Heavy rains, dark street, an innocent prey, a deadly devil and a twist of fate.
Written by Minaal Mohsin Maan, who is the author of the novel ‘Our Tainted Souls’.
God, he loved thunderstorms, he thought as he looked out across the street at the other vendors and shopkeepers who were hastily packing up for the day. The smell of saffron and cinnamon still lingered in the air and he sighed, savoring the scent of spices mixed with that of the rain that was pouring down from the heavens. He felt his face break out into a manic grin as he saw lightning fork across the sky and heard the roar of thunder. He could tell that the sound was making others around him uneasy; it seemed to be scaring the hell out of the little girl not too far off who was clutching her mother’s hand as if it were a lifeline- but it was like music to his ears. The sound anchored him to the world somehow.
“All done.’ He was brought of his reverie by the sound of his uncle’s voice. He had been pouring the spices on display into small jars and had then stowed them away to be brought out the next day. The old man was panting, he noticed and was reminded of the simple undeniable fact that his uncle would die soon. He could barely walk for more than ten minutes without breaking into a coughing fit and could no longer work as fast as he used to. He almost felt sorry for him. After all, he had been working with him for more than ten years now. “Your mother must be worried, son. This storm’s almost as bad as yesterday.”
“Yes,” he answered shortly as they began walking down the street. The Spice Bazar of Cairo seemed to pass by in a blur as he walked, people and scents blending together as he drifted farther away from the present.
“Don’t you dare…’ His mother’s voice was cut off by the sound of a knife digging into flesh and then the air was filled with the sound of her sobbing, and of glass shattering as his father picked up the vase of flowers that he had gotten for her that day and hurled it at the wall. He knew that was not his father, this man was merely wearing his father’s face.
‘What are you looking at, boy?” He was right in front of him now and Abdul could practically smell the alcohol on him. His pulse sped up as the man leaned forward so their foreheads were touching, and Abdul shrank back as he saw the man’s bloodshot eyes. As soon as his head hit the wall behind him, he felt himself being lifted into the air by the collar of his shirt. “Your mother deserved that.” He could feel tears burning the back of his eyelids as he sensed his mother lying unconscious on the ground, and bit his lip so hard that he could taste the blood on his tongue as he ran it over the tender skin. The last thing he remembered before he blacked out was the excruciating pain that shot through his head as it was slammed against the wall and his father’s voice as he sneered at him. “Look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.”
He was almost home, he realised. The old man had probably turned onto his street while had been absorbed in his memories, As he walked, his gaze drifted towards a lone girl walking a few paces ahead of him, an umbrella clutched tightly in her hand in an attempt to block out the rain. But but he could tell that holding it was a struggle in itself as the wind tried to rip it from her grasp. The girl looked like she was in her early twenties and he found himself wondering why she was walking alone in the storm. She tucked a strand of damp hair behind one ear and he wondered if she would go home or stop somewhere first. Her hand came away wet and he could almost see the raindrops that clung to her skin. He finally saw her completely when she stopped under a flickering streetlight and started rummaging through her purse; emerald green eyes and a heart-shaped face-, he imagined looking into those eyes every day and realised he would not mind. However, the blonde hair would have to go.
It was a dangerous time for anyone to be out alone in the streets, he knew that. There were rumours going around about a man sneaking up behind unsuspecting victims and slashing their throats, leaving them to bleed to death. Some claimed that they had seen this person looking into people’s houses through the windows while others claimed that he snuck into the bedrooms of little girls at night.
He almost laughed at the absurdity of the claims and told himself that someone would surely have to be a psychopath in order to be capable of those things.
The girl started to walk again and he found himself following her as the brutal wind seemed to caress his face, and the heavy rain felt like a light spring shower as it ran down his cheeks in thin rivulets. His breath came in ragged puffs as he eliminated the distance between himself and the girl. He could practically make out each strand of her damp hair now. It would look much better if it were a fiery red, he thought to himself.
His pulse quickened as he plunged his hand into the back pocket of his jeans, and his veins thrummed with adrenaline as his fingers brushed the familiar surface of the dagger. He could feel the familiar rush of excitement as he pull it out, and images began flashing behind his eyelids; images of his deranged father driving a knife so much like the one he held now into his mother’s neck. He could still hear her screams ringing in his ears at night sometimes. The wind had picked up speed now and was roaring and biting into his skin with the force of an angry beast, but he welcomed the discomfort. He savoured the feel of the torrential rain as it came down in sheets all around him.
The girl’s scarf slipped and when he caught a flash of the pale skin of her neck, he almost let a moan slip past his lips as he imagined pressing the knife against it, She wouldn’t even put up a fight, he thought with a tinge of disappointment. It was always fun when they put up a fight. He pictured himself taking one swift step. Wrapping an arm around that petite waist and pressing his lips to her tender neck as he brought out the knife that was clutched in his right hand. The rain and the wind did not exist now; it was just him and the roar of the thunder and the flashes of lightning that lit up the sky, and he was only thinking about the scarlet droplets of blood that would soon coat his blade as he took that last step forward.
His mother lay in a heap on the ground, a pool of red around her. Her stark white form seemed to stand out against the scarlet background and her hair was plastered to her forehead, with sweat or blood- he could not tell from where he lay, his head resting against the brick wall of the kitchen. He remembered telling himself to get up, to calm his throbbing heart and to see exactly how that man had left his mother. He remembered walking over to her lifeless body and staring down at the pale face that had once held so much life,
The girl lost the battle she had been fighting with the wind. She gave one final tug and sighed as her umbrella was yanked from her grasp. When she turned around, Abdul could not help but let a small gasp slip from his lips, it was the eyes. While he had thought they were emerald green with long lashes that he longed to yank out one by one, this close they looked completely different. They were no normal shade of green, he realised. They were a bright green on the outside and then seemed to darken into a cool hazel near the pupil. He had stared down into them as the person they belonged to lay cold as marble on the ground. They were his mother’s.
He backed away so fast that his back almost connected with a streetlight, he would have been electrocuted if he had not caught his balance in time. The girl smiled and offered him the umbrella that was now clutched safely in her hand again. He shook his head and turned around.
Her hair had been chopped off, he noticed as he knelt down and ran a finger down his mother’s face. She was cold as ice. He could picture it in his head; how that man must have taken a knife from the kitchen, plunged it into her neck and then yanked it out. He could almost imagine how he must have held her hair in his wretched hands and cut it. He still remembered the white hot wave of anger that had washed over him as he had sat there and pondered over where his father had gone. He wanted to stab that man just as he had stabbed his mother. He yearned to feel his blood coating his fingers.
The storm was only a dull melody in the back of his head now; he barely even noticed it. His heart was hammering inside his chest as he turned down alleys, crossed puddles and jogged down streets that were silent as a graveyard apart from the rain and wind.
He remembered how he had taken her hand in his and had tried to feel for a pulse that was not there. He had envisioned seeing the light leave his father’s eyes as he murdered him, had imagined him begging for mercy and had told himself that he would spit in his face when that happened.
The street was closed at the end and the houses were built close together. A lone cat scurried across the road to hide under a car as a flash of lightning lit up the sky. He could feel the dagger pressing into his palm as he neared the house at the end and he welcomed the feeling of cold, blind rage that washed over him as he slowly slipped out the key that the old man had given him years ago, slid it in and heard the click that announced that he had opened the door.
His father had always told him to look him in the eye when he was talking to him. Well today would be the last day. He would stare down into those icy blue eyes and see the moment when they became lifeless. He would drive the knife home and dip his fingers into the wound after that. He almost groaned in anticipation as he pictured the warm ruby red blood covering his fingers.
The old man was sleeping on his back and the light from the hall cast his face in pale shadow. He had pulled the curtains over the window in an attempt to block out the storm, Abdul noted and rolled his eyes. He was standing next to the bed now, the dagger poised to strike at any second. The man’s eyes were closed, he realised he would have to wake him up if he wanted to see the light leaving them when he finally killed him. Slowly leaning over his sleeping form, Abdul ran the tip of the knife over his uncle’s upper lip. That seemed to do the trick.
His uncle gasped as the blade drew warm blood that dripped down onto the white pillow and opened his eyes. Those eyes that were so much like his father’s stared back at him in numb disbelief as he lay silent and unmoving on the bed. Abdul admired the man for that; for not saying anything and accepting his fate, After all, he deserved it. Then, with a manic grin plastered across his face, and his mother’s face burning behind his eyelids, he drove the dagger into the exact spot his father had when he had killed his mother. The icy blue eyes blinked twice and then they simply stared ahead, lifeless.
He decided to leave the knife protruding from the wound instead of yanking it out. It looked better that way.
Minaal Mohsin Maan