Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
MURDER IN THE WOODS
Near the woods…
The auburn sky was an ocean of clouds, seemingly painted by the brush of a Renaissance painter. The sun was about to dive beyond the horizon, casting our shadows far behind us and a piercing shriek broke the silence around us. We were startled by the sheer agony in the scream. It seemed to have come from the thick woods in front of us. We ran towards the source and found a man covered in blood. Ariana panicked and started trembling with fear. I went a little closer.
“Ari, this is Rick! My cousin. Frigging hell! How did he end up like this?!”
He was dead. I was horrified by the discovery. I looked up at Ariana and saw that she was crying.
“Charlie, I’ve to go. I can’t be here. Can’t be found here. If Simon comes to know about us his fury will know no bounds!”, she whimpered.
Simon was Ariana’s husband. He’s the mayor of Cambridge, our town. I told her she can leave. We can’t afford her husband to find her here in this situation.
“You’ve to swear on me that you won’t tell a soul that I was here with you. No one must find out. Please, Char!”, she sobbed.
“I promise. Now hurry up. I’ll call the police and his family.”
Her face was etched with fear and terror. Ariana bolted out of the woods leaving me behind. My head was clouded with all kinds of question.
I couldn’t fathom who could’ve killed Rick so mercilessly. I informed the police and his family about him and waited for them to come. What reason would I give for my presence in this part of the town? I jolted when I heard someone clearing their throat from behind.
“I heard a scream of a man and came rushing.”, the man said.
His face was expressionless. Rick’s dead body didn’t seem to have any effect on him. He was tall and lanky but poorly dressed.
“What are you doing here?”, he asked.
“I don’t have to answer you.”
“This isn’t a good place to picnic. If not that then why would you be in the woods?”
His face looked shrewd now. His prodding was interrupted by the police who arrived just in time. They started searching the woods and the nearby area.
Two of them came to us and asked for our details.
“I am Charlie Rodger. This man is my cousin. I was passing this area when I heard a scream and found him dead when I came looking for the source.”
“Why were you in the area?”
“I was delivering the goods to a customer who lives nearby.”
I tried to keep my tone as smooth as possible while answering to the officers. They were keenly observing us for any lies.
“And what about you? Who are you? Why were you here?”, he asked the man.
“I’m Shiraz. I was waiting for a friend. Have lived near the woods all my life. Heard some noises an hour ago and now scream. Found this man kneeling near the dead body.”
“Whom were you waiting for?”
“A friend from Rockshire.”
The officers finished inquiring and noting down and looked for any pieces of evidence. Meanwhile, Rick’s and my family arrived. They were terrified by his death. His father was holding his mother who was continuously crying. Seeing my face pale and sick, my parents told me to go home and rest. The officers were interrogating them for any information that they could get on the case. I left the woods and walked by the path where Aria and I had sat. The sparkle of some stone caught my eye. I bent to look at it and found Aria’s earring. Fear took over me by thinking what if the police had found this before me. I quickly pocketed it and continued walking to my truck.
In the manor…
Ariana stopped the cab in front of the manor and paid the fare. She quickly climbed the stairs to the door and entered her home. Molly, her housekeeper, informed her that Simon was in his office having a meeting with a man. Ariana went upstairs and passed his office to ensure that he was there. The door was slightly open and she could hear them making a business deal or something. She was relieved to hear it wasn’t some unusual conversation. She’d heard such talks many times in the past as well.
“I’m hoping you’re satisfied with the job.”
“Call me if there’s anything else I can do for you.”
“Sure. I’ll look into your proposal for the resort.”
“That’s all I’m asking.”
Ariana went to her bedroom and sat on the bed. She reflected with dread of what Char and she had found. Rick was covered in blood so much that he was unrecognizable. She didn’t know much about Rick. Hadn’t heard much from Charlie as well. She only knew that he was his far-off cousin. Rick had come to Cambridge a year ago. She had met and fell in love with Charlie in University while she was studying Economics. Her parents had forced her to marry Simon when she had completed just a year in University. Simon had joined his father in politics at that time. The Adler’s have been in politics for generations. They were a powerful and an affluent family. Simon’s father wanted his son to have an image that spoke of family and stability. Simon never disobeyed him and so he had agreed to their marriage. Ariana had tried her best to stay away from Charlie. Their secret rendezvous started three years ago from now. They had to be very careful since Simon had become the mayor of Cambridge a year ago. So far, things had been in place. They hadn’t been caught. But how long could they remain in shadow?
In Charlie’s house…
I got a call from the police to ask about the details of the customer I was delivering the goods. I gave them the address and phone number. They called back to ask since I’d left home in the afternoon, where was I from that time and that the goods were delivered just an hour ago. I told them there was some problem with my truck. Fixing it on my own took up a lot of time. They told me they’d get back to me if required. All this lying was getting to my nerves. It wouldn’t be long before I snapped. My parents returned home a few minutes ago. I went downstairs to ask them for further details.
“Any updates regarding the case?”
“The police found out that Shiraz had criminal charges against him for petty thefts. He isn’t ready to tell for who exactly was he waiting in the woods. The police told him that they’ll keep an eye on him and let him go for now. They don’t have any proof that he is the murderer.”, my mom said.
My parents looked tired with all the interrogations and grief. They’ve never been close to any such incidents.
“The police must have checked Rick’s accounts. Rick’s parents were asked how did he have so much money under his name. Supposedly, Rick’s grandfather is very rich and fond of Rick. Keeps giving him money for him to open his pharmacy. He got a sum of money just a few days ago from him. He was looking for plots, too.”, my dad commented.
“Rick must’ve seen something that Shiraz was doing. Shiraz must have murdered him. But why would he stay back?”, I pondered.
“Probably to appear innocent.”, my mom shrugged.
Rick used to work for a drug (medicine) dealer. He used to ship medicines for him.
“Didn’t the police mention about some woman in a black cape?”, my dad asked. He suddenly looked interested in the muder’s investigation.
My heartbeat increased. I knew it must have been Ariana.
“Ah, yes. It could be her, too. No one knows who she was and where did she go. She was seen leaving shortly after the murder. No one saw her face either. The police are suspecting it could be her, too.”, my mom said.
Who is behind Rick’s murder? Was Rick up to some dirty business? Did someone lurking in the woods kill him? Will Charlie be able to hide Ariana from the police?
Read the next part to find out!
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