Sunday, May 31, 2015

Blurred Edges, Chapter Eight

Claire sat in the dining room in front of the fireplace, basking in the heat of the fire as Marten answered the police officers questions. Had the house shown signs of being broken into? No, not that we could tell. Have you offended anyone here in town? No, we just got here yesterday.

The questioning went on and on until finally Claire snapped, slamming her coffee mug down a little too harshly for the police officer’s taste.
“You have a problem ma’am?” He asked, his quiet tone telling her to just stay silent and let him do his job.
She ignored it. “Yeah, I do. We’re not suspects, just victims here. Victims with jobs to do that you’re holding up!”
“I’m just trying to establish the motive someone would have for leaving a hand in a bathtub,” he explained as Marten looked to the ceiling and rubbed his neck.
“Honey, just calm down,” Marten said, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Maybe I should get you some tea instead of coffee, seems to be making you hyper.”
“I’m not hyper, I’m pissed off! This clown has had us sitting in here for two hours now and hasn’t said a damn thing about what he’s going to do, or what we should do. He’s just asking the same questions, over and over.”
“Alright,” the officer said, flipping his notepad closed and sliding his pen behind his ear. He had dark eyes and a crew cut, with a lean figure that went well with his brown uniform. The mansion wasn’t technically inside any city limits, so a state trooper had heeded their 911 call. So far it’d only been him, with no backup or crime scene investigators.
Just him.
“Alright? Alright, what?” Claire asked, looking at the officer in confusion.
“I’m going to collect the hand and be on my way,” he said in a humorless voice.
“What are you going to do? Run fingerprints, or try and match the DNA to someone in a crime database?” Claire asked, her voice growing louder as the officer continued to shake his head.
“No, I’m going to collect the hand and have it put in the ice locker at one of the county morgues, and wait for you to find the next piece of the puzzle.” The officer said with a sick smile. “But what I’m not going to do is search this entire building, parts of which I’m sure have been condemned, for the rest of the body.”
“So you’re just going to wait until we find it, them, whatever?” Marten asked, slightly shocked.
“Yeah, that’s about right.” The officer nodded. He sucked in a breath and pulled on his belt, before blowing the air between his teeth. Looking at Marten, he smiled. “Thank you for the coffee.”
“Oh. Uh, you’re welcome.” Marten replied, following as the officer began making his way out of the room and up the stairs, pulling out a large Ziploc bag from his back pocket and unfolding it.
Claire, following with her mug of coffee, did her best to keep her pale face from flushing in anger. This guy is unbelievable! She thought as she started ascending the steps behind Marten. Just going to take the hand and leave… next part I find is going in the garbage then, no need calling out this asshole.
The officer stopped at the top of the stairs and looked down at Marten, pointing towards their bedroom silently. Marten nodded, “yeah, in the attached bathroom. The door is open, you shouldn’t miss it.”
The officer nodded and walked into the room, his loud footfalls echoing out across the floorboards until he reached the tile. Claire could hear the curtain swish back, followed by… silence. The officer didn’t scream or shout, laugh or cry. He didn’t even confirm that this was indeed the hand, which Claire half expected from the hour-long interview they’d just undergone. He reappeared at the top of the stairs, the Ziploc bag sealed tight with a dried hand splayed out, showing a pentagram carved into its palm, along with smaller carvings on the fingers and sides. The officer, with his pen, tapped the bottom of the hand where the wrist should be.
“Clean cut.” The officer noted, lifting the bag higher so he could look at the hand from the underside. “Whoever did this did it with something hot and sharp, as the wound is cauterized. You can see the burn marks on the hand, the cracked skin.”
“So?” Claire asked, not understanding why this mattered.
“So? So that means, among other things, that this was most likely a ritual. I deduced that sweetie, by looking at the carvings on the hand as well.” The officer said, looking down at Claire before she could protest.
“What does that mean for us?” Marten asked, looking between the officer and Claire.
The officer, who fished into his front pocket for a pair of business cards, handed them to Marten and Claire before answering. “This house has a lot of history to it. A lot of bad history. Whoever bought it either knows that or is just an unlucky son of a bitch.”
“You mean this kind of thing… is normal to find here?” Claire asked, looking at the business card. Officer David Wong. “Officer Wong, it says here you’re the paranormal investigator?”
“Yes, ma’am. Is that a problem?” He asked, walking past her down the stairs. Claire shrugged and turned to look down at his retreating form.
“I don’t think there’s anything paranormal about a hand,” she said, leaning on the railing.
“I cover ritual sacrifices, witch gatherings and here say on Voodoo practitioners as well,” he said without an ounce of humor in his voice. “Look, I just operate out of the State Troopers Office. We get a lot of weird calls in, especially from the land this house sits on, so don’t expect this to be the last you’ll see of me.”
“Well, we’d appreciate it if you’d call us before you come onto the land. We’re supposed to be cleaning the place up, you know?” Claire said, walking down a step or two to come within reach of him.
“Then by all means give me your phone number. I guarantee you once you have men and women working on the house, I’ll be called in again.” Officer Wong said, taking out his notepad and flipping it to a new page, scribbling down the digits Claire gave him to her cell phone. Flipping the notepad closed, he looked up at her and then Marten. “If things get too… weird, get off the property, then call me. I don’t want a repeat of the last people who came to renovate.”
“What happened to them?” Marten asked.
“After a week of nobody hearing from them on jobs, a contractor came up here looking to settle payment on some construction he did. He found both of them hanging from the chandelier, skinless. Not a drop of blood on the floor, nor in them.”

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