Autumn - The Last Leaf: Chapter 1,2 and 3

(Adult Content)

Chapter 1: The First Leaf Falls

The only source of light in the room was casting a long shadow on the wall of her bedroom, where she sat in a corner dabbing the wound on her forehead and her lips, which were the result of her struggle with a man. Her clothes were torn and her face was stained with dried tears mixed with blood.

She was shivering and the only sound in the room was the sudden outbursts of sobs. She was unable to make up her mind on what should be her next step. Was she supposed to tell the landlady about what had happened that night in her bedroom or was she supposed to dispose off the body of the man in her room and behave as if nothing had happened?

Slowly she got up from where she was sitting and walked towards the body that lay in the center of her room to check whether the man was actually dead. The man was lying motionless on the floor for a long time. She had done nothing to kill him but who would believe her? The man had tried to force himself on her, beating and biting her. She had just pushed him and he stumbled, banging into a table, the corner of which was responsible for a sharp wound at the back of his head. He collapsed on the floor and lay there still, for a long time. When the girl moved closer to him she saw blood oozing out from the wound at the back of his head. She knelt down near the body to feel his pulse but suddenly the man moved and pounced on her. He was now on top of her. He punched her hard in her face and then removed a knife from the pocket of his trousers. He had decided to have some fun before killing the girl. His wife had asked him to kill the girl in her sleep and return to their room with her jewelry and cash. She had promised him a wonderful gift after that. But he felt his wife was getting old and he wanted some excitement. Besides, the girl was not asleep when he had entered her room. But she had ruined everything, and deserved to die! He stabbed her in the chest several times. The dress the girl was wearing was now soaked in blood. The man stood up and unzipped his trousers. The girl was alive but too weak to struggle. The man satiated himself before she died. Both the actions took place almost at the same time. The man took a deep breath and the girl took her last breath.

Zipping his trousers, the man walked to the door and picked up the handbag the girl was carrying with her, as she was about to leave. He removed the jewelry and cash she had taken out of her bank on the same day she was supposed to leave for her home in California. He had to think of something to tell his wife about the injury on the back of his head. He looked at the girl, smiled and walked out of the room.

Chapter 2: Death Comes Calling

Neha was sweating when she woke up with a shudder. She was sleeping in an air-conditioned bedroom but the dream had left her shivering and sweating. The dream had seemed so real! It seemed as if it was happening right in front of her eyes.
Also, the girl in the dream …
She was sure she had seen her somewhere!

She pushed the covers aside and got out of her bed, still wearing her jeans and T-shirt. She had not changed into her nightgown because she was supposed to accompany her friend to the airport. She walked to the washroom and splashed some water on her face. She looked at herself in the mirror and as the water dripped from her face she tried to focus on the face of the girl in the dream.

Suddenly, she dashed out of the washroom, ran towards her bed and jumped to reach for her mobile. She picked up her mobile and dialed a number from her contact list. She waited as the cell on the other end kept ringing. She waited for someone to answer but the call went unanswered. She dialed again and waited… one … two… three… the cell kept ringing and no one attended the call. By this time Neha was frenzied because she knew her friend was in danger. She wanted to warn Cathy about the danger to her life.

It was dark in Cathy’s room and the mobile kept on her study table was glowing in the dark and vibrating. Cathy was fast asleep in her bed. She needed this rest because within a few hours she had to leave to the airport.

Neha disconnected the call and dialed the number again. The mobile in Cathy’s room started vibrating again. By this time the mobile was on the edge of the table. After a few vibrations the mobile fell from the table and Cathy woke up with a start because of the sound of the mobile as it fell on the floor. She switched on the bedside lamp and reached for her mobile. She saw that there were many missed calls from Neha. Once again the mobile began to vibrate and Cathy attended the call.

Cathy: “Hello! Neha what’s wrong with you? It seems you are in a hurry to send me away!”
Neha: “Why did you take so much time to receive the call?”
Cathy: “Girl! The cell was on vibration and I was taking a much needed and much deserved rest.”
Neha: “Listen carefully … Cathy! Your life is in danger.”
Cathy: “You been reading some novel again?”
Neha: “Cathy I mean it! I saw a dream…”
Cathy: “Oh! So dream it is! You call me up to tell me that you had a dream that my life is in danger?”
Neha: “Listen Cathy! There is something wrong out there. Please trust me … Remember the last time when I warned Roger that he would meet with an accident and he ignored my warning? You know what had happened then!!”

Suddenly Cathy was serious. Roger was her boyfriend and few months back Neha had told him that he would have an accident and he had laughed it off. The next day Roger was admitted in hospital with severe injuries.

Neha: “Are you there, Cathy?”
Cathy: “Yes! What do you want me to do?”
Neha: “Collect your cash and jewelry and come over to my house. Roger will bring rest of the stuff to the airport.”
Cathy: “Okay. I’ll do that!”
Neha: “I am waiting for you Cathy. Be quick.”
Neha disconnected the call. She looked up her contact list and dialed Roger’s number. She thought it would be best if Roger could make it quickly to Cathy’s room and bring her over. But Roger’s mobile was on voicemail. She left a message for him to get Cathy’s luggage from her room and bring it to the airport.
Now, all that Neha could do was ... wait for Cathy to come to her house where she would be safe.

Cathy opened the cupboard and put her jewelry and cash in her handbag and then got ready to leave. She reached the door and realized that she had left her mobile on the desk. As she turned to get her mobile the door was opened from the outside. Stunned, Cathy wheeled around because she had locked the door from the inside or had she forgotten to do so? The door was ajar now and after some time Mr. Ghosh, the owner of the house where Cathy stayed as paying-guest was standing at the door. He was surprised to see Cathy awake. Before Cathy knew what was happening, the man punched her hard on her face. Cathy’s handbag fell down near the door and she fell on the floor. The man attacked her. His intentions were clear. When Neha’s words echoed in Cathy’s ears she knew that she was in danger and the danger had come to her in the form of Mr. Ghosh. She tried to scream but the man covered her mouth with his huge hand and with the other hand he began tearing her clothes. He was on top of her and as she was wriggling under him he removed his hand from her mouth and covered it with his mouth. Cathy could smell his alcoholic breath. She struggled harder and managed to kick him away from her. She got up and ran towards the door but the man reached for her waist and swung her around towards the bed. He pounced on her once again and began beating and biting her. Cathy collected her strength and pushed him hard. The man was thrown back, he stumbled and banged into the nearby table and fell on the floor. Cathy looked towards the place where the man lay, completely still. For a few minutes the man did not move. Cathy slid out of the bed and sat in the corner of the room dabbing at her wounds. She then got up to see whether the man was dead. One part of her insisted that she should pick up her handbag and leave the room immediately but the other part decided against it. As she walked closer to the man she saw blood oozing out from the back of his head. Suddenly the man pounced on her and, sitting on top of her he punched her hard on the face. Then he took out a knife. Cathy froze under him, regaining her senses and tried to shift under his weight but by that time the sharp knife pierced her chest several times. Cathy saw the man unzipping his trousers, then he bent over her and raped her as she started to become unconscious. Cathy felt paralyzed under his weight and numb with pain and then there was no pain at all!

Neha was restlessly pacing the floor of her bedroom waiting for the doorbell to ring. It was a long time now! She was expecting Cathy any moment. She decided to call back again. When she tried to call, the mobile was switched off. She tried Roger’s mobile; it was still on voicemail. She needed help and under such circumstances she could think of only one person to call. She dialed the number. The call was answered after a few rings. Vishaal was sleeping when she called but when she told him about the dream and said that she needed him he was wide-awake. He told her that Cathy’s room was near his hostel and he would try to reach it as soon as he could and then call her back.

Cathy did not turn up. Neha tried her cell again; it was switched off. Almost immediately her mobile rang. It was Vishaal’s call. Neha answered it and was shocked to hear what he had to say. Vishaal told her that the house-owners said that Cathy had already left for the airport. Immediately she knew that she had made a mistake by sending Vishaal there. She should have informed the police that she suspected foul play. But the police would have not believed her. She told Vishaal that she was going to the police station and Vishaal said that he would accompany her.

Neha picked up the car keys and moved out of her house. She regretted her decision to stay back at home and wait for Cathy to come over. She thought that she should have gone to Cathy’s room to pick her up. Neha had a feeling that she was already late. As she reached the police station she told the police about the dream and the danger to Cathy’s life. The first reaction of the police officer was to tell her that she was right when she had assumed that they would not believe her. Neha tried to convince the officer that it was totally impossible for Cathy to leave the country on her own. The owners were lying. Cathy had not left for the airport; she was murdered. On several requests from Neha and Vishaal, the police officer dialed a number and asked for some information. The airport authorities confirmed that a ticket was booked on Catherine Wilkins' name but she had not boarded the flight. Immediately the look on the officer’s face changed. Neha knew that she had won the battle but she had already lost her friend.

As the police approached the victim’s house the sirens alerted the owner and his wife and they prepared themselves to face the police. They also knew that police would not be able to search their house without a search warrant. They thought they would guide the police to Cathy’s room, as polite citizens of society. They had removed Cathy’s body from her room and tidied the room as if Cathy had taken her all belongings and moved out of the room after tidying it. But they were taken aback when the police knocked at their door with the search warrant in hand. They sincerely guided the police to Cathy’s room but when the police reached the storeroom the couple glanced at each other. First of all they had not even considered the option that someone would come to know that Cathy was actually missing and it was a remote chance that police would be informed about the same. But Neha had done it and added to their already troubled lives. Finally Cathy’s body was found in the store room and a case was registered against the house owners and they were rightly punished. Neha had lost her friend but she knew that by getting the culprits arrested she had put Cathy’s soul at rest. During this phase Vishaal stood by her like a true friend.

Chapter 3: Love Sparks

Neha and Vishaal were best friends and they were doing their business management course together. Everyone in the college was aware of the depth of their friendship and many people including the professors had assumed that they would get married sooner or later.

As far as Neha and Vishaal were concerned they never discussed this part of their relationship so neither one of them had any idea about what the other one felt about their relationship. Neha’s and Vishaal’s friends periodically mentioned about their relationship to them but they took a casual approach. What others said about them did not influence Neha and if Vishaal was, he did not show. All in all they continued to be best of friends.

There were times when Vishaal hugged Neha, put his arm around her neck, around the waist at times, even kissed her once on the cheek when their term results were out and Vishaal had cleared them with distinction. But, all this did not affect Neha. She never considered all these as hints of any sort and she was sure even Vishaal did not mean to give any hints. Sometimes, Neha held Vishaal’s arm and rested her head on his shoulder, but she was never concerned about the way Vishaal’s arm touched her body. Vishaal, too, did not seem to be concerned about it.

Cathy’s death changed a few things between them. Now Neha found it difficult to sleep at nights. The death had left a deep impact on her mind and she sometimes felt guilty that she could not save Catherine. Only if she had taken her car and picked her up, Cathy would have been alive today. During such times Vishaal tried to convince her that she did all she could do for Cathy.

Vishaal stayed back at her bungalow for a few days at Neha’s request. Both of them invited their friends to join them so that the group could work together on Neha’s recovery from the shock. Neha was an NRI and she stayed alone in the bungalow her father had bought for her stay in India. It was easy for Vishaal to come and stay at Neha’s residence because he stayed in a hostel as his parents were from outside Bombay.

One day as Vishaal put Neha to sleep in her room and was chatting with the group they heard Neha scream. Everyone got up and rushed to her room but Vishaal reached before others and pushed open the door. Neha was still in bed but she was sitting and staring at the wall. Vishaal walked in and embraced her. Others stood at the door for some time and then walked back closing the door behind them. Neha was still in Vishaal’s arms. She told him that she had a dream and she saw Catherine in her dream. Vishaal held her closer and he could feel her heart beating against his chest. She could feel Vishaal tightening his grip on her. She ran her fingers through his hair and lifted her head from his shoulders. Now they were face to face. Neha could feel Vishaal’s breath on her cheek and the next moment his mouth covered her mouth. As they kissed passionately Neha loosened her grip on Vishaal and then she lay back on the bed. That hint was enough for Vishaal and he slid under the covers and lay next to Neha. As Vishaal continued to kiss her and she responded, his hand explored her body and began unlacing her nightgown. Neha had never thought that such a day would come in their life when they would explore the world beyond their friendship. Now, she was desperate to enter that world. She assisted Vishaal in undressing her and then began to unbutton his shirt. As Vishaal covered her body with his, Neha could feel her pulse increasing. Her body was on fire. There was a sound of the door being closed and Neha opened her eyes. She was still in Vishaal’s arms and on the bed, but they were dressed. Vishaal was lying next to her, holding her close. Neha freed herself from the embrace and got up. Vishaal was sleeping. What Neha thought was happening between them was nothing but a dream. Neha covered her face with her hands. She could feel her heart thumping against her chest. It had seemed so real. The psychological and physiological changes that took place in her were real. She desperately wanted all this to be real. For the first time since she was a friend with Vishaal she needed him as a man who would make love to her. She was tempted to wake up Vishaal and tell him what she thought but she held herself back. She asked herself a question, Was this just a dream or a dream similar to the one she had in Catherine’s case? Was this her premonition about what would happen between them in future? She wanted it to be her premonition. She was now ready to walk into Vishaal’s arms as a woman and not merely as a friend.

Neha got up from the bed and walked to the washroom. She needed to freshen up. As she splashed water on her face a few tears rolled down her cheeks camouflaged by the water drops and lost their way in the washbasin. She tried to remember what had happened. She had screamed as she had seen Catherine soaked in blood. It was a dream but she was scared. Vishaal had come to her room and embraced her. When she told him that she had seen Cathy in her dream he tightened his grip on her. After that, perhaps, she must have slept and Vishaal must have helped her to lie down and laid down next to her, still holding her close.

The sound of the door being closed! Neha suddenly remembered that they both were not the only people in the house. Someone must have peeked into the room and seeing them sleeping in each other’s arms, the person must have walked out, closing the door. Neha took off her clothes and stood under the shower. She let the cold water run over her body for some time and then she put back her nightgown and walked out. When Neha came out of the washroom Vishaal was awake. He was waiting for her. Neha realized that she was feeling embarrassed to look into Vishaal’s eyes fearing that he may read the look in them. Never before today had she felt so awkward when he was around. She felt as if her heart would leap out of her chest. She had taken a shower but the feeling of his body against her was still fresh in her mind.
“Are you okay?” Vishaal asked her with a concerned look on his face.
“Yeah I am fine.” Neha answered without looking at him.
Vishaal got up from the bed and walked towards her. He kissed her on the forehead and a wave of shiver ran across her entire body. He smiled at her and walked out of the bedroom.

The dream had changed the way Neha looked at Vishaal. Perhaps other friends could make out the change in her and hence they tried to let Vishaal and Neha be together. Or was it because they knew Vishaal and Neha slept on the bed together holding each other in embrace and they must have assumed a lot of things? Whatever it was Neha did not care. Vishaal seemed to be unaffected by all this, but the worst part was that he seemed to be blind to the changes in Neha. The dream about Catherine had come true almost immediately but nothing happened between Vishaal and Neha. Neha did not mention the dream to Vishaal. She wanted some time for herself because she was not the kind of girl to fall for infatuation or lust. She needed time to decide whether she was really in love with Vishaal.


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