Action Crime Thriller
‘In the latest news, the serial killer who goes by the name The Jackal committed yet another homicide yesterday, Julia Clarke, suffering the same fate as the other two victims. A total of three murders have been committed as of now, across a timespan of two months’. The volume of the television was turned to maximum, and the entire bar could hear it. All of them had their eyes fixed on the television set, drink in their hands, mourning the death, praying for the dead. ‘The Police still appears to be clueless about the identity of the killer,' continued the reporter. ‘Detective Rankin had this to say regarding the matter.' A video of my partner, sprung up on the television screen, and he began in cold and heavy voice, ‘We have been doing everything possible to track down this criminal, it’s just a matter of few days, we will catch him’, he looked uncomfortable.
This was the first interview he had appeared for in the last forty years of his lifetime, it was his way of respecting The Jackal in some crooked way or challenging him, I deduced as I handed him the picture. Looking away from the television screen, I stared at the snow laden windows, wondering what havoc the jackal had created. It was a Saturday evening ,the snow from the blizzard last night had piled up blocking roads. We were sitting at The Macy’s bar, going through the reports of the crime scene again and again. All the killings, they looked perfect, no evidence what so ever. But this one, the latest was incomplete. "Could be that we are dealing with a copy cat ?" Rankin asked himself as beads of sweat crawled down on Edward Rankin’s large forehead, underneath the receding hairline while he turned the pages of the file. His body appeared cramped between the restaurant booth, and the glass of brandy in his hand seemed as if it could shatter any moment now. His leg that had taken a bullet a few days back lay on the chair ahead ‘Can you pass me those crime scene pictures from the file’, Rankin said, he sounded unsatisfied, and he was not used to it. It was my first case with Rankin. He wasn’t like the other detectives I worked with. He spoke very little, almost never. I carefully removed the pictures from a folder; a mere glimpse of them petrified me.
It all started six months back, I was assigned my first case with Rankin, and little did I know that it would not only be the biggest case of my career, but it would also hit Edward Rankin hard. I still remember the day, like it was yesterday. It was a gloomy evening, clouds raged with anger, rain started hitting our car with all its might, accompanied by lightning that split the sky. Without a warning the radio in our car started talking, ‘All available units, a homicide has been reported in house 156 lane six, Archer street’. Rankin swiftly picked up the radio and responded with eagerness. He was wearing a white shirt tucked in neatly inside a black pant , hair neatly combed, fiery eyes. He thrust his leg on the accelerator and the car immediately gained momentum. In the next two minutes, we were cruising along the highway at around 90 miles an hour, Rankin looked relaxed, sipping from the bottle of brandy mixed with warm water, as he drove I swayed along as the car started to swing across the corners, scared for my life.
We reached the house within the next seven minutes; it was located a few kilometers from the main street, in a dark corner. It lay there in the darkness, with absolutely no light from the surroundings or from the house itself, looked like a house crafted for serial killers. The door of this property, which stood almost on an acre of a land, stood wide open, inviting us in. Rankin with a wave of the hand ordered me to take control of my gun as we started taking slow but firm steps into the house, with our right hand we clutched our guns and a torch in our left hand. My hands felt heavy; the sweat started finding a way out through my palms. I started to move my torch around the house trying to make sure, no one was hiding in the dark corners of this place, but the problem was I didn’t know what this place looked like. I decided it would be better if I moved along with Rankin. Suddenly my leg hit something, Rankin turned back and pointed to this obstacle. What I saw next sent shivers down my spine, Rankin seemed motionless for a second or two, came back to his senses and ordered me to clear the house.
Within the next twenty minutes, the scene lit up and was filled with police officers and crime scene investigators. The dead body was that of a woman named, Jess Kemp, a thirty-year-old pregnant woman. The image was disturbing, her stomach bore a vertical incision which was then ripped apart to remove the fetus from her abdomen and decorated in blood beside the body. In her mouth, pinned to the ground was a knife, probably the same knife that was used to slit her open. She lay there in a vast pool of blood that had stained the carpet red. Rankin seemed totally infatuated by the scene; he looked curious. He removed a journal tucked behind his back and started making notes.
The next day we started investigating. Rankin lived for this, understanding what runs in the mind of these criminals; he liked to get to know his opponent. Forensics found no fingerprints on the knife, Rankin was not surprised. Justin Pilsner, a thirty-one-year-old man, had made the 911 call on the night of the murder. Rankin let me drive, as we headed to meet him, unlike him I drove sober, the way you are supposed to drive. Pilsner was the caretaker of the property; he visited the house thrice every week to make sure the garden were well taken care of. His face told me we were in for something here. Pilsner had arrived late for his work that day, no one answered the doorbell, so he started manicuring the garden. Immediately as he went around the house, he noticed through one of the windows, Jess Kemp lying dead on the floor, while a man who looked like in his late thirties, bald, fat, sat on his knees beside the body and described that it looked like he was praying. He said nothing of the fetus. Rankin started talking to his journal, telling him every minute detail his brain could capture. I gathered mental notes of my own. The next day Rankin decided that he would continue the investigation while I completed the paperwork. Rankin filled up pages after pages of that little journal, but he would hardly share them with me, I deduced he didn’t trust me enough, all I could do was wait till he reveals them to me.
Soon that day arrived when we were informed of a homicide committed in a nearby locality, fitting the description of the Jackal’s methods. The last 3 weeks had changed Rankin. He started losing interest in what he wore, how he wore it, eyes devoid of sleep, hair all messy. I had never seen someone drink as much as Rankin did; it was like watching an alcoholic turn into an alcoholic. The case had taken its toll on him. Pilsner mad talk made sense to Rankin for sure. I did all the driving for obvious reasons, as I watched him sit beside me in the car, talking to his precious little journal with a bottle of brandy, reminded of teenage girls, after a fight with their boyfriend. This time, the murder had been committed in a shady motel, on the outskirts of the town, again a place fit for murder. I parked the car with great urgency, opened the car door and started scurrying across to the entrance. ‘If I’m right, the doctor should still be in the motel,' I could hear Rankin speak over the heavy breathing. ‘Doctor?’ I wondered. Just as we were about to enter the door, a bald man sauntered past us. Rankin immediately stopped, just as Rankin turned, the bald man started running. Rankin took off in his pursuit, running precariously.
No amount of alcohol could stop Rankin from catching the suspect. I too started running behind them, unsure of what was happening. In an attempt to keep a track of those running ahead of me, I lost sight of the road, I hit a rock and came crashing down, hitting hard on the muddy road, as the runners ahead of me turned around a corner. Just as I picked up myself, I heard a gunshot echo. I started running again, turned around the corner to see an injured Rankin on the ground. ‘Where the fuck were you?’ he asked imperatively. ‘Where the fuck was I, where the fuck are you since many days?’ I replied.
I took a pause to gather what I was going to say next, as I ran my head down my hair.
‘All you do is keep writing like a girl in your journal.'
‘For Christ’s sake Rankin, I’m your fucking partner, you need to tell me things because all I do now is keep running behind you, while you are running behind criminals.' Silence crept back around the place as my screams started to fade away.
After a quick trip to the hospital, Rankin decided he would update on the entire case for good. He took me to his house. Rankin engaged himself with the lock on the door while I surveyed my surroundings. The apartment was located in a small condemned building. The paint was peeling away from the walls, water seeped down the ceilings. The house was just as I expected it to be, hardly three hundred square meters, the walls looked like they would suffocate. It had one room and a neat looking toilet. The room had a single mattress laid down on the floor, one of the walls was covered with all the crime scene pictures and pictures of a few suspects.
He asked me if I remembered Jess Kemp. I assured him I was involved in the case as much as he was. ‘Jess Kemp was not only the first victim,' Rankin continued, ‘I was involved with her romantically, two years ago.' That revelation sent me into limbo, the floor under my feet vanished. Suddenly it all become clear. The jackal had not only committed one of the most heinous crimes but also, in the process infuriated one of the best detectives in the country. He shared some of the pages of his journals, according to the intel gathered, The Jackal was a Doctor with an altered mind, a doctor, evident from the perfect incisions on the victims body, suffering from severe schizophrenia. Trapped somewhere between the webs of science and religion. "What do you mean, I asked". "He has lost his faith in humanity" Ranking continued. "He wants to put an end to the growing population and the perils that come with it". I connected the dots ahead, "And hence he is killing pregnant women so that humanity becomes extinct". Ranking nodded. I pitied myself, lost somewhere between a terrifying psychopath and an alcoholic detective. He further updated me The Jackal followed no fix patterns, which was unlike other serial killers. Which also made it difficult to reach him. So all we could do was wait and try to catch him in the act or wait for him to leave behind evidence, the latter looked very unlikely.
Today we were sitting facing each other at the restaurant, somehow looking for a way to hunt the Jackal down. Julia Clarke was the latest prey, and the crime scene, still reeking of the crime, was a few meters down the road from the restaurant being guarded by a few detectives from the Bureau. Rankin again glanced at the picture of Julia Clarke lying dead on the floor, with her stomach cut half open, but the fetus was not removed from the body. Rankin and I had been trying to figure out the reason behind it. First to arrive on the crime scene was a local police officer. Suddenly Rankin’s eyes grew wider in disbelief. ‘That’s it’ he exclaimed. In the next few minutes, we were running towards the crime scene.
‘How long has the house been under surveillance? ’ Rankin asked me.
‘Since the crime was committed, immediately after it was reported the scene was taken into surveillance, around 4 officers are covering the premise in every direction possible’ I replied.
‘So would you say, if someone were still in that house, there would be no way he could leave the place,' he smiled into my eyes. It all made perfect sense. The murder scene was incomplete. There was a grave possibility that the jackal could still be hiding somewhere in the house itself and somehow got away with the initial search at the place.
"Cover all the exits" Rankin shouted to the agents at the site as we broke into the place, with our guns clutched in our hands. We began to take slow steps within the house with our gun pointing firmly in the direction of our movement. The floor underneath creaked, I could hear my heart pounding, feeling sure of Rankin’s instinct.
He now took firm steps to the basement of the house. This was the last place The Jackal could be hiding. ‘I want you to cover me, if I’m not back within ten minutes, I want you to barge in.' I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep watch and started counting in reverse ten, nine, and eight……..one; I stepped into the darkness. It was dark, pitch dark, the sound of water running through the pipes echoed; I could feel someone moving in the darkness. Suddenly out of nowhere from within the darkness leaped a man, throwing me on the ground, the gun flew from my hands, lying far away from the Jackal and me. I threw violent punches at The Jackal’s face. The Jackal had intense eyes, that moved all around as I was struggling to block the punches, a defined jawline, messy hair and a huge structure. We struggled with kicking and punching each other, worried at the same time about what would have happened to Rankin. Just when I was convinced that I had the upper hand in the fight, the Jackal, without any prior warning threw a hard punch across my face, I could hear my jaw break. The Jackal went for the gun and was now pointing it towards his counterpart. ‘This is how I would die’ I thought. A gunshot echoed across the house; The Jackal fell to the ground. Behind The Jackal stood a relieved Rankin, blood was dripping down his temples.