Seven Days To Heaven

The Rudyman town is in a turmoil. At a Christmas celebration when a woman was murdered in the midst of the hollering and cheerful crowd, everything went into silence. A gunshot was enough to kill and enough to shudder the Crime Department. Alice Reign, a new recruit and a young private detective is to go in partnership with the well known Detective Bhishma Rai only in one condition: if Alice solves the first case they deal with before Rai. The "Christmas Case" is in her hands now, and at first, it goes well. But then, another murder occurs and it has no less connection with the case she is dealing with. That's when Bryce Abraham, a wealthy businessman, comes and partners with Alice without her permit. But a murderer's note was enough to let their hopes die as it read: 7 days more.

Will Alice be able to accomplish her goal?

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2. Chapter One- Part One

The Journey

Alice sits at one place but the world passes away as she moves on. The tunnels, the woods, the people, the villages, they all are left behind, but Alice moves on. She keeps on thinking like that until she feels she is satisfied with her life. The sun's invisible rays pierce through the open grill window, warming her head and palms with hot winds. The hot air lightly slaps her glowing skin and her neatly tucked strands of hair dance against the wind. Although it often used to be warm in Suntown village, Alice feels a different kind of warmth this time. It's cozy, and comfortable. It feels like she's home even when she is so far away. It gives her a feel of power and freedom. Her comfort is in complete contradiction to the environment of the train compartment. She is sitting across two old couples, both wearing spectacles and both of their heads are buried under their newspapers. An infant cries as his mother tries to comfort him. The noise is not at all pleasing. But Alice has adapted to this environment since this is all she got to see from the time she was born. Being a member of a middle class family, upper class children of her age always considered her as savage since she was not all "lady-like". Playing in dirt and rain was her daily routine, and being a Bombayite, a little fall of rain was no big deal. She is a true Bombay brat. 

Today is her big day. It is the first time she will ever set her foot on a soil other than Bombay's. She finally feels like a bird now and her glee is out of bounds. Alice Reign has taken a flight from the ground and she's off towards the horizon of her dreams. It never occurred to her that all her actions are being watched by professionals and her carrier has come to that point that people will call her for an appointment with her. Solving mysteries has always been her genre since the time she found out who the mysteries thief of her class (in the third grade) was. That was the point she knew what she wanted to do.

Bombay being a marvelous city with tall shiny buildings and India's prominent industries and cotton mills, is also a great producer of crimes. With all the businessmen and celebrities at one place, murders have become a daily routine. Two years while she was the assistant of a respected detective, Detective Javed Hussain, she never felt that she missed anything although most of the time it was only a colleague or a relative who was responsible for the murder. But now, when she got a call from her idle, Detective Abheesh Rai, she couldn't help but feel that this is going to be something big. If someone you always read on newspapers about, whose stories have always thrilled you, whose name is sticking on the walls of your room, who has forever been your idle, calls you and asks you to work with him, can you say no to it? No!

Although it was not him who called but his assistant, Alice can spare him this time. She couldn't believe it. It could have been a wrong number but calling her at her department and asking for some Alice Reign doesn't quite sound like a mistake. It was a dream come true!

Alice's long fingers hold on to the only piece of black and white photograph she has of Detective Abheesh Rai, the legend of solving crimes. In the picture, a young man stands with his sharp chin up, surrounded by cameras. He has a perfect detective hat in his hand (not Sherlock like) and a young beautiful lady on his other side. He is a young handsome man indeed with a young beautiful assistant. It is a picture to be hung on the wall, of two models posing for a photo shoot. I guess now I would also have to have high standards of fashion, thinks Alice. 

She worships it with her heart. Abheesh Rai has been her God since 1955, the first time she started reading about him in the articles of Hindustan Times (at the age of 12). The only picture the media had been able to capture of him is the one she is holding right now with honour. He seems to be quite reserved, Alice reckons. She is too eager to know why he chose her, a rookie detective. She has assisted a private detective in solving merely two or three murders the last two years. But it's completely different now. It's going to be more professional with this person. It is going to more Rai-way

A heavy sigh escapes from her bow shaped lips as she looks out the window. The world is moving on, she thinks, and I move on with itIs there anyone else who is moving on and still wants to stop?

Yes, in a way, that is true. Alice wanted to live her whole life in Bombay. The "Mayapuri City"- city of dreams- was her reality was her only world. But when life gives opportunities then it is difficult to easily turn them down. She hasn't even reached the destination and already she is homesick. She misses her mother, father and brother, the people from her locality, her friends and most of all, her all time guardian, Detective Javed Hussain. There is no doubt that Mr. Hussain has been a very supportive boss. He was just like a father to Alice. He was the one who insisted on Alice to take up the offer of Detective Rai. 

She strongly feels that the distance is slowly increasing as the train heads on to Goa. Being very little aware of Goan life, she is not hesitant but more excited to visit this new place. The windy coasts, and splashing waves of the ocean would be the same like they were in Bombay but there must be something new to it. The abundance of churches would be quite new, that's why mummy has constantly reminded her to go to church and thank God for what he is giving. Mothers. 

All the new adventures she'll have, the fun of solving crimes with her God. Unlike other women, Alice Reign is not very sympathetic. Her heart isn't made of stone but rather than being sad about the family's loss she is inclined more to solving the case and catching the criminal. The best part of her carrier is the mysterious feeling about the criminal which tickles her stomach until the criminal has been found. It's just like untangling a knot in your hair while you comb. 

"Goodbye Bombay," she whispers under her breath. Only this one word "Bombay" is enough to make her recall her cheerful memories with her friends and neighbours. No one knows what kind of people she'll get to meet in this new place. 

"Alice Reign!" A familiar voice comes from the door of the carriage. Of course. How can someone forget that cheerful voice? 

Alice turns to see that familiar handsome man standing at the door of carriage.

"Oh I was so bored, so I thought of wandering about this train and here I find you!" He walks to her with his notorious smile and playfully takes off his burgundy hat, pushing his long fingers into his jet black hair. That's Bryce Abraham's signature style to impress women around him without any efforts, just simply by walking.  

The chattering noises of women in the carriage becomes feeble as the gentleman flawlessly walks through. A pale brown shirt peeks up from the dark grey coat, an attractively unusual combination which could only be worn by Bryce and look so ravishing. You can smell the scent of the expensive perfume he's wearing from a good distance. A smirk escapes from Alice's mouth and she shakes her head as she witnesses women gawking at the suited man walking by. 

"May I have the pleasure to join you?" There is a hint of mischievousness in those black eyes. The cracks of his smile reaches his eyes which makes several beautiful crinkles around the corner of his eyes.   

"Bryce Abraham, I guess I didn't say goodbye to you," she says, gesturing him to sit down on the seat opposite to her. She is not at all surprised by his presence here. You can always find him travelling to places and bump into him anywhere. He's a man with money. 

"Ah, there is no need to say goodbye to me. I am visiting Goa on business purpose," he bends over and smiles crookedly, "And for some holidays too. So I can take you to places and introduce you to this marvellous city. Amazing isn't it?"

"Well, Bryce, that is a nice offer indeed but I think you have a business to run."

"Oh, scratch the business, let me enjoy for sometime! And for the fact my brother would be running the business while I am not there, I have no reason to worry. Come on, it would be amazing. Can't neighbours wander around together for sometime?"

Alice smiles sarcastically and shakes her head. "I don't think it would be nice for you to be roaming around with a middle class girl."

"Alice, Alice. When are you going to learn? I am offering to be your guide in this completely unfamiliar place, and you're just simply turning it down? Face some sunshine for sometime before the clouds loiter around in the sky. You seldom get this kind of offer especially from your beloved neighbour." 

"Yes, very beloved that I don't want to cause you inconvenience because of me. Don't worry so much, Bryce, it's not good for your health." Alice says with her regular "I'm sorry, I don't need your help" sarcastic smile plastered on her face.  

"What do you know about my health, Alice? Maybe for you a stick of cigar is healthier than a good company." He pulls out a  cigar from his pocket and extends his hand towards Alice.

"No, I'm good. I'm not a fan of killing my breath, Mr. Abraham."

Bryce chuckles as if Alice just told a joke and smiles as widely he did a few moments back."I didn't know there was a lady in there too, Alice. You are a pack of surprises aren't you? Better than a pack of cigar, I reckon.  But for me, a cigar and a friend together, this happiness would never tether." 

Alice shakes her head at him, still smiling. There is a brief moment of silence in which she scrutinises her companion's expressions closely. Maybe it's become a habit of her. It's all stuck to her bone now. 

"Isn't it absurd," she starts suddenly, "or a coincidence, maybe, that you have to go to Goa on the same day I am going?"

Bryce looks at her for a moment and laughs out again at some inner joke going on in his mind. "Oh, Alice, you are such a detective. There is no doubt why Mr. Rai wants to work with you." She continues to look at him with an amused expression. "Just take a break for sometime. You need to relax your sixth senses." He lightly pokes his index finger to her forehead. 

"And you need to go into your respective compartment, you don't quite fit in the second class."

Bryce's teeth peek out from his lips as he chuckles. "The foreigners are gone and now you're here to kick me out of a train compartment? It's 1966, my friend, this a free country now and I am free to do whatever pleases me."

Every face in the compartment looks as weary as a prune. Some are thinking, some sleeping, some are wailing (the children) and some aren't bothered about the keeping them quiet and are just looking forward as if they don't hear anything. But everyone's ear is shot up in the direction of the young 'couple like' companions talking to each other. 

"Since when did you start to enjoy riding in a Second Class coach? Ritz doesn't bother you any more, eh, rich man?"

"When in a moonless night you find a blanket of stars, then the moon doesn't look as beautiful." He smiles. 

Alice shakes her head, not believing that Bryce could also say something like that. "Metaphors are not my best friends, and I don't even believe if you even understand the depth of what you just said."

"To understand something, you need to see it with your own eyes, or else, there are people who don't believe in God."

His eyes sparkle as if the stars he spoke of have settled in his eyes under the daylight. You never get to know about this person. Every word he speaks is a metaphor and every expression he reflects makes each of his metaphor literal. He isn't the best epitome of living beauty just like that. Every girl in the compartment listening to his words is immediately smitten by his depth. They don't know how to swim into that depth but they know going that deep into the ocean of words isn't that common with men.

Whenever a topic of interest comes up, Bryce's eyes, face and ears light up like a candle blazed from a spark. He has a different shine on his face on just mentioning a topic of interest. Alice is fully aware about this behaviour so looking at him like that doesn't intrigue her as much as it intrigues the other women around her.

"Thank God there aren't any murderers out there as metaphorical as you."

An enormous T.T.E. makes his way towards the people in his slow gait. His giant belly slaps some of the faces as he walks by. While he scrutinises every ticket, his other hand massages the mop of black moustache above his fat lips. Alice watches him, carefully, making his way. 

After his long walk in the coach, he finally reaches Alice and her companion. He looks as weary as the people. 

"Ticket," he says in his monotonous tone. 

Alice quickly pulls out the thin piece of printed paper and hands it over to the weary man. He carefully reads each word of the paper while twisting his moustache and nods in approval. After punching a perfect hole in it, he gives it back and turns to Bryce. "Ticket," he says, again in his sad monotony. 

Bryce slips his finger in his pocket and pulls out the flat paper between his finger. The T.T.E raises his eyes brows at his confidence and starts examining the same paper again. The only thing is that it is not the same in this case. 

Without touching the moustache, he shakes his head. "Saheb, this is not a ticket for this compartment. You have to go in the first class," he says, expressionless. 

"You see, sir, first class seems to feel like a boring ride after a while. And is it going to be a crime if I sit here for a while?" 

Alice smirks and sits back, watching the scene in amusement. 

The huge man manages to shake his head. "Sir, if you wanted to sit in a second class coach, then you should have purchased a ticket for second class. You have a first class ticket, so you will have to sit there."

There is a shade of disappointment on Bryce's face. He looks at the man standing seriously then gets up. "All right, you win, sir." He places the hat perfectly on his head and tips it. "Alice."

"Bryce," she nods. 

A crack of smile appears on his face and he elegantly walks out. 

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