Sudha Ramnath posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-55 on 2023-09-08

Bittu had offered to surrender! Bittu- the successful killer for hire, the dreaded hitman who had been dodging the police for years! The monster who carried out heartless murders of underworld dons, honest bureaucrats and religious leaders for huge amounts of money. Inspector Verma was shocked. He wondered what could be the secret behind the change of heart. Verma's mind went back in time. Which was Bittu's last murder? Yes! That attempt on the life of the minister. He escaped, but one of the policemen on guard duty lost his life. Karan. Honest and kind, oddly mismatched to the police profession- A gentle soul with an anxious face who encouraged the offenders to turn into good samaritans.  But back to Bittu. Verma had been chasing Bittu for long. Every time, he would escape by a whisker and leave him frustrated. *** The surrender was an anti-climax. Bittu walked in tamely, looking nothing like his image of a hardened killer.  He seemed harassed, defeated and disturbed. Verma put him into the holding cell and sent a message to the higher-ups asking for an escort van to take him to the jail.  Even though he was jubilant, he kept wondering about the secret behind not just his change of heart but that of his whole personality. *** Alone in the cell, Bittu huddled to himself. After the failed attempt on the minister, his next assignment was killing a jealous husband. He had confidently walked in with a rifle and adjusted the scopes. His finger was about to squeeze the trigger when he suddenly felt someone nudge his hand. The bullet went off its mark. Alerted by the sounds, his target escaped. Exasperated, he looked behind angrily, but there was no one. This began happening every time he tried to do his job. After a frustrated attempt, he sat in the darkness thinking about it when he heard a disembodied voice. "This is Karan. Do you remember?  You killed me when you tried to assassinate the minister.  I am now your guardian ghost. I am going to make sure you don't commit any more sins. Now, the only way out for you is to surrender." Bittu had been afraid of ghosts since childhood, and the constant fear of a hovering ghost got to him. After a few more failed attempts, he decided to surrender. *** Slumped in a corner of the cell, Bittu was fully alert and was peering into the darkness fearfully. Except for the night duty constable, who was given strict instructions to keep an eye on Bittu, the station was empty. The clock struck twelve. The dark corner of the cell slowly began glowing, and a faint form materialised. It shimmered and glowed, and finally, Karan's anxious face appeared. Bittu tried to paste himself into the walls. Karan's voice, sounding hollow and echoing in the cell, spoke. "Good boy, Bittu. You listened to me and surrendered. Just remember. I will be watching you, and if you return to your old ways, I will haunt you." If ghosts had fingers, Karan would have wagged his forefinger at him. "I have other tasks and other people whom I must reform. Bye then." Karan disappeared.   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!