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  • Sumanta 11:08 AM on February 12, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: computer, Murder, puzzle,   

    The briefcase story part 3: the sky masked men and bibliography 

    This is a continuation of a suspense thriller series: First 2 part of this series can be found here- The Briefcase story: part 1 THE BRIEFCASE STORY :PART 2

    The cops greeted me with a smiling face and asked me to disembark from the aircraft. They took me aside for a talk where a thick beard mildly obese person named Mr. Job was waiting for me. Mr. Job introduced himself as the chief investigating officer of Dr. Rasley’s murder case. He extended his apologies for getting me off from the aircraft. He also said, to conceal my identity in relation to the murder case in front of other passengers and flight crews his staff lied to me that I needed to be contacted for visa issues. While conversing with him, I agreed to cooperate with his investigation and he assured me a free return flight ticket back to my homeland by the end of that day.

    I didn’t think much and agreed to stay back till evening, however, under one condition, I won’t leave the airport premises. Not sure why did I say so, but Mr. Job happily nodded to that.

    Immediately, I texted my situation then to my family members and some of my colleagues who might be concerned about my whereabouts.

    With all my luggage Mr. Job drove me with him in his car. He took me to a room inside the airport which seemed to be used for various types of interrogations by law enforcement authorities.

    Then Mr. Job narrated how he and his team found me in relation to this case. After Dr. Rasley’s death, on checking the CCTV footages from the train and railway station they came to know about me. Initially, they thought about me simply as a co-traveller of the deceased and ignored. However, at a later time in the process of their investigation when they came to know that Dr. Rasley couriered me just before is assassination they thought of interrogating me. By the time they reached my hotel address I was away for my flight and they had to come all the way to the airport to complete enquiring me.

    In the meantime, I informed Mr. Job all I knew about Dr. Rasley and also showed him the briefcase. His assistants started to photograph the briefcase something I had already done during my closed door investigation in the hotel room, but they were doing it in a much mature and professional way.

    Few airport authority staff showed up then and argued with Mr. Job how can he proceed an interrogation on that airport without pre-informing them. Their exchange of words became bit loud gradually and they went out of the room to fix who was right and to what extent. Such bickering between police and airport staff shook me in fear of possible expatriation from the airport premises, which I felt unsafe for me as it could have brought me in the telescope of Dr. Rasley’s assassinators.

    It has been about 10 minutes, I am all alone in the interrogation room of the airport, neither Mr. Job nor the airport staff’s voice could be heard anymore. I felt like being in a truly awkward situation, and for a moment I regretted my decision to stay back to help the police. Some amount of suspiciousness was squirting out of my mind in regard to Mr. Job, how much should I trust him. I prayed to god, Mr. Job should not be connected with the wrongdoers associated with Dr. Rasley’s liquidation, otherwise, I would be in grave danger. Moreover, the surplus agonising silence of that room with no window to see outside was paralysing me more emotionally. For a moment I even felt like being in a solitary confinement.

    While puzzled with such whirly thoughts of whom to trust, one of those two cops returned with two cheeseburgers and a bottle of chilled soft drink. Well, that was an appropriate token of hospitality I needed at that moment and appreciated happily. After that light snacks, I opened my laptop and tried to scan through various documents and photos I accumulated in relation to Dr Rasley’s murder. Then I thought of reviewing the particular research article which I found in the briefcase. So, I took the article in hand and slowly started to read through it, although superficially.

    The article had multiple authors, Dr. Rasley being one of them and was about the effects of a particular medicine among aboriginal city dwellers who took the medicine as a part of their treatment for diabetes. Finally, I reached the last 2 pages of the article, dedicated for citing references.

    Bibliography, although is a vital requirement for any publication, I always found it as the most boring part. I seldom go through it thoroughly, unless I really feel something in the article is fishy, contradictory or riveting, which sparks the urge to check back with the references. Same was true for that article in the briefcase too. While casually turning through those two page s full of references I felt something was unusual and after thoroughly scrutinising them it became apparent that the references didn’t belong to that particular article. To be sure, I tried to compare the same article on the internet and found the bibliographic pages that were in Dr. Rasley’s briefcase were not the true component of that article. These references were from some other article. Unfortunately, I couldn’t  dig out the host article to which those belonged. It was also possible that those were references to some unpublished article which would make it difficult further to find on the internet, but there was no way to be cent percent sure about it.

    Why should Dr. Rasley put bibliographic pages of another article with that article? Did he do that purposefully to give me some hint or that was just a mere coincidence? Being haunted by these questions, I rescanned repeatedly over those 2 pages, full of references. Then my eye caught on the footer section of those 2 pages where the origin computer from which those were printed was mentioned, possibly by the default setting of the printer. Contrastingly, the footer section of other pages didn’t match to these last two pages. I called Mr. Job on his no. and informed him about it. He returned immediately and also found that astounding.

    Part of the print in the footer line of those 2 bibliography pages was ‘/rash’, which I doubted as the name of the owner of the computer from where those pages arose. I asked Mr. Job if he can find someone called Rash, which might be the person’s first, middle or even the last name, and our only hope to solve this murder case. Although Mr. Job took my words seriously and informed his staff to look for the person named ‘Rash’, he depressed me a bit giving rise to the query if ‘Rash’ is the name of the computer the person might be using but not its host’s, because some people, instead of keeping their own name as their computer’s user account name, prefer using the following – ‘guest’, ‘pc’, ‘my pc’, ‘peace’, ‘my computer’, ‘display’ and so on. Such computer names get printed in the footer region of printed pages in such cases.

    Mr. Job used his wireless device in hand and informed his staff to inquire about anyone named ‘Rash’. Within next 2 hours, it became evident that there was someone named Rash, a female trainee student of Dr. Rasley. Rasley used to visit Rash at her home frequently and he called on there two days before his assassination too. That day Rasley worked till late night on Rash’s computer. Although it proved the origin computer of those printouts but police couldn’t get much meaningful information from Rash to swipe away the cloud of puzzle condensed around the death of Dr. Rasley.

    Time seemed to roll on too fast that day and it was evening when I boarded the aircraft to be back home. Mr. Job came to see of me and thanked me for my cooperation. Although the mystery of Rasley’s death remained unsolved, I was feeling quite light because I had handed over the briefcase to Mr. Job for his investigations and got rid of the gift from a murdered victim. Although the seats in economy class of flights are not that reclinable how much it should be, I attempted to adapt to it and tried to relax.

    As the landing gear dropped and the flight touched the runway next morning 7 am, I presumed that the briefcase story was over. However, latter by the end of the day, I understood that it was actually the dawn of this story.

    From the airport, I straight away went to my workplace and spent the entire day sharing my experiences of my tour, and my colleagues engaged themselves in drawing the various type of conclusions about Rasley’s death. At as the day was ending around 6pm, I headed towards the underground parking where my boss was supposed to pick me up and drive me to his home. While waiting for my chief at the underground parking area, I saw 4 people approaching me fast and all having sky masks masking their face. A sense of unpleasant threatening environment jerked my conscious but instead of fleeing my legs became frozen and glued to the ground, which was probably due to handcuffing of my brain by rotting fear. They were armed and targeting their ammunitions towards me. They were individuals too precise in their targets therefore without any introduction they directly asked what they want, and all they wanted was the briefcase that Rasley had given me. Since I had nothing to do with all these things happening around me in relation to the briefcase, I narrated the entire story including about Mr. Job and Miss Rash. Not sure they trusted me or not they asked for my camera and laptop which I had to give them without any major protest. Next, they took me few meters away towards a dark part of the parking area and asked me to stand to face a wall with eyes closed.

    I was standing there standstill until my boss called me from my back. When I turned around I found him yelling at me; he was frustrated as I was not at the parking spot where he wanted me to wait. However, soon he read the apprehension on my face and asked for its cause. Hearing all that happened in the parking lot, he immediately called the local police station and cops arrived in another 10 minutes.

    During the interrogation session, when the officers asked if I possess any photos of items found in the briefcase (which Rasley had sent me by courier) I had to inform them that all photos of the contents of the briefcase were in my laptop and camera, which were then with the robbers. Police officers made attempt to establish contact with the officials of the country to which I visited, for the contents of the briefcase, but it didn’t work out because of poor political ties between the nations.

    It was gradually becoming apparent to me and the police that those who mugged my laptop and camera were well aware that I no longer possessed the briefcase and all its contents were captured in my camera and laptop.  But what was suspicious was why were those thugs after those boring content of the briefcase.

    I was quite sure that the thugs wouldn’t be able to dig into my laptop as it was password protected but my camera didn’t have any password. Not sure if anyone sets a password for a camera.

    During the post interrogation days, all the incidents I went through in the last few days kept brewing in my brain. Then I suddenly recollected that in the airport while I was with Mr. Job I was browsing the internet and documents from my pc generally are synced to a 100-gigabyte cloud storage software, where things get automatically uploaded and stored. I immediately checked for it and found that among all the photos I took only two pages were uploaded to the cloud and luckily those two pages of references which didn’t belong to the article in the briefcase. I right away pulled the receiver of my phone and informed the detective who arranged police protection for me. His name is Tefo, a tall and slim dark man who most of the time were goggles, not sure why but maybe he likes that style or maybe to hide his professionally obsessed scanning type vision to sense crime like a dog’s sniffing habit.

    Mr. Tefo came to my residence within an hour and after seeing those printouts he praised my work as ‘impressive’.  He said that his team had gone through the article that I found in the briefcase by downloading a copy from a website but couldn’t find anything fishy.  His team felt that if there was anything of worth in that briefcase, it should be in the last two pages bibliographic pages that didn’t belong to the article in the briefcase. I too agreed with that concept and kept looking into those two pages to get some hint to all that was happening then, but it was as usual boring. Tefo scanned those pages and shared with his office staff who hold expertise in breaking encoded hidden language by various means.

    It had been few days since I met Tefo, and since then I didn’t hear from him, possibly he must be busy solving some crime mystery.  I had gone through those two pages of references so many times that I can see them even when I closed my eyes. In a way, my brain got fatigued by continuous thinking about it. To recreate and divert my brain I tried to plunge into enjoying a movie. Surprisingly, despite my serious efforts to delve in the movie those two pages of bibliography were hammering my brain and then suddenly I felt that there was something wrong with 1 of the references among those two bibliography pages. That particular reference had a different citation style in comparison the rest of the citations.

    If you don’t have an idea about how the references are written in a research article, let me inform you that there are particular sequences in which authors names, article title, journal name, page number, publications date etc. are arranged in a citation. Various citation systems (like Vancouver, Chicago etc.) have their own sequencing pattern.

    When I informed Tefo about my discovery he called me to his office where he introduced me to experts who are professional in unwinding secret codes of terrorists. I became disappointed knowing that my discovery was not credible as his team had already spotted it two days back. But Mr. Tefo called me because he felt I can help his team with their investigation. They have checked all the citations listed in those two bibliographic pages and all were true references to respective parent articles except the one with different citation format. We all scratched our head to find out the essence of using such a different citation style.

    To be continued……


  • Sumanta 11:09 PM on February 7, 2017 Permalink |
    Tags: , ,   

    The briefcase story :part 2: what is inside? 

    This is a continuation of a suspense thriller series:First part of this series can be found here- The Briefcase story: part 1 

    pexels-photo-177688.jpegI opened the briefcase with shaky hands and a lot of apprehension of the sudden blast in case if any explosive was inside it. However, unboxing the contents of the briefcase appeared apparently safe although the contents were a sort of boring, bunch of printouts of internet downloaded contents, looked like a journal article. While scanning my eyes through those I found myself in the dilemma, if I should draw the attention of law enforcement officials about this incident or should I contact the briefcase sender’s daughter. Neither felt as comfortable choice to me and I started to turn those pages with a vacant stare. The documents were all about some medicinal drugs. Being unable to decide what all these documents meant and why and when did Rasley send this briefcase full of documents to me, I went for a shower. The answer of ‘when’ did he send this parcel became clear post-shower when I thoroughly examined the sender’s details printed on the parcel cover; he couriered it just minutes before his assassination. The mystery remained around why did he send it to me’? I knew him only for a very brief period, maximum for an hour or so.

    Next day, as usual, I started in the morning for the conference, as scheduled. That day’s schedule was divided into two sessions, the morning session involved paper presentations by some guest presenters and the post noon session was dedicated to a city tour, by bus. Therefore, I was carrying a camera on that day to capture the beautiful glimpses of the city.

    On arrival at the conference venue, I received a light breakfast and a formal welcome and then hailed straight to the conference hall where I found a comfortable empty seat in the middle row to sit. I was just about to seat when my eyes remained stunned open as I saw one of the names on the guest presenter’s list displayed on the screen, ‘Dr. Rasley’. Is it the same person Rasley, who is deceased or someone else with the same name. Within next few minutes, my doubt erased as the condolence filled announcement was announced for Dr. Rasley. Suspiciously, I couldn’t make out why didn’t he tell me in the train that he was also hailing for the same conference where I was attending, although I told him about it. He was the third guest presenter on that day’s list in the conference. I started to perspire thoroughly with the angst of the entire events I went through since visiting this island nation. Few things were then becoming clear to me about my train-friend Rasley (Dr. Rasley now), he must had been in some sort of trouble and knowing me as a member of alike profession and participant of the same conference, must have sent me the briefcase to my hotel. My sixth sense said that the briefcase full of explosives that we uncovered in the train was possibly placed for Dr. Rasley’s assassination to commit a homicide rather than a terrorist act to blow of the train. I couldn’t keep any more control on my nerves and left the conference hall and went out to the lobby.

    In the lobby area, I tried to recapitulate all the incidents again and wanted to know what really Dr. Rasley’s topic of the presentation was on that day, for any possible clue to his murder. I went directly to meet the conference organiser and asked regarding the deceased guest presenter’s submitted abstract. The reply I received was heartbreaking, and further complicated the puzzle of Dr. Rasley’s death. The organisers informed, Dr. Rasley is a renowned professor in his working area, which is related to uncovering unknown adverse reactions related mysteries of medications and since he was a guest presenter his item was allowed to be a last minute surprise, henceforth no-one had any idea about the possible work that Dr. Rasley would have presented on that day. Some of the things were becoming clear to me albeit not all, so I decided to return to the hotel and suspend the remaining days’ activity at the conference.

    It was noon when I returned to the hotel, and hunger was troubling me a lot, so first I headed for a lunch and then to my room. I sat with a mug full of steaming robusta and a piece of paper to try to join all segments of the events together, to find any link between Dr. Rasley’s murder and his conference presentation topic.

    It was quite clear to me by then that since pharma companies were possibly involved with his presentation topic it’s likely that he was almost about to untangle some mischievous truth about some drugs that could have been potentially harmful to a particular drug company’s business or legality. Unfortunately, this was my hypothesis only and had no way to prove it. Although, I thought many times to discuss those things with the local police, didn’t do so because I felt that it would be wise to keep away from them suspecting the high financial influence on law enforcing authorities such giant drug companies could have had. Nevertheless, till then everything was just an imaginative play of my mind with not much strong evidence to any proper hint which makes a perfect knot with the real scenario.

    I didn’t have much time in hand and must leave that nation in next 72 hours when my return flight was pre-scheduled. So thought of self-investigating the case to my best possible extent. Thanks to the internet and computer, the angels of this century, allows us to do a lot of investigative work simply being in a room as if an undercover detective. If it was the time when Sherlock stories were portrayed probably I would have to plunge in giant potholes of real danger to uncover various pieces of information and would have increased my chances of being noticed easily by the wrongdoers.

    I didn’t have much knowledge of a detective’s work, except those learnt in forensic lectures I went through during my grad days. But my sole rang, I should give a try and so I did dip myself in investigating Dr. Rasley’s murder case silently behind the closed door of the hotel room.

    First thing in my investigation list was to know the academic work details of Dr. Rasley, and that didn’t seem to be a difficult task, the university where he was most recently enlightening his pupils displayed all about his works on its website. There were almost 130 publications where he was the credited as an author and he also contributes to few books pertaining to medicines. I immediately figured out that the deceased with whose death mystery I was dealing with, was a damn gem in his field of work. Solving, such a mammoth profile person’s murder case is probably not an easy job for an amateur investigator like me. However, I didn’t allow such low esteem thought to outgrow in me any further and focused back in my investigation. I knew as long as I am doing all the investigation work over the internet and my computer, probably I wouldn’t be noticed by the perpetrators, albeit one should always be careful from the new computer tech related pests, called ‘hackers’.

    Among all the works that Dr. Rasley did only a few, I understood, primarily those about side effects or mechanism of actions of certain medicines used to treat humans. Rest was about complex issues like genetics, lab animal-related experiments, various chemicals etc. beyond my level of knowledge to engulf in one short scanning type read. After spending few hours on the laptop screen trying digging out the essence of his works my eyes were worn out and had to take a nap.
    anatomy_of_a_murder_2It was 6 am next day when I woke up, which obviously was not a nap anymore, an overnight sleep rather. My hidden close-door hotel room investigation didn’t make much progress yet. I took my early morning coffee cup and checked my emails first and then returned back to Dr. Rasley’s research papers that I downloaded on the previous day. But after head cramming for about another 2 hours nothing noteworthy I could dig out.

    Then I started to think of another way to solve the case. Since my childhood, I have heard stories and seen movies where it’s depicted that when a thief goes to steal something in a house he searches in all hidden places like closets, under the bed etc. for expensive valuables but doesn’t gaze over things that are lying in front his eyes like a gold made wall clock hanging on the wall. Similar is said be true for crime scene investigators too, who bang their heads in search of hidden clues but overlooks those pieces of evidence that are just in front of them, staring and smiling shamelessly to be picked up. As such a vibrant thought bubbled in my head, I decided of going away from the briefcase by few inches and then slowly move closer towards it to find out any easily visible superficial clues. To do so, immediately I did put back all that was inside the briefcase and packed it almost in the same adorn how I received it from the reception and kept it on the table.

    Then, using my knowledge till that date about performing a criminal investigation, which I primarily learnt from TV shows how best US agencies investigate a crime scene, I tried to emulate a smarty detective’s prototype. Alike professional detectives, I too started with photographing the briefcase from all possible angles and both from outside and inside. I included both close and long shots of the briefcase.

    After transferring those photos to my laptop I tried to view those photos by zooming in and out to hunt for any clue like a scratch mark message or something like that on the briefcase. No, there was no such clue that Dr.  Rasley left for me. However, keeping in mind the level of intelligent quotient the man might have I explored for all possible clues that can be looked for.

    Over the next 4 hours of intensive search through those photos taken by me of the briefcase and its content, I could bring in only one positive finding that was a ‘missing screw’, which was missing from one of the hinges of the briefcase. Although I  thought it could be a hint leftover by the deceased for me to solve this case, without underrating the level of intellect he had, but couldn’t make out anything from that missing screw.

    Finally, the day came when I should leave the hotel and fly back to my home country.  I had an early morning flight and a cab was already arranged by the hotel manager for my transportation to the airport. After boarding the aircraft, I started to engage myself in revising with the onboard crew’s live demonstration how to fix a seat belt, what should be done in case of an emergency landing in water and how many exits the aircraft had? Everything around me was fine and I was also happy that finally, I was homebound. But a significant amount of remorse was also burning me from inside being unable to aid a deceased get justice, who probably found me as his only hope before getting murdered. At least, I could have handed over the briefcase to police or Dr. Rasley’s daughter. I did nothing except trying to be a hero and returning back empty-handed.

    Anyway, I always had been a good law abiding citizen always, who don’t hide air-hostesses and keeps mobile phone on during flight. So I turned off my mobile phone and fastened my seatbelt and was preparing for the takeoff and then an air hostess requested me to come to the rear end of the plane for some visa related queries. I didn’t argue and simply followed what she said. My heart started to pound heavily when I saw two armed police officers were waiting at the back side of the flight for me. It was quite clear that visa issue is bullshit, because I entered the nation legally for the purpose of attending the conference, and this must be something in relation to Dr. Rasley’s death. I was almost about to sob, I hated police in fear of wrongly detaining innocent people behind bars. But there was no choice other than facing those officers.




  • Sumanta 7:55 AM on November 4, 2015 Permalink |
    Tags: , literature, ,   

    The briefcase story: part 1 

    It was 1 pm last December when I was traveling am in a train. Within another half an hour I was expecting to reach my destination station.

    The purpose of my travel was to attend a conference about the usage of certain medicinal plants grown in the southern part of the country. Since I am a doctor, I needed to know about the recent usage of the herbs that are available over the counter, and therefore to broaden my knowledge sphere this conference was of worth to attend.

    I enjoyed my entire journey since time of boarding on the train because of my co-passenger Rasley, a tall dark man with a small mustache. We both boarded from Rohester and were be traveling to Mount Keny hill station. At 10 minutes away from our destination, Rasley discovered a left over briefcase beneath his seat. I assured him that it was not mine and told him that it might be of the passenger who was sitting on that sit before we boarded. Asking about its whereabouts to other passengers around us also were futile.

    The lonely briefcase made us to think of various possibilities from someone forgetting the briefcase there to intentional placement of a bomb beneath the seat. Our good spirit of being a good citizen made us contact the railway authority on reaching Mount Keny hill station. The concerned railway officer asked us few questions and then took couple of our details and allowed us to go.

    I see offed Rasley and went for the hotel at Dukkan street where my room is booked for 3 days and 3 nights. The good of this traveling was that I didn’t have to pay for my travel expenses, the pharma company which hosted the conference, paid it for me. I always criticize this culture of providing such financial support to doctors but probably can’t sacrifice it when myself is the beneficiary; dirty human nature I suppose.

    On arrival at the hotel I was welcomed with a cup of black coffee at the lounge. Coffee makes me crazy and sets my mood. I sat nearby the reception area of the hotel on a couch to watch news. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch the news longer than a minute as they were broadcasting sports news, which is the last news recipe I would love to see in a news. So, I thought of going to my room to get a shower but a line running below the display screen of the news stopped me from getting up from the sofa. It mentioned that a black tall unidentified man about 6 feet tall was found dead at Holter garden area and incidentally I remembered that Rasley, was of similar physical outfit, and he said to me in train that he was going to meet her younger daughter at a place called ‘Holter garden’. But, I am not sure if that was Rasley or someone else of similar health architecture.

    I immediately dialed the nearest police station from my 5 inch tall smartphone to know about the deceased. What I heard from the police officer on phone made myself sit still for a minute. A person called ‘Rasley’ was found dead, at Holter garden area today afternoon, said the officer. He further added that the bag found by Rasley and me in train came out to be full of latest type of explosives, however, police remained non-conclusive if Rasley’s murder had any link with reporting about the explosive full briefcase to the railway authorities. He was shot from point blank range. My gut feeling was, there must be some connection with Rasley’s murder and informing authorities about the explosives. May be the frustrated terrorist group who wanted to blow of the train full of passengers took revenge by killing my co-passenger for failing their terror plans. If my guess was true, next they would be coming after me too.

    ”Hello sir, are you alright?” – the receptionist came towards me and asked. She then inquired ”I can see you sweating severely. What can I do for you?”. My voice which was almost buried in fear and it came out at very low decibels “No thanks. I am fine. Just a thought”. I pulled myself out of the couch and went for my room at the 2nd floor of the hotel.

    Upon entering my room first I contacted my spouse and shared my story to shred some of my anxiety. Then I took another cup of coffee and started to figure out what should I do next.

    Next day morning, I went to the conference as scheduled and presented my paper. It was not a good presentation, as my brain was preoccupied with thoughts of the previous day. I was continuously getting bad day dreams of similar fate of mine like Rasley’s. But nothing like that happened and I returned safely to the hotel room in the evening.

    The receptionist called me at 9 pm and said that there was a parcel for me. I collected it from the reception and then opened it in my room and found a briefcase inside it. The senders name and address terrified me, it was Rasley who just died on the previous day. Rasley was a co-passenger only and I didn’t know him before, hence receiving a parcel from him would obviously astonish me. But the question was how and why should a dead man send me a briefcase? Most important thing was what’s inside that briefcase.


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