Mystique, the Story So Far
This gathers the first twelve parts of my series Mystique in it's roughest unedited form. More entries to come soon.
The Person of Interest: one Victor Alcore, tall across with a growing forehead and the skin of an alabaster whale. The type of twisted, sweaty, vile beast Captain Ahab would harpoon rather than take into custody. The day is late, as he waddles over to a dumpster, moonlight reflecting from his greasy forehead like a lighthouse on a stormy night. Our white whale, in the open where we make our positive id.
I can smell him before we even reach him; imagine the bloat flies swarming his body that he made no effort to conceal with appropriate clothing. Vile as vile can be, and what do you know, he's got blood on his shoes. We were just here to question him about some pictures he'd left to develop; 13 missing children…it's not looking good for old Moby here. Then again, looking good isn't exactly on his list of priorities.
Had to call a wagon to pick him up, where they must've rode the axels all the way to the station. I made a snide remark to the officer driving, "Just stick his head out the back. All of his wheezing might save you a few bucks in gas." I often think I'm more clever than I really am.
The officer just looked at me with a grimace. Probably didn't appreciate picking up "Moby can't see his dick."I suppose we all have places we'd rather be: In the arms of a paramour, on the couch listening to Grandpa's war stories…my son's first little league game. But we have important things to do in this job. I just hope when I get around to my loved ones, that it's not too late.
We finally got the whale in an interrogation room, where he took up a seat with each cheek. We started to grill him about the missing girls; "Why does he have a roll of film with candid pictures of each?"
"Does he have information on their whereabouts, or did he just eat all the evidence?"
"Why were his shoes covered in blood?"
He ain't talking and it's not doing my blood pressure any favors. His body odor is relentless, and I'm starting to wonder if this guy is all there. I mean, there's a lot of him there, but I can't imagine any substantial part of it is brain matter. His labored mouth breathing rattles throughout the room, and echoes wall to wall.
"I…want…a lawyer." he wheezes. Forty minutes later we just want answers. Leads. I tell the lawyer if he gives us something we can use, he can be home by second breakfast.
The glutton is all too happy to oblige and gives us a tip about the mole people in the subway. "Ask Sandy Bags," he says "she's the one what wanted the pictures. Says she needs 'em so she can keep her babies safe."
His depressive demeanor becomes one of despair as he discovers that no, he's not getting out by second breakfast. Or dinner. Or luncheon or afternoon tea. It's off to the holding cells until the dna on the shoes comes back from the lab.
As for me, I finally get to go home for a few beers and a few winks. Problem is, I'll always have more beers than winks, but lets be honest here; by that point of my night, I have zero fucks so I suppose it evens out.
Like hitting the snooze in the morning. I say I'm just going to sleep for an extra 10 minutes, but I'll be damned if I'm always late to work.
I get home late and see the wife is already in bed, and junior is tucked in. I won't bother them so I cover my beer with a pillow to stifle the distinctive pop of the can. Ice cold, just like a lot of the suspects I bring in.
And this is where my mind and heart begin to battle. As I settle in my chair, down a quick snort of whiskey and sip my beer, I battle my thoughts like I do every night.
I'll be heading into moletown for a lead, where the outcasts of society live in the shadows. It's dark and cold this time of year. But I wonder…how many of them are just people? You know, regular people with broken hopes and dreams…disillusioned with the go-go overworld where guys like me have to tell people how to live.
Murders, conspiracies, horrifying accidents…I've seen them all, and came to terms with them. But people? People still scare the hell out of me. Especially the ones that I have no hope of helping.
Claustrophobia is a hard thing to handle, down under the city. Old subway tunnels filled with shanty towns, and people who lost their way. The only light that exists in this great pit of despair, is the kind you make for yourself. And the kind that burns within you.
Even though these people come to care for one another, they don't care much for two overworld detectives. My partner Marco is having the worst panic attack of his life, and we haven't even found Sandy Bags yet. The darkness gets deeper, and his breathing becomes more rapid.
"Have you seen a women they call Sandy Bags?" we ask. Coal covered faces of shuffling skeletons snarl at us. Most never answer, only continue shuffling from one point to the next. A few point to a row of candles and whisper "Third Rail."
Our flashlights are dimming. A warm breeze blows out the candles and leaves us shuffling for our lighters. Thank God I'm a smoker…but I'm panicking with a pesky fight or flight situation and drop it onto a grate.
Right there in the darkest place on or under earth, we see a lantern and two shadows, both female. One kneeling another approaching. Whispers in the dark, "Goodbye Sandy." A flash of light. A deafening ring. A side of murder with our panic attacks.
Perfect way to start a Sunday morning…
The darkness that overtook us was temporary. Everyone in the tunnel heard the shots that killer Sandy Bags, and a sickening display occurred. Perhaps twenty, maybe thirty, malbournished rag displays swept in to take the body. They tore at her, and tore from inside her everything that had once been a part of her. I'll never forget the child who got to her eyes, as if they were a delicacy. He bit into them and the black matter gush over his giggling lips like yolk from a soft boiled egg.
In all the confusion Marco, too, was trampled. Paralyzed by his claustrophobia, he was trampled by the crowd. They smelt blood like a pack of sharks. I drew my revolver to try and protect him when I slipped on something wet. I would later discover it was Marco's urine, as he had voided his bladder during the ordeal.
I was concussed from the fall, in and out of consciousness as I was sure that I'd be next. But they were focused on what remained of Sally and what was about to remain of Marco. He was still alive, but they butchered him anyway. He screamed when they cut out his liver. He cried when they removed his 'revolver'. He grew silent when they tore out his lungs.
These things still happen in 1948? I thought after the war…I thought I'd seen the last of the great horrors of life. But people still eat each other. I wonder if it will ever change. Will our children or their children eat each other? Or simply enslave them in a class system that offers no other choice?
I finally escaped the tunnel and called for backup. It was a clusterfuck. Marco's body had been torn to pieces, and the perpetrators scattered. Most of his face was missing, as was all the soft tissue. One leg was gone. No clothing was left, not even his badge. If it wasn't for the shock, I might feel something. But I grimace and tear up as best I can. Can't let the Captain take me off the case now. I'm too invested.
I made my way over to Sally's remains. Not much to see, just like Marco. Her body had been emaciated, fingernails long and cuticles protruding. White as a ghost and frail; she'd been living here a long time.
Near her remains we found bloody footprints leading off into an axcess tunnel. A collage of the missing girls photos had been made, like a shrine. This must be what Alcore meant when he said Sally was "trying to save the babies." Somehow I doubt her pseudo voodoo did them much good.
Coroner approaches me. "The blood from Alcores shoes was canine. I guess you have to let him go in the morning."
"That's in the morning," I say. "Right now it's time for a long night." I turn away and begin to follow the bloodtrail into the darkness.
The blood trail ran dry not far past the service entrance. They led directly to the steam tunnels. Oddly enough, my vision was clear; focused on finding the mysterious figure who murdered Sandy and contributed to Marco's death by cannibalism.
There were clicks and clanks, snaps and pops, drips and drops. A shadow at the edge of the corridor. It was a woman, frail and in tattered clothes. Blood spatter painted her trenchcoat like a fresh Jackson Pollack. Tears ran down her face. "I had to do it. She killed my babies! She killed all thirteen of my babies…"
I remembered the collage of missing children, found on a shrine near Sandy's shack in the tunnel. Pictures, according to Victor Alcore, that were commissioned for Sandy to use.
It's becoming twisted. Convoluted and confusing. Which ends am I supposed to tie together now? 13 missing girls, an admitted killer, two fresh victims and a whale of a man still in custody.
What the fuck is going on?
We, meaning some paramedics and a shrink, took the woman into custody. We had her dead to rights, but there were too many loose ends to call this a simple homicide. She got a cop killed, eaten alive really, and was somehow connected to the missing children. What was the connection? That's my primary concern and it seems easier to focus on instead of swimming in a bottle over Marco's tragic loss.
"Your wife is calling, she's worried." says the Captain. "And someone needs to inform Mrs. Valero of the loss of her husband."
Not just my brother in arms, my brother in blue…Marco was my baby brother and I had failed him. What words could console the newly widowed Diane about her, our, lose? How she will hate me for not being there.
"Take the night, Nick. We'll keep the bitch on ice til morning. Let the shrinks have him til morning. Go home to your family."
I could hardly argue. I'd seen a few things in the Germany. But nothing chilled me to the core like I had been today. "This is still my case damnit! Don't let them scramble her eggs before I get to interrogate her!" The Captain nodded reluctantly.
It's still your case, Nick. Her eggs are cracked, but we'll be sure to keep them over easy til you get back in the morning."
I took the long way to Diane's, trying to clear my head; figure out how to unfuck myself before knocking on the door. I sat in my car for a good 20 minutes, sipping whiskey and reliving the horrendous events of the day.
I readied myself and found the courage to knock, only for my sweet Jackie to open it before I had the chance. Her eyes, red and swollen, told me everything I needed to know. Some overzealous patrolmen had already broken the news, and there was no putting that particular cat back in the bag.
Diane was tearless. Angry, furious was more her nature. I stood quietly for what seemed to be the entire age of the earth. She stood and glared into my eyes, fury stretching her brow like I'd never seen before. She slapped me across the cheek, hard enough to make me see stars.
"Nicholas Valero, you will make this right. Go! Go, now, and make it right!"
The door slammed behind me in the cold winter night, but I only felt the heat from her scolding. I sat back into my car, sipping my whiskey while her words of scorn lulled me into a restless slumber.
"Make it right!" I'll be damned and God Damned if I don't at least try…and I'll bring hell to anyone that stands in my way…
Sitting groggy in my car, trying to wear off a mild hangover, I started to remember my brother as he once was; not the pieces of meat and donated organs he had become.
Our first case together was clearing out a gang of squaters; they had an affinity for abandoned industrial complexes, and even moreso, they enjoyed deploying mannequins to fuck with security.
I'll never forget the look on Marco's face. We entered with our flashlights, revolver's holstered. They were just squatters afterall. So we get a few hallways in and they have mannequins set up everywhere. Creepy as fuck. One of the mannequins had a tripwire set to spring an arm forward, as a form of defense. He's already shaking in his boots and sets off the wire. Mannequin arm bitch smacks him across the face. He's tearing up from pain, and I'm messing myself laughing. A nice little prank from our sergeant to put hair on our chests. No squatters, just a few blue boys having a go at the rookies.
Flash forward to yesterday; Marco is screaming for mama as his intestines are torn out. Just got married a few days before, hoping to save up for the honeymoon. I don't know if they ever got to fuck, but he's fucked now after a day in the tunnels. Should've had his cherry popped instead of his intestines, Mother have mercy.
Finally sitting here interrogating the woman who murdered Sandy. The FBI psychoanalysts got to her first, say she exhibits symptoms characteristc with schizophrenia. Just my luck. This lady loses her marbles, and decides to open up a head or two looking for new ones.
She smells like wet dog. A mangy, feral, ill tempered and unpredictable dog. The room echoes; no windows, only a table and door surrounded by cinder blocks. She screams, "My babies! She took my babies!"
Over and over and over. She then begins to howl, like a wolf. Top of her lungs. At the end of each howl, she moans "She killed my babies!"
The entire fucking thing is ridiculous to me. She's barely lucid, and yet…we do have thirteen missing children. We'll have to hold Victor Alcore as a suspect. And this lady. Both hooked to Sandy and both connected to the children in different ways. Victor took pictures of them. Sandy made a shrine to them with the photos. Is this women claiming they're all hers? And then the howling starts. Again and again. "…my babies…"
I'm getting nowhere fast. Cuckoo birds were Marco's specialty. He always had a way to calm the crazies. I'm too used to playing bad cop and drinking the horrors of the job away.
I left my chair and began to exit the room. Outside the door is a a barred window, just large enough to illuminate the one bulb hallway. The light of the full moon nearly blinds me, as the echoing howl of the lunatic grows louder and more violent.
A cold shiver runs down my spine.
The howling continues through the night as we expound the evidence. The collage of children each has a lock of hair, and a spatter of blood. Dna samples match them all to the blood on Victor Alcores shoes.
So it's time to have another chat with our resident Tub O Lard. I send a few rookies to retrieve him and place him in the room adjacent to our mystery woman. Maybe the howling will convince him to talk?
Before I try Victor, I see to the mystery lady, and place a sheet of paper in front of her. "Feel like confessing for Sandy's murder? Maybe you murdered those kids too, huh? Lets just get this all out of the way, and you confess about them?
Her howling stopped and she took the paper. It never hurts to have a confession. But that's not what she gives me. Instead, she draws a puppy. Looks me square in the eyes and whispers "Owoooo…" So I just throw a stack of paper at her and tell her to have fun.
As I leave the room, two officers are running to me "Sir, it's Alcore!"
"What about him?" I ask.
"You just gotta see, hurry!"
We run through the dimly lit corridors to Alcore's cell. There we find a near finished game of hangman, and one man hanging. Written is blood was a 9 letter word, "Wherew___"
The bigger clue, I think, is how this fat fuck managed to hang himself with his belt without it breaking. That's a 'buy it for life' recommendation if I ever saw one.
I couldn't take it anymore. It felt like the walls were closing in on me, as holding cells often do. The fat, hanging corpse of Victor Alcore did nothing to assuage my panic. The smell of blood on the walls, of metal that just wouldn't eliminate from the air…
I'm more like my brother than I thought. Claustrophobic and ready to get the hell out of this cage. Then I hear the howling. More. Fucking Howling. And my hot temper set my mind to alleviate myself of these circumstances. I squeezed my way past Fat Vic, the White Whale of the West Side, and set down the halls to stop the infernal howling when suddenly, it stopped…
Then a thud that shook the walls and ceiling followed by a wet crunch. The guard by the interrogation room was dead, murdered by the now escaped Mad Howler. All that remained was an opened door, and a confession scribbled in blood.