The Man in The Train
Just like how it happens every year, she came clattering along the railway line. Hapa Superfast express, how can I forget her? She was the one who took me all these years to Kerala, God’s own country. With the ticket checker whistling behind, she stopped slowly with a sound of whoosh, letting out a large puff of smoke. I was gazing at my old mate when my father shook me.
“Hurry, let’s find our compartment!” he said. Pulling my hand, he zipped off leaving the crowd in a stare. It is always funny to see a jaw dropped crowd with all eyes on you. With my mother and brother running behind, we entered the train like a movie’s entry scene.
“Where’s my seat?” I asked dad.
“Ha, its not in here. I think you have to share it with another passenger,” he grinned. I grabbed the ticket and went looking for my seat. Forty two, where are you? Ah, here you are. Thank goodness, there was no one in forty one. So I jumped into forty one, the window seat. Then slowly, with frequent halts, our train chugged, leaving Tamilnadu and heading Kerala... Choo choo... Choo choo...
I opened my travel bag and what do you think I would have taken? A camera? Nope, you are wrong. I had actually taken a cutlet which I bought from the station. I know, fast food is bad, but great! And food should always have the first preference, right?
Then I took a book called “Lost in a fair” by Arjun Sinha, who is a great Indian writer. I was enjoying my cutlet when this guy came.
“Excuse me,” he asked, uh oh, now don’t tell me you need my cutlet. And so I stuffed it in my mouth and devoured it.
“I think its my seat,” he said. So this is the guy.
“Is it?” I replied back in a question.
“I think it is,” he smiled and I moved to my seat. Now, where have I seen him? He seems to be more familiar. When he was caressing his bag with his ticket between his fingers, I slowly looked out from the corner of my eye. What’s his name?
“Arrrrrrjuuuu... Arjun Sinha!” I yelped in disbelief.
“Yeah, that’s my name,” he laughed.
“Oh my God! Arjun sir, is this you? I am a great fan of yours!”I gasped and he smiled showing all his thirty two teeth; Well, thirty one actually, with the last being a caries tooth.
“Sir, can I have a selfie? Pleeeeeeaaaasssssee..,” I was going out of control.
“Ummm okay,” he agreed. And yes, it was a picture to be treasured.
“Aaannddd... can you sign my autograph note?” I was already holding it in my hands.
“Sure!” he said. I wish I could write like him, I thought. So should I inform my parents? No, I would rather not. I can’t have my brother taking pictures with him and posting on social media.
“Sir, so why have you come all the way alone from Bombay to Tamilnadu?” I tried to make a conversation.
“Did you hear about my next book?” he asked.
“Of course! ‘Somewhere in South’, that’s the title, right? You are planning to release it by the thirtieth of December, right?” I burst into words.
“Wow, so accurate!” he exclaimed “and that’s why I have come to visit Tamilnadu and Kerala, just to make sure my plans go right.”
“What’s your stop, then?” I wish he would stop at Alleppey and stay at our house.
“My station is called...” he checked his ticket ”...Aluva.”
Hmm, two stops after mine. But it’s okay, I have got six long hours to spend! Six long hours!
We talked about this, we talked about that and all kinds of stuff and never had a second thought that time was running out.
“Sanjanaaaaaaa...” there came a familiar call. A call I have been hearing for fourteen years. I checked my watch. Gosh, it’s time! Hapa slowed gradually.
“I am coming Mom!” I shouted back.
“It was a great day!” I smiled.
“Me too, kid! I never knew I had fans in South India! Thank you for everything!” he said, patting my head. I was blushing so much.
“Goodbye, then” I said and he waved back. Walking out with my family, I narrated the whole tale and posted the selfie on Facebook. Basically, I never do such things, but this was just to humiliate my brother. Then we had lunch and went to our ancestral home in Alleppey and in fact, it was the best day in my life! Thanking God for such a lovely day, I went to bed.
The next day I woke up and switched on the television, just to hear some news around the globe.
HEADLINES : CHILDREN’S WRITER ARJUN SINHA WAS FOUND DEAD IN HIS HOTEL ROOM IN BOMBAY. SINCE HE HAD NOT OPENED THE DOOR, THE HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER WAS FORCED TO BREAK IN. HIS BODY WAS FOUND FULLY DECAYED AND THE AUTOPSY REPORT SAYS THAT HE HAD BEEN DEAD FOR TWO DAYS! COPS ARE ON INVESTIGATION.
What? What’s happening? I dashed to pick my mobile. The selfie was still there. If he was found dead in Bombay, then who is this..? Who is he..?
All for Love
I have a few tales to tell you, and the tales are true. If you choose not to hear them, then walk away now. The tales are short, but filled with more than imagination could ever foresee.
I see you have decided to stay. Very well, then. Let me begin.
London – 1356
Mary Annette Scott, twenty-three, was the last one to stay behind at the burial of her husband, Samuel.
Samuel had died of the gout. Doctors did all they could, but disease ran rampant in certain sections of the city. The Black Plague was a terror in itself. It struck both the wealthy and the poor.
Hard times befell many during those years, but let me just settle in on Mary Annette Scott, for a moment.
Her husband had a mill shop of which she had no idea how to run her husband’s business, and even as she knelt on the dewy grass from yet another foggy morning, she wept no tears.
“Why, Samuel,” she cried aloud, “why did you have to die this way! You leave me with very little money, and bills piled on our dinette table a foot high, and county bill collectors come to our door the very day you die!
“Two days now, they hound me. Two days I stall them with lies, for I do not know what to do other than to sell the shop, and move back in with my parents.
“Oh, if only you were alive, and could help me with this mess. I sometimes think you died to get out from under the debts, and perhaps, our marriage. I wouldn’t like to believe that were true.
“I think if you truly loved me, you would have taken better care of yourself and not died, and would work to get us out of debt.
“There, Samuel, I have said my piece. I will go home now, and make plans to return to my parents.
Now, you would think this would be the end of it, but it is only the beginning of the end.
By carriage, it takes her thirty minutes to return home from Beaker’s Cemetery. She walks up four stone steps, unlocks her front door, and immediately goes to the settee and leans back in exhaustion in the living room.
She decides to pour herself a glass of Brandy, when she hears a rustling noise behind her. She spins around, and then drops the glass of Brandy to the carpeted floor. Both hands go up to her mouth as if trying to suppress a scream. It didn’t work.
She screamed nonetheless.
“It is all right, Mar-rey. I am home now. I will take care of things, and you, forever.”
Samuel stood not three feet across from her, his clothes covered in dirt, his hair, a matted mess of dirt, leaves and maggots; his face sunken in, eyes hollow and blank. What were once a cool-blue, were now two black balls leaking the stench of the dead.
His walk was ragged and twisted. He raised one arm out to her and she felt the coldness; the bitter freezing cold of death, as it scorched through her clothing, and seemed to flash-burn her flesh.
Mary passed out.
Samuel grabbed her by her wrist and slowly, lumbering along, carried her up a single flight of steps to their bedroom. It didn’t matter to Samuel that Mary Annette’s head kept banging against each step.
What did matter was that Samuel was home, and he would take care of her, and she would no longer worry about the mounting debts and those awful bill-collectors.
Samuel did what he set out to do.
It was three days before anyone suspected anything, including Mary Annette’s parents. Do not parents visit a distraught daughter at such a time as this?
What they found, was far more disturbing than anyone could imagine.
In the bedroom, both were found, curled against each other on the bed.
Samuel’s body had rotted away further with a much stronger stench of death that would make your breath hitch, your belly churn, and you would turn away and let go whatever meal you had eaten. Even so, they had seen Mary Annette with her eyes open, and a small hole, half an inch up, and to the side of her left eyes. The derringer rested between her and Samuel’s body.
It was assumed she had dug up the body because she couldn’t bare to be away the man she so dearly loved. It was assumed that death by suicide, instead of life, was her choice to be with him.
Everyone was wrong.
No one noticed the disfigured smile on Samuel’s dead face.
He kept his promise.
Now, for another. No, it won’t take long at all. You can still leave if you wish. It is much shorter than the first one.
Berlin – 1788
Hans Gottfried, a soon-to-be-graduate from the university, was a happy, well-nurtured, bright young man.
His parents raised him properly to respect his elders, and never interrupts a conversation. You could almost say “polite” was Hans middle name.
He always attended every formal dance at the university, or those parties his parents would extend to those people with connections, those with both wealth and power. How do you say it? Yes, the in-crowd.
Hans was always in. He could never keep up with all the invitations, but he tried. He really tried.
But, at one of the huge parties his parents provided, he met, and immediately fell in love with a young lady, called: Isle.
Beautiful cat-green eyes, long slinky black hair, a winning smile that would almost blind you, and a melodious laugh that captivated you.
It did, Hans. Captivated him, I mean.
Each breaking morning to every ending night, Hans spent every possible moment with her.
His parents thought it rather odd, but then they found out that Isle, was of pure-blood stock with the D’Culas Family from Bulgaria. Old family. Old money. They left him to pursue, both this woman, and her wealth.
Isle took him back to Bulgaria to meet her family. It was to be a surprise, she told him. A secret. He agreed to the secret. Hans was smitten by her. Drawn in by her. She held his heart in the palm of her hands.
But that wasn’t all.
How quickly things turn when one is in love.
The D’Culas family held an impromptu dinner.
And they dined well that night.
Hans felt the first bite on his neck and screamed. Once.
Three days later, Isle reported to Hans parents, a terrible accident.
Hans went hunting with one of her brother’s, and fell prey to a pack of wolves. Her brother tried desperately to save his life, but there were too many wolves.
Just as there were at dinner.
There wasn’t much of Hans left to properly bury, but bury him they did.
Isle, is out and about even to this day, or so I have been told.
Now, for the last story. And it takes place here in Omaha, and the year of course being 2020.
All this talking has finally led me to this portion of the story. This is really the best part.
Because you are right next to me.
It is where you want to be.
It is the stories I have told, that holds you close to me.
But this tale is the shortest of all.
You see, my body is drawing to an end. Not my life, just this body.
I have feelings like you, and others of this world. I love life. I love to live. I love to end another’s life that will suit my purpose. Ten-thousand years I have lived life.
And for those reasons, you have become that purpose.
No, you cannot escape me.
Remember, in the beginning, I gave you the chance to walk away. Instead, you chose to stay.
So, I wonder as I stare at the shocked look in your eyes, if it was all worth trading your time to listen to facts; than settle for a dream of a happy ending?
I told you, I was told these stories were true. So too, is this last one.
I already know its ending.
Trust me. This won’t take long.
Not long at all.
He needed to get out of here. He was running out of time.
It was dark. No, it was beyond that. Darkness had a prescence. But what was resting in his field of vision didn't have that.
He felt around, desparate. The key had to be here somewhere. He longed to wrap his fingers around its chilling metal.
His foot collided with what he suspected was cardboard.
He kneeled down, and ventured into what he now knew was a box.
Inside, he could tell, were books. He shook them out, one by one, their soft rustling like the flutter of wings. Their covers were raised, and he traced his hands over the words. He couldn't tell what they were.
He gave up on the books, temporarily. While his seconds were sparse, he could always scavenge and find a few more. He could search, search, and search again.
As he stood up, his anxiety kicked in. His chest tightened, his breath constricted. The ache in his mind was now raging, and the key was the only cure.
He put his arms out, and felt warped wood and gilded knobs. A cupboard. The knob's detailing dug into his palms as the doors squeaked open. The hinges need oil. But that wasn't a concern right now.
The inside was a void. Empty, with nothing that his fingers could detect. The dust floating around made the air thick, like his hands were drifting through water.
The world was closing in on him. He couldn't see it, but he could sense it.
As various emotions burned him to the core, he swept his hand across the cupboard's top. It flew across, so quickly that he barely registered the collision with the vase.
It tumbled through silence, then ripped it to shreds as it exploded into a thousand tiny diamonds.
But there was something else. Something that didn't belong to the vase. A light, metallic echo.
On his knees, he patted around, trying to be delicate so ruby red ribbons were not stitched onto his hands. The surface was the consistent, the same, sharp and grainy.
And then a brief absence of texture.
He had found it.
He had found freedom.
It felt like a promise in his hands. He went to the door and located the lock. Each click was a sweet note of music.
He turned the handle. Took a few cautious, unbelieving steps.
The breeze was warm. He could hear birds twittering on fenceposts, snatches of distant conversation. The possibility was overwhelmingly beautiful.
He still couldn't see anything.
What had he expected?
He'd been blind since birth.
She could tell you strange stories.
If you listened to Her.
From lonely hearts trapped in concrete towers to the livid tsunamis blinded with insanity.
As Her only apprentice, I’ve heard every single story.
But they never got boring. It didn’t matter if She repeated the same words so many times I’ve memorised them, or if Her arms glided in the same choreography of gestures.
Enfolded in looming trees over a marigold campfire, they were always compelling.
Still, there was one particular story I favoured above them all.
It was of Ere, a little witch with chocolate brown hair and such a small and slender build, she had to alter her school robes so she wouldn’t trip over them.
Very much like me, Ere loved casting beautiful charm spells and chewing toasted marshmallows in her mug of hot cocoa.
Except, Ere grew up lonely.
“Will she ever find company?” I felt guilty that a witch like me was subjected to such a thing.
She smiled at me.
“Ere wasn’t ready to spend her life alone.” She took a sip of oily liquid from Her cup.
“With newfound hope and steely determination, Ere scoured every spellbook she could get her hands on.
“And finally, after several sleepless nights and hundreds of excuses to flip through a thousand of knowledge in her school library, Ere found her answer.”
I raised my arms in victory and leaned in closer.
“Strange enough, the answer wasn’t on any book. It was on a frail, wrinkled sheet of paper sealed between The Advanced Book of Comtemporary Dark Arts.”
“What sort of spell was it?” I remembered gathering the most complicated spells I could fathom.
“It was simple but forbidden.”
The dismay sweeping over Her face chilled the forest.
“Did Ere know?” I urged.
There was a moment of quietness, punctuated by crackling firewood.
It was almost as though what She held back was too vile and corrupting to be unleashed to the forest spirits.
Then, quieter than wind, She continued.
″...it cost her...”
She shook her head and drank another mouthful of coal drink.
“When Ere brought her shadow to life-” Her eyes drifted longingly to the indigo hues ofthe starry sky. ”-she lost a home...a family, her place at school...”
She paused before reluctantly confessing, ”...friends she could have made otherwise.”
She abruptly stared at me.
“Do you think it’s worth it?”
I was stunned.
She never asked my opinion on any of Her stories.
So I thought long and hard.
“It could be, if she’s enjoying company.”
A moment of silence swallowed my words.
Was my answer wrong?
I watched innocently as the words eased Her affliction into an empowering smile.
Perhaps it was something She needed to hear.
After that fateful night, I was had always looked forward to the day She repeated my favourite story again (to--hopefully--unveil more about Ere’s mysterious spell).
But day didn’t come.
And ironically but naturally, the tale evolved into one I never forgot.
It just became another, among my mental list of Her enigmatic traits added alongside Her thing against sunlight and Her addiction to the gross black potion.
I didn’t realise they all added up to a much huger picture.
Weeks later, our journey among the pine trees finally ended. Once we paid our respects to the ancient forest spirits, I followed Her off the edge of the woods, onto the grassy plains.
Only when the sun shone upon Her robed figure with it’s afternoon glare, I finally noticed.
“Where’s your shadow?” I gasped.
tried a red herring here but i don’t think it’ll turn out to be a shocking plot twist
Thanks for reading though! :)
It was a foggy morning in the town of Marfa, Texas. The bitter, cold wind slashed against your skin like shards of glass. It had snowed yesterday. The sun had not entirely come up, but you could still see the ice melt in front of your eyes. A black SUV skidded down the road and stopped right in front of a dingy barbershop. The old shop had a wooden, well-built front, and flashy glass doors, which were an unusual sight in this part of the town. The door was locked, though you could see the inside of it if you cared to squint enough. The shop had a small, wooden staircase leading up to the doors. The door of the SUV, which was an even more unusual sight in this part of the town, opened in a quick motion, and a tall, muscular man stepped out. He closed the door closed behind him. He was wearing what you would expect an H.G Wells character to wear. A gigantic black overcoat over a brown, shabby sweater, which barely seemed to fit; dark grey pants, the kind which are narrow at the top and loose as they reach the ankles; and polished jet black shoes, which shone when light fell on them. He wore a cowboy hat, and a muffler which covered most of his face, leaving only his eyes bare, which today, had a pair of sunglasses perched in front of them. The man looked around him suspiciously, and then, finding no one in the vicinity, proceeded to walk towards the shop. He reached the door and tried opening the door. The lock rattled, but didn’t budge. The man looked around once again, and in a swift motion, with his gloved hands, he detached his pistol from the holder on his belt. He struck the glass door with the handle of the gun. The glass shattered, and shards of glass pierced his skin like the cold, ruthless wind. He jerked his hand, and once the pain subsided, he moved on to the matter at hand. He kicked the remaining glass down, and carefully entered the shop, avoiding the sharp edges. He pulled the curtains once he was inside, as if they hid the shattered door. He knew why he was there. There were three barber-chairs, all in a single, horizontal row; all facing a long, shared mirror. There was a small, mahogany cupboard kept at the end of the horizontal row, which held the instruments (a pair of scissors, blades, razors, shaving cream) a barber might use. The man had the number inscribed on his mind, and yet he picked a piece of paper out of his pocket, just to be sure. seven-one-eight. the digits were scribbled in neat handwriting. He folded the chit and put it back in his pocket. He bent down, and under each of the leather chairs was a metal trunk. Three-digit numbers were written on each of them in crimson red marker. He pulled out the one labelled seven-one-eight. The cold, grey metal felt nice against his wrinkled skin. He unlocked the trunk. Click. Click. And opened it. Inside was a black, plastic polythene. He picked it up and glanced inside to check if what he needed was inside. The black polythene contained a clear, small pouch, filled with white powder, and a couple of firearms. The man placed the polythene in the inside pocket of his coat, and started to walk out of the door. As he walked out of the door (carefully avoiding the sharp edges), he heard the sound of an engine approaching. Startled, he hid behind a small fence that was just beside the shop. Unfortunate as it was, the car stopped suddenly in front of the shop. A tiny man got out, and went to examine the door. Finding it shattered, he became a bit scared. A robbery? Something this ‘criminal’ hadn’t happened in years. He quickly pulled out his mobile phone. A few meters away, a muscular, overcoat-wearing man sighed. Something twinkled in his eye. Something evil. He tried to believe he was doing the act unhappily. That he had remorse. Guilt. But he couldn’t. He knew what was about to happen, and he was excited. He rarely had the chance. He pulled out his pistol once again, this time with a motive. He saw the tiny man a few meters away, dialing a number on his mobile. He sighed again, and stood up with a small grunt. The man dialing on the phone didn’t notice. He rushed to the side of the shop, so that he was adjacent, in a sense, to the other man. He regained his breath, and tried very hard to control his emotions. He was standing with his back to the wall, his broad shoulders hunched, the gun shivering in his hand. He removed the safety, and cocked his gun. The other man had his phone stuck to his ear, visibly scared. ‘Um-Hello, is this the police depart-’ The man with the gun had now rotated, and was standing directly in front of the other man. Two men, standing in a horizontal line in front of a dingy barbershop. ‘Uh hey, do you know who was here?’ He asked the man with the gun. Somehow, he hadn’t noticed the pistol in his gloved hand. The man with the gun couldn’t control it. He started laughing. A cruel, menacing laugh, that young children sometimes have. The other man was confused now. Before he could express this confusion, the man raised his hand, and in an experienced motion, pulled the trigger. The sound of a bullet shattered the cold morning air, and the other man dropped down in the snow like a puppet, and the phone fell out of his hand. Crimson red blood bloomed on his chest, and stained the white snow. The alive man’s face was stern now. The laugh had been wiped off. He stared at the dead men blankly, with dead eyes, refusing to show remorse. He raised his hand, and shot him squarely in the chest again. He was professional, usually, and did not waste bullets until he absolutely had to. But today was an exception. He hadn’t had the adrenaline rush through his veins in so long. His index finger pressed against the warm metal. His palm rested against the rough, wooden handle. Comfortably adjusted. Like a child in his own bed. He hadn’t heard the sound of the bullet blasting through the air. The sickening sound of a bullet on bones. Warm blood gushing down wet skin. Those gorgeous, dead eyes that he cherished like gold coins. He hadn’t killed in so long.
He felt a sense of victory overcome him. He was overwhelmed with the sight. He dragged the body and plopped it into the backseat of his SUV. and just as mysteriously as he had come, he was gone.
Detective Brown sipped his coffee on the cold, bitter morning, as he sat on a black, foldable chair. There was murder in the air.
‘Charles, do we have anything except the blood?’ The young detective asked. ‘We know that there was a call made to the police station at around seven in the morning. Neighbors reported that there were a couple of gunshots, too. Pretty good chance that it was a murder.’ A tall, handsome man, who was about an inch shorter than Brown answered in a low, matter-of-fact voice. Brown didn’t say anything. He sipped on his coffee, as if trying to make out what murder meant. ‘What about the barbershop? How in the world is this all related to an old-town barbershop?!’ He asked again. ‘That’s the confusing bit, boss. Apparently, the shop had been closed down a few years ago when the owner died. It has been locked up since. No one saw anything suspicious happening around it. We’re trying to locate the kin, you know, maybe he knows something, but no luck yet’ He answered in his low voice. ‘Did we find fingerprints?’ He asked, still sipping his coffee, still gazing into the distance. ‘Nothing, they reckon he was gloved’ He answered. Inside the shop, the forensic team was working to find the fingerprints of a murderer. Charles looked up at them. ‘Hey, Chris, when you’re done with this, bring me some lye, and put it on my tab, I still owe you three bucks for gas’ He ordered the forensic expert, who was kneeling down on the barbershop floor. ‘Will do’ He answered uninterestedly and went back to looking for fingerprints on the floor. A tall, muscular man stepped out of the shop, wearing dark Raybans, and a slick hairstyle. He wore a leather jacket and dark trousers. He had a stern, resting face which could’ve easily been punched at. He adjusted his sunglasses and walked up to Brown, who glanced at him only to confirm who he was. ‘Hey, Brown’ He said in a deep, sexy voice. ‘What the fuck do you want, Jim? I’m really not in the mood to see you’ Brown responded, a bit too harsh, if you ask me. ‘Uh-huh, that’s not how you talk to the forensic head’ He said, clearly flaunting his title, as if he’d won it in a wrestling championship. Forensic Head. ‘Look, Jim, we all know who you are, okay? There’s no point in flaunting it every two seconds’ Brown said aggressively. Jim chuckled, and lit a cigarette. ‘So, whodunnit?’ He said. ‘Jim, let me break this to you. You’re a lonely, lonely man, and nobody wants to talk to you. Would you please inhale smoke somewhere else? We’re trying to work here!’ His voice rose towards the end. ‘Well, I gotta go and buy a shovel’ Jim said, walking away. ‘Why do you need a shovel?’ Brown asked, as Jim reached his ride. ‘I need to bury someone’ He said, and chuckled. But something didn’t fit. There was definitely something wrong with the way he smiled, or so Brown thought. It seemed too real. He blew off these thoughts. He had work to do, he couldn’t afford to be blinded by personal vendettas. Brown closed his eyes, and imagined the crime scene. He often did this, to ‘get in the mind of the killer’, he told Charles. It wasn’t a very successful technique, but Brown insisted nevertheless. ‘Charles, come on, let’s go’ He said, standing up from the black, foldable chair. He couldn’t get the thought of Jim out of his mind. This frustrated him. He needed time to think. Charles the lackey followed him, holding a yellow-paged notepad in his hand, noting down bullet points in neat cursive, as the world around them got ready to erupt into flames.
Brown sat on a comfortable leather sofa, holding a glass of dilute scotch in his right hand, and rubbing his chin with the other. Charles was standing on the blank, mauve-coloured wall opposite him. It had been a long day, and it still wasn’t over. The sun had just set, and the fireplace beside Charles was crackling with deep orange flames. Charles sighed-‘I don’t understand, there’s not a single fingerprint there, no body, no suspects-’ ‘Oh, there is a suspect’ Brown cut him off. ‘Who?’ Charles asked, expecting their first lead. ‘Jim’ Brown answered hesitantly. Charles shook his head disapprovingly. ‘No, Charles, don’t dismiss the thought, wait, let’s add up the facts’ Brown said excitedly, getting up from the comfortable leather sofa. ‘Jim drives an SUV, and we found the same tire marks on the snow; Today morning, he said that he was going to buy a shovel! If that isn’t a sure shot-’ ‘Boss, I really think you need some rest. That was a joke!’ Charles interrupted. ‘Come on Charles, throw me a bone here! He was wearing sunglasses!’ Brown said, almost jumping up and down. ‘How do the sunglasses give him away?’ Charles asked, sarcastically. ‘You know what, you’re the worst’ Brown said, like a child says when his parents refuse to buy him a toy, and sat down again on the sofa. ‘Oh, his hair! he has a murderer’s hair!’ Charles said mockingly. Brown knew he was tired. He just couldn’t get around the fact that he’d wasted an entire day without a single lead. Thee ringtone of Brown’s phone broke the heavy silence of the room. He answered-‘Hello, who is this? Oh, Chris, what’s up?’ Charles watched Brown’s smile getting bigger and bigger. ‘WHAT!? Are you kidding me, oh my god Chris, you’re the best!’ Brown hurriedly stuffed his mobile phone back in his pocket and dashed towards the door. Naturally, Charles followed. ‘Brown, what is this about?’ He asked, pulling off his coat from the coat-hanger. ‘Chris called, he has a lead. We found a fingerprint’ Brown said, sprinting down the stairs. ‘That is great’ Charles said, following Brown. ‘What, that’s it? You’re not excited?’ Brown asked, jumping straight over the last three stairs. ‘Oh, I am, it’s just, there’s a lot on my mind’ He said, as he reached the bottom of the staircase. ‘Oh, well’ Brown muttered, and took out his car keys. ‘Uh Brown, I gotta pee, can you wait for me?’ Charles said, just as they both settled down on the warm car seats. ‘Oh my god, Charles, are you kidding me, dude? We JUST came down! You know what, this is an emergency, I’ll just drive to Chris, you call a taxi’ Brown said, and unlocked the passenger door. ‘Okay, sure’ Charles said, and got out of the car. Brown turned on the ignition, and drove away.
Brown skidded to a stop in front of Chris’s house. For the first time in months, he felt his firearm, which had been reduced to a dummy, until today. He was actually excited about a case. After so, so long. He stopped his car just behind a taxi, and got out as fast as he could. He knocked on the huge wooden door. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then he shouted out his name. ‘Chris! Chris, open the door!’ There was still no response. He decided to do what a policeman in a film would do. Break the door. He adjusted himself such, that his shoulder was directly against the door, and then with all his might, he pushed. His entire weight was flung against the door, and the door came off it’s hinges, though it wasn’t completely broken. Brown was pretty sure he was. Gathering all his remaining might, he threw himself at the door again, and this time successfully broke it. He fell facefirst inside the house with the door. It took him a couple of minutes to regain consciousness, and realize that his hands were wet. In fact, he was lying in a puddle. If it hadn’t been for the door between him and the floor, he would’ve been soaking wet. He looked at his hand and retched. Blood. Crimson red blood that stained white snow had stained his hands. He tried to stand up, but slipped on the wet floor and fell facefirst directly into the red. Somewhere near him, he heard a laugh. Cruel and menacing, like young children sometimes have. He looked up at the unmistakable figure of a man he’d known all his life.
‘Charles!?’ The word left his mouth in slow-motion. He couldn’t feel anything. He felt as if he was in a dream. A cruel dream, where wooden floors were covered with blood. The man above him came closer, and stepped on Brown’s sidewards-face with his right foot. ‘You’re an extraordinary fool, Brown. You try to see the bigger picture, the end of the horizon, and you miss what is lying right at your feet.’ Charles laughed his laugh. ‘What-what does that mean?’ Brown said, rubbing his head, still trying to muster some strength and stand up. He couldn’t. ‘I was operating under your nose all this time. Let’s see, today morning, I ordered Chris to deliver lye at my home. And you didn’t bother to notice. You were to busy trying to frame that bastard Jim. And then, the greatest clue you could’ve gotten- today evening, we sat in the car after Chris called you, when I said I needed to pee? You agreed for me to take a taxi! And you know what? You just parked your car right behind that taxi.’ Brown was shattered. How could he have missed this? His mind wandered to the car ride. When Chris had called- Wait, where was Chris? The question burned in his head like soldering iron. ‘What did you do to Chris!?’ Brown asked, suddenly feeling a lot more nauseous. Charles kicked him in the side of his gut, so that now, he was lying on his back, facing Charles. He looked him dead in the eye. There was a strange twinkle in his eye, an evil twinkle, that he’d never seen before. His lips creaked into an uncomfortable smile. Brown knew what that meant. A strange wave of panic took hold of him. Before he could stand up, Charles took out his gun and pulled the trigger in a single, soft motion. The bullet struck Brown squarely in his face. The sickening sound of bullet on bone. Brown fell down on his back with a loud thump. There was a sort of finality in the way he fell. A strange sort of resignation. His disfigured face stared upwards towards the ceiling. Charles sighed. His face contorted into a stern, deadly expression. He put the gun back in his pocket, and turned around. There was a duffle bag directly behind him. He opened the zipper and took out a large, black overcoat, a muffler, and a pair of dark sunglasses, and set them aside. A few minutes later, a tall, muscular man with neat handwriting, wearing what you would expect an H.G Wells character to wear, stepped outside the house. There was murder in the air.
Lee hated it.
Everything's all sticky and sweaty, and pools, the only thing to cool you down, is a sure way of getting coronavirus. Ah, Covid-19, another thing she hated. It's not like she had many, (or any), friends she missed or disliked masks with a flaming passion, or even that lots of people were dying. She hated that school was canceled.
Academics were about the only field she thrived in (She tried interning at an animal shelter for a week and got fired for turning dead animals into science experiments) and the fact that the only fun thing was over. That was another reason why she hated summer.
"Lee, can you pass the salt?" Hannah asked, with a kind smile on her face, just like all the other phony foster parents she previously had.
"Can't you just grab it yourself; Last time I checked you had arms," Lee said, nibbling on her purposely burnt toast.
Hannah and her husband, Roy exchanged glances. They apparently didn't know what they were getting into.
"So, um, Lee, what stuff do you like to do, for- uh, fun?" Roy asked.
"Writing formal essays, biology, neuroscience, conducting tests on unsuspecting pigeons, you know, the norm."
Hannah half-choked on her eggs during the pigeon part and tried to cover it up by coughing.
"I'm going to go on a walk around the neighborhood, I'll be back in a half-hour," Lee said, standing up.
"O-okay, have fun," Hannah said as Lee slammed the front door closed.
"Time to get out of here," she said, smiling.
Her cheap bus ticket was scheduled for 9:15, and it was only a few blocks away. She had bought it using a stolen credit card from a stranger's purse she took a few days ago. Her plan wasn't going to fail this time.
Lee hoisted herself up to her new bedroom window, grabbed her worn backpack, and scaled back down the building. She sprinted away down the street, raindrops starting to fall. She had always loved rain; It always helped her think straight, like wiping all the grime off a dirty window.
After a minute or two, she arrived at the bus stop, right on time. A few other people were waiting too, a few men in suits, a grandma, a mom and her son, and an angsty looking teenage girl, wearing a heavy load of black eyeshadow.
That was when it happened.
When an unsuspecting 15-year-old girl in jeans and a tee, wearing a backpack full of stolen lab equipment and a credit card, disappeared.
dis·ap·pear/ˌdisəˈpir/ - verb - past tense: disappeared; past participle: disappeared
cease to be visible."he disappeared into the trees"
Lee did not "disappear" like the example from the English dictionary shows. She disappeared as in being visible one second, and completely and utterly in-visible during the next, not behind some trees, or in a bus.
Now, I'm not one to believe in magic, but in my experiences, people just don't tend to disappear.
From my experiences, I've also learned that just because something can't be seen, doesn't mean it's not there.
Mystery of The Lights
One by One
Vinessa sips her glass of wine, eyeing the hair peeking out from my shirt.
"Have you ever been in love?" she asks. I shrug, drink my shot, then practically shatter the glass on the counter.
"You're not impressing anyone with that," says the bartender, frowning at the mistreated shot glass. Vinessa strokes my arm with her nimble fingers. "I'm a little impressed," she coos.
"Yeah, well, I'm not," says the bartender. "If one of those glasses shatters, you're paying for it."
"Yeah, yeah, I know," I grumble. I take another shot, closing my eyes as I feel the burn roll down my throat.
"Oh my God," she squeaks, pointing to the corner of the room. A man lies dead there, a bullet hole in his right temple.
"What the hell is this?" I ask. I hop off my stool and walk towards him, though the alcohol is starting to affect the way I walk. People scooch away from the man, leaving a path for me.
The man hangs back with his arms splayed out. A tiny trickle of blood falls from the wound in his forehead to his lapel. As I lean closer, Vinessa squeals. "There's another one," she says. "A woman near the dance floor. I don't know why I didn't notice her before."
"How are these people dying?" I growl. "I don't hear gunshots, and I would definitely hear a silencer from this distance."
"EEE! Another one!" says Vinessa. I turn, and every time I blink, I see another man or woman dead. "What's going on?" I cry. "What is this?"
I blink, and the bartender's draped across the counter, his precious glasses smashed over his head. Blood drips down from his slit throat.
I turn again, and at long last, everyone in the bar is either dying or bleeding out...
...except for Vinessa and I.
I turn to her and I grimace. "You're doing this, aren't you?"
But then I remember her...I had been in love once.
She smiles at me, and she laughs like a drunken hyena. Then she dissolves like paper in a pool of acid rain, leaving nothing behind.
Blood and death surround me. I throw up my hands...
...but that's when I notice it in my left hand. My father's revolver, spattered with blood.
I came to the bar for shots, all right.
Deep within the echoing grove,
a shallow heart, chilled and cold.
A child is born with golden hair.
A moment to stop, a moment to stare.
For all that has known her, knew that she was royal.
Their eagerness to be in her presence was loyal.
A hint of a giggle, a glistening smile.
Would bring people from miles and miles.
The maid, the nanny, the woman of the house.
Was all the same title of this silent little mouse.
She protected the grounds around this child.
She gave her prestige, she gave her style.
As the child grew with very few around,
She learned to listen for the smallest sound.
Being raised by someone that never spoke a word.
Made her appreciate the sound and everything she heard.
A rattle would show up from out the thin air.
A pacifier would be given from anywhere.
A shoe would show up at the funniest time.
A sock she thought she would never find.
She would start to talk and have a listening ear.
This nanny/maid/woman would always be near.
Two years of being spoiled and loved as she has grown.
Will devastate her to know that soon she will be alone.
Because the maid/nanny/woman of the house.
Had only two years to live as an African pygmy mouse.
I am a kid, I take no battle
Because I know I’d fall like cattle
I tried to live a peaceful life
Not knowing someday, I’d pick up the knife
I was bullied through my emotions
Knowing fully well I couldn’t cause commotion
That one challenge brought out the beast
Which made me rise like I swallowed some yeast
I stopped taking time to listen to gists
I took more time to build up my fists
Taking different schedules to build my brain
I realised, I was more faster than a train
My friends and family did nothing but tease
But nothing they did could make me cease
Because I knew I’d been challenged to a duel
Which I must try all my best to do well
I took sometime to go to the spiritual
Knowing fully well that it was scriptural
Talking to one good father who listens
I was rest assured he’d make me glisten
The trumpet sounded, the battle begun
But that was not the time to turn and be gone
My sword came down with such great power
Breaking his sword in pieces and making him cower