By: Ishtiaq Ahmad
A SERIOUS SET-BACK:
(At the hotel). "I don't understand," the Manager said apprehensively.
"It's very simple. I want to search you and your room only. You resemble the person who escaped from the laboratory quite a lot, you know."
"Oh! Go ahead and search whatever you like. I don't have any objections."
"Will you get up and come here, please?"
"Why not?" the Manager said and came to stand in front of the Inspector.
Inspector Jamshed checked him thoroughly. Nothing. He searched the entire room. Nothing again.
"This means that the first thing you did upon entering your office was to wash the make-up from your face and then hide the pistol."
"I've no idea what you are talking about."
"You are clever indeed!"
"Thank-you for the compliment."
"I can call your bluff you know."
"Really? You can? And how will you do that? I've got to hear this," the Manager seemed to be enjoying himself at the Inspector's expense.
"Khan Rahman," the Inspector called out, turning towards the door.
"Yes, I'm here."
"It's time we put this person's acting to an end."
"It is?" Khan Rahman asked bewildered.
"Yes, it is. He knows and I know very well too that he's the one who ran out of the lab and whom we have been chasing."
"How can you prove that?" the Manager asked mockingly.
"It's quite easy, you know. Will you call one of your waiters?"
"Why not?" the Manager said and pressed a bell. A few seconds later, a waiter entered the office.
"Yes Sir," he said.
"This Inspector here wants to ask you something. Don't you, Inspector?" the Manager asked with a derisive smile.
"Yes, but first I would like to know your name, Mr. Manager."
"Bahadur Dabb at your service," he said bowing slightly.
"Bahadur Dabba?" Khan Rahman couldn't help exclaiming.
"NOT DABBA," the Manager said angrily. "It's DABB. Dabb is our family name."
"Ok, Ok, Bahadur Dabb sahib. I just want to ask your waiter one single question and that will expose you as nothing else ever will."
"You can ask him whatever you like. He's here isn't he?" the Manager said, rudely.
"Mr. waiter what is the number of your Manager's car?"
"LJ- 1485," the waiter said promptly.
"No, no," the Manager whispered turning pale.
"Got you there, haven't I? We were chasing LJ 1485 from the lab till it lead us here. I jotted down the number when once we came near enough to see it. Here it is," Inspector Jamshed took out his notebook from his pocket and showed it to the Manager. The Manager couldn't say anything.
"You can go now," Inspector Jamshed told the waiter, putting the notebook back in his pocket. "We don't need you any more."
"Right!" Khan Rahman said and dialed the number from the phone on the Manager's table. Ikraam was not in his office. Khan Rahman gave the instructions to Muhammad Husain Azad and replaced the receiver.
"What do you have to say now Mr. Bahadur Dabb?" Inspector Jamshed asked.
"About what you were doing in the lab, for a beginning."
"I don't know. I was just told to go there and I did."
"What do you mean? Who told you to go there?"
"I don't know who he is. No one does. We are just given an order, which we usually don't understand and we have to obey it without asking any questions. I was told to go to the lab in disguise with Rauf Farabi. Because of Rauf Farabi no one would ask me any questions. Rauf Farabi was to hide me in the lab and when the time came, I was to run out and escape. I was to escape at all costs. I was told to use the pistol if necessary. It was the mysterious man who sent me the pistol with the instructions."
"How does he give you the orders?"
"One of his men comes here and tells me what to do. Sometimes I get the orders on the phone too."
"How do you know it's your boss on the phone and not someone else?"
"He uses a code."
"And what is that?"
"The night is very dark."
"There's nothing more to tell. I don't know why I was given those orders."
"I think I know why," Inspector Jamshed said grimly.
"Yes. Your boss wanted to draw us away from the lab. The whole lab was evacuated because of the earthquake's threat. Even Professor Dawood came out. And just as you went and hid inside, another Farabi must have taken your boss and hidden him inside too. He must be there now going through Professor Dawood's highly technical inventions. Professor Dawood's years of work will be copied by him in minutes. Sadly, we fell into his trap. But never mind it's not too late yet. We will still get him. I'm sorry but I'll just have to put you out till one of my staff gets here. I don't have a minute to lose." Saying so, Inspector Jamshed dealt him a well-aimed blow at the temple and the Manager slid to the floor, unconscious. Together with Khan Rahman he raced out of the door, past the main hall of the hotel. The clerk at the reception desk shouted, "Catch them. Don't let them get away."
As some people came after them, Inspector Jamshed, drawing his revolver out of his pocket, turned around and shouted, "STOP! Don't anybody move. I'm Inspector Jamshed and I'll be back here soon. I'll explain everything to you then. If anyone tries to come after us, he'll have himself to blame only."
They raced out, got into the car and the tyres screeched as they took off. Driving recklessly, Inspector Jamshed headed for the lab. He had to get there as soon as he could.
"We've been badly fooled, Khan Rahman,"
"Even the greatest people sometimes make mistakes."
"You're wrong there, you know my friend."
"Yes. I'm not a great person. Those who think they are great usually head for a fall. I've never lost a case only because I've never thought of myself as clever and invincible. It's only Allah Ta'ala who is All-Mighty and All-Powerful."
"You are right. What I said was wrong. I hope Allah Ta'ala forgives me."
"I'm sure He will. He says I will forgive anyone who asks for my forgiveness. The doors of His mercy are always open. They only close when a person is about to die. At the moment of death everything is revealed to him, and then nothing can save him. It's no use repenting then."
"May Allah Ta'ala have mercy on me. I get the jitters whenever I think of death, you know."
"Ah yes. That is really a frightening thing. May Allah (y) have mercy on all of us."
As soon as their car screeched to a stop outside the lab, Professor Dawood came running to meet them.
"Did you manage to catch him, Jamshed?" he asked.
"Yes, we caught him. He's in our custody now. But tell me what's been going on here?"
"Nothing really. We've all been standing outside since you left. No one wants to go in because they're afraid of the earthquake."
"Oh no! Come on, we've got to go in," Inspector Jamshed said urgently.
"But why? The earthquake ………"
"Don't worry about the earthquake. Just follow me." Inspector Jamshed said and ran towards the lab door. Professor Dawood looked after him for a moment and then he too broke into a run.
There was complete silence everywhere. Not a sound was to be heard.
"Where's the Record Room where you keep all the records of your experiments?"
"Won't you tell me what's going on?" Professor Dawood asked perplexed.
"I'll tell you later. I don't have the time now."
"It's this way," Professor Dawood said and led him to the Record Room. As soon as they opened the door, they stood there shocked and speechless. The whole room was a mess. It seemed as if a hurricane had gone through it …… or as if it had been hit by an earthquake!
"Oh, my God! What…what happened," Professor Dawood said in an awed voice.
"All of us were made to evacuate the building. The culprit remained inside. It was he who did all this."
"But then where did he go? The military has sealed off the whole area. No one could have gone out."
"He must have had a plan. You were the last person to leave the building, weren't you? Tell me did anyone enter it after you left?"