Sunday, 15 February 2015

A loving, lovely story (for Valentines day)

Author's note: Hello. Sorry I haven't written a story in a while. I had a good Christmas story, but didn't get it done in time (it was too amazing to be written in just one year) so you'll have to wait till next year. I also had a couple other stories, but I haven't gotten them done either, due to writer's block. Instead, consider this my apology valentines day story [I wanted to take advantage of the lack of description in Romeo & Juliet regarding Romeo's age (it would have been much less lovable if he had been 40, no?), but decided to write this instead- it seemed more original]:

Carnage. Total and utter carnage. That was what greeted Lieutenant Inspector Rudolph of the Innsleigh Constabulary as he walked through the door of the shabby apartment, numbered 226. Or, at least, that was what would have greeted him had he not slipped on the blood and fallen backwards upon entering the apartment. "Be careful, Rudolph. It's slippery," the Coroner warned him belatedly. Rudolph rose soggily and tiptoed over to where the Coroner was standing besides a very unidentifiable corpse. A mess of blood and torso, the corpse was lying in the middle of the room, blood pooling around it. It was wearing neutral clothing, had no wallet or identification, and was clutching a soaking scrap of paper in his left hand. The Coroner was kneeling beside him/her, absently studying a short slit across the throat, while two other officers stood in the corner, chuckling mirthlessly at the sodden figure of Lieutenant Rudolph. Rudolph knelt beside the body gingerly, examined it for a few moments, before remembering that he had no idea how to study this kind of stuff (not being a coroner himself) and turned to the Coroner. "So? Any preliminary verdicts?" The Coroner looked up at him, grey eyes blinking languidly. "The cuts are too small to be from any major, bladed weapon. It looks like he was slashed at by an exacto knife or sewing needle. The person is probably a male, aged 30-something. That's all I can tell you right now." Rudolph nodded his thanks, before turning to the crumpled scrap of paper, still held in the man's hand. He motioned for the Coroner to pass him a pair of tweezers. The Coroner leaned closer. "Yes? What is it?" Rudolph looked at him with a stupefied look for a few moments, before realizing that you couldn't really motion for tweezers, and said, "Pass the tweezers." The Coroner rifled through his bag for a few moments before finding and passing a pair of tweezers. The inspector slowly removed the piece of paper from the man's hand, before carefully uncrumpling it. It was a small Valentine's Day card, pink, with some lace on it. There were no words on the outside, but on the inside there were two: Be Mine. Rudolph stood, almost slipped backwards, steadied himself through great force of will, and motioned for one of the cops  to come over. "Yes sir?" Rudolph passed him the card, and told him to trace the card's company, and who they may have sold it to. Then Rudolph motioned the other cop over and told him to interview the neighbors. Finally he asked the Coroner to tell him if anything new, such as the man's identity, arose, to which the Coroner stared at him for a few moments before stating; "Nah, I was planning to keep it all to myself." Then inspector Rudolph of the Innsleigh constabulary went to conduct the most important job of all: A shower.
After he'd showered and changed into clean clothing, Rudolph returned to the police station. He motioned the officer over who'd interviewed the neighbors. "Well, anyone hear anything?" The officer shrugged and remarked, "The lady in 225 was deaf, and 95, but the man in 227 thought he heard some cursing, but stated the man in 226 had been on vacation for three months and wasn't due to return for another 3, so he thought it was merely someone down the hall. He suggested to me that it might have been the old lady, who had been a wrestling champion in her youth and still occasionally thought she was wrestling someone." Rudolph blinked at the torrent of words. "So, our victim wasn't the owner of 226, and the lady next door wrestled?" "Exactly, sir. Unless the victim came back early. You'll have to ask the Coroner." Rudolph grunted in confirmation, then gestured for the man to follow him to the Coroner's office. Once they'd reached the basement, and skirted the debased cultists' office, they went to the Coroner. he was poking the man with a prod when they came in, and didn't look up for at least three minutes. "Ah, Lieutenant. Good to see you. I've identified the victim. His name is Charles Jones, 34, of the Innsleigh post office."  Rudolph nodded. "Any connection to the owner of room 226?" The Coroner nodded. "He didn't deliver letters anywhere near, or live anywhere near, but I think he bought a hot-dog from the room owner 17 years ago, when the room owner was a mere hot-dog salesman." Rudolph stared at him for a few moments, before asking "Any relatives?" The Coroner nodded assent. "A spouse, two kids, a sibling." Rudolph asked the officer who'd come with him to inform the next of kin, to which the officer reluctantly agreed.  Then he asked the Coroner, "Any idea what weapon killed him?" The Coroner thought this over, in his usual methodical way, before nodding. "I don't know exactly what killed Charles, but I can tell you what didn't kill him. He wan't poisoned, he wasn't burned, he wasn't asphyxiated, and he wasn't killed with a mace, broadsword, or flamberge." Rudolph stared at him, before turning to stare at the body with its multitude of teeny cuts, before turning to stare at the Coroner. "He wasn't killed with a flamberge? Gee, I would have never guessed that if you hadn't told me." The Coroner nodded emphatically. "Our current guess is that he was killed with a specially sharpened needle." Rudolph turned and left the room without another word. On his way out of the basement, while passing the debased cultists' office, he ran into the officer who he'd assigned to check on the card. He grabbed the officer's shoulder as he ran past. "Well? Who created the card?" The cop stared at him for a few moments, before remembering who Rudolph was and saluting smartly, then saying: "That's the strange thing, sir. The card was produced by a company called Cared-For-Cards." Rudolph blinked. "How's that strange?"
"Well sir, Cared-For-Cards went out of business in 1847, just after Valentine's cards began production in the states." Rudolph was shocked. "So this card is 168 years old?" The officer shook his head. "Actually, according to dating techniques, no more than 3 days." Rudolph was even more shocked. "So a card company goes out of business in 1847, and 168 years later a man from the post office appears on valentines day with a three=day-old copy of one of their cards? Very mysterious. Where were Cared-For-Cards headquartered?"
"Toronto. But they burnt down in 1847."
Rudolph considered this, before asking "Any idea why they shut down?"
"Yes sir, they all died. Murdered, as it were. On Valentine's Day."
Rudolph grinned. At last, they were getting somewhere! "They were killed by tiny cuts, no?""No. They were killed in the fire. A lightning strike struck the building, hit the thatch, and burnt it down."  Rudolph sighed and was about to ask the cop, who clearly loved research, if they'd ever distributed to Innsleigh, when the Coroner came running down the hall, shouting anxiously. "Another one! Another one!" It took Rudolph a few moments to figure out just what the hell the Coroner was talking about, before the realization struck him. "Where?" The Coroner paused, out of breath. "Battery Lane. A woman, Joan Charleston. Age 29." Rudolph dashed off. Then something occurred to him, and he dashed back. "Joan Charleston, you say? Sounds awfully similar to the first victim." The Coroner, who had thought to take the police car (there was only one, as Innsleigh only had 7,000 inhabitants) nodded. "Oh yes sir! A connection."
Upon arrival, Rudolph rushed to the entrance to Battery Lane. So excited was he to see more evidence, that he forgot the nature of the case and promptly slipped upon entering the street. He crashed to the ground, soaked in blood. "Goshdarnit!" He cursed. Two good inspector suits in one day. His brother, who ran the dry cleaner that he used, would kill him. He slowly stood back up, muttering curses against Murphy and his silly machinations. The three police officers present stifled a laugh. Rudolph was miffed to note they included none of the officers from earlier. This meant that the story would only get around faster (of course, the Innsleigh constabulary only had twenty members, so the story had hit half the unit already). The Coroner entered the alley with more grace than Rudolph, not even slipping. He bent down to study the lacerated corpse of Ms. Charleston. "Identical to before, only the cuts are in different spots. Has the same looking card, too." Rudolph took this in stride, before turning to one of the officers, a younger black man, and asking him; "See if you can find a connection between the two victims." Rather than rush off as expected, however, the man simply remarked "Already did sir. Mr. Jones bumped into Ms. Charleston while on his rounds just last month." Rudolph stared at him for a moment before stating "You were trained by the Coroner, weren't you?" The man nodded proudly. "Yes sir. Donald Barneson, Coroner-in-Training."
"Uh-a. Any other, useful connections?" Donald Barneson, Coroner-in-Training, shook his head. "Other than the circumstances of their death, and the letter, none. She wasn't even on the his paper route." Suddenly, it hit Rudolph like a hammer. He fell backwards. Donald rushed to help him up. "What happened, sir?" Rudolph beamed, despite the additional stickiness dripping from his jacket. "An idea hit me, is all." He turned to the Coroner. "What are the chances we can see what letters Charles was carrying on the day of his demise?" But the Coroner was shaking his head. "Already checked, Rudolph. The Postal office refused, saying it would be against privacy policy. However, sir, they told me that all the Valentine's Day letters had been delivered yesterday, as was their policy, as today was a holy day of the Ridiculousist faith, and Ridiculousists are notorious for ambushing vehicles on their holy days." Rudolph cursed Murphy, (who was conveniently a chaplain of the Ridiculousist faith) yet again. "Any chance this letter was delivered yesterday?" But once more, the Coroner shook his head. "Not a chance. I inquired about that, too, and the post office told me (in confidence) that both victims hadn't received a letter for several years." Rudolph considered this. "Fair enough. Any other leads? What does the card say?" The Coroner pulled out the card carefully with tweezers, then opened it up: Be Mine. Rudolph shook his head mournfully, then sat up with shock as the bells struck 11. His shift was done. He turned to the Coroner, and asked "Who's on the night shift?" "Donovan, Lewis, and Gerald. Why?" Rudolph grunted. "We're done for the night. Give the case, and the evidence to them, and let's go home." The Coroner was startled. "But Sir! It's our case!" "Yes, and it will still be here in the morning, due to lack of evidence. Good night." And with that, the assembled officers reluctantly dispersed, a couple going to give the evidence to the night shift. The Coroner strode up to the retreating Rudolph. "Seriously, Rudolph? I know there's little evidence, but we can't just give up the case!" Rudolph looked at him. "This is the first murder we've had in three years, or at least the first one not committed by cultists who couldn't be harmed due to certain connections. Whether or not there's little evidence, we can't just wait till the morning and pick up where we left off, when the night shift might be able to make progress and stop the serial killer from escaping." The Coroner agreed, although with much anger and little agreement. More likely this was a matter of seniority to him.
When a tired, bloodied, Rudolph returned home, he found a letter waiting for him on the doorstep. This would be the first letter for him in several years. He grinned, at least until he noticed the company. Cared-for-Cards. And it was a valentines card, and lacy too. He kicked it out of the way as fast as possible, then drew his gun, waving it around. "Alright, you can step out now. I'm not gonna open it, you sick needle-carrying maniac!" But nobody answered. And it was then that Rudolph noticed the second letter, a piece of police stationary, under the first. He became excited. He was long overdue for a pay-raise. Grabbing the letter and walking to his kitchen, he pulled out a kitchen knife and cut it open. Inside was a small piece of stationary. As he tried to open it, he nicked his finger. "Ouch! Blooming paper-cuts." he cursed, trying to open the letter. But once more he cut his finger. He muttered a stream of curses in other languages that he'd heard the cultists mutter, all the while trying to open it. But all he received for his trouble were more paper-cuts. As he tried once more to open it, it slid up, slashing his arm. Eventually he grew frantic, receiving more cuts in different areas. Still he tried desperately to open the now bloodied letter. It had come over him suddenly. He NEEDED to see the contents of his letter! Eventually he received a nick on his throat, then another, then three. Eventually the blood loss began to wear down on him. he fell to the floor, desperate to open the letter. And as he lay on the ground, silently bleeding out to death, the letter, crumpled in his hand, flipped open. Be Mine. And with that, Lieutenant Inspector Rudolph of the Innsleigh Constabulary breathed his last breath, never once having noted the pink-haired youth with the troubled eyes sitting n his armchair. The youth stood up, reaching into his hoodie pocket, and withdrawing a small pile of letters. He shuffled through it, searching, then gracefully stepped over the dead body, not noticing the pooling blood, and walked through the closed door. He still had two days to kill...