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White Angel -

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Jan 4th, 2019
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  1. Two days passed since Vera's death, and our investigation thus far had been fruitless. The murderer had left no clue that could be traced to them. How did the murderer kidnap Vera and bring her to Stele Village without the use of violence? Did the magic circle mean something, or just an attempt to set us on the wrong trail? What caused the punctures on her neck? Why did the murderer take her blood, and her necklace - which she might well have pulled off herself? It all added up to one massive impenetrable enigma.
  2. And here I was, doing what I could to pull at the threads, eliminating those that lead to dead ends and trying to come up with a hypothesis that was least unlikely.
  3. Could the murderer have been a master hypnotist?
  4. The murder hypnotized Vera, brought her from Ring Mountain to Stele Village, made her hand over her necklace, then drained a pint of blood from her in four separate exsanguinations. If the necklace had no monetary value - say, if the murderer just took it as a keepsake - were they after the blood? Or were the blood, the bite marks and the magic circle all one big smokescreen, and the murderer just killed for pleasure? Or could Gilbert have given me an incomplete list, intentionally omitting someone or a few someones?
  6. As I tried to gather these threads into one coherent thought, Joseph walked in with a copy of Mysterious Vampires in his hand. "Masters of seduction and intimidation who subsist on blood, the known characteristics of vampires include fear of sunlight, fear of the Cross, the ability to transform into bats, and powerful regenerative abilities..."
  7. Looks like the kid has gone off the rocker because of the complexity of the case. I casually dropped a pen on his book, making him jump.
  8. "Sir…"
  9. "Sir!" At that instant, Tracy charged into the office, yelling the same thing. One look at her face was all I needed to know that something really bad had happened.
  10. "Another victim?"
  11. Tracy nodded, panting. "At Sidera Lodoicea Ski Resorts..."
  12. I had put on my jacket and was halfway out the door before she could finish. Joseph hurriedly put down his book to followed me when Tracy called out to him, with some hesitation, "Joseph...I don't think that's a scene you want to see." Joseph gave her a questioning glance, but quickly followed me into the car without further ado.
  13. What Tracy meant was clear as day when we got to the scene.
  15. A man lay dead in a hut on the west side of Sidera Lodoicea Ski Resorts with windows boarded up just like the last one, wearing nothing but a linen around his crotch, his skin so pale it looked bleached. His arms have been cut off cleanly, the bones and flesh of the arms were removed and laid out next to his back, forming a shape of wings.
  16. Joseph whimpered at the sight, but to his credit did not throw up this time. With trembling hands he took out his notebook and pen and drifted towards the investigator.
  17. I examined the body and found that the scene was even more gruesome than it seemed - his eyes had been removed, leaving behind empty sockets of blood.
  18. He also had four small holes on the right side of his pale neck. If I was right, he had also had a pint of blood drained.
  19. "Poor Teddy," I sighed.
  20. "Did you know him, sir?" Hearing this, Joseph dashed over to me, notebook in hand ready to take notes.
  21. "Yeah," I nodded. Theodore, or Teddy, was born with albinism and was abandoned outside the graveyard church as an infant. He was raised by the priest and never knew his birth parents. When the boy reached adulthood, the priest felt that he should not be trapped by the church for the rest of his life, and asked me to help find him a night-shift job at the ski resort.
  22. Because of his albinism, Teddy's eyes were very sensitive to light and he had to wear ski goggles during the day. Nevertheless, he was always full of smiles when he greets me, his white hair and skin glowing in the sunlight like an angel.
  23. He had a rough childhood; he deserved a better life. I never had the chance to look him in the eye. Now I never will.
  25. Sensing my sorrow, Joseph patted me on the shoulder.
  26. I tried to string some words together, but my voice came out hoarse and cracked. "This is obviously the work of a serial killer." Many serial killers like to leave their signature at the crime scene, something that marks the act as unmistakably theirs. Take, for instance, the holes on Vera and Teddy's necks.
  28. "Hmm…why did the murderer take his eye?" Finally mustering enough courage to approach the body, Joseph suddenly let out a low exclamation. "Look - blood on his fingertips." I examined Teddy's right hand. All five of his pale fingers have been stained red by blood.
  29. Was it the blood of the murderer? Or could it have been...
  31. I did not dare think any more of it.
  33. The ski resorts were closed for the day because of the murder. The entire staff was gathered in the lounge, quiet as the dead. When I walked in with Joseph I could feel the gaze of the entire room turn to us, fear and uncertainty written on every face.
  34. I gestured to Joseph, who cleared his throat and asked, "Who was on last night's shift?"
  35. Three men sitting together exchanged hesitant glances, then raised their hands one by one. Four more men standing at the back of the room also raised their hands.
  36. Joseph asked them a few questions and learned that the three sitting men worked with Teddy on the maintenance crew, while the four standing men were security personnel working the night shift.
  37. "When was the last time you saw Theodore?"
  38. One of the workers replied in a low voice, "It was about 11pm. We had finished our maintenance work and returned to the lounge. The three of us played cards to stay awake. Teddy didn't join in - he never did, so we didn't think anything of it. He watched us play for a while - maybe an hour or so?" He looked at his neighbor for confirmation, and the man nodded. "About an hour later, he said he was going to do some snowboarding and went out. We didn't see him afterwards - thought he must have went into another nearby lounge for a rest. "
  39. "Was Theodore in the habit of snowboarding at night?" Joseph interjected.
  40. His question was met with nods from the entire room. Another man who worked on the night shift said, "Almost every night."
  41. Joseph asked the four security guards, "Did you see Theodore after 11pm?"
  42. A tall, heavy-looking guard answered, "I was responsible for the ski trails last night. At around midnight I saw Theodore fiddling with his snowboard at the starting point of Trail 1. I said hi to him, then went towards the left, but I didn't see him come down after walking for a while. I thought he went back in and didn't think much of it..."
  43. "Poor boy!" Suddenly, one of the older women's sobs turned to crying. I looked around and sadness was apparent on everyone's faces.
  45. I watched everyone carefully as Joseph questioned them, but saw no indication of deception from their expressions and body language. If they were telling the truth, then no one saw Teddy after midnight, and he was last seen at the starting point of the ski trail - about 500 meters away from the hut where his body was found.
  46. Joseph and I checked the tape from the monitoring room, but the path from the hut to the starting point of the trail was unmonitored. All we saw was Teddy walking towards the west at about 12:20 before leaving the camera-monitored area.
  47. Our murderer seemed to know the ski resort like the back of his hand.
  49. The autopsy report was waiting for us back at the police station. The "wings" on Teddy's back were formed using his own arms, and the blood on his fingers was his own. Other than the four puncture marks on his neck, the pint of blood drained and the empty eye sockets, there were no other signs of violence on him.
  50. Looking at the blood test results on the report, a horrifying thought crossed my mind.
  51. If Vera pulled off her own necklace, could Teddy have… gouged out his own eyes?
  52. Serial killers are often in the habit of collecting souvenirs from their victims. There is usually a pattern to what they take, and a pattern to the victims they choose. Identifying the pattern may shed some light on this case. But I could not see what the connection between the necklace and the eyes, nor that between the 18-year-old girl and the albinistic young man.
  54. The department issued an advisory to stay indoors at night and immediately report to the police if any family member was missing, and added people to the night shift. But if we do not find more clues, we would be stuck with the job of burying the bodies that the killer leaves behind - an unbearable thought to any self-respecting policeman. I had to do something.
  55. If no master hypnotist took the two victims and killed them without any sign of violence, then the most likely explanation was that the crime was committed by someone who knew the victim. But Vera and Teddy did not know each other and had very different lives. We are missing something here. I sent people to dig up more information about Vera's family, friends and classmates, and took Joseph with me to visit the graveyard.
  56. There were no services that day and Father Anthony was the only one there, sitting by himself in the Confessional. I did not want to make him face the pain of losing family again, but I had no choice.
  57. I asked about Teddy's life from childhood to adulthood, his friends, and even showed Father Anthony a photo of Vera and asked if he knew her. He shook his head.
  58. "Teddy was a good boy," a grief-stricken Father Anthony said. "Only the Devil would think of harming such a child. "
  59. Only the Devil, indeed.
  61. No connection could be found between Teddy and Vera. I reluctantly shifted the direction of my investigation from an acquaintance's work to the "master hypnotist" hypothesis, which I was still reluctant to accept.
  62. But it was either that, or the "vampire" theory that Joseph was so obsessed about.
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