Unhinged Reality

Unhinged Reality

26 mins 504 26 mins 504

9 September.

High school parking lot:

I have been watching her, my beauty, my sweet and innocent Persephone. Her blond-hair shining in the sun. So beautiful, I knew she loved me the day she spoke up against the boy who taunted me. My thoughts are interrupted as two bikes enter the parking lot where she stands. Two? no! he is not supposed to be here only his brother. He is ruining my plan!

Police station: Missing person department

“Detective Bogatsu, three high school kids have been reported missing sir. They were all abducted at the same time at schools parking lot today.”

Names officer?” “Braam and Joubert Gouws and Cassandra Lubbe sir”

This investigation is going to be more public than a park, someone really went and kidnapped the three top leaders of the high school’s student body as well the biggest benefactors to town’s kids. I am just truly glad Chandni the fourth member of that group was not taken. Not that radio Lichvaal doesn’t cover missing cases vigorously but this is like a soap opera waiting to happen.

 The next Monday.

“The body of a young man was found naked in the patch of grassland near the dam, hands tied with strange cravings in his chest. The detectives on the scene have not yet ID'd the body but urge anyone who might have seen something to come forward. It is unclear if it is one of the missing high school students”

Detective Le Roux sighs annoyed as he climbs out of the car, the call came in less than 10 minutes ago. How did Radio Lichvaal already hear about it? He is sometimes convinced that Thabo Cele can see the future because he is always on top of the latest crime news in this town.

 Crime scene 1:

A young man the news report said, more like a boy, the victim lying in front of me is only eighteen. I can’t help but feel a surge of rage as the boy lays there naked on what looks like a blanket, hands tied above his head like a diver ready to jump.

The only visible wound is the carving on his chest, it looks like the devil’s fork. There is something between the victim’s hands I carefully bent down to remove it. A photograph of the three missing kids with the words “If little red riding hood stuck to plan she would not have died".

  “Officer tell me what you know?” Not that I need information on who the victim is, this I know but this officer is here for training so therefore the rest of us just need to suck up and deal with the unnecessary procedures.

 “You see neh, Detective, the victim Braam Gouws, 17 years old, was found this morning by a group of seventh graders on their way to Lichtenburg primary school. It looks like he was dumped this morning sir, there is no sign of damage by yesterday’s hail, but the ME will know more. He is one of the boys reported missing last week” 

I also noticed the absence of damage on the body, this is fortunate it will make examining the body a hell of a lot quicker. 

“You ID’d him already? How?” Right now, the last thing I want to do is train this guy, not when the whole town is going to be panicked and breathing down my neck.

“He is the high school’s star sir, head boy, rugby star, Badenhorst’s pride, his face is always somewhere in the northwestern." At least this officer is observant.

The grass around the body is untouched, the footpath leading to the school is trampled with the footprints of the children and as annoyed as I want to be at them for that, I can’t, this is the first time Lichtenburg has seen a murder like this since the British government’s assignation of De la Rey. Forensics needs comb this area, there is not much I can do from here.

 I noticed drag marks leading to the crime scene before the road, as I return to my car. I wish Celia was back already because now I need to face the parents alone.


Police station: Homicide division.

 Glaring over the pictures of the crime scene especially those of the symbols engraved on his chest I am faced with questions and no answers. They were done post mortem, but why? And the photograph, something tells me that it is an important key to this investigation but how a devil fork fits with red riding hood I don’t know. Talking to the parents really drained me and the principal was more concerned with the school having to forfeit the rugby finals than with the fact that a kid was dead, and two others were missing. Principal Badenhorst just really irritates me to a degree where I want to smack him, treating rugby like it is the most valuable thing on earth.

 The boy’s parents said they last saw both boys at 6 am the morning of the 9th when both left for school on their bikes, said bikes were found untouched in the school parking lot with the helmets found in the boys’ lockers. The twins Braam and Joubert Gouws along with Cassandra Lubbe went missing from the school when they went to the gym for a workout.

So how did Braam end up in the grassland on the opposite side of town dead and naked?

“Joh, Detective the ME’S report is in, the boy died like at 7 this morning sir, whoever killed him wanted him found quickly. Everyone knows that from 7:30 that old field path gets high traffic. I mean even eke knows that and I have been here only a month sir, apparently, he died there on that spot sir. He was injected with an immobiliser and then somehow got a large amount of iodine in his system; the boy was highly allergic. But his stomach contents showed no food that could contain it” Officer Saal announces all in one breath, I can’t help but smile at the officer trying suppress the so-called coloured way of speaking. He was only recently transferred from the Springbok station.

 “So, the boy died of asphyxiation due to an allergy caused by something natural, well that made this investigation a lot more complicated, it is not illegal to have an impossible to trace.”  “Yes, sir that is how he died, but there was also a head wound on the back of his head probably from the kidnapping”

“Now tell me, officer, how do you kidnap two strong boys at the same time without being seen? And manage to take a girl all at once?”

The killer’s den:

You are no damn fucking god. You don’t deserve her Joubert, you really don’t.” 

I scream as I look down at the boy laying at my feet, kicking him mercilessly with my steel toe boots relishing in the agony dancing across his face and then the horror when he realises who I am. He hurt her, my Cassandra, he had her in tears, I saw her cry through her living room window many times. She is an angel, perfect so perfect in every way. She is pure untouched. He deserves to die.

“It is a shame Braam had to die too, he wasn’t supposed to be there.”

Growing tired of kicking him I decide to upgrade my means of torture, he always said he wanted to be an electrician, well let’s see how well he plays with electricity. I prop him up against the wall and press the proctor straight into his ribs, stupid ass boy can’t even handle this.

“Weakling just look at how pathetic the all great Joubert Gouws is now.” I press the proctor deeper into his skin and watch with joy as he screams.

Glancing over to the other side of the room I see my angel fast asleep. Don’t worry love soon we will be free, free from those meddling boys always interfering, always around. Focusing back on the disgusting piece of shit in front of me, I smile time for him to die very painfully. “Did you know that experts say it takes up to five hours for the venom of a Para-bhutus scorpion to kill you, Joubert? Well, let’s see if it is true.” I slowly drop him into a bath containing the scorpions and watch them sting him for a little while.

Cassandra lets out a soft sound and my focus shifts back to her, I feel bad for having her here in this dump, but I had to finish with the boys first, Braam threw out my planning like usual. When I am done with Joubert I will move her to the place I made especially for her, I decorated it, she will like it.

They acted happy in school, everyone believed they were in love. Everyone treated the twins like they were gods, but they were especially not Joubert. He made her cry every day, he hit her. I saw it, it started this month. My blood boils again as I think about it but subsides as I hear his screams again.

Police station:

This case is frustrating me. I have a dead teenager and two more missing and no lead. The school was empty the day they disappeared it was holidays but being the stars, they had keys to the gym and the gate. The sign carved on Braam's body and the words on the photo makes no sense. But the most confusing thing is how do you kidnap the strongest guys on the team when you don’t have the strength to carry them, the drag marks, and blanket proofs it. This killer is well thought out there wasn't even a footprint in the mud beside the crime scene and if there was any in the path the traffic would have covered it.

“Detective, the girl’s best friend called she is back from England, sir she asks if she can come immediately’’ an officer shouts across the room “yes, maybe she knows something. Ask if she could lose the parents or just bring her dad.”  The cons of a small town are you know everybody, Lichtenburg might not be that small, but you still know all those who make enough of a dent. Zahira Abdul is one of those people, I am sure if you give Satan the change, he will run from her too. The last thing this investigation needs that Lawyer directing her daughter in what to say. The husband is much gentler.

"Lose the parents? I am pretty sure that is illegal Pieter le Roux.” I have never been happier to hear a woman’s voice in my life than right now hearing my partners voice, she will help a great deal being a profiler and all.

“If the mother is Zahira Abdul, I am sure we can break the rules, Celia. and welcome back”

“Ahh I see, she is a tough one, can’t blame her much though being a Muslim lawyer in a town with a church on every corner doesn’t sound like much fun. But let me see that file before Miss Abdul arrives.” Typical Celia straight and to the point. But she has a point about Zahira.

I spent the next half an hour staring at the pictures again trying to figure what it could mean. “Poseidon’s trident, that’s what you are looking at Pieter.” Celia chimes in as she comes to stand next to me. “those words on the photograph they sound very familiar.”

“They do mam? because I don’t recall them in the story nerens nie mam not even as a footnote.” Saal interjects in the tone of utmost confusion vocalising my exact thoughts. “Anyways, Chandni Abdul is here, with only her father sir.” Can this man read minds? Because he just answered the question forming in my head.

After doing the routine questions, Celia states it might help to show her the photos. “Chandni, do these symbols or words mean anything to you?”

“Well other than it being Poseidon’s trident the craving means nothing to me. The words, however, it is practically our math teacher Mrs Van Dyks slogan. She says it each time a kid that uses a different method gets the answer wrong. It means if you stick to pre-coordinated things you won’t have ……”

“regrettable outcomes. It is all about sticking to plans and methods.” Celia completes the sentence for the girl “Of course that’s why it sounds familiar. The old witch used to recite it like Shake Spear after exams.” The girl giggles but suddenly looks shocked as she looked over the photograph again. “This photo, it was taken the day they disappeared, they wore these clothes. Look, Cassandra, send me a selfie, it is the same photo the police send out.” She shows us the photo on her phone, the one found on the body is taken from a slightly askew angle and further back. “What does the caption mean? A workout before we recite.”

“They have a play for drama class, she and Joubert play the leads. Braam was just helping to read lines where necessary. What the play was about I don’t know.

She is quiet for a moment then she looks up “They both received a photo on their locker just before school holidays, it said don’t worry I will save you or something like that on Cassandra’s and something about you will pay on Joubert’s. It was a photo from drama class where she was fake crying because it looked, he was about to hit her. We thought it a was prank made by one of the of other drama kids.”

“Someone took a photo of them without their knowledge, a photo that mimics assault and you think it is a prank.”

“It’s drama class, they have a camera set up to record rehearsals and auditions, you can take stills from that. The photo came from an audition day. Look they always tease each other about the roles, and it happened only once. The drama kids take their roles seriously, they try to stay in character before auditions and the week before and during the play. Look like I said I don’t know what the plays about it all a big hush, it set to be the main attraction for both the AIA- and Liggie festivals.”

“You and Braam didn’t receive any photos? Did mention these photos to your parents?”

“No, like I said we figured it was a prank from the other kids, maybe the understudies. I don’t know about Braam, but I have never gotten anything. Besides those photos was drama related somehow and I and Braam don’t have drama. It is the one thing those brothers didn’t share apart from girlfriends. I think they knew their kidnapper?”

 “Why do think that?”

“The boys are strong and recently took up boxing and Cassandra is a purple belt MMA fighter if they were attacked, they would have fought and done some serious damage. So, either they were ambushed, or they willing went with the person.”

 After Chandni left Celia went to look at the photographs again “Braam wasn’t meant to die, that is what words on the photo meant. The parents stated that Braam was initially going to meet with his ex-girlfriend Lizelle to finish an assignment they had started for physics before they broke up but Lizelle canceled last minute. So, he offered to help Cassandra and his brother rehearse for the play. Whoever kidnapped them had to plan this ahead of time and was following them. When Braam showed up with them the killer either had rescheduled or take Braam with them?”

“It would be easier to take Braam with than to reschedule. I agree with Chandni about the killer being someone they know, the killer felt like they had to kill Braam. This indicates that Braam would’ve been able to identify them even if he had been knocked out.

“The high school is big, there is over 1300 kids’ mam?” Saal exclaims “yes, but only those who have a class with Mrs van Dyk would know to apply the words in this context, it also someone who does not know enough about them to know when they are acting and when stuff is real.” I put forward my two cents on the new information. “Assault scenes in a school play, doesn’t that sound extreme?”

“These aren’t kids who take drama because they think it is easy Pieter, these kids are thinking of making it a career. They take it as seriously as Badenhorst takes rugby or any other sport combined. They want gripping stories, not your normal half-baked school concert." Celia states almost defensively, sometimes I forget she is only 28 years and went to this high school under Badenhorst leadership, I was right when I said she will help a great deal. She knows the dynamics of this school. “I am heading over to Mrs de Lange the head of drama there to find out what the play was about. Then I have an interview with Cassandra’s cousin.”

Killers den: Cassandra’s view

I open my eyes slightly but close them again immediately. It feels like I have been hit by a truck or no worse the damn Lafarge train, that so coincidently passes by at this exact moment. My head is pounding as if someone was using a jack jammer on my brain. I try to open my eyes again this time I succeed but I wish I hadn’t, all around me on the walls are photographs of me and my friends. They are somewhat labeled; one group says harmful/dangerous/threat. It is all photos of me and Joubert, but they all look as if he is about to assault me. The next pile says unwanted it is photos of me, Chandni and some other girls the last pile says harmless photos of me with other guys like Braam. Suddenly the realisation hit me, these were all taken without me knowing. Someone had been stalking me for months now.

As turn my head to look at the first pile again I see photos of Joubert bruised and beaten next those there was a photo of Braam …… dead. A wave of dizziness and nausea washes over me as I realise what has and is happening. I was so occupied by the photo’s that I didn’t even the hear footsteps.


“Ahh angel, you are awake. Don’t worry you are saved now, he can’t hurt you anymore. When I am done, we can go someplace save where no one will find us.” I freeze when hearing their voice, what the fuck it can’t be.

My blood starts to boil, and I completely forget that person has full control “Save now? I always saved, idiot!!!!! I was save until you took me, you sadistic monster.”  I shout in an uncontrollable rage, rage that makes me stupid since I decide to spit at my kidnapper.

 I fall back against the wall with enormous force my head bouncing off it as their hand connects with my face. I feel like fainting, but I try to keep my focus.

“He hurt you, I saw him do it every day for the last month. He makes you cry.”

 The tone of their voice contradicts the force I just hit the wall with, it almost sounds caring, but this moron is psychotic. Joubert never hurt me “Look at all the photos, I have as proof. Just look”

A hand forces my head to look at the pictures of me and Joubert. When where these are taken? From an outside point of view, this photo looks legit like he is about to hit me, then I see it the script on my lap in one picture. “We were rehearsing for the play you Psychco, it is called acting!!!! we were happy, I was going to marry that guy. You are disgusting.” At this point I couldn’t care less what happens to me, I would rather die than play along with their sick fantasy. “Where is Joubert? “

“He is gone now angel he is not going to ever touch you again. Don’t worry tomorrow we will decide where to go. We will be happy, you’ll see”

“You are mental if you think I would ever be happy with you. You murdered the father of my child your sick asshole” The way their eyes froze when I spoke those words made me realize, I just made the biggest mistake of my entire life.

“You fucked that bastard? You disgusting whore. How could you? You were meant to be mine.” Those are the last words I hear before I black out due to my head being slammed into the wall. I don’t think Le roux will find me in time, but it doesn’t matter as long as I join Joubert.

Killers den: Killers view.

How could she? That fucking slut, I loved her, I wanted to save her. She never even noticed me like that did she. Well then if she wants to be with that bastard so bad, she and that thing she is carrying can join him and his brother in hell. Her purity is gone, stolen from me by him. She was mine!

I get Joubert’s dead body out of the scorpion tank and slowly start to carve the mark into his chest. I wish I could hurt him more for the fact that he slept with what’s mine. But he is dead now.

I look at my artwork and can’t help feeling satisfied with the results. Let me get rid of him then I will decide what to do with her.

“The police have confirmed they found the body of Joubert Gouws this morning a couple of kilometers outside of town on the motorcycle race track. No information other than like his brother he was naked with his hands tied and strange cravings on his chest has been released. Cassandra Lubbe is still missing. The police, however, assure the community that they are trying their best.”

Crime scene 2:

Well, at least Cele is speaking facts and not criticizing the police. I am just frustrated that we couldn’t prevent this death, but the killer has been planning this for quite some time now and our police force are not used to crimes like this.

“Well, the only differences about these scenes are that Joubert was brutally tortured sir, the writing on the photo and symbol is also different but otherwise the same. The killer knew exactly when to dump the body without being seen but having it discovered quickly. This dude seriously didn't like Joubert. I thought paralyzing someone and then have them suffocate was bad but this sir. The boy looks like a human pin cushion after all the pins were removed, then was drenched in acid and then tenderized with a cricket bat.” What disturbs me most about that graphic description is that it is almost factual. You don't to be an ME to know that the "pinholes" is caused by scorpions a whole lot of them. The only none tortured area is where the mark is craved, this time it looks like a three-headed dog. 

I look at the photograph again it is a photo of Joubert laying in a tub of scorpions, already badly bruised. The words read “And Hades kidnapped Persephone and took her to Tartarus away from Demeter. Who was left in such distraught that she cast winter over all the earth.” What the fuck? But for some reason, I am sure Celia would understand this message.

Police station:

“So, the play the kids have been working on is a classical Greek…… myth” Celia trails off as she stares at the photographs on the table. “Mam? you look like you saw the ghost of a dead relative. Is everything Gucci?” Saal tries to get through her. Is everything Gucci? What is Gucci, but more importantly what did Celia realise? 

“Celia, what is did you realise?”

“I have the profile for you, well a rough one.”

“I am all ears.”

“So, the kids have been working on a play about a Greek myth, the same Greek myth is referenced in this murder. The three-headed dog is Cerebus the hellhound a symbol of the Greek god Hade's ruler of the underworld. The play is about the myth where Hades kidnaps Persephone daughter of Demeter and brings her to the underground, Tartarus. Persephone eats a pomegranate seed while she is down there and therefore belongs to Hades because she ate fruit from the underworld. Demeter has a psychotic breakdown and casts the whole world into winter until Zeus intervenes and arranges that Persephone goes to her mother 6 months a year. Thus, the creation of summer and winter.”

“Okay, how does assault factor into the equation?” I ask still confused about that part.

“Well Hades is essentially the Greeks devil, he had a temper and therefore they are portraying him as an abuser. Joubert where cast as Hades and Cassandra as Persephone. Our assumption that the killer didn’t know about the play was wrong. The killer is an erotomaniac, they perceive Cassandra as theirs and somehow that delusion turned the play into reality for them. The killer saw the scenes they acted as real and their real relationship as acted. The killer mostly likely saw Cassandra as pure or untouched since she was seen as Persephone. This presents a problem ….” 

She was cut off by an officer grabbing the picture of Joubert in the tub “I know this place detective. It’s is the old abandoned train station just behind the old commando offices.”

“How do you know that officer Mahudu?”

“Look at the graffiti in the background sir, the one that looks a cat’s vomit, I did that in my matric year.” Something in me just jumps and without a further question, I command. “Get the cars out Cassandra might be there. Someone calls an ambulance to meet us there”

“You were saying, Celia?” I said as we rushed to my car because I knew she had some important information.

“The fact that the killer thinks she is pure and unhappy presents a problem. Cassandra is pregnant with Joubert child, they were planning to get married according to her cousin Louise. She is in the CVO school and was away with the school on their annual Majuba tour, therefore she wasn’t interviewed at first. Cassandra has apparently only told Joubert and Louise and Joubert only told Braam. If she tells the killer this which she probably already has in a rage and confusion fit, she will break the delusion causing the love to turn into hate. Meaning she will be treated like the boys. Also, this will be a trigger that could set the killer on a killing spree. So, I hope to God that Mahudu is correct because we have no idea who this person is. We don’t even know whether they are male or female. This person is good.”

I feel utterly horrified and nauseated at the words Celia just spoke because deep down I know what she said was about as much a fact as, as saying you need oxygen to breathe. As we pull up to the station, I send my first prayer into two years up to heaven begging God that we get to save this girl’s life. Slowly we approach the building as not to warn the killer we are here.

Killers den: Cassandra’s view

I woke up tied to a chair this morning, my body hurting like I was run over by a truck repeatedly. Everywhere but my stomach hurts, then I realise, she was purposely avoiding it because of my baby. The rational side of brains is screaming that it is only because something bigger is planned than the cuts adorning my body, but the optimist me wants to believe it’s some instinct kicking in. Some of the cuts are shallow others are deep and those are just the ones I can see on my thighs.

I hear footsteps coming closer and I swallow hard scared of what this bitch can do. The footsteps stop in front of me and my head is been dragged upwards by my hair, but I bite down on my lips hard enough to draw blood. I refuse to give in, to satisfy this monster. I can see her determination for blood.

“If only you stayed pure, we could have been together. I would have loved you, gave you everything you needed!!! But no, you choose to be a whore and slept with that vile creature. How can anyone love you now? You must be punished maybe even more brutally than that creature of yours.” Her voice chilled me down to my spine as she slowly caresses the blade against my skin then slashes a deep cut through my cheek. I scream in agony not being able to handle the pain anymore.

As she turns her back, I slowly catch my breath and being the stubborn outspoken idiot, I am, just needed to talk back “Be together are you fucking dumb, I am into guys. I never saw you like more than you were. Even if I would have left Joubert, I could never love you. Especially not after you killed him and Braam.”  

I was utterly confused as this bitch stands in front of me again, what did I do to make her think like this? She seemed so nice, and she never did anything to make me feel uncomfortable, or even show that she had a crush, if you can even use that term for this, on me.

 She has some kind of clear fluid in her hands. At first, I thought it is water but as soon as she aimed it at my cuts I realised, I am in for one hell of a ride on the pain train as my dad used to call it. Thinking of him makes me feel less scared.

My screams sound as if a million demons are leaving my body as the liquid that I assume is acid hits my skin and open wounds. I have never felt this much pain, she dumped it over me the way you throw water on a fire. I am going to pass out. o God, no she is grabbing another bottle. I start to see bubbles floating around me, the room is changing colours and becoming brighter and just before I fall into the pit darkness at the bottom of the room, I hear a crash, a million voices and what sounds like an explosion.

Killers den: Celia’s view

We rush in through the doors after we heard the most blood-freezing scream imaginable. Everything was a massive blur, we were shouting, someone fired a shot, I was just focused on calling the ambulance to move closer to get the girl out of her pain. The fucking sadist through acid on her.

As soon as the adrenaline subsides, and everything falls back into focus. I notice the blood pool on the floor where Cassandra was seated. The tank with scorpions, a wall filled with knives and other shit. Then I see the body laying on the floor, that of a young woman, blond-haired person. Shock filled me as I recognize her, my old biology lab partner Amalia Thomas, head girl of my matric year. I don’t understand how she even knew Cassandra; the girl was eight when we were in matric and the Thomas’s moved away the year after matric. I just stood there completely baffled but also repressing the urge to kick this damn maniac. I should have it seen coming, Amalia has always had the tendency to not be faced by pain we just thought she had a strong stomach. 

Pieter coming back in after calling Cassandra’s parents comes and stands next to me “We would have never caught her if she succeeded because, for one, she was smart enough to never leave anything. How exactly do you think she did it? Kidnap those two strong boys?”

“Hired some crackheads to do the heavy lifting in and out of the car and hit them over the head while their distracted and the rest she managed by being a complete nutcase sir.” Officer Mahudu states as he mentions for us to follow him. On the way out, he looks at his artwork and smiles “who knew this piece of cat vomit would come in handy” he was talking more to himself than to me and Leroux while looking at his graffiti on the wall behind us.

The car she used is parked behind the back, and in a shed lays six very drugged men tied up. “Heavens alone knows why these men are tied, their so high they passed the seventh level of heaven already their busy making u-turn to hell now.” Saal states and suddenly I can’t help bursting out in a giggle fit and tears, after the horror of the crime scene and the shock of my old bio lab partner being a psychotic erotomaniac, those words were just irrationally funny to me.

After my semi-breakdown, we searched through the rest of the station, in a back room of the main building we found a room covered in photos of Cassandra. A bottle of iodine along with injections and an immobiliser was found too. In short, we found all the murder weapons.

Police station:

Thabo Cele is sitting across from me at my desk looking much like Celia looked when she saw Amalia. “So are you going to explain to me what happened, detective. Because the town is confused, and I want to know how the hell Amalia’s reality became so unhinged.”

“In short Thabo, Amalia was working as an assistant for Mrs de Lange till after the play. According to Chandni and the other drama kids she never showed any signs of having an obsession with Cassandra, she always acted appropriately. This just means she hid her delusion well. She was mentally ill and couldn’t see it. The fact that she mixed up reality with a play just shows how sick she was.”

“But if she loved Cassandra why hurt her? And why kill Braam?’

“When Cassandra told her she was pregnant, she broke the delusion of her being pure, thus turning the so-called love into hate. As for Braam, the poor boy was just at the wrong place. The carving of Poseidon’s trident shows that Poseidon has no function in the myth other than being Hades brother. And there is also Mrs van Dyks famous words.” Celia answers before I can.

“Last question how did she kidnap them?”

“Besides having help from 6 crack heads, we will never know.”

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