SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS ( 5)

GRACE’S WITCHY ADVENTURES: A PARANORMAL THRILLER BY Me.

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THE STORY SO FAR.

The Story so far:

Grace Royce accompanies her best friend and colleague, Sharmila Gupta’s wedding in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, India. When Sharmila shows her fiance’s photo, Grace is shocked because she has frequently seen him in her dreams forcing an innocent girl to suicide.

She saves Sharmila from marrying a criminal after nabbing him and his friends in a shameful act of trying to hang an innocent girl.

Grace has recurring dreams of Sharmila attempting suicide when the friends are holidaying in Dehradun. Her fear is about to materialize after their trip. Grace skilfully revisits the past and alters everybody’s memories to stop the wagging tongues of people from hurting Sharmila. She thwarts the attempt of a mad scientist X, in Australia, who is watching the proceedings, to kill Sharmila.

He stages small accidents which Grace is unable to prevent. Finally, he is able to cause a hit and run accident leading to Sharmila’s death. Grace is mourning the loss of her good friend while blaming herself for failing to protect her. She has a strange dream at night, where she finds herself in her bedroom in Australia. Her dead parents appear before her and they take her into the alternative future time zone, had Sharmila lived. Whatever she witnesses is awfully shocking to her.

She sees the evil side of Sharmila abusing her friendship and taking advantage of her. She is horrified to see her best friend kidnapping and sacrificing her with the help of a mysterious stranger. She comes back to her room with her parents and Sharmila’s soul pays her a visit. She explains how she was cursed by her grandma after she accidentally killed her grandfather who was bedridden with cancer. When she clarified that it was just an accident, her grandma realized her folly and offered a choice to die young before the curse could materialize or live a long cursed life. She had chosen the former. Sharmila warns her to be careful and now:

CHAPTER 5

The mystery surrounding Sharmila’s death.

After Sharmila’s funeral, Grace convinced her parents to accompany her to Australia. They agreed with a heavy heart. Grace realized that they wanted Sharmila’s killer to be caught and brought to justice. She promised to investigate Sharmila’s cold-blooded murder. Grace entered into her detective mode and decided to visit the crime scene. She finished her breakfast and informed Sharmila’s parents that she would come back within an hour.

Grace went to the temple and offered her prayers for the departed soul. She had just stepped out of the temple premise when she noticed a CCTV installed in the apartment building adjacent to the temple. She approached the security guard with a request to see the footage of the accident a couple of days ago. The guard eyed her with suspicion. She showed him her passport and her identity credentials. He took her to the recording room and started running the video.

Grace saw Sharmila stepping out of the temple. She attempted to cross the road after ensuring that there wasn’t any vehicle in her way. She had hardly taken a step or two when a speeding car crashed into her, throwing her away like a rag doll. Grace noted down the car registration number and the model. She couldn’t see the driver’s face clearly because of his disguise. She requested the guard to forward this recording to her mobile. She visited the police station with the video footage. The Police Inspector, Vikram Kumar, saw her approach towards his table. He smiled at her and motioned her to sit. He said, ” Tell me, Ma’am. How may I help you?”

Grace replied, ” Sorry to disturb you, Inspector. I am Grace Royce from Australia. I came to India to attend my best friend Sharmila’s wedding. Unfortunately, the wedding got canceled after her bridegroom, Vivek, was arrested for his involvement in a crime. A couple of days ago, she got killed in a hit-and-run accident near Laxminarayan Temple.” The inspector looked at her with great interest and encouraged her to go on. She showed him the video. He called,” Constable Sharma, I want information on the owner of this car.” He gave him the registration number and waited for a while. Constable Sharma came back after 15 minutes. He said, ” Sir, Vinod Mohan is the owner of this car. It’s a black Hyundai Santro. Vinod is the younger brother of Vivek Mohan, who is in jail for trying to force a girl into committing suicide. He also has a rape charge to his credit.”

Grace was astonished over this new development. She realized that everything now made sense. Vivek’s brother had planned to avenge his brother’s humiliation. He had murdered her and made it look like an accident. She told Inspector about her idea as to how Sharmila got killed. The inspector felt embarrassed because his department hadn’t conducted any inquiry. He said, ” Thank you for your assistance, Ma’am. Please give me your contact no. I will keep you updated on the development.” Grace and the inspector exchanged their phone numbers.

Grace returned home to find Sharmila’s parents waiting anxiously for her. Sharmila’s father said, ” You said that you would be back within an hour. We were getting worried because it had been more than three hours, and you weren’t picking up your phone.” She answered, ” I am sorry, uncle. I went to the temple to pray for Sharmila. By God’s grace, I have found out that the vehicle which hit Sharmila belonged to Vinod, Vivek’s younger brother. I shared this information with the police. I am sure they will make an arrest shortly.” Sharmila’s parents were smiling at her and appeared to heave a sigh of relief. Grace said, ” The inspector promised to keep me updated. We will leave for Australia after the arrest of the murderer.”

A couple of days later, the inspector told Grace that there was no physical evidence to link Vinod with the accident. According to Vinod, he had lent his vehicle to his close friend, Ashok. The inspector added, ” When we went to question Ashok, he said that someone had stolen the car from his parking. There is no CCTV footage to incriminate anyone. We are at a dead end. We will leave no stone unturned to flush out the criminal.”

Grace felt dejected after her initial enthusiasm. Sharmila’s father noticed her reaction. He understood what might have conspired. He sat beside her and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. He said,” Don’t give up, my child. I am impressed with your detecting skills. The game isn’t over. There is a solution to every problem.”

Grace was all smiles again. She looked towards Sharmila’s photo and murmured silently, ” Sharmi, I need your help to nail your killer. Will you help me?” A flower fell from her photo as a signal of her approval.

Watch out for a new twist in the tale in the next episode of Grace’s adventures.

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