This story is by Jessica Deen and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“The guy just looked like a bad dude, you know? Sometimes you can just tell by looking at them.”
Detective Bernard Soules was imparting some of his wisdom on newly hired Sam Birch when the door of the station flew open bringing in a gust of frigid wind. A disheveled woman ran in screaming and flailing. “I NEED HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME! IT’S MY DAD!”
Without hesitation, both men jumped from their chairs. “Ma’am. What’s wrong?” Soules asked.
“I couldn’t stop her I didn’t know what else to do she’s going to be so mad and…” The woman was talking more to herself than answering the detective. She was a scared animal, timid and curling around herself for protection as her eyes flitted from side to side.
Detective Soules squinted in her direction as he tried to reconcile the woman’s frame he saw in front of him with her child-like voice. She was terrified, but she was a tall brute of a woman. She weighed easily two-hundred and fifty pounds, full of muscle but thick around the middle. The dark circles under her wide eyes betrayed her exhaustion and fear and there was a strange innocence about her that Soules couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Soules knew better than to get too close to someone in this hyper-defensive state. He backed away with his hands out and said, “Okay, okay. What’s your name?”
The woman relaxed for a moment and frowned back at the detective. “My name is Julia.”
The urgency that gripped Julia when she first entered took hold again, her dirty hands squished tight together holding her secret. Her breathing was fast and hard and she spun from right to left unsure of what to do with herself.
“Okay, Julia. You said you were trying to stop somebody. Who are you trying to stop?”
Julia whispered, “Amanda.” Without raising her head, her eyes peeked up like she had just summoned her to the station.
Detective Soules gave a sideways glance to Birch and waited for her to continue. He had learned that sometimes silence was the best tactic for drawing out information, especially when the person had come of their own free will.
Julia whipped her head back and forth and stomped her foot. “Ugghh, what am I thinking you don’t know who that is how could you possibly know her I need to be clear if I’m going to stop her and I have to give you the address…”
“Julia. I need you to stay calm and tell me what we can do to help. Please try to focus. We will go there, but we need to know what we’re getting into. Can you tell me more?”
“When I woke up, he was tied up and I knew she did it. I ran over to him, but I don’t think he was breathing. I know she was angry with him. I never thought she’d do something like this, though.”
With that information, Soules flipped like a switch from his comforting demeanor into action. Turning back and forth between Julia and Sam, Soules barked, “What’s the address, Julia? Sam, we need to get an ambulance over there. You said he wasn’t breathing, right? We’re going to help him.”
Without waiting for her to answer the final question, Detective Soules and Detective Birch burst from the warm station yelling back to dispatch to send all other officers to the house. Julia trailed close behind in hysterics. “Please, please don’t leave me here alone.”
From over his shoulder, Soules said as he flung himself in the cop car, “Julia, wait here.”
They sailed down the street, screeching to a halt in front of the address Julia gave them. The drive was less than one minute from the station to the house, but the anticipation of what they might find made it feel much longer. Birch and Soules jumped out of the car, gathering with the other officers who had arrived.
Moving into positions, some officers scattered around the perimeter of the property, while others followed Detective Soules up to the house.
When Soules walked up the wooden front steps he noticed the door was ajar. He nudged it open and crossed the threshold. He concentrated hard on every detail, taking note that nothing appeared out of place, but his primary concern was to get to Julia’s dad. Looking back at the other officers, he sent each one in a different direction with a hand signal and a head nod to scan the house for Amanda or for Julia’s father.
Soules stalked through the hallway and he had barely entered the living room before he heard Birch.
“Soules! Get up here. You gotta see this.”
Detective Soules climbed the stairs filled with dread. He could hear the familiar sound of shock in Birch’s voice, but he could not have prepared for what was before him when he got to the top.
Blood spattered the walls and ceiling. Red footprints circled the bed and the metal blade of a large kitchen knife glinted at him from the plush pink carpet. The blank stares of the dozens of porcelain dolls lined on the shelves drilled into him, making him flinch. Everything was red. The bed. The walls. The ceiling. The man.
The man was face up on the double four post bed with his arms and legs tied to the posts leaving him completely vulnerable. He was dead, Soules was sure of that. His eyes were open, his skin was blue, and his wounds were vicious.
His neck had been hacked from side to side and deep stab wounds peppered his chest and abdomen. The most notable of his injuries, where most of the blood had seeped from, was visible through a tear in his boxer shorts. Chunks of what used to be his manhood were strewn between his legs and at first it was difficult to determine his flesh from the fabric of the bed sheets.
In all his years of detective work, Soules had never seen this kind of brutality. Any lingering thought that this could have been a random attack and Julia could have been mistaken was immediately ruled out in his mind. This scene reeked of anger and hatred. He stood in the bedroom meant for a girl much younger than Julia and tried to make sense of the scene. The lace doilies and baby pink accents dotted with blood were dizzying. He was sure that the man on the bed was Julia’s dad. She had said that he was tied up, but where was this Amanda that she was talking about? Knowing that there was nothing that could be done to save her father, they needed to focus their efforts on locating the woman responsible.
“This is sick. Seriously sick, man.” Birch spoke and pulled Soules from his thoughts.
“I’ve never seen anything so gruesome.”
“Uhh, Soules?” Birch had his eyes fixed on the door they had entered through and he raised his hand and nodded his head in that direction.
Soules looked back to see Julia standing in the door frame, stunned and unable to speak. “Birch, get her outta here. Julia, get back. Wait with Detective Birch and I’ll be back down to talk to you.”
As Birch rushed over to grab Julia and escort her downstairs, Soules turned away from them to direct his attention back to the bed.
“You bastard. You deserve this. Every. Single. Bit of it.”
Soules hadn’t heard anyone else approach him, but he turned back around toward the unfamiliar voice, gun drawn. He cocked his head to the side, taking her in in a different light.
The large woman beside Birch stood inches taller than him, but now puffed her chest out with righteousness and indignation. She was no longer scared. She stepped with purpose toward the body of her father, looked down at his mutilated body and smiled.
“Julia?” Soules asked quietly.
She paused and threw her head back in a cackle, hands resting on her belly. “I can’t believe she went to you in the first place. She should have just been happy I finally took care of him.”
Looking back down on the dead man, she continued. “She tried to tell people, but no one took her seriously. Our mom died when we were teenagers, and everyone figured Julia was grieving and looking for attention. The things he did to her got so bad, she quit going to school and it was like she never existed. Nobody reached out to her. He would come in here and she’d know what was coming. She couldn’t take it and I’d take over for her because I was stronger.”
Soules and Birch stood frozen in place.
“I had to stop him for her. It was the only way.” Looking up to face the detectives, she said, “You were looking for Amanda. Here I am.”