The Face-Off Killer
Somewhere in the city of Boston
“Good lord!” exclaimed Detective Ansen Cole, as he looked at the sight in front of him with something bordering on morbid fascination.
“What an inapt thing to say, Cole! All godliness has deserted this world…that’s why stuff like…this happens,” his partner, Detective Lance Carter, said in reply. He was looking at the sight before him with more of disgust and abhorrence.
Cole didn’t reply to his partner, but kept on looking with the same expression.
In front of them, lying spread-eagled on the ground, was a corpse. Stripped completely naked, with the throat and wrists clearly slit. From the anatomy, it was clear the corpse was that of a woman.
But the fact baffling the two detectives was the face of the corpse…or rather a lack of it. The facial skin had been completely ripped off, leaving only a bloody mass of flesh in its place.
“Cole. Cole! Look over there,” Carter nudged his partner sharply in the elbow, making him snap out of his staring and concentrate on his partner’s words.
“Huh? What?” Cole muttered.
“Look over to the wall…there’s something written over there!” Carter repeated, pointing to the wall in front of them, which indicated the dead end of the alley they both stood in right now.
Cole followed the direction of Carter’s outstretched hand.
His eyes landed on something written on the wall. Even in the daylight, it wasn’t bright enough for him to make out what was written. So he inched closer to the wall, taking care to sidestep the corpse and avoid any crime scene contamination.
‘AT MY REQUEST NEVER SHALL YOU SCOFF, LET’S PLAY A GAME CALLED FACE-OFF’.
This cryptic, weird message was written on the wall. The letters had a dark red hue.
Cole assumed that it was nothing but red spray paint.
“Do you think it’s been written in the victim’s blood?” Carter asked Cole, and now his voice reeked of morbid fascination.
“Bah! Don’t be so melodramatic, Carter! It’s obviously red spray paint. Haven’t you seen enough graffiti in your patrol days to be able to tell dark red spray paint from blood?” Cole chided his partner lightly.
“Sorry. This whole face-off thing is giving me the heebies-jeebies. We can assume the killer wrote this message, right?” Carter replied.
“Yes, of course. Makes perfect sense. The victim’s face ripped off…a different kind of face-off…literally face-off.” Cole replied, thoughtfully.
“Who called us here? Can you remember?” Carter asked his partner.
“Dispatch said an anonymous caller had reported a body lying here. That’s about all I know. Did you see anyone on the way in? I know I didn’t.” Cole said to his partner.
“Nopes. Didn’t see anyone here. Funny thing, eh? Why would someone call us here, to a crime scene, and then scarper?” wondered Carter.
“Well, there are two possibilities. Either he is the killer, whose idea of fun was to commit this grisly crime and then call the cops to his own crime scene. Or he was some other kind of shady character, who happened to come here to do his business and chanced upon this,” Cole replied.
“Hmmmphhh. The crime scene people will be here soon. Only they can tell us more about this murder now. Let’s get out of here…the sight and smell both are killing me,” Carter said, wrinkling his nose and turning his face away from the body.
“You’re right. Let’s leave,” agreed Cole, and both detectives hurriedly walked out of the alley.
Somewhere else in Boston
He caressed the face in front of him, his fingers touching the skin delicately, like a passionate lover trying to fill his senses with the ecstasy of feeling his beloved.
“Oh! Azalea! My dear, sweet Azalea! The love of my life! Why, why did you have to leave me, huh? Why? Why? Why did you break my heart?” he said, his voice low, melancholy.
The ‘face’ he was touching was actually skin ripped off from his first victim. He had torn off the face in one clean go, using a surgical instrument, leaving behind only a bloody mass of flesh and the bone underneath. This ‘face’ he fitted neatly over one of the numerous mannequin face models he had in his ‘workshop’, which was the basement of his house. The face had adjusted nicely over its plastic support structure, giving an impression of a real face, albeit disembodied. The red, full lips, the pert nose and the blue eyes and the fair skin. All he needed to do was get a proper wig to fit the face.
That wasn’t a problem- he had hundreds of wigs of various colors in his collection. The woman he had killed was a blonde, so he chose a blonde wig from his collection and placed it neatly atop the ‘skull’.
The result astounded him, gave him immense pleasure and a shot of ecstasy that a dose of morphine couldn’t equal. He was so impressed by his work that he started dancing about the room in joy.
“Azalea! Azalea! I’ve done it, Azalea! I’ve brought you back in my life! I’m so happy. Now we will live happily ever after…with the others, my dear Azalea!” he screamed, prancing about the room like a child who has received the best Christmas presents of his life.
He admired his work from various angles. He took numerous photos of ‘Azalea’ on his digital camera. One of the images from his collection would make a good screensaver on his laptop.
Then more screensavers would come, when the ‘others’ would come. The other faces, from other women; faces he needed to bring back Azalea completely. He had been rejoicing because, even after losing practice for a long time, his first ‘job’ had gone pretty well. But now he had other jobs to finish, for bringing that one job to completion- the job of resurrecting Azalea completely.
The next morning, somewhere in Boston, two separate articles appeared in the same newspaper
Woman’s body found in alleyway; police mystified
Boston: In a hocking development yesterday, police found a corpse dumped in an alley on Maple Avenue. The corpse, according to sources, is that of a woman in her late twenties. The corpse was completely naked, and had its throat and wrists slit. But the most horrifying and baffling fact is that the corpse’s face had been completely ripped off. The police are experiencing great difficulty in identifying the victim because of the lack of any ID, and, well, the victim’s face.
Woman went missing from home day before yesterday; hasn’t been found yet
Boston: In a strange incident, a twenty-eight year old woman, Ashley Browne, mysteriously disappeared from home on the day before yesterday, and hasn’t been found yet. She went missing sometime in the evening, says her husband, before he got home from work. The husband, Roger Browne, contacted the police yesterday morning itself, but they refused to register Ashley as a missing case because of the 24-hours policy and the fact she was an adult who could hang around on her own. When a worried Roger further pleaded with them to look into her disappearance, their response was nothing short of hostile.
“They accused me of having bumped off my wife and then reporting her as missing to the cops,” a bewildered Roger says.
The police’s blatant refusal to investigate this disappearance even after 24 hours have passed is as mystifying as the whereabouts of Ashley Browne.
Ashley is blonde, petite and was last seen on the morning of 24th March, day before yesterday. If you happen to see her anywhere in your vicinity, please call her husband on this number….
“Carter! Carter! Ashley Browne! I think our victim is Ashley Browne!” yelled Cole, as he abandoned his coffee and croissant and ran off to find his partner, clutching the newspaper in his hand.