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The Bubble

Disclaimer : I'm a huge KPop fan and you will come across names and photographs of KPop idols in most of my stories. They are my muse and inspiration in so many ways. The incidents and characters are fictional and have no resemblance to any K pop idol in any manner.

Sammy was a happy go lucky girl. Lost in her own world, oblivious to what's happening around her, unbothered by bitter reality and stress-free! Living in her bubble- untouched by harshness and negativity of life!

Or so everyone thought.... Till the bubble burst.....

When I received the call from Sammy's mother, I rushed towards her house. Sammy and I are next door neighbours.

We live in adjacent flats on the 6th floor of our building. We spent a lot of time together in my flat or at the rooftop and had become very close.

Sammy lives with her parents. She has an older sister who is married and stays abroad. They have a beautiful golden retriever called Toffee, who is Sammy's constant companion.

I met Sammy for the first time the day I had shifted into my flat. The owner had left the keys with Sammy's mother and I had to take them from her. As I rang the bell and waited, I heard a dog barking and footsteps running towards the door. The minute the door opened, I was thrown on the floor by something furry and soft. I giggled as I felt ticklish and soon a hand helped me stand up.

A young girl was holding her naughty pet and scolding him lovingly. Then she looked at me and said," I'm so sorry! Toffee is one enthusiastic guy when he sees a pretty girl! I hope you aren't hurt! I'm Sammy and this naughty boy here is Toffee!"

Me- Hi Sammy! Hi Toffee! I'm Minnie. I'm alright, don't worry! I needed the key to my flat. I'm shifting next door!

Sammy- Wow! That's wonderful! Do you need any help?

Me- Oh, I don't mind at all! I will just go down and get my stuff, while you can just open the door for me.

I went down to the entrance of the building and brought up my packages and my little Beagle Abby. Sammy had already opened the door and also opened up all the windows to let some fresh air in. She squealed in delight when she saw Abby and we laughed when we heard a very jealous growl from Toffee!

Sammy, Abby and I went inside the flat. Abby had decided that the balcony was her favourite place right now. Sammy and I lugged in all the 6 packages. Since the flat was already furnished, I only had my clothes and shoes, books, bed and bath linen, kitchen essentials and Abby's stuff with me- one carton for each. I was, in fact, a frugal person with bare minimum requirements!

With Sammy's help I cleaned, mopped and set up my stuff before dinner. Sammy's mother had dropped in to invite me for dinner and I had accepted. Abby and Toffee would also meet!

Dinner was delicious and Aunty even packed some for me for the next day. I was so happy and grateful to have such helpful neighbours! But something seemed amiss in the seemingly happy family atmosphere! The happiness was forced.

Sammy and I became friends in no time, spending a lot of time talking and bonding. She was lonely and sometimes her eyes would go vacant, blank and that scared me... I decided to keep a watchful eye on her... She had opened up to me and she was nothing like her bubbly exterior or her I-give-a-damn attitude! She was in fact a very depressed and scared child.

Aunty hugged me and cried as Sammy's lifeless, battered and bruised body was brought into the room. I was shocked and felt tears streaming down my cheeks, nonstop. I couldn't look at Sammy! I held Aunty and cried alongwith her. Uncle was sitting like a statue, with a blank face, staring at Sammy's limp body, probably wondering what went wrong.

Sammy's face looked serene and calm. She had jumped down from her balcony and died immediately according to the eyewitnesses who saw it happening. The police was already here and I saw a familiar face in the crowd.

Me- Jeon? Are you looking after this case?

Jeon- Hi Minnie! Yes... Although it looks like an obvious case of suicide, I have a feeling it's not so simple! My gut says there's something not quite right here!! Did you know the victim well?

Me- Yes.... We were quite close, in fact! We can talk at my place if it's ok with you.

Jeon gave Sammy's cell phone,tab and laptop to the cops for further examination and we made our way across the crowded room towards my flat.

My friend, Detective Jeon, is a genius in his field of expertise. He is known to solve the most sensitive and difficult cases with a clarity and maturity which defies his age! Dressed smartly in his trademark 'black ninja' ensemble of black jeans, black tee, black leather jacket, chunky black boots and a black baseball cap, he looked more like a college student than a detective! Literally dressed to kill! The young Detective was both respected and feared because he was a genius! A book loving nerd, a computer geek and extremely cool headed and mature for his age! He had solved every such case with an intelligence and professionalism that made people look at him with awe!

I made some cold coffee for both of us and we sat at the balcony. I also brought my laptop out.

Jeon- Do we need this? I thought we were talking!

Me- I need to show you something too! But first, let me tell you about Sammy. She didn't get along with her parents at all. They would constantly compare her to the older daughter Tina. Now, Tina was the epitome of a perfect woman- beauty with brains. She aced all exams, won beauty pageants, was a multitalented artist and finally married a rich man settled abroad. Right now, her paintings are selling like hot cakes everywhere! Comparatively, Sammy was average all the way- jack of all trades, but master of none! Whatever she was, Tina was more of that and whatever she did, paled in front of Tina's achievements! Poor Sammy stood nowhere compared to her multifaceted and multitalented older sibling. Not that Sammy's parents didn't love her, they just never understood her... Their constant comparison of Sammy to Tina made Sammy bitter towards her sister and her parents.

Jeon( taking notes)-Sibling rivalry...Lack of appreciation. Loss of confidence and self worth.... Was she depressed or did she ever talk about ending her life?

Me- She was depressed... Although she never mentioned suicide, she had this look in her eyes at times which scared me.... A sort of empty, vacant look.... Like she has just given up on life! Oh, she was so young Jeon....

My eyes teared up again and Jeon hugged me to comfort me.

Jeon - Are you ok? We can continue later if you want! I will quickly go to the HQ and see if the cell, tab and laptop gave us something!!! I still feel there's more than just sibling rivalry at play here! Why don't you relax? Call me if you need me!

Jeon left. I cried myself to sleep and Abby lay down next to me.

Detective Jeon was back at the HQ, being updated about the latest findings by Mr Namjoon, the technical expert.

NJ- Sir, this person here was the last person to contact the victim, today early morning. There are some photographs and chats of objectionable nature in the Tab in a hidden folder. Same number as the cell phone. Her FB, YT and Twitter accounts were operated solely on the laptop. Usual stuff which teens watch- porn, music, random videos. Except this particular YT video which features the victim and was put online today around the time that the last phone call was made.

Jeon- Hmmm... That means, the person who uploaded her video today morning is also a person she frequently called, chatted with and even exchanged private photos and videos with him/her.

NJ- It's a man Sir. She had recorded the last call. Please listen to it. He was blackmailing her for a long time.

Jeon listened to the recorded conversation and came to the conclusion that the man in question was stalking and bullying Sammy online. That pervert was probably a paedophile and a voyeur who has twisted, kinky fantasies! He had started stalking Sammy a year ago as she had shared details of her sad and lonely life with him. Then she began to avoid him, as she gained a friend in Minnie. That frustrated the man and he uploaded a video Sammy had foolishly sent him as 'new friends' - where she had cosplayed a stripper! She was naive and ignorant, not realising what she had done! Today when she saw the video, she called him to delete it and then ended her pathetic life. What a tragic end to a young life!!

Jeon went to Forensics and collected the post mortem report from Dr Kim, before proceeding towards the Chief's office. As he apprised the Chief of the latest developments, he could see the older man's face burning with rage.

Chief- We have to find this son of a .....!!!

Jeon- Sir, please calm down. Namjoon is almost ready to tell us who this pervert is! I'll get back to you in 5 minutes!

Namjoon was already here with the report, before Jeon could leave.

NJ- Sir, I have located the computer and the phone used by the pervert! You won't believe me if I tell you.....

Chief- Cut the crap, NJ! Come to the point!

NJ- It's the son in law, Sir! It's the victim's brother in law! He is settled abroad but is in the country for a business meeting. I have his hotel details. Jeon Sir, your flight tickets ! I'm going with you!

Chief- So am I ! I want to thrash his face till there's nothing left! How could he do this to that little girl?

Jeon- Sir, please calm down! I'll do that on your behalf, willingly! Let's go Namjoon!

Detective Jeon and Namjoon alerted their police counterparts and the hotel in question was already teeming with cops, when Jeon entered. He noticed as cops discreetly held a person captive in the Manager's office and went straight in.

Jeon- I'm Detective Jeon. Please unhand him.

The man looked scared as he stammered," Sir, I'm here on business and would be meeting my in laws in another city tomorrow. Please let me go. Why am I being held like a criminal?

Jeon- Please show me all your documents, passport included. Also, hand over your cell phone and laptop to my friend Namjoon here. Now, please introduce yourself properly.

The man looked around and decided it's best to cooperate. He started talking," My name is Alex D'Costa. I'm dealing in the business of providing security guards and security/ surveillance gadgets, residing in LA( USA) with my wife Tina. Her parents are about an hour away by flight from here. I'm meeting them tomorrow for lunch and then flying back day after!"

NJ- Sir, the info is correct as per the documents. The cell phone number, social media accounts and IP address are a 100% match. He is our man, it seems...

Alex- What are you talking about? Why am I here? What do you mean I'm your man? Please call my lawyer, I will not speak a word till he comes!

Jeon- Mr Alex, you are under arrest for blackmailing Miss Sammy, your sister in law. Of course, the fact that you are a paedophile, a stalker and a cyber bully will be proved in front of the judge, because your laptop and cell phone are 'loaded' with evidence! Are you aware that because of you, Sammy committed suicide this morning?

Alex- What? Sammy killed herself? How can it be? We just spoke in the morning and she kept my visit a secret so that we could surprise her parents!!!

Jeon- What about the video you uploaded? Did she know you are the one that stalks her in cyberspace? Did she know that you are the one behind the cyber bullying she has been facing?

Alex- I'm not saying anything! Call my lawyer!

NJ- Mr Alex, if the court examines your laptop and phone, we don't even need to prove anything else! All the evidence is right here!

Suddenly Alex grabbed a pistol from a cops standing close to him and pointed it at Jeon. One of the cops standing behind Namjoon had immediately started taking a video of Alex.

Alex- So, you think you have it all figured! Let me tell you, Sammy wasn't as innocent as you all think she is! Tina is beautiful and cold but Sammy was warm and loving. I naturally got attracted to Sammy's innocent charms! But she rejected all my advances!

Jeon- So, did you force yourself on her? What exactly did you do?

Alex- Oh, she didn't let me even kiss her! That prude! But when I approached her online as a stranger with a fake name, a friend and admirer, she took no time to open up! I knew her family history in just about 2 hours! Then I coaxed her to send photos and videos 'for my eyes only'! Finally, yesterday I uploaded the video and when she called, I told her she has no option but to accept me as her lover now that everyone will disown her after they see the video! Now, losers! What will you do?

Jeon- Mr Alex, the video was blocked and deleted long back! You can check if you don't believe me!

Cop(recording the video)- Jeon Sir, I have uploaded the clip online and sent it to all news channels. They are all airing it live right now!

Alex- What? What did you do? Oh I am ruined now!!!!

As Alex sat on the floor crying, the gun fell from his hand and he was quickly apprehended by the police.

Jeon- Namjoon, what did you learn?

NJ- Sir, if you want to shoot, just shoot, don't talk!!

Jeon- Precisely! Mr Alex, you really talk too much for your own good! Let's go boys! Thank you for your help, Manager!

Alex was flown back to the HQ where Tina's parents were waiting with the Chief. As Jeon came to meet the Chief, he stopped to greet and talk to them.

Jeon- I'm so sorry for your loss.... Minnie tells me Sammy was a wonderful girl... Is Tina expected soon?

Tina's father- Yes, she will land in an hour's time.... Was Sammy very unhappy? She lived in her own bubble and never opened up to us.... We have failed her as parents....

Jeon- Yes, you have.... You failed as a parent the day you started comparing her to Tina and expected her to be like her. You failed when you gave her gadgets and other things to pass her time, rather than giving her your love, support and time! You failed her every time you reminded her of her weaknesses and failures instead of celebrating her strengths and achievements! Your apathy forced her to share her secrets with strangers, who took advantage of her youth and innocence, hiding behind the anonimity of cyberspace! Sammy had literally given up on life long back. Everything else just added fuel to the fire! She is free from all the suffering now.... You all left her with no other option.... Do you know how many kids lose their lives like this? All they want is a heart that understands and someone to talk to.....

Chief- Jeon, that's enough! I'm sure they understand, although it's too late now!

Jeon- Sir, I'm sorry I got carried away! I must get back to the interrogation room now!

Mr Alex confessed to the charges and was punished by the judge with 7 years imprisonment. Tina had divorced him and continued with her artistic work. Sammy's parents and Tina missed Sammy and poor Toffee didn't survive for even a week after Sammy's passing!

Jeon had updated Minnie about the case and they decided to meet at Jin's bar for a drink! God knows how much he needed Jin's bright presence right now!

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