The blue and unmarked police car raced north on Highway 7. Hot July weather and a sudden but brief downpour had left the asphalt slick, or as many of the locals would have been more than likely to say, "greasy". It was approaching 10 p.m. as the summer sun had now officially checked out. Detective Igor Platt gripped the steering wheel with whitening knuckles as the blue car hit a sudden curve that he should have known about, especially when one considered he had been driving these Pemberton area roads for more than a decade now. He slowed his speed slightly and barrelled forward, still exceeding seventy miles per hour. His growing tension had little to do with the somewhat precarious road, however. His building nausea was a result of the radio call that he and his partner, Detective Gary Shaver, had received a mere twelve minutes ago. It appeared that the "Butcher" had struck again.
"Unit 44 - Detectives Platt and Shaver," came a crackling burst from the dashboard radio. "How close are you guys?"
Platt picked up the handset. "Just passed the fifth concession. I think we're close."
"You are. About another two miles."
Platt slowed down gradually as his younger partner now kept his eyes peeled for a big farmhouse on the right side of the highway.
"I'd better warn you guys. This is definitely the work of our boy. Cheevers and Hofstaeder have little doubt about that."
"Thanks, Tommy," said Detective Shaver, clicking off as a distant illumination appeared over the dark treeline in the distance. Another minute of driving and they had arrived. Platt swung right and pulled down a rather long dirt driveway, moving ever so closer to hell by the second. Small rocks and pebbles, damp from the earlier rain, crunched and slid beneath the car's tires as the big gray farmhouse came into view.
As expected, the black-and-white cruiser driven by Cheevers and Hofstaeder was already there, parked beside a rather gnarled-looking orange pick-up truck. Officer Cheevers appeared to be consoling a young woman in her teens as she sat on the rear bumper of the old beater. As the two senior detectives pulled in, parked and then exited their vehicle, they became aware of a wretching sound from the bushes. It seemed young Officer Hofstaeder was violently ill, his rookie career in law enforcement having just handed him his first real challenge. The sweaty and pale-faced Hofstaeder looked up at the newly arrived detectives, then resumed dry heaving.
"What's the deal here?" said Platt to Officer Cheevers, a noticeably more composed figure than his vomiting partner. "Two victims?"
"In the kitchen. Man and a woman," said Cheevers. "Through the front door, then down the hall to the right. Place is a damn mess. We didn't stick around long enough for details, so..."
"We get to have all the fun," said Platt, smiling. He had visited one of the "Butcher's" earlier murder scenes almost exactly one year before, in August of '66. It had been just the second at the time and a bloody mess. A young bicyclist visiting the old dirt trails just west of Pemberton had met with a mysterious and horrific nine axe blows, from somebody who remained on the loose, apparently void of any discernible motive or human compassion. Nonetheless, Detective Igor Platt wasn't exactly anxious for another one.
"Who's the girl?," inquired Detective Shaver, glancing down at a clearly traumatized and whimpering young lady.
"Their daughter, Julia. Poor kid came home from the movies and found this," said Officer Cheevers. "I guess you could say she was lucky. Well,...you know what I mean."
Platt gave Cheevers a reassuring pat on the shoulder then set about the inevitable. He and Shaver moved toward the scene of the crime with as much professionalism as they could muster. They ascended the porch steps and approached the still open front door. It appeared dark beyond that as both men reached for their flashlights. They stepped inside and were immediately overwhelmed by the musty smell of old furniture that had been polluted with cigarette smoke for years. Another smell, almost subliminal, caused the chests of each detective to tighten.
Flashlights led them down a darkened hallway over a poorly-stacked pile of boxes and other assorted junk as Platt and Shaver now approached the well-lit kitchen, thirty or so feet directly ahead and to the left. Platt swallowed hard as he reached the entrance first and looked in.
A crimson red slaughterhouse greeted Detective Igor Platt, and then welcomed the horrified eyes of Detective Shaver. The two men stood their ground for a second, then entered gingerly. They stopped and stared, taking it all in while still in mild shock, their actual detecting skills currently on hold. A man who looked to have been in his late-40s or early-50s was seated on the floor, directly in front of a blood-splattered stove. Apart from missing the bottom half of his right arm, this poor soul sported a vicious gash to the forehead, clearing done by some form of axe. Drying gray matter still seeped from the wound.
The woman, no doubt his wife, was face down and resembled a butchered travesty about as visually appealing as rotting ground beef. She was 40-year-old Carol Halverson, wife of simple farmer and decent family man, the also recently deceased George Halverson. Detective Shaver felt his stomach contract and feared he might join Officer Hofstaeder in the outside bushes.
Platt looked away and toward his partner. "Jesus Christ, Gary. What kind of freak is this?"