I came home from the Christmas party unwillingly. I would’ve stayed at Anna’s, but her parents were in town. My little apartment was not nearly as welcoming as it used to be, in the days before this Stitch creature came around.
I keep thinking I’m hearing thumping, or windows opening, and it’s freaking me out. But I came home anyway. Maybe I just needed a break from the case. Yeah.
For Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I didn’t touch those boxes once. The Boss handed me a couple cases of convenience store robberies that were easier to solve than a game of Clue.
It was a nice distraction from all the gruesome imagery I’d been forced to see those past few days. But unfortunately Wednesday had to come and Anna wanted to work on the case.
“The sooner we start working again, the sooner it’ll be over,” she said trying to convince me to work with her.
I sighed and put the coffee I was drinking down on my desk. Anna had put all the second victim related evidence on a table in a conference room. It was the first victim’s cousin, the man who’d stayed with her the night she was murdered, Bill.
I looked at the pictures of the crime scene first. He’d been killed in his room at the mental hospital we’d been holding him at. The scene was just as bloody as that of his cousin's, if not more. The walls were covered in bloody hand prints and the bars on the windows weren’t bent, meaning Stitch must’ve found another way into the building. There were two beds in the room, one for Bill and one for his roommate; both were messy and blood stained.
The red stood out vividly on the pristine white sheets. When I got to the pictures of his body, there was only half. His legs were lying on the floor, bones sticking out and sitting in a pool of his blood. His white hospital clothing was no longer white, but blood red, like Snow White’s lips.
My hands began shaking as I looked at more and more pictures of his mangled and missing body and the blood soaked room. I felt my heart beating faster, like I was panicking. I didn’t know why though. Why should I panic? Stitch couldn’t find me…
“So what do you think we should do? We don’t really have any leads on who this guy is,” Anna said, bringing me out of my terrified state. I pulled myself together so I wouldn’t scare my partner.
“I don’t know,” I replied. Honestly, I didn’t want to keep working on this case. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t just leave Anna to handle it by herself. I couldn’t convince the Boss to let us do something else. When a case got to us, it was because no one else could handle it and solve it. We were the top… I guess that’s what comes with being the best detectives in the office. Some detective I am though can’t even look at the pictures without shaking. I’ve been having nightmares too…
“I was thinking maybe we could go interview the mental hospital staff who worked with Bill. We should probably go over the security tape footage and journal entries first though. Didn’t they diagnose him as PTSD?” Anna said.
“Yeah. I only took two psychology classes in college, but I remember that with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a lot of the times therapists will tell their patients to relive the event a lot of times, so it won’t cause them that overbearing stress… So I imagine that’s what his journal will be full of. Just retellings of the story to help ease his anxiety, but I dunno. We probably should look through it,” I said.
I secretly hoped she’d watch the videos on her own and let me deal with the journals. But knowing her, knowing our jobs, that wasn’t likely.
“Do you want to look at videos or journals first?” she asked. I shrugged and took a gulp of my now cold coffee.
“Let’s do this then,” I said.
God damn it, I thought to myself as she put the four discs into four DVD players. They were all different cameras from the same period of time. For a while we just fast forwarded. Bill stayed in his room, writing feverishly, while his fellow hospital patients wandered from room to room to common room. He only left when a nurse came to bring him to his therapy session with the leading psychiatrist of the hospital.
As it started to get dark, the patients made their way to their rooms. Bill's roommate walked into their room. Bill was still writing in his journal with a painful expression on his face. His roommate looked at him concerned. There was no sound, but we saw him say something along the lines of “Are you okay?”
Bill looked over at him and told him to “Shut up before that thing found him too” or something. His roommate looked away and leaned against the wall his bed was against. He played with his thumbs for a while. Meanwhile, the nurses wandered the halls, locking the doors for the night, making sure everything was okay.
After about twenty minutes of that, Bill and his roommate laid down for the night and fell asleep. It was dark and we couldn’t see much. The camera started turning to static and the images on the screens kept becoming distorted. The screens all blacked out and we were waiting for anything to happen. When the image returned, Stitch was standing in the middle of the hallway. He trudged down the hallway, looking through every room’s door window to see if Bill was there. While he systematically wandered the hall, Bill sprang to life and rushed from window to door and back again, looking for what woke him.
Stitch stopped looking for Bill and appeared to sniff the air. He took a couple big sniffs then turned his head. His face was looking towards the camera. You could see his teeth. His mouth wasn’t fully closed. His teeth were vile. Black and yellow and green and every color that teeth shouldn’t be. He opened his mouth and a little bit of blood fell out. He kept moving his head back and forth. As if he was listening for something.
He walked straight to Bill's room with determination in his steps and opened the door without touching it. Bill screamed, waking up his roommate. Bill flipped over on his side springing off of his bed. He grabbed what turned out to be his writing pencil.
The cameras began to turn to static and cut out again. We could see bits and pieces of what was happening – both of the roommates running around, Bill's roommate eventually ran out of the room and Bill had stabbed Stitch in his back.
We’re not sure how, but Bill's hand and the weapon just went straight through, pushing out darkened blood and random chunks onto the floor. It looked like he was struggling to get his arm back. As if his arm got stuck inside Stitch’s body. Stitch grabbed him by the hair and whipped him with his rusty shackles, breaking his skin.
After that, Stitch just stood there. Standing over Bill. Maybe it made him feel powerful? Well, could he even feel emotion? I don’t know. He stood above him while Bill screamed.
I thought Stitch was raising his hand to strike or rip Bill’s flesh, but he didn’t. He rubbed his hands together, and then rubbed from his neck up to his face. And as fast as you could see a light turn on, his hand was on Bill's face. He started rubbing it. Running his hand through his hair.
Stitch started laughing at that point, and blood dripped on Bill's face and clothes. It was then Stitch decided to attack. He tore bits of skin off his poor body and ate them like he’d never eaten before. He broke his body in half, just tore it in half, with inhuman strength. The blood started to really pour then.
As all of Bill's blood and guts spilled onto the floor, Stitch squatted down and started running his fingers along the edge of Bill's skin where he ripped him in half. Stitch began eating his insides all the while it appeared he was laughing - just as he did in the first murder.
Stitch stood up and, well, just stood there. He stood there facing the corner until the morning sun started to peak in through the bars on the windows. He was mumbling to himself but since there was no audio in the security cameras, we couldn’t make out what he was saying without bringing in someone who could read lips.
I didn’t hear Anna making any sounds. I wondered if I was the only one having a hard time with this case. I looked over and she was crying silently. I moved my chair and put my arm around her and rubbed her shoulder while we watched. I tried to hold myself together for her. The door to the conference room slammed open, nearly giving both of us heart attacks.
“Johnson, Reynolds. Have an intern,” the Boss said, pushing a young man into the room. He left as soon as he’d come. We stood up. Anna wiped her eyes hastily and paused the videos.
“I’m Anna,” she said. “This is Ryan. I’m sorry you had to come at this time. We’re working on a pretty nasty case.”
“Oh, I don’t mind,” he said. “It’s bound to happen eventually, so I may as well get myself acquainted with murder. I’m John Freeman.” He held his hand out to us and shook both our hands.
“I think we’ve looked at enough evidence for now, Anna. Want to go to the mental hospital now?” I said.
“Sure,” Anna said. We headed out the door, with our new intern at our heels. With his slightly unkempt blond hair and puppy-like blue eyes, he reminded me of a golden retriever. I felt bad ruining his innocence with this horrifying case. But that’s just what happens when you get involved with police work…
We made our way to West Seattle Psychiatric Hospital. It looked less welcoming than a medical hospital, just because of what lied within its walls. John looked at it with hesitation. I pushed him forward. If he wanted to be a cop, he’d have to learn to deal with situations he didn’t want to be in.
And this case was about as bad as it gets, so if he could handle this, he could handle anything. We went into the building and found the nurses who were involved with Bill and his treatment. They wore white uniforms, like you saw in the movies and were as kind as you would expect nurses to be.
“Hi, Miss, I’m Ryan Johnson, this is my partner Anna Reynolds and our intern John Freeman. We’re working on Bill and his cousin’s case. We just have a few questions.”
“Of course,” the first nurse said, nodding with a smile.
“Did you notice anything out of the ordinary with Bill's behavior before the attack? In the videos we saw him panicking moments before the killer came, but not before then. We don’t know what was normal or abnormal in his condition,” Anna asked.
“Well, he was always very agitated, always writing in his journal. The Doctor told him to write his story down at least once a day, but he did it almost constantly. We think maybe he was desperate to get better. Or get out. He kept saying he needed to keep moving or else ‘that thing’ as he called it would find him,” the second nurse said. Anna wrote some notes down.
“But you didn’t notice anything abnormal?” I asked again.
“No, sir, nothing. Just his usual behavior.”
“Did you see anyone lurking around the building at all? Like before the attack or in the days preceding it?” I asked.
“No, sir. Or if the killer was here he was very good at hiding,” the first nurse said.
“Did you see which way the killer went after the attack?” I asked. The nurses both became quiet and turned a little pale.
“No, sir,” the first nurse said quietly. “We saw him throw part of Bill out the window and follow, but we didn’t see which way he went once he was on the ground outside.”
“Thank you for your help,” I said, even though they really hadn’t given us anything useful. They nodded.
“Of course, any time,” the second nurse said. They turned around and continued with their work. We left in silence. Once we got into the car, I was irritated. How were we ever going to find this guy and put him behind bars (if that would even help…) if we couldn’t find a single lead?
“This is just great,” Anna said, sounding equally as frustrated. She sighed loudly.
“Let’s just work on this some more tomorrow,” I said. We drove back to the station. I got into my own car and drove back to my apartment reluctantly. Weird things had been happening ever since I first opened the boxes to this case. I kept hearing thumping at night and creaking like my windows were opening.
But I wasn’t sure if I was just hearing things or not. I could never find the sources of the sounds. I opened my apartment door half expecting Stitch to be waiting for me. I’d been becoming paranoid, scared. Just fact that I was becoming paranoid and scared was scaring me.
I walked into my apartment, finding no one inside. It was colder than I expected it to be. I wandered through all the rooms, only to find what I hoped I wouldn’t. My bedroom window was opened. I swear I locked it before I left. My hands shook as I closed it and my heart started to race.
The panic was setting in again. I turned on all the lights in my apartment on my way to the kitchen to make some comfort food. I made a giant sandwich, grabbed a can of soda and some chips, and walked into the living room. Desperate to take my mind of that god awful case, I turned on the TV and put on a funny movie – Anchorman to be exact. I always loved Will Ferrell.
I ate my food and soon my mind was far from the case. Until I heard the thumping. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. It rang in my ears, echoed in my mind, until I couldn’t take it. I ran to my bedroom and grabbed the ear plugs out of my bed side table. I shoved them into my ears to stop that thumping.
My window was open again. I still heard the thumping. That god damn thumping. My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and my hands were shaking so hard I could barely grab the phone. I dialed Anna’s number as quickly as I could.
“He-” she started.
“Anna! Can I stay over tonight?” I asked, cutting her off.
“Sure, what’s wrong, Ryan?” she asked.
“Please don’t tell me I’m not the only one having problems with this case,” I said, nearly begging.
“Are you freaking out too? I swear, I keep closing my windows, but they’re always open…” she said, trailing off.
“I’ll be over in ten minutes.” I hung up the phone and packed a bag as quickly as I could.
We both actually got sleep that night. We drove to work in our separate cars in case I decided to sleep at my own house that night. Neither of us wanted to dive back into the case, but instead of Anna making me, it was John making us.
He reiterated almost exactly what Anna had said. “Come on, guys, the sooner we start working the sooner it’ll be over!” He was annoyingly chipper all the time. But I was friendly, so was Anna.
He put the tapes back in and pushed play. They started where we’d left off. John looked at them intently, taking notes about all the gruesome things Stitch was doing. I could hardly watch.
Stitch picked up Bill's upper half like a bowling ball, sticking his fingers in Bill's eyes and mouth. His hand was still embedded in Stitch’s disgusting naked body as he dragged him out into the hall. A trail of blood followed the poor dead man’s body.
When Stitch reached the window, he tore Bill's arm off and threw the rest of his body out the broken window. From the other angle, we could see Bill's roommate still cowering in horror. Stitch ignored him and tore the arm from his chest. Dark goo-like blood came out with the arm, leaving a gaping hole where there should be something…anything… He didn’t even seem to care.
He put Bill's hand in his repulsive mouth and ate three of his fingers. I imagined the sound of crunching bones and shuddered. He smiles at the camera as he eats Bill's remains.
His teeth were rotten, his lips were still bleeding, his eyes still covered in sewn on flesh… The video cut out again and when the image returned, Stitch was gone and Bill's arm was on the floor. His roommate was crying. I looked at Anna who looked back at me.
“Maybe you should just live with me for a while. I’m too scared to live alone,” she said quietly. I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one scared out of my wits. Maybe the two of us together would be enough to keep Stitch away. We’d start looking at victim number three soon. After we’d had some time to regain our sanity.