Anton hoped the bloody bastard would slip on one of the ragged stones. He had been chasing him for nearly a quarter of an hour now. But Kapil did not seem to be getting tired. The idiot jumped across something. Anton strained to see what it was. The hooting sound rang a bell. Train tracks! Anton knew he could not allow the train to come in between them. He might lose Kapil. Should he just shoot him and get done with it? Nah, dusk had already fallen. He would not get a clear shot. He screwed up his eyes and gritted his teeth. Power surged into his legs as he ran forward.
He shut his eyes and took a long leap, missing the train by inches. The train zoomed behind him silencing everything but his pacing heart.
All he saw ahead was Kapil’s fast disappearing form. He turned around once to see if his colleagues had caught up. There was nothing behind him except the vanishing train. What else could he expect of those bumbling idiots with their huge paunches? He was not going to let Kapil escape now, after all these efforts. His hands instinctively checked his holster. His gun was in place. He might need backup—if not human, then machine. He didn’t want to end up like those eleven young girls. The images of their mutilated bodies crept into his mind. ‘Who said the police are fearless?’ he thought to himself.
A lone structure loomed before him. It seemed to be a shed covered on three sides with brick walls and an asbestos sheet on top. Anton saw Kapil run into it. He is trapped, Anton thought, and rushed to the shed and peeped inside. Unused equipment and tools were scattered around a huge old rusty machine. Kapil was nowhere to be seen. Instinctively, Anton’s right hand brought out his gun from the holster. He poised it steady with his left hand.
“Kapil, come out. The game’s over.” Anton’s voice echoed inside the shed. He listened intently. There was absolute silence. He looked back hoping to see someone. At least, Rajesh should have reached by now. They must have lost him. Anton’s heart skipped a beat. With or without them, he had to go on. Kapil had to be caught. He decided to shoot the fellow and be done with it.
“We know it is you, Kapil. Surrender and confess. Things will get easy for you.” Silence. Anton crept into the shed slowly. He could feel beads of sweat roll down his back. He hoped Kapil would not smell him. Suddenly, a huge blow came from below and Anton’s hands flew up. The bastard had been crouching in the corner of the entrance itself. As Anton lost his balance and stumbled back, he could see his gun flying into the dark night. Before he could fall on his back, something smashed into him and broke his fall. Anton could hear his bones shatter. He staggered and turned. Kapil stood before him with an enormous iron rod in his hands. Did he actually use that? He was holding it as casually as a cricket bat. Anton wondered how he could marvel at Kapil’s strength at a time like this. He fell down like that spineless doll he had seen the joker play with at the circus, when he had been there last Christmas with Sheeba. She had laughed out loud and he had been so happy. Sheeba!
“Die, you pig!” Kapil said and stamped Anton’s chest with his brown boots. Anton could hear more crunching sounds from within. He gasped. “Die,” Kapil said again and lifted the iron rod straight above Anton’s head. Anton clenched shut his eyes. He didn’t want to feel that on his skull. He opened his mouth to plead for his life but the words refused to leave his vocal cords. He closed his eyes and saw Sheeba. Anton remembered kissing his pregnant wife’s tummy. So, was this how it would end? He would not get the chance to see his child. Probably, he deserved the punishment. It would shatter Sheeba even further but she would live for their child. His thoughts were more painful than his smashed ribcage. The shot rang out at that moment. He had never been happier to hear his colleagues. Kapil staggered but Anton could still feel the fugitive’s leg on his chest. Two more shots rang out. The fiend had fallen. Anton knew he was badly injured but at least he would live to see his child.
You wake up from deep slumber, parched and famished, and find yourself in a bottomless pit—dark and dingy with the foul smell of excreta and rotting scars and no seeming way to escape—what do you do?
This is the predicament that ex-ACP Anton Pinto faces when he reluctantly joins the investigation of mysterious disappearances of men from affluent family from the suburbs of Mumbai. There is an inexplicable pattern behind the abductions and all suspicions point towards an old, physically-challenged, mysterious lady. Soon, Anton discovers that the seemingly unrelated men have one common link—the most popular and expensive international school in Mumbai and an undisclosed crime.
Following clues that span from schools and old-age homes to illegal dingy hospitals, Anton is led through a labyrinth of incest, abuse, torture and suffering, spanning decades.
What secret does the school hide behind its gates? What was the undisclosed crime that is thirsty for justice? Will Anton be able to save the men? Will justice be served?
Author Bio: Archana Sarat is an Author and Poet for the last ten years. She shuttles between Chennai and Mumbai and loves both cities passionately. Her works have been published in various popular newspapers, magazines and anthologies like The Times of India, The Economic Times, The SEBI and Corporate Laws Journal, The CA Newsletter, Me Magazine, The Science Reporter, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, the WRIMO India Anthology, the GloMag Literary Journal and many more. She is popular in the online world for her flash fiction that appear every Saturday, called ‘Saturday Shots’. Though she is a Chartered Accountant by qualification, she took up her childhood love for writing as her vocation. She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from The Writers Bureau, UK. She lives with her husband and two sons in Mumbai. You can connect with her at www.archanasarat.com.
Birds of Prey is her first novel, available at bookstores across the country as well as on Amazon.