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Murder on the Mind


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Ten bodies. Two weeks. One serial killer. This is the only evidence I have, I think to myself as I walk in circles around the stark silence of my apartment, my shoes making a harsh noise against the wood floor. Regardless of the amount of times I ponder the various crime scenes, the evidence (and lack thereof) remains the same. Each victim violently murdered with knife wounds. A mother, a young man, an old woman, the list goes on, each person having absolutely no relationship to the next. No traces: not a fingerprint, a piece of hair, or even a witness. Whoever is responsible for these homicides is far from amateur.

I am suddenly torn from my thoughts as my phone rings. I immediately pick it up, somehow expecting the call.
“Detective Williams speaking,” I say, preparing for the familiar husky voice on the other end of the receiver.
“There’s been another one. We need you at the scene.”

“How soon?” I respond.
“Now.” I hear the click of the phone on the other end and put my own phone back on the table. Grabbing my coat, I step out into the chilly, early morning air and brace myself for another confusing day.

27-year-old Gina Sykes, killed at approximately 3:00 A.M. that morning with multiple knife wounds identical to the other ten victims. Found in a parking structure next to an office building at 8:00 A.M. Again, absolutely no traces left, and no witness in sight. I bend down to get a closer look at the victim, a young, beautiful girl with vivid red hair and striking blue eyes. The blood is drained out of her pouty red lips, though her immaculate eye shadow remains. She lies in a sequined gold mini-dress, her bejeweled clutch sitting next to her dead body. She had probably been walking home from a party when the killer found her. Something about her seems eerily familiar—She probably just reminds me of Phoebe, I reassure myself. A detective I don’t recognize hands me a briefing sheet with all the evidence that has been found since the discovery of her body. I watch as they gather blood, hair, fingerprints, and other evidence around her lifeless body. The other detectives slowly begin to leave. Finally, I tuck the sheet into my coat pocket, and begin to walk to my car. As I leave, the Chief of Police discreetly stops me while driving out of the parking structure.

“Williams, I need to speak with you,” he gruffly says in the same voice I had previously spoken to on the phone.
“Of course, what do you need sir,” I say.
“I’m making you the lead detective on this case. You’re the best we’ve got under the circumstances.”
“Of course, sir,” I respond again.
“Man, another dead body and still no evidence. You’ve got yourself a mystery to solve, Sherlock Holmes,” he says sarcastically and drives away.
I laugh wanly, astonished by the complications of the case. Walking across the street to get a coffee, I think to myself, None of the victims are related. How can this murderer have any justification? I guess he doesn’t need any at this point, after cruelly killing eleven people. I am snapped out of my ponderings by the young barista in the coffee shop. I take in her appearance: a black and grey flannel, black jeans, and a depressed expression shielding her beautiful face.

“Hello, how are you, what can I get you,” she says in one monotonous phrase.

“I’ll have just a regular coffee, black, with no sweetener,” I say.

“That’ll be $1.75,” she responds in the same bored tone.
I hand her the money and pick up my coffee at the end of the counter. Suddenly, a strong, strange feeling of déjà vu overwhelms me. I shake my head, wondering why the shop feels so familiar to me; I have never seen it before, let alone been into it. I dismiss the odd feeling as simply lack of sleep—I have been feeling tired lately. Pushing open the heavy door, I walk to the parking lot, get into my car, and begin the long, tedious drive back to my house.

By the time I return home it is already late afternoon. I settle down into my beaten-up sofa and turn on the television. Yet again, the ringing phone disrupts me.

“Hello,” I answer.

“Dad? Hi, it’s Phoebe,” the voice on the other line explains hurriedly and in a panicked

manner.

“Hi honey! What’s the matter?” I ask.
“I’ve been worried about you all day! Are you okay? Last night at around 4:00 A.M. did
you try to call me?” she asks.
“Well if I did I don’t remember it! I was sleeping!” I say, trying to remember waking up
and calling my daughter.
“I woke up this morning and on my answering machine there was a message from you
left at 4:00 A.M. It sounded like you were sobbing into the phone and mumbling something incoherent. Maybe you were sleep talking? Did you call me in your sleep? I don’t know, but either way I think you should go see that therapist I was telling you about. You know there’s a possibility that you’re having stress dreams about that case you’re working on. I read something in Oprah magazine that said all your dreams are…” she continued rambling about the article she had read.
“Okay honey,” I interrupted, “I’ll call the therapist right now. Take care,” I say and hang up. Then, I dial the therapist’s number she gives me and book an appointment for that same afternoon.
“Theodore Williams?” a young woman wearing a teal, pleated dress with curly blonde hair calls my name. “Dr. Richen is ready for you.” She smiles as she leads me back to the therapist’s room.
When I first enter the room, I am surprised that it doesn’t look like the stereotypical therapist’s office. There is no dull, brown, chaise lounge or tan wall. Rather, the entire room is painted a vibrant shade of green, a modern white couch sits across from two printed chairs, and there are bright fuchsia curtains hanging from floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

“Yes, I know, it’s not the conventional therapist room,” Dr. Richen chuckles, noticing me surveying the décor. I smile nervously and take a seat on the plush couch across from him.

“So,” he continues, “It says on your patient file that you have been feeling unusually tired and suspect you have been having stress dreams?”

“Yes,” I tell him. “Although I’m not sure if I’m actually having stress dreams. I don’t seem to remember them, yet my daughter insists that I sleep talk.” The doctor writes something down on my patient file.
“Okay, we’ll just run a few tests for your diagnosis. It shouldn’t take too long,” he says. For the next hour I am hooked up to multiple machines to measure my blood pressure, weight, and overall health. After the hour is finished, Dr. Richen smiles warmly at me and clasps his hands together.

“Well, that’s all for the first session. You seem to be in good health, and we haven’t seen any unusual behavioral indicators, so I would say you’re just having stress dreams. Perfectly normal! If you would like, you may set up a future appointment with Sasha,” he gestures to his secretary, “or call the office during our open hours. Have a nice day Mr. Williams!” I stand up and leave the office, grabbing a pamphlet about psychological disorders on my way out. After I have driven home, I am exhausted, although it is only 8:00. I must be getting too old for this detective stuff, I think, laughing to myself. I can’t even work on a simple murder case without draining all of my energy! I lie back into my bed and fall asleep within minutes.

BRRINNGGG!! BRRINNGGG! I rub my tired, dry eyes and look at the clock. 10:00?? I think to myself. I haven’t slept this late since high school, and I still feel tired! I shake my head unbelievingly and pick up the phone.

“Detective Williams,” I answer.

“Williams. This is the Chief of Police. Listen, we found another body, but this time there’s a piece of evidence. You better get over here soon!” CLICK. The line goes dead. I slowly stand up, my muscles aching as if I had run a mile the day before. I quickly throw on some clothes that are lying next to my bed and briskly walk out the door.

37-year-old Sasha Collins, killed at 6:00 A.M. in her sleep, branded with the same knife pattern as the victims before her. Although the woman that was killed the day before seemed vaguely familiar, without a doubt I know who this woman was. I remember her teal dress and curly hair. This was the therapist’s secretary. As I pick around the nonexistent evidence, I wonder if the serial killer knows who I am and wants to kill me; it would make sense, now that I am the head of the case. Suddenly I remember that the Chief of Police told me they found evidence.
“Hey, Chief,” I call him over.

“Yeah? What happened now?” he asks, seeming annoyed.

“I was wondering if I could see that evidence you were talking about.”

“Oh, right. JOHN!” he turns around and yells at a frightened intern. John runs over to us with a clear plastic bag. With shaking hands, he gives the chief the evidence. “This is it. We know it wasn’t the victims because it doesn’t have her fingerprints on it. We suspect it was the killer’s handkerchief and he dropped it in his hurry to leave.” I slowly take the bag, my sweaty, quivering palms holding the evidence that seems far too familiar to me.

Still in shock, I somehow gather the power to walk outside of the building and a few blocks down the road, the handkerchief lying in my cold hands. I turn the familiar grey, cotton fabric over and run my fingers across the inscription that I have read many times before. “Happy Birthday Dad! Love, your daughter, Pheobe.” Like a tidal wave, the twelve horrifying nights come flooding back. Sneaking out in the early morning hours, finding a victim, doing the same terrible deed twelve times. Heart pounding, vision blurring, I rip open my car door, jam in my keys, and drive.
Standing in the adjacent building and peering out of his brightly curtained window is Dr. Knowles. As he watches the insane man on the street below, his head drops in conflicting agony, feeling an overbearing guilt at the patient file he holds in his hands. He reads the file for the seventh time that hour.

Mr. Theodore L. Williams, Age: 51, Weight: 173 pounds.
Diagnosis: Multiple Personality Disorder.



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