The rain has been falling non-stop for about a couple of hours now. The fact that it is still raining meant he would be late today, again. Lenient as he is , he was sure his superior would one day run out of patience. Late to work ,early to leave, unplanned time offs in between; anyone in his right mind would have blown his fuse by now. Strangely things have been pretty smooth so far. He knew that one day it will all come to an end, all that is left would be to pray that it is not today.
Thoughts of work have been distracting him for a while now but since then a certain aura of calmness seemed to descend on him. There was nothing he could do, the rain will not stop and without any protection he was not going to venture out from under the building. It was a stale mate, the one he believed he is enjoying quite a bit. Having come to the realization that he would be there for a while, he settled down to sit upon an old but still sturdy stool there and started to just look around a bit. In this part of town , being stuck out in the rain is one of the worst possible scenarios you can get into. Everyone goes inside their houses and shuts themselves in, the shops close down, and even the taxis stop running. Now how he ended up in this neighborhood is still a mystery. Until three months ago he was a proud owner of a tiny villa up river and had a handsome sum tucked away in various accounts across different banks. It started as a rain then too, a drop, a few drops and then came the rushing torrent of flood water that leveled his place and almost took him with it. With a grittiness unheard of people like him, he had clawed his way back from the depths and snatched his life away from the whirlpools threatening to silence him forever. The story ran for a week in the local edition papers till they found greener pastures to explore their creativity into. So from a fairly successful member of the society he had become a suffering survivor of one of the nature’s freak ‘accidents’. The celebrity status for the one that was alive, netted him some amount of money which when put together with all he had saved so far left him with a not too shabby amount, one which would not allow him to go back to his life before but would get him the big but lonely mansion at this part of the town. And there he is now. In a place where people even view rains as a stranger to be wary of, he has started the second phase of his life.
There were no regrets, no broken hearts he left behind when he decided to relocate. The only regret was his own , the only broken heart was his own heart. The day it all came down was just a week away from when he was getting ready to pop the question to Sally. It was not love, no ; it was something more, it was a connection he had felt when he was with her. Love is never blind, deaf and dumb, she knew he was ‘loaded’ and he knew she considered money as one of his attractive qualities. It was more of a comfortable arrangement but deep in his heart, he was deeply madly in love with her. The fact that she did not even come to see him once while he was in the hospital did not disturb him one bit. What finally tore him apart was the fact that she had left a message for him with her friend. There were no goodbyes, no anger, just a business letter.
It seems things have become a bit tedious for us now since you have lost everything. I do not blame you for what happened but at the same time I have to think about my future too. While you were recuperating I have met with a very nice gentleman called Victor who seems to be smitten with me. Since there is nothing more to look forward to after you have been released from the hospital, I am not sticking around. Victor and I are leaving for Canada this weekend. Hope you recover well
The letter, though worded simply, tore him into pieces. His sudden craving of solitude was the driving factor for finally settling down in this little corner of the world. There were days when he used to dream about her, dreams of a future he never had, but slowly they also faded. The memories were still there but they have started to look like old photographs, becoming less clear with each passing day. Deep down he still missed her, sometimes a smiled flashed on a colleague, and a word or a gesture would painfully remind him of her. Emotions would begin to flood his mind till he was sure he would drown , well almost drown, again. It had caused him a lot of trouble but gradually he managed to bring them down and be normal. The memories, the pain, the agony, all have become a part of him, a part he kept locked up inside; hidden behind a well crafted mask of indifference.
The rain shows no sign of stopping. The time for work has now passed and there was no point in going all the way like a wet cat to spend a few hours before travelling back all the way to his house again. The walk to his place took hardly 10 minutes; still he was drenched by the time he climbed up the stairs to his front door. The lights blinked on when he got inside, even though the house was a bit old, it still had some of the distinctive features found in most modern apartments. An intercom connected to the gate, automatic light sensors etc. He began climbing up the stairs to his first floor bedroom with a cheerful “Honey, I am home!” Slowly he reached his bedroom and opened the door.
“You know, I thought a lot about you today Sally, how I almost lost you and then how fate brought us back together. I just had to come see you after that”
He walked up to the female human head mounted on his bed room wall and slowly patted its head.
“Now now, don’t be all angry with me. I promise I will go to work tomorrow “
Hair had begun to fall down from the head. The mild smell of decay made him wrinkle his nose in disgust.
“Oh Sally my dear, I believe you have been a naughty little girl. Now that you started smelling like last time, I might have to replace you.”
He picked up the head, went to the window and threw it out into the dark as far as he could.
Tonight he has to work. Preparations have to be made. The heads are lasting longer now but he still could not preserve them enough to make them stay as long as he wanted. As per the plan he had charted out, tonight would be Sally for when she was young, very young, maybe sixteen. The younger they are, the longer the heads last.
He slowly climbed down and went out again, the rain did not seem to bother him. Tonight he will meet with another Sally again. Double-checking whether he had the bag with his tools and the map of the neighboring university area, he started walking slowly to the campus grounds.
And in another twelve hours news began spreading of the 8th student to be gone missing from the campus, never to be found again.