Blazing Respite

Shilpa Keshav posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-52 on 2023-05-20

It was a grievous day for the families who had lost their 19 year-olds to the ghastly fire. News channels flashed the woeful story of the four friends- Madhav, Prakash, Amy and Sonia- who had planned to spend their weekend at Madhav’s farmhouse. However, fate had hatched wicked plans. The gas cylinder had blasted, charring the four unsuspecting teens. “Give me a detailed report of the incident,” the Commissioner of police commanded. “Madhav’s father is the MLA as well as my dear friend. I want to leave no stone unturned.” “Sir, there doesn’t seem to be any foul play,” Inspector Sawant said. “The fire broke out around 12.30 am. Perhaps they had cooked instant noodles, as we found empty packets in the lawn. After boozing, they probably forgot to switch off the gas. Later someone must’ve tried to light a cigarette. The blast happened. The parents have confessed that their children were active smokers.” “Have you questioned the witnesses?” “Yes sir. The driver and watchman. They’ve been working with the MLA for many years. They’re clean,” Sawant replied. “Hmm. Let’s declare it as an unfortunate accident and shut the case,” Commissioner sighed. *** Not very far away, a teary eyed man lights a candle in front of his young daughter’s garlanded photograph. He bitterly remembers the fateful night when his only daughter had set herself on fire. Struggling in the hospital with 80% burns, she had painfully confessed the truth. “Two weeks ago, when I was coming back from my tuition, a car pulled over and someone yanked my dupatta. It was Madhav. He didn’t realize that I was his devoted driver’s daughter. I fell flat on the road. His friends, who introduced themselves as Sonia and Amy persuaded me to accompany them in their car, even though I refused. They drove me to a secluded place… and…” Hot tears scalded her skin as she screamed in pain. “Madhav and Prakash raped me. I’m sorry, papa. I wasn’t brave enough to reveal the truth. Nor live with it.” And then she breathed her last. His beloved daughter, for whom he lived after his wife’s demise laid still. Her contagious giggles he wouldn’t hear anymore. The greatest grief for a parent is to see their child die before them. He knew how influential Madhav’s family was. He swore not to shed a tear till he avenged her death. He didn’t have to wait long. The culprits were partying in the farmhouse when he had stealthily switched off the main power supply. Having worked with them for long, he knew exactly where the CCTVs were installed. Entering the kitchen through the back door, he had switched on the gas stove before exiting. After disposing noodles packet on the lawn, he had switched on the power. He was sure that someone would surely light a cigarette… and boom!  Rest in peace, my child. The tears that had been held up till now flows incessantly, dousing his blazing soul with respite.     Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!