Mala froze. The steel felt cold against her skin. She felt paralyzed. She couldn't even speak. Her lips couldn't even move. Her life flashed through her mind. Raj, Sneha, Ankur – it all happened so quickly. She wanted to live. She wanted to make more memories with them.
"Vivek… you have to trust me…" The words caught in her throat as she tried to sound calm.
But Vivek was somewhere else, in an entirely different universe. He pulled the trigger. He didn't even think about it. He didn't even really mean to.
Mala's body collapsed in a pool of her own blood right outside Ankur's bedroom door. Ankur shouted from the other side. Vivek had to silence him. He searched Mala's body for the keys, remembering that she locked the door. He couldn't find them. As Mala fell, her hand had opened and the keys slid underneath the door.
Mala protected Ankur even in her death.
Vivek stood up and sighed, deciding he would just have to let Ankur live.
It doesn't really matter. It's not like he can tell anyone what he saw.
Ankur's shouting still vibrated through the door. Vivek wanted to yell at him to shut up, but he looked down and saw blood splattered on his jacket. This sight snapped him back to reality. He suddenly understood what he had done. He'd killed Ankur's mother, Raj's wife. He'd taken the life of another human.
He panicked. He only wanted to scare her. How did the gun fire? This wasn't what he planned. He just wanted to scare her. She wasn't supposed to die.
He quickly collected his belongings and walked to the exit. He had to get out of there.
For a moment, he thought of tearing the place apart to find the documents, but decided against it. His panic overpowered the thought. It was too risky. It would leave too much evidence. He grabbed a kitchen cloth from the coffee table and used it to open the front door. He didn't want to leave his fingerprints anywhere. He left the building quietly.
Ankur was still shouting inside.
Vivek ran down the steps and toward his car, still waiting in Raj's spot. He had committed a murder. The thought kept running through his head, making him more and more nervous each time. He couldn't make any more mistakes. Images of cops and and their dogs trying to sniff him out filled his head.
His car keys slipped through his fingers as he tried to take them out of his pocket. He crouched down to pick them up, but his shaking fingers struggled to grasp them.
Relax, Vivek. Get a hold of yourself.
He took a deep breath, then picked up the keys, climbed inside the car,
and drove out of the complex.
He circled the building three times. Once, long ago, he had read that this would confuse the police dogs tracking his scent.
A newspaper vendor standing on the corner noticed Vivek's unmistakable black SUV each time it drove past. "The guy must be lost. Why can't he just ask for directions?" the vendor said to himself before he dismissed the thought and went back to dealing with his customers.
Vivek hit the main road in five minutes. From there he headed to the highway. He sped to the factory where most of the production took place. His sudden arrival caused a ripple of surprise to spread through the workers, but he didn't care. He just wanted to be as far as possible from the crime scene. He needed time to sit alone and think. He had to think objectively, coldly. He had to make sure nothing would point to him.
Once inside his office, he closed the solid wood door behind him.