A few heads looked up from the consoles being monitored.
“What’s that damn thing doing on that route??!!’ screamed the HEO.
More heads jerked up and looked at each other questioningly.
“It is NOT supposed to be there!”
The Head of Earth Operations seemed to have found an anomaly in the green blips making their way surely and certainly to their assigned destinations. An anomaly in itself was an unheard of occurrence. The raised voice of the HEO in the silent room was another. They had never seen him agitated before.
Those sitting in front of consoles quickly checked the blips on their monitors against the lists they had. Time, routes, everything seemed okay.
“She is NOT supposed to be there!! WHO b***** put her there??”
This new avatar of the HEO made a few eyebrows rise surreptitiously. Something big seemed afoot to rattle the normally sober man.
“She is headed for….” The HEO checked to see exactly where ‘she’ was headed for.
“Who is in charge of batches sent to Asia??” the HEO barked into the microphone. He was simultaneously punching numbers, codes requesting to abort mission.
Right then they all heard a surprised yelp from the short thin dorky-looking chap sitting at the left most corner of the third row. He had gone to take a leak and had just got back.
“An unaccounted blip on my screen Sir” he bleated. “It’s blue” he added in awe.
He was a rookie and had only monitored green blips so far. Hell, he didn’t even know blue existed.
There was pin-drop silence in the room. Blue?? What was a blue blip doing among the green blips?? How did that happen?? The more experienced ones who knew of other colors and where they were meant to go, knew that something had gone terribly wrong. Someone had goofed up big time.
“It’s moving towards Earth Sir” the rookie said stating the obvious, “It is quite unlike the other ones we are sending …”
The HEO just glared at him though he knew that all this was not the poor boy’s fault. The botch up had actually happened elsewhere. The guys in this section only did the actual launching of the pre-programmed units and the monitoring of the moving blips till they reached their destinations.
The blues belonged to a different section altogether. He wasn’t in charge of them. He was after all Head of ‘Earth’ Operations. Greens were all he dealt with. WHO had sabotaged his systems and planted a blue among the greens?? And where was the missing green that should have now been exactly where the blue blip now was?? He was going to get to the bottom of this alright. But right now his priority was to divert and recall the damn blue blip and save the day. He went back to screaming into the microphone.
Emergency! Emergency! Initiate procedure to recall IO25061959BLUE. Pronto!
“Wow, its blue….” The rookie was heard repeating in awe.
No one dared leave their work station to take a peep at the rookie’s console with the HEO in such a mood. Then one of the seniors got up to check the big screen. As if drawn by a magnet the rest of them too left their consoles one by one and quietly gathered around him staring at the big screen. The blue blip was heading straight for the southern tip of the Asian sub-continent.
“IO25061959BLUE is Earth bound. Initiate procedure to….What do you mean nothing can be done now?? Okay then deactivate the damn thing. She DOES NOT belong there!! It’s going to be a GRADE A DISASTER with a blue in the place of a green!!” His mind boggled at the thought. Besides he didn’t want any unknown elements in his territory.
“Sir, it’s almost there!” the rookie squeaked excitedly.
He hadn’t taken his eyes off his monitor. But now he looked around and found the rest had all abandoned their stations. He quickly joined the throng staring at the big screen, pushing some of the taller ones aside to get a better view. His face was a study in curiosity and wonder as he gazed at the blue blip among the greens.
“What is that??? He asked in a whisper of the guy standing next to him.
“It is not IO25061959GREEN anyway!” the man said in an undertone.
“Oh boy, there has been a switcheroo… But who did it, won’t you tell me whoooo…..oooo??” sang the irreverent and funny guy with the drooping mustache from the last row. He was promptly shushed by the others.
“Well you guys are going to pay for this! I don’t keep a security wing to have our work sabotaged!” the HEO could be heard shouting.
“Now you say you can’t deactivate either! Too late, OMG he says it’s too late!!” The man threw up his hands dramatically rolling his eyes. He was plainly disgusted and quite visibly annoyed.
“Sir…” the senior-most among them said with quiet urgency. “Almost there!”
The HEO turned. He did not seem to notice the crowd. The consoles were all abandoned now. Everyone was watching the blue blip make its way across the black screen along with a large number of greens.
The crowd parted making way for the HEO as he walked over ever so slowly, his eyes on the blue blip as if mesmerized, as it moved slowly to its destination. There was a palpable excitement among those watching this unusual and rare happening. No one noticed a pair of evil eyes watching them or heard the smirk of satisfaction at a job well bungled, as the figure quietly slunk away.
There was an air of expectancy in the room. The green blips were all but forgotten. All eyes were as one on the blue blip. Something momentous was about to happen perhaps for the first and last time and they were unwilling to miss it.
The blue blip had now positioned itself above Southern India and was surely but certainly moving towards Kerala. Right above Kollam it went into a dive, swooping down in a smooth beautiful arc to make contact. The time was exactly a few seconds short of 11-45 p.m. Those in front of the giant screen heard it just as those in and outside the darkened room on Earth. It sounded like a cat mewing.
“It’s a girl!”
The vayattatti* grinned, showing paan stained teeth and handed over the whimpering baby covered in blood and fluids to the waiting grandmother. It was the 25th day of the 6th month of the year 1959. Due to the machinations of the Evil One, inadvertently a Neptunian baby was born in human form on Earth.
* * * * *
Vayattatti* is a woman who assists with labor and childbirth in villages.
Those who did not get the significance of the story, please check here.