The Spider Killings (20)

Azadeh’s spit landed squarely in the middle of the man’s face


The Spider Killings (20)
by laleh haghighi

A fictional series based on real events that happened in Iran known as the "Spider Killings". [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

Ever since he had caught a glimpse of Azadeh wailing over the body of her dead friend in front of the Mausoleum of Imam Reza, Sharif, like a hungry tiger fixated on its prey, had kept close track of her. He had followed her to the police station, wondering when she would be released from questioning, hoping he could approach her for a ride then. But for the two days that Sharif kept his vigil, he had been thwarted in his plans.

Coming and going, Azadeh was always accompanied by an older woman. An older woman who struck Sharif as one he had seen before. Well obviously, she must be a prostitute too. These morally ill women stuck together after all.

Later, he had followed Azadeh home and when she had emerged with a child and a couple of suitcases, he had been hesitant. A child had never entered into his equation.

-- “What are you concerned about?” The familiar Voice thundered at once. “You will be saving this child from dishonor, just like you could have saved that poor martyr boy’s soul from dishonor yet you lost your opportunity there. Are you going to start again?”

-- “No, no.” Sharif answered back firmly. “I will never doubt you again. I will always be your soldier of steel.”

However, that moment of hesitation had cost Sharif. He helplessly watched as Azadeh and the little boy got into a policeman’s car.

-- “Back to the station then!” Sharif muttered to himself discontentedly.

But to his surprise, the young police officer had not taken Azadeh back to the station. Instead, he had driven her to a nondescript house in a middle-class neighborhood. Sharif did not understand what was going on. It was inconceivable to him that a police officer would commit the immoral act to hire a prostitute. No, there had to be another explanation. Maybe he was a relative.

Sharif decided to wait again. Night fell. He had not had much sleep for the past couple of days and his hopes were starting to dwindle along with his alertness. So he knew it was fate when he woke up suddenly in the darkest hour of the night at the exact moment Azadeh was furtively leaving the house with her son. All alone. Finally. And wouldn’t you know it? He did not even have to accost her. Here she was, waving her arms frantically at him to stop.

-- “No need to get excited, my sweet.” Sharif sneered to himself behind the wheel as he approached the young girl. “This is not the lucky coincidence you think it is. This is fate.”

* * *

Babak, seated at the back of the car, continued sucking his thumb, looking out the window. As the taxi drove from one neighborhood to another, he did not pay attention to the exchange of words between the taxi driver and Azadeh, who had chosen to sit in the front.

He did not remember how Maman Azi and he had ended up in this car in the middle of night. All he could remember was going to sleep in the strange house the night before, in a strange bed, with strange children by his side. But Babak was used to “strange” by now. In fact, he was resigned to it.

This was his life. A series of twists and turns, always meeting new people, ending up in new places, being passed on from one set of hands to another. He had never missed the embrace of his Maman Fati as much as he did in that very moment.

As he kept looking out the window passively, suddenly, he saw something that made his eyes widen and his thumb pop out of his mouth. Gripping the windowsill, he heightened himself on his knees to gain a better view. Yes, he had seen right. There was no mistake about it. He was suddenly so happy. He turned around to tell Maman Azi the good news but before he could utter a word, he froze in terror.

Fati was sitting next to him in the back of the car. Not Fati, his Maman whose neck smelled of shirinee and whose hands always stretched out to envelop Babak in their embrace. It was the other Fati, the one from his nightmares.

That creature, clad in his mother’s chador, wearing his mother’s skin, his mother’s hair, everything about his mother except for her eyes. The eyes were always missing. But this was different. For he had never seen the deev, the demon, outside of his slumber. Yet here she was sitting next to him and Babak was sure he was not dreaming.

In the front, the taxi driver kept conversing with Azadeh, who replied from time to time with a yes or a no, getting more and more annoyed at the chatty man’s questions. They had not seen Fati. They could not feel her presence. Babak knew she was there for him and him only. As he awaited her to move, speak, do anything, she suddenly raised her arm.

Her index finger pointed ominously at the driver of the taxi. Babak looked from Fati to the man and then back to Fati again. He did not understand the meaning of this.

Then, the deev, her finger still pointing at the man, slowly turned her face around so that the two gaping holes that served as her eyes were facing Babak directly. She opened her mouth as if to speak but no sound came. Babak strained his ear, he even dared to inch towards her. The mouth just grew wider and wider into a gigantic “O” that Babak was afraid would swallow her whole face.

That’s when the flies started to come out. At first, one by one, they ventured out timidly from the mouth of the creature as if they had been held captive inside its bowels and had finally been set free. Then, they multiplied at a dizzying speed, until a torrent of them came gushing out of the creature’s putrid lips.

There were so many of them that the taxi was now filled with a black, fluttering mass, covering the seats, the floor, the dashboard, the windshield. The skin of the car’s human occupants was crawling with hundreds of them. They were making their way into their nostrils, covering their eyes, flying in and out of their ears, tangling themselves in their hair.

But only Babak seemed aware of them. The two adults at the front did not react to this plague. Babak even saw Maman Azi turn around from the front, her face covered with the insects, asking him casually if he was “all right back there.”

Babak suddenly understood the message Fati was so desperately trying to convey to him from beyond the grave. He threw himself on the floor of the car and covered his face. Then, he let out a series of blood-curdling screams.

* * *

-- “Stop the car!” Azadeh shouted at the taxi driver.

But he did not respond.

-- “Hey buddy, I said to stop the car. STOP THE CAR NOW! Don’t you see my child is screaming? There is something wrong with him.”

Azadeh was exasperated. Mr. Chatty-Chatty taxi driver had been bothering her during the whole ride with his impertinent questions and now that she needed him to pay attention, he was playing dumb. She was extremely worried for Babak, who was throwing a fit on the floor of the car in the back.

Maybe he had an injury that she had not noticed in her haste to flee. Maybe he was just now finally reacting to the horror that Majid had inflicted upon him. In any case, something must be done to stop this damn car.

Furious, she tried to take over the wheel, force the man to slow down. The car swerved dangerously, going halfway onto the sidewalk, almost hitting a lamppost. The driver finally brought the car to an abrupt stop.

Before Azadeh could do anything, the man reached over, grabbing her by the back of her hair and violently slammed her face onto the dashboard. Azadeh felt a piercing pain in her nose and heard something crack. Then a red fog covered her eyes and she lost consciousness.

When she regainded her senses, she found herself lying on the carpeted floor of an unknown room, her hands and feet bound. She didn’t know how long she had been out. She looked around as best she could though her vision was heavily impaired and her head was killing her.

The blinds of the single window in the room had been drawn but she thought she could see some glimmers of sunlight pushing their way past them. Morning already. She must have been out for a couple of hours.

She turned her head in the other direction and saw the taxi driver kneeling beside her, grinning. Azadeh wanted to sob but she was in so much pain that she could not even muster the strength to do that. She felt her face and neck covered in a sticky substance and knew that it was her own blood. The man must have broken her nose when he had slammed her face down.

Stupid, she was so stupid to think that she could get away with it. The authorities had probably already alerted everyone on the radio that she was wanted for murder by the time she had found this taxi. He had strung her along and then performed his citizen’s arrest. Oh well, that was the end of the line for her.

She tried to make light of it, to laugh, make an inappropriate joke, since this was the only way she knew how to deal with a catastrophe. But the thought of Babak stopped her.

-- “Where is my son?”

-- “Don’t worry, he is safe and sound in the bedroom, asleep. I locked him in. He won’t bother us. By the name, my name is Sharif.”

-- “Well, it’s GREAT to meet you Sharif, chetori, how are you? How’s your family? How are your dear ones?” Azadeh asked mockingly, using the commonly known Iranian greeting formula that had you ask about the health and well-being of every single relative, close or distant, when greeting someone.

To her surprise, Sharif laughed. The laugh brought some unexpected hope back to Azadeh. Maybe this man was game. Maybe she could reason with him, appeal to his mercy, get him to release her before it was too late.

-- “Listen Sir.” She tried, more politely this time. “I can assure you that I am innocent. You only have one side of the story. That man, he was a monster. I was only defending myself. Defending my son”

She stopped when she realized that Sharif, though he still looked amused, also showed incomprehension on his face. He had no idea what she was talking about. But then, if he had not heard about Majid’s murder, then why? Why had he knocked her out and imprisoned her in his home?

Suddenly, she felt the man’s hand on her. He was caressing her ankle, the spot where she had her tattoo.

-- “I notice you have the same beautiful tattoo as your friend, Azadeh Khanoom. Your deceiving eyes have killed me. How poetic! Did you come up with it or did she?”

Azadeh looked the man in his eyes. She could not believe it. This couldn’t be…

-- “I had a great time with her, you know.” Sharif continued cruelly. “She was… such a beautiful piece of meat.”

Azadeh did not respond. Instead, she kept her mouth closed, and started to run her tongue against her palate.

-- “What’s the matter sweetheart?” Sharif said, approaching Azadeh’s face. “You haven’t lost your tongue, have you? At least, not yet.”


Azadeh’s spit landed squarely in the middle of the man’s face. She was helpless to do anything else. She wanted the satisfaction to see him humiliated before she died. For she knew that she was dead. This was Yassi’s killer. The so-called Spider Killer. She was trapped in his web and she would never see the light of day again.

At least, she had managed to wipe that arrogant smirk off his face. Sharif was fuming. One knee on her chest, he grabbed her by the throat and started shaking her. As her head bounced up and down on the floor, she remembered her premonition, the creature of her nightmare who had beaten her the same way, chipping the life out of her with each blow.

-- “I guess I should have heeded her warning.” Azadeh thought to herself, feeling faint.

Was this the end? Was this how it would happen?

But Sharif had stopped shaking her. His face enraged, he stood up, lifted one foot, and placed it securely on her neck.

-- “Goodnight sweetheart.” He sneered.

Azadeh had locked eyes with him, she could not turn away. That’s why she was never sure afterwards if she had seen the blood first, then heard the shot, or if it was vice versa. For a shot had rang out right before Sharif could crush her throat with his foot.

As he stood over Azadeh, his foot still on her neck, she saw his face suddenly contract in pain and a red dot appear on his temple. The red dot soon turned into a steady stream of blood. Sharif took a few steps back, and then fell against the wall, from which he slid down slowly until he ended up in an awkward sitting position, his eyes still fixed on his last would-be victim.

-- “Azam, is that you?’ He muttered, looking at Azadeh like he had seen a ghost. Those were the last words he spoke.

* * *

At the door, Mahin stood, watching Sharif go down, Hossein’s work gun in her hand, burning the palm of her hand with the heat the shot had generated. But she was numb to the pain>>> Part 21 (conclusion)

PARTS [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]


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