The Last Killing - 1st Prize

-Arfa Arshad

Memory. It is something everybody prays for. I, too, pray for it, but mine never matches
theirs. While they pray for sharper memories, I cry for the everyday affairs that are etched in
my mind so deeply that no amount of time can obliterate them.

“Grandma, look at that! As soon as Lily saw the kitten in my arms, her delight streaked
through her like a comet. Her almondbrown, upwardslanting eyes sparkled with excitement.

I looked at the frail figure occupying the bed. Medication had
caused her oncevivacious eyes
to droop. For all these years, Granny had taken care of me. Despite my father’s insistence
that she was not related, her care and love convinced me otherwise.

Stella, why doesn’t she respond?

Love has no language, Lily. She still loves us. She’s just a bit weak. Granny’s arthritic
fingers took hold of my hand. I looked at her and kissed her sunken, creased cheeks.

We are sorry for your loss, Miss Arnault. The sympathetic, vigilant eyes of Officer Bond
greeted me. We will give our best to find the culprit.

You should, officer. My daddy never had a thorn to his name, did he?
No, ma’am, he was a noble veteran.
Noble veteran. Right. He indeed was. You should give your best, Officer Bond. Murderers
are notorious for learning from the most accomplished murderers. Tell me, I say this time,
looking into his eyes, are you conscious of all the unsolved murder mysteries surrounding
us? Some are unsolved, while many more are; concealed in plain sight. I wish you luck,
Officer Bond.

The pitiful look he once had turned into one of suspicion. Good.

I turned around to find the antique wooden casket lowered down. Two burly guards opened
up the lid. With a couple more condolences along my way, I reached the coffin. There, lying
inside, clad in bandages to hold his body together, was my father. His pale face set in
agony, with lips twisted in a noiseless scream.
Lily, are you sure you lost your ring in your closet? Her giggles hinted that she was
kidding around. Before I could turn around, Lily playfully slammed the closet door shut.

At that moment of darkness, I could hear three distinct noises. One was Granny’s laboured
breathing, the other was Lily’s clapping, and the third was the heavy thud of footsteps that I
identified well. Just in a few seconds, I could no longer listen to Lily. My quivering fingers
silently pushed open the door, enough for me to see Lily’s face masked with duct tape.

As he approached Granny, I cast a glance at him. His devilish smile was back. My throat
choked as I saw him yanking her oxygen mask with his sinful fingers. Sharp, wheezing filled
the room as she toiled for every breath her faulty lungs wailed for. Every memory of her
taking care of me, despite; her chronic illness, flashed before me.

My audacious old Grace, what did you think? That you will reveal it all? Was all this not
painful enough? His face contorted with rage, and each of his pungent breaths lashed upon Grandma’s
 bluish face.

Stella will never know that I am not her father and that I killed her parents!” he roared
wildly. Once she turns eighteen, she will hand over all the properties to me, and I will send
her, too, to all of you. But now, dear mother, it is your time to go.

All my panicked sobs halted as the cardiac monitor flared up with the prolonged ominous
beep, declaring that she was no longer with us.

His demonic cackle sent tingles down my spine. My heart pulsed in anxiety as he neared Lily.
My mind, my bodyeverything was paralysed by cold fear. I could no longer move or think; I
was a mere spectator.

My little defective doll, how I loathe you, irrespective of knowing well that you are beneath
me. His lips curled inward with each murderous glare he cast on Lily.

What a joy it will be to have your blood on my hands. His dextrous fingers wrapped
fiercely around her short neck, compelling her to gasp bitterly. Your mother once called me
a sadist; I should live up to that name, Lily. Like the professional he was with his engraved
stiletto knife, he sliced her neck and stabbed her sternum twice. A metallic tinge suffocated
the air. Blood oozed into the white rug, tainting it forever. On his way out, my supposed
father shot the kitten, her last meow hanging in the air.
After ten minutes, he came back and groomed everything up. Like he always does.
Miss Arnault, we should proceed with the funeral prayer now. I nodded to the priest and
glanced down at my powerhungry politician father uncle for the last time.

I was informed at 3 a.m. that my father had passed away untimely. “Murder, they said. The
postmortem report I obtained this morning; confirmed his death due to hypoxia and severe
injuryrelated haemorrhage. Superficial cuts around his neck, two serious jabs to his sternum
and a horrifying stab to the apex of the heart through the fourth and fifth ribs.

His sobbing secretary approached me as I was taking my seat. May he rest in peace. We will
never know what your father’s last words were, will we? He was such a fan of last words.

My father  uncle was a diehard lover of the last words. Whomever he killed, he recited their
last words to me as a lullaby. And with the cruel memory, I have been blessed with; I can
actively recall each of his words with his joyful face as he relished his crime.

“So tragic, I mumbled as I leaned back on the chair, encountering the clear, sunshiny sky.
I closed my eyes, effortlessly recollecting the last words he spoke to me. His last words. His
terrorstricken eyes were fresh in my mind.

Ste… Stella, how could you? No! do… don’t kil… Ahh!

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