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The Midnight Bell
The night was still, not a soul stirred, except for one man. He strode with his head bowed against the howling winds and the rain that felt like daggers on his cheek. His coat swirled around him as if trying to peel away from him. Off in the distance the clock tower rang out proudly into the darkness, exclaiming eleven claps of the bell. Only one hour until a new day begins.
Lightning lit up the sky with it’s brilliance then was followed by a crash of thunder that shook the earth. The man pulled his coat tighter and continued on his mission. Even if the world burned to the ground, he would not slow down. He was searching for someone.
He was searching for a killer.
Fifteen years ago, there was mysterious killings all over the city. People didn’t let their children outside when the sun set, in fear of never seeing them again. Police couldn’t find a pattern, or any way of finding the perp. But there was a pattern. The killer went after woman with green eyes and blonde hair, and each woman wore a silver bracelet with emeralds. On the inside of each bracelet was an engraved: “Christina.” Then, the killer fell dormant for fifteen years. Until now.
Because the killer had struck again after the wait of fifteen years.
And his victim?
The man’s daughter, Brianna.
She was only nineteen and full of life. Her eyes were the brightest of greens, her hair looking like spun gold. She wanted nothing more then to be an archeologist, and one day she went to the library and stayed the whole day researching the history of living creatures. She never came home. Police found her body floating in a canal. She wore on her wrist a silver bracelet.
Now, he vowed that he would avenge her death and put this man behind bars. Or six feet under. He didn’t care which, as long as the guy payed for what he did.
The detective’s office had gotten a lead from an anonymous tipper three nights back that the perp would be working at the bell tower that night. He raised his head, gazing up at the tower in the distance. Tonight, he knew that it would end here. He reached into his soaked coat and removed his pistol. Taking a deep breath, he bowed his head and trudged on.
But the only way to know that whole story you must know both sides, dear reader. So now we shall dip into the dark mind of our killer. Then, and only then, you can make conclusions.
Up in the topmost reached of the bell tower, our killer sat and waited. His head was leaning against a wooden beam, his mind blazing with anticipation. He traced his finger over a silver bracelet in his pocket, thinking of the first person he had given it to.
His most beloved Christina, she was so beautiful and smart. They were happy together, then came the day that he proposed to her. He gave her a silver bracelet with emeralds studs on it instead of a ring. A week from the wedding she turned up at his door in the middle of the night with her bracelet in her hand. She gave it to him and ran off into the darkness. He always carried the bracelet with him, hoping that one day he could be with her again.
But the anger is still there, fermenting, growing. Every time he saw a woman with blonde hair and green eyes, he is reminded of the bitter pain and his heart aches. So he got rid of them. The first time he ever killed one of the women, he didn’t remember what he had done. All he recalled from that night was the blind hurt and agony of loosing Christina. Then he woke with blood on his clothes, and he knew what sin he had done. He vowed never to do it again, but the wound on his heart gets ripped open every time he saw a woman like that. All he wanted to rid himself of the pain.
Then the face on the latest victim flashed in his mind. He opened his eyes and bent over. She was so young, so innocent. He had worked so hard not to do this again. But when he saw her walking down the street, with her arms fill of books, the pain came back. He tried to walk away, but next thing he knew, she was dead at his feet and he was slipping the bracelet on her slim, pale, wrist. So he panicked and thew her in the canal, hoping she would wash away.
After a few long, deep breathes, he straighten up. He couldn’t let his mind get clouded, not now.
Not when someone was coming to kill him.
The night before, he had received a letter saying that some detective would come to the tower to “take care of him”. He leaned down and grabbed his revolver from the boards at his feet. Gently, he laid it across his lap and waited.
Fortunately, he didn’t wait that long.
The door two floors below slowly creaked open, followed by cautious steps. The killer sat with his back as straight as a board, listening. Down below, the detective didn’t dare breath as he scanned the dark ground floor of the bell tower, looking for any movement. He summoned the courage and crossed the room to a ladder, he gripped the icy metal until he didn’t feel his fingers and his knuckles turned white.
Up he climbed, up to the second floor where the man who took away his daughter sat, waiting. As he reached the second floor, the killer rose to his feet, deadly calm. The detective turned to meet the killers gaze, both unwavering and unmoving. “So this is it.” the killer asked as if the two were friends since children. “Only one of us will leave here, alive.”
The detective nodded gravely. “If it comes to it, then yes.”
In the next moments, the tension in the air was almost palpable. Both was silently daring the other to make the first move. A clap of thunder shook the clock tower sending a thin shower of dust down upon the men. The distraction was just enough for the killer the bolt of the ladder. After half a second of confusion, the detective pulled out his revolver and shot blindly in the direction that the killer ran.
The bullet ricocheted off the metal rung right above the killers head, making the killer almost loose his grip. He turned slightly and returned fire, then continued up. The ladder stopped at the third floor where all of the clock mechanisms were churning, bouncing, and swinging. Two more bullets flew past the killers head, burying themselves into some boxes of spare clock parts.
When the detective reached the third floor, there was no one in sight. The only sound audible was his heavy breathing and the squeal of rusted mechanisms. His eyes searched the shadows, waiting for the enemy to spring out. Nothing moved. He took a step forward and the rotted boards gave out from under him and his leg plunged through. He hissed in pain when an old nail pierced his right leg.
He tried to pull himself out, but the floor fell away when ever he moved and he sank deeper into the rotting wood. Cursing, he looked around franticly. Then, the cold barrel of a gun was pressed against his head. The killer calmly pulled back the hammer, loading his revolver. “Such a short fight don’t you think detective?” the killer asked, kicking the detectives hand away from solid ground. “Well, don’t worry. You won’t feel a thing.”
Just as the killer was about to pull the trigger, the detective asked “Why did you do it?”
The killer pulled back his gun, his face darkening. He searched the detectives eyes, then he whispered, “What does it have to do with you?”
“Because.” the detective began, then he swallowed back the stinging pain that was brought up. “Because, one of those girls you killed, she was my daughter.” Hs voice shook slightly as he spoke of her. An image of her face smiling at him appeared in his mind, that was the last memory he had of her, before she was taken from him.
A heavy silence covered the clock tower, as if someone had draped a thick blanket aver the world to quiet it. The detective slowly raised his head to see if the killer was still next to him. But he was no where to be seen. Grinding his teeth, he pulled himself out of the hole, ripping his trousers from the knee down. He limped over to a small door on the short ceiling that was swinging open and began to pull himself up.
Up on the roof of the tower, our killer paced back and forth, digging his finger nails into his temples, trying to get the girls face from his mind. The wind made him stumble and the rain drove all warmth from his body. But no matter what he did, all he saw was that girls face. The look on her face when he had pulled out a knife, her begging him to let her go. I’m a monster, he thought to himself, a cold hearted monster.
Suddenly, he tripped over his feet and as he fell, the bracelet flew from his pocket and skid across the cobble stone roof. He scrambled after it, not wanting to lose his only tie to Christina. Just as he was about to grab it, the detective’s boot came down on his hand, stopping him an inch away from his precious treasure. Above the pounding of the rain, he could hear the click of the detectives revolver loading.
“Either you can get up calmly and come with me,” the detective growled, “or you can move toward your gun and get some more iron in your diet.”
The killer closed his eyes in defeat. With a sigh, he asked “Please, just let me have the bracelet.”
Gently, the detective removed his boot but his eyes never left the face of the man who murdered his daughter.
Many things happened in the course of those few moments. A bolt of lightning struck the ground next to the tower temporarily blinding both men, the killer lunged at the detective, the detective accidentally kicked the bracelet over the edge, and when both regained their sight, they both found the end of a barrel in their faces.
The killer rolled on his side and quickly jumped to his feet. He franticly searched the roof with his eyes, his face slowly began to grow pale. “Where is it?!” he screamed, but his voice was drowned out by the deafening bong of the clock beneath their feet. His hands shook as he pulled the detective to his feet roughly. “Where is it? Where is the bracelet!” he yelled.
With every ring of the clock, the roof shook, making both stumble. The detective shoved the killer away, but the killers grip on his arm did not weaken.
Then, on the last proud ring of the clock, a gunshot rang out into the night. One man fell from the top of the clock tower into the black waters of the rushing river, one man walked away unharmed with his gun hanging limply from his hand.
But you see reader, not even I know who fell dead from the tower that night.
That, is up to you.