- 17 Mar - 23 Mar, 2018
The Final Victim
- 18 Nov - 24 Nov, 2017
Yousuf’s bike was about to get hit, as he was taking wrong turns in a rush, as well as violating traffic signals and speeding while passing through speed breakers.
Mikhail was looking at his cell phone while riding and trying to read the address sent to him via SMS, and because of this, he was driving wrong way and had to drive carefully.
Several minutes later, Yousuf reached the given address. He rushed towards the building and gave his CNIC to the security guards, so they would let him in, he ran up the stairs and finally reached the house. He rang the door bell twice but no one answered for at least thirty seconds. He once again pressed the bell and later banged the door with his hand.
In the meantime, Mikhail arrived and spoke to Yousuf taking a deep breath, “What happened?”
“Thank God, you’re here,” Yousuf said banging the door, “no one’s answering the door.”
“One of the security guards is chasing me because I entered without his permission. Let’s ask him if he can help.”
They waited for a while until the guard came up.
“Who are you and how did you enter inside?” he asked Mikhail.
“The person who lives here is about to commit suicide,” Yousuf told him hastily, “can you please help us open the gate.”
“We don’t have the key. How do you know he’s dying?” he asked with curiosity.
“We were informed. He’s not answering the door, we have to break in.”
“Ok,” the guard reluctantly allowed them to do so.
Mikhail turned his head aside and through the window he saw another window nearby. It was apparently of an apartment’s room.
Mikhail spoke looking at it. “Yousuf… I can climb through the window and enter inside.”
“Ok, but be careful,” Yousuf said.
Yousuf and the security guard helped Mikhail to climb outside the corridor and enter inside the apartment. As he landed inside, he saw a kitchen. The first thing he did was to rush towards the door and open it for Yousuf to come inside. As Yousuf stepped in, he asked Mikhail, “What happened? Did you find him?”
“No,” he replied.
Yousuf went inside to check and all of a sudden he stopped looking inside the bedroom. Mikhail followed and peeked inside the room.
A boy of their age was hanging through the neck with a rope, tightly tied with the fan. Mikhail and Yousuf were shocked and devastated.
Mikhail angrily hit his fist on the wall, while Yousuf started losing his temper.
Two days later at Mikhail’s home, Yousuf and Zarish were sitting with him, feeling defeated.
“Guys, why can’t we just involve the police?” Zarish said in a frustrated tone.
“We don’t have any evidence to convict him,” Mikhail replied sadly.
“So what should we do? Just let the last person die?”
“I have never felt so defeated,” Yousuf uttered with pain, “I had an objective, and wanted to stop the two victims from dying because I want to relieve my conscience from Saba’s death. But after the recent death, things are just getting worse for me.”
“You know about this killer…” Mikhail began, “he’s very cunning. Very intelligent, I must admit. He has been fooling us throughout. Even though he sends us clues through addresses, we can’t stop his plan from getting completed.”
“That’s because of his timing,” Yousuf answered, “he is cheating using time as a tool.”
“Anyway guys, there’s something you should know,” Zarish interrupted, “I went through the last person’s profile. His birthday does not come in December. It comes on November 24.”
“This means that Shams wasn’t just focusing on those born in December,” Mikhail responded.
“He was targeting Sagittarians too.”
Yousuf got upset and left the room. He had intense hatred for Shams and wanted to distract himself for a while.
While he stood outside Mikhail’s home, he called Neha up. He hadn’t spoken to her ever since her birthday.
Neha was not answering his call, which left him surprised, as that had never happened before. He kept dialling her number again and again, but she wasn’t answering at all.
He was deeply hurt and felt that she might be upset with him, so he sent her a text message explaining why he wasn’t in touch with her and at the same time apologised to her in desperation.
The following days were quite stressful for the three of them. Mikhail and Zarish were confused as to what they should do next. Should they investigate the killer, who wasn’t actually a killer? Or should they withdraw from this? The recent suicide was quite upsetting.
Yousuf on the other hand was getting weak. Neha was not attending his calls and was texting him to not call her again. He was really upset about it and was dying to talk to her. He wanted to know why she was angry with him and constantly kept texting, reminding her about how much he loved her.
One day, Mikhail was at Yousuf’s home, seeing how much his friend was upset, he was calm and tried to talk to him coolly.
“Yousuf, look I know it’s easier said than done, but you need to give it a thought. You should try and forget her. Moving on is the only option.”
“I just want to know why. Ok fine, I will forget her and leave her forever. But I just want some answers. Why? Why is she upset with me? Why isn’t she talking to me? I spent Rs. 50,000 on her birthday but she doesn’t return my calls.”
“I know it hurts. I understand you Yousuf, but try and focus on our goal. We must save the final victim.”
“The final victim,” Yousuf repeated sarcastically, “he’s a Sagittarian, that’s all we know. So what should we do? Call all the Sagittarians of our campus and ask them to stay away from Shams, he might manipulate you and force you to die.”
“Why not? We can do that,” Mikhail said.
“You know something,” Yousuf spoke honestly, “I would be more than happy to save the final victim. But it’s just not possible. How can we reach him? How can we find him?”
“How about we expose Shams’ photograph at the campus and ask everyone to stay away from him, side by side revealing his conspiracy.”
Mikhail received a text message on his cell phone. He read the text message sent through an unknown number.
The final victim’s death will be a misery to you Mikhail.
Mikhail stopped realising it was a text from Shams. He then thought of who his friend might be. Then he recalled it might be his friend Abid, because he was the only Sagittarian he knew.
“I think, I know who’s next” Mikhail spoke.
“He’s a friend of mine.”
“Thank God, I’m Leo,” Yousuf sarcastically remarked.
Mikhail made a phone call to his friend Abid and explained everything to him.
Days later, the three friends were at their campus around six o’clock in the evening. Yousuf felt extremely disappointed because of Neha, while Mikhail tried to console him and asked, “What if it’s something else with Neha? I mean, maybe she’s sick or has probably lost her cell phone.”
“I’ve tried calling her with different numbers,” Yousuf explained, “she answers those unknown numbers and as soon as I speak, she disconnects the call saying don’t call me again.”
“Has she dumped you?” Zarish asked.
“I don’t believe so,” Yousuf replied firmly. “She has left me broken.”
Zarish received a call from an unknown number.
“Yes? Who is it?” she answered.
“The final victim is about to die,” someone said from the other line.
“It’s the killer,” Zarish whispered to Mikhail.
“I’ll text you the address,” the caller said, “you guys can save him.”
The call got disconnected.
“What did he say?” Mikhail asked in a desperate tone.
“He’s texting the address,” Zarish replied looking at her cell phone.
“I have a car today,” Mikhail said standing up, “come on Yousuf, let’s go.”
“I’ll come along,” Zarish said and stood up with him.
An hour later, the three friends finally reached the given address. It was a bungalow. They entered inside but it was too dark. They couldn’t see one another. Zarish screamed out in pain.
“Zarish!” Mikhail called out hearing her voice.
Then he got hit on his head from behind. Yousuf felt him falling down. Then Yousuf got hit on his forehead. It was complete blackout for the three of them.
Several minutes later, Yousuf opened his eyes. He was lying on a carpet and the left side of his forehead was bleeding. He sat up and looked around the large empty room. As he stood up, he heard Mikhail’s voice from behind.
“Yousuf?” shouted Mikhail.
Yousuf turned and saw his friend handcuffed to a pole. And as he looked carefully, Zarish was also handcuffed to the same pole. Yousuf was surprised to see them like that. He looked at the wall and saw a 60-inch TV. He started walking towards Mikhail and Zarish to save them but his feet touched a gun. He stopped and looked at it. It was a handgun. He picked it up and asked Mikhail, “What is going on?”
“I have no idea,” Mikhail answered with fear in his voice.
The large TV switched on. Yousuf turned and looked at it. There, he saw Neha standing. She was on the screen. It was a video call.
“Oh my God,” Yousuf uttered looking at her.
“Hello, Yousuf” she spoke, her voice came through the speakers.
“Are you ok, Neha?” he asked helplessly.
“I’m fine. I’m here with my husband.”
The word ‘husband’ was a brutal shock to him. He couldn’t believe what he just heard, so he reconfirmed.
“Did you say husband?”
Shams appeared on the screen right next to her. He was clean shaven. Yousuf was stunned. His eyes were left wide open. Shams started to speak in a dominant tone.
“Yes, She said husband… I am her husband.”
Yousuf was speechless.
“Since two years,” Neha spoke regarding their marriage.
Mikhail was also shocked and upset for his friend. Zarish was gaining consciousness.
“Why Neha?” Yousuf hardly spoke.
“Who am I?” Shams began explaining. “Today I’ll tell you. My sister was in love with you. You betrayed her, you forced her to die.”
Yousuf realised and understood now about whom he was talking.
“Saba?” he asked.
“Indeed,” Shams answered with tears in his eyes, “these suicides, all of them. They were a means of revenge. My revenge was on you. But these people had to die.”
“Oh my God!” Zarish realised something about Shams’ plan.
“I chose Professor Haseeb,” Shams spoke, “because I knew he always admired you three and would choose you guys for this investigation.”
“If you wanted revenge...” Yousuf spoke holding his anger, “then why didn’t you just kill me. What was the point of making others commit suicide?”
“The point was to develop hatred in you, against me and develop love for Neha.”
“So you’ve been lying to me all the time?” Yousuf asked Neha with a sad voice.
“I never loved you, you are worthless,” she spoke arrogantly.
Tears started to fall from his eyes.
Mikhail spoke out loud, “Yousuf, drop the gun!”
Yousuf closed his eyes and remembered what had happened several years back when Saba’s brother was coming to see his dead sister. That moment, Yousuf hadn’t seen his face. Now he realised that the guy was Shams. Yousuf opened his eyes feeling extremely broken inside.
“Now you know who the final victim is,” Shams spoke smartly.
“Yousuf!” Zarish yelled. “Don’t listen to them, drop the gun!”
“I always wanted you to die this way,” Shams said to Yousuf, “commit suicide for love. The way my poor sister died.”
Yousuf felt upset and looked at his gun.
“Yousuf, listen to me,” Mikhail spoke loudly trying to break the handcuff, “be strong. There are plenty of other girls. Don’t waste your life for this worthless woman.”
“I did so much for you,” Yousuf cried talking to Neha, “and this is how you repay me.”
“You’ll have a miserable life cursing yourself,” Shams tried to convince him, “cursing yourself for caring so much about Neha, spending so much money on her. And remember that the other people who committed suicide, also did it because of you.”
“That’s not true!” Mikhail yelled out from behind. “Yousuf I’m your true friend, listen to me please. Your objective was to save the final victim. You are the final victim, you can save yourself now.”
“No Mikhail,” Yousuf spoke looking at Mikhail, “I loved someone so much and my love was only a waste. I deserve to be punished, I deserve to die.”
Yousuf closed his eyes and remembered how he rushed that night to buy mobile credit for Neha and also remembered the money he spent on her birthday.
“Yousuf...” Zarish spoke cleverly, “you’re letting him win?”
Yousuf opened his eyes and said, “Today I’ve lost. Neha was everything to me. I feel really weak and incomplete without her.”
Shams and Neha felt delighted. Yousuf loaded the hand gun and aimed at his own forehead. Mikhail warned his friend with disappointment evident on his face.
“Yousuf… please don’t do this.”
“I don’t have the strength to live,” Yousuf responded to his friend. “I’m sorry.”
He pressed the trigger.
The gunshot was heard and the TV got shut down.
Mikhail and Zarish cried seeing their friend die right in front of them.
The final victim was dead. •
- 17 Mar - 23 Mar, 2018
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