The Question: Mystery and Murder short story

"A murder, a senseless murder, will they ever stop? Teenager Johnny Grey was found murdered in an alley in the middle of Hub City. His carcass was left rotting in a dumpster. By the time he was found the bugs and rats had left hardly any trace as to who he was. The cops in the city had been working the case for weeks, burning the candle at both ends trying to find some shred of evidence. I am undercover inside their headquarters posing as a patrol officer trying to piece together my own evidence. Who am I? That is a very good…Question.

“Okay, the Johnny Grey murder, is officially getting transferred to Special Cases. We have not found any evidence in the last few months to warrant any more days spent searching for the main department. The detectives will hopefully find the killer and bring him to justice, but we have to be prepared for the worst scenario, that we will never find the killer,” the police captain said. “Now dismissed!” All the officers including The Question, made their way to the door. After the officers dispersed, The Question slid past the guards at the front of the station and disappeared into the night.

The Question, under his alter ego of Vic Sage, made his way home for it was nearly morning. He would pick up the case again as night came around. Vic went to sleep, pondering what could drive someone to kill anyone, let alone someone so young. It is questions like these that make it hard to sleep. A few hours later Vic woke up and started his exercise routine that he did daily. Soon the sky turned dark and it was time for The Question to take up the case.

He started canvassing the alley and decided to go where the cops probably didn’t look, the sewer. He made his way down into the sewer and turned on his flashlight. The city had been experiencing a drought with barely any rain since April. It was currently the middle of July. The good thing about that for Vic, is if there were any footprints they might still be there. There were muddy footprints starting about five feet away from the ladder leading up to the streets. He almost didn’t see them because of the sewer water splashing up every little bit, but they were there almost as if they were engraved. He followed the tracks till they disappeared about six blocks away. Vic climbed up the ladder and popped open the manhole to see where the tracks would lead and it led to an alley behind one of the nicest hotels in the city. “This is unexpected,” Vic thought to himself.

Vic tiptoed to the back door and quietly went into the hotel. He went up the back stairs and broke down the door to the security room. The guard turned around with his gun drawn as Vic ran towards him and put him to sleep before he could fire. Vic tied the guard up and tossed him in the closet and pulled up the security cameras. He sat there for hours watching the tapes on fast forward trying to find some clue but came up empty handed. Vic decided to go back down to the sewer to see if there was anything he had missed. He searched the sewer around the hotel for a few hours and found an invite card, for a club the city’s wealthy and powerful hang out at. That place had probably the tightest security in the whole city, no way Vic could sneak in there, so he had to find another way.

The next night he went back to the alley behind the club and waited on the fire escape of the other building. There was no smoking allowed in the club so he would interrogate one of the guests that came outside. A man around thirty walked out around fifteen minutes later and sparked up a cigarette. Vic put on his mask and slid down the fire escape, grabbing the man by the shirt. “Who do I talk to about this invite card,” The Question asked forcefully but quietly. “That truly is the question isn’t it,” the man said with an English accent as he backed up slowly letting his jacket and shirt rip in The Question’s grip. He then started running towards the back of the alley disappearing into darkness. Vic started to pursue him only to find out there was a brick wall at the end of the alley. “Okay, that’s different,” Vic said to himself. He turned around and went to go pick up the guy’s jacket and shirt to take it back to his apartment to run fingerprints on it with some special equipment he “found.”

He got back to his apartment and started running fingerprints on the shirt and jacket. It would take awhile and as he sat there watching he slowly fell asleep at his desk. All of a sudden the man from the club came through the ceiling as if he was diving into a pool. He landed on his feet and when Vic turned around the guy pulled out a knife and slashed Vic’s throat. All of a sudden Vic woke up realizing it was only a dream and having this strange feeling that there was more going on than what he knew at the time. The fingerprint analysis had finished and Vic found some surprising news when he pulled it up on his laptop. There were no matches on any of the prints on either the jacket or the shirt other than his own where he grabbed him. Vic was confused to say the least and waited for the darkness to come again so he could go find two people the killer and the man with no fingerprints.

He went back to the alley hoping the man would show his face again with no luck. Vic went back there every night for a week and the man still didn’t show up. Vic climbed up to the roof of the building opposite the club and out of the darkness came the man with no fingerprints with a menacing look on his face, smiling ear to ear. Luckily, Vic had his mask on so the guy didn’t know who he was. Vic ran towards the man with no fingerprints with fists clenched and swung towards the man’s face. The Question missed every shot he threw at the man who turned around running towards the edge of the roof. Vic followed, he would not lose the man in the darkness again and to his amazement the man jumped off the roof to the fire escape two stories down on the next building and kept climbing down as if it had been a simple step. “Think beyond what you think you know,” he yelled up towards the roof at Vic. Then the man disappeared into the night.

A few nights later Vic was patrolling the city and heard a call on his police radio about another murder and he was only a block away from where the body was discovered. If he hurried he could make it there before the police to see if there was any evidence. When he started to turn down the alley he saw the man with no fingerprints walking away from the crime scene. It was another teenager with their throat slashed. “Don’t move you piece of trash,” Vic said realizing now that the man was the killer and that’s why they never found any fingerprints at the last crime scene. “Or what you going to try and hit me again,” the man said laughing. He started to back up and this time Vic was ready he lunged towards him only for the guy to literally disappear into the shadows by another brick wall leaving Vic dumbfounded. Vic floored it, running out of there as the sounds of sirens came closer.

Vic went home and went to bed for it was nearly daylight. He was tired, he had been working the case almost a month and was no closer to cracking it or so he thought. The killer appeared to him in his sleep again, this time Vic got a hit in before his throat got slashed. He woke up and got on his laptop searching for similar murders. He found stories of similar cases stretching back years and all the way from Hub City to England. The clues were there now but Vic still had no clue what was truly going on. As darkness began to settle on the city, Vic put on his mask and went out on the hunt, it was time to end this.

He searched the whole city that night, interrogating people around the scenes of both crimes and with no luck made his way back to the alley where Johnny was murdered. It seemed Vic’s luck was looking up because the killer had came back to the scene to reminisce. He was just standing there with his eyes closed over by where the body was found. Vic saw this was his chance to catch the killer and started running towards him and tackled him. “Why, why would you murder innocent people,” Vic asked as he started punching the guy in the face. “Answer Me!” “Because, it was fun,” the guy said opening his eyes to reveal they were bright yellow. He started to smile. Vic got off of him and backed up. “Also because nobody can stop a person that doesn’t leave any fingerprints.” “You may not leave fingerprints, but you left shoe marks and a card down in the sewer,” The Question said to the killer. “I have gotten sloppy in recent decades, haven’t I,” he said to The Question. Vic stood there for a second, shocked. “What do you mean decades you don’t look a day over thirty-five,” he said. “I have walked this earth for nearly 250 years. I am just getting warmed up,” the killer said with a smile. “You will face justice this time,” Question growled. “Justice, what a silly little thought. You can’t convict me of anything, you are not the law and you can’t kill me either. You are stuck in every sense of the word,” the killer said laughing. Vic knew what he had to do, he had to fight so he lunged toward him, fists clenched.

Vic managed to get in a few hits but the killer was faster and had a more brutal fighting style than just fist fighting. Vic was nearly beaten when he got a lucky hit in, right to the jaw of the killer. “You can’t stop me no matter what you do, I will always get away with it,” the killer said laughing. Vic thought about that for a second and put his hands around the Englishman’s throat. “You won’t kill me, you’re a hero,” he said fighting the force of The Question’s grip. “I’m not a hero. and you can’t kill what doesn’t exist,” Vic said. He snapped the killer’s neck and fell to his knees. The body of the killer decomposed into darkness and disappeared into smoke. Vic took off his mask and slowly made his way home still hearing the Englishman’s voice haunting him in his head. He just had to brush it off for it wasn’t truly there, or was it? Was Vic going mad or did something weird go down in that alley. He pondered what happened as he walked home.

As he settled into his bed, he thought the victims would rest peacefully knowing they had been avenged. As Vic slept he had a dream of the killer again and woke up with a startle. It was already dark out so he must have been asleep for at least eight hours. Vic heard a scratching noise along the ceiling and looked up and seen the killer half in and half out of the shadows. “I’ll be back, just you wait.” he laughed.

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The Grey case still puzzles me. This is a fairly accurate and well told account. The dream sequence was a bit of artistic license, but I’ll grant it.

Still haven’t deduced the true identity of The Englishman, but I have my theories. “Think beyond what I know.” Wish I could really Question whoever that figure was. A fellow pursuer, maybe. But it’s a sign that the explanation is almost certainly supernatural.

Nearly 250 years… a full century before Jack the Ripper. The American Revolution. There was a coven of vampires active in London around that time, but the body was too decomposed by the time it was found to look for telltale signs of a feeding. And it doesn’t explain the lack of fingerprints.

Perhaps the answer lies in the victims The Englishman chooses. What do they have in common with young Johnny? What’s the connection? This warrants further investigation. I must make sure this Trans-Atlantic murder tour comes to an end in Hub City.

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