“…The police are still baffled as the Pentagram Killer claims another victim. An, as yet, unidentified body was found last night in an alley behind Charlie’s Nightclub. Sources say that the victim’s heart had been removed and was left lying in a pentagram drawn in the victim’s own blood.” “Damn news reporters! Do they have to report everything? I wonder who got their palms greased for that little tidbit of information" Huffed Detective Jason Delaney as he turned off the ignition of his car. "And you know, now that they’ve given him a name it’s only gonna fuel his killing frenzy.” Jason being a veteran detective of the Kingston homicide squad had never had a case as clueless as his current one. From his experience, he had found that every killer, no matter how careful, left some type of clue. Whether it was a fingerprint or hair, something useful always turned up. But this killer had left nothing but a few pieces of ripped and tattered cloth.“It must have been someone on the inside” Replied Luke Jones; Jason’s new, fresh out of the academy, rookie partner. Luke reminded Jason more of a celebrity than a police detective with his dark tanned skin, perfectly styled blond hair and expensive suits. “It was a rhetorical question Luke. It doesn’t matter who leaked the information, the point is it gave away a piece of information that we were using to filter out all those idiots claiming to be the killer.” Jason got out of his beat up department issued slate Chrysler and slammed the door. He tucked his shirt in, adjusted his jacket and tightened his belt another notch. He did his best to smooth out the wrinkles in the clothes that once fit him perfectly but now hang like curtains from his thin frame. “Sorry, I was reading your case notes and wasn’t paying close attention, so I thought you were asking me” Said Luke as he looked up from a handful of papers. “By the way, why are we here? Do you really think this guy knows something about the killer? I mean, how much information do you expect to get from some old guy in an asylum?”“I don’t know, but at this point I’m ready to listen to anyone or anything that can give me a lead to work with. I mean it’s not like we have anything else. We don’t have any witnesses or motive and hell we don’t even have a correlation between the victims. The only things we do have are a few pieces of cloth and the assumption that the murders are occult related because of the pentagrams. The chief is breathing down my neck because the commissioner is breathing down his and the Mayor is chewing all of us a new asshole, so I’m really hoping this guy knows something. Come on, let’s go!” Jason studied the massive six-story colonial style building thinking ‘This place looks more like a billionaire’s estate than an asylum’ as he made his way through the parking lot. The Kingston Mental Institute sat in the middle of 40 acres of lush well kept lawn. Large maple and oak trees with marble benches strategically placed around their trunks dotted the property to furnish the patients and visitors with a nice shady place to sit in the summer. A long faux brick sidewalk lined with neatly trimmed hedges and flowerbeds led up to the heavy wooden front doors. Although the place was very serene, waves of uneasiness washed over Jason as he walked up the sidewalk. He nervously rubbed his chin and noticed the long barb wire stubble on his face. He tried to remember how long that it had been since he had shaved then he frowned. He did not care much for shaving anyway since it was nearly impossible for him to get around the three large scars on his right cheek. Besides he had been working day and night on this case and it had taken precedence over everything including eating, sleeping and especially shaving. A cold shiver ran from the top of his head to the tips of his toes as he neared the front door. As he touched the cold metallic door handle his mind filled with haunting memories of his grandmother’s last days and how she had spent them in a place just like this. As a child, he had always wondered why the thought of a place like this, no matter how nice it looked, gave a person the creeps. After visiting his grandmother before her death, he understood. “Jason! Are you alright?”Luke’s voice snapped Jason back to reality. “Yeah sure, I’m fine.” Jason said as he pushed open the door the heavy wooden door and entered the lobby. “Look at this place its enormous” Exclaimed Luke.“Yeah, I could fit my entire house into this one room,” Said Jason as he looked around. The room was done entirely in white. It had painted white walls, a white tile floor and even white padded chairs. They had begun walking toward the farthest end of the room to talk to a receptionist that sat behind a sterile white counter when they were met by a young white scrub clad intern. “My name is Doug, may I help you?” Jason introduced himself. “I’m detective Jason Delaney, I called earlier, and we’re here to speak to one of your patients, a mister Charles Rugby.” “Yes of course, I’ve been waiting for you to arrive. I was told to escort you directly to mister Rugby’s room. Please, follow me.” The sounds of their heels on the white tile floor echoed down the long hallway as the intern lead the way. Jason noted the pale pinkish color of the walls; he had heard that places like this used earth tones to help relax the patients. He shook his head and hoped that it worked better on the patients than it did on him. Securely dead bolted doors with small steel meshed windows adorned both sides of the hallway. Screams and babblings came from some the rooms as he passed by. He could not help but glance toward the sounds and hope that the man he was here to see was much saner those poor souls. Sane? Insane? The words echoed as he pondered their meaning. After the ordeal with his grandmother, he always wondered if he should use the terms. What is sane anyway? Is it just believing the same thing as everyone else? If so the way his case had been going by the time he solved it, they would have him locked up in here. Images flashed in his mind. He saw himself as a small child walking down halls just like the one he was now in, with screams echoing in the background and his grandmother sitting in her chair staring upward into space. When he had asked her what she was doing, she replied that she was watching and waiting for her angel to return to her, the angel that she had loved and the one that had fathered his mother. He remembered asking his mother what she had meant. His mother said that his grandmother was having delusions due to a medical condition called Alzheimer’s. Jason's thoughts were interrupted as the intern stopped at a door. He dug into his pocket, pulled out a large ring of keys, and fumbled through each until he found the correct key for the door.“Here you go gentlemen. This is mister Rugby’s room. He’s one of our more docile patients but let me warn you, he can get pretty worked up when he starts talking. You can go on in; I’ll stay out here beside the door. If you need me just yell.” Said the intern as he flashed a cheerful smile, pulled the open then stood aside so they could enter.Jason entered the small and scantly furnished room. A small tan couch sat against the left wall with a tan chair facing it and a neatly made bed sat against the other wall. A tiny and frail skeleton of a man with white hair and dressed in a pale blue robe stood looking out a set of heavily barred windows.“Mister Rugby, I’m detective Jason Delaney of the Kingston police department. You asked to speak to someone; you said that you had information about the serial killer that you heard about on the news.” Mr. Rugby slowly turned around and nodded at Jason but when he saw Luke, he stepped back against the window and pointed saying. “Who’s that man behind you? I don’t like him, make him go away. I’ll only speak to you. Make him go away!” “It’s all right mister Rugby, this is my partner Luke Jones you can tell him anything that you can tell me.” Jason replied. “No! No! No! I don’t like him. Make him go away. MAKE HIM GO AWAY!” The more the man talked the more worked up he got. The pitch of his voice became higher and more frantic.Jason put a defensive hand up “OK, take it easy now. Just relax.” Then turned to Luke and said. “Maybe you should wait outside with the intern. If he gets too upset we may not get anything out of him.”“What? Are you sure? The intern said that he could get pretty worked up. What if he attacks you?”“Don’t worry Luke I can take care of myself. Besides you and the intern will be right out side the door if I need help.”“Well, all right.” Luke said as he dropped his head and turned around. He left the room with the expression of a scolded child on his face. The intern quickly and quietly shut the door behind Luke.The tan sofa squeaked loudly as Jason seated himself. He pulled a notebook and pen from his jacket pocket and looked at the old man. “Ok, mister Rugby he’s gone, can we get started? Tell me, what it is that you know about the killer”Mr. Rugby took a few deep breaths to calm himself before sitting down in the chair across from Jason and in a weak raspy voice started his tale. “What I’m about to tell you is what got me put in this place. I know who or should I say what the killer is.”“What do you mean what the killer is?”“Ok, first of all I am not crazy. I know what I saw so I know that it's true. Just let me tell you everything, the entire story, before you ask questions.” Mr. Rugby said as he leaned forward in the chair and rested his shaky hands on his lap.“It all started just before the first victim was found. I almost was the first victim. One night I was having problems sleeping and decided to go for a walk in the park. As I was walking, I began to feel very uneasy. I don’t know why but for some reason I kept getting more nervous by the minute. Before long I was watching everyone that I pasted and jumping at every little thing. I became so paranoid that I decided it was time to leave. Anyway, I had just turned to go back home when I heard a ripping sound.”“A ripping sound you say? Would you say it sounded like cloth tearing, maybe?" Jason asked curiously. “Yes! Yes! Now let me continue.” Mr. Rugby said as he quickly continued his tale.‘Hum, the sound of tearing cloth that does fit with the cloth pieces that were found at each scene. Maybe this guy does know something.’ The thought made Jason lean forward in his chair and listen more intently.“Anyway, I quickly turned toward the sound when something hit me in the shoulder so hard that it knocked me down. When I looked up, I saw the most horrific creature standing over me drawing its arm back getting ready to strike me. Its entire body was black as tar and covered with scales. It had a grotesquely disfigured face and long bony arms and legs with oddly shaded hands and feet that ended with three sharp claws on each. It also had large leathery looking wings on its back and what appeared to be horns sticking out of its head. I thought I was a dead man. Just then, I saw a flash of fiery light slice through the air and the creature hissed and staggered off to my left. I saw something that I could only describe as an angel standing to my right holding a sword of flame. He had a faint bluish glow all around his entire body. He was wearing a snow-white outfit that looked just like a roman warrior’s armor, and he had large feathery wings on his back. The creature recovered itself from the blow; grunted and hissed in something that sounded like a language then a sword of pulsating blackness appeared from out of nowhere. Anyway, while the two were fighting I decided to make a run for it, but when I tried I got in the way and the angel accidentally cut me with his sword.” Mr. Rugby opened his robe to reveal a light brown scar that ran across his ghostly white abdomen. “To make this story a little shorter, the two fought for several minutes. Eventually the demon, after receiving several injuries, flapped its wings and flew away. The angel started to pursue him but saw that I was injured, so he placed his hand over my wound and healed me and ever since then I’ve been able to smell and feel things that normal people can’t. I keep thinking that if I hadn’t tried to run I wouldn’t have been injured then maybe the demon wouldn’t have gotten away to kill again.”'Great! Demons and angels! Damn it! I thought I was on to something useful. I see why this guy is in here now.' Jason shook his head; 'This guy is worse off than my grandmother was. At least her stories only had an angel in them.' Wanting to be polite Jason turned his attention back to the old man as he continued with his story. “Since I’ve been in here I’ve had plenty of time to think about it and I believe I’ve figured it out. What’s happening is that there is a crack in the gates of hell and demons slip through into our plane. You can’t see them but they manifest themselves as killers, just like the one you now seek and the crack gets bigger with every person slain as it feeds off the evils of the world.” Mr. Rugby jumped to his feet, grabbed Jason by the shoulders, and began to shake him. “CAN'T YOU FEEL IT, CAN'T YOU TELL. CAN’T YOU FEEL ITS EMPTINESS AND SMELL ITS STENCH IN THE NIGHT. LUCIFER IS GOING TO CLIMB THROUGH THE HOLE AND PUT THE EARTH UNDER HIS BLACKENED CROWN! NOT EVEN THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN WILL BE ABLE TO STOP THE HORDES FROM COMING THROUGH.” His voice became near unintelligible. Jason jumped to his feet, pushed the man away, and yelled for the intern. Mr. Rugby staggered back but quickly regained his balance. He dropped to his knees with his arms stretched upward toward Jason as if begging. His voice became a scream. “PLEASE! YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME. CAN’T YOU SEE IT? CAN’T YOU TELL THAT THE WORLD IS GETTING WORSE EVERYDAY? THAT IT STEETHS WITH HATE, MISTRUST AND EVIL.” The door flew open and the intern rushed in with a syringe in his hand and immediately stuck it in Mr. Rugby’s arm. A few moments later, Mr. Rugby calmed down and the intern laid him down in his bed and pulled the covers up over him.Jason turned to leave but Mr. Rugby motioned for him to come over to the bed. Jason looked at the poor frail man and saw in his eyes the same need for confirmation that his grandmother's eyes had held. Jason bent down and Mr. Rugby whispered into his ear. “Be careful. What you seek isn’t human, though it may appear to be. Trust no one.” "I will be, mister Rugby. Now you just rest and let me worry about the demon." Jason said in a low compassionate voice then quickly left the room. “Yes, I’ve got a feeling that you will.” Mr. Rugby whispered just before his eyes closed and he fell asleep. Luke met Jason in the hallway. “Are you all right? I was watching through the window and saw him grab you and heard the screaming but the intern wouldn’t open the door until he had gotten the sedative ready. Did you find out anything useful?” Jason lost in the thoughts of his grandmother, ignored Luke as they went back down the long hallway and out the front doors. It was night when they exited the building. When Jason saw the darkness he looked at his watch and cursed at all the time he had spent listening to the old man's story.Luke repeated his earlier question. “Did you find out anything useful?”“We’ll discuss it later.” Jason replied as they pulled away from the institute. The words of the old man’s story and the images they conjured up swirled in his head as they rode in silence.Jason dropped Luke off at the police station and told him they would talk in the morning. He laid his head back, closed his eyes, unconsciously rubbed the scars on his right cheek and did the best he could to relax, which was seemed to be more and more a futile attempt. After resting his eyes for a few minutes he started the car and pulled out. He had intended to go home but for some reason, he ended up driving to the park. He wasn’t sure if it was the old man’s story, a need to clear his head, or just a hunch that took him there.As he left his car and began to walk, his mind digested all the information that he had collected on the case and some of what the old man had said did fit. The ritualistic style to the killings, the pentagrams of blood and the torn out hearts, they all screamed of the occult, then there were the shredded pieces of cloth. That information had never been made public. ‘What am I thinking? If I keep it up I’ll be sharing a room with that old nut case.’ He thought as he shook his head.He walked along the gloomy moonlit sidewalk. The late summer air was filled with the smell of fresh cut grass, jasmine and the comforting sound of the crickets chirping. He saw a dark figure approaching and he unconsciously put his hand on his gun. “Hey, take it easy old man” Yelled out a familiar voice. Jason could just barely make out Luke’s short blond hair and his brown suit in the shadows cast by the trees. “What are you doing here Luke?”“I come down here all the time but I’ve been doing it more often now that the killings have started. I’m hoping to get lucky and catch the killer red-handed. Would you like to talk about what the old man told you earlier? It apparently must have gotten to you. Because I don’t think that you’re in the habit of coming here to walk.” “Ah, the old man was another waste of time just like all the other leads.” As they continued to walk down the path Jason told Luke as much as he could remember of the old man’s story. “I know, before you say anything Luke, it sounds like the ramblings of a mad man.”Jason stopped and pulled an evidence bag out of his coat pocket. He looked at the bag then at Luke. “You know the only clues we have are these torn pieces of cloth and you know I’m still trying to figure out how these fit in.” He shrugged his shoulders and dropped the bag back into his pocket. “Oh well, I think I’ll head back to the office and see if the lab has turned up anything.” Jason turned and started walking back towards his car; Luke stopped and put his foot up on a bench to retie his shoelaces. Over his shoulder, Jason heard him saying. “Yep, I agree the old man’s story sounds pretty outrageous. I didn’t think that someone in an asylum would know anything useful.” As Jason continued down the shadow ridden path, he heard the clicking of Luke’s heels coming up behind him. “Luke, I should have thought the same thing, but I was hoping that he could have been a witness or something, anything. With that story of his no wonder he was put away. I mean, angels and demons, how ridiculous can you get.”The scars on Jason’s right cheek began to throb just before he heard the ripping sound. A split second later the black clawed fist burst from his chest, holding his bloody beating heart. As the blackness of death began to overtake him, he heard a hissing voice say. “Yesss, Jassson, how ridiculousss can you get?”
Each week authors will be given a new question to answer which will lend additional insight into their story and writing process. Do you have a question you'd like to see the authors answer? Tweet it to @aNextAuthor!