Karthik is a police inspector in a small town which had very little crime rate. More often, Karthik and his team received complaints only about stolen vehicles and missing pet animals. He always wanted a huge dose of adventure. But, this town and its citizens were frightened of committing sins as they believed that the God in the hill temple was very powerful who would punish the sinners terribly.
Suddenly, things started changing. People went missing. There was no celebration. They had no huge reason. Random people from across the town started missing. Karthik wondered if this was some prank, initially. But, he received more than five complaints on the first day. At least ten people went missing the second day. And, they were not returning. Nobody had a clue about them. The numbers kept increasing and at least fifty were missing by the fifth day.
Karthik called two constables and assigned them work. They were all excited because they finally got some work to do. The first constable was asked to roam around the town in plain clothes and gather as much information and gossip as possible. The second constable was asked to gather all the facts about the missing people and check if there is anything common between them. He had to identify the patters, if any.
After a few hours, the first constable returned with his report. He shared his findings as follows, according to the people he heard.
The women at the temple: The number of sinners increased in the city. The people who went missing are the ones who committed the maximum number of sins. God has punished them by making them disappear. They all landed in hell.
The old men at the market: It is a gang of criminals from the neighboring city. They are kidnapping people, sedating them, and then selling their kidneys and other body parts.
The retired officers at the park: It is a terrorist plot. The terrorists are killing people in all the neighborhood towns and villages to send a message to the government.
The teenagers at the theater: There is a magician who visited the town last week. He mesmerized all these people at his show and took them away with him. He did not shared his details with anyone else.
The priests at the town hall: All the cursed people who did not follow their rituals in the last one year have disappeared. They are all sent to hell.
There were some more theories that floated around.
After listening to the constable, Karthik said, “Interesting. Can you please check and let me know if a magician really visited our town last week? And, also let me know if any other new people came to the town.”
The second constable came after some time. He said, “We have some interesting patterns here, sir. On the first day, three young men and two young women disappeared. The second day saw the disappearance of six people in their late thirties and four young men and women. Kids and old people have been safe till date.”
Another constable commented, “This means that after a month, this town will be left with old people and their grand kids. Two or three generations would have gone missing.”
Karthik added to his comment. He said, “Remember that you also belong to the generation that can go missing. So, beware.”
They all laughed heartily despite the situation turning too grim and the media starting to bash the cops and local administration for being too relaxed.
Karthik tried to find a logical reason behind the missing of young and energetic people. The kids and old people cannot do anything and they have needs.
The first constable returned after some time and shared the details he gathered.
There were many new people who visited the village last week. Some of them were too interesting to ignore.
There was a businessman and his team who came here last week. They wanted to start a factory. They needed many people to work in their factory. They learnt that this town had the number of people that they needed. But, this team faced resistance from the leaders of the town. The elders of the town felt that the establishment of factory would pollute the air of this town and the waters of the river. This town has been immune to many kinds of pollution.
Karthik asked, “But, why would he kidnap people if he wanted to set up a factory? It does not make any sense. Find out more details about him. He must be trying to find another village or town to start his factory. ”
There were a group of medical college interns who came here and served the local people in the form of a health camp last week. They were very nice to the people and they all said that they liked the people of this town. They said that they would come back to this village in the future whenever they got an opportunity.
Karthik said, “It can be easier to track them. Find out from the local hospital about the team that visited last week. Get their phone numbers and talk to them. Do not frighten them. They might have some information that can help us.”
There was an exhibition of handmade goods from a nearby village. Some craftsmen came and put up the exhibition and sold their wares last week. They do it once every year. The people of this town are fond of them and buy some stuff from them.
Karthik ruled out the possibility of them doing any harm.
“Finally, another team came last week. It was a movie team. They did not interact with anyone. They scouted the place for shooting locations. They asked for permissions from the local authorities. They got all their permissions. They will start their shooting after a month. People are ardently waiting for the shooting to begin. This town is full of film buffs,” said the constable.
An old woman came sobbing to the police station. She filed a complaint against her missing grandson. She started crying before speaking anything. Finally, after some time, she said, “My grand kid is missing. He is too young. He does not know how to take care of himself. Please find him. I’m so worried about him.”
Karthik asked, “How old is the boy?”
The old woman said, “He is too young. He is only twenty four.”
Karthik looked back at the constables and murmured, “We have a spoilt brat missing here. Write down all the details from her.”
Before leaving, the old woman said something that helped them with the case. My grand son talks in his dreams. Last night he said, “It is awesome to work with him. I am so glad I can be a part of movie. People can see me on the screen. I should not tell my grand mom. When the movie releases, she will be thrilled to see me on screen.”
Karthik wondered if this guy was the only one who was promised a role in the movie.
Meanwhile, one of the constables returned after gathering more information about the medical team and director’s team. Karthik asked him to talk about the movie team. The constable said, “They are in a village nearby. They are shooting a war scene there. People are flocking from across all villages to witness the shooting.
Karthik’s fears came true. He and his team drove to the shooting spot in the nearby village. To their amazement, all the missing people were there in the shooting spot applying make up and getting ready for the next shot.
After talking to all of them, Karthik realized that they were all doing it for free. The producer and the director of the film asked them not to tell the other people from their village that they were going to the shooting. The shooting was supposed to last for at least three months. The people, who were crazy for movies, decided to stay with this team for the next three months.