It was an unusual morning, the weather was incongruously perfect, the skies were too clear, some white and fluffy clouds were happily roving in front of the otherwise blaring sun and its unbearable heat. The temperature was just right, at least by Malaysian standards.
The smell of burnt wood was no more, oh yes, the haze has disappeared. A very unusual morning indeed. Weather reports say the haze has drifted its way past Malaysia to our unfortunate Southern neighbour, Singapore. How could I forget the day when it all started. The day my life would take the turn for the worse.
That very day felt like the perfect time to take the day off to unwind from my pallid desk job. I composed an email explaining I was sick and made a call to my cousin, a doctor, to prepare the required documents. Its handy having “doctor-buddies” to help you out in these tricky situations. I tried to call my girlfriend in an attempt to arrange a lunch-date, instead, the call kept on going to voicemail. ‘She must be busy,’ I thought. My peaceful morning was somewhat interrupted by an unexpected doorbell, who could it be, I wondered. It certainly would not be the post-guy as I have scheduled any expected deliveries to the weekends and everyone else I know would give me a ring before the doorbell. I looked through the peephole and there stood someone with a familiar face, someone from my past. I opened the door, and after the usual greetings, he introduced himself as Yusuf, claiming to be an old schoolmate from my primary days. I did not immediately say anything, maybe because I did not really expect such an encounter.
After what felt like a minute of awkward silence, mostly due to me being shocked on how he could have found me, I invited him in for a glass of teh tarik, of which he accepted. When I asked him for his reason as to why he came over to my house, he reminded me that I owe him a favour for getting my school suspension canceled. Just to set the record straight, I was not at fault to begin with, I defended a boy that just came into my school from his troubled past with bullies. How, you ask, by beating them up senseless of course. The school originally thought I had beaten up the bullies for no reason, mainly because the only witness, the new kid, was too afraid of me to show up at school, much less enter the same building with me to prove my innocence. Somehow, Yusuf managed to convince the school authorities that I was innocent, thus saving me from a lengthy two month school suspension.
After hearing his reason, I said, with a chuckle “so you came for help, you do know right that I’m in no position to do anything like what you did.” “I wonder how an ex-black ops operative settled for a job pushing papers all day with no benefits,” he replied. The atmosphere was tense, he was not supposed to know that, ‘my identity has been compromised,’ I panicked. “Opps, I wasn’t supposed to know that wasn’t I,” he said with a smirk. He had another sip of tea and continued “look, all I need is a helping hand, it’s something that would be simple for you, being an ex” “so what do you want me to do?
” Rob a bank?
” Raid an armored van?
“Look, I’ve been out of the game for six years, I don’t think I have the skills you need anymore.
“So why don’t you go and find someone else !,” I swiftly cut him off.
His face flinched, maybe he wanted to say something, he was serious yet calm “I need your help with some body disposal,” he said. I was frozen, speechless. “I’ve prepared everything like the bag and the clean-up, all you need to do is to help me dig an unidentifiable grave,” he continued. After some thought I agreed to the condition that he would tell me what actually transpired , I at least have the right to know how it happened.
“It was two days ago, a Monday.
“My wife left for her job and I was home alone.
“Feeling bored, I called over a friend of mine, a lady of whom I shared classes with while in secondary school.
“Wanting to bring back old memories, I decided to play a game of twister.
“One thing led to another and I got caught in a very awkward position.
“At that unfortunate moment, the sound of a key unlocking my door was heard.
“Surprisingly, my wife returned from work early because of some very stressful complications,” he said.
“So erm… how complicating is complic…” I asked.
“Don’t ask me how complicating it was.
“She was probably expecting some comfort from me.
“Finding me in an awkward position with another girl is the worst scenario you can expect being a wife,” he said with a chuckle.
Yusof’s wife did not see the twister mat on the floor and it was then, she sparked a heated argument. At the spur of the moment, Yusof said the infamous home wrecking phrase, “I’m divorcing you.”
“Situations only got more complicated when she made a beeline to the kitchen.
“Only to return with a knife for my head!
“I had to do what I had to do.
“It was out of self defense,” he said softly.
After hearing his story, I asked: “so you want my help in disposing the body?” to which he replied “no, bodies” sensing my confusion, he continued. “Remember my friend that was there”, I nodded, “no witnesses right?”
I followed him to his apartment, no words were exchanged during the trip. Upon arriving at his apartment, I was surprised to see 3 black plastic bags, so I asked him for an explanation for the third bag. “I forgot to close the door and a girl that was walking by the corridor and saw me stuffing the bodies into the bags. I had to deal with her too” for some reason my heart felt heavy after hearing his explanation. I quickly disregarded that as sympathy and changed my thoughts towards Yusuf’s behavior, he was ruthless and talks as if he had done things like these before, just not at this large of a scale. I was starting to think of him as a serial killer being hunted and had just recently reached a count of five victims. I laughed it away and focused on getting the bags out of the building and into the truck without arousing any suspicion.
We reached a forest I had previously marked as a hiding spot, though I never would have thought of hiding a body there, I was thinking more towards the likes of my life savings. The reason I chose this place is because there was a urban legend going around that this place is haunted by a vampire of sorts and nobody would dare to come here. ‘Guess I’ll have to look for a new hiding place’ I jokingly thought. I had originally planned for a mass burial for the three of them, but looking at the circumstances of which they had died, I thought that these poor souls deserve at least a proper grave, without any markings of course. After the burial, I invited Yusuf to give his final respects and to somehow ask for forgiveness, as we would be the only visitors they would ever receive and after all, she was his wife. He coldly replied “I already divorced her, what’s the use” so I gave my final respects and as per black-ops’ tradition, vowed to at least visit every once in a while. As I left the area for some reason, the heavy hearted feeling from earlier returned, I brushed it off since it was a while since I had to bury someone.
The next day was the complete opposite of the day before, the sun was shining unusually bright that morning and there were no clouds to be seen at all. Luckily it was a public holiday so everyone had the day off. It was the birthday of his royal highness, the yang-di-pertuan agong, and most Malaysians were grateful for the holiday, especially me. After what happened the day before, I couldn’t get any sleep, and was looking for something to do. For some my girlfriend won’t pick up her phone and didn’t reply to my messages, and most of my co-workers were at the royal palace enjoying the buffet there. I decided to visit my best friend Farhan, who just so happens to be my girlfriend’s brother. “Maybe he knows what’s up with her,” I said in the train, well, it was a little too loud I think. Fortunately nobody was near enough to hear me say that, the train had barely any people in it.
When I reached his housing area, I saw a police car exit the area but thought nothing about it. When I reached his house, I was greeted with an uneasy smile, as if he was hiding something from me. He offered me some juice but I asked for some coffee instead as I needed it badly. We sat around a table in the middle of his garden, we chatted about old times when we were at primary and how we reunited at university. “So, how’s your sister, I haven’t seen or heard from her for three days?” That question made him frown a bit, but he quickly recovered and said an unconvincing “why should I know, she’s already an adult, and I thought you were taking care of her.” Putting the pieces together I asked him “Farhan, answer this honestly, do you have any idea where she is?” he answered, “She went missing 3 days ago, last I heard of her, she said that she was visiting Yusuf.” My heart sank. Hoping that I heard it wrongly, I asked “what did she say again” I said a short and silent prayer, it was not answered. “She said that she was going to visit Yusuf’s apartment, he and his wife were having an argument and her friend, who was there at the time, asked for backup” I was frozen in shock, unsure what to do, how to react. “but Yusuf said that she didn’t arrive at his house at all” he continued. I left him without saying anything, heading back to the forest where I buried those 3 plastic bags, my heart was saying no but my guts was screaming yes. I had to see it for myself.
When I reached the forest, I regretted that I had left my pistol back at home. It was a parting gift I had received when I retired from the force. I remembered my recruiter’s parting words “once you enter the world of black ops, danger will be your shadow even when you retire, make sure this gun follows you too.” I dug up the first two graves and didn’t see her. I was starting to feel relived yet at the same time anxious. “I doubt Yusuf would do that, he knows how precious she is to me and how dangerous I can be” I tried to fool myself. Alas, when I dug up the third and final grave, I saw her. For some reason her body had yet to decompose, even though it has been three days. I had a feeling as if she was waiting for me, for me to see her before her smile was gone forever and her smile, her angelic smile seemed like it had found an eternal peace. I heard the sound of sticks breaking behind me and a familiar voice followed “you sure took your time, I was starting to think you forgot about her.”
I heard a clicking sound. “Hands where I can see them. Turn around, slowly”. I did as I was told, and I saw a gun, its nozzle just centimetres away from my eye. Behind the gun, was Yusuf. “Any last words,” he mockingly asked. “Why,” I angrily asked. “I told you, no witnesses” he smirked. “I’ll take those as your last words, and don’t worry, I’ll pay my respects” as he was about to pull the trigger, a flock of birds flew by, startling him. I used that opportunity to wrestle the gun from him, it was easier that I thought it would be. Out of muscle memory, I immediately shot at both of his legs. “Go ahead, kill me, I’m dead anyway, either caught by the police and sentenced to death for my eight victims or you shoot me, either way you are going to jail too.” Soon after I can hear police sirens from afar, it was getting louder.