Rick loves writing fantasy novels, and has an unending passion for football, cricket and music.
April 20, 2040
Alex was walking toward his superior’s office, a cigarette in his hand. Strange things had been happening over the last few days. There had to be an explanation, but right now, he had none.
Alex put out the cigarette and looked at the name board on the door: James Hilton.
He drew in a breath, and knocked on the door.
“Come in”, said a voice from inside.
“Good evening Sir”, said Alex as he entered.
“Officer Alex. I hope you do have some good news”, said Hilton.
“I am afraid not Sir. The cause of the deaths still remains a mystery”.
“That is not good Alex. We need to solve this soon. People are dying!”
“I am aware of that Sir, but we’ve had several experts examine the bodies, and none of them could find anything unusual”, said Alex.
“So are you telling me that people just fall dead out of nowhere at midnight?!”, Hilton was clearly losing his patience.
Alex remained silent.
“Have you at least been able to identify any links between the victims? Something that could tell who the next one might be?”
“No Sir. We traced back all four victims right to their birth, but none of them have any common connections whatsoever”.
Hilton banged his fist on the table.
“This is clearly the work of some serial killer Alex. There has to be something linking all these killings. And going by the pattern, we will have another one in about two hours”, said Hilton, looking at his watch.
“We are doing our very best to prevent that, Sir”, said Alex.
“By the looks of it, I don’t think you are. You may leave now, but the first thing I want to hear from you tomorrow morning is that the killer has been caught. Is that clear?”
“Yes Sir”, said Alex, and left the room.
Alex got into his car and started driving, not really sure where to go next. It all started five days ago, when an 80-year old man met with a mysterious death in his apartment. The neighbours called the Police after they heard screams coming from his apartment. However, there was no sign of break-in, so the initial inference was that he had died of some health issue. But autopsy showed that his body was in perfect condition, and nothing had happened which should have caused death. While the investigating team headed by Alex was trying to figure out the cause of death, they were met with another shocking news the very next day. This time, it was a 26-year old woman who was found dead in her apartment, again with no apparent cause of death. Once again, it was her neighbours who informed the Police after they heard her scream. And that was when Alex noticed something strange. The time at which the neighbours of both these people heard the screams: 12:00 am. Two more deaths followed the next two days, again at 12:00 am – one was a middle-aged man working in a bank, and the other a 7-year old boy!
Alex drove past a huge advertising board which displayed the latest model of ‘V-Watch’, the latest sensation in town.
“I’ll never know why people are crazy enough to spend so much on a watch”, Alex muttered to himself, and stopped in front of a house.
“Alex! Surprised to see you at this time! What’s up mate?”
“Just wanted to talk to someone”, said Alex.
“Now that is not very specific. Come on in”, said Nathan, who was Alex’s best friend and the best lawyer in the city.
Alex entered his friend’s house and slumped onto the couch.
“No leads on the murders yet huh?” asked Nathan.
“No man. And I’ve got no clue where to look next”.
“This is indeed a strange case. Would you like something to drink?” asked Nathan.
“A beer might help”, said Alex.
“On it”, said Nathan, and stood up.
Alex noticed the watch on his hand.
“So you’ve got one of those fancy watches huh? V-Watch isn’t it?”
“Yep. Just bought it today. And it is not just a fancy watch. It is the best smart watch out there. Totally worth the price”, said Nathan beamingly.
“Whatever mate. I’m quite happy with my ordinary watch”, said Alex.
“Of course you are”, said Nathan with a smile, and went to his kitchen.
Alex sat there, lost in thought. He was supposed to meet the parents of the 7-year old boy Adrian, who had died yesterday. But when he went to their house after the funeral, the maid said that they were in no mental state to talk, and had asked if he could come tomorrow. He didn’t know if he would find anything useful from that conversation, or if it would just be another meeting with lots of tears like he had experienced with the relatives of the other victims.
“Tell me the names of the victims again”, said Nathan, passing him a can of beer.
“The 80-year old who died on the first day was Willock, followed by Marie, Jake and Adrian, who was yesterday’s victim and just a seven-year old boy!”
“Hmm. I can’t find any connections between the names”, said Nathan. “I was thinking if this is the work of some serial killer, then may be there would be a pattern to it. Like killing in the alphabetical order or something.”
“I’ve gone through all those possibilities Nathan, but there just isn’t any connection”, said Alex with a tone of defeat in his voice.
“Don’t worry buddy. You’ll figure this out. And I’ll help in any way I can”.
At that moment, Alex’s phone rang.
“Hello. Inspector Alex speaking”.
“Hello Inspector. This is Jones, Adrian’s dad”.
“Hey Jones. What is it? Why are you calling me at this time?”
“I know you had come to see us today. We were just not in a condition to talk then. And we are actually planning to travel to my hometown tomorrow. Just need to be away from all of this. So I was wondering if we could talk to you now”.
“Of course Jones. If you people are fine with talking at this time, I can come there right away”, said Alex.
“Okay Sir. Talk to you soon then”, said Jones.
“Yeah I figured. Shall I come with you as well? Maybe I might catch something”, said Nathan.
“Thanks man. I can use all the help that I can get right now. And having a lawyer’s brain alongside me wouldn’t be a bad idea”.
“All right then! Lets get going”, said Nathan.
“Please come on in Inspector”, said Jones, welcoming Alex and Nathan into his home.
“This is my friend Nathan, and one of the finest lawyers in the city. Hope you don’t mind talking in front of him”, said Alex.
“No problem. Please have a seat”, said Jones to Nathan.
“Thank you”, said Nathan, without taking his eyes off Alex’s phone where he was going through the pictures of the victims.
“I know it’s late Jones, so I will get straight to the matter”, said Alex. “Will Lily be joining us?”
“No Sir. She is still in shock, and cries most of the time. Actually that is the main reason that we decided to take this trip tomorrow. I just can’t see her like this anymore”, said Jones, his voice cracking.
“I understand Jones. It must be really difficult for her. And I promise I won’t ask you too many tough questions. I just want to see if there is some connection that I failed to identify from the previous deaths”, said Alex.
“Thank you, Sir”, said Jones. “Please go ahead.”
“Did you notice anything strange in Adrian’s behaviour yesterday evening?”, asked Alex.
“Nothing at all. It was his birthday, and we had a small party here. He was so happy, and super-excited at all the presents that he received. He opened all of them immediately after the party, and started playing with some of his new toys”, said Jones with a smile.
“So where were you when…when it happened?” asked Alex.
“It was close to midnight, and I went into his room to ask him to sleep as it was very late already. He agreed to it reluctantly, wished me goodnight and went to bed. I had hardly closed his bedroom door when I heard him scream. I went in immediately, but when I turned on the lights, my kid was dead”, saying this, Jones broke down into tears.
“I am so sorry Jones. No parent should have to go through something like this”, said Alex.
“You said he opened all the presents after the party”, interjected Nathan. “Did you check all of them for any potential danger?”
“Not before his death”, said Jones, gathering himself up. “Only our close friends and relatives were invited, so I didn’t see any reason to do that. But I went through all of them today. Like I said, most of them were toys, and I couldn’t find anything that looked dangerous”.
“Do you mind if we take a look at the presents?” asked Alex.
“No problem Sir. His room is upstairs, please follow me”, said Jones.
Adrian’s room was filled toys of all kinds. Racing cars, toy trains, board games – most of the items that one would expect to find in a 7-year old’s room. Nothing looked suspicious.
Alex looked at Nathan.
“Can’t point my finger at anything”, said Nathan.
“Thank you Jones. It is almost midnight, we will better get going. And have a safe journey tomorrow”, said Alex.
“Thank you Sir”.
Alex looked at his watch. The time was 11:53. He was dreading a call at any moment now. All the previous deaths had happened exactly at midnight.
As they were about to exit the room, Nathan came to an abrupt halt, his eyes fixed on the bedside table.
“Was that a birthday gift as well?” asked Nathan, pointing at something on the table.
“Yes”, replied Jones. “That was from my father. I asked him why he got something so expensive, but he merely smiled and said Adrian is his only grandson”.
Nathan looked worried about something. He asked for Alex's phone and once again looked at the pictures of the victims.
“What is it Nathan?”, asked Alex.
There was clearly panic on Nathan’s face now.
“Alex…I think I've found the cause of deaths”.
Nathan raised his left hand. “This”, he said, looking at the V-Watch on his wrist.
© 2018 Rick Jones