Short Story: 'The First Kill'

They say the first kill is the hardest. That it becomes easier after that. They are absolutely right.

You grow up thinking killing is the worst sin, an almost unreal occurrence that belongs in the world of make-believe, in movies and stories; an act carried out by despicable villains. Then one day you're faced with a choice you had never thought you would have to make. Answer a question you never thought you would be asked.

Your existence or someone else's.

It is as simple as that. Survival of the fittest they call it. If to survive, you must be fit, and if to be fit, you need to be able to kill, then can your desire to exist be held against you?

My first target picked itself. I don’t call him a victim, for he would’ve done the same to me eventually, had I not put him down. Anyways, he was a long-time companion. We were bosom buddies, confidantes, comrades and the best of friends. We knew each other’s deepest secrets and our darkest fears. Or at least I thought we did. He certainly knew mine. In fact, he knew about everything that happened to me. I turned to him for advice, and followed him even when I disagreed. I trusted his infallibility even more than my own. Guess I am to be blamed here, but who knew? Life is funny, in the way it changes colors. The sun sets on a once bright relationship, and you're left alone in the dark, wondering how things had come to such a pass. Paths diverge, priorities change, ideologies differ. An invisible, barely perceptible mental gap appears, eventually growing large enough to finally break through the smiles that have now grown insincere. And I had let it stay that way treating it as a minor discomfort that could be accommodated. Big mistake. While I believed the implicit truce between us was an equilibrium state, he went about marshalling forces to launch an attack. I will be honest to admit that I was unprepared and he caught me completely by surprise. This is a lesson I learnt and I’ve never left myself exposed to such a risk since. Conflicts that cannot be resolved must be settled, once and for all.

His attack was meant to finish me off. But I survived. From then on, both of us knew there would be only one result.

There is nothing melodramatic about killing, and if anything, I would say that the post-first-kill feeling is quite an anti-climax. You wait for the violent shudder to chill your spine, you brace for the rush of adrenalin and a whole cocktail of hormones to flood through your veins numbing your senses. Tears, depression, insomnia, all symptomatic of acute guilt, are expected. You’re like ‘here it comes…’, but the penny never drops. And for this, they call you a cold-blooded killer. Not my fault I say. I really wanted to feel bad, to lay awake scared of the nightmares that would haunt if I let slumber take over, to cry tears of repentance and penance. But nope, nothing.

There was no funeral, I was never charged for the crime. No one even came to know of his death. For though the murder was brutal and cold-blooded, no one mourns the death of a conscience.

Comments

  1. Woh !!!
    You killed well... and expressed very well !
    I am starting to doubt... :P

    Jokes apart... its a wonderful write :)

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  2. OMG! This only confirms that you are a 'freak' ;) Just kidding.... this is a nice write-up (thank God its only fiction). This reminds me of the killers (or hitmen) that Suketa Mehta interviewed for 'Maximum City'. And you're right about these men feeling no remorse or fear. The first kill is the hardest. After that it becomes an addiction, a way of life. Eerie!

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  3. Good one :) You've branched out into fiction really well!

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  4. Nice one ... so what did you use to kill the conscience :P

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  5. Awesome! I like the dispassionate and matter-of-fact tone in which this was narrated. And yes, the last line was a twist that had me floored. Kudos!

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  6. @Mou: Thanks a lot! :) Yea, it comes with practice. :P

    @Avanti: There can't be remorse when you've just killed your conscience, right? Interestingly, I gave up reading 'Maximum City' because of the sordid tales of killings. :| And you're either a freak, or you're boring. :P

    @Harshad: Thanks dude! :)

    @Dazediva: Lol! I lied. :P

    @Sumit: Nice to see you here & thank you! :)

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  7. nice! darker than usual, eh :)
    oh...and the last line twist, as always :P
    liked it quite a lot, though :P

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  8. The book is indeed sordid, but it is also real and not fiction (as you term your story). Were you bothered with the book because it bought perceived fiction to reality, something we thought only happened in filmy tales? Read the entire book to understand the truth about Mumbai fully :) Most of us think travelling in its overcrowded trains, standing in never-ending queues, filth, traffic etc. is what Mumbai is all about. But the city is actually shaped by the gangs, the slum dwellers, the hookers and the hawkers: the blue collared workers. And Suketu describes it all very authentically. The book is gloomy and hard-hitting, it is meant to be :)

    Ok... so if you're not a freak you must most definitely be boring, right? Two extremes, I think. Definitely there is a middle ground, don't you think?

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  9. This is really well-written! Looking forward to lots more :)

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  10. @Nikita: Thanks. :) I'm not skilled enough to make a twist-less story interesting as yet.

    @Avanthi: Yup, the fact that the book narrates true events is what I found disturbing. And that such people roam freely, unapologetic about their crimes. And yes, I have read the later parts of the book. It's gritty, unsettling, with an occasional whiff of hope.

    And this piece is an excerpt from a longer short story that is as yet unfinished. I've set the protagonist apart from the bigoted zealots who kill innocents. Let me know if you would like to read it when I'm done.

    Yes, freak and boring are mutually exclusive, though not exhaustive. I'm glad to be placed on one extreme, coz you can never be sure where exactly those (apparently) in the middle-ground actually lie. (this might be very unclearly expressed)

    @Nirupama: Thanks! :) And future frequency of posting will depend on the amount of free time you-know-where. :)

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  11. wow. your stories are always unraveled in the last line. im not sure whether that's good or bad, but ive come to expect it. in the current story, even though the story was unraveled in the last sentence, it still felt satisfying, and didnt give me the feeling of "oh it was expected".

    even if the last sentence were removed, it would have still been an amazing study of a killers mind.

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  12. Arslanji.. its Avanti... not Avanthi (Lol... don't blame me for nit-picking; I despise the southernized version of my name... I had enough Mallu teachers in school who completely defaced my name with that pronunciation) ;)

    And yeah, I would certainly love to read the entire story and see how you differentiate between those who kill for kicks and those who kill for a reason (neither of which is justified in my view). Do let me know when you're done. It will be an interesting (and controversial, perhaps?) read :)

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  13. good.. eerie yes, but good :)
    hugs

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  14. @pankaj: Thank you :) I've continued this story beyond this post and the rest of it is twist-less. Drop me a mail if you would like to read it once I'm done (I will probably not be posting the whole thing here). I appreciate your comments on my scribbles. :)


    @Avanti: So, is 'Arslanji' your best attempt to rile me by distorting my name? :P It should be easy for you to imagine how I've become used to mispronunciations with a name like mine. Things had got so bad I used to offer my (simpler) surname as my name for several years. I am back to being Arslan however, and now gladly accept anything in its vicinity. :)

    Do drop me a mail and I'll get back to you when the story's done. (don't know about controversial, but provocative, yes)


    @mystish: Thank you :) and a return hug :)

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  15. Huah, Awesome man!!! How could you end up thinking so much in detail? Everyone goes through such a situation at least once in their life times. But very rarely we can analyze it in such a philosophical detail. Great way of penning down your own thoughts as a story ;)
    When you can analyze and write so perfectly about conscience killing, it’s hard to even imagine how you would write a story with a real murder plot involved in it.

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  16. arslan, please send me the complete story @ pankajunk@gmail.com

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  17. Neat writing. Loved it. The twist in the end is almost O-Henry-ish.

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  18. @Pankaj: Sure thing. Just gimme a few days.

    @slash: (or is it double-slash? :P) Welcome and thanks! :)

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  19. pretty awesome i say. thats what i like most about stories, when they're all fine and making sense and yet, the last line comes along and puts it in a different realm and the whole text still makes all the sense in the world, even in this new context.
    pretty awesome i say

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  20. @Anup: Thanks a lot.. Yea, I love doing that.. And sorry for the delayed response, I hadn't seen this earlier..

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