Editor’s note: Adrenaline is a story from two members of the Writers of Tandem Fiction, a club at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. A tandem story is a story of any length that is written by more than one person. Usually, they are written by two people alternating paragraphs, but they may be written by any number of people.
Passages written in italics were contributed by Natasha Mishchenko.
All other passages were written by Aglika Darakchieva.
She had never seen something so…brilliant. This was the smartest criminal she had ever encountered. Who would leave something like “Good to meet you,” written on the wall…. And to top it all off, he had killed the man in the cellar, with the rope. Would her lack of experience at that popular board game present a problem later in the case?
Her name was Mrs. Maple, and she had been a detective for twenty-nine years. The title of missus still haunted her to this day, more than the occasional dead body that came from her memory into her dreams. Maybe, she thought, maybe this case would be the one.
Mrs. Maple was considered one of the best detectives on the force. She had encountered many cases similar to this, but this was just so exciting, yet disturbing. The sentence on the wall was in dark, dry blood as it was dripping while the killer wrote it. The blood was neither from the killer, nor the victim, well at least not this one. This man was the newest serial killer in New York. He had used his previous victim’s blood to write such greetings. They scared her, but she kept her cool.
Adrenaline. That was the word for what she felt, and she hoped desperately that that feeling would not leave. And that thought led her back to her husband. Oh how she had loved him! She did not think she could feel more ashamed of what she had done to him… But it was for his own good! He had no right trying to do what he did! And she was glad his murderer was never found. She knew what her job was. It was to create a sense of completion. A family always wanted to hear that a missing person was located, especially after long absences. The thoughts of what could have happened were torture, and every family she had ever spoken to had always preferred to know that a loved one was dead, rather than missing.
She had to get back to work now. She had to show everyone that though she was getting older, she was still as good a detective as she ever was. Her first task was to explore the house and surrounding areas, and what she found…let us just say the adrenaline feeling only grew.
She got through the spotless house. There were no clues whatsoever. Mrs. Maple finally got to the body. It was probably a week old, and decaying, slowly. The cold weather prevented most of the damage. Mrs. Maple was just another detective to be put on this case. There were three detectives before her, and they all died, murdered. She was one of the future victims. No, that ccould never happen, I’m too paranoid to let that happen, she thought to herself. But still there was an uneasy feeling flowing around her. What if she gets murdered, what if the killer is after her, what if…
What if she captures this guy? She had never received one of his cases before. Maybe she would be the one to put him behind bars, and then that good feeling would be back. She had known it before…She could not let her mind slip away anymore. She had to get back to her case. Just as she had thought, she soon became very interested in it indeed.
Forensics was done. It was clean and simple. A hanging. This man was a classical character. For a second she felt that she wanted to keep him loose, just to see what he would think of next. But then she snapped back and went to collect the blood test results.
“Well, this is very interesting and unusual. We’ve found blood from three different people! This’ll be a tough one, Angie.”
“I can handle it Mark. Thanks. So, how’s the wife?”
“She’s fine. She still wants to meet you, more than ever in fact.” “Well, we’ll have to arrange that. Goodbye.”
But Mark was right. Mrs. Maple even speculated that he was more correct than even he knew. Had the murderer cut himself? After a visit to the forensics lab, it was concluded that the man who was murdered, a rich businessman from the Upper East side, had not been cut. And from her work in his house, she had sensed that there were at most only two people who had entered that house in the last few months. “I hate it when Mark is right,” she sighed.
Mrs. Maple headed for home after she visited the lab. It was raining outside, horribly, and she didn’t have an umbrella. She quickly stopped a cab and gave her home address. As the cab pulled over she paid the driver and exited the cab. She entered her building, passing the doorman as she was heading for the elevator. She turned around and walked towards him.
“You keep records of who goes upstairs, right? I mean, any people who don’t live here and only visit, they’re signed in a book right?” The doorman nodded as Mrs. Maple smiled. “Thanks,” she said as she headed for the elevator. She got in and pressed her button. On the second floor a man entered the elevator.
“Good to meet you,” he softly whispered next to her ear while smiling evilly. Mrs. Maple jumped. The man was dressed all in black, and the shadow of his hat covered his face.
“You…” She was just about to say something when the man exited the elevator on the third floor. It was him… it was the killer.
Would she tell anyone that she saw him? How could she prove anything anyway? His face was concealed, and he left before they could talk. She even noticed that when he walked in he did not lean against the wall or touch anything but the button for the third floor, and he was wearing gloves.
When she got into the apartment, it surprised her that everything was normal. If the criminal could find her apartment building, he could surely find her apartment. Mrs. Maple scowled. She was always letting crazy thoughts into her head. She never admitted it to anyone, but it was those thoughts that usually led her to solve her cases. But this one, this one was absurd. There were no bombs or traps in her closet. There was nothing in the kitchen sink or refrigerator. Just to make sure, she checked her whole house anyway.
She did not think to inspect her phone.
Well it was too late to ponder on it now, so Mrs. Maple went to bed with her gun under her pillow. She had a right to be paranoid; she could barely sleep. This case was just killing her. She fi- nally fell asleep at two in the morning. She soon heard her alarm go off at its usual time, 6:00 A.M. She lazed around more than usual as she jumped out of bed by 6:05 and took a short, hot shower. She was dressing when she got a phone call. Her hands shook as she picked up the receiver “H-h- hello?” She heard a familiar voice on the other line.
“Hey, come quickly, I think I found something. How are you today anyway? I’ve never heard you stutter.” Mrs. Maple softly, but angrily responded.
“Mark, you scared the hell out of me…I’m coming, and about my condition, well…I’ll get over it.”
Mrs. Maple soon found herself in the elevator of her work building. It scared her, but as she got to her floor the feeling was gone. She got to Mark. “What, did you find anything?” She was so excited… Mrs. Maple felt so happy. Finally, something on the killer.
Just as quickly as her excitement had come, it disappeared. This was not about the killer!
So what you’re saying is, the man has been divorced, and one of his wives is under investiga- tion. That’s…that might go somewhere. You, keep working on that.”
She could not tell him the killer was male! Then she would have to do some further explain- ing, and this was just not an option right now. Her excitement had turned into despair. She was alone on this case. Not that she hadn’t always worked alone, but she had always conversed with Mark, to see what he thought. He was really more intelligent than he believed. Now, some strange woman was under investigation. It was ridiculous. The handwriting on the wall was clearly male! Mrs. Maple was sure they would find some evidence against the lady. That is how it worked. These cases took time…
Why had she not called in for handwriting analysis before? She figured that it simply did not occur to her that a message written in blood on a wall should be tested for handwriting. “The people at the office will think this is absurd.” But she now knew that it should have been the most obvious thing to do.
Mrs. Maple slowly walked into the dull, white interrogation room. A woman was sitting at the table intently following the detective with her eyes…”So what’s your name?” The woman looked at Mrs. Maple.
“Shirley Carlson.” Mrs. Maple looked at her.
“Would you please write the Pledge of Allegiance for me? If you don’t mind, we would like to do a handwriting analysis.” Shirley nodded as Mrs. Maple handed her a sheet of loose leaf and a pencil. Shirley started writing as the detective exited the room. She met up with Mark.
“Mark, I want you to keep an eye on her. Do the handwriting analysis, I need to do something.” Mark tried to stop her but she was already half-way down the hall. She got in the elevator as Mark followed her.
“Where are you going?” Mrs. Maple pressed the lobby button.
“To the crime scene.”
She remembered thinking that Mark was smart. As true as that still was, he was also very stubborn and somewhat ignorant at times. She had her camera, and she took multiple pictures of the murderer’s bloody message. She gave it to the same people who would analyze Shirley Carlson’s handwriting. It was her attempt to prove that she was innocent, and that in fact the murderer was male. She didn’t know she would be revealing more than she expected.
Mrs. Maple’s predictions were correct. “The handwriting is indeed male,” Mark claimed as Mrs. Maple smiled.
“And it didn’t match.”
“Yes, you told me so.”
Mrs. Maple looked at Mark.
“I need to go back to the crime scene. I know that there’s something more there….”
“Wait,” Mark said. “I can’t do this.” Mrs. Maple was confused. “I think we made a mistake.
Right after we officially proved Shirley to be innocent, he struck again.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. There was a pause. “Mark, what happened?”
“He killed her. I guess he was hoping she would be convicted. Even I was hoping that.”
This was not like him, she thought. Then she took it back. Who was she to think that she knew a murderer?
“Do not make friends with murderers.” Mark looked at her. “Just some general advice,” she quickly added.
She went over the entire house again. Or at least, that was her plan, and she wanted to stick with her plan.
“Don’t act like much is different.” Luckily she had started in the attic. The cellar was the last place she looked, and as she expected, there was a new message written there. “That’s what you get. I thought you were my friend.”
“Okay, totally out of place here…” Mrs. Maple was wondering what the killer meant. Why, why did he think that she was his friend? She ran down to the lobby and headed for the doorman. Mrs. Maple showed her badge and asked to see the visitors list for the last month. She took it for handwriting analysis. “Thanks. I need this for a case, I will bring it back. You won’t get in trouble.”
“Not even one of the names matches the handwriting on the wall!” Mrs. Maple cried. “Damn it Mark, I was so close.” Mark nodded. “Listen, I’m going to Shirley’s place. I want to see if there’s anything I could find there. You check out the events that happened during the last few weeks. Any weird events, any irregularities. I think there’s something that doorman didn’t tell me.” Mrs. Maple and Mark separated ways. Mrs. Maple arrived at Shirley’s. The small apartment was neat, but she could feel someone roaming around the empty rooms.
“Hello? …Is someone there?” All of a sudden, there was a loud bang. It was followed by heavy footsteps, and before Mrs. Maple knew it, the murderer got behind her and….
“I thought you were my friend,” said the man, and Mrs. Maple heard him right before she passed out.
“Well, Mrs. Maple, you’re lucky to have your memory, and you can check out tomorrow!”
She just looked at him. Why was there a doctor in front of her? “What happened?” As she finished her question a nurse came in and asked the doctor to come with him right away. Mrs. Maple just sat there, trying to collect her thoughts. Shirley was dead, she remembered. And she had been searching her house when the murderer had hit her. She thought the doctor was wrong. She was lucky just to be alive. This was not her first time treating a murder case as a game, but it was the first time that so many things had gone wrong.
Mrs. Maple stayed in the hospital, alone. No one went to visit her. Mark never came. She waited and waited. But why did she care so much about him? Why? Because she was attracted to him. He was the only person who actually really talked to her. But why? He was married, he didn’t really have feelings for her. He was only a good friend. Mrs. Maple shook off the thought as she got up from her bed. She paced around the room just so that she can get her stiff body to wake up. “I’m getting old.”
“No, you’re not.” a strange, yet familiar voice crept up behind her. “You are the perfect age…” Mrs. Maple turned around, expecting everything, expecting the worst.
“Mark! Gosh, you scared me!”
“Yeah, sorry about that. I came just to tell you, there was another victim. By the way, I wasn’t lying. You’re not old.” Mrs. Maple chuckled. There was something in Mark’s voice that made her feel uneasy.
“Who was the victim?”
“I don’t think that it is anyone really relevant to your case now. It sort of is important to the rest of the police force though. The murderer has killed the man’s other wife.”
“Are you kidding me? We could have questioned her. And so you know, Mark, any death is important to me!” This was unlike him. “What is with you?” He didn’t realize. He seemed very preoccupied, and Mrs. Maple rethought her question. “Is everything okay, Mark” He looked at her, and it seemed as if he was about to explain something terrible. Tears came to his eyes, and he looked at the ground. All of a sudden, Mark grabbed Mrs. Maple’s arm tightly as the door burst open.
“I know who the killer is,” he whispered in her ear. Maple jerked and her face showed surprise.
The doctor headed for Mrs. Maple. “I need to conduct a few tests, is that okay, Mrs. Maple?” She nodded as Mark headed for the door.
“Mark, who is it?” He turned to her as he exited the door.
Mrs. Maple finally got out of the hospital, anxious to talk to Mark…
She could not find him however. She hoped that he had not gone searching for the murderer, but she hoped more that the murderer had not found him. It would have to wait, though, because she had more to do.
After talking to the families of the three that had been murdered so far, and some friends and neighbors as well, Mrs. Maple decided that the murderer had nothing to do with any of these people, and they had nothing to do with him. The messages he left in their blood also had nothing to do with them. In fact, they were definitely written to the person who would find the bodies. Mrs. Maple realized, “It’s a trap!” He was after her! But, what had she done?
Mrs. Maple went to the most recent site with Mark. He was acting so weird lately. “Mark, are you okay?” Mark was preoccupied and was lost in his thoughts… “Mark?”
As Mrs. Maple finished checking the small apartment, she finally found a finger print. “Mark! I found something!” Mark didn’t move as he looked at her. “Mark! Mark!”
Then Mrs. Maple woke up. “It was a dream…” she said. She decided to investigate the site from her dream. It had been…from another murder! Was there another murder? In the dream she was…in Mark’s house!
She was there fifteen minutes later. All of the lights were off, even though it was about time that there should be movement inside. She knocked on the front door. She was breathing hard, and she could see her breath in front of her. No one was answering, so she took a key from under a flowerpot near the outside left window.
She slammed the door open, and quickly lost her confidence and adrenaline. There was something about the inside of the house that was chilling. In the kitchen breakfast was set, but it had not been touched. The pancakes were cold and the cereal was soggy. In the den, a lamp was broken, and no one had picked it up. This was too much.
She heard a noise from the upstairs hallway, and she decided to quietly go investigate. The third step up the stairs always creaked, she remembered, so she skipped it. She was not too old for this. When she saw Mark, she ran to him, and the adrenaline was back. He looked very scared.
His eyes appeared to be telling her to stop, but she kept going. Before she knew it, she heard a noise behind her and felt the tip of a gun against the back of her head. The murderer said “Welcome back. I knew you were my friend.”
“Let her go!” yelled Mark. He was weeping. He looked down to his left, and Mrs. Maple followed his gaze. She saw, but she could not believe it. There was a fourth body, just like in her dream. She looked at Mark because she could not make out a face. From his eyes she knew. It was his wife.
“How could you?” she yelled. The murderer just smiled.
“I hope you will be my friend. Not the man though. He won’t be our friend. I already asked him.” He smiled again.
“I am Mrs. Maple’s friend.” He looked at her. Then he turned back to the murderer. “You better leave her alone. I don’t even care what you do to me!”
“Mark!” yelled Mrs. Maple. She didn’t deserve those words from him, and she told him so then and there. It did not make the murderer happy. He suddenly bent down and began to cry. His gun was still in his hand, and it was still pointed at Mark. When no one moved or said anything, he looked up.
“You’re right. She’s not my friend. Maybe…” He smiled to himself. “Maybe. I still have one more chance.” He smiled. In a second he was rushing at Mark, not with a gun, but with a knife. His gun was on the ground. He knew it was better to use a knife, and the blood from a knife was easier to write with. Mark tried to back away but tripped. The murderer stopped running and stood over him. He pointed his knife, but heard a creak and turned.
The next thing Mark felt was the murderer’s bloody body falling on him. The falling knife had missed him only by an inch. He got out from under the body and looked at Mrs. Maple, who had a gun in her hand.
“Adrenaline,” she said. “Mysterious thing.”