‘BAD KARMA PUNCHED YA- DR.NORTH’

The big white wall of the illuminated suite seemed to shriek out these words. Beneath the words, a big green-colored heart sticker stood stuck on the wall. The cops were all over the room and the body of the victim lay sprawled out on the big mahogany poster bed. 

“It is Doctor North again. He is strangled to death and the eyes are pulled out with the same clinical precision. The murder has North written all over and then of course, his calling card, bad Karma and the green heart”, the chief Inspector said grimacing at the wall.

“This is the fifth murder in six months and each one has been committed by this new killer on the block who calls himself Dr. North. We got to do something about this. Is there a pattern in the killings? Serial killers too very often have a motive however screwed up it is”, the officer exclaimed.

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******

Well, read the book to find out what happens next. Thunderous applause reverberated through the Cambridge book shop located in the heart of the city. A book signing session followed and soon there was a serpentine queue. Everyone wanted the signature of the celebrated author Samuel Clooney.

“Sir, when will the killer Doctor North be caught? This is the fifth book and he is still out there. I heard that the sixth book would be the last in the series. Is this true?”

Samuel Clooney looked at the teenager and smiled. Clooney, as he was mostly called, was not so much like his namesake, the heartthrob George Clooney. He had an almost crooked nose and a pale countenance which made him look anything but handsome. 

But, he was the author of a bestselling series featuring a psychopath killer. It was a runaway success and he had kept his readers on tenterhooks as the trail for the killer got murkier with each book. 

“You never know. Keep guessing. Enjoy the journey rather than thinking about the destination buddy!!!” Clooney smirked before signing off.

He steered his way through the crowd and had just stepped out of the bookstore. And it happened. 

He felt it. Someone pushed him towards the road which was bustling with traffic at this hour. And he almost saw death staring him in the face. Fortunately, on an impulse, he jumped aside and avoided the speeding car.

He was trembling and he was hurt. Blood oozed from his knee and he was in a state of shock. But, he was quite sure that someone had pushed him on purpose. But, why on earth would anyone do so?

******

Author Samuel Clooney’s brush with fame had been a recent one. He had been a struggling writer all his life doing odd jobs in newspapers to sustain his hand to mouth existence. He had a family. He met his wife Maureen when he was a high school boy with dreams in his eyes. She was the prettiest and one of the most humble souls he had come across. His childhood had been a haze as he had spent his early years hurled from one foster home to another. Maureen loved him with all her heart. It felt surreal. They tied the knot when they turned eighteen.

Clooney had thought he would move up the rung one day. He had always been fond of reading and had harboured the dream of becoming a famous writer since forever. He grew up on the staple diet of detective novels and would often picture himself writing one someday. 

Dreams have a strange quality about them. The harder it takes to reach them, the bitter they make you. Life did not turn out exactly as Clooney had envisaged. He had a family alright; a wife he loved and a son who looked so much like him. After years of labour, he could manage to write a crime novel. Alas, there were no takers. It did not go well with him. He took to alcohol. The inebriated state of mind made him feel less of a loser. He abused his wife and the pent up anger found a manifestation in those thrashings almost every other night. 

Just when it felt that life was slipping through his fingers, magic happened. A small-time publisher found his manuscript worth publishing. The book became a sleeper hit. He was ecstatic.

But, penury coupled with the angst of rejection had taken its toll. He was no more the bright and kind man Maureen Clooney had married.

She had endured his atrocities and suffered silently for she did not want their son to grow up in a broken home. And with the book’s success, she hoped things would look up. Their son, Victor, adored his dad. He was a reader too. And he would be the first one to read his manuscripts.  Maureen loved Victor a lot despite his eccentricities. And it was not on all nights that Sam misbehaved with her. He would come around, she wistfully thought.

*****

Two months later…

It was an unusually sunny morning, which was not an everyday occurrence for this part of the world. Clooney was busy reading his mails. There were lots of them. There were invitations to be on the panel of literature festivals and then there were publishers offering him numerous deals. He took sadistic pleasure in reading each one of them.  These were the people, who wouldn’t even look at his manuscripts not many moons ago.

His attention was suddenly caught by a green envelope which stood out. Quickly he tore it open. What lay inside the envelope bemused him. He looked at the little piece of paper which said, 

“Hotel Trafford, 21st July ” – Dr.North 

A small green heart was stuck below the message.

Clooney wondered what it meant. May be someone was playing a prank on him, he concluded. He knew the fictional character that he created had become a rage. But, such gestures made him realize as to how far he had come as a writer and he smiled.

*****

“Famous pop singer Jack Bowie found murdered in his hotel room”

Maureen looked at the newspaper and exclaimed, “No…”

“What the hell has happened?” Clooney asked as he buttered his bread.

“Singer Bowie has been murdered. He was in his room at hotel Trafford, it says. His eyes were pulled out and he was smeared with blood all over. The calling card of Dr. North was found along with the infamous tagline and a green heart”. 

“What? Murdered? What did you just say, Hotel Trafford? Dr. North? This cannot be happening. It is bizarre.”

Maureen looked at him and repeated, “Yes, Hotel Trafford. He was acquitted in the long ongoing case of child molestation just last week it mentions. Wasn’t one of the victims of that psycho killer in your books a pop singer too?”

Clooney was transfixed for a moment. He could clearly recall that the suspicious green letter had mentioned Hotel Trafford. And what was the date yesterday? He grabbed the newspaper and saw it. July 21st

Was this a joke or some sinister game? Did it mean what he thought it was? Yes, someone had mailed him the place and date of a murder a week before the crime was actually committed. He felt a shiver run through his body. Why was someone playing Dr. North to murder people?

“Are you alright, honey?”, Maureen broke his reverie.

“I am fine. You just get the hell out of here”, he yelled at her.

“I am just asking”, she said as tears rolled down her eyes.

“Don’t be a drama queen”. And he kicked her away from the breakfast table.

Maureen fell and her head hit the table. She stared at him with vengeance. Blood splattered from her forehead but her husband was already making himself a drink.

“You cannot just thrash me around like this Sam. Sometimes, I feel you have turned into that devious character that you have created. You cannot treat me like this”.

“Shut up bitch”, Clooney retorted. “I am already f*cked up”.

Maureen grabbed a vase, and as she was about to hit back, Victor appeared in the family living room. His mother stood up and looked at him with a long face.

“What is this that I am reading dad? Are you going to be in trouble?”

Clooney who was agitated and worked up looked at his son.

“Why should I be in trouble? It is not my mess. What can I do if someone has taken my fictional character way too seriously?”

******

In the coming months, Clooney received four more green envelopes mentioning random places and dates. And eventually, those places and dates turned out to be anything but random. Gruesome murders were committed in cold blood and the victims had an uncanny resemblance to Dr. North’s preys.

Police did contact Clooney as the crime was staged to look like as if it was committed by the psychopath from his books. 

Clooney chose not to share the information about the green envelopes.

Victor requested him many times to share the details with the cops, but to no avail. He was drunk on success. 

He was somehow enjoying the show. 

“Victor what adrenaline rush this whole affair gives me. Dr. Gabriel North has come alive. The character that I created through my quill does not merely exist in between those pages. I feel so powerful.” He laughed maliciously and looked at his son with an evil grin.

The police were frantically looking for the killer. But, the murderer was still at large.

******

Three months later…

Samuel Clooney was a happy man today. He had just finished writing the sixth and last part of the Dr. North series. 

“Maureen, Victor, I have done it. The series has come to a bittersweet end. People are waiting for Dr. North to be caught and I have baked up quite a twisted potboiler. We will celebrate today. I have booked a resort for us. Just the three of us.”

“I do not want to be a part of this madness anymore. Leave me out of this Sam. You are abominable. These books have made you into a vicious animal”.

“You filthy woman! I will beat the shit out of you”, Clooney jumped towards his wife.

“Please, not today. This would be our first family vacation in years”, Victor looked at them pleadingly.

*****

Whistling Woods Resort…

It had been two days and Clooney was having the time of his life. As he sat drinking vodka, he saw something near his door.

A green envelope.

No! He opened it animatedly. 

“Whistling Woods- 20th May” – Dr. North

“What the hell! What kind of a sick joke is this”, he shrieked as beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead.

“The green envelope..North…Whistling Woods… Green heart” 

“Hello, Samuel Clooney. Top of the morning to you!”

Clooney squinted towards the voice and saw a hooded shadow heading towards him.

“Who is it?”

“Oh, don’t you recognize me? I am the man of the hour, Dr. Gabriel North”.

Clooney found himself hyperventilating. What the hell! Was he hallucinating?

The shadow inched closer to him. He was a stout man with a masked face.

“Are you kidding me? You cannot be Dr. North. He is just a fictional character from my books,” he uttered vehemently.

“Oh, don’t deny the existence of him whom you birthed. I am here because of you. I was bred on those books and slowly and steadily I became him. I became Dr. North. Like him, I came to believe in poetic justice and ‘bad karma’. I killed all those scoundrels who had an evil side to them. And ah, how liberating it felt. But, then I realized that my creator, that is you Samuel, you are vile too. A lot of bad karma gathering up there. 

So, it is time, daddy”.

The apparition removed his mask and looked at Samuel with bloodshot eyes.

“Victor, what has come over you? Are you crazy? Watching too many gory movies, aren’t you? Cut the crap, I am spooked. You won”.

“I am not Victor daddy, I am Dr. North. You bred me and now I will kill my creator. You are a pathetic man. All that mattered to you ever was your writing and your inflated ego. You beat your wife and you are drunk on arrogance. Dr.North needs to make amends. You wanted me to be caught just to please those low life readers? Well, I have got news for you. Nobody can catch Dr. North. He is invincible. I have already destroyed your new manuscript.”

“No… I will call the cops…”

******

The police arrived on the scene an hour later.

It is that psychopath Dr. North again.”

Maureen looked at the bloody body of her husband with listless eyes. 

Victor smiled and uttered in hushed tones-

“Bad karma punched ya, as he winked at the green-coloured heart on the wall”.

***

==>This is an entry for Artales-17, #DrNorth, an ArtoonsInn writing event.

Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/artales17/
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Vipil Written by Vipin Chopal

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