It was a night like any other for Samuel Roderick, at least until his phone rang. Sam, as he went by, was relaxing after work enjoying a new pack of his favorite brand of cigarettes, Djarum Black. Anything he did while smoking one of those put his mind at ease, but on this particular night he was smoking while watching the news. When his phone rang he turned off the T.V. and picked up the phone. No one ever called this late unless it was work, and he couldn't ignore those calls not with how things had been going.
"This is Sam." He answered his phone.
"Sorry to disturb your down time especially since you just got off, but our friend has left something at Fred Campbell Park. We need you to come check it out." The voice on the other end replied.
"On it" Sam wearily said as he hung up his phone.
Sam was a detective on the Avondale homicide unit and he was given lead on their newest case, a serial killer causing quite a stir. He had avoided being caught for half a year now. Yet, every week he left a new body somewhere. His modus operandi was always the same, headless and boneless body left somewhere soaking in bleach to destroy DNA. Then at a later time always random the head would be discovered somewhere else. The eyes were always burned pre-mortem, Sam was put on the case when he was first to notice that it was done by a cigarette, he had seen the burns many times before. The killer's elusiveness had caused quite a few copycat killers, hoping to off someone with no blame. They were often caught but a few more skilled ones went uncaught.
Sam's car pulled up to the park amidst a sea of news vans and cop cars. He lit up a cigarette, determined to relax a little, as he pushed his way over to the crime scene tape and was greeted by an officer who began to fill him in on the details of the scene. A kiddy pool was left just under one of the basketball hoops, a couple passing through had found it and called it in. Sam walked over to the witnesses and questioned them, they were of no help. He looked at the body, but something was off. The killer never brought in his own items he would use whatever was around. Furthermore a park was too public the killer always did it in a more private place, bathtubs private pools and the occasional personal aquarium, space permitting. As he was assessing the situation the same officer came up and told him the head had been discovered. It had been dropped on someone’s car from an overpass along the 10.
"Let's check it out" Sam said still half lost in thought, "You're with me, I'll drive"
They arrived at the now blocked off section of the 10 and proceeded to look at the head. The coroner approached them and confirmed Sam's suspicions, it was another copycat. The eye burns were down with a cigarette light not the cigarette itself.
"Well do your write up and have it on my desk ASAP. Nothing much else we can do here now" Sam said as he lit up another cigarette. He made his way home brushed his teeth as he always would and went to bed. The next day he showed up at the station bright and early. He knew what the day had in store for him already, His boss would press him for as many details as possible before the press conference, Followed by half a million "tips" that the culprit was someone named "Jeff a Killer" or something stupid like that, followed by lots of pressure from just about everyone to catch this sick S.O.B. It was days like today that made him hate the strict no smoking policy in the police station. As he was walking up to the front door he saw a kid with "666" and a pentagram painted on his face in handcuffs being escorted up the steps.
"Says he's the killer" The officer escorting him up to the door said in response to the confusion on Sam's face.
"Let me guess, says his name is Jeff or Slenderman or something stupid like that? Give him a cavity search, thoroughly and see if he sings a different tune then." Sam a bit agitated as this was a regular occurrence, but at the same time he was a little amused as the kids face changed from a dopey smile to a look of dread. He walked in expecting to get into the chief's office but instead was signaled over to a computer where many people were gathered around.
"We got an email with a new lead on last night’s murder and the serial killer in general." Sam's old partner Smith called out to him.
"I swear if it's one of those smile.jpg things again or another stupid troll face..." Sam started.
"No this is real" Smith called out. Intrigued Sam walked over and looked at the computer screen. It was a video with two men in a bathroom. One wore a mask the other was bound in the bathtub. It was clearly a video of the killing. The masked man accused the man in the bathtub of copying him and many others of doing the same. He was personally going to stop it. He then proceeded to light a cigarette and put it out in the other man's eye who was screaming in pain. The very sight alone made Sam want to quit smoking forever. Next the killer Began to cut off the other man's head.
"Enough, stop it!" Sam exclaimed sternly, "trace who sent the Email"
"On it!" the man at the computer said excitedly. "Wow that was really easy, It's an apartment over in Glendale."
"Ok send over a dozen patrol cars" Sam said, almost unimpressed with what was going on. "Tell me how it goes,"
"You're not going?!?" Smith questioned.
"No, He's probably not the real deal" Sam said as he walked towards his desk. Then there was a scream from the front. Everyone rushed over to see what had happened. On the front desk there was an open box with the head of the dead man from the video. Inside was a note daring the police to try and catch him. Everyone rushed to get those patrol cars over to Glendale. When they arrived at the appartment there was a note written on the wall in blood that simply said "so close, yet so far". Sitting underneath it was a desktop computer with an open browser, displaying the message "Message sent". The apartment was swept for prints and came up with nothing.
"Looks like this is the real guy Roderick, he's too good." Smith said as Sam looked over the write up. Could this be the guy he was looking for all along? He filled out paper work and left for home. On the way there he stop by a drug store and picked up something to help him quit smoking. He was nearly home when he got a call. There was another body. True to his word the killer was getting rid of all the copycats and at an alarming rate.
"This might be a blessing in disguise." Sam Thought "He could get sloppy now and then I'll get to catch him."
Sam showed up at the scene another apartment this scene was grislier as the copycat had pictures on the wall of the victims he had killed. Another message in blood on the wall said "You'll never get me, and these copycats will pay". Behind the complex was the head on top of a dumpster. Sam looked across the street and saw a security camera.
"Perfect, we might have the guy." He thought. He had the dumpster taken in and the video. After several hours of watching the tap, he noticed what appeared to be the killer discarding his cigarette in the trash. He got his team on searching for the cigarette butt in the trash. The compared the DNA on the butts discovered to tenets of the apartment complex. Most came up with blanks but one had a hit. Could this be the killer? They went to his last known address, and to their surprise the owner of the DNA was not their man but he was a copycat who was in the middle of his execution. The killer was caught in the act and taken in.
"Sam, drinks are on me tonight. Longbranch Saloon after work. It was some good luck." Smith said excitedly.
"Sounds great, see you then." Sam said, yet he couldn't believe his luck.
They met up after work, and began drinking and talking about "the good old times". Smith getting fairly drunk at this point asked Sam about his absence of cigarettes.
"You know I've been dying to quit and this whole killer thing really convinced me to quit. I won't pick up another one until I’m sure this killer is gone for good." Sam explained.
"You caught him, why don't you have one?" Smith said happily.
"I'm not so sure, I don't think he's gone. Our luck was just too good." Sam said a little dishearten.
"Dammit Sam, you caught him. What’s to doubt? So you have the devil's luck? Just be happy and drink!" Smith said reprimanding.
"I guess you're right" Sam said and ordered another drink, then he opened a fresh pack of cigarettes and lit one up. He drove home that night and went to brush his teeth before he went to sleep. He rinsed his toothbrush off and as he spit out the rest of the toothpaste. He looked up to see his teeth in the mirror but something else caught his attention. The man was standing behind him, wearing a black button up shirt and jeans, holding a kitchen knife.
"Well, isn't this a surprise? Are you going to tell me to go to sleep now or something?" Sam said joking.
"Does this look like a joke to you?" The man said in a gruff voice.
"You're right, sorry. You know can we do this some other time? I don't want to play this game tonight." Sam said as he reached for the gun he keep beneath the sink. Just then the kitchen knife went through his shoulder. Blood oozed out as pain shot across his whole body.
"Well we're going to play it, you know you are my most interesting prey. I mean i never thought you'd find that cigarette butt i left for you in the dumpster. It was easy finding out his next victim all i had to do was lead you on, and then you'd drop your guard, at least that's what i had hoped. When i was watching you at the bar i noticed you stopped drinking alcohol fairly early on, almost like you knew you needed to be sober." The man said as he chuckled to himself.
"Well I knew once the real guy was caught an imposter would come to take his place, I was hoping he wouldn't target me first." Sam responded, “Before you kill me will you tell me your name? I want to know who killed me."
"My name? Such a meaningless thing, but I will indulge you. The real killer, who I am, is named Brent" He said almost proud of it.
"Brent huh? I doubt it; you're not the real killer so I can't expect much. By the way your park job was really poorly executed. So many holes in imitation, plus you were easy to pick out of a crowd. Plus there's no way my neighbors would buy a car like that red thing you got parked in front of their house, you're easy to spot. I bet you don't even know what he does with bones when he's done." Sam said hoping Brent would take the bait.
"I was simply bored of the old way and trying new things. I am the real killer!” Brent yelled as he yanked the knife out and jammed it into Sam's shoulder again, "Enough talk! Now, join the others.
"Will you at least indulge me a last smoke? It's a new pack and i don't want to waste it. Heck you can even have one to use on me" Sam asked as he pulled out the new pack, only one was missing. "Brent" took a cigarette and light it up and took a drag. Sam saw this as an opportunity, and attack. The kitchen knife in his shoulder couldn't be used against him. "Brent" pulled out another knife and swung. Blood was pouring on the floor.
The next day Smith showed up to the station the next day, a little hung over, and went to go congratulate Sam again, but he wasn't at his desk. He tried calling Sam but to no avail. He asked around to see if Sam had called in, he had not. He got his buddy to check the GPS on the phone. Sam was home. Smith figured he was sleeping off the hang over and let him be. But by the end of the day when Sam still wasn't answering his phone and still hadn't come in he began to worry. He decided to visit Sam. As he pulled up he noticed there were no lights on. The door was unlocked and then he saw what had befallen he friend. He called it in and shortly thereafter the house was taped off with people gathering the evidence. Everything was gathered from the room even the empty pack of cigarettes sitting on the counter next to the sink. Meanwhile in the middle of the desert there was the man dressed in black sitting on the hood of his red car holding a head, and smoking a cigarette.
"Sorry this isn't the way it's supposed to go but you started to fight and that’s just not right." He said to the head as he put his cigarette out in its eye." And to think you didn't want to play. There were so many times i could have killed you but i waited and it was worth it."
Smith was sitting outside the coroner's office waiting for the autopsy result. The coroner came out.
"Well it's just the same as every other killing, bleach destroyed the DNA, but there was something weird about the body. There were two holes in the shirt near the shoulder where it had appeared that a knife went through but there were corresponding marks on the body, possibly old holes though." the coroner reported.
"I should thank you "Brent", you've set me free, even if you were only a fake, i do take it as a form of flattery. I no longer have to play once a week and then hunt myself during the day, as a reward I'll show you the bones." Sam said to the head as he dropped it down a hole in the middle of the dessert already filled with bones of his victims. "Well Sam is dead so i don't need these anymore."
He dropped the remainder of his cigarettes in the hole and then began covering it.
"I'm tired of this place and working. I just want to play all day, maybe I'll move out east, there's lots of fun to be had out there" The man said as he smirked an evil smirk and headed towards the car.