1K Serials: The Invited, Chapter 1

THE INVITED 

By Richard Paolinelli

© 2019 RICHARD PAOLINELLI . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO COPYING OR ANY OTHER REPRODUCTION OF THIS STORY IS PERMITTED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

 

ONE

 

“I mark a bittersweet anniversary today in a way that none of us could have ever anticipated. Who could have known that 15 years ago, when mankind first ventured out of the solar system, we had started a countdown on our very existence. How could I have known then that I was commanding a mission, not to the stars, but toward Armageddon instead.”

– from the journal of General Duncan Sinclair, January 13, 2125, the tenth year of the Kustani siege of Earth

 

A high-pitched buzz pierced the silence of General Duncan Sinclair’s office. His dark, chiseled features, which had led many to describe him as roguishly handsome, scrunched into a scowl that he aimed directly at the intruding intercom.

Setting down his stylus, the same pen he’d carried with him on his ill-fated mission beyond the solar system, Sinclair closed his journal and pushed it aside. With a sense of foreboding, he activated the intercom’s receiver.

“Sinclair here, go ahead Westbrook.”

“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir,” the apologetic voice of Sinclair’s aide began without any surprise at his superior’s clairvoyance, “but you said you wanted to be informed if we heard anything from Mars.”

Mars Base had been silent for over three days now, having gone quiet without so much as an explanation or a “mayday”. The sense of foreboding increasing in leaps and bounds, Sinclair steeled himself for his aide’s next words.

“Sensors show six patrol fighters Earthbound. We’ve confirmed they’re part of the Mars Base detachment. We haven’t been able to establish radio contact,” the aide paused uncomfortably. “It looks like they’ve taken a lot of damage.”

As we had feared and much more, Sinclair thought bitterly to himself. Even Lieutenant Westbrook, who always found a way to put a positive spin on any situation, was struck silent. Mars Base was the keystone in Earth’s defense, if it had fallen to the enemy then the demise of humanity was all but sealed.

“Dispatch a fighter wing to escort them in and inform me when they arrive,” Sinclair said, somehow managing to keep an undertone of defeat from creeping into his voice.

“Colonel Rogers has already done so,” Westbrook paused, this time even more uncomfortably. “In fact, he recommended that we increase our alert status before he left,” Westbrook added a quick, but quiet “sir” waiting for the impending thunderstorm to strike him down.

But the storm never broke, much to his relief. Even though both men knew that it was against standing orders for either Sinclair, as the commanding officer of Moon Base, or Rogers, as the base’s Wing Commander, to lead a mission like this, Rogers would know how important the information the Mars’ pilots carried was. He would undoubtedly have a logical explanation for his personally seeing to it that they made it back safely.

“I see,” Sinclair said quietly. “Very well then, have the Colonel’s relief put us on DEFCON Two and tell the Colonel to report to my office along with the Mars’ pilots immediately upon their arrival, Sinclair out.”

Sinclair snapped off the intercom before Westbrook could get out a “Yes, sir!” and contemplated his journal. He’d begun writing the thing on his twentieth birthday for reasons he’d long since forgotten. At the end of every day for twenty-four years he’d logged in every event, good or bad, that had left a mark upon his life. As he placed the leather-bound volume in its designated slot in his desk, Sinclair couldn’t help but wonder how many more events were left to be included in the journal and if anyone would survive long enough to ever read them.

Colonel Ken Rogers led four of the six pilots into Sinclair’s office, the other two had been wounded fighting their way off of Mars and were getting treated in Med Bay. Rogers had known his old friend and commanding officer had been under a great strain lately, they all had to some extent over the last ten years, but seeing the dark circles under his eyes and the weariness in Sinclair’s face shook Rogers. It looked like Sinclair had aged another decade since he’d last seen him at the morning briefing. The report he was delivering wasn’t going to improve things either.

The pilots gave a brief, but devastating account of Mars Base’s fate: The complete destruction of the military and civilian populations, buildings and nearly every piece of equipment on the planet. Only a small number of the smaller fighter ships had gotten away, none of the evac shuttles had cleared the ground before being destroyed, and had joined up with the last two battle cruisers left in Earth Fleet in full retreat from Mars. With communications jammed, the fleet was trying to slow down the enemy’s procession toward Earth, sparing only the six fighters to warn Earth Defense Command. The Fleet Commander, an old friend of Sinclair’s, had sent a private message with the flight leader, who ended his report by handing Sinclair the disk containing the message.

Sinclair took the disk, somberly dismissing the pilots. Rogers stayed behind, waiting for the door to close behind the last man out before addressing his friend. He knew how much Sinclair blamed himself for the current situation and no matter how much he disagreed with Sinclair’s assigning that blame to himself, he could certainly understand why he did so.

Sinclair had commanded the mission that had dropped the beacon out in deep space, inviting any and all species of the galaxy to drop by Earth and say hello. The theory at the time had been that any species advanced enough to attain deep space flight would be inclined toward peaceful contact. So the theory said. But instead of a benevolent race, Earth was being called on by the Kustani and if any race could be said to be evil incarnate then it would be the Kustani.

A dozen years ago the Kustani had made first contact with an Earth exploration ship, with tragic results. The Earth ship had been completely destroyed, all hands aboard lost, and the two species had been at war ever since. For the last ten years the Kustani had encircled the solar system, gradually contracting the ring, much like a giant fishing net, into an ever-tightening circle around the inner planets.

Earth, still in its interstellar flight infancy, didn’t have the resources to break the siege. All Defense Command could do was to slow down the Kustani and hope for a miracle. That hope, along with most of Earth’s resources, were fast running out.

“I checked with plotting before I came here,” Rogers began. “The Kustani stopped their advance just a few million klicks on the other side of lunar orbit.”

Standard operating procedure for the Kustani, a race of beings with humanoid-like bodies with gourd-like heads the color of pumpkins and eyes of milky gray that reminded Sinclair of his worst childhood nightmares, keep the pressure on the defenders and watch base by base crumble and fall. Tighten the circle, increase the pressure on the defenders, sit back and wait for the next line of defense to collapse.

Now all that stood between the Kustani and the Earth itself was the Moon, a base staffed with a few thousand soldiers, and what few ships remained of Earth Fleet. Barely enough to hold off the Kustani for long should they decide for one last push, Rogers thought bitterly.

“We aren’t going to win this time, are we, Duncan?”

*     *     *     *     *

Next week: Desperate times call for desperate measures.

*     *     *     *     *

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, FINAL Chapter

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.

 

TEN

 

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.

“Hello.”

“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.

 

THE END

 

*     *     *     *     *

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Next up in the 1K Weekly Serials series: The Invited

 

The_Invited

 

*     *     *     *     *

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 9

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.

 

NINE

 

Nick Bolton’s apartment was a madhouse.

Police cars, Coroner’s vans, media vehicles, lights, cameras and the obligatory looky-loos had completely surrounded the complex. Mac Bolton hadn’t spoken a word as he’d ridden in the Chief’s car, barely registering anything that Kiner had said to him or while on his phone seeking updates.

Bolton ignored the flash of the still cameras and the glaring lights from the TV crowd, quickly making his way past the throng being pushed back by the patrolmen on the scene. He ignored the expressions of sympathy and the occasional apology offered by his colleagues and walked straight into the bedroom where the covered body of his father lay sprawled across his bed. Sanchez was working the scene for any trace evidence.

Bolton reached for the covering but paused before pulling it back, bracing himself for what he was about to see.

“He put up a fight Mac,” Sanchez said quietly. “He must of heard the attack on the nurse in the kitchen and was getting up to see what was going on. The killer took her out very quickly and was probably entering the room just as your father was getting to his feet. There are some defensive wounds on his hands.”

Mac silently nodded in acknowledgement and drew back the plastic only enough to expose his father’s face. There was a look of surprise frozen on his father’s face. Mac would have expected a look of anger or pain as had been found on the others victims’ faces. His father would have been angry at the intrusion. There should be anger there, not shocked surprise, Bolton thought.

Puzzled, Mac carefully examined the scene and was drawn to the position of his father’s left hand and a trail of blood that led from the out flung hand to the pillows at the head of the bed. Or was it the other way around, Bolton wondered. Without a word to Sanchez, Bolton leaned over and felt under the pillows.

His fingers quickly made contact with a small object and he swiftly withdrew it. Lying there in the palm of his hand was a gold locket attached to a few links of a chain. There was a smear of blood on the locket, obviously torn from the killer by his father who had hidden this small piece of evidence before his death.

Nick Bolton had done this last act because he knew this small piece of jewelry would identify his killer. He’d known this because he recognized the locket just as his son now did. Mac Bolton now knew who the killer was.

* * * * *

Steve Foster didn’t know who the killer was, but he had a very good idea where the killer would strike next. He had a hunch and was playing it, staking out an area near Buena Vista Park where he thought the next attack would occur. The idea had struck as he was looking at a map of the city with pins marking the sites of each attack. He thought he had spotted a pattern, not enough of a hunch to warrant a full-scale stakeout, but enough for him to set up shop and keep an eye on the park.

He’d been at it for hours now and hadn’t yet heard about Mac’s quasi-arrest and the death of Mac’s father. Technically, he had been off-duty for twelve hours and he had spent all of them moving around the park looking for the killer.

So far, he’d come up empty. But he wasn’t about to give up just yet. Sipping from a cup of coffee as he leaned up against a tree in the park, he watched a couple of early-morning joggers pass by, quickly disappearing from sight and leaving him all alone.

A snap of a twig made him whirl around, dropping the coffee as he reached for his gun.

“You scared the hell of me,” Foster said in relief. “I thought you were somebody else. So what brings you out here C….”

Foster’s voice cut off in shock as the knife struck his chest.

“No,” Foster gasped as he fell to the ground ahead of the darkness that was threatening to claim him. “It can’t be you.”

* * * * *

Bolton waited for the car to pull out of the driveway and turn the corner before stepping out from behind a truck parked across the street. It only took him a few seconds to get past the front door and he was lucky enough to not have to worry about the security system. The resident had forgotten to arm it before leaving.

He wasn’t worried about the resident returning to the house. He wasn’t planning on staying long anyway. He’d been in this house before, been in every room except one and he was long overdue to pay this room a visit.

It was for storage, he’d been told, and was rarely opened. There was a table stationed in front of the door to the room and Bolton quickly moved it away. The door was locked but provided no more delay to Bolton’s progress than the front door had.

But when Bolton pulled open the door he was stopped dead in his tracks. Inside lay a horror beyond comprehension. It was all there, clippings of news stories on every killing, articles of clothing and possessions from each victim, trophies for their killer, all arrayed on an altar to shear madness.

There was an old journal on a side table with several large candles, a few of them had been burned down to about half of their original size. Bolton picked up the journal and started reading. Less than an hour later, Bolton exited the house and walked three blocks to where he’d parked his car and got in. But instead of starting the car, he just sat unmoving behind the wheel. A person he’d come to know so well, had let get so close to him, was responsible for the slaughter of so many innocent people. Had tried to frame him for the murders and had killed his father. The only question when Mac got his hands on his father’s killer would be would he arrest, or kill, his quarry.

In his anger and his grief, Bolton was afraid of what the answer would be.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 8

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.

 

EIGHT

 

Mac Bolton had never considered himself a religious man. Before his mother’s death when he was only nine years old, he’d gone to church with his parents and prayed like he’d been taught. After his mother was killed in an armed robbery that has turned terribly tragic, the young Bolton lost any faith in a supreme being and the prayers quickly stopped.

But now, with ten unsolved murders that had undoubtedly been committed by one person and Bolton himself accused of the very same crimes he was trying to solve, he was quickly rediscovering prayer. It was quickly becoming the only thing left going for him.

He’d been brought in eight hours ago, quickly and quietly, by the two Internal Affairs detectives to the Chief of Detectives’ office. Kiner sat next to Bolton, in a private room away from prying eyes, playing referee between Bolton and the IA men. For the time being, they were the only four people who knew Bolton had been arrested during the night.

“Look Baker,” Bolton snapped hotly at the older IA man seated directly across the table. “How many times do I have to tell you? I am trying to catch the killer, I am NOT the killer!”

“Maybe when you can give us some sort of an alibi for any of the murders.” Jackson retorted, “then Sergeant Cooper and I will believe you Inspector.”

That point was making Bolton sweat. He couldn’t give an alibi that would get IA off his back. The time of death had been established for all of the victims and Bolton had been alone long enough each time to have committed the murders. He knew he wasn’t the killer, but he also knew that in their shoes he’d be just as unbelieving of his story as they were.

“You can’t,” Cooper charged, “can you? You don’t have any better alibi than you were asleep during six of the murders and somehow managed to be all by yourself in a city of almost one million people for the other four. You tell me Inspector, what you would think of a weak alibi like that?”

“It wouldn’t play with me,” Bolton allowed. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t kill those women.”

“Unfortunately Inspector,” Baker interjected, “you have no proof that you didn’t and all you can offer us is your word that you didn’t and your claim, that in an incredible string of coincidences, no one knows where you were during all of the attacks?”

“Yeah Baker, it is an incredible set of coincidences,” Bolton replied. “They are also true. And no, I don’t have any concrete proof. But you don’t have any proof that I did, do you? If you think I am your killer, where’s your forensics? Other than a set of incredible coincidences, what the hell do you have that says I’m your killer?”

Lisa would have been impressed with his turning the IA’s theory back on them. He’d been thinking of asking Kiner to call her down here and see how IA would like to deal with an irate assistant D.A. Bolton decided against calling her in. There just wasn’t any way this was going anywhere.

The two IA men remained silent, giving Bolton hope that this nonsense was about to come to an end at last. Kiner, who’d been strangely silent during most of the interrogation, quietly reached into his jacket pocket, withdrew an evidence bag and handed it to Bolton without a word.

“Do you recognize what’s in the bag Inspector?” Cooper asked.

Bolton held up the clear plastic bag and saw a round, silver medallion attached to a silver chain. Bolton easily recognized the engraving on the back of the medallion.

“It’s the St. Michael’s medal my mother gave to my father on his first day on the job,” Bolton said, trying to figure out what this medal had to do with anything involving this case.

“Your father gave it to you to carry when he retired, didn’t he?” Kiner asked, his tone hushed.

“Yes, so?”

“Where’s the last place you remember seeing it?” Kiner asked.

“I don’t know,” Bolton replied. “The chain kept breaking and I quit wearing it a few months ago because I was afraid I was going to lose it. Why? What does my father’s medal got to do with this?”

Before anyone could answer, there was a quick rap on the door behind Kiner. A patrolman thrust in his head long enough to tell the Chief he had an urgent call.

“Well?” Bolton asked again after Kiner had left the room.

“It was found clutched in Inspector Townsell’s hand,” Cooper replied coldly. “About two hours before what you allege was the first time you arrived at the crime scene last night. Can you explain how it got there?”

Bolton felt the blood draining from his face. He looked at the medallion again. There was no doubt in his mind that it was his and he had no idea how it had wound up in a murdered woman’s hand. He did know, no matter how it had happened, he was in a lot of trouble.

“Inspector MacKenzie Bolton,” Baker said as both he and Cooper stood up. “You are under arrest for suspicion of murder. You have the right to remain…”

Baker broke off as Kiner returned to the room, his face almost as ashen as Bolton’s.

“This interview is over, gentlemen,” Kiner said. “Inspector Bolton is free to go.”

“I’m sorry Chief,” Baker replied. “We’re just placing the Inspector under arrest.”

“No, you’re not,” Kiner shot back. “Two more victims have been found. It’s been confirmed that it is our killer’s handiwork and the time of death has been set at just about three hours ago. I believe the three of us can attest that Inspector Bolton was right here at the time and therefore cannot be our perp, correct?”

Both of the IA men wisely backed off. Bolton stood up to leave for the latest crime scene but was stopped by Kiner.

“Mac, I’ll have someone drive you to the scene,” Kiner said. “But I’m afraid I have to pull you off the case.”

“Why? You just said…”

“Mac, shut up and listen to me. The victims…,” Kiner’s voice caught in his throat. “I’m sorry Mac. It’s your father. He’s killed your father and his nurse, Chelsea Jackson.”

 

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 7

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.

 

SEVEN

 

Bolton had been right about one thing, Barlow was not the last victim. Despite teams of Inspectors, patrolmen and clerks checking out any and all leads nothing had turned up but more victims. Three more victims had fallen to the knife of the Dyson’s killer, the name the press had given the killer once word had gotten out about the carvings on each of the victims.

Seven women in five days and still not one shred of evidence or a single lead existed that gave anyone hope that the killings would end with an arrest. With each hour that passed without sleep and without any positive news or leads, Bolton’s temper worsened until finally he bit off some poor policewoman’s head for merely offering to get him a cup of coffee.

Kiner stepped in quickly and ordered Bolton to go home and get some sleep.

“You’re no good to this investigation like this Mac,” Kiner said, gently putting a hand on Bolton’s shoulder to ease the sting of his words. “Go home and get a few hours of sleep before you collapse. We’ll call if anything turns up. It’s only ten in the morning and he’s never attacked during daylight. There’s time for you to get some rest.”

Grudgingly, Mac acquiesced. Too tired to trust himself behind the wheel of a car, Bolton resigned himself to a BART ride home to his apartment in San Bruno after he failed to reach Owens at her office or on her cell phone. He left a message for her, letting her know he was going home and that he would call her later after he’d caught a nap.

His place was only eight blocks from the station and his father’s apartment was situated nearly halfway between the two. Bolton decided to stop by and see how the old retired cop was doing. Nick Bolton had put in twenty-five years on the job before cancer had finally slowed him down and confined him to a wheelchair along with a live-in nurse.

“Hello Mac,” Chelsea Jackson greeted Bolton at the door. “He’s asleep right now, he didn’t have a good night.”

“I know the feeling,” Bolton replied wryly. “I’ll just look in him for a minute and then I’ll get out of your hair.”

Bolton quietly entered the bedroom and sat next to his father’s bed, watching and listening to the rhythm of his father’s breathing as he adjusted the covers on the bed. As he pulled back, he noticed that his father was now awake.

“You’re supposed to asleep, old man,” Bolton said.

“And you look like you need it more than I do,” the elder Bolton shot back. “You look worse than I do son. You’ve got another bad case, worse than Parker from what Kiner told me.”

“Pretty much.”

Nick Bolton sat up a little and looked his son in the eye.

“You’ll get him son,” he said. “He’s been lucky so far, but he’ll slip up soon enough.”

“I know dad,” Mac said. “What scares me is how many more he’ll kill before he slips up enough for us to catch him. But for now, you go back to sleep.”

“I will if you will.”

“That’s my next stop,” Bolton told his father as he stood up. “A few hours sleep, then I’m going to try to grab a quick dinner with Lisa.”

Nick Bolton quickly reached up and gently grabbed his son’s arm.

“You ever gonna get around to marrying that girl, son?”

“Working on it Dad,” Bolton said, covering his father’s hand with his own. “Just as soon as I can find enough time between major cases.”

“Make the time son,” the old man said, lying back in back and quickly drifting off to sleep. “Make the time.”

“I will dad, I promise,” he whispered before leaving the room.

Ten minutes later, Mac Bolton was sound asleep on his own couch, but it wasn’t a peaceful sleep. His dreams all began with him and Lisa together in a peaceful park and they all ended with nightmare visions of mutilated women riding the iridescent tail of comets in the sky above, each calling out for him to join them.

* * * * *

This cleansing was proceeding smoother than ever before. Over halfway completed and no interference yet from outside forces. Still, there was one who presented a problem, one who might unwittingly interfere with the holy task. Before that could be allowed to occur, action would be taken to permanently remove the threat.

* * * * *

He’d only intended to sleep for a couple of hours, but he must have rolled over and turned off the alarm in his sleep. He was awake, but it was now past eight and the sun had set two hours ago. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, Bolton was starting to feel human again. Before he could grab something to eat or give Lisa a call, his phone rang. He could hear Kiner bellowing at him long before the receiver reached his ear.

“Where in blazes have you been Bolton?” snapped Kiner. “Our friend has paid us another visit, we’ve just got a report of another victim in the park. Get down there, right now.”

It took over an hour, catching BART back to his car and then out to the newest crime scene. CSU was already working the scene and Bolton quickly found Sanchez first, not wanting to look at the figure lying under the black tarp anytime soon.

“What have we got so far,” he asked the tech, who was looking like she’d aged ten years in the past four days.

“Um, not much more than the others,” Sanchez replied, looking uncomfortable with the conversation.

“What does that mean, Sanchez?” Bolton asked, confused by the woman’s attitude. “Do we know the name of our vic yet?”

Sanchez did not answer, but merely bent over the covered body of the eighth victim and lifted away the covering.

It was Inspector Townsell. A single knife wound to the chest and the damned carving on her forehead confirming the identity of her killer.

“How the hell did this happen?” Bolton rasped, forgetting that just days before, he had considered Townsell a likely suspect. But before Sanchez could answer, a pair of men in long, black overcoats that screamed out Internal Affairs approached them.

“Inspector Bolton,” the taller of the two men said as they both flashed their badges. “Sergeants Cooper and Baker, IA. Can we have a word?”

“I’m in the middle of another murder investigation gentleman,” Bolton replied tersely, as he heard Sanchez walk away from the three men. “You’ll have to wait until I get back to the office.”

“I’m afraid that’s not good enough, Inspector,” Cooper said as the shorter Baker quickly stepped behind Bolton. “You can come along quietly or we can arrest you right here.”

“Arrest me?” Bolton exclaimed. “On what charge.”

“Suspicion of murder, Inspector,” Baker said coldly. “Ten counts of cold-blooded murder.”

 

*     *     *     *     *

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 6

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.

 

EDIT: It has come to my attention that on Sept. 11, 2019, three days before this chapter was published, a woman by the name of Karyn Barlow Venuso passed away in Georgia (I believe or it might have been in North Carolina). You can find her obit here if you have come here by mistake while looking for it. This story was written a very long time ago and obviously, the character named in this chapter was never meant to be implied to be Mrs. Venuso in any way.

Friends and family searching for her obit have been directed here by Google searches. I wish to express my condolences to the Venuso family during their time of grief and my sincere hope that this unfortunate coincidence has not caused them any further discomfort or pain.

 

SIX

 

Karyn Barlow worked as hard at watching her figure as she did her job at the National Bank. A petite blonde in her late twenties, Barlow counted every calorie and worked out religiously. She wasn’t going for the bodybuilder look, but she wanted to stay in shape.

If only finding the right guy was easier, she thought to herself as she jogged her way into Golden Gate Park. She’d heard about the grisly murders and took heed of the warnings from the police, but she felt confident she could take care of herself. She always carried pepper spray with her wherever she went.

The thought of the police sent her thoughts drifting back to Mr. Right. One of her regular customers was a police Inspector. He seemed like a very nice man, although here always seemed to be a shadow of sadness around his eyes, even when he smiled. He always had a kind word for her whenever he came in to the bank.

But, she allowed wryly, he was taken. She’d seen him once or twice with a nice-looking woman. They actually made a cute couple. Isn’t that about right, she mused as she turned along a dimly lit path in the park, all the really good ones are already taken. Barlow spotted a figure underneath one of the light posts ahead and instinctively reached for the pepper spray canister. But her hand stopped short of the canister as she recognized who it was.

“Oh, you scared me,” she exclaimed in relief. “What are you doing out here in…”

Barlow was stunned into silence as the figure quickly stepped forward and she saw the glittering knife rise up. Before she could utter a word of protest and reach again for the pepper spray, she felt the bite of the cold steel as it plunged into her chest.

For some insane reason, even as she fell backward into oblivion, all she could see was Dyson’s Comet glittering above her.

“How pretty,” she whispered as the darkness claimed her.

* * * * *

The park was in chaos again as the fourth victim had been found, bringing the police along with the usual horde of media and other looky-loos. Bolton and Foster arrived at the same time and walked into the park.

“Any luck on the records searches?” Bolton asked as they neared the crime scene.

“Nothing yet,” Foster said. “Although the shrink says we should be looking for someone with a case record similar to yours. Said if he didn’t know you better, you’d be at the top of his list of suspects.

“His words, not mine,” Foster added quickly in response to the look Bolton shot him. “How about you?”

“Nothing but dead ends all damn day,” Bolton replied as they neared the body.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this Inspector,” Sanchez said as she spotted Bolton, leaning over to lift the plastic sheet covering the victim.

The body had been posed after death, the victim’s hand placed together in prayer just above the bloody wound where the knife had entered to puncture her heart. Death had been mercifully swift, the woman’s face was free of pain, but carried the killer’s signature comet carving. Bolton looked closer at the woman’s face.

“Aw hell,” Bolton cursed softly as her recognized who the victim was.

“The vic’s name is…” Sanchez started to say.

“Karyn Barlow,” Bolton interrupted. “She’s a teller at my bank.”

“You know this woman,” Kiner said from behind Bolton, having just arrived in time to hear Bolton’s identification.

“Just from the bank, I usually wind up at her window when I go in,” Bolton replied sadly. “She seemed like a nice woman.”

“You think there’s a connection here?” Kiner asked.

“How could there be,” Bolton said, noticing a tall, dark-haired woman next to Kiner as he stood up and turned away from the body. “I doubt our killer even knows who I am, we haven’t even gotten close enough for him to be worried about us right now.”

“I want this checked out anyway,” Kiner ordered, quickly raising his hand to cut off Bolton’s protest. “I’m not pulling you off the case, but if this guy has decided to make this personal between the two of you, I want to know.

“This case is going to heat up, the guy who found our latest vic managed to tell the press about the markings he saw. It’s only a matter of time before it gets out that there’s a serial killer on the loose now.”

Bolton couldn’t argue the point, there were already whispers among the reporters of a connection between the comet and the killings. This latest revelation would all but confirm it. This was going to turn into a political hot potato and an even larger media circus.

“Who’s your friend?” Bolton asked, nodding his head in the direction of Kiner’s dark-haired companion.

“She’s Inspector Allison Townsell,” Kiner replied. “I’m assigning her to this case, and don’t give me any grief either. You need all the help you can get and Townsell is good. She even requested to join the investigation and I think she can be an asset.

“Townsell,” Kiner waved the woman over. “Inspector Townsell, this is Inspector Mac Bolton. You’ll be working for him for now.”

“Inspector,” Townsell said, extending a hand.

“Welcome aboard Inspector,” Bolton replied, shaking the proffered hand. “Strong grip you’ve got there.”

“I work out,” Townsell said. “It gets a suspect’s attention when I decide I have to toss them around the room a little.”

“I see,” Bolton said. “Well then let’s get you right to work. I want you to get all the information you can on Ms. Barlow there and cross-check it with everything we have on the first three victims. See if there are any connections between them, no matter how slight, and run them down.”

“You’re thinking there’s a pattern to our guy’s selection of victims?” she asked.

“Right now Inspector, I’m grasping at straws,” Bolton replied. “This guy hasn’t left us a crumb to work with that will identify him, I’m hoping he’s slipped up somewhere and this seems as likely a place to start as any. Report to me if you find anything.”

“You think that will do any good,” Kiner asked after Townsell had left.

“Nope,” Bolton replied bitterly. “But it’ll give us something to do until the next victim is found and then all we can do is hope he finally makes a mistake.”

Kiner nodded his head wordlessly before turning to address the media gathered just outside the park.

“Who’s the Amazon?” Foster asked with a quick look in Townsell’s direction.

“Boss decided we needed some extra help,” Bolton answered. “Says she good at these kinds of cases, specifically asked to be assigned to us. She works out by the way, has a pretty strong grip too.”

“What are you thinking?”

“If you are the killer, and you have connections to the cops,” Bolton mused, “what better way to keep an eye on the progress of the investigation than to be right in the middle of it?”

“You think she…?”

“All I’m saying,” Bolton said, “is for you to check her out and move her up to the top of the suspect list if there is any reason to. Got it?”

“Got it,” Foster said. “You want me to get started now?”

“Yeah,” Bolton replied. “There’s nothing more for us to do here anyway, let’s get out of here.”

Bolton paused long enough to watch two coroner’s deputies gently lift Barlow’s body and place it into a black body bag.

You may not be the last victim, Bolton vowed silently as he watched Barlow being carried away, but you will have justice.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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1K Serials: Legacy Of Death, Ch. 5

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.

 

FIVE

 

Owens was already sitting in Kiner’s office when the two Inspectors entered the room.

“Bad news travels fast,” Bolton said as he saw Lisa.

“Doubly so in an election year,” she replied. “The boss wants an update, so here I am. What can you tell me?”

“It’s definitely our guy’s handiwork, even though he didn’t desecrate the body like he did the earlier two,” Bolton said. “I think those were done to make sure he got our attention, which he has and he damn well knows it.

“There’s a connection between these killings and the comet, no doubt about it,” Bolton continued. “Remember the ‘cleansing the world’ message he left behind? Centuries ago, a comet was seen as something that brought a change to the world, usually something bad or evil. Our killer could see the comet as a tool to clean up the world of all its evils and these killings are a part of that process. In his mind he his carrying out an ordained task.”

“Are you saying he’s some kind of religious nut job,” Kiner barked.

“No, there’s no organized religion behind this,” Bolton said. “But there are some old world religious overtones to it.”

“But if he’s out to clean away evil, why has he killed a nurse, a teacher and a run of the mill housewife?” Foster asked. “Shouldn’t he be out trolling the low-rent districts, killing druggies or hookers to ‘clean up the world’?”

“These women have been laid out on sacrificial altars,” Bolton replied. “You don’t offer up the dregs to your god, your offer up the best, the most pure of your flock or your harvest.”

“I don’t know Mac,” Kiner said. “There’s not a lot of meat to that theory. What do you think Counselor?”

Owens, who had been sitting quietly throughout the discussion, jolted upright as if she had been lost in thought. Bolton had never seen her look flustered like this before.

“I’m not sure, Chief,” she said offhandedly. “It’s certainly plausible and it does fit most of what we know so far. But without more evidence, who can say for sure.

“I’ll pass it along to the boss,” she said, suddenly standing up. “In the meantime, I suggest you double your efforts to catch this killer before he strikes again.”

Before Owens could reach the door, Foster spoke up.

“There’s one more thing, Mac thinks the killer may be in law enforcement.”

Owens spun around quickly to face Bolton.

“What makes you say that Inspector?” she asked.

“It’s just a feeling,” Bolton replied, “and I know it isn’t proof. But this guy has left behind three pristine crime scenes that haven’t produced one scrap of evidence that we could use to find him, much less prosecute him. No one is that lucky. It has to be someone with working knowledge of crime scene investigations. It has to be a cop, or an ex-cop or a criminalist.”

“Do you have any proof Mac?” Kiner asked quietly.

“If I did, then I’d have a better idea of who it is,” Bolton answered.

“Then for now, that information stays in this room,” Kiner said. “Until you have more than just a feeling to go on, understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Bolton said, adding, “There’s just one more thing.”

“What is that?”

“We’ve only got about ten days to find this guy. After that, the comet is no longer visible on Earth to the naked eye and I think that’s when this guy’s ‘mission’ will be done. If he doesn’t make a mistake by then and we haven’t caught him, we never will.”

“Then I suggest the two of you get out there and find this guy,” Kiner said. “Ms. Owens, if you would relate of all this to the D.A. as well as my assurance that we will do everything in our power to put a stop to these killings, I would appreciate it.”

Owens nodded and quickly left, with Foster and Bolton right behind. But before Bolton could close the door, he heard Kiner beckoning him back.

“Mac,” the old cop asked. “How sure are you about this theory of yours?”

Bolton looked down at the floor for a second before raising his eyes to meet Kiner’s without saying a word.

“Shit,” Kiner swore softly. “I was afraid of that. Get him Mac, but does lose yourself along the way, you hear?”

“Yes sir,” Bolton said, swinging the door shut as he left the room again. Both men knew it was the Parker case all over again and both men feared it might even be worse this time around.

Kiner had been partner’s with Mac’s father, had been a rabbi to Mac when he first started on the job and thought of Mac as the son he’d never had. As the Chief of Inspectors, Kiner was damned glad Mac was on this case. As a friend of the family, he was filled with dread that Mac was on this case. Kiner picked up his desk phone and punched one of the few buttons he actually knew the function for on the damn thing.

“Sally,” he spoke into the phone when his secretary answered. “Get Nick Bolton on the line for me, please.”

* * * * *

“Hey Lisa, wait up,” Bolton called out as he hurried to catch up with Owens in the parking garage. “You okay?”

“Yeah Mac,” she said, hugging her shoulders. “This is just a tough case and that it could be one of us makes it that much harder. How sure are you that it is?”

“Right now, it’s more a feeling than anything else,” Bolton replied. “I could be wrong but I don’t think so. This guy has been too good all three times not to have been connected to the job somehow.”

“Alright,” Owens said after a few moments silence. “Then we both have work to do then. You catch him, I’ll put him away for good.”

“Maybe after that we’ll have some time for us again,” Bolton said, gently laying a hand on her cheek.

“I’d like that,” she said, quickly leaning forward, her lips gently brushing his, before she turned away and got into her car. “I’ll see you later Mac.”

Bolton watched her drive away before turning to head back upstairs and to the horror that he feared was only just beginning.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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