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Mystery Suspense Thriller

When there is no body, there is no crime. 

Mr Fred Asemota usually close from the old milling factory where he spent most of his day milling, at eight in the night. He was a milliner and a very good one at that. However, most people don't know what the word means except for the fact that for thirty years, he had always made and sold hats for only women.

The factory was his life and he loved her, just as he loved making the hats. 

Mr Fred was an old man, sixty-nine and still clocking, though he could have passed off as a man in his mid-sixties. He kept an afro white haircut, a weird beard and wore strange baggy pants to work. He might have been a nice man but one can't tell because he was never nice to his workers, always yelling at them to work harder and some customers would confidently say behind closed doors though, that he had once tried to cheat them off a good deal in the past. 

Everyone think him a nut job and a cheapskate. 

But there is a popular saying 'Don't always believe what you hear from women behind closed doors'. Some are cooked up lies; some are half-baked truths.

On the night of the gruesome murder, which tragically Mr Fred claimed to have stumble upon by chance, he locked up the doors of his factory later than usual because he worked overtime and probably fell asleep at his desk while closing the sales account. When he suddenly jolted from his sleep and checked his old wristwatch, an anniversary gift from his late wife, he realized the time was far-gone and he was late. 

"Bloody hell!" He cursed. "T'is almost ten pm. I shouldn't have taken those pills Maggie left behind."

He grumbled like an old man, wiped off the leftover sleep in his eyes, yawned as he stretched his arms then stood up from his seat. His lips curled up in an accusatory frown as if he was mad at the desk for making him fall asleep. He took his keys from the drawer and went outside.

His rickety Peugeot was waiting for him, parked right outside the factory in the same spot it has always been. The car wasn't that bad from a glimpse, it merely had a faulty engine that broke down every week, back doors that had to be opened from inside only and a brake that sometimes failed. 

Not that any of those ever bothered dear old Mr Fred; he hardly drove the car any way. 

After struggling with the door for a minute, he finally got in and drove down the hill.

***

Mr Fred lived on the other side of the area. A good distance from his factory to his house, which took twenty minutes to cover by car. He had to drive down the hill first, then go round the hill on a tarred road and then back up the hill at the other end. 

He was driving on the road alone when he felt the need to use the toilet. He quickly stopped the car, came out then climbed up the hill.

The night was chilly and as silent as a graveyard.

While taking a piss, he looked up, noticed the sky was darker than an abyss because of the absence of the moon, and thought it strange. 

Odd, uhn. I have lived here for years and the night has never been this quiet.

An eerie whistling to the tune of jingle bells from a distance startled him and he looked around for the source of such cold and fear inspiring voice. His sleepy eyes rested on a dark hooded figure trailing after an unaware figure in front.

The shadow of the former looked like a male while the latter looked feminine from the smallish size. He concluded that they were probably lovers walking home then returned to his thoughts.

A loud shriek pierced the air a second after and he looked up.

The woman was gone and so was the man. 

At first, his myopic eyes couldn't see anything in the dark but a dim light soon came on in a nearby woods. He watched in curiosity as the hooded figure dragged something on the grass, with one hand gripping something tightly behind his back. Wheels spun in his mind as he wondered what the hooded figure was doing in the woods so late. He moved closer, laying low to the ground and out of sight. His mind was wired, his good reasoning screamed danger but there was an undeniable thirst for thrill in him, hence he didn't listen.

From his hideout, he could see the 'something' was a body on the ground; it was a pretty woman in a yellow short dress who looked like she was in her late twenties. She appeared dead from a distance. He couldn't see the figure standing over her because it had its back turned to him but he guessed it was a male from the posture. 

As the killer slowly caressed her face with a tie, her eyes suddenly snapped open and flew wide with fear. She trembled and whimpered in horror like she was staring at the angel of death. The killer didn't seem moved by her pleas though, cackling menacingly before resuming the whistling of the same tune again.

She kicked hard and tried to escape but the killer caught her by the ankle and dragged her back. Shaking a hand slowly while tsking, the killer struck her across the face repeatedly until she stopped screaming. Then tied the tie around her neck and pulled hard.

Mr Fred couldn't help but throw up instantly when he realised what he had seen. Completely nervous and scared to his wits, he reached for his phone in his pockets, then deflated when he recalled he had left it in the car. He looked at the scene again and his eyes met those of the killers for a brief second.

They were so ice-cold and soulless, he felt like they were staring directly into him as they lingered in his direction.

Aghast at being caught, he quickly got up and ran down the hill like a rat escaping from a cheese trap. He got to his car and drove madly away, with just one thought in mind.

He killed her, and I saw it all.

***

"Sir, this is the last time I will say this, please go home." Sergeant Ali said, completely frustrated.

He crunched his face tightly to show he was serious but it couldnt match that of his listener, Mr Fred. 

“How can I go home when there is a mad killer on the loose? Who knows, he might just be a serial killer." Mr Fred spat to the Officer who looked like he would rather be locked in the jail in front of them than listen to the crazy old man and his story again.

He had suffered through it five times already.

“But, there is no killer on the loose, Mr.... ”

“Fred. Fredrick Asemota of the Daisy millinery." He cut in. 

"Okay, Mr Fred. As I said, there is no killer on the loose. We have already checked out your claim but found nothing suspicious. No body, no blood, no footprints, no car tracks, not a single sign of a homicide. The place was spotless."

“Did you check well? Did you check the bushes and hill?"

“Yes, we did. We searched the whole area thoroughly. Asked a few people around if they saw anything but no one did. Perhaps what you saw was an illusion. ”

“I know what I saw, Officer!" Mr Fred barked. "I saw a man choked a woman to death. I wanted to call the police from my car but there was no signal in that area. It wouldn't matter anyway; it's not as if the police respond to emergency calls here. When I was living in abroad, the cops always responded to 911 calls in a flash. See my point exactly... A homicide just happened and the police force is not even bothered.”

“There is no such thing as homicide here, Mr Fred. This is Nigeria." Sergeant Ali taunted and Mr Fred glared at him. 

They were silent for a minute then Mr Fred recounted his version of the crime again. He told the young officer the killer was a well-built male who appeared to be a regular at a gym and the Sergeant asked if the police should arrest the members of all the gyms in the city then. This shut him for a second.

Next, he mentioned the victim looked young and wore a yellow dress. The sergeant wondered in sarcasm if they should visit all the boutiques in the city and find out who recently purchased a yellow dress, assuming the dress was new. Mr Fred was annoyed by his insolence but mostly his reluctance to do anything. 

"Are you even an officer? You are not doing anything!" He blurted out angrily, unable to hold himself back. "Do you think I'm crazy? I have been here since last night telling you what I witnessed."

“And we have already attended to you. I even took down your incredulous statement, which was false by the way. What more do you want? It's not like we can just magically poof off the murderer.we need facts....real life descriptions of him or her or it.”

“I saw him." Mr Fred said in a broken voice and dead serious way that sliced the former silence in the room and caught the Sergeant's attention so deeply, he had to sit up in his seat.

“Really! What did he look like?" He asked.

"Well, I only saw his eyes because he had a nose mask on. But, they were devoid of humanity it felt like staring into death. They are forever imprinted in my mind."

Sergeant Ali rolled his eyes then hissed as he returned to his resting posture. He couldn't believe he had almost fallen for the crazy old man's lie again.

As a young officer in the force, he had seen quite a lot of dramas at the station: a husband and wife fighting over infidelity, a mother arresting her son for stealing her money, a lady falsely accusing her boss of sexual harassment, but not the case of a man claiming to be a witness to a murder that didn't happen. He had tons of questions that needed answers but he couldn't ask. 

Doesn't he have a family to go home to? Does he even have a house? What sort of wacko spends the night at a police station?

“I just told you his eyes were dark and insensitive." Mr Fred grumbled when he noticed the Sergeant wasn't doing anything with the piece of information he had given.

“The profiler can't just draw only eyes," he blew up. Hitting the table a couple of times with a file as he groaned with frustration. “And we certainly can't search for a criminal by staring into people's eyes for a soulless one. Everyone in this city has cold eyes and cruel hearts. It's not a crime." 

"He has sturdy hands.” Mr Fred added then bit down on his lips as he recalled the killer using the tie like a pro. He was wearing gloves but I know a factory hand when I see one. He must work in a factory, auto shop or carpentry."

“Sure. Let's find the criminal by shaking six hundred thousand hands. Make that one million if your killer lives in this city." Retorted the Sergeant.

Bored, tired and upset at his inability to help and blatant doubt of the verisimilitude of his story, Mr Fred rose from the bench he had passed the night on and swore to find a real evidence that would prove him right. He stormed out of the station, threatening to sue the police if the killer came after him or killed anyone else.

Sergeant Ali couldn't care less; he was just relieved the crazy man was finally leaving.

****

The familiar Peugeot appeared on the road again, this time the driver was in a foul mood and it was obvious from the speed he was driving at; hundred kilometers per hour. It suddenly halted close to the woods where the murder had taken place and the crazy driver stepped out; it was a pissed off Mr Fred. He glanced around the area with a determined look on his face, the wind blowing into his white beards and flapping his baggy pants like the British jack flag.

With a hand into his pocket, he brought out a pair of reading glasses and a microscope then set out into the woods like an African Sherlock Holmes squatting to check for clues. 

There is no such thing as a perfect crime. I am going to find the evidence to prove that, he declared.

For hours, he checked then double check. He checked the road for any trace of blood, hair, clothing item and footprints. Then he checked the woods. He was hungry, tired and hot sweat dripped down his forehead every now and then, but he didn't stop looking. He had read too many mystery books like Doyle's to know a clue always appeared at the eleventh hour. 

As it happens, a gleam of light suddenly caught his eyes few metres away and he inched closer, even running as he got nearer to it. He discovered it was the sun shining on a metal partially buried in the ground. He quickly knelt down and dug it up. Wiping the dirt off the item, he noticed it was a chain with a locket attached to the end with an inscription on the back; made in a small font he had to read with his microscope.

“Love, RJ." He read, wondering aloud whom RJ was and if the necklace belonged to the victim or the killer. Hoping it was the later, he examined the locket critically, his old heart started to pound anxiously as he opened it, while wishing for a picture to be in it.

“Oh no! I KNOW WHO THE KILLER IS!" He suddenly exclaimed. His eyes flared wide open as his legs went wholly and he stumbled, just as it sunk in that if the killer had seen him then he was in grave danger.

"The woman must have ripped this off his neck while she was fighting him off. He probably have a scar from the brute force. I bet he erased all the evidences from the scene but didn't realise his locket was missing because he was in a hurry." He concluded.

Clearly shaken by the fact a serial killer might be on his trail, he couldn't care less if he had just solved the murder. Since the killer already knew, where he lived and worked, he concluded there was no safer place for him than the police station.

Mr Fred raced back to his car in full speed, an amazing feat a man his age wouldn't ordinarily pull off. He got into his car, and drove back the same way he came.  

And because he was disoriented and frenzied out, he didn't see the masked killer watching him from the same spot he had watched the murder from. 

The Peugeot died some metres from the station, so Mr Fred got down and he decided to walk the rest distance instead of waiting around to fix it. He remembered there was a road opposite the station up ahead and ran there. A crowd of people were also waiting to cross the road too; strange faces he didn't know.

No one said hi or hey, there was just silence as they waited for the traffic light to ding. 

Then it turned red and Mr Fred started to walk just like everyone else. He was looking towards the station, on his parched face was a bright smile. Suddenly, he heard the familiar eerie whistling and panicked. Someone bumped into him from behind then he felt a sting and sharp pains shot out from his neck. He staggered back, clutching the back of his neck where the killer's needle had pierced. As he forced his eyes to stay open, two distant but familiar ice-cold and insensitive eyes stared coldly into them. He collapsed to the ground and tried to speak but could only mumbled out some inaudible words as the deadly poison paralyzed him in seconds.

He blacked out just as a creepy smile appeared on the killer's face. 

Her heels went clink clink as she whistled her favorite poem while dangling her chain in her hand.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

Never tell what you saw,

Death is here, don't be shy, 

There's nowhere you can run. 

But poor Mr Fred thought he could try.

November 13, 2020 20:42

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2 comments

Annette Lovewind
19:02 Nov 20, 2020

Well that story was well written and disturbing. That poem at the end is nice but also disturbing. Overall it was a well written story. Goodjob

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Sophie Aay
21:02 Jan 29, 2021

Thank you so much for the comment. I wanted to try out something a bit different. I'm glad you think it's well written

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