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Face To Face

Face To Face

11 mins 264 11 mins 264

"You couldn't live without knowing the truth, could you?" Kenny Kevin Klein taunted the Inspector as he entered the dirty room. "The moment I saw you, I knew you were an inquisitive creature, the know-all-be-all kind of a man."

Inspector Price sat on a shaggy, plastic chair; his face grim and expressionless. "And the moment I saw your initials, I knew you were going to be a huge pain in the law's ass," he replied coldly. "You know why I'm here. So, don't waste any more time."

"You wanted to see me behind bars so badly, didn't you? You promised that I would pay for all my crimes, for all my sins, and that the law would make sure that I never see another sunrise. ‘Plead guilty, and you'll walk free soon,' you had said. I did not, and guess what, I walked free immediately. The hands of law may be long, but they weren't strong enough to hold me captive. You --"

"I did not come here to hear you rant. Tell me how you did it?" Price interrupted.

"The best detective on the force begging a humble man to reveal the method of his kills… doesn't suit you, Inspector! They all say you’re the best in the business. I beat the best; what does that make me?" The serial killer half-smiled.

"I accept that you outsmarted me, even though I know for a fact that you killed those four people. But my job is not knowing this; my job is proving this. I failed there. You were good, I admit. You left no trace. But when the technology improves – and I assure you it will, pretty soon – your minute mistakes will cost you dearly and you will find yourself in the tight, unbreakable grip of the law."

"Tearing the bill on technology. That's what you always do, don't you?" Jack The Ripper kills five and escapes; blame the tech. Zodiac kills thirty-seven, sends you guys a code to catch him and still manages to flee; blame the tech. For God's sake, give the guy some credit. If technology alone solved crimes, then no criminal would have ever been caught in Victorian London.

"And as for your law: The law is not formulated to punish criminals, it is rather formulated to punish weak criminals. The intellectually superior ones will always find a way to bypass your law. As long as you don't play an absolute moron and leave a shitload of evidence, you can even kill your own daughter in your own freaking house, have the sole motive of murder and still get away with it! You know what, committing a crime isn't a crime, getting caught for committing a crime is a crime."

Inspector Price slow-clapped. "You talk big like you've got the most brain in the entire world. But how do you use it, Klein? With all your ‘revolutionary theories,' you could have had a career in writing, or politics, or whatever. You could have changed the law and made it the way you want. But here, look at you, Kenny, you're just another crook running from the law. You might have gotten the better of us, but trust me, you'll always live in constant fear – the fear of getting caught. Every time you see the words ‘Sunnyshore Murders' mentioned in a newspaper, you'll panic and scan the entire article to see if any new development has reduced the gap between you and justice. This is what your life will come down to."

"You think becoming a serial killer was my dream, huh? You and your stupid law forced me into this. I was happy in my little world, doing things that –"

"I don't want to hear your Cinderella story. Tell me how you killed those people," Inspector Price spoke impatiently.

"I'm not giving an interview here, you see. Either it's the full story, or it's nothing. You can walk out of here right now if you want. But if you stay, I don't want any words coming out of your mouth while I'm speaking. Choose as you please, Inspector. But remember, you sent me the letter asking me to meet at any place of my choice. You asked for a deal... a deal with the devil."

The detective clenched and unclenched his fists, gritting his teeth in anger as he stared at the smiling serial killer in front of him. Finally, he let out a sigh of annoyance and said, "Okay, we do it your way. However, don't try to make it sound like I am the only one who's interested in this. I know that you are as eager to speak as I am willing to listen. I am familiar with you and your likes. You take this as an accomplishment, don't you? An accomplishment you want to brag about."

Kenny Kevin Klein couldn't suppress a grin. "You got me there, Inspector. You caught me red-handed." With that, he broke into maniacal laughter that sounded even more eerie courtesy of the silence surrounding the room.

"So," he shouted as he composed himself. "How should I begin? Let me tell you about my childhood first…"

The shrill noise from the gritting of teeth was almost as loud as the speaker's words.

"I was born into a hunting family. My father was a poacher, so was my grandfather. Unlike my predecessors, I attended school for a short time. I don't remember much of that, but I did happen to like biology a bit. However, my primary interest was – as you might expect – hunting. Something related to genes, they say. So, I dropped out and started following my passion. They all said I had a natural talent in setting up traps and pretty soon, I began making quite a name for myself. Wealthy clients would contact me for a tiger's skin, or a rhino's horn, or an elephant's tusk for a hefty sum and I would have a pleasant outing.

"Then all of a sudden, the government develops an angel's halo and bans hunting altogether. The security in jungles and sanctuaries is tightened, and a lot of my father's friends are caught. Afraid of being the next in line, my father orders every one of us to quit hunting, and a year later, I find myself working as a ward boy in a hospital.

"I accept my destiny and obey my father’s commands. Everything is going well. I am earning just enough to support my requirements, the hospital guys are satisfied with my work, my name is on the list of possible promotions, and then, it began. For some inexplicable reason, there was a desire, a strong desire, an unsuppressible desire to kill. I don't know whether it was my genes or my hunting habits, but every muscle in my body, every neuron in my brain was encouraging me for a kill. Just. One. Kill.

"However, I knew I couldn't just grab a knife and start a killing spree. I needed to have a plan; I needed to set bait for my prey, wait patiently and strike precisely at the right moment. I still remember my debut game. I was literally singing to myself on the way home, after the killing. The tension, the desire to kill a man had built up in such explosive proportions that when I finally got the job done, all the pressure, all the tension, all the desire had just vanished, dissipated. Albeit, only for a short time.

“Did you know the fact the no lion is a born man-eater? All he needs to evolve into one is one. Just. One. Kill. The taste of human blood is so damn fine that the king of the jungle simply cannot resist the temptation of that taste again. The beast keeps scoring at every opportunity he gets until finally, at last, the beast is slain; the hunter is hunted by a hunter like me!

"But hunting a lion is nothing compared to hunting a man. Take this from a guy who’s had experience in both. That’s because man is the most dangerous and intelligent animal of ‘em all. Have you ever gone hunting? No? Hmmm… Have you ever played cards? Yes? Just think about the game when you play a bluff, and your unaware opponent falls for it. The feeling, the satisfaction of having outsmarted a fellow player is the same that I felt every time those innocent creatures walked right into my trap… walked right into death.

"You might be interested in how I chose my victims," Kenny continued, much to the chagrin of the detective. "You may be glad to know that unlike any other serial killer, I did not kill randomly. I only chose men worthy enough of competing against a seasoned veteran like me. I just picked those guys who had shown signs of intellect during the brief meeting I had with them. Alas! Their greed was stronger than their mind.

"Now, to the fun part: The plan of the hunt. No fingerprints, no sign of struggle, no chemical gimmicks, just a dead body. I'm sure this surprised both you and the forensics. After all, this is the reason why you're here in the first place. Since this is the part you are most interested in, I have a little demonstration for you." Kenny's eyes beamed with excitement as he brought a piece of decaying meat and placed it on the ground nearby.

"This, Inspector, is bait. Your prey gets attracted towards it just like ants are attracted to sugar, or better yet, just like humans are attracted to interviews for high-paying jobs. It doesn't matter how good you are, offers like these are way too tempting to be refused. And look! Here comes our prey," Kenny pointed at a somewhat healthy cockroach crawling towards the piece of meat.

Seeing a couple of other cockroaches making their way towards the ‘bait’, he resumed, “Sometimes a few more applicants arrive. But we can’t take them all; we want only the best. So, we begin our interview process. We observe our applicants & deduce who’s the best.” Kenny was now gazing at a slightly bigger cockroach who was leading the charge.

“Wow! Leadership skills! I am impressed. This one’s selected. For the others, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. I’m sorry, you folks are good, but just not good enough.” He kicked them away out of the dirty room. Closing the door, he resumed, “Closing the door may seem very trivial but is immensely important. You don’t want the other applicants coming back for a purse or their documents that they had forgotten. Unnecessary risks can lose you a winning game. And I hate to lose, especially when I’m ahead.

"Your prey might be suspicious at first, but if you play well, it will eventually reach the place. The offer is so good that your prey will do whatever you ask. It would even get inside an empty container. However, you need to be patient. And when it does, the game ends and the victory lap begins." Saying so, Kenny inverted glass on top of the cockroach, trapping him inside the frustum.

"At first, your prey struggles, just like this cockroach. It tries to break out of the trap, but your seasoned veteran -- and his container -- are too good for that." After a brief pause, he continued as Inspector Price stared at the helpless cockroach. "However, pretty soon, when the oxygen inside the container begins to run out, our prey slows down, just like this cockroach. Just look at it, shaking and struggling, using its muscles for the last time. The expression of defeat and helplessness is so visible on its face," Kenny spoke as he brought his face near the dying insect.

"Not really, though!" He got back, slightly disappointed. "You can't see the expression, can you? I could have done a better live demonstration, you know, but then you would have arrested me for that." The serial killer laughed at his own joke.

"Now, if the cockroaches have a forensic department, and it comes to our little crime scene, all they're gonna see is their dead brethren with no sign of assault. If they have technology as good as ours, they would be successful in concluding that our prey died because of breathing problems; that our prey died of natural causes.

"I thought you'd be intrigued with the demonstration, but you seem to have enjoyed it," he mocked as he saw a smile appear on the face of the Inspector.

"I enjoy only one thing, Kenny, and that is seeing criminals behind bars. I'm smiling because quite unknowingly you have given me a lot of information… information that can – and will – cost you a lot. I am not that weak to walk up to crooks like you for explanations. The only reason I asked you to meet was that I knew that you, in all your overconfidence, would give me enough details to start afresh. And that's exactly what you did."

Kenny remained calm as a cucumber. "I haven't said a word more than I wanted to, Inspector. And as far as giving details is concerned, trying to find evidence against me is equivalent to trying to find God, because, in all honesty, neither of them actually exists."

"That's what you think, punk. Overconfidence kills, always. And trust me, this is far from over," Inspector Price said as picked up his walking stick.

Kenny Kevin Klein took out a piece of paper from his pocket as he watched Inspector Price walk out into the darkness. He wrote the name of the detective on it, marking it with an "X."

"This, indeed, is not over," he spoke as his lips curled into a half-smile.


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