SHORT STORIES FRIDAY (4)

THE CASE OF CYBER VIGILANTE ( 2)

A CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY By ME In STORYMIRROR.COM

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Chief Inspector Lester watched the video with his colleague. A blonde beauty pressed the doorbell outside Mark’s room. He opened the door with great enthusiasm, but his expressions suddenly changed. It looked like he was expecting someone else. He let her in with a smile. They wasted no time in closing the door. Lester and Lucy stifled their yawns as they watched several people booking their hotel rooms. The video continued for another 30 minutes with an interruption that lasted for five minutes. Both the cops were shocked to find a male exiting from Mark’s room instead of the blonde. He turned towards the men’s room only to disappear like Houdini. Some tourists walked out of the restrooms, but there was no sign of the mysterious man. Lester rewound the tape several times to make sure he didn’t miss anything. Another man emerged from the men’s restroom. His face seemed to be familiar but sported a different hairstyle. Lester and Lucy returned to their police station after thanking the manager. 

The next day, Forensic expert, Michael Mullen, called Lester and said, ” I have some baffling news for you. Mark Staines died of cyanide poisoning. His skin had turned pink around the chest. The killer was a genius. I found a piece of artificial human skin on the victim’s chest. The killer wanted to mislead us. The victim had sex before his death. I found some traces of semen around his inner thighs. And now, I have a real shocker for you. It’s better if you sit down.” ” Out with it,” grumbled Lester, “I have no time or patience for your little drama.” 

Michael chuckled,” Where is your sense of humor, man? Don’t sound like a machine. A little bit of drama always helps to lighten our somber moods. Anyway, he had sex with a robot.” ” What?” thundered Lester incredulously, ” Are you out of your mind?” Michael answered, ” Allow me to speak, will you? He had a strand of blonde hair on his right palm. My lab technician, Susan, told me that the hair had no trace of DNA. It must be a part of a wig for mannequins or robots. Secondly, the victim’s fingernails had a bit of silicon-like substance attached to them. Lack of saliva and vaginal fluid prove that he was involved with a she-robot.” Lester had no words to express his shock and frustration.

He came back to his senses after Michael prodded him to speak. He said,” That makes sense. I was just wondering how a woman turned into a man and often changed his disguise to escape. I can’t help wondering if there is a serial killer on the prowl.” 

Lucy brought him a cup of coffee, and they discussed the case in detail. 

Meanwhile, Sara continued to chat with her friends over Facebook and WhatsApp in India. She would finish her household chores before continuing her obsession with Facebook. Unfortunately, she had not yet learned her lesson and got involved with a sexual predator living in Paris. 

Chief Inspector Lester King switched on his television as soon as he reached home after a tiring day at his office. Lucy had texted him to check out the latest breaking news on television. He was shocked to find thirteen suspicious murders reported across the globe on a single day. All the victims were men of different nationalities. They were strikingly similar to the murder of Mark Staines. Lester wanted to tear his hair apart in sheer frustration. He had lost his appetite and stowed away his uneaten pizza in the refrigerator. He quickly gulped down a glass of beer and called his partner, Lucy.Β 

He sighed, ” I think we have an international serial killer on the run. His MO is the same. He uses robots to kill his victims. People are raising concerns all over the world. Anyway, is there any breakthrough in our soon-to-be stagnant case?” 

Lucy replied, “DC John Carter and DC Abraham Mendoza are going through his social media accounts. We will have the reports ready within a day or two.”

A couple of days later, Lester had a team briefing with his officers. Lucy was the first one to speak. She said, “We have managed to secure information on the social media accounts of all the murdered victims. DC Carter will now present his report to us.” 

DC Carter continued, “Good morning! Our honorable Chief Constable, Mr. Matthew Xavier, requested the help of Interpol to collect this information. All these victims were womanizers. They would send friendship requests over Facebook and then upload obscene pictures. Most of the women blocked them except for this lady, Sara Sylvester, from India. All of them had sent her lewd messages. She had requested them not to flirt with her because she was married. I have checked her profile. She is 28 and married to Jamie Sylvester, now living and settled in Goa, India. She has a four-year-old kid, Emma. Jamie is working as an independent tax consultant having his office near Panaji Market.” Lester sat upright suddenly as if he received a jolt. He checked the police records before announcing, “We have a missing person record on Jamie Sylvester. His parents, Wilson and Selma, had filed a report around five years ago. We could never trace him or recover his dead body. The case remains unsolved until now.” DC Carter and DC Mendoza were speechless. Lucy asked him, ” How did you make the connection between the two cases?” ” It’s because he is my cousin,” he replied, ” Wilson is my maternal uncle. He is my mom’s kid brother. I grew up playing with him.”

There was a pin drop silence until Lester cleared his throat to speak. He said,” We should try contacting Sara and Jamie. She is the missing link in this whole mess.” Lester entrusted them with various tasks at the end of the meeting. 

Carter gave him Sara’s phone number retrieved from Mark’s mobile. Lester dialed her number, waiting for her to answer the call.

” Hello, Who is this?” asked a gentle feminine voice. ” Hello, Ma’am,” replied Lester politely, ” Am I speaking to Mrs.Sara Sylvester?”

“Yes,” she replied,” Who are you? What do you want? ” 

Lester noted irritation in her voice. He answered, ” I am sorry, Ma’am. I didn’t introduce myself. I am your husband Jamie’s cousin, Chief Inspector Lester King from London. I hope he might have told you about me. I haven’t seen him around for five years.” 

” Wait,” interrupted Sara,” How did you get my number? He never told me about his family. He said that he was an orphan. You must be mistaken. I am sure my husband is not the person you are looking for.” Lester tried to steer the conversation his way. He told her about the discovery of her Facebook conversation with Mark Staines, a murder victim. He said that he had seen her Facebook pictures of her European Vacation and identified her husband as his long-lost cousin. Sara refused to share Jamie’s contact details with him. Lester threatened to arrest her as an aide to murder unless she agreed to ask Jamie to speak to him. Sara reluctantly agreed to comply with his request. 

Jamie returned the call as promised. It was 8 PM when he spoke to Lester. He said, “I heard you were bothering my wife. She has nothing to do with murder, kidnapping, drug peddling, rape, or any kind of heinous crime. Don’t call me again.” Lester was at a loss for words. He came out of his stupor and said, ” I can’t understand why you didn’t bother to contact your parents or me. Why did you sever your ties with your family? Where have you been hiding all these years? Your voice has changed a lot. I hope you had nothing to do with Mark Staines’ murder because he was torturing your wife.” 

“Stop barking, will you?” roared Jamie furiously, “I have no family. That’s it. I don’t want you butting in my life. Please convey my message to my so-called parents that I am happy with my wife and kid. I don’t want any interference from them as well as you.” He disconnected the call leaving Lester open-mouthed in astonishment. 

He smelled something fishy about Jamie’s erratic behavior. The latter was always kind and gentle with everyone. Lester felt that Jamie sounded more like a robot than a human. He feared that Jamie might have met with an accident on his trip to India that altered his personal altogether. 

The trip to India was inevitable. What will be the outcome of Lester’s visit to India? Will Lester apprehend the cyber killer? A sinister plan is waiting for Chief Inspector Lester King. To know more about Lester’s fate, wait for the upcoming episode. 

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