A shorty Story by Remontz
Even for a town known most notably for its past of harboring one of the nation’s largest religious cults, Grant couldn’t shake the feeling of this case being one of the weirdest he’d ever taken. As a private investigator, Grant was praised heavily for his expert use of aerial surveillance systems. However, ten years in the business and nothing could’ve prepare him for a mystery like this. Just thirty minutes after arriving to the town, Grant had gotten more the news on the serial murderer; the psychopath had struck again. It had happened just that morning, bringing the victim total, on the year, to three. The chief briefed him on all the details, quickly. Another person whose organs were completely burnt and a look of fear frozen on their face. For the past five years this town had been subject to the psychopathic game of a monster. He killed at least five victims each summer; his record high had been seven back in the second year.
Grant sat in his hotel room, scratching his beard in concentration, trying to connect the dots between the files that were spread across his desk. He tossed the empty coffee cup aside, after unsuccessfully tilting it up to his face for a final sip, only to find the dry, styrofoam bottom.
The victims were all alumni of the local high school, Montgomery Banks High; but so was ninety-two percent of the rest of the town. For this year, two of the victims had been male, this last one female. The first female victim. With five years of victim data in front of him, that was the one file that stood out for obvious reasons. On the surface, he should be able to paint a clear cut picture of the suspect. Based on the previous victims, it was a person who had a personal vendetta against the Montgomery Banks baseball team; the victims were an array of former players and even the mascot. But the latest victim, Hannah Larks, didn’t fit into the puzzle whatsoever.
She’d been an honor roll student, left town after graduation for a full ride academic scholarship only to return home early as a new mother. She was known around town for being kind and generous to everyone and even owned the local bakery. A large majority of the townees claimed her small shop had the best banana bread muffins in the state. There were some advertisements in the hotel lobby that also attested to the claim. Whatever motive there was for her murder, was completely invisible without more information.
Grant glanced over his shoulder at the cheap, digital, hotel clock. “4:41”. The sun would be up soon, maybe…hopefully…but most likely not, the local PD would be up with it. He needed access to the bakery. He would need to do some digging. He decided, given the timing, she would’ve had to’ve been there before being transported to the crime scene.
The police department had a heavy dose of small town vibe; upon entering the wooden double doors Grant found himself standing in front a large podium like desk, manned by two burly officers. Along with a shared body type the two guardsmen also had simplistic facial expressions that seemed to say “Who is this foreigner?”
“Mornin’ guys…”, Grant said as he approached the desk flashing his private investigator credentials. “Any chance your chief might be in?”
They both laughed out a little too hard, creating some discomfort for Grant. The one wearing a name plate with Yates eventually spoke up, “Bud, Chief ain’t left the building in a month an’a ha’f…”, he pointed at a closed office door labeled “Chief Reyes”.
“Thanks.” Grant tipped his hat and took the five necessary steps towards the Chief’s office. He rapped on the door, waiting awkwardly for an answer as he rocked back and forth on his heels, trying not to make any more eye contact with tweedle dee or tweedle dum. “He always this quiet?”
“What?!” Came the clueless response that Grant was expecting.
“You got keys?”
“Look if Chief ain’t answering he prolly ain’t of the mood to being bothered buddy…”
“That’s fair…”, Grant strode back towards the desk, nodding in greeting at a passing officer who was exiting the station. “…but in case you’re not aware there’s a serial killer in your town picking people off left and right. Your Chief hired me. Not just because he has little faith in his overweight and comically deficient force — but also because he’s a prime target. I’m guessing that’s why he hasn’t left the building since this all started.”
Yates and Hughes continued to stare blankly at the Chiefs office door.
Hughes snapped to it, juggling at the keys strapped to his waistband as he tumbled down from the platform desk. The large officer with a single chevron indicating his rank began to sweat as he searched for the correct key. He called out for the leader of their Command chain as he thumbed through the key collection, “Hey Chief!”.
The silence they received from the other side of the door was telling. The situation had just grown excruciatingly more complex. In response, Grant reached into his inner coat pocket for one of the four metallic orbs he carried at all times. Feeling for the one with a single raised dot. After catching grip of it he immediately paced towards the door and launched the ball skyward with its’ press of the ‘deploy’ button.
Hughes, after finally finding the correct key flung the Chief’s office door open. Yates has found his way down from the podium at some point during Hughes’ struggle.
To Grant’s unfortunately, correct intuition sat the Chief. His neck oddly bent back with an expression of pure terror frozen on his face. Just like the others a filmy, yellow substance covered his entire body, clothes and all. The killer hadn’t even given the poor guy time to make a move. Grant exchanged looks of disgust with both of the officers before stepping forward into the office, “Give me a moment.” He said as he snapped on the pair of rubber gloves he kept in his back pocket.
Yates nodded, dumbfounded.
Hughes snapped at the latter to go grab the crime scene tape. Before he himself rushed back over to their desk to make the proper phone calls.
Grant reached back into the pocket where he kept the orbs and pulled out the specially made eye-wear. The custom spectacles were fitted precisely to his head and had loops that secured them around each of his ears; in addition they had only a single lens. The very moment the loops made contact with his ears the infrared feed came to life in the lens. His drone had already reached altitude and was orbiting its launch point with a 200-meter radius; so the entire police station and surrounding area was in view. Grants watch worked in tandem with the glasses, he looked down at the aerial system controls and accompanying 3-D map that illuminated holigraphically from his wrist and sent the UAS commands to fly towards the center of town. He locked the camera on coordinates for the Lilac Cove Bakery. The holographic display dimmed as his wrist lowered although the video feed continued to display in his one lens.
Grant ran his finger across the Chiefs desk…yellow grime clung to his glove. He stared at the Chief for a time then back at the door. Grant stepped over the fallen chair in the center of the room and ran finger along the window sill. Nothing but dust.
Grant studied the office for about fifteen minutes before it caught his eye. There inside the Chiefs trophy case sat and assuming baseball and glove. What made it peculiar was the spot of grimy yellow that marked the only spot of the ball that time hadn’t aged. He opened the case and took the ball along with his leave.
His aerial vehicle had just about finished its second orbit around the coordinates he’d sent it to when he spotted the ball. By rotating one of the disc around the watch face, Grant was able to widen the orbit’s radius by another 150 meters. He needed a flatter point of view to see the side alley and front side view of the small shop as it was in a close cluster of other small businesses. By sliding his left index finger along the temples of his glasses the camera zoomed in. He focused the gain and flir of the feed with his right hand.
Grant did not say goodby as he slipped under the caution tape and left the station.
Grant had assumed news of the Chief’s death would be the talk of town soon; though he hadn’t expected the news to beat him to the bakery. Words in small town, USA really do travel faster than light. The gossip and rumors, filled with a mixed variety of fear, confusion and anger flooded Grant’s eavesdropping ears as he exited his vehicle.
With no time to waste and a full knowledge on the layout of the area, Grant quickly crossed the street and into the alley way that sat adjacent to the bakery. He removed the eye peice and tapped his watch face in a rhythmic pass code pattern; seconds later his flying reconnaissance device landed in his outstretched palm. The wings folded and it collapsed into itself, forming the orb it once was. He dropped it into his pocket before continuing on, down the alley.
He found the fire escape ladder and made his way to the roof, crouching behind the ventilation system out of the line of sight of any pedestrians on the street below. It took a long bout of fiddling and prying before he was able to bend the roof top panel far enough to drop down into the bakery.
Grant was snatched immediately into a rear choke hold. The gun barrel pressed against his kidney was cold. The liquor on his assailants breath amplified the untethered fear that floods ones’ emotions when confronted with a loaded weapon. Grants’ hands raised, unconsciously submitting to defeat and signaling that he was of no threat to the gunman.
“Who are you?”
“Grant Cole, private eye…” Grant spoke in as reassuring a voice he could muster, “…badge is my shirt pocket.”
The attacker reached into Grant’s shirt and pulled out the badge. Grant was able to see the attacker’s reflection in the badge as the man flipped it open for an examination. “Pfft…private eyes have a problem using the front door?”
“Didn’t think the place would be open—”
“It isn’t…”, the red-headed man cut Grant off.
Grant took a chance. The one thing he hated more than anything was guessing, he was a man of facts and never acted on anything other than that. However, he needed to defuse the situation, “Listen…I’m not your enemy…”, Grant steadied his own shaky voice, “I just want to find the person. The piece of trash — who killed your…your….Mother?”
The attacker moved the gun to Grant’s temple, “What’d you say? How do you know she’s my mother?”
“I assume you were the only red-head around growing up here in a town of four-hundred?” Grant cleared his throat, “Perhaps we could talk without the gun…”
Success. The man pushed Grant away and holstered the weapon. “You’re gonna pay for that.” He said pointing up at the ceiling and bent ventilation shaft that Grant had slid through.
“Sure thing.” Grant held out his hand, “Nice to meet you Mr. Larks…”
“Just call me Ron…”, Ron said accepting the handshake. “You’re doing more than the cops if you’re here…they’re as afraid as the rest of us…”
“Just doing my job.”
“You should see this…”, Ron said motioning then towards the laptop he had sitting on the dining room counter. There was a half empty bottle of whiskey beside it.
The surveillance video that Ron shared, provided the footage needed to cement Grant’s concern on the extreme mystery of the case: At six-fourteen, a.m., precisely forty-six minutes before the bakery was normally scheduled to open, Hannah is seen entering the bakery. She closes and locks the door behind her, the video flickers, instantly as if it had appeared from thin air a horror-inducing four-armed figure is seen behind her. It’s twelve fingers were all cringe-worthy in their unnatural length. Though it faced away from the camera, Grant only had to see Mrs Larks face to know what terrors lay behind its eyes. The older woman dropped her purse in fear after finding the creature behind her. The video flashes once again and the bakery is completely empty. Hannah and the grotesque creature are gone…..
To be continued.
Copyright © 2020 Kacy Gilbert (Writing as Remontz)
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