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 WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.
Chief Kiner had never gone through a week like this in his entire career.
Steve Foster was in surgery, the victim of a stab wound perilously close to his heart. No one could locate Bolton and now it appeared that the Dyson’s killer had holed up in a warehouse, chased there after the attack on Foster had been interrupted by a pair of off-duty policemen on their way to shoot hoops in the park.
To cap it all off the killer was claiming to have Lisa Owens hostage inside, although Kiner was at a loss to explain how the assistant district attorney had gotten caught up in all of this. Yet he had several officers swearing they’d heard her talking to the killer.
Despite all of this, Kiner still didn’t have a clue as to who their suspect was. No one had gotten a clear look at him before he’d taken refuge in the dark warehouse. Kiner was waiting for a SWAT team and a hostage negotiator to arrive on the scene. In the meantime he had everyone wearing a badge that he could call in surrounding the building, making sure there would be no escape and keeping the media well away from the scene.
He had just ordered the media horde moved another block away when he saw Bolton’s Mustang drive through the barricades. Kiner was shocked by Bolton’s appearance. Bolton looked like he’d aged twenty years since the night before. Kiner approached, thinking to update the Inspector. But before Kiner could start Bolton dropped a bombshell, letting Kiner know whose house he’d been in and what he’d found there.
“My God,” Kiner said. “Are you sure, Mac?”
Bolton reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out an old journal and handed it to Kiner.
“It’s all in there,” Bolton replied, stepping past Kiner.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to get her,” Bolton said without turning back. “And I’m going in there alone.”
Kiner quickly leafed through the journal. It didn’t take long for him to put it all together. He looked back up in time to see Bolton slip into the building as his radio came alive with multiple inquiries from his officers. They all wanted to know why Bolton had gone in alone and what should they do.
He didn’t have a clue what to tell them.
* * * * *
Bolton quietly made his way through the interior of the warehouse toward the sounds of angry voices. It sounded to him like a man and a woman. Although he was too far away to make out the words, the male voice sounded threatening, the female’s pleading and it sounded like Lisa’s voice at that. Hearing two distinct voices brought Bolton up short, giving him a moment’s false hope that somehow he was wrong.
But then he recalled the hidden storage room, the journal and who’s house he’d found them in. Pulling his gun out of its holster, Bolton quickly resumed his path toward the voices. Within seconds he was standing in an open space, his gun leveled on the back of a figure draped in a dark overcoat.
“Show me your hands,” Bolton barked. “Now!”
“I don’t think so, Inspector,” the male voice rasped. “Put your gun away or I will kill this woman. Tell the good Inspector I mean what I say, won’t you Ms. Owens.”
“Mac please,” Owens’ voice seemed to come from in front of the figure standing before Bolton. From where Bolton was standing he couldn’t determine if there was in fact more than one person standing before him, nor could he tell what, if any, weapon was being held. Trusting again in what he’d seen earlier, Bolton pressed the issue.
“I doubt that very much,” he said. “Killing her is killing yourself, isn’t that right Lisa?”
“W-what?,’ Lisa stammered.
“I’ve been in your storage room Lisa,” Bolton said sadly. “I’ve read your journal. I know it all. It’s over Lisa, it’s all over.”
“DAMN YOU!” came a shriek that both was and was not Lisa’s voice as the figure before Bolton quickly spun around. Bolton had just enough time to register a look of pure hatred on Lisa’s face and a flash of silver in her hand that was quickly followed by a blossom of white light and a sharp crack of a gunshot.
* * * * *
Kiner heard the single shot ring out of the warehouse. With a curse, Kiner ordered his men in. But before any of them could enter the building Bolton stepped out, carrying the limp body of Lisa Owens in his arms.
Believing the suspect to still be inside, the remaining cops and Inspectors poured into the building. Kiner watched as Bolton, tears streaming down his face, approached. Kiner did not call for medical help, he’d seen enough dead bodies to know there was no need. He didn’t need to ask Bolton what had happened inside either. He’d been around long enough to put together the pieces of this puzzle all too well.
“I’m sorry, Mac,” Kiner said as Bolton walked by and then fell silent as he watched Bolton gently place Owens in the passenger seat of his car. For reasons he’d never be able to explain, Kiner did nothing else but watch as Bolton got into the Mustang, started it up and drove off into the foggy night.
* * * * *
Two days later Kiner found himself still questioning the reasons why he didn’t stop Bolton that night, why he didn’t at least have Bolton followed. Perhaps, he mused as he stood at the end of a pier looking up at the very spot on the bridge where Bolton had killed himself, he knew that it would have only delayed the inevitable. Bolton’s life was over long before he had entered that warehouse and killed the woman he’d loved.
“What a waste,” Foster’s voice startled Kiner out of his reverie.
“What are you doing out of bed?” Kiner asked, without turning around.
“I heard they found two bodies floating out in the ocean, a man and a woman,” Foster said, uncomfortably shifting his left arm that was still in a sling. “I figured it was probably them. I needed to be here. For both of them.”
Kiner couldn’t find it within himself to argue the point and motioned for Foster to at least sit down on a nearby bench, helping the injured man get comfortable while they waited for the Coast Guard boat carrying the two bodies to arrive.
“It still makes no sense,” Foster said, staring out across the water.
Kiner couldn’t agree more. He’d spent the last two days carefully reading the journal and the reports from the crime scene techies that had processed Owens’ house.
The evidence and the journal told a terrible story of a family cursed by an insanity that tied itself to the reappearance of a seemingly innocent comet in the night sky.
For whatever reason, or for no reason at all Kiner thought, certain members of the Owens family fell victim to the belief that the return of the comet was a call to cleanse the world of impurity. Each cleansing would only be accomplished if twelve victims were sacrificed in a specific manner.
Well, Kiner mused silently, twelve people were certainly killed this time around.
The journal was an account of each cleansing that enumerated each victim’s name, the date and place of death and also served as a guide for the next generation to follow for another successful cleansing. The first entry of the journal included a dire warning of what would befall mankind if a cleansing was not carried out to completion.
It was dated the sixth of May, 1639 in Paris, France by an Englishman named Theodore Owens. Lisa Owens was the seventh member of the family to begin a cleansing. She would be the last of the Owens to fall victim to the “curse”. There weren’t any relatives of hers left that anyone could locate and she hadn’t had any children.
There would be no more cleansings and that was the only comfort Kiner could find in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of over one hundred people across three centuries.
“It doesn’t make a bit of sense at all,” Kiner said aloud just as the Coast Guard boat came into view. Both men stood and waited silently as the boat docked and crewman carried two stretchers off the boat and gently set them down on the pier. One of the men knelt down between the stretchers, unzipped each of the body bags they carried and gently pulled back the lining to expose the faces of the bodies within.
“It’s them,” Kiner said after a few moments examination. The crewman quickly zipped the bags closed and the men picked up the stretchers and took them to the coroner’s wagon waiting at the end of the pier.
“What do we do now?” Foster asked as he watched the bodies of his two friends being carried away.
“We do our job, just like Mac did,” Kiner replied. “He stopped anyone else from dying because of this madness at least.”
“No matter the cost?”
“No matter the cost,” Kiner said. “Knowing that each time we catch a killer, we’ve kept him, or her, from killing again.”
“With respect Chief,” Foster said quietly. “That stinks.”
“Yes,” Kiner agreed. “Yes it does.”
* * * * *
Fifty-six years later…
Casandra Phillips had often wondered what was stored in the dusty old footlocker in the attic of her Uncle John’s house. All he would ever say about the box was that it had some boring old family papers inside.
The mystery of the box made her curious about what in her family’s history could be so terrible as to be consigned to such an obscure fate. The only oddity she could find in the family’s past was her father’s third cousin, four times removed who had been killed in San Francisco long before Casandra was born and this distant cousin had been involved in a dozen murders at the time. But no one in the family knew much more than that, other than Uncle John and he would never speak of it.
On the day of Uncle John’s funeral, Casandra walked up the steps of the old house and quickly made her way to the attic and the mysterious box. She had discovered the key to open it the day before and was impatient to explore its mysteries.
Opening the box, waiving away the dust storm that came with its opening, Casandra pulled out a pile of press clippings and a very old looking, leather-bound journal. She opened the book and read the inscription on the first page:
The journal of Theodore Owens
April 2, 1639
Written as I embark on my journey to Paris
The ringing of her cell phone startled Casandra. Impatiently, she flipped open the phone.
“Cassie, its Tom,” said the voice on the other end of the call. “I just wanted to know if we were still on for tonight, with your uncle’s funeral and all. I wasn’t sure you still wanted to come over.”
“It’s okay, Tom,” Casandra said, looking back down at the journal. “I still want to see Dyson’s Comet and tonight is supposed to be the best night for viewing.”
“Great, I’ll see you tonight,” Tom said as he hung up.
Casandra flipped the phone closed and began reading again. She had a feeling something wonderful in the pages of this book was about to reveal itself to her and perhaps her life would never be the same again.
* * * * *
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