And then suddenly out of nowhere, it happened! It was brief, barely spanning a tenth of a second but it was as clear as crystal! It seemed as though someone, somewhere at quite a distance screamed. A shrill, high-pitched woman’s voice! I stopped and looked around. As if that would do any good finding a sound! There was no light in most of the houses. Everyone seemed to be asleep. I heard nothing. I walked ahead. Maybe it was my imagination. I’d been addicted to Sherlock these days! But then, I heard it again. More distinctly this time! I heard a woman scream,”Help-Help me!” It was still quite far away, but close enough for me to make out some one was in trouble. Real deep!
For a split second, I didn’t know what to do! I ran involuntarily, as fast as my cursed legs could carry me towards the voice. I heard it again, “Please don’t kill me! Take my- my money……. my ornaments, but leave me! Let me go!” My worst fears materialized! There was no doubt; a poor soul was being horribly tortured! Raped or assaulted or worse……… Murdered!
I shuddered. It was definitely not my imagination! I ran faster, my head reeling with questions. There was a chance I could redeem myself. Get back at myself for all the horrible things I thought and said about me! (Mental. I know right?) A chance to tell that little know-it-all who sits in your head, “That’s a goddamn victory, in your face! Maybe do something worthy in my worthless life!
The voice brought me to a dingy street. Like the ‘chor streets’ they show in Bollywood movies. Makeshift houses lined the path, some horribly damaged. Maybe daily wage coolies or street workers lived there and some wretched creep, eyeing easy money had kidnapped this poor woman! I felt like the young man in the ‘Bell Bajao…’ ads I’d so often seen on TV. Finally! I had a chance o be a real life hero! Yay, me!
I pulled up my sleeves and gathered enough courage to go ovetr to the house. There was no bell! Oh well, I could improvise, so I knocked. No answer. I slammed the darned door loud enough for the whole street to hear. A grotesque looking man opened the door, rubbing his eyes and yawned,”Huh…….. What do you want?” “The woman!,” I screamed. “What have you done with her?” He looked puzzled. I pushed him aside and barged in. I could still hear some sobs coming from the bedroom. I ran in and looked. There was no one in there. The radio was on. I heard the announcer say, “You have just heard the thriller, ‘Strange Murder’. Now please stand by for the following news!”
The Ghost Writer.