The projector flickered between slides, each depicting the very worst of human nature, in a non-poetic ode to Criminal Psychology.

 “Trust your instincts. The inbuilt radar of the human body is attuned to react to danger and evil of any sort. Pay attention when the hair on the back of your neck rises, when your stomach quivers or your internal system asks you to run away. Your instincts are probably correct, so step away from the situation and take yourself to a safe zone. In case your instincts are wrong, you can apologize to the person later but staying oblivious could turn you into a victim.”  

Dr. Welsh continued with his lecture, his voice resonating through the minds of his lively students, his personality exuding magnetism and strength as his eyes mirrored the sharp intelligence and vast experience obtained from dealing with hundreds of criminal minds.

The classroom was brightly lit, devoid of clutter and sparkling clean. It was intended to make students comfortable and imbibe on their minds that this was a classroom, and that the content shown through projectors were course content based on reality as opposed to horror movies. The door at the far corner of the room opened, with barely a creak but none of the students noticed. Dr. Welsh acknowledged the presence of the new incomer with a flicker of his eyes. 40 minutes later, the session ended and students started filing out of the class glancing at the stranger.

“Gonna keep sitting at the back of the class Agent Pollack?”

“Welsh” Agent Pollack acknowledged with a title of his head. He was a man of keen intelligence and short words.

“Didn’t know you would be so interested in my classroom! You should check out my next lecture on the contradistinction between psychopaths and sociopaths”

“We have a new one. He lies more in your category of criminals.” Pollack reached the dais in front of the classroom where Dr. Welsh had paused in the act of zipping up his bag.

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” He muttered eyeing the folder marked confidential with a strange gleam in his eyes. Adrenaline started pumping into his veins sharpening all of his senses at once. Pollack registered this change in Dr. Welsh’s personality with a worried look.

“Are you sure you can handle this?” He asked sliding a folder marked confidential across the table.

“I am fine. This is my life’s work by conscious choice. The chase, the hunt and the final exhilaration when the prey is down for the taking, once and for all it all comes with the Job right? The battle of wills, the war of minds, the why’s and the when’s of the criminal mind, all mix up to be one of a kind cocktail.”

“You sound like a junkie”

“Maybe I am”

Dr. Welsh opened the Manilla folder and gazed at the photograph of a middle school kid. 

“His name is Jack.” Agent Pollack replied to his questioning glance , “Got a call in the middle of the night from the kid complaining about his neighbor. He seemed to have trusted his instincts as well”

Dr. Welsh continued to go through the file, his eyes deeply troubled.

“What is it?”

“This case, it reminds me of something”

Sighing in the minute long silence that ensued , Dr Welsh continued,

“It reminds me of Peter”

In the town of Bree, A cool summer breeze was weaving itself through the trees gathering dust and leaves merrily touching the perspiring pedestrians. Their long-driven sighs enmeshed with whooshes of the wind and became one single sound, a stark testimonial to nature’s triumph against humans. Bree was full of long winding roads and had a towering mansion at it’s southern end called Bree’s end. The house was flanked on both sides with lush green empty forests, incessant hunting had rid the jungle from its beloved animals. On a pathway that connected Bree’s end to the local middle school, 12-year-old Peter trotted moodily, kicking at a water bottle cap on the sidewalk, wishing that there was something hot to eat back at home. His shoulders were hunched with the weight of books he carried, and his general appearance suggested a state of unkemptness, that was in contrast to his family background who were considered to be the richest in town. Peter sighed. He was once again thinking of his mother. Peter was just 4 year old when his mother disappeared without a trace. He hardly remembered her face, her smell or her touch, the hollow ache in his heart was his only tribute to her memory. Sometimes when he passed shops, he would imagine the richly clothed female mannequins as his mother, even touch the fabric of the clothes tightly shutting his eyes diving into the deep crawlspaces of her memory but he always came up empty.  His grief-stricken father, unable to face reality had removed all existence of her from the manor and completely devoted himself to tourism and was out of house for months leaving Peter with his older brother Ron.

            Ron, Peter thought and gave a long deep sigh. Ron’s thoughts always jumbled up Peter’s mind leaving it in a state of mass entropy and chaos. Peter thought the world of Ron, him being the only parental figure of the household. Ron looked like an angel, everyone said so thought peter, especially the women of the town. His blue eyes, alabaster skin, dark hair reminded Peter of old Greek illustrations, but Ron lacked the regal air of the Greeks. He had an aura of insouciance and nonchalance, the attributes that made Ron a ‘cool’ guy. As he entered Bree’s end, Peter wondered whether he would ever be as cool as Ron, as handsome and attractive to women.  

            He entered the house and shouted for Ron, who as usual was not present. Standing at the door of Ron’s room, peter deliberated knocking and entering but stopped himself. His brother got raving mad whenever he entered his room without permission, and Ron’s rages were akin to being scaled by burning hot oil. Peter quickly changed out of his clothes, grabbed some ready to eat noodles, microwaved them and packed himself a picnic meal of noodles and soup. Grabbing some raw beef, he stalked towards the forest, humming a tune happily looking forward to meet his new friend. Half an hour later, in the middle of the forest, he climbed a Mango tree and ensconced himself onto a cleverly hidden treehouse. The mango tree seemed to welcome the presence of the young boy with ardor for the wooden floor was laden with ripe and raw mangoes alike. The tree seemed to sigh a happy sigh and shook himself in pleasure as the boy whopped with happiness and began munching on the golden fruit. 

“Thank You Mr. Big Tree” said Peter patting the trunk as the wind continued to shake the tree with its whooshes and howls. 

Two curious brown eyes suddenly looked upon Peter and a lean black body slinked itself onto the boy’s lap

“Who do we have here? Did you miss me Mr. Purr? I missed you terribly!”

“Meow” said Mr. Purr and sniffed at the raw meat. Peter opened the box and the cat started devouring the food with squelching noises. 

“Urrghh” Peter muttered and started on his soup. 

Taking out the binocular, Peter gazed out at his surroundings.

“Going 360 degrees Mr. Purr, we have all cle.. wait a moment”

A few feet from the mango tree, Peter saw a mannequin lying face upwards in the Jungle. He was startled at how realistic the mannequin looked, just like a barbie doll he thought. It’s pale skin, shiny black hair and the face cuts weirdly enough felt quite familiar. Peter blinked, what was it with him and mannequins? He looked around the treehouse and shivered. Something was different today, he thought looking at all the branches, their nooks and crannies. Finding a distinct comfort with Mr. Purr, Peter finished the soup and went on for noodles. He took his binoculars and once again scanned his surroundings, landing once again looked on the Mannequin. 

“Where Have I seen this piece Mr. Purr?” He asked racking his brain and flipping through the memories. He dribbled the noodles on his shirt, the spoon full of noodles barely reaching reaching his chin. 

“Oh Man! Now I am in a mess. My brother’s gonna kill me.”

Reaching out, he brought a stack of newspaper towards him and started wiping off the stains to no avail, when suddenly the neuron’s in his brain fired off and he stood still.

“I have seen that mannequin- In the newspapers! I think it was stolen or something”

He shuffled through the litter in his newspaper box, but none of them held the piece of news he was looking for. “Oh well” he thought All the newspapers here are the ones I nicked from the waste bin and and are at least a month old. I guess the mannequin thief piece was like a week old.” Shrugging the thought away, as it kept its annoying persistence at the back of his head, Peter finished his noodles and went back to watch keeping. 

He resolutely kept his vision away from the mannequin ridden forest but he kept feeling uneasy. 

“Should I go back and see the paper?” He thought “Just to confirm that this is the stolen mannequin. It would be after all worthless to drag it all the way back home and call the cops if its all wrong. I cannot call the cops anyway. Ron hates Cops…..” his mind trailed on. 

The mootness of dragging back the mannequin rankled Peter. It was a beautiful mannequin and somehow his heart reached for it. Reluctantly, as if torqued by invisible strings of steel, Peter turned back to gazing at the mannequin. His Jaw dropped and a shudder ripped his figure, the coldness now seeping into very bones, reaching the marrow turning them ice cold. The mannequin blinked. Repulsed, Peter shook himself as if in a trance and rubbed his eyes and the lens of the binoculars before gazing at the mannequin. It was now making tiny jerky movements, like a robot. A man emerged from the nearby thicket of trees, walking slowly towards the mannequin like a predator. Peter tried to place the man but he couldn’t see his face. He kneeled down towards the robot whose movements became jerkier and more desperate. He seemed to take a lace material from his pocket and wind it across the robot’s neck, tightening it in a loving caress. Peter felt wrecking pangs of terror and nausea in a sinusoidal format, a feeling that he ascribed to Ron’s room. 

Overwhelmed with emotions, Peter retched, the soup and the noodles forming a modern art at the base of the tree house. His body shook as he climbed down the tree, his mouth dry and tears streaming down his cheeks leaving behind streaks of dirt. His shirt stuck to his body in cold sweat, but Peter hardly felt anything. He ran back to Bree’s end, laughing at the townsfolk who called Ron an angel, whilst he was the one following the footsteps of one, finally following the familiar pattern of road and passing Ron’s room to reach the phone. Peter shivered and he called 911.

“911, What’s the emergency?” A robotic well-versed voice answered. 

“Hello” Peter cried “I know where the missing girl from the papers is”

“You mean Lydia Brendon?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know her name, but she looks bad.”

“Please state your Name and Place of residence”

“I am Peter, Peter Welsh and I am calling from Bree’s end . My brother Ron is hurting her in the forest. I saw him”

“Are you hurt?”

“No I am fine, But She isn’t”

“Please stay on the line, police will be reaching your place soon.”

There was a crash and Peter left the receiver to run back into the forest. Half way through he was overtaken by a black feline. They both raced and snuggled together safely in the tree house.

Dr. Peter Welsh reminisced the wait of sirens and four bodies of women with a startling resemblance to his mothers being dug up by the police. He remembered the leer of his brother as he spotted Peter on the Tree House. But most importantly, he remembered his body reactions, his instincts that always warned him and saved him from the danger.

July 17, 2020 14:36

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