When the third woman went missing, everyone in the village was terrified. She had, like other two, gone to the forest to fetch some firewood.
‘It must be a man-eating tiger; it must have killed these poor women,’ said the Village Headman who was a person known for his wisdom.
‘But there are no tigers in our forests, never have been.’ the Postmaster said a bit loudly; he had a high opinion of himself.
‘How can you be so sure? Tigers are clever animals and they can travel hundreds of miles in search of food,’ the Headman was not to be cowed down by a mere Postmaster.
‘Then it would be better to summon an experienced hunter; he would track and kill this man-eater.’ Postmaster had read a few stories about man-eaters and about the hunters who had tracked and killed vicious man-eaters.
‘I have informed the police. Let them investigate,’ the Headman said.
By the time police arrived a young boy, an orphan, too had gone missing.
The Assistant Inspector of Police was an old hand. He said to the Headman, ‘No, it’s not a man-eater……nor any other wild animal. It has to be a serial killer. I know, I have heard of such cases.’
‘Sir, that’s not possible. We never had even petty crime in our village. I think that our Headman may be right; it could be a man-eating tiger,’ interjected the Postmaster.
‘Didn’t you search the nearby areas? Did you find anything left of those kills? A tiger does not completely devour its kill.’
They were all leisurely walking around the village. Abruptly they all stopped and fell silent. They had seen a stray dog in the street running like a thief.
The dog was holding a human limb in its mouth. For a few moments all of them were too shocked to say anything.
‘I think this dog was very friendly with the missing boy. Could it have killed that boy? I can’t believe it,’ blurted the Headman. The Postmaster felt that there was a slight tremor in the Headman’s voice.
‘Perhaps the dog has found the dead body,’ said the Inspector.
‘Perhaps,’ muttered the Headman. His demeanour had, for no apparent reason, become grim.
‘We need to keep a watch on the dog. It may lead us to the place where the killer has hidden the dead body,’ said the Inspector.
The Headman had suddenly turned restless, ‘Please excuse me; I am not feeling well. I have to go back and take some rest.’
The Inspector gave him a suspicious look. Unnerved by his response, the Headman stood undecided. The Postmaster felt that something was wrong with him. A terrifying thought occurred to him.
The dog reappeared. To everyone’s horror it sneaked into the Headman’s house and, after a minute or two, came out clutching another human limb. It was a woman’s arm.
My earlier posts for A to Z Challenge