spoon

Unsullied Retribution

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It was ten o’clock in the night when I made up my mind. It’s now or never, I said to myself, and got off the cot on which I was sleeping, or perhaps, trying to sleep. I took out a brand new pair of black trousers, black shirt, and a black leather jacket from the bureau and wore them. I then sat on a chair and wore my dark leather boots. I went to the bureau again and took out a hunting knife. I shall find them and kill them all today, no matter what, I swore. I eyed my weapon intently. The glistening steel blade had vengeance written all over it. Putting it back in its sheath, I got out of the room. A minute later, I was out in the dark, silent night, on a lookout for my victims.

***

The dogs were silent, the wind was blowing mildly, the city was asleep, and the road was barren. I walked on. There was no moon to guide me, no stars to give me hope; all I had was a purpose to achieve.

Fifteen minutes later I was in the city outskirts, miles away from home. A few hundred meters away I could see the two roads diverge. I had a choice to make. I stood there contemplating when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I swiveled round to see an old man of about seventy.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m here to help you,” said the old man.

“OK. Tell me which road to choose.”

“First tell me your name.”

“I’m M,” I replied.

“OK, M,” the old man said, “Take the one on your right, and you’ll reach your destination.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, getting a little skeptical.

“Well, take the one on your left, my friend.”

“But you just asked me to take the right.”

“Yes, yes, you should take the road on your right. Go on, go on, reach your destiny,” said the old man scratching his head.

“You are still not sure, are you?”

“I think you should take the left,” said the old man, blinking his eyes.

I knew I had found my first victim. Without thinking or saying further, I took out my hunting knife from its leather sheath, and plunged it into the old man’s chest. Blood oozed out of the old man’s chest as he sagged down. A moment later he died.

I looked at the dead body, and then at the diverged roads. I made my choice and walked on.

I, the killer, was on the move again.

***

The surrounding was devoid of all the sounds of nature. The only sound I heard was the squeaking of my boots. The darkness had reigned supreme, and it was a journey into the void. I looked up toward the sky. Blackness. I wasn’t bothered, for I was possessed with only one thing – killing.

I looked at my watch. It said ten forty. I walked on resolutely. A few minutes later, a sedan came out of nowhere and stopped beside me. The window-glass rolled down, and I saw a pretty girl at the wheel.

“Want a ride?” she asked, smiling.

Without replying I opened the door and stepped in, taking a seat beside her. She drove on.

“So, where are you going?” she asked.

“To the graveyard,” I answered, without looking at her.

“What for?”

“I have an appointment.”

“All right,” she said. After a pause she asked, “What is your name, by the way?”

“I’m A,” I said. This time I looked straight in her eyes.

“OK,” she said, and shifted gear.

The car was moving at 100 km/hr now, and I didn’t even flinch.

“I don’t think you’ll make it,” she said flatly.

“What do you mean?” I asked, without taking my eyes off the road.

“I mean you won’t reach your destination. Graveyard, that is,” she said, smiling sarcastically.

“Why not?” I asked, becoming curious.

“Look around. It’s so dark and scary. Also you don’t look the type who’d take the risk. Only a few people can go there, you know. And you are not one of those special few,” she said, and laughed until she had tears in her eyes.

“Stop the car,” I said with austerity.

She slowed down, and finally stopped. “You want to walk?”

“No, my dear. I’m taking your car,” I said, taking out my knife. She gasped, but before she could say anything I slit her throat. Her body wriggled as the blood gushed out of her throat, and a minute later, she died. I pushed her limp body out of the car, sat in the driver’s seat, revved up the engine, and drove on.

I soon realized that my journey was becoming easier with every killing.

***

The dashboard clock read eleven ten. The wind which I thought was mild until now, was hitting my face tempestuously. I didn’t bother to roll up the window-glass, as I couldn’t resist the challenge posed by the wind.

I put the car into top gear and pressed down the gas pedal. In less than five seconds the speed shot up to 140 km/hr. The stereo system was glowing with green colour, and when I pressed the play button, Eminem’s Stay Wide Awake filled the car.

…come with me to the dark side of the force

No man would boldly go to this place

The devil only knows of this world

So dark and oh so cold, it’s all so cold, all so cold...

Everything was perfect; the speed of the car, the cavernous darkness outside, the song.

Five minutes later I brought the car to a screeching halt in front of a big, rusty, Iron Gate. I had reached the graveyard, my destination. I turned off the ignition key, and stepped out of the car. For the first time in that night I could see and hear some changes around me. A lid of dark clouds had partially lifted in the sky, and slants of moonlight reflected on the metallic body of the sedan. I could see some bats flying over the graveyard; I could hear dogs barking, and owls hooting. The silence and the darkness, both were fractured.

I tugged my jacket and walked toward the gate. It creaked when I opened it slowly. No sooner had I taken a step inside than I saw a burly man standing beside me, lighting a cigarette.

“Thought you wouldn’t come,” he said, blowing the smoke in circles.

I didn’t answer.

“What’s your name?” he asked, blowing the smoke in my face.

“I’m N,” said I.

“All right. Why have you come here?”

“Because I wanted to,” I replied, matter-of-factly.

“Think carefully before you go in, my friend. You might not come back,” he said.

“And why is that?”

“Why, for all the obvious reasons, of course. It’s a bloody graveyard. No one comes back, you know. Everyone who made that decision and went in never came back. They are all gone, dead, vanished. Just like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.

“Really?”

“Like it or not, these things are immutable. It’s bound to happen with you too,” he said phlegmatically.

Beads of sweat started forming on my forehead, but I knew what I had to do. I reached inside my jacket pocket, and took out my knife.

He laughed, quite laddishly. “You think you can kill me?”

“I have to. I have no other go. You are my ultimate victim,” I said as I took a step toward him.

He remained rooted to the ground. He was at least four inches taller than I, and at least one hundred and fifty pounds heavier than I.

When I was just a few inches away from him, he threw his cigarette, and stood with his hands folded.

“Think before you act, my friend,” said he.

“You are not my friend,” I said, and stabbed him in the chest.

He continued to smile. It wasn’t enough. I twisted my knife into his chest, and took it out. Blood trickled down his chest. I lifted my arm and plunged the knife yet again into his chest. This time he reeled back and stumbled and fell on the ground. I sat astride his stomach and repeatedly stabbed him ten times as blood sprinkled on my face. Finally, just to make sure he was dead; I thrust the knife into his neck.

I wiped the blood off the steel blade using his shirt, and got up. I put the knife back in its sheath, and kept it inside my jacket pocket. Wiping the blood off my face using my hanky, I walked inside the graveyard.

It was dead calm. I didn’t have anything to do there. All I wanted to do was to go and have a look inside, take a stroll in the night. After walking for ten minutes, I decided to leave. After all I had achieved my purpose.

The body still lay near the gate. I ignored it and walked out of the gate. I ignored the car too, and silently walked back home.

***

It was eleven fifty when I reached home. I changed into my night dress and went to bed. The clock chimed twelve, and just when I was about to switch off the light, I caught a glimpse of the book on my table. It was Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.

“Absolutely. Freedom at midnight it is,” I said to myself as I switched off the light, and drifted off to sleep. And that night I slept like I’d never slept before. It was the most peaceful sleep I’d ever had.

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

Copyright © Karthik 2010

P.S. Click here for the explanation of the story.


Comments (19)

Crime fiction is definitely your forte :) the narration didn't falter, but I felt the motive behind serial killing was unclear. I know there are eccentrics everywhere.. still... maybe its just me :)

Gripping narrative .... the underlying message is hard to digest. I come from more idealistic times I guess

freedom from ghosts that haunt?!
macabre

lovely write!

do let me know if i have missed the point!

Completely agree with Shruthi... it was brilliant... shorter than your usual standards, or for that matter the standards for a short story, but nonetheless chilling! :D

Yet I have to say this: was there a unifying purpose to the murders? I see that the names the murderer gives becomes MAN - does it have anything to do with that? I am wondering dude. Ah please forgive me if I have missed something; blame it on a long day :D

Cheers! And kudos on showing us what you're all over again, in the realms of the pen and the page :) (or shall we say the keys and the web? ;))

a gr8 narrative i must say, surprisingly i have been working on a similar story in terms of style of narrative for days but for some reason the story is not coming along well..
back to your story, its dark and keeps getting darker...i hope it is about getting rid of the ghosts of the past... a message that MAN should get rid of the ghosts of his past...I hope I got it right

EVERYBODY,
Will give you the explanation in my next post. Until then try to analyze on your own.

Shruthi,
Thanks a lot, Putts. :)
Hehehe.. it's not just you. :D

Phoenixritu,
You might just be right, ma'am. As I said above, I'll explain in my next post.

Deepak,
Not exactly ghosts. ;)

Srini,
Yeah, it is a bit short. Something struck me in the middle of night and penned it down. :D

You got that right, dude. It becomes MAN. Will tell you the underlying meaning in my next post. Then again I don't think it'll be difficult for you to understand. So try. ;)
And thank you so much for those wonderful words. Means a lot, you know. :)

Shahid,
Try it, dude. I'd love to read.
Not about getting rid of "Ghosts" of his past. It's something else. Will let you know in my next post.

awesome write up...
but didn't get the intended meaning...

perhaps I will be able to appreciate better after you provide the explanation...

while reading the story, I got the feeling that the killer wants to prove a point - that he is not weak and he can do things which are supposed to be impossible for him to execute. then I stopped. as a writer, you know that this story could have sounded spookier and more effective if you had used the third person narrative..but it struck me again, the killer does not have to be HE right? the word MAN - the killer is as good as a man and a man would not like to prove this point that he is a man as he is one..

well, that's my interpretation - a lady killer trying to prove that she can do what a man can..

crossing my fingers for getting it right and hoping that i m not so damn wrong that i wil be embarrassed :P

PS: hope you could decipher the first para!

Nice narrative! Waiting for the continuation, though. have a feeling there's more to this!

Oh and Karthik, by the way, I have stopped watching Glee. ;)

The story is shorter than your usual standards but it doesn't lack the suspense or excitement that I have come to expect of your stories. Gripping narration as always. Can't wait for the next post to find out the motives of this homicide. Post it soon :)

Once again a nicely woven piece. Waiting for the explanation. Hope it lives up to the hype.

Man is also an animal, a wild animal living in a fake jungle of absurdity and etiquette. Given a chance all our dark sides go into work, some prominently and some in the dark. The urge to kill is an compulsion and the process itself is a compulsion. This is what went through my head after reading this one. Loved it, waiting for your take on the story.

Cheers!

Before I comment - I d like you to know that the page did not load for a quite a few minutes - so I selected the text on the dark background and then read the story.You might want to look into this.

As for the story, it seemed to me that you intended it be open ended ,leaving questions like motive, mindset or history to the readers imagination. I might be wrong, but if that being the case then a third person singular narrative works better,where you can use some leading statements and leave the reader with a ticking mind.

The pacing was good,one scene moved to the next swiftly and scene construct was well written. Overall as usual a nice read.

Sundeep,
Thanks, man.
Will let you know soon.

Neha,
No, Neha. That's not it.
It's nothing about gender. Most of the times when we say 'he' it's only for the easy readability and it applies to both genders. For eg: in the last vikram-betaal story, when I used the term 'man' the underlying philosophy is applied to both genders.
Here too adding the letters become MAN as you observed. Will tell you what that means in my next post.
And regarding the narrative mode; it entirely depends upon the story. If the protagonist is in every line of the story, first person narrative suits best. This is one reason. There is another. You'll know when I explain the story in my next post.

Preeti,
This is it. There's nothing more to the story. But will explain in my next post.:)
And you stopped watching Glee??
Whoaa! Party timeeee! :D
Great, Preeti. I'm so proud of you. Hehehe.. :D

Destiny's child,
Yo! Thank you so much, Veena. :)
Yeah, it's shorter than my previous ones, and for a reason.
Will let you know soon. :)

The Fool,
Thanks, man. It's a simple tale actually. Anyone who can think in an unconventional way will know. No hype surrounding it though. ;)

Pawan,
Unfortunately, no, dude. It's a bit philosophical. ;)

Gyanban,
Will look into the template. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
About the story; it's not open ended. It's done with. Over. But the interpretation is left to the readers to figure out. Either ways, will explain in my next post.
As for the narrative mode; my take is simple. If the protagonist/narrator appears in every frame of the story, if it's not complicated, use first person narrative. Else, third person narrative suits fine.
Thank you. Appreciate it.

You did not publish my comment? :(

K! Here is my take on it. Wonder why my previous comment is not showing. Nevertheless, this was my take on it in short:

1.Uncertainty - old man

2.Underestimating ones abilities - girl

3.Courage(rather lack of it) - graveyard incident.

Sorry yaar. I was a little held up and could not comment before and when I did, I re-posted it 7 times at least :( Some problem with my system.

Do I even have to mention how well -executed the story is? :) As always, super!

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