Another Night in Elmore
October 6th, 1988
My new apartment is decent. As decent as a rundown apartment in the bad parts of Elmore City can be. There are moths dancing around the flickering bulb hanging from the ceiling. A chunk of moss is clinging to one of the corners, putrid stains dripping down the peeling, drab yellow wallpaper.
Still, you would think this place was a bargain if you had lived in this rat’s nest as long as I have. There are bumps and creaks moving through the thin walls. I can only imagine the things that would go crawling through a place like this. It was only minutes after finishing placing my furnishings in my hovel, that I felt like legs practically snap like matchsticks onto my naked mattress.
I heard two drunken, raging voices above. I heard the faint sound of a lamp shattering into pieces. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I couldn’t be damned to try and stop them. Besides, a case of domestic abuse is nothing in inner Elmore City.
October 7th, 1988
The thin, repetitive beeping of the telephone woke me up. I couldn’t be arsed to try and answer it. I felt myself drift away into a sterile, dreamless sleep, before it started right up again. My eyes burned as I crawled off of the worn mattress. I picked the damn thing up in an attempt to silence the screeching. I heard an ever-so familiar voice, much to my displeasure.
Officer Crullers’ Westropolis accent grated on me something fierce. Hated those people ever since a bunch of them left me in a grimy alleyway with empty pockets when I was thirteen. Asked me to meet him at his office at 8:30. Read my clock. 8:00.
That son of a bitch. Being the moron that he was, he hung before I could put up a valid protest. Apparently, being the shape of a doughnut leaves you with little room for a goddamn brain.
I chugged down a cup of cheap, dry joe before putting on my leather trench coat. My tie hung loosely from my neck as I sauntered downstairs. The rain pelted against me as I headed for my car. Could hardly see through the icy water pouring down the windscreen. My window wipers feebly pushed the rain away like a pair of broken limbs.
The sky above was the colour of bleached bone. It was 8:15, yet the sky was still snow white. Something about it unsettled me deeply. Something wasn’t right about it. The imposing shape of the Werner Centre stood towering over me, its Gothic architecture dominating all other buildings that it dwarfed throughout the street. The windows were like illuminated eyes gazing down on me like a tiny insect.
Officer Cruller’s office is a mess, to say the least. Rather fitting of his character, really. Towers of discarded paperwork, pencils and pens strewn across his old wooden desk, and a leather chair halfheartedly left for me.
“So, Alonzo. You’re late, again.” Cruller said as he eyed me from his desk.
“Maybe you could’ve arranged this a little later, Cruller?” I replied, not bothered to even talk to the walking doughnut.
“That’s SIR, Alonzo. And no, I couldn’t. This is urgent.” Cruller said with a serious tone.
“What now? Another vice case?” I asked exhaustively.
“Nah. Something more gruesome than vice. We got calls of a body found in Rosewood today. Young model, gutted in her room. We need you to go and have a sniff up there. You interested?” Cruller’s offer cut me off guard. There hadn’t been a murder in Rosewood for years. The last one wasn’t even intentional.
Some dumb yuppie pushes his tart of a girlfriend off of his art deco apartment. This one sounded bad, by the way Cruller described it.
“They found her strapped up to a wall. Guy who found her almost had a heart attack, he said. Doesn’t sound too pretty, to be honest.” Cruller said as he set the newspaper down. “You seem to be used to seeing things like that, so I guess I should send you up there. You are a veteran, aren’t you?”
A young model found murdered obviously made the news instead of some kid getting shot in some stinking ghetto, or some hood getting thrown into the reservoir with boots of concrete. Sounded bad, by the way Cruller described it. But, as long as I got payed, it was worth it.
October 7th, 9:00PM
I’ve always hated Rosewood. Such a vapid, plastic and utterly pretentious place. Flashing neon lights on every corner, prostitutes and white-collar ass-holes, pretending that they care about the poor refugee kids starving in Mazuri. Not to mention, the goddamn yuppies.
Rosewood had gone down the drain thanks to the crash of ’82. No more movies or class, just consumerism and spite for everyone else. Culture was well and truly dead in Rosewood.
By the elevator, some neurotic moron was stood in yoga pants, yelling at the two EPD officers standing guard at the elevator.
“Well, look here. Detective Alonzo.” the burly ape standing by the elevator said sarcastically.
“Thought you were off on vice cases.” the reptile by his side said snidely.
“I’m here for the girl who got gutted. Mind if I use the elevator?” I said, ignoring their dry jokes.
“OH, SO HE CAN JUST WALTZ RIGHT ON IN?” the rainbow haired woman shrieked.
“Yes, miss. Now please use the stairs. I mean, exercise was what you were out for in the first place, am I right?” the ape replied sarcastically.
“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I’M JACKIE WILSON, YOU SON OF A-” the elevator doors closed as the woman’s onslaught continued.
The elevator pinged as the doors opened.
The icy-cold wind stung my face, stabbing me with glacial daggers as I stepped into the apartment, the cold art decor walls showing no warmth.
I shielded my fingers in my pockets from the October air. The snow white curtains flowed inwards like twin sails caught in a gust of wind. They beckoned towards me as I took my first creeping steps into that place. This place was too silent. Far too silent than it should be. As I peeked through the open window, the sky was strange.
It wasn’t right. Not like a late night sky should be. Like something had pulled the stars from the sky. It was like smog, but as if I had consumed everything. I couldn’t see the city below. No lights
I walked like a lost child through that place aimlessly. My shoe crunched on a piece of jade ornament. The jagged turquoise shards lay strewn across the hallway floor. And then I saw it. The long streak of blood painting the shiny floor.
I could smell the strong aroma of copper and iron caressing my face, invading my nose. For the first time in nearly ten years, I felt something curl in my stomach. I felt sick...
That place wasn’t earthly. It felt like I was somewhere no man was meant to be.
Cautiously stepping past the crusting sheen of blood, I made my way into the model’s apartment. Rather vibrant, especially compared to the rest of the place. The dried fluid tacking on the soles of my shoes, I found none other than Wilde waiting for me.
“Hey, Hector. Getting bored of vice cases? That’s not like you. I thought gambling and sleeping around were your strong points.” Couldn’t give a crap about listening to that sly fox berate me.
“And I thought stealing credit was one of your strong points, Thomas.” I hissed back with venom in my voice. Wilde only chuckled.
“As if a BROCK like yourself could ever accomplish anything on your own.” Wilde jeered, sneering at the sight of my fists clenching, claws extending. “Say, how’s Adele doing? Is she still too scared to look you in the eyes? Or the kids?"
“Go fuck yourself, Thomas.” I growled as I skipped past him before entering the living room.
I’m not sure what hit me first. Neither am I sure what made me collapse onto my knees. The rotten smell of ozone that wafted towards me almost immediately when I entered that godforsaken room, or the sight of the young woman torn apart, taped against the wall like some macabre idol of prayer. Either way, my knees simply buckled like paper. For the first time in a long time in my career, I felt a thick bile push up my throat.
The sight of her. Even now, writing this, I feel nauseous. Thick, black pieces of duct tape held her against the chalky white wall. Her eyes have been scooped from the sockets, leaving vacant, bleeding caverns. Her jaw had been, almost surgically, cut from her mouth, leaving only gristle and tendons holding the hanging bone to the rest of her cranium.
Her auburn hair, thankfully, almost obscured the diagonal and horizontal slash across her ruined face. She had been gutted, hollowed, more accurately. What disturbed me the most out of all of it, was the fact that her organs had been placed in such a clean, tidy, neat little pile beneath her. Her heart, lungs, stomach, and even most of her intestines lay folded like clothes beneath her suspended feet. I almost vomited at the sight, for the first time in many years.
"No need to contaminate the crime scene, Hector." Wilde purred.
"...what..." I muttered before choking back vomit. "What happened to her?"
“Her name was Estelle Allard,” Wilde explained nonchalantly. “She was an up-and-coming equestrian model from Spagonia who moved to Rosewood in her eighteenth year. When I examined her, I found that the incisions made to her face, abdomen and breasts were surgical, almost impossibly clean. Barely any blood escaped them. Almost as if they had been cauterised. Except... they weren’t. From what I’ve seen, it was like they clotted, almost immediately...”
He continued, “The cross-like cut along her face is deep, so deep that the horizontal cut pierces through her cheekbones, while the vertical pierces her frontal bone and partly cuts through her jaw bone in two perfect lines. If you think about it, it’s almost like the very first steps of drawing a face."
What kind of monster would do this?
"A perverse piece of art.”