100 Themes 014 - Smile

Had lots of fun with this one, it's broken in the head. A lot of my stuff is at the minute :D Not sure why, but it's fun!

“And, last but not least, the trophy room.”

Their hollow smiles stared down from the walls; a slow count showed fifteen heads, all ages and ethnicities. DCI Neil McCormick swallowed, suddenly feeling a little grey, and moved forward slowly. The handcuffs attached to the suspect jingled as he was pulled along behind. Each head stared out into space as he began his monologue again, blinking behind thick glasses.

“I had to replace their eyes with glass ones, of course; medical prosthetic eyes, very realistic. The skin has been specially treated, and it won’t ever show age. I’m sure you’ve already worked out that, in every case, a large flat blade not unlike a guillotine was used in the beheading. Each one of these has been made exactly to the strictures of the order.”

The order. This again. The case had rattled on for months, and it was starting to look appalling on his record. Corpses turning up without heads, without hands, nearly impossible to identify. No matter what the press reported, DNA profiling still took weeks, especially out here in the sticks. When this man had walked in to the police station and given himself up, McCormick hadn’t been able to believe his luck. Since then, all the suspect had done was talk about the order.

“I really must thank you, Inspector, for allowing me to bring you out here. It’s not often that I can show my work to anyone.”

The burly inspector squared his shoulders and turned to face the suspect, keeping the trophies out of sight.

“Right then,” he rumbled, “Just like you asked, you’ve been brought out here by me. We’re alone. Start talking. Why have you done this?”

The suspect blinked. “Why have I done this? Isn’t it obvious, Inspector? You serve the Crown, and I serve my clients. We’re just at different ends of the business.” He rattled the handcuffs, making the long chain that connected him to McCormick snake back and forth.

The suspect adjusted his glasses and continued. “About a year ago, I was contacted by a special individual by the name of Jerrick. Business was bad, I was on the edge. I contemplated ending it all more than once. Jerrick showed me a surefire way to have my work noticed by all, become a household name. He commissioned sixteen works like this, with a large sculpture using the hands.” The short man leant forward and lowered his already-quiet voice conspiratorially. “I think, between you and me, Jerrick may be slightly, y’know, nuts.”

McCormick nodded along, slightly dazed. After months with no leads, it was all tumbling out at once. Then something clicked in his head.

“Sixteen trophies, you said. There are only fifteen here.” He narrowed his eyes. “Who was the sixteenth victim to have been?”

“Why, I believe it was to be Jerrick’s own brother. Something of a family feud, I’m told.”

“Hmm. A lot of it about, I’m told.” McCormick twisted uncomfortably, suddenly remembering his own broken promise to phone James. Something about a discrepancy in Mum’s will… he shook himself and focused on the suspect.

“Is there anything else I need to see?”

The little man smiled, positively glowing with the attention. “Yes, yes! I can show you the apparatus I use! It’s just down that hallway, first door on the left.”

McCormick strode over in the direction indicated, dragging the suspect after him. The door was ajar, a small amount of light spilling out onto the black carpet that seemed to stick to his shoes uncomfortably. There was a click as he stopped in front of the door, and as McCormick reached out to open the door, the hidden blade snicked out. Suddenly the room was turning over and over, and the ground was very near, but he could hear nothing above the rushing in his ears. The suspect, somehow free of his chains, was putting his hands around his head, as if moving in to kiss him, and then he was lifted free of the floor. The edges of his vision collapsed inwards, and DCI Neil McCormick just had time to see his own headless corpse collapse to the floor, and the small, professional smile of his killer.