Authors: Lorne L. Bentley
THE MONOLITH MURDERS
Murder Mystery by Lorne L. Bentley
©2012 by Lorne L. Bentley
Published 2012 by The Fiction Works
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission, except for brief quotations to books and critical reviews. This story is a work of fiction. Characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
It was strange, Maureen thought, how experiencing extreme trauma seems to dramatically slow down the progression of time. She realized that it also somehow concurrently fires one’s memory cells, allowing us to recall select details stored in the deeper recesses of our minds.
Maureen reflected about there being a definite ebb and flow to life, punctuated by the celebration of the good times: her grade school puppy love, graduation from college, becoming a well known author, and a stable, joy-filled marriage. She contemplated that she also somehow had endured the bad times, her first failure in school, the death of both of her parents, her recent almost fatal auto accident and now, at this very moment, her impending death.
The Bible states that we will never be certain about the year or the hour of our death—that precious information is held in strict confidence by God alone. But Maureen knew that at most she had no more than a couple of minutes of life remaining. Maureen’s judgment was rarely wrong; and on this occasion she was certain that she was correct.
Maureen retreated backward. The knife’s sharp blade had already cut deeply into her right arm. Blood was gushing out, dampening her light blue dress. Now it was starting to accumulate on the motel’s newly tiled floor beneath her feet. She knew that the human body held about five liters of blood and death occurs quickly after the loss of 40% of that. She wondered how much she had already lost –she was sure it was significant. She instinctively pressed hard against her bleeding arm with her left hand, but it did little to stem the blood’s flow.
As she continued to retreat, her adversary brought the knife over her head seeking to end the dance of death with one final savage blow directed to the center of Maureen’s chest.
Maureen continued to move backward until her back was firmly pressed against the motel’s outer wall. As she was retreating, she momentarily glanced at the large digital clock on the nightstand. It was exactly 6 p.m. Fred had said he would meet her at promptly 8 p.m. Airlines are rarely on time and never, in Maureen’s experience, two hours early. Besides, their agreed upon meeting place was ten miles distant at the local airport. She would not be saved; her heart and mind were uniform in that judgment.
Maureen was limited to one last feeble defensive action which might be somewhat effective against an inept killer; but she knew this was a dedicated killer relentlessly advancing toward her holding the knife. Nevertheless, Maureen employed her last defense—she screamed; she screamed as loud as she could.
In her last seconds of remaining life, Maureen’s mind floated backward to when the nightmare first began.
One month earlier
Outside, the air recently cleansed and cooled with an early morning downpour, was pure and brisk. A flaming scarlet-orange sunrise lit up the sky, illuminating the wet pastureland below with an iridescent glow. Dairy cattle, having just left their nighttime shelter, wandered untroubled across an expansive soft green landscape.
The animals could barely detect the outline of a dark stone fortress in the distance. Not having been programmed with complex emotions, they could only experience a transitory dim uneasiness at the sight of the massive structure that clashed with the placid continuity of nature’s architecture.
Inside, early morning sunlight filtered through the fortress’s rows of wrought iron barred windows casting deep-striped shadows over an extended utilitarian dining table. In the center of the room, just below ceiling height, hung a massive clock; its lengthy hands behind a sturdy wire cage, were well protected from the barrage of food articles hurled at it over the years. The clock, authorized for purchase by an earlier highly structured warden, displayed not just the time but the day, date and year as well. Both complex and expensive for its period, it symbolically reinforced the hard daily regiment of prison life. Its bells signaled the start of the day’s three eating periods as well as their termination after the expenditure of the allotted half-hour period. As prisoners looked up at the clock, they might calculate the remaining time left on their sentence; but lifers could only view the clock with despair and frustration. Most prisoners perceived this instrument as a macabre act of spite; but a secession of wardens had left the unique clock where it had been placed many years earlier.
This early morning the massive room’s soggy Florida air was saturated with the heavy scent of fried ham, powered eggs and strong coffee. As usual, emotions were raw and barely held in check; any minor disruption held the potential to fire the violent wrath of another prisoner.
At the far edge of the bruised metal table, two women sat alone. Reality is a function of perception; they both gazed up at the clock with renewed optimism. It was almost over.
“Do you finally understand, Jane?” the blonde whispered, frustration rising in her voice.
“Yes I guess so—well I’m not sure—but if I have any trouble you said just to follow your lead, right?”
“That’s correct, always follow my lead and you won’t get into any trouble. You must remember that.”
“Are you going to blow Miss Chang away on our way out of here?”
“No! And it’s not Chang, its Chung. Why would you possibly ask that, anyway?”
“It’s simple; I always wanted to see yellow blood. And if you blow her away she’ll give off a lot of yellow blood. Besides, Chang is not nice to me.”
“The Chinese don’t have yellow blood; that’s ridiculous.”
“Are you sure? I think I read about it in a comic book once.”
“No, I won’t be blowing her away; she’s not on duty tomorrow; and, besides, her blood is red just like yours and mine. Nationality has nothing to do with it; everyone’s blood is red. Understand?”
“No. I thought I was going to see black blood when I killed those two black men but it was just red. I wasn’t very happy about that. I like puppies. I like little puppies more than big ones. When we get out of here, I’m going to pet all the puppies I see.”
A bystander would wonder how any relationship between the two women could have ever formed. The blonde was brilliant; she carried a massive reservoir of knowledge in an array of varied and complex subjects. Her skinny companion possessed at best a low normal I.Q. and rarely displayed intellectual curiosity. But for now the blonde needed a willing associate, one that would react to her every want. From that uneven basis a temporary partnership was compacted.
“My God, Jane you’re mercurial.”
“I don’t know what that means; is it a nice thing to be more curlier?”
“Yes Jane, I paid you a nice compliment; being more curlier is a good thing. Watch it, the Gestapo is about to pass by.”
Jane froze as the guard passed their table. “I don’t like the Gestapo, do you? But I like their pretty uniforms and their shiny badges. Can I buy one when we get out tomorrow?”
“Yes, Jane. Tomorrow you’ll be able to buy anything that you want.”
“What do ya think it’s made from, Shirley? My guess it’s soap, what do you think? In fact, I’ll bet its Dial soap; I’m told that brand’s soft and so easy to carve. It makes for realism but somehow you have to remove its delicious scent or it sure ain’t gonna smell like a weapon.”
The larger muscular black woman smiled widely, exposing two prominent well-worn gold teeth. She said, “No I disagree; it’s definitely made of wood—a soft pine, I’d guess, but the black shoe polish has smeared somewhat. Obviously she failed woodworking or an art class—perhaps both.”
Both women issued a robust laugh at the expense of the small prisoner standing before them.
The blonde was holding a strange looking revolver pointed directly at the center of the chest of the larger of the two prison guards. A quiet, wide-eyed razor thin woman stood just behind the blonde looking baffled, seemingly not knowing what to do in this complex situation.
The guards had closely observed the blonde’s behavior over several years and concluded, due to her size and reticent demeanor, that she would never be capable of posing a serious threat to them.
The larger woman said, “Okay, now, little lady, why don’t you just hand over that poor imitation of a revolver you’re holding and then you can march peacefully back to your cell. But if you continue with your unacceptable behavior you might get poor skinny Jane standing behind you in a host of trouble as well, and neither of us would want that to happen now, would we? If you cooperate, I might not tell my sergeant about this and maybe, just maybe, you can even avoid going into that terrible dark penalty hole for God knows what would be how long. So what do you say, dearie? Now hand me your fake gun and let’s get this nonsense over with!”