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The house of the professor was hauntingly silent at that hour. The inspector wanted to reach the professor’s house before night fell. But the traffic in the city was terrible that day.  To add to the injury, the stubborn professor wanted to meet him in person about the serial killer he was investigating.  The house was dimly lit. The door was open. The inspector knocked before entering the house.

“The inspector!  I presume” the professor was stooping over the table where a big map of the city was pinned. He greeted the inspector without even looking up. The walls were adorned with books of various topics. The inspector took a walk around and came near the table where the professor was standing.

“I will be with you in a minute” the professor said. “Did you drive all the way here?” he asked.

“No, I have a driver”

“Are you still in duty?”

“Nope. I am done for the day. I just wanted to know what you had to say about our latest case.”

“In that case, there is single malt in the dining table. Help yourself”

The inspector walked to the table and poured two glasses of Glenfiddich.  There was another glass of unfinished drink.

“I am sorry! I didn’t see your half filled glass. I poured another one for you.” Inspector said.

“That is alright. Optimist eh?”

“Did you leave that there to judge me?”

The professor walked from the table to inspector. “Who am I to judge you? How can I help you?”

“You know most of the things about the case. We need a profiling.”

“You have an entire department for that I hear.”

“Though serial killers are not new to India or Tamilnadu but this guy’s frequency alarms me. Sometimes there are two corpses on a single day. Sometimes three months without anything.”

“But he kills old men. Mostly ATM securities. Their skulls are smashed with blunt objects. There is no set pattern in his killings. That was what I was looking for in the map over there.”

“That is what puzzles me. Can a killer have a sudden urge to do the act and then disappear?”

“Of Course he can. But I had a look at the timings of the killing. Most of the killings happened in middle of the night. The window is from 1 AM to 3 AM. So he had to have a vehicle with him.”

“He had killed people in the main areas now. So the roads didn’t give away any tyre marks. But we got marks from one of the murder place. It is a single track suggesting he drove a motorbike. We are yet to confirm the make though.”

The professor carelessly ran his hand over his bald head.

“Did you tonsure your head for any temple?”

“Oh! I am not a believer. It gets so messy in summers. So I tend to shave my head in summers.”  He had almost completed his drink.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“I need to book a ticket to Varanasi” the bald man was in hurry outside the counter.

“You need to fill this form sir” the attendant pushed a form towards him.

“Virendranath Sharma” the bald man filled his name in the space provided.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The room of the professor didn’t have any photos of him. The cupboard was rich with certificates and the accolades he had got over a period of time. His specialty was in training students in advanced forensics and surveillance. Helping police was not new to him. He had given his valuable suggestions for many of the cases. Inspector was new to the city and everybody spoke Professor Virendranath Sharma with high regards.

They drank silently. Inspector was one who disturbed the silence “I still do not understand. What makes him do all these things? I have seen worst swine in my experience. But this guy seems to enjoy what he is doing”

The professor chuckled, “The ability commit a crime without any guilt is the starting point of becoming human. Spirituality is more like a compensation we give for our tortured soul.”

“Beyond good and Evil. Friedrich Nietzsche. I expected this from you” The inspector seemed happy about his knowledge.

The professor shook his head. “This is from Bhagavat Gita. But basically both are same. Some people do not know when they become monsters. They have that urge to kill for simplest of the reasons. The catalyst may be a smell, a song they heard long back which trigger bad memories. They look for hapless victim. In our case, they are old men without any resources to defend themselves”

“What else can you tell about him?”

“He didn’t give us much anyway. But serial killers have the tendency to watch their case closer. He might gather TV interviews, paper clippings etc. He may even come and talk to you about the case. Usually they take something from the victim as a trophy. Given our victims, it is highly unlikely.”

“Nothing was taken from the victims. Yes.  He kills for fun. For some unknown satisfaction he is getting because of it.”

“If what you are saying is true and if the killer is half clever as I think, he would not serve sentence. He may plead insanity and walk away as a freeman.”

The inspector clenched his fist. He pointed his revolver and said “If he gets away with this, I know how to serve justice to him”

“Anyone who fights with monsters should take care that he does not in the process become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”  The professor said, getting up indicating that the meeting is over. “Now that is Nietzsche”

“I will get back to you if I have anything else” the professor was back to his maps while the inspector left.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

He almost nailed it. Looking at the map and the pins I was sure that he is going to connect me to various crime scenes. He would have already requested the feeds from signal cameras. I know this bastard very well. I am in Chennai after 5 years. I missed the traffic cameras. I didn’t guess that can be used against me. I had to stop him. I talked to him few days back in Mumbai during a symposium. He was easy to talk to. He loved single malts. With few pegs inside, he gave away all the information about the case he was handling. My case. He talked something about footages. I didn’t guess it was the traffic footage. Now he is nailing my activities around the city for past few days. I walked inside the room where Professor Virendranath Sharma was bound and gagged and looked helpless. I tightened the noose in the ceiling before I tried to untie him. An approaching vehicle sound stopped me from continuing with the plan.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Hello Inspector” the voice in the other side of the phone was of the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

“Yes Sir”

“Are you in the professor’s house?”

“I just hit the main road. What is it sir?”

“Did he tell anything about the CCTV footage we sent over to him?”

“No Sir. But he was looking at some maps. And he was drunk. We spoke about the serial killers and Nietzsche before he ended the conversation.”

“That’s odd, he always quoted Carl Jung.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I was wiping the prints off the glass. I have to take one of these. It may have my saliva traces. I didn’t sweat on professor. He looked at me before I hung him in his own ceiling. “What you are doing is evil” he had said. “What is done out of love is beyond good and evil.” I thought.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The inspector came back as soon as possible to professor’s locked house. He forced himself into the house and he found a ticket copy booked for Varanasi in half an hour near the map. He immediately called up the control room. “The serial killer suspect is Male, 40 plus years of age, tonsured head and now heading to Central station. His name is Virendranath Sharma.”  He gave the details before checking the house. They found yellow color Yezdi bike in the garage. A fresh tyre track of a car was clear in the sandy road leading to the road.  Inspector damned himself for taking a drink with a killer.

A nude male corpse was lying in the nearby field with its face smashed beyond recognition.

I was at the bus station with my tope firmly set in my head. Some other city, some other day, some other men.  A smile slowly crept to my lips.

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