- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
The Final Victim
- 11 Nov - 17 Nov, 2017
"I used her,” Yousuf continued sadly, “in fact, I misused her. Someone told me that a lot of other beautiful girls of the college had a crush on me. I was young, immature and arrogant. Saba was my classmate, so I once asked her for help, and she pleasingly helped me. Then again I asked her to do my assignments, while she also helped me in qualifying tests. Obviously, she was expecting something nice from me. One day while I was sitting among other girls, she came to me. And I humiliated her for no reason.”
“In front of those girls?” his friend asked.
“Yes… I broke her heart. I never apologised and yet she was always there to help me with the assignments. She was hoping I would value her some day but the poor girl was wrong.”
“So what happened?” his friend was curious.
“One day, I started ignoring her, stopped answering her calls and texts, and avoided her in class. Seeing my behaviour, Saba felt devastated and kept pleading.” Yousuf was silent for a while and tears started to roll out of his eyes.
“She told me that she would commit suicide if I won’t talk to her.
And I told her that I didn’t care. She was standing right in front of me and said that I was the only person who truly mattered to her,” Yousuf shared details of his past.
“That’s depressing,” said his friend.
“The next day…” Yousuf continued taking a deep breath, “I was standing on the ground floor of the building, and outside the building I saw her body land on the ground. She had jumped off the building’s fourth or fifth floor.”
“Oh my God… she committed suicide?”
“Yes. I rushed to see her and felt so crushed that I fell unconscious for a while. Several minutes later, after gaining consciousness, I saw her parents crying, holding their daughter’s dead body. I walked by them and saw her brother coming. I didn’t look at his face, as I didn’t want to see him crying. I knew that all these people were crying because of me.”
“Oh God, that’s a very devastating story. Did you take any responsibility afterwards?”
“I didn’t have the courage to. But now I am...”
“Now you are what?” his friend asked.
Yousuf stood up, wiped off his tears and said, “Now I am going to take responsibility. I know a serial killer who is forcing people to commit suicide. Now I have an objective in life, and that is to save these people who are committing suicide by catching that serial killer, who forced a girl today to kill herself in our campus. This way I will ease my conscience by saving other victims.”
Next day at Mikhail’s house, both, him and Zarish were making a list. Meanwhile, the doorbell rang, so Mikhail stood up to open the door and saw Yousuf outside the house.
“Hello, Yousuf,” Mikhail spoke with excitement. “Where have you been? I’ve been trying your number, and you’re not answering.”
Yousuf remained silent for quite a while and said, “I need to find him.”
“Who? The killer?”
“Yes, and I want to save the remaining victims.”
Mikhail smiled, feeling proud of his friend.
Two minutes later, the three friends were in Mikhail’s room.
“We have taken the profiles of the suicide victims, including Miss Sophie’s. Now Zarish and I are trying to sort out a connection between the suicide victims,” Mikhail briefed Yousuf about their plan.
“What for?” Yousuf asked.
“We’re trying to figure out what kind of people he targets.”
“Don’t you think these aren’t probably suicides? I mean what if that girl Parvati didn’t jump off the building. Maybe he pushed her.”
“It’s possible,” Zarish reiterated Yousuf’s theory.
“No,” Mikhail cleared, “I talked to some students after the incident. There were few who had witnessed the scene and saw her jump down the building.”
Zarish looked at both of them and said, “Of all our four victims – Javeria, Yahya, Miss Sophie and Parvati… I see only one connection. They all have birthdays in December.”
“December?” Yousuf reconfirmed.
“Yes… other than this, it is neither gender, religion, nor age group that is common among them.”
“So this is it,” Mikhail claimed, “the next person he’ll target will have their birthday in December.”
“Maybe,” Yousuf added.
Mikhail’s cell phone began to ring and he answered the call.
“It’s Sir Haseeb,” said the caller.
“Hello?” Mikhail answered his phone.
“Mikhail, guess what! I met someone today. And he told me that he knows about this psychopath killer.”
“Really?” Mikhail got intrigued, “what else did he tell you?”
“He said he has the picture of that killer and can give us his details.”
“Can we meet him?”
“Yes, I’ve arranged a meeting with him and you three are going to meet him tomorrow afternoon.”
“What about you?”
“I can’t, actually, I want to know what actions our management is taking against these suicides which is why I’m staying in touch with them.”
“Ok sir… do you have his cell phone number?”
“I’ll text you everything. Just find out everything from this person.”
Next afternoon, while walking towards an appointed room at their campus, Yousuf asked Mikhail, “Are you sure he’s going to come?”
“Well, I just spoke to him on the phone and he said he’d meet us here,” Mikhail responded.
“Why didn’t Sir Haseeb get all the information? I mean the guy we’re meeting, has already met him,” Yousuf said in a doubtful tone.
“Even I thought of that, I think there’s something suspicious about our Professor,” Mikhail felt the same.
They entered inside the room next to their computer lab. As the two of them were sitting on the sofa, someone unknown entered inside.
“Mikhail and Yousuf?” the guy asked.
“Yes, Mr Shams?” Mikhail answered, as he stood up to greet the guy.
“That’s me,” the guy responded.
“Please have a seat.”
As they sat face to face with Shams, Yousuf looked at his brown beard and hair and felt as if he had seen him before. He tried hard to remember and then realised that it was the guy Neha was talking to after the suicide of Miss Sophie.
“So what do you know about this killer?” Mikhail asked him straight away.
“I work for him and know everything about him,” Shams answered.
“You work for him?” Mikhail asked getting surprised.
“I am like an agent. He asks me to bring the information of his victims.”
“What exactly does he do...” Yousuf continued, “before the victims commit suicide?”
“He follows them for quite a long period. He had been following all those people for months and had been in touch with their friends.
His sole purpose was always to find their weaknesses and then provoke them to commit suicides.”
“Ok,” Mikhail answered, “what else can you tell us about him? Can you hand him over to us? Or can you tell us where he lives?”
“He’s a very dangerous and clever guy. I can’t hand him to you because he has never revealed his address. He always calls us at an unknown location, and also follows us. Right now, I know that I’m being followed.”
Mikhail and Yousuf were quite amazed. Shams handed over a large envelope to Yousuf and said, “Inside this, you’ll find his picture. And the most important detail I can give you right now is…”
“Yes, what is it?” Yousuf asked curiously.
“There are two more victims left to die. They’ll be from the campus and they both shall commit suicides, as per his plan.”
“Oh my God!” Mikhail uttered.
“So you guys should hurry because after the two victims are done, he’ll leave Karachi forever,” Shams said, as he stood up to leave the room.
Stunned, Yousuf and Mikhail looked at each other. Yousuf got a little confused trying to figure something out. Mikhail reached for the envelope in Yousuf’s hand and saw the photograph, which had a side-pose of a clean shaved guy.
“It’s not a full picture,” Mikhail commented, “but it’s enough to recognise him.”
Yousuf remained silent, as he was trying to solve a puzzle in his head.
“What happened to you?” Mikhail asked looking at him.
“Can I see the picture?” Yousuf said.
Mikhail handed over the photograph. Yousuf looked at it and gave it a careful look.
“Two more victims,” Mikhail spoke, “well, I’m not concerned with the victims, I just want to catch him and hit him hard.”
“Oh my God!” Yousuf uttered loudly while looking at the photo, speaking each word clearly.
“What is it?” Mikhail asked. “What happened, Yousuf?”
“Look at the picture carefully,” Yousuf said handing over the picture.
“What is it?”
“It was him… he was our killer, Mr Shams,” he told Mikhail.
“I don’t think so,” Mikhail responded in confusion.
“Oh, come on… I saw this guy talking to Neha on the suicide scene that day.”
“He was asking Neha what happened, even though he was the one who provoked Ma’am Sophie to commit suicide.”
“I still don’t think it’s him.”
Mikhail’s cell phone began to ring. It was an unknown number and Mikhail answered the call with the loudspeaker on.
“Hello?” he said.
“You guys must be arguing...” the unknown caller spoke from the other line, “whether I’m the mysterious killer or not. So the answer is, yes. I am the serial killer, Shams Khan. Now don’t try to catch me because I’ve already left your campus. The only thing you can do, is find out the two names left in my list and save them.”
The call got disconnected.
Enraged, Mikhail threw his cell phone hard on the wall. The phone broke into pieces.
“We had him,” Yousuf spoke with regret, “right in front of us.”
The two friends felt regretful for losing him but Yousuf was also developing hatred for Shams.
That night at his home, Yousuf was thinking only about Shams. His eyes were filled with fury, as he was dying to have him in his own hands.
“It was him,” he uttered to himself, “he was the one who provoked Saba to die. Saba died and left me feeling guilty. It was all because of this one psychopath killer.”
He then made a decision and made a commitment to himself.
“I’m going to save the remaining victims. He burdened my conscience with Saba’s death. I’m not going to let him kill anyone else. My final objective is to save the two people.”
An alarm started beeping on his cell phone. It was a reminder for Neha’s Birthday, which was after two days.
“Oh God!” he uttered looking at it, “I almost forgot.”
Few moments later, he was standing inside an ATM room. He had Rs. 50,000 in his account and he withdrew the entire amount.
Several minutes later, he went to a mobile shop and bought a phone with the money.
The following day, Zarish was at Mikhail’s home. While looking at the list of the dead victims, Mikhail asked, “So they all have birthdays in December?”
“Yes,” Zarish responded.
“I never knew my friend Yahya’s birthday was in December.”
“So about Mr Shams, isn’t there a way to catch him?”
“If we involve the cops, then we can. But obviously due to lack of evidence, we can’t file against him.”
“His phone numbers,” Zarish said, as if she had an idea in her mind, “you have different numbers that belong to him. Can we trace him through those numbers?”
“We can but I’ve tried those numbers. They are powered off,” Mikhail said with disappointment in his tone.
“So this means, we have no option but to wait for the next suicide?” said Zarish.
“I want to interrogate Sir Haseeb. I don’t know but I just get a feeling that he’s somewhat involved.” Mikhail felt suspicious.
“Oh, come on! That can’t be true.”
Mikhail didn’t respond and remained silent.
“Where’s Yousuf?” she asked.
“He’s wasting himself after that girl.”
“It’s her birthday tomorrow and he’s dying to celebrate with her. But he’s also determined to catch the killer. He believes that Saba’s suicide was also forced by Shams.”
“That can be true,” Zarish said and left after a while.
Next morning, Yousuf was at a café close to Neha’s house. On the table, he kept a cake and a present and held a large birthday card. He dialled Neha’s cell number and she answered the call sounding pleasant, “Hello Yousuf, how are you?”
“I’m good. Neha, I’m here at the café next to your building. Please come as soon as you can.”
“Ok, give me 10 minutes please,” she said and disconnected the call.
Several minutes later, as Neha entered inside the café, she got a little stunned seeing what Yousuf had brought along.
“Yousuf, please don’t,” she said feeling unassuming.
“Oh, come on, it’s your birthday. Please don’t say ‘no’ to anything.”
She looked at the cake and the gift, and was quite moved. Yousuf handed her a knife saying, “Cut the cake please.”
She looked at the large card and said, “Yousuf, you shouldn’t have.”
“It’s ok, cut the cake.”
Before cutting the cake, she touched the wrapped gift and asked, “Is this what I think it is?”
“Yes, it is.” Yousuf chuckled.
Unexpectedly, Yousuf’s cell phone began to ring. He answered the call without looking at the caller’s id.
“Hello?” Yousuf spoke.
“I’ll text you the address,” a familiar voice spoke from the other line, “someone is about to commit suicide there. You have 20 minutes to save him.”
The call got disconnected. Yousuf realised that it was Shams, and he had just warned him about the upcoming suicide. Sadly, Yousuf had to leave Neha’s birthday celebration and stop the suicide.
Mikhail was at a grocery store and his cell phone began to ring. It was Yousuf’s call, so he answered it.
“Mikhail, I just received a call from the killer. Another suicide is about to take place at Shahrah-e-Faisal, P.E.C.H.S.”
“Oh, no! Really?”
“Yes! He sent me the address. I’ll forward it to you. I’m on my way to Shahrah-e-Faisal, you also reach there.”
“Yes, of course, just give me five minutes.”
Yousuf was riding his bike and he was determined to stop the man from committing suicide. He was determined to either stop him or catch Shams if he was found there.
Mikhail, on the other hand, was also riding his bike at a speed of 80 km/h. He was more determined to catch the killer who wasn’t actually a killer but a criminal who played with minds.
to be continued...