Random Story, AKA Missing Lives
TITLE: Random Story, AKA Missing Lives
GENRES: Drama, occult, thriller/suspense, crime/gangster.
SUMMARY: A bizarre death is discovered in 1969. Some violence/adult language.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2001.
LENGTH: 4300+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Violence, mild adult language, adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Various cult names were taken from nonfictional sources. Be aware that much of this fiction is about criminal Satanic cults, and is NOT what I think about Satanism as a valid religion (the same as a story written about a criminal Christian cult should not be taken as criticizing Christianity as a whole). Although this story may make use of actual locations and names, artistic license has been taken as this is a FICTIONAL story. Please take note that this story was written around 2001 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the novels and other short stories listed above; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This is actually some backstory for my D Is For Damien series, particularly Lucifer; it helps describe the background that created one of the main characters in that novel. Jon Grabowski, the POV character in this piece, is a retired sheriff by the time the newest stories in the series take place. The "Mulroy" mentioned in the story is not the same Mulroy as in my other novels. Take a look at the date of this incident--1969--and then at the birth year of Det. James Mulroy--1962. Who says careers can't sometimes run in families?
DEPUTY GRABOWSKI STOOD at the edge of the wide field, grass rustling in the breeze. He stared off across it, flashlight in his hand, the bright beam landing flat on the ground at his side, aimed at nothing in particular. To any observer, it would have looked as if he merely surveyed his surroundings, trying to determine his position by using the stars. Only instead of the stars a dark expanse of cloud had rolled in, settling heavily, before a flicker now and then lit the earth in brief random flashes.
Grabowski looked upward as the rain started to fall. Then he looked down at the body of the young woman who lay, bullet riddled, at his feet.
"Shit," he sighed.
"Any idea, whatsoever, who she is?"
"No...I checked her pockets for ID. None, nothing. Not even a receipt or a ticket stub."
Grabowski sat in the sheriff's station while a detective paced around in front of him. He held a cup of coffee but didn't feel like drinking it, despite the fact that his clothes were soaked clean through. The detective had offered to get him dried off somewhere but he'd refused.
"How did you find her?"
"Got a call. Someone heard gunshots. A lot of 'em." He rubbed his eyes. "I was closest to the scene, so I went out to take a peek."
"And you found her."
"Well, I found the field. I had to do some walking first before I found her."
"There isn't much else to say." He glanced up. His eyes were red; they'd been over this several times already. He wasn't sure why the detective didn't seem to get it. "I did a bit of poking around and just about tripped over her. If the grass had been a few inches longer I never would've seen her lying there."
"You didn't move the body before anyone showed up..."
"I told you already. I checked her pulse, and her pockets. That's all I did."
"Of course." He fidgeted. "Look. I'm no coroner...but it looks like she has at least three kinds of bullet holes in her. You think she'd survive that? And then lying out there in the rain like that?"
"I'm not trying to argue, I'm just--"
"Doing your job, I know. But we've been over this before, and we're still not getting anything done."
"What bothers you the most about this, Deputy?"
"The fact that we've been sitting here for nigh on two hours now." He scowled down at his coffee, dark reflection staring back up. "And somewhere out there, the guys who did this are still running around loose."
He looked over everything he could, browsing everything he could find. He was sure the detectives were doing their job to the best of their ability. Still, he had found the body in the field, and he couldn't sit idly by watching them do all his work for him.
He wasn't a detective. But they hadn't been the first ones to see her like that, her shirt so crimson he'd sworn it must have been that color to start with, her pale face turned to the side, her blue eyes staring. Had she not felt her end, if the first bullet had been a fatal one? Or had she felt it all, death and everything after?
And there were the things he couldn't explain, like the blankets he'd found lying next to her...her blood stained the outside of them, but not the inside, which was clean and hollowed out, as if she'd been carrying something...
The autopsy was performed promptly, as murders were so very rare in the county. Grabowski was on hand to hear the county medical examiner's pronouncement. The detectives hadn't bothered showing up; he assumed they would just have to be second to hear. The coroner didn't much mind who heard it first.
"Caucasian female," he said, as if Grabowski couldn't tell, "brown hair, blue eyes. Five foot four, approximately one hundred twenty pounds. Early twenties. Cause of death, multiple gunshot wounds to the back, neck, and legs. Great loss of blood. Somehow missed her head, but the spine was severed in a few spots."
"She was dead on her feet," Grabowski murmured.
"Pretty much. Whoever did this wanted to make sure they did it right."
"They? More than one?"
"Well...that would have to be my guess. Take a look at this." He held up a tray full of smashed bullets and...pellets?
"Shotgun?" the deputy asked, baffled.
A nod. "There were at least two different types of handgun used, as well as at least one shotgun. So I'd say that makes at the very least three people firing, or one person who can switch guns real fast."
Grabowski stared at the pale body, draped with a sheet, lying before him. If it hadn't been for the eerie translucence of her skin, and the fact that she lay upon a cold metal table rather than a bed, he would have sworn she was still alive.
"Are there any wounds at all to the front of the body?"
"Front? No. The closest they come are to her left side and thigh."
"Left side." He turned, and looked back over his left shoulder. "Like she's turning to look behind her."
The coroner stared at him.
"All other wounds to the back." He looked down at her face. "Like she's running from them."
"Hm," the coroner said. "Sounds reasonable. Overkill, actually."
"Like you said, they wanted it done right."
"True." He moved to the adjoining table and Grabowski saw him pick up the blankets he'd found at the scene. "That's not all, though; I've got a few more bombshells to drop on you."
"Well...I had to do a thorough examination, not just on the wounds. Unfortunately, she doesn't match any of our existing records, so she's not in the system anywhere."
"I assumed that would be the case..."
"I checked for any signs of rape." Grabowski glanced up at him, his heart skipping. The coroner pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose and consulted a paper he'd scribbled on. "From the looks of it, she'd endured long-term sexual assault, possibly over a period of months."
"Months..." Grabowski's voice was faint.
The coroner nodded. "There was substantial scarring and damage down there...I also located some marks to various parts of the body, burn scars, bruises, and such."
"What are you saying...she was tortured or something?"
"Well...it's a bit early to say, not knowing who she was even running from. But yes, that's what I would say. The marks tend to be clustered in the same general areas of the body, as if the injuries were inflicted repeatedly in the same place."
"That's not all though."
"Then what else?"
"This." He pushed the blankets toward the deputy. "You said you weren't sure what they were doing there."
"It looks like she was carrying something wrapped up in those, maybe, but I can't tell."
"I think I could tell you. This is just a guess. But judging from the examination, I'd say she gave birth not that long ago."
Grabowski blinked. Then he felt his insides slowly start to slide down into his feet, the blood draining from his face.
"You...you mean, she was pregnant? And she had a kid?"
A nod. "Not that long ago, either. I'd say a few days, at the most. She must not have had much time to recover." He touched the blankets again. "I'd also say that's what these were for. She was carrying the baby in them." He held up a finger. "But remember...this is all guesswork, not scientific in the least."
"God damn," Grabowski breathed again. "First they torture her, then they rape her, then they shoot her in the back after she has a baby...what kind of people do things like this?"
The coroner shrugged. "I couldn't tell you...all I can tell you is how she died, not why or by whose hand. That's your job."
The deputy let out his breath. He stared at that lifeless pale face. "There's the other questions, then...why isn't anybody stepping forward to claim her yet...and what happened to the baby?"
He knew the detectives did their jobs, but he also suspected they'd keep him in the dark. He was, after all, just some person who'd discovered the body. They didn't have any obligation to tell him what they were up to and what they'd found out, which was why he didn't have any obligation to tell them the same.
"Somewhere out there, somebody's looking for her," he murmured as he ruffled through a drawer of files. "She's got to have a name."
He started out with missing person reports, as it had been several days now and no one had bothered stepping forward. He couldn't believe it. She was barely twenty, twenty-one, from the looks of it. Should just be getting out of college. Not having babies only to have them kidnapped and to be shot in the back. He didn't want to theorize about all that had happened to her before the killing. What had happened afterward was bad enough.
And where is her family? How can somebody just turn their back on her like this?
He'd gone through all the missing person reports from 1969 and hadn't gotten anywhere. None of them matched her description. That was when it hit him. A period of months. The coroner had been positive she'd been assaulted over a period of months.
STUPID! She didn't disappear this year--she disappeared earlier!
"Damn it," he muttered. "I can't believe I've been wasting my time like this!"
He promptly shoved the drawer back into the file cabinet and pulled open the next lowest one. 1968. He'd have to go through this thing backwards.
The hours went by both swiftly and too slowly. It was nighttime, far past the time he should have gone home, by the time he was halfway through the files for 1968. They covered the entire state, not just Cheboygan County; and though there were a few cases which seemed close, he always came across one little detail that dashed what hopes he had and sent him tucking the file back into the growing stack with a weary sigh. He glanced at the stack of files not looked at yet. Still quite a few to go. When had this girl disappeared?
He didn't even want to ask himself, What if she was never reported?
Nobody should ever have to die alone, without anyone, he told himself. If she doesn't have anyone to mourn her, then I will.
He started out of a sort of self-hypnosis brought on by glancing through all the files and glanced up. His muscles relaxed.
"Mulroy. What're you still doing here?"
The detective standing in the doorway crossed his arms. Grabowski had known him a long time, and knew he was of a different sort from the others. "Good question. I think it applies to you too. What have you been looking at all night?"
"Missing person files...can't seem to find what I'm looking for."
"Anything in particular?"
"Yeah. The ID of that girl in the field."
"Oh. You're still working on that one."
"Well, they are...I'm just sort of digging around on my own."
The detective smiled and entered the room. "Going behind everyone's back...sounds just like you. Mind if I lend a hand? I've always enjoyed undermining authority."
Grabowski smiled back. "Go right ahead, if you don't mind papercuts."
Mulroy sat down on the other side of the desk and picked up the stack of remaining files from 1968 while Grabowski pulled open the next drawer and pulled out the stack for 1967 with a sigh. "How's your boy doing?" he murmured absently.
"James? He's doing, all right." A chuckle. "I can't seem to keep him in one spot for even five minutes. You know how little kids are. Now he says he wants to be a policeman, too."
The deputy laughed. "Well, just make sure you derail that thought before it gets any further. The last thing we need is two Mulroys in this business."
"Hey, I thought you appreciated me. Now I learn the real truth about us two."
"Well...I do seem to spend more time with you than with my wife, lately."
Now Mulroy was the one to laugh. "Don't let her know," he said, "but perhaps we were just meant for each other, don't you think?"
Grabowski smacked him with one of the folders. "Come on. We're supposed to be looking at these things. I thought you wanted to help?"
"Sure, yeah. Just joking. Though I can't say I'm not disappointed about what could've been."
The deputy sighed and heard Mulroy echo him when they opened up their respective folders and started looking afresh.
Midnight came and went, and then one o'clock. The two policemen practically nodded over their reading, flipping pages and scanning over words and then scanning them again, not even understanding what they were reading anymore. A few times Grabowski had to snap himself out of a doze to remember what he'd been doing. He might have forgotten completely, if the strange things he saw in his head hadn't kept reminding him, whenever he shut his eyes.
He shook his head and rubbed his eyes, hearing Mulroy's yawning voice. "Nope. Nothing yet."
"How many missing people in Michigan are there, anyway? And how come nobody's found them all yet?"
"Looking for something extra to do in your spare time?"
Mulroy rubbed his eyes this time. "With the number of files here, it's a wonder I haven't been busting my ass already trying to find half these people!"
"Two years...maybe three, next...what if she wasn't reported, Mul? It happens..."
"Don't even suggest that. I'll break your neck if I find out we've been looking through all of these for nothing."
Grabowski sighed. He stood up and stretched. The lights hurt his eyes after all that reading.
"So, what do you think happened to her?"
"Huh?" He glanced back at his friend, still shuffling through papers. His fingers were turning black.
"You know. What these guys were doing when they killed her."
"Oh." He lowered his arms and rubbed the back of his neck. "I don't know. All I know is she was scared shitless, and she was running for her life."
"What kind of guys shoot a lady who just gave birth?"
"Well, if you're going to start asking that, what kind of guys rape a pregnant lady and torture her until deciding to kill her?"
"Pregnant," Mulroy murmured. He stopped flipping papers and stared off into space.
Grabowski waited for him to continue, then frowned when he didn't. "Mul? What's in your head now?"
Mulroy looked up at him. "Months, didn't you tell me the coroner said? This was going on for months, right?"
"You just said they must've assaulted her while she was pregnant. We don't even know how long she's been missing yet." He shuffled the papers thoughtfully. "What if this all started before she was pregnant?"
Grabowski stared at him for a good long while. He didn't believe he wanted to even think about what Mulroy was suggesting.
He forced his mouth to open and work anyway.
"...Are you saying...you think she had the baby...because she'd been raped?"
"It's a suggestion." The detective chewed the inside of his mouth. "Not the only one. But as valid as any other."
"God. I don't think I even want to consider any of this."
"It's our job, Jon. You can't discount something because it personally disgusts you, else you're in the wrong line of work."
"I know...but what kind of sick bastards are these?"
"I can't explain that...I never understood criminals anyway." He pulled out another file and yawned widely. "Nancy's going to kill me. I was supposed to read James a story tonight."
"Be thankful they're both there for you," Grabowski said, without thinking. Mulroy glanced up at him questioningly, and he had to turn back to looking at the files or risk his friend seeing the embarrassment there. He hadn't meant to say it aloud, but he had anyway. At least the detective had a family to return to, somebody who would notice if he was missing.
He heard a slight sigh. "Don't worry, Jon. We'll find out who she is."
"I'm starting to think she's nobody. That's what makes this hardest."
"Nobody is nobody. Everybody has a past. We just need to find out how far back hers goes."
They fell silent but for the rustling of papers. The hands on the clock moved all too quickly. Grabowski sensed time running out.
Grabowski snorted awake, lifting his head and rubbing his eyes. Beneath him he saw the picture of an elderly man and the report naming him as missing. He glanced around him with some confusion before snapping into an automatic awake state and standing, turning toward the file cabinet.
"No, wait. I think I found something in 1967."
"Huh?" He rubbed his stinging eyes. "Didn't we finish that year?"
"You fell asleep, dumbass."
Grabowski snorted. "All right then, asswipe, what did you find?"
"I think I found our girl." He held up a manila folder with raised eyebrow. "Check it out."
The deputy received the folder and set it on the desk, opening it. The first thing he saw was the report itself, as cold and clinical as anything.
WEARING: MAROON SWEATER, DARK COAT, JEANS
LAST SEEN: WALKING HOME FROM STORE
RELATIONS: DOUG GRANT/FATHER LOUISA GRANT/MOTHER
"Two years," Mulroy said. "I think that's enough of a timeframe to get her pregnant and then dump her."
Grabowski was only half listening. He flipped the report page over and that was when he saw her. Lying beneath it was a photograph, of a young woman with shoulder-length brown hair and blue eyes, smiling at the camera. It may have been a graduation photo, for all he knew. He picked it up and looked at it.
"Amelia Grant," he whispered. "It's her."
Now, the first part of the job had been done. The nameless, friendless girl in the field was that no longer. Mulroy had just given her a name.
Grabowski leaned back in the bathtub, elbows resting on the edges. He held a copy of the small photograph before him and stared at it. Her. Stared at her. He wondered when this picture had been taken. She seemed so cheerful in it. To think that her life had changed so drastically since then...what had happened? And her family--what about them?
They're the ones who filed the report two years ago, Mulroy had told him, after doing a bit more digging around. But they moved away a year ago, out of state, from what I can tell. No forwarding address, no contacts, nothing...
No address? he'd echoed. Then what did they expect us to do once we found her?
For that question, he'd received as his answer a shrug. Maybe they just gave up on her, was all Mulroy could offer.
Gave up on her. They must have cared at one point, else they wouldn't have filed the initial report. Someone had noticed her missing that April night. Of course a year was a long time to wait when your child was missing. But he never would have given up, not in one year, not in twenty. Why had they left without any way to contact them? Even if it was just a body, and not a living person, the police had recovered...didn't they want to know?
He sighed and rubbed his forehead, nearly letting the photo drift into the water. No, he couldn't allow that; he lifted his hand and looked at it again, as if he'd forget what she looked like, as if burning her into his memory could preserve what was left of her somehow.
And the child...
Something touched his shoulder and he would have started, had he not heard the door open a moment before. She draped her arms over his shoulders and took the photo from him, bringing it closer to look at it.
"You've been thinking about her again."
He sighed. "I don't think I ever stopped." He stared down at his reflection, lighter this time. "I keep thinking what it's like to be completely alone. She didn't have anybody. Not her friends, not her family, not even her kid. In the end, all there was was just her lying in that field in the cold."
"You haven't forgotten about her yet."
"Yeah, but what good is this? I close my eyes now and I can practically see her there. It doesn't bring her back, and it doesn't tell me who did this or why."
"You have to stop beating yourself up. There are some things which just won't be resolved. You know that."
He gave a rueful smile. "You think I'd know that by now, huh?" He rubbed his eyes again. "Sorry I've been keeping you awake. Haven't been the best husband lately."
"That doesn't bother me, I just wish that you could get some more sleep. I'm always worrying that you'll doze off at the wheel or something."
"That's okay, I'll have Mulroy drive me around."
He heard her laugh softly and she kissed his cheek. "I don't know whether you're joking or serious, but either way it makes me laugh. If you can convince him to be your chauffeur, then I guess I just have one more thing to worry about." She stood and her hand brushed lightly against his face. "I hope you show up sometime tonight, it's like I'm the only one in this house. Goodnight."
He listened to her leave the room, shutting the door behind her. He moved his foot and the water rippled, each tiny wave obliterating the last. He'd meant to say one last thing--I'll never leave you alone in this house, ever--but the words had stuck in his throat and wouldn't come out.
Someone had been let down already. How many more?
Mulroy held an umbrella, Grabowski didn't. The rain wasn't that hard, and he was used to worse, such as the night he'd found her. It pattered cold and washed everything to the same dull blue-gray color. They'd had no idea even what religion she had been, if any, so a priest stood at the head of the newly dug grave, voice droning so he could barely hear it. Either that or he chose not to hear it. The words meant to console meant so little now.
He'd come to see the body--Amelia Grant (his mind seemed to repeat her name endlessly lately)--put into the ground, because he'd felt no one else would. He should have expected by now that Mulroy would show up as well, and he was grateful for the company. The two of them, and their wives and Mulroy's little boy, were among the handful that had shown up, the others being the medical examiner and a photographer, who had finally lowered his camera and stood watching in silence. He didn't know if he were press or police. It didn't really matter anyway.
The priest stopped his droning and stepped back. Grabowski stared at that hole in the ground, and suddenly felt a cold twinge of panic inside him. He felt as if he were the one going into the ground, by mistake, and no one was there to hear him screaming.
Mulroy nudged the young boy standing at his side and he stepped forward, toward the grave. Grabowski turned to watch him. He carried the copy of the photograph in his hands; the deputy had given it to the detective earlier on, and he assumed he must have given it to his son. He knelt at the edge and dropped it down atop the casket, then came jogging back to his place, rubbing dirt from his knees. The casket started to lower and he tugged at the detective's sleeve.
"Who was she anyway, Dad?"
There was a brief silence before the deputy heard the reply.
"Someone who died alone, son."
"People aren't supposed to die alone, are they?"
"No...that's why we're here, now. Hush a bit, and I'll explain it to you when we get home..."
Grabowski felt his throat constrict. Judie squeezed his hand and he squeezed back.
People aren't supposed to die alone, are they?
Nobody should ever have to die alone.
But she did. And her child...
"I feel like we failed somehow," he said quietly. Judie and Mulroy looked at him. "Not only can't we figure out who did this...but nobody was even there for her in the first place. And there's another one out there who might be alone, needing us, and we don't even know where to look."
Judie just stared at him, though he sensed she wanted to say something, but had nothing to say. Mulroy bit the inside of his mouth and glanced back at the grave.
"He, she is still out there. Don't ask me how I know, I just feel it in my gut."
"I don't think I've ever been completely alone," Grabowski murmured. He looked up at the lowering sky. "I just take it for granted. I can't stand to think of how she felt, but I can't help thinking of it anyway."
The silence filled the air again. He sensed the boy staring at him until his mother whispered something to him and walked him away, back toward the car. Judie still held his hand and he was both grateful that she was there, and guilty that anyone was there at all. He felt Mulroy squeeze his other arm.
"Jon, we'll find who did this. I promise. Even if it takes twenty years, we'll find them."
Cold blue-gray. He shut his eyes and felt the rain pick up, pattering on his face and upon everything else he could see and not see.
...But do I...really?