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Reflections of the 2018 #AtoZ Blog Challenge: The Abysmal Dollhouse

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A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

For all the information you could ever want about the AtoZ Blog Challenge, Click:  Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

This was my fifth AtoZ Blog Challenge:

The rules are simple: During the month of April, you commit to writing 26 blogs, each day based off the run ot the alphabet. Up to you how you do that. Blog hop around, read and comment on other blogs, build a community. Don’t sleep. You had to sign up through the AtoZ main page. From that, most people chose and announced their Theme (more below): I signed on late, missed that, and, well…I had no idea what I was going to do up to two days before it started.

Yes, I am that unorganized.

I actually had another idea that I thought would be funny, but when I realized the main character I wanted to use was verbotten, the idea lost all its allure. Quelle dommage. That had me in a bit of a spin; I asked on Tale Spinning if anyone wanted to see me continue some previous storylines that I liked, or should I try something new. I got two: TWO, and only two, requests. Hence, The Abysmal Dollhouse.

I have written TAD stories since 2012. Almost always positive comments. A few followers suggested I should add more to the oeuvre and publish it. Hemming and hawing, procrastinating, all my usual excuses for not committing fully added up to one fact: I didn’t.

Scared? Insecure? A rough number of years on so many levels? No motivation? Creativity and passion just drained away?  Lump them all together and I just never carried it through, letting the ideas pretty much just lay there, occasionally bursting forth. Definitely not often enough. Tale Spinning was pretty much an empty space for the last couple of years.

In actuality, boredom with my life, and myself, kicked me in the arse.

I’m what is known as a Pantser: I don’t prewrite, rarely have an outline, especially for continuing series that I like, and only have a basic idea that I use as a jumping off point. When I started off this round of TAD, I just thought I’d continue on my “Monster of the Week” stories, letting the letter of the day create my title, which then started my writing for the day.

One thing I do do (hee hee. Oh, sue me) is take a little bit of time for research. In this case, I just went online and found a whole bunch of Weird, Murder, or Haunted Houses around the world. I chose a number of places that I thought would be great prompts for every day of the challenge. Didn’t use even half of what I found, this go around.

Something happened that changed in me really early on in the process: I started creating a backstory/mythology for the series and began to drop hints and clues about the backgrounds of The Unfolding Doll and the Shopkeeper. Yes: I started to shed my pantsing and began-gasp!-planning. Not 100%, still no outline, but things were starting to gel and I got much more invested in what I was writing.

I look at it this way: X-Files had many episodes of Monster of the Week, with episodes of their mythology scattered here and there. A MOTW episode could still give us more background info on Scully & Mulder while kinda sorta avoiding the BIG story. Character development and whatnot. That’s how I was viewing all this.

Then the next change happened: I got some new readers, who commented, questioned, told me what they liked, and I felt they were really invested in what was going to happen next. I had that in 2016 with that year’s storyline (link at top of the page), but not to this extent. It kind of added to the challenge for me; it definitely altered my thinking on the storyline.

The ending may seem rushed (it was) but I had dropped hints and clues in many of the stories. It’s hard to fill in all the details when I was trying to limit the daily posts to around 1,000 words. Many people will skip a long posting, and I know I lost potential readers for that reason. Nothing I can do about that. I’m sure many will pass up this reflection for the very same reason. Quelle dommage, part two.

For those who might have missed the main posting where I dropped a lot of clues, go to the “I” posting: In The Absence Of…

A couple of more things: please bear with me.

One thing I’m “frustrated” with are the posts that I thought I was being witty with. Alas, alas, alas.  Too gimmicky? Too obtuse? Spot on? No idea: no feedback. Jabber Wonky was my attempt to play on the Jabberwocky poem in Alice in Wonderland (which gave me the reason to rhyme what goes on in The Child’s mind). I used some of the verbal tomfooleries in the piece, more as an homage; In Quoth the Riven, I think it was pretty obvious. I actually wrote following the path Poe’s poem took. One of my favorite pieces by him.; Orchestra! Curtain! Lights! was my wink to one of my favorite things-animation. It’s the opening lyrics from “The Bugs Bunny Show” theme song. My story has nothing to do with Bugs & Daffy, but Orchestra! was my jumping off point for the tale.

I did not blog hop as much as I was hopping to. I always say I’ll do more, and I did, this year, but I fall far short of others. My apologies. I did happen to come across some wonderfully written blogs along the way and picked up some new blogging friends. I’d like to thank (in no particular order): David, Debs, Sharri, Ms. Wolf, Iain, Jo, Jacqui, Varard, and Melanie. If I’ve forgotten anyone, please forgive me. As to previous readers/bloggers: thanks for sticking with me. Roy: didn’t make that many mistakes this time around, eh?

Special thanks go to Arlee Bird for starting this whole thing, and to the hosts who share the duties. It’s been a blast of a month. Next year? When the time comes, we’ll find out.

Thank you, everyone.

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Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Please check back on Monday, May 7th, for my Final Reflections. Thank you.

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Epilogue: Zephyr, A Caress

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Grief lasts as long as it will last. There is no timetable when it should end, no scale for how deep it should be. Nothing to say grief won’t return. It is its own living thing, and it either eats away at you or strengthen your resolve to go on, to mourn, to let go.

The Shopkeeper embraced hers as an inner sore: on the outside, she presented herself as was her norm. A freshly starched white buttoned blouse, the top button fastened, her fingers assuring her of this fact. She smoothed down the black fabric of her ankle-length skirt. Putting on her apron, she winced, tying it a touch too tight. She left it as it was, as she had done every time since…

In the many weeks since the incident, the Shopkeeper took her time getting to know all the new dollhouses. They appeared, without ceremony, taking residence in the places of the ones that had been destroyed. Malcanisen remained by her side as she ambled about. She still found some of the debris scattered in the most unlikely of places around the shoppe; but, once found, they simply faded away once she wasn’t looking.

This new crop of minature replicas had wants and needs, just as the previous tenants of her shoppe had. When the opportunities presented themselves, they murmured the same “mine, mine, mine” as the ones now absent. But, things were not status quo as before. Far away enough that it brought something new to the Shopkeeper: worry.

There was a balance shift with the new: more unhappiness, more anger, more depravity. These dollhouses outnumbered those that exuded more peaceful memories and needs. The Shopkeeper did not like this new shift at all. Yet, there was little she could do about the denizens about her. Only another upheaval could, hopefully, tip the balance in the other direction, creating a more harmonious setting.

What she could do, she did. Once she had the feel of the new she began to rearrange the placement of the houses. The darker abodes were situated near lighter natured dollhouses; when she could cluster them, she did. There was a stabilizing effect for a short while, but distinct grumblings permeated the shoppe after the first reshuffling. Twice more she shifted locations around the shoppe; on this third try, the houses seemed to accept their lots. The Shopkeeper was pleased, but not entirely happy.

The window display took on a whole new life. A magnificent replica of the Castle of Goeie Hoop stood there, majestic in scope, taking the whole of the display space. Many called out for their due when the new door chimes tinkled; sometimes many hushes from the Shopkeeper was needed to silence them. Occasionally, when she was at her counter, waiting, sounds of gunfire could be heard. The Shopkeeper would look over with a scowl; the noise ceased. Always.

She had begun to avoid the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée best she could. The Wall of Skulls underwent a thorough cleansing of what had been displayed before. All forty-two specimens were new, with new nameplate labels. She had glanced at them early on, missing a few, especially Sigurd. She felt them all yearning to tell their stories, their need overwhelming. It disturbed her deeply; she kept it locked, a drastic change in her dusting duties.

It was one skull in particular that had her in knots. While she was privy to some ghastly knowledge from many in her care, there was that one: she wasn’t ready for it, wasn’t sure if she would ever be ready to hear the telling of this one’s tale.

The label only read “Child.”

Duster in hand, she busied herself around the shoppe, doing her best not to glance towards the empty far corner.

*** *** ***

The soldier only vaguely remembered the incident. He had a new scar that was painful if he placed any real weight on it. He had no concrete awareness of how he got this scar or even the when or the where. All he knew was it ached at times, and was only one of many scars all over his body. He carried it like the others.

There was a stiffness in his right hand, the outer two digits especially. His EMT buddy said it was probably a bad case of Trigger Finger since they sometimes get locked into a bent position. He was able to release them, so he didn’t bother checking out a doctor for it.

“Look, Tom. A Zayat ahead. I could use a rest stop.” His companion, Mary, tired easily, but he was more than fine with that. Her recovery from her stabbings was labeled a miracle by the nurses that tended her. His EMT buddy thought so too, having read Mary’s charts, even though he wasn’t supposed to.

Tom had awakened one day at the hospital, sitting by Mary’s side, no idea how he had gotten there. He remembered tracking Mary’s assailant, and that was it. The next thing, he’s by her side, an aching scar, stiff right hand, and an awake Mary staring at him. Her smile filled her face when she saw he was awake.

The nurses had told her all about the guy who had brought her in, most likely saving her life. They said he sat by her side more days than they kept count, talking to her comatose form, keeping on eye on her while she was out. He disappeared for a bit, and they all thought he had given up hope, but-surprise-he was back, and just after she, also, was back.

They talked for a long time, first about her attack and the aftermath. Mary was upset that her assailant had not been found, but was also relieved that there had been no further sightings or attacks. Tom was a reassuring presence for her, and she wound up being the same for him.

After her discharge, they got closer. Close enough to the point that he easily asked her to come with him: he needed to travel, come to some peace in his being with the loss of his brothers, and the guilt he still felt for falling asleep while on sentry. She agreed, without a second’s thought.

The Zayat was simple but more than sufficient, as all the others they had stumbled upon. They rested, found fresh food and water, and stayed for a few of the religious occasions that happened around them. Mary had an idea that Tom readily agreed to: they were given permission to stay and help tend this particular Zayat, for the time being, keeping it clean, helping with any chores that needed doing, and welcoming other travelers seeking shelter.

Their lives, for the time being, was enriched by this Zayat, the Jivitandana Sangha, and they enriched it, finding peace and love.

*** ***

The Shopkeeper was resting in her back room, fresh scone devoured, a second cup of tea steaming by her side on the table. She had closed her eyes, leaning into her padded chair. Malcanisen was at her feet; on her feet, more accurately, snoring away. Cleaning around the shoppe, tending to those who entered, the houses that wanted: it all still left a hole in the whole affair.

She had thought with the death of the murderer, the vengeance sought and achieved, that she would be released from her binding. As the Unfolding Doll seemed to have been. There had been nothing left of it from the fire that consumed Muirhouse and its woodshed. There had been no shimmering from the far corner, now less shadow filled than it had ever been. She was left, and it was gone, and the pain in her heart was so severe at times, the grief that subsided but rose again, and again.

Something prevented her from moving on. She racked her memory of everything that happened after that night at the Carousel, her then grief turning into a burning pledge of hatred and revenge. Promises made, from her and…promises made, but not kept, it seems, for her.

Collecting herself, she began to breathe in deeply, hold the breath, and let it out slowly. She continued this, calming herself into a single path of breath. It eased through her, a wind of her own making. It carried out a host of inner turmoil, a monsoon of sadness. She rested for a long time.

Until.

She came awake instantly. The Shopkeeper wasn’t sure if she had dreamed it, or…but, no, there it was, slight but there. A tap, tap, tapping…and it was near, so near.

Malcanisen bounded out of the back room. The Shopkeeper jumped out of her chair and ran through the threshold into the shoppe. Stopping suddenly by her counter, she looked around the entire area, looking under, behind, around; no one was there. Malcanisen sat down, eyes on her.  Tears that she thought she had been finished shedding started to well up once again as her heart shattered once again.

Until.

She glanced down. On the top of her counter was a knife. Long and sharp looking, it had a sheen that caught the light in the shoppe and sent spiraling of colors into the air, a prism of steel. She took hold of the hilt of the blade and brought it up, level with her heart, and held it there.

Looking in the far corner, it was again clouded in the deepest, darkest shadow.

And it was unfolding.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

Here we are: the end of this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge. During the month of April 2018, the challenge required that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. On Monday, May 7th,  there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers. If you travel back to the main page of the AtoZ Blog Challenge, you’ll find other blogs that participated. Many, I’m sure, will pique your interest, as many did mine.

On May 7th, all of the participants of the AtoZ Challenge are asked to post a reflection on the month’s process: afterthoughts, explanations, frustrations/elations, and whatever else may come to mind.

****After you read the Z post on Monday, April 30th, I will be asking YOU for questions, ponderings, or suggestions you might still have. I found a number of editorial mistakes when I copied and pasted the stories into a Word file (thank you, Grammarly) and already did some (minor) editing. So, if you’ve been with me all along, or just finding your way into The Abysmal Dollhouse, April 30th will be a good time to pose what’s on your mind. I will do my best to answer/address all on the reflection (mentioned above).

Any queries must be posted by Friday, March 4th.

As to what happens next with Tale Spinning &/or The Abysmal Dollhouse…time will tell.

Thanks for reading along.

Yowling, It Came: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Yowling, It Came

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Separating itself from its shadowed corner faster than it ever had, the Unfolding Doll felt its prey before it saw him. He had drawn his blade from the figure on the ground. The doll noticed the Shopkeeper, having grabbed her broom, begin her finger placements. But the prey was turning towards her, too fast. Too fast. As it took it all in, the Unfolding Doll grabbed The Serpent House and flung it at the back of his head. Connecting, it slithered down in pieces.

Off balance for only a moment, the attacker, the murderer, the child turned to see who was behind him. He noticed only the Unfolding Doll’s knife, long and sharp, and bringing up his Vorpal blade, he snarled. “WHERE IS SHE? WHERE IS SHE!!”

Smashing into the display in front of him, dollhouses were jettisoned off their perches. The Unfolding Doll leaped on top of the showcase in front of it and bounded towards its quarry.  Its blade came sweeping down, going for the throat, but the Vorpal blade came up quickly, deflecting the attack.

The doll threw itself at the murderer, wrapping its linen body around him, tightening and squeezing, folding in. He struggled, trying to pry the thing off of him. Down they both went, bones cracking in him, rents being made in the doll from his blows. They tumbled over the floor, under the tables, into the displays, onto and around the soldier lying there, a growing pool of blood leaking out.

He wrestled his blade free and with a slice cut through the Unfolding Doll’s restraining left arm. He leveraged himself up by grabbing one of the display cabinets, toppling more houses to the floor.

All through this, the Shopkeeper held her broom and chanted subvocally. The air in the shoppe grew dense as she worked on eliminating this threat. Eliminating this…thing, that killed an innocent, killed what was hers, killed what she had loved. Malcanisen was suddenly at her side, guarding her. His growl was terrifying, but he gave her a needed boost. She focussed her emotional energy into her focal point, sparks flying off around her. As the killer took a step towards the Unfolding Doll, the Shopkeeper let loose a blast that took him in the side and sent him flying over the soldier’s still form and partially into the front display section.

The Unfolding Doll bent to pick up its knife with its right hand, the left arm hanging by threads. The Shopkeeper noticed that it was already beginning to mend itself; she had some power left and gave it to the doll. The arm was reforming quicker, and the various rents around its body were stitching themselves, sealed and whole once again.

Regaining his wind, the killer groaned, pain lancing through his middle where he hit the frame. He picked up his head and saw his Vorpal knife just past his hand. He raised himself enough to grab hold of it. In doing so, he noticed what else occupied the display area.

Muirhouse was there. Hated, hated house. Besides it…’NO!” he bellowed. From the dollhouse came the voice of the woman he despised more than anything. “Mine, mine, mine,” it beckoned. Standing on shaky legs, he grabbed his Vorpal knife in both hands and then crawled onto the shelf. On his knees, blade held high above Muirhouse, he yowelled out his pain, his fear, his anger, his deep, deep hatred.

The Shopkeeper yelled “NO!” as the Unfolding Doll vaulted onto the display, shoving her blade into his back as he drove his Vorpal blade into the house. The cut was deep but not fatal, and they thrashed and went after each other, trying to end the other’s existence.

The injured monster kicked the Unfolding Doll. It rolled along the parlor floor, coming too close to the flames in the fireplace. Standing just in front of the window was the hated Mrs. Harris. She had been looking out and up, but now was witness to the invaders of her home, her prison.

“Child,” she grimaced, “It is almost 4:00 pm.”

For a moment, he froze. Only a moment, where every despicable thing ever was done to him played an encore in what was left of his mind. He howled, ran over, and skewered Mrs. Harris. One jab, then a second. He pulled his Vorpal blade out, raising it out and back, and brought it through an unbroken arc. Mrs. Harris’s head slid off her neck, rolling onto the throw rug.

He had forgotten the Unfolding Doll. It had not forgotten him, watching the scene play out. Its knife, lost somewhere in the window display, reformed in its hand. It took its knife and slowly made its way along the fireplace mantel, tap, tap, tapping the blade.  He turned just as the doll plunged the blade, driving it into his shoulder.

Tripping over an ottoman, he tumbled onto the floor, the Unfolding Doll following. He was by the fireplace, losing blood along the way. Without a thought, as the doll pounced on top of him, he shoved his hand into the fire and, hand blistering, brought out a burning log of wood, knocking the flaming pile out of the fireplace. The logs rolled this way and that, setting first the rug on fire, which caught with speed. The fire spread, fast and deadly, its hissing noise an exclamation of what it was devouring.

The Shopkeeper did her best to contain the fire, Malcanisen at first trying to drag her away from the flames. The power that had waned was full again, and she used it to the shoppe’s advantage. While the window area was apart from the rest of the shoppe, the fire burned bright and hot. Flames leaped out, catching onto some shelving, cremating a few dollhouses in its way, but it did not become the tsunami of destruction it wanted to be.

Broom in hand, the Shopkeeper walked over to display window. Nothing remained of Muirhouse except for ashes and a burnt display flooring. Also gone were the Muirhouse’s woodshed and two other dollhouses she had just placed there: the Movie Palace and the Carousel Pavilion were gone as well.

She checked the soldier; he was still living, but just so. Walking towards the back of the shoppe, the area with the least amount of damage, the Shopkeeper found the Saint Michael’s Hospital dollhouse. She brought it over to the soldier, placed its entrance close to his side, and unlatched the front. The shopkeeper asked Malcanisen to turn his duty over to this man. And he did, staying by his side.

As the Shopkeeper went around the shoppe, righting a cabinet, picking up and replacing the fallen houses, the broken houses slowly faded away. One by one, new dollhouses appeared, taking the waiting spaces, placards in place with the house’s legend.

The front door and the display case, taking the worst of it, mended itself, but it was not a quick fix. The counter with spider web cracks was fusing together, and slowly the shoppe began to feel whole again. Some chirppings of “Mine, mine, mine” were starting to be heard, silent through all the altercations. The Shopkeeper just said “Hush” as she went around, putting in the finishing touches.

She waited a long time near the shadowed corner, searching for any movement, any unfolding of shadow to light. None came. By the time she gave up, the shoppe was whole again, new houses in place, debris cleaned up and gone, the door and window area immaculate, and a new door chime was in place, waiting to tinkle upon someone’s arrival.

The Shopkeeper went to her back room, turning on the light. A fresh, warm orange glazed scone was waiting for her, alongside a cup of the finest Earl Grey’s. She moved her padded chair so that she had a better view across the shoppe. She sat, nibbled her scone, sipped her tea, stared out at the shadowed corner, and cried.

“Sarah,” she grieved.

Monday April 30th: Epilogue

 

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Xanthippe’s Rage: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Xanthippe’s Rage

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The soldier had been tireless in his tracking. He had moved beyond the area where the girl (Mary) had been attacked. Weeks had passed since the incident and he knew more. One of the EMT’s had been in country, same tour, different times, but they bonded on the way to the hospital, bumping into each other while the soldier looked over Mary. The EMT had connections with some of the street cops. Sightings got passed down the line; the soldier followed them up, often going further when the police stopped.

One lead took him to an abandoned campsite. Stacks of wood had been piled up by a fire pit made of stones. The ash remains were old, dry and cold, and much of the wood was green, hacked up in a haphazard way. He knew he was in the right place, or a right place, because the immediate area had a heavy smell of burnt wood. It was thick, leaving a sour taste to the air around the pit. The soldier had set up a nest, bivouaced, but a day turned days; frustration set in deep after a week. No one returned. Not kids. Not hunters. Not the attacker. The soldier left, went back to the hospital, hoping some new info would be available.

There was. He moved on it ASAP!

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The Shopkeeper went around the shoppe, dusting, sweeping, moving one dollhouse here, one there. An older dollhouse would leave, a new one taking its place. People were drawn in. Only a very few left. It was all as usual.

The droning from the Muirhouse grew irritating the longer it went on. Nothing had come of it, and the energy of the house was draining away. The Shopkeeper had continued to steer potentials away from it, having placed the dollhouse in the display window, far enough from the pulling in; hoping that its calls of “Child, come!” would travel easier, grab its prey, and bring the monster to them.

It was all as usual, except the Unfolding Doll was spending less time in its shadowed corner and more time visiting the expanse of dollhouses. The Shopkeeper tried to stop this escalation, but the best she could do was lower its frequency, if not the manic drive. The Shopkeeper thought only one thing had changed in her favor: the Unfolding Doll had ceased trying to attack her. She knew it was only for the time being, but she was relieved by the respite.

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They chased, they chased, and still she bawled
"Child, come! Child, come!"; Oh, he'd heed that call. 
Wiffling through briar and cement
His Vorpal blade would cause lament!

It's close, so close, that hated voice
He had to come; he had no choice. 
He'd send the blade through and through
Make him come; Oh, how they'd rue...

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“HE’S COME! HE’S COME!”

The cry from the Muirhouse, so piercing it shook the Shopkeeper, just as she had hung up her duster. The door to the shoppe smashed open, the doorbell flew off, tinkling off-key as it skittered across the floor.

His smell hit her first, foul and acrid before he bounded over and backhanded her with his left hand. The Shopkeeper fell back, hitting her counter, causing the glass to grow spider web cracks. He stood glaring at her, eyes wide open, his mouth open revealing rotted and blackened teeth, what ones were still in place.

“You! You called me!” He advanced, knocking over two dollhouses that crashed to the floor. “You…no. Not you.” He stopped, having grabbed the Shopkeeper by her arm, preventing her any space to grab her broom.

“No, I know that hated voice. Where. Is. She?”

In his free hand, he reached into his left side coat pocket and drew out a short sword. The Shopkeeper took in its polish, knew, without doubt, its sharpness. The tip so pointed, looming closer.

“WHERE IS SHE?” he shouted, raising the sword high.

The Soldier hurtled through the broken doorway, tackling the attacker and away from the Shopkeeper. The smell was intense this close, but he needed to get the sword away from this madman. He had been so damn close to catching him out on the street, but the bastard had noticed him in a store window. The soldier gave chase for three blocks before finally…

The hilt of the sword battered into the Soldier’s skull, stunning him. The murderer kicked the soldier off of him and gained his feet. With space, so did the Soldier. As did the Shopkeeper.

She, aching and bloodied, went for her broom. She reached out with her right hand to grip the handle, but it slid out of her grasp, slick with the blood running down her arm. She went for it again and succeeded. Turning to face the fray…turning to face…if the handle hadn’t slipped…

The sharp pointed tip of the blade, the honed edges, the gleaming strong metal, pierced the soldier, deep. The soldier choked as he fell to his knees. Mouth opened in a shout that did not come, eyes popping wide, the soldier tried to grasp the blade with his right hand, losing the mirror fingers of his left.

The Shopkeeper screamed “NO!” as she leveled up her broom, the murderer turning his attention back to her.

As the soldier fell to the floor, as his blood dripped off the Vorpal blade, as the Shopkeeper made her stand…

The Unfolding Doll, knife in hand, burst out of its shadowed corner.

To be continued…

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Author’s note: ASAP in civilian life means “As soon as possible”. In military lingo, it means “IMMEDIATELY.” Just thought I’d let ya know before someone thinks the soldier wouldn’t move with haste in this case.

X-Folders (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

**To read the first parts of this story line: Venus Ascending and Witch’s Moon

X folders

“X-Folders”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Bullets slammed into the living room through glass, plaster, and brick. Everyone hit the floor after the window shattered. Rovas rolled across the floor towards the front door of the apartment. Gil and Berrak dragged Tina as fast as they could to the side kitchen. Tina was bleeding and unconscious. Rovas counted ten shots in all.

The noise from the street returned, horns honking and people screaming. Rovas lifted his head slightly, wincing when he saw Gil trying to staunch the blood flow from Tina’s side. Berrak was on her knees, looking for, and finding, clean towels.

“Berrak, stay down!,” he whispered across the room. “Are either of you hit?” After they both shook their heads, he dug his cell out and was calling 911.

“Tell them to hurry. I think she’s going into shock.”

Berrak reached up and pulled the table cloth off the table, sending utensils and napkins all over the place. She did her best to wrap her niece up while Gil continued applying pressure. Rovas finished with the call just about the same time he heard police sirens coming up the street and stopping before the building. No other shots had been fired.

“Gil. Ten rounds, piercing the brick wall. M82?”

Sweat was leaking down his head. He raised a hand to wipe it away from his eyes, leaving a trail of blood across his brow. It took a moment for him to answer. “That would be my guess. It makes sense. Used by a lot of police, now; Military sniper made easy.”

Rovas crawled over to the window after he unlocked the door. Berrak told him to stay down as well, but…easier said than done. He raised a piece of curtain up using a couch pillow he grabbed. No bullet chased it down. He was just inching up to look out when the police arrived, followed by paramedics. Traffic going in and out of the apartment was hectic until the inspecting detectives showed up and took over.

Tina was rushed to the hospital while Rovas, Berrak, and Gil gave their statements. None of them were hurt beyond scratches from flying masonry and glass, which were treated there. Rovas had a gash over his left eye that was bandaged. Gil was fussed over due to all the blood on him, but they let him be once it was determined it all came from another source. All three were expected at the ER for a thorough exam.

Berrak left for the hospital, more to be with her niece, once she assured Rovas she was all right and that he wasn’t hurt more than he’d admit. She gave him a long hug and then left with a one of the police men; Rovas had insisted. He looked out the window while listening to Gil’s account of what happened. He only put his full attention back to the investigators once he noticed Berrak getting into a squad car.

Bullets were being dug out of the walls and flooring. “Looks like a .50 caliber. Lab will tell us definitely.” The lead detective, Miles, was looking at what was left of the bullet. He placed it the evidence bag and took off his gloves. “So, neither of you saw who did this. Nor did your wife, I know.” He took them out onto the landing and down the stairs. When they got to the street, he kept the two of them to the side, away from prying ears. A crowd had formed and was sticking around. Press was only just arriving.

“We canvassed the area. No casings on the roof across the street where it looks like the shots came from. Prints a plenty; again, lab work. There is one thing: does a fairly tall blond male, Caucasian, ring any bells? Most everyone was running to the building after the shots stopped. He was noticed by a few running away, up the street.” He pointed north. “A car almost hit a couple of teens coming this way.”

“Peters!” both Rovas and Gil said at the same time. They looked at each other. Rovas explained the connection. While the detective made his notes, Gil was doing his best to look around the area. He didn’t see anyone that even came close to looking like Peters.

Eventually they were allowed to leave, exchanging contact information so that all parties could be in the loop. Getting in the car, Rovas was silent as they headed to the hospital to check on Tina and Berrak. He startled Gil when he hit the door with his fist.

“Dammit. I should not be doing this. Those case folders, Gil. Tina would still be hiding, safe. You wouldn’t have gotten shot. Berrak wouldn’t be risking her life…”

“Yes, we’d all be better off. You know as well as I, though, that was not going to happen. Think of the Palmont children, if nothing else. They are free right now because of your tenacity.”

“Tenacity. You’ve hung around me too much, Gil. Better you should spend more time on Jill, enjoying your life outside of…all this.” Rovas put his head back on the head rest and closed his eyes.

“Inspector…Zarian…this is my life, as it is yours. Nothing I’d want to do to change it. I thought I’ve shown that over the years.”

“Yes, you have.”

“Good. As to Jill, her passion for what she does equals my own. So far, what we have is good enough, happy enough. Let’s please leave it.” Gil smiled. “I get that enough of that from your wife.” Gil briefly looked over, noticing that Rovas’ left eyebrow was quirked upwards and a slight smile played across his face.

***

Once home, Berrak collapsed next to Zarian on the couch, cuddling up and drawing her legs up after kicking off her shoes. Tina’s blood pressure had been horribly low, and there was fear of sepsis from a nick to her bowels. She was under operation for close to four hours. The surgeon’s prognosis was what she was hoping for: a good chance she’d survive, the next 24 hours would tell. Berrak wondered why it was always 24 hours on TV. She was exhausted and found it somewhat humorous.

Zarian had his arm around her tightly. It felt too good to tell him to be more gentle. They both had been holding on through the day, most of it separately. This was right, for the two of them.

“Berrak, tomorrow, all my efforts go into finding John Peters. This has to end. I will not wait around for him to strike again. I will not.”

“I know,” she said, sitting up. “I know. If Tina dies…”

“We can’t go there. Right now, we can’t. Look at me,” he asked. “I love you. I can not bare the thought of you getting hurt again due to this…well, job. Duty. Career. I can’t. I’m asking you to stay home, under protective care.” He glanced outside, looking at the police cruiser parked in front of the house. He knew there was a patrol behind as well.

“Zarian,” she kissed him fully. “I will see this through, with you, with Gil.” He started to shake his head and open his mouth. Berrak put her hand on his chest. He looked her in the eyes.

“This isn’t open for argument, is it,” he said with a sigh.

She shook her head, then took his hand. “Let’s go to bed, Zarian.” She got up, still holding his hand.

“I’m too wound up to sleep.”

“So am I,” she answered, pulling him along with her.

“Oh,” was all he said as they went upstairs.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. As this has progressed, it’s become something more for me. I wasn’t planning to do such a connected story line, but it’s the way it has worded out for me. I hope you’ve been enjoying this, mistakes and all.

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1300 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Queen’s Gambit (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

** To read the first parts of this story line: Offending Elm and  Perhaps the Dog

Queen

“Queen’s Gambit”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian

The next few days were a whirlwind of activity. The skeletal body of David Sosenko was thoroughly examined. It was determined, by the damage done to a few of his ribs, that he had been shot three times, close up. The dog tags led them to his life: his mother had looked for him when he disappeared, as did the army. The report filed listed him missing almost exactly twenty-one years ago. If this was related to the woman in the tree, and Rovas felt the two were connected, they finally had a time frame. It was time to connect the dots.

Mrs. Sosenko died ten years before. “A weakened heart that finally gave out,” said her long time neighbor. “She never stopped hoping David would come back. He was the light of her life.” Gil brought Rovas and Berrak up to speed, stopping in for coffee and debriefing. There were no other relatives that mattered. Second or third cousins, so far removed from the family. They checked, but came back with nothing notable.

“Gil, what are you not telling me, um, us?” Rovas asked, watching Gil play with his cup but not drinking.

“Dole,” he said. “Chief Inspector Dole is a little…irritated that you’ve been…involved in these things.”

“Involved, or did he say ‘sticking his damn nose into things that he shouldn’t?'”

Gil held back a laugh, but smiled. “Close enough. He’d like to have a word with you, and soon.” He turned to Berrak. “I’m sorry, but he was very specific that he spoke only with Inspector Rovas.”

Berrak nodded in understanding. She still took Zarian’s hand in hers, squeezing gently to ground him and hope he would not get too angry.

“Gil, we have some information ourselves. We were just going to call you with it just as you drove into our driveway. Zarian?”

“Since we found out that Sosenko was listed as AWOL, Berrak tracked down some members from his unit, as well as his C.O. We,” he nodded towards his wife, “may have a lead on the girl. David had a few close friends and with the help of the CO, who is still serving, we tracked them down and spoke to them on the phone. No one had believed David Sosenko would have ever disappeared on his own. He had been well respected by leader and peer.”

“Yes, we found that out as well.”

“Ah, but Berrak went a different route with his best friend Phillip. He was reluctant at first-we had him on speaker phone-he gave up one secret that he had held back all these years: David was in love with a non-Jewish girl. Her name was Merry, or Meredith. Her parents, especially her mother, was vehemently against their seeing each other. When Merry could they met privately, away from where she lived.

Phillip did not know her last name nor where they met. Sosenko never volunteered the information, and Philip never asked. The only thing he mentioned was he was in love with Merry from Magic County. Called her Merry Magic. He was just happy for his friend, and worried at the same time.”

“Worried?”

“The mother threatened him one time with a gun, aimed at his head.”

Gil called the station to check with police in Magic County; small as it was, he didn’t think he’d have to do a wide search for a missing Meredith, as long as their data was up to date. While they were looking, Berrak was on the home computer looking up town records and their local newspaper morgue. Rovas paced back and forth between the kitchen and his study, listening in on one end, looking over a shoulder on the other.

Gil yelled out “Got it!” at just about the same time Berrak found a likely Meredith.

“Müller; Meredith Müller. She was never reported missing by her parents. Last known records for her had her as a graduate of Magic High School,” he beamed at that name.

“She had a job at the newspaper right out of college, a receptionist,” Berrak added. “She was only there a short time before she just never appeared again. The editor I spoke to had known her from school. He never thought she’d just leave like that.”

Rovas got on the phone with the Magic police. He got answers almost immediately to his questions and wrote them down. “Small communities,” he said as he clicked off on his cell. “The parents are still alive. Let’s go-now.”

“Zarian, why the rush?” she asked, grabbing a light jacket on the way out.

“Mrs. Müller is in the hospital. Terminal ward.”

******

Gil had to use his badge to get him past the nurses desk. It took a little bit more persuasion for the nurse to allow  his “consultants” to join them. Upon entering the slightly darkened room, they noticed an older man sleeping in a chair next to a wizened looking woman. Rovas noticed that she was hooked up to the monitors and had two IV lines going in. He was sure the pain medication dose was high, but the woman in the bed still looked drawn out.

Mrs. Müller looked in their direction. “What the hell do you want? Who are you?” Her voice was a harsh rasp, and Berrak took a step closer to Rovas.

Rovas explained who they were, and why they came.

“Get out! Get OUT!” she screamed, waking up the man, who tried to calm her down without much success. He was asking what this was all about when the nurse came in, fussing at the trio for upsetting her patient. Just before she got them 100% out of the room, and as she was closing the door, Rovas said: “Mr. Müller…we have news about your daughter.”

He walked over and opened the door, letting them all back in. He inclined his head to Rovas, who began to tell him what they had found: the body in the tree, the yellow fabric and gold ring, and then the body of David Sosenko.

“That Jew bastard,” came a weakened voice from the bed. Mrs. Müller was glaring at them all, but especially at Rovas. “I warned him-and her-that I was not going to allow my daughter to marry a kike! I warned them, both of them.”

Mr. Müller went over to his wife. “Katie, what did you do? What did…”

“I did what you wouldn’t have. I put an end to it. I followed her to those woods. She had on her Sunday best dress, that yellow taffeta that you both liked so much on her. She and that hebe were kissing by a tree…hell, I warned them. I snuck up on them…” she went into a coughing fit for a few moments. Her husband gave her the drink of water she demanded.

“I snuck up on them, yanked her out of his dirty hands, raised the gun and fired into his Jew heart. Bam! Down he went.”

“What about Merry?”

“She was wailing and screaming like a banshee. I turned around and hit her in the mouth with the gun to shut her up. She fell, but still moaning and bitching away. I told her to stop making noise. She didn’t listen, like she never listened to me. I hit her a few more times with the gun grip. I stopped when she stopped.”

Gil broke the silence that followed. “Her teeth?”

“Picked ’em up and put them in my pocket.”

“And…?”

“Buried that bastard. Got the shovel from the truck and dug as deep as I could. Tired me out. I wasn’t gonna toss my girl into any grave with a hebe. That’d be just what they would have wanted. I put her over my shoulder, but I couldn’t carry her no more. Dragged her to that Elm you found her in. I was resting against it, put my hand to the trunk buy my hand plunged in a ways. I checked and saw there was enough room for her…and it was far enough away from him.

Her dress tore as I grunted her into the tore. Before I was finished, I noticed that there was something on her ring finger. A gold band. A Goddamned gold band. That little bitch had married that Jew!! I tore up her dress and shoved it and the ring in her toothless mouth!”

No one asked her why she was telling them now. It was plain the woman had little time left.

Mr. Müller asked if he could have a word with his wife, alone. They left the room, Berrak closing the door behind her. She went over to Rovas, needing him to hold her. Gil was on his phone with the local police, asking for someone to come over and take Mrs. Müller’s statement, when the nurse rushed out of her station to the Müller room.

Rovas and Berrak arrived right after the nurse, Gil on their heels. What they saw stayed with Berrak for a very long time.

Mr. Müller was standing over his wife, tears streaming down his face. He held the pillow that had been under his wife’s head. The monitor above her bed recorded her death.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Nerves Like Daggers (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To read the first part of this story line: Mental Challenges
**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Nerves

“Nerves Like Daggers”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The house had been booby trapped.

Luckily for those under his command, Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros held back his men in respect to the local police force. Rovas and Berrak were behind them when the explosion forced them all to hit the ground. Shrapnel flew by Rovas and Berrak, but wood slivers and other debris pierced some who were closer to the house. The five members of the local force were scattered around the burning mess of a vacation home.

Berrak helped tend to the wounded with some of the other officers, after making sure Rovas was OK. He, after checking she was all right, went with the Sargent Detective to examine the scene after they called the local authorities.

“EMTs and fire trucks are on their way,” Gil told Rovas as they went to check on the status of the downed police. Three of them were dead; the other two, one a female cop, were still hanging on. Both were unconscious, which Rovas thought was a blessing for them, seeing how badly they were injured. While the others did what they could until medical help could arrive, Rovas and Gil continued searching the perimeter. The house was still ablaze and too hot to get too close to.

Gil drew his gun, offering Rovas his back up piece. He shook his head and produced his own gun from under his coat. Gil’s eyebrow went up in a bit of surprise, but he let it go immediately.

“I’ll take that, Gil, if you don’t mind.” Berrak had come quietly behind them, aware of her presence when she arrived.

Gil’s face twitched, ready to say no, but Rovas turned and gave his wife his gun. He took Gil’s back up. “I feel better if Berrak has a gun that she’s practice on already. Home protection, after…” he trailed off.

“Right. There’s not much we can do here while the fire burns so hot.” Gil walked over to his second in command and spoke to him out of earshot of Rovas and Berrak. “They’ll stay her for the medical team and back up, and will call me when this area is secure. I’d like to go check out the surrounding area, but…” Gil said, kicking himself as he was saying it, “…stay close to me.”

Rovas only gave him the look. He nodded. Berrak fell to her husbands’ side as they made their way into the trees that surrounded the property. To the west was a small beach area; the east, behind the remains of the house, was forest, a small hill in the near distance led to the south. Open land and the main road were due north. If John Peters was still in the vicinity, Rovas agreed with Gil: the forest would be the first choice to hide or escape through. Everything else appeared too wide open.

They scoured through the copse of trees, searching the tops of the sturdiest trees as well as any large groupings of shrubbery. They heard the sirens in the distance. Rovas remained intent in his hunt for Peters; Gil was glad to hear the sound, knowing reinforcements would soon be freed up to join them. Berrak was unsuccessfully looking for any markings of Peters passing this way. There were none.

She turned around, looking back along the way they came. The land had risen slightly as they walked, which now gave them more of a panoramic view of the burning house and more of its surroundings. Around a bend in their search, she spotted something: a bright glint of light to their left. She prodded Rovas, who tapped Gil. They began to crouch just as they heard the sound of a rifle firing.

Gil went down in a spray of blood from his shoulder. Two more shots rang out, missing them.

“Berrak, stay with Gil. Call for help.” She began to shake her head, but Rovas was already off. As he ran, he flicked the gun safety switch. He heard Peters cutting through the brush more than saw him. There were glimpses, but not enough for a clear shot as he ran. There was more than a twenty years difference in their ages, but Rovas was spurred on by adrenaline and anger.

Rovas followed Peters as the hill rose steeply. Peters fired off another shot, turned and ran again.  He missed, but this allowed Rovas to lesson the distance between the two. The killer crested the hill and disappeared completely from sight. Wary, Rovas made his way to the top, expecting another bullet.

He crept to the top and peered over. The hill sloped down with a radical drop. He saw Peters sling his rifle over his shoulder. From the distance, Rovas saw Peters take out a piece of paper, a knife, and watched him drive it into the trunk of the tree closest to him. He climbed onto a waiting motorcycle and put a helmet on. As he revved the engine, Peters turned and looked up.

Rovas and Peters locked eyes for an instant.  Peters reached up and closed the helmets’ shield and kicked up the stand. Rovas took aim with his gun and fired off four shots. Peters drove off at high speed and was gone in a flash.

A medic was tending to Gil as Rovas came to where he left them. Berrak was by him before he could say anything. She checked him over to make sure he wasn’t shot. She found nothing more than scrapes. “I’m ok, I’m ok,” he said to her as she dabbed at the blood on his hands and then face. “It’s only a flesh wound.”

“This is not a time for joking around, Zarian.”

The half smile faded from his face. “I know. He got away, Gil. Had a blasted bike hidden away. He left us a present where he stashed his motorcycle. We’ll pick it up soon.”

“Military planning all the way around. Take the enemy out, stake out the high grou…ouch!…high ground. Plan your retreat.” Gil grumbled. “Bastard.”

“Your shoulder?”

“Through and through,” said the EMT, Jill. “We’ll take him to the hospital for a full check up. Yes, you are going to the hospital,” she said, before Gil could say anything.

“I assume you’ve already had this argument while I was gone.”

She turned to him, tight-lipped but smiling nonetheless.

“Gil, go. We’ll be right behind you.”

Rovas put his arm around Berrak’s shoulder, pulling her into a hug as the others made their way back to the house.

“I was worried,” she said.

He just nodded his head, which she felt alongside hers in the embrace. They stood like that for a little bit, then made their way to the car.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1700 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Mental Challenges (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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**To start from the very beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Mental

“Mental Challenges”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Weeks after the fact, John Peters’ escape, en route from mental ward to jail, was still making news. Details kept leaking out, and the press were merciless with the police force by this point. They were too lax, inept. Criminally inept. His break out left one guard dead, shot with his own gun. Another guard was still in critical condition. The search for John Peters was growing cold, and the news was starting to focus in other directions, until something horrible was discovered: other bodies had been found, buried in the back yard of a home where Peters had previously lived.

The Palmont children also became news again. Janice, the oldest child, had tried to kill herself after the grisly discovery of other victims. Her parents had done their best to restrict any news filtering into their home, but…it happened. She had been sneaking  onto the internet, well after everyone went to bed, ever since Peters escaped. Police presence around their house now doubled, spilling over to the hospital while she was in recovery.

Chief Inspector Dole, Rovas’ old boss, insisted on keeping the Rovas house, and especially Berrak, under surveillance. After rebuffing Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros entreaties for the third time in as many weeks, the Chief Inspector made an unprecedented official appearance at their home. With Berrak present, Dole got Rovas to reconsider, after an hour of persuasion. It came down to, in Rovas’ mind, keeping Berrak as safe as possible. Hours after the Chief Inspector left, Gil showed up.

“You didn’t have to sic Dole on me, you know.” Rovas scowl at Gil had little effect. He drank the coffee Berrak laid out before him quietly.

“Yes, I did. You were being stubborn. Sadly, you are not an Inspector anymore, Inspector, Sir.” His smile was grim. “How many others have you insisted that surveillance was for their safety?”

Rovas was silent. Berrak patted his shoulder and sat down with them.

“You should have taken the Chief Inspector position when it was offered to you,” Gil said, pointing with his cup.

“Not that again, Gil. I wanted to solve cases, not send others out to do that for me. I’m not the political animal Dole is.”

Berrak broke in: “Gil, what about the other bodies that were found?”

“Initial reports indicate all three were girls. The ME estimates that they were all in their early teens, maybe younger. She had to do more tests for further determination. No infants, thank god. A search for any place Peters lived previously is undergoing. The ME knows that filing her report is her first priority.”

“Any luck with getting his military file opened?,” Rovas asked. “We know he was dishonorably discharged, but not the why. Although, I’m afraid we all can think of what he might have done, given this…pattern of his.”

“The military has been fighting us, but adding in the new bodies, even not confirmed they were his kills…I think we won’t have as much trouble getting his file unsealed.”

Through the evening the three went over every bit of information they had. Gil left close to midnight. Rovas sat in his chair, looking out his window, lights out in the room.

“You should come to bed, Zarian. Nothing we can do at this moment.”

“I’ll be up soon. Promise.”

She gave him a kiss and went upstairs. Rovas stayed in his study, falling asleep in his chair.

He was awakened at 7:14 in the morning by a call from Gil.

“John Peters father finally opened up. I was almost at my house when the station alerted me. I rushed over, called Mr. Peters back…I don’t think we will need the military files opened, except for trial when we catch him. I was on the phone with him for quite awhile. I know you wish I called you sooner, but…well, there was nothing we could do at that point. We gathered our information and set our plans.”

“He most likely molested other children on a tour of duty,” Rovas offered. “It probably would have been a political nightmare if they outright arrested him. That assumes there was no murder involved.”

Gil was quiet for only a second. “Pretty much right on the nose. It was a case of She said/He said, but in this case it was underage girls, two of them, according to the father. He said his son took the discharge since neither side could bring it to court, and he was getting hassled by members of his troop. Of course, he lied. Mr. Peters said he didn’t want to believe any of this about his son, but with the other bodies…”

“He had no choice. Hard to admit your child is a monster.”

“One more thing: we may have a lead to where Peters could be. There is a family vacation house under the mother’s maiden name. She inherited it before they were married and never changed the title. He was hesitant about mentioning it.”

“Where?”

“A few hours drive, up the coast line,” Gil was rustling paper in the background. “We’ve been coordinating with the law in that jurisdiction. They’re waiting until we get there to move in on the house. I have room in my car. Coming along?”

“I wouldn’t miss it, as long as Dole doesn’t interfere.”

“Good.  I’ll be right over.”

Rovas hung up the phone. He started to get Berrak, but briefly hesitated. He wanted to keep her safe, yet he knew she would not stand being left behind. With a sigh, he went upstairs to their bedroom. She was already awake.

“News?”

“Yes. Let’s get dressed. We may have a lead on Peters.”

She hustled out of bed, gave him a hug, and went to wash up.

Rovas thought this was too easy, but it was all they had to go on…for the moment.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Inquiries (A to Z Blog Challenge)

Standard

**To start from the beginning: From the Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

Impulsive2

“Inquiries”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The tiny caskets were lowered into the earth. The entire Palmont family was there; Gerald was holding both his parents hands, while Janice and April held each other, slightly apart from their mother and father. Berrak was standing off to the side, towards the back, while others gathered around, the first to the grave site trying to touch or hug the girls. Most still didn’t understand Janice and April’s avoidance at the chapel: here, the rebuffs left nothing to misunderstanding.

As the mourners were leaving in small clumps, Berrak gathered herself to join them. She noticed that Janice was staring at her. Neither of them moved for a moment, Janice did a small wave to Berrak, then looked to her parents, then to April. Berrak caught her eyes one more time. She nodded and left.

Khazarian had stayed at home. He felt that he had done all he could do for the girls. The case closed. The funeral, in his opinion, was for them to come together again as a family. He was not part of that process. Berrak disagreed, so she went while sat at his desk, looking over the notes he was adding to the Palmont children’s file. Plus, the file notes about their abductor/rapist, John Peters. Sargent Detective Gil Katsaros had called early in the morning, bringing him up to speed on the proceedings.

John Peters was ex-military, a fact Berrak fathomed by the way Peters held himself while they were in his kitchen. “His posture was stiff, and he clasped his hands tightly about his back,” she said. “I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a military background.” She was right, of course. Each turn of events with his wife left an ever growing sense of respect for her, even with a high regard to begin with.

What he was loathe to tell her was that Peters’ lawyer had him plead not guilty, by way of PTSD. An insanity plea. Khazarian shook his head when Gil told him, this, noting the anger in Gil’s voice over the phone. At this point, Peters was locked up in a secure mental ward, undergoing psychiatric examination to either support or deny any of this. His military file was sealed. Both of them were extremely curious about that, but there was no way they could get that information. It would be on the shoulders of the prosecutor.

There had nothing in their data system about Peters. He had no arrests, no outstanding tickets, and nothing more than an expired meter ticket from three years prior. Bank statements came up clean. There was nothing that outwardly appeared unusual.

That is what gnawed at Rovas. Psychopaths walked among them, he knew all too well.

Rovas completed updating the files, copying down all that the Sargent Detective shared with him. He had a light bite and returned to the study, looking over the files to other cases on the desk. Berrak returned soon after.

“How was it?”

“Dreary. Dreadful. A funeral.” She sat facing him. “Why is it worse when it’s children?” Pausing, not waiting for an answer. “I know, I know. I know all of the usual reasons, the life ahead never happening. This…this was just compounded by what Janice and April-and Gerald-went through.”

Khazarian got up, knelt in front of her, and gave her a hug. He held her until she stopped crying. She gave him a kiss. He patted her back and returned to his chair.

“Zarian, got your shirt wet,” she said as she wiped her face dry with a tissue.

“It’s not the first time. If that is the worst…”

“I know.” Berrak took in the stack of folders on the desk, noticing one was open, some of the papers flipped over. “Is that…”

“No. The Palmont case is closed. I’ll tell you later about what I gathered from Gil about John Peters.” They both involuntarily twitched at that name, he in his shoulder, she in her face. “This file, well, this one does not involve any children.”

He pushed it over to her. Berrak took it, turned it right side up, and began to read.

“Really? Lacing marijuana with Heroin? Why is this…oh. Five deaths.” Looking up, she continued. “Obviously, you didn’t find the one, or ones, who did this. Do you think we could find something after…” she checked “…seven years?”

“Read on,” Rovas answered.

*************************************************
“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

So, join me (and the over 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy the stories.