He looked in the mirror and froze. He saw a masked man in a black Jacket and black jeans, wielding a large blood-stained axe, wearing a sly grin and holding an unapologetic stance.
Michael was a clear headed young software engineer who went by his daily chores not bothering anyone. Living, by himself, in his one room studio apartment in Bangalore, he was pretty much lost in his world. This morning he woke up sipping his coffee browsing through the daily news. He had quickly turned to the crime section. The city was gripped by a set of dark serial murders lately. As has been the story so far he read about another mysterious murder. This time it was just a few blocks away from his neighbourhood. The
details were gory. A doctor in his mid-thirties was the victim. “These serial killings are getting way too close and frightening now”, he had thought to himself. As he continued reading, it was disturbing that the investigators had figured out that the next target would probably be in his apartment complex.
After a quick breakfast and the routine ten minute bath, he made sure he was dressed just right for the day. Before he stepped out, he paused at the full length mirror adjacent to the front door. His black shoes were spotless and he admired his elegant corporate look. As he entered the elevator, he was greeted by his neighbour, “Good Morning Michael! Hold on, I am on my way down too”. Michael kept the door to the elevator open for Mr. Murthy, a retired Banker, out for his usual morning walk, “Did you read the news, there is heavy police protection below. I hope they know what they’re doing”. Michael
couldn’t do much about that and he knew it. “I don’t want to worry about that, uncle. I have a long day at work today”. His presentation was due today anyway. He’d rather worry about that, he thought. “Good day!” he said as they parted ways.
The tools were set down on a red cloth atop an old wooden table. Some of them rusted, some of them stained, but all of them were sharp. He stared down at them looking at each weapon carefully. The flat handled butcher knife reminded him of the screams of the Doctor. He held it to the light; he could still see the stains. Like always, he had enjoyed it. The old, heavy, cast iron mallet, the power he had felt when he hammered and pounded the flesh. These were not just murders. These were barbaric deeds of enjoyment. His eyes fell on an edge tool with a heavy bladed head mounted across a handle. Today, he wanted
to use the axe. He loved the shape and the feel of it in his hands.
Michael’s Presentation was almost done. A final wetting, one final spell check and he was ready. His boss had told him that the conference was set to take place at 4 o’clock in the evening. He looked at his watch, the presentation was due in an hour, but he was hungry. Leaving his laptop he walked to the food court.
He did contrive finally to impose his wickedness. Darker the better he thought. He had picked the time, 1 am in the darkness of the night. He knew the risks. He had become the antagonist in town. It was his story that was read the most. The police were right behind him. They were correct in guessing his next crime scene. The addiction to murder overpowered his apprehension; he loved the thrill of deceiving the investigating officers. He knew he needed to be spot-on. The security would be beefed up but he was ready. One last check, the weapon was shining in front of him; his mask lay on the chair next to him. The black jacket and jeans lay by the bed. As he finished his sandwich, he walked to the restroom.
Michael shut the water faucet and looked up at the mirror in the washroom. His eyes were puffed, sitting in front of the computer screen for such a long time. He washed his face and tucked his shirt. He walked to his cubicle, picked up his laptop and headed to the conference hall. He started setting up the projector when people started walking in. He knew he had to nail this presentation, his career depended on this.
The old couple who lived on the fifth floor was his target. He had this unnerving confidence. ‘It’s going to be fun’, he whispered. Torturing was not his style but he wanted to try it. He cross checked all his plans, closing his eyes he traced the entry. He knew where the constables stood. The security would let him in. Then onto the fifth floor, into the old couples flat. And then the whole scene would unfold. Through the front door and out. He knew there was no flaw. He knew he was one step ahead.
The sounds of clapping filled Michael with pride, his two hour presentation was a grand success. His director was happy and his plans were being approved. He shut his laptop and packed his bag. Accompanied by pats on his back he left the office. Relieved with the day’s outcome, he wanted to unwind. A drink, or two, at the local brewery didn’t sound so bad. The heavy music, the sharp lighting, the smooth whiskey, the night was fading out.
The rucksack was ready. The black jacket and jeans, the mask covered his face, showing only his bloodshot eyes. Standing in front of the mirror, he put on his gloves. He admired the way he looked. He was ready. The clock struck twelve. He walked up to the front door, grabbed the door knob, pulled the door ajar and he paused. No, he dint have second thoughts, just a quick revision. The door slammed shut behind him as he left.
It was late and Michael had not stopped with two drinks. He booked a cab. Drowsy and dizzy, he managed to get into a cab. A fifteen minute drive, that felt nauseating, saw him land at the gates of his apartment complex. As he stepped out of the cab the corner of his eye caught a couple of policemen looking suspiciously at him. Feeling guilty he sheepishly smiled at them and walked right into the closed gate. The policemen rushed to him along with the security guard. Embarrassed at his actions he said “Sorry sir, Swalpa over aythu (I had a little too much), I had a great day”. The security guard help him on his feet and guided him to the elevator and helped him on. Michael was coming in and out of consciousness, when the elevator sounded. The number ‘five’ lit up and the doors opened. Muffled noises of thumping and clunking, of screaming and crying fell on his ears. As he stood at the door of the elevator the sounds felt very faint, maybe distant, maybe the sounds weren’t there at all. The whiskey was working. He was sweating. His hands trembling, his legs weak and his vision blurred. Yet somehow he was happy that he felt high. As his hands struggled with the key the noise seemed to get louder. He just wanted to enter and crash on his bed. His mind wanted him to. As he grappled and labored with the lock the noises were growing stronger and louder. It felt like it was right behind him, sweat trickled down from his temples. Finally, he heard the door unlock, he grabbed the door knob, opened the door, entered and slammed the door shut behind him. All of a sudden, the noises stopped, he felt a deep and sickening silence. He dint feel drowsy anymore, and as he walked past the mirror noticed something.
He took two steps back. He looked in the mirror and froze. He saw the masked man in a black Jacket and black jeans, wielding a large blood-stained axe, wearing a sly grin and holding an unapologetic stance.
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