I am lying on the side of the NICE road. The chilly, Bangalore wind rolling onto my carcass. It passes through the hollows where my heart, lungs, and kidneys once had been. Every breeze brings up the miasma of rotten flesh mixed with formaldehyde. I remember my undersized grave, and about all those years, I waited in anticipation. I had outsized my coffin a long time ago. Why did they bury my body rather than cremating it? I keep wondering. They could have put me into an electric crematorium and turned me into ashes. Then I wouldn’t have to walk around aimlessly, smelling like formaldehyde. I can’t help it. I suffocate in my undersized grave. So, I walk around – malls, restaurants, buses, railway stations, and I just stand there. I enjoy seeing people sniffing around with suspicion. Even though I don’t do any harm, I relish the fear on their faces. The fear of being followed. The fear of somebody watching you. Have you ever felt that? While I am standing invisible in places, I have witnessed nasty things – gory murders and violent crimes – I stand in the middle of it, learning how it’s down. For years, I have been researching the best way to kill them. I will give them all a chance, and then I will kill them – one by one.
It’s almost time. I see his car approaching. His windows are rolling down. He peeps outside and drives on. There he goes, his chance ruined, and so is his life. He has chosen death. His car is nowhere in sight. But it doesn’t matter. Death has given me an advantage. I can slip in and out of places as I wish. For me, the time doesn’t exist.
I slowly slip in the back seat of his car. He feels a slight thud and looks back. No, it’s not yet time. He drives on, believing nothing has happened. He hasn’t changed, BUT WHY?
The smell of formaldehyde is giving me away. His nose is trained to pick it up. His eyes are slowly panning over the rear-view mirror; then I show myself, the wan face, and my bloody innards.
I ask him gently, “Why haven’t you changed?” Then I gently place my hand – or whatever left of it – on his shoulder. His eyes grow wide, his pupils dilate, his heart stops. A collision and a light. It’s done. I creep out of the back seat from the wreckage. I take one last look – Nicely done! The first murder – feels like heaven.
Diary of Sub Inspector Nagaraj, Electronics City Police Station
13th January 2018, Friday
It was a strange day. It started very early. I was getting some sleep after a long night patrol. Constable Yatish called me around four in the morning. There had been an accident near the Electronic City exit of the NICE road. The driver was dead on the spot. I reached the spot by 6:00 am. The accident seemed to have happened around 2:45 and 3:00 am. It looked like an ordinary accident in the beginning. I first thought that the victim had slept off during the drive. Anyway, I need to wait until the post-mortem report. Thankfully, he didn’t go and hit some other vehicle. Instead, he had just rammed into the side railing. The driver was later identified as a famous cardiac surgeon in St. Louis medical college, near Electronics City.
Do you know how much fun it is to watch a murder scene? I had plans to return to my grave and lie low for a few days. But, somehow, I couldn’t return. I wanted to see what are the consequences of my action. I don’t want the police to write it off as an accident. It’s fun to set up the chess board and watch people moving like the pawns on it. The police came, they carried his body – now bruised and unrecognizable due to the collision – into an ambulance. I wanted to have a last glance at him. So, I got in with the police in the ambulance. I could see them wriggling their nose at the smell of formaldehyde. But they didn’t suspect anything; they are inside an ambulance anyway.
Diary of Sub Inspector Nagaraj, Electronics City Police Station
14th January 2018, Friday
The accident on the NICE road has turned into something interesting. Yesterday evening, I got a call from the hospital. The post-mortem report was ready. Over the phone, the doctor said the victim was already dead before the accident. The victim had a massive heart attack. His heart was practically ripped into pieces – that’s the exact words of the surgeon. He asked me to meet him if possible. I immediately got into my jeep and set out to meet the surgeon. I got into the jeep, and I had a feeling like someone watching me. Then I smelled something very pungent. Like the smell of a chemical. I stopped the jeep and looked around; there was nothing. As I drove to the hospital, the uneasiness increased, and with every wind, I got that pungent smell.
Then I went inside the hospital, and the doctor asked me, “are you coming from the morgue?” I simply shrugged. Anyway, the doctor repeated about the heart attack, and he suspected the man’s heart stopped due to extreme fear.
“Subject’s palms were closed in a tight fist. Muscles stiffened. There was urine on his undergarments.”
I read the post-mortem report. They were the classic symptoms of fear. I knew it from my criminology classes. Was he frightened to death? But who did frighten him? The victim’s name is Amit. He was in the pink of health; in fact, he was a fitness freak. A cardiac surgeon dying of a heart attack – What an irony! I had initially thought he was drunk. But, the post-mortem doesn’t show any traces of alcohol in his body.
Then I was about to leave the hospital, something interesting happened. I saw a commotion. People were running towards an elevator. I ran along. Power was gone, someone was stuck inside, and he was howling and shouting from inside. Someone with severe claustrophobia, I thought. Then the power came, and a doctor came out of the lift. His face was white as paper, and his body was shivering severely. He collapsed on the floor. I didn’t have time to loiter around, so I came back to the station with the reports. My first hunch is, it is a murder.
I need more evidence to ascertain it. It was a really strange day. Again, I feel the smell of formaldehyde, and it freaks me out. I feel a warmth covering me in the chilly winter night – like someone breathing onto me.
He is good. Anyone would have dismissed it as an accident. I need to stay close to him. I see his sinewy figure getting into the jeep. I slip into the seat beside him. I see him sniffing suspiciously – The smell of formaldehyde. He looks around as he starts the jeep. I could just show myself, and I am sure he is going to die a fearful death. It is difficult to control the urge – the high that murder gives. But he is not mine to kill. I get out at the hospital. I have some unfinished business there. I enter the hospital. I know my next kill is there. I am tagging them for years. I know what they like, dislike, where they go what they do. Sometimes I slip with one of them while they are asleep. I watch them sleep – blissfully, without guilt. I put my tattered face close to them in the bed. I want to kill them right away. But no, no, I tell myself. I see them sniffing the formaldehyde. I have seen them eating, bathing, making love.
At the hospital, I got into the lift with my new victim. The elevator started climbing up and up as it would never end. I know that he knows that someone else is there with him. I can smell his fear. It feels good. I wanted to show myself. But it’s not the time. I killed the power. It was pitch-dark. I can hear him moving into one corner, trying to take cover. I will see him tomorrow morning. If he passes the test, he will live, else he will die.
TO BE CONTINUED…