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• Sayan •

Horror Tragedy Thriller

4.7  

• Sayan •

Horror Tragedy Thriller

The Gift Of Death

The Gift Of Death

10 mins
252


The phone rang again the fifth time and made me swear the choicest of cuss words reserved for the worst of perpetrators! I was not in a mood to work tonight. My head was throbbing horribly and the pain in my chest made my heart race like an angry bull. I was afraid I'd topple down and crack my skull off if I didn't sleep. But the phone kept ringing!

I picked it up!

"Hello?"

The thin, almost comical voice of my colleague Salim echoed on the other side, "This guy is asking for money for our Danish kunj project!" 

"Tell him I'll pay once I join back. We have been in business for three years. Won't he consider even a day's delay?"

"He doesn't care. He wants the money. No money, no approval"

"I lost my mother yesterday for God's s sake. Tell him I'll complain to his seniors" I screamed.

"Here, you tell him!"

There was a pause, a scratch and a new deep voice sounded on the receiver.

 "Yes, Mr Rao. Your approval is ready but, When will I get my money?"

"Hello, sir! I lost my mother yesterday, if you can just give me the approval, I'll be paying you up in a few days. As soon as I join my office back…."

"You lost your mother you say? Your approval can wait thirteen days, don't worry. Make my payment and take your letter."

The line went dead. This guy was an executive engineer in the state electricity board and earned at least seventy thousand a month. The bribe he was expecting was for a one lakh project my firm had executed in his jurisdiction. A meagre sum of three thousand rupees. 

I felt as if someone had dropped a brick of hot molten lave inside me. I tried to crush the mobile device in my hand but ended up screwing up its screen in rainbow coloured cracks. 

I called Salim back and asked for the details of this greedy son of a bitch. 

I then called up a friend who worked for government electrical contracts hoping he would put in a good word for me but he advised against it.

"He is a greedy as they get. He won't do anything until you pay. And he has all the right friends in the Ministry. Pay up and get over with it"

I sighed!  This is what the system has produced! The blood-sucking leech who had studied in a government college on the taxpayer's subsidy took a public service exam and because of luck or maybe the number of questions he could recall, landed a job in the state electricity board. 

I called a college friend who was the son of a senior cabinet minister in the state.

"Get real, Rao! Pay up and be street smart. I will help you with this one but then what about the next one? It's not even ten per cent of your project, pay up and forget. Keep him in your good books and he might even get you some Government contracts."

I put down the phone. It seemed people wanted me to pay him. Being "street smart" was much more needed than being honest. Maybe my friend was right. I had a company of twenty people to run. I couldn't afford to fight injustice. Not when it was considered a trait more important than honesty.

I turned on the TV to take my mind off things. A journalist was screaming at a politician, "The nation wants to know".

The politician smiled and shared an irrelevant anecdote about his dead grandmother. 

At that instant, my blood boiled at his smile and rushed to my head making me dizzy. I decided to give this engineer a visit.

The next day I called Salim and went to see this rotten engineer. The state electricity office was a hundred-year-old building erected by the late Begum who was responsible for modernising the city in the early 1920s. The Executive Engineer's office was at the far end of the building. He made us wait an hour before unceremoniously spitting beetle nut at our feet and ushering us in. He looked at me with narrow eyes and a swollen face full of the red paste he chewed. I gave him ₹2500 and promised to pay the rest ₹500 after the final bill settlement with my client. He hesitated a bit but then gave me the letter. He didn't speak another word and just waved us out. I told Salim to go home and waited outside, hidden beside the crowd at the shady tea stall under an old Gulmohar tree. The engineer came out twice. Once at lunch and once in the evening for a cup of tea. He then left his office at five and I followed. I tried to keep a safe distance all the way and managed to follow him to his home. It was a modest two storey home in the heart of the city. His wife and a small child greeted him as he entered. I parked my motorcycle fifty feet away from his car and sat beside the transformer near a public park. At seven o'clock the man came out with a black plastic bag and walked straight towards me. I busied in trying to repair my motorcycle but he walked past me and deposited the bag on the side of the road. He paused and looked at my bike intently, scratched his head and went back inside. I sighed. A few moments later the door flew open and he strode towards me brandishing a screwdriver. He came suddenly and with such force that I couldn't do anything but sit straight. Holding the screwdriver in one hand and holding his pyjamas in the other he yelled at me, "What are you doing here?"

"My bike has broken down " I answered


"Since five-thirty? And you couldn't find a mechanic for three hours? Do I look like a fool? Who are you following?"

I stammered, "I was trying to repair it myself…" 

"Fuck off!" He screamed.

I sat on my bike and kicked off as fast as the box of metal could carry. Once out of his sight, I once again sat down on the sidewalk. 

I went back home after smoking a dozen cigarettes at the railway station. In the morning I went back to stalking him after locking myself in my room and announcing that I had to sleep due to sedatives. I saw him leave home at 9:45 and followed him on the road. Once or twice he turned around on his seat and looked intently but I managed to hide away by blending in the crowd. I kept my distance at his office by blending in with the city crowd that came to the tea stall in front of his office. He came out twice to take tea and to smoke. Once after lunch and once just before 5:30. I hid behind a banyan tree close to the stall where a rudimentary hairdresser was busy chopping off beards of the shabbiest men I'd ever seen. When the engineer set off for the day, I followed. At the first signal, he stopped the car beside a store and abruptly got out, screaming at me and demanding I stop! I prayed for the signal to turn as he drew nearer and nearer. I was on a two-wheel drive and as soon as he came within an inch of my face, I turned my motorbike and got far away. But I didn't stop! I watched as he reentered the car after a brief conversation with the traffic police and started his journey home. I sped up and hit his bumper from behind. I made a rude gesture and sped on. And as I had expected, he followed! Cursing and abusing, he followed me like a raving lunatic, I turned right and a second later I heard his tyres screech. I sped on and went inside a building that had been abandoned in the 1960s. It was an old movie theatre that went by the name Apsara talkies. It was six 'o'clock when his car pulled up inside the old building. He had fallen into my trap. I had spent my childhood playing hide and seek inside the building and knew the inside out of this place like the back of my hand.

I had climbed up an exposed beam when he had walked in and followed him till he entered twenty feet inside from the front door. I watched him scratch his head and lower the massive spanner he had in his palms and then leapt over him from above and punched his head. He groaned and lost consciousness. I dragged his limp body into the old theatre and laid him down right in front of what must gave been the seventy-five mm silver screen. It was poetic, I thought. Here was a spectacle truly worthy of the screen that would probably never light up again. I stripped him naked and stuffed his clothes in a garbage bag. I tied him down and stuffed a cloth in his mouth. 

He stirred and I slapped him hard. He woke up with a start. 

"Ugh! Umm… ugh" he yelled or rather tried to.

I took a deep breath and looked at him. Isn't this what I had wanted? My enemy writhing and squirming. Naked and in pain! The scum who killed my mother. The pathetic little motherfucker who took a bribe for the duties he was supposed to do. 

I exhaled! It was too late to have second thoughts. I took out the butcher's knife and asked him gently, "do you still want that ₹ 500?"

He screamed!

"Shhh, or I'll cut your thumb off"

He screamed!

I slashed the knife and cut off his right thumb! "Calm down! I'm a man of my word! Listen to me or you'll keep losing your stuff"

His eyes widened!

"Do I have your word that you won't scream? Just blink your eyes"

He blinked.

I pulled out the cloth stuffing his tongue. 

"I really want to cut off your eyelids but don't worry! I won't. Now, answer me honestly, why do you ask for bribes?"

Blood was pouring like mirth from his wound. I had already covered the room in plastic I had stolen from an old mattress factory where I had installed one of my electrical systems. 

"You son of a bitch! All this for three thousand rupees?"

I was taken aback. How could have this guy cleared the state electricity exam? Was he a fool to not understand my motive? 

"No!" I said with a surprised voice. "Not for three thousand rupees, no! It's for scum like you."

And then I realised. This was just one man. There were hundreds, even millions like him who were relentless in their pursuits of corruption. 

I shoved the knife straight through his heart, pulled it out and chopped his head off. 

I had to kill them all! And not get caught! That was my mission! 

But first I had to make this one work. I slowly cut him up into sixteen pieces, four legs, four arms, four torso, head, feet, hands and four-part stomach. The blood I let flow and took the plastic to burn it down later near the far end of the upper lake. The body, I stuffed in four plastic bags and filled them with pebbles from the lakeshore. I used a small wooden boat I owned and slowly dropped off the packages throughout the lake away from the city and close to the national forest reserves. 

I went back home by evening 9:30, climbed back to my room and emerged exhausted. 

I had a list to compile. Death was the gift I had for the living. 


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