It was tough to attract the attention of the preacher. Dustman had named him Greatman. Surrounded by his devotees all the time, the great man was the dispensing machine of happiness and peace. It was rumored that the mere sight of him cured cancers, relieved pains and caused rains. Dustman hated him, for Greatman epitomized all that was wrong with this world. He took advantage of the feeble mindedness of the average human being. One devotee would wash his feet; others would drink the water that rinsed him. He had made it mandatory for all of them to donate one-tenth of their income as a tithe. A small price indeed, for eternal bliss! Those who couldn’t attend his session in person had the benefit of worshipping him through the television screen. His spiritual programs were being broadcast daily on all the leading channels. The housewives would light incense sticks and sit like praying mantes when he spoke the wise words. It was widely believed that his blessings took the form of electromagnetic waves, which could be captured by the cameras and disseminated for wider absorption by the television screens.
Not that Dustman needed a reason to kill anyone. But the preacher deserved to die on many counts. He was breeding superstition, that TV friendly chameleon. He was celebrated and respected, while Dustman was not. And worst of all, he was making those miserable people feel satisfied with their mediocre lives by offering them the concept of god and goodwill. Dustman wanted to educate him on the concept of aliens and annihilation.
In one of the congregations, Dustman asked a child to pass on a note to Greatman. It read, ‘I have sinned all my life and amassed wealth. Diagnosed with a fatal disease, I am scared about rotting in hell after death. So I seek reparation, and this I will do by putting my entire wealth at your holy feet. I don’t want you to make me live – I only want you to pray that I am not sent to hell. I will be surrendering my riches, which can feed an entire province, at room number 111 of Yilton Hotel, one mile down this street. If it is possible for me to ask this, please come alone. I want this charity to be secret – a divine contract between the preacher and the follower.’
Dustman did not believe this will work. Greedy though he was, Greatman did not look foolish enough to fall for this. Nevertheless, Dustman booked room number 111 in the name of one of the disciples whose ID card he stole from the gathering. And he waited there patiently. He had identified patience as the most desirable trait of any serial killer. He revised the plan to send the preacher to the alien spaceship. The day passed by without anyone bothering him for anything. Though he had put on a fake moustache and worn a wig, he was careful not to be seen by too many people there.
He had just started to sleep when the doorbell rang. He quickly put on a suit and checked his suitcase, which housed his killing kit. To his pleasant surprise, Greatman too was careful enough not to look like himself. ‘I had to come here unseen to escape the attention of my followers here’, he said. ‘Thank you greedy bastard – now I don’t have to worry about how to take you out unnoticed’, Dustman thought.
‘So where is the money son?’
‘It is kept safely in the form of gold bars, in my old house – just 5 miles from here. The box is so heavy I couldn’t lift it alone. I know your time is precious, but can you please come with me and relieve me of the burden I have carried all my life?’ Dustman made sure he sounded tired and diseased when he spoke.
‘I can spare half an hour to save a soul. God has given me enough time to do good work.’
‘The aliens have given me enough time to do some really bad work’, Dustman wanted to tell him.
So they both went to the abandoned house which belonged to no one in particular. It was supposed to be a haunted mansion – the abode to beasts and ghosts. There were no ghosts in the neighborhood. But now it had a beast and a human. Dustman had kept a coffin in one of the corners of the largest room.
‘There is your box Sir’, he said. And he wasn’t wrong because very soon Greatman’s body will belong to that coffin box.
‘Why would you keep your gold in that coffin?’
‘So that no one ever dares to open it – this is the safest place I could get’
Greatman, afraid of the ambience, wanted to take the gold and run back to his comfortable hermitage. So he bent down to ascertain the weight of gold he needed to carry back. His nervous system suddenly became depressed and he fell down unconscious. Dustman had used the perfect dose of chloroform – large enough to paralyze him and small enough to not cause a cardiac arrest.
Greatman woke up admiring the long defunct ceiling fan of that room. He could not move from where he was – not because of chloroform – he had been tied in that position by the soon-to-be serial killer.
Then he started cursing. ‘If you don’t let me go, god will destroy you’. Dustman smiled at him.
Cursing turned into pleading. ‘Please let me go and I will give you half my wealth’. Dustman nodded his head in refusal.
Pleading turned into crying.
Crying led to more crying.
‘Do you really believe in god?’ asked Dustman.
Greatman stopped sobbing. May be Dustman was only trying to see how firm is his belief. ‘Of course I do. I have seen god.’
‘So he will protect you from me – for I am evil and proudly so.’ Dustman dragged a dagger out of the killing kit. ‘Let us try this hypothesis then – I will put this dagger into your chest but you will not bleed. God will save you somehow. A lightning will strike me as soon as I raise my hand now’
‘No…please noooo. I will die. Please don’t do it. I will accept whatever you want me to. There is no god. You are right. Now please don’t kill me.’
‘Who said that I wanted you to not believe in god?’
‘Then what is that you want? Do you believe in god?’
‘I believe in the evil aliens. In fact I represent them on earth.’
‘Well then I believe in aliens too. I will worship them from now. I will make my followers worship them too.’
‘You have a problem here. The aliens are not appeased by devotion. They actually don’t give a damn.’
‘You can never get away by killing me, why don’t you understand?’
‘I have chosen you because I want to be noticed, please understand.’
‘What difference does it make whether you kill me or anyone else? You only need to kill. Let me go, I will help you find many people you can kill.’
‘No thanks. I am a freelancer serial killer – not much into networking. And about the difference part…well, the difference between killing someone else and killing you is like the difference between awesome and fucking awesome. No more questions please.’
Dustman then pulled the dagger high and pushed it deep into the chest of the preacher. He did not try to muffle the scream – there were no houses in the vicinity and it was anyway rumored that people heard weird screams from that haunted mansion all the time. He then tore open his chest and filled it with the dust, fistfuls of which he had diligently dug from the garden. He sat down there with the dead Greatman and admired his work.
‘The road to god is full of dust’, he whispered in his ears.
The body was found two days later. One newspaper carried the headline – Dusty Killer slaughters the spiritual leader. Very soon everyone, including the police started calling him Dusty. Dustman did not like that name – it had no impact. It was like calling Spiderman Spidey, Batman Batty and Ironman Irony. What an irony!
But Dusty had arrived. He killed three more people in the next three months, but no one of them as well known as Greatman. He made sure that the police got the required clues to link all the killings to him. He had learned this in his corporate job – take credit for what you do. He also had provoked a few copycat killings. Someone killed someone else and filled the body with ash. But he fell down unconscious by the side of the dead body. So thankfully, there was no Ashman as a competition.
In search of more popularity, Dusty now wanted to kill a politician and an actor – the two breeds he hated the most. So he decided in favor of an actor turned politician.