Friday 13 April 2012
The marks in the wall should have been a dead giveaway, but Luke Cornell missed the signs, too hung up on the lack of blood in the room. Surely, if Lauren Hunter had been murdered here, he thought, and given her wounds, there’d be too much blood to get cleaned up so quickly. It took Dennis Turnbull, a junior officer, to point them out to him.
‘There’s fifteen in all, Detective Cornell. Some, I’d imagine, are at head height, the others . . . well, the rest of her body would have borne the brunt.’ He pointed to each of the marks as he spoke, and only then did they become clear to Luke.
‘How the hell did I miss them? I mean, really?’ Cornell slapped himself hard on the forehead as punishment for missing the knife marks in the wall. Now that he had seen them, he realised how obvious they were.
‘My God, I’m stupid,’ Cornell said to himself. Dennis Turnbull snickered and drew Cornell’s attention away from the wall.
‘Sorry, sir,’ Turnbull uttered without looking at his superior. He didn’t want Cornell to see that he was still snickering.
‘It’s alright, Turnbull. I’ve made a complete ass of myself, again. The evidence is there, right in front of me, and I was too concerned with looking for the non-existent blood evidence. If you hadn’t been here, well . . .’ Sheepishly, Cornell slapped Turnbull on the shoulder, a gesture of thanks and congratulations.
Both men now stood silent, staring at the fifteen knife imprints in the wall. What they saw before them indicated a violent and frenzied attack, committed with such force that the perpetrator’s knife had been thrust partway into the wall, and some of them had probably gone through Lauren Hunter’s skull.
‘If you don’t mind me saying, Detective Cornell, that was some force that was used in order for the weapon to penetrate that far into the wall, and through her skull.’
Cornell nodded, ‘Yep, that was one pissed off attacker.’
* * * * *
Wallace Andrews tossed and turned in his hotel bed, sixty-six kilometres away from Cornell and Turnbull’s police investigation. He’d thought the last hotel had been grungy enough, but was startled to see the state of this new choice. Still, he’d wanted something far away and out of the spotlight, and when that was what you were specifically in need of, this was the sort of place you settled for.
Paint peeled away from the plasterboard walls, and a water stain from the room above marked the ceiling in the shape of a grimacing face. The carpet crunched underfoot as he walked through the room, and Andrews couldn’t bear to remove his boots for fear of stepping on something unsavoury. But what unsettled him the most were the cockroaches hiding in the corners of the room. He despised roaches, but envied their ability to survive almost anything.
The voices in his head told Andrews over and over again that he had done well, but they needed another demonstration of faith. Seven women, dotted across the country, weren’t enough to satiate the voices. They demanded more, and covering up his sacrifices was becoming more difficult each time. It would be inevitable, his capture. They had been closing in on him with every corpse, and the early discovery of Lauren Hunter had thrown Andrews into chaos.
None of that mattered to the voices though. They simply screamed louder at him, insisting he demonstrate his faith, rattling and hounding him until he complied. So, the woman next door in thirteen would be next.