Decided to take a crack at A Writer’s Path’s challenge. The challenge was to write a scene that began with the sentence “It had been at least a minute since he last blinked.”
So this right here is my attempt. Hope you all enjoy it.
It had been at least a minute since he last blinked. They always did funny little things in the backseat whenever they were trying to hide something. This kid was no different.
Once I had this guy who shoved a bag full of meth right up his ass. Thing was so full that the pain was enough to keep his eyes open wider than Goldie Hawn’s for the better part of half an hour.
It was a look I was familiar with, so obviously this kid was not exactly on the up and up with me. He was trying to hold something back, so I thought he had to be involved somehow.
Before we get any further, let me just say this was the strangest case I ever worked.
My name is Jennifer Kessler, SFPD. I am a vet of this outfit of fifteen years and thought I had seen it all. Not just bags of ass meth but people screwing their pet dogs and setting them on fire, old bastards killing their own grandchildren for insurance money, snooty rich assholes going out on what they liked to call ‘hobo bumper.’ To see how many hobos they could bump with their bumper. But when you work a job like this, there is always something new.
The Butcher By the Bay case. You may have read about it in the papers. Worst serial I have ever worked in Frisco. He had been stalking our streets for the better part of two years now. Twenty confirmed victims at the time. But you know how cases like this work. There were probably a whole lot more.
Anyway, confirmed victim number twenty one just washed up in San Francisco bay this morning. Or at least the upper sixth of her did. Her head sat in a freezer somewhere for a couple of days, completely drained of any blood before it was placed inside a cooler and left adrift in the water. He probably got rid of all the blood so it wouldn’t hurt the copy of the latest bullshit poem he left behind.
Yep. The Butcher was one of those guys. He liked to sign his work.
My partner Adrienne Palmer and I were the first on the scene. She could tell I was starting to suffer from fatigue.
“Come on Jen. This case is getting to you. There is always one severed head too many.”
You know, the usual cliches. But they wouldn’t be cliches if there were not said often.
I have a thing about severed heads. Bad memories.
Despite being vertically challenged, this latest victim told us a whole lot. She didn’t show the signs of being held captive as all the others had. That and she was blonde. Our boy had a thing for brunettes.
Her name was Angie Fletcher. She was 18 years old and came all the way from Miami to go to school. She wanted to be a meteorologist and liked surfing and hiking. She was really good friends with another girl named Laurie Thompson. The two of them had gone out two nights ago and never came back. Laurie was still missing.
And she was a brunette.
Palmer and I guessed that this poor girl was just an appetizer for our guy. The other girl was the main course. He usually kept them for a week.
That left us five days.
Now this is where things started to get weird. These two kids found the cooler. Both of them weren’t even twenty yet. There was a Native American kid going to one of the local colleges. I forget his name. One of those weird names that is a bit harder to say than something like Phil.
He had this friend with him, a rugged kid with the thickest Kentucky accent I had ever heard. They just seemed like two random kids out for a morning stroll along the beach. Both were pretty well jolted by the whole thing.
Especially the kid from Kentucky.
Ethan. That was his name. Ethan Wallace. I heard Palmer call him by name. She had seen him working odd jobs at lumber yards and food markets from time to time. Just a kid who lived paycheck to paycheck without any real aim in life.
Once we collected their statements and sent the two on their way, that should have been the end of it. So imagine my surprise when I bumped into Ethan again by the docks later that evening.
Our boy had finally made a small mistake. Our latest victim had a tattoo on the back of her neck. It was fresh. Fresh enough for her to have gotten it the day she died. That gave us a time and a place to begin. The design was very specific. Only one shop in town did it. This little shop headed by some graphic artists trying to pay their tuition.
I stopped by the place in the evening to interview the owners and scope the place out. That’s when I saw Ethan hanging out behind the shop in the alleyways like he was on the prowl.
He looked more than a little strung out. The kid drooled whenever he thought no one was looking, but what really took me was when he got down on all fours and smelled the ground, walls, pretty much every inch of that alleyway. I swear, this kid was acting like a bloodhound. I had seen some weird shit in narcotics, but nothing quite like this.
He grunted and groaned, even growled when he was back there.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I happen to see a material witness pop up randomly during an investigation and behaving in a way that is, in a word, slightly suspicious, I tend to think they may be involved in some way.
That and he bolted the moment he saw me. Never a good sign. But I caught him. My career began with chasing down some of the fastest junkies in Frisco. You better believe I caught this one.
That was just after six when I cuffed him and started driving to the station. I noticed right away that his eyes looked funny. Bloodshot. He couldn’t stop looking at the sun as it went down.
“Now don’t you pop up in the strangest places.” I said. “Why were you running?”
“I have to go to the bathroom?” He asked.
He didn’t say it. He asked. As if expecting me to answer.
“What are you? Ten?” I scoffed.
“Hey listen detective, I understand that you are just trying to do your job and all, but I really need to get going.”
“Must be one hell of a leak.” I said.
Just before you get out of the docks there are a bunch of railroad crossings. I was trying to beat one train that carried enough shrimp to make that Bubba guy from that one Tom Hanks movie blush. But it was a bit quick for me and I didn’t have too much of a death wish that evening.
So we were caught at the crossing. Train was going real slow, so the two of us would have some time to watch the shrimp go by.
“So how are you involved kid? You get your kicks out of crime scenes?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I was looking for the guy that did it.”
“Oh, were you looking for our boy? Sorry kid, but this isn’t the kind of case you want to go Charles Bronson with.”
“Bronson?” he laughed. “I was thinking Jodi Foster.”
“Another sign of our bankrupt culture. That Foster flick was just a remake of Death Wish. You ought to check that out and see a real movie.”
“Hey, don’t knock me!” he shouted. “I like Bronson. I saw that World War II movie he did.”
“Which one? The one with Lee Marvin or the one with Steve McQueen?”
He looked confused. “The one with Jim Brown. The football player?”
I nodded. “That’s the Lee Marvin one. Dirty Dozen. Classic.”
The sun dipped lower.
“Hey listen. I was just trying to help out. I am on your side here.” he tried to explain.
I wasn’t hearing it.
“Kid, as much as I am enjoying the movie trivia, you will still be getting some free room and board for the night.”
“Yeah, well I have caught a lot of guys.” he boasted. “I bet I have caught more guys than you.”
I turned back to him. “Oh really? Well do tell Dirty Harry. I would love to hear of your exploits.”
In the flashes of the passing train lights, I thought I saw something strange about him. He seemed pale. Looked like someone who had been going cold turkey.
By now, the sun was completely gone. The violet sky got darker and darker, and one by one, out came the stars.
Ethan took one look at that sky and lost it.
“Oh god. JC is going to kick my ass.” he laughed.
“Who is JC?” I asked.
“Trust me, detective. JC is not the kind of girl you want to meet.”
He leaned back in the back seat and shut his eyes. He started to hyperventilate. His skin got drenched with sweat. I could see him well enough now to see that he was pale. Defiantly sick. I have had a few junkies blow some chunkies in my back seat if you know what I mean. So I had a pretty good idea of what was coming next.
“Who did you catch, kid?” I asked him.
“The ones I catch, you don’t hear about.” he said.
He started to cough. I mean really cough. A cat with a tribble caught in its throat cough.
“Let me out or I will throw up.” he threatened me.
“Go ahead, kiddo. I have had worse things in the back of this car. The spot on the door? That was from this one time I drove a pregnant car crash victim to the hospital. She popped out twins right there on the leather. And that one spot, right where you are sitting, that was from this one time…”
His eyes snapped open. They had been bloodshot before, but now they were different. No longer red. I had seen lots of people on lots of drugs, but never one that made their eyes turn yellow.
Or their pupils change shape.
His eyes. This kid’s eyes were not human anymore. Everything was wrong. The pupils were wrong, the color was wrong, the irises were wrong. Even the size and shape was wrong. They were too round. Too big. They were a wolf’s eyes.
It had to be drugs. There couldn’t have been any other explanation. Had to be drugs.
I reached out and put my hand on his shoulder.
“Kid, what did you take?” I asked.
He shook his head. “ Nothing.”
I gripped his shoulder tight. “Kid, I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what you took. You tell me I can call a hospital, they will know what to do and be ready to pump your stomach by the time we…”
He opened his mouth and snarled. You may think snarl is an odd word choice, but you didn’t see those teeth. They were getting sharp. Right before my eyes they were changing shape, growing longer and getting a good deal more pointed.
“I took nothing.” He growled.
Forgive me for being more than a little lost when this started. I hadn’t exactly seen anything like this outside of Joe Dante and John Landis movies.
I think I managed to squeak out a “Kid.” in there somewhere, but it was hard to hear over those noises he made. Those noises. They weren’t even human anymore. It was like an animal.
He was like an animal. His shoulders has lurched back in a way that they should have broken. Sweat began to pour out of him in buckets and formed puddles on the seats. Thick black hair began to sprout all over his body. I heard a loud snap as the chain on the handcuffs broke. He reached out and grabbed the back of my seat. That is when I noticed the claws on his fingers. Still growing claws. They were doing a real number on my seats. I didn’t want to see how good a number they would do on my face and figured that was as good a sign as any to get the fuck out of the car.
“JC is going to be so pissed about this.” he managed to spray out along with a crap ton of spit. Most of which hit me in the face.
The train had already gone by when I finally got out. It was just me, the car and him.
Only it wasn’t him anymore. I could barely even see what had been Ethan inside what was now in the back seat. It must have been half a foot taller, covered in black hair, and it was still changing.
The cloths on him tore to ribbons. I could hear his insides sloshing around, growing and shrinking, his bones crunching and twisting. He didn’t shift into this new shape. He lurched into it. With sudden jolts and surges, his features changed more and more.
It was starting to look like a wolf.
His canines became like a canine’s, his nose got covered in this rubbery black skin, his face was pushed out by something underneath. Oh good god if only you could hear that sound it made. It must have hurt like hell.
The entire thing didn’t take too long. Maybe a minute. Maybe two.
You know how some people say they get frozen with fear? Well, that show this kid put on had me more stiff than the stiffs that washed up on the bay from time to time.
By the time he was done, he was at least a foot and a half taller, and his face only had the smallest traces of being human. Completely covered in black hair, a hell of a lot better built. About the only thing that was human about him was he still walked on two legs. When he pulled his hands away from the back seat, the head rest came right off with them.
Not sure if he did that on purpose.
When it opened the door and stepped out, the sweat that drenched the back seats trickled out to onto the street.
Those yellow eyes focused right at me. The thing that had moments before been Ethan Wallace started to lick its lips.
Now I know what you are thinking. This is the part where I get torn to shreds, right? Wrong. Things still got stranger.
This thing didn’t lay a finger on me. Not one.
It did put its finger to its lips and went “Shhh.”
The thing grabbed what was left of its cloths out of the back seat and booked. And I didn’t go after it. I may be stubborn, but I am not stupid.
Like I said. Strangest case I ever worked, and that was just the beginning.
You may be wondering about the Butcher. The kid was telling the truth about that. He wasn’t involved. Neither was the other kid from the beach.
Ah. Kotori. That was his name.
And neither was this JC girl that Ethan mentioned before he started his Lon Cheney Jr. impression. I would meet them all given time. I would run into Kotori a few nights after this. And then I would run into her.
Jordan Childs. The alpha.
They were not involved in the murders yet, but they were about to get involved. Because I was about to get them involved. None of them may have been the Butcher, but the Butcher was an animal. With a case like that, it can’t be a bad thing to have a couple of werewolves in the rolodex.
Yes. I still use a rolodex. Get over it.