Stories

This is part one of a series of 3 posts, under the Writing 101: June 2014. The assignment is titled The Serial Killer. Yes, my take on is quite a literal one and my first experiment with a crime thriller.  I look forward to discovering how this story turns out. Your comments, feedback are welcome.

The Case of a Lost Identity – Part 1
It was an early June morning in my seaside city. I looked out my window and found the clouds hiding the sun. Funny, I thought, for some strange reason the clouds believe I will not know it is morning. The thought made me smile and I got on with my morning.

In a while, I was at my breakfast table reading the morning paper: it was one of the hottest summers we had for a while. Hmm, that explained the terrible humidity, yesterday. You see, when you live in a city near the sea, you sweat terribly, and my country lies in the tropics so it is worse.

Well, the other headlines were routine, PM of countries meeting to discuss global trade issues, a young celebrity dealing with divorce, the case of a rape victim…

You know, it’s a little strange probably, but I have often felt that when media decides to champion a cause, they take it up fervently. A huge amount of space is devoted to the issue in their papers and media on a daily basis. Sure, it keeps the issue alive in the minds of people and helps build up momentum; but does it almost numb you to the issue as well. Well, this incidence of rape for example. It is horrible to read about it, I can’t even imagine what the person is going through in the first few weeks after the incident. But sadly, as a reader, having been constantly bombarded with these cases on an ongoing basis, I no longer register the name or the details. I take a cursory look at it, shake my head and tuck it away in my mind as yet another statistic related to rape.

I was asking myself whether this form of championing the cause endlessly will actually reduce the number of rape cases or sensitize society to the trauma the victim suffers in the aftermath of the incident. Even as I contemplated this thought, my door bell rang. I stumbled out of my reverie and walked to open the door.

Even as I walked to the door, I could hear the sound of the elevator opening outside. I opened  the main door a crack – there was nobody at the door. I opened the door wider and strained my neck and just caught a glimpse of grey t-shirt hurriedly entering the elevator.

‘Hey’, I called, ‘hey!’ The elevator, standing along the same wall as my door, had shut and was already headed down. I was about to close the door, assuming this to be a silly prank teenagers get into at times; when suddenly a dull thud sounded outside my safety door.

I tried to look down, there was something heavy there. I pushed the safety door outwards to open it. It wouldn’t move. I pushed it with both my hands now, quite irritated, wondering what it was outside my safety door. Even as I pushed the door and the weight on the other side, I found myself spreading out a pool of blood that was seeping in from the other side. I freaked. Breath stopped in throat, and for a few seconds, I just stood there and stared at the blood. I dared not step out. A million thoughts rushed into my mind, even as a small stream of fresh blood trickled under the half-open safety door. I pulled the door in, slammed shut my main door with my heart beating so hard it hurt.

What was that, who was that in the grey t-shirt? What was I to do… I walked to the intercom to reach the security. I saw my hand trembling… I had never been so terrified in my entire life. I lifted the phone to my ear, and dialed 90 with fingers that would not hold still. I dared not turn away from the phone and look at the door. I was too afraid of what I would see. ‘Calm down, S. Get a hold of yourself. You have to call the security guy and tell him to come up. Calm down and breathe…’ my mind slowly began to take control  and my body followed the simple instructions. ‘Breathe, it’s ok… breathe… now dial carefully, slowly. 9— 0—-.’ My body followed the instructions relieved to have someone take control.

‘Security, how may I help you?’ said the voice at the other end.

In a voice that did not sound like mine, I muttered, ‘Help, I need help…’

‘Hello! Madam, I can’t hear you… hello? Can I help you?’

‘Help me… please….,’ my voice died out and my legs had turned to jelly. I fell to the ground in a heap.

End of part 1.

–          Bharti Athray

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