This weeks Flash Fiction Challenge as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig. Randomness delivered unto me the title ‘Mirror Murders’, which was actually rather easy to work with, since I find mirrors creepy, especially when it’s after dark and I’m home alone. It also ties in nicely with an idea I have been kicking around with for a long time.
The woman sitting on the bench turned her head towards them. In the sharp spring sunlight, her eyes were little more than slits and yet Detective Walker felt her studying them, cataloguing them and filing her findings away for future reference. “Yes?”
“I’m Detective Walker and this is Detective Schuler.”
“Detectives? Really? For a moment there, I thought you were two of my students. I really must be getting old.”
Walker took a closer look at the woman. She was not unattractive, but dressed plainly and used no makeup. Her hair was blond with grey streaks that she had done nothing to cover up. It couldn’t have been easy, being a pretty, young, blond teacher in a place like this and she looked like she had been doing her best to hide it. Walker thought she could relate; as a Latino woman she was used to being judged by appearance.
“We wanted to talk to you, about the Mirror Murders ten years ago,” said Schuler and sat down next to Crane.
She didn’t look surprised, but she got an expression of distaste. “I would imagine that the police still has these places called archives. There you can find the testimony I gave a decade ago.”
“We have read it,” said Walker, sitting down next to Schuler so as not to close the woman in. “But we want to hear it from you in person.”
“I have nothing to add.”
“Professor, please …” began Schuler.
“Don’t,” snapped Crane. “If you know enough about that case to come see me, you also know that the only thing that came out of my testimony was that I was deemed crazy and had to spend six months in a psychiatric hospital, while my life fell apart around me. I lost my job, my fiancée.” She stopped herself. “Crazy or not, I have no other recollection of what happened that night, than what I said in my statement. I have nothing to add. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She got up to leave.
“The murders have started again,” said Walker. This wasn’t exactly how she and Schuler had planned to deliver the news, but at least it made an impression.
Crane sat down again. “Are you absolutely sure?”
“Everything fits. How it seems to be a different killer for each victim, but with the same M.O. The scene of the crimes, locked from the inside. The victims found dead near a large mirror. Even details the were never released to the public.”
“Like how the killer in each case seems to be the same height and build as the victim?”
“Yeah,” said Schuler. “How did you know that?”
“I thought you said you’ve read my statement?”
“Professor Crane,” said Walker, “you are the only one who survived an attack back then. If this is the same killer or group of killers, they could be coming for you again.”
“Oh no. They’ve had their chance. If the same person still wants me dead, he or she will have to look for another way.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I killed my assailant back then.” She gave an impatient sigh. “Are you sure you’ve read my statement?”
“Do you have any idea, who could have wanted you dead?” asked Schuler.
“No, but that’s your job to figure out.” She got up again. “It could be the same person behind these new murders or it could be someone new, who has discovered the same method. Find what connects the victims and you’ll find who wants them dead. Simple as that.”
“Be that as it may,” said Walker, also getting up, “we would still like a statement from you.”
Crane looked at Walker for a rather long time; cold, grey eyes, that seemed to pierce her brain and read the thoughts written on the back of her skull. Walker wondered what it was like having her as a teacher and had a sudden, vivid mental image of a lecture hall full of students all frozen in their seats, too terrified to do anything but pay attention.
Finally Crane said: “Very well, if you insist. Let’s go to my office.”
About half an hour later, Walker got up from her chair. “Thank you for your time,” she said, while thinking exactly the opposite. Crane had really been serious when she had said that she didn’t have anything to add. In fact she had hardly changed a word, compared to the statement she had made ten years ago.
It still didn’t make any sense and there were no useful details. In essence, Crane had been attacked by her own reflection coming out of the mirror, but had managed to fend off and kill her attacker, who had then melted away to nothing. Walker had to ask herself, whether the attack had actually really taken place or if Crane had just imagined it, incorporating the details of the Mirror Murders, that had been known to the public.
Crane went with them out into the hallway. “I hope you find whoever is responsible for this,” she said. “But please, do not worry about me.” She stood as if she wanted to see them on their way, to make sure they really were going. Walker gave a curt nod, Schuler muttered something polite and the two detectives walked down the hallway past the ladies’ room.
“I’ll just be a minute,” said Walker and opened the door. The room had one of those huge mirrors that covered the whole wall above the sinks. Walker could see herself in it, naturally, and she could see Schuler and there was also part of the hallway and even the door to Crane’s office. And just as the restroom door closed behind Walker, she saw the door to Crane’s office open and close as if somebody had gone in. Somebody who had not been reflected in the mirror.