Detective Carl Rourke pushed his chair back from his desk and rubbed his eyes. The book he had been reading fell on the desk with a small plop. He stood up and moved to his window and was surprised to find the sun had gone down. Turning to the clock on his desk, the little red digital numbers told him it was nine o’clock. He laughed. ”Shame your dead, Connor,” he said, picking up the book again. ”You’ve got a great writing style.” He tapped the book against his hand. ”And I think I understand what’s going on now.”
For the past couple of weeks, Rourke had been looking for leads in the case of the death of Connor Russell. A young woman, Cassandra Brighton, had seen a “faceless man” look out the window after Connor pushed himself out of his burning building. She had subsequently died in a fire as well. Connor’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ellen Kennedy, had just died in a bizarre car accident that had ruptured her gas tank and caused it to go up in flames. And this book of Connor’s “By the Fire’s Light” held the key. In it Connor described a tall faceless man with tentacles that went around and stalked people and killed them. Usually in relation to fire in some way.
It seemed simple enough to Rourke. Some psycho fan of Connor’s, or of this Slender Man, was acting out on one very bizarre fantasy. And just like the “real” Slender Man he was branching off onto anyone who had seen him, stalking and eventually killing them. With this in mind, Rourke had had a special watch set up on Meredith Grolinsky, the woman who had witnessed what she called a tall, slender and tentacled man walking away from Dr. Ellen Kennedy’s burning car. If this psycho stayed true to form, he would go after her next. When he did, Rourke would be ready and waiting.
Rourke rubbed the back of his neck and flipped the lights off on the way out of his office. He paused and considered taking Connor’s book with him. Shaking his head, he kept going. He actually wanted to sleep tonight, and a faceless monster would not aid him in that quest. ”Call me if anything happens with Grolinsky,” he called to Deloran, the desk sergeant, as he headed out.
“Will do,” Deloran said, with a small wave.
As Rourke slept that night, his sleep was undisturbed by dreams, good or bad. A shrill screeching from his smartphone at 3 am, however, pulled him from his dreamless slumber. ”Rourke,” he said groggily, brushing sleep crust out of his right eye.
“Detective Rourke, this is Sergeant Deloran.”
Rourke shot straight up, his sleep falling from him like his blanket. ”Someone made a move against Grolinsky?’
A pause. ”We’re not sure.”
Rourke growled in frustration. ”What do you mean you’re not sure? Either someone made a move or they did not.”
“Her furnace exploded.”
Rourke nearly dropped his phone. ”I beg your pardon?”
“Fire department isn’t sure how yet. Could have been a defect in the furnace. Could have been foul play.”
Rourke put a hand to his temple. ”Fire again.” He slowly shook his head. ”Connor’s stove has a gasoline leak and explosion. Cassandra Brighton dies in a fire caused by faulty wiring. Ellen Kennedy’s car is wrecked and the gasoline tank ruptured resulting in a fire. And now Meredith Grolinsky dies in a furnace blast. There is no way this was an accident.”
“She’s not dead.”
“She’s alive,” Rourke said, incredulous. He was already up and searching for the pants he had tossed on the floor on his way to bed. ”Where is she? Where was she taken?”
“She was taken to Mercy. She’s in critical condition, with burns over 90% of her body. But she’s alive.”
Rourke was jumping into his pants, hopping up and down on one foot with the phone still held to his ear with his shoulder. ”Alright, Deloran, call the hospital and get them to keep the ambulance drivers there if you can. Or call the drivers back or whatever. They probably won’t let me see Grolinsky, but she might have said something they overheard.”
“Will do,” Deloran said on the other end.
Twenty-five minutes later found Rourke pulling into the emergency room parking lot at Mercy. Deloran had texted him on the way over and directed him to speak with the nurse at the desk. She would be able to tell him where the drivers were.
Rourke took a quick look around the emergency room waiting area as he walked inside. Chairs that looked comfortable but might as well have been padded with granite formed a square that was broken up every ten chairs or so by a small wooden stand. On the stands were stacks of magazines from three months ago, with the very exciting topics of bass fishing and home living. The walls were painted a neutral beige, probably an attempt to try and calm any panicked people who were unlucky enough to be sitting here. A mother with a hyper-active little boy with a gauze bandage around his wrist sat at one end of the room. On the opposite end, nearer Rourke, a young woman with long black hair sat bent over, face in her hands.
Turning from the waiting room, Rourke made his way over to the desk. A nurse in blue scrubs sat behind the counter. Her name badge told him her name was Amber, and the little smiling sun on it told Rourke she would be happy to help him. She looked up as he walked up. ”Detective Rourke, here about Meredith Grolinsky,” he said, flipping out his badge.
Amber nodded and stood up. ”We stopped the drivers before they left. There in the break room down the hall there, third door on the right.” She pointed down the hallway Rourke should take.
“How is Ms. Grolinsky?” he asked, whipping out a small notebook.
“She’s in critical condition. We have a couple doctors trying to stabilize her now.”
“I heard she had burns over 90% of her body.”
Amber nodded. ”That is correct. It’s really going to be touch and go for the next couple hours. If she pulls through she’s got a good shot at recovery. If not…”
Rourke nodded. ”Any family come with her?”
Amber nodded to the young woman bent over with her face in her hands. ”Her daughter came in about ten minutes ago.”
Rourke made a mental note to try and talk with her on the way out. Then, giving his thanks to Amber, he walked down the hallway to the breakroom.
The door creaked as he pushed it open. A young woman and man looked up as he walked in. ”You the detective?” the young woman asked, leaning back in her chair.
“Yes,” Rourke said, flipping out his badge again. ”Detective Carl Rourke. I wanted to ask you a few questions about the woman you transported here.” He whipped out his notebook again, pen in hand. ”Can I get your names?”
“I’m Robert Fitzgerald, she’s Peggy Yorick,” the young man said, leaning forward. ”What’s the
deal, you think someone tried to murder this chick?”
deal, you think someone tried to murder this chick?”
“The deal is, I am just trying to gather the facts about what happened,” Rourke said. He hooked a chair with his leg and pulled it out. Sitting down, he looked up at the twosome. ”Was there anyone you saw at the house when you arrived that looked out of place?”
“Crowd of gawkers,” Peggy said, reaching into her coat. She pulled out a cigarette and tapped it against her hand. ”That’s nothing unusual though. Especially when a house goes kaboom in the middle of the night and there’s half a dozen fire trucks and police cars outside.” She shook her head. ”Can we hurry this up? We have to go back on shift in thirty minutes and I want to get a smoke in.”
“Of course,” Rourke said. He turned to Robert. “You didn’t see anything unusual?”
“Crater where a house used to be. Otherwise no,” he said, yawning slightly.
“Hm,” Rourke said, making a note. He looked up again. ”Was Ms. Grolinsky conscious at all when you brought her in?”
“Very briefly,” Robert said. ”Screaming her head off. Considering how we found her, I’d say that’s reasonable.”
“Kept going on about the fire until she blacked out after we had in her the back of the van,” Peggy said, the tapping of her cigarette becoming more insistent.
“Anything specific?” Rourke said, his voice becoming slightly more tense.
“She said something about seeing something by the light of the fire,” Robert said, running a hand through his hair. “I think.”
“I saw it coming by the fire’s light,” Peggy said, almost without thinking. Robert and Rourke glanced at her. She shrugged. ”That’s what she said. ’I saw it coming by the fire’s light.’”
Rourke wrote down the phrase in his notebook. ”It? Not him or her? You’re sure?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure,” Peggy said with a wave of her hand. ”Is that it?”
“Yes, that’s all for now,” Rourke said.
“Good,” Peggy muttered getting up. She exited without a backward glance.
Rourke raised an eyebrow as he stuffed his notebook back in his jacket pocket. ”She’s all choked up,” he said getting up.
Robert gave him a bemused look. ”It’s the nature of the job. You don’t last long if you don’t build up a few walls. I’m sure you’ve learned that too.”
Rourke nodded his assent. Then, he left the room as well, making his way back to the emergency waiting room.
The black haired woman that was Meredith Grolinsky’s daughter was standing at the nurse’s desk. ”They’re taking her back to a room now,” Amber was saying. ”You’ll be able to see her for a few minutes, but only for a few.”
Rourke walked up to the desk. ”Is she going to pull through then?”
Amber turned towards him and gave a half-hearted smile. ”They’ve stabilized her as best they can. It’s going to be something of a waiting game for the next twenty-four hours.”
“Who are you?” the black-haired woman asked.
“Detective Carl Rourke,” he said.
“Detective?” she said, her eyes going wide. ”Did someone do this to my mother?” She took a step forward.
“That’s what I’m trying to find out, Ms.?”
“Mira. Mira Gorlinsky.”
“Mira, could you answer a few quick questions?”
“Sure,” she said, swaying slightly as she stood.
Amber caught her hand. ”Sit down!” she said, pointing to a chair by the desk. There was a note of confidence and command in her voice that pierced whatever fog Mira was in and she sat down. She shuddered. Amber was already in motion, filling a small cup with water and giving it to the young woman. ”Slow sips,” she said, as she took her place back behind the desk again. She flicked her gaze to Rourke. ”Keep it short,” she said.
Rourke nodded. ”Was there anyone you know of that would have a grudge against your mother?”
Mira shook her head slightly, not looking up from her glass. ”My father, her husband, is dead,” she said abruptly. She looked up at Rourke’s raised eyebrow. ”I just thought it would be your next question. You know, like on the crime shows.”
Rourke allowed himself a small smile. ”It’s good to know.” The phone on Amber’s desk rang and she picked it up. After a brief conversation she spoke to Mira. ”If you feel steady enough, you can go back now,” she said, one hand over the receiver.
Mira stood up putting the water glass on Amber’s desk. ”Yes, I’ll be okay now,” she said, her voice firm.
Amber nodded and hung up the phone. ”This way, then,” she said, leading Mira to a set of closed doors a few feet behind her desk. ”Don’t even think about it,” she said, giving Rourke a good-natured glare.
“Wasn’t going too,” Rourke said, holding up his hands. He fished a business card out of his pocket and leaned forward, handing it to Mira. ”If you think of anything, you can call me at the number on there day or night.”
Mira took the car and shoved it in her jean’s pocket without looking. She gave a bob of her head, and then followed Amber into the back.
Rourke sat in his car for a good half an hour before he actually started it up. His fingers rapped the dash again and again as he tried to make sense of what he had learned. It was possible this psycho had rigged Grolinsky’s furnace to explode. But Grolinsky’s words bothered him. She claimed to have seen something by the light of fire she had been caught in. But if this psycho had actually stayed around for the explosion, he would be no better off than Grolinsky. ”Delirium, I guess,” Rourke said, finally starting his car.
As he did, his smartphone began to ring. Slipping his car back into park, he pulled it out of his pocket. An unknown number was calling him. Frowning, he answered the phone. ”This is Detective Carl Rourke.”
“Oh God, Detective, please come back!” a panicked voice on the other end gasped.
“Who is this?” Rourke asked undoing his seat belt.
“It’s Mira, Mira Grolinsky. I saw him. God, I saw him, the man that tried to hurt my mother.”
Rourke’s car was off, keys in hand, and he was already running full tilt to the hospital. One hand automatically went to his side, where a gun hung in its holster under his coat. ”Mira, where are you?” he asked as he approached the hospital.
“I’m in the waiting room,” she said, her voice taking on a hysterical edge. ”They won’t let me back in.”
Rourke bounded into the hospital. Mira was standing near the doors and she jumped as he entered. Tears streamed down her face and she was shaking. Amber was already in motion from around her desk and over to where they stood.
“What happened?” Rourke asked, putting his phone back away.
“She thought she saw someone back there,” Amber said, trying to put an arm around Mira. Mira shoved her away.
“I didn’t think I saw someone, I did see someone!” she nearly screeched. ”A tall man in a business suit!”
Rourke’s eyes widened. ”I need you to let me back there right now,” he said to Amber. ”That matches the description of a man leaving the scene of a crime Ms. Grolinsky witnessed.
Amber wavered and gave him an uncertain look. She sighed and beckoned for him to follow her. ”We have the entire area back here on camera. We called security when Mira raised the alarm, but they didn’t see anyone on the monitors.”
Rourke strode quickly behind Amber. He heard Mira fall into step behind him. A strong smell of antiseptic assaulted him as the doors opened before them. He passed a large cart full of linens, several curtained off areas, and a few criss-crossing hallways. They came to a stop by a bay of six separate alcoves. Amber pointed to the third one from the left. ”Ms. Grolinsky is in there.”
Rourke cautiously walked over and pushed the curtain softly aside. Grolinsky was swathed in bandages and hooked up to several IVs. The machines monitoring her vitals beeped softly. She did not appear to respond to his appearance. He let the curtain fall back. ”Where did you see him?” he asked Mira.
Mira pointed to the opposite end of the room. “I saw him peek around the wall there,” she said.
“How do you know he meant your mother harm?” he asked, walking over. It was a small bay where some extra medical equipment and IV bags were kept. The wall jutted out slightly, forming a corner someone skinny could fit behind without being seen.
“I– I don’t know,” Mira said, sounding suddenly uncertain. ”I just knew.” She blushed as she
Rourke looked around the room, taking in the cameras in the ceiling. ”Can the cameras see this corner?” he asked.
“Actually, no,” Amber admitted. ”But if someone was there, they would have had to step out onto camera to leave. Or to get in to begin with.”
“Hunh,” Rourke grunted. He walked back over to Mira. ”Did you get a look at this guy’s face?” he asked.
For a moment, panic crossed Mira’s face. Then she shook her head wildly. “No, I didn’t get a good look.” She looked away from him then, back to her mother’s room.
Mira was hiding something and Rourke could tell it. But he felt it best not to push it for now. ”False alarm I guess,” he said, smiling at Amber. ”Sorry to trouble you.”
“No trouble at all,” Amber said, leading the both of them back out. ”But I think it’s for the best if we leave your mom to rest now,” she said glancing back at Mira.
Mira didn’t look up but she nodded. Rourke took one last appraising glance of her and then followed Amber back to the waiting room.
This we leave in halves we left, so you can wait for the next one then..
He, our master, we show what is to be done for respect is what he have from us...
Don´t drown the fear,
Be strong survive it all,
And when they ask how it was done tell them
It was to laugh of those who failed.
~Jane and Zane
The Deadly Twins