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So much has happened in the last couple of years. Maybe I’m crazy. Yeah, I probably am. At least a good story can come out of all this if nothing else. It started with that damn book, but it really kicked off with a knock on my door.

“Relevant.” For days I kept going back to looking at the envelope as if more information would suddenly materialize. Opening it up and rereading the documents. Looking for information I missed. Some clue, anything that could help me on my search.

I looked into the few names listed in the documents. Raymond Wilkerson was a wanted man, and there was an Amber Alert for his daughter. No shock there. There was a small obituary for Vincent Benachini, but nothing illuminating. Zilch on the homeless man.

There was still something off. A question my mind was on the cusp of asking, but just couldn’t form. Then it hit me.

“Who dropped this off?!” My voice echoed through the house. I was so glad my wife was still at work.

Knock-knock

I jumped, startled, and started to make my way toward the front door.

Knock-knock-knock

The pounding became more vigorous.

Knock-knock-kno-

I swung open the door. In front of me was a man, middle aged, in a dark brown suit.

“My name is Detective Barry Wilson.” He said presenting a badge. “Do you live here?”

“Yes. I d-” I started, “Barry?! Do you know a Detective Summers?”

“That’s why I’m here. I assume you read the file.”

There was something really familiar about him. I knew I’d seen him before, but where…

“Yeah, I did. Did you leave it on my porch?”

“Yes. I thought you would want to read it. And you might be able to help.”

“Why would you think I would want to read a police report-”

“Personal log.”

“Whatever. I mean you weren’t wrong there is some stuff in there that connects to what I have been looking into, but I’m not really sure I can help with anything. What is it exactly that you need? And how did you find me.”

“Heh,” he chortled, “I thought you would ask those exact questions. I can at least give you some answers. May I come in?”

“Sure, have a seat.” I guided him to the recliner in the living room. I sat on the couch on the other side of the room. He closed his eyes and seemed to almost melt into the chair as if it was the first time he was able to sit down in days. To be fair it is a very comfy seat.

I became a bit alarmed that he was going to fall asleep, “So….what is this all about?”

With his eyes still closed his lips turned into an exhausted smile and he let out a little laugh.

“The funny thing is that’s the exact question I’ve been asking myself for the past week.”

He took a long breath, exhaled and just as I opened my mouth to ask again he said,

“Det. Summers is dead.”

“Wha-”

“A few weeks ago he took his family on a vacation up to Maine. A real rural area, an old guy rents out his land to people looking to get away. Its nice. Quite, very picturesque. Well, one day he calls to check-in. Nobody answers the phone so he decides to drive by in case there is an emergency or something happened to the phone line. He thinks the wildlife just got tangled up in some wires.”

I’ve seen enough horror movies to know where this was going.

“Anyway, he knocks on the door. No answer. He needs to use his key to get in….and...blood just splattered everywhere. He finds the bodies...well parts of the bodies...wife and kids just chopped up and left everywhere. Guy phones the police from the living room. And waits for them outside. The local authorities find all the family body parts and Daniel's body hanging in the coat closet. He had strange marks cut into his body. They found the murder weapon in the basement. Daniel’s prints were all over it. The locals contact us, and I fly out to identify the body and help make arrangements to have it transported back so our guys can examine it. I’m not sure if the locals didn’t have the resources to handle something like this or just didn’t want to, but there was no fight over jurisdiction.”

“I’m sorry, about all of this.”

“Actually, it felt kind of nice that coordinating with another department went so smoothly. Usually, there’s a lot of petty back-and-forth about big cases. But anyway, there were a few very odd things I noticed. The first is that he was carrying his service weapon with him. In fact he was wearing it when they found him. It was still fully loaded and no signs of it being discharged.”

“Wait if he was going to kill them and himself he could have just used it, or if there was an intruder he would have likely fired on them. So what gives?”

“You’re pretty sharp. Yeah those were my thoughts too, and I have no answers. At first I believed that it was an elaborate frame up. Kill everyone, make everything look odd and elaborate, and have us go in circles about the contradictions and weird stuff while the real trail goes cold. Summers had opened an investigation into some powerful people. People that could make this happen-”

“DFI?”

“Yeah. But this isn’t their MO. They handle things cleanly. Quietly. People just go missing or have easily explained accidents. Messes like this take time, planning, very, very careful people, and a lot of variables. One small slip and we’re on their trail. Can’t see why it would be worth the risk to them.”

“Maybe that’s it. Do something completely out of character to throw you off the sent.”

“Maybe. But it's still a big risk, and they have much simpler and safer ways to achieve that. Car accident, boating accident, hunting trip gone wrong. They also, don’t usually go after families or other ancillary individuals. Less victims, less chance of forensics finding clues.”

“I have a feeling you’re not telling me something.”

“Hey, slow down. There’s still more to this. It wasn’t just his gun that was strange. He was smiling. You ever see a hanging man, eyes open, bleeding from deep cuts all over his body, with a big ol’ grin on his face?

“No.”

“Don’t. Unless you want insomnia. Most guys are writing this off as murder-suicide. Can’t say that I blame them, it closes this case quickly and nobody wants to dig any further.”

“But you can’t do that, because something just doesn't fit.”

“Bingo. And now we come to the least fitting part. I was going though his cases and noticed that he left an evidence box at his desk before he left. I thought I would just sign it back in. So I check the contents against the manifest-”

“The Wilkerson murders?” It had to be, of course, because that was the last case he was working on.

“Nope. The Daws murder,”

I was stunned hearing that. I liked less and less where this was heading, but maybe I was finally going to get some answers.

“Now, don’t interrupt. Anyway I check the contents against the manifest, and there is one item missing. One: ‘black book; no title.’ I search his desk for it. Every drawer gone through twice. Didn’t find it. I make a report about it and open an investigation so I can get access to his house. Nothing there. I speak with everyone on his phone’s contact list, email address book, everyone I thought he may have had contact with in the last month. Nada. It wasn’t with his stuff when the incident happened, at the very least nobody reported it. He was the last one to handle it though. No doubt about that.”

“So, why me? I’m looking for information on that book, but why come to me?”

“Heh, after I couldn’t find it I started searching the internet for any information on it. I hoped a book collector would have mentioned it or someone would try putting it on ebay for some quick cash.”

“Wait-”

“What did I say about interrupting?”

“I know, but there’s something that doesn't make sense.”

“There’s a lot that doesn't make sense.”

“I mean about what you just said. All you had was a vague description and no title. How could you know what to look for?”

“I’m getting to that. I was saving it for the end to be a nice surprise, but here we are. I had seen the book before. I was one the Daws’ case. In fact I was there when the body was found-”

“THAT’S IT! That’s where I know you from! You’re the officer I spoke to that day!”

“Again with the interrupting. Yeah, I was ready to haul your ass in for tampering with a crime scene. Lucky for you my instincts told me it wouldn’t be worth the time. I examined everything, even leafed through that lil’ book. It was weird. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, and just left it to sit in evidence. Anyway, I was searching around the internet when I came across your story. It sounded like we were searching for the same thing so I thought I’d share. I gathered up Daws’ logs and thought you would like a look at them. A subpoena to the wiki’s ISP and then to your ISP, and I got your name and address.”

“What’s with all the cloak-and-dagger stuff? You couldn’t have just called me down to a coffee shop?”

“‘Ring Ring. Hey, I’m a cop with a bunch of papers on several murders that may be connected to organized crime and/or a mysterious black book that you wrote about on the internet, can you meet me at Starbucks?’ You really would have taken that call?”

“Well...actually yes.”

“Huh...I guess with what you’ve been through you would have, but most people wouldn’t. It's better if they can see the accounts themselves.”

“I see your point.”

“Thank you. Also, I had some questions I needed answered before I met you.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I just came from the coroner. The marks on Daniel’s body were pre-mortem, and his family seems to have died 6-12 hours before Daniel did. So any chance he was killed first or someone else made the marks is remote. It's looking more and more like he did this, but that’s not the man I knew. This is wrong, very, very wrong, and all of my instincts are telling me that book is at the center of this.”

“I’ll help however I ca-”

I heard the front door open. My wife and daughter came in. The little one took off her jacket and went to hang it up. My wife just stared at me and Barry.

“And who is this?” She asked, her surprise had an edge to it. She hated surprises.

Before I could answer Barry got up took out his badge.

“Detective Barry Wilson. I had just stopped by to inform you that a known sex offender may be moving into the neighborhood. I’m at the tail end of a 24 hour shift and your husband saw I was tired and kindly offered me a place to rest.” “Oh,” she said startled and turned to me “That was nice of you.” Her voice still had an edge, but this time I recognized it as the kind she gets when her bullshit detector is going off.

“So,” she turned back Barry, inquisitorial, “Could you tell me more about this offender. Which house is he moving into.”

Barry was taken aback by the questioning, but calmly and quickly responded:

“It's not settled, but this area is on the short list. He’s paid his debt to society, but he’s still not allowed within 100ft. of children. So be polite, but keep your children away for your safety and his. Everyone in the neighborhood will get more information though the mail after the decision is made we just wanted to give a personal heads up face to face in case there were any questions.”

And boy did my wife have questions. How can we ensure our children are safe, why didn’t they send out the information first, what should we be on the lookout for, etc. And he answered every single one of them. This clearly wasn’t his first rodeo.

The next day my wife would ask the neighbors about this, and some of them confirmed Det. Wilson came by and talked to them about the possibility of a sex offender moving in. Apparently the sonofabitch knew what he was getting into an provided a cover (at least I hope so, and a sex offender is not actually going to move into our neighborhood).

He left the house, ostensibly onto the next one. My wife even peeked through a side window to see where he was going. He did stop at the next house and knock on their door.

My wife handed me the mail. I grabbed the bills, put the junk in a pile, and noticed a letter for me. It only had my name in small letters and it looked like it was machine printed.

I opened it up, unfurling the first third I saw the words: Found in dreams.

Confused I opened it up all the way. There was a picture of the book taking up most of the page.

At the bottom it said: Maybe everything.

“What the…” I quietly exclaimed. Then I saw something on the paper grain. I wasn’t sure what it was so I held it up to the light. It was water marked with small letters across the page, and lined from top to bottom. Words running together without spaces:

theordermustbepreserved

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