They say you should never go to a graveyard in the night. I never understood that. It’s not the dead but the living that you should be afraid of. I feel the shadows are getting longer. If I stay any longer they might take me in.
The past - His version
It all began when I met this beautiful girl named Sara. She was everything a man could ask for. She was smart, caring and loving, unlike Amberville. Amberville was cruel, violent and deceitful. People are said to be happy if they go to hell because there’s nothing in hell which is not there in Amberville. Good men were a myth here. From the local newspaper boy to the corporate, each one of them owed their allegiance to the mafia here. You simply could not live without them. Being an architect, I was on the safer side. I didn’t have to deal with them personally. I always wondered how Sarah became how she was, in spite of being in Amberville for so long. Later only I realized who she actually was. How did I meet her?
My office was a dull one in a rather depressing corner of the town. It was in the first floor and I first saw her while she was crossing the road. I had noticed her looking at my board. Such a beauty in Amberville was rare to find. After a few minutes I heard a knock on the door. My assistant opened the door and let her in. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say she literally brought radiance along with her. The beauty of her face brightened up the whole room. She wanted me to design her house. I agreed, even though I did not show out my emotions I was sure she understood what I had in my mind.
She said yes when I asked her out for a dinner. Many dinners followed. Soon the house became our house. We started making plans for the future. The city seemed less violent now. The construction progressed at a steady pace. As it was in the outskirts of the city, nobody was there to interfere. At times she used to appear really weak and she told it was because of her anemia.
After a year or so I noticed something has changed. She was distracted and seemed to spend a lot of time with her other friends. I had met them once or twice but never really got along with them.
That day was just like any other afternoon : dull and monotonous. The summer heat was getting on. Air conditioning had stopped working two days back. I opened the window and was looking outside, sipping a cold beer. There was nothing better than a cold bottle of beer to cool you down in the hot summer afternoon. As I was looking outside I saw her friend walking on the other side of the road. She was going to the beauty salon. Rage grew in me. I finished the beer and went down for a real drink. I decided not to ask her anything but keep an eye on her. The next day she started early saying she was going with her friends to a show in the city. After she left I followed her in a cab. She did not go to any show, but she went to the Doctor’s place. Doctor was a big shot in the underworld. He got his name from doing surgeries on his victims before killing them. He also had the largest collection of poisons and biological weapons. Doctor lived in a small house with no guards or anything. As Sara entered the house, I went around to see if there is any window or something from where I could see what was going on. I found a place and I looked in. The sight was nauseating. Sara was dancing for the Doctor. The seductive dance went on for some time and by the time she finished the dance there was hardly anything left to the imagination. Then she went to him and the most unthinkable act happened. My knees gave up, I fell down and vomited. I have been in Amberville but never had to witness something like this. The slut was cheating on me and she very well knew I couldn’t do anything to the Doctor. But to her, I could, my inner voice said.
I thought of confronting her but the alcohol awakened the demon inside me. Everyone had a dark side and my dark side wanted me to take a knife and stab her. Sanity and logical thinking was disappearing fast as I kept on drinking. All the violence I saw, all the stories I heard and that single sight I saw at the Doctor’s residence drove me to insanity. I decided to make her pay for what she did to me. She was the light of my life. She had brightened up my days… or so I had thought. The dark clouds of Amberville were back.
I put on a mask. I waited for her near the road that turned to her apartments. Once she passed me, I went after her. I hit her head with the blunt end of the knife and she fell down. I stabbed her then, first on the stomach, then her legs and arms. I did not touch any of the vital parts because I wanted her to live. Live and suffer. I was sure her cries would bring out the neighbors, they would call the ambulance.
Sara was in the hospital for 2 months. The Doctor had sent her flowers once in a week. I stood by her side but I could not be who I was. In her sufferings I doubt if she noticed it. Once she became alright she again started visiting that scoundrel. I became more and more addicted to the drinks. I kept on stabbing her. The same mask, the same knife, the same girl but different places. Each time she lived. But each time her health deteriorated. The demon inside had already taken control of me. I got into a bar brawl and stabbed the other guy sending him to the hospital. My visit to Sara has reduced and visits to the Jimmy’s the bar increased.
One day I went to meet her after a long time and there was a car parked outside her apartments. I did not enter her room through the front but went through the fire escape route and entered her kitchen. I could hear noises from the other room. I went silently and saw the frail body of Sara on top of him. Sara was just bones. He was least bothered about her health, only concerned about his pleasure. Sara was straining hard. I could not take it anymore. The rage rose in me like a fire, consuming me. I went back to the kitchen, found a long knife and waited. The sounds I was hearing made me go mad. After what seemed to be like a long wait he left. I went to the room and Sara was sleeping. I shook her violently. She opened her eyes to see me with a knife. Before she could say anything I pushed the knife through her ribcage into her heart. Thick red blood started flowing. She tried saying something but I took out the knife and stabbed her again. The sight of blood I thought would nauseate me actually gave me satisfaction. The wild pleasure of having the power of life and death was indeed addictive.
I left Amberville that night. I felt satisfied by ending an immoral girl’s life. That was just a start. I indulged in my new found passion for blood ever since. I started keeping principles, doing only righteous kills. I killed only bad guys. But soon I realized one man’s devil might be another’s angel. So the lines of righteousness got blurred by the stacks of money I was getting. I realized you cannot give justification for a crime.
The easy way was to accept yourself to be a bad man and do the crime rather than covering it with some ideology. After three years of several hits I returned to Amberville for a job. My target was a middle aged man. I had to make it look like a hit and run. Once the job was done, I returned back to my old unfinished house. It had a ghostly look to it now. Uninhibited for three years. The garden she used to walk through had literally become a forest now. The keys were still under the flower pot next to the door, I wonder why nobody took them till now.
The past : Her version
Amberville has always been a cruel step mother to me. She took away my parents when I was a child, the only brother I had got involved in drugs early in his life. Anytime he got involved in something I was taken as collateral. When I was fifteen or sixteen years older my brother got involved in something really nasty and I was held as a prisoner. He had to pay a large amount to the main drug dealers because he screwed up badly. They asked him to come meet them in person with the money if he wants to see me again. When he showed up with the money, they took him to get more information out of him. He refused. They put a syringe into my arm and asked again. He said no again. He was not in his senses, he was high on the drugs and they injected that disease into me. The doctor was known for keeping diseases in a bottle, incurable diseases which kill you slowly and painfully.
I left from there not thinking about the injection or the disease I got, but about the brother who cares more about his dirty little secret than his little sister. I left Amberville that night, not knowing where to go. All I wanted is to go as far as possible from that place. I never recalled that injection of that fateful night, until I went to a doctor years later for constant tiredness. He had infected me with HIV. And that virus has started to be active. There is no cure. No way I could save myself. My brother died. According to his friends he died a hero’s death trying to save a box of cocaine. I went back to Amberville. The city surprised me on levels which I never knew existed. The Doctor was running the show now. I decided to take revenge on him. But a girl like me could never take on such a person. Unless I appealed to his well known lust. I changed my name and looks and went into the game. I frequented night clubs and pubs. I still did not have a proper place to live so I decided to build a house at the small plot I have. It was then I met Sam.
Sam turned my life upside down. He was refreshingly different from the rest of Amberville. His eyes talk of love, something hard to find in here. I was torn between my desire for revenge and the hope for a wonderful life with him. The emotional struggle was hard to take. I had spent days plotting how to reach the Doctor and now I spent days with him. I started feeling the tiredness again. Then the hard truth hit me. I had few days to live. I could never be happy with him and he could never know what had happened to me. So I made the hard decision to let go of him for the better good. I pursued after the Doctor.
He gave in to his lust and consumed on his pleasures. I got stabbed and got admitted to the hospital. Probably some of the Doctor’s enemies. Sam started keeping a distance. I was depressed by that but happy that he won’t go down with me. I kept going back to the Doctor. I was just another whore for him. Someone to use and throw. I kept going back just to make sure he got the taste of his medicine. I got stabbed again and my health started deteriorating really fast. I wanted to be with Sam, but he was nowhere to be seen. But the Doctor showed up, without considering my health he sought pleasure. I lost interest in living, I lay there like a corpse. After doctor left I heard some noise. Sam was before my eyes. I thought it was a dream. Before I could utter a word a long knife in his hand pierced my heart. I could feel the warm blood flowing out. Death, the long lost friend finally came for me in the form of my love. I am feeling cold.
The tombstone is cold. I never felt any pain in doing what I did until now. All the lives I have taken, all families I have destroyed, all those pain. I kneel in front of the tomb. I don’t know what to say. The rain is still hitting me like a thousand knives hitting me. The shadows growing longer. i heard some sound behind me. Before turning only it hit me in the head. I never felt the pain.
The silencer attached suppressed the sound. John stood there for some time to confirm the hit and then he left.
(Murders at the hospital is another story from Amberville)
(The city of Amberville is created by Roshan Radhakrishnan in his blog Godyears.)