Sunday, May 6, 2007

First Sentence Contribution: Lights Out

This, my friends, is something different from what I normally write. Take a look see and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Lights Out


Lucas Pederson

Beyond all I’ve seen before, this was the worst.
Kevin covered the little girl’s body up with the white sheet and stood up straight. He looked at me, his eyes red and puffy from crying. Murder was horrible, as was rape, but both combined upon a nine year old girl was horrifying, sickening. Even I had a hard time keeping back the tears and the sobs, and the vomit that wanted to spew out of me in gouts.

My partner sighed and walked away, hands stuffed in the pockets of his tan slacks. I watched him go through the front door, and then turned back to the small shape under the white sheet, now so blood soaked it was nearly scarlet in most places. I swallowed down a hard lump in my throat and squatted down beside the body. I didn’t want to lift the sheet again, I didn’t want to see that poor little mangled body lying there. I didn’t want to see the blood, or her battered face.

But I had to. If I was to look for clues, I’d have to lifted off that bloody sheet and look, damn it. No matter how much I didn’t want to. I started lifting it off the girl’s head, her blond hair now the color of puréed strawberries, clung to the sheet as I pulled, when someone spoke next to me.

“Leave it alone, Curt. Just leave it alone.”

I started and stood. Standing beside me was John Harding, my captain. I frowned at him. It wasn’t like the cap to stop an investigation like this.

“What do you mean stop?” I asked, genuinely bewildered.

He looked at me, and I suppose I knew the answer all ready. It was there, in his sincere hazel eyes. I sighed and waved a hand down at the shape under the sheet.

“I’ve gotta do it, John. I gotta look for clues.”

“Let forensics do it.” John said, his voice rough. Then-

“C’mon. Lets go outside.”

I stood taken aback. It wasn’t like the cap to put a halt on an investigation to let forensics do the dirty work right away. Usually we called forensics in for homicides anyway, hell most every time, but they mainly dusted for prints and looked around with UV lights until we needed them to take samples form a body. At least, that’s how we worked. I know other departments in different states and counties let the forensics people do the searching for clues bit. It probably didn’t matter either way, but I liked to look for the clues. That way I knew I didn’t miss anything vital to the case.

“She was raped.” I said and saw John flinch at that.

“How do you-“

“How else do you explain her being naked, John?” I asked curtly.

“Easy Curt.” John said. He put a hand on my shoulder.

“Let’s go outside, let the For’s handle the searching.” The cap liked to call forensic folk For’s. Ah well, whatever tripped his trigger.

I didn’t want to go outside, but I let myself be led that way without a fuss. Maybe it would do me some good to take in some fresh air. Maybe.

I spotted Kevin sitting on the hood of my car, a Toyota Camry. His head was down and I could tell from the stoop the man was crying again. Kevin had two daughters of his own at home and I imagined he couldn’t believe someone would do this sort thing to a little nine year old girl. What kind of twisted fuck could be so evil? I knew of a few, now behind bars because of me, but I knew a few all right.

I walked over to my partner as the cap spoke to some of the forensic fellows. Probably telling them to do the searching this time. It still baffled me though; John never stopped me from doing my job. But of course, we have only had one child murder in this county since I’ve been here, thirteen years now. But that one hadn’t been as bad as this. I don’t think anything could be. Still, I had to wonder why he would stop me like that.

Kevin looked up as I approached. He quickly wiped his eyes and slid off of my hood.

“Sorry.” He said, still wiping his eyes with backs of his hands.

“Don’t be.” I said. “Things like that, they’re hard to look at.”

“Yeah. But I shoulda toughed it out.” Kevin said.

“Doesn’t matter anyway. The cap’s getting forensics to do the dirty work. All we gotta do is wait.”

“Forensics?” Kevin said, frowning, his tears subsiding.

I nodded.

“But we-“
“The cap wants them to do it this time. We’ll act as back-up, I guess.”

“Back-up.” Kevin said, his face twisting in a grimace. I knew what he felt. We were supposed to be the ones up front. We were supposed to do the job. Forensic was supposed to be the back-up.

“Yep.” I said and turned to look at the nice suburban ranch style house.

The girl hadn’t been apart of the family that lived here. Which was odd, because the girl was killed here. IT made no sense, plus, we didn’t have a name to go by. Someone had kidnapped the poor thing, brought her to this house while the real family was off on vacation, Disney Land, and raped and killed her. I hope for the little girl’s sake she had been dead before the sonofbitch did the raping. Actually, I hoped for all of our sakes.

I wasn’t married and I didn’t have any children, but it still sickened and frightened me when it was a kid that was forced to suffer. Even an adult is sad to see, however not as emotionally frightening.

“So what do we do now?” Kevin asked me.

“Don’t know yet. I’ll go talk to the cap and-“

Crack! Crack! Gunshots, from inside the house.

I froze, for a moment unsure if I really heard those two identical cracks. Then-


“What the fuck?” Kevin breathed next to me.

“Ah shit.” I said and drew my piece. I started for the house.

Uniform officers were doing the same. Not far behind me I heard Kevin saying something about the little girl’s murderer. Could that be? Could the guy have been hiding in the house the entire time? No way. We did a thorough check of the place before settling in, it was standard procedure, but maybe-

Screaming from inside the house. A man, screaming for people to stay back. There was something about that voice that sounded familiar. A uniform mounted the stoop, got just inside the doorway, then-

Crack! Half of his head exploded into a reddish cloud. Bits of bone and flesh and brain matter sprayed into my face. I shrieked, I couldn’t help it, and moved away, wiping the crud off of me frantically.

“Jesus.” Kevin said, somewhere close.
Men were shouting, some were screaming. I felt more than saw all the commotion about me. Officers running back and forth, some to their cruisers to radio in the situation. We didn’t need back up, there was more than enough here, but when a shooter went berserk, we had to radio it in.

I got as much of the brains and blood off my face and turned to Kevin.

“The back door. C’mon!”

He nodded. I was happy to see all the sadness was gone now. What replaced it was a coldness we police often get when faced with a difficult task. His side arm was drawn.

We ran around to the back of the house and to the back door. I tried the knob. Locked.

“Shit.” Kevin said. “What now?”

I shrugged. There was only one thing to do.

I took a couple steps back, and kicked the door in. I went in first, Kevin covering me. I entered the kitchen. No one there. Outside I could here people shouting. It was like a damned circus out there.

Crouching low, I made my way to the archway and peered around the corner, into the living room.

There, I saw the shooter, the murderer I had no doubt. Three forensic people lay sprawled and dead as could be around the like wise dead little girl. The man with the gun had his back to us, so he must not have heard me kick in the door. That was good. I moved slowly into the room, straightened. I might have been safer behind the corner of the archway, but I had a better shot right here, in the open.

I didn’t have to look behind me to know Kevin had my back.

“Freeze asshole.” I said.

The man, dressed in a familiar grey sport coat and grey slacks, jumped. In his right hand he held what appeared to be a police issued Berretta. What the hell?

The man turned around slowly, and even before he did, I knew who it was. Captain John Harding.

I squinted, not sure I believed what I was seeing.

“Cap?” I said.

He brought the gun up quickly, but not quick enough. I shot him twice in the chest before he could pull the trigger. His face switched from one of lunacy to one of surprise, and he crumbled to the floor.

I ran over to him and kicked the gun out of his hand.

“Curt.” The captain said and spewed up a gout of blood.

“Mother fucker.” Kevin said, awestruck.

“Curt. I had to, I had to do it. She made me.”

“What? Who?” I asked.

“The…the girl. She wanted me to rape her and kill her here, and shoot everybody.”

The cap shuddered, hitched in a ragged breath, and then blew it out as his body fell limp. He was dead.

“Shit.” I said, shivering.

“The cap.” Kevin said. “He-“

“Don’t say it.” I said. “Not right now.”

It was true though, two days later the semen samples revealed the DNA of one John Q. Harding. We never knew why the cap had raped and killed the little girl, who’s name we found out later was Victoria Flemming, or why he had started shooting his own people. Perhaps some details are better left in the dark. Better to leave the lights off, than to flip the switch and uncover something too vile to look at without going insane first. Much better.

The End

I'll be posting the links to great stories, as they come in, below. The new one by Kate Sterling has been added under Susan Miller's wonderful contribution. If you haven't done so all ready I suggest you go do it now. You won't regret it.


Susan Miller said...

This is chilling, Lucas. It is definitely one of those taboo things that made me leave before I could comment. I had to think about it for a second. Great writing, as usual.

This one must have been a bit hard for you..considering you have two little girls.


Once again, I appreciate what you do here.

Lucas Pederson said...

Thanks Susan! Yes, it was very difficult to go through with, although surprisingly easy to write. It just sort of flowed out of me. Kind of strange.
And I appreciate what you do as well, Susan. Thank you so much.

Fab said...

That's very powerful.
I was as surprised as the main character.

Not an easy subject. And reading you have 2 kids of your own, that must have been hard.

Kate S said...

This was graphic and intense, Lucas. Yet, as awful as the subject matter was, I think it was some of your best writing. The descriptions were just right - not too much, yet enough that it came alive. Good job.

Charles Gramlich said...

This was a tough read for me. The writing was great, some of your best, but the subject matter is certainly a brutal one. Even though I have a son and he's nearly grown, and even though it's fiction, I ache when children are hurt like this.

Lucas Pederson said...

Fab, I too was surprised when the shooter turned around and it was the captain. And yes, it was very hard to write. Thanks for reading!

Kate, thank you. I couldn't stomach anymore than what I have writen there in details and despcription. I just couldn't do it. But in this case I think less is better anyway. Glad to see you stop by!

Charles, emotionally, this was the hardest ever. Writing the thing became a life of it's own though. It just came out and I had the entire story done in five minutes. IT was really wierd, even considering the awful subject matter. It is truly horrible that there are people out there that enjoy hurting children. These people are scum, in my humble opinion. Thanks for reading this one! Means a helluva lot.

Perhaps it's time to let folks know why I chose the subject matter I did while writing this story. I chose it, because, it's what I fear the most. One of my children being hurt. I think it is every good parent's fear. I wrote this story based on that fear. And I'm glad the bad guy got what he deserved the end, don't you?

Christina said...

Wow that first paragraph was really well put. Your word choice and the flow of the story kept me interested. I like this, it's very good and I agree with Susan, considering you have two little girls, I could imagine the power that drove you in this.

Travis said...

When I read the first paragraph a day or so ago, I had to leave it. I wasn't sure I'd be able to read the rest.

I'm glad I did. This was some intense writing. And it's a good choice not to reveal any reason as to who and why.

There's no understanding this kind of heinous crime.

Well done.

Jon said...

This deserves a much longer treatment. We need to know more; to feel even more; to resolve things. Resolution.

Yes, it was a hard read.

My daughter was twenty-four. I sat with her body until the EMS arrived. No resolution.

Jon said...

I wrote the previous comment in haste. I shouldn't have.

Lucas Pederson said...

Thanks Christina! It was a difficult subject.

Travis, I'm also glad you came back too! You're right, this is one of the worst crimes anyone can commit, and I'm not even sure the poeple who get off on it much understand it, or care not to, anyway. Thanks for reading!

Jon, this was more of a trail. I'm working on a detective story and that too is base around a child murderer. So I wrote up a short story very loosley based on the much longer novella. This story was the result. It happened in my mind's eye and I wrote it down in a flurry. I know, it does need more to it doesn't it. The novella will make up for it, I asure you.
Thanks for your honest input! I'm always happy to know what I did wrong, rather than what I did good. The good stuff is alright, as long as it's small and to the point. The bad stuff, that's what I need to know, so I can fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed. Resolution, great point, but the novella, which might turn into a novel on me by the time I'm finished, has resolution. Well, at least I'm hoping it will. Thanks for stiopping by! Great to see ya!

Bond said...

Lucas: Very powerful. When I began I was not sure I wanted to continue, but the words kept me glued to the page. I have to come back and read more later on.

Thanks for your words on THE COUCH