One Last Drink
“A toast to life!” all shouted as they enjoyed their drinks. It was weekend night and it had become a ritual for all the police detectives to drink and enjoy their heart out. “The last rounds of drinks are on me,” announced one of them. He was a young man of thirty and most cheerful of them all. A junior detective, he was working on an unsolved murder case of a young girl. Everyone yelled, “Long live Reno!” and drank.
Everyone bade goodbye to each other, with only Reno staying. He thought of having one last drink of Whiskey Mac before calling it a day. At the bar counter he ordered his drink. While it was being made Reno took a look around and saw a beautiful lady sitting next to him. She was also waiting for her drink to be served. She looked blue. “Seems like she had a bad day,” Reno mused.
“Your drink, sir” the bartender’s voice took Reno by surprise. “What?” asked Reno, turning his gaze away from her. “Your drink, sir” repeated the bartender. “Yes, thank you,” mumbled Reno trying to hide his embarrassment. Reno took his drink and started sipping it.
The song that was playing in the bar was Whiskey Lullaby, which talked of love and death. “At last, my favourite track!” Reno exclaimed. “Mine too,” said the beautiful lady while staring into the void. Reno again looked at her. There was something strange about her, which could not be explained but felt.
It was midnight and closing time. The bartender dimmed the lights signaling it was the last call. Reno paid for his drinks, picked up his jacket and left.
A Strange Rendezvous
Reno reached home about 1 AM. As he lay in bed he couldn’t help but think about the lady in the bar. He also thought about the murder scene where he with his team went for preliminary investigation. The dead body couldn’t be inspected by him as it was sent to the hospital on orders of his boss. With these thoughts Reno drifted off to sleep.
A strange creaking sound like someone walking on a wooden floor filled the room and gradually become persistent. Reno woke up with a start and switched on the lights, but he could see no one. “My mind must be playing tricks on me,” he thought, and went back to bed. Again there a sound but this time it was more prominent. It was a loud thump which came from under Reno’s bed.
Gradually it transformed into a screeching as if somebody was scratching their nails on the bed’s metal frame. Reno was alarmed and scared with his heartbeat racing fast. “I must be dreaming,” he muttered.
Everything suddenly stopped just as it started and there was quiet for a moment. Then abruptly a faint sobbing sound filled his room. He couldn’t muster the courage to get out of his bed and explore the mysterious. He looked around in the dark baffled. There she was, peeking from behind the curtain, with long dishevelled hair, fiery red eyes and blood dripping fangs. She looked like a dammed hag said to wander between heaven and hell.
Floating midair, she stared at Reno. He tried to shout, but his voice was subdued by the shrill screaming voice of the entity, which amazingly vanished into thin air just as soon as she came close to him.
Reno passed out for the rest of the night.
On The Other Side
Finally the sun rose and so did Reno. The frightful experience of the previous night still disturbed him. He was absorbed in his thoughts when his phone rang. It was an associate on the line. “Hey buddy, where are you? The boss is all in a fit asking for you!” he said. “Tell him I won’t be coming today. I’m sick,” Reno replied, and hung up the phone. After about an hour he managed to gather himself. Taking a sealed envelope with him, Reno walked out of the house.
He walked on the streets aimlessly all day long. That evening he found himself in the same bar ordering a drink. Reno’s thoughtful gaze was fixed on the sealed envelope. He had barely started drinking, when the same woman whom Reno had noticed in the bar the previous day came and sat on the empty bar stool next to him.
Looking at him, she said unexpectedly, “Do you not know? She wants justice”. Reno looked at her with eyes that betrayed puzzlement. She continued, “You’ll see her before she leaves for the other side.” She got up, placed her business card on the counter and left. Reno was dumbstruck. He read the card lying on the counter. It stated: Miss Jones- The Psychic Medium.
Sure as hell, that night the entity returned to Reno as a beautiful girl dressed in all black. Her hair looked like a cascade of black waters, with her smoky eyes complementing her devilish beauty.
“What brings you here?” Reno asked warily, wiping his forehead soaking with cold sweat. “I never left,” she replied with a slight laugh placing her hand on Reno’s hand and told him the name of her murderer. “He will pay”, she said before fading into oblivion.
He said nothing but a runaway tear streaked his left cheek. Reno finally knew.
The night went by peacefully.
Beyond The Pale
Reno got to work early next morning. He decided to look up on the paranormal on the internet. “Damn, there are so many of them… witches, banshees, succubi…” he said smiling to himself.
His boss arrived just when Reno was turning off his computer. A bald, stout man of over forty, he was known for his connections with the powerful. “Ah Reno, here you are!” he exclaimed. “I hope you filed the closure report on that girl’s murder case… and oh, don’t you worry about the dead body. It’s all been taken care of” he said with a cunning smile.
Reno said nothing but tore up the sealed letter he had been carrying with him, and threw it at his boss’ face. It was his promotion letter. “You don’t want a promotion, huh?” roared his boss. Reno didn’t speak. “You won’t get a second chance” he said, struggling to control his rage.
“Why did you kill her?” Reno asked suddenly. His boss was taken aback. “She got herself killed because she came to know something that she was not supposed to. No one will believe you!” this time he really screamed, more bragging than confessing. “You yourself will tell it to the people” Reno said quietly, pulling out his badge and tossing it on the table. “And as for the second chance, I don’t care. I quit” saying this he walked out in a huff.
A day later came the news of Reno’s boss dying of a massive heart attack. He had left behind a note revealing his involvement in the dead girl’s murder case and Reno’s sincere attempts to solve it. Reno was reinstated to the police department and granted a promotion. He got her body released, and performed the last rites as she had no known family.
“At last she got herself justice,” observed Reno drinking a few days later at the bar along with Miss Jones. “She was beautiful”, said Miss Jones wistfully. “I know”, Reno sighed.
The evening progressed as Whisky Lullaby played in the background. END.
Rating - 126/200
Judges - Pankaj V. (Shaan), Mayank Sharma and Mohit Trendster
Total Rating (3 Rounds) - 409/600 (68.17%)