I was very much excited for my oncoming journey. It was the very first time that I would be going on vacation on my very own, as my parents had some unfinished business to tend to.
All the bookings had been done. I would be first travelling to Reykjavik, then London and finally Paris.
My friend Adam Louis lived in France, and I hadn't seen him for the last three years, since he had moved from Chicago. He had got his dream job, and they had made him to come to France.
I still remember the day that I left Chicago for my trip, and even though I felt excited on that day, my parents didn't.
It was of course, quite obvious that they cared for me, but there was something more than just care in their eyes and their feelings.
What was it? Was it fear? If so, why? They kept on insisting to me that I should live in hotels, and to live alone and not with any partner.
To not live in hostels, even though they may be cheap. You have lots of money, they said, why not live in luxurious hotels by yourself?
I didn't take much notice of this on that day, although I should have, because the long course of gruesome events that were going to unfold in the future could have been, in a way, averted.
At that time, I thought it would be fun to live in a hostel, who knows, I may even make some new friends there. But as the bookings had already been done, I was going to live in hotels only.
They had seen to that.
I reached Reykjavik six hours later, and then it took me another hour to reach the hotel that I had booked.
But call it fate, call it destiny or whatever the word that goes around these days, the hotel that I had booked was undergoing major reparations,
because of a blast that had happened in the kitchen. Could you imagine this? Of all the places that the blast could have happened, it had happened in the kitchen.
The gas reservoir, which was of course in the kitchen, had gone up in a big boom, and had literally destroyed the plumbing of that place.
Anyway, I asked the cab driver to take me to some other hotel, but he told me that there was a hostel near by, and it was quite a comfortable one.
Moreover, he said , that it would take a lot of time to go to another hotel, and it was already midnight , and that I must be tired and that I could shift to a hotel the other day.
The driver was sleepy, and thought that it wasn't worth the effort or money to take this American guy to some fancy hotel way across the city in the dead of the night. He had to get home.
To hell with it, I thought. I was tired, and there had been a slight scuffle that had ensued with the manager of the hotel over the refunding of the booking, which had already irritated me.
I paid the fare, took my bags, and went towards the hostel.
The road was deserted(of course, it was midnight), and although you could consider it creepy, I enjoyed the walk in the silence of the night to the hostel.
When I reached there, I was greeted by an overly cheerful receptionist, and after the settlement of the rent, I was led to my dorm.
She pointed out my bed to me, and then showed where the bathroom was. I was going to be joined by my partner soon, she said, and that shall I require anything, I was free to contact her.
I thanked her,talked with her a bit about the places that I must see before leaving Iceland, and then again thanked her and closed the door.
I didn't unpack my bag, as I knew, hopefully(?) that I would move to a hotel next day. I had money. I can live in a hotel. I could. I could have.
After changing into my night clothes and brushing my teeth, I gladly went to my bed and sat on it,thinking of all the wonderful places that were to visit,
and how I would leave tomorrow with by backpack.....
Seems childish, doesn't it?
My train of thought came to an abrupt end as someone rapped the door with his/her knuckles. I opened the door, and that was when I came face to face with the first victim, Mr Daniels.
Daniels was a good man, as good as they came. He had a firm handshake, and if my father was here, he would have told a lot of things just by shaking hands with him.
Daniels was travelling to Norway(I don't remember the address), he lived there and had come here for some work.
We chatted for some time, I told him that I was a tourist, what I did to earn money and where I lived.
He listened intently, and smiled politely at a poor joke that I threw in to continue the conversation. He told me about himself as well. He was married, and had a daughter and a son.
Both were good in studies. His daughter wanted to be a surgeon, his son an astronaut. They had big dreams.
I liked Mr Daniels.
I woke up the next day, went to the toilet, brushed my teeth and again came back to my room. During the course of these events of the morning, I didn't see Daniels.
Maybe he had left early, I thought.
I went downstairs, and paid my bill. It was okay. As my parents had said, I had money. Lots of it, apparently.
Before going anywhere, I found a hotel and booked a room there for myself( who else would I book it for?).
I had enjoyed my somewhat short stay at the hostel, and although I couldn't meet Daniels again, the receptionist had given me a somewhat teary farewell. They rarely had guests who paid so well.
I booked a cab and the rest of the day went in sightseeing.
I saw the glaciers, the rolling and drooling waves of the Atlantic ocean, the geothermal vents which sizzled with a strange rhythm,
that reminded me of the way hot pans sizzle when you throw water on them. I visited the Hallgrimskirkja Church, the Sun voyager and great many places.
I traveled through the city, and found a great many shops that seemed to sell the same antiques at absurdly different prices. The better the infrastructure, the higher the price.
Again, I had money, lots of it apparently, and I bought the antique from the most expensive shop that I could find, or get into with proper communication. It had air conditioning.
After a few days of more sightseeing, on the day that I was to leave for London, they found the body of Daniels.
The death had been swift, the newspaper said. Clean, no marks of struggle, except the wound itself. Someone had slit open his neck with a knife, and left him to die in a water tank.
When the tank was opened yesterday, for the weekly check, they had found his body floating in the water, the water all red around him.
This piece of news shook me. The man that I had met that night, he didn't come across as a person who would have just died like that.
He had a nice family, a son who wanted to be an astronaut, a daughter who wanted to be a surgeon, and a nice wife who loved him. This was wrong. This happened only in movies.
But this was real. Mr Daniels was dead. He was a nice guy.
The newspaper said that the police force was on the hunt, and they would catch the killer.
But the fact was that they hadn't been able to make any major progress, as all the traces that might have been there on his body had been wiped clean by the water.
But they would catch the killer. Unless it was a suicide. They had missed that angle.
I kept down the paper, and drank my remaining coffee. My flight for London was scheduled to depart at 1 pm, and I still had to pack my bags.
I called the cab at 11 am, and went to the airport. After check in, as I sat in the waiting area, I thought about his family. How they must have felt when they would have got the news.
His children had dreams. Big dreams. Could they achieve them now?
I left for London, and reached the Heathrow International Airport at 4:30 pm.
To be continued......