Chapter Three: The Artist
Emanuel Harrison smiled at his handiwork. It was darn good; if he said so himself. It would be even better if the bitch would stay still.
He slapped the woman in the chair. She cried out as her head whipped to the side from the blow.
That’s better. Emanuel thought as he looked at his work again.
Just a few more and he’ll be through, then he can send her out into the world, for all to see his masterpiece.
“You just never learn, do you?”
“Who’s there?” Emanuel asked in a panic.
“They gave you a second chance at life, and you just can’t stop.” The voice said from the shadows.
“Don’t come any closer, or I’ll cut you.” Emanuel said as he held the knife out in front of him.
“A knife? Did you get bored with the scalpel already?”
“They took my scalpels from me, but I can do this without them, I’m an artist.” Emanuel said as he spun in a circle, trying to find where the voice was coming from.
“Artist, you say?” The voice asked as a man in a black mask came out of the shadows. “I see no art here, only a madman cutting up a woman.”
“She’s beautiful now!” Emanuel said as he glared at the man. “She’s my canvas; I can do whatever I please…”
“You cannot use humans as a canvas.” The man in the mask said with a growl. The voice disguiser he used made his growl sound almost demonic.
“You can’t stop me.” Emanuel said in a high shriek as he sliced towards the man in the mask.
The man in the mask dodged the knife and kicked Emanuel in the stomach. Emanuel grunted as he bent over, out of breath, the wind knocked from his lungs.
“I’ll take that.” The man in the mask said as he took the knife from the crazy-ass lunatic, then looked over at the woman tied to the chair. “I will be with you in a moment.”
The woman’s eyes widened as she watched the masked man pull Emanuel by the hair until his head almost touching between his shoulder blades.
“What to do with you.”
“Please.” Emanuel begged.
“Yes, I am sure that’s what all your victims say; before you butcher them.” The man in the mask said, then sliced the knife down the man’s cheek.
Emanuel cried out as the knife sliced his cheek open.
“I won’t prolong the agony, as you do.” The man in the mask said, then sliced the knife across Emanuel’s throat. He let go of the man’s hair and shoved him away with his boot.
Emanuel’s hands went to his throat as he fell to his knees, his blood flowing from the cut.
The man in the mask stood over Emanuel and watched him try to breathe, as blood flowed over his hands and down his shirt front. Emanuel fell over, his eyes still open in shock, staring into nothingness, his hands holding his throat.
The man in the mask flipped the knife in his hand, then turned to the woman tied to the chair.
“Ah, yes.” He said with a smile, though she could not see it.
He walked over to her and cut the ropes, then pulled the gag from her mouth.
“The police are coming from that direction.” He said as he pointed to the door. “You’re safe now.”
She stared at him as he moved away from her and over to Emanuel’s body.
“Another piece of trash taken out.” He said with a growl, then tossed a dream catcher with a sapphire stitched into the middle of the web, onto the dead man’s body.
“I know who you are.” The woman said with a whisper. “You’re The Sapphire Dreamer.”
The man in the mask turned to her. “Always hated that name.” He said as he watched her.
“I have been dying to get an interview with you.” She said as she stared at him.
“Enough to get yourself killed?” He asked as he surveyed the room.
She shook her head. “This was another story I was on, but yours is even better.”
“I’ll pass, Miss…”
“Lawson.” She said as she held her hand out to him.
“Well, Miss Lawson, sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t talk to reporters…”
“How did you know…”
“Everyone is out looking for you.”
“Oh, right. Thank you…” She stopped talking when he disappeared into the shadows.
She lowered her hand and stared where he had been. She touched her bloody face and frowned. She never considered herself beautiful, and now she’s ugly.
She could say one thing for the maniac, though. The man had used enough lidocaine to numb her while he cut her up. Guess he didn’t want his “canvas” passing out from the pain…
She turned to the officers as she raised her hands into the air. The officers lowered their weapons when they saw her and moved into the room.
A female officer approached her and took her by the arm, then led her outside to the waiting ambulance. Before they left the room, she took one last look at the body of the bogus artist.
The EMTs helped her onto a gurney inside the ambulance, then started patching her face. She looked out the doors and watched as a detective approached the ambulance.
“Do you think you can tell us what happened?” The detective asked as he stopped beside the ambulance.
“She has lost a lot of blood; her adrenalin is the only thing keeping her conscious.” The EMT said as he hooked an IV to her arm.
“We will only be a moment.” Another detective said as he came up behind the first.
She looked at the other detective. He was so tall and handsome. Before this, she would have had little chance with a man like him, and now, zero.
“I remember someone coming up behind me and knocking me out.” She said as she watched the second detective.
“Then I woke up in that chair, my face and arms numb. He started talking about how I was his new project, his canvas. And I would be his masterpiece. Then he started slicing into me. I tried to cry out, but the gag prevented me from making much noise.”
“Can you tell us how you escaped, and who killed him?” The first detective asked.
“I’m not sure. It was strange; everything was getting blurry by this point. I saw a masked man fight with The Artist, and then The Artist was dead. The masked man freed me, and that’s all I know.” She said as she watched them.
Luka studied her face. She was holding something back, but he would not pressure her. The poor girl looked to be coming down off her adrenaline, and the lidocaine was wearing off. He watched her cry out as she laid back.
“Sorry detectives, we need to get her to the hospital. Anything else you want to ask will have to wait.” The EMT said as he closed the door.
“Yes, of course.” Abraham said as they backed away from the ambulance. “Did she seem to hold something back?” Abraham asked as he looked at his partner.
“I believe so.” Luka said with a nod.
“She is a reporter; maybe she hopes to keep it to herself so that she can write about it.”
“I think it’s more than that.” Luka said as he continued to stare down the street, the ambulance had disappeared down.
“Right. Well, let’s get back to the station and turn in this report.” Abraham said as he headed for his car.
“Right, the report. Don’t you find it funny that we’re writing more about our crime scenes, then we are solving them?”
“Haven’t you heard?” Abraham asked as he turned to Luka. “We have a superhero to do the work for us.”
“Ariel, what were you thinking?”
Ariel looked at her boss. “Oh yes, I thought, what a marvelous story this could be, I wonder if I could get myself captured by the psycho artist, and get cut up.”
Trenton Kody stared at his best investigative reporter. Even she wasn’t stupid enough to let this happen to her; for a story.
“You were hoping to catch The Sapphire Dreamer in action, rescuing some damsel in distress.” He said as he watched her lips form a half frown.
The bandages over one side of her mouth told him the bastard had cut up that side of her mouth and ruined her lovely smile.
She looked up at him with a sigh. “Turned out that I was the damsel in distress.”
“So, he showed up?” He asked as he watched her.
“Oh yeah, he showed up all right.” She said with a nod.
“And?” He asked.
“And he’s just as scary as I thought he would be. He was fast and felt nothing when he had slit the man’s throat.” She said with a chill as she remembered the knife slicing through The Artist’s throat so easily, and how The Sapphire Dreamer had just stood there, watching the man bleed to death.
“You should get some rest.” Trenton said as he patted her unbandaged hand.
“Trent.” She said as he turned from her to leave the room.
He paused and turned back to her. “Yeah?”
“This story is mine. I went through this horror, and I’ll be damned if someone else will write it and scuff it up.”
Trenton smiled. “Glad to see you’re still you.”
Ariel nodded with a half-grin. “Can’t break me that easily.”
Luka stared at a report from last year. Why can’t they find this guy? They had released him on a technicality when evidence had “disappeared”… Luka knows he will kill again. No one else seems to believe him, but his gut tells him.
“You still looking at that file?” Abraham asked as he looked over his partner’s shoulder.
“He will strike again Abe, I know it.”
“He’s been out of prison for over six months now, and nothing has happened. Maybe he is the wrong guy.”
“No.” Luka said with a shake of his head. “It’s him; he’s just lying low until the heat is off.”
“Luka, you are going by your gut too often. That’s how your sister’s killer got away…” Abraham stopped talking when he saw the anger on his partner’s face. “I’m sorry.”
Luka took a deep breath. “The Sapphire Dreamer got him, anyway.” Luka said as he shrugged his shoulders.
“You’re not saying that you condone what this man is doing, are you?” Abraham asked as he stared at Luka.
Luka looked up at him. “Of course not.”
“Good.” Abraham said with a nod. “Because as much as I want to, I don’t either.”
Luka looked at his partner. “As much as you want to?”
“Yeah, well, he’s doing what we can’t.”
“Killing?” Luka asked, shocked.
“Yeah, it doesn’t sound good outside my head.” Abraham said with a shake of his head.
“Abe, Abe, Abe, Abe, Abe.” Luka said as he shook his head.
“Shut up. You know you feel the same way.”
Luka didn’t answer; he just smiled.
“Gunnar, Princeton, my office, now.”
They turned to their captain at the same time and gave him a nod. Luka set the file on his desk, then followed his partner to the captain’s office.
When they entered, Davis turned to them with a frown on his face.
“Close the door.”
Luka closed the door behind him, then looked back at his captain. Something was weighing on the man’s mind.
“I just got a call from the mayor. He wants to know what we’re doing about The Sapphire Dreamer; since he beat us to another crime.”
“We’ve been keeping our eyes and ears open for any information on him.” Abraham said as he watched the captain pace his office.
“That’s not enough.” Davis said with a shake of his head. “I want you two to go to the hospital and talk to that woman. The Artist’s latest victim.” He said as he watched his detective.
“Find out what she noticed about the masked man, find out anything and everything you can.”
“Yes, sir.” Luka and Abraham said at the same time.
“And don’t come back here until you have something to report.” Davis grumbled as he plopped into the chair behind his desk.
Luka rolled his eyes as he closed the captain’s door.