The Timekeeper: Chapter 3

Detective Taylor was in better spirits the following morning. The idea of being present at the crime scene placed things in an optimistic light for him; he was sure he would be able to unravel overlooked evidences.  Any definite pointer would have been greatly helpful; he knew that his team felt as though they were pursuing a lost cause. Most of the times, a lost cause resulted in a lost case. The very thought made him more determined.

As was his custom, he reached half an hour before the team arrived.  It was 6.30 in the morning, a light mist still hung around the greens. He opened the iron gates, carefully to avoid creaking, and let himself in. Walking through the wide driveway, he noticed how the high hedges almost blocked the view from the neighboring houses. If Mrs. Turner could give a statement about the guest, she must have been in the garden, which meant he came in from the left. He smiled to himself. They finally had a start.

Detective Taylor walked up to the door, scrutinizing the gardens. The walk from the driveway to the building took almost five minutes. A good amount of time to notice someone, or at least have a flash of the face, if someone was present, he thought to himself. Why wasn’t anyone present? The mansion was huge and well-maintained. Surely, there must be lot of people behind it.

He walked up to the camera to get a proper look at it. The placement was strategic; there wasn’t any angle the camera would miss, no matter where the person approached from. To have his face covered properly, the intruder would not have had just a wide brimmed hat, but a high collar too. This also meant that he had a good knowledge about the security system out here. Detective Taylor nodded to himself slowly. Still, he thought, a slight part of his face would be visible. Even this would be crucial. He made a mental note to re-view the security tapes today.

He donned his gloves, and turned the door knob slowly with his forefingers. He pushed open the door slightly, and glanced around. The living room seemed not lived in, except towards the end of the room, where there was a sofa placed in front of the mantelpiece. The carpet was upturned, a vase lay broken at the floor and the side tables had been moved from where they were supposed to be. But only that portion of the room.

Looks like she didn’t try to escape, or didn’t have the chance to, Detective Taylor thought to himself, crossed the yellow tapes and walked up to the setting.

The sofa had also been moved from its position. The one kept next to it, had also been shifted closer. An intense conversation, thought the Detective. He bent down to see if there was something underneath the sofa, or anything relevant that was fallen on the floor. When he found nothing, he walked around the mantelpiece. It was sparsely decorated- a photo of a young girl with a slightly older woman, a bronze soldier, and an hourglass, kept next to the clock.

He walked back to look at it all. The lady was terrified, and yet she made no attempt to escape. There were scratches on the arm rest of the sofa; the cushions were on the floor. The vase that had fallen down had cracked, a sure sign of it being thrown off with force. “Strange,” he muttered, and turned around. His eyes fell on the spot where the white carpet was scrunched.

Detective Taylor straightened out the carpet with his foot. The carpet was stained a deep shade of crimson; the detective flinched at its sight. The investigation team had just begun to get in. He signaled for Hailey, the investigation head, pointing towards the stain.

“Is it-”, he asked as Hailey approached him, and Hailey nodded gingerly, even before Detective could complete his question.

“Blood. According to the reports, it belongs to Ellery,” Hailey replied. Detective Taylor furrowed his brows. Everything was supposed to get clearer, yet as they delved deeper into the case, with every step they took, it felt as though someone was letting in more fog. He had only a couple of cases where his team could not track down the culprit, but even in those, he didn’t feel as crippled as he did now. The case was not complex, it was absurd.

He pulled his mind off the thoughts, thinking about the next course of action. The very moment Detective Anderson entered the house.

“Detective Anderson,” he called immediately, pointing to the stain, “why wasn’t this reported yesterday?”

“Gregory handed me the reports only this morning. I wanted to make sure before it was reported. I didn’t quite feel that so much blood could flow from a pinprick wound,” Detective Anderson explained.

Detective Taylor stood silently, arms crossed, waiting for an answer.

“It is the victim’s blood on the carpet,” Anderson continued, nervous.

“I know Anderson. Hailey told me about it. At least you were supposed to bring this to my notice. The Gilberts have requested for the burial tomorrow morning,” Detective Taylor said all in a breath. His hands were balled up in fists; he was using all his concentration to contain his anger.

Anderson stood there looking at his feet.

“It is alright, Detective Anderson. There was nothing much you could have done anyway,” Jillian Torres patted his shoulder. She looked at Detective Taylor and smiled slightly, “Good Morning, Detective Taylor.”

“Good Morning Jillian. Have you got–”

“The reports are here, sir,” Jillian replied, cutting him off. She handed over the reports to him.

Detective Taylor sighed loudly, thankful to have someone on his team, who had enough brains. He looked through the reports, and they had been comprehensively done. “You come in good time. There have been some interesting developments,” he said to Detective Torres. He was almost feeling sorry for being too hash on Detective Anderson. Everyone must be feeling the same, as if someone had been purposely muddling everything.

“Like a pool of blood from a wound too small to spurt out that much?”, Jillian replied nonchalantly.

Detective Taylor was taken aback. “How did you know?”, he asked, looking again at Anderson. Detective Anderson just shrugged.

“There was an eerily similar case that happened back in 1885,” she said, handing over another file to him

1885. Too old to be the same person, Detective Taylor thought. “Coincidence?”, he thought out loud.

“I don’t think so. The past is staring back at us,” Jillian said, bending down to look at the stain.


The Timekeeper: Chapter 2

Detective Jillian Torres hurried, almost raced, to her flat.

The image of Ellery Gilbert was fresh in her mind. Expressionless, beautiful in death as it must have been in life, serene. Serene as if she were just sleeping.  That kind of serenity only came along with painless deaths, and no murder she knew of till date had been painless, even if the pain lasted for an instant. Except if Ellery was willing to embrace it. And yet, they knew, that moments ago she had been crying for help. The mystery troubled Jillian incessantly; the pieces were different enough to belong to separate puzzles.

As if the complexity of the case were not enough, she had a nagging feeling that returned to her time and again. The case strongly felt like a Déjà vu. She had never handled anything like that previously, she was certain of that. A dream could have been a possibility but Jillian hardly remembered any dream, and even if she did, the details never stayed. She narrowed her eyes in focus, straining to recall as she went up the stairs, for any similar case she must have read about.

The sudden recollection hit her like a gust of cold air.

1885. The Murder of Janet Williams.

Jillian Torres stopped midway, sitting on the staircase to steady herself. She put her head in her hands as her mind began to draw out uncanny similarities between the two cases.  Beautiful girl, married to the rich businessman, no trace of wounds or asphyxiation. Neighbors reported a man of medium built and tall height going inside the house before the crime happened. Could both the victims have been linked in some way? Was someone notoriously repeating the methods of an old serial killer? Her mind buzzed with endless questions.

She would have to look into the case. But first, the homework given by Detective Taylor had to be completed.

She rushed up the stairs, jammed the key in the keyhole, nervous with excitement. She closed the door absent-mindedly before heading to the study. Without a moment’s delay, she started to fish out all the potassium manufacturers and dealers in the locality. Detective Taylor wanted things to be thoroughly done, even if it was not required. Jillian didn’t mind following it; thoroughly done researches more or less helped them in the long run.

It was eleven in the night when she finished the compilation. Throat parched and stomach rumbling, she put away her laptop, tiredness finally taking over her. After she had grabbed some fries and coffee from the kitchen, she took out the file containing all the information she had gathered about Janet Williams Murder Case. She noted the facts of Ellery Gilbert’s case on a scratch pad, and flipped open the file on her desk.

She flitted through the pages until she came across the most comprehensive version of the murder she had gotten from the internet.

Murder in Broad Daylight:
May 25, 1885

The Rotterdane town witnessed yet another crime yesterday, when Janet Williams was found murdered in her own house. Mr. Williams, who returned early from his trip to Greenesville, entered his home to find his wife lying dead in the living room. The living room was in a state of distress, with vases on the floor and table overturned. Mrs. Williams, 35 years old, looked serene as if she were sleeping.

Jillian smiled at the statement.

There were no stabs or cuts on her skin, although there was a pool of blood on the floor, where the body had been found. The coroner has pointed towards asphyxiation as the cause of death, though there were no marks on the neck.

The police carried out an investigation in the house, but could not find the weapon or any other significant leads to the killer. They questioned the housekeeper Mr. Glendron and the parlor-maid Miss. Wysdean, both of whom stated that the no one except Mrs. Williams was there in the house, since the rest of the helps had gone to attend a funeral.

No weapon, no evidence, nothing to link to the killer. The house was devoid of people-servants or family members. Jillian wondered if the time was well chosen.

She read on further.

Several people reported a man who was seen nearby around the suspected time of crime. Mr. Witherby, who lived opposite the Williams said, “Around 11 a.m., a tall man with medium built was approaching the William’s residence. Even in this heat, he wore a brown overcoat and his face was shadowed by a wide-brimmed hat that he wore. I am sure I have never seen him in this place, yet he seemed to know all the ways.” Mr. Witherby, who claims to have been gardening, denied seeing him leave. He also did not hear any sounds of struggles or help.

What baffles the police is the fact that the mansion had no other escape route, since it had been built on the banks of the river, and had walls 8 feet high. A reward of $1000 has been offered for anyone who can provide significant details for the mystery man. Mrs. Williams will be buried today evening in the St. John’s churchyard.

Jillian flipped over the page, scanning the contents of the file, thoughts unsettling in her mind. Were there some more cases like these, scattered along the decades?  Or did this killer pattern repeat itself after some years? It was highly unlikely that the same person could be involved, as this case was way old. Maybe an heir? Or a cult?

Or maybe, Jillian thought as she opened the window of her study, someone was doing this on purpose, just to throw them off-track. The semblance was perfect to the minutest degree, as if someone had tried to resurrect it. And the method of killing was…supernatural.

The whole case looked as if they were pursuing a ghost.