March 5 - Chapter 4 added - scroll down
February 5 - Chapter 3 added - scroll down.
January 9 - Chapter 2 added - Scroll down
The Shattered Figurine.
I wrote a short story sometime back and since that time I've added several additional chapters to what one day could be a novel.
I am going to post it here, raw and unedited. I will add to it as time passes so if you love it, let me know (or if you hate it).
Watch for installments coming soon. When? You'll have to visit and see but I can tell you this, there are several more chapters already written.
I would love to have your feedback.
Hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy writing it. I love you visitors.
Copyright is held by the author.
Josephine Naylor, with shoulders sagged, stares down at the frozen corpse. Even though rime covers and disguises the otherwise naked body, the Detective knows it is the missing teenager. The remains is female, about five feet, maybe a hundred pounds without the frost and it has been left in the same position as the others, all three of them, face up, ankles and hands neatly tucked together bound with what is likely to be duct tape. The same parts are missing.
This regrettable murder is beyond definitive that the killer is the same person; by the method of execution forensics had confirmed that idea with the second body. The third cadaver brought forth the criminal psychologists to graph out a profile that would tell what “type” of individual might commit such a crime, which made the scene before her extremely important so she stands well enough away. She is still able to discern an unusual shape upon the forehead which, once uncovered from its icy envelope, she guesses it will likely prove to be a piece of broken crystal similar to the pieces they found resting on the pale dead skin of the other three, in the same location.
Jo is positioned at the edge of a wide field, shadowed by the alders and tall spruces that front the extended forest behind her, the rising sun just cresting the pointed tops. The body is lying parallel to the tree line at the rim of the pasture. It’s early December. Fog in the night has turned solid as the temperature suddenly dropped below freezing, clothing everything in stark white. Jo is suddenly startled from her gaze by a creeping sensation that someone is watching her. She turns towards the open field scanning the perimeter of the woods. Nothing moves, not even a breeze disturbs the black and white photo she is in. A rise in the field shields her view to the road and her car but she would’ve heard a vehicle approach. The silence is intense, nature seems to mourn the young girl’s death; she would definitely hear the crunching of the frost under someone’s boot.
Satisfied she is alone she calms her nerves with deep breaths that turn smoky in the chill. The air is cold and without scent. She decides she will wait for the sun to melt away the victim’s icy mask before she calls her partner; she has to see what is on the forehead first. Folding her mittened hands across her slight chest she tucks her hands under the armpits of her down jacket. Keeping the body to her left and her back to the woods she thinks about the email that led her here and why she’s here alone. She has a hunch, a dreadful hunch she desperately doesn’t want to be the truth. The other bodies had been left where they would eventually be found but she has been told where this one is. It’s the reason she came alone. In her mind she can remember the message word for word.
Route 114-A. East from the Black Farmer’s Road 11.4 miles. Over the hill on your right.
Only you can stop this madness, I can’t.
She had been torn that she would find another victim but it was the word Unicorn that bothered her the most. She and her peers had recognized the previous pieces of crystal left behind, their only clues, as legs broken from a miniature figurine. The consensus was it could possibly be a horse but it was she that suggested it could also be a unicorn, she had one when she was a child. Her grandmother had given it to her when she turned ten. Her little brother dropped it and broke off the delicate twisted horn when she was fifteen. She sold it in a yard sale four years ago when she was thirty seven, and she remembered who bought it. Since then she had given it no thought. In her mind there wasn’t any reason to. The message this morning changed that. She can’t ignore the possibility no matter how horrific it seems. She prays silently to be wrong.
By 8:30 the sun begins to melt the icing from the cadaver, turning the white, twinkling coating into clear drops of water that pool in the cavities or run like tears. The crystal perched upon the head flashes rainbow colored rays when Jo moves. She walks a wide arc around the body knowing she should stay away but she can’t so she creeps towards the body. The frost groans with each step. She scrunches down close to the head thinking the girl might have been pretty once. She peers closely at the crystal. The figurine has only one leg and it props up the glass animal’s nose. Focusing on the tiny head Jo gasps when she notices the horn is missing, broken off with only a short stub to suggest there had been one. The image strikes her almost as if it was a fist; she shrinks back from the discovery losing her balance to fall abruptly on her ass. The shock is too great. She panics with arms flailing and feet scrambling, wanting to flee the awful truth.
Clutching a hand to her mouth to stifle her sobs, she runs aimlessly along the edge of the forest. Her moans break the eerie silence to echo through the trees. Tears stream across her temple absorbed by short dark curls that stick below her toque. Reaching the opposite corner of the field she stops. Bending over to put hands on her knees, she pants from the exertion. Deep breaths once more ease the tension she’s feeling. She needs to think clearly. Staring at the stubble by her feet she loses focus as indecision and unbelief rages in her mind. Foremost in her thinking is that it’s impossible that the person who bought the unicorn could commit such heinous crimes; it just couldn’t be she told herself. She’s known the man all her life.
Much later, perhaps forty minutes she starts walking back towards the corpse, clearly knowing what she must do. Regardless of the outcome she will be in very deep shit with the department, she shouldn’t be doing this alone and yet she knows she has no choice. She doesn’t believe he will hurt her but she’ll know soon enough. Approaching the body, she ignores the wounds, the taped limbs, the lifeless form concentrating on the crystal unicorn. Picking it up gently off the dead girl’s forehead, she grips it tightly and heads to her car. It’s a twenty minute drive to his house. She figures he’ll be home having retired five years ago from the Penitentiary, he’d been the warden for 27 years. The irony is that he’ll likely spend the rest of his life there.
Jo’s transportation is an unremarkable dark grey Crown Victoria, conspicuous in a plainness that suggests Police so she parks several driveways away. Not wanting to alert the man, she walks slowly towards the last house on the right on the cul-de-sac. The elms that line the sidewalk are thick, evenly spaced and naked of foliage. Most people are already at work or school, the street is quiet except for two cats meowing by a neighbour’s door wanting to be let in. Shading her body behind the bole of the third last tree on his side of the street she can see curtains drawn at the house. There is no movement that can be detected. Hiding behind the tree resting her back against the weathered bark she tries to decide how she will approach the house where she grew up.
Posted January 9/2017
The wire slowly tightens around her slim neck. With both hands Detective Josephine Naylor desperately claws at the thin cord as it begins to dig deeper into the soft skin of her throat. Her breaths come and go rapidly in short wheezing gasps. In a few seconds she knows she won’t be able to breathe at all. Fear clutches her every sense as she feels the taut wire break her skin. Her hands reach back to claw at her assailant’s brawny forearms as thick as a block a of wood. She rakes her nails along the leathery skin to no avail. The twisting of the wire stops, just before it cuts through the esophagus. The deepest, scariest voice whispers.
“You Bitch, you arrested your own father.”
Jo Naylor freezes, wanting to choke, barely able to draw breathe. The pitch of the whisper changes to anger, more of a hiss.
“Now I’ll never be able to kill him.”
She tears at her throat, kicks out one leg connecting with something solid that reacts like stone. She is slowly being lifted off her feet by only the wire. Standing on tippy toes reaching for the hands that hold the wire, she sees death.
It’s night time. The grisly scene is set in the bluish glow of a full moon. The tall, broad shouldered man holding Josephine’s life in his meaty mitts never saw the shovel coming. It’s a round mouth, curved on the edges, caked with a little brown mud where it joins the wooden handle which is about four feet long. On the opposite end, Jo Naylor’s partner, Adam Thorne, is swinging with his whole body. The flat part of the shovel connects with the side of the big man’s head. It would’ve floored most men but the giant only staggers. His hands let’s go of the garrote. Jo falls to the ground, gasping in short rapid pants, hands protecting her throat. Thorne turns to face the snarling man, ready to swing again.
Pawing at his broken face, the man is reeling from the blow. His bluish presence sways momentarily in front of Thorne. Adam chucks the shovel to the ground reaching for his gun. The assailant stiffens as if sensing his own danger, he moves automatically and unbelievably fast for someone so large. His huge fist is aimed towards the threat, he can only see with one eye. He connects with Adam’s chest driving the air from his lungs, the gun flying into the air. The powerful blow propels the detective’s body backwards ten feet and to the ground almost landing on Jo. The big man runs.
Adam tries to sit up to see where the man is going to but can only see the body flee into the shadows of the woods that borders the field they are in. There is a dirt road that runs fifty feet beyond the tree line. He quickly recovers from the punch to his chest. His sternum took most of the impact. It aches and is beginning to bruise. His breathing slows as he turns his attention to Jo. He can see her in the low light propped on all fours, knees and hands, head hanging. He can hear her gulping at the air. He rises to stoop over his partner visualizing the ghostly figure with his hands around her neck.
“Jo, it’s okay. He’s gone. Can you talk, how’s your throat?”
Jo is not responding, unsure of her voice. Her emotions are scrambled, fear, relief, regret and sorrow all swirl about her head. It hurts her throat to breath. Her heart has slowed only to a trot. Adam’s words sound far off. Her eyes are open but only see darkness, she feels darkness. Her mind focuses on how close she came to dying. She tries to concentrate on what her partner is saying, looking up to see a pale shadow, an eerie blue cast upon her saviour. The buzzing in her head fades and his words become solid.
“…get an ambulance?”
She croaks out in a desperate whisper, the movement of her throat opens and closes the wound where the wire has cut her skin, a burning soreness in her neck.
“No…be okay in a sec… need to sit up, help me…too weak.”
Adam bends to hold her by the shoulders as he props her back into a kneeling position. He can feel her shaking, slight tremors threading through her body. She starts to cry. Her heaving sobs tear at his heart. He kneels to embrace her, close to his own aching chest as she shudders and bawls. He holds her tighter to reassure her that he understands. Not knowing what to say he remains silent. Shielding his partner as the shudders soften, he hears the sobs grow farther apart. He can’t help think, he’s never seen her this broken but can’t imagine what she has been through. She’s a tough and determined cop.
The embrace is an odd feeling for Adam, he and Jo have become friends as they worked together, never intimate. Adam’s happily married and his wife Erica likes her too. He knows the last six months since her father had been sent to prison have been tough on her. She had been the arresting officer. Then this hoodlum appears.
And even though it had been spoken sotto voce, when Adam was sneaking up on the creep he heard what the big man said to Jo before Adam whacked him with the shovel. It would be enough to crack the shell she’d protectively built around herself, never discussing it after the trial, avoiding all conversation. The team at the station respected her and her silence. It was forgotten about. Until now. She would be hurting again.
Jo pushes herself away from Adam, her voice cracking and soft.
“Thanks pal, I’m…I’m going to be okay.”
She coughs a couple of times.
“My throat is so sore though. And I’m getting a cramp, help me up, I need to stand up.”
Adam rises holding her under the arms. He can see in her silhouette that strands of hair has come undone from where she usually tucks it behind her ears, clumps fall forward when she her head is down. Standing erect she lifts her face towards the sky trying to take bigger breathes and sniffling from a runny nose. She brushes the hair from her face, rubs the tears away as she says in the lowest of voice.
“You saved my life Adam. How do you thank somebody for that?”
She can almost hear him blushing. He masks his modesty by being funny.
“Oh I do that every day, getting thanks is old hat. You owe me one.”
She tries to straighten up but weakens and hangs on to his arm, gripping it tightly in both hands. Solemn now.
“We’re going to be in trouble for not having back up. We should get you to a hospital. If you’re sure you’re okay I’m in no hurry to call this in.”
“Before we do, I need to compose myself. Where did the man go, do you know he’s gone?”
“Yeah, yeah he’s gone. I saw him head towards the woods, don’t worry we’ll pick up his trail. Here, sit here.”
They are behind an old vacant barn at the front edge of a short field that separates the building from the forest at the back of the property. Her assailant had been hiding at the rear corner when Jo approached from the front. Their struggle had moved them towards an open gate and a large wooden trough where a farmer might have left hay for his livestock at one time. Adam can barely see the outline of the upper boards which are low enough to sit on. He props Jo against them and steadies her as she rests upon the edge.
“Maybe we should call this in Jo. Old man Maloney will be harder on us if we wait until morning.”
He can see her nodding in the low light.
“I know, he’ll be hard on us no matter when we call, can’t do anything in the dark. Give me a little time Adam. I need to get hold of how I’m feeling. That man said a strange thing to me.”
“I know, I heard him. It was eerie.”
“It was, his voice sounded like it was coming from a well…I was terrified.”
“I imagine you were.”
They both think of that for a few seconds. Her voice is weak, little girl-ish.
“I need to talk about this Adam, I need to get this off my chest. I can’t hold it in any longer.”
Adam squeezes the shoulder he is supporting her with. Propping himself against the aged board beside her he wraps his arm around her. He lets her talk.
“You won’t tell anyone else? Please.”
“I won’t, I promise.”
“When I found that last body and the unicorn, I knew it was him that killed those young girls. I didn’t want to believe it, couldn’t even imagine it…but that’s not the worst”
She tells Adam what really happened last fall when she entered the unlocked door of her father's house..........
There was a loose board in the entryway, it had been loose since Jo was a teenager. But she had forgotten about it when she stepped inside. The wood emitted the faintest familiar shriek when her foot depressed the right spot. The protesting wood was a signal. A gunshot startled her. Automatically crouching down, she retrieved her weapon from a waist holder hidden by her jacket. It was all one movement. A body fell upstairs. She rose from her squatting position, gun in front yelling.
She was too scared to move. She couldn’t make sense of anything, couldn’t believe what was happening. A gurgly moan escaped from the farthest room upstairs, her father’s study. The sound was tainted with misery. Directly ahead of Jo on the left wall was a stairway. The bottom half was in sunlight as it streamed in from the living room on the right. She rushed forward with her weapon drawn, her back to the wall as she climbed. She could see the door to the room on the right at the end of the upstairs hallway and it was closed. There was a one inch crack at the base that spit out light and wisps of grey smoke. She realized that the window in the back wall of her father’s study must be open, the breeze it let in stirs the burning incense the “Warden” so frequently used. At one time she enjoyed the smell of eucalyptus burning, at that moment the floating bouquet almost sickened her. On raised toes she crept down the hallway.
The gurgle that responded was desperate, urging.
Jo reached for the knob, the gun in her right hand. It’s was locked. With no hesitation she stepped back, lifted the heel of her hiking boot and delivered a round house kick to the door by the knob. The jamb splintered from her forceful blow. The door crashed into the wall beside a bookcase. Three or four novels spilt to the ground, something delicate shattered on the floor. One piece of painted porcelain slid across the floor until it slowed in the puddle of blood by the Wardens head. Jo’s eyes had been drawn to the sliver as it shot along the linoleum. When it turned her gaze towards her father’s face she screamed.
Her father was lying on the floor on his back in front of his desk. The lower jaw on the right side of his face was missing. What skin was left along the cheek was torn and bloody. The bullet had entered just below the chin, exiting through the soft skin of the side of his face. She quickly surmised that in his attempt to commit suicide, he either missed or chickened out at the last minute. His handgun, a Beretta Bobcat, was resting in front of a short filing cabinet to the right of the desk. Cordite and incense filled the room with an helpless odor. She knelt in front of him placing her gun on the floor beside her. Ignoring the wound, she looked into his eyes. They were filled with tears, proclaiming their sorrow. The man she saw is the one that loved her and nourished her all her life and her heart breaks. She stared at him as if in a trance, not knowing what to do. His voice was weak and desperate as he stared back into his daughter’s eyes and pled.
She backed off in horror of what he was asking her and then she saw the killer, the coward, the stranger she had lived with most of her life. She saw the frozen corpse of the young dead girl that she had left in the field only an hour before, she visualized the two other young female bodies that were discovered from the emails she had received when they didn’t know who the killer was, she saw the grieving parents, she saw the headlines in the papers warning of a serial killer, all those images flashed through her mind like a broken film reel, that skipped and repeated every image in one second bursts. Her anger had risen to an extreme level. Her face was flushed and red with revulsion.
Standing up, she reached for her pistol. She pointed the barrel at his face lining the sights with his forehead. Looking at his eyes once more there was almost a glee in them. The destroyed face was trying to smile. She hated him. She wanted to kill him. Her trigger finger squeezed with the lightest of pressure. The gun exploded. In a fraction of a second she had changed her mind and the bullet tore through the covering and the wood of the floor slightly above his head. He winced from the impact inches away. She lowered the gun to her side. When he opened his eyes questioningly, her voice was filled with disgust.
“No you bastard, you’ll pay for what you did. You’re not my father anymore, you’re worse than the scum you looked after all your life in that stinking prison. That’s where you’ll go, you’ll be one of them.”
The man on the floor, the father, the killer, moans a cry of anguish as the truth grips his demented mind. He turned onto his side looking for his gun. Spying it beside the grey filing cabinet, he tried to crawl towards it. Jo hastens to the fallen weapon, kicking it towards the back wall behind his desk.
“No way, it’s not going to be that easy for you.”
Before he could do anything else, she removed a set of cuffs from her jacket pocket. As she snapped one end onto her father’s right wrist, he offered no resistance. He’d fallen onto his back once more, the disfigured face still bleeding, his eyes were shut and tears escaped from under the pale lids. She clamped the other cuff to the leg on his heavy oak desk knowing he’d never be able to move it in his condition. There was a couch beside the bookcase. She latched onto one of the blue flowered cushions and placed in under his head trying not to stare at the wound. She ran to find a towel to cover the face to stop the bleeding.
When she entered the bathroom, she saw her haggard face in the mirror. It froze her to the spot. The reflection wasn’t the hardnosed detective she’d become, it was the little girl that had loved her father. It sickened her to know he is the monster that lay in the other room. Overcome with grief at losing the security she once felt, she dropped her gun on the tiled floor and retched into the sink. She heaved and belched until her stomach was empty, tears flowed freely down her face. She couldn’t empty herself of the lose she felt. Propped up with her two hands on the sink, head bowed down, drool escaped from her lips and water dropped from her reddened eyes. The blurring of her vision cleared as she tried to control her feelings and she found herself staring at the straight razor he would use to shave each morning. She thrust herself backwards as she realized that it was probably the instrument he used on the young women. Jo Naylor lost it then and ran screaming from the house...
Adam is holding his partner tighter now. She has talked for over an hour, her emotions a mixture of pain and sorrow as she continued to tell him of what happened that morning. He can’t empathize with what she is feeling, can’t even imagine what it must be like to know your father is a murderer. He can’t understand why the man would want his daughter to find him or why he would wait until she entered the house to commit suicide. He remembers the trial, it was short and swift even though the traitor had changed his plea. The psychologists said he was fit to stand trial. Among all his protestations, he was quickly proven guilty of first degree murder, three counts. He received three life sentences; he would never leave prison alive.
Jo sniffles as she leans away from Adam. The sky is turning grey in the east, it’s almost morning. She brushes her tear streaked face with the arm of her blouse. Mascara has made black streaks upon the sleeve that she can see in the low light. She says, “And then I called you, remember?”
“Yeah, I do. It wasn’t an easy thing, him on the stretcher, you standing in the front yard watching us. I couldn’t believe it when you called me of course. But it’s over now Jo, you need to put this behind you.”
“How do I do that Adam? How do I get rid of all the happiness I’ve known since I was born, all the things he and I did together, all the times he protected me, all the times he told me I was the sunshine of his life. How do I forget how he seemed to love my mother so much until she died?”
“Well he was drinking that night they had the car accident. Maybe that’s when he cracked, when he knew it was his own recklessness that killed his wife. You know Judge Reinhardt was one of his cronies, one of the men he hung out with, he got off with a slap on the wrist.”
Jo is pacing back and forth in the yard behind the barn not replying. The sky is starting to turn pink with the sun anxious to show itself as she stops to face the horizon. Adam can’t see her face as she has her back to him. He keeps quiet. She talks softly.
“I know Adam. I think of it every day and know I need to carry on. It’s tough. We’ll never know all the answers.”
Adam watches her as she uses one hand to touch her throat, one hand resting on her hip. She turns her upper body towards him not fully turning around. “Thank you Adam, you’re a good listener. Erica is a lucky woman to have such a sensitive man. I’m jealous.”
Adam is shy with compliments.
“Yeah, well let’s keep this to ourselves. I don’t think she would like it if she knew that I was hugging you most of the night.”
Jo turns towards him with the first smile of the new day. “Oh I think she’d understand.”
Adam becomes serious. He can sense that Jo is better now. He asks her the question she had refused to answer before.
“How did you know to come her Jo and why didn’t you tell me what we were up to?”
Jo looks sheepish in the pink light at her back. She hangs her head feeling guilty.
“I had a phone call in the late evening at home before I called you. I almost came alone but knew that would be foolish and I’m glad I listened to common sense when my conscience told me to bring you along. The man on the other end had a bass voice and wouldn’t identify himself. He told me he knew where there was another body that my father had left behind. I was flabbergasted, it opened up all the bad feelings I’d been hiding. I didn’t want it to be true. I didn’t want the papers to start the stories all over again. I didn’t want to have everyone feeling sorry for me again. I thought perhaps it was a prankster and that I would deal with it myself.”
Adam has been listening to Jo’s explanation when he spies the garrotte the man dropped. The wooden handles are slick and polished gleaming in the morning light. Walking over to where the deadly weapon lies in the grass, he changes the subject.
“Here’s the weapon. His finger prints will be on it Jo. We’ll have forensics sweep the area, his footprints will be in the soft soil of the field. We’ll find out who he is Jo.”
Jo is shaking her head as she stares at her partner.
“On our way here last night, I remembered where I heard the voice before. I know who he is Adam. It’s why I told you to wait in the car, I thought I could trust him.”
Adam stares back her with his mouth hanging open in unbelief.
“Who is he?”
“Dunsmore? Why does that sound familiar?”
“Deborah Dunsmore was the first girl my father killed.”
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