Crimson Vengeance: Chapter 2- Remembered

Leaning carelessly on the door ledge stood Deborah Gander; her presence materializing Jonathan’s wish. His lips made way for an unconscious smile, and for the first time in the night he felt a strange relief taking over him. Was it really five years ago?, he questioned himself. The very next moment, the e-mail, Peter Murphy, the murder-all came rushing in his mind. He could not afford to risk everyone’s life the second time. Best to keep everyone at bay from the very beginning, he thought to himself, as he regained his cold composure again. The smile disappeared as instantaneously as it had come and he inquired, “How did you?”

“Find you?” said Deborah, her casual voice a sharp contrast to his, as she sauntered towards the chair, “I kept a track. A very close track.” She positioned herself cozily, legs on the table, and said, “Don’t pretend to be so disappointed. I know you are pleased to see me.” She flashed her unique sarcastic smile. Jonathan turned to examine the main entrance. It was locked, exactly the way he did it. He returned his gaze to Deborah, his blue eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“Come on!” she shrugged, “the door is not the only way you can enter into someone’s house. Perhaps, you ought to be more careful.”Her open hand gesture cleverly pointed to the study window which Jonathan was quick to notice. His features relaxed slightly, and he silently stared at the documents.

Deborah observed him for a while, and then took out a packet of cigarettes from her leather jacket. She lazily flicked the lighter on. Jonathan shot a cold glance in her direction, and said brusquely, “How many times have I told you not to smoke inside the room?”

“I remember,” Deborah nodded, drawing deeply from the cigarette. She stood up and walked towards the window. Puffing out the smoke, she added, “I just wanted to hear it again.”

Jonathan paced about the study, browsing through the documents; Deborah sat comfortably on the window ledge, her eyes duly following his movements. An anticipated silence prevailed for few minutes. After a few minutes, Deborah softly spoke, “They’ve taken Murphy.”

The words awakened Jonathan’s fear. So they were serious, he thought, but Andrew said it was fine.  The pieces didn’t fit together. Baffled, he asked, “Are you sure?”

“I know Andrew told you that Murphy went on a vacation. Andrew will never look beyond the routine,” she replied, tossing her half-finished cigarette out of the window.

“You have been following me as well?”Jonathan asked, disgusted. And you never noticed, a voice in his head added.

“Don’t you think it is quite co-incidental that you receive an email the same day?” she hinted, jumping off the window ledge. She leaned against the study table and watched Jonathan’s features transform. He was livid.

A sudden anger engulfed Jonathan. Why does she never let go? Why does she need to get to heart of everything? Why doesn’t she ever realize the gravity? Angry voices pounded in his head. She had to get out of this. He moved towards her and said, in a ferocious low tone, “Deborah Gander, I know you prize yourself for solving the most difficult of cases, but I would like to remind you that this one is more than just a game. This case was solely mine, and I do not want a single casualty. So let me handle this and leave me alone. Beginning from NOW!” He was shouting by the end.

Deborah pushed Jonathan against the shelf. “This war that you call your own, what do you even know about it, Detective Scott? They took Murphy today, and you know that just because you received that email. Last month, my sister was taken, and she was almost electrocuted. She is safe only because they realized that we did not know your whereabouts. It was rather lucky I think, because I don’t think they are going to show mercy this time. The case may have started as yours, but from the day we started to work on it, it turned its vengeance on us as well. All our loved ones are in danger. That is why I am here. Like it or not, I am going to stick till the very end!” she said, and abruptly turned to leave.

Jonathan hung his head guiltily. They should have told him in the very beginning. How could they?, questioned the voice, you never let them know. He cursed himself for running away.  “Deborah, please,” was all he managed to say.

Deborah turned back and walked towards him. There was an injured look on her face, and from the way she approached him, he was sure she was going to slap him. You deserve it! said that voice, you have been acting like an idiot recently. Instead she just smiled. Then, rather impulsively, she hugged him and said, “We missed you, Jon”. Jonathan was taken aback. After all these years, these people still cared about him. He shed off his usual closed demeanor and put his arms around her. His hands found their way into her soft, raven-black hair that cascaded down to her waist, and he caressed it gently. Jonathan whispered, full of reproach, “Deb, I am very sorry…”

“It is alright,” she spoke before he could complete, “I promise we will finish it this time.” She let go, and said, “But you have to bear with me.” Jonathan let the smile rule this time.

“What do we do now?” he asked, still holding her hands.

“We should go to the headquarters. We are going to need a lot of support,” said Deborah, her brows furrowed in thought.

“But I resigned,” he said. This was clearly not feasible.

“And I burned that letter. DCI Wilson is still under the impression that you are on that Russian case. He believes you died in Siberia, and mourns deeply. He would be very pleased to see you.” she stated plainly.

Jonathan didn’t know how to react. “Deborah, you are–”

“I know. Thank you,” she interrupted, “Now you would better hurry. We don’t have time to lose.”

He rushed to the living room, loaded his Glock, and took some extra bullets. He was putting on his overcoat when he heard Deborah call. He strode to the study. Deborah had switched off the lights.  “We cannot leave right now,” she spoke, her voice filled with anxiety.

“What happened?” Jonathan asked. Something was definitely not right.

“They are waiting for us. Downstairs.”

Advertisements

Crimson Vengeance: Chapter 1-RESURFACED

His hands were set on the keyboard, ready to type out the thoughts buzzing in his head. He sat staring at the computer screen, his fingers rooted to the respective keys, wondering where to begin. It was late in the night; the office was almost empty–only one or two employees, sitting in obscure corners, perhaps waiting to attend the late night calls. His presence was unknown to them; he had not bothered to turn on the lights of his cubicle. For almost ten minutes, he remained in the same pose, still as a statue. Then suddenly, he quaffed the coffee kept on his desk and the choice was made–he would rather not answer the email. Yes, that would be a good option. He would keep quiet. This way, he would remain safe. And so would the others.

He closed the browser, crossed his fingers and rested his chin on them. The screen now displayed the details of some hi-tech, incomprehensible technology. His eyes vaguely followed the article, stopping at the words that were common to the vicious email. As reaction, images wildly flashed in front of his eyes. The graveyard that he visited every month, decaying like the buried bodies it held. His childhood home, the floors of which were anointed with blood. The grey revolver in his closet, the sheen dulled by the murders it committed. The face of the man that he hated the most, hated so much that he would never refrain to murder the scoundrel…

Why should these haunt his mind? Suddenly, after so long? The event seemed to have happened in some unknown era of his past. Today, everything came alive as if he was warped in time. Why?

He got up, moved out of his office silently. The air outside was ice cold, to his great relief-the bitterness released the torturous memories. He decided that he would walk today—it would give him time to think. Meanwhile, he had to start his course of action, confirm his suspicions before it was too late. He turned left to go to Peter’s, his home was the nearest.

As he walked down the empty streets, he hoped that Peter had not changed his address. It had been five long years that he had contacted anyone or even read the emails. He remembered receiving something from Peter but he had thrown it away, as he had pledged. To lose himself into a new world where he was invisible. No one had really understood why. Even he didn’t.
The house seemed lived in. It was well kept, the burgeoning cherry blossom tree was an evidence. He walked up to the gate post and squinted to read the name on the etched marble. #45, Murphys, it read. He heaved a sigh and hoped everything following would be good.

He opened the gate silently and walked towards the door. There were some clanking sounds that came from inside the house but the lights had been turned off. He glanced at his watch. At the same time the Big Ben struck. It was midnight. Too late to knock at someone’s door. Nonetheless, he had to do it.

He rapped on the door in his usual style. He wondered whether Peter would recognize it. He wondered if he would want to see him again. But was it really there enough time to think all of this? No, no time if he was to meet a mess. Yes, the most important thing was…Peter should be present-in a single piece, as it was said. They were ruthless. They could have done anything. Five minutes had passed, without any reply. He was beginning to get impatient.

He rapped again, louder this time. Nothing seemed to be stirring inside. It was late, definitely, but Peter never slept so heavily. Anxious, he punched the door savagely, with a force good enough to break it. Still, silence prevailed. There was something wrong.

“Peter? Peter?” he called out, his voice in rhythm with his knocks.

“Peter? PETER! Can you hear me?” he called out again. No results.

He turned the knob to break in. The door easily gave away. The house was not locked. He turned on the lights of the living room. The scene took him aback. It was a complete mess. Things thrown here and there, furnitures out of their usual places, as though someone was struggling. The TV was off the table. Nothing seemed…normal. His blood had already begun to boil. How could they?

He moved inside the house, effortlessly, in search of some clues of Peter’s whereabouts. There would definitely be something. All rooms were in the same state. He checked every nook and cranny, to get something that would give him a direction. He was in the master bedroom when he heard the clanking again. Following his sharp senses, he reached the bedroom at the end of the house. He took wary steps, in a ready position to attack. Then, he switched on the light. No one in the room, except a cat, who seemed to be playing around. Damn! They did it so cleanly. Not one clue. Once he found out he swore he wouldn’t leave them. He tried calling Peter’s cellphone, it was unreachable. As expected, he thought,now I must act. But before he did anything, he had to visit Andrew. He might know stuff.
Without hesitating a moment, he took a taxi and rushed off to see Andrew. He could not act without seeing what Andrew had in store. Of one thing he was sure of-the death game had begun long before they had sent the mail. The plan was structured like pieces on chess board. One wrong move…

He was so lost in thoughts that he hardly realized when the taxi stopped. He jumped off the taxi and ran to Andrew’s door and wildly knocked on the door. Within few seconds, Andrew opened the door, and spoke groggily, eyes half closed, “Hey Man! Do you even realize-?” Andrew just opened his eyes to see the man.

He rubbed his eyes and shook his head vigorously. “Can I believe it is Jonathan Scott? Showing up at this inopportune hour of the night, after years of hiding?” Andrew’s voice reflected the delight clearly

“Hi, Andrew. Thought I’d just drop by,” replied Jonathan, in his usual dry tone.

“You didn’t think that, did you? There is something else on your mind,” replied Andrew, in a matter-of- fact voice. A smile lightened up his face.

His icy blue eyes shot a look of astonishment towards Andrew. He gazed on the ground for a while, before he spoke up, “You are right.” Words didn’t seem to have an easy passage today. Not that they always had, but today was much more difficult.
Andrew studied him, trying to figure out the underlying situation. “Come inside. You must be cold.”

Jonathan moved inside the house. He was indeed very cold. Only that he didn’t realize this all the time he was outside, wandering to confirm his suspicion. The décor hit him with a fierce nostalgia. It used to be his favorite hangout place, back in the old days. Old days? Did he really want to remember them? Have a taste of them, again? Yes, he did miss them terribly.Right now is not the time, he said to himself. There was more than one life in danger.

“Where were you all these years?” asked Andrew, as he shut out the chilling winds.

“London.” Jonathan replied. He didn’t understand why he even asked that. It was of no importance right now.
Andrew was astonished. “Why didn’t I ever see you?” he asked.

“Because I didn’t want to be seen.” Jonathan replied, impatience showing up in his tone.

Andrew sensed it. He knew his friend just too well. He began to ask for a drink,“Should I—”

Jonathan cut him short. He didn’t want the usual frivolities. He drove straight to the point “Where is Peter?”

“He has gone on a vacation to Madagascar with his wife,” said Andrew, coolly.

Jonathan had a puzzled look on his face. Really? He had gone on a vacation?

“Oh yes, you wouldn’t know. Peter married Melanie last year.”
Damn! He would never understand. Of course Peter would have married by now. That was not the source of botheration. “I went to Peter’s home before coming here and–”

“You knocked at the door for long and no one replied. You opened the door and found the house in a state as if Peter had been taken. Messed up, things astray on the floor, cellphone unreachable–giving you an idea that something might have happened to him, didn’t it? Well, it’s normal. Most of his plans are last minutes. He really does a lot to keep Melanie happy. Six months ago, the same happened with me. I called up the department, filed a report and after two days, they found Peter holidaying in Italy. After that he makes sure he informs me before he is up for such a plan. And duly, I received his call today at 6p.m. saying that Melanie and he were leaving for Madagascar.” Andrew explained.

“It is perfectly normal then?” asked Jonathan. He was not convinced. There was a nagging feeling inside that told him something had happened to Peter. And whoever had done it was really very smart.

“As usual as it can be. You know Peter,” he shrugged. Andrew seemed contended with the scenario.

Should he mention about the e-mail? No, not now. After all, it could just be a prank (which seemed highly unlikely to him). And even if he told Andrew, he wasn’t sure that Andrew would believe it. There was only one person who could help him at this point. He desperately needed to talk to Gander. The problem was, he had lived cut out from this world for so long that he didn’t know anything about anyone.

There was nothing much Jonathan could extract from Andrew. He stood up briskly and moved towards the door.

Andrew was surprised. He studied Jonathan’s reaction. He could understand that Jonathan was keeping away something. He didn’t dare to ask. There was a rule with Jonathan-you never asked many questions. He satisfied himself by inquiring-“When will I see you next?”

Jonathan wanted to say “Never”, but instead answered “Soon.” And
headed towards his apartment.

Getting back to his apartment was a feeling he wanted to experience for long. It was like a refuge, where he could clearly give way to his thoughts, to his ideas and questions, without being questioned or disturbed. He removed his coat and sat on the couch, thinking deeply. Peter was taken, he could assure that. Should he call the yard and let them handle it? But it was his case through and through, he had opened it and it was his duty to close it, without involving the others. Except Gander, of course, who had urged him to follow it. He really missed… I should concentrate on them he coaxed himself. To begin with, he rolled over the last case in his mind…perhaps, amidst the situations, he would find something valuable. Something to work upon. But everything was blurred in his mind. The day had been long indeed. He decided to take over the matter after getting a refreshing sleep. He got up from the couch, walked towards his study and started to see the old case files that he had not discarded. It brought back the urge to get back into action again. That was the life he was had loved. Back then, how easily had everyone thought that nothing would ever follow! One’s deeds were never left behind. The truth stood unquestioned.

“I told you they would come back. They have,” said a cool voice from behind, as if to validate Jonathan’s thought process. He turned back in astonishment.

Crimson Vengeance: Prologue

Image

 

Image Courtesy: http://www.donaldgruener.com/photography/wine/red_wine_splash.jpg

Image Copyright: Donald Gruener

I could not have been happier any other day in my life. Although my face was streaked with dry tears (of sorrow), I was really mad with joy. The sun was much more than just a shiny yellow blotch in the sky, I could feel warmth in every radiation it emitted. The scorching rocks were not tormenting any longer, instead, the heat enlivened my bare feet. Something inside made me admire everything around. Every passing second made me aware of nature’s beauty. I almost seemed fey. Yes, I was fully aware of approaching death. My life was presently resting on a broken fulcrum; recent happenings had generously tilted it towards the infernal side. The very next second could be the most devastating blow, but I could not bring myself to care a bit about the future. I didn’t want to lose this sensation of pure bliss. After a long period of emotional numbness, feelings- good feelings– were no less than miracle in my world. The reason behind this was a small typewritten chit that stated two simple words: 
He’s alive.
That’s all I wanted to hear at the moment. Even if it was a lie. 

 

Express it!

Image

 

Image Courtesy: http://www.wallcoo.net/cartoon/colorful_objects_and_designs/Colorful_Flower_Petals.html

A fine morning. The sun shines brightly in the sky, and the flow of the day till now has been steady enough to keep you at peace. Yet there is a nagging feeling in your mind. Was it the talk that you had last night? But it was all settled….You ignore it, and get on with the daily routine. Your hands are practiced enough to carry on the tasks without any directions, and your mind has unconsciously wandered somewhere else. You only notice its absence when you commit a silly yet mistake. You try to concentrate again, in vain. Your mind seems to be taking pleasure strolls in lands unknown; your soul is fidgety. And somehow, you are repeating last night’s conversation in your brain. Was it really settled? No, you accept feebly, there was something more you had wanted to say….

Ever wondered why the happiest of people are mostly extroverts? Well, it is not by chance. Extroverts have the innate ability of expressing themselves openly. They give out their opinions readily, say what is on their mind, and blatantly blurt out what does not seem right. Consequently, their mind is free from unwanted thoughts, their work is more productive. When everything goes on so smoothly, happiness comes very naturally.

The human cycle of problems follows the 80/20 principle wherein 80% of the problems are due to internal factors; the rest 20% due to external.  Keeping emotions bottled up inside is one of the major internal causes. In such cases, people tend to brood over the problem for long, eventually prolonging it, to a limit where escape seems impossible. Over the time, people also start becoming more closed, thus being dragged into that bottomless abyss. This is one intense and dangerous situation where holding thoughts or feelings can lead to. In general, whenever you keep yourself from expressing, your mind goes into a state of an inexplicable unrest, and thoughts/feelings cram your head. And you can’t concentrate on anything you pick up!

The solution is very simple: All you have to do is to open the cap and spill out the contents. It might take a lot of courage to face that person, and it is even probable that your views might not be taken the way you wanted to portray it, but in the end it is worthwhile because it is going to give you a pacifying serenity. You will be at peace, and you can carry on working towards your goal, happily. And in case you find it really difficult to say it out loud, you can always write down about it. Or express it through a creative medium.

No matter what, don’t let anything restrain you from expressing it! 🙂