Kiss of the Emerald Blade
Steve stepped around the chalk outline, as his camera continued to flash. He stopped at the top of the head and snapped off three pictures of the blood splatter at different angles. “I’m not sure how I feel about this one.”
“What do you mean?” Jarrod asked. Steve and Jarrod had been partners for a few months when this case landed on their desk. Special detectives assigned to murders with bizarre circumstances, their cases tended to be more than just the murder itself.
“I don’t see anything out of the ordinary with it,” Steve said. “I mean look at this blood splatter. It hit exactly like you would expect it to. Can you remember the last time we had ordinary blood splatter?”
Jarrod kneeled beside an end table next to the couch. “I can agree with that, but I think we might have a tie-in with a few of the other cases we’ve seen recently.” He pulled a small shard of green crystal out of the light shag carpet. “The cleaners missed this. Look familiar to you?”
Steve took the crystal and held it up to the light. “This can’t be…” He spun it between his fingers and watched how it refracted the light. “But the scene, it doesn’t fit the MO. Do you think we have a copycat?” He dropped the shard in an evidence bag.
“The MO is different than the other scenes. He wouldn’t have changed his methods. At least that’s what the psyches like to tell us. Guy took a .38 to the back of the head, while he was on the floor.”
“I know, the Claw always slices the throat of his victims. But this was up close and personal just like the others. Just doesn’t tell us why the weapon would have changed.”
Steve wandered around the room snapping pictures of marks on the carpet that indicated where furniture had shifted during a struggle. The small living room offered little room for the furnishings to move but the carpet showed the impressions of former locations well.
The forensics team removed the bullet when they removed the body. It had pushed through the victim’s skull and blasted out the front into the floor. One bullet to finish the job, but point blank with a .38 could be considered overkill in most situations.
Steve stepped down the hall toward the bedrooms. By the look of it, the items in both bedrooms of the apartment, this part of the house remained undisturbed. “Looks clear down here,” he called out.
Jarrod snapped pictures in the kitchen/ dining room. The open design used an island to separate the two rooms. “Well, hello there,” he said. “Here kitty kitty.”
A calico cat cleaned her left paw under the dining room table. “Steve?” he called. “You remember anything about a cat in the report?”
“No, why?” Steve stepped into the dining room.
“The kitty here is nursing a wound on her paw.” He stood and turned to face Steve. “You remember the strange markings in the blood pattern?”
He flipped through the pics on the camera. “Ya, here they are. Check this out.”
“We need to catch this cat,” Steve said. “I remember this now. These marks were at the other scenes.” He set the camera down on the table then moved around the other side. “Might be able to flush her out.”
They shook chairs on both sides of the table, but the cat ignored them. She picked at and cleaned her paw, focused on cleaning the blood away.
“Let me try this,” Jarrod said. He moved the chair out of the way and reached in for the cat. The swipe of her claws left red trails across the back of his hand. “Okay, this might be a bad idea. Head into the bedroom and grab a pillow case.”
Steve and the cat both looked at him, with matched expressions. “Hurry, before I bleed out from a cat scratch.” Steve left Jarrod and the cat alone in the dining room.
“This isn’t going to work you know.” The voice soft, feminine, came from under the table.
“Wait… What?” Steve asked.
“I said this isn’t going to work.” The cat hobbled out from under the table and jumped on top of it. She returned to cleaning her paw.
He stepped closer to the table and the cat stopped her work to look at him. Her eyes, deep emerald green, drilled into his. “Say that again.”
“You’re wasting your time.” The words came from the direction of the cat, though he didn’t see her mouth open. She held her damaged paw up from the table top.
“Jarrod, hurry,” he said. “This just took a turn for the strange.” No answer came from the bedrooms. “Jarrod?”
The cat ignored him as it hunkered down on its belly. A normal cat right? He thought. Just working too hard lately. He backed out of the kitchen, his eyes on the cat. Then he turned and went down the hall toward the bedrooms.
“Jarrod? How long does it take to find a pillow case?” He pushed the door open to a dark room. Black out curtains covered the window and blocked the sun from the room. “Hey, you in here?” A quick flick, and the overhead light brightened the room.
Jarrod lay still on the bed, face down. He grabbed onto Jarrod’s heel and shook it. “What the hell dude.” Jarrod’s response was lost to the blood that drained from his neck onto the bed. He flipped the body over and the head flipped back, over the edge of the bed. A deep cut through the throat opened like a mouth in the midst of a scream. An emerald shard stuck out of the side of the wound.
“Wasting your time.” The words again, this time from the other side of the bed. A grey tabby cat jumped onto the bed and stepped around the blood. It sat down on Jarrod’s belly and watched Steve. The eyes, the same emerald green of the calico.
“Shouldn’t have followed us.” The voice came from behind him.
Afraid to take his eyes from the cat sitting on Jarrod’s belly, he forced himself to look back toward the door. A girl with calico hair stood in the doorway. She favored her left hand as she held it in the crook of her right arm. She caught his eyes with her own. Her emerald eyes, older than her appearance belied, cut through to his core.
She walked past him and sat on the bed. With her injured hand in her lap she scratched the grey under the chin. “What should we do with this one?” she asked. “He’s seen too much.”
His hands fell to his sides. In a race to the door he was certain they were faster than him, but could they dodge a bullet? His .45, holstered at his side, would be a quick pull and shoot.
The grey stretched out a paw and extended its emerald claws for him to see. “Do you think he wants to play chase?”
“I think he is not in a mood to play with us,” she said. “We should be quick.” Her body contorted, the skin shimmied. The process lasted only a few seconds as her flesh withered then stretched. Calico hair sprouted through her flesh as she became a cat again.
Steve pulled the gun and fired two shots in quick succession. The second slammed the calico in the chest. It flopped on the bed, then lay still. The cat’s chest caved in by the bullet. The grey sprung. Its claws, razor sharp daggers, sliced at his face and neck.
Steve fell back, but not before the grey connected with the tips of its claws. He rolled away from the cat with several slashes across his face and neck. His roll ended in a crouch, the pistol pointed where he thought the cat might be.
Gone, the cat was gone. He pushed himself back into the wall. The wall left only the front of him open to the next lunge from the beast. “Here kitty kitty,” he said as he scanned the room. The creature must have dropped behind the bed. “Here kitty kitty, you can’t hide forever.”
The growl came from the side. He turned in time to see the beast leap through the air, claws and teeth bared to strike. Steve fired the pistol and hit the cat between the eyes.
The cat slammed into him, though its claws held no strength in death, the force of its body knocked him to the ground. After he caught his breath, he typed into his phone. “I am going to need a meat wagon at 42 North Streveth Avenue.”