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POLICE DETECTIVE LEE Davies was a new transfer from HQ assigned to oversee investigation into the recent wave of gruesome murders that had rocked Tempest Town within a few days.

After the initial briefing session, Davies wasted no time in coming to the curious conclusion that the killings, owing to their extreme nature, must be cult or ritual-related. Even though he was not physically present at any of the murder scenes, Detective Davies was totally flabbergasted by the extent of carnage he saw as he flipped through the photos in the case files.

Who goes through the trouble of killing people in such manners? In such utterly gross, macabre ways without leaving any clues whatsoever? Surely, Davies thought quietly, it might’ve been better, even more expedient for any killer to blow someone’s head with a bazooka, or hang them, or burn them, in fact.

But what he saw in the photographs was totally horrendous, unnatural as well as diabolic.

There was no corpse in the last sets of photographs he was looking at; just blood, lots of blood, in a bathroom with a shattered mirror. The crime had occurred only the previous day before he came to town, and he made inquiries as to that particular case. They told him that, according to an eyewitness they had, a monster from the mirror took the victims into the mirror, end of story. That was as bizarre as it could ever get, and the story left the detective puzzled.

The he thought: what if the said witness was actually telling the truth?

Detective Lee Davies worried that there may be a clear pattern that didn’t seem plausible just yet and so was being missed by the investigative teams handling the cases. It was that pattern he wanted to identify.

With that thought in mind, he opened the case files of the two recent murders again and studied them closely, side by side, for a few minutes. Two teenage girls had witnessed the brutal slaughter of the four boys in the alley, and a separate girl with no ties to the two girls, had testified that ‘something’ took her boyfriend into the mirror.

Two gory murder scenes in two days, with the accounts by the witnesses leaning sharply towards the paranormal. That couldn’t be mere coincidence. And although sweeping through the records gathered from both scenes had not yielded any useful clues so far that could help in identifying what was really amiss, Davies had the instinct that the victims were most likely all linked in some inextricable way.

He thought about this notion for a moment. Then he quickly discarded it as being unlikely, because while the first murder scene was in a dark alley and the victims were neighborhood thugs, the second scene was an apartment in a different part of town and the victim was a bright college kid with a soccer star ambition.

Then he stopped, thinking.

Two murder scenes.

There was actually a third scene, though; the first in the order of the recent crimes. There had been no actual witness in that first scene, and the victim, a working class middle-aged man, had been murdered in a most unconventional manner right in his living room on the night of his wedding anniversary. The fact had initially led the police to think it was a crime of passion, perhaps an aggrieved lover somewhere. His wife had come in late from work and discovered the broken body of her husband on the kitchen floor.

Davies searched for and retrieved the file of the ‘Wedding Anniversary Murder’. Then he took a moment to compare the statements given by the witnesses in all three murder scenes, detailing what they testified to seeing and hearing at the time the murders took place. He muttered something under his voice, frowned thoughtfully.

All three women said in their accounts that they felt something evil in the atmosphere, one even stating that the killing had been perpetrated by ‘the devil himself’. That was something, whether the said girl knew what she was talking about or not. But then again, what if she did know what she was talking about?

For instance, it was not possible to strangle a person with barbed wires and strung them up unless the one carrying out the strangulation was wearing arm-length metal gloves, which would make the work tedious in the first place. For one, the killer was sure to sustain multiple and severe cuts in the process. And a young boy gorging out his own eyes? That was extreme, even for a street thug high on crack. Then what about the boy that got skinned, or eaten alive by some insects? How could anyone pull off such merciless, freakish murder without the diabolical being involved?

But then, as compelling as the thought seemed to him, Detective Lee Davies told himself that only those inclined to believing in the supernatural, like religious zealots, would actively pursue that line of investigation. Not a thorough-bred, hardboiled cop like him who had earned every stripe and medal he’d gotten by sheer hard work, not by paying attention to ghost stories.

Still, he was an investigative officer and he had to make certain there were no loose ends concerning the case. So he decided he was going to pay the witnesses a visit and see what would come out of that. He closed the files on his table and left the office.

So at that moment, while Jonathan and Samantha Prince were driving away from the hospital that afternoon, leaving the eccentric looking Sister Agatha Tronnel staring after them, Lee Davies, joined by his partner, a detective named Mark Simmons, were in the cruiser heading to the home of the deceased Mr. Thomas Geoffrey down town.

His widow was first on their list.

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