For the umpteenth time, Norino Vastai was very puzzled. In the morning, he was called by headquarters. A victim of the Akai-murderer again, same MO or not! This was the second in a row who wasn’t Akai. The common denominator in all the cases was the fact the victim always was a member of the Akai-community. It was the guideline they almost had clung to in moments of despair. Just a blood-feud of a serial killer against a peace-loving group of people. And now, he and his men were sitting with their hands in their pockets. It didn’t add up!
He himself, already from childhood had also been Akai. He wouldn’t take a human life if there was an alternative. Over the years, he had met so much senseless violence that bit by bit his faith in the teaching of the Akai had weakened. There was an essence of evil in the world, something that couldn’t be exterminated with peacefulness or any other kind of rehabilitation. Norino had seen it in the eyes of murderers he had interrogated. He often had doubted the release of a rehabilitated criminal. They were pronounced cured by a dubious committee. The responsible medical practitioners had injected them with an unknown genetic drug which suppressed or even destroyed their homicidal behavior and their congenital anger against humanity that slumbered in their DNA. He didn’t believe much of it.
He often got it right and the so-called ‘cured cases’ had relapsed. Offenders who relapsed, he hated them, but he also detested those who let these murderers free. They had summoned him a few times before the High Council of the Akai because he had shot somebody without pardon during an arrest. It had always been cases of self-defense, but the regret an Akai had to feel, the feeling he had destroyed life, wasn’t there. On the opposite, he felt a sort of relief there was one psychotic less walking upon the surface of the world.
Now he also had mixed feelings. If he met this creature, he didn’t call it a man, and he got a little opportunity he probably wouldn’t know mercy. Mercy was designated for people. Akai or not, a butcher without scruples, who sliced people to pieces, wasn’t a man, not even a beast. Such beings had to be exterminated, once and forever. There was no place for them in the world.
At this moment, his second adjunct inspector Goro Fukamizu was writing a report in the database. Shi, his other adjunct was put onto another case by his superiors. Goro had been busy connecting the data of the technical service with the reports of the coroner-pathologist Kim Huang.
It was a shame, but the qualities of Shi were noticed by his superiors and Norino thought there should be a promotion very soon for his trainee. Maybe he could become the youngest Chief Inspector of the Security Service. He thought Shi deserved this stroke of luck even if had liked that he could follow up the case of the Akai-murders with him.
Goro was as good an adjunct as Shi was, however in another way. We were all unique and valuable in our own way, Norino thought. That was one of the first principles of the Akai. He grinned while, in this context, he was considering the murderer. Was this wrong? He didn’t know, but that was just the way he felt.
‘When you’re ready Goro, send the link to my memo-block so that it’s up-to-date and make a cross-reference to the not Akai-murders, but with the same MO, the place of the crime scene Tokyo and Sanctuary. Okay?’ the Chief Inspector asked.
Goro Fukamizu nodded. He was a silent power, not a great talker, but someone who could do a lot of administration in a short time. His reports were very analytical and of high quality without the unnecessary window-dressing. If he had something to say you better listen very close because most of the time it was ‘to the point’. It wasn’t the first time he had given ‘the’ tip that closed the case.
Norino was surprised with the result when, after a few minutes Goro signaled he had updated the files. Goro still had gone back further than the last months as asked, a praiseworthy initiative considering the result. In the last months anyway, he wouldn’t have success. In the last five years, there were still ten other cases in the database with sliced bodies that weren’t Akai. The reason they didn’t occur on the previous lists was because they were committed outside the perimeter Tokyo/Sanctuary. It had put the case upside down. Back to square one! Norino Vastai sighed and thought about the few years he was away from retirement. That wasn’t a good omen.
Fortunately, I was just in time to pause the house video system. Stephen March was shaking as a straw with his hands before his eyes. He gasped for breath and sweated like a pig. When he took his hands away, I saw him staring in fear with wide open at the frozen image on the screen. I recognized a panic attack when it occurred. If you had been in such a situation before, you knew the time. My luck was that Arturo’s younger brother had identified the bodies of his brother and his wife Sachiko Matai. That was a bridge too far for me. Stephen not only had lost his half-sister this week and had been confronted with the inconceivable cruelty of the murderer during the identification of her remains, now he even got a message from him from the past. A disturbed statement from the murderer of Suzy Chang and my parents.
Stephen March was a stranger to me, but I felt he was my soulmate because we both were victims, surviving relatives by the hand of this murdering monster. That’s why I didn’t see a stranger before me, but an injured fellow human being. My Akai-roots told me he needed a friend. Someone, he could lean on. I didn’t know who his friends were, so I took this big guy in my arms and started to soothe and calm him, whispering hushing sounds to him. I felt him shaking as a straw and suddenly he silently shocked a few times in my arms. My sleeve became wet from the tears he had kept inside for long. This misplaced pride of men! It took almost twenty minutes before he calmed down.
Short after the murder of my parents, I was a short time on tranquilizers. I knew he was going through hell. Fortunately, I had kept these pills with me in the case of an emergency, despite I didn’t use them anymore. If this wasn’t an emergency, well then I didn’t know. I whispered comforting words to him, probably mingled with some words in my own language, but it was the sound that mattered. I pushed the little pill in the palm of his hand and he obediently swallowed it. After a quarter of an hour, I already saw it working.
The sofa was the perfect place to pull himself together. He even dozed off a moment. Meanwhile, I phoned Ji Lang and Eagle Eye and asked for their help. Eagle Eye told me he possibly had the solution for my problem. Only if Stephen would agree to cooperate and in his condition that was not for sure.
The screen of the house video system showed a person with a wide robe over him. Two holes in the white linen revealed two cold-blooded eyes. Maybe it was just imagination, but it looked as if those eyes cruelly laughed to the camera. His white clothing here and there was spotted red. On the right side of the man, there was a chair with a woman tied on. A Japanese woman with long black hair and multiple bloody incisions. A gagged woman in a panic with bulging eyes who knew the truth. She wouldn’t live long anymore. The woman, Suzy Chang, Stephen’s half-sister was naked and the blood flowed out of dozens and dozen wounds upon her body. She was already dying and Stephen never had to be allowed to see this!
Poor soul, I thought while my anger and hate concerning the murderer grew exponentially. Please, to any God who hears me, if you exist, let me send this person as soon as possible to hell if there is one. Hell is still too good for such a person! How can a human person do such atrocities to his fellow humans? I couldn’t understand. Still, I hoped this film clip could bring us nearer this monster, how difficult it still would be to watch this images. I was hoping Eagle Eye could help Stephen and that he would cooperate with us. We surely needed his diplomatic connections to know more about the killings.
I’ve stopped the video system and put the video stick on the table in front of the sofa where Stephen was resting. He was awake again and somewhat confuses. At certain moments he looked at the black screen and then to the video stick on the table, however, he was calm.
‘Yukiko,’ he said, turning his look somewhere else, ‘thanks!’ His voice trembled. All would be well, I felt it and we would try to help him with everything that was in our power. The next hours would prove how much this was. Traumas could root deep inside a person’s soul and we were neither physicians nor psychologists. Though I suspected Eagle Eye had more to offer in that area.
I calmly told Stephen that I had called my friends and that they could arrive any moment. He looked at me with frightened eyes and I assured him he had nothing to fear. They all had the same objective in mind. To end this series of killings.
A signal of the door camera mentioned that Ji and Jérome had arrived. ‘I just show my friends in, I’ll be back in a second, okay?’ I asked in a concerned voice. Stephen nodded somewhat dazzled and whispered, ‘Okay… thanks again, go ahead.’
With the proper respect – I had told them about the situation on the phone – Ji and Eagle Eye entered the room. I presented them both to Stephen. Even Jérome was quiet and not his normal self, as far as I knew him till now. There was a smile on his face, a comforting, and understanding smile when he answered Stephen’s handshake with both his hands. Ji Lang made a bow and gave him the common western handshake.
Stephen tried to give him an attitude, but everybody saw that he was shaken. A knockout effect had changed a strong man in a being in urgent need of help.
‘May I address you on a first-name basis, Stephen? Eagle Eye asked in a soft voice. Stephen nodded. ‘I want with your full cooperation put on you a sort of hypnotic suggestion. Nothing dangerous, but it’s a way to redirect your personal perceptions of the images, a sort of processing mechanism. I’ll tell you how we are going to do that. Let’s hope this works because this is only the first step. We’ll be the first to look at the images during the last step of the hypnotic trance.’
Stephen protested and he was right to do so. The images around the murder upon his sister Suzy were addressed to him personally and in normal conditions he should be the first to look at them. Eagle Eye though told him softly but with convincing arguments that he wasn’t ready for them at this moment without further preparation. However, he thought to have the solution to help Stephen with this. Where he came from hypnosis was a tool to cure fears and delusions. In the times past medicine men in African tribes and shamans in these regions used the same techniques to free tormented spirits. They were techniques learned and practiced by different physicians. Sometimes even during little operations, these procedures were very useful and effective.
The first phase of this procedure was the induction phase, so Jérome told us by which the patient was induced in a sort of trance by an object or some attribute. He asked Stephen if he would try it and if he really wanted this. Obviously, his cooperation and his free will to participate was of extreme importance for Eagle Eye.
‘Proceed,’ Stephen answered, ‘on closer inspection, you’re right and maybe it’s the only way by which I can digest this. I’m afraid if I look further to these images, I will lose it and become crazy.’
Eagle Eye took a very long lace out of the pocket of his coat and gave it to Stephen. We had to redraw ourselves to the background of the room and he darkened the room so that the sofa where Stephen was on was the only point there was some light. ‘Listen very attentively to my voice, Stephen,’ he spoke in a deep baritone voice, ‘the long lace in your hand is the tool with which I’m going to bring you in a trance. Make a knot every 2 or 3 centimeters, okay, go on, very slowly and concentrated. Listen to my voice.’
Stephen started with the first knot in the lace. ‘Yes, that’s good, with every knot you’re making, you will feel yourself sinking into a peaceful space where nobody can hurt you. Well done, another knot, the more knots you make the deeper you go and the safer will feel.’ Stephen made knot after knot, every three centimeters. After five knots, Stephen’s movements began to slow down while Jérome in a monotonous, hypnotic and suggestive way Stephen was brought into the hypnotic induction phase. When Stephen had made his fifteenth knot in the lace he was ready for the next step.
Ji and I almost without thinking were holding our breath, impressed by the deep sounds of Eagle Eye’s voice in his accompanying hypnotic words. I had to shake my head at a certain moment to prevent myself dozing off because I was so concentrated on Stephen’s movements and Eagle Eye’s voice.
‘Stephen, listen close now. You see a stairway before you. You see it?’ Eagle Eye asked to know if Stephen was ready for the next move. Stephen looked with glazed eyes in front of him and nodded. ‘You have to descend this stairway step by step, the deeper you descend, the deeper you will go into a trance. Also, the better you will feel. Come now, put your first step and another one, go deeper and further, deeper and further…’ Stephen’s eyes slowly closed and he was now breathing much more regularly and deeper. His panic attack at this moment was over.
‘Stephen, listen to me. You’ve seen the beginning of a series of terrible images…’. Stephen started to move a bit on which Eagle Eye asked him to go a few steps lower and he became calm again. ‘Later on, we’ll look together at these images. We’ll form a circle and with our hands intertwined, it will give us the power to look at these images and to process them, how violent and how terrible they may be. We’ll process them together, together in our circle we’ll be strong and safe.’
Eagle Eye gave him a few post-hypnotic suggestions. This could be important if after the session he got a panic attack again, to put him very quickly in a hypnotic trance. ‘When you hear the word “Bakongo”, you instantly will fall into a deep and safe sleep. You will then be in a place where nobody can hurt you. I’ll take you now by the hand and we’ll go to your bedroom and you’ll sleep further and quietly you’ll rest till you’ll awake by yourself.’
Our personal hypnotherapist took Stephen’s hands with caution. He pulled on his arms till he stood straight and then went with him, his arm around Stephen’s shoulder, to the bedroom with him. Stephen’s eyes remained closed and he shuffled together with Eagle Eye to his bed where Eagle Eye laid him down. Stephen turned himself on his right side and went on sleeping.
With a finger on his lips, Eagle Eye pointed at the living room because we all had followed him. We withdrew ourselves in silence, much impressed by the powers of our Jérome.
‘I passed the last steps of the deduction phase. In the event that I wouldn’t have done that I normally break the contact between Stephen and me, in this case, by counting back from five to zero. By not doing this, the subject just falls into a deep sleep and if all goes well, he will feel much better, when later on he will awake in a normal way. It allows us also to look at the images ourselves,’ Eagle Eye told us.
We braced ourselves for what was coming. I took the video stick back from the table and put him for the second time in the house video system to read it. The system turned back the images to the beginning of the film clip and with cold shivers on my back and surrounded by Ji and Eagle Eye we were traveling to the middle of hell!
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere