Author's note: Dedicated to BlackNumber1, creator of the Creepypasta Noir genre as a whole. This story is connected to the In Torment Series' lore, as a prequel.

I consider this story the series' weakest link and, as a result, suggest it is held off of reading until it is updated

A Time to Kill

August 15th, 1946.

Crime in Los Angeles was high, but Santa Monica itself was pretty tame in comparison. Casual thieves, gang fights, it was all common, but hardly was there ever any serious action.

Perhaps everyone was still in shock of the Second World War, or the terrible bombs used slightly over a year ago today. Over half way through the year, and yet the largest crime William Taggart had dealt with was a teenager hitting another with a bottle over the head. Over half of this city was idiotic teens partying the atomic fear out of their minds, and he was stuck babysitting the whole damned thing.

Inside of his 1932 Ford Model B, painted mostly black with a white hood and trunk, he was never so taunted by the "police" sign on his car. Putting on his grey vest and overcoat was more work than his job, not to speak of the fedora and tie. But hey, at least it paid enough to keep purchasing the white dress shirts he was forced to wear under the vest.

Blue eyes, greased back brown hair which came out from under his hat a bit, five feet and eleven inches tall, he was a staple for how a lot of men in his line of work looked and dressed. It wasn't so much an image, as a correct stereotype. He was thirty-four years old, with fifteen of those years serving this town.

He sat and waited at the beach beside a police telephone. He waited and waited to hear anything on his one way police scanner. His car sitting on the side of the road, he was effectively relaxing instead of working. A lot more boring than it sounds. The road he was parked on had cement on one side as a walkway, and the wood of the boardwalk on the other.

The beach on the other side of the wood, his car had two tires on the cement, ready to move. Right beside his car was a police callbox. Nothing to do but pull his lighter out of his pocket and play around with it.

The beach looked pretty, he'd admit that. The girls sat and watched the sun set, and the guys ran to the docks to enjoy the view whilst throwing their ball around. The boardwalk was always a new sight each day.

"Detective Taggart, this is Mary Finton. Please call the police station. Reported homicide, body found, no suspects."

He almost didn't believe it at first. Before he got out of the vehicle, he sat and simply looked at the scanner in distrust, before taking off his seat belt and exiting the car.

The cold wind of the night blew against his face gently, just enough to cause his tie to shuffle in place. Stepping onto the sidewalk, he reached the other side of the police phone with ease. Opening what was best described as a blue box on a pole, he pulled the phone out and gave his credentials to the police operator.

"William Taggart. Detective and private investigator of the LAPD Southwest Division #3. Reporting on call for a homicide case," he said, grizzly and ready to handle whatever business laid ahead of him.

"Hello, Detective. I'll get Commanding Officer Burgundy right away, sire." Mary responded, before patching him through.

He wouldn't admit it, but he was partially excited. For a moment, it didn't even feel like a tragedy had occurred. He loved his job for the justice, but was obsessed with it for the work. The actual work.

"Detective Taggart?" he heard a rough voice say. He sounded as if someone with plenty of class hadn't slept in three days.

"Waitin' for instructions, Burgundy."

"Inner Santa Monica. Back alleyway on Veronica avenue, across from the Swingers club. No one reported a thing. Young dame. Not far from home."

"Everyone's having their kicks with the jitterbug, and some dame gets kicked off. I'll have a look around."

"Officers are already on the spot waiting for you, Taggart."

Before he could respond, Burgundy hung up. Putting the phone back in the callbox, he walked back around the box to his parked car. Opening the car door, he sat down and buckled his seat belt. Turning the key he had left in the ignition, he took off for Veronica avenue. It was only a three minute drive from his location.

When he took the bend from Summit street to Veronica avenue, it was already obvious that the body had gathered attention. Yellow tape blocked off entrance to the alleyway, with two officers stopping a small gathering of people from entering.

As Taggart pulled forward, he parked in the center of the road. His, along with all the other officer's vehicles, tilted towards the scene. This essentially acted as a road block in front of this area for the entire street. The Swingers club was directly across from the entrance to the alleyway.

Getting out of his vehicle, he walked towards the citizens, whom were shouting questions at the officers. Two had notebooks, and were constantly writings things down. Safe to assume they were reporters.

As he got closer, the two reporters turned to him.

"Officer, do you have any details on the case you'd like to share with the media?" one of them questioned.

Pushing the reporter's notebook down, he continued to walk towards the yellow tape. Pulling out his wallet, he showed his identification and badge to the two officers, before stepping over the tape.

The alleyway was dark and long, but flashlights and set up lights lit up around the crime scene, which was about forty feet down the alleyway from him, dead center, with several officers gathered around the body.

The path between the two large buildings was about ten feet wide, and only had one dumpster, down by the body. As he got closer, one of the officers at the scene jogged his way to him, reaching out to shake his hand. The two shook, and walked towards the scene together.

The officer, Richard Cambell, was from Southwest Division #3 as well. He often held the interrogations, meaning he had been around detective Taggart in almost each major crime investigation.

He had a very tan skin tone, with slicked back black hair, which he kept short and formal. Standing at six feet tall, he was hardly taller than Taggart.

"Any details you can spill, Cambell?"

"Victim ID'd as Carolyn Deloria. Part time singer at clubs like the Swigger's Club, part time model, full time mother of a young boy. We think she has been on ice for 24 hours."

"Any suspects?"

"None that match, yet. We have her husband in for questioning. The family has already been told about her death by officer Kramer. Entire division is scratchin' our heads at this trip, Taggart."

By the time Cambell finished talking, they had arrived at the scene. With lights standing on the ground and pointing at her, Carolyn Deloria laid on the ground dead. Yellow cards indicating clues sat around her, the dumpster a few feet behind them.

As the other police officers gave way, her body became more visible. Her stylish blonde hair, with a horrified expression permanently stuck on her face. Her bottom jaw both dislocated and shattered, it was disconnected on the right side, with her tongue showing no trace of even being there.

Both topless and braless, she laid with both of her arms above her head. The sections of her body not covered in dry blood from the shattered bottom jaw, were covered in a slightly discolored hue of flesh. Her right breast was sliced and cut, split into several different sections of meat. Her red skirt was still on, though the top portion, no where to be seen.

The most prevailing detail, though, was the wound which was most likely the cause of the fatality. Her abdomen sliced open from left to right, directly above the hips. Organs showing in the lights as an array of different colors, it showed purples, reds, pinks, and fatty yellows.

"Officer Harris thinks it might have been done with sexual intent," Cambell said, as Taggart crouched over the body.

"Our man left the body here, with next to no work done to hide it. Skirt's still on, yet he left the shirt off."

Taggart leaned in towards the jaw, moving the head to the right to examine it better. The yellow note card next to her head read "Blunt force trauma", indicating that it was done with some sort of weapon. Taggart took the card and crushed it in his left hand, pointing to the disconnected right side of the jaw.

"Bottom of the jaw is shattered and blackened. Right side completely disconnected, hanging down. Whoever put her on the rocks didn't do this with a melee weapon. Weak explosive on the right side of her mouth. Tongue was torn apart, but still there in the back on her throat. Brown skin on the right side above the separation, and below it, shows that some sort of explosive was at work."

Cambell crouched down and looked at the jaw, before signaling another officer to come back to this side of the body.

"Officer Harris, get over 'ere!"

About the same height as Taggart, he walked over to the pair, and crouched next to them. His green eyes scanned over the corpse, with his short brown hair being the only of the trio not to be slicked back. It was simply buzzed.

"Taggart 'ere, has come to the conclusion that this was done by a weak explosive on the right side of the jaw. Brown skin, tongue being gone in the front, shattered bone, it's all there to support it."

Harris thought for a second as well, looking over the wound.

"What kind of explosive do you think was used?" he questioned, with his lighter voice filled with confusion.

"Gun powder. Not hard to get, or explode. I think we're dealing with a class one sadist here. The scene doesn't point to rape or molestation. Someone wanted to dust off someone, and they chose Carolyn here to clip."

"I'll report this to Burgundy when I head back."

"I'll go question people at the Swinger's Club. Cambell, Harris, get pictures developed. Keep investigating the scene before it's time for an autopsy."

"Got it," Harris responded, with Cambell simply nodding.

Standing up, Taggart began to walk away, before he turned his head back once more.

"Oh, and Harris?"

"Yes, detective?"

"Have the husband in the station at ten in the morning. I'll have some questions for him."

"Will do, detective."

Taggart walked out of the alleyway, back through the yellow tape, and back through the reporters. The harassment of the two continued, with one being a bit too close.

"Detective! Is this case the start of a killing spree? Are there any suspects? Are they in custody? Where are you going now? What is the ne-"

When they reached the center of the road, Taggart grabbed his arm.

"What's your name?" he yelled.

"Benjamin Terring. Why won't you answer the questions? Hiding something from the media?" he said.

"I'm going to get a drink," he responded with a dead tone, before throwing the reporter's arm down.

He crossed the road, alone, reaching the Swinger's Club. The name big and bold, it was hard to see with the sun setting. A brick building, it was very big. The main club in all of Santa Monica. The entrance was a simple double door at the right end of the building, with one man guarding it.

As Taggart approached, the man opened the door for him. Nodding his head, he walked past him. Pushing through the other door, the first thing he noticed was the wonderful singing. The floor was red carpet, and the lights were dim. The bar was quiet, except for a heavenly voice.

Dozens of tables and seats around an stage, there were two people on stage. One beautiful woman with black hair cut to her ears singing "Only Forever", while the other person, a man, was playing a violin.

At least one hundred people sat in the collective of chairs and tables, but only one was sitting at the bar. The barkeep was cleaning glasses, while the lone man was talking to him. The man was dressed in a slate black suit with a white undershirt, and red tie.

Taggart took a left right from the door, and sat beside the man at the bar. The man was about six feet tall, and had black hair that was parted to each side. When Taggart sat beside him, the man looked at him, showing he had deep brown eyes.

"She really is a doll, isn't she?" Taggart said, half serious.

The man turned around and looked at her sing, before putting on a smile, and giving a little laugh.

"Yeah, she really is a looker."

The man went back to his drink and took a sip.

"You from around here detective?"

"Yeah. Usually just cruising around, dealing with youngins crazy on their buzz."

The two shared another light laugh, before Taggart signaled the barkeep over to him. Leaning over to the detective, Taggart quietly questioned him, and the man, at the same time, while also pulling his badge out as identification.

"Name's William Taggart. Have either of you two heard of any strange activity? Seen anything?"

"Is this related to all you black-and-whites across the street?"

"A woman was killed, and I'm trying to ask you questions without causing a disruption. I'm not trying to throw you through the wringer. Now, I'm trying to fit this guy into the big house, you hear?"

"I haven't seen anything suspicious. If I see any funny business, I'll give the station a ring," he said in a completely stale, dull tone.

"What about you, sir?"

"The name's Olen Grant, officer. I haven't seen or heard anything but police sirens and lights. Say, it's hard work, isn't it? What do you say to a drink, before heading back out?"

Taggart nodded and smiled respectfully.

"Double Tom Collins, on the rocks."

The bar tender turned around, facing the drinks. He began crafting the two drinks, as Olen and William continued to speak.

"It's hard to believe that someone can be walking around, minding their own beeswax, and they get tossed. It just doesn't make sense to me."

"You've got that right."

"If you ever need another gun to hunt this fruit, you know where you'll usually find me," he joked.

"Two Tom Collins on the rocks," the bar tender said, throwing their drinks down in front of them.

Taggart took the drink down immediately, before whipping his face off with his sleeve. He smiled at Olen, before standing up.

"Southwest Division #3 can always use the extra help, if you ever need a good paying job, that lets you flap your lips."

"It's certainly in thought."

Tilting his hat forward, Taggart went to the door. Only stopped by hearing his name called.

"Hey, William."

Turning, he looked at Olen.

"Catch us that freak, why don't ya? Maybe I'll compose a song about you, when you're done."

Raising his drink to the air, Taggart smiled back and left the building.

Getting in his car, he went to head home. Harris and Cambell had the note taking process covered. Tomorrow, he was back in action.

A Time to Heal

August 16th, 1946.

The sun had risen, and the warmth was back. Bright and clear, William stepped out of his police vehicle, which was now parked in the parking lot of the Santa Monica Police Station. Up and early, he had a job to do.

Walking up the familiar stone steps, he took one glance at the building. In his fifteen years of police work, he could never forget the layout of the building. Right in the center, the two doors. To the right and left, massive continuations of the building that slightly curved inward. A large clock on the face of the entrance, it hung over the police station, under the name of the building in bold blue. Ten in the morning. Right on time.

Once he reached the top of the stairs, he could see Mary at her desk through the bulletproof glass doors. She waved him on, as he pressed through them. The cool air of the building was a break from Summer, as one would say.

"Hello, detective Taggart!" Mary said, as he walked to her, directly to the left of the doors.

Brown hair in a bun, she wore her white work shirt, with her blue work pants. A casual way to dress, but her charisma topped any clothing item.

"Good morning, Mary."

"Coffee, detective?" she asked, lifting a styrofoam cup up for him.

He grabbed onto it, with the warmth inside the cup giving a drastic change from the building's temperature.

"Thank you, Mary. Always a good morning sign. Don't go fallin' for no drugstore cowboy, now," he said, laughing.

Mary laughed back before covering her mouth. When she put her hand down, her smile still remained.

"Mister Deloria is waiting for you in the interrogation room. Officer Harris is watching him while they wait."

Nodding his head to her, he took his coffee and walked down the hallway. Two ways to go right, two ways to go left, and stairs going up. Each path lead to their own long hallway, and each was curved to the right slightly, with a small turn.

Taking the first right, there were multiple rooms with long one way windows, and a door by each. Six in total, Taggart walked to the far back. Looking in the window, he saw a crying man, and officer Harris standing on the other side of the table from him, behind the chair, holding a folder.

The man was a bigger build. More fat on his body, he was bald, and wearing a black suit to show mourning. He was holding his face in both hands, crying into them. The window allowed Taggart to look in, but not for him to see Taggart.

With a breath of preparation, he stepped through the door. Thick metal, heavy to push, and it made a large slam once closed.

"Name's Gregory Deloria," Harris said, standing behind the chair with his arms crossed.

"Step outside, Harris," Taggart said, pulling his chair out and sitting in it, across the table from Gregory.

Harris handed Taggart the folder, before he pulled open the door, and once it slammed shut, he knew he was standing on the other side of the one way mirror.

"Mister Deloria. Can I interest you in a cup of coffee?"

Gregory just sat and looked down at the table, at a loss of words.

"No husband ever wants to have this sort of situation, Deloria. We all know that. But any and all information regarding the murder can help us put this guy in the slammer."

"I didn't kill me wife!" Mister Deloria shouted in a fit of anger and sadness.

"Noted dimly. Did she have any beef with anyone you'd like to tell me?"

"She never upset nobody, you hear? Whoever did this deserves to burn!" he said, rubbing his hand over the other. A tear touched down on his cheek from his right eye.

Taggart stood out of his chair and opened the folder, sliding the pictures over to Mister Deloria. Shots of her mutilated chest, her jaw, and even her stomach's gash laid in front of the man.

Gasping, he attempted to pull away from the table, but Harris had handcuffed his hands together, and to the support pole under the table for the officer's safety. He tilted the table until the pictures fell off, with Taggart raising his arms to preserve his coffee. When the table resettled, Mister Deloria sat back down and hit his head against the table, crying uncontrollably.

"Innocent," Taggart said out loud.

Just as he finished speaking, Harris came back through the door.

"There's been another murder. No information yet, but we have a witness in the lobby waiting for you so stop snailing around!"

"Unhandcuff Deloria," Taggart said, leaving the weeping man alone.

He practically ran out of the room, down the hall, to the left, and to the main office. Right beside the entrance, Mary was comforting a man whom was breathing irregularly, the doors behind him. He has blonde hair, blue eyes, and was dressed in casual jeans, with a dirty charcoal work shirt.

Burgundy was there as well, with a notepad to write down information. He was short, tone, and scruffy. Grey short hair and a blue shirt with white stripes, paired with tan paints.

They got louder as he approached, with Burgundy being the loudest.

"Location, son. All we need is a location."

"Outer edge...up and over," he said frantically.

When he saw William, the man jumped away from Mary and ran towards him, embracing him with a hug and letting some tears out. William dropped his coffee, and stood shocked.

When the man pulled back, he had his arms on William's shoulders.

"End of Milock, where it overlooks Santa Monica!"

"The lover's lane, you say?"

"Dirt path, he walked up the dirt street and came with a knife! She was alone, waiting for something! I ran here when she was attacked!"

"That's connected to Summit, is it not?" Mary said.

Taggart disconnected the man's hands from his shoulders.

"It is. Summit is the entire stretch of the beach. If he is describing the scene I think he is, it overlooks the beach, ocean, and city."

"Yes!" the man shouted as loud as he could.

"I'm going to the scene. You get Harris and Cambell on the case, Mary. Burgundy, have someone question our friend here further. Two deaths in two nights. I'm not liking that order, boss."

By the time anyone could respond, Taggart was out of the door, heading to his police car.

A Time to Open Up

It was almost eleven when Taggart reached the spot kids would call "lover's lane". A dirt road came and turned almost completely around, with an area one or two vehicles could park, and enjoy a nice view of all of Santa Monica and the beach. The scene was immediately observable.

There was no attempt to hide the body. From inside of his car, he could already see a corpse laying on the ground, pants off.

Stepping out of his Ford model B, the body was laying peacefully in the sunlight, bathing in gore. He didn't want to step forward and examine everything, but he had to.

Stepping closer, the sight was more and more uncomfortable to him. Before long, he was bent over, examining her body alone.

Brown hair to her shoulders was thrown over her face. She had a very nice white shirt on, which of course had red now coating it. Pants both removed and gone from sight, this was the most disturbing case yet.

As if a blade was stuck inside of her and sliced up, she was carved open from inside of her vaginal opening, and cut straight up through her clitoris, up to her intestines. The organs themselves sat still inside of her, with only minor fluids pouring out of her. The blood and fat on the organs rested peacefully.

The cut did not seem perfect, nor a clean cut. Instead, it was rugged and the flesh was seemingly shredded, suggesting a serrated blade. Arms pointed to each side of her, the dirt around her had a red tint now.

The stench was massive, and reminded William of gutting his catches during deep sea fishing. This was more sour, though, given the hot air working against the body.

Brushing the hair from her face, her horror was revealed. Make-up ran down her face more chaotically than he could have imagined, with black mascara running down her face, and resting on the sides of her face.

Her teeth broken inwards with some hanging on by threads of her gums, Taggart saw why she didn't scream and attract attention from the city. Inside of her mouth, there was at least a dozen visible nails thrown into her mouth and throat, apparently forced in by hand. They obstructed her breathing and vocal capability completely, especially as blood took over her throat.

As he was thinking, four police vehicles came up the road, sirens blazing the way. Parking past his, and closer to the scene, the officers came out. Out of two vehicles, officers sprinted to the body and began taking photographs with their large cameras, which took several minutes to capture one image.

Officer Harris and Cambell came to Taggart from their vehicles together, whilst their partners made sure no one else came up the road.

Taggart never took his eyes off of the body, even under the distress of repeated flashing and loud noises. When Cambell and Harris crouched beside him, he was already speaking.

"I told Burgundy to have you both here, as you would be the first to be able to tell me about the witness, and the first I can speak about the case to, you hear?"

Harris took no time to think.

"The witness has been let out. Burgundy already interrogated him a bit. Odd fellow. Wouldn't stop babbling on about aliens, spirits, and what not. Name's Edison Slater. Apparently, he's a preacher for the big man down at Cocana avenue."

"Keep tabs on him, until we know he bumped off these girls."

"What happened to her?" Cambell asked.

"She had nails shoved down her throat to prevent her from screamin', and cut her open from her lady parts. Serrated blade of some sort. Rough area to slice with a normal blade."

"Why would a killer of this level leave a witness? As a fall guy?"

"That's what I'm having trouble following. I'm not so sure the priest is a witness. He's obviously off his rocker, so perhaps he isn't such a darb."

"How about this one, Will? Sexual reasoning?" Cambell continued.

Taggart thought about it for a second, before responding.

"No. I think we have a full blown misogynist on our hands."

"Just walking around targeting women?" Harris added.


"So, how do we catch this bastard?"

"Well, we know he is local. We know he has access to a multitude of weapons, and we know he let the priest live. Either he just targets women, or he just really loves the good book, and our two dames were a coincidence."

The trio sat and looked at the woman, with Harris holding back his disgust at the sight of her mutilated vagina.

"...How do you think she died?" Harris questioned, disgusted.

"I doubt our perp waited for her to suffocate on her own blood before he started cutting. This points right to sadism."

All three sat again, in shock of the brutality of the crime.

"I'm going to trust you two to identify her. I'm going to go back to the office and talk to Burgundy. With his permission, I'll be able to go door to door until we have this freak bustin' rocks in the big house."

"Standard protocol would say you stay and investigate further, detective," one of the officers capturing photographs said out loud.

"Detective Taggart has been down this road before. He is trusted enough to make these choices. Unless you're trying to lay down a bum rap, I'd say we get detective Blaire down here," Cambell threw out.

"Southwest Division #2?" the officer questioned, though his voice was already faint to Taggart.

He was already in his vehicle, and already had started turning it around. As he spun his vehicle, he could see Harris holding his stomach as he tried to look away. Soon, this was all in his rear view mirror.

This job was simply disturbing on many occasions, but never had he come across a string of connected crimes before, and certainly none done with such sadism and hatred. He needed to speak to Burgundy before he could officially begin a full scale hunt for this man, above the job the police were already doing. Some searches and radio broadcasts weren't enough.

Most of all, he needed a smoke.

A Time to Be Drawn In

Gone from the over looking crime scene, he parked his car. He wanted to take his small smoke break by a police callbox, but the one on Summit was too much of a hassle, dealing with drunk teens and reporters still swarming Veronica and the surrounding roads.

He was now on Peak avenue, which was connected to Summit Street, and by extension, the boardwalk and even Veronica avenue. Peak Avenue was farther down the boardwalk, only a two minute drive on a good day.

An oddly organised part of town, around 50 feet away from the boardwalk, at the closest police callbox. With the smell of the ocean still lingering pretty much everywhere within a few miles of the beach, he parked by a police callbox.

Large, red brick buildings littered the road to each side, half of which closed down during the war. The callbox itself was right outside of an abandoned workshop titled "Miles & Son", which once served as a place to have special wooden objects created. Tables, furniture, anything you desired.

The sidewalk was thin, meaning the callbox was directly beside a window broken window of the building. The doors were a large pair of steel doors, rusted and closed since the building closed in 1937. It was outstanding this place had not been repurposed.

As he pulled his lighter out of his pocket, he also pulled his Red Chief cigars out of his dress shirt's pocket. Biting the cheap plastic off, he flicked open his lighter. When the plastic fell away, the cigar fit nicely in the center of his mouth.

Within a few clicks of the lighter, he had lit the cigar. The first puff burnt his lungs and throat, and even caused his eyes to water. He always loved this brand. Moving the cigar to the corner of his mouth, blowing smoke out of the other.

His car door still open, he could hear his radio begin. Mary's voice came through his one way transmitter.

"Detective Taggart, the victim was very easily identified. Family came to the scene on their own accord, to see if it was their own child. Sadly, it was. Seventeen year old Sally Windwood. She lived on Pancea street, which is only a very short drive from Veronica, just past Teal and Dynasty. Report back as soon as possible. Officer Harris has been ordered to take the pair home and give them the details. Report over."

Throwing his cigar to the ground, he put his lighter back in his pocket. Just as he was reaching out for the callbox to speak to Mary, someone reached out for him from the darkness. Two arms around his neck from inside the pitch black window pulled him inwards with a great amount of strength.

He attempted to struggle free, but he was already inside of the building. Everything was dark, and he could feel his fedora fall off of his head. One hand left his neck, and he could feel his revolver raising out of his holster, and being taken away from him.

The remaining hand was around his neck, as he was being pulled further from the window. The stone floor scrapped his shoes, and the cold air froze against him.

Amongst the panic, the window was now across the entire room, which was a dark, blinding void. Suddenly, he stopped being dragged. Instead, he was pulled upwards, and placed on his feet. A door swung open, giving light. All he saw was a few seconds of a silver drama mask, permanently smiling, staring right at him.

When he attempted to punch the man in the mask, he was thrown into the room before he could even make a full swing. The man in the mask stepped into the room with him, pointing his own Smith & Wesson Model 10 at him. This room had plenty of light, given by an oil lantern hanging over a small table in the center of the room by a chain.

This room was very small, only about ten feet in any direction. The masked man was in a black trench coat, with the drama mask mocking his earlier attempt to fight back. The door behind him was a very rotten relic, with the only thing not being wood, being the doorknob.

The stone walls were covered in different kinds of molds and insects, with a single metal cabinet leaking some kind of liquid on the floor. It was a suspended cabinet about four feet off the ground, and one foot tall.

The finer details had slipped him. There was another man sitting on a chair at the right end of the table, with an empty chair to the left. The man in the mask twitched the gun, directing him to the seat. On the table, a single game of checkers, laid out and ready to play.

Taggart stood slowly, and sat in the old wooden chair slowly, making no sudden movements. The man across the table held his hand out flat, and the masked man planted the gun. Curling his fist around the handle, he pointed the gun across the table, making sure not to put the gun to close to Taggart, so any attempts to snatch it would fail.

The man was also dressed in all black, even with a piece of thin black cloth stretched over his head. It was possible to see out, but impossible to see in. Not a single inch of his skin was visible, as he even wore black gloves.

"Go," the man across the table said.

The masked man tilted his head to the right, but did not say a word. Before long, he had left the room, closing the door softly behind him.

Time was slow. His blood felt cold, and he could do nothing but stare at his shrouded kidnapper. It was pure silence, with the only sound originating from some bugs festering on the walls.

The silence was ended abruptly, when the man put the pistol, still loaded, in his pocket. Stretching his arms to each side, he spoke in a raspy, deep, yet entertained voice.

"So, you've been enjoying the game, detective? A little bit of recreation time on the job?"

Taggart had no idea how to respond. He felt like his individual personality had faded away, and he was nothing but a slave. A toy.

"You've been trying to find me for two days now. What's the hold up? Is it not fun enough, lady-lips?"

With a jolt of adrenaline, Taggart slid his chair back and attempted to stand, most likely to attack. All of the adrenaline ran away in fear when he saw the man put his hand by his pocket, and he sat back down. He had to work up the nerve to speak.

"...Why all of this? Why bring me here?"

The man across the table drew a smile on his fabric mask with his right index finger.

"We live in an age where bombs the size of cities explode in the name of change. Now, we both are aware, from experience, that some people are just like bombs. They are contained and their fuse burns away slowly until they explode. I am the bomb to change the world, Taggart. A game will explain it all. I'll start the match, and you follow very closely."

Placing his right index finger on the front checker to the far right, he slid it to the left, diagonally.

"Everyone has their first crime, detective. A common thief, a back alley robber, or clipping someone. We all have that first taste, and it usually comes early in life. Yesterday was your taste, to my treat. The first victim," he said, pushing one of Taggart's pieces off the board and on to the floor.

"She was inno-" William tried to exclaim, but he was cut off.

"Hey Omega, I'm the fucking Alpha, here. I speak. You do nothing but listen, or the game is over."

Taggart swallowed his pride, and could hardly manage to make his shaking hand move his checker sitting the farthest left upwards and to the right.

"Now, of course the police are going to be right on your trail. I mean, look here at us right now. Right across from me. My only response? Get out of your way right in time, allowing you to move right past me and never even know you met me."

He pushed his piece to the diagonal right, so jumping his was unavailable.

"Of course, we have today's dame as well," he added, knocking the piece far to the right in Taggart's middle row away, and on to the floor as well.

William moved the piece left of the one just removed, down. The man immediately jumped his, landing him only one step away from a king.

"This would be right now. The main player of the game being caught off guard, preserved from terror, and able to solve all of the world's issues. Maybe not that last part, but it's a damned start."

"Preserved from wh-" William once again tried to speak.

"Do we have to sew your gape closed for you to remain fucking quiet?!" the man shouted, placing his hand on the pistol's hilt. It took another moment of silence for him to come back to his normal attitude.

"Notice I knew you would be here, and was already prepared for that. Maybe you don't exactly have the security in your station you think you do. Dwell on that, rag-doll. Every person you go to for help, I'll have clipped, and it will be in brutal fashion. You play the game by my rules."

Unable to speak, Taggart has the perfect symbolism ready. His piece at the end ready to jump the man's one advancing piece. As he rose his hand to place it on the other side, the man blocked it with his left hand.

"And this hand is my followers. My legacy. Even if you get rid of me, I'll continue just as well as today. I've planted myself in them, and they have been very willing."

He took the piece from Taggart's hand, and threw it across the room, at the wall behind him. He then moved his one advancing piece to the end of Taggart's side of the board, flipping it over to a king. His tone changed. It was no longer playful, but instead prophetic.

"Look at all my pieces that weren't moved. Look at yours that remain. Too many. This would be the start of a game of checkers, not the end. Those many are correct, but to us, that is the chapter you and I are in. All of these pieces stay on the board for us to control, play with, and remove. You may speak now."

"Why the murders? You seem like you want control, not blood."

"The king, as I just showed you, has fun with the pieces. He makes short work of them. He feeds his sadism with them. Others, such as normal pieces, suppress their inner thoughts and instincts, thus they can only move forward. The king moves freely."

"But to kill only women, and in such a brutal fashion... surely you have a motive for that."

"These women are subhuman. Their bodies are weak, their feelings are fragile, and they do not deserve to live as we do. They are crates created to ship the unborn until a man comes out of them, and he comes out strong. I wanted to feel, and to truly experience their bodies inside and out. The ultimate act of both lust and wrath. They served their purpose."

William's face was red by now, in both sock and disgust. Knowing that the motive was so aggressive, and not just random brutalities, was absolutely incapacitating.

"Do you want them all dead?"

"Of course not. They are needed to continue our race, detective. What class did you graduate to get this job, time telling? As house-pets, they do well. They watch the children. They should not be as vile as those women were, though. As subhuman, they should act as such. No reason to compromise."

"But, why? Why kill? Why chose me to bring here?"

"You don't know what it is like to be restricted by rules you can't follow. To respect the laws laid out for you, but not be able to ever coexist with them. I chose instinct. I chose the way I was destined to be! Their deaths were predetermined, and I enacted it. As for you, you weren't chosen, fella. You simply happened to be the largest detective around here. That's how you winded up the front-man of my little game."

"You treat this as a game?"

"Life is to be played, until you are at the top. Those who compromise lose all credibility. Yes, this is very much a game. You can win by solving the crimes, and I can win by killing countless people each day, before I move on to another city and start again, with a different police force. But, there is a catch."

"And what is that?"

"You tell anyone about this meeting, the masked man, or myself, and I leave. Yes, I leave before you solve the crime. You're left with a new Jack the Ripper, and you never avenge those girls. I'll slip out from between your fingers and be gone within the hour, resting in the perfect hideaway you could never hope to gain access too."

The two looked at each other, tension absorbing everything around them. The man slid back in his seat, and opened the hanging cabinet on the wall, still staring at William. When it opened, he only got a glimpse of the fleshy head, before the man grabbed on to its hair, throwing it on the table.

It was the severed head of the singer William had seen the day before, whom was singing "Only Forever" at the Swinger's Club. Her eyes were gouged out, but the sockets were dry. Her teeth all removed, her tongue was cut into three sections, towards the back, resembling a fork. The stench was so putrid, William covered his nose with his hands as he fought back tears of disgust, and perhaps even fear.

"Overheard you talking about her at the Swinger's Club when you were sitting at the bar. You're right, she really was a doll. The body is probably already found. I left it right at the beach. A public display. Maybe it'll help some kids mature."

Standing up from his chair, the man walked over to William, and pulled the gun out.

"You have two options. You weren't killed on sight for a reason. You will play the game. You either go investigate this body right when you wake up, or you go to the police station and make this more public, but leave all of this sideshow out of it. Maybe it'll help you solve the problem faster. I know this can end with my death, your death, or an unsolved criminal record. I'm prepared for all three. You ready to see a king move freely?"

William shook his head yes, as the man turned the gun around, holding it by the barrel.

"You're a fuckin' monster."

"Say, just call me The Night Man," he said, hitting Taggart on the head with the hilt.

A Time to Break Down

Taggart woke up in his police vehicle on Summit street, parked by the original callbox. He didn't know how late it was, but it was getting dark. The sun was just below the dock on the ocean, with the streets lit up from pretty much any light source imaginable. People were on alert, and rightfully so.

His hat? Check. Gun? Check. The only thing that wasn't with him was his cigar, when he needed it most. He had a lead, straight from the demon's mouth. He needed to go back to the police station. That was his choice in the matter.

He needed help and comfort of some sort. He couldn't tell, nor trust, anyone. The ten minute drive to the station was the most tense drive of his life. Every shadow was a killer, every light was a muzzle flash, and every reflection was a shining blade. Neither the world nor him were safe.

When he pulled up to the police station, there was only one parking spot left at the side of the building. He took no time to think once he pulled in. He was already out of his vehicle before he could comprehend any time had passed.

He knew the key was to act normal. He had to retain that image, and control it the best he could. He had to come up with a story for his absence.

Ten at night. He had been out for over nine hours. When he pressed through the doors, only the active staff remained. Mary and Burguny were speaking when he pressed through the doors, with Cambell standing beside Burgundy. Mary was behind her desk when she saw Taggart.

"Detective, where have you been?"

"Fixing a graffiti issue. Tires got slashes and needed to fix them. Had a nice long talk with the parents of the kid who did it."

"Whatever. Normally you'd be suspended from active duty for a while, but God damnit, we think you perfectly linked the cases together. We had no chance but to tell the press a serial killer was on the lose," Burgundy added, with Cambell shaking his head in agreement.

Cambell looked at Taggart after he told his story, but with odd eyes. He seemed to be mocking, not questioning. He was off in some way or another, but that could have been Taggart's paranoia speaking.

"Officer Harris is in the interrogation room we used for Mister Deloria. He should fill you in on everything we learned," Mary added, sympathetic at Taggart's story of a bad day.

Cambell and Burgundy began to walk for the stairs to Burgundy's office, when the big man himself shouted to William.

"Clean yourself up good tonight, you hear? You're fuckin' filthy!"

Taggart didn't even notice that he had dirt all over him. It was most likely from when he was pushed on the building's floor, used the chair, or even when he was being dragged around. It was not a sanitary place, though dirt stains were covering him front and back.

Taggart essentially jogged to Harris, down the hallway to the right. When he reached the interrogation rooms, he saw that Harris was simply standing outside the rooms, writing into a notebook.

When William approached, Harris put his pencil in his pocket. Closing the notebook, he handed it to Taggart.

"Sarah Windwood. James Windwood, Jessica Windwood... What is this?"

"The list of people we have under police protection. She was one of three daughters belonging to Sarah and James Windwood, and was actually the oldest of the bunch. The other two are eleven and eight years old."

Harris was very emotional over this case. He wouldn't wait long before he started tearing up with his words.

"Will, I had to go in their house, and explain how their child- their legacy, was killed! I had to throw every detail at them, and look at their faces while I did it. When the sisters came, the parents were so occupied holding each other, I had to explain that Sally was gone! I had to look at those children, right into their eyes, and see them lose faith in God with every fucking word I said!"

"Harris, stop. It wasn't your fault. If I would have went, I would have had to tell them just as well!" he responded, putting his hands on Harris' shoulders.

Harris threw them off of him with a shove before continuing.

"What the fuck does this make me? No better than the killer? We signed up for this! We protect the people we can, but we can't always be there! This fuckin' town always throws us aside and blames us right away when something goes wrong, but we try, damn it!"

Taggart pressed Harris to the wall, to restrain him from moving.

"Damn it, Harris! You had no say or hand in it! You need to get a hold of yourself, unless you don't want to help find whoever put her on ice! We can get this fucker and lock him up for good, and use the key to his cell to put these girls to rest!"

Any continued arguing was halted, by the sound of one of the police station's front doors being slammed open. They both fell quiet.

"Edison? What are you doing here?" Mary asked, as Edison Slater entered the office, looking just as confused as he did the first time. Wearing the same cloths, as well.

He lacked any response.

"Sir?" Mary asked.

Soon, she was taking a deep breath of shock, as Edison pulled an M1917 out of the inside of his charcoal work shirt, and pointed it at her head, his other hand never moving, in a fist.

She tried to scream, but before she was able to let out her terror, Edison pulled the trigger, splattering her head against the wall, in a firework show of gore from the top jaw upward. Her body fell to the ground, behind the desk.

Cambell and Burgundy, whom were on their way downstairs when they heard the door open, pulled out their weapons and began running down the steps.

Taggart and Harris locked eyes in shock, but soon had their own revolvers out, and ran for the entrance.

As Burgundy and Cambell reached the end of the stairs, Burgundy attempted to shoot at Edison, missing his first shot, and instead hitting the floor beside him. Cambell was behind Edison, further up on the stairs, unable to see what was going on, as back up.

Burgundy recoiled back as the first shot from Edison's gun hit him in the chest, followed by another. As a reflex, Burgundy shot his gun, hitting the cieling. Falling down the remaining few steps, he was dead.

Harris and Taggart reached the entrance just in time to see Cambell get shot in the head and roll down the stairs as well, over Burgundy's body. His own corpse landed in front of Burgundy's, away from the steps.

Seeing the pair, Edison shot at Harris, hitting him in the shoulder. Taggart, his pistol already raised, shot Edison with all six bullets of his revolver.

Taggart's shots were not well aimed, as the first five shot hit randomly in the stomach and chest area. The last hit Edison directly in the eye. Exiting through the back of his head. His back hit the desk, and he slid to the floor. His hands simply went limp, dropping the gun, and opening the fist.

From the first, a small bronze piece of flat metal hit the ground. It appeared to be in the shape of a mask, with bars over the eye and mouth sections.

Dropping his own gun, Taggart fell to the ground in pure shock and rage.

A Time to Build Up

August 18th, 1946. Milestone Graveyard. Directly down the street from Veronica avenue.

"It has been two, long, terrible days since these brave officers were taken from us. Taken by a single man, whom only God himself can judge. Let us now bow our heads in respect to the fallen," the priest said to the gathering.

"The Santa Monica Police Department has been taken off the case, and replaced with Southwest Division #2. This is a great time to mourn, my friends. A great time indeed."

Over fifty people, divided equally, sat in chairs in the middle fo the grave yard. The thunderstorm overhead was deafening, and the wind would come to snatch hats every once in a while. Everyone was dressed in black, including William, who was to the right of the priest, looking at the family of the deceased in from of him. Behind him, a wall of photographs of the three deceased.

Harris on the other side, his arm was bandaged, and he would have to stop in several times a week for a check up on the wound. The graveyard was large, and certainly not flat. Several hills and bumps scattered the graves, making it quite a chaotic spot.

The priest began speaking again.

"As we give these children unto the lord, it is expected of us to remember their names with honor, and with love. Mary Finton. Charlie Cambell. Franklin Burgundy. With these names, we will never forget. Allow me to read Mary Finton's favorite bible passage, Ecclesiastes 3:3."

Pulling a paper out of his shirt's pocket, he read from it, taking his glasses off in the process.

"A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. Ladies and gentlemen, there has been a time of murder, and we must heal. We have been broken down, and we must build back up."

Directly behind the mourners, he saw movement. From atop a hill in the graveyard, behind the single tree, the masked man was directing him his way. The walk was across the one road going through the graveyard, but close enough he could see the man.

When the bible verse was read, everyone was talking about the past, and crying over memories. Taggart used this moment to excuse himself silently, pulling out a cigar to make it appear he was going to smoke. Lighting it up, he walked to the hill.

Being right behind him, he marched up. No one dared question his privacy in a time like this. Not even Harris. Once he reached the top of the small hill, he immediately saw the man in person. A single grave sat atop the hill, one of your classic small and skinny gravestones. The kind a strong storm could force over and break, but still resembled a normal stone.

"What are you doing here?" Taggart asked the man, whilst they were both out of sight from the mourners, behind the tree.

He knew if he upset the killer, everyone was at stake. He had to remain civil, and honestly, he felt broken. The masked man did respond, and he seemed rather sad and formal himself.

"A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance... that is the full saying. I am here to continue, and hopefully end, the game he has laid out for you."

"The killer is dead! Edison Slater is rotting in a hole so deep Hell itself envies it!"

"No. Edison was The Religion. A man of faith, he used Christianity as a shadow. He was always at heart a follower of something else, and was driven to madness, and later controlled by The Night Man. You killed The Religion, the one whom was being twisted. Now, you must finish The Night Man, The Philosophy, the one who actually did the killings. Edison did nothing but shoot your officers. The girls, those were his prey.

"Who did he follow?"

"You're not ready for that yet. Never have you been ready. We can just say the universe for now. He was easily controlled due to his mental issues, and when The Philosophy killed the second girl, he had The Religion report it so that these exact events could come into play. It's all a game. He wasn't bluffing on that end."

"What's your goal here, chap? Where does this end?"

"I want his spree to come to a finish. I am here to record as much information on Olen as I can, to further an understanding of him and his ideology. Regardless of the light or dark in him, he is far too dangerous now, and I can not begin to estimate how dangerous he could possibly become. He must die. I will play by his game, however," he said, pulling the hilt of a revolver out of his pocket, implying he would open fire on the mourners if they were informed.

"Understood," William said disgruntled. "What can you tell me? Anything at all would help," he said, trying to remain calm.

"The Religion was highly spiritual, and willing to do anything for that cause. The cause, I can't exactly say. He was obsessed with his religion until the very end. Religion, by itself, is a corrupt and evil concept. What can make it worse? Philosophy. Philosophy and religion create extremism. This is why I give them these names. They very much embody these aspects, one with faith, one with his world views."

There was a bit of a pause, as the rain blew the tree's leaves rampantly, and rain ran down the silver mask's laughing face.

"You see this unmarked grave? This was once precious to him. This spot, he played in. This graveyard, he adored. He was an odd child since birth, with mental issues that overwrite his individualism as a person. Everything is instinct to him, and everything is fun."

"So, who is in the grave?"

"His first victim. Her family couldn't afford a gravestone, so I had one put here at no charge for them. I always meant to chisel her name into it, but never had the time. Her name was Emelia Dawkson. The Philosophy, or as he wants to be called, The Night Man, was only eight. August 16th, 1926. He gave in to his urges and tortured her to death using a knife, and cutting the genitals to induce bleeding. A very long and gruesome death."

Taggart was in shock. He had never heard of this case. It had never been brought up, the murder, nor the girl.

"The Night Man is 28 now?"

"And now is the anniversary of his first murder."

"Where can I find him?"

"He's waiting for you, or anyone else, in a place you've already been. A place you've known, a place you've loved, and a place you've been alone. A place you could never avoid him in. He never had the intentions having the two of you both survive."

"The Station? Back at the factory?"

"For you to guess."

Lightening struck in the distance and thunder swept the sky. There wasn't another word spoken. Taggart ran to his Ford model B, and sped off.

A Time to Kill Again

Walcott street. Not a far drive from Summit street, nor Veronica avenue- only about a three minute drive from each. A one minute drive from the graveyard. Home.

A two story brown house made from brick and tile, it was not the largest house. It was affordable, and the bills were covered nicely by work. The paint was starting to wear off, something he planned to fix very soon. Grabbing his emergency Smith & Weston Model 27 from the police car's glove box, he ran to the house's door. Oddly, but not unexpectedly, unlocked. Pressing on the door, it was made very apparent that the house was pitch black.

Attempting to turn on the lights was a failure. No response at all, not even a flicker. In the dark silence, he pressed on. Carefully monitoring his steps, he was in the living room. He had his layout memorized, as most homeowners do. He was currently pressed up against the couch. If he kept going forward, he'd be in the kitchen. To the left, the second floor.

Just as he was making his choice not to go upstairs, he heard the muffled sound of macabre singing and recorded strings. The wooden steps were certainly not optimal for this. One foot per step, it wasn't long before he had reached the landing and began to ascend the second row of stairs. The voice was getting louder as he advanced, almost close to words.

As he was reaching the top, he noticed a bit of light. He pointed his revolver forward and crept further until one of the stairs screeched. He stopped and braced for action, but the voice didn't stop or slow in any way. It was finally close enough to understand what was being said.

In a depressed, yet charismatic voice, it was The Night Man. It had to be. The voice sung along, regardless of the outside noise.

"Don't put your courage in morals such as right and wrong, either way you live, you go to the void when it's done. Favorites aren't taken when the scythe has no mind; no matter how perfect you lived you can't best father time."

Now that he was on the second floor, he only had to walk left. Simply turning his head revealed that the door was open, and that light was coming from inside. The smell of oil filled the air, though it didn't smell like it was pure. Rather, burning.

He gave up on stealth. Running into the room, he immediately pointed his pistol at his own chair. Behind a large desk, the study had bookshelves on each side, absolutely filled with literature. He saw the source of the light- oil lamps.

He also saw the source of the singing. His own record player. His chair facing the wall, an arm extened from it, taking the arm of the record player off of the vinyl.

"You like the song? It's my own. It came to my mind when I was just a lil' boy."

"Take off your mask, before I blow you to hell and do it myself!" Turning the chair around, he stood up and stretched his arms out and tilted his head to the side, mocking the crucifix.

"Edison is dead. I suppose I have to be next, or else this story wouldn't fit your hero-saves-all story-arch. I'm ready to die for the sins of man."

As he began to move his arms towards his mask, the pressure to just blow him away grew stronger.

Once the mask started lifting, the lust to shoot him was immeasurable.

Once the mask was over his head, it all became shock.

In the candle light, his black hair that was parted to each side was the most visible display.

"Black gloves, black shirt, black pants, black mask, if I didn't have black hair, what would the point be? That'd just be a horrible sense of organization."

"Olen?" William whispered to himself in confusion.

"You've found me once more. Olen Grant in the flesh. If you have any questions, I'm sure you can face your demons for a few seconds. If not, simply pull the trigger and look on your desk. You find your answers either way. The game's over."

"Why do all of this? Why Mary, Burgundy, and Cambell? Why those girls?"

"You know that answer, especially if you've looked back on our last conversation. I trust a mutual friend explained it as well. I manipulated Edison to fire upon your associates, and believe me, he was never a difficult man to manipulate. In reality I was, let's say, clearing the board of checkers."

"And what about Emelia Dawkson? What was she in all of this?"

"Emelia Dawkson? That name brings back so many memories," Olen said, ripe with nοnostalgia. "We were the best of friends. We used to play every single day, and I never felt as close to anyone as her. I swear, I would have said we were in a form of childish love."

"You killed her, Olen..."

"She would work me up and down, make me think of things I didn't wish to consider, and I'll never get the image of experimentation out of my head. You can say that it was simply childhood emotions, and I might be inclined to agree, but if I could take that first step, I could take on the world. I needed to exercise my status as a higher being. I somehow managed to talk her into a walk in the forest. I gutted her like a fuckin' fish, starting with the part that made her, her."

Olen walked around the desk, and positioned himself before William.

"Do as you must, you can kill me, but you will never stop what we set into motion in these next few moments. My place in the universe is forever assured, with the seeds planted in those who will carry on my will everywhere you can imagine. One makes two, two turns into ten, ten turns to one hundred. That's how this starts, and this is how this story ends. I have become the effigy of perfection, and you, a demon that must know his next move."

William saw as Olen quickly reached into his waistband and pulled out a revolver just like his and began tilting it towards him swiftly. William shot Olen in the hand, forcing the gun to fall to the ground behind Olen and his hand to burst out an eruption of blood from the bullet hole. His middle and index finger only hung on by broken bone and destroyed flesh.

Despite the initial scream of pain, Olen continued, gripping his hand between his arm and side.

"From a beast comes an ideology, from ideology comes action.. that is how it has always happened. Install my legacy so that others may accept it!"

"...First was for Mary,"

Olen looked down at the revolver beside him for a moment, before nudging it away from him with his foot.

"Once you first taste vengeance, it's addictive, is it not? It may have been the illusion that you were under threat that forced you to pull the trigger, but it's your hatred that will pull it again, Detective."

Willian let out a battle cry as he squeezed the trigger as hard as he could.

The second gun shot shattered his right knee, crashing through his kneecap. The revolver was strong enough to leave several parts of the bone hardly hanging on by threads and to blow out the back of his knee completely.

"That one was for Burgundy."

Another yell followed the loud eruption, but regardless, Olen continued.

"I didn't contain myself, and I didn't follow any dogma to do so! I was the perfect human, following perfect views! My death is part of the cycle, baby, and in a perfect world, you'll all know how it feels to be so alive"

Olen fell to the ground on his back, laughing. The oil lamp on the ground, he pulled it near him with his one usable arm.

"This must be awfully anticlimactic for you, detective. Here I am in your own home, but I knew the game was finished when I walked through that door. Olen Grant never betrays a promise made on his own accord, Taggart End the game so that the next may start."

"I'll see you again, when we're both in torment," he said, shooting Olen in the head.

His head cracked backwards against the floor, spewing blood into the surrounding area as it jerked back. As his forehead bled from its new hole, his everlasting smile still remained on his face. Even in death, he had found some way to twist reality into thinking he had won completely.

Sitting on his desk was a handwritten piece of paper, just as Olen had assured. On that paper was an essay written in pure insanity, as if Olen had thought he had mantled god himself. Police sirens yelled and screeched from all over, surrounding Taggart's house. He had some explaining, and showing, to do.

The Night Man's Note

If this note has been completed, the detective won the game. Congratulations, but I can't reward you with anything, seeing as I'd rather die than let you take me to the big house for the rest of my life. I'd probably just find some outlandish way to escape, like a lone hero in a radio show. To save us both the trouble, I've been killed- and you pulled the trigger.

All of my actions were at my own accord, and to fulfill my own desires. You will never fully understand why, but, as a reward for winning, I leave you the best clarification I can. I was not, and am not, a part of this world. I might have been born here, but never was I a part of it. My hatred might have seen the light as a child with my first killing, but it is me. It is my soul and my personality.

After the first victim, I changed clothes and went to the bar. I waited for someone like you to come in and fall into the game's cold grasp. I would have exercised my inner beast, and would have ended this existence. But then, in that moment, you came in. Suddenly, I knew my cause must continue. I would end as many subhumans as possible- the women, starting once again with the doll you pointed out to me at the bar. I thank you for your aid in that regard, though I'm sure she doesn't have the same courtesy.

As for information on man in the mask, I've only seen his face once, and I promised never to so much as clue on his identity or cause. Olen Grant always keeps his promises. He came to me weeks back, stating my entire plan from the women to the original intent of suicide by cop. I had never said a word to anyone that's still living about these plans. I saw it fit to say that someone with this sum of knowledge didn't need to play the game. He had already won. He always wears that laughing face for a mask. Maybe he's laughing at us. That dreaded thing, he is.

This has always been a pleasure of mine. Call it sadism, it does not matter. This world was a playpen, that I, as an individual, have now outgrown. God was created in the image of man- not the other way around. Perhaps Satan was created in mine.

Humanity has no leadership above it. Humanity has no gods, and no gods have the right to control and limit mankind. You and I might have started something beautiful, depending on how you look at it. I'm a free individual, detective. Are you? This is my legacy. Be it a copycat killer, a movement, or a single hero to complete our story, it's not over.

My legacy will continue.

You assured that.

Written by ShawnCognitionCP
Content is available under CC BY-NC

Prequel to the In Torment Series

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