Short Story: Awakening

An ink-stained shirt on the motionless body on the apartment floor intrigued Detective Brugman.

           “Where have I seen this stain before?” he questioned.

           He pulled out his notebook and began scribbling on its small, recycled pages, before flipping back to another note.

           “An elderly neighbour said they heard a shrill, piercing cry around noon yesterday,” he pondered, “but I passed this building on my way home from work at that time. I didn’t hear it.”

           Detective Brugman pulled a white bottle from his jacket pocket and shoved a couple of pills into his mouth. They were meant to help reduce the frequency of his memory blanks.

           He studied his notes further and saw that ‘hearing aid’ was written underneath the neighbour’s name and age, heavily underlined.

           “The old bat’s hearing aid probably malfunctioned.”

            Detective Brugman then examined the pen hole in the side of the victim’s neck.

            “No bloodstain on the ground,” he mumbled.

            Even through his gloves he felt that the floor was cold and greasy near the wound. He wrote ‘sloppy removal of bloodstain’ on a blank page of his notebook.

            He could no longer tolerate the horrid, decomposing smell of the body, which suggested that the victim had been dead for at least a day. He rushed to a small, slightly open window at the other end of the room. The sweet and pungent smell of the spring air was a welcome reprieve from the stench that had engulfed him.  

            After a few deep breaths he returned his attention to the crime scene. A set of footprints on the dusty vinyl floor caught his eye. He pulled out his wallet, removed a five-dollar note and placed it next to the print.

           “Size 10 footprint,” his rough voice muttered as he made a note.

            Suddenly, something on his shiny, silver pen spooked him. He brought the object closer and waved it under his nose. It smelled of dried blood. To be sure, he tentatively licked the pen. His face twitched! His tongue wiggled in disgust. It wasn’t just blood he tasted. It was ink!

          “How on earth did I get blood on this pen?” the perplexed detective asked himself.

           He checked his notes; there was no mention of it. He approached the body and carefully aligned his pen with the hole in the victim’s neck. It was a perfect match! At that moment, the pen’s tip started to leak. Instinctively, he went to wipe it on his shirt. It was then he made a horrifying discovery. A dried ink-stain was already there!          

His scratched and weather-worn hands were shaking. His heart was thumping rapidly. He quickly removed the protective covering and shoe from one of his feet. A slightly worn ‘Size 10’ was written on the sole. Brugman dropped the shoe in shock. His face paled. His senses went completely numb. He had finally found the man he was searching for. He never imagined that he was there the whole time.  

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