THE NORTH MYSTERY

8 min


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Lisa walked up to Samuel Clooney’s study and peeked inside. His choleric mood made her nervous. When she saw him typing something on his laptop, she gave a brief knock and entered. After placing a cup of tea and some cookies on the table, she asked, “How’s the writing coming up?” 

Samuel was living in his ancestral house in Dublin to complete the last book in the Dr. North Mystery series. The first two books were bestsellers and the third installment was due to be released in a few months. But, he was stuck with the end.

“Oh, I’m exhausted Lisa.” Samuel closed his eyes while inhaling the aroma of the tea.

Satisfied that he was in a good mood, she said, “Samuel… You need to relax. You are here for that. It will come to you. Don’t worry.”

“I don’t want to disappoint my readers, though.” He placed the cup on the table and asked, “Any new emails?”

“Yes, but only the usual ones. Pleading and begging for the book to be out.”

He sighed and sipped the tea. “I too want it to be out fast.” He then asked, “Have you seen Alex? I’m unable to contact him.”

Lisa walked towards the window muttering about the stale air in the room and while opening it, said, “Samuel, he is your lover. How would I know?” The howling wind scattered the papers on his table.

Samuel smiled, despite himself. “I’m so lucky to have you with me. My most trusted assistant.” And then as an afterthought, he added, “Close the windows before you leave. It’s too distracting.” Lisa sighed, but did as she was told and left.

Later that night, when he was unable to sleep, he thought he saw a shadow outside his window. But he also knew that there was a storm outside, so he shrugged it off, attributing it to the wind. 

The sleep disturbances had started after his second book hit the markets. Anxious of how it would be received, he was sleepless. Later, nightmares of Dr. North often woke him up and he found himself drenched in sweat and sometimes, screaming. The dreams were repetitive; he always saw that the very character he had created was after him. He knew that they were the result of stress, but he couldn’t shake off the gloom that he felt post that.

The wind had settled outside. He decided to go out in the garden for a while. He unlatched the front door and the sight before him made him retch.

“Alex….” He screamed. “Oh God…. Alex….” The decapitated head of his boyfriend lay there. It was cleaned up, the hair was combed and a symbol that looked like an eye was carved on the forehead, just like Dr. North would do. 

There was also a small container beside the head. Samuel knew what the contents were, yet he opened it and gagged.

The brain from Alex’s head was roughly cut into one inch pieces. It looked like Dr. North was in a hurry.

Samuel ran back inside and washed his face willing it to be a nightmare. He stood under a stream of scalding water that burnt his skin to be sure he was awake. He went back to the door and opened it with trepidation, almost wishing that there was nothing outside. But alas, it wasn’t the case. There it lay, his beloved Alex’s decapitated head and brain.

“Who could do such a gruesome thing?” He wondered aloud. “Why?”

He wasn’t sure whether he should call the police or wait. He was scared that he would be blamed because Dr. North was his creation. 

He went out with a flashlight and scavenged the backyard and garage, but did not find anything suspicious. He went back to the house scared and confused.

The next morning, he called Lisa.

She appeared nervous and flustered. She poured the tea outside the cup more than within it. For a moment, Samuel wondered whether she had seen Alex’s remains, but he was sure that he had taken care of them well, until he could decide the further course of action.

“Are you alright, Lisa?” He asked, twitching his thumb with his forefinger.

“I… I’m good. How are you?” She asked instead.

“Nothing’s wrong with me, Lisa. Why do you ask?”

“I… um… I saw you last night from my room. You… you were walking with a torch in your hand in the backyard. I have never seen you like that, Samuel. You looked like a man possessed… I was very scared, I bolted all the doors and windows and slept. There was no network in my phone too, so I couldn’t call anyone.”

“What nonsense are you talking about?” Samuel pushed his chair and stood up. At 6 feet, he could intimidate any one whom he wanted to. “Yes, I did go in the backyard, but I was fully awake and….” Should I tell her? He wondered. Then nodded his head, “I thought I heard something. Also, Alex wasn’t answering his phone and I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Are…are you sure? You have been acting strange since the last few days. You have these mood swings that make me shudder. I have seen you walking in the garden and backyard, talking to yourself. I know you’ll tell me that you were thinking about how to end your story, but I have never seen you do that since I’ve been working for you, Samuel. And that’s five years…” Lisa said with tears streaking down her eyes. “You looked dangerous last night.”

“Go… leave from here…” Samuel ordered.  He flopped down on his chair and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked at his hands and wondered if he had killed Alex. ‘But why would I do that? I love him. Yes I’m disturbed, but not to the extent so as to kill him and not remember…’ He began pacing his study.

“Lisa doesn’t know about Alex yet. I need to find out who did that or else I’m finished.” He told himself.

But thoughts of self-doubt plagued him. Over the last 2 years, with two books on Dr. North, he had enjoyed writing about her as well as dreaded her character.

A frail looking quinquagenarian, she was the head of the autopsy center at the local hospital. Sometimes, she instructed her assistants to do the autopsies under her supervision and at times, she did it herself. The stress of the work had made her look older than she actually was. 

She would do months of research before zeroing in on her target. On the decided day, when she would be sure that her target was home alone, she would visit them and introduce herself as Dr. Gabriel North offering a free health checkup. How could anyone refuse a kind old doctor?

She would then sedate him/her on the pretext of giving an injection. Laying a plastic mat on the floor, she would decapitate the head with the instruments in her bag. And then, she would cut through the skull, remove the brain, make neat one inch pieces out of it and gift wrap it in a box. After stitching back the scalp, she would carve her trademark symbol on the forehead and clean up the mess. She would leave the parcel outside the door of the closest relative of the target. 

The readers knew her, the victims saw her. Only the investigating officers had no idea who the killer was, except the symbol. She used the ‘eye’ to indicate she was watching; the brutal way of murdering her targets was a skill that she was proud of.

Samuel was still not convinced that he could kill someone so cruelly and not remember. Yes, he was creative, but not psychopathic. 

He went out to inspect his surroundings in daylight once again.

As soon as he returned, he found Lisa wailing in front of a few cops. His heart sank.

The headlines of the major newspapers flashed, ‘Reputed American author Samuel Clooney arrested for murdering his lover in a style similar to the serial killer Dr. Gabriel North, a fictional character in his mystery series.’

Two days later, Samuel was released. He managed to evade the media and reached his ancestral house. He grabbed a newspaper, the headlines of which read, ‘In a major turn of events, famous author released. His assistant Lisa caught with evidence who later broke down and confessed. Though the exact details are yet to be made public.’

With special permission, Samuel found himself in front of Lisa. Her eyes were swollen and streaks of mascara lined her face.

“Why, Lisa?”

“I know you loved him, but he was… he was sick. He had tried to force himself on me a few months back…”

“What?” Samuel interrupted her. “Why didn’t you tell me then?”

“I didn’t think you would believe me over him, because of his closeness to you and besides, he apologized later. So I let it go. I had begun to hate him because of that and also the fact that he could be with you and I couldn’t.” She laughed bitterly, “I still remember the day when I told you how much I love you and you so politely turned me down saying that you were gay. Over the last few months, leaving this job had crossed my mind multiple times, because it hurt seeing the two of you together. I couldn’t take it anymore.” Lisa hiccupped while sobbing.

She then wiped her tears with the back of her handcuffed hands and gave a sinister smile. “You know why I came here with you, leaving my loved ones behind? Because I was offered an insane amount to leak a few parts of your third book. I did not succeed until that morning when I came with tea.”

Samuel gave a wistful smile and nodded. “I was distracted that day. I must have left a few pages out.”

“I knew that. I was always searching for them whenever I came to your study. That morning, after spotting them, I opened the windows, remember? Then there was a mess of papers. Whilst rearranging them, I found what I was looking for. But instead of handing them over as per the deal, I began to read.

I read about how Gabriel autopsied a 10 year old girl who was raped and killed and how that made her flash back in time when she was abused too. I assumed that all the people she killed were the ones that were somehow related to her abuse. She became a hero for me.

Later that evening, Alex came back drunk. He again tried to force himself on me, but the lingering effect of the pages that I had read made me react violently. I pushed him hard. His head hit the corner of the bed and he passed out. All my built up rage came out in one instant and I killed him. Found some instruments in the garage, cut off his head. Removing his brain was the toughest. I threw up twice, but at the end of it, I felt good. I felt like a hero.”

“Oh my dear Lisa…” Samuel nodded his head, “I wished you hadn’t read those pages. That was only the beginning. Gabriel didn’t kill anyone related to her abuse. She was too young to even remember their faces. The autopsy of that young girl triggered something in her and she started her killings after that.

The victim of the crime, whether murder or rape, would be on her table for autopsy. She would follow the case closely, often for months, and if the accused was found guilty, she would murder the closest relative of the accused well after the case had died down, and place the head and brain outside the door of the next closest relative. 

 Each murder gave her a high, so much so that it became an obsession for her.

I had worked all this out, Lisa. I was only confused about how I should end it. And seeing what you did after reading it, I have my answer. Dr. Gabriel North is not a hero. I won’t let her be one.”

Samuel got up to leave before turning around again, “Why did you put the blame on me?”

Lisa gave a flinty stare. “Because I had begun to resent you too. You would sometimes upbraid me in front of Alex. That hurt, Samuel. A lot. And I wanted you to suffer for what you had put me through.”

“You are a crazy woman, Lisa.”

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “How did the police find about me?”

“They are smart, my dear. The ones in my book may not be.” He laughed. “But this is real life, Lisa. Sniffing dogs and an observant team. The dogs found the site where the body was buried. The police also found the murder weapon along with the body. And you remember I had been to the backyard in the morning when you called the police?”

With no response from Lisa, he continued, “I found a pendant in the garage where all the gardening equipment are kept. The police wouldn’t listen to me though. I requested them to look properly and ask you some questions, too. Fortunately for me, you broke down and confessed. Thank you for that. And good bye Lisa. I need to complete that book now.”

 

6 months later…

The much anticipated third book in the Dr. Gabriel North mysteries was out. It revealed the motives of Dr. North and how an intelligent officer decoded the ‘eye’ symbol and found the word ‘north’. How he came to the conclusion that it was the name of the killer, formed a part of the book. He kept track of her and caught her in the act. Dr. North confessed to her crimes. She was found dead in her cell while awaiting trial, with her trademark symbol carved on the floor.

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

Check the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/artales17/
Don’t forget to leave a comment and rate this story out of 10(either on the shared post on Facebook or by using the rating bar down below).

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Struggled and Soared “stories of courageous women of India”. A non-fiction that talks about the women that reflect the spirit of India – an invincible spirit to be free! Dr North till July 31stIt is the story of four Indian women who have one thing in common –courage to follow their heart and do what they felt right. Reading this book would be like taking a much needed break from the false propaganda and information that you are surrounded with on digital media. This is just the right book that will give your mind freedom to be yourself and an invaluable inspiration as well as meaning to life. The author has done full justice while accounting the life of all inspirational women from India’s past and present. We recommend this book for those who love to read well-researched works.

Link to buy this book:

Vipil Written by Vipin Chopal

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Story’s cover pic courtesy: Ansh Kamble from unsplash.
(Image slightly modified by author)


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Arva Bhavnagarwala
In between being patient with her two boys and seeing patients as a pediatrician, Arva manages to scribble a few words here and there. The words turn into stories and she gets an adrenaline rush when the stories strike a chord with the readers.
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