The Beautiful Beast
He approached, hundreds of eyes were fixed on him, his cigarette on the edge of his lips. He flipped out a notebook and a pen, his demeanor was passive. He blew out the puff and beckoned on a man clad in a black uniform.
“Hey, you! Seal up this place and hand me the evidence from her body.”
The young man nodded and left. He walked closer to the scene, the poignant stench of a dead animal suffocated his nose. He shook his head as he saw it; on the cold tar, a young lady lay with her legs tied together.
He bent down, ignoring the smell and the buzzing of houseflies around the body. Her dress was stained with a reddish liquid, her neck was slit open. He didn’t flinch at the discovery, rather he wore his gloves.
Feeling indifferent, he parted the hair that covered her face. He let out a gasp as the realization of who the victim was hit him.
“Vicky!” he exclaimed, drawing the attention of both the onlookers and his counterparts. He waved them away and covered his nose for some minutes. Standing up and fighting the emotions that surged through him, he called the previous officer he talked to.
“Hello, officer, come,” he beckoned.
“When was this reported?”
“Early this morning. She was found by some loitering kids.”
“Any identification card?”
“Yes, her name is—was—Victoria Henshaw.”
“Get the ambulance, we’re taking her to the morgue for an autopsy,” he said, waved him away, jotted something on his notebook and proceeded to the corpse.
He bent, this time like one searching for something important. Her face flashed before him; her giggles at the night club, her dancing braids at the supermarket, her blue eyes and stubborn persona. She was his ex and it hurt to see her dead even when their relationship was off.
He slid his hand into her dress up to her belly. Then he felt it. It was there. He tore the side of the dress open, there was a mark like a claw etched by the side in an ‘L’ fashion.
“Damnit!” he cussed under his breath. It was the same mark on the two victims killed two weeks ago. Three deaths in three weeks. He wondered, leaving the scene and scratching his head, for strategies on how to catch the perpetrators.
Getting into his car, he saw a note laid face down on his car seat. He flipped it over and shock enveloped him. He wiped his eyes to be sure that he wasn’t dreaming. The realization drowned him—he had to get the murderer(s) in less than a week or risk losing that which he cherished most.
He took a second glance at the note:
Your sister is next in line.
His ride back to his office was one marred with thoughts. He was so deep in them that he nearly ran into a truck. He shook his head, blew some smoke into the air and whistled till he got to his office.
He paced up and down, went to his drawing board, listed and marked out people to question. He hit his hand on the stack of files, then his table. He picked up his phone, dialled a number; it rang for a while then clicked off. His face became the Niagara Water Falls as he wiped them off. That was the tenth call he’d put across to his sister and her roommate. None was picked.
He sat down, swiveling his office chair, hitting the pen on his head. He leafed through his files—Helen, Lisa, Victoria—all three, female victims. He asked himself: what do they have in common? Did they engage in any fraudulent activity or shady deals?
Unable to find answers to the questions. He dropped the pen and scratched his head. A call came in, it was from his sister.
“Yes, bruh, I missed your calls. Hope all’s well?”
“All is not. Where are you?”
“In the mall. What’s the matter? Can you bring me in on it?”
“No! There’s no time for explanation. Stay right there, I’m coming to get you.” He hung up before she could say another word.
“Hey, lieutenant,” he beckoned on his junior. “If anyone asks of me, tell them I’ll be back in few minutes.”
“Yes, sir!” The young officer placed a hand on his head and saluted his superior.
He bolted out with his gun firmly placed in his hip holster. Getting his sister from the mall was easier than he thought.
At the office he narrated everything to his sister. His sister sobbed for her friend, then quivered a little. He then asked her if she was involved in any deals, she hesitated but replied no. He gave orders that she be guarded for seven days.
Four days passed with no sign of the killer. On the fifth day her brother improvised. He dreaded the thought of setting his sister up as a bait. He thought of how many ways it could go wrong, but he knew that getting the L mark killer through his sister was his best bet.
He launched into action. He had done his research and knew that he killed his victims every seven days. And he doesn’t just come close to slice their throats but penetrates forcefully. He handed his sister a leather suit. A suit that had pockets for knives and needles. He taught her how to use them to her advantage. Inside her skin, he inserted a tracking device that showed her location and a watch that worked as an emergency line.
“You’ll wear this for the next three days,” he said.
“It seemed like he’s not coming to us. We’ll go after him.” His nervous sister mustered a weak smile. “You sure I can do this Rich?” Her weak voice showed how far fear had eaten deep into her mind.
He placed a hand on her shoulder and said, “I’m with you sis. Every step of the way.”
She left the station to meet something bigger than her.
That night he did come at the mall where she worked. He bought some groceries from her and paid with plasters of smiles. After work on her way home, the act took place. Did it really?
She walked out the mall after putting a call to her brother.
“My men and I are tracking your movement,” he echoed into the receiver.
The killer stopped her at the entrance of the mall and asked for directions; she hesitated but told him. He tried to start a conversation but she shunned him.
She navigated the first and second streets when she realized a figure was trailing her. At first he looked like a police officer, but paranoia was a sea she was drowning in. The street lamps did some illumination, but they didn’t show his face. She could only make out his body. He was a giant with broad shoulders and his head was covered with a hood.
Her steps quickened. She ran but it seemed he was closing in. She tapped her watch and spoke amidst pants and heavy breathing. She turned to the next street and boom, there he was, puffing his cigarette. The man she had given directions earlier.
“Excuse me, lady.”
“Sir, please I don’t have time for conversation.”
“I missed the direction you gave me earlier.”
“I’m sorry, sir but at this moment I can’t help you.”
“Why? Is there a problem?”
“Yes, there is,” she said and made to walk past him. He grabbed her. His grip suspended her feet in air for some seconds before he sent her crashing with a thud. An eerie sensation enveloped her as she passed out. He tore away the watch and stamped his foot on it, tied her hands and silenced her mouth with a duct tape. He placed her on his shoulder and reveled in his schemes.
“I’ll enjoy myself tonight,” he whispered while licking her left ear.
Detective Richard, on his way to the last location his sister had buzzed him from, realized that the tracker was moving farther from home. His pekingese breed of a dog sat on the second seat. He forgot his foot on the accelerator and drove insanely. One thing was sure—his sister was still alive but was still headed to her death, and if he did nothing, she might be gone.
He had to corner them. He took a different route. As he drew closer to the location, it dawned on him that the tracker was static. And the house it pointed to was his friend’s apartment.
A detective worked with his head, so he pulled over behind the house, his phone and tracker in hand, his pekingese beneath his armpit. Should he call or not? what if his friend was the killer? he contemplated as he tiptoed up the stairs.
The tracker chimed. The realization was shocking. He stood in front of his friend’s door, quietly turned the knob but realized it was locked. He listened and heard some whimpers. He pushed his phone and tracker into his pocket, put his dog on the ground, drew his gun with both hands, ran backwards and threw open the door with a bang.
The room was pitch black. Nobody saw nobody. Two shots were fired, one went wide while the other caught his suit. He dropped to the ground. The next sound he heard was his sister’s sniffles.
“Rich, I know you’re there. Whether or not you kill me, your sister is going down tonight!” he barked. Richard swallowed hard, there was no mistaking of the voice.
“You pride yourself in being the best detective. Let’s see how you get out of this.” He sniffed in the darkness and held the knife close to her throat.
“Rich, don’t shoot, please.” His sister sobs flowed.
Richard lay between the table and the couch unsure of his next action. Then a cry of pain came from his friend. In that moment, he cried out again.
“Richy, I stabbed him,” came the voice of his sister.
“Stay low!” he shouted and let bullets fly into the air, with three hitting his friend as he fell to the floor.
He groped in the darkness like a blind man and flipped the switch on, to see the body of his dog and friend lying in the poll of their blood.