Stars That Bleed is a piece of flash fiction written for Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. You, too, can join the fun by choosing a title here and writing a story wherever it is you post your work. Make sure to leave a link on Terrible Minds.
For another installment (containing what I assume will be SPOILERS) look here!
Detective Pascal holds the machine in what used to be standard blanched latex gloves. It’s the fourth night in a row he has seen one just like it – something out of a steampunk nightmare. As demonic a things it is, as macabre a reality as it defines, it is difficult not to admire the thing itself.
“This fucking thing,” he grimaces under his breath, “look at that would you? The molding on the grip. We could probably get an idea of what kind of hands the sick shank has. Is that driftwood, you think?”
Nodding, Bruce Pontieaux, the rookie that had just come up a week ago, grunts, “Could be. Looks like something that could have come off a boat.”
“Do you know what driftwood is, dickless?”
Pontieaux takes a beat before a slight grin forms on his thin lips, “No one says ‘dickless’ anymore, sir.”
“All the same.”
Thick, congealed blood drops from the foremost blade, the large serrated one, that towers beyond the smaller clawe-like metal ones. The glob of red and black substance falls onto the knuckle of Pascal’s thumb.
“Oh, shit. Nasty! There’s hair in it. Look at that.”
The Detective becomes aware of the bustle of cops, forensics team, the cordon of yellow tape, the flash of cameras. There are at least a dozen uniforms buzzing around the body, most of which operates not two feet from Pascal and Pontieaux.
“It’s a damn zoo. Look at us. Flies on shit. This guy,” Pascal drops the machine, a fourth of its kind, into an evidence bag. The blades punches through what would normally be considered to be quite durable plastic and falls to the floor; it lands on its handle with a deep thud and a slight crack.
Fumbling with the bag, Pascal drops to his knee and stares at the machine in state on the floor.
“Dewey, check this out. The handle looks cracked, doesn’t it? Is that something in there.”
Pascal tilts his head like it just got pushed a little by his Dad, “I’d rather you call me dickless than Dewey.”
Pontieaux kneels and squints as his right index finger probes the fracture, “Yeah, boss. That looks like some kind of paper, doesn’t it? We’ll have the lab rats check it out.”
“That’ll take twenty four hours. How many more of these calls are we going to get in the next twenty four hours?”
Pascal picks up the machine and fingers the trigger closest to its hilt. Two of the lesser blades cross inward across the serrated one above the forming an ‘X’ atop the bolster. Triggering the second chrome lever with his middle finger raises another blade perpendicular to the first. The third chrome lever springs a small, half arrowhead about two inches from the butt of the grip. Still another sharpened hook can be raised and locked with a sweep of the thumb.
The senior Detective takes out a less intimidating Spytek fixed blade from his belt and begins to probe the crack with it.
“Are you out of your mind? You’re one bad cup of coffee away from leave without pay. You can mess with that before the lab gets it. That’s evidence.”
“Don’t you tell me fucking evidence. You think I care if I get LWOP’d? Take a look at her!”
Turning his voice up to eleven he repeats, “TAKE A LOOK AT HER.”
In truth, Pontieaux has not paid that much attention to the victim. He can’t. She’s too familiar. She’s too real, too broken. He’s loved her from afar ever since he hit puberty. She was a poster on his wall, the reason he wanted to work Hollywood, the reason he started collecting videos. He has more DVDs of her films than any other single person. And that is saying something.
Rana Carr, childhood celebrity grown into an international superstar. Environmentalist. Animal lover. She even received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins and worked between films at the L.A. Children’s Hospital.
She doesn’t deserve this and yet, her body is right there, naked as far as anyone can tell; thrown through a glass coffee table, resting in a violent pose atop shards and what used to be a white plush rug that looks like a bleached Newfoundland.
The flesh on the left side of her face has been removed along with the eye. In the eye socket is a the live end of a power chord pulled from a thousand dollar lamp that is currently in about a hundred pieces on the floor above her head; a seashell, or at least that is what it was.
Rana was an ocean fanatic. She had world class DJ’s mix ocean sounds with club beats. Pontieaux would be willing to bet that Ocean Chill would pump out of those expensive bluetooth speakers if you hit play on her iPhone.
Her left arm crooks at an unnatural angle, folded beneath her, right elbow resting delicately atop the left hand.
Most of her entrails and organs are mixed around in the hollow of her stomach cavity. The rest could be anywhere and that is something the detectives will have to, well, detective.
It is the bloodiest crime scene Pontieaux has ever experienced and the grisliest yet in the chain of murders. Blood is everywhere, it seems and the injuries, mortal and trivial, seem unending. It’s unlikely that the P.D. will ever recover all of her.
“Boss, I’m just saying,” Pontieaux relents.
“Well, stop just saying! If it were you, I’d go LWOP. If it were your mom, would you want me wait on evidence?”
“There’s a chain,” Pontieaux answers.
Pascal interrupts, “Screw the chain. This may save a life. This may be a note that says, ‘catch me at this address,’ ‘here’s my email,’ ‘call me on my cell number.’”
Pontieaux sighs, “Go ahead. Let’s get this guy.”
Pascal nods in the direction of an evidence box. Pontieaux picks it up and holds it near the Detective’s hands. Pascal calmly drops the machine into the box and the two men walk over the the wet bar and place the box on the cold marble. Pascal eyes the room and sees every face turned toward him and Pontieaux.
“Nothing to see here. Why don’t you waste the city’s money doing your jobs.”
Wincing, Pontieaux tightens his cloves, pressing in the grooves between his fingers and picks up the machine.
“Hold it there,” Pascal nods.
The Detective carefully begins to fit his knife into the cracked wooden handle.
“What if it’s his email?”
“We Rick-Roll the motherfucker,” Pascal snorts.
“What are we supposed to focus on? Who’s he going to hit next? What type of celebrity has this prick got a hard on for? Besides stars…”
“I think we should focus on stars that bleed. Stars that bleed. That’s what they have in common.”
“This is so unbelievable. First he kills the Star Wars lady, the bad ass one. Then he hits that teen Mom. You know, the one famous for getting pregnant. And then Kill. How fucking ironic. I can’t believe it. He munderstands Kill. Grammies, reality show and he’s in about five movies. I thought he was really good in that last one, actually.”
“Final Twist. That was the movie. Yeah, he was good. We’ll never find his head, I bet.”
Poniteaux shakes his head, “Pas, hold on to your knife.”
He takes the grip in his hand, careful of the triggers and blades and tries to turn the copper sheathing at the bottom.
“Gave me an idea,” he says, straining to get enough torque to loosen it.
“Ha, Final Twist! Good thinking, Dewey.”
Pontieaux lifted his eyes to Pascal, showing disapproval and a you gotta be fucking kidding me look.
Pascal recoils slightly, “Sorry…Dickless,” walking away toward the mess of forensic uniforms. He ducks down into a kit by the wall near the front door and pulls something out as inconspicuously as possible.
“Here,” Pascal drops a monkey wrench into the struggling hand of the young Detective.
“Can’t unfuck us now,” Pontieaux shrugs and locks the wrench onto the handle. “Bam! Great idea. Got it.”
“First rule of police work: if you can’t do it yourself, throw la monkey wrench at it.”
The bottom clanks onto the marble. No one in the room misses it. Pontieaux examines opening in the bottom of the machine.
“Ok, boss. It’s paper. It’s a note. Here. ”
Pascal rips off his bloody gloves, throws them into an evidence bag and puts a new pair too fast to actually get them on his hands quickly.
Unfolding the paper, he reads, “The Initiation.”
“The Initiation ?” Pontieaux asks.
“A film they’re shooting in Pasadena right now. If we’re not too late, I’d say that the next one is in that movie. A star of it.”
Pascal looks toward the front door, “I know…a star that bleeds.”