A college senior suspects that vampires are behind the recent disappearances but his roommate is too busy with his girlfriend to pay attention so he decides to solve the mystery by himself.

Reading time: 14 minutes 13 seconds.

Chapter One

The Explorer's Tales

October had arrived. The wind had a hint of the approaching winter. The days had started to fall short. People had not yet started to react to this change but the sun went down as early as five o’clock and it was almost at the horizon that day when Ahmed, Vikram and Nina were sitting in a restaurant killing their time.

Ahmed Qureshi and Vikram Singh were college seniors, roommates and best friends. They were going to be graduates that year. Nina Krovosos was Vikram's girlfriend. She wasn't from college. Vikram had met her in a club that Ahmed had taken him to. Vikram was an orphan. He had managed to get a scholarship to go to college but there was no way he could afford a livelihood like that but Ahmed always forced him to come with him. He had his parents' money so he didn’t care. He just didn’t want to be alone. At first, Nina was not so interested in Vikram but the fact that he was an orphan brought them together. Nina didn't have a father. She lived with her mother and aunt. That bonded Nina and Vikram together very soon. Ahmed just always tagged along. All three of them enjoyed each other’s company. They were talking about the upcoming Halloween party.

“So who are you two going as?” Nina asked in her squeaky voice flipping her shiny dark hair looking at Vikram and Ahmed with her small black eyes.

“I haven’t decided yet. I still have my costume from last year, I'll trade it off with someone,” Vikram replied in her heavy voice. He sat right beside Nina.

“No, you are not,” Ahmed interrupted, “You are not wearing someone's old costume. We are going shopping next Sunday.”

“Why? It’s just for one night and everyone's gonna be too drunk to notice anyway.” Vikram argued.

"Yeah, I mean isn't it just like every day for you guys? You guys are drunk after sundown anyway. This one evening you’re gonna be in costumes. I mean it’s just Halloween.” Nina added.

“Haw, you take that back!” Ahmed pretended to be offended.


“Oh, you hurt his feelings. Halloween night is probably his favourite night,” Vikram said smiling, “ He's into ghosts, horror and stuff.”

“Oh, I'm sorry. What I'm trying to say is Vikram is right and though he doesn’t say it he doesn't like it when you spend too much money on him. It makes him feel like he's in your debt.”

“What? Come on man! You are not in debt. You don’t have to pay me back. You are my brother. But okay, okay, I get it.”

“Aw, well that’s settled. Yay! I wish I could come to the party," Nina said hopefully.

“Maybe you can,” Ahmed replied.

“Are guests allowed on the campus?"

“No, but we can sneak you in.”

“Yeah, I mean everybody’s gonna be dressed, nobody will find out,” Vikram added.

“Are you guys sure?”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t worry.”

“Okay. Great.”

Nina looked at her watch and turned to Vikram.

“Oh, We should get going.”

“Already?” Vikram asked.

“Where are you guys going?” Ahmed asked.

“We decided to have dinner with Nina's parents.”

"He means my mom and my aunt. My two moms."

"Yeah, they are your parents, sweetheart. Come on let’s go, shall we?”

They paid the bill and walked out of the restaurant. It wasn’t very cold but still, it made Vikram shiver even though he was wearing a jacket. Ahmed was wearing a long-sleeved shirt but still, he put his hands in his pockets to shield them from cold. 

“I might be late-” Vikram started.

“Yeah, I'll leave the door unlocked and don't worry I'll probably be awake by then," Ahmed interjected. 

"Oh no, please don't waste your time in those chatrooms again," Vikram said.

“What chatrooms?” Nina asked who was listening.

“Our wannabe detective Ahmed here wastes his time chatting with others like him trying to solve unsolved cases.”

“What? That’s uh- um-”

“Yeah, I know right? Some of them even believe that there are vampi-”

“Vikram, can I talk to you for a moment?”

Ahmed dragged Vikram aside.

“Listen, I know you don’t take this seriously, but it’s not a joke. Okay, I'll admit that some of those people are crazy and there’s probably nothing un-natural going on but those disappearances are real. I'm worried. So don’t walk alone okay? Take a cab. Here keep this money.”

Ahmed tried to hand him a few hundred and Vikram made a face that reminded Ahmed of what Nina had said earlier.

“Come on. You are my brother. Take care. Remember don’t walk, take a cab.”

Then, he waved goodbye to Vikram and Nina and came back to his room in the campus dormitory. The very first thing he did as he entered was the same thing Vikram told him not to do. He switched on his computer and logged in into the chatroom. As he expected, a discussion was already going on, he scrolled up to read some of the unread messages. Most of them were just greetings and unimportant. A few of the important ones read-

“So how do they survive subtropical cities like ours?”

"Maybe they have adapted to this climate. It's not like they have to come out in the sun. They could just stay hidden.”

“Right. And if they are masquerading as humans they would probably be doing it at someplace more similar to their natural habitat. Like an ice cream factory or any other place like that.”

“That makes sense. If there are many of them then they could all easily cover for each other.”

Ahmed read all those messages and they made him furious. He typed-

"Hey, guys! So you have straight-up established that vampires are behind these disappearances. I mean it could be a serial killer. It could be an underground network harvesting human organs. We have to look into every possibility. You guys are just making up stories to thrill yourselves.”

Someone replied to Ahmed.

“I thought we already discussed that.”

Someone else added.

“We ARE looking at every possibility. Right now we are discussing this one.”

And the messages kept on coming one after another. Ahmed read silently for a minute.

“And FYI the police did find some bodies early on and they were intact. I know it could still be a serial killer but there's no underground network harvesting human organs.”

“Yeah. My dad’s in the force. He said even the blood was removed surgically, you know with a syringe and all.

Ahmed quickly typed in.

“So if they are vampires can’t they just directly suck the blood from the victim’s body. Why would they use syringe?”

“Isn’t it clear? They wanna throw the police off their trail. God, are you even thinking?” someone replied.

“Are you?” Ahmed typed again, “Why would they care about that? The police, at most, would think it was done by some animal. They don’t know about vampires.”

“They do,” the kid who's father was in police replied, “My dad said there's a rumour that some people in the department know about that stuff. He said there a hidden organization or something which asks these people to work on these cases. But it’s just a rumour. Even I don’t believe it.”

"Hey, you said police found some bodies? Where did they find them?"

“My dad said they found them by the river in the old city. They must’ve washed up on the shore.”

“Yeah, old city. That’s the perfect dumping ground. They probably don’t even have to throw them in the river. Nobody could find a body in those streets even if it started to smell.”

“Wait, there’s no factory in the old city, is there?”

“No,” Ahmed replied, “Some small scale setups but no factory.”

“Guys, we are getting nowhere with this. We need more information, more clues.”

“I have an idea why don’t we go look by the river, there must be some clue or evidence. What do you guys say?”

“I’m on board. We'll finally meet up.”

“I’m not sure but we gotta do something.”

Ahmed waited a few seconds and then he types in.

“Yeah, okay. Let’s do this.”

They all decided to meet up next Saturday and look by the river for clues. Ahmed went to bed about half an hour before Vikram came back. He was still at Nina's place finishing up his dinner.

“Thank you for the delicious food Mrs Krovosos,” Vikram said to Nina's mother just before leaving.

“Oh no, thank you for coming,” She replied, “ It was lovely meeting you.”

Nina's mother was probably in her forties but she still looked just as young as Nina and so did her sister, Nina's aunt, who looked at Nina and said-

“Nina, I love this boy even though he didn’t take his jacket off after I asked him three times. I wanted to see his biceps.”

Vikram’s cheeks went red.

“Oh, they are not great, I don’t work out and I didn’t feel like taking my jacket off, I wasn’t feeling that hot.”

“Of course you weren’t, you were sitting with Nina. You should’ve sat next to me.”

She laughed her lungs off.

“Okay," Nina's mother started speaking, "It was a wonderful evening. You should come more often. What are you doing Saturday night?”

“Nothing,” Nina spoke up before Vikram.

“Perfect, Nina, honey bring him home on Saturday.”

“Okay. Done.”

Vikram couldn’t handle that amount of love. He had grown up in an orphanage and wasn’t used to this. He could barely speak up.

“Um- uh- thank you Mrs Krovosos, I can’t- say-”

“Mom, help him.”

"Oh, don't mention it, dear. Now you should head back, it's getting late."

Then Vikram said good night to everyone, promised to come on Saturday and left. The moment he left, Nina hopefully looked at her mother and her aunt.

“So? What do you think?”

Nina's aunt hopped on her feet, clapping her hands.

“Oh, he's perfect. I love him."

Chapter Two

The Explorer's Tales

The next morning, Ahmed got up early. He was making coffee when he saw Vikram's bed was empty though it looked like he had slept in there. Ahmed was just wondering where he would go so early in the morning when Vikram walked in, still sleepy and with a handbag which was probably Nina's.

“Whoa, where have you been to, girl?" Ahmed said looking at the handbag.

“It’s Nina's. She left it at the restaurant yesterday. My phone was in there too.” Vikram replied.

He put the handbag on the table right next to the entrance and went back to his bed and fell onto it. Within minutes, he was snoring.

Ahmed took his cup of coffee and switched on the computer again. He logged in into the chatroom and found a few more unread messages. He started reading them drinking his coffee.

“Hey, did somebody say police found some bodies? Do we know who they were?”

“No, the police couldn’t identify them. But they looked like they were homeless living on the streets.”

"That's perfect. Whoever is behind this, they are targeting people whom nobody will miss, nobody would look for.”

“Yeah, they are taking the poor, homeless or orphans. We don’t even know how many they have already taken.”

“Maybe we'll find something on Saturday.”

“Yeah, see you guys then.”

When it was time to go to college. Ahmed switched off the computer and went to get ready. Vikram woke up and got ready too. They both left for college together.

In the evening, Ahmed was again on the computer but nobody had come online or left any messages. Vikram, who was out, came back so Ahmed quickly switched the tab.

“Hey what’s up?” Ahmed asked.

“Nothing," Vikram said exhaustively and plunged into a chair.

“I was waiting for you. I got you something."

Ahmed picked up a package and threw it towards Vikram, who caught it and began opening it.

“What is it? Did you get me a costume already?”

“No, we are going for that together on Sunday, remember?”

Vikram opened the package and a pair of blue sneakers fell out.


“I was feeling bad about losing your shoes that night so I got you a new pair.”

“Oh, you didn't have to. Those were already worn out, I was gonna buy a new pair anyway.”

“Well, now you don't have to."

"Thanks, man."

“Yeah, and you don’t have to pay me back.”

“I know. You think I can’t appreciate a gift?”

“Okay then. Come on, I'm starving. Let’s go eat.”

When Saturday arrived, most of the students had left for the holidays. The festival of lights was approaching. Only a few of them had stayed for the Halloween party and Ahmed and Vikram were among them.

Ahmed logged in into the chatroom every day but no one else said anything else. They were all offline since the last time. Ahmed was furious. They were all just pretending to be worried about the disappearances, wanting to solve them. They must have left for holidays too, bailed on the chance they got. That evening, Ahmed was sitting in the room thinking about going to the river alone when Vikram walked in.

“Dude, put on a shirt, Nina's coming.”

“So what?”

“Nothing it’s just- it’s not good manners.”

Ahmed put on a shirt.

“Hey Nina,” Ahmed said as soon as she walked in.

She was wearing an overcoat but her heels implied that she must've been wearing a dress underneath.

“Hey, what’s up there?”

“Hey sweety,” said Vikram and pecked on her cheek, “Here’s your handbag.”

"Oh, thanks. And can I borrow your phone? Mine's dead again.”

“Oh, again? Did you try charging it sometimes?” Vikram said playfully handing over his phone, “Here, you go ahead I'll be right there, I just have to wear the shoes.”

Ahmed, who was waiting for Nina to go out, looked at Vikram mischievously.

“Ooh, someone's gonna get lucky tonight.”

“Nothing like that. I'm having dinner with her family,” Vikram replied while putting on his new sneakers.

"Oh, you poor guy. I don't wanna leave you alone for the holidays but that’s the only way you'll have the room to yourself.”

“Don’t worry about it and besides I like her, I don't wanna rush. Okay, see you later.”

Vikram waved bye and walked out. Little did he know that he would never see Ahmed again.

“Let’s go,” he said to Nina who was waiting for her outside, “Wait, you got your handbag and my phone, right?”

“Yeah,” Nina said patting the pocket of her overcoat.

Ahmed was just waiting for Vikram to leave. He quickly dressed up and left the room. On his way out, he saw Nina’s handbag on the table.

“That girl is dumb as hell,” he said, “It’s a good thing she’s pretty.”

He reached the river in the old city. It was dark which wasn't his plan but he had to wait for Vikram to leave. We started walking in the mud. It looked like a waste management site. There was so much garbage, it was impossible to see anything, especially in the dark. The stench almost made him throw up. He kept looking in the light of his phone's flash. He was also scared. If it was the dumping sight, there was a slight chance that whoever was behind all this could show up to dump another body. He soon realized that one person couldn't look through the miles of the garbage but what he didn't realize was that he wasn’t the one in danger even though he was scared. The one who wasn't scared at all and was in grave danger was Vikram.

He was sitting on the couch with Nina in her living room while her mother and her aunt were in the kitchen preparing the dinner. Nina was playing with Vikram who was a little nervous but was still responding.

“Are you sure we can’t help them?” He asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Nina replied pulling herself closer to him and before Vikram could say anything else, she kissed him.

Vikram was worried that her mother and aunt could walk upon them any second but after a few seconds of Nina's lips passionately pressing against his, he gave up.

Nina was now nibbling his ear. She went down his neck on his left and-

Vikram felt an intense wave of pain spreading through his body from two fresh wounds on his neck.

He screamed.

Chapter Three

The Explorer's Tales

Vikram tried to scream but no sound came out. He was out of breath. He tried to stand up but he couldn’t move his muscles. Nina then let go of his neck and Vikram saw her face. She had been completely transformed. She was staring at Vikram with her red eyes with elliptical pupils and was flickering her forked tongue. Vikram felt a wave of terror travel through his body and that was the last thing he felt because his whole body went numb. Nina saw it and smiled. She knew that her prey wasn’t going anywhere now. She turned her head towards the kitchen and hissed. Her mother and her aunt came flickering their tongues. One of them, Vikram couldn’t tell which one, pushed a needle in his vein. He saw blood running out of his body through a tube with the corner of his eye. He didn’t feel anything and certainly couldn’t do anything to stop it. He was just praying that someone would come and save him but there was nobody to save him. He soon started to lose consciousness. 

“It’s almost done sweetheart,” Nina began, “I know you must be thinking what is happening right now. Perhaps, you should have listened to your friend.”

Vikram couldn’t see anything. Darkness had filled his vision and his mind. He could only hear Nina's voice which felt like if it was coming from afar. She was laughing.

"Oh, it's been a long time since we had a good meal. I mean those malnutritioned homeless scums had barely any blood in their bodies. We had to take extra care with your case. That damned phone of yours could have gotten us in trouble. I had to make sure you could never bring that thing here. I had to loose my favourite handbag for it but it was worth it.”

The remaining blood and life drained out of Vikram's body soon enough. The last thing he could think of was Ahmed. He hoped with his dying breath that maybe Ahmed would figure it out somehow, he would do something but Ahmed had no clue.

That night when Ahmed returned to his room, Vikram still hadn’t come back. He thought that maybe Vikram was staying at Nina’s. The next morning, Ahmed tried calling him but he found out that he had left his phone there, in Nina's handbag. He waited all day for him to return. When night approached, he started getting worried and by Monday morning when he was sitting in the police station, he realized that he might never see his friend again. The police couldn’t find him. They tried looking for a girl named Nina but they couldn’t find anyone. They also tried tracing Vikram's location history by his phone but the phone had never been to Nina’s place. The case turned cold just like all the other cases of disappearances. The police weren't even convinced that anything bad had happened to Vikram. Who was to say that he hadn't just left everything behind went on to start a new life? After all, he wouldn't be the first orphan to do so.

Ahmed didn't go home for the holidays. He spent his days and nights scrutinizing the riverside. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t think about anything else except that if he had just been a little cautious if he had just paid attention, he could’ve saved his friend. It was all his mistake. He wanted him to get away so he could play the little game of investigation, his fantasy. He was now sure that there weren’t any vampires in the city. How could he think something crazy like that? He knew that his best friend must’ve fallen prey to the foul ways of the crime world. There was nothing he could do about it.

After about two weeks, Ahmed was finally going home. There were still a few days left for the festival and his parents had kept on insisting. He agreed to go just because he didn’t want to be alone. He was just wandering by the riverside. He was leaving the next day but he couldn’t stop himself from going there one last time. He was just walking aimlessly when he spotted something in the pile of garbage. He jumped at it. He was now literally rolling in the mud but he didn’t care. It was stuck in the mud, Ahmed dug around it and pulled it out and when he realized what it was, he started crying. Tears streamed from his eyes. The pain was unbearable. He was wailing like a wounded animal. He picked it up in his mud-covered hands and kept looking at it with his tears filled eyes.

It was a blue sneaker.

Followed by - The Krovosos Family – Arjun tries to solve the mystery of bloodless bodies which everyone at first thought was the work of vampires but turns out something else.

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