Kick start your week with a lil' moxie!
Draped in all her favorite colors, it was the book cover that drew Rada in. The fact that the main character shared her unusual name was what made her buy it. After cracking the spine, the story pulled her in with how eerily it mirrored her own life. Page after page riddled with details that even those closest to her could never have known. Private thoughts and embarrassing moments captured and preserved in black and white.
Rada grew increasingly paranoid with each chapter read. Once outgoing and vibrant, she now spent her days scouring the apartment for spyware and obsessing over the author, Peter Jacobs. Details didn't seem to exist to explain their connection. Web searches only served to frustrate as every link led only to his sole published work, Lost Time.
She read the book slowly knowing this moment would come. Her fingers drummed over the words about the dread that filled her. About the fear that coursed through her veins as she stood on the precipice of her future. She had no doubt that the pages ahead held as much truth as those that had come before.
She wasn't ready to know what the future held.
Tossing the book on the floor, it landed splayed out on the hardwood. Hints of looped red ink peeked at her from between the pages. She had never written in it and the sight of it sent her mind racing. When curiosity trumped all else, she reached for it as she struggled to steady her hands.
You are my greatest inspiration.
She sunk into the nearest chair and tried to slow her breathing. The beat of her heart pulsed between her finger and the page as she traced the letters over and over. She'd never seen the handwriting before, but it felt oddly familiar.
There was only one way to sate the question pounding against her skull demanding an answer. She found where she'd left off and her entire body trembled as she turned the page. The room spun as she stared at the two photographs that filled it. One of a slight man hunched over a laptop tagged Peter Jacobs and the other was of her.
She frantically flipped through the pages finding more photos. Every time the same thing, one of him and one of her. She stared at the only image of Peter facing the camera. Looking into his eyes chilled Rada to the core as she realized it was her own eyes staring back.
It was the first time she’d seen him since he died.
Crossing Broadway and 72nd, Satomi was stopped in her tracks. Confusion numbed her to the throng of commuters knocking her to and fro around the bustling intersection like a pinball. As flashes of jackets and sweaters zigzagged past their unbroken gaze, the guilt washed over her.
She had never even shed a tear.
The angry horns of yellow cabs barely registered through the ticking. She knew it was the time bomb her family and friends spoke of when they thought she was out of ear shot. Her breathing grew shallow in anticipation of its detonation.
Heat, from deep within, rose to the surface in opposition to the crisp fall air. As her skin tingled, she had no doubt the time had come. A moment that should have happened months ago in the loving arms of her family, instead played out amongst the loud ringtones and honking horns of strangers.
Cutting through it all was his smile. It wasn’t until she tasted the salt in her tears that Satomi realized she was smiling, too.
It was the first time she’d seen her father since he died and her smile grew, knowing it wouldn’t be the last.
It wasn’t a body as much as pieces. Four to be exact. Two arms and two legs. And they weren’t the first sets of limbs to be found. Discovery of the first had sent the media into a frenzy. With the second, serial killer was splashed across every headline and flung from every news anchors lips. After the third, they gave the killer a name…The Butcher. This new find might just send the city into a full blown panic.
The call came in a little after 2 am. They called in Detective Anita Owusu, who wasn’t on duty. She was not a happy camper, drumming her perfectly manicured nails impatiently against the steering wheel the entire ride. The street lights would occasionally glint off the purply-gray polish on her squared shaped nails, drawing her attention.
“What’s the deal?” she asked Suarez who approached her as she arrived. “This isn’t our case. Why are we here?”
Her partner rubbed the back of his neck and couldn’t quite meet her eyes. Her stomach fluttered, nervousness wasn’t an emotion she’d ever seen him wear.
Following Marino’s voice, she looked over to find him standing next to Jackson in the tall grass. They glowed, spotlighted by the work lights that formed a harsh line against the blackness surrounding them. Suarez grabbed her arm when she took a step toward them. She waited for him to speak, but instead he pushed up her sleeve, revealing the tattoo on her left wrist.
“What’s going on, Suarez?”
Instead of an answer, he studied her face for a moment before dropping her arm and heading toward the scene. An uneasy feeling trailed behind her as she followed him. Marino and Jackson stood awkwardly as they drew closer.
“Sorry for bringing you down,” Jackson said. “It’s just…”
He exchanged an uncomfortable look with Marino. Then, they both looked to Suarez.
“Just show her,” Suarez said.
She hated being treated like the odd man out and after all her years on the force she didn’t deserve it. The three of them not only knew something, they worried it would upset her. The idea that it was because she was a woman made her angry.
“You got me outta bed for this, so let’s see it,” she said with an edge.
Marino and Jackson parted, allowing her a clear view of the limbs that lay in a square on the grass. The legs parallel to each other and the arms, the same. Slender and delicate, they were undoubtedly female. Just like all the others. Suarez passed her a pair of gloves and Owusu knelt down next to the morbid display as she slid her hands into them. The first thing she noticed was how clean the cuts were. The media’s moniker was even more accurate than they knew.
Starting with the leg on her left, she scanned them each carefully before settling on the left arm at her feet. She was used to tamping down any outward indications of panic, but it was gathering and swelling to a level that she couldn’t control. She tried to swallow, but her throat had gone dry. The sound of her jackhammering heart pounded in her ears.
“Owusu?” Suarez sounded tinny and distant.
She jumped up and ripped the glove off of her left hand and pushed up her sleeve. Holding her arm out in front of her, the butchered limb lay below, out of focus. She studied the black Enso circle that surrounded the open heart made of barbed wire at her wrist. She had designed it herself, an overly stylized reminder of her past. Of how protecting her heart needed to be a priority. Even more telling, the tiny “m&d” that filled the small gap where the circle didn’t quite meet. An homage to the first to break her heart. Her mom and dad.
She looked down at the ground and back to her wrist several times. The tattoo on the bodiless limb was an exact match. There was no doubt. She lowered her arm in an effort to hide the shaking, but she wasn’t able to stop the tears. She watched as they splashed down, striking the victims hand. A scream formed in her throat as they rolled down toward the perfectly manicured, square shaped, purply-gray nails.