He woke to the sound of cars zooming by.
There were men around him, urgent voices talking in a familiar language he could not understand, fretting over him, pulling and pressing his limbs, looking at him for any reaction.
He looked around, and found himself at a roadside truck drivers’ stop, in the middle of a highway. It was the kind of place which sold cheap tea and cheaper biscuits in plastic glasses. For the hungry trucker, they had tough chapatis with curry so hot you wouldn’t be able to identify any flavor. The seating arrangements were coir mattresses around plastic tables, all with a fine coating of dust.
Then he saw the car. If one inarticulate teenager was to describe the state of the car to another inarticulate teenager, he’d have probably said something like, “Dude, its fucked up!” The front of the car had crumpled down the middle, where it had hit the pole. The windshield had shattered, and the front seats seemed a little too far ahead to be… well, comfortable.
Beside the car was his driver. He was being similarly attended to. Only difference was that the driver needed the attention. Blood was pooling around him, from a dozen different cuts, four of which were more like gaping holes. He was heaving, as though he was having trouble breathing.
Our protagonist found it remarkable that the driver had taken such damage, yet he was practically unmarked. He then remembered he had somewhere supremely important to be, someplace he had taken great pains to get to, someplace that was critical to his future, and realized he’d never get there in time.
As it was, he was utterly unfazed.
He felt detached. There were no thoughts crowding around in his head. He felt, for the first time in ages, he could think clearly.
He went to the tap where trucker-customers washed their hands, and looked at himself in the mirror, to find an expressionless stranger staring back at him. He washed his face, and roughed up the neat arrangement of his hair. Ripped off his tie and threw it away, and ripped open his collar too.
He then took out his cellphone, and broke it into two halves. He then picked up a nearby glass, which, surprisingly was made of glass, and he broke that too.
He walked to the driver, who was now bordering on unconsciousness. He’d been bordering on unconsciousness before too, when he had been driving. He’d nodded off, and lost control of the car. Hence the crash.
So the man with his new-found clarity of thought slashed the wheezing driver with a shard of the broken glass, ripping out his carotid, and he held the dying man for the few seconds, as he thrashed about in his death throes.
The men around were stunned to silence. An old man, with great effort, managed to ask in broken Hindi, “Why did you have to kill him?”
He answered, “He would have died anyway. I saved him the suffering.”
And with that, he walked straight to the middle of the road. A truck screeched to a halt to avoid running him down, and he walked to the passenger side and calmly got in. He said something to the truck driver, and within seconds, the driver drove off.
And he disappeared.