The Thing About Andromeda by Steve De Marco
Samson loved his job. Whenever he thought of all the things he had given up just to be where he was, he felt no regret. He could have found someone, fallen in love, maybe he would have had kids, who knows. But no, he had chosen his path long ago, a dark and lonely path. This was why he was sitting in his car at midnight on a Friday, staking out a building. Yet, it is not strictly correct to say that he had given up everything. After all, there was Andromeda. Whenever he thought of her, all the stress of the case seemed to dissolve. There was something about Andromeda that was special, real, and yet it was something he could not put his finger on. But now was not the time to think of Andromeda, not while there was a psychopathic killer loose in the city.
Though Samson was no longer leading this case – in fact he was no longer on the investigation – he could not just give up, not now, not after he had gotten so close. Catching serial killers was his job and he was intent on doing so even if the Agency felt that he had lost his grip – as a matter of fact he had. For the past three months, this lovely city had been plagued by a killer, endearingly nicknamed ‘The Grim Reaper’ and Samson was going to be the one to catch him. The more Samson thought about the name given to the killer – no doubt by the local newspapers – the more fitting the name seemed. During his ten years in the line of duty, he had never encountered a killer such as this. Each and every victim, eleven so far, seemed to have died of natural causes – absolutely nothing to suggest foul play. Save for the fact that all of the victims were men, aged around thirty to thirty-five, all in peak physical fitness and nothing to suggest they had any medical issues. But the intrigue only begins there. Each of the victims was found suspended from the ceiling of their apartments by a rope tied around their torso, while all the doors and windows were locked from the inside. To top that off, all of their heads had been surgically removed post-mortem. Yet, somehow this seemed to be the least confusing aspect to Samson who had come to expect such behaviour. The ‘Grim Reaper’ indeed! All these details had been passed on to the press and the general public but one detail had been withheld. A note had been found on every victim, nailed to their chest, and read P.S. I love you. Samson had long given up trying to psychoanalyse this killer. It was pointless. All that Samson knew was that he was going to catch him.
So, this is why Samson was sitting in his car at midnight on a Friday. After the seventh victim, an anonymous caller hotline had been set up to aid with the investigation, but so far, all the hotline produced was bored teenage pranksters and dead-ends. Clearly the city was terrified of this ‘Grim Reaper’. However, it was a lead from this hotline which Samson was following up, off the books of course. Something seemed different to Samson about this lead, something felt real. By now, he had been sitting in the same spot for the past five hours. The street lights only emitted a faint yellow glow and the silence was eerie even for this hour of the night. Samson thought that everyone would be at home with their doors locked. The block of apartments, identified by the anonymous call, seemed to stick out from the rest of the houses on the block. Samson would have thought the block derelict had it not been for the faint glow of lights emitting from the windows. For all his time spent staking out this place, Samson had nothing to show for it. During the five hours all he had seen was an old lady on the first floor emerge every half hour for a cigarette, and a cat which had definitely seen better days.
The past few hours had been torture. Samson played and re-played the anonymous call over and over. It was a woman’s voice, young and definitely scared, so much so that Samson was convinced she knew the real identity of the ‘Grim Reaper’. While Samson would have loved to stay there for another few hours, he knew that he could not. He had promised Andromeda he would meet her at a jazz bar just around the corner. He was not sure why. It was not the greatest part of town but she had insisted.
So fifteen minutes later, Samson found himself sitting in front of Andromeda at the bar. He had not known Andromeda for long, in fact they had only known each other for three months. All the same, things were moving fast but Samson did not mind, he felt comfortable around her.
He had only just returned from a trip to the gents when Andromeda took both his hands in hers and gazed deeply into his eyes. This would have been rather normal, had it not been for the words that came out of her mouth.
‘P.S. I love you.’
Samson felt as if he had been hit by a truck. As a smile began to curl on her lips, Samson started to feel rather weak, as if his legs would give out at any minute. He tried to stumble away. He tried to get to his phone in his jacket pocket but it was not there. A darkness seemed to have descended over his eyes as his limbs grew weaker. As he faded, the feelings of betrayal, anger, horror at the situation faded too and he remembered nothing else.
Andromeda moved quickly, even though the lump of a detective was weighing her down. She managed to get out of the bar without a problem. Just another drunk, they must have thought. The look on his face was priceless, if only she could have saved that moment for the rest of her life. He knew exactly what that phrase had meant. The person he had been pursuing for the past three months was the woman whom he recently fell in love with. Top that off with the fact that he thought the ‘Grim Reaper’ was a man. He must have been a blockhead not to realise. He even fell for the anonymous tip! In any case, there was work to do now that her final victim had been caught, and it was about time she moved on out of the city; somewhere warmer perhaps, and start the cycle once more.