This is the first part of my mini series. Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts in the comments 😀
“Shrii, a Cop is on the hot trails of a serial murder case, counting 27 identified murders over the past 17 years, after various case studies and reports and numerous attempts to nab the killer and going through two divorces and a child and losing a partner in the process, a face was finally given to the “cone killer” by Shrii. The whole department is on their seat’s edge waiting for the Shri to catch the killer, the only information know about him was that he leaves a cone-like object in the victim’s body. The whole case does a flip when the identity of the killer comes to light…”
The Audience gave a standing ovation after the host read the book’s Synopsis. Rishi Walked in slowly with a smug look, slightly adjusting his cuff, the suit dark as night was tailored to perfection, he walked towards the center of the podium beaming with confidence and his face sporting a smile. It was a rare sight to see a man nearing 50 so dashing.
Reshika sat down on the seat reserved for her. She was clapping her hands slowly as if relishing the moment and registering it in her mind, currently in her early twenties pursuing engineering, living with her father Rishi in their estate uphill. She was the only child and her biological mother had passed away long before she could recognize her.
“It was a pleasure and my honor…” By the time her dad was finished with his speech her she might’ve been the hungriest person in the room. She usually hated these kind of ceremonies, it had a weird kind of claustrophobic effect on her. Ever since her father published his first thriller novel 7 years ago, inaugurations, ceremonies and parties had become a commonplace in her life. She put whatever she found in buffet on to her plate. As she soon as she started the first spoon, her father walked towards her smiling.
He just held her hands softly, “Why are they so cold?”, Before she could utter a word, a clang followed by a scream was heard from the far end of the room.
A man stood there clutching left side of his abdomen, blood seeping through the fingers. Multiple screams began to echo the party hall. The guy clothed in a perfect formal dress fainted on the ground like a stack of cards. Rishi’s face tightened and in quick movement he clutched Reshika’s hands and began to rush towards exit. Trying to maintain speed her speed with him, “Dad, Dad… Where are we going?”.
“Honey, I’ll explain after we reach home, do not call Mom till I tell you, do not update anything on the internet, do not speak until spoken to, do not talk with strangers, I will be back in exactly 15 minutes” it almost felt like he wanted to isolate her from the world as if nothing had happened, letting her into the car he slammed the door and mouthed, “DO. NOT. MOVE.” And rushed off.
He returned without his Vest and his shirt was bloodied. He started the car right away.
“Dad! Dad what happened? Tell me where we’re going, what happened in there?”, Rishi shot a look that would’ve made anyone silent, “Dad! Answer me. I’m calling mom right away! Why is there blood on your shirt?!”
The car screeched to a stop, Rishi held her hand with a firm grip and looked into her eyes as if trying to burn his thoughts into her mind, “you’re hurting me… Dad!”. He took a deep breath and started to speak, “The man who was murdered in the hall-”,
“Murdered?!, He is dead?!,”
”Yes, he had no pulse, he was Mr. Robin, from whom one of my character was born. In fact he was also the one who gets murdered in my book first, well chronologically, He is killed the same way in the book too.”
“I don’t get you daddy, why are you–?”
“Reshi, give me some time to process what is going on, I will tell you what is actually happening, first let us reach home, Do not call your Mother and please trust me.”
“O..Okay Dad”, was what she could utter.
. . . .
He never told her anything about what happened at the ceremony, he screamed at her and asked her to go to sleep.
Tick. Tock. Tock. Tick. Tock. It was dark with the moon doing a melancholic lighting.
“Dad? Dad? where are you ?”.
She slowly tiptoed towards the kitchen hoping to find Rishi there.
She felt a small breeze brush on her face, the back door was unlatched, and the door slowly creaked open by the winds.
She saw a shoe by the door, with a breath of relief she called out to him,” da- “, Someone held her mouth and nose with a very powerful hold. One hand cupping her face, one hand held down her hands and torso and his leg coiled around her legs, trapping her in the most efficient way.
“Honey, its dad, I will let you go, do not scream or make a noise”, Pointing to the shoe at the door he said, “There is someone standing by the door, probably holding a weapon, I heard him rustle around for a couple of minutes now, I guess he is waiting for someone,”
He released his lock hold on her and she took a slow deep breath.
Reshika was surprised at the strength and technique he used on her to hold her down. She felt as if she were in the best straightjacket.
She pointed out to the smoke that was floating in with the breeze, it felt familiar. It was Malabar Pink cigarette, one of her mum’s favorite.
Suddenly the electricity went off, Rishi held her shoulder as if trying to guard her from something. Rishi didn’t move from the place and stood there as if he was expecting something. Seconds passed by and they stood still.
There was no one at the door.
Sounds of something or someone crashing came from the upper floor, Rishi gave Reshi a kitchen knife and he had a bat in his hand. he signaled her to stay right behind him and follow him.
Trying to avoid any sound they crept up the stairs, the cold hard stairs sent a shiver up their spine.
It was their Mum, Sarika, she was drunk and trying to find her way into her room.
Dad dropped the bat and ran up to help her stand up.
He asked Reshi to go to her room and sleep, “I’ll take care of mum Reshi, you go take rest, we’ve had a long day”
He took mum put her in bed and went downstairs. The Malabar pink had died on the ashtray on the table.
Rishi’s office was completely strewn with papers, his files were thrown across the floor and the room displayed chaos. It was as if someone was searching for something specific. Rishi felt a dread spread through him, he rushed to his desk and pressed the button below the lowest drawer in the table and put in a key. It opened a Secret compartment which had a shiny hardcover book. He took the book slowly and took in the aroma of the book. He held it against his cheek and muttered something. Reshika was standing behind the door and watching all this, her face displaying an expression of shock.
Reshika was not able to sleep. She kept hearing the water drip and the clocks gears turn. The tap drip suddenly stopped, it was followed by a rush of water down the sink.
“Who’s there?”, She called out.
“It’s Mum, Reshi”, said a soft voice.
Mum opened the and entered her room and sat beside her, “Sorry Reshi, it was my boss’s daughter’s birthday, I just had too much of whiskey. I thought I’d be able to walk it off but seems like I failed.”
“It’s okay Ma”, Reshi felt a bit disappointed but she was happy that it wasn’t one of her mother’s bad case episodes.
Sarika was a lead Crime scene investigator in the police department, she wasn’t an alcoholic but every now and then when a case with intense emotional weightage comes to her lab she comes back heavily drunk trying to wash it off with alcohol. Reshika had accepted her as her mother though she knew she was not her biological mother. They both understood each other like any daughter and mother would.
. . . .
It was all over the news.
“A man was mysteriously killed… similarity to the book and the murder is uncanny…”
Paparazzi and media were buzzing their home to get a glimpse of Rishi and get a comment out of his mouth. They shut all windows and doors and stayed inside. Mum was getting restless day by day, she got irritated that she was forced to stay home.
3 days later the crowd faded.
Reshika came down drowsy and tired from her sleep. She heard them arguing over something,” …. explanation for this! Why? Who are you Rishi? It’s like I don’t….”
Mum stopped abruptly when she saw Reshika. She slapped Rishi and walked out.
Reshika was confused and didn’t understand what just happened.
“Don’t even ask.” Said dad.
. . . .
He was gagging, He was having difficulty to breath. Someone forcefully shoved his head into a bag of some sort. He also realized that his mouth was taped and his limbs were tied. His mind screamed, “Think”.
He understood he was being transported somewhere. He knew he was in a car or a vehicle of some sort. He calmed his mind and listed to his surroundings. The car felt like it wasn’t a small or a compact car, he was not in a boot space of the car or in a backseat. It felt like he was in a back of a truck, probably a 4×4.
His hands weren’t tied as he thought, they were duct taped, his fingers were taped too. Someone had planned this for a long time. He tried to move his body to a more comfortable position but it almost impossible to move from his position. After 15 minutes of struggle he sat up, the atmosphere felt cold and calm except for the sound of the moving vehicle. He felt the tarp that was covered over him slip away. It felt cold and silent, if felt like it was snowing. He heard a muffled voice say, “He is up”.
A blow to his head knocked him out.
Rishi woke up. His hands were tied to a pole and his mouth still taped. The room was dimly lit and it was icy cold. He felt cold shivers run up his skin. There was something eerie about this place. He also noticed something twig like stuff bundled up next to him, in fact the whole room was filled with bundles of those twigs.
A hooded figure emerged out of the door. “this doesn’t look like a grown adult, it’s either some young idiot or a small person”, Rishi thought. His mind was thinking up of how he could escape from this place, but he was helpless, his limbs were disabled perfectly.
A cold hard kick landed on his chin followed by several punches on his face and stomach, he was able to groan only. The muffled noises from his taped mouth showed that he was in great pain. He writhed around the pole unable to take the beating. Then the hooded figure spoke.
“How does it feel? To lose all your grip on this world and fear occupy you. How does it feel? To be helpless, to not know what is going to happen to you the next moment. HOW DOES IT FEEL?!” the voice made Rishi shudder.
The figure slapped him on his left cheek. A voice from behind bellowed, “don’t touch his face!”.
Two more punches landed on his stomach. Blood leaked from his taped mouth. Rishi spit blood as the duct tape was peeled from his mouth. “Who are you people, please let— “, the weird angle of his nose denoted that it was broken.
“Don’t mess with his face darling”, the other voice from spoke again, but now softly. Rishi saw a lit match flying above his head.
Rishi woke up to his watch beeping. His nostrils were attacked by fumes from something burning, the whole place was up in flames.
He understood why the twigs were kept there. He tried his best to lose the tape and free himself but it was not fruitful. He gave up hope of living and just sat there thinking about his daughter. And her face appeared in the smoke.
A firefighter came in with an axe wearing a safety mask, Rishi was bewildered for a second. The fireman cut the tape around his hand rope that was used to tie him. They broke out of the inferno and came out safe.
What looked like a stable was on fire, blazing. There was a whole squad of firemen fighting the fire with safety masks. Reshika came in from the ambulance with a mask and put it over his mouth. The sudden rush of oxygen gave him a head rush. Then Rishi fainted.
Rishi woke up in his room. Sarika was sitting beside him holding his hand. “Honey, Dad is up”. Reshika who was standing behind Sarika came to his side. “Hey Dad, how are you?”.
Rishi tried to open his mouth to talk but it was dry as cotton. He motioned towards the glass of water on the counter. After a glass of water, he was able to speak. “Did you get them? Did you get the two?”
“Who, Darling?”, Sarika gave a confused look.
“The people who tied me and beat me up. Look at my bruises. I was beat up by two people in a barn Sarika, then they set fire to the whole place and I was saved by a fire— “.
“Dad yes true, we found you in a barn which was burning. But only a small wood stack was on fire, it was put off with an extinguisher. The only problem was that the log that fell on your car trapped you from moving. But if it weren’t for your seatbelt— “
Rishi’s face looked like a ghost had passed through him. He tried to talk but words stopped at his throat.
“Rishi?” Sarika had to shake him violently to bring him back to reality.
“Car? No Sari darling, there was no car. I was inside that barn tied to a pole or pillar or something, I was tied with duct tape and ropes. It was planned perfectly. There were two figures, one short and one tall. I was beat up by them. I was punched in the stomach, kicked in my mouth and slapped by the short one. But I guess they were gay, one kept calling the other with endearments. Then there were these bundles of twigs around me…”
Sarika’s partner walked in with a report in his hand. ”Hey man, how are you? Good to see you up after 3 days. The wood stack that was on fire had a hallucinogen in it. Any signs of it Sarika?” Rajiv asked turning to her. Her blank stare answered his question.
“That’s okay, apparently the effects will be there for at least 60 hours.” He said with a smile. “I would like to talk to him for a minute can you guys be outside for a bit?”.
Rishi’s face still had that lost look. Reshika left the room silently and Sarika kissed her on his forehead.
. . . .
Sarika wanted to smoke and left the house to get her lighter from her car. A Shriek made Sarika jump.
She ran in and the sight made her skip a beat. Reshika was slumped on the floor holding her stomach. Blood was slowly soaking her yellow shirt. In the other corner, Rajiv was lying in a pool of blood his face lifeless. Rishi was there on his bed his hands covering his face.
As Sarika lifted Reshika from the ground Rishi could not help but notice Reshika’s smug smile. It sent Shivers up his neck.