(TW: graphic violence and mentions of rape)
It was late at night. Perhaps just a stroke after midnight. A pitch-black sky descended where all the owls and other creatures of the woodlands awoke from their slumber. The full moon was barely visible, obscured by the towering branches above. The only sounds that could be heard were the occasional rustling of the fallen leaves, and the gusting wind moving eerily through the trees.
Luckily, there was just enough of the moon shining to cast a spotlight on the naked, dead body in the forest clearing, which was being held up against the trunk of a single tree. The woman’s body was spread-eagled, a rope bound both of her wrists and pinned them high above the head. Her torn-off clothes and the contents from her handbag were spread out across the mud, which were only faintly noticeable in front of the disfigured corpse.
If you were to step forward and take a closer examination of the body, it would soon shed some light that this woman — whoever she was in her previous life — had been inflicted to something deeply sinister, several hours before she had died. Four of her teeth had been ripped out with considerable force, bitemarks appeared deep into the side of her neck, and her throat was violently slit open from left to right.
This poor, unfortunate victim had endured about as much sadistic abuse — both physical and sexual — than anyone would ever want to experience in a lifetime’s worth of their worst nightmares.
As the night finally gave way to the early morning sunrise, what remained of the corpse was a ghastly and horrific sight. Both of the sockets where her eyes used to be were now replaced with two gaping holes, and her entire stomach had since been sliced open, her intestines spilling upon the mud.
Circling the tree where the body still hung, was a ‘Do Not Cross’ police tape. Beyond that, two police officers stood side-by-side, glancing occasionally at the scene with wide-eyed horror.
‘There ain’t no way in hell anyone should go this way,’ the older and more experienced officer muttered under his raspy breath. With both of his hands firmly concealed in his pockets and his shoulders slumped, he chewed endlessly on a piece of gum. It’s easy to assume he’s been in this job far longer than he would have liked.
The officer standing directly beside him — a 20-something-year-old female rookie — had very little experience of a really gruesome murder case such as this one. She had learnt about cases like this, of course, but only when they cropped up in her police training. Just hearing about them doesn’t really help to equip you for the real thing. With notepad and pen in hand, she frantically scribbles down as many points as possible; it was painfully obvious that she cared more about the job than the grumpy partner she had been lumbered with.
‘Christ, I feel so sick! Who in their right mind would be crazy enough to do something like this?’ She eventually replied back.
‘Yeah well, we’re not here to do the thinking. Our instructions were to try to clean up this mess without the locals knowing anything about it. You’ll do well to remember simple orders like that,’ her partner said scornfully.
‘Whatever you say, boss’, the rookie replied with undue confidence. ‘Do you reckon we can get enough DNA from her possessions?’
‘I doubt that one bit’, he shot back in stern reply. ‘Just look at the state of them. They’ve been covered in so much dirt, piss and shit, that there’s not much of her left.’
Before she could say anything more, two police patrol cars suddenly arrive out of nowhere, as several officers jumped out and quickly approached the crime scene. ‘Thanks for all your help this morning guys, but we’ll take over from here now,’ one of them stated. ‘Your services are no longer required at this time.’
After shooting her partner a concerned look, the rookie starts probing the intruding policemen. ‘What do you mean our services are no longer required? If you gentlemen think for one second I’m leaving here without getting to the bottom of this, then you can think again!’
‘My my, she’s a bit of a feisty one isn’t she officer?’ Sneered another officer. She suddenly loses some grip with her temper, as she becomes personally offended by that sly comment. ‘Hey! Just back off buddy! I may be new on the job but I’m still an officer of the law, just like the rest of you. I don’t wear this badge for nothing you know!’
The boys in uniform all chuckle back. Before she could retaliate even further, creating more tension in the air, her partner jumps in and cuts her short by warning not to make any rash decisions. ‘Look, there’s no point arguing. If we’ve been told to leave, then we’ll just leave. Why make a fuss over spilt milk? Let’s just get back to the station’. Feeling dejected and somewhat hostile, she lets out a frustrated sigh before reluctantly agreeing to leave the scene of the crime in this way. ‘That’s right, listen to Grandad sweetheart!’ The same officer shouts back at her, sniggering. She shoots back a scowling look but doesn’t say another word. It wasn’t worth the aggravation. They huddle in a tight group together, as they stand and watch in silence as the other two walk away from the scene, with gleeful looks in their eyes.
Once the pair made it back to their vehicle just outside the woods, she snapped. ‘Excuse me sir, but what was all that about? You humiliated me out there and made me feel like utter shit. What just happened? They shouldn’t have brushed us off like that. Something doesn’t seem right about all of this. I know it. You know it. And I’m not about to give up on this one yet’, she burst out with fiery anguish and contempt.
‘Forget it kid. This is too much for you to handle. You’ve got to let it go. You really think you stood a chance against those guys?’
‘Oh really boss? Why? Because I’m a woman? It’s got nothing to do with fucking winning anyway. It’s about doing the right thing. It wouldn’t hurt to have some respect around here either.’ At this point, her partner grew tired of hearing this . ‘I knew working with someone like you wasn’t going to end too well.' She stared back at him in shocked amazement, taken aback by what he came out with, and wondering what he could mean by “someone like her”.
‘Don’t give me that look’, he continued, ‘you know what I’m driving at. I’ve done my own share of digging around, and read the reports of how you came to be here. There’s no way you’re mentally fit for a crime scene like this.’
‘Who gave you access to my own personal files? You shouldn’t be doing that.’ She shoots back, utterly shocked. ‘There’s a lot you don’t know about what’s going on here. You’re in way over your head Gemma. The best choice you can make right now is to just walk away and erase this from your mind.’ He slowly explained. ‘Are you being serious right now?’ She yells in his face. ‘What is going on Alan?’ Gemma was still reeling from shock how she only found out her partner had somehow nosed around through her own personal records. Does every officer check up on each other in this crummy town? She wondered. ‘You know what then? Fuck this and fuck you. I’m calling in back-up...’
‘Don’t you even think about it...’
Before she had a chance to speak into her CB radio, a strong hand concealing a rag grabbed her by the mouth and refused to let go. She held on fighting for as long as she could, but in the end it was no use as her body gave out, and she lost sense of all consciousness.
Hours passed by when she woke up again, feeling dazed and confused, in a dark place. Re-adjusting to the change in light, she quickly glanced around, taking in her strange yet familiar surroundings as best as she could. It didn’t take too long until it dawned on her that she was back in the woods again, in the same exact spot where the evil crime had taken place the night before. For a moment, she wondered what happened to the body of the young woman, and just how it had been removed from the area so fast, along with all of the other pieces of hard evidence. Unable to utter a single word as her mouth was gagged, and unable to move her arms or hands, as they were tied behind her lower back, with only the tree trunk as her uncomfortable back support to keep her sitting upright; she instantly felt frightened and alone. She started trying to feel for the hollow of the tree but stopped suddenly when she heard the heavy crunching of footsteps approaching.
Whilst trying to fight the struggle of freeing her hands in a desperate bid to get out of the woods alive again, she looked down at herself and realised that her uniform had been ripped and torn. Tears of frustration started to roll down her cheeks and her heart-rate quickened. Regaining focus and trying to compose herself, she saw a group of men come into her view. Unable to see them clearly in the dark, their imposing silhouettes became clearer. As they gradually approached her closer and closer, her worst fears were realised. The mysterious men were the same police officers that arrived incredibly fast onto the scene earlier that day.
One of them crouched down directly in front of her with an evil grin spread across his face. It was the same grin that had mocked her earlier, but this time it had some added malice. ‘You must have so many questions right now, hey lady?’ he asked, wickedly. ‘My deepest apologies for getting your own partner to knock you out early this morning, but you were running your big mouth off quite a bit and, of course, there was no way we could let you go. You’re not going anywhere now.’
‘Oh, and as for your partner, he’s fine by the way. He’s been keeping a close eye on you for the whole night. He’s just standing over there if you ever want to get one last good look at him’. He gave his head a slight nod to the right, to which she obliged by slowly turning her head in that direction. Alan was standing there alright, just a few metres away, with his shoulders slumped and his hands in his pockets, like he usually does, but this time with his eyes staring down at the ground. He just couldn’t bare to make any eye contact after everything that’s just happened.
She turned to face the bullying officer once again. ‘The thing is sweetheart,’ he resumed, ‘we just can’t have someone like you on our force. You’ve been turning us into a laughing stock ever since you relocated here, and after witnessing what you saw earlier this morning, well, we plan on making sure that not a single detail of what went on here gets leaked out.’ With that, he pulled out a hunting knife and drew it close to her cheek. He felt her nervous trembling through the vibration of his blade. ‘I promise you that this will all run according to plan if you decide to play nice with us. If, on the other hand, you get any ideas and try something funny, you’ll end up just like her from last night, understood?’ She nods, slowly. He begins to gradually rise, all the while still giving her that stupid evil grin. ‘Alright boys, who wants a piece of her first?’
Before any of his buddies crowded behind him were given an opportunity to volunteer in making the first rotten move, she gives the overconfident, cocky officer an even bigger grin back. For what these men didn’t know was that she wasn’t about to give up her body without a fight. As her hands gripped around the knife that she had subtly concealed in the hollow of the tree earlier that morning, knowing this case would put her face-to-face with the men that had stolen the life of her younger sister earlier that year, the rookie prepared to get the sweet revenge she had been planning so meticulously for. It seems all of her hard work and research into organised crime and police corruption is about to pay off in ways that these unlucky, soon-to-be sorry scumbags would have never expected, or imagined.
Good night and farewell, gentlemen.
Martin White is a film reviewer, writer, and avid cinema goer. He decided to pursue a future career as a fiction writer more seriously after attending a creative writing workshop in Central London during the summer of 2018. Expressing an everlasting love and wide interest in movies since he was seven years old, he has been captured by the art and creation of storytelling and world building ever since. You can connect with him on Twitter: @TheMovieNerd86 and check out all his film ramblings at: themovienerdstrikesback.wordpress.com