LEGACY OF DEATH:
THE DYSON’S COMET KILLER
By Richard Paolinelli
© 2019 RICHARD PAOLINELLI . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO COPYING OR ANY OTHER REPRODUCTION OF THIS STORY IS PERMITTED WITH WRITTEN PERMISSION.
There was nothing quite like it, the first night of a cleansing. For one fortnight to hold in one’s hand the power of God and to use that power to save the entire world.
These ignorant mortals would never know, much less understand, the holy task bestowed upon a humble servant of the Almighty. The awesome responsibility that came with such a calling would be too much for any mere mortal. Two weeks of blood, sacrificing a scant handful so that the whole world might live. Then the long, peaceful rest until the messenger returned to awaken the sleeper and set him on his ordained path once again.
How many years had passed since the first cleansing he no longer knew, nor cared. He no longer concerned himself with the feeble attempts by the misguided to prevent him from fulfilling his righteous duty. They were merely tests of his faith, tests he easily passed time and again. He’d discerned some time ago that he would leave messages for his pursuers so that they might understand his mission and let him go on his way in peace.
All that mattered now was this cleansing. The first two offerings had been made and now it was time to select the next suitable sacrificial lamb.
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Sheila Watson hated the swing shift at Mercy General, but she needed the work and getting on to the day shift was next to impossible. She normally waited for one of the security guards to escort her to her car, but she was too tired to wait and she wanted to go home. She’d grown up in Watts after all, she could handle herself in a fight if she had to.
Walking out into the parking lot, Watson rummaged through her purse for the keys to her car, triumphantly pulling the jangling keys out as she neared her beat-up, but reliable, old green Toyota Corolla.
Watson never heard her killer’s swift approach, never had time to scream or beg for her life as a hand roughly grabbed her from behind and spun her around.
The last thing Sheila Watson ever saw was a knife plunging down toward her as it passed in front of her view of the shimmering beauty of Dyson’s Comet in the sky above.
* * * * *
The back entrance to Mercy General was rarely used, so the security guard who had found the body of Sheila Watson had told Bolton, which explained how her killer had the time to tie his third victim to the lighted cross that overlooked the driveway and not be seen by anyone in the area. Watson had been draped over the cross in a crucifix pose, her head tied so that she was looking up into the sky and at Dyson’s Comet. As Bolton looked over the grisly scene once more, he heard the soft footfalls of his partner coming up from behind.
“We’ve looked all over the area,” Foster said, “and no sign of any message from our friend. If it weren’t for the comet carved in her forehead, I’d say it wasn’t our boy at all.”
Bolton nodded wordlessly. The killer had taken one night off before resuming his deadly work and promptly altered his M.O. Sheila Watson had been killed with a single thrust of a knife directly into her heart. Unlike the first two scenes, this one had very little blood and even less trace evidence.
“He’s said all he needed to say,” Bolton said after a few moments. “He told us he was here, what he’s up to and what to look for. Now he’s out to see how much of a body count he can rack up before we catch him.”
“Whoever he is,” Foster said, glancing up at Watson’s corpse, “he’s damn good. Three public crime scenes and no witnesses, no trace evidence, nothing. Either he’s been very lucky, has a major case of OCD or…”
“…or he’s one of us,” Bolton finished. “A profiler or even a cop. Someone who knows what we’d be looking for and is checking his tracks to make sure he finds it first.”
“No way, Mac,” Foster protested. “We’d know if one of our guys was off the reservation like this, it can’t be a cop.”
“Couldn’t it be?” Bolton asked, motioning to a CSU tech to take over as he turned away from the scene. “How well do we really know any of the other Inspectors in our unit alone? Not to mention in all of the other departments. Plus, we could be talking about an out of town cop, or an ex-cop or someone who would have been qualified to join the force, but had some quirk in his head that kept him off the job. Hell, it could even be you or me and the other might not even know it. After all, we haven’t been together at the times of any of these murders, have we?”
Bolton paused, catching a strange look from his partner.
“Look,” Bolton said as they reached their car, “I’m not our suspect and I’m reasonably sure you aren’t either…”
“Gee, thanks Mac,” Foster replied as he got into the passenger seat.
“All I’m saying is we need to be extra watchful on this one,” Bolton said quietly as he started the car. “Don’t rule out anyone or anything, take nothing for granted and don’t give anyone a free pass just because they carry a badge, okay?”
“Okay, I hear you,” Foster relented. “So what do we do now?”
“We’ve interviewed our only witness,” Bolton said. “We let CSU comb the scene and see what they turn up, hopefully they’ll find something that will point us in the right direction.”
“If they come up blank too?”
“Then we wait for our friend to make the next move,” Bolton said in a haunted tone, “and we pray this time he finally makes a mistake.”
They drove back to a police station besieged by media and concerned citizens. So far, all the general public knew was that three women had been brutally murdered within a forty-eight hour time period in the city. So far, the link to Dyson’s Comet had been kept out of the public domain, but Bolton wondered how long that little secret would stay buried and what the outcry would be when it finally got out. A thought struck Bolton as he pulled into the underground garage. He pulled out his cell phone as he got out of the car and quickly punched in a number.
“What?” Foster asked, a puzzled look covering his ebony face.
“Don’t know,” Bolton replied. “Just a thought, maybe it’s nothing at … Steve, its Mac. Got a quick question. How much longer will Dyson’s be visible to the naked eye?”
Bolton paused, listening to the answer.
“About a week to 10 days then,” Bolton said to both the phone and to Foster. “Got it, thanks buddy. What? Yeah, I need to find the time to do that soon I guess. Hey, hate to ask and run, but I’m pressed for time pal. See you later.”
Bolton turned and moved toward the elevator at a fast clip.
“You want to tell me what that was all about?” Foster inquired as he kept pace.
“Friend of mine, Dr. Steve Collins, works down at Microdyne,” Bolton answered. “He’s trying to find a way to keep asteroids and big meteors from crashing into the planet, so he makes it his job to keep track of where everything is and where it is all going off too in our neck of the universe.
“In no more than ten days from now, Dyson’s Comet is not going to be visible to anyone standing on the face of this planet,” Bolton said as he entered the elevator and pressed the button for their floor. “If the comet can’t be seen by his victims when he kills them, then what’s the point of killing them in the first place. In other words…”
“We have less than ten days to catch this guy,” Foster finished as the elevator doors closed with an ominous thud, “or we’ll never know who he was.”
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Next Week: Chapter 5 – Time Pressure
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