A Dark and Stormy Night by Shanna

A Dark and Stormy Night by Shanna

It was a dark and stormy night and Detective Roberts was not happy to get called out in this weather. The windshield wipers swept side to side, rhythmically, as he drove up the long driveway to the home where Joan and Albert Statler lived. The rain continued to pound as he buttoned up his coat and got out of the car. He drew in a drag of his cigarette and slowly blew out the smoke as he stared at the house in front of him.

It was really more like a mansion, its three stories towering over Detective Roberts. The mansion was well-lit, as light seemed to pour from almost all the rooms on the first floor. Detective Roberts tried to remember what he knew about the Statlers – well-to-do society couple, both in their early forties, no children – as he walked up the front door.  

The sky lit up with lightning and thunder rumbled. Out of the corner of his eye Detective Roberts could see the streetlights flickering and he hoped the power would stay on. The wind whipped the bottom of his coat as he stood on the stoop. Taking a final drag, he stubbed out his cigarette on the brick next to the door and rang the doorbell. He could hear the gong reverberating throughout the house.

A uniformed officer opened the door. “Glad to see you,” he said as he motioned the detective inside the house.  “Come in.”

Detective Roberts walked through the foyer, his footsteps echoing in the large hall. He scanned his surroundings and noticed the walls full of paintings, perfectly set off by the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Vases of china and crystal were displayed on the side tables. He could hear the faint strands of music wafting out from behind one of the doors. He walked by and glanced through the partially opened door and saw the back of a black-clad maid, her body bent over as she leaned on the table next to the radio.

“What do we got?” asked the detective as they came to a closed door.

“The Mr. Statler was found dead earlier tonight in the library. Body’s torn apart,” Officer Floyd stated. He opened the door and stood back so that Detective Roberts could enter the room. “Mrs. Statler found him when she returned home tonight.”

Detective Roberts walked into the room and his nostrils flared, scenting the coppery penny smell of blood. Mr. Statler lay sprawled across the floor, a sheet draped over his body. It clung wetly to the former master of the house, the blood seeping through the linen in several places.

Kneeling down, the detective drew back the sheet. Mr. Statler laid face-up, blood dripping from the torn gash in his throat. Large chunks of skin were missing from his arms and torso as if someone had taken large bites of flesh and gnawed on the man. He was clad in only a robe and a spreading pool of blood soaked into the fabric and carpet below him.

“What do you think?” asked Detective Roberts, looking up at the officer.  “Vampire?”

“Yup, or zombie.”

Detective Roberts frowned. “Zombie? How do you figure that?” He gestured towards Mr. Statler’s throat. “Since when do zombies go for the neck?”

Officer Floyd shrugged. “Maybe it was confused?”

Detective Roberts touched the sticky pool beneath the man. Rubbing his fingertips together he slowly got up and looked around the room. Shards of porcelain littered the floor, the remains of a tea set. A book sat open, face down over the arm of the sofa. Light from the wall scones bathed the walls. The room was silent, a breeze blowing through an open window causing the gauzy curtains to flutter.

Detective Roberts walked over to the window. The light from the room reflected off the broken shards in the window frame and he stared at his fragmented reflection. Rain streamed in through the broken window, soaking the carpet, with a few glass shards laying off to the side.

“Nearest cemetery is what, 2 blocks away?” he asked.

“2 blocks north,” replied the officer.

“Whoever or whatever was here went out this window and left a while ago. There’s no way we can track them, not in this weather.” Detective Roberts sighed. “Let’s go talk to Mrs. Statler.”

Mrs. Statler sat in the parlor, the golden skirts of her gown pooling off of the settee and onto the floor. She was an attractive woman, her dark hair swept off her face, her lips reddened with rouge. Smoke swirled up from the long thin cigarette in her hand and as Detective Roberts walked into the room she brought it up to her mouth and took a long drag.

“Mrs. Statler,” he said. “I’m Detective Roberts.”

“A pleasure to meet you,” she said, exhaling a large cloud of smoke from the corner of her mouth. Detective Roberts watched the smoke as it curled upwards and disappeared into the air. He reached into the inner pocket of his jacket, pulled out his notebook, and flipped it open.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“Well, as I’ve already told this lovely officer here, I was at a charity dinner and when I got home I found poor Albert lying on the floor, covered in blood. Well, I did what anybody would have done and I rang the police.” Mrs. Statler tipped the ash from her cigarette into the tray beside her.

Detective Roberts narrowed his eyes. “You don’t seem too upset over the death of your husband.”

“He was having an affair with the maid,” Mrs. Statler shrugged. “So cliché.” She stubbed out her cigarette and flicked it into the ashtray, another cigarette butt to join the others, each with a ring of red lipstick on the end where she had clamped the cigarette between her lips. She smoothed down her skirts and stood up.

“May I go now?” she asked. “I have some calls to make.” 

Detective Roberts nodded and Mrs. Statler swept out of the room. Looking at the Officer Floyd, Detective Roberts said, “Let’s go back to the library and look again at the body.”

The body lay in the same position as when they had left it. “When is forensics getting here?” Detective Roberts asked.

“They’re on their way. Seems they got caught in some traffic due to the weather.”

The detective kneeled down again to look at the body. “The throat is torn like a vampire attack. But there is flesh missing like a zombie tried to eat him.” Splashes of blood trailed all around the room and Detective Roberts found it impossible to tell if it all belonged to Mr. Statler or not.

“I won’t know anything until forensics can tell me what killed him,” he stated. “Who was the last person to see him alive?”

The officer checked his notebook. “The maid,” he said. “She brought tea around 9pm.”

Detective Roberts pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Let’s talk to the maid again. Maybe she saw something.”

Officer Floyd went to the door and motioned to the policeman in the hallway. Detective Roberts walked around the room, looking at the bookcases. They were all free of dust with not a book out of place. Either the maid cleans in here regularly, he thought, or Mr. Statler spends a lot of time in the library. Bending over, he squinted to read the names on the spines of the books.

Loud footfalls came from outside the room, causing Detective Roberts to look up and quit his perusal. The policeman rushed through the door. “The maid,” he gasped, “is dead!”

To be continued?

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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on October 26, 2016, in Fiction, Seattle, Short Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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