I woke up and saw the familiar clock on the side table showing 01:30. I was in my room. I got up. I wasn’t wearing anything on top. There was a significant amount of bandage running all over my chest, stomach and back. My left leg had a cast. My head had a bandage, and there were lots of bruises on my arms. But strangely, I remembered nothing after my fall near the railway track. The room was bright with sunlight. Everything seemed very much as I had left it. The door of my room was open. I could see that someone had played my PS3 as there was a mess of dvds around it. I never leave stuff like that. Only one suspect…
I called out “Steve??”. I could feel some pain now.
“Oyeeee….you got up…..wait a min…I’ll be right there…” I heard the familiar shouting. It was Stephen, my best friend, my room mate and he was in my project too.
“Yaar get some water” I told him. “Okay…” came the reply. I was feeling really comfortable to be back at my room after what all had happened with me. I totally denied my head to think of anything about that incident. I just wanted to relax for sometime because I had a strong gut feeling, it was not over.
Stephen came in the room holding a big tray with bread, butter, omelette, a big glass of mixed fruit juice, some medicines and a glass of water. This was the best part about him. He was very caring and equally good cook. He kept the tray next to me and quickly hugged me tightly. I too felt like heaven to be back to my buddy…alive!
“aaah….” I screamed of pain caused due to this brotherly love. He quickly released me.
“Sorry” he smiled.
“How did I come here?” I asked him.
“First gulp this medicine. Doc had asked me to give it to you the moment you woke up. You then have to finish the breakfast. We can then talk as much as we want to, we have the world’s time” he said in his usual calm tone.
I obeyed. The taste of omelette was superb. I gulped every bit within no time followed by emptying the glass of mixed fruit juice, my favourite. God I was hungry! He helped me lye down once again after the breakfast. He sat next to me and began,
“Sudhesh and Rahul were very close to you when you all were running away. They looked back and saw you falling down. They quickly picked you up and continued their run. After sometime, they reached a road where they stopped a passing by car. Luckily the driver was a good man, he agreed to get you in the car and they rushed you to the hospital. I returned from Pune at around 8 in the evening when Sudhesh called me and told me the complete incident. The doctors kept you on sedatives for two days. You did get up in between but I am sure you don’t remember any of that. We brought you back home in morning. How are you feeling now?”
“I don’t know. I am still figuring out. It all seems like nightmare that left real injuries.”
“I know man. I was shocked to hear what happened. I am telling you, this project is cursed. I have been telling you there is something absolutely wrong in it.”
“You can’t blame the project like that. I am sure there would be an explanation for this.” I tried to convince him as well as myself but no effect.
There was an moment’s silence. I broke it.
“How was your meeting? What do the guys have to say about the Module C9? They ok with it?” I asked him trying to deviate from our uncomfortable discussion. He took up this project because of me. He simply hated the project manager, Shonjoy Dash (Its actually Sanjay Das but you know how bengalis pronounce stuff). Not only was he amazingly ugly, he also had unbeatable cunningness and arrogance.
“Yeah it was ok. They said the bug testing wasn’t satisfactory and they want us to redo it since they found some strange bugs in there that even I was amazed to find. You had run qFix and CTSM on it right?” he asked me puzzled.
“Come on…do you think Das will let me submit the module without him approving the qFix and CTSM reports? these guys must have goofed up somewhere.”
“Oh God, I forgot to tell you. Das, Barun and Mr. Gibbs want to meet you as soon as you get well enough. It has something to do with what happened that day.”
“You know what…..”
“No…you don’t want to meet them right now please ” he snapped me.
“But it is really important for me to know what happened that day. The driver lost his life, we all got injured, I have to find out who was behind all that.” I argued.
He kept silent for a moment and then got up to get his phone.
“Himanshu, as you can see, things have changed drastically since we began on the HuCom project. And I am not too sure of the future. It may get dirtier than this. ” Mr. Das explained trying to sound as diplomatic as possible.
“One of our competitors has got hold of some information about our project. There is a breach of contract. Someone from your company has supplied certain parts of the code to our competitors.” Mr. Gibbs expressed his disappointment.
“But if you remember Mr. Gibbs, as per the project policy, every communication is encrypted, even the codes that we work on aren’t exactly what they actually are. Our systems are designed to encode and decode the workflow regularly with a new key leaving no room for any informationt to leak out. If I copy some information, it will self codify and keep itself locked unless decoded by our system key which uses a 256bit encryption. Moreover, if you know, we are a tiny part of HuCom project. Even we don’t know what the project is about. We just blindly meet your requirements designing the bio-digital plugins that we don’t even know where can be plugged in.” I blabbered in one go not able to hold my frustration.
“You are correct Himanshu and I have done my homework, you are clean. However, someone in the project knows more than it is required for him.” Mr. Das interrupted me.
“Sorry? How do you know that?” I may sound foolish to ask this question but it came to my head instinctively.
“We have been monitoring your activities and all your communication channels including your personal calls and messages. We haven’t found anything to suspect you.” revealed Das.
“How could you do that without my permission? Its illegal” I screamed.
“Easy Himanshu. You are over reacting. You know it perfectly well that we monitor every communication of our employees. I know you have the company policy document by heart. Also, you may refer to the contract you signed before joining HuCom that such a provision will be acceptable by you. ” God I hate Das when he speaks so much of facts in one go. I understood he was right. I do remember everything clearly.
“Now cutting it short, I want to explain you the situation we have got here. Owing to the recent developments, we have decided to downsize the team, re-organize the workflow, re-assign responsibilities, re-locate our premises, fortify the security measures and get even more low profile. Since you already have been a key part of the project, we have an offer for you. We want you to head the development team henceforth. You will be given double your current salary, more perks and obviously more security. Or you may sign a memorandum of understanding to keep hush about this whole project and leave.”
I opened my mouth to say something but Das signalled me to stop. He wasn’t yet done.
“It is not as simple as it seems. If you quit, you risk your survival. Not only are our competitors are looking for you, even we would not think before eliminating you if we find it necessary to do so. If you choose to be with us, we guarantee your safety”
“You said I had a choice, well…I can’t see any in this situation”
“Sometimes, choices aren’t so simple to make” smiled Das in his most cunning way.
To be continued…