For round 1 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2017, I was placed in Group 50 with the prompts of Mystery / A Warehouse / A Canoe
The challenge was to write a 1000 word (or less) story around these prompts inside of 48 hours.
This is what I came up with@
Synopsis: “It’s 1977 and a young punk kid is found butchered to death in a disused London warehouse. Unable to solve the case, Detective Inspector Faith of the Metropolitan Police once again turns to a blind clairvoyant, Ptolemy Kingdom, to assist.”
Title: Suffer the Virgin (A Kingdom & Faith Investigation)
…a horrible man, in the likeness of an executioner, hastening towards him, holding in his hand a long knife and with a huge black dog following him. At this sight he trembled. And no wonder. The man, seizing him violently, cut off his genitals and threw them to the dog, which immediately devoured them…
It was no coincidence I dreamt of Heisterback’s medieval narrative the night prior. I say it was a coincidence, but that’s not strictly true. When I start talking about psychic visions people tend to take me a little less seriously.
Except Detective Inspector Faith of the Metropolitan Police’s Department of Unsolved Crimes that is. He wasn’t as sceptical and saw the value of using us clairvoyants to assist in murder investigations. He kept it quiet though. Even then, back in the Met’s macho culture of the late 1970s, turning to supposed witch doctors and voodoo practitioners would have you laughed out of London to a desk job in some godforsaken place like Wigan.
Anyhow, I digress, it was Christmas Eve, 1977 when I arrived at some disused warehouse beside the Thames in Rotherhithe, south London.
“Thanks for coming Mr Kingdom,” DI Faith says, gripping me by the hand. His voice sounded more strained than it did the last time we met, and I detected the faintest aroma of stale gin upon his breath. Small details maybe, but all important when you’re blind like me.
“Ptolemy, please.” I say.
Faith snorted, warmly. “Still, Ptolemy, no one likes being called out south of the river at this time of night. Especially not with Santa just hours away.”
I shrugged. “No kids or family. What else was I going to be doing? Besides, I appreciate why you prefer to meet me in more conspicuous circumstances.”
I could smell dereliction and decay all around. The warehouse, like most along the river, had fallen into misuse. Where once I’d have smelt exotic spices and tea from Ceylon, now it was dead rats and human faeces. I should apologise to Wigan. This place was the actual epitome of godforsaken.
I shivered, but it had nothing to do with the persistent drizzle or biting wind off the river.
“So how can I assist, DI Faith?” I asked, but alas I already knew…
…the boy couldn’t be much older than sixteen. His hair had been cut into that Mohican style that was fashionable with all the punk kids and he had a safety pin through his left nostril. He was sleeping, peacefully, or so you’d think from his pale, pot marked face, but his tartan bondage trousers had been yanked down to his knees and he lay in a spreading pool of blood…minus his testicles…
“You follow so far?”
My head steadied and I could hear the tap-tap of my stick echoing. We were clearly now inside the warehouse, but I had no sense of having come in. I heard the crunch of discarded needles and crushing of beer cans under foot.
“Yes, continue.” I lied. I hadn’t heard a thing
“He’d been high on glue,” continued Faith. “Had most probably passed out, so was unconscious when they cut off his balls. He was left to bleed to death here, blood still stains the floor.”
“When was this?” I asked.
“Halloween of all nights.” Faith said, a touch of irony in his voice. “You’d laugh if this were part of a bad mystery novel.”
“Never read them,” I replied. “Beowulf and Dante are more my thing at bedtime. Could you guide me over to the blood residue?”
Faith took me by the elbow, said, “Anyway, two months later and we’re none the wiser. All the usual suspects of fellow squatters, druggies and whores using this place – but nothing that leads us to pinning it on any of them. I mean, why kill a boy this way. Why slice off his bollocks?”
I knelt down and lightly touch the floor. I immediately sense the spot where a life bled away…
…in the darkness, water laps around a canoe. The punk boy in front, paddles it across the river, towards the dark buildings on the north bank. Behind him, in the canoe, a giggle. A girl’s. But I can’t move around inside the vision to see her, the blood on the floor now too removed from his spirit…
“Did you find his testes?” I ask standing unsteadily.
“No. We even had divers check the river.”
“Who found him?”
“Some vicar, runs a weekly soup kitchen for the homeless nearby. When the kid didn’t turn up, he came to make sure he was ok. Here, I figured these would help…”
He passes me something. I feel the straps and material of bondage trousers, tartan I imagine. Immediately my head spins…
…the tartan trousers are down around the kid’s ankles, his bare arse is thrusting back and forth, a pretty young girl groans with pleasure, pressed up against a warehouse wall…
I stagger forward, falling against a wall, still clutching the trousers…
…the boy helps the girl into the canoe. They’re laughing. He says, “Let’s get you home before father realises”…as they paddle off across the river a figure emerges from the shadows and watches them. I can’t see his face, but I can see what he’s wearing…
I slide down the wall, onto my haunches, psychic exertion taking its toll.
“…for when a virgin is defiled she loses her member and therefore let her defiler be punished in the parts in which he offended…” I whisper, quoting the medieval cleric, Henry de Bracton.
“Sorry?” asks Faith sounding confused.
“This vicar,” I ask. “Does he a have a daughter?”
“Yes, a fourteen year old, quite pretty actually. Helps out with the soup kitchen.”
“And he has a dog?”
“Yes, a huge black one, why?”
“…a horrible man, in the likeness of an executioner, hastening towards him, holding in his hand a long knife and with a huge black dog following him…”
Exhausted, I pass out.