Story Starter: It Becomes You

“I’m sorry, what?” Kris looked at her incredulously.

“I said, have you checked her history.”

Kris threw his hands up. “Of course– who do you think we–”

Cari held up her hand. “How far did you go back?”

“What? What are you getting at? We got everything.” He gestured to the computer screen in front of him. A picture of a stern, middle-aged woman stared out at them, surrounded by the details of her life story.

Horatio came over and leaned over Kris’s computer. “Yeah, Cari. What are you talking about? We got all the files that were available on her. We even got her psych eval, her school records and bank statements. Everything down to a gnat’s eyebrow. What else is missing?”

Cari breathed out harshly and leaned back. “Horatio, you should know than people often don’t fit the profile they’re given. We’ve been thinking about this all wrong.”

Horatio shrugged. “I don’t see how you can refute hard evidence.”

“No, I’m not saying she’s not behind this but we need a motive and an effective psychoanalysis to know her next moves.”

Kris rubbed his hand over his face. “We already know her next move. She’s a serial killer with a very particular type. We’ve got people on all potential victims and we’re taking all possible precautions.”

“Besides the exaggerated statements about our level of preparedness,” said Horatio, “I agree.”

“What is her motive? It’s not to satisfy any sort of sadistic tendencies. She’s not a psychopath. She’s not mentally unstable. She’s not crazy. She plans her moves. She has an astounding capability to adapt and improvise. Her killing is brutal but it surprisingly quick and clean. She’s perfectly sane and reasonable. So why these horrendous crimes?”

Horatio nods. “She even managed to escape you.”

Cari jabbed a finger a Horatio, her eyes taking on its characteristic excitement in the prospects of a revelation.

“Exactly! There’s also one crucial point that we failed to consider.”

Kris threw up his hands. “And what is that?”

“Why are we, the unit for international investigations, put on this case without having the local forces go through it first? We thought that it was because this case is top-priority and that the local forces didn’t have the resources to deal with it but remember what Janus told us in our first meeting.”

Horatio stood up straighter and quoted, “‘This is not a normal case. A lot of lives are at stake. A lot of lives can be ruined. Do not fail us. We need her rendered inoperational.'”

Cari nodded. “‘Inoperational.‘”

Horatio nodded slowly. “Not dead, or locked up. Inoperational.”

Kris slammed his laptop shut. “What the hell are you two talking about? This is no time to be making conspiracy theories. You know what happened to the last person who went above his pay grade.”

Horatio shook his head, “They put us on the case. We know her life details and we know the case. If there is something else there, we need to find out to catch her. What Cari said is true. While technically everything in her file has matched up to what we found out for ourselves, it’s like the person in the file and the person we’re trying to catch are two different people. Without whatever that crucial last piece is, we won’t solve this case. Either way, our fate has been decided for us when HQ decided to assign us to investigate.”

Horatio turned to Cari. “However, I still don’t know what you’re getting at.”

Cari chewed her lips. “It’s an incomplete thought. We know her patterns of movement and we can reasonably predict what she does. However, because we don’t know why she’s doing this, if she decides to change her agenda, we’ll only know after the fact.”

“And she’s already done so several times,” Horatio added.

Kris scoffed. “What, you think she’s an assassin or something?”

Cari snapped her fingers. “That’s exactly what I think. We’ve been barred from using any sort of lethal force in this case. The excuse given is the potential collateral damage that could be done if we do go in with guns and vans. They also want everything to be quiet and be handled through local forces with us organising the investigation and handling the brainwork. They said they need to show the public results so they want the police force that she’s eluded all these years to make the arrest. They want her to have a public trial and then get sent off to a maxsec prison far away. What they want isn’t her head. They want to incapacitate her at which point, they want her to be brought to them for whatever purpose they’ve planned for her.”

“So she’s either rogue or an enemy,” Horatio said, grabbing Kris’s laptop despite the blond man’s protests and opening up a new search.  “Where do we start? We need a name, clients, affiliation, skills and any known background.”

“So you just invalidated everything we know about this woman, right? Do we have to start over? Does that mean HQ lied to us when they sent us her case file?” Kris rubbed the bridge of his nose, looking defeated and tired.

Horatio turned to look at Cari. Cari shook her head. “No. We’ve been thinking of this backwards. She’s not a killer because she’s an assassin. She’s an assassin because she’s a killer. This is why there’s a discrepancy between her earlier crimes and her recent ones. Her movements have been as visible as they’ve always ever been but she’s much more efficient, more skillful and her hunting grounds, so to speak, as expanded beyond her acquaintances and her social circle.”

Horatio’s hand twitched and clenched over the keyboard of the computer. “She now has access to more resources.”

“Yes. She has a sponsor now. That’s why we can’t catch her. That’s why HQ has tied our hands. Render her inoperational.” Cari leaned over the table, looking first at Kris, then Horatio. Both of them recognise the look in her eyes. Hooded and with an expanded pupil, filled with the excitement of the chase. They both shivered and mentally prepared for a long night ahead.


So if you guys didn’t catch my drift earlier, I was talking about the fact that whoever the killer is was originally a serial killer and then became professional after being recruited by someone.
That’s all for today. I’m Lieutenant and if you like what you just read, click that like button and follow for more. Also, please consider making a contribution to Outlet on our Patreon page and leave us your comments and suggestions below. I’ll talk to you later.

Story Starter: The Invisible Man

Ring! Ring! Ring!

Click.

“Hello?”

“I am invisible.”, came the passcode.

His pulse quickened, “Simply because people refuse to see me.”

“It’s done.”

“Yeah?”

“I hope I get a break after this.”

A sigh. “You know how it is.”

“I know.” A pause. “It’s part of the job after all.”

No answer. The line goes dead.

He stayed leaning back in his chair for a while more, contemplating the flashing red light on his telephone. The chair creaked as he stood up. He faced the concrete jungle outside of the bulletproof and soundproof glass of his office. His hand twitched. He wanted to throw something. He’d succeeded. Then why? Because he wasn’t special enough to be the one to disappear, that’s why.

A sudden thrill ran up his spine. He’s invisible right now. Nobody could see or hear him. He made sure of that. His office is almost impenetrable and impossible to bug. Nobody knows where he is. Not even Red, who just called him. They’ve never met and certainly didn’t where the other is. To Red, he was just a voice over the phone, occasionally giving him a purpose and the money to fulfill that purpose. A disembodied voice. He shivered, letting himself get taken over by that exhilarating thought.

On second thought, he was hungry and he had planned to go home after he got the report from Red. He’d promised his wife to come home tonight. He glanced down at the file on his desk. A pale, tired-looking man stared back at him. Hmph. With a flaming head like his, he must be hard to forget. He opened a drawer and pulled out a stamp. He stamped the file on his desk with a vengeance. Then, placing the file into the out bin, he collected his things and left the office. On the cover of the file were the letters: MIA.


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Story Starter: Unnamed and Unknown

Sam Shotter hurried along the wharf, fully aware of the looming grey clouds in the sky. The crates piled up haphazardly on either side made it more difficult to navigate and he cursed the day-sailors who left them there. He turned right and was forced to slow down as he encountered a maze of the blasted crates. A slight movement to his right caught his attention and Sam almost ignored it, thinking it was loose tarp.

“Hello, Sam.”

He stopped, it can’t be him, can it? He shook his head slightly. No, the voice is different. Human. Nevertheless, his hand fell to his jacket pocket where he kept his taser. “Do I know you?”

“Probably.”

Sam’s mouth dried and summoning his courage, he straightened and said: “Well then, show yourself.”

The stranger stepped forward and Sam’s scream fell silently from his lips.

Even with the reflected light of the moon and stars, the shadow writhed around the stranger. The only discernable feature was the double rows of perfect, white teeth. The eyes were nowhere to be seen.

“B-but I thought you said-” He cursed himself. When dealing with such creatures, showing fear is an invitation to attack.

The teeth smiled, “Everyone and no one knows me.”

“Wh-what does that mean?” By now, a deathly cold has settled on him and the grey clouds do not seem to hold the same importance as it did before.

“Do you know who I am?”

“N-no.” He started to shiver violently. He was only standing because his muscles had locked in place.

“Ah, but you do. Perhaps you will know if I ask you this. What am I?”

It was obvious. “Death.” His body stopped shivering and the cold leaked steadily into his veins.

“Yessss.” Death hissed, apparently delighted. He stepped closer. Sam’s hand slackened, falling from his pocket to hang limply by his side.

“You know me and yet you don’t. You know what to call me and yet you do not know my name.” Death paused, head cocked.

He sighed. He raised his arm and Death’s sleeve fell away to reveal a skeletal hand. When his voice spoke again, it had turned rusty and coarse.

“But it’s too bad. You are interesting, Sam Shotter. I haven’t had anyone answer me in a long time. Perhaps it’s because you’ve met some of our kind. And perhaps you can tell me more from where you’re going to. Say goodbye!”

Death’s hand closed around a wisp of his Shadow and it pulled into the shape of his infamous scythe. The last thing Sam saw was a grinning skull.

~:~

Death nudged Sam’s body. He didn’t stir. Death sighed again. What did he expect? After all, his law is absolute. It was too bad Sam was a liar and a thief. When dealing with such creatures, death is the most fitting punishment. Death almost chuckled. He had lied, too. Not even Death could exist in oblivion. His hand released the shadowy form of his scythe and it redissolved into the Shadow. Between one blink and the next, Death had gone to meet his next client. Sam would be found when the first hungover sailors trickle in to take their posts. But for now, the grey clouds would allow his body several more hours of rest.

Story Starter: Appearances Can Be Decieving

Antony sat down on the sofa heavily. Carissa watched him out of the corner of her eye. His hair was frazzled and she noticed that he had started to bite his nails again.

She took a sip of her coffee. “You look like you have some questions.”

Antony looked up in surprise. “Uh, yes.”

“Go ahead. I have time.”

Antony looked at his hands and realised he’d been squeezing them together until his knuckles were white. “Where do I start?”

Carissa took another sip of her coffee. “You want to ask me how I solve all my cases right?”

“I–yes. How? How do you do it? And why do you work in total secrecy? With your ability, you could–”

“I could become famous, right? Rich even. I could make millions if I started my own TV show or start selling my talent. Really!” She put down her cup on her desk with a bang and Antony jumped. “Do you think my ability is that cheap? Do you think I’ll be happy catering to the whims of the masses?”

“No. I didn’t–that wasn’t what I meant.”

Carissa sighed. “Forget it. The things people want to see from me wouldn’t be what is really there. They love depraved stories of how these people start committing all these horrendous crimes. Guess what? Most of these people are perfectly rational and this will rob the masses of their superiority and sense of immunity. They’ll hate me for showing them how they and the criminals are the same. Or worse, what asymptomatic criminals there are will take their cues from my cases and start reenacting them. Really, people are quite easy to understand and quite hard to handle. It’s a pain.”

She took her cup back into her hand and took another sip. She could see the wrinkles between Antony’s eyebrows from where she was sitting. She swivelled around to face him. “Don’t frown like that. Come, figure out some things for yourself. I know for a fact you took something from the crime scene we were at yesterday.”

At the mention, Antony automatically put his hand on his jacket pocket. Carissa smiled. “And I see you have it with you today.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to steal evidence. I mean, I knew but–” he stammered, taking out a small gear from his pocket.

“What do you think of it?” Carissa interrupted.

“What do you mean?”

“Describe it. Tell me everything you know about it.” Carissa leant back in her chair.

He turned it over in his hand. “Well, it’s about eight centimetres in diameter, has ten cogs and is made of a combination of metals. It was probably used to operate the moving parts of the ceiling that we saw.”

“And why was it on the floor for you to pick up if it was part of the ceiling?”

Antony could feel a blush coming on. “It probably came down with the collapsed part of the ceiling. There were other, bigger gears nearby.”

“Why did you pick that one up?”

Antony hesitated before answering. He looked up to find Carissa looking at him with her serious eyes, the ones she used whenever she was trying to analyse someone. “It was different in size and was outside of the area where the other gears were. This was also the only gear that didn’t break or have any scratches on it.”

Carissa nodded, encouraging him. “Go on.”

Antony stopped. “But why? What about it?” He closed his fist around the gear, his earlier frustrations coming back. To his surprise, the gear bent easily.

Carissa smiled and swivelled back to face the window in front of her desk and took a sip of coffee. “You see, people are really blind. They operate on a facade of assumptions all the time. That’s why your disguises work so well. If you look the part, no one will think to dig deeper. That gear was made to feel and look the part and it fooled everyone. So now you know why the person who was in charge of ordering the building materials got arrested. She is quite clever. If it wasn’t me, the case would’ve been ruled as an accident.” She stopped, tapping a finger on her desk.

“You know, that is an important piece of evidence that you stole from the crime scene. I wonder what’s going to happen if the Superintendent finds out.”

~:~

Ah man. I’m really into this detective business, aren’t I? … Well, hello everybody! I’m the Lieutenant (hence the Lt at the beginning of my username, I don’t know why so few people know what Lt stands for). In any case, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little short story/story starter. All the little tidbits I write for my story start category are public domain and they remain the only public domain articles on this blog. So feel free to use them and drop me a line if you decide to use any of them in your own stories. Other than that, follow for more of the same content and like and share so that more people can see this. Thank you and have a good day. Peace out.

Story Starter: Butterfly Killer

“So?” Fred asked anxiously.

Annette sighed and stood up. Instead of answering, she handed him a skull.

Fred yelped and almost dropped it. “Wha-What is this? I mean, why’d you give it to me?”

“Look into the nose. There’s something missing.”

Fred clicked open his flashlight and shone it into the triangular hole.

“What is it? I don’t see anything.”

Annette sighed again. “Of course you don’t see anything! It’s gone! This person’s sphenoid has been taken out. It doesn’t look to be shattered or else there would be remains in there, but it’s been cleanly taken out. You know what this means, don’t you?”

Fred shook his head mutely.

“Fred, it’s the butterfly bone. It’s the Butterfly Killer, he’s back. The body has almost completely decayed, but the past month has been wet and it was buried relatively close to the surface. This is an old case anyway. I’d say this body is still fresh enough to make something out of it.”

Continue reading Story Starter: Butterfly Killer

The End of the World

The genie crossed his arms, “You do know you’re a bloody idiot, don’t you?”

Abubakar only moved his foot so that it rested on the rune that would cause unending pain to the genie. The genie only looked at him disdainfully.

“Do it.”

The genie snorted, “I only wish I could create a backup file of the world. Just to show you your idiocy.” When Abubakar didn’t budge, he sighed and extended his hands outwards. The vague light that had unsettled Abubakar before now extinguished. The runes around his feet disappeared in the darkness and he panicked.

“You damn demon! Come back!” The darkness remained the same.

Then, he felt like he was thrown forwards and backwards and in all directions at once. It almost felt like he was being pulled out of his body. No, he was out of his body. He didn’t feel the usual earthly energies through his feet and he couldn’t feel any resistance when he tried to move. What did he do? What did that damn demon do?

“You got your wish, young master. Now go see what you’ve done.” The genie’s voice boomed in his skull.

And he was back on Earth. The wind came and wrapped around him, purring at his touch. The earth, usually his dominant element, recoiled from him. The air was heavy even with the wind and water hung in a suffocating pressure.

This is your world of peace.” The darkness broke and light rushed in.

He was in a forest. There was no rustling even with the wind Abubakar summoned. There were no bird songs. The only thing that could be heard was buzzing. Abubakar opened his eyes and only saw trees and beehives. Every tree was adorned with a beehive. There were thick vegetation and all sorts of flowers but there were no nests. He forced the earth to obey him. It whimpered and offered him its secrets. Everything was heavy and too full of life with nothing to check it. No herbivores to eat the plants and no carnivores to eat the herbivores. There were no dens, no movements underground. There were no animals as far as he could feel. If he waited, would any timid creatures appear? Was this the silent spring? The silence made the buzzing seem deafening. Surely actual civilisation would have more to offer.

Offer? The forest was teeming with flora so surely there are animals? Maybe the demon’s peace was silence. A thriving forest that was also lifeless. In the damp air, he shivered.

He would have to find a city. On cue, the scene became urban. Many houses clustered together and to his relief, he found that people still existed. But these were a degraded people. They bore scars and their clothes were a mismatched mess and some didn’t even wear clothes. They grew their nails out and sharpened them. Many had missing teeth and the houses they lived in were falling apart. Further away, he saw as a group of humans tore each other apart over some unseen conflict.

“What is this?”

The genie didn’t answer. Abubakar started shaking. “What sick joke is this? I told you to create a world of peace.”

Again, no answer.

He did the only thing he could think of. He forcefully summoned the genie, “Sadaaqat!”

The ground in front of Abubakar was set ablaze and the genie materialised. The runes once again appeared around his feet. In a fury, he stomped on all the runes he knew could hurt the genie, creating a cloud of white dust around him. The genie’s image wavered but nothing happened.

“Why isn’t this working? Damnit, what did you do?”

The genie extended a hand towards the people. “Why? Do you not like this peace?”

“What kind of peace is this? You tricked me! This isn’t what I asked for.”

“Oh, it is. Your exact words were to ‘create world peace’. To do that, I would have to wipe out the human race and turn back time several hundred years because to make humans live without war is impossible and ultimate peace is only possible if humans were never allowed to spread from their cradles of Africa and Asia.” The genie’s face twisted up at the word impossible. “But considering that you envisioned a world where humans can live together without destroying their world and eventually themselves, this was the best I can do.”

“No! This is not what I imagined. They’re living like animals. This isn’t what we’re meant to be!”

“Ah, human arrogance.” The genie suddenly turned red and the fire around him spiked until Abubakar could feel the heat energy even within the protection of his circle. “Do you really think you are any different from the beasts? You’ve just evolved more efficient ways to kill each other. Your sense of compassion is far exceeded by your territorialism and your greed. Oh, I think this world fits all of you vermin perfectly!”

Shaking with fury, Abubakar summoned as much energy as he could into himself, “Turn everything back. This contract is void. You will be punished!”

The genie laughed. “I’m afraid not. I granted your wish to the best of my ability. I was even generous and kept your species on the face of the earth. You should be grateful. Now, you no longer have power over me. Our contract is done.” He disappeared.

The Beginning of an Acquaintance

The shadows outside of the tinted windows stopped moving and Tom knew that they had arrived. His silent chauffeur sat in the driver’s seat, his hands still on the steering wheel. Ready to drive once his passenger and his baggage are gone. Tom gulped and forced himself to open the door and step out.

His polished leather shoes crunched on the newly-fallen autumn leaves. He could see his pale skin and wide eyes in them. A sudden rustle overhead made him jump. A lone crow broke cover, cawing loudly and he followed its flight with his eyes. He colored, embarrassed of his thumping heart. As he traced the crow’s origin, his thumping heart soon gave way to awe.

It stood dignified even in its disrepair. The fences and shutters, though faded and losing to vines, grimly kept their posts. Its chimney stood proud even with the humiliation of a nesting avian. But for all of its dignity, it could not help but look sad as well. The windows that might have once admitted light into the lives of its masters are now clouded, concealing its mysteries. Tom sighed. Then, a stray ray of sunlight broke through the canopy of branches and the house winked at him. He blinked. No. It’s just a coincidence. The house couldn’t have heard just as he was thinking of mysteries.

But…. what to call it? Now that he thought about it, his uncle’s will never mentioned the name of this mansion. He looked around. Only a cracked wooden sign tacked onto a nearby hickory tree betrayed any sign of its name. 1412. Tom sighed again. That will have to do for now. The chauffeur was getting impatient and as he was unwilling to get out the car, Tom had to lug out all three suitcases plus one duffel bag that would contain his life for the duration of his stay. The chauffeur drove off in a flurry of leaves, leaving Tom with his luggage at the side of the road.

He looked down at his three suitcases plus duffel bag and sighed for the third time.

Well, 1412. It looks like you’re stuck with me for now. My name is Tom. Nice to meet you, too.

He stacked his smaller suitcase on top of one of the bigger one, shouldered his duffel bag and set off on the driveway towards his new acquaintance. The mansion’s top windows twinkled mysteriously as the sun sent forth a final effort and dyed the sky a beautiful gold and red before retiring to make its reappearance the next morning.

Story Starter: Deathfriend

 

She was five at the time. It was her first day of kindergarten on an otherwise normal day. She was waiting by the school gates waiting for the sight of her mother’s red hair. Her backpack was an unfamiliar weight on her back. She shifted the straps uncomfortably. Several of her new classmates waved to her as they passed her, hand in hand with their own parents. She waved back with her right hand.

It’s funny how she could still remember each of their faces clearly. The boy with sandy-colored hair, the girl with freckles and an overbite, the curly-haired girl in her flowery skirt, the boy with the Pokemon cap and his deck of cards. She smiled. That same boy lived next door to her now. She had taken a liking to him the first time she’s seen him. It was a child’s infatuation. She liked the way his eyes lit up when he talked about his cards, the way he frowned in concentration and the way he treated everyone fairly. Maybe a shadow of that childhood infatuation still remained. She shook her head. That doesn’t matter anymore. She looked down at her left hand.

Through her five-year-old eyes, she saw her pudgy fingers holding tightly onto her masterpiece as if it would fly away.  A voice called her name. She looked up, neck craned, searching for the source of the voice. “Here, mommy!” Her mom’s red hair came bobbing into view and her fingers loosened. The piece of paper flew away, carried away by a sudden breeze. Thinking back on it now, it seemed like Fate was taunting her. When she was little, she thought that if she hadn’t let go of that piece of paper, her mother would still be here. Her paper with her happy stick family floated away, lost forever to her grasping fingers.

But those thoughts didn’t occur to her until she was older, much older. At the time, a strange man was hovering by her mother. As she came closer, her five-year-old self could see the empty sockets where the eyes should have been, the grinning face and what scared her most, the scythe that he carried in his bone-white hands. The scythe’s curved blade fit snugly around her mother’s slim waist. The man held chains in his hands, chains that ended in shackles on her mother’s wrists, ankles and throat. She pointed to them and asked her mother what they were used for. Her mother, taking it as a child’s figment of imagination, replied as such. But the man turned his empty eye sockets on her, taking notice of her for the first time. She waved at him. Her mother looked over her shoulder, trying to see who she was waving to. But besides a sudden chill, didn’t detect anything else. Her mother took her left hand and led her to the car, chatting happily. And that’s where the memory ended. They could have been walking forever to the car.

She focused again on her left hand. On it, was a scar. One that curved through her palm. Like the strange man’s scythe. A touch on her shoulder caused her to turn her head. A similar grinning face looked back at her. Attached to the face was a cloth-covered body and out of the body was the same bone-white hand, holding a scythe. In the other hand, was the same chains ending with the shackles in the same places. Looking back at her hand, she saw the grained wood handle of a scythe. Oh, that’s right. She was friends with the death gods. The reapers that took her mother’s soul when she died. But that doesn’t matter anymore. The reaper stood up, chains rattling. She stood up at well but her chains were empty. She needed to find someone and soon. As her friend faded away, she followed. The branch that she was sitting on rustled as if shaking off a pest. The boy next door shivered. Maybe he would be suitable.