The Witch with the Itch

7

Richard and Kenneth reach out to Sarah. They grill her with everything they have. ‘How did you get involved in the case?’ Kenneth said.

‘Natasha came to me for help,’ Sarah said.

‘Her so-called three offenders have met with accidents. They are now all dead. We can’t share anything more on this. Tell me what do you know about this,’ Kenneth said.

‘I heard from Natasha. I’m sorry. I fear the case going against me.’

‘Against you? What do you mean?’ Kenneth said.

‘Yes, I may lose my client if the offenders are there no more. This is an interesting case. And I want to help Natasha. She has suffered a lot,’ Sarah said.

‘Well, you do have a solid point there. We’ll make sure you don’t lose your client,’ Kenneth said.

They don’t believe a word she said. She had the composure of a psychopath. ‘She knows we are on to her. I believe it’s her. She showed no fear upon hearing about the incidents. Isn’t she bothered about her safety? Let’s keep an eye on her. Let’s catch her in the act,’ Kenneth said.

‘And how do we do that?’ Richard asked.

‘We put a tail on the person of interest. We can’t let it pass. Better act immediately.’

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The Witch with the Itch

6

Kenneth and Richard reach the firm where Natasha works. Natasha is happy but feels guilty about the fates of three of her colleagues. She feels responsible as if she cursed them. They deserved to be punished but not exterminated. She knows Sarah has something to do with this. ‘Who else knows about this? I never told anyone outside the firm other than her,’ she wonders.

Kenneth and Richard flash their badges to enter the restricted area. Natasha sees them and shies away fearing the worst. The detectives see the gloomy atmosphere of the floor. The word has spread. The employees fear for their lives. They think they might be next. Only Natasha knows what’s going on. Others have been in the dark.

‘Mr. Swanson, we are here to question everyone who worked with Peter, Matthew, and Federer. Do you know what happened to them?’ Kenneth asked.

‘Yes, I heard. It’s a shame. They were so young. Only a monster can do such a thing,’ Mr. Swanson said.

Richard takes a look around the office while Kenneth asks more questions. ‘We need to question every one individually. We need a place and your cooperation,’ Kenneth said. ‘Of course, I would be happy to help. When do we begin?’ ‘Now,’ Kenneth Replied.

47 employees go through questioning on their work and their association with the victims. They are asked if they know anyone who had a grudge against them. Kenneth and Richard come up with nothing at the end of the day. ‘All for nothing,’ Richard said. ‘No, I found this note given to me by an employee. She wants to talk. But not here,’ K said.

The Witch with the Itch

5

Kenneth and Richard are on the move. They have two dead bodies on their hands in eight days. Now, they are going to a third murder scene.

‘She is on to something big here. These guys have no criminal record. They are absolutely clean. They belong to the same company, work in the same department. What are we missing here? Must be something they were doing secretly. Now, they are caught and…’ Kenneth said.

‘Slaughtered like beasts of burden who have no use to their master. This seems to be an inside job. It can’t be the Femme Fatale. There are no notes on these guys. Their throats are slit in a single stroke. It’s a clean act. Not messy at all,’ Richard said.

They find their third victim in the same situation as the last two. Kenneth takes a look at the victim’s neck. ‘Have you identified the victim?’ He asks the team gathered them, then fixes Richard with a stare. ‘This is it, mate. We are in for a ride.’

‘Yes, he was their teammate. And now, he’s their team meat,’ Richard said.

Kenneth shoots a pen at his partner. ‘This is not a joke. I haven’t had much of a sleep in the last two months. We are getting nowhere with these murders. They are out of order. We need help.’

They decide to speak with the organization where these victims used to work. ‘That’s the perfect place to start. We need eyes on their team members. Anyone can be next. We have to question them all. Get some sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we roll,’ Kenneth said. ‘Aye, aye, boss,’ Richard said.

The Witch with the Itch

4

A woman walks up to Sarah and stops her midway to the office building from the parking lot. ‘Excuse me, are you lost?’ The woman is all tears and couldn’t utter a word. ‘It’s all right. You seem to be in pain. Come with me.’ Sarah takes her to her office. ‘Sit here. I will send some coffee. Wait for me. I will return in some time.’ She leaves the woman alone.

Sarah returns to her office after an hour. ‘Sorry, I kept you waiting. I…Where are my manners? I’m Sarah Reynolds. And you are…’ Sarah puts her hand forward. ‘I’m Natasha Gutland. I need your help.’ Natasha shakes Sarah’s hand and doesn’t let go. ‘It’s all right. I’m all ears,’ Sarah said pulling her hand away.

Natasha tells Sarah about her ordeal at the hands of her colleagues. She complained to her boos and her HR department. But she was not provided with any help. It started with obscenities and bad mouthing. One day, it led to physical encounter. She wanted an end to this. She heard about Sarah from a friend and came running to her.

‘I believe we can help each other out,’ Sarah said. ‘Excuse me. How can I help you? It’s I who need help,’ Natasha said. ‘I live to see the light of justice touching everyone. And you will help me with it. Welcome aboard.’

Natasha leaves Sarah with a big task. Sarah needs all the help she can get to come up with solid evidence to make the offenders pay. She instructed Natasha to act normal and record everything that happens henceforth. ‘Try your best to sound natural and act as a victim,’ Sarah suggested. ‘I don’t have to act one,’ Natasha said.

The Witch with the Itch

3

‘They hurt someone, but don’t take the fall. I get some warmth, and burn them all,’ Kenneth read the message out loud.

‘Not again. Blimey! This is fun. She’s so deep. She targets the ones who are guilty. She meets them, has sex, then kills. There are three parts to the story. And it’s the same every time,’ Richard said.

Kenneth examines the body. ’41 days. That’s the interval.’ There is burn marks everywhere. ‘Seems like she used some hot rod to carve out a ‘CONVICT’ on his chest.’

Richard shields his nose. ‘Sweet. She kills in different ways and enjoys it. A wannabe psycho. I like her style. She will become famous.’

Kenneth balks at his partner. ‘There’s nothing to like about this. This is taking the law in one’s own hands. We need to find her before she finds her next victim.’ The palms of the victim have been hollowed. They are red and messy.

‘She believes in the Hindu Karma. She transfers all her bad karma to her victims when she kills them.’ Richard takes a close look at the victim. ‘The smell is not so bad after all. This has a softer touch. She has calmed down after her last soirée.’

Kenneth takes down notes on his mobile phone and clicks some pictures. ‘Karma…What was the last thing you said about it? I remember. Karma is like 69. You get what you give. Now, how come this transfer of bad karma comes into the picture?’ He looks at his partner for some answers.

Richard draws a blank stare. ‘I am no God. How would I know? It’s confusing for mere mortals like us.’

The Copycat Stigma

8

Gerard gets an idea for a romance series. A man falls in love with a new woman in every book of the series. Every time he meets someone, he marries them, and they die at the end of the book leaving behind a child. He launches each book of the series with aplomb. It is heralded as one of the best romance series ever written. Some critics dismiss it hands down as cheeky and nothing that they haven’t read before.

Gerard receives a call when he is celebrating the launch of the final book in the series. His family and friends are present and they are having a gala time. The children have an area to themselves. It is filled with carnival games like Feed The Monkey, Trampoline, Bungee Jumping, Face Painting and Knock The Can. The adults are enjoying the karaoke machine with Gerard’s wife performing often.

It is the president of the news network on the line. He wants a talk show with Gerard. It will be an hour dedicated to his achievement till date. Gerard feels honored but suspicious of the history with the organization. ‘You have disrespected me on more than one occasion. How can I forget that?’ he said. ‘Yes, you are absolutely right. And we apologize. This time it will be different. Everything is in the past. I will personally do the talking if you want,’ the president said.

Gerard agrees after repeated requests by the president. He gets another call the next day confirming his availability for the exclusive show. He is the special guest for the first episode of the show. The title includes the name of the guest: ‘Tonight with Gerard Montgomery.’ ‘We are starting a new show, and you will be the one to launch it with us. You have successfully launched dozens of books. How about you launch this program for us?’ the president said.

Crypto Miners

10

Rupert lies in front of the mine surrounded by his dead comrades. It is the break of dawn. He sees the night turn into day. What a spate of events this has been, he thought. It’s a déjà vu. Things creep into his mind from the mine explosion. ‘Why am I the only one who survives? This is my fate. I won’t take it anymore. End this life once and for all,’ he mutters. He hears cries from afar. It’s his family. He cries, ‘No! No! Not them…’

Anthony comes with Maya, Sarah, and Rudy along with a bunch of his goons. ‘There, there. Isn’t this lovely? A family reunion. Little boy, cry for me,’ Anthony said. There is a gunshot. Now Anthony turns towards Sara. ‘Little girl, now it’s your turn.’ Rupert hears another gunshot. ‘Now, what do we do with her? Fellas, you want to take her for a ride or should I?’ Anthony said. Shouts of ‘Aye’ come from everywhere.

Rupert tries to get up but fails. ‘You leave her alone. Take my life…Not my wife.’

Everyone burst out laughing. ‘Did you hear the Romeo? My goodness. Such alacrity. I am thrilled. I suppose these are your last words. Goodbye, Rupert. And thanks for the discovery. Riches abound. Maybe, I will spare your wife for my guys. See you in hell,’ Anthony said. He pulls the trigger and a loud cracking sound echoes. Rupert closes his eyes and becomes one with his comrades.