The October Killings Chapter 1: Mr. Sharma

The October Killings

The sky was dark. Grey clouds blocked the sun's warmth from falling on the small town of Aldaye. A gentle patter of rain now started falling on the streets of Light Square. People moved hurriedly and pulled out their umbrellas, those without it took shelter beneath the sheds of the shops. At first, the rain was gentle, producing soothing music, but now it became intensified. The streets shimmered with the reflected glow of streetlights and the headlights of cars passing by. It was the first October shower in Aldaye, bringing relief after the scorching summer heat.

Pratas Sharma, a tall man wearing an onyx black suit, stood in front of a coffee shop waiting for the rain to stop. He looked at his wristwatch, deftly pulling up his sleeves. It was 9:27 p.m. Mr Sharma was late again for home. He promised his daughter that today he would reach home on time for her birthday celebration, but he had forgotten yet again. He owned the news website Truth Finder which was popular among the left population for its criticism of the government. Mr Sharma was a workaholic; he would spend hours in his office and sometimes did not return home during the night. His daughter did not live with him anymore as the couple separated three years ago because of Mr Sharma's nature of prioritizing work over family. He talked about new stories at the dinner table, while sleeping and even to the guests, he would break out discussing current affairs and geopolitical developments. The stress of his work often left him physically drained. Dark circles under his eyes were the hallmark of sleepless nights spent labouring over deadlines and articles, but this was what he loved: travelling to collect information, talking to people to get story ideas, and the feedback from the readers.

He became sad and started walking towards his home. It was still raining but that did not seem to stop him. He arrived at Mill Row, the street where his daughter lived with Mrs Sharma and her mother. The rain now seemed to stop. He walked slowly towards his mother-in-law's house with a birthday present in one hand and a box of chocolate in the other. He had brought a colour set for her. He had heard from neighbours about her remarkable performance at the Art Competition. She got six today, and she will have new hobbies and a new present demand for the next year. Mr Sharma was thinking about this when he reached the front door. He checked his watch. It had been past 10:45. He found it unusual that the lights of the house were still on. His mother-in-law was a strict old hag - as he would think about her. She never let his daughter out with him for a minute longer than 6 p.m. She also had a strict sleeping schedule, it was the biggest crime anyone could commit in front of her by staying up after 9 p.m.

Mr Sharma wanted to go inside but the fear of seeing the disappointed face of his daughter, the complaining look from his wife and the face of his mother-in-law full of pure anger restrained him. With a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped inside. The corridor was as quiet as space. There was not a single sound except that of the ceiling fan in the hall. He turned towards the hall. He stood frozen in his tracks, a paralyzing horror washing over him as he discovered a trail of blood flowing from the hall. He rushed, towards the hall, with a pounding heart and thought someone might have gotten a cut while preparing dinner, but was a knife cut capable of making a pool of blood. He stood frozen, more frozen than before as if the world had crumbled around him, the sight of the motionless bodies of his family from which crimson-red liquid was flowing out. "This must be a prank," he thought. "They are acting like this to punish me for coming late." But how can someone be so still that they do not even seem to breathe? 



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