There I was, hunched over the sink for a quick wash. It had been weeks since I left the office, and the only time I was ever alone involved lemon-scented shampoo. Unfortunately, such bliss was consistently short-lived. Just as I turned the squeaking tap off, the restroom door slammed open.
“He’s ready, chief,” my corporal reported.
Tossing my towel at the small-framed man, I crossed my fingers and stalked straight for the interrogation room. I had hope it was the end. That case had gone on for too long – those gruesome bodies and their weeping families – it was time to put it all to rest, as it should’ve been years ago.
“No more games,” I said.
“I was never playing one,” he replied.
“Good. So let’s get to it.”
A man in his mid thirties, with a healthy physique, and a head full of hair – dyed to conceal his premature aging – he mirrored the ordinary. But beneath the average and harmless facade was a monster. I had proof he’d stabbed and numbered his victims over the last fifteen years. And for the first time, I’d caught him.
“Do you plead guilty to the murder of-”
“I didn’t do it,” he casually interrupted, sliding into a comfortable position on his chair.
“You didn’t do it?”
“Without reason. I didn’t do it… without reason, detective. You’ll thank me if you knew.”
I frowned. I entered with intentions of withholding emotions, but that proved more difficult than expected. For one, I had an urge to knock his teeth loose – the devoid of remorse was provoking. But the first to lose their cool would lose the game. And I wasn’t going to lose again.
While I thought of a response to spur a direct confession, my antagonist straightened himself. Leaning forward, he added, “They were bad people, detective. All of them.”
“And that gives you a reason to kill?”
“A good reason.”
“Madeleine Matthews was a seven-year old math genius, about to change the world with her gift, before you brutally ripped her open. How was this child a bad person?”
“One day, she would be. Trust me, I know.”
“So you’ve decided to play god.”
“It’s all part of a greater plan, detective.”
“I see.” Done with the man’s crooked sense of justice, as it merely challenged my self-control, I went for the answer the nation needed to hear. “So, God, where are the other bodies?”
“Number three, five, six, nine, twelve, fifteen-”
“I said, no more games,” I warned.
“I’m not playing any games, detective. They’re not here. You can search the whole country, and you’ll never find them… here.”
“I’m going to give you another chance. You either tell me now, or after I break every bone in your body.”
“Fine. Number three was sprawled on the bathroom tiles of his home in 1956,” he calmly replied. Apparently my threat made no difference, as he’d yet to lose his placid mien nor regain his sanity. “Number five was hung on a tree in a park in 2017. Number six-”
“I asked which park, not when.”
“It’s May, detective – it doesn’t matter which park. Shall I continue? Number six was left in a river in 1872. Number nine was buried in her backyard in 2038. Number twelve was-”
I slammed a hand on the metal table. “Enough,” I said. “You’re not making sense.” Rising from my seat, I glanced at the two-way mirror. Was my team hearing what I was hearing? Were they deducing him insane or concluding it as part of his game? I contemplated rounding them for a discussion, but I couldn’t shake off the anomalous feeling in the room.
“You’ll find them, detective – if you go back, or if you live long enough. All they are now… are shadows,” he said.
“Do you work alone?” I asked. Despite his modus operandi, it seemed as though he was implying something more with his grotesque accounts of history.
“In 1873 and 2030?”
“In 1872 and 2038, yes.”
“Why the sporadic numbers and years?”
“I’m not stupid, detective. If I logged linearly, I would’ve been long caught. And not by you.”
“So you wanted me to catch you?”
“I need to tell you something, detective. But you wouldn’t take me seriously outside of this room.”
“I don’t take you seriously now. Do you expect me to believe you can… time travel?” I scoffed.
“That’s not it.”
“Then what is?”
He waved his hand, signaling me toward him. Chuckling, I strode to his side and leaned in.
“Tell me,” I prompted.
“I’m your son,” he whispered.
Pulling back with a laughter of disbelief, I rested my hands on my hip. “I don’t have a son,” I stated.
“Number twenty-six was bagged in the boot of her car in 1988. Her name was Sarah Weber. Sound familiar?”
At the mention of the name, I froze. Yes, it sounded familiar. And so was the beautiful face that came with it.
“Did you murder Sarah Weber?”
“Don’t worry, father. Once I leave this room, you’ll never see me again. I just wanted to meet you, that’s all.”
“You’re not leaving this room, son.”
“Oh, I will.” He smiled. “You’ll see.”
Shampoo, tiles, and shadows were words given by monkeyeverythingblog. And this story, well, it was inspired by a Korean crime drama I’ve been binge watching. Since I expected a plot twist that didn’t occur on screen, I decided to write my own crime piece with these three ‘horror-inducing’ words. What do you think – would this make a decent drama?
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words and write a piece of your own. Since I didn’t go the horror route, perhaps you can do so. It would be pretty cliche though, but who’s to say – my story above is pretty cliche too.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)