The Haunter and the Haunted #3

The Haunter and the Haunted #4

Read Also: The Haunter and the Haunted #2

Chapter 3: Three Lost Souls

It was a full moon tonight. Wolves howled angrily, owls hooted loudly, leaving a chilly sensation in the stuffy air. The forest was deserted as its tall trees stood like sentinels trying to wade off evil. In the midst of it, Max sat confused. “Where am I?”, he wondered. Walking down a bushy path, a young girl appeared in front of him. Recognizing her, he pleaded for mercy, “Not again! please don’t! I’m sorry I abandoned you. Please forgive me!” Soaked in water and tears, she cried aloud, “you promised to be there… But you left. You allowed her do this to me. Why?” The question echoed from one end of the forest to another. Suddenly, he slipped and fell, knocking down a scouring rabbit. Then, he heard a cold whisper saying, “it’s happening again!” Screaming at the top of his voice, he found himself in his hotel room. Panting, he lamented, “this dream again… Why me Lord? When will I find peace? She keeps haunting me.” Recalling his experience, he almost drowned in his free flowing tears.

The shrill cry of the telephone travelled through the big house, waking Graham up. Getting up, he took a quick glance at the wall clock,”2am! Who might this be? he babbled. Still half-awake, he picked up the phone. “Hey Graham! Sorry I woke you up”, Max said apologetically. Settling into one of the bedroom chairs, Graham asked, “Max?! Son, how are you? Can’t sleep as usual?” Letting out a lifeless giggle, Max affirmed, “unfortunately, yes! Well, that’s not why I called you. I’ve started my research. You, the sheriff and I need to see later in the day. Say hi to the Mrs.! Take care!”, and he hung up before Graham could utter any word. Smiling, Graham thought, “always in a hurry”! Mrs. Clara Graham, who had been eavesdropping asked, “Max yea? what’s up?” “You know, security issues!”, he replied. “Honey, you never really told me much about Max. What’s his deal?”. Heaving a sigh, he started, “Well, I met Max about 10 years ago while I worked in that elite task force. A distraught kid who had lost his sisters. He had two sisters; a set of twins. Right from birth, he dotted on the younger of them, Darcy. One day, the girls fought which almost resulted in fatal injuries. When he found out, he smacked the eldest brutally out of anger. According to him, what he didn’t realise was he just created a monster. Her name was Becky. From that day, she hated everyone including herself. She got into fights at school, she craved attention. But the parents didn’t care, they were always travelling. Max was the father they knew. Nevertheless, he didn’t get close either because he loved Darcy more.

When the CIA recruited him, he travelled for a while before returning home. Something terrible happened during his trip. The girls had gone to spend time at the beach with some neighbors. They both got drowned that day. Upon his return, Max was told Becky drowned her sister in anger while they fought and in the process, lost her life too. Max has never been the same since then. Nightmares, trances, you name it. For someone that broken, he is really good at hiding his pains. But he indulged me as I gained his trust.” Slow desolate tears rolled down Clara’s cheeks as she mumbled, “it’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what that feels like. Wait a minute, do you feel he can do the job?” Laughing now, he added, “Max blames himself for that incident. He’ll stop at nothing until this killer is found. I guarantee it! That’s why he got dismissed from the agency. He disobeyed direct orders just to save some little kids. He is the best, I assure you”. He gave his wife a peck and laid down beside her. Eyes fixed on the ceiling, his mind drifted to his past tours with Max.

Dusk passed away but its impact on this Saturday was still felt. Grey clouds hovered effortlessly, giving no chance to the coin shaped sun to come forth. Matt frowned as Graham joined him in his car. “Hey! Why the frown? You look despicable!” Graham teased. Smiling at his friend’s joke, he responded, “well, because I don’t like being summoned. Even less when it’s from a nutjob…” Understanding his friend’s usual criticism, Graham said, “stop it please! That kid did the right thing. Why can’t you let it go?” “You keep supporting him. Yes, he did the right thing. But where did that leave us? Hmmm… The task force was disbanded. He is great at what he does but I won’t allow him boss me around. No!!!”, Matt barked.

Now at the County’s popular Springs hotel, they both climbed up the stairs and knocked on Max’s door. The door opened halfway and they trudged in slowly. Max appeared, beckoning them to the settee. Without exchanging pleasantries, he started, “I’ve studied the photos, the crime scene, the victims’ background etc. You knew these men well, yea? They had something in common; they all have military or paramilitary backgrounds. These were well trained men! Posthumous analysis show head injuries on all of them, which was not the cause of death but interestingly, no sign of struggle. This means whoever did this was either stronger or knew them personally. Taking a closer look, I don’t think they expected the blow because the person was known to them. In your opinion, who do you think could have killed these vibrant ex-servicemen effortlessly?” Irritably, Matt blurted, “you are nuts! How could they have known the killer? A psycho killer doesn’t need an excuse to murder. Mr. smart guy!” Angrily, Max blasted, “hey! You called me for a reason. Let me do my job!” “Must you two argue every time? That’s enough Matt. It’s ok Max. Please continue.” Graham said. “You better keep him on a short leash. If this continues, I’m out of here.” Max added. “So, let’s continue! Did you know these men had a history in abuse of women? Think about it, a long list of people bent on destroying them”. Walking down to the window, he demurred and added quietly, “these are just theories for now but what if that’s the reason they were targeted? And what if the killer is a woman?”


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