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Across My Desk

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Author's note: This is my entry into RuckusQuantum's 'Mystery' challenge.

In sixteen years of work as a detective I had never seen something so bewildering. A case had come across my desk outlining the suicides of three different five year old children. They had all died jumping from the tops of buildings; two out of three times it was their own house. I read through the case files, and noticed similarities between the children. They were all fair-skinned and had blonde hair. Two were male and the other was a female, and they were all wearing blue the day they had jumped.

After studying the files for hours, I brought the dockets into my chief’s office. I tossed them down on his desk as he looked up from his computer.

“Who put this on my desk?” I asked him.

“I did. Now I know you have a five year old daughter, but you’re the best detective in this whole damn department,” he said stroking his mustache as he looked at me.

“Sir, with all due respect, I can’t do it. I know I’m going to get too attached. It’s happened before, and I won’t let myself go through it again,” I said.

“But you learnt from last time. There are three dead five year olds all suspected of committing suicide! Tell me that doesn’t sound strange!” he said.

“Don’t drag me into this again, Bill,” I said, rubbing my temples in an effort to ease the ever increasing headache pounding in my ears.

“Lou, please, I’m asking you as a friend. Give it a look over; give these families the closure they need. I know you can solve this case,” he said, almost desperately.

“I can’t do it, Bill. Not this time,” I said, shaking my head tiredly.

“I understand. I’ll have Carlson have a look over it, see if he can give it a crack. I’m sorry, Lou; I shouldn’t have brought that case to you at all,” he packed away the case files, and I got one last look at the face of victim number two; a bright-eyed young girl with a happy smile and blue eyes. “I’ve got another case you can work on. Suspected double-homicide, found in an apartment in the middle of the city. Would you rather get to work on that?”

“Yeah... uh sure. Put it on my desk and I’ll have a read over it?” I said, the image of the young blonde girl refusing to fade out of my memory. She looked so similar to my little Jenny, from her blue eyes down to her gleeful smile. As I studied the recollection of the picture in my mind I could almost hear her laughter.

“You alright, Lou?” I heard Bill ask me from a mile away, and I followed his voice back into the real world, the image finally fading along with the happy chuckles.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little preoccupied with other thoughts, I suppose. Have that case on my desk soon?” I asked him.

“Not to worry. Say, you wouldn’t mind running this case down to Carlson, would you? I’ll get yours printed and sent down much faster if you help me out,” he said, pushing the envelope full of descriptions, photos and eyewitness accounts in my direction.

“Not at all,” I replied, taking the yellow package from his hands and turning to leave.

“Hey Lou, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have even shown you the case. I don’t want you to feel scared for Jenny now, though. Carlson’s the second best detective in this department. He’ll get the job done,” Bill reassured me, and I nodded and headed out the door.

As I walked through the grey corridors to Carlson’s office, I noticed a stray paper hanging out of the envelope. I grasped it and pulled, revealing the slip of paper. It was a hand-written suicide letter from one of the five year olds. The handwriting was primitive, and hard to understand. I walked and read, trying to decipher the first word when I found myself outside Carlson’s office. I quickly stashed the paper into my pocket, and walked through the door.

“Chief’s got a new case for you Carlson. Three five year olds, suspected suicides,” I said, waltzing inside the roomy, dark office and throwing the files onto his desk.

“Suicides, you said?” Carlson asked, looking up from his phone. He had been texting someone he wasn’t supposed to, judging by the way he quickly locked the phone and looked up. I couldn’t believe Bill was leaving the case in this man’s incapable hands.

“Yeah, that’s what I said. Suicides.”

“Well, open and shut case then. If they killed themselves what am I doing with the case?” he asked, seemingly confused.

“You don’t find it strange that three five year olds all jumped from buildings within the space of a few weeks?” I asked him, folding my arms over my chest.

“Not really. Pressures of school nowadays, it doesn’t surprise me at all to be perfectly honest with you,” Carlson said, leaning back against his chair and sliding his phone into his pocket.

“Okay, valid point. Except that when you read the case file you’ll find out that these three kids aren’t even in school yet. In fact, they were all due to start in a month’s time,” I said angrily. I couldn’t believe how passive this man was being. Three five year olds were dead without a valid explanation, and he was shrugging off the case as if it had already been figured out.

“Thanks, Sherlock. Is this your case or is it mine?” he said aggressively, and then picked up the yellow envelope and waved it around. “Get out of my office please, Lou. I’ve got work to do.”

“Just make sure you do it then, Carlson,” I said, stalking out of the office. When I was far enough away I removed the crumpled letter from my pocket and studied it. I reached my office and sat down in my seat, smoothing the wrinkles in the worn bit of paper.

This is what the note read: Mummy and daddy. I love you, but I have to go now. Don’t worry, I’ll be okay. He promised. Michelle.

The writing seemed forced, and promised seemed like too big of a word for a five year old to know, whether they had started school or not. And who was this mysterious man mentioned? Did he force little Michelle to write the letter, and then make her jump? According to the file, there had been no men on the scene apart from the father, and later the police. Security around the crime scene had been watertight. Could it have been an imaginary friend perhaps?

So many scenarios flooded my mind, and although the case wasn’t mine, I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest until it had been solved.

A few days later, the girl entered my dreams.

I had almost forgotten the case, but it still played on the edges of my subconcious, tricking me into believing it would release my mind and break free, leaving me in peace. It would then re-enter my brain; a small child walking on the sidewalk would remind me of one of the children, or I would pass a crying woman, and then the case would swoop in to the foreground, never letting me forget completely.

But I went to sleep three nights after the case had passed my desk, and there she was. Help me, she said, tears streaming down her face and her hand outstretched. Her blonde hair was whipping in the wind as she stood in the darkness. I reached out my hand, but she was leaning backwards, getting further away. And then she was falling, and she crashed into the blackness surrounding her, breaking it and revealing the sirens and screams as she toppled from the roof of her house. Her fingers slipped past mine, and then she was screaming.

I woke up, sweat covering my chest. I hadn’t saved her. I hadn’t been there at the scene in time, but I was going to help her now, and that was a promise.

I had woken up in the morning, earlier than usual, and joined my wife and daughter in the dining room for breakfast.

“I didn’t want to wake you up,” my wife said, surprised.

“I wanted to eat breakfast with you two this morning. Morning, darling,” I said to my daughter as I kissed my wife. She made a face of disgust at the gesture, and I laughed. “Off to day care?”

“Yep, but I’ll be at school soon daddy!” she said, giggling.

“I know! You are getting so big, aren’t you?” I said walking over and kneeling down at her chair in order to be face to face with her.

“She is!” said my wife. “You’ll never guess how many pancakes she’s eaten!”

“How many?” I asked her. “One?”

“Nope!”

“Two?”

“Uh-uh.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve eaten three!” I said playfully.

“I ate four!” she chuckled, and I leant over and tickled her belly.

“You’re lying! You couldn’t fit four in there!”

“I did daddy! They’re in my tummy,” she said laughing as I tickled her.

“Okay sweetheart, mummy’s going to work now. Come on, say bye to daddy,” my wife rose from the table, and took both of their plates to the kitchen.

“Bye daddy,” Jenny said, hugging my neck.

“Bye Jenny! Have a good day at school, honey,” I replied, hugging her back. A short time after they left the house, I took a quick shower and headed off to work myself.

When I arrived, my boss and Carlson were having a heated argument. I walked through the sliding glass doors and past the reception area of the police department. I headed towards the two, catching glimpses of what they were saying as I neared.

“No, look you don’t understand...”

“I understand perfectly, Carlson. You do not have enough evidence there for a warrant. End of story.”

“But he’s the guy, I’m sure!”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive!”

“Then gather more evidence, Carlson. I cannot grant you a warrant with such little information.”

“Fine.” I walked up, and Carlson shot me a disgusted glare as he stormed off.

“What was that about?” I asked my chief as casually as I could, although I was bursting on the inside to find out what had made Carlson so enraged.

“He wanted a warrant to search his suspect’s house. He doesn’t have enough information. Some delivery guy, I don’t even think he did it. I was the first one on all of those crime scenes you know, Lou. Seeing those kids kill themselves, it just isn’t right,” he said tiredly. “I hope he catches the bastard who did this.”

“Me too. You don’t think he will though, do you?” I asked.

“No, Lou. I don’t,” he said as he walked off. “I wish I did.”

I walked into my office. The double-homicide case was sitting on my desk. I stared at it for a long time, but I couldn’t open it. My brain would only let me focus on one thing at a time, and that case was killing me.

I pulled out my chair, turned to my computer and searched the database for the three victims. I ran analysis to try and find a connection to the three kids. I found out that they all lived within three blocks of each other, and were enrolled in the same public school due to start next month. Harshley Primary School; the same kindergarten my own daughter was soon to attend.

I printed off my findings and read over them once more. I was looking for a connection somewhere, a connection to a particular man or organisation.

I tried a different angle. Instead of looking for people or organisations that had contacted the families, I looked for organisations and people the families had contacted themselves. I investigated for a while, until my police department popped onto the screen.

All three children had been enrolled into the ‘Stranger Danger’ interactive seminar which had been held by my department at the beginning of the year. It had been targeted at those about to go into school, four and five year olds, in order to educate them about the dangers of strange vehicles and all of the basic things like avoiding people you don’t know.

The seminar had been run by my chief, Bill, and a few others, including Carlson. I decided to look further into Carlson’s background. After only a short time investigating, I discovered a blocked file entitled ‘Carlson E. Richmond’. It should have been the file on Carlson’s history, however instead of coming up with schools he had attended and other records, the file had been completely wiped.

I had no idea why, or even how it possible to wipe a file on someone’s history. All I knew was that there was a reason his file had been cleared of his past, and it was most likely in order to cover up a dark history.

At three o’clock I decided to call it a day. Staring at my computer for hours had dried my eyes and given me a pounding ache in between them. I walked into my chief’s office.

“I think I’m gonna call it a day, Bill. I’ve got a pretty bad headache,” I said, rubbing my temples.

“No worries, Lou. You did overtime last week. Go home to your family,” he said sympathetically.

“Thank you. Are you about to head home too?” I asked, noticing the briefcase on his desk.

“What this? Oh no, this is some more files on the suicide case. I’m staying here late tonight to help Carlson out with the case. I’m afraid he doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

“Oh okay. Well, I hope you two aren’t here too late then,” I replied, turning to head out the door.

Later, as I was driving home, I received a call from a strange number. I turned on hands-free, answered the call, but before I could speak a raspy voice I had never heard before began to cry.

“I don’t want to do it, but I can’t help it. When I see them, I can’t help but make them die!”

“Who is this?” I asked the man on the other end.

“I can’t tell you. But you have to help me. I don’t want to keep killing them.”

“I can’t help you if I don’t know your name. Who are you killing?”

“The children! The children are dead because I make them jump! I could never kill them myself, but I love to watch them die. I’m sick! You have to help me, oh god you have to help me!”

“Who are you, sir?” I asked, shouting to be heard over the top of the man’s gibberish. I heard a door opening in the background, a muffled voice and then the phone hung up. I stared at the road in astonishment.

The killer had just called me and confessed! All I had to do was trace the number of the phone back, and I had him! I ran into my house excitedly and submitted my call logs into my personal computer. I got heart flutters as the number ran through the database, but my heart stopped when the number showed up belonging to Carlson E. Richmond, Warrega Police Department. The call had been made from his desk.

Carlson was the man behind the suicides. And I had the evidence now to put him behind bars.

I thought about driving back down to the police station, but decided against it as Carlson may have already left, and I didn’t want to have to explain everything to Bill so late at night. No, it could wait until the morning.

I woke to the sounds of my daughter crying downstairs and my wife comforting her. I threw on a dressing gown and rushed downstairs.

“What’s the matter, Princess?” I asked my Jenny, as tears flowed from her blue eyes onto her red cheeks.

“A man was in my room last night and he said he was my friend but I didn’t know him!” Jenny cried as she looked up at me.

“A man was in your room?!” I demanded.

“Yes! But I didn’t believe he was my friend. I said go away, and he went out the window!” she cried as she hugged my wife. My wife looked up at me with wide eyes.

“We have to call the police!” she said in a frightened tone of voice.

“I am the police Maureen! No, we’re not calling. Look, we’ve been working on a case down at the department and I think this man in her room might be related. I’ll take her into work today so she can give them a description. I’ll get everyone watching the house. This won’t happen again, okay honey? I promise,” I said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Come on, Jenny. You’re coming with daddy into work today.”

“Okay,” Jenny said her voice still shaky from crying.

“Give daddy one minute,” I said climbing the stairs to my bedroom. I opened the top drawer of my wardrobe chest and removed the pile of t-shirts concealing the .22 revolver I had hidden in there for safety. I took it out, feeling the cool metal on my fingertips. I then tucked it into the back of my jeans, and walked downstairs again. “Let’s go, pumpkin.”

We drove through the streets silently, neither one of us uttering a single syllable. When we arrived at the turnoff for the police department, I turned the other way.

“Where are we going daddy? You work down there!” My daughter said, pointing towards the police station becoming increasingly smaller in the rear vision mirror.

“It’s too early to go there yet sweety. Daddy has to pay a friend a little visit.” I drove a few blocks from the police station, and then rolled to a stop outside a three storey house marked with the number ‘162’. I got out of the car and dragged Jenny after me. I didn’t even bother knocking on the door, I just kicked it down.

“Daddy what are you doing?!” Jenny was screaming at this point, but I forced myself to ignore her. I stormed up the stairs, still holding Jenny’s hand. I could hear shuffling in the upstairs bedroom. I kicked the bedroom door down to reveal Carlson and his wife desparately trying to hide in their ensuite, but unable to get the door open.

“Lou, what the hell are you doing here?” Carlson screamed. “Why are you in my house?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” I said calmly. “Why were you in my daughter’s room last night, you filthy little bastard? Three kids weren’t enough? You had to threaten my daughter, too?”

“Daddy,” Jenny said, pulling my sleeve.

“Not now, sweetie. What do you have to say for yourself, maggot?” I asked Carlson, who was shielding his wife with his body.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. My son has called the police. They’ll be here soon enough,” Carlson said, barely managing to choke out the words. He stood so pathetically, dressed in cross-hatched pyjama pants and top, standing at the door to the ensuite in his comfortably-sized bedroom. His wife was crying behind him, cowering and hugging his legs, dressed in a blue night gown and wearing slippers.

“Bullshit. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Chief gave you that case, and you didn’t want to investigate it further because you were the one who killed them. You were scared,” I said, my hand reaching around to grab my revolver.

“I just said, Lou, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. You sound crazy right now!” said Carlson.

“I don’t believe a single word you’re saying, arsehole. You killed three five year olds. Does that make you feel tough? Huh? Does it?!” I screamed, whipping the gun out from my jeans and pointing it in between his eyes. “I must say, your manipulation skills are pretty impressive, but nothing gives a better result than a simple bullet.”

I squeezed the trigger, the cylinder of solid metal on a direct course with Carlson’s forehead. In less than a second half of his head was no longer attached to his body, rather it was plastered over the ensuite door. Jenny’s screams were broken only by the sounds of police sirens approaching the house. Carlson’s wife was crying next to the body of her dead husband.

Everything was so deafening. The sound of the gun being fired still rang in my mind, rattling my brain against my skull. The screams only added to the already impossibly loud noises in my mind. I couldn’t see anything that was happening around me. Everything seemed to slow down until it almost stopped, and then time slowly sped-up again until everything was happening at normal pace once more.

I turned towards Jenny. “Daddy’s done a bad thing, Jenny, but that man was bad, okay? The police won’t believe daddy, so we have to try and convince them. I’m going to put you out the window, and I want you to climb onto the roof. Okay, sweetie?” I said, gripping her shoulders with my strong hands. I picked her up and hauled her out the window and onto the roof, following shortly afterwards.

The police arrived with fourteen squad cars. They must’ve called everyone in the immediate area to come to Carlson’s house, but they were too late. I had killed him. But in killing him I had saved so many, including my own daughter. I had to think about that aspect, and only that aspect, because otherwise I would die with a guilty conscience.

My chief, Bill, stepped out of one of the cars with a megaphone. “Lou, come down immediately. We’ve got the whole area surrounded. Stop scaring little Jenny. We can end all of this right now!”

“Carlson was a murderer! He was the one who killed those children! If I come down, you have to promise to take my evidence into account at trial. I will not go to jail for this, Bill!” I called down to them.

“You know I can’t promise you that, Lou. Just come down and I’ll see what I can do,” he replied.

“That’s not good enough, chief. I can’t come down and you know it.” I turned to my daughter. Fear had overcome her and filled her cystal blue eyes. I almost cried. “Sweety, we have to go now. We have to leave these people behind. We’re going to a better place.”

“Why daddy?” she asked.

“Because, the nasty people down there won’t believe the truth. They think that daddy is a liar, and we have to prove them wrong,” I said reassuringly.

“But what about mummy? I don’t want to leave her behind, daddy!” Jenny cried.

“Look, leave her a damn note then,” I screamed angrily at her, thrusting a piece of paper and pen into her hands. “Tell her you’re going to be okay. Tell her I said so,” I said, calming down.

“You promise, daddy?” Jenny asked in her sweet little voice.

“I couldn’t lie to a face like that sweetheart. Now quickly write the note, we have to go,” I said, my anger fading. I couldn’t stay angry at Jenny for long.

“Dear mummy, I love you. I’m sorry I have to leave you, but I’ll be okay. He promised. Love, Jenny. Is that okay daddy?” Jenny read aloud as she wrote, and I nodded my head as I stared down at the fourteen police cars below the building.

“The jig is up, Lou. We know you shot him. Come down; don’t do this to your daughter. We know this isn’t what you want!” said Bill, speaking into a megaphone.

“Oh, you know that do you, Bill?!” I screamed down at my former chief. “Do you know that like you knew it wasn’t Carlson who had forced those kids to jump? It wasn’t their teacher, and you know it’s true you son-of-a-bitch!”

“Please Lou, I’m asking this as your friend. You don’t need to do this. You are being irrational,” Bill calmly spoke into the megaphone, and then lowered it at his side so he could look directly at me. His eyes were so convincing, but the truth was more overpowering.   

“I can’t do it, Bill. Not this time,” I whispered, grabbing Jenny’s hand. I turned to face her. “Are you ready, darling?”

“What’s on the other side, daddy?” Jenny asked, the tears welling once more in her precious blue eyes. “Will I see mummy again?”

“Of course you will darling. She’ll meet us there soon enough,” I smiled reassuringly, and she smiled back. We moved to the edge of the roof, standing side by side. Three storeys to the ground, it would only take a second to fall the whole way down. “Ready? 1... 2...3,” I whispered.

“Daddy, wait,” Jenny said, slipping her hand out of mine. She motioned for me to lean down closer to her, and then she whispered in my ear. “I can’t. The man with the moustache was in my room last night, and he said I had to do it by myself or it won’t work. I’m sorry daddy,” Jenny’s eyes welled again, and then her little hand moved to my leg and pushed.

Although I knew it only took one second for me to reach the ground, I thought about a lot of things. I thought about how my daughter was soon going to die. I thought about how I had murdered an innocent man. I thought about my wife who was soon-to-be without a family.

I thought about a lot of things in that last second. But there was one name that stood out from the rest of my thoughts that made me want to cry. The sick bastard who had forced those children to jump, and was going to kill my daughter. The evil, plotting murderer who had taken so many lives, and destroyed even more. The only reason I screamed as I fell was because within me so much hatred and anger had been evoked as I thought of that one name.

Bill.



Written by Natalo
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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