The villa was burning as the hungry flames engulfed it in greed. The firefighters were trying their best to put it out. In front of the house, the neighbors had gathered in confusion and horror. The villa was situated in a posh area. Most of the residents were celebrities and politicians; the rest of them were techies, doctors and engineers. That area was popularly known as Dollars’ Colony. It was the safest area in that entire metro. Police would patrol the area in cars regularly. Burglary, fire hazard, water shortage or electricity failures were unheard of. That is why, the media personnel had reached the spot to do a live telecast.
As the police were trying to keep them inside the line, a police car reached the spot. A middle-aged man in police uniform stepped out of the vehicle. He was muscular even for his age. But what stood out was his imperial style mustache. His gaze was piercing, complemented by hard-angled eyebrows. His name was Ashwath Kumar; a very renowned figure with a high reputation in and around the police department. He had started his career as a Police Inspector, and now, he was a DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police).
“Sir, this villa belongs to MLA Siddharth Raj’s daughter Yashaswini Raj. A loud blast was heard about half an hour ago, before it caught fire. It seems no one’s inside, sir.” A police inspector reported to the DCP. Ashwath nodded and approached the fire officer who was giving instructions to his crew.
“Mr Ramappa, do you have any idea how it started?” Ashwath inquired the fire officer. Annoyed, the fire officer turned, but was shocked to see the DCP.
“Sir, you are here?!” His tone was laced with surprise.
“Yes, my friend. As everyone knows we serve the lords, not the common public.” He smirked, looking at the burning villa. The fire officer nodded in agreement.
“What could be the reason you think?” Looking around, Ashwath asked Ramappa again.
“Gas leakage, sir…” He paused for a moment, then turned towards Ashwath.
“Could be a bomb.” He shrugged. Ashwath inhaled deeply, and his sixth sense was already ticking.
“Meowww…” Surprised, Ashwath looked in the direction of the sound. A white cat was staring at him, as if it would pierce his soul. He went near, and knelt down before it.
“Are you lost, my little friend?” murmured, as he looked at her beautiful pink collar. A golden locket was dangling, and ‘Shwetha’ was written on it. Below it, there were some digits that looked like a phone number. Before he could remember all the numbers, Ramappa interrupted him.
“Sir, a body has been found.” Without waiting for a response from Ashwath, Ramappa went near his crew who were bringing out the corpse. Ashwath followed him instantly. Looking at the corpse, Ramappa turned his face away. Even, he couldn’t bear to look at it. The corpse was burnt beyond recognition. He signaled Ashwath to go ahead and inspect.
Ashwath looked at it for a moment, then instructed the police inspector to take it for the autopsy. At that moment, he got a call, it was the MLA Siddharth Raj who was at his political party meeting in Delhi. Hearing the MLA’s panicked tone, Ashwath tried to calm him down.
The MLA told him that Yashaswini Raj’s phone was switched off. The live telecast of the fire incident had scared the MLA, and he wanted Ashwath to find his daughter as soon as possible. Glancing at the corpse being put in the ambulance, Ashwath assured the MLA that he would find his daughter very soon.
After the call, Ashwath remembered the white-colored cat, and he turned back. But it wasn’t there. “752” Mumbling the numbers he walked to the car. He was about to get in, when the MLA called again. Knowing what the matter was, Ashwath received the call. In a full-blown panic, the MLA inquired about the corpse that was being shown on TV. Somehow, Ashwath convinced the MLA that he could provide the details after the autopsy was done. Frustrated, the MLA told him he would be returning by the next morning.
As soon as Ashwath reached his office, formed four search teams and sent them to find Yashaswini Raj before sunrise.
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