Night Owl

by Stephen Swann


A murderer nicknamed the Night Owl is terrorising a city.

A new short story, takes about 9 minutes to read.

                                              Night Owl

Another person, a man this time, was now the fifth victim of the deranged killer, only known as the 'Night Owl.' His nickname came about because he only strikes when it was dark. The city was in panic. The mayor was struggling with what to do next. Police officers patrolled the streets, but somehow this vile killer kept getting away with it. People were instructed to stay indoors, especially after dark to keep them safe. But only time would tell if they could catch him and to the people that lived there, the sooner the better.

    Police officer Cummings proceeded to the room where a small meeting was taking place. The frustration he felt at not apprehending this brute yet, was very annoying. Especially on a professional level. Daniel joined the police force to bring criminals to justice. It was like this person was laughing at them. He needed to catch this bastard. This man was dangerous, he needed to be stopped.

    Inside the room stood three men. One was his superior officer.

    Twenty minutes later and the meeting was over with. Daniel turned to the man in charge once the other two had left, and said, "So what you're saying is, the killer isn't a man at all?"

    George looked stressed, then replied, "Last night there was an eyewitness to the fifth killing, and as you've just heard, it's changed this investigation completely."

    Daniel didn't know what to believe now. "Where does this person live, the one who saw it?"

    "I can't tell you, mate. You understand don't you," was all George answered, rubbing his forehead.

    This was ridiculous, he thought. For weeks now they'd been searching for the killer, interviewing potential suspects. And now the whole investigation was up in the air, because an eyewitness saw what he perceived was an animal of some description, a big animal, far bigger than any dog.

    Daniel was unsure what to do now. How come no one had realised the terrible injuries were caused by a wild animal, and not by a weapon?

    George turned to him. "I've got a meeting, Daniel. I'll see you tomorrow, bright and early. And I promise you we'll get to the bottom of it."

    He'd known George for years and respected him very much. "Yes, sir. See you tomorrow and stay safe."

    George disappeared out of the room, leaving a disappointed Daniel to ponder on where to go from here.

    Once he'd got home, Daniel had dinner with his attractive thirty something wife. Her name was Karen. They'd been married for four years. He loved her very much.

    "What's wrong?" she asked, while she looked at him with concern.

    He knew he couldn't tell her the truth, as it could get him in lots of trouble, and replied sheepishly, "I can't tell you, sweetheart. But it's to do with work. Bloody work."

    "I thought you loved your job. What happened?"

    She was right as usual, Daniel loved his job, but the spate of horrific murders had painted a dark cloud over the city. This is when he told her everything, if not he'd go insane.

    Later that night as both were in bed, Daniel read his book while Karen watched Netflix on her ten inch tablet. She wore earphones so it wouldn't disturb him. After finishing the first chapter, he peered over at what she was watching. After 5 minutes he felt tired, and turned on his side, before saying, "Goodnight, sweetheart. Early start tomorrow."

    Karen removed the earphones a few minutes later, then placed the tablet on the wooden cabinet beside the bed.

    Daniel was still awake, these days he had trouble sleeping. Maybe it was caused by stress? Then he felt her hand on his shoulder. "What's wrong," he asked, turning to face her.

    "This will sound silly, but stay with me on this one. Do you promise?"

    What was she talking about?

    "Yeah, sure, sweetheart. Carry on," was all he answered, giving her a smile.

    "I know you take your job seriously so with what I'm just about to say, please don't be angry, I'm only trying to help. Do you promise not to get angry?"

    "I promise, Karen. Please tell me."

    She kissed him on the lips, then said, "Maybe it's an animal that has escaped from a zoo somewhere, I mean that would make sense wouldn't it?" She noticed him giving it some thought. "If you look at it rationally that's the only thing that makes sense?"

    Daniel kissed her on the forehead, and replied, "Yes, I agree. Tomorrow I'll check all the zoo's in the area, just in case a wild animal has escaped. I love you."

    "And I love you too."

    The next morning officer Cummings got in touch with all the zoo's in the vicinity. Within ten minutes a call back from them confirmed no animals had escaped. Disappointment was felt.

    That night another grizzly murder, this time it was a young woman while she headed home from work.

    Daniel sat in the living room with Karen. The thought of it happening again made him feel so useless. His wife had a wildlife program on. If the truth be told he wasn't paying much attention to it, as his mind was elsewhere. The case was all he thought about these days, even when at home. It had become an obsession. Karen nudged him.

    Daniel turned to her. "Sorry, love. It's just work, you know how it is."

    He felt bad.

    "That's okay, my love. Did you watch any of it?" she asked.

    "No, not really," he answered. Was he the worst husband in the world or what? He noticed Karen had that look again when she'd thought of a good idea. "So what is it this time?" he asked.

    Karen couldn't help herself. "Well, since watching the program I've learnt quite a lot about the wildlife in Africa and similar countries, wild animals prefer places where they don't feel threatened, maybe an area with trees where it's easier to stay out of view from others. Are you following me, Daniel?"

    "No, not really," he replied. Where was this heading? Then it hit him like a bolt out of the blue. "So what your saying is, the wild animal which is inhabiting our city must have a place near here where it feels safe. Something that reminds it of home, an area in this city with trees and is out of the way of crowds."

    "Yes," she cried out. " I think you have finally got it, my Daniel."

    He kissed her passionately.

    "My God. What was that for?" Karen asked.

    He looked at her, then replied, "And I know such a place."

    It took him twenty minutes to drive there. On the passenger seat was his rifle. He wasn't taking any chances. Going back over the case notes, Daniel noticed a pattern emerging, which no one at the station had noticed. The awful crimes always took place when the moon was at its fullest, and where the murders had been committed was close to a woodland on the outskirts of the city. How come no one had connected this before?

    Daniel got out of the car. Everywhere was pitch black, apart from a single lamp light some distance away. He had told no one from work on what he was doing, as in all honesty this was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But it was worth a try.

    Reluctantly Daniel headed to the entrance to the forest, then hid behind a thick trunk overlooking the area. Then he waited patiently.

    He awoke with a start. A scream from nearby had disturbed him from his sleep. Realising where he was, Daniel took hold of the rifle by his feet. A street some distance from him he observed with interest, as this was the only road into the place. The time was 1.52am. He'd been there for just over three hours, at least two hours of that asleep. For a trained policeman, Daniel wasn't being very professional. He realised suddenly that the moon wasn't at its fullest, and from what he'd learned earlier, the chance of the animal attacking anyone tonight was unsure. But if he headed home, and another murder occurred, how could he live with himself. Daniel stayed for another hour, as it was common knowledge that the attacks always took place between 11pm and 3am.

   Once he arrived home Daniel went straight to bed. By sheer luck he had tomorrow off.

    The next day he drove to the spot to have a look around. In the forest a briefcase, which had been well hidden under some growth, was found a fair way in. Inside were clean clothes. Daniel found this odd. Not to cause any suspicion, he put the case back the way he'd found it. By 1pm Daniel was back at home, where he told Karen of his find. Then he proceeded to the kitchen to check the calender to see when the next full moon would be.

    The night was finally here. Daniel and some colleagues hid behind the trees, monitoring the street ahead. Daniel felt uneasy as he wasn't sure if this would work. The city spanned miles. The only thing bringing him here was the fact that if it was a wild animal of some sort, this would be the perfect area for it to stay undetected. George, the man in charge, had given the go ahead to the plan, because they had nothing to lose. Many other policemen patrolled the streets, knowing what might occur. The time was 12.07am. All of them waited patiently.

    Half an hour later there was still no sign of the bloody thing. Two of the men grew irritable, thinking they were wasting their time being stuck there, when they could be on the streets protecting the public. A faraway scream disturbed the eerie silence. Instantly Daniel's radio made a noise. He picked it up. On the other end was the voice of Gavin, one officer patrolling that night.

    "Talk slower, Gavin, what happened again?"

    "I heard someone crying for help and then a scream. When I got there, a young man had been attacked. I'm afraid he's dead. I caught a glimpse of something running away. It was too dark to make out much. From what I saw it's much bigger than a dog, and I think it's heading your way, so be on your guard."

    It was now or never. He explained to the others what had occurred, and told them to stay put, while he tries to draw the animal out. Daniel realised it was an insane idea, but they were so close in catching this thing.

    He stood up and proceeded with caution across the area of grass. His heart raced. The end of the street was getting closer with every step he took. Daniel hoped his idea would work, because his life depended on it. He was the bait, and behind him were many men with tranquilizer guns, in case the animal tried to attack. They still didn't know what they were dealing with, and that scared him very much. On the nearest house on the right-hand side of the street, a small shadow appeared, as something made its way down the road towards them. Daniel stood his ground. The rifle by his side. The shadow quickly got bigger as the animal got closer. Suddenly it was observed while it walked from the street to the area of grass. The beast was huge, with long dirty fur, and the face of a demon. Inside its mouth were long sharp teeth. It made a terrifying sound as it charged towards the police officer. Daniel stayed where he was. Five shots were heard as they echoed noisily around him. The beast halted, while it made a whimpering noise. Then it ran back to the street injured. Daniel couldn't let it get away and followed it to the road. Halfway up the street it was seen, while it lay still. He proceeded towards it, his rifle pointed at the animal, just in case it was a trick. As he got nearer Daniel noticed the fur wasn't so thick as previously. The face was less demonic and now resembled human features. Pale skin appeared in between the fur. The long sharp teeth shortened, now looking like human teeth. Within a minute a naked man lay at his feet. The beast for now had gone until the next full moon. Daniel stood there, not quite believing what he'd just witnessed. After all this time he'd finally got his man, and it felt good.

The End

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