© Copyright 2010 - Wendy Belltolls - Used by permission
Storycodes: M/f; drug; kidnap; bond; box; cement; encase; entomb; nc; X
FROM THE CASE NOTES OF DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JOHN BOTHAM
The one that affected me most was Lucy Owen.
I was on the trail of a serial killer who called himself The Cycle. He had already killed at least four women before I became involved in the case and managed two more since, each time following up with typed notes to the station full of sick, sexist, pompous psycho-babble about the cycle of life, the submissive role of his victims, how we wouldn’t catch him, yada yada, the usual stuff. His methods had varied, but were getting noticeably more theatrical with each murder; his earliest victims had been simply kidnapped and strangled, but later on he had developed a taste for more extravagant schemes, though asphyxiation of one kind or another was always the final killer, whether by drowning, smothering or even hanging.
Then one day, following the reported disappearance of Miss. Owen, this note arrived.
I am the cycle of life and death, and this time I choose to challenge you. You are no doubt aware by now of the disappearance of my latest victim; it appears from what I heard on the radio this morning that her name is Lucy Owen, though I neglected to ask her this detail when she was able to tell me as it was of little consequence.
You will notice that for the moment I am referring to Miss. Owen in the present tense, it is perfectly possible she is still alive, even I cannot know for sure, as what I have prepared on this occasion is something of an experiment.
In a certain abandoned warehouse opposite a place of foreboding denomination you will find a sealed crate, protruding from the top of which you will see a clear plastic tube; through this Miss Owen is taking her final breaths (or as the case may be, has already done so). She is inside the crate, though I predict you will find some trouble in extracting her safely even if she is still breathing.
This is what has taken place;
I will not go into too much detail as to the circumstances by which I obtained Miss. Owen for my games, for it wouldn’t do to give you too many clues regarding the day to day movements of yours truly, but having done so I took her to the location hitherto described where some special equipment, stolen from the site of some terribly negligent builders, had been prepared. Miss Owen had already been chloroformed, so it was a simple matter to bind her at the wrists and ankles and lay her down in the crate. Into her mouth I placed the long Perspex tube whose purpose was to provide the interest in this latest experiment, and taped her lips around it and her nose closed, leaving the tube as her only source of oxygen.
She revived consciousness shortly after I had completed setting up her predicament, the next part of which I had already wheeled into place ready for when she awoke; it was a mixer in which I had mixed a quantity of cement, just enough to fill the crate, which was just shallow enough to avoid covering her with enough cement to weigh down and crush her before we can have our fun little game. I daresay you can now guess the rest of the details, but I shall continue just out of relish at picturing your reactions as you read this.
As the cement began pouring around her shoes Miss Owen struggled in vain, but was in no position to get to her feet or escape in any other manner, and her struggles became visibly harder on her as the cement flowed up over her legs. She was exhausted as the flow entered up her skirt, rather a symbolic metaphor for the submissive sexual role of the female of the species, don’t you think? Her struggles from that point on were interesting to watch, she lacked the energy to properly resist the rising tide of the cement, managing only little pushes which could just as easily have been signs of pleasure; oh my, how I wish I could be present to see your reaction at reading of this!
The cement finally closed up over her face and filled up the crate to the brim; before it had a chance to settle I manoeuvred the pipe through a hole I had previously drilled in the lid of the crate, which I placed on top, sealing the crate shut. My work done, I then departed.
I suggest you now make all haste in locating the crate if you wish to have any hope of finding Miss Owen alive. Should you do so, she will doubtless prove your most valuable lead yet in pursuit of my apprehension. I deliberately made little effort to disguise myself to her as I am excited by the idea of teasing both you and myself with the perfect witness to incriminate me; however, in order to receive her testimony you will not only have to locate her in time but devise a means of rescuing her safely from a sealed crate in which she is set like a fossil in cement. So are the terms of this game, we shall see who of us is able to dictate fate.
Even by the standards of a sick bastard like The Circle this represented a new low. His two-bit cryptic clue as to the whereabouts of the warehouse wasn’t too hard to figure out, as there stands on the waterfront a dockers’ pub called the Memorial, named in honour of local men through history who had lost their lives to the sea, and on the far side of the river directly opposite are a cluster of abandoned warehouses. On searching these it took very little time to find the crate, sealed, the stolen cement mixer still in position by it. We did what we could to avoid disturbing the cement dust around the scene for forensic purposes, but our priority was to reach the tube to check for signs of life, though with the breezes in the warehouse and the probable weakness of Miss Owen it was impossible to tell if she was still breathing. Alive or dead she would have to be released from her concrete tomb if only to allow her a proper burial, though I prayed that it would not come to that.
Medical assistance and heavy equipment was called for as we formulated an emergency plan. The Cycle, in his note, could not contain his delight at the difficulty we would find in extracting Miss Owen safely, no doubt assuming we would attempt to drill through, cut through or otherwise chip away at the concrete filling the crate, the shock of which would doubtless have finished off the poor woman even if she was still alive. We did indeed grapple with this very problem until Sergeant Jameson, a quick thinker who will go far in the force, came up with the solution.
From what we could tell, Miss Owen had been buried with cement as she lay on the bottom of the crate and as she was hardly likely to float she would not actually be set in the middle of the cement as the Circle had implied but simply pressed into the base.
Using a forklift, some chain and utmost care we tipped the concrete filled crate upon its side and carefully prized away the wooden floor of the crate. Tapping lightly at the cement thus exposed released a shower of cement dust, which revealed a piece of pink material, Lucy Owen’s dress. Further careful brushing revealed her legs, back and her hair; she was cold to the touch, but not stiff, so there was still a slim hope.
It took us four hours of careful work to extract her from the cement. She was barely alive and extremely weak. The hardest part had been separating her from the tube taped to her mouth; as there was no safe way of reaching it we had to work her head out slowly to tear her away from the tape; had she been strong or conscious enough I fear she may never have let go of the tube. Immediately she was released she was given emergency oxygen, loaded into an ambulance and rushed to hospital.
It was a fortnight before Lucy Owen had recovered her physical state to the point at which we could speak to her, it was then that we discovered the far more damaging emotional effect her ordeal had taken upon her. Her mind had been damaged by the shock, she was barely able to communicate normally, let alone recount the details of her abduction. The forensic evidence we could take from the scene had been compromised by the emergency rescue operation we’d had to mount, and I could not contain my fury when, a few days later, the Cycle decided to write to us once more.
I am the cycle of life and death, it seems our little game after all turned out to be a draw. On the one hand I did not add another score to my tally, but on the other I was able to provide you with an invaluable witness against me who the fates decided would be unable to make testimony. Such is..
I could not read any further, such was my anger at the hideous temerity of the Cycle. I had seen what he had done to a poor innocent woman, who I had be forced into the emotional pressure of trying to save only to see her suffer a dreadful mental toll, and this bastard had the nerve to call it “a draw”. I gave the note to a colleague to study further and requested the rest of the day to compose myself, which my Superintendent granted me. I want to be in full control of myself to catch this swine, for I have made it my mission to see we get the right man. I will have this callous, sexist, arrogant piece of crap in handcuffs if it is the last thing I do.