Authors: Harrison Drake
Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense, #Thriller, #Fantasy
A Dream of Death
Copyright ©2011, 2012 by Harrison Drake. Excerpt from
copyright ©2011, 2012 by Harrison Drake.
All rights reserved.
First Kindle Edition: February 2012
No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means
without written permission of the author, with the specific exception of brief
quotations contained in critical articles and reviews. For information contact
A Dream of Death
is a work of fiction. All names,
characters, places, or organizations are products of the author’s imagination
or used fictitiously.
As a serial killer terrorizes London, Ontario, Canada,
Detective Lincoln Munroe finds himself at a standstill waiting for the perfect
killer to make his first mistake. While the body count rises without any leads,
Lincoln finds himself haunted by dreams of discovering skeletal remains in the
forest beneath a bloody knife. The dreams seem to come true when Lincoln is
called to Algonquin Park to assist an old colleague. There he is tasked with
overseeing the excavation of human remains buried more than twenty-five years
earlier; remains that will bring to the surface cold cases, a painful past and
memories Lincoln had long since forgotten.
Mystery/Crime Fiction/Police Procedural
For my family, without whom none of this
would be possible.
Two pairs of dead eyes stared up at me, their gaze placid
rather than terrified as I would have expected. Had the victims died like that,
with an eternal stare of serenity for their murderer? Or had the killer posed
their eyes as he did their bodies?
I tossed the crime scene pictures onto the stacks of
documents that carpeted the top of my faux mahogany desk, an immovable behemoth
of a bygone age. The thought of moving the desk had never struck me before.
Even if I could move it there would be nowhere to move it to. The windowless office
I shared with my partner left little room for life itself let alone
redecorating. Among the files and reference books that tiled my desk I’d found
space for only a few scattered family photos, an iPod and small speaker dock, a
page-a-day word calendar (today, June seventh, was cornucopia) and Newton’s
Cradle, my favourite stress reliever.
I had been pouring over crime scene photos that showed
nothing new, witness statements from people who had witnessed nothing, the
statements of the attending officers, maps of the areas where the women lived,
and details of their vehicles, employment, finances and love lives, all of it
showed nothing. I knew everything there was to know about these two women now,
felt like I knew them better than my own family and friends. The one thing I
didn’t know was who had killed them and why.
I couldn’t get the pictures out of my mind. It wasn’t
horror. Twelve years in policing, the last five in homicide, had desensitized
me to the scent, sight and cold feel of death. I had seen it all: a woman
killed in a fiery car crash; a man mutilated in an industrial accident; a
drunken teenager run over by a train; a woman stabbed multiple times by her
jealous ex-boyfriend. As horrible as the resulting images were they never
remained in my mind past a cold drink and a night with my family. Until these
women died and began to stay with me, all hours of the day and night.
Especially the night.
Maybe it was because this was my first serial killer, the
first in the London area in over three decades. All the other mayhem I had seen
was rooted in connections between the victim and the perpetrator—jealous
spouses, enraged workers, altercations at bars, even gang members killing each
other for turf. Even the few robberies gone bad, the victim was picked for a
recognizable human reason—because they looked like they had money. This killer
was choosing victims at random. And might be choosing the next victim right
I took a sip of green tea from the “World’s Greatest Dad”
mug my son had given me for my birthday in February and took care to set it
down on the only visible ring on the desk. Years of abuse had left a fractal
pattern of ring-shaped stains around the desktop, evidence of those who held
this position before me. The rings were like coasters thrown to the wind to
land where they may and no matter what I was doing or how cluttered my desk
there was always one to be found. With it came a chance to maintain my corner
of the world. At least if my mug caused new damage it wouldn’t look like new
The ring sat between wide angle shots of the decedents, nude
and seated on their beds, blankets pulled up to their shoulders. The strip of
flesh cut from their necks was hardly visible. The juxtaposition of violence
and peace unsettled me and I picked up my mug again, emptied it of the dregs
and shuffled the statements to reveal a coaster far from the images of death.
The mug was a part of my son’s legacy now and as ridiculous as it may have
seemed keeping it away from the macabre photos made me feel like a better
My gaze returned to the pictures. I searched them again and
again trying to find something that had escaped me, something that could bring
me closer to the killer. All I found was pain; the body of a woman in an
otherwise perfect setting. There was no doubt in my mind that these women had
been killed by the same man—or woman as a female killer was a possibility, and
I wasn’t dismissing any possibilities. The positioning of the bodies, the
mutilation to the victims, the undoing of the crime—all were identical.
Lost in their eyes, I could hear their voices goading me and
berating me for the lack of information we had and the fact we were no closer
to catching the killer than we were before he struck.
I needed to get out of the office, regret at sending my
partner out to the field made its way past thoughts of misery. The benefit of
rank, I thought at the time. Send the ‘rookie’ out to canvass the
neighbourhoods and re-interview witnesses whose limited information was now
more limited with the passage of time. She didn’t go alone. Nothing freed up
police resources like the words ‘serial killer’ and now we had a task force
made up of detectives from surrounding areas, a handful of uniformed officers
and even a detective inspector from Headquarters leading the charge. I had been
left as lead investigator, having been the one who caught each case as it
I rose from my seat with the utmost care, not wanting to
disturb the numerous pages and pictures that hung over the edge of my desk,
ready to cascade off at any moment. I picked up my mug in my left hand and with
my right turned over any images that showed the decedents. Although I wasn’t
expecting any visitors, I felt the need to protect what little dignity these
women had left.
The wooden door creaked as I opened it then closed it behind
me. I hadn’t been able to protect their dignity, not at first. I walked down
the corridor to the cafeteria, doors passing by, my hand in my pocket jingling
change and counting with my ears to ensure there was enough. Crime scene photos
and all investigate documents were, in this day and age, available to anyone
with access to the service’s computer system. We police are no different from
the general public—murder brings out the morbid curiosity in us all, and I was
certain that officers outside of the case had seen the images as well. The
media feeds us murders far and wide and we gather round like hyenas on a
scavenged kill rooting for any morsels. I had taken steps to privatize the
cases after the second murder, limiting access only to those with direct
involvement in the investigations. A case such as this, a serial killer in
southwestern Ontario, was too sensitive to risk the dissemination of any
information—even to other officers.
A familiar voice stopped me in my tracks. I looked up to see
the face of my old partner, now a Staff Sergeant, Jorge ‘George’ Ramirez.
“What’s that, George?” I said.
“I asked you how the case was going. A little lost in
“A little doesn’t touch it,” I said.
“Bounce it off me.”
This was something we used to do a lot. It helped to have
someone to talk to about the case, and even better if your target knew little
to begin with. I was always reminded of psychotherapy, me lying on the couch
discussing the case with George while he tried to get me to reach new
conclusions on my own.
“All right. Two women strangled with a ligature we’ve never
found a trace of. Both nude but not sexually assaulted, propped up against the
headboard like they’d fallen asleep reading or watching TV.”
“Were the bodies covered?”
“Blankets pulled up to the neck”.
“Undoing the crime. Remorse?”
Undoing was the act after the murder where the person tried
to cover the body or otherwise make the crime invisible to their eyes. It was
most common when the killer and victim were known to each other.
“I don’t think so. They were propped up after death for the
blood to pool in the lower areas.”
“I heard the rumours. He cut the ligature marks out, right?”
“As disturbing as that is, it’s also damned practical. He’s
not leaving us any evidence.”
“So he doesn’t want to be caught.” He paused. “Yet.”
I nodded. Serial killers often got to the point where they
wanted to be caught, if only to finally get the recognition of having their
name attached to their crimes.
“But he wants the bodies found,” I said. “He’s not trying to
hide them. Propped up and covered for the husband to come home and find them.
They almost look normal except for the thick red line around their necks.”
“Nice, like wrapping up a present. So no blood from the
“Little,” I said. “He wouldn’t have gotten any on him.”
when a person dies the blood doesn’t clot. Instead it pools
to the lowest areas of the body, gravity winning a battle the circulatory
system had fought for many years. A cut to one of the lowest areas will bleed,
but not like a wound on a living person. The blood seeps out in a consistent
flow, even a severed artery will only drain not spurt as it would if the person
was still alive. A cut from an upper area, like the neck, would leave almost no
The nakedness was practical, too. Taking the victim’s
clothes meant no traces of fibres or DNA could be lifted from them. He was
“Have you found the knife he used?”
“To cut their throats?”
“He uses one from the victim’s house and leaves it on the
nightstand. The rope, or chain or whatever it is, he brings with him and takes
when he leaves.”
“So the ligature is important to him, the knife isn’t.”
He’d noticed it, too. The ligature was the murder weapon.
The knife didn’t matter, they were already dead. “Any evidence found at all?”
“None. No prints, must have been wearing gloves. Waiting
until after the blood had pooled to cut the flesh out means no castoff, no
clothes on the victims, no trace.”
“So far. Both their men worked night shifts, they were alone
at the time.”
“He’s stalking them, figuring out their schedules.”
“And he’s making sure they’re found right after the murders.
The men came home only a few hours later.
“Intelligent and fearless.”
“That’s what worries me.”
“Did I help?” He asked with his annoying and trademarked
“Yeah, actually you did.” I wasn’t any closer to solving it,
but I felt a little easier getting all the horror out in the open.
“Good. Glad I could help.”
He slapped me on the back and continued his journey while I
continued mine, lost in thought once more.
“Green tea again?”
The question came as a surprise. I turned my eyes back to
the outside world and found I was standing in front of the altar of food and
refreshment that was our cafeteria. No one was standing in front of me.
“Always,” I said to Patricia, our server, followed by a half
smile. The stillness of my eyes belied my feigned attempt at pleasantry.
Patricia put a tea bag in my mug with a smile, a real one on her part, and I
parted with a portion of my hard earned change. My feet knew the path and
brought me to the hot water dispenser. A rush of water and steam covered the
bag, dying the water a pale green. I watched as if it were absolutely fascinating.
If I avoided eye contact with those around me perhaps they wouldn’t speak to
me, ask the question I had come to dread.
“How’s it going?”
Yet another failure on my part.
“Nothing new,” was all I said before departing for my office
deep in thought once more.
I closed the door behind me and expelled a sigh of relief:
alone again. The desk across from mine still sat empty. Kara’s cleanliness was
a marvel to me and brought forth a laugh, an unfamiliar experience as of late.
Nothing was out of place on her desk, her name plaque set at the front edge in
the prescise centre: Kara Jameson, Detective Constable.
Mine was almost buried beneath the clutter—Lincoln Munroe,
Detective Sergeant. For a moment I felt a sense of stupid pride for being the
ranking officer in the room. The feeling faded as I thought about the size of
the room. Besides, Kara, an eight-year veteran of the service with two years
already in homicide, had been my partner since her first day in the division.
We worked well together even if the apprentice was outshining the master.
I had only been in love with one woman in my life—my
wife—but there was something about Kara. She had an unconventional beauty, a
razor sharp wit, unmatched intelligence and unyielding determination.
Kara had graduated high school a year early and entered the
criminology program at McGill University completing a four year honours degree
in just over three years. She was hired as a constable at the very young age of
twenty and her rise in the organization was no less impressive. She showed
promise from the outset and her abilities were quickly noted by her superiors.
Kara was an expert interrogator and, even with little formal training at the
time, there were very few from whom she could not get a confession.
Three years into her career she was transferred to the
Criminal Investigation Bureau assigned to sexual assault. Three years later I
found myself sitting across from her and learning more from her than she did
from me. Her Sergeant’s stripes couldn’t be far away.
The chair molded to my body as I sank into it, leaned back
and closed my eyes. An ergonomics review by some workplace health and safety
board had forced the service to replace all of our old backbreaking chairs with
what was the best use of taxpayers’ money I had ever seen or felt. My body and
mind relaxed to prepare for the mental onslaught they were about to face. The
details of the cases streamed past me, clicking by one by one like a child’s
The victims had almost nothing in common. Twenty-two days
had passed between the first two killings—fast by serial killer standards.
Going by the textbooks the third had a shorter interval. It had already been a
week and we had nothing.
I never heard her come in which was far from unusual, she
moved like a cat. I leaned forward, raised my seat to its full, upright
position and opened my eyes.