“You know, predators always like to take down a live prey. Only the scavengers eat the dead ones”, Anna said to Sally and Lauren during the lunch break. “One… The assailant neither ate the businessman, and two, he didn’t even touch the woman who had been kidnapped”, Lauren said, defeatedly poking her fork inside a meatball. “Well… She was badly beaten up…”, Anna began, but didn’t continue because, she couldn’t think of anything safe to say about such a sensitive matter. “Look at the larger picture, both of you. Instead of focusing on the murderer, focus on the victim for once. He didn’t kill just any businessman. He killed a goddamned business tycoon!” Sally said, attracting the attention of Anna and Lauren. “There has to be some connection”, Sally said, nibbling her spoon. “Well, we’re focusing on the murderer because the victims don’t have any link between them. All the killings are unrelated, and have nothing in common except for the killer”, Lauren said.
“Maybe we should shift our perspective a bit and see things a little differently”, Sally said, when all three of them were almost done with their meals. “Ahan, could you please elaborate, Dr. Sharper?” Lauren asked. “Maybe we should not see the killer as a killer in the first place”, Sally said. She was met with two sets of eyes blankly staring at her as if she had a stray piece of ham stuck on her face. “He certainly wasn’t selling candy at the crime scene”, Anna said and Lauren choked on her food. “Of course he wasn’t, you dummy! What I wanted to say was, maybe he isn’t killing them because of a personal motive. He may be killing these people because he might be a vigilante!” Sally announced what she thought was the key to solve the mystery. “That explains why he spared the woman and only killed her attacker”, Sally said, trying to add more weight to her theory. “Well, first of all, he would have to know that the man was going to kidnap the woman, and even if he happened to see the kidnapping take place, he arrived far too late to save her”, Anna said, although she believed that Sally’s theory did have some merit. “Yep. That really is something to consider. He could’ve walked in on the man when he was already into an act of crime”, Lauren said, “on top of that, your theory also assumes that the other people who were murdered were also criminals in some way. That list includes this businessman and also, a housewife”, she added. “Who knows what might turn up if the victims are thoroughly searched and their backgrounds are properly checked”, Sally said with a grin.
“So your family is just five miles away from here”, Charlie asked an old man who was also on a wheelchair like him. “Yes, they are. They come and visit me every weekend but I have asked them not to come tomorrow”, the man said, rubbing his eyes. “Why haven’t you? Do you think they are visiting you just for the sake of it?” Charlie questioned as both of them took a left turn and exited the hospital block into the gardens. “Oh, dear Lord, no! They’re very sweet and caring, God bless them”, the old man said with a sigh. “Why did you ask them to stop then?” Charlie asked, his curiosity getting the better of him, although he didn’t want to poke into the affairs of the old guy too much. “My granddaughter Sarah’s birthday falls this Sunday. She is a lovely girl and loves me very dearly. She is even a very good table tennis player, won two gold medals last year”, the old man said with a smile as he recalled the smiling face of his granddaughter jumping with a medal around her neck. “The problem is, she will be turning sixteen this Sunday, and, I want her to be around her peers. She isn’t as adept at making friends as she is in table tennis, you see”, he said, his facial expressions a little hard for Charlie to read amidst the mishmash of wrinkles on his face. “I have told them that I will not be allowed any visitors until Monday, and have asked them not to come”, the old man said, feigning a smile.
“Who are you trying to convince with that smile? Certainly not me”, Charlie said as they both stopped under the shade of a large maple tree. “I don’t know, lad, maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel ok for making the right sacrifice. I’ve been very good at that my whole life”, he said, closing his eyes and tilting his head upwards. “You can always go and visit them yourself. They don’t need to celebrate here. I’m sure that’s a possibility”, Charlie said, smiling to cheer up the old man. “Oh how much I wish I could’ve done that. If that was possible, I would’ve never left my family and come here in the first place”, the old man said, his voice breaking. “I have to go through some processes daily to make sure the limited functionality of my organs doesn’t extinguish altogether”, the old man said. “What is the time interval in between the procedures?” Charlie asked, feeling a little sorry for the old man, but still hanging onto a tiny bit of hope for a reason unknown even to his own head. “Every four hours, son. But I also have to stay put for an hour and a half after everything is done”, the old man said, closing his eyes again. Charlie didn’t ask anymore questions, and the old man didn’t engage in any further conversation either.
“So ma’am, can you describe what happened that evening when you were abducted?” A female journalist with big square rimmed spectacles and dark, curly hair asked a petite, brunette woman who didn’t look as comfortable as her make-up portrayed. “It was a usual evening. I frequented that cafe whenever I had extra work to do and needed lots of caffeine to keep me up when I reach home, but that day, I didn’t need to orally inject any caffeine in my system. I had just visited the place for a couple of doughnuts. The man who had abducted me…”, the woman paused and looked around, she was feeling very uneasy describing the ordeal, but the curly haired journalist had taken a bite, and she wasn’t gonna let go. She asked for a crew member to fetch a glass of water for the woman, who drank it quite unwillingly. The camera was still rolling. Nobody prompted her to speak again, but the curly haired journalist’s nails tapped aggressively on her notepad. “The man who had abducted me that night, was a waiter at that cafe. He kept insisting me to have a cup of coffee even after I told him that I didn’t wish to stay up late. He offered me a decaf, saying that it was on the house as I had been a regular and loyal customer. I was a bit skeptical, but, I chose to ignore my instincts and drank that cup of coffee. I remember exiting the cafe after that, but my memory from that point on is a bit fuzzy. “Lets not get into the details of what happened afterwards, Miss Nicholson, you can take a breather. Can we straightaway skip to the part where you saw the vampire?” The journalist shamelessly butted in and asked, focusing only on what would make her story shine the most and showing zero concern for the woman who was the worst but the only person to interrogate about the incident.
Miss Nicholson paused one more time, but resumed as soon as the journalist started to jackhammer her nails onto her notepad again. “I was hit on my right eye, so, my vision was a little blurry. The waiter was about to… humiliate me even more, when he… stopped for some reason. I turned around to see if I could escape, but what I saw before my eyes was something very horrible. A tall human-like thing pierced through the heart of that waiter as it dug its nails inside his chest. The hands of that thing had a blue glow around them. The next thing I know, I passed out screaming”, Miss Nicholson stopped speaking. The journalist moved her pen onto her notepad for the very first time, since some mention of the vampire was made. “Did you see the face of that thing?” The journalist asked while jotting something down on her notepad and looked up at Miss Nicholson when she was finished. “No, I didn’t. It was wearing some sort of headgear which covered its entire face and the rear part of it. It seemed as if it was wearing some sort of helmet”, Miss Nicholson said, trying to recall and reconstruct the exact image of what she saw. “And what about the body? Can you give us a more solid description?” The journalist asked, her voice stinging the ears of Miss Nicholson. “It was wearing a sort of suit. A full body suit. It had certain outgrowths at its thighs and elbows. The suit was white and blue in colour and that is all I can recall”, Miss Nicholson said, determined not to answer any further questions and regretting her decision to attend the interview at all.
“Well, how accurate do you think her description is… um, what was your name again?” A sinister voice asked asked a young Asian woman who had a big hole in her abdomen. The TV was turned off and she saw the reflection of her blood-soaked body and a blonde man grabbing her by the neck behind her on the black screen of the TV.