Gathering enough courage, Inspector Grayson Mann's heart raced as he entered the living room of the richest and the most powerful family in all of Detroit, the McKenzies.
The grand living room welcomed him. Tanned cowhide rugs were scattered all over the plank floor, glass-topped occasional tables which a single one obviously worth half year of his salary stood at convenient intervals. Some supported works of priceless and imported work of arts, sculptures, and vases. Other held antique lamps and clocks, family pictures, and proofs of achievements like trophies, framed medals, and certificates.
However, what really took his concentration, magnetizing his attention of stronger pull than the grandness of the room was the couple that stood from being seated on the denim sofa upon his entrance.
Grayson's heart raced again in a larger intensity upon meeting the hopeful and worried expressions of William and Georgia McKenzie, the parents of the kidnapped girl Willow McKenzie whom had been the focus of their department's operations for the last 48 hours.
A little trembling, he inched closer to them.
"Grayson," William greeted. "Have a seat."
"Thank you, sir."
As soon as he settled down to the denim sofa placed opposite to theirs, "Where's Willow?" Georgia McKenzie immediately asked as soon as she also returned from being seated.
Grayson looked down, trying to avoid meeting their gazes as he placed a plastic bag to the table between them. "Do you recognize this?"
Georgia's eyes immediately widened upon catching the first glimpse of the item that he presented. "I-It's Willow's bracelet." She trembled even more when she notice that the bracelet was also stained with blood. "But where is she?"
Grayson exhaled deeply and answered. "We didn't find her. She wasn't at the cabin where her kidnappers had kept her upon our arrival."
"How about the kidnappers?" William said. "You can interrogate them, I'm sure they know something."
"They can't," he said. "They're all dead."
William McKenzie make an expression similar to a person who is about to have a heart attack upon hearing the news.
"Your daughter's abductors were all found dead when we arrived. We have no idea what kind of a beast had attacked them. They were severely dismembered, unrecognizable, torn into pieces."
"But Willow is not there, right?" Georgia said.
He nodded. "Yes, Ma'am."
Mrs. McKenzie let out a deep exhalation. "Well," she choked. "That's good news, right? That means she could still be out there somewhere. We-we only have to keep on looking until we find her, right?"
Grayson stiffened. He'd been in service for more than 12 years, but the ache of delivering bad news to hopeful parents and families still troubled him to the very depth of his being. "We-we," he struggled to word out. "We conducted a search towards the nearest vicinities in the hope of finding her, since there is a great possibility that she might have escaped when her abductors were attacked. That's how we found the bracelet."
"Get to the point already, Grayson," the trembling and growing impatient William McKenzie said.
There was a long moment silence between the three of them. And with a weary sigh he finally said, "In the in the clearing where we found you're daughter bracelet we also found blood a significant amount, some strands of blonde hair and torn fabrics and
some tissue fragments."
Georgia McKenzie's face was already buried to her husband's chest and her eyes are shredding tears uncontrollably.
"We conducted some tests. They belong to your daughter."
"NO!" Georgia McKenzie bellowed in extreme agony. "My baby!"
Her husband wrapped his arms around her, trying to comfort, though it was pretty obvious that he's also at the verge of collapsing.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"Leave me alone!" Georgia shrieked at him when he tried to get the bottle of whiskey from her hold. It had been weeks that had passed since receiving the horrible news from Grayson, and it had also been a week that Georgia's been drowning herself nonstop in alcohol.
"Hon, you can't keep doing this," he said. "It's not good for you."
"Good for me?" Georgia shook all over, giving him a menacing glare before throwing the bottle towards him which he dodged by an inch. "GOOD FOR ME!?" she repeated. "What do know what's good for me!?"
William went as still as frozen air. The ugly words pulsed between them.
He tried to comfort her in his arms but she angrily pushed him away. "This is all your fault!" she cried. "You and your stupid business!"
"I'm sorry," William sobbed as he tried to hug his wife again.
Georgia repetitively slapped him, hitting his face, hands, and chest. "Stay away from me!"
He complied this time. The rage of his wife towards him is so intense, that his attempt of being closer to her will only making it worst.
"If you didn't," she panted. "If you didn't try to force Willow to that marriage, she shouldn't have runaway. If you didn't hire those men, she shouldn't have been kidnapped. She shouldn't have remained safe to wherever she'd hid from us. SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE DIED!"
The truth pierced through his heart like venom imbued spear, knowing how right Georgia was. If even for just once, he had cared more for Willow's feelings instead of his personal interests, nothing like this could have ever happened.
"YOU KILLED HER!" Georgia cried as she fell down to her knees, burying her face to her palms. "You killed my daughter."
He kneeled down to the floor beside her, pulling her into snuggle. Georgia drained her tears on his chest while repetitively muttering the words 'you killed her' to him. William could do nothing but accept her venomous words, the punishments of his wrong decisions. "I'm sorry."
An hour of crying had passed, and Georgia had finally exhausted herself to sleep. Carrying and settling her to their bed, William noticed that Georgia is tightly holding Willow's bracelet on her hand, the most precious memento that their daughter left to them.
Kissing his wife's forehead goodnight, he exited their bedchamber and called for one of their attendant to clean up the mess that Georgia's outrage had left in their room before returning in order to stay at her side.
But when he returned, the moment that he opened the door and acquired visualization of the room, he was welcomed by the sight of his sleeping wife in the company of blonde woman watching Georgia in her slumber at the bedside.
William panicked. The woman could be a thief or an intruder that wish to harm either him or Georgia. William prepared to shout in order to scare her away. But the opening of his mouth which was supposed produced screams turned into a gape of extreme shock and disbelief the moment that he caught a glimpse of the side of the woman's face.
Beading in cold and thick sweats, his eyes almost gouge out of his socket as his heart pondered like it could almost break a rib on his chest.
It's impossible. Completely impossible.
She's there, standing at the bedside of her mother.
His supposed to be dead daughter.
Dressed in a white shirt that exposed the curves of her upper body under a black leather jacket, she stood their in perfect stillness in the middle of the light scarce bedroom, watching her mother sleep. Noticing his arrival, she shifted her gaze to him and stared in nonchalance.
William almost had a heart attack upon seeing her. Her perfectly curved face no longer carries any innocence. But instead, all that he could distinguish is a tough and powerful woman that can make even bravest men cringe in fear.
His blonde hair and pale complexion shimmers like priceless pearls.
And her eyes, they were no longer grey like his. But instead they are crimson red, like blood, the eyes of a predator.
Willow ignored him, shifting her attention back to her mother. She took the bracelet that her mother held on her hand, the bracelet that Georgia had bought for her as gift on her 18th Birthday and wrapped it to her wrist.
William stayed frozen like a stone, powerless to for any movement. His lips along with his entire body trembled in fear as Willow bent down to kiss her mother's cheek.
She looked at him again, but now in a warmer demeanor. Tears uncontrollably flow from his eyes. All the failures of becoming a good father for her, all the mistakes, and all the pains that he'd done to his daughter's life came crashing to him like a fierce avalanche, tormenting his heart in an unimaginable way.
He wanted to apologize so much to his daughter but he can't find the power to breathe a single word.
Willow smiled at him and it was followed by a strong wind blowing towards him. The wind hit through his eyes, and forcing him to shut them.
William blinked to clear his vision once more, but when he reopened his eyes, it was only his sleeping wife that he found inside the room and the apparition of his daughter was gone.
Wiping his tears, William immediately went to Georgia's side, on the same spot where Willow exactly stood. He tried to find any trace of her presence only to find none.
What had just happen?
The question haunts his head over and over again, trying to conduct a sane explanation.
He could be dreaming or hallucinating. But it looks real. What he feel when he saw his daughter was so real.
William then checked Georgia's hand to be certain, and his eyes went wild open upon finding it empty.
Grayson let out a frustrated sigh as he read and examine every single folder that contains reports of the most recent incidence of murders that had been piled up on his desk.
It had been more than a week ever since the incidences multiple numbers of murder cases had reached their notice. But up until to the present they still don't have any lead on to who could this newly risen serial killer could be.
All the victims are random, no specific gender or age, places of the crime scenes had nothing in common too. The killings took place at no specific place, pattern or circumstances except that they all happened during nighttime.
The only clue that they got that leads them into a conclusion that the murders are all done by a single culprit is the method of killing, a very brutal method to be exact. All the victims were ravaged, dismembered beyond recognition, like they were attacked by a very savage beast.
The first incident was with the abductors of the daughter of William McKenzie, where they were all found murdered inside their hideout. The kidnapped McKenzie girl was also believed to have been killed by the same manner. However, her body was never found.
The next one occur on a road not that far from that place, where a bus boarding 13 members of a football team and a driver was attacked, killing all the passengers in cold blood.
After that, the reported cases of murders done in the similar method had been piling up his desk one after another. And last night, another one happened where a couple was murdered inside their house.
Reading the last of the reports that gives no help at all, Grayson was stretching his aching back when Officer Randy Denelo entered his office carrying another folder.
"Another murder?" he assumed, accepting the compilations of papers from him.
"No sir," Randy said, as Grayson opened the folder. "These are the developed pictures from the camera of the murdered couple last night."
"Found any clue?" he asked, scanning through the photos.
"Nothing significant, sir."
Grayson frowned as he dropped the photos to his table and looked at Denelo. "Nothing?"
"Then why are you submitting these photos if it holds nothing?"
"I just found," he panted, "something disturbing on them."
He frowned even more. "And that is?"
"On the fifth one, sir."
Grayson complied and took the specified photograph. It was a photo of the murdered couple taken from the park.
"That's the last photo taken by the victims before they were murdered last night."
He nodded. "Okay, and then?"
"Look behind them, sir," he said. "Just couple of feet behind them, there's a girl staring towards them."
Grayson did, and his eyeballs almost jumped out of its socket when he had pinpointed the girl that Denelo is pertaining. Not only that he recognized her, but also, she's supposed to be dead.
"Sir," Randy Denelo said nervously. "Do you believe in ghosts?"END