The Curious Killing of Lucien Morgoth

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Start your story with somebody taking a photo.... view prompt


Crime Fiction Horror

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

{CW : Abuse, Gore}

For a late spring day the wind was calm and being a weekday, traffic would not be a problem. The tripod jerked and creaked as I spread its legs and squinted an eye across the shining camera mounting bolt to the target.

The gothic architecture of Dowton Theater erupted with a purple orange glow as the setting sun silhouetted the building against the empty skyline. Gentrification had leveled the nearest structures leaving it protruding from the concrete like a pyramid in the desert. Volunteers turned nearby vacant lots into spectacular flower gardens for guests to enjoy while waiting for door time on show nights. The gargoyles and pixies along the roof line glowed and marble columns gleamed as the setting sun splashed the stone like living water colors.

I flipped the menu on my camera to the highest definition and adjusted the aperture duration to account for the decaying light. The sun waned from burnt orange to lavender as it drifted behind the building. Having a new high capacity memory card in my camera I touched off a few dozen shots over several minutes. The wonders of modern photography allowed me to pick through the shots later to select the best ones for submission to the gallery exhibition.

Satisfied with my work, I removed the Canon SLR from the tripod and was folding it into the back seat when a red and blue lit up cruiser zoomed by, sirens blasting into the dusk. Not one to resist rubber necking a scene, I propped my elbows on the roof of my car and watched as the police raced toward Dowton Theater. Another cop car ripped by followed by an ambulance. Waiting for gun shots, my eyes were glued to the scene. Four cops pulled Glocks and from two blocks away I could hear the shouts and see pedestrians ducking for cover as the officers brought full power to bear on the situation. Whatever happened it was over quick. The guns were put away and I watched as a small crowd gathered across from the theater. The questioning began and I really wanted no part of that.

I packed the rest of my gear into Bob, a ten year old rusty Volvo, grabbed the luke warm bottle of water from the console and stabbed the gas peddle for my apartment. I was twenty blocks from a tepid draw of cheap bourbon and reheated Shrimp Pad Thai.

* * *

“You seen anything like this, Gene?”

“No, it's savage.”

“The head is torn off, not cut. The only thing that makes sense is a hit by a passing vehicle. Not sure anything else could rip off a mans head. It's strange, there is no splattering on the pavement. We called in the deputy coroner. We'll see what he has to say.”

Putting on latex gloves the investigating officer noticed a leather cord with a pendant laying next to the body. “Looks like a necklace with a star.”

Aiming his LED flashlight at the object the chief sighed. “That's not a star, it's a pentacle, a pentagram with the point up. See how the lines interlace. If it was a regular star the lines would intersect.”

“New Age crap?”

“It's usually associated with witchcraft.”

“Why didn't his parents just name him Lucifer instead of Lucien?” Everyone in the city knew that handsome face.

“Any witnesses?”

“Nobody came forward. Other than his connection to the theater, we don't know much.”

“These artist types are into some weird kinks chief. Maybe one of his concubines got jealous and took his head off with the bumper of their Toyota Prius.”

“Or drove by and took a swipe with a board going sixty miles per hour. That would decapitate someone. Either way he ain't gonna deflower any wannabe starlets again.”

“Nothing that puts a perp at the scene though?”

“Weird.” Chief Turnberry shined a light on the bare dirt near the sidewalk. “It's a hoof print.”

“I'll secure the area. If this ends up involving the local veterinarian and bestiality I'm applying for a job doing security at the local mega mart.”

* * *

“Did you watch the news last night?” Samantha fidgeted with the TV remote.


“There was a murder at Dowton. Lucien Morgoth, the lead actor was found dead outside right at sundown. Weren't you there trying to get that photo? They are asking for anyone that might have information to come forward. Have you looked at your pics?”

“Let's look at them now.”

Pulling the SD memory card from the camera, I poked it in my old laptop and pulled up the link on the TV. Clicking through a few dozen images I stopped when an out of focus sequence revealed a body on the ground.

“Click back. Someone is standing next to Lucien. In the next shot his body is on the ground.”

“What is that? Blow it up on your computer. It looks like someone in a costume with body hair and curly horns on its head.”

“Wait a second. Look at the time stamps. The photos were taken only a few seconds apart. The one in the costume is there in one shot then gone after Lucien Morgoth's skull is liberated from his neck. None of the other pics show the person in the hairy suit approaching or leaving.” Sam clicked back and forth in the timeline.

“That's impossible. Get your Tarot deck. That costume looks familiar.” Flipping past the images in the deck, I flashed a card to Samantha.

“The Devil. Seriously John, you think the Devil killed Lucien Morgoth?”

“Not the Devil, that's the name of the card, specifically Baphomet. I think Baphomet manifested itself, tore off Lucien Morgoth's head and vanished into thin air.” My raised eyebrow and wide eyed look caused Sam to roll her eyes and huff.

“You just fell off your rocker John. Some guy in a Devil costume killed the most famous actor at Dowton and you want to blame a fairy tail creature.”

“I know the janitor there. He owes me a favor. I'm going to get the keys and do a little detective work.”

“John you are going to get into serious trouble, this is a murder investigation.”

“They don't know what they are looking for. I've studied the occult for years and I have a hunch.”

“I'm not bailing you out if you get arrested.”

“Fair enough.”

* * *

Taking the bus would have been a risk, so I parked Bob the Volvo three blocks away at Ice T's Ice Cream Insanity. Being a Tuesday, after close, the fewer prying eyeballs I encountered the better. The pavement was noisy and dry, each shuffling step sounded like the scratching of reptilian claws on sandstone.

I gripped the janitors keys till they dug into my sweaty palms. Pulling the hood over my head, I jerked the neck gaiter on my nose and placed some goofy dollar store sunglasses over my eyes. I wanted to be sure nobody recognized John Doyle on this night.

Fumbling with the keys in the alley at the maintenance door, the dead bolt clunked on the heavy steel and I entered Dowton Theater with the aplomb of a quiet mouse in the pantry.

Knowing better than using the overhead lights, I pulled my trusty miniature flashlight from a front pocket and shined it around the gutty end parts of the theater. Racks of clothes lined the walls behind the stage. The sparkle of purple sequins glimmered like frost on an early morning. Sequins were proof that good taste died years ago and was replaced by fake eyelashes and platform heels.

I knew that having been the lead actor, Lucien would have the best dressing room. Up a half flight of stairs, doors to dressing rooms were lined up behind the stage. Only one had a mirror on the outside of the door. Narcissus would be proud Lucien. Having checked the handles on a few of the rooms, I wasn't shocked his was locked. Flipping to the master key on the ring I was in the room and searching in seconds. Opening drawers on the makeup vanity revealed the basics, eyeliner, rouge, more foundation than the Walgreens down from RuPaul's spread. Too obvious, I needed to think like a deviant bastard, demons didn't flaunt their dirt. Pulling back out of the room and eyeing the outer wall dimensions revealed a discrepancy. The outer wall was wider than the dressing room. On the right was the closet.

Pushing back more stretchy jumpsuits and flared pant legs than a disco variety show could hold I pushed the false wall and was greeted with the putrid smell of body fluid. The altar room had the summoning pentagram drawn on the floor in dried blood. Snuffed red candles dotted the five points of the star. The pile of bloody stained dresses stopped me in my shoes. The unsolved abductions of tween girls flooded into my minds eye like a film reel.

I pulled a knife from my pants and flicked open the blade, while fishing the Ziploc evidence bag out of the back pocket of my jeans. Cutting a swatch of bloody material from one of the frocks, I poked it into the bag with my blade, careful not to touch it and leave my own DNA.

With a gait on fire, I needed to get out fast. My heart pounded like an artillery piece. I wasn't even sure what to do. With Lucien dead, I had to notify someone.

White knuckling the steering wheel on my station wagon, the last thing I needed to happen did. The swirling blue and red lights in my mirror caused my heart to race like a locomotive.

“You seem nervous. Can I see your identification. Please step out of the car and keep your hands where I can see them.” The officer pinched the lever on his mic. “Dispatch, run these plates and a check on a John Doyle.”

Thinking of the bloody cloth in my pocket, I felt my face flush as my hands shook uncontrollably. At a minimum I was looking at first degree burglary, a Class X felony. Four year minimum was the starting point. Possible conspiracy and accessory to murder came to mind. The handcuffs felt tight. Backs of squad cars were claustrophobic affairs. Best to keep quiet and put serious thought into what I would admit to.

* * *

“How do you know Molly Tibbins?”

“I don't.”

“We found her blood on a piece of cloth in your pocket. For the record please state your full name.”

“My name is John Doyle.”

“Mr. Doyle you are facing a slew of charges. Homicide, concealment, Do you know what they do to prisoners convicted of murdering children in the joint? If I were you I would pray for the death penalty.”

“I didn't kill anyone.”

“You want to explain how you were in possession of the blood of a twelve year old girl that's been missing for two years. The way I see it you start telling us the truth, or we are turning this over to the prosecutor and you can plead your case in front of a judge.”

“I told you already.”

“We recorded you saying it and watched it several times. According to your testimony Lucien Morgoth is a disciple of Satan that made a pact with the dark lord to secure underage girls for his sick pleasure. I'm trying to repeat this word for word. Baphomet the demon manifestation of evil disposed of the bodies of these girls through inter-dimensional ritual sacrifice. Which is why there is no evidence. According to you they were consumed during the act. When Lucien's quota was up, this creature tore off his head, ate his soul and left his dead body. What exactly have you been smoking Mr. Doyle? That is about as unhinged a tale we've ever heard.”

“Lucien Morgoth was a Satanist and a pervert. He made a deal with the Devil. He is responsible for the young girls missing around here. I found a pile of bloody clothes in his dressing room the night you arrested me.”

“You keep saying that. Your story doesn't hold water. We checked the theater. After he was found dead, the theater board authorized the remodel of his dressing room and gave us the contents. The only thing we could find him guilty of is wearing too much eye shadow.”

“Did forensics test his dressing room for blood?”

“Why? We found him outside, dead on the sidewalk. Did you off him too? Were you in a Menagerie a Twa or what ever. Maybe he knew too much and you had to whack him.”

“Before you charge me at least test the cloth for mine and Lucien's DNA. I think that will tell you what you need to know.”

* * *

“John!” Samantha's lips locked onto mine as she wrapped her arms around me, running her fingers through my hair.

“I just want to sleep on a real bed. Have you ever slept on Styrofoam covered in canvas tarps? I think suicide watch leads to the same.” I looked over at Sam, she wore her flower print dress and sandals. “Can we get a burger? Jail food reminds me of a cafeteria ran by a sadistic psych ward.”

“Are they pressing charges?”

“No, they found Lucien's DNA on the cloth and the DA is trying to locate the company that removed the building material for the remodel so it can be tested. Someone at Dowton is trying to sweep all this away to avoid a very public black eye.”

“I'm glad you are coming home. I was afraid we were going to make our children in a conjugal trailer at the prison.”

“I want a double cheese burger with the works.”

“I want you to warm up my side of the bed tonight.”

“I'm up for that.”

May 03, 2022 01:25

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Michał Przywara
21:51 May 09, 2022

I like the descriptions of how light affected things in the opening photo. It helped visualize the building and time of day. The idea of accidentally snapping a murder too is a neat one. One thing I did find a little odd is John's attitude to discovering he snapped Satan killing a man. He immediately assumed it was the devil and he didn't seem particularly fazed by it. Samantha and the cops, conversely, did seem skeptical so it seems this isn't a normal occurrence in the world of the story. You did mention that John studied the occult exte...


Kevin Marlow
14:40 May 12, 2022

Thanks for your input. It is interesting to see where these stories lead the mind, even when writing them.


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