[Warning! Some blood and gore]
“Wisdom begins in wonder”, proclaimed the wooden board on top of the arched doorway of the library. Officer Patrick Wilson paused for a moment before stepping on to the magnificent athenaeum. The walls were adorned by rows upon rows of books, carefully sorted out and arranged. A huge stained glass window on the far end painted a kaleidoscope of colours on the oriental rug that covered the floor. Everything looked perfect, except for the big splatter of dried blood and brain matter on the stuccoed wall, below the stained glass windows.
Officer Wilson walked the length of the library solemnly, his eyes taking in the details of the mahagony lined shelves and the book racks. Reaching near the window, he examined the corpse before him. Seated and bound to a chair, stripped down to the trousers, facing the library entrance. The body looked almost intact, with little spots of bruises here and there. It was in stark contrast to the head, or whatever was remaining of the head. Except for the few frontal features and jaws which identified it as a head, the rest was gone – blown away to form the gory mural on the wall. No open casket for this guy.
Wilson shifted his focus to the rest of the body. There was no use in checking the head; it was all gone. Shotgun to the cranium – probably to the roof of the mouth – quite messy but possibly the victim died before any pain was registered. Wilson’s face was emotionless and apathetic. It was but a mask he wore – inside, he was simmering with rage. And for good reason; this was the third homicide in as many weeks. He was determined to pin down this maniacal psychopath any way he could.
The forensic experts were busy collecting the bits and pieces of what was left of the head, to try and reconstruct the entry wound. He was yet to hear from the Ballistics division, but Wilson had already formed a picture in his mind. Lupara – probably a customized version. He had figured out as much when he saw the pellet holes on the walls and what had remained of the head. His trained eyes again scanned the body. Moving around to the back, he saw that the hands were tied behind, and found exactly what he was looking for – an inscription, on the right forearm, carved out with a sharp instrument, probably red hot. It read “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”
Thought so. Wilson was now sure the guy was the same one who had murdered the other two. The modus operandi was the same. References to Papa everywhere. The killer had even got a nickname in the inner circles due to the antics. The other homicide detectives had begun calling him the Big gun Papa. Wilson didn’t care. All he wanted was to nab this psycho before he leaves any more black marks in Wilson’s illustrious career. And he was hell-bent on doing that.
Whoever did this wanted the victims to see and feel the death personified before them. No fingerprints, smoothbore guns, clean getaway, this guy knew what he was doing. Professional, but old-school, using a sawed-off shotgun, mused Wilson. He promptly ruled out the possibility of this being the work of a hitman. They are usually very discreet about their jobs; trying to stay silent and clean. This however was a big gory mess. Such a waste of a beautiful library. And what’s with these Papa references? The guy seems to have an affinity towards classic American literature. Thought Wilson as he examined the blood stains on some of the books on the library.
Reconstructing the crime scene in his head, Wilson could feel the vengeance in the eyes of the murderer, looking right through the eyes of his cowering victim. Revenge could possibly be the motive here. Now given that there had been three on a trot, Wilson knew this was either a sadistic serial killer or someone who is out to settle the scores of a personal vendetta. In either case, there was a high probability of another hit happening soon. Not on my backyard! Thought Wilson as he reflexively hit the heavy bookshelf with the palm of his hand.
As he did so, a few loosely bound set of books fell off the rack. Wilson picked them up and kept them back in the shelf. As he replaced the books, he saw a copy of Dante’s Inferno – the translated version by Longfellow. If it was not for the blood stains, he would have missed it. On the lower edge of the cover was the unmistakable imprint of a finger, stained in blood. Revelation struck as a startled Wilson remembered there were copies of Inferno on the two previous cases too. But he was preoccupied to have given the books a notice. This cannot be a coincidence! Thought Wilson. With a glimmer of hope, he picked up the book from the shelf and carefully thumbed through the pages. His eyes gleamed as he saw the Fourth circle of hell highlighted with blood stain.
This is a work of fiction written for the Write Tribe Wednesday prompt. The idea was to include a quote by Ernest Hemingway and create a post.
[Image courtesy: Original image of the bloodstained hand courtesy of Chelle.]