Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 16

            Trembling, Kim placed the planchette into a container to be analyzed. Her mind reeled, wondering why the killer would place something so peculiar into Kenj’s abdomen unless he/she knew about the Ouija attempt in the morgue. That means Marie or Gillian could be next! The realization that her friends were in grave danger sent an icy chill through Kim’s core. She ripped off her gloves and reached for her phone only to have it ring a millisecond before her fingers touched the smooth plastic. She jumped back, sending her phone flying to the floor.
            “Damn it!” Kim growled.
            “Something wrong?”
Kim yelped and spun around to see Bill standing in her doorway, eyes alight and a lopsided grin stretching across his face.
            “What the— are you trying to give me a heart attack, Billy? Who let you in here, anyway? You’re supposed to be signed in and announced,” said Kim, panting.
            “Sorry about that.” He said, laughing and clearly not sorry. “There was no one at the desk so I just came back. For someone who works with dead bodies, you’re awfully jumpy.”
            “Ha-ha, very funny. If you’d been working this case you’d be jumpy too, Bill. It’s getting creepier by the minute. Anyway …” Kim crossed the room and gave her friend a hug. “I’m glad you’re here. You said you uncovered some information about those symbols. I really hope it give us something. Things have gone from bad to worse since we talked.”
            “I would have been here sooner but one of my colleagues wanted to join me. Kim, this is Doctor Phillip Tynesdale. Phillip has a PhD in Religious Studies with a background in Comparative Philosophy, Theology, World Religions, and Humanities. He’s the one who realized the symbols were ancient runes,” Bill said.
A rotund man with a balding crown and wire rimmed glasses poked his head out from behind Bill and smiled.
            “It’s a pleasure to meet you Doctor Tynesdale,” said Kim. “I can’t thank you enough for taking some time out of your schedule to lend us a hand.”
            “Please, call me Phillip. Any friend of Billy’s is a friend of mine. I have to admit, the idea of runes being carved into bodies isn’t something one encounters on an everyday basis so I just had to come see what’s been going on for myself. Is it true that the carvings themselves change in appearance or was Bill pulling my leg? He does like to goad me at times.”
            “Oh no, that part is real. Very real,” Kim answered. “I have images on my computer if you’d like to take a look.”
Once Kim got Dr. Tynesdale settled in with the images, she pulled Bill off toward cold storage to talk privately.
             “Look, I need you to tell me everything you found out about Ouija Boards and not saying goodbye. I haven’t told anyone else about this yet but my assistant, Kenj, was found dead in her apartment last night. She’s got the runes carved in her and everything but this time there was something else. She had a planchette stuffed into her abdomen. What if Gillian and Marie are next?” 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 15

            “When you dropped her off, did you notice anything unusual or out of place, Detective,” Captain Hanson asked.
Once Kim had identified the victim as the mayor’s niece, the officers on site called their captain immediately. Since Hanson arrived before his detective, he had been double and triple checking everything in Kenj’s apartment. He wanted answers immediately—not next week, not tomorrow, now. The captain’s tone combined with too little sleep set Detective Marie McDonald’s teeth on edge. Before she could hold her tongue, angry words dripping with sarcasm hissed through her teeth.
            “Don’t you think if I’d noticed anything unusual I would have stuck around, Captain? I’m not in the habit of abandoning injured, defenseless, women in a dangerous situation. And I certainly wouldn’t serve up the mayor’s niece to a serial killer.”
            “I’m going to assume it’s grief over losing a colleague that has you shooting off your mouth like that,” Captain Hanson growled. “Consider this your one and only pass because you are this close to being written up for insubordination.”
Hanson held his hand up to Detective McDonald’s face and pinched together his thumb and forefinger until they were nearly touching. It took every ounce of self control not to tell the captain where he could stick those fingers but she managed. What I wouldn’t give to knock that smug smile off his face, permanently, her inner voice ranted. Rage boiled from the depths of her core and bubbled until Detective McDonald had to walk outside to get some air. She heard the door behind her open and seconds later a warm hand rested on her shoulder.
            “Are you okay,” Kim asked. “In all the years we’ve worked together, I’ve never seen you so furious. I seriously thought you were going to take a swing at Hanson.”
            “To tell you the truth,” Marie answered. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. The rational side of my brain keeps telling me Captain Hanson didn’t mean anything by his question but I could feel myself seething in anger. No, not even anger … it was rage. I felt like I could have ripped him to shreds with my bare hands so I came out here to cool down.”
            “That’s not like you at all,” said Kim. “Listen, if you need to talk or—”
            “No! I don’t need to talk. I need you to do your job. Find me something so we can catch the bastard already. In case you forgot, we’ve got a flipping serial killer on the loose,” Marie interrupted.
Puzzled, Kim walked away leaving the detective to her thoughts. Something’s not right with her. We’ve worked together for a long time and she’s never acted like this, she thought. I think I’ll wait for a better time to tell her what Billy said about their Ouija séance. She’s ready to snap as it is. I’ll just get the body and take it back to the morgue.
   Though Kim was used to working on her own, she’d grown fond of Kenj and enjoyed having the company. The morgue felt cold and lonely minus Kenj’s cheerful chatter. Unzipping the body bag, Kim looked down at her colleague and friend.
            “I can’t believe you’re gone,” Kim whispered. “Please, let there be something here, some sort of hint where to look for this psycho.”
After the victim’s clothing was bagged and tagged, Kim searched the body for anything that might give them a clue. Skin cells and blood under Kenj fingernails had been collected and sent to the lab for analysis. Next, Kim checked a swollen eight inch wound located on the patient’s abdomen. Something different from the other bodies, maybe it’ll help. With gloved fingers she pressed on the swelling; something hard and pointed poked back. She reached inside with a pair of forceps, and pulled out a piece of triangular shaped wood.
            “Oh my God! It’s a planchette!” 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Specter of Death- Part 14

     Kim’s head had no sooner hit the pillow when her cell phone went off, playing the ominous ringtone she’d selected for her ‘on call’ number. Gotta change that music until the killer is caught. It’s too creepy, she thought while blindly reaching for her phone. Exhausted and achy, Kim muttered into the phone that she was on her way. She pulled on some clothes, bid goodnight to her friends, and drove to the latest crime scene. She knew the killer struck again even without seeing the body though her heart had wanted to believe otherwise. One look at the scene confirmed their nemesis was back in action, taunting them.
            “Guess it was wishful thinking to hope our killer had given up, huh?” one of the officers muttered by way of a greeting. “Hasn’t there been even the slightest clue on the bodies? If only we had something to do go on we could catch this monster!”
            “So far, nothing,” Kim replied. “But I’m still looking. One little slip-up ... that’s all we need and we’ll get ‘em. Hey, where’s Detective McDonald? I need a few words with her.”
            “Dunno, I haven’t seen her. We left a message on her cell but no one’s seen her since the fire at the morgue.”
Kim shrugged. Assuming her friend had finally taken a night off, she pulled on her gloves and knelt beside the body. Unlike the other victim’s, the female body sprawled face down in her own blood lived in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment. Also different, the victim dialed 911 from her cell phone. Clearly there had been a struggle but this time, the victim knew her attacker. She’d let the killer inside of her own accord; there were no signs of break-in or forced entry. Puzzled by the change in M.O., Kim wondered if they’d stumbled upon a copycat or if the killer decided to strike a familiar face.
            “Hmm, this is different,” one of the officers muttered. “The whole place was wiped down. Usually, we find prints but they’re from the victim. This time, everything has been cleaned. We lifted a half smudged print of the victim on the TV remote … that’s it.”
Sighing, Kim scribbled every detail onto her clipboard then reached to roll the victim onto a gurney.
            “Oh shit! No, it can’t be!”
            “What’s wrong? Do you know the … oh damn! This is bad.”
            “Call Detective McDonald and get her down here ASAP,” Kim demanded. “I’m not doing anything else until she gets here.”
Twenty minutes later, Detective Marie McDonald sprinted through the door, hair disheveled and clothing rumpled. Her bloodshot eyes were shrouded by heavy eyelids that hung at half-mast.
            "This can’t be possible. I’d just dropped her off several hours ago. As if the mayor wasn’t already breathing down our necks as it is; now his niece is a victim.” Marie knelt down next to the victim’s body and rested a gloved hand on the corpse’s head. “Why did it have to be you? Please, Kenj, please tell me you left us a clue somewhere.”