till he got into the aircraft.
Walking away as fast as he could without calling attention to himself, Y had left the airport area and cut across the highway trying to find a place of refuge to calm his nerves.
He had found solace in a dusty shed at a construction site. The cement residue in the air clung to his clothes and made him cough, but Y couldn't care less; he was alone and had a chance to rethink his strategy.
A few hours later he had figured out that the only way that he could now save face and carry out his mission was if he went into an office building or, a hotel, or perhaps a railway station.
He had quickly decided against the first two options, as by now his appearance was far too disheveled to allow him to gain entry with being noticed. So, a railway station it had to be.
The closest one, of course, was Vile Parle station.
On the platform, Y's eyes skimmed over the impatient shuffle of the crowd that was anticipating the arrival of the 4.53 pm Borivali slow local.
For the first time in that terrible day, Y relaxed, feeling absolutely anonymous amidst the muted chatter, till his eyes had connected with those of that dark, little boy standing on the staircase that came down from the foot-overbridge.
At first, Y had let his gaze float casually onwards along the staircase. But then, on an instinctive double check, Y's fears had been confirmed.
The dirty, little boy's beady, little eyes were fixed on him.
Suddenly, the little boy tensed as he noticed something or someone in the crowd over Y's shoulder. Y's eyes followed the boy's furtive gaze. When he saw what the boy was looking at, Y's throat went dry.
It was a police constable, sipping on a saucer full of tea at a platform snack stall.
A familiar knot began to form in the pit of Y's stomach. His brain screamed "RUN!" But, his body was frozen at the spot. His eyes refused to tear themselves away from the little boy. Was there was a hint of a smile on the little boy's face? Was that a nod that the policeman had flung towards the little boy? Y wasn't sure.
Now, the little boy began to walk towards Y, pushing his way through the crowd. A muddy, brown schoolbag slung across his shoulders was weighing the boy down a little.
Panic made the blood rush to Y's head. The little boy was now just a few steps away. Was he staring at Y's shoes?
Y's frantic eyes searched for an escape route. The only choice he had was to turn and run directly through the crowd. But, then again his shoes would slow him down.
In one smooth motion Y untied his laces, and kicked off both his shoes.
As Y dove into the crowd in his socks, he heard the little boy call out, "Saab, sirf do minute."
Confused, Y turned.
The little boy had picked up the shoes in his hands and was brushing off the dust with deft little strokes of a shoe brush that he had taken out from his bedraggled school bag.
Y's breath stopped short in his lungs. His head spun into blackness.
The last thing Y saw was the beaming smile on the little boy's face as he said, "Kya jhakaas shoes hain, Saab. Inko ko toh apun free mein polish karenga!"