A story for the Short Shots Official Contest.
|It was nearly midnight,when a burly man with a square face entered into a tavern in a village in Illinois. The man carried with him a brown suitcase, and wearily asked the waiter to keep down his luggage. Charlie asked, “We are about to close the inn. What can we offer you Sir?”
The man replied, “I ’ll not nettle you much. I have travelled a lot from the east and need to rest. Anything satisfying my hunger and thirst would be sufficient. “
“Okay, Sir.” Charlie left.
After ten minutes he brought some hot pancakes, a sizzler, and a glass of fresh lemonade. The man gorged, paid the bill ,and gave Charlie an extra five bucks as a tip. Charlie smilingly said, “Thank you, Sir. There is a motel nearby. You can sleep and pass the night off there today.” The man added, “No worries. Thank you.” He left, straggling his feet.
In a ranch, Tom the cowboy, was straddling on his brown horse, and herding his cattle. “ Come on Pony. You are quiet today. Are you angry with me?” Tom talked to his horse while brushing its mane.
His wife, Beth, was mowing the grass and, storing the sheaf of grains in the haystack. It was a warm, sunny day, and Tom directed Beth to take care of his barn.
“I am going to the market now .Will drop a visit to Jack’s home on my way back to home. It’ll be late. Take care, honey.” Tom added with a cheerful face.
The night set in enveloping the sky with utter darkness. The twinkling stars along with the full moon let a narrow stream of dim light beams through the window of Jack’s bedroom. Jack was sleeping peacefully and his loud snores confirmed that. Jack was a bachelor in the mid-thirties and a close friend of Tom. The two cowboys had a gala time that evening in guzzling and gossiping. His cat purred ,and the creature became quiet after a while.
Morning painted the sky with rosy-pink color pastels.
“A letter for you Sir.” Fred, the postman, called. Jack was still sleeping. Fred honked the bell of his cycle repeatedly.
Yawning, Jack asked,” What’s up Fred? So early in the morning?”
“ A letter for you To deliver, Sir.” Fred replied.
“ A letter?” Jack said, surmise in his voice.
“ From whom?”, he questioned.
“ It’s from Lousiana.”
Agape with wonder, Jack picked up the sealed envelope. He opened it immediately. Inside it was written in italics,
Hope this finds you in the pink of health. A little present from me. I am cocksure that it will help you in the future.
It was written by an anonymous person. Jack stared at it blankly, bewildered. All on a sudden strong, pungent fumes sheathed him. Jack found it hard to breathe. The toxic vapors now engulfed him completely."Help me! Please help me! Oh God!”, Jack screeched. Brad, his neighbor heard Jack’s wild screams. Brad inhaled the smoke emanated from Jack’s house. Brad choked and coughed violently. He instantly covered his mouth with a thick cloth, and entered Jack’s house. Brad poured buckets of water, and his wife Jill helped him, and handed him more pails. The couple finally extinguished the poisoned gas.
The hospital walls were quite shabby, and seemed to engulf Jack in his critical condition. He was admitted to a nearby hospital to detoxify the potassium cyanide that poisoned his tissues.
“ Don’t worry. We are all here for you. You will recover soon. We will pray for you.” Brad, Jill, Tom, and Beth, consoled him cheerfully at the visitors’ time.
“ What has happened to me? “ Jack mumbled feebly, finding it difficult to respire.
“ Nothing happened. Don’t talk. All’s going to be fine. We are with you always.” They smiled at him, solace in their words.
“ I am going to die.” Jack said, panting deeply.
"Never! We won't let that happen to you. We will pray for you. Hope Our Almighty embraces you with utmost love and keeps you safe. " They chorused, solace in their words.
A month passed by. Jack was released from the hospital.
“ You are going to home today. Take care, relax, sleep tight. I have suggested you a medical check-up a week after. A controlled diet is necessary from now onwards.” Doctor Jones said, with a gleeful face.
“ What happened to me doctor?” Joe asked.
“ You were poisoned by potassium cyanide.”
Jack’s incident was informed and Carl, the chief detective, was in charge of the case. All the villagers were alarmed, and nearly frightened to death. The sealed envelope that Jack received was smeared with a dosage of soluble potassium cyanide of about 150 mg. Jack was saved, but a frenzy of unbridled panic ravaged the whole village.
It was almost six o’ clock in the morning ,when sounds of knocks on the door were heard in the cabin of Tom.
“Who is it so early?” Tom grouched, and grumpily opened the door. He met a robust man with a heavy build. He had a moustache, and a beard, with a taut chin.
” I am Carl, the detective, in charge of Jack’s case.”
“ Welcome Sir.” Greeted Tom.
“ Can I ask you a few questions?”
“ What exactly happened to Jack?”
“ He was poisoned by a letter sent by an anonymous person.”
“ Can you tell me who was the postman who delivered that envelope?”
“ Yes, it was Fred, our local postman.”
“ Where does he live?”
“ Yonder, in that patchy cottage.” Tom pointed him the house.
It was around eleven ‘o’ clock ,when footsteps of a heavy man, thudded in the floors of the tatty home of Fred. Fred was whistling, and preparing his dinner. He met the uninvited stranger with perplexity.
“Shush! Don’t utter a word. I want pin-drop silence.” With this the man gritted, and blindfolded Fred.
“ Help! Jesus!” Fred groaned. The man grabbed him ,and with a huge knife cut a large gash into Fred’s chest. Fred began bleeding profusely from the gushy wound, and eventually succumbed to death.
The murder of Fred was reported in the morning newspaper, and the shock spread like a wildfire causing uncontrolled terror among the villagers. Carl was in his office, perusing the morning news. He told his assistant John,” Seems to be a complex case. Isn’t it? The weirdest of all I have ever tackled in my life.”
“ Hmm..Same here.” John replied.
“ Who could be the culprit? Any notion John?”
“ I am utterly void now.” John replied blandly.
It was a cool morning and mellow sunshine caressed Jill’s face. Jill was busy in tilling ,and scraping the weeds. It was a nice Sunday. Their garden was a good one, but some of the flowers and plants were infested with the bugs. Bob was reading the newspaper, quite aghast at the previous day’s grisly murder of Fred. A loud knock on their door resounded. Bob opened it ,and saw a stranger." I am Jonathan Hope, a professional entomologist. Let me show you my card.”
“ Yes but here…?” Bob gawked and hesitated. He saw the card of Jonathan. It was conspicuous that Jonathan was an entomologist, a scientific officer. Jonathan had an office in Alabama named "Flora and Fauna” .
“ Nice name of your office.” Bob chuckled, Jonathan chortled.
“ So what have you come here for Sir?” Bob asked with suspicion.
“ I have come to Illinois for the purpose of a project. As a part of my job I visit the gardens of the houses here, and help people with my specialized knowledge, and my skilled insecticide. With this Jonathan showed Bob a queer, tubular shaped liquid spray.
“ Can I use it in your garden? It’ll be of good use.”
“ Okay.” Bob agreed. Jonathan stomped into their garden, and the liquid squirted, emitting fumes of poison. Jonathan threw the tube and he scooted back.
“ Again a couple of murders.” Carl said, despondence in his voice.
“ What the heck is happening?” John blinked, twitched his eyes, confusion in them.
“ I am also wondering.” Carl said, fingers placed in his cheek.
“ The thing is that every time the murderer uses the same weapon, soluble potassium cyanide.”
“ Yes, and that is his way of slaying. Must be some wacky psycho or a serial killer, but whom?” John asked, utterly befuddled.
Carl was sleeping in his plush bedroom in his luxurious home. His head was in shambles now. The unsolved maze puzzled him. His thoughts were sheathed by the deep labyrinths of the unraveled mystery.
High-pitched sounds of the calling bell reverberated through the whole house, and cleaved the chain of his thoughts.
“ Who the hell is it now?” Carl said with grogginess. He plodded down the stairs and opened the door. A hefty stranger met his eyes. The man brought forward a sharpened knife, shimmering in the neon lights, that embellished his drawing room. The man was about to slay him when John raced from his next room, and grabbed his arm. Carl and John knocked the man ,and pounded him to the floor with their clenched fists. They knocked him down . Then Carl took the knife ,and placed it's razor -sharp tip in the bosom of that man.
” You are under arrest Mr. Jonathan.” Carl said grimly ,and John clapped his hands. It was midnight, and the full moon peered at them, as if celebrating their victory.