17.A Chapter by Shiloh Black
Amphion was woken by a scream. For a minute he lay in a daze wondering if he was still dreaming, then the scream came again and his blood chilled when he recognized the woman’s voice. For whatever reason, an image of Garrett flared into his mind.
Into Rachel’s bedroom he careened, pistol drawn, and gave the light switch a slap.
There, standing in bed with her sheets tangled about her feet was Rachel. Tears swept down her cheeks as she tore at her night grown. A groan of agony rose from her throat. “Get it off me!” she cried, voice strained. Her legs kicked furiously against the bed sheets. “Get it off! Help! Help me!”
Amphion clasped her by her sides and shook her furiously. “It’s just a dream! Shh!”
Rachel woke, and seeing Amphion there, shrieked and pounded against him with her tiny fists. Eventually, he wrangled her to the bed and held her there until the moment of hysteria passed. In a daze, Rachel starred up at him. Her eyes and nose were bright red.
“I’m so sorry, Amphion,” she sobbed.
“It wasn’t your fault -- just a bad dream, that’s all.”
With the back of her hand, she wiped her eyes. “Yes, but --” her voice faltered. “I dreamed that I was bound and shackled, and you were there, and -- .”
Taking a deep suck of air, Rachel calmed herself. “It’s silly, I’m sorry.”
Amphion held her, and the warm feeling of innocent love returned. There was an urgent need for this -- not the physical touch but the spiritual link which seemed to momentarily bind them. This desire crept beneath his skin and weakened every muscle in his body. He despised being so weak as to have his needs held hostage by another human being, just like an infant.
With more force than necessary, he pushed her away. “It’s not decent of me -- .”
“ -- Oh.” Over the syllable, Rachel’s lips stumbled. She smoothed her nightgown across her lap and regained composure. “I hadn’t even given it thought -- though I should have. I’m really sorry, Phinny, I don’t try to make you uncomfortable.”
As he made his way out the door, he nodded to her. “Don’t worry your head off about it, Rachel. Goodnight.”
Before he went to bed, Amphion peered through Rachel’s open door. She sat cross-legged in bed, hands clasped, in the glow of the bedside lamp transformed from a woman into a statue of bronze -- a thing to be look at and admired. The sight of her static tranquility bought him relief. He went to bed and slipped without protest into a deep slumber.
That night’s rest had been good for him. He needed it now, when there was so much to be done. Just around the corner was a thing to which he’d always aspired, and could not wait to attain -- in fact, he trembled for it.
Amphion had informed Rachel that morning he’d be over at the hobby shop on Delaware Avenue. He wanted to rekindle his passion for model trains, he said. It was a novel idea, in fact, and he even considered swinging by the shop for kicks. First, however, there were more important things to do.
On his way, he did make one stop -- at Last Supper Church. He’d gone there regularly for the longest time, until his job finally succeeded in draining him to a dry husk of spirituality. It was awfully hard to believe in a great, sweeping force of goodness and justice in the world when one could witness so much wickedness.
Today, however, Amphion was no such husk. He swept down the aisle with a new sense of vigour. Here was a place made to exalt, to uplift the righteous and shatter the unholy -- the church’s ceiling arched high above his head, disappearing into a light-filled spire. It dwarfed him. It made him see the worst in himself -- and that made him smugly aware of his own humility. Here he was, humanity’s defender -- and he demanded nothing, but instead knelt in the middle of the floor and prayed with enthusiasm he had not known since his youth.
Thy will be done, was the theme of that prayer. He prayed also that he would not fail in what he was to do -- for in this place, in this moment, failure seemed a treacherous sin.
Finishing the prayer, he lifted his head to the ceiling, and let the light pour over his face. This was a blessing, a sign of his success. He would not be conquered.
Then, he exited the church and made his way to a phone booth across the street, where he made the first of many calls.
Three hours later, Amphion arrived with a tune on his lips and swagger in his step at the NSPD station. He calmly asked for the latest files on the Vigilante Case -- so it was being called now -- and spent the next while at his desk, meticulously going through each. As he worked, he chewed on the end of a pen -- no cigarettes for him today.
Before supper hour, a meeting was called for those who were working on the case. Four officers, bleary-eyed and jittery, shuffled into his office and were surprised to find him in unusually high spirits. A blue ink stain smeared one corner of his mouth, but none of them worked up the courage to mention it. There was some banter and gossip exchanged, and of a round of coffee passed out, then the meeting hushed.
“Any new leads, Oswald?” someone put in at last.
“None,” said Amphion. “Other than what you folks have brought me -- and you’ve done a fine job, believe me. There’s something missing here, though.”
Amphion chuckled. “Yes. That too.” He pulled out a pad of paper and a pen. “Give me some things these murders have in common. Anyone?”
“Victims are known criminals.”
“Alright, that’s a start.”
The youngest officer in the group -- a woman a few years shy of Amphion -- muttered, “Usually cause of death is stab-wounds -- which tells us the perpetrator prefers sharp weapons and close combat.”
“…and, uh, the fingerprints are usually the only evidence left at the scene of the crime, and these all belong to deceased persons, which should tell us we’re likely dealing with a single individual or group effort, since these are all very unique cases.”
“An individual!” Amphion clapped his hands together and laughed. “Must be some busy fellow! Now take it back to the fingerprints. Our guy is using them to make a mockery out of us. Currently, we have no information on where these bodies are coming from -- they all died homeless, and there’s no record of their burial. I want someone on the city right away -- we need to find our potter’s field, then we might just be able to take the next step.”
© 2010 Shiloh Black
Added on July 6, 2010
Last Updated on July 6, 2010
A Stone to Kill
Saint John, Canada
AboutI presently reside in Atlantic Canada. My interests, aside from writing include drawing, reading, and indulging in my love of all things British. I'm currently attending the University of Dalhousie, w.. more..
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