Three Sisters On March 3, 2010 police chief Cal Edstrom woke up not to the horrid sound of his alarm
clock, but instead the rolling bell of his phone. He glanced at the clock that read three A.M. He answered the phone and heard the exasperated voice of his deputy, Dart Markum. ³We¶ve got another one boss; it¶s all dressed up like a suicide, but I think you should get down here. Kid by the name of Ernest Galloway. His father is outraged, claims the kid would never do this. They live up in the mansion on East Third and the old man seems well connected.´ Detective Edstrom rolled over and wiped the crust out of his eyes. ³Can¶t this wait another couple hours Dart? You know what to do² ´ ³I thought so boss, but he¶s already raising a stink that the police chief isn¶t out here. I told him you¶d been pulling all nighters for weeks now with this recent flurry of activity, but he¶s still bitching up a real storm over here, got the district attorney on the phone and everything. He¶s claiming he¶ll get the media involved if he doesn¶t see some action soon.´ ³Alright Dart, thanks for the heads up. I¶ll see you at six like I always do.´ ³Sir.´ ³Dart, I haven¶t slept in almost a week.´ ³I know sir, trust me I know. But if you don¶t get down here I think this could blow up. With all the recent unsolved deaths, and now this guy calling for your head.´ ³Alright Dart, give me an hour.´ Cal buried his face in his pillow and reminisced back to his college days. He remembered waking up next to his then future wife Cynthia Mccloud and deciding on the spot that he¶d like to sleep in. He remembered the freedom of tossing his alarm clock into the wall when it still demanded he wake up. He thought about the dumb face of his deputy and wished he¶d had the heart to fire Dart before this shit storm started. Twelve murders now, in under a month--all male, all under the age of 25, and all of seemingly good reputation and health. Cal had finally fallen asleep, and right then, another death. The murders almost seemed spaced so as to offer him the least comfort possible. Cal reached to his alarm clock and reset the time for 4 AM
Cal immediately entered a dream state when his head again hit the pillow. There was a sound in his room, of creaking floorboards or expanding pipes. He was back at college. Next to him was his ex-wife Cynthia. They were at their old apartment just off campus. She was lying naked on top of the sheets. The room was stifling. Cal could hardly breathe. He was relieved of his life, despite that oppressive heat. Cynthia was cool to the touch. He whispered to her, ³I¶m not going to class today.´ He looked her over and placed his hand on her thigh. Cynthia was Irish. Her skin was pale and nearly without a mark, save her upper back which was dotted with a light band of freckles. She was lying on her side and Cal curled up next to her. ³Come on baby, I¶m not going to class today« lets play a little.´ The sun filtered in through the window and Cal found himself ensnared by her hips. Cynthia was skinny but not gangly. Her appetite was one of the things that attracted Cal. Her scent was one of the things that kept him. Cal leaned into Cynthia and she purred like a cat. He put his nose behind her ear and inhaled wildly. ³You want to play? Ok, but me first!´ she laughed. Now 4 A.M. the clock shocked Cal and he found himself sitting up, sweating, in bed. Before he even knew he was awake Cal was gripping the alarm clock, and the alarm clock was through the window. Cal didn¶t make it to the old house on East Third until nearly 5. Before he could get to Dart for his briefing on the situation he was confronted by an older man. Cal found it odd to not recognize the man, seeing as he was so well connected. ³Are you the Chief? I was told you would be here hours ago. What have you been doing? With this kind of performance I can understand why nothing has gotten done in solving these murders. I don¶t see how you can solve these murders if you don¶t even see the bodies before they are taken away.´ ³Excuse me sir?´ ³Excuse you?´ ³Tell me sir, who are you?´ ³I am the latest boys father.´ ³The latest boy? Nevermind«´ ³Dr. Galloway´ ³Alright Dr. Galloway« I¶m going to have to ask you to step away so I can receive an accurate depiction of your son¶s death from my deputy.´
³That incompetent bag of shit?´ ³Listen sir, if you don¶t step away´ With that Dr. Galloway stormed off into the house. Dart was talking to the crime scene photographer, a young chap by the name of Tony. ³Good morning deputy Markum« Could you excuse us Tony? Dart who told you to move the body before I got here?´ ³Well sir, the boys father nearly exploded around 4:30 I did all I could but he said I didn¶t have the authority to leave his dead son µrotting¶ in his house until the police chief« well you get the point.´ ³I told you I would be here Dart. I¶m sorry I¶m a few minutes late, but you understand how busy I have been. I should be able to rely on you to keep things in order.´ ³Sorry sir.´ ³It¶s ok Dart, you did the right thing in calling me« I have a feeling this guy is going to be a real prick in our side.´ ³His son was Ernest Galloway the third. He was 18 years old and attended Sisters High. He applied early admission to Yale, and by his fathers account has never had a problem in his life. He was dating Wendy Lynch.´ ³Wendy Lynch again?´ ³Wendy Lynch again.´ ³Has anyone talked to her?´ ³No sir. School starts at 7:15. I¶m not sure if she has heard the news yet. I know that the father hasn¶t contacted the media yet, and other than your staff I¶m not sure anyone has heard.´ ³Has forensics yielded anything so far?´ ³Other than your usual suspects of hairs and fibers the only thing we have to go on right now is the letter and the body.´ ³Go on Markum.´ ³Well he hanged himself«´ ³Listen Dart I didn¶t awake from my only sleep in a week for you to dance me in circles. Tell me what you know.´ ³Well he hanged himself sir. And he was naked like the last two. This time though« This time the killer bound him and he had lashes and bite marks all over his back and behind. Most were healed over but some were fresh. The note also indicates he liked kinky sex, and that perhaps he had gotten tired« I don¶t know sir.´ ³My patience is wearing thin Markum« where is the note?´ Dart walked over to his car and pulled out a plastic bag containing an envelope. ³Has the letter been dusted Dart?´ Dart nodded affirmative and Cal removed the letter.
³It¶s about that time: When my submission to the higher order in this form is only lashes and welts. When my eyes are consumed by fire and my toes curl only from power and hate. I¶ll sanctify a higher order with my love and death. I¶ll give to her who owns my soul, whatever it is she desires from me. I grow tired of my self-love. I want to be enmeshed in the fire that is her eternal freedom. I give of myself in a way I could not otherwise. It has to be for she and she.²Ernest´ ³Ok Dart, I want you to stay here and make sure the father doesn¶t go in the boys room. I don¶t care what he tells you. I don¶t trust that man and I don¶t need him tampering with evidence. I¶ll be back by 9; I need to go speak with Wendy, hopefully before she finds out. Keep your eye out for anything suspicious.´ Cal had met with Wendy Lynch several times already. She had dated all of the dead boys from Sisters High (now totaling 9) and had possible connections with the 3 others. She remained Cal¶s prime suspect, but she has had an airtight alibi for each of the murders. On the way to Sisters High Cal stopped in at the gas station for some coffee. ³Morning officer. Got another one on your hands I see.´ Cal felt a twinge of regret about his detour. ³What are you talking about?´ ³I just heard on the news, the Galloway boy died last night. His fathers saying he was murdered like those other boys. He also had a few not nice things to say about you, if you don¶t mind me saying.´ ³I can¶t discuss any of that son, sorry.´ ³That¶s alright officer« BUT are you going to pay for that?´ In his fervor Cal had nearly walked out without paying for his coffee. Cal turned and tossed two dollars on the counter and walked out with his mind slowly churning ideas for his interrogation of Wendy. He knew he needed sleep but knew it would be impossible for at least one more day. Cal rolled up to Sisters High in his unmarked Ford, but it didn¶t provide him much cover. These days everyone recognized his car because he had been constantly showing up to interview the dead students peers. He stopped at the front office to notify the desk that he would be removing Wendy from her homeroom. They seemed to have heard the news already too. ³Pardon me Ms. Applewhite, I¶m going to need to speak with Wendy Lynch.´ Several students let out low sobs at the sight of the detective
Edstrom. ³Ms. Applewhite, I trust you will allow the students to be excused from class-´ ³Most assuredly Mr. Edstrom.´ Wendy stood up and heads turned to her as they normally do. Wendy had a commanding presence. She stood no less than six foot and her uniform seemed to have been made for a girl half her size. Her long legs were dark and her eyes emerald. Cal noticed how all the boys in the class watched intently as she made her way to the front of the room while all of the girls looked at their desks. A boy in the front of the room with a serious look on his face grabbed at Wendy¶s hand as she walked by him. His hair was shaggy and his eyes big and round. ³I¶ll wait for you after school Wendy.´ ³Don¶t worry Dustin. I¶ll see you at lunch.´ The boy looked to Cal with disdain. ³I¶m not so sure about that Wendy. We are going to have to take a trip to the station this time.´ ³You can¶t keep doing this to her,´ the boy angrily dropped his fist on his desk. ³Dustin! That is enough out of you. You can see Wendy when the officer is done with her. Not another word or it will be off to the principal with you.´ Ms. Applewhite gave a flirtatious smile to Cal and he immediately felt embarrassed. Cal followed Wendy into the hall and they made their way to his car. ³Hello Wendy, so I guess by now you heard the news?´ ³What news is that officer.´ ³I¶m sorry Wendy but another one of your boyfriends has died.´ ³You must be mistaken, we were just in the company of my boyfriend.´ ³Well Ernest Galloway died last night; he was hanged.´ The sun was out and the sky was blue. The early March earth was just beginning to heat up. The Robins must have been migrating because there were too many to count, all foraging around on the grass, singing their complex little songs. Cal walked around the car and opened the door for Wendy. ³Thank you officer Edstrom.´ Wendy never tried to do anything; if she wanted to do something she did it, and she sounded cute and innocent when she thanked him for opening the door.
³Don¶t you want to push my head down«you know, like they do on TV?´ Wendy questioned. The insinuation left Cal thinking he was taking her statement out of context. ³That is a little different Wendy, those people are under arrest and their hands are tied.´ Cal felt stupid for having answered yet she never gave even the slightest hint that she was playing with him. ³Oh officer, well then maybe you should cuff me« seeing as how I¶m under arrest and all. Wouldn¶t you like to cuff me? You probably don¶t get to cuff too many people in a small town like this.´ Automatic thoughts popped into Cal¶s head, any one of which could destroy his career if uttered. ³You are not under arrest Wendy.´ Cal closed Wendy¶s door and made his way around the car. ³You know, Ernest used to love when I would tie him up. He was a real freak for that kind of stuff. Very depressed though. Whenever he would come he would get real distant, even cry sometimes. He used to let me whip him, but I¶m sure you know all this already. In fact he would beg me to. It really doesn¶t surprise me that he killed himself. I had to dump him. I mean who wants a guy like that. Men are supposed to be the strong one. Maybe I want a guy to tie me up and whip me, you know?´ ³That¶s enough Wendy.´ ³Enough of what officer?´ ³I¶m not going to let you manipulate me Wendy. I¶m not like all those high school boys who let you lead them around until you destroy their lives.´ Things were speeding up for Cal. He hadn¶t even noticed he had begun driving and he was already almost back at the precinct. Wendy had been talking for nearly twenty minutes but Cal couldn¶t recall almost anything she said. ³That¶s not nice officer. I come for you, willingly, not even in cuffs and you blame me for my ex-boyfriends suicide.´ This time the insinuation went right over Cal¶s head. He felt it but also felt feebled by his lack of sleep. Cal noticed hid mind racing and when he probed himself he found himself back in his dream with Cynthia. Cal tried with all of his strength to regain his composure. He looked over at Wendy with a stern face to try and give her the illusion that he was working hard at analyzing what she said, but when he turned to look at her he found her pristine body swiveled towards him, her tiny skirt hiked even higher than normal. She was not wearing any underwear. Her eyes were fixed straight ahead and she had not seen him notice her. ³The lights green.´ A horn behind them honked. Wendy turned to find him staring and quickly
rushed her hands to her skirt and pressed it up into her crotch to conceal herself. ³Officer Edstrom, now that is not very professional of you.´ Cal recoiled again in his seemingly endless sleep deprived folly. ³I¶m so sorry Wendy. I hope you understand this ride is strictly an official matter. I am investigating a homicide. I am not attracted to you Wendy; I am investigating you with regards to the death of Ernest Galloway. ³Now why do you have to go and hurt my feelings like that? You use me for your kicks and then tell me you aren¶t attracted to me and want to lock me up in prison for murder? You sure are a piece of work officer.´ Wendy looked out the window and turned her body towards her door. Cal parked the car and this time let Wendy open her own door. They walked into the precinct and were greeted by Dart Markum and their secretary Nika Mason. ³What the fuck is this Dart?´ Cal pulled Dart down the hallway. ³I told you to stay at the boys house and make sure his father doesn¶t tamper with anything.´ ³I know I know but his father threatened me with a lawsuit. He had his lawyer there. They said that Ernest II has a right to his privacy after such a tragedy.´ ³Well it is his father that is claiming this is a murder investigation not a suicide. If it was a suicide his father could burn all of his sons belongings for all I care. But this is a murder investigation Dart, and his father is consequently a suspect as of now. I told you Dart. I told you to not leave the house. Are you trying to make my life miserable«? Good god Dart. Stay here and mind the girl. Question her and release her. Find out where she was and what their relationship was like in the days leading up to this. Find out if he had any enemies and what his relationship with the father was like. And please Dart, be careful with this girl, don¶t do anything stupid. Call her a cab when you release her.´ Cal walked back out into the hall. Wendy was sitting drinking a cup of coffee from behind the desk. ³Hello there officer Edstrom I was beginning to think you just used me for the kinky talk and were going to sneak out the back window.´ Nika did a double take and Cal felt the need to immediately squash the situation. ³I told you already Wendy, quit playing games. This is a serious matter. One more comment like this and we will keep you overnight on obstruction of justice charges. If she gives you any trouble Dart I want you to put her in a cell until I get back.´
Wendy looked at Nika and said, ³Don¶t you just love a powerful man?´ Nika looked relieved of her tension and gave a smile to Wendy. Cal jogged out to his car and sped off to East Third Street. Only two cars remained in the driveway. Cal banged on the door. An odd man answered. He was about five foot tall and wore a suit. He looked as if he was carrying something, but wasn¶t. His face was disproportionately large and so were his hands. His hands appeared to be quite old but his face only looked to be about 60. ³Hellooo,´ he said drawing out the µo¶ sound. ³I¶m going to have to ask you to step back sir. I am investigating a crime and the crime scene has already been compromised. If you don¶t allow me to enter immediately«´ The man backed away from the door, ³Of course officer. I will notify the master you have returned.´ The man disappeared upstairs and after about five minutes two men came strolling down the winding staircase. ³Show me to the boys room.´ ³Thompkins! THOMPKINS!! Come show this man to Ernest junior¶s old room.´ ³Yes sir.´ Cal began following Thompkins up the stairs. Before he did though, he turned to the remaining unknown man. ³Who are you?´ ³I am the Galloway lawyer.´ ³Well then I guess you should already know that if you have tampered with any evidence I will bring you both up on charges.´ ³Of course officer«´ Cal began to edge upstairs, but the man continued, ³«may I first ask if it is common practice in Three Sisters to allow a half-witted deputy to run such an important investigation?´ ³Listen closely« the three of you. I am heading this investigation and I will not have my staff bullied by your empty threats. I will need a writing sample from each of you and will hope that you willingly submit to DNA tests. I¶m not sure who you think I am, or who you think you are, but be sure that I will bring the killer or killers to justice. That is if your boy was murdered?´ Dr. Galloway started to shout at Cal but he had already begun to move upstairs. ³Tell me Thompkins, what kind of boy was Ernest.´ ³I am not at liberty to discusss such matters. Suffice it to say, sir, that his father did not kill him, and the boy did not kill himself. I have followed the cases in the news sir. I think there is something much larger at work.´
The boy¶s room looked like any other boys room. Based on the house it was obvious the doctor was well off and the room was further evidence. The room was filled with technology and instruments, books and movies« the same as any other kid with money. Cal made his way to the dresser. There was a picture of Wendy at the beach. Cal picked it up and looked at her long black hair blowing in the wind. There were relatively few other pictures and memorabilia lying around. Cal probed further. Under the bed there was a small wooden box. Cal opened it and found scores of pictures. Most of the photos were nude portraits of his bruises but there were a couple containing Wendy as well. In each picture containing the two of them he was always sitting on the floor, looking at the floor. She sat on a chair with a whip or some other instrument in her hand, looking seductively into the camera. Sometimes he was bound, other times he was bleeding. Each time she had a smile on her face and he looked tormented, but strangely content. She wore makeup in each of the pictures that he had never seen Wendy wear. Her eyes were shadowed black and her lips painted crimson. The rest of her face was pasted white. In one picture her smile revealed false teeth that were sharpened into fangs. Cal bagged the photos as evidence. He slipped the only one of just Wendy into his pocket. She was lying on the sand at the beach. The lighting was dark and her hair and darkened eyes faded into the ocean behind her. One arm rested under her while the other arm was inverted over her head resting on the sand above her head. Her body was entirely unshaven. Cal simply could not resist the temptation. It made him feel powerful to be able to obtain such a photo. There was another box under the bed. In the second box there were various toys, mostly binding devices. The whip present in the pictures was nowhere to be found. After another hour of searching yielded no further discoveries Cal made his last stop at the bookshelf. The boy had good taste, mostly classics, Hemmingway, Kerouac, Steinbeck; he had his fair share of the occult too, everything from Stephen King to books on witchcraft and Greek mythology. One book stood out however. Cal picked it up and thumbed the pages. It was called, ³Keeping the Seductress´ by Cynthia Mccloud.