Archive for the ‘Short story’ Category

Big sister little brother

I was heart-broken when my first-born died. She was only 3 years old, and she fell off the first floor balcony. I still miss Katherine; Kate as we used to lovingly call her. My husband took it hardest, his dearest little Angel. He still blames me for letting her go and play in the balcony and the climb up the balustrade. I never thought she could climb it. I was pregnant with Mike then. When Mike was born, he looked so much like our Kate, that my husband believed she had come back to us as Mike. Our pain has subsided with time, but it didn’t go away. It can never go away. As people say, your first-born is the most loved.

Mike is 2 years old now. He can talk basic english, but cannot yet form proper sentences. He plays on his own with his toys. He plays with some imaginary friends like all kids do at his age. We bought new toys for him. We removed Kate’s toys after she died and kept them in the attic. It was too heartbreaking to see them around the house.

A week before, Mike sang a nursery rhyme in his broken, stammering english. I was heartsore and my husband, ecstatic. It was Kate’s favorite rhyme. She used to sing it whole day. We didn’t teach Mike that rhyme. Neither did his grandparents. My husband told me in his most assured, victorious tone that Kate had indeed come back as Mike. He was on cloud nine. He encouraged Mike to sing it and taught him a bit more. I didn’t like it. I just felt immense sadness and a deep, dark void inside me.

Yesterday, Mike came up to me while I was cooking in the afternoon, and asked me to get the other toys. I brought the other carton full of his toys. He said he didn’t want them, but the others. I told him he didn’t have more toys. He frowned and asked me to get the toys in the attic. I didn’t tell my husband about this.

Today, I went to take a peek in his room to see what he was doing. He was sitting there, playing with his toy cars. He was probably playing with one of his imaginary friends as usual. I stood there watching him, feeling the love well up inside me, when he suddenly cried out “Kate, dun play wif my caa”.

Kate? Did he just say ‘Kate’ ? Is it our Kate playing with Mike? Is my child still stuck in here? Wasn’t she freed of this world and taken to heaven? What should I do? I would do anything, God but please free her soul and let her rest. Please!

I can’t talk about this to my husband. He wouldn’t believe it. And if he does, it will break his heart further. It is, after all, my fault. I was not watchful towards her on that fateful day. I am the reason for the tragedy, and I know I will have to carry the burden of this truth to my grave.

*************************************The End*************************************

Love

Read part 1 here : https://essdeeauthor.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/first-blush-of-love-part-1/

Darian didn’t understand why the new girl Maria was so interested in him. From what he had heard from the other guys in the school, she had recently moved to the county from New York. She looked pretty but he knew not to trust beauty. His own mother was very beautiful, he being almost an image of her, and she had been unfaithful towards the very people who loved and needed her.

Darian had been a loner for a long time, but he was a happy child before that. His mother had left her family and eloped with a French guy when he was just 7 years old. He was old enough to remember her and hate her for leaving him. His father had not been able to bear with the infidelity and had turned to drinking. Darian grew up being abused and beaten-up by his angry father, developing a deep mistrust towards women and relationships in the process. But he didn’t hate his father for the abuse but rather accepted the punishment as a way of emotional release with the physical pain. He had sworn to himself never to get involved with any girl and go through the same heartache as his father.

Darian had been noticing for some time that Maria would ogle at him many times during the classes, and smile if their eyes met. He thought she was trying to bewitch him. She could too, being as dainty as she was, but he knew better to fall into the designs of a pretty woman. He tried to avoid her in every way possible, and even behaved rudely when she tried to talk to him. He thought the insult would do the trick and she would start to dislike him, but that didn’t happen.

After a couple of days of their first encounter, Darian got to know from other guys that Maria was asking questions about him. This angered him. Didn’t the girl know better to mind her own business? What did she want from him? He decided he had to talk to her and make it clear that he wanted this nonsense stopped. He walked up to her one day after school when she was walking back home, and asked her to stop snooping around and let him be.  Her smiling face fell, and she turned red. She looked very embarrassed and mumbled an incoherent ‘sorry for the trouble, won’t happen again’ and ran away.

After that incident, Darian kept checking for a few weeks if Maria looked at him during the lectures, but she didn’t. Not a single time did she lift her lashes to even peep at him. Maria had turned quiet and blue after that day, not her usual smiling self. Darian had felt happy in the beginning at his accomplishment, but that feeling was fading away fast and regret was taking over. He didn’t quite understand this new emotion and attributed it to the fact that he had made an unfortunate girl even more sad, getting to know of late that her parents had died a few moths before. He started empathizing with her for having lost her parents and repented his outburst at her. He decided to make amends and walked up to her again one day after school and called after her. She turned back and looked shyly at him. She looked frightened and at the same time, so beautiful that he forgot what he had come to say. She waited but words completely eluded him. Finally when he got his grip, he babbled his apologies for his earlier behavior and that he didn’t mean to hurt her but only to protect his privacy and so on. Maria offered a quiet ‘okay’ in reply when he finished and walked away. Things had changed.

When Darian saw Maria at the school next day, he smiled at her, but she hardly noticed, never actually even looking at him. He realized it was due to his stupidity that the tables had turned. Days were moving by and Darian couldn’t stop thinking about her. He yearned to talk to her. He knew this feeling was only going to bring heartache and disaster for him, but he couldn’t stop himself. He tried to concentrate in studies and worked harder at the farm but that didn’t help much.  He didn’t know what to tell her to make her talk to him again.  Should he say he just wanted to be friends? Or should he tell her he liked her? He himself wasn’t clear on what he wanted out of the whole thing, but he knew he had to do something before she drove him crazy.

*******************************To be continued**************************************

love4

Maria Albert was just 16 years old. She couldn’t be expected to take care of her family! Not like this, suddenly, without any training or experience!  And how much help were grandparents going to be? They were old, and she would have to end up taking care of them too. This wasn’t fair at all. But she didn’t have a choice, did she? She took stock of her situation, understanding that life wasn’t fair and cribbing about her bad fortune would not change anything.

Maria’s parents had passed away a month ago in a car crash leaving her and her two kid brothers orphaned. Her younger brothers, Ted and Frank, were aged 10 and 4 respectively. Ted had been sulking since the accident, not talking to anyone, as if the death of his parents had squeezed the spirit out of him. Frank was very young to understand what had happened. He thought his parents had gone for a vacation, leaving them in their grandparents’ house. He was busy chasing squirrels, and running after butterflies in their grandparents’ garden. Maria was devastated too. Every now and then she would burst into tears remembering them. But youth allows you to bounce back like never again. After the incident, her grandfather asked them to leave school in New York and come and stay with them in the small town of West Orange, Texas.

Maria enrolled herself in the West Orange-Stark High School in the sophomore year. This was the first time she was changing school and didn’t know what to expect on her first day, having grown up with the same friends in the same school in New York. Will the other kids look down upon her? Well, they can’t, can they? She was from New York after all, a big city compared to a small place like this. Or maybe, being jealous, they would make fun of her for the exact same reason!

She arrived at the school, with a satchel containing just a notebook. She stood in front of the gate with a look of uncertainty on her face. She looked beautiful in a quiet sort of way, with big blue terrified eyes, rosy, tender lips, a shock of red hair, and almost pink complexion. She would not be considered a very forthright person, but rather as timid and shy. She would rather voice her concerns in private than before a group of people. She knew she did not stand a chance if the kids at the school behaved nastily towards her. With misgivings, she entered the school.

She went to the principal’s office. He welcomed her, expressing regret over the demise of her parents, and hoping that she would like this school. He handed her a school curriculum which she checked for her first class. It was history. She headed towards the class, but unable to find it, hovered in the area. A girl, tall and smart-looking with thick glasses, enquired as to what Maria was looking for. Hearing Maria’s reply, she introduced herself as Rita Thomas, adding that she had history as her first class too. Maria introduced herself, giving a little background as to the reason of joining this school and they both went into the class together.

Inside the class, Rita introduced Maria to the other students. The teacher had not arrived yet, so some of the students flocked around her. They introduced themselves and asked her about New York and how she liked it here. When the teacher walked into the class, everyone raced back to their seats. The teacher also asked for her introduction, which she gave, again. She could not remember the last time when she had to speak so much. Maria had already begun to like this school. It was not bad at all. It was, in fact, very good. The kids seemed nice and sensible and down-to-earth, not at all like the snotty kids in New York. And they were very nice to her. Maybe, coming to live in West Orange county was going to be very good for her.

There was one guy in the class, Darian Hudson, who did not speak to her. At all. He was a very good-looking guy, tall and athletic, with nice cropped hair and a handsome face. Maria wasn’t the type to talk to anyone first, but she made a daring exception for him. She said a soft ‘hi’, to which he nodded curtly and left. This surprised her, as she knew she looked okay, and she did have a few admirers in New York. Why would he ignore her then? She was intrigued, and because he was a combination of both good looks and mystery, she felt attracted towards him. She hadn’t seen him talking to any of the girls. Was he shy of girls? Or did he have a secret past? She couldn’t rein in her imagination, thinking Darian might be a vampire like Edward Cullen of Twilight series. How cool would that be? She decided she would find out more about him before curiosity drove her mad.

************************************To be continued********************************

Beyond life!

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Short story
Tags: , , , , ,

ghost

How many of you have felt the presence of something unexplainable, something weird? A cold touch, or a quiet whisper, a foggy form or perhaps a figure walking through walls? Or maybe have seen dead loved ones?  Some will say, they have and the others will just laugh at such a suggestion. I belonged to the second lot.

I was always the scientific type, to negate the presence of souls, to argue, armed with scientific data, with just about anyone who would dare to claim the same. But all that changed one day. I still don’t know how to explain it. It doesn’t frighten me anymore. In fact I was scared for just one day, unable to believe my senses. And scared not because of seeing a ghost, but more of being laughed at. I was the one laughing at people’s whimsical fantasies, and here I was, about to be added to the same list. It was just preposterous. I was angry that I should be the one to see him, rather than the scores of other lunatic people I could laugh at upon hearing the story.

A colleague of my dad, also an amateur astrologer, had, sometime before his death, predicted that he would die in a road accident. I used to call him Uncle. He used to live on the same street as us, just a bit further up on the road. One fine sunday, he was supposed to buy paint buckets, early in the morning, to paint a newly constructed room. He didn’t feel like going, so he lazed away till the afternoon. After lunch, he went for a nap but abruptly got up and started to leave to buy the paint. His wife pleaded with him to not go as it was too late to do any painting that day, but he was adamant. And away he went on his bicycle. All this, we got to know later.

We received the news of his death the same night. He was hit by a truck while coming back home with the paint buckets on the bicycle,  and was dead on the spot. Everyone was sad, even me as Uncle used to greet me every time we met on the road. Funeral was done, and I forgot all about it as I was in college then and madly in love and therefore did not have much time to think about anything else.

One day, just like every other day, I got down from bus and was walking back to my house. And like every other time, Uncle rode up in his cycle and greeted me in his usual style. Clear as crystal. I greeted him back just like always. I reached my house, warmed the food and was about to have it when suddenly it struck me like a bolt from the blue. I was scared like hell. It just didn’t make any sense to me. I picked up my bicycle and hurried to my maternal grandfather’s place. They heard me out and said it was just a figment of imagination, and that according to them, I was very disturbed by Uncle’s death and had therefore imagined him on the road. I knew I wasn’t all that sad (forgive the callousness of youth). But I could not explain it in any other way. So it stayed that way, an unexplained page in the book of my simple life.

But that episode changed me in some way. And I started thinking that maybe, just maybe, there are things we do not yet know, which science has not matured enough yet to find out. Just the way we didn’t know the earth was round or the earth revolved around the sun at some point of time, maybe we do not have scientific instruments to actually measure the presence of a soul. Or whatever, I don’t know. I just know there are things we can’t explain just yet. And until we can, there would be believers and there would be those who laugh at them. And I can’t say if I am glad or otherwise for having made the transition from the latter to the former.

21 new

Chapter 4:

(Read chapter 3 here : https://essdeeauthor.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/number-21-part-3/)

They had to stay up the whole night. The bodies of the kids were sent for autopsy, but Alan did not have any high hopes from it. Alan pinned his hopes on finding a shot of the murderer in the cctv footage of the supermarket. He got the Tech team to work on procuring the films and filtering the data.

At around 1 AM, James came running with the stills from the cctv footage from the traffic cams around Mary Newton’s Apartment. Many cars had plied on the road but a black van stood out. It was the type of car which could be used to kidnap a person, or move a body. It was confirmed that Mary was neither killed in her apartment, or in her car. So, either she was murdered in the getaway vehicle or taken to be killed in someplace lonely. Alan asked James if the Tech team could enlarge the number plate, but she replied that Tech team had already tried but there was mud on the number plates. This was a standard detection avoidance technique. Alan felt frustrated. There were thousands of black vans in the town, how was he going to get that exact one? He asked James to get the Tech team to list out everyone with a record and a black van registered in his name.

He called up Howard Bracken’s wife on phone and apologized for calling so late. He asked her if she knew Bracken’s whereabouts just before he went missing. Mrs. Bracken said Howard always went to a local bar near the fisherman docks by the river on Saturdays after work. She thought he went there that day too, but she had no way of knowing. Alan hanged up saying he would follow the lead on that bar. The bar wasn’t going to open till 11 AM next day, so that would have to wait.

Finally, around 5 in the morning, James walked in with the stills of the cctv records of the supermarket. She looked tired. Alan sensed disappointment even before looking at the photos. She showed him the stills. There was this hooded guy pushing the pram away through the service door. It was a man about 6 or 6’1″ in height, wearing a black sweatshirt with his head covered with the hood. Alan asked if there were any other angles to see his face, but James answered in negative.

There was nothing else to do, except follow the lead on the bar. Alan asked James to leave for home and be back by 10 AM. He himself went to catch a nap in the department dorm.

He woke up at around 10 AM and walked back towards his desk. On the way, he heard deputies whisper that He was the main reason for the deaths of innocents and if it wasn’t for some kind of a vendetta against him, they would still be alive. He heard someone even suggest that Alan was killing them himself and writing his initials on the bodies to make himself famous. He just couldn’t believe his ears. He felt betrayed and his resolve to solve the crime as soon as possible, became even more stronger. But what could he do when not a single evidence or clue pointed him towards any solid direction? He called Fred and Jerry and asked them to go and fetch information if Bracken had visited to the bar on last saturday, and if he had, then if anything remarkable happened.

James came back to the office around 11 AM and showed Alan the newspapers. They were full of stories of the murders. 4 bodies found in almost 24 hours. That had shaken the entire town. One paper even named the killer ‘AC-DC’, though how was it even relevant, Alan couldn’t understand.

Alan was sitting there waiting for the deputies to come back with the report when Conrad Higgins walked in. He enquired the status of the investigation and if Alan had made any headway into the case. Alan confessed his utter lack even a small break in the case. He told Higgins about the van and the hooded guy in the supermarket. Higgins asked if Alan had pursued his idea of the murderer fan. Alan replied that he had no time, and it was becoming hard to keep up with the count of bodies being piled up in so short a time. He also expressed his frustration about his own team talking behind his back. Higgins asked Alan not to lose hope and that all will be well. Alan requested him to stay and help him on the case.

Alan and Higgins sat sipping coffee and analyzing the case when Fred called Alan. James came and stood near Alan to get the information. Fred informed him that the bartender in the dockyard bar had revealed that Bracken was involved in a brawl with a guy outside the bar. The guy was about 6 feet tall and sturdily built. The guy was recorded on cctv while having drinks on the drinks table. Alan asked him to get the recordings and report back to the station. Alan updated James and Higgins about the same.

Higgins remarked that he had an important appointment to keep and he had completely forgotten about that, being engrossed in the mystery. He stood up to leave, when James  apprised him of a lost button on his jacket sleeve. Higgins laughed and commented upon his wife’s lack of care towards him and left.

Fred and Jerry came back around 1 PM with the footage and both Alan and James hurriedly put the disk into the player. They didn’t want to waste time and send it to Tech. They sat back and stared intently at the video, hoping for the Face to jump out of the video. And boy did it make them jump! It was Higgins, sitting there quietly and drinking whiskey. Alan and James looked at each other. Both realized that Higgins was more than 6 feet tall, drove a black van and had a button missing from his sleeve. And just now he was sitting there with both of them, discussing his very own handiwork. Alan was stunned. He never thought in his wildest dreams, something like this could have happened. His own mentor and partner, blind with revenge and hatred, could do something an animal won’t do. He had to ask Higgins himself why.

Alan put out an intimation to all checkpoints in the town on Higgins and left with James towards Higgins house. The airport security radioed-in, saying they caught Higgins trying to fly out of there. Alan changed his course and drove towards the airport. On reaching, he was informed that Higgins had been detained in a room and Alan was taken there.

Higgins was still wearing the same jacket. The buttons matched with the one found in Mary Newton’s apartment. Higgins eyes were blazing red. He stared up at Alan but did not reply to any of his questions. Only when Alan remarked that he had always looked up to Higgins for inspiration in spite of the bribe thing, did Higgins open his mouth. He cursed Alan for spoiling his life. He told him he had always hated him after that but he did not know how to take revenge. On Saturday night, he got involved in a brawl with Bracken in the bar and had knocked him unconscious. Then the plan hatched in his mind that he could kill the guy and implicate Alan in the matter. He bound and gagged Bracken in his van and then killed him by asphyxiating him to imitate their first case. Then he scraped the letters A and C on his back and changed his clothes to a night-dress, to make it seems as if he had been kidnapped from his home and killed. Then he threw his body in the river.

The body wasn’t found immediately, so Higgins got impatient and decided to kill again. He was sitting in the restaurant when he saw a girl drive up in a red Jaguar, pick up a guy who worked there and drive off. Higgins followed them, saw her drop him at a house and drive to an apartment. He saw her park her car in the basement parking lot and walk up the stairs to her room. Higgins followed her to her floor, waited for 15 mins and broke into her room. He gagged her and then carried her to his van. Then he drove two miles to the wheat fields, stabbed her with a knife multiple times until she bled out, marked the A and C on her back, and brought her to the parking lot and left her in her car.

Bracken’s body was found within 12 hours of Mary. So Higgins visited Alan to check on his progress. He was very happy to see Alan bewildered and frustrated. He thought of increasing Alan’s agony, and he got his chance when he saw the twins outside the supermarket on the same night. This was perfect. These kids were too small but they would do well to imitate Alan’s third case. So, he walked inside the supermarket waiting for his chance. The mother went to fetch some stuff on a far-off aisle, and in that moment, Higgins pushed the pram outside through the service door. He picked the babies, asphyxiated them with their own pillow on the pram, scraped A and C on their backs and dumped them off near the park.

He took great care to miss detection on the traffic cams and in the supermarket cctvs. His only mistake was that he didn’t know about a camera in the bar where he had the brawl with Bracken. He said that if he had known about it, he would have made sure that the footage was removed and he would never have got caught. And of course, Alan could never have caught him with a just a button as clue. After Higgins completed his narrative, Alan handcuffed him and took him back to the station lock-up.

While driving back home, Alan felt sorry for all the people who got caught in the revenge game. He thought of the little infant twins. He recalled how he had prayed for an exciting series of murders when the case began. Now, he realized that he would give anything to change what happened. He did not want exciting cases. Not at the cost of unnecessary and innocent deaths.

*************************************End of story*******************************************

21 new

Chapter 3

(Read Chapter 2 here: https://essdeeauthor.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/number-21-part-2/)

It was almost 6 in the evening. The John Doe had been identified from the missing reports as a small business owner named Howard Bracken. His wife had reported him missing 2 days ago. His wife was contacted and asked to come and confirm if the body was indeed her husband’s.

Alan was sitting on the chair looking at the white board. It had been put up with the photos of the victims and had arrows pointing to the previous cases they matched. He couldn’t understand how he was involved in all this, and if  the letters A, C were indeed his initials or meant something else completely. But the similarity to his first two cases and his initials were very hard to ignore. He was so engrossed in trying to unravel the mystery that he didn’t realise someone had come up beside him and was standing next to him looking at the board. The guy suddenly remarked upon the singularity of the case, making Alan jump out of surprise.

Conrad Higgins was his old partner. And his mentor. Higgins was with him on his first 7 cases and had trained him on how to interrogate and read people, where to look for clues, etc. On their eighth case together, Higgins had taken a bribe and destroyed evidence against the guilty, and Alan had reported him to his seniors. Higgins was suspended from duty and official proceedings were started against him. Alan went on cracking case after case, getting many applauds from the department, whereas Higgins got caught up in the bribery charges. Higgins did not speak to Alan for almost a year, and then one day, just called to meet up. They had beer together, talked about old days, and all was forgiven and forgotten.

Alan was glad to see his old partner here. Maybe he could shed some new light in the case. And as Higgins was involved in Alan’s first two cases as well, he could find an angle perhaps. Alan told him about the evidence and witness reports. Higgins opined that it might be someone who had tracked Alan’s success in solving homicide cases and wanted to challenge his abilities. Maybe the murderer was trying to create the perfect murder, a murder without motive or reason. In that case, it might be very difficult to catch him. This disheartened Alan, but he decided to pursue the thread nonetheless. He thanked Higgins for his help, and Higgins left, asking to be kept updated about the developments.

At around 7 PM, the CSU report on Mary newton’s apartment came back. A silver button had been discovered near the door in the CSU sweep. There was a partial fingerprint that matched the victim, but no other evidence on it. The button did not match any of the dresses of Mary, neither did it match any of those of her parents or her boyfriend. This was a new clue, and Alan assumed it belonged to the murderer and had torn off in the struggle to remove Mary from her house.

Alan returned back home at around 9 PM. He wasn’t feeling very good. The thought that he might be responsible for innocent people’s death was weighing him down. He was utterly depressed, and prayed that he would be able to catch the killer before he could claim any more victims. But Alan was without any clues that would help. He decided to analyse the whole case from the beginning again.

He had dozed off in the sofa in the hall, when vibrations of the phone in his pocket woke him up. It was Jerry, another deputy. They had discovered the bodies of two little twins in a dumpster near the children’s park. Alan said he was on his way. It was 11 PM, and he couldn’t believe the murderer would strike so soon. Three murders in 24 hours was too much. He sent a text to detective James and reached the park in 15 minutes. A lot of people were crowded there, and a number of women were sobbing quietly. Alan took a peek in the dumpster. His eyes welled up. Two little infants, around 8 months of age were lying there as if in sleep. But they were dead.

Suddenly a woman came rushing towards them, crying that her babies were stolen, and if they could help her find them. She said she had been shopping in the nearby supermarket when the pram holding her kids went missing. Then she looked inside the dumpster, screamed and fainted. They were her babies. The emergency guys took her to the hospital to recover from the shock.

Alan asked the deputy to move people away and cordon off the area. James also reached the spot at the time. She looked shaken after witnessing the scene. Alan took the tape recorder out of his pocket and started recording.

Alan: There are two bodies in the dumpster. That of two identical twin infant boys of about 8 months of age. There are no cuts or bruises on the face, chest, abdomen or on the hands and legs. Both the boys are blue in colour that seem to be the result of choking or asphyxiation. There are no marks on the neck. Maybe a pillow was used. The bodies are in open black plastic bags. The mother of the children was still looking for the kids in the park, so it wasn’t long that they had gone missing. The murders seem to be done hurriedly and the bodies dumped here.

Alan noted that this twin murder was similar to this third case. That case was of the murders of two identical twins of about 6 years of age. He had found out that there was a romantic angle of the baby sitter with the father and she killed the kids to make the mother insane with grief so that she could have the father to herself. It took him almost 2 months to crack the case, only after he got the news that the father had asked to divorce his wife.

Alan hoped this was in no way related to the insane chain of murders. With consternation, he slowly turned the bodies over . There was an A and a C inscribed on either of their backs.

***********************************End of Chapter 3*****************************************

To be continued on Chapter 4

21 new

Chapter 2:

(Read chapter 1 here : https://essdeeauthor.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/number-21/)

It was 6:00 AM by the time Alan reached home. He planned to take a 2 hour nap but lay awake on the bed, not getting a wink of sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking about the case. The murder scene was known to him, in the sense that it was similar to his second case. Very similar. He thought about the coincidence. His second case was of betrayal and revenge. A 21-year-old girl cheated on her boyfriend. He took revenge by killing her with a knife, stabbing her about 20 times and leaving her in her car to die in a parking lot. Alan had cracked the case within 3 days. The guy had been caught and he is currently serving his term in jail. There was no reason why this similarity could be anything else but coincidence. The only difference being that the current girl was murdered elsewhere and brought to her car post-mortem, whereas the earlier murder was committed in the car itself. Maybe here also the girl’s boyfriend is involved. Alan decided it to be the first thing to check out in the morning.

The alarm buzzed at 8:00 AM, waking Alan from the reverie. He took a shower, made a toast and omelette and scanned through the day’s newspaper while having breakfast. Then he left for the Police Station. There was buzz and activity in the homicide department due to the morning’s murder. Fred, the deputy was there. So was Detective Martha James, the new joinie. She was in Alan’s team and was in the process of learning the nuances of the job. Alan reprimanded her for not being reachable through phone in the morning. She mouthed ‘sorry’ with a cute, baby-ish smile expecting it to melt Alan’s heart. It didn’t. He got even more angry, and told her she ought to have joined movies or modelling if she wished to show her girly talents rather than the police force. She quietly walked away.

The victim’s parents and her boyfriend were waiting to be interrogated. Alan called each of them to the interrogation room one by one, and asked them the usual questions : Where were they when she was killed? Did they have an alibi? Did they know of any jealous friends? Did they know of anybody who would have wanted to harm Mary or had a grudge against her? etc. He got to know from Derek, the boyfriend, that Mary had dropped him home after work at around 9:30 PM and had gone to her apartment.  Alan asked detective James to confirm the alibis and get the Tech team to search for a red Jaguar in the cctv footage of the traffic points at 9:30 PM around Derek’s house.

It was 2PM in the afternoon. Alan was almost done with his third interrogation, Mrs. Newton, when he received a text on his phone from James about another murder. He concluded his interrogation and left for the scene.

A body had floated up and got caught in the railings under the bridge on the river. They just pulled the body out of the water when Alan reached the scene. Detective James was already there. Alan asked her to record what she concluded from the body and gave her the tape recorder. CSU took pictures of the body while James recorded her findings.

Martha James: The victim seems to be an elderly man, almost 70. He is wearing night dress and from the decomposition of the flesh, he seems to be dead for almost 3 days. There are marks on his neck as if he has been strangulated. There are some bruises on the wrists and ankles implying he was tied with ropes. There are no papers on the body to identify the victim.

After finishing recording, James asked Alan what was to be done next. Alan did not reply. He was engrossed in thoughts. He noted the resemblance of this murder to that of his first case. In fact, this was an exact copy. And if the recent murders were put in the chronological order of death, this John Doe died before Mary Newton. So, the pattern was similar to the order of the cases handled by Alan. There was no reason to link these two murders and they might have been completely separate occurrences, but Alan couldn’t shake off the instinct that these two murders were connected. But until a link is found, he would have to treat them as separate murders. He decided to follow the normal course of investigation. He sent the body for autopsy, asked James to follow on the alibis on Mary Newton’s relatives and went back to the station.

Once back in the office, he sent a photo of the John Doe to the IT team to match with any of the missing reports in the State. While he was at it, a preliminary autopsy report on Mary Newton was dropped on his desk. He took a look at it, and was surprised to see a photo of the lower back of the victim. Two letters were scraped on the flesh by a sharp instrument. The letters A and C.  Was it for Alan Clarke? He immediately called up the medical examiner performing the autopsies, Dr. Richard Henderson, and asked him to look at the body of the John Doe and let him know if there were any letters carved on the body.

Henderson called after about twenty minutes. Alan almost cried out loud with impatience and the suspense. Henderson confirmed the carvings of A and C on the body of the John Doe on the same place, the lower back. Alan got his link and the link was himself. He gathered his team around and told them of his discovery. Both the murders had been committed by the same killer but technically it wasn’t yet a case of serial killings as the count of bodies needed to be three. And his gut told him, he wouldn’t have to wait long.

****************************End of Chapter 2***********************

To be continued on Chapter 3 …….