Detective David Van Straubenzee watched the man closely. He had a weird feeling in the pit of his stomach and if he could put a name to it fear was the first thing that came to
“On the night of Monday, June 25th at around eleven o’clock,” he said, glancing briefly at his notes, “did you take Kizzy Williams from a tent in Cimarron State Park?”
“Yes,” the man said. His slate-grey eyes were dull as if he was already dead.
David chewed absent-mindedly on his bottom lip. He couldn’t help wondering if the prisoner was the right man. There was something in his demeanor that didn’t quite sit right. He was too pensive in David’s opinion, dazed as if he had been hypnotized.
“Morgan, I know this is difficult but when you took Kizzy from the tent was she asleep?”
David was relieved. There was no way the little girl would have gone willingly with a man like Morgan Eriksen. His hair was shaved at the sides except for a thick braid that ran from the tip of his forehead to the crown. His arms were covered in Celtic knots, more colorful than a downtown bus stop.
“Where did you take her?” David asked, looking at his watch. It was ten thirty in the morning.
“About fifty yards downriver there’s a ranch,” Morgan said, staring at David’s bald head as if he could see his face in it. “I parked my pickup there.”
“Frank Tolby’s ranch, right?”
David listened to the Nordic accent, softer now since he had been living in the States for eighteen years. “Did you hurt her?”
Morgan looked down at his hands. His skin was sallow in the harsh light of the interrogation room and the constant clink of the cuffs reminded David that his prisoner was well-shackled.
“When she woke up I had to choke her. She was making too much noise.”
“Did she die when you choked her?”
“When did she die, Morgan?” David gritted his teeth. This was the part he dreaded the most.
“Not until the ninth hour.”
That’s how it was with Morgan, indecisive, taking his sweet time with everything. Sometimes he would look up and sniff the air and sometimes he would just flex his hands, big hands, choking hands.
The rest of Kizzy’s remains had never been found not even after a pack of sniffer dogs had swept the entire countryside with volunteers from the county sheriff’s department. All they found was a statue of a goat with a pentagram on its forehead and eight human faces carved in tree trunks. There were four areas where upright stones marked some kind of ritual ceremony, only they were mostly grown over with grass. The shadows gave a man that feeling, that keen instinct that something wasn’t right and the dragonflies with their membranous wings that wafted just above the surface of a small pond were no longer beautiful. There was a jaundiced blush about the place as if the sun would never set.
A tired old barn sat on the property with two doors that creaked in the wind. David remembered creeping forward with a gun in his hand, back pressed against the doorjamb until he was sure there was no one there. A commercial fridge stood in the center, light flickering on and off. It was quite
out of place with its hideous display and David couldn’t speak, he couldn’t move. Four shelves filled with human heads, eight he counted, and all girls. A knackery with axes and knives spread out on a wooden trestle table only there were no hanging carcasses on the meat hooks.
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