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Jars of Hearts

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When the same M.O. is found to be used on new murders in San Francisco, two detectives must uncover the truth about who is doing the killing. When the truth is discovered, it unleashes an investigation that goes deep into the history of the police department's homicide division. Follow detectives Mike Greenhill and Steve Triggs as they investigate the horrendous serial killings to find the true killer of the city.

Mystery / Thriller
J.H. Morris
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

It is 3AM, and Lori Bennett has just clocked out of work at the Club Tango in the Soma District of San Francisco. Walking back to the apartment is the hardest part of the night. It always struck her as odd—no matter how long she stayed working as a bartender and dealing with the drunken customers for the entire night, the scariest part is always the walk home.

Lori always had one hand in her purse, holding a taser she bought for herself because of these walks. In this area, crime is high, and she did what she could to avoid becoming a victim of some loser’s agenda.

The fog had settled in this night, making seeing anything far away difficult. Not to mention the echoes caused by the density of the stuff. She wants to walk faster, but the visibility is making it impossible. She is on high alert, listening more intently than usual.

Her head wanted to spin to look at every noise and sound but doing so would only slow her down and show her nervousness, which increases her chances of becoming another number in the crime statistics of the city. Every night she follows the same strategy: act like you belong—this is not their turf; this is yours.

The sound of a trashcan hitting the pavement behind her causes her stop to look. She hears footsteps running behind her, but they were headed in the opposite direction. A startle came over her face as she nearly trips on a cat. It hisses at her before running away. She smirks, thinking she is overly paranoid. But after the behavior of a group of drunken men at the club that night, she had reason to be worried.

She is relieved when she made it to her apartment building’s front door. At least now, she feels some comfort knowing security cameras are watching her as she makes her way to her loft. She is also aware that she cannot completely relax until she reaches her apartment. There has been only one attack inside the building since she moved in, but that did not mean there would not be more.

A sigh of relief came as she opened her front door—safe at last.

Before going to bed, Lori performs her nightly ritual. It includes a hot shower to get rid of the slime and grime from the obnoxious customers. Not to mention the smell of mixed alcohol spirits which has made their way onto her uniform during the night. Occasionally, she would pour herself a glass of red wine to help settle her in for the night, but not this evening. After walking in the fog and dealing with the stress of work and the walk home, she just wants to get in bed.

She picks up her nursing school textbook to read before drifting off. Her passion is to become a nurse, so she will not have to pour drinks for degenerates of the city, but instead take care of them in the hospital. She doesn’t know why, but it seemed like a better career move.

She pulls back her sheets on her bed, only to have a dark figure grab her from behind. His left hand covers her mouth to prevent her from screaming while his right hand grabs her wrist and pulls her arm behind her back. He forces her on the bed, face down, then he sits on her back, preventing her from escaping. He takes a piece of duct tape and places it over her mouth while using the same roll of tape to tie her hands behind her back. He then grabs her feet and binds them the same way. Within seconds, she is now being held captive in her own apartment.

The captor forces Lori to turn over and lie down on her bed. She sees him for the first time. He’s dressed all in black, with a matching mask on his face. He is wearing blue rubber gloves, like the kind found in hospitals. He glares at her as he takes a blindfold and wraps it around her eyes. In a way, she is thankful that she doesn’t have to watch what he does. But also terrified, not knowing what is going to happen next.

When she can’t see, her other senses become more acute. She listens intently to the sound of a zipper—it is heavy and sounds like it is made for a leather bag. Then silence. She can tell her captor is moving, but she doesn’t know what he is doing. She hears what sounds like another bag being laid on her bed. And then the sound of it being unrolled. He picks something up, and there is a clinking sound. She thought it sounds like small knives gently striking each other.

Lori trembles gently, not knowing what he is going to do next. She could feel his hand gently slide along the top of her robe, making its way up from her belly. Then scissors cutting her loose from the robe, he pulls it away. She hears it land on the floor. She feels exposed as tears roll down her face. She shakes in fear, not knowing what is next. She listens for his next move but hears nothing—no breathing, no walking, just silence.

She finally hears him in the other room, rummaging through draws in the kitchen looking for something. After the footsteps return to her bedroom, she can absolutely feel his presence, although she doesn’t hear him say a word. It is silent once again.

Her trembling stops as the tears continue to fall from her face. It has been several minutes since she heard or felt anything. The fear of not knowing has overtaken the fear of what she is expecting. The sound of the scissors opening once again frightens her. She knows her last piece of clothing is her underwear. His slow movements scare her even more. She feels the icy blade of the scissors as he cuts the elastic band on each side and discards her underwear to the side. It terrifies her even more when she feels the cold air gently clothe her naked body. Again, silence fills the room. Her body trembles once again as she feels his presence looking over her.

She feels his hand on her inner leg as he creeps it towards the slit between her legs. He then does what she expects him to do but was hoping he wouldn’t. Her eyes swell up with tears as he touches her in all the wrong places, pausing every so often to praise his artistry or perhaps ponder his next move. Then he starts again.

He takes his time as if he were admiring her. Taking a moment to stop and read her body like a best-selling novel. His slowness makes her more frightened of what is to come.

Finally, after a longer pause than before, she thinks it is over. Again, silence fills the cool air in the room. The uncertainty of what is next is horrifying. Then she hears the sudden sound of the metal pieces hitting each other. Lori hopes he is packing up to leave her alone. That hope is short-lived when she feels a blade move slowly over her neck from one side to the other.

She fades away, thinking of her boyfriend, her family, her job, and more. It took mere minutes for her to go completely dark. No more memories. No more thoughts. No sound of metal. No sound of scissors. No feeling of cold air. Nothing. She is now lifeless, in a much better place than she had been right before her death.

* * *

Steve Triggs is sitting at the breakfast table sipping on his coffee and does his best to tie his necktie when his phone begins to ring. “Triggs here. Okay. Okay. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Steve looks at Katie, who turns her head in disappointment. “Again?”

“Sorry, Hun. It’s part of the job.” Steve stands up from the table and walks over to his wife to kiss her goodbye. She doesn’t turn her head when he tries a mouth-to-mouth kiss, so he had to settle for a kiss on the cheek instead. “I’ll see you tonight for dinner. Promise.”

Katie assumed Steve would be behind a desk most of the day and have a more 9 to 5 schedule when she encouraged him to apply for the open detective position at the department. Yet, the reality is that he had been home only a few hours each day. When he arrived home from work, she was already in bed, and she woke up only to see him gone. She did not know the life of a detective-widow. What made matters worse, she actually encouraged him to accept the job. She felt responsible.

She fixes her plate of eggs and potatoes and eats her breakfast alone… again. Something she is getting way too used to doing.

* * *

“Steve, why are you out here? Shouldn’t you be inside investigating the murder?” Detective Mike Greenhill says as he walks toward the crime scene.

“Mike, I had to get some air. It’s nasty in there.” Detective Steve Triggs is bent over with his hands on his knees, as he struggles to take a breath in.

“Come on, Steve. That weak stomach of yours will not last long in the homicide unit. I hate to say it, but you’re going to have to get used to it.” Mike and Steve turn to walk into the apartment building where the murder had taken place.

As they walk, Steve fills Mike in on what he has so far. “The victim is Lori Bennett. A twenty-five-year-old female. Her boyfriend is the one that found her around noon. He says she normally gets off work around 3 AM. He last saw her yesterday afternoon just before work. I have the crime scene unit looking for clues right now.”

The two of them enter Lori’s apartment. The stench of a dead body still lingers and causes Steve to pause as he tries to gain his composure.

“Steve, I know you’ve only been in homicide for two weeks, but if you don’t get used to this, you may not last much longer,” Mike criticizes. “I’m going to give you a break, only because I remember my first homicide twenty years ago. I puked my brains out right on the body. I thought I was going to be fired right there on the spot.”

“Really, why weren’t you?” Steve questions.

“Back then, we would just wipe it up and move on. It wasn’t like nowadays with all the evidence, DNA, and forensics. It was a simpler time back then.”

The two walk into Lori’s bedroom and see her dead naked body on the bed. Mike turns to Steve. “Now I see why you puked.” Mike looks at the body, and it throws his memory back to a decade earlier. The MO seems familiar… too familiar.

He sees the Medical Examiner looking over the body. “Hey, Jules. Looks like a messy one, huh?”

“Hi, Mike. This is a doozy, that’s for sure.” Jules only glances up long enough to acknowledge the detective’s arrival. “A very sharp instrument caused the laceration on the neck. Almost like a surgeon’s scalpel. Same with the incisions on the diaphragm. They were exact and clean. As if the unsub knew what he was doing.”

“What do you mean?” Steve asks. “Like a doctor?”

“Precisely,” Jules responds. She turns and looks at Mike. “Does this look familiar?”

Mike nods. “It sure does. I really hope it’s a bad coincidence.”

“What’s a bad coincidence?” Steve asks.

“I’ll fill you in at the station,” Mike responds. He turns to Jules. “Doc, we’ll see you back at the office.”

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