Chapter 10

Written by: SameerNagarajan

Clarke smiled enigmatically and disappeared mysteriously. Confused, Art followed Charlotte obediently as she boarded the train, ready for the conclusive part of a nerve-wracking fortnight. 

Charlotte nervously said, “Something about this doesn’t make sense”. 

Even as Art looked at her curiously, she realised what was bothering her. 

“There is no science that describes reading someone’s mind,” she said persuasively, pointing at the briefcase.

The train rattled on. The silence was enigmatic and curious. 

Then she said, clearly and confidently, “I get it. Art is Clarke, right?”

He looked up at her immediately and sharply said, “And you’re daft. Are you saying I did all that myself?”

“No,” she said clearly. “Art had nothing to do with it at all. Clarke did. In fact, that’s how Art and Clarke knew exactly what each other was doing, because they are both the same person! The only answer is that you’re both. You’re paranoid schizophrenic.”

His eyes narrowed. His brow twitched. 

“Clarke killed Paul.” She went on to describe how Art had asked Mandy if Paul was dead before she mentioned it, which aroused her suspicions. Clarke guessed her thoughts and kidnapped her, nearly beating her to death. She was semi-conscious when Art found her and there were indeed two voices she heard – Art and Clarke, but of course she could not see that they were both the same person. 

“That’s rubbish,” he snapped, his eyes widening with assumed innocence, “Clarke was at Brettamol”.

“No,” she smiled without humour, “I’ve never met Clarke. I confided truthfully in Dr Syed. I picked the unsuspecting Dr Franklin at random and pointed at him. You obligingly confirmed he was Clarke, because – you don’t know what the evil Clarke looks like, either. You’ve never seen him yourself. You couldn’t have. Clearly, he’s you”. 

The silent minute stretched eternally. 

He lunged, throwing himself on her while violently grabbing the red window curtain sash. The ceramic vase on the table fell to the floor, breaking into shards. Ignoring the noise, he immediately started to throttle her. She could barely breathe and feared her neck would break.  She reached desperately for the emergency cord. It was futile. His loud breathing seemed to fill the coach. She suddenly relaxed. 

He tightened the sash further.

“You’re garbage, Charlotte. Trying to out smart me!” Clarke sneered. “I can dispose of you, like the others.”

Her eyes reflected the terror and helplessness she felt.

“It was those kids,” he snarled squeezing harder, “pretending to be friends. I hated them! I pretended that they were my best friends. Bastards. Showing me up with their good grades and sports.”

She drifted in and out of consciousness and saw his thick silver neck-chain. She grabbed it with a last desperate burst of energy, twisting and tugging with all her might. 

Clarke screamed and lost his grip. She kicked him violently in the groin and Art fell to a corner, retching and pleading for mercy.  

She pulled out her cellphone and stabbed a number. “Hello? Police…?”

Comments

What a clever and creative way to end this story. Sameer, the way you have written this chapter made me believe it was possible for Art and Clarke to be the same people. It came close to coming apart at the point of revelation but you veered away from that precipice. It is a very clever ending to a very enjoyable serial.
What an unexpected yet gripping ending Sameer. Congratulations on ending this wonderful and interesting serial with such panache. There were so many twists and turns that it would have been difficult to give a logical ending to the story. But you managed to successfully accomplish this delicate task.
Thank you Suraya and Hemali. Must admit it took some thinking through. Glad you liked it!