“You’re kidding, right?” Bill gasped. “Please tell me you only said that to get back at me for scaring you.”
“I wish.” Kim muttered.
“No wonder you’re jumpy.”
“That’s not all,” she whispered. “Gillian, of all people, was afraid of the dark last night. Angela and I ran to her room because she was screaming. She tried to say she’d had a bad dream but I don’t think that was it. When I reached for the light switch she nearly had a fit. And then, Marie bit my head off earlier. She’s definitely acting weird. God, what did Seth get himself into?”
Bill’s brow furrowed as he absorbed the shock from Kim’s bombshell. He had wanted to think it was all a coincidence but the planchette in Kenj’s abdomen was creepy enough without learning that the other two at the séance were behaving abnormally. Before he could say anything, a shout from Kim’s office sent them running to check on Dr. Tynesdale. In unison, Bill and Kim asked what was wrong.
“Wrong? No, nothing is wrong. This is extraordinary!” Phillip replied. “These photos confirm a hypothesis that I’ve held for many years but, alas, without anything concrete to back it up, I was reticent to share my theory. This, this could be a breakthrough!”
Dead silence hung in the air. Confused, Dr. Tynesdale turned to see why the other two weren’t sharing in his jubilation. Their solemn expressions reminded him of the string of deaths and the real reason he was there.
“My apologies. I just … well, I got a little carried away. Sometimes, I get so focused on the enormity of the spiritual realm that I forget how fragile the mortal world is. The vessels, so to speak, that have the runes adorned to them were people you knew. Forgive my insensitivity.”
“Can you tell us what they mean and why the killer is using them, Doctor?” Kim pleaded. “Is there any way to use this information to stop the murders?”
“Perhaps,” he sighed. “I’ll need a little more time to research and to compare the carvings between the victims. Now, did you say there were others that had no markings in the beginning?”
“Well, that’s the thing. Prior to the police determining there was a serial killer on the loose, the first few bodies could have had markings show up after the initial autopsy. Or, if the bodies had been sitting for a while, instead of a fresh wound, the carvings would look like a tattoo or a brand. Given that some of the victims were heavily tattooed, it could have been assumed to be ink. I didn’t personally handle every victim so I can’t be certain what happened in other autopsies but I can pull the records and review the forensic photos if you think that would be useful for comparison.”
“Yes, I think that would be an excellent idea.” Dr. Tynesdale replied. “The more data I have, the more accurate I can be.”
“Okay, I’m just going to contact the detective in charge of the investigation and let her know we have a consultant reviewing the files first.”
Kim wondered which version of Detective McDonald would be on the other line as she dialed. The detached voice on the other end was groggy but kind. Marie sounded relieved that they had an expert for consulting.
“Give me just a few minutes to finish up here and I’ll be over to meet your Doctor Tynesdale. Okay, Kim?”
“Sure, take your time. He just got here and has loads of files to review.”
Bill watched as his friend hung up her phone and shook her head in puzzlement. More than anything, he wanted to grant her reassurance that everything would be okay but if even half of what Dr. Tynesdale told him on the ride from the university was true, he would be telling the biggest lie of his life.