Whatever it takes

Submitted into Contest #241 in response to: Start your story with an unexpected betrayal.... view prompt


Crime Drama Thriller

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

Maeve stares at the highly classified case files she found in her own home that supposedly prove that she committed the very murder she's been trying to solve for months.

With shaking hands she abruptly lets go of the file and gasps as she finally puts the loose ends together.

She needs to get out of here before he figures out she’s on to him.

As if on cue she hears footsteps coming up behind her.

Maeve turns around abruptly and almost smashes into the man she trusted with her life, once upon a time.

She looks into his eyes which she used to describe as an endless blue that reminded her of the ocean calm and filled with possibilities. For the first time, she now notices a darkness or rather an evilness in those same blue eyes that she hadn’t noticed there before. The blue in his eyes now suddenly reminds her of poison dart frogs; beautiful but poisonous. 

She wonder show she never noticed this before.

Or perhaps she did and had foolishly shrugged it off, just like she’d done with all the other things about him that hadn’t added up lately.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” Maeve hisses at her husband, a fellow detective at the New York City police department who as it turns out is also a dirty cop, a manipulative liar and what is she forgetting.. oh right, a bloody serial killer.

He barks a laugh. “Of course, it was me, who do you think fed you all the wrong information? I’m surprised it took you this long to figure it out. I was wondering when a detective as capable as you would finally figure out that the clue to the case you haven’t been able to crack was right in front of you. But don’t be too hard on yourself, of everyone I’ve played you're the first one to figure it out before I put a knife to your throat or a gun to your head. You should be proud of that, it is quite an achievement, you know. I mean you don’t become a respectable homicide detective and a serial killer who always outsmarts everyone without knowing how to turn everything in such a way that you always come out of every situation looking like a saint. I'm a bit of a fantastic chronic liar if I may say so myself. Everybody loves me and everybody trusts me which is why it takes hardly any effort to use my excellent manipulation skills and blame my crimes on those innocent people who were foolish enough to trust me. You figured it out eventually though, clearly. Too bad that no one knows what happens behind these walls. Because you are too socially awkward to make friends.’

She rolls her eyes at him. “Okay, that was rude and a false accusation, but regardless of that You will not get away with this', Maeve promises him.

He laughs evilly. “Oh, my sweet girl, I already did.’

Maeve shakes her head confidently. “You may have planted the evidence on me and got away with that, you may have successfully framed me because you made sure you were my alibi so you knew I’d tell everyone I was with you on the night of the murder, which I was, but we are the only ones that know that. I have to admit it was a clever idea because now you'll be able to put on a show and act your little black hole-shaped heart out and pretend that I was not with you that night by saying "I feel so guilty to admit that I know my wife lied about her whereabouts on the night of the murder, but as an honorable detective, I know I'm held to a higher standard so I have to do what I have to do which is why I Salem Burhan hereby admit to everyone that I was not with my wife Maeve Jackson-Burhan on the night of the murder of Lee Safazadeh and Mackenzie Williams '.

Maeve takes a deep breath as she wills herself not to panic and then clears her throat and continues. "And then you'll obviously have the fake evidence to back up your lie. And whoever set me up and helped you come up with a fake alibi from when you were actually with me is never going to talk, I know that because you probably terrified him or threatened to kill his wife or his kid or something, if he backed me up while I told the world the truth. Just because I was stupid enough to stay home with you when I should have had a good alibi, to be able to prove where I was when one of your people killed someone in cold blood and because I was stupid and desperate enough to fall for the one guy who gave the weird, autistic girl a chance, accepted her physical boundaries, and treated her with respect doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough to think you’ll get away with this. If I learned anything during my time as one of the best homicide detectives in NYC it is that the truth always comes out eventually. We break the liar, get the murderer to confess, figure out the plot twist, and find the hidden evidence. You and I both know that the truth always comes out.’

He shrugs. “Maybe, but you’ll be long gone if it does.”

Maeve rolls her eyes at him, unbothered by the threat. “That still doesn’t mean you’ll get away with this.”

Salem smiles innocently. “Oh princess, of course I will. I’ve done it before countless times. We both know that if I can trick you, there is pretty much no one I can’t outsmart.”

Maeve rolls her eyes at him. “I’m flattered, but you’re not getting away with this.”

He laughs some more. “Of course, I will.”

She shakes her head again. “If you kill me it’s going to look suspicious and you don’t scare me so you won’t be able to get me to quiet down.”

“Oh honey, you go mute often enough. I’m sure I’ll find a way”

She rolls her eyes at him again. “Emotional manipulation and making fun of my autism? Really? Regardless, you and I both know I will do whatever it takes to get the truth out.'

Salem sighs. “Oh sweetheart, I never doubted that. But you’re forgetting something here; It’s your word against mine because you have no evidence to back up your claims.”

She shrugs. “I’m a respectable detective who always closes her cases, who has a flawless record, and it's universally known that autistic people can’t lie and hate injustice so for once in my life my autism will work in my favor.”

He laughs. “It’s cute that you believe that. But If it’s your word against mine all I have to do is convince them you lost your damn mind. I after all have a lot more people in my corner than you ever did.'

Maeve rolls her eyes at him. “Autistic people aren’t crazy', she defends herself.

Salem sighs. “Oh honey, I know that, I never claimed that you were crazy."

"And so do our other colleagues, Maeve reminds him.

Salem nods slowly. "But that doesn't mean they won't believe the evidence that I will show them. For someone with trust issues and excellent judgment, usually, anyway, you really messed up here. If you think I won’t use every single one of your weaknesses you told me about, because you trusted me, against you. Then you thought wrong. I will break you and it will be easy because you showed me how to.”

Maeve bites her lip. “I can’t believe how wrong I was about you. I always notice patterns and small details. How did I not notice you’re a psychopath sooner?”

Salem smiles. “Oh, there is an easy explanation for that; you didn't notice it because you loved me, and love makes people blind and you trusted me. Plus, no offense but, you’ve spent a lifetime misunderstanding social cues you did half the work yourself honestly, and you gaslighted yourself into thinking you misunderstood my very much real psychotic comments as sarcasm because you never understood sarcasm and social cues to begin with. You let other people convince you that you’re not as brilliant as you truly are. So you thought you were seeing things and you were... you were seeing the truth, but no one else did. And now that you figured out the truth you are in too deep.”

“I always knew not understanding sarcasm was going to be the death of me’, Maeve mumbles.

He smiles at her. “That’s my girl.”

Maeve bites her lip again, so hard she tastes blood this time.

“Be honest here. If I’m going to die anyway you owe me this. Did you ever love me?”

Salem shrugs. “I loved how easy you made it for me to trap you. I loved how much you confided in me and pretty much dug your own grave. I loved how you were able to save everyone’s life but your own. I loved how you self-isolate and have such a hard time trusting people that you made it easy for me to make sure no one would have your back if I framed everyone against you. I loved that you were able to figure out every pattern except the one you were caught in yourself-'

He interrupts himself to smile at her. "Hey, don’t look so sad, I do in all honesty think you are the most beautiful woman that I have ever met and I appreciate everything you did to show your love and appreciation for me. I loved your dedication to the job, and how caught up you could get in your work. I loved watching you save homicide cases like they were the crossword puzzle in the morning paper instead of cases about murders committed by psychopaths. I loved watching your eyebrows furrow when you didn’t understand a joke in a social setting. I loved how you were never afraid to speak up about your boundaries. I loved how you would ask things exactly as they were because you have zero filters and zero insight for social cues and wouldn’t be able to sell a white lie if your life depended on it. I love how you downed cups of black coffee more bitter than my soul like it was candy. I love how you eventually learned to trust me. I know you think I’m a horrible person but I never crossed your physical boundaries so really you could have ended up with a more horrible narcissistic lover.”

Maeve scoffs. ‘Well geez, do you want me to applaud you for only being a dirty cop, a backstabbing detective, a narcissistic, chronic liar, a psychopathic serial killer, and an emotionally abusive and manipulative partner and not also a sexual assaulter? Well good job for keeping your hands to yourself when I asked you to, what do you want from me? A sticker of a gold star?”

He smiled delightedly. “Was that a joke? My Maeve making a joke? I never thought I’d see the day.”

Maeve rolls her eyes at him again. "Maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do.'

Salem smirks at her. “Oh, my sweet girl, I know people always underestimated you, but not me. I always knew what you were capable of, that is why I used it against you.”

Maeve scoffs. "I will get justice for the beloved Lee Safazadeh and Mackenzie Williams and all the other people whose murders you are responsible for even if it is the last thing I'll ever do. You can not continue to get away with the murder of brilliant, beloved, innocent people and frankly, I won't let you."

Salem laughs. "Oh, you sweet, innocent girl, you are not the first person who has tried to reveal the truth about me."

Maeve nods slowly. "I know, but I will be the first one that actually succeeds in doing it."

Salem raises his knife. "We'll see about that, sweetheart."

Maeve straightens her posture. "Yeah, we will."

He steps closer and she grits her teeth at him.

“Don’t even think about it, I will end you before you’ve even twisted the knife in my back. Trust me backstabbing me metaphorically was enough, you have nothing to prove. As far as betrayal goes you’ve already mastered it. Plus killing me right now would be stupid because I still have knowledge to provide you with and we both know as cruel as you are and as ruthless you’re not stupid. So drop the knife and take a damn step back. You absolute disgusting excuse of a man. I already know I live with a murderer, but you don’t live with a victim. You live with a survivor, who might just live long enough to become the hero or who will die trying to, but not tonight. It would be way too suspicious and you know it. So stop being reckless.”

Salem grins at her. “Oh darling, you never did have a filter, did you? So smart, such good instincts, so many powerful survival and martial arts skills, and that brain of yours speaks for itself and you got the killer looks too. How I managed to trap you I'll never know. It’s my greatest achievement. Because trapping stupid people is not an achievement If it hadn’t been for me someone else with shitty morals would have taken advantage of the stupidity of my previous victims eventually. But you outsmart everyone because you notice patterns and details others don’t so the fact that even you managed to walk right into my traps.. oh honey it’s a shame. So much potential going to waste. You could have really made something of yourself.”

Maeve glares at him. “I did that already. I solved more murders than any other detective my age. I have always been unstoppable, I pulled more all-nighters than I care to count. Even if I don’t outsmart you and I don’t survive this, then I still used my skills for the greater good. I have already made a difference you can not erase that. And something tells me you won’t be able to erase me or my legacy. You think you can outsmart me because you’ve outsmarted everyone else. You think you can use my non-existent social life against me or my autism or my frequent public sensory overload-induced panic attacks but I’m not like your other victims. You don’t scare me, no matter what you believe I can not easily be manipulated, I’m not willing to let you get away with anything, I won’t lie for you because I don’t lie in general. Just because I didn’t make small talk does not mean people at work won’t notice something is wrong. You won’t break me. I now know how you got to people. You emotionally abused them, manipulated them, and told them lies until they didn’t recognize themselves in the mirror anymore. You made them hate themselves and you made them mentally miserable. You may think I have a fragile mind because of my autism, but you’re wrong, there is nothing fragile about me. I have spent my life surviving mistreatment and I won’t stop now. You and I have one thing in common... we are determined. You won’t win this war because I will never let you. Even if it’s the last thing I do, I will make you pay for what you did. I’m not letting you get away with this, you got away with enough. You think you’re a mastermind but everything will come crashing down on you eventually', she promises.

Maeve folds her arms. "You have lied and manipulated and killed and framed and betrayed and it never came above waters because everybody feared you. You were so manipulative that no one dared to call you out on your lies. You’re pure evil, you’ve got no remorse, no morals, no feelings, no heart. But I do. You got away with things because you were willing to cross lines no one else would. People won’t sacrifice the people they love most for justice, everybody is selfless until they take the one thing they love most. Once you have them, you’re unstoppable. There is nothing people won’t do to ensure the safety of their loved ones. That is how you’ve won every war but you’ve got nothing on me. That is the beauty of having no support system or not any that you know of. You don’t have what it takes to destroy me that’s why you’re not going to win this. You are framing brilliant detectives one of them ought to figure out things don’t make sense.”

Salem shrugs. “Someone will figure out you wouldn’t be capable of a betrayal like this, you are right about that. Someone ought to realize you have never been able to sell a single white lie. Someone will probably realize what really happened, and you’re right, I’ll simply threaten to kill whoever they love most, and suddenly the truth and you won’t matter to them anymore. Only time can tell which one of our coworkers will be smart enough to figure it out. And I will be here to introduce them to their worst nightmare and I will love every second of it and you will hate every second of it. and I will get away with this. Because people are entirely too selfish when you get them at their breaking point. And everyone has their limits. All I need to do is figure out what they are or rather who they are.”

March 13, 2024 11:40

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Robert Pyke
11:36 Mar 21, 2024

A valiant effort to validate autism, but I found this too repetitious to hold interest. For instance, you can't use eye rolls five times and expect a reader to stay hooked. Also, the pair compliment themselves to an unbelievable extent. Worse to me was that there was no resolution on whether the guy kills the woman or not. Read how to write stories, and get help from peers and/or an editor.


Eline Pols
17:33 Mar 21, 2024

Thank you for the feedback. I personally also feel like this story could have used another round of editing, or a second opinion, because after rereading it I agree that the frequent eye-rolling was unnecessary. The compliments were meant to be over the top to make the characters seem a bit cocky, so that was a conscious decision. I also chose an open ending on purpose because stories that end with a cliffhanger tend to get more engagement (or that's my personal experience with the reactions I tend to get to those stories anyway) and usual...


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