Controlling the Narrative
The delicate perfume of death, erotic and entrancing, infuses the air as I pull back the sheet, exposing the latest victim.
My apprentice and I stand silent and still next to the cold, steel table. I watch as he scans the cadaver under the harsh white light.
A perfect “+”, the size of my hand, is stitched over the victim’s sternum. Bold, taunting. I run my gloved finger over the intricate suturing. My apprentice shivers.
“Familiar signature,” he says. “How many’s that now?”
“Four,” I say.
Getting away with murder is an art requiring a master-craftsperson.
“Scalpel, please.” I hold up my left palm.
My apprentice places the razor-sharp blade on my hand. I transfer the instrument into my other hand, glancing at the heart-shaped tattoo on the inside of my wrist.
I slice through the epidermis, cutting a careful circle around the “+”. Her skin, once soft and doughy, is hard and resistant like the leathery hide of the animals I practiced on when I was a teenager.
I place the skin-circle on the collection tray. Another souvenir.
“Rib-spreader,” I beckon.
My blood turns hot and my pulse quickens as I pull her ribs apart, revealing a masterpiece.
My apprentice gasps as he leans over the empty cavity. “Holy crap, there’s nothing there. Like she never even had a heart.”
“Exactly,” I say, endorphins rushing through me.
The metal door grating on its railings heralds the detective’s arrival. The golden glow from the hallway lights follows him into the theatre.
“Ugh, that smell,” he says, stepping towards the table, holding a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. “I don’t know how you do this,” he grumbles, his voice muffled by the cloth.
“It’s our life’s work,” I say, smiling, my spine tingling. “Good timing, detective. We’ve just opened her up.”
“Anything helpful this time?” asks the detective. “Any clues that might help us find the bastard?”
“The suturing is tighter, more refined than on the previous victims,” I say. “The culprit seems to be perfecting his technique.”
The detective grunts. “And I’m waiting for him to slip up.”
I close my eyes, suppress a grin, inhale deeply. The wild aroma of embalming fluid fills my lungs. She was the meanest bully of them all. I’d spent more time on her.
“On the contrary,” I say, pointing. He steps closer to the corpse. He peeks quickly, then retches and retreats swiftly. I continue, rolling my shoulders back as pride swells my chest, “The whole heart, not just a piece of it, was removed this time. Extraction’s clean, as if performed by a cardio-thoracic surgeon.”
He snickers. “So…you saying I should be looking for a heart surgeon with a vendetta?”
I lift my gaze from the extraordinary craftsmanship in front of me and I offer him a cold stare, then shake off my contempt with a light chuckle.
“Well, you’re the detective,” I say, in a voice as thick as honey. “You know best. But, yes, I think that’s exactly who you should be looking for.”