It was raining heavily in the evening in Mumbai when Dr. Rahmat Noorani got out of the Mumbai airport in his car. Rains are Mumbai peculiar; it just pours and pours relentlessly. It creates familiar traffic that seems to be relentless as well. Dr. Noorani gazed at his mobile phone pensively. He knew he was racing against time, and the rain was not helping him in his cause. The famous paranologist could not believe what he saw on WhatsApp messenger. The moment he saw it, he was worried, and he knew he had to alert the authorities before further damage happened. He had returned to Mumbai after three months. He was in Scotland, busy researching a paranormal occurrence there. He never carried his cell phone with him on such tours. He desperately wished he had.
Three months ago, when he had a visitor. It was typical for him as many young men interested in paranormal activities visited him just for fun. But little did he realize that his ignorance would lead to four brutal rapes and murders in the city. He could have saved four lives only if he had taken the young man seriously.
But the doctor had no time to lament. He knew he had to act fast. The news of the new "Vampire Killer" had surfaced in Mumbai a few weeks back when a woman was raped and murdered brutally. The Vampire killer brutally slit the throats of young female victims and extracted blood after raping them. The rain had made it quite chill, but the doctor still wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead. Dr. Noorani could think of only one person to help him in such a grave crisis. Joint CP Mumbai Crime branch Anant Deshmukh. Little did he realize that Anant was way more desperate for his help.
* * *
The rain was relentless. I heard it thrumming on the metal roof and running down the broken pipe into the mud, and I moistened my cracked lips with my tongue. The sound of the water droplets in the puddle created a monotonous ripple in my head, and I started to feel a bit dizzy. I wondered if he would bring me food and water. I wondered if he was coming at all. I felt a sharp, excruciating pain in my legs and lower abdomen due to the tight knots of the rope with which I was tied. Often when your world falls apart, the notable events of your life start flashing in your mind sequentially, just like a movie. The same happened to me, and my love for horror movies got me there that day. I am Shalini Deshmukh, daughter of joint CP Mumbai Crime branch Anant Deshmukh. I was kidnapped by the most deadly serial killer of the decade, the "Vampire Killer." The lonely house was somewhere on the way to Lonavala, and its owner was an old lady who was mentally unstable and claimed to be an expert in witchcraft, and she had a nephew whom Mumbai knew as the "deadly vampire killer." I knew him as "Fattu," a derogatory synonym for chicken-hearted or a pussy in Hindi, and he used to be a friend of mine, once upon a time.
* * *
Joint CP Anant Deshmukh Dr.ank another glass of water. The senior cop who had tackled furious gangsters and dangerous terrorists was breaking down within. It was not an experienced cop, but it was an anxious father. He always believed India, especially Mumbai was never safe for his daughter. He had sent his daughter to study her college in the States after his wife had passed away. After graduation, she stayed in India for about two years, where she worked for an advertising agency. She then moved to New York for an assignment. Anant was so relieved when his daughter told him of her boyfriend Ricardo and that she wanted to marry him in India in the Indian traditional way. At least the girl would settle in the States, far away from his world of bloody clutter. But even in his wildest of dreams, he never had imagined that his daughter could be a probable victim of the dreaded Vampire Killer of Mumbai. She went missing the previous night in such terrible weather, and her mobile was not traceable. Her best friend Namrata was pregnant and was in labour, so he could not reach her. Other friends of hers had no clue. Anant realized the clock was ticking very fast on his daughter, and he had to act quickly. A constable entered the room saying, "Sir, you have a visitor." Anant looked irritated. He nodded his head, indicating that he would not meet anyone then. "It's Dr. Noorani, and he says he knows the Vampire Killer," gasped the excited constable. Anant looked up and ran towards the waiting room.
* * *
It all started years back when I joined the Rio Advertising firm in Bandra as a content designer. I had just finished my graduation from Minnesota and wanted to return to India. My dad thought the most unsafe place on earth, my city Mumbai, had cast a spell on me. I missed it even in the States. I had three friends, my childhood best friend Namrata, her boyfriend Abhilash and Abhay in the office. Unfortunately, my office had the worst collection of creepy men.
Moreover, I had spent a lot of time in America with such cheesy men who thought that putting up a fake accent and unnecessary wit would get them laid, and I could feel them gossip about my butt to my bra strap behind my back. I so hated them. Plus, I had dated a few men in Mumbai and Minnesota, and they all turned out to be creeps.
So I thought it was better to restrict unwanted men in my life and stay happy. My crazy friend Namrata and her boyfriend Abhilash were a cute and quite hot couple. So often, when they were busy with themselves, I often spent time with the simpleton and hardworking intern Abhay. Slowly we became very good friends. Abhay, too was a loner as people teased him everywhere in the office. He had one serious issue. He was highly paranoid and feared ghosts. Can you believe it? He avoided any dark corners and never stayed very late at night. One would notice his eyes shut with Hanuman Chalisa's chants in an uncanny situation. Though it was pretty natural for a guy who had spent a large part of his life in the village, it was eternally funny for us. He was so chicken-hearted that he never saw horror movies or discussed them. Abhay in Hindi means a fearless person, and this was the exact opposite of what he was. Even a sudden squeak in the cubicle door during the night shifts gave him literal jitters and would make him scream. So everybody in the office called him "Fattu" and teased him, including me.
You know there is an inherent problem with us women. We have a crazy sense of intuition or sixth sense that we can easily make out if a guy is hitting on us. Once we understand that the guy is hitting on us, there are two standard reactions. If the guy seems to be a leech or a weirdo, we freak out, start avoiding him in all possible ways, and even start carrying a pepper spray. Secondly, if the guy is our interest too, we blush and start radiating various signals towards him that our brains do not control. But there is a rare third scenario too. If the guy is decent and innocent or rather a simpleton who is potentially no danger to us, we start flirting with him in our pursuit to make a mockery of him. This mean and bizarre third scenario was the root cause of my current crisis.
In a world filled with weirdos, Fattu was a true gentleman. He possessed all the good qualities of manners and decency that all the men I cared for lack. He was shy, soft-spoken, extremely caring, understanding and sensitive. Above all, he respected women. I could sense that he had a big-time crush on me, enough to inflate my ego. I blinked at Abhay and flirted with him, pretending to be innocent. But I wish I never had.
I loved Horror movies. It was a kind of addiction for me. It started as a toddler when I covered my eyes with my hands and watched the films from the finger gaps. With age, the addiction grew stronger and stronger. I was particularly interested in the raunchy spicy Vampire love stories like the Twilight saga. I found Vampires incredibly sexy. I watched many such movies and was glued to them. I even managed a few B grade series where the blonde vampire guy made passionate love to his lady victim. One could classify them as soft porn, but for me, these were turn-ons. I found those blonde guys irresistibly hot and sexy. With the blood on their red lips and their pale white skins, they made me go gaga. I was never afraid of ghosts or idiotic things, mainly because my dad had hand-held me in this genre.
* * *
When Abhilash saw an unknown number flash on his mobile, the new father gleamed joy. He thought it to be any friends, relatives, or office colleagues calling him to congratulate him and Namrata. Two hours back, Namrata had given birth to a baby boy. Abhilash was mid-way typing his Facebook status when he took the call. Once he heard the voice on the other side and the content of his call, he became pale white as if he had seen a ghost. He knew he had to go immediately; there could be a severe mishap. He asked his younger brother to wait in the hospital and ran out of the hospital to the parking lot in the relentless rain. Joint CP Anant Deshmukh's words were buzzing in his ears: "I hope we are not too late." He knew he was racing against time.
* * *
Back then, it had initially been Namrata's idea. But I found it equally amusing. A vampire movie night at a spooky place with pizza and whiskey amidst the full bloom monsoon. Just a perfect outing for me. Besides the movie, Namrata and Abhilash wanted to make out in the wild monsoon in a spooky place. It must have been one of their crazy sexual fantasies, as dressing as a nurse got boring. But I was eager to scare the shit out of Fattu. Initially, knowing his paranoia, I thought Fattu would not join, but once I insisted, he not only agreed to join but took us to his old aunty's place in Lonavala. Once we reached it, we realized that it was the perfect setting for our plans. The spooky lady and her house could serve any Bollywood horror flick very well. The conical roof was broken in places due to wear and tear, and it had metallic sheets implanted in between. Once it rained on the metallic roofs, it made a deafening ramming sound to the ear.
We watched two and a half movies on our laptops till both ran out of charge. Due to the relentless rain, there was an expected power cut and the spooky lady, before going to bed in one corner room of the large house, assured us that power would not be back before the following morning. We were down with two bottles of whiskey in a candlelit hall. Poor Fattu was almost shaking in fear. Though he visibly freaked out and was panic-stricken, he still watched the entire movie with us, and we teased him numerous times by poking him or throwing paper balls at him suddenly. He freaked out every single time without disappointing us. Now I guess the drunk couple was in the mood, and they quickly rushed to the room beside. They started making out quite loudly so that we decided to shift towards the window. It was pitch dark outside the window, and the rain was relentless.
"Hey, Shalini, you know I love you with all my heart. Please stay with me, my dear; I will learn everything you believe men should do, like watching these movies and being muscular and manly. I can do anything for you. Just be with me, my dear."
All of a sudden, Fattu blabbered in the darkness. He didn't booze, but he was high. When I heard him, my initial reaction was to burst into laughter, but soon I controlled myself and felt sorry for him. I tried to console him by telling him he deserved much better etc., little knowing that I was digging my own grave and the grave of four other innocent women.
* * *
I heard heavy footsteps and the screeching sound of the door amidst the relentless rain. When Fattu had asked me to join for a movie in our old spot after a sudden call, I had no suspicion, and I had readily agreed as I always thought him to be the safest guy on earth. The only thing I heard of him after I left Mumbai was from Namrata that he had resigned. But the guy who just removed his raincoat and took the chair in front of me was a shadow of the shy guy I once knew. He had become muscular and leaner, but his face looked dark and scary. He had dyed his hair blonde, and half of the colour was out, making him weirder. He had applied some mascara to his eyes, and his lips were unusually red. He resembled one of those gothic hippies that I used to see in New York but looked way scarier. To add to it, he had long artificial metallic nails and probably two fake canines too. He was stinking so bad it almost made me puke.
"I had to bury the old witch, so I could not get you food during the day. The witch was suffering a lot, so I had to put her to sleep. As she is a witch, I buried her behind. So tonight, only bread for dinner." spoke Fattu in an eerie voice, took out a piece of bread, and tried to force it into my mouth, which I invariably had to spit out. "You need a doctor!!" I almost screamed out of despair. I could hear him cough in the dark and then a Dr.y laugh.
"I was the pussy cat, the decent boring guy, who could be praised but never be loved. You wanted a rogue who was seducing and did things more like a man."
He pulled my dress and tore half of it with force revealing half of my inner lingerie. I was so panic-stricken that my voice choked. "Initially, it was tough, you know, very tough," he continued. "I had to start with chicken blood, I used to puke, I got ill, even visited a paranologist to guide me, but nothing happened. But I did not give up. I was determined as promised. Slowly I started liking blood. The taste and smell which made me puke once had become an irresistible sensation. But a vampire is not cool with chicken and lamb. You need women. Pretty, hot women. Women like you. So I got these girls. I thought, as a vampire, after I bit and made love, they would join the gang. They will become my partners, and that's what the movies said. But it was a lie, you see. The dead never rise again. The bodies decompose and start stinking. You need to bury, burn, or eat them! Alas, they just suffered for a few minutes and were dead. Raping them too was not pleasurable, but I had to learn to be a man! I had to be a man in bed too, a hot aggressive one." Fattu had tears in his eyes and a strange pale panic-stricken look.
"But why?" I asked, weeping. For the first time, I could relate to what fear meant and how it was different from what I felt in the movies
"You don't remember?" He asked. The pale look in his eyes sparkled with the lightning flash outside. With the cheap make-up peeling away, he looked like a dead man walking.
* * *
Back to the fateful night when despite almost an hour of my consoling, Fattu kept nagging that he cared for me the most and would do anything possible on the earth to make me happy. Initially, I enjoyed his undue attention, but later it became boring for me. As I was feeling extremely drunk and sleepy, I got irritated and wanted to close the discussion. "Tell me, please tell me what I can do to make you love me; I will do it," Fattu continued his irritating drama.
"Become a blonde vampire and make love to me like a man. I will happily bear your child," was the last thing I had said before I passed out.
This memory or joke to me had vanished in my memory lane along with the hangover of that night. I had forgotten about that night and joked amidst my busy schedule of relocating to the States. But, it seemed that someone had not forgotten my drunken words. Not even a bit!
* * *
"The end is near, my dear, it will hurt a bit, but then you will feel eternal calm," Fattu said, rubbing his metallic claws around my neck. I was freaking like hell. A bead of sweat rolled down my cheeks and rolled down my bra to the centre of my chest, and it gave a chilling sensation from within. I felt an ice-cold current roll down my spines. I was shivering, and the weather was not responsible for it.
"Don't hurt me," I pleaded in tears. But my voice choked midway as Fattu hushed me up by placing his palm on my lips. His palm was moist and had the foul odour of raw flesh.
"You always wanted vampires, dear, manly ones who make passionate love by tearing in. You told me you loved and enjoyed these situations as in those movies. I was the one who freaked out but look at you now. What's wrong, dear? Look at me. I have become what you wanted me to be always. Now we can make love, and you can bear my child." Fattu broke into a dry, scary laugh that died into a sob.
"Look what I have become! I have become a monster, a mad monster, but I loved you with all my heart. My only fault was I only wanted you, nothing else." His face was so close to mine that I could feel his foul breath may be of raw meat and blood, a drop of his oozing saliva landed around my neck and dripped down, but I was too petrified to react.
"It's time to end it," his face lowered to my neck. I could feel the metallic canines tickle against my neck. I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable. Time seemed to have stopped for me, and eternal numbness was creeping into my body. I could see the faces of my dad and mom in the dark and awaited my destiny. It was how it was destined to end. I realized that fear was one of the worst instincts that man could possess, and it could be way more than physical pain, and the wounds created by paranoia were perennial.
But instead of biting me, he kissed my lips hard. It was probably the kiss of death; I was so horrified that probably I peed without knowing. His lips were dry, and he wore some cheap make-up. His tongue whipped inside my mouth like a creepy reptile. His teeth dug into my lips and bit my tongue. Saliva oozing out of his mouth poured down my lips as he withdrew himself with a jerk. My senses had given up by then. It seemed I could not control my body any longer. That's what fear did to me. It ate me from within.
Fattu had stooped his head down. As he raised his pale face in the dark, I could see some guilt and tears in his red eyes. He was probably also fighting the weird monster he had become, struggling within himself. He walked towards the window. As his silhouette stood still amidst the shadows near the window, I could feel my vision blurring.
As my eyes were on the verge of closing, Fattu ran to me and held my cheeks with a jerk. My fearful trance broke and got me back to an even harsh reality. I looked into his eyes. He blinked, and he licked his lips, revealing the original colour of his pale lips. "Now, will you love me?" He whispered in my ears.
Suddenly, I could hear a sudden bang, and blood splashed on my face as the chair with which I was tied slipped, and I fell. It was Fattu's blood or maybe I should say Abhay's blood. Abhay was shot in the head as he fell on me. There was a flash of light, and my vision blurred. I could hear my dad in the distance, some heavy footsteps and police sirens. Blood dripping from my eyes and lips and the dead vampire killer on top, the lights died in front of my eyes into total darkness. Before passing out, I screamed one last time. A scream of despair, a shriek of fear!!
* * * This incident occurred ten years ago. But it changed all our lives forever. I had gone into intense paranoia, and I went through regular therapy to cure my paranoia. I got married after five years. I live in Seattle with my husband, Rishi, and I am still on heavy medication and have sudden trauma attacks. That fateful night luckily, the dots got connected via Dr. Noorani, dad, and Abhilash. I escaped death narrowly. At times I wonder that it would have been better if he had killed me because fear is an unbearable instinct. It kills you from within many times, unlike actual death. You die every night to wake up the following day to fail the next night again. My therapist says I am improving, and maybe in the next 2 - 3 years, these panic attacks will not come back.
But I can still feel the splash of Fattu's blood on my cheeks. I still can't forget the taste of his pale, salty lips. The nauseating smell of the cheap make-up! And yes, I can't stand dark horror movies. I have trauma attacks out of the blue. So I hate horror movies. I have a maid all day with me as I get anxious whenever I am alone.
Sometimes I feel Fattu is just around me. It is not a creepy feeling as I see not the dreadful vampire killer but the old shy decent simpleton in Mumbai who just loved me with all his might, but then his scary face flashes, blood dripping from his metallic canines, and tears rolling down his red eyes.
As it happens in Vampire movies, as the vampire bites you, you become a vampire yourself and join his league, and I, too, joined Fattu's league after his kiss that night. The league of fear, the league of paranoia, the league of despair!!
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