Rishav_Kumar-The_Last_Contract_1

The Last Contract 

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I’ve been here before.

It’s always been like this. A man comes, hands me a package, and goes away. I open the package, see what’s inside—a task, an errand, a murder—and heck, I just do it.

It’s a different guy this time. Burly, his beard braided and tied with beads, a tattoo running down his left cheek, he occupies the chair next to me.

“What are you sippin’ there old man?”

“Apple cider vinegar.”

“What does it taste like?”

“Like it melts your soul.”

He glares at me. “You do know why I’m here, don’t you?” he growls. “The boss personally sent me for this. You got some nerve rilin’ up the Big Man.” He lifts his right sleeve and that’s when I see it –a tombstone with ‘R.I.P’ scrawled in jagged letters. I know who he is.

“Is it true?” I take another swig. “Do they really call you the Cenotaph?”

The man scratches his beard. He bares his teeth. “Yup! I get to kill ’em and then…I write the messages on their graves.”

People around are walking, talking, eating, oblivious to two killers among them.

“You killed Vicky, the boss’s son,” he snaps. “You didn’t think of the consequences, old man.”

“Family is family.”

“You don’t know the concept of deficit, do you?”

“Never had to pay any taxes,” I whistle.

I see him clenching his fists. His face twists into a snarl. “Get up,” he raps the table. “It’s time.”

Walking down the road, we pass by my favorite shop, decked with furniture. Polished chairs and almirahs are lined up. The carpenter has been busy. It brings a smile to my face.

We encounter a dead end and slide into a muddy pathway. Reaching the wilderness, he beckons me to stop. He draws a long, serrated knife and juggles it between his hands. “You didn’t do him any good, you know. Vicky had eyes for the carpenter’s wife. He shouldn’t have resisted, and you shouldn’t have interfered.” He leers. “After I kill you, I’m gonna kill everybody else.”

“You’ll never find them.”

“You doubt my abilities.”

“And you think I’m just an old man.”

“Last wishes?” he asks.

I raise my flask. “Drink with me?”

He nods. I take out another flask and hurl it at him. We drink.

“What does it taste like?”

He spits and bursts out laughing. Moments later he is clawing at his throat, his eyes bulging. He falls to the ground, foaming at the mouth, twitching. “Melts your soul, doesn’t it?” I ask.

He stops moving.

I turn around, going back the way I came, reaching the furniture shop. I pick one of the chairs and recline on it, drinking from my flask. I dig into my pockets, pulling out a cellphone. The call connects and a voice on the other side whispers, “Dad?”

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Rishav Kumar is an IT professional from Kolkata, India. His stories have been published in local magazines. He loves to write, is a voracious reader and likes watching movies and playing video games.

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