The Thunder of Nautilus

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The Missing Woman

Her burned and decomposing body was found precisely where the anonymous caller had described to the reception officer of the Bristol police, and it was quickly determined that the body was indeed that of Glynda Gemein, the missing prosecutor from London. The police, working with Scotland Yard, had feared that her disappearance had something to do with her work, and when her body was found, they looked at her murder as a possible act of revenge.

They systematically began to look at the files of criminals she’d helped to convict, mainly those who’d been fairly recently released from prison. The list was short, and none of the felons could be connected to her murder. No new leads where found, and as days turned into weeks the investigation came to a halt. A young, ambitious inspector named Gordon Green was then assigned to the case.

He laboriously began to look into every unsolved murder over a period of a year, and after intensive searching, he came across a recent and bizarre case of a ritualistic murder in a small community not far from where the prosecutor had gone missing.

A man by the name of Malcolm Macbeth, who’d been a forensic patient in a psychiatric clinic in Bristol, had been found with his throat cut from ear to ear hanging upside-down on the cross of Christ in the chapel of a historical site in Wiltshire. His face, beyond recognition, was severely beaten, his teeth had been clumsily broken off, presumably as a means of torture, his hands had cleanly been cut off, and occult symbols had been cut into his chest and abdomen. On the otherwise pristine altar cloth, a message had been written in the victim’s blood: “Accept our Sacrifice Lord of Hades.”

His driver’s license, bankcard, a hotel bill, plus a few pounds and change in a leather wallet were found in his pants’ pocket, and post DNA analysis established his identity. Once Green began to look into that case, he found puzzling coincidences. Five years earlier, Glynda Gemein had prosecuted the victim of the ritualistic killing for attempted murder. He’d just turned eighteen and had been declared of “unsound mind” by the consulting psychiatrist, Dr. John Byron, when he’d attacked a woman who the defense attorney had referred to as a “considerably older woman, guilty of seduction of basically a minor,” but what the prosecutor had countered as being, “all in the sick mind of the accused.” The prosecutor had thus played into the hands of the defense, and Malcolm was interned in a psychiatric institution instead of an ordinary prison. Since Malcolm’s institutionalization was not seen as a “win” in Glynda Gemein’s stellar career, he wasn’t investigated as a suspect in her murder. Inspector Green, however, meticulously looked further and found out that the victim had hired a car he’d never returned to the rental service almost two months before his body had been found. He further noted that the rental service, which was in Bristol, had contacted the local police the day after the car was due, and the customer’s name, his permanent address, and details of the missing car had been noted, and a search for the car and Malcolm Macbeth had commenced. The investigating officer at the time had first and foremost checked the address Malcolm had given to the rental service and learned that the presumed car thief was one of ten male tenants occupying no more than a shoebox-sized room in a derelict complex, albeit fairly central in London, and none of the men, nor the landlord, had seen Malcolm for some time. The time span they gave the officer varied with every tenant questioned, but they all said that it definitely was before Christmas of the previous year.

With the discovery of Malcolm’s body, the Bristol police looked for relatives and found none. They then intensified the search for the missing car, which remained unsuccessful, but the bill they’d found led them to the hotel, where they learned that the victim had paid for the room a week in advance, but not for the following weekend, when he’d simply disappeared. He’d left behind some clothing and bathroom accessories, and owed the hotel for two more nights. The hotel manager had his possessions packed up and placed in the lost and found, and when the officer had asked why he hadn’t informed the local police, the manager simply said, “Since when does the police cover unpaid bills?”

Detective Inspector Green, after having spent yet another night without sleep and too much to read, went to the office kitchen to make another extra strong espresso. He instinctively felt that there was a connection between the ritualistic murder of Malcolm Macbeth and the killing of Glynda Gemein, and when the coffee was done he took a cup back to his desk, drank the hot brew like a true connoisseur, and realized that no matter how many espressos he drank, he couldn’t go on without sleep. Before he left his desk and the office, he wrote in his diary: “Find car, find killer, find link between victim/killer/victim.”

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