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The Pseudo Slayers
“You look fine Elizabeth. Let’s go already. The party’s going to start without us!” Austin was getting irritated and kept checking his watch. He could not afford to be late again; Elizabeth of all people should know that.
“Relax Austin, I’m almost done. Get in the car, I’ll be right behind you.” Elizabeth finished her eyeliner, scanned her room for her purse and left the room. The ride to the Peninsula Hotel was silent since Austin was still exasperated with her. You could practically see smoke coming out of his ears! In an effort to calm him down, Elizabeth looked at her boyfriend and said, “I told you we wouldn’t be late. See? There aren’t a lot of people yet. We’re right on time.”
“It would have been better if we were earlier.” Austin glanced at her, “You don’t understand how important this is to me, do you?” Elizabeth’s forehead creased and Austin rolled his eyes. She bit her tongue to prevent herself from saying anything that would make his anger worse. Glaring at him as he stepped out of their car, she took a deep breath and smiled as she took his hand and let him lead her through the jungle of reporters and cameramen and into the hotel lobby.
As usual, the night passed without anything spectacularly exciting happening. It was basically Elizabeth sitting in a corner while Austin socialized with the other high-ranking businessmen. She smiled at the right times and answered questions that were directed towards her. Austin made sure she never had to say anything more than what was necessary.
While Elizabeth went to the toilet, he took up the opportunity to go the reception and book a room for them. As he took the key from the receptionist, he saw her and his heart skipped a beat. Looking around to make sure Liz was not around, he made his way towards Valeri.
“Babe, who’s that?” Domeryc asked his wife, Valeri. He felt very protective about his dainty doll of a wife. She looked exactly like those drawings of princesses in children’s storybooks and he just loved her so much. He watched as the nearest and dearest thing to his heart turned around to see whom he was talking about. He saw her eyes widen a bit and felt her heartbeat quicken.
“Oh, that’s my colleague from the office. I’ll just go and say hi alright?” Valeri glided over to the handsome man by the reception and gave him a hug that was a little too long for greeting your colleagues. It was then Domeryc knew that this was the guy. This was the guy she had chosen over him. This was the guy for whom she had broken her promise of eternal love and commitment. This was the guy that ruined his life.
“What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be staring like that. My husband will get suspicious!” Valeri fumed with anger. She did not plan on getting caught cheating on her husband. She refrained from touching Austin and took deep breaths until she could finally smile.
“Don’t worry about it. He’s so dumb; I know he doesn’t suspect a thing. Just look at the way he’s staring at you. He’s too concentrated on pleasing you to notice you don’t love him anymore.” Austin smiled down at Valeri and rubbed her arms, “I have to go before Elizabeth catches me. I wouldn’t want her mad.”
Valeri’s mouth slowly turned downwards until she was pouting. “Why do you care about her so much anyway? She’s just some dumb girl that you’re dating. You don’t really love her because if you did, you wouldn’t be with me.” Crossing her arms, she scowled at the man for whom she was risking everything.
“She’s not some dumb girl. Listen, I have to go. She’s going to come back soon. I’ll see you later.” Glancing behind him, Austin kissed Valeri’s hand and headed back towards his table without looking back. Standing alone next to the reception dejected, she turned to look at her husband’s eager face and sighed.
Later on, as soon as the band finished playing, Austin got up and grasped Liz’s hand. “Come on Liz, let’s go upstairs.” He led her to the elevator and pressed the button, “I have a surprise for you.” Arriving on the right floor, he scanned the hallway until he found the right room number. Clinging onto her warm hand, he kissed her cheek and she smiled sheepishly. “After you love.”
The next morning, Austin woke up to a barely audible click sounding near his ear. He opened his eyes and found himself staring straight into the muzzle of a Glock. The rusty, metallic smell of blood filled the air and tickled his nostrils. Everything in his sight was tinted with a bright shade of crimson. He turned around to examine his surroundings when suddenly, he thought of Liz. Frantically searching the room, his eyes settled on the sight beside him. His stomach started churning and he felt like he was going to be sick. He could not believe it. This never could have happened. “Freeze! You’re under arrest for the murder of Elizabeth McAllen!” No, he decided, it could not be true.
Meanwhile, Domeryc paced around his best friend’s bedroom and finally decided to sit down and relax for a second. He could not stop thinking about Valeri and the only thing on his mind was the big fight they had when they got home from the party. He actually made her say that she hated him and he said he wanted her to die. Running his fingers through his hair, he regretted what he had said and done. Why did he have to make it so obvious that he knew? Wishing he had chosen a better path, he stepped into the shower and let the hot water wash all his troubles away.
About the same time Domeryc Steel stepped into a shower, Detective Alex O’Neil walked down a hall in the hotel like he had a purpose greater than any of the other people present. Of course, he was going to the scene of a homicide to find a murderer but cleaning hotel rooms was just as important.
“Where is it?” The policeman guarding the door jumped as Alex walked through the door and started barking out commands and demands. “What have you found so far? Are you all wearing gloves? Have you catalogued all the evidence? You people better have done this right or I’ll stomp on your butts like I stomp on cockroaches!” O’Neil shoes pounded on the floor as he made his way over to the bloody bed with the girl’s corpse splayed across the comforter. Giving the body a brief visual examination, he turned to the nearest officer and asked, “Did anyone touch this body?”
“Yes sir. The doctor declared her dead.”
“Did he wear gloves?”
“Y-Yes sir, he wore gloves.” Nodding, Alex put on his gloves and prodded the bed. His finger hit something solid and he lifted the mattress. Sticking his hand in, he grasped something long and hard and pulled it out. It was a painting. A painting that was shot in the head.
The painting was of a stunning young woman and it would have been an exquisite painting if not for the round hole in the middle of the painted girl’s forehead where the bullet went through the canvas. Holding it next to the dead girl’s petrified face, he found the dead girl and the painted girl looked similar. “Take this to the Center and get it analyzed. Take the girl to the coroner; make sure an autopsy happens by the end of today!” Alex handed his bloodstained gloves to the officer next to him and made his way back to his car.
Sitting in his black Camaro, Alex read the file his boss gave him that morning. Rubbing his forehead, he reviewed what he knew. The victim was a twenty-four-year-old girl named Elizabeth McAllen and the man suspected of her murder was her twenty-five-year-old boyfriend, Austin Arkin. This was going to be one big, tangled mess. Alex was going to wait until the autopsy was done to figure this all out.
Waking up to his phone vibrating, Alex groggily sat up and yawned. Lazily taking out his phone from his pocket, he briefly looked at who was calling, it was the coroner’s office.
A rough, raspy voice answered Alex’s, saying, “Hello? Detective O’Neil? I have news about the homicide that occurred this morning.”
“Yes, Elizabeth McAllen. What is it?”
“No, not Elizabeth, Valeri.”
“Sorry, you’ve got the wrong detective. I-“
“No Detective O’Neil, what I meant was, the body isn’t Elizabeth’s. It somebody named Valeri Steel.” Alex listened patiently while the coroner explained how he found out the body did not belong to Elizabeth McAllen when he used a DNA test to confirm that it was her. The coroner also found a maid’s DNA on the body. A woman named Mystique Fiora who works at the Peninsula. After obtaining the contact number of Valeri’s husband and the maid, Mystique, he thanked the coroner and got ready to drive to the local prison.
“I didn't do it.” Austin said to the man that walked into the interviewing room. The man ignored him and sat down. He slid a picture over to Austin's side of the table and stared at Austin.
“Do you know who this is?” Detective O'Neil questioned Austin Arkin, pointing to the picture of Elizabeth McAllen. “If you refuse to answer, it's your loss.”
He could see Austin swallow hard before he replied, “Yes, that’s my girlfriend, Elizabeth.”
“Can you tell me anything about her that we can use to identify her?”
“She’s amazingly beautiful and has a birthmark on her leg. She’s really pale and-“ The detective interrupted him by sliding the other picture towards him. Once he glanced at it, Austin’s heart started pounding it’s way out of his chest. He felt faint and found it hard to speak. “That’s Valeri Steel. My colleague and-“ Austin choked on his words and cast his gaze to the floor.
“And the girl I was cheating on Liz with.” The room swirled around Austin and he put his head down on the cool metal table. “Is she really dead?”
Alex raised his eyebrow, “Which one?”
“Well, we don’t know.”
Later on at his house, Domeryc cursed at his phone. It kept on ringing when he wanted to be left alone and it never rang when he wanted someone to talk to. He sat down in his armchair and picked up the receiver. “Hello?” His chest seemed to collapse inwards and he could barely hear the words the man on the line was saying. Valeri was murdered and his soul seemed to fly. Was he happy? Was he actually happy his wife died?
On his way to an empty boathouse Mystique was hired to clean and usually found in, Alex thought of why his suspects would want to kill Valeri. Domeryc had a valid reason, she was cheating on him and he probably found out. Austin might have felt threatened and thought it was safer to kill her than to risk her spreading the news of their affair to the press. But Mystique had nothing, or did she?
Walking into the boathouse after obtaining the key from the landowner, he examined the walls and the floor. As he walked to the middle of the room, his foot hit a floorboard that was not quite even and he tripped. Looking down at the floorboard he tripped on, he saw a lock of hair sticking out of it. Curious, he pulled the hair to see if it was worth anything. Thump. The hair would not come out so he pulled it harder. Thump. There was something under these floorboards and Alex was about to find out what it was.
“Gosh boss. You find the worst things ever,” Jamie Javelona told Alex as he looked him at the pile of ten dead girls all killed by a shot through the head. The notes on their bodies that said, 'He's Mine' were being taken off and stored as clues. “So this Mystique girl did all this?”
“As far as I know, yes,” Alex scratched the side of his nose and turned to Jamie. “I'm going over to Domeryc Steel's house to see if I can find anything that belonged to Valeri that'll help us. If you need me, I'll be there.”
Alex trudged up the clay path leading to the Steel residence. Arriving on the porch, he knocked on the door and a handsome, brawny young man opened the door. After Alex introduced himself, the man welcomed him to have a look around.
Domeryc showed Alex the bedroom he shared with Valeri. After a while, Domeryc got bored of watching the detective look through his stuff and examine Valeri's jewelry box and he went downstairs. When he got back upstairs with two cups of coffee, he could see that Alex had found Valeri's locked cupboard and opened it. A wedding dress he did not recognize spilled out from the cupboard and Alex was on the floor reading a diary.
“I hope you don't mind but I have to take this to the Center to get it examined and filed as evidence. Thanks for letting me have a look around.” Alex gave Domeryc a smile that could only be described as professional. Domeryc watched as Alex entered his car and drove off, clenching and unclenching his fists in annoyance and anger.
Jamie Javalona picked up the phone to call Alex. “Hey Alex, we have to talk about the Arkin case. Meet me at the Heatherview for dinner okay? See you there.” He had some new information about Valeri, Mystique and Elizabeth that he knew Alex would want to know.
Three hours later, the two detectives sat in the main dining hall of the Heatherview Hotel. Jamie was explaining how Valeri was obsessed with Austin, so obsessed that she had even bought a wedding dress for their wedding that had never been planned anywhere but inside her head. She had kept a diary following his every move and describing in detail their every encounter. In addition to that information, Elizabeth was Austin’s official girlfriend. Although they loved each other a lot, they fought constantly and whenever they did, Austin turned to Valeri for comfort. In her diary, Valeri wrote about her immense jealousy towards Elizabeth since she was Austin’s official girl.
Mystique seemed to have a mutual understanding with Valeri. She was, to quote Laura, Mystique’s best friend, ‘Valeri Steel’s little pet’. Valeri had probably influenced her and told her to kill all the girls in the boathouse. However, according to Laura, somewhere along the way, Valeri’s feelings rubbed off on Mystique and Mystique fell in love with Austin. This provided motive for Mystique to kill Valeri.
“So you think Mystique killed Valeri?” Alex asked his fellow detective, Jamie.
“Well, yes. She had all the right motives and we haven’t seen her yet. She seems to have fled from the United States.” Jamie replied, “My best bet would be that it was all her.”
“What about Elizabeth McAllen? She’s still missing.”
“Mystique probably killed her too and hid her body somewhere. But I’m sure Mystique was Valeri’s murderer.”
Alex agreed to this conclusion until two weeks later, when a corpse washed up on the shore. Rushing to the coast, Alex’s mind was in overdrive. When he reached the scene, he could instantly see it was Mystique Fiora. He found his murderer. The only problem was, she was dead. Seemingly killed by a bullet through the head, just like all the others. This left him with Domeryc Steel and Austin Arkin, his last suspects.
Jamie jogged up to Alex, “What are you going to do?”
Scratching his head, Alex exhaled. “Can you do full background checks on Domeryc Steel and Austin Arkin? I would like a search warrant to both their houses. Put Domeryc in jail with Austin, I don’t want either of them missing the next time I turn around to look for them.” Jamie jerked his head downwards in a quick nod and barked at his assistants to get a move on. “Hey Jamie! Meet me again tonight and we’ll review this whole mess okay?” Jamie turned around to smile weakly at Alex and gave him a thumbs up before he jogged away.
Alex headed over to Austin Arkin’s residence and searched the whole building, back to front, up to down. It was as clean as his grandmother’s bathroom. Disappointed and hoping Jamie had better luck at Domeryc’s place, he headed over to the Heatherview to review and discuss the Arkin case.
“Hey Alex! You won’t believe what I found over at the Steel place!” Jamie had a wide grin on his face and looked like he was about to collapse in happiness, “Why so glum? With what I found, you should consider your case closed!”
As soon as both of them sat down on the table, Jamie started talking again. “I found a gun in a hidden panel in Domeryc’s bedroom. It had his fingerprint on it and another partially smudged one that we couldn’t make out. We traced the bullets used in all the murders to the gun and well, what do you think?”
Alex sat, stunned for about a minute before he finally said, “The gun was used in all the murders?”
“And Steel’s fingerprint’s on it?”
Jamie beamed with exhilaration, “You bet.”
“What about the other fingerprint?”
“It was only a partial. Smudged too. Couldn’t trace it to anyone.” Jamie shrugged and looked at Alex expectantly.
“Well Jamie, it looks like my case is closed.”
After a month, the trials for the murders were over and they had Domeryc Steel convicted of the murders of Valeri Steel and Mystique Fiora. They also had Mystique Fiora and Valeri Steel convicted for the second-degree murders of the ten girls in the boathouse. Domeryc Steel was sent to a maximum-security prison with two life sentences. Elizabeth McAllen’s body was never found and she was declared missing.
Five years after Domeryc Steel was sent to jail, the correctional officer on duty on his tier announced he had a visitor. His door’s buzzer sounded and he put his hands out so the CO could handcuff him. Domeryc was led to a visitation room where a strikingly beautiful woman already sat on the other side of the fiberglass wall. When he saw her face, he winced because she looked so much like Valeri. Although this woman’s beauty was statuesque while Valeri’s was childlike, he considered his ex-wife to be prettier. This stranger had perfect make up and her face was almost symmetrical, her hair shined in the dim yellow light and her flawless curls seemed so soft that he felt an urge to reach out and touch them but something was missing from her picture perfect beauty. Then it hit him. She did not have those little laugh lines beside her eyes like Valeri did, in fact, this woman looked like she has not smiled in a long time.
The woman cut off his train of thought by standing up and walking towards the fiberglass. Click Clack Click Clack She was wearing impossibly high stilettos. Pushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear, the woman smiled at him coldly. A birthmark on her leg seemed like her only flaw. It invaded the pale complexion she had and seemed out of place with all the splendor around it. She picked up her purse on the floor and fingered the zipper. Domeryc sighed, “Who are you and what do you want from me?”
The woman raised both her eyebrows and smirked. Shaking her head and looking at Domeryc with an amused expression on her face, she came closer to the fiberglass. Motioning for Domeryc to lean forward, she looked at him straight in the eye and he could see this woman has been through a lot of pain. But something changed in her eyes at that moment; she had a look of pure malevolence on her face and he felt his skin crawl. Then she smiled and suddenly, the air went cold.
“I did it.”