SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (32)

THE HOUSE OF HORRORS : A HORROR STORY BY ME IN STORYMIRROR.COM

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Chris Stephens and his son, Mike were watching the football world cup on TV. His wife Stella was preparing dinner for the family. The doorbell rang several times before Mike opened it. Lawrence Matthews strode in with his wife Lisa. He was their family friend. Chris and Lawrence knew each other since childhood. Lisa was looking for Stella. Chris said, ” You will find her in the kitchen.” Lisa smiled and thanked him. Lawrence hit him playfully on the shoulders and said, “Hey, dude! It’s been a long time since we met. Hope you haven’t forgotten me.” Chris grinned at him and added,”I thought it was the other way round. What brings you here?”

Lawrence answered,”Have patience, my dear. I will tell you everything after dinner.” Their wives were chatting away merrily. They had their dinner shortly. They enjoyed the delicious meal of sweet corn soup, roast beef and sausages with french fries and ice cream. After eating to their heart’s content, they chatted for some time. Lawrence cleared his throat and addressed both Chris and Stella. He said “I have a proposal for you. I am dealing with the real estate business. A client requested me to find a suitable plot for him. He wants to build a multi-storeyed building for the residential purpose. Your property meets his requirements. I am willing to pay $400000. What do you say?”

Chris and Stella looked at each other. Chris replied, “My answer is no. I wouldn’t sell this house even if you offered me a hundred billion dollars. Stella and I built it together using our hard earned money.”

Lawrence exclaimed, ” I have an irresistible offer for you. Why don’t you move into my new luxury condo in the heart of Manhattan? “

Chris was adamant. He politely declined the offer. Lawrence turned towards Stella. He asked her, “Why don’t you convince your husband to accept my generous offer?”

Stella answered “I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t help you in this matter. I wholeheartedly support his decision.” Lawrence added with a shrug, “If you change your mind, please call me at this number.” They took leave off Chris and his family and left for their home.

Chris and Stella loved their little house. They would never dream of parting with it.

Lawrence was in a foul mood. He thought that he would easily persuade Chris and Stella to sell their house. He had already taken $5000 in advance from his client.

Lawrence wanted to usurp his friend’s house at any cost. His circle of friends included corrupt politicians, criminals and contract killers. He hired a contract killer to get rid of Mike. The latter was Chris and Stella’s only son. He was in eighth grade and attended Pinegrove school for boys. Lawrence filled him up with all the details. He asked him to tamper with the brakes in Mike’s bicycle to make it look an accident. He gave a brief description of the cycle that he had gifted to Mike on his twelfth birthday.

It was Wednesday. The contract killer reached the school and straightaway went to the bicycle stand. He identified Mike’s cycle from the photo given by Lawrence. He cut off the brake wire with the pliers. He cast a glance around the school and left the place without being noticed.

The school bell rang and the children filed out of their classes with their satchels. Mike was in an upbeat mood that day. He had secured an A grade in his math assignment. He went to the cycle stand to fetch his bike.

He proceeded towards his home. There was a traffic signal ahead of him. The light had turned red. He was unable to stop. As a result, a car coming from the opposite direction knocked him down. The traffic came to a halt. A small crowd had gathered around him. Mike had lost his consciousness and was bleeding profusely. A young man checked for his pulse and breath. Both were abnormally low. He was alarmed. He saw Mike’s school ID card and called Chris immediately. He informed him about Mike’s accident. He also called for an ambulance. Chris came rushing to the spot within ten minutes.

The ambulance arrived shortly. Paramedics lifted him gently and placed him on the stretcher. They drove off to The City Hospital.

Stella was in tears when she arrived at the hospital.

The doctor came out of the emergency room and said: ” I am sorry to say that we couldn’t save your son.” Chris and Stella broke down upon hearing the news. They had lost their only son. Their dreams for Mike had shattered.

They wept inconsolably into each other’s arms. Mike’s body was handed over to them after the completion of all the formalities.

Lawrence and his wife offered their condolences to Chris and Stella after the funeral. A couple of days later, Lawrence called Chris and discussed the sale of his house. Chris rejected his offer and hung up on him.

Lawrence was upset. His plan had miserably failed. He thought that Mike’s death would make Chris give in to his wishes. He wanted to seek his wily friend Roger’s advice.

He dialled his number and said ” Hi, Roger. I acted upon your advice and had Mike killed. But Chris still refuses to part with his house. What shall I do now? “

Lisa overheard his conversation. She shrieked “You scoundrel! How dare you murder an innocent boy? I never thought you would stoop so low. You are a traitor. I am going to call the police.”

Lawrence held her hand in a firm iron grip and twisted it with a brutal force. She cried out in pain. He had his other arm around her neck. She bit his arm and freed herself. She was about to move towards the door. He hit her on the head with a flower vase. She fell unconscious. He strangled her to death. He called one of his cronies to dispose of her body. He instructed him to dump it in Chris’ car at midnight. He went to his garage and made some minor adjustments in his car. He wanted to prove that his car was not in a working condition. His crony came at 11.30 PM and picked up Lisa’s body. He successfully completed the task assigned to him by Lawrence. The latter paid him a hefty sum for his work.

He filed the police complaint against Chris for kidnapping his wife. He told the officer his reasons for suspecting Chris. Lawrence accompanied the cop to Chris’house. The investigating officer recovered Lisa’s body from Chris’ car after an exhaustive search.

Chris was arrested and sent to the police custody.

Lawrence was too cunning for words. He knew that the body would be sent for post-mortem. He bribed the forensic expert to alter the report. The trial was conducted. Chris was found to be guilty. The court awarded him a death sentence.

Stella was hysterical. She had lost her son. She couldn’t afford to lose Chris. One day, she visited Lawrence and pleaded with him to help her. She said,” Lawrence, please do something and get Chris out of this mess. I will give you whatever you want in return for this help.”

Lawrence was a shrewd businessman. He said,” I am not a hard-hearted person like Chris. Please sign this document if you want to see your husband alive.”

Stella had no other option but to give in to his demand. She took a pen and signed along the dotted lines. Lawrence commented with an evil smirk, ” You should have accepted my offer in the first instance. You wouldn’t have lost your son or husband. You can leave now.”

“What about Chris?” Stella questioned him,” I have signed the document as a part of our deal. You promised me to get him out of this mess.” Lawrence laughed and said ” How could you be so naive to trust me? I had to save my own skin. So I framed Chris for my sin. I killed Lisa to stop her from going to the police. She knew that I was responsible for Mike’s death.” Stella was furious. She took a knife lying on the table and lunged at him. He caught hold of her wrist and snatched the knife. ” Take this, you bitch,” he said and stabbed her several times till she died.

He chopped her body into several pieces. He put all the severed pieces in a sack and disposed of them in various locations.

Lawrence had achieved his goal at the cost of three innocent lives.

Chris was executed with a lethal injection within a month of Stella’s death. Their house was demolished.

Lawrence held a meeting with his client and took him to the site. The client was satisfied and handed a cheque for $20000. Lawrence pocketed it. He had also arranged for the construction of a new building.

Lawrence was an epitome of greed. He used substandard materials and cheap labor for construction. A young lady named Joyce Goodwill moved into the apartment on the second floor with her 8-year-old daughter Linda. Joyce was a widow.

One night, when she was sleeping with her daughter in their room, she heard someone wailing. She sat up immediately and saw the ghostly figure of a woman shedding tears. Joyce was frightened. She asked the lady, “Who are you? How did you enter my house? What do you want?”

The lady replied ” Don’t be scared. I am not here to hurt you. I am Stella, the real owner of this house. My entire family fell prey to an unscrupulous bloodhound who constructed this building. I came here to warn you. Please vacate this building immediately. Ask your neighbors to do the same. I cannot watch innocent people getting killed.” She disappeared after warning Joyce about the impending doom.

Joyce wasn’t sure whether the ghostly encounter was real or a dream. Nevertheless, she decided to follow her advice. She tried to convince her neighbors to give up their apartments. Her neighbours laughed it off, saying that her story was purely her imagination. She had done her duty. She vacated the house and handed the keys back to Lawrence.

A fortnight later, the building collapsed due to mild tremors in that area. Though the intensity of the earthquake was mild, the building gave away because of a weak foundation. Most of its occupants were killed. Their bodies lay under the debris.

Lawrence’s client was arrested for negligence. Lawrence had the last laugh. He was planning to build his mansion in place of the collapsed building.

He decided to pay a visit to the site by evening.

He finished his official work and proceeded towards his dream destination. It was around 9 PM. He had planned to come earlier but got busy in his work. When he arrived at the site of the disaster, he was shocked to see the building still intact. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He rubbed them to make sure he was not dreaming. Someone tapped him on his shoulders. He turned around to find his dead wife smiling at him. She had an evil grin on her face which was as white as a chalk. She said, ” Lawrence darling. Where were you all these days? I missed you so much that I have come back for you.” His face registered a look of pure horror. ” This can’t be true,” he said, ” Dead people don’t come back alive.” ” Why not?” another familiar voice spoke. He saw that it was Chris. Lawrence was sweating profusely. He saw the distorted figure of Stella coming towards him. She carried her severed head in her hand and said,” What are you looking for, Lawrence? Come and join us for a wonderful feast.” He saw Mike coming through the gate riding on his cycle. He grinned at him and asked him to have dinner with them. The departed souls of those who died in the calamity descended from the staircase. There seemed to be a party. Lawrence was so scared that he actually wet his pants. Lisa dragged him towards the buffet table. He opened the lid of one utensil and was stunned to see a severed head. He moved towards other counters and was stunned to find the raw human meat being served. He threw up on the spot. He retraced his steps and went towards the gate. The gate closed automatically. He was trapped. He said, ” I am sorry for my misdeeds. Please spare my life. I will turn myself into the hands of the law. I will confess to all my crimes.” Chris responded,”It’s too late to apologize. There is no atonement for your sins.” He watched silently as Lawrence ran for his life. He stumbled upon a rock and fell down. Darkness engulfed the place as the building collapsed again. A concrete slab fell on Lawrence killing him on the spot. Chris and others disappeared from the spot. Their souls were appeased and liberated. Lawrence was duly punished by his victims.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (26)

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN . (2) : A CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY BY ME

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Inspector Vishwas couldn’t digest the fact the murderer had openly challenged him to a battle of wits. Now he knew that Monica Aggrawal was behind the spate of murders in New Delhi. He was trying to formulate a plan to nab her. Sub-Inspector Gautam finished filing the final report for the day before he left the police station.

Gautam saw his senior immersed in deep thoughts. He approached him and said, ” Sir, you seem to be lost in thoughts. Is this about Monica Aggrawal case? Don’t give up hope. Even the cleverest of the criminals gets caught because he or she is bound to slip up at some point of time due to pure negligence.” Vishwas smiled at his positive attitude and optimistic words. He said, ” Let’s have a cup of tea before we go our separate ways.” They always enjoyed having tea at Shankar Tea Stall opposite the police station.

Six months passed and there were no more news of serial killing until the month of October. Inspector Vishwas was enjoying a family vacation at Manali. He received a phone call at midnight at his hotel suite. His wife, Shalini, hated to be disturbed while she was deep asleep. ” Is it your first wife?” she asked sarcastically. She always considered his police job as his first wife. He looked at her regretfully and answered, “I am sorry, dear. But I have to take this call.” She nodded and went back to sleep. Their son, 9-year-old Harish, slept peacefully unaware of the fact their vacation was to be cut short.

The caller was DSP Ramakant Chaudhary. He said, ” I wish I could avoid calling you. Especially since you deserve this holiday, but our criminal has come back to wreak havoc on adulterers and cheats. This time, we have discovered three dead bodies of men within a week. There’s a slight change in her MO. She has been more ruthless in case of handling men. Each of the deceased looked liked they had committed suicide. The first victim, Prasad Sharma, 30, was a habitual drinker and a wife abuser, was found dead in his bed. He seemed to have consumed pills like Gita. But the gruesome part is that his genital is missing. There’s no drop of blood anywhere in the crime scene and no fingerprints were discovered. The second victim, Ashok Himsagar, 45, had ended his life by shooting himself with his pistol for which he had license. He has left behind a suicide note claiming that his guilty conscience pricked him for his infidelity towards his wife of 15 years. His private part was also missing. Since he had shot himself, blood was splattered everywhere with parts of his brain also found on the wall. This took place a couple of days ago and yesterday we found Faisal Ahmed, 35, lying dead in his garden with foam around his mouth. According to his servant, he went to water his plants and accidentally stepped on a huge snake that bit him immediately and he died. His genital was chopped but there was no blood as usual. You see, we need your presence here for stopping the vigilante maniac.”

Inspector Vishwas promised to come back the next day and requested for the crime scene photos. He wondered how did Monica pick out her targets this time. Last time, she had gone through her sister-in-law’s mobile and discovered her true character. Monica was so furious that she had murdered all the six friends. He wondered whether these men knew each other.

Why did she wait for six months before striking back? Vishwas managed to convince his family that he would take them to Three hill stations, Mussourie, Dehradun and Nainital for a month long trip, once he apprehended the culprit. When they came back to their house, Vishwas found an envelope addressed to him. He opened it to find a single sheet of paper with ‘ Catch me if you can’ written on it. He clenched his fist and promised to put her behind bars for her audacity.

The next day, he attended a team briefing where Sub-Inspector Gautam showed the clippings of the recent Suicide-murders. As Vishwas concentrated on each victim, he couldn’t help but feel something familiar about them. These men may or may not have known each other but infidelity was common between them and one of them, physically and verbally abused his wife. As soon as the presentation ended, he decided to check the criminal database to see if they had any criminal record.

But the moment, he logged into the computer, he was astonished to find that a file containing the criminal reports had been deleted. He called the IT technicians who confirmed that his account had been hacked. He called Gautam and informed him that someone had managed to gain access to the criminal database and the records have been deleted. That bitch, Monica, had managed to fool the cops. He asked Gautam whether he had anyone suspicious lurking around the police station. He replied in negative but Constable Ramprasad’s face had lost his color. Vishwas was quick enough to spot him and asked, ” Why, Ramprasad, do you know how my system got hacked? “

The constable said, ” I am sorry, sir. It’s my fault. A lady barged into the police station and claimed to be an IT expert. She produced her ID card and said that you were her cousin and asked her to do update the system with the latest version of software for upgrading our crime records. I had no idea that she was a fraud and managed to go through our crime records.” Vishwas lost his temper but managed to resist the urge of slapping him. He gritted his teeth and said, ” Can you recollect how she looked like? ” Constable Ramprasad nodded. SI Gautam sent for the police artist. Ramprasad helped to draw her sketch. She had worn modern glasses and let her hair loose. Vishwas looked at the sketch. He was sure that it was Monica in disguise. He sought the help of IT expert, Manish Mehra. He uploaded the sketch to the computer and using special graphics, removed the glasses and mole on her right cheek and removed the additional make up.
Yes, it was Monica! She seemed to be enjoying her moments of victory over Inspector Vishwas. Why did she target him? Did she commit these crimes on purpose to humiliate him? Watch out for the next episode of Catch me if you can.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (22)

A CURIOUS LIZARD : A CHILDREN’s SHORT STORY BY ME

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Mr. and Mrs. Lizard had just managed to shift their residence to a new house with their two kids, Rich, and Rosie. They had to take extra precaution from being spotted by the stray dogs, feral cats and their other predators.

They started climbing the walls without wasting their time while Rosie and Rich were fascinated by the things used by the humans. Mrs. Lizard chucked ( spoke in the lizard language). ” Hurry up,” she said, ” We haven’t got all day to relax and enjoy viewing the possessions of the humans. We have seen these plenty of times in other homes as well.”

Rich replied, ” Don’t be a spoilsport, mom. At least, let’s look around our new house. Besides, I don’t think there’s any pet here.” Rosie gave him a strong push to force him to follow their parents. They just managed to escape in time, from being crushed under the footwear of a fat lady, who was the house owner’s wife. She was carrying a huge plastic bag containing pizza boxes for the family.

She kept the pizza on the dining table and opened all the four boxes to check whether they had received the correct delivery. Unfortunately, she kept it open and unattended, and went to call her husband and children. Rich was drooling over the pizza. He said, ” Look, Mom and Dad, why don’t we feast upon the delicious snack instead of our usual, ants, mosquitoes and cockroaches.” Mr. Lizard added with a sigh, ” That food is meant only for the humans, but they can only have it once in a while. It’s not their staple food. Over Indulging in pizza can cause health problems. You aren’t going anywhere near it, do you understand? You barely managed to escape from death. Do you want us to get thrown out or killed? ” But children will always be children. The kid lizard was no exception. Just as a human kid would sometimes refuse to listen to his or her parents, Rich ignored his father’s sane advice. He climbed down at a tremendous speed and reached the dining table, leaving his frustrated family coming after him.

He helped himself to a tiny bit but the morsel stuck in his throat and started choking. His father dragged him away and whacked him on the back. He immediately spit it out. His tongue was also on fire. His father looked at him sternly and said, ” Don’t you ever learn from your mistakes? Was it really necessary to disobey me?” Rich hung his head in shame and said, ” I am sorry, dad. From now onwards, it’s only going to be flies or mosquitoes for me. As the humans say, curiosity killed the cat, this time it almost killed a lizard.”

The lizard family crawled back to the wall. The family feasted upon the small insects that came across their way. They also happen to see the whole family of humans having their meals together. The pizzas were devoured in no time. Soon, the younger son clutched his stomach and cried out in pain. The husband and wife were alarmed. His elder sister called the family doctor as Mr. Lizard looked at Rich and said, ” Did you see what happened to that poor boy due to your carelessness?” Rich felt for sorry for him. He had learned a lesson.

A couple of days were uneventful. Rich fascinated humans so much that he wished he was a human too. He felt bored of staying on the wall. He came down quickly as fast as his legs could carry. He came to the living room where the Television was on. He was curious to know what the humans were watching. He moved closer to the couch and watched his eyes widening in horror. A news channel presented the tragic news of the recent Texas shooting that killed nineteen students and two teachers. He watched some more news of humans hurting each other. Rich promptly turned away. He felt sick after watching the news of merciless killings.

No sooner did he climb the wall, than he approached his father. He said, ” You will be pleased to know that I will never venture out seeking the thrill of the human world. Dad, I just saw a human killing several humans. Is he going to eat them all? ” Mr. Lizard smiled at the innocence of his son, ” There are many reasons why humans kill each other. They don’t eat other except if they are cannibals. Killing is a great crime. Every creature has a right to live. Unfortunately, humans never consider this fact while slitting each other’s throats.”

” But Dad,” said Rich, ” In that case, we are also killers because flies and mosquitoes also have a right to live.” His father smiled, ” Unfortunately, my son, we don’t have a choice. We kill them because they are our food and also because we can’t make delicacies like the humans. Humans have plenty of choices:

They can be vegetarians, vegans, or non-vegetarians.

They can choose to live peacefully with each other or end up wiping out each other’s existence from the face of the earth. It’s pathetic to know that they prefer violence to exercise their power rather than protecting each other. But not all the humans are bad. There are plenty of good humans who work together for a common cause and help others including animals in distress. It’s just a matter of choice, son, you can either choose to be good or become bad. Whatever the case maybe, you will get the reward for your actions. No good deed goes unrewarded, nor any bad deed goes unpunished.”

Suddenly, Rich was glad that he was a lizard and not a human.

We all have choices in our lives. Learn to live with each other in peace or getting ruined in the path of destruction due to unwanted animosity. Animals only resort to killing for their food. We call ourselves the most intelligent creatures. Then why are we going into a self-destructive mode? Deforestation, pollution, race for arms and weapons, unemployment, over population, inflation and so on. This is a short story for children emphasizing the need to listen to their elders and learn from their mistakes. But there is also a message for adults.

Let’s not spill each other’s blood over trivial issues. We can and we must choose the path of love and peace for a blissful life as against hatred.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (20)

THE MONEY MONSTER : A HORROR SHORT STORY BY ME.

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Vedprakash Sahu, was a 55-year-old rich landlord who lived in a bungalow in Andheri (Mumbai) and also owned a building in Borivali. He and his wife, Gauri, were greedy beyond words. Their only daughter, Renuka, attended Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics, Mumbai.

Vedprakash had a nasty habit of raising his rent every year. He would cite rising inflation as the reason to justify his actions. Most of his tenants managed to pay the rent with great difficulty. Vedprakash and his wife were ruthless, when it came to money.

It was a Sunday evening. Vedprakash finished his tea and told his wife that he was going to collect the monthly rent and inform the tenants about another hike due to Covid cases. His wife had money flashing before her eyes and forced him to leave as soon as possible.When Vedprakash reached the apartment complex, he collected hefty cheques from most of the tenants. They groaned over his decision to raise the rent. Some pleaded with him to reconsider his decision because it was hardly a year since he last raised it. He refused to budge from his stance. Then he knocked on Apartment 14 B on the second floor. Mr.and Mrs. Anand Kumar lived in this 1 BHK apartment. They had recently shifted here after Anand got a promotion with transfer, as a Senior Marketing Manager, in a private company at Nagpur. His wife, Priya, was eight months pregnant. Anand opened the door and welcomed him. He handed over the cheque but Vedprakash stopped him. He said, ” I came here to inform you that instead of 8,000โ‚น , you will now be required to pay 12,000โ‚น. You can either pay or vacate the house as soon as possible.”

Anand pleaded, ” Sir, please don’t raise the rent so much. My wife is expecting a child and we have so many expenditure.” Vedprakash lashed out at him and his wife. He gave him a week’s time to pay the rent or leave. His wife, Purnima, fell at his feet to give a couple of months time before raising the rent but he, a ruthless fellow, kicked her on the swollen abdomen. She screamed in pain as Anand panicked and called for an ambulance. Vedprakash was horrified but silently went away without even apologizing for his deed.

Purnima gave birth to a still born baby and subsequently died in the hospital. Anand lost his self control and ended his life after cremating his wife and dead son. Vedprakash and his wife had no remorse over their misdeeds. They pretended to mourn for the couple in front of the police, a facade that they had effortlessly, pulled off for so many years. The investigations were closed shortly.

One day, he received a call from a mysterious man, who offered him an year’s rent in advance along with a deposit of 1,00, 000โ‚น. Blinded by their greed for money, they invited him to come in person and check out the apartment. When the mystery caller came to visit them, he was wearing expensive clothes with sunglasses. The man introduced himself as, ” I am Ketan Kumar. I will pay you the rent for the whole year. But I have two conditions. You will never bother to visit my apartment. You will also not poke your nose into my affairs. I am a bachelor and occasionally my friends will be coming to stay with me.” Vedprakash agreed and he drew up the house rental agreement papers. Ketan gave him 10,000โ‚น cash in advance.

Vedprakash showed him Anand’s apartment. He handed over the keys of the vacant house and went away happily. Little did he know, what fate had in store for them. Ketan would leave the apartment quite early in the morning and would return home late with a bunch of gangsters and kidnapped women, whom they would gang rape and kill. The other members of the building were too scared to open their mouths.

As Vedprakash promised, he ignored Apartment 14 B. Nearly eight months had passed since Purnima and Anand died. Ketan had kidnapped another girl with his two men. She was none other than Renuka, the daughter of Vedprakash. She begged, ” Please have mercy on me. I am the only daughter of my parents.” They laughed at her and forced themselves on her. They continued to rape her until she died. Vedprakash was worried because Renuka didn’t return home. The husband and wife filed a police complaint after bribing the Inspector to ignore the regular protocol. They had no idea that their child was killed by the very monster to whom they had rented the house. Ketan and gang dismembered her body into several parts and dumped it in a garbage yard. They finished dinner to return home with drinks.

Suddenly, a storm brew up with the wind forcing the doors and windows to open and close. The lights flickered and went out. One of the men lit the candle. The villainous trio had a shock of their lives when they saw the LED TV turning on despite the power failure. They saw themselves raping women and killing them. The scene suddenly changed as the murdered women including Renuka grinned at them with their blood smeared faces. Ketan and Gang had killed ten women so far. All of them stepped out of the TV one by one. Ketan was so scared that he had almost peed in his pants. Renuka said, ” I don’t think your lust will ever be satisfied as long as you and your friends live. Why don’t you join us on the other side of the world? This time we are hungry for men.” Ketan and his friends cried for help but no one responded. The zombie ladies feasted upon Ketan and his friends, leaving the skeletons behind.

A couple of months had passed since Renuka’s disappearance. The couple had given up any hope of finding their daughter alive.

Vedaprakash was unable to sleep that night. He heard a wailing sound. He got up and was shocked to hear Renuka’s voice. She cried, ” Why didn’t you save me, dad? Why did you give me up? You never bothered to search Apartment 14 B. Why? Because that monster Ketan said so. You and mom are cold blooded murderers. I will never forgive you.”

Vedaprakash tried to awaken his wife but she was snoring away. The next day, he decided to check on his tenant at 14 B much against his promise. He and Gauri knocked on the door but it was open. They screamed after seeing a bunch of skeletons . They cried for help but no one came to their rescue. Suddenly, the doors closed and Anand and Purnima emerged as the spirits. They laughed at him and his wife, who were now sweating profusely. Anand said, ” What a pity! It took you so long to check upon your tenants. Since money is so important to you than your own daughter, you offered her as a scapegoat to the monsters. You didn’t check the background of the person renting your apartment.” Renuka emerged with her severed head in her hand. She said, ” Both of you are responsible for so many murders. The skeletons belong to your psycho tenant. Be prepared to face your fate.” Suddenly, the money lying in the briefcase, assumed the shape of a dog. The dog bared it’s canine teeth and said, ” Our master, the demon, is waiting for you down under. Let me fetch your black souls.” Vedaprakash and Gauri under the spell of hypnotism strangled each other to death.

The dog turned into a demon and sucked their souls from their bodies to send them back to hell where the punishment for their sins awaited them. Later that evening, a foul stench of rotting flesh and death emanated from the apartment. Mr. Kapil Kapoor from Apartment 15 A called the police. When they opened the door, they were shocked to find two corpses, Vedaprakash and his wife, Gauri, lying on a floor covered in blood, besides two skeletons.

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SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (12)

ThE CASE OF THE CYBER VIGILANTE (5) A CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY BY Me.

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Jamie fed him food and water. Lester tried to reason with him. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Half an hour later, Sara entered the basement, where Lester was held captive. She said, “Well, Chief Inspector Lester King, are you ready to hear some bitter truth about your no-good cousin? He was the biggest jerk and a scumbag on this earth. Jamie and his friends came here to spend their vacation five years ago. He met me on the beach. We fell in love with each other. I was also a tourist like him. We exchanged numbers and did everything shown in the movies. Unfortunately, we got physically involved, and I ended up getting pregnant. We got married against the wishes of our family. Emma entered our lives as our bundle of joy. Our fairytale romance came to an end after Jamie got a new job. His friends were characterless shits. They turned him into an alcoholic and a monster. When Emma turned two, Jamie and his scoundrel friends tried to force themselves on her. I offered myself as a scapegoat to save her from a miserable fate.

They feasted upon my body every day until I collapsed and got hospitalized. They took advantage of my absence, and everyone, including Jamie, gang-raped Emma. My child lost her life when she was just two. Can you imagine a father raping and murdering his daughter?” Lester was horrified after listening to Sara’s story. She continued, ” They dumped her body in the basement. When I got discharged from the hospital, I came home to find Emma missing. Jamie fed me a cock-and-bull story on her disappearance. However, he and his friends continued to torture me. Jamie confessed to his crime under the influence of liquor. I lost my temper. I approached the local police but ended up getting arrested for prostitution. I vowed to avenge Emma’s death and punish Jamie and his friends.

I lured them into a trap by offering a night of seduction. I killed Jamie in the basement and castrated him. His friends followed suit. I butchered all of them. I sent messages to their respective families about their vacation for a couple of months. I managed to hide their bodies until they turned into skeletons. Nobody bothered to search for them in my house because I had planned their disappearance. Since I was a robotic engineer, I started creating humanoids. I created Jamie’s lookalike and also Emma because I missed her. I am not going to kill you immediately. Just wait and watch. ” She turned away from him as he watched her go upstairs.

Lester mentally cursed himself for barging into the basement without adequate backup. Sara had already started working on a new project. She made Jamie call Lucy. He spoke to her in Lester’s voice. Sara smiled at her pet robot. She returned to her lab and started working again. She instructed Jamie to keep an eye on Lester.

Fifteen days had passed since his capture. Lester used to relieve himself with the help of Jamie acting as his escort and a bodyguard. Jamie finished giving him food when Sara made her entry. Lester looked at her without giving away his emotions. She had someone hiding behind her. ” So, Lester, “she smiled, ” I hope you are comfortable. I have a special visitor for you.” She stepped away to reveal another Lester King. Lester’s eyes widened in horror. He saw the robotic Lester perfectly imitating his style and mannerisms. He made strange muffled noises to express his anger.

Sara said, “Lester, you have a week to live. Is there any last wish of yours? I am sorry I have gagged you.” She removed his gag and heard him let out expletives. She laughed at him and went away with Jamie trailing behind her. She had issued instructions to Lester, the robot, to keep him gagged. Lester’s life was in danger. He failed to understand why nobody tried to contact him. Then it dawned upon him that Sara used the robot to imitate him.

He had to find out a way to escape. Meanwhile, Sara continued her sting operation on the sexual predators. She sent her humanoid robots globally to carry out her orders.

Inspector Lucy Shawn was worried about the sudden spike in the organized murders. The cyber-crime unit reported a drastic decline in the viewership of the adult and mature content. Men were hesitating to send friendship requests to women. The dating sites lost their business.

Sara laughed heartily over the success of her extermination plan. She said, ” I guess men have learned their lessons. It serves them right for treating women as mere sexual objects.”

Would Lester survive his ordeal or perish in his attempt to escape? Watch out for the next thrilling part of the story.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

SUNDAY SURPRISE (8)

A HARSH PUNISHMENT A SHORT STORY BY ME.

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I hate badmouthing others, but my idiot neighbour forced me to enhance my knowledge of choice swear words. Mr.and Mrs. Verma set a bad example for the rest of the neighborhood. They would dump their garbage outside the gates of their house. They would let their pet dogs at my backyard for peeing and pooping. I asked my husband, Anup, to convene a meeting with our neighbors barring the Vermas. 

Our neighbours assembled at a playground near our house on Sunday. It was 8 AM. I offered coffee and biscuits to everyone. Mr. Pradhan, a senior citizen, opened the meeting with his short speech, ” Dear friends, I am grateful to Anup and his wife, Radha, for convening this meeting. The Vermas are up to no good. Their children, Natasha and Ryan, lack manners and are reckless. A couple of days ago, Natasha tossed out her old sandals from the lawn in front of their house and hit me on the head. She laughed shamelessly and felt no remorse over her action. Her brother also made fun of me. I refrained myself from using unparliamentary words.” 

Mrs. Joshi launched into a verbal tirade saying, ” I was on my home after buying some groceries when I overheard Natasha calling me an old hag and imitating my walk. Her mother was hovering nearby, but she didn’t bother to scold her daughter for her nasty remarks.” She was almost in tears as I handed her a cup of coffee and a tissue. I told them about their children letting their dogs into my backyard for doggy business. They would sneak in when all of us were busy and get away before we could apprehend them. 

Everyone present in the meeting had a bone of contention to pick with the Vermas. We decided to come up with a plan to teach them a lesson. Fate had already started planning ahead of us. I saw Mrs. Verma gossiping with her friend on the road. She was wearing an expensive gold necklace with an intricate design. She was on her way home after shopping with her friend. A youth wearing a helmet snatched her chain on his motorcycle and sped away. Her friend immediately took leave of her and went away without turning back. I watched her moaning in self-pity as she went home. Unfortunately, she forgot to close the gate again. 

A couple of hours later, I heard a commotion outside her house. Her dogs were missing. She wailed like a banshee. She marched right into my house to confront me and asked,” What have you done to my babies?” I was amused instead of getting angry at her and answered, ” I am sure you are living inside your smartphone. Did you forget that your children are at school? ” ” I am not talking about my children, ” she yelled, ” I can’t believe that I lost my necklace as well as my pets today. Didn’t you notice anything weird?” “I shook my head. 

“What is the use of having a neighbor who can’t keep a watch on what’s happening next door? ” I lost my temper and retorted, ” I am sorry for your loss. However, you are the one to be blamed. I have warned you numerous times to be careful and always close the gates after your entry or exit. You chose to ignore my advice. How dare you accuse me of negligence? I am simply following your suggestion of minding my own business. None of us in this street are your guardians. You should have listened to most of our neighbors. Please don’t expect sympathy from any of us for your foolishness.” 

Mrs. Verma hung her head in shame and looked so downcast that I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her. I invited her for a cup of tea. She looked grateful and followed me to the living room. I entered the kitchen to prepare tea after offering her a seat on the couch.  I had a sudden thought. Our neighbor, Mr. Ahuja, living across the road, had a CCTV camera installed outside his bungalow. I suggested that we should request Mr. Ahuja for the CCTV video footage. Mrs.Verma felt pleased and accompanied me. 

Mr. Ahuja had recently retired from The Indian Army. He was a bachelor with a big heart. He welcomed us and immediately complied with our request. The video was appalling as well as quite horrifying. Mrs. Verma nearly fainted after watching the video. Mr. Ahuja and I were too stunned to utter a single word. Poor Mrs. Verma! 

The video recording showed her dogs, Cocoa, and Tommy( German Shepherds), rushing out of the open gates. They chased a speeding motorcycle. The bikers skidded off the road and had a nasty fall. Cocoa and Tommy bared their teeth. One of the guys retrieved a butcher’s knife from his jacket and immediately stabbed Cocoa to death after it pounced upon him. Tommy also died getting stabbed. The duo dug up graves for Cocoa and Tommy at Mrs. Verma’s backyard. A glittering necklace fell out of the shirt pocket of the pillion rider. They buried the carcasses and refilled the holes with plenty of mud. 

Mrs. Verma was crying hysterically. We consoled her and called Mr. Verma. The couple went to the hospital while Mr. Ahuja took care of their children. 

The family mourned over the loss of their beloved pets. They finally learned their lesson. The silver lining in the cloud was my backyard no longer served as a public toilet for the dogs. We should never take life for granted.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

THE CASE OF THE CYBER VIGILANTE (4)

A CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY BY ME.

Good morning friends,

I hope you are having a great weekend. I am sorry I was unable to post my second short story about Lester King yesterday due to a tight schedule. Let’s get into the story right away.

THE CASE OF THE CYBER VIGILANTE (4)

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Lester King finished his lunch and left for his room. He opened the case file on the disappearance of Raghav, Dinkar, Sunny, Aman, and Matthew in 2020. Their parents had filed a police complaint reporting them missing since 13th June 2020. It spelled trouble for Jamie. Lester wished to clear Jamie of any wrongdoing. He remembered Mrs. Vinita Sharma’s version of the incidents taking place in the neighborhood. The case file dealt purely with their disappearance.

Lester called Lucy, his colleague, in London and discussed the status of his investigation. Later, he browsed the internet for more information on Sara Sylvester’s gang rape case. He was shocked to find that the accused were the same people who went missing. They had raped her repeatedly on the horrific night of 19th November 2019.


They walked out as free birds due to the lack of evidence. Lester gritted his teeth in frustration. What happened to the concept of justice? He called Inspector Ajay to discuss Sara’s case. Ajay told him in strict confidence that the defendants’ parents were influential people. They knew how to pull their strings and get their children out of a tight spot. They filed a defamation suit against Sara. She had lost all her wealth by offering compensation to the criminals who had violated her.

Lester felt sorry for her. He was so angry that he could have murdered them and made their corpses vanish. It suddenly struck him that Jamie might have the same idea. He thanked Inspector Ajay and thought of visiting Jamie in the evening. After reaching Jamie’s house at 7 PM, Lester rang the doorbell.

Sara opened the door lightly and peeped at him. “Yes? “she questioned him, “What can I do for you? ” Lester cleared his throat and responded,” Sorry, Ma’am! I forgot to introduce myself. I am Chief Inspector Lester King, Jamie’s cousin. Don’t you remember me? I spoke to you over the phone.” Sara felt annoyed at his unannounced visit. She exclaimed, ” Sorry, I am not in the habit of entertaining a stranger at home. Jamie’s still in the office. Please leave immediately.”

Lester eyed her suspiciously. He said, ” I just have a few questions for you regarding the gruesome murders of thirteen men from various parts of the world on a single day. We checked their friends’ list on Facebook and found your name. I believe you also knew Mark Staines of London. He died under mysterious circumstances. Would you let me in, please? Or would you like me to haul you to the police station? “

She reluctantly opened the door and let him in. She snapped at him,” You must be out of your mind to accuse me of the murders. For your information, I was nowhere in the vicinity of the victims. You can check the CCTV footage from the crime scenes. I have seen enough crime shows.”

Lester was amazed at her spontaneous reply. He thought of an excuse to explore the house. He asked for a glass of water. No sooner did she exit the room than Lester dashed off upstairs to check the other rooms. He found Sara’s diary in her bedroom. He pocketed it and searched the remaining two rooms. There was no sign of Emma in any room.

He dashed towards the basement. He quickly covered his nose with his handkerchief. The room had a foul smell of rotting flesh. He switched on the light bulb. He almost yelled in fright after seeing several human skeletons fully dressed. There was also a skeleton in a tiny frame. He believed he had discovered the missing people. He was about to take out his smartphone and call Inspector Ajay when he got whacked in his head. He turned to face his attacker and was shocked to find Jamie with a baseball bat in his hand. He managed to say ” Jamie “before losing his consciousness.

It was quite some time before he came around. He found himself tethered to a chair and saw Sara with a wicked smile on her lips. He blinked at her as she started speaking. She said, ” Welcome to my slaughterhouse, dear Inspector. I already gave you a chance to save yourself. You deserve a hearty congratulation for solving the complicated multiple murder cases. Unfortunately, you won’t live to tell your tale. Don’t worry. I am not going to kill you right now. Your life is very precious to me.”

Lester merely grunted due to his gag. Sara chuckled at his plight. She said, ” You are very impatient, aren’t you? Well, save the energy. I will come back later with your food. By the way, you don’t need the diary anymore. I will tell you my story before packing you to hell. Enjoy your stay. Let’s entertain you for a while. Jamie, Will you come here? Your cousin wants to see you.”

Jamie joined them and cast a look sending a chill to Lester’s spines. Sara ordered him to turn around and face Lester. Jamie’s neck turned 360ยฐ as Lester yowled in horror. It dawned upon him that Jamie was a robot! What happened to real Jamie? Where was he?

That’s it for now, dear friends. Watch out for more thrill and action in the upcoming episodes of Lester King’s adventures.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (8)

THE CASE OF THE CYBER VIGILANTE (3) A CRIME THRILLER SHORT STORY BY ME

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Chief Inspector Lester King started preparing for his upcoming journey to India. He decided to check Sarah Sylvester’s Facebook page and go through a list of her friends and followers. None of her posts were out of the ordinary or alarming. She had updated and modified her Facebook page. Lester was in awe of her audacity to hide her crime. He also wondered about the possibility of claiming thirteen lives across the world from one remote location.

Lester had already sought the approval of his superiors before embarking on a journey to India. He made a reservation at a Star Hotel for a week after reaching Goa. He called his teammate Lucy and told her about his safe arrival. Lester checked into his room and had a shower, followed by a breakfast of French toast and scrambled eggs. He went to visit Jamie with a box of pastries. It was 9 AM, and Lester thought Jamie might be at home.
No sooner did he enter Jamie’s neighborhood than a curious neighbor peeked at him. Lester had an idea. He decided to ask some questions about Jamie and his family from the old lady sitting at the porch. He approached her with a pleasant smile.

He said, ” Good morning, I am Chief Inspector Lester King, from London. I hope I am not bothering you. But I want to ask you a few questions about your neighbors, the Sylvesters.” The old lady looked thoroughly alarmed. She probed him, ” Are they involved in a crime? Well, I am not surprised if they are.” Lester raised his eyebrow in response. The old lady continued, ” Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. I am Mrs.Vinita Sharma, a retired school teacher. Why don’t you join me for the morning tea?” Lester followed her inside the house. She made him sit on the couch while she went to prepare tea.

Lester cast his look all over the house. Beautiful paintings adorned the four corners of the walls. There was the LED TV plastered to one of the walls. He noticed a family photograph on top of a filing cabinet near the plastic chair. Mrs. Sharma carried a tray containing a teapot, two cups, and saucers with the cookies. Lester was very impressed with her hospitality. They exchanged pleasantries over the tea and cookies. Mrs. Sharma resumed her speech. She said, “The Sylvesters have been acting pretty weird since last year.” Lester listened to her attentively and encouraged her to go on. She continued, ” They came to live here five years ago. I found them very friendly and invited them for dinner. They hosted parties and invited everyone in the neighborhood. We thought they were a perfect family. Problems started cropping up for them a couple of years ago. Jamie became an alcoholic and would bring his drinking partners to his home at untimely hours. One day I heard screams for help. It was Sara. Something had happened to her. My husband forbade me from getting involved. But I couldn’t sit idly and watch a helpless girl die. Jamie and his friends left in a hurry. I saw some of them zipping up their pants.”

Lester listened to her tale of horror in shock. She told him that she had discovered Sara lying unconscious in her house. She had lost plenty of blood, and her daughter, Emma, was missing. The police investigated the case and got her admitted to a hospital. She returned home after three months. She had a big fight with Jamie that everyone heard in the neighborhood. Jamie and his friends continued their atrocities. She said, “I was so frustrated with Jamie that I decided to confront him with my friends. He had started consuming alcohol in the morning. When we knocked at his door, Sara wasn’t available. Jamie opened the door with a liquor bottle in his hand. He started using foul language. So, we decided to get away as quickly as possible.”

Lester shook his head in disappointment. How could Jamie stoop so low? Mrs. Sharma added, “We avoided them for quite long. The Sylvesters knocked at my doorsteps after eight months. Jamie offered me a bouquet and apologized to me for his rude behavior. Sara hugged me and thanked me for saving her life. I was also pleasantly surprised to find little Emma flashing a grin. I invited them for dinner, but Sara refused. She said she wanted to visit the other neighbors and apologize to them for the ruckus her family created. It was the last time I saw them interacting with us. Jamie’s weird friends completely stopped their visit within these eight months. I was sure something was fishy with their sudden disappearance. Jamie’s attitude completely changed. I never saw them going out together to enjoy their family time.”

Lester asked her, ” Sorry to interrupt you, Mrs. Sharma. Can you tell me something more about Jamie’s friends? How many of them visited his house? ” The old lady answered, ” He had five close friends who spent most of their time in his house. I am sure all of them were scoundrels.” He thought, “How could any person vanish without a trace?”

Lester left her house and stopped for a while. He decided to call off the surprise visit to Jamie as he might have already left for his office. Lester went to the nearest police station. He introduced himself to Inspector Ajay Patil and briefed him about the case that he was currently working on.

He said, ” Inspector, My cousin, Jamie Sylvester, went missing from London five years ago. I learned about his marriage to Sara and settling in Goa. Last month this couple went abroad. We had a mysterious murder of Mark Staines. We found that he had been blackmailing Jamie’s wife, Sara, into having sex with him. According to his phone records, he made the final call to Sara. The next day, we discovered his dead body in the hotel. The Sylvesters returned shortly. Now, here is a great puzzle. After they returned to India, there were thirteen murders from all over the world. All the deceased were male and womanizers. Because of their lewd messages and nude photos, women blocked them. I was shocked to find Sara Sylvester chatting with them. I thought all these fourteen murders were interlinked. I also learned from Mrs. Vinita Sharma, their neighbor, about an unfortunate incident involving Sara a couple of years ago. I was also stunned to learn about the disappearance of five men. May I have a glance at the case files on Sara Sylvester?”

Inspector Ajay replied, “Sure. We have been under tremendous pressure to solve the missing persons’ case. Jamie’s friends Raghav, Dinkar, Sunny, Aman, and Matthew were last seen on 13th June 2020. It’s 2022 now, and we haven’t even discovered their dead bodies. We fear Sara might be involved in their mysterious disappearance. But we don’t have enough evidence to incriminate her.”

Lester had to be careful before he approached Sara. He thanked the Inspector after getting the case files(copies )from him. Lester went to a nearby hotel for a quick lunch before heading towards his room. He was eager to uncover Sara’s secrets.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

SHORT STORIES FRIDAYS (6)

A DREAM, A NIGHTMARE, OR A LESSON : A SHORT STORY BY ME.

Hi friends,

I am going to continue the Case of Cyber vigilante next week because I have planned some thrilling twists and add spine chilling turns to the story. So, today I am presenting one of my old stories published in Sweek.com. It was earlier titled ” Love and Protect the Animals “but I thought of changing the title. I hope you like it.

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Raj Sharma,the thirteen year old son of Mr. Kedar and Mrs Anju Sharma, was a very bright student studying in 8th grade of Violet International School, Bengaluru. He was always the class topper and yet he was very modest and so friendly that no one could dislike him. He was supposed to do a project for his class.He represented his school in the inter school competition organised to create awareness about nature and wildlife.

He was a bit worried as he had not yet decided what to do for his project. He asked for his parents’ advice but unfortunately , they could not come up with any idea. He slept late that night thinking about his project.

Later that night, he had a weird dream, more of a nightmare, to be precise. In his dream, he saw that he was playing with his friends in the garden, when his mother came rushing out to call him . She was very frantic. Beads of perspiration formed on her forehead. She told them that the wild animals have escaped from the zoo and are on a rampage all over the city. She also called his friends inside the house and stay there till the danger was over. 

Raj and his friends were scared. They were huddled together as they suddenly heard a loud roar.They were stunned to find a leopard prowling out in the garden  as they looked out of window. It was growling and baring its teeth. It glared at them as if it could pounce on them any moment.

Raj’s mother was now trembling because she had forgotten to close the door. When she was about to close it,  another leopard entered into the house. It slowly moved towards them and about to pounce upon them when it was distracted by its little cub which began to speak like a human.

The cub said,” Don’t kill them. Let us capture them and put them in our special prison, what humans call as zoo.”Raj and and his friends were too stunned to see these animals speak like humans.Raj found himself stammering as he asked the leopard,” H…. How can you talk like us?”The leopard chuckled and replied,” We have been injected with a special serum created by a scientist on an experimental basis. We escaped from  his captivity  when he forgot to padlock the cage door.”

Raj, his mother and friends were captured by the leopard and its companions and taken to the forest. They were put in a cage meant for animals.They were very much surprised to see more humans being held as captives in adjacent cages.

 In this forest everything was Topsy Turvy.They were astounded to find animals behaving like humans. Other animals  also came to visit them and laughed at the plight of the prisoner. The lion said,”Well done. These humans deserve to be punished. All these years, they either trapped us to be captive in zoo or killed us to sell our fur. It is time that they learnt their lesson. They should know how we feel when are held as prisoners and these people make fun of us by ogling at us or throwing stones.  Now Show them how it  feels to be killed and skinned.”. On hearing this order from the lion, a tiger promptly killed a captive man and started tearing his flesh. Raj and his friends were terrified and felt like puking.

Raj and friends were released from the cage only to be attacked by the leopard. The leopard was about  to pounce on him when suddenly Raj opened his eyes on hearing the alarm. He said to himself,” Thank goodness. It was only a dream.”  He realised  the dream had actually given him an idea to work on the school project. He approached his elder brother and sought his help to make an animation film showing the plight of the animals and also his dream where the trend was reversed and how it would be like if we were in the place of the animals.  The film was then shown in the inter school competition which eventually won the first prize for creating awareness amongst people to love and protect the animals. Raj received  the award from the district collector. He was extremely happy that his project was a great success.

Thank you so much for taking your precious time to visit my website. Hope you enjoyed reading my blogs. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

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 Guptaโ€™s wedding in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh, India. When Sharmila shows her fianceโ€™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 everybodyโ€™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 Sharmilaโ€™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 Sharmilaโ€™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.