March 28, 2008
Detective Stevens was in charge of investigating a series of murders that have been occurring at the capital city of Guyana, Georgetown. The detective reviewed his notes: five businessmen had been killed, all of them were traveling salesmen in the new industry of exporting gold, and all were staying at the local hotels and were killed by the poison of scorpions mysteriously introduced in their beds while sleeping.
Georgetown is a city of contrasts, mansions exist next to slums, there is an utter absence of a middle class, as well as a stark and forever prevalent reality of hunger, especially among the very young. With such poverty is understandable that the serial killer in question was in need of money and that his prime motive was the gold that the said salesmen were carrying in their luggage. The poorest country in South America and perhaps in the world was a place where crime was rampant. Gold deposits had been discovered in the 1880s along with diamonds, some of the salesmen were also carrying them; so our killer was definitely out to make a fortune, or maybe he was just trying to survive.
After a short meeting with his boss, Stevens decided to start his investigation immediately. Perhaps a good start would be to question everyone that worked at these hotels, especially those people that found the bodies. There were five victims in two hotels, and a motive, but no description as of yet of this killer.
Detective Stevens went to the Grand National Hotel where 3 of the victims had been found. A maid found all 3 bodies in different rooms, 2 of them were Europeans, one French and the other British, and the 3rd was a local. The Detective questioned the maid about the rooms where the bodies were found; they were all adjacent to a garden with a swamp where a lot of scorpions were abundant. They had huge windows, next to the gardens, which were left open because of extreme heat during their sleep at afternoon naps. The remaining 2 victims had been at the Georgetown Plantation Hotel, which was located next to a Zoo, which also had a swamp. Again, the windows of the 2 rooms were next to a swamp. He questioned the maid and some of the people that worked there, thus:
“Did you notice any weapons when you walked into the room?” said the Detective.
“No, only 2 scorpions on the bed on the victims, I guess they were both asleep when they were attacked by the insects.” Responded the maid.
“I see, thank you, you may go now,” said the Detective.
Because it was late the Detective decided to check in the room for the night. Thinking about the homicides, the Detective concluded that all this people had been killed by a set of unfortunate chances, although perhaps they could have given rooms away from the swamps, this was the only detail that seem to have been planned; but who was responsible for it? The whole affair reminded him of a book he read many years ago, Murders of the Rue Morgue by Poe, in which a set of violent homicides were committed by an orangutan that had escaped from a nearby circus. But here, an insect had committed the homicides, they were definitely not violent. The maid could have committed them easily, somewhat in the fashion of a Cleopatra, could she be in love with these men? She certainly did not seem to be a killer, and was also not very pretty. While these thoughts were racing through his mind, he went to the library room, to see if he could find this book. At the library, he checked out the book, and asked if he could take it to his room, for bedtime reading. At the same time he was leaving, a man that looked like a tourist walked in with a laptop, the Detective sat next to him and told him blatantly:
“Do you know that your life could be in danger by staying in this hotel?”
“No, what do you mean, who are you?” answered the man completely shocked.
“I am Detective Stevens, in charge of a police investigation dealing with several homicides committed by scorpions in this hotel, committed last night.” Responded the Detective.
“I see, and pardon my ignorance, this is the first time I have been away from England, are there lots of scorpions here?”
“Yes, of course. This is a tropical country; these animals are typical of this climate. But, whether these homicides were committed due to the intelligence of a human is not certain. Anyway, I suggest you lock the windows in your room, it is a matter of life and death.”
“Yes, thank you, I will definitely do that, later.”
The Detective bid him goodbye and left to his room. About an hour later, the British packed his laptop and proceeded to leave, when he noticed the Detective had forgotten a book he had been carrying at a nearby table. He took the book to the information booth at the lobby, and found out the Detective’s room number, he then decided to take it there himself, after leaving the laptop in his room and locking the windows.
That night the Detective woke up very late. He felt down because there was something on the floor. It was very dark, he tried to get up, the light switch did not work, and there was no electricity. He then, remembered that he had bought some matches with the cigars at the hotel store before going to bed, he took some matches from the desk drawer and… he could hardly believe his eyes. The body of another man, bloody and probably dead was laying right next to his bed on the floor, he had closed the windows earlier, so the scorpions could not get in, apparently the man had been killed by a gun. His identification read he was a British business man, the Detective found his gun and noticed it had been used recently, strange he did not remember hearing any gun shots in his room, nor shooting anyone himself earlier. He left the gun in the room, found his own policeman identification and decided to investigate this assassination himself. He lit up a candle in his room, and went downstairs to the lobby, since the elevators were not working.
There was only one man in the hotel’s uniform working there; it must have been very late, perhaps 2:00 in the morning. The Detective showed his identification as a policeman, and asked him:
“Did I have any visitors to my room last night?”
The man answered: “No sir, I do not recall, but I was informed that you had been talking to a British in the library, before going up to your room. Perhaps you should wait there for a minute, there is no electricity in the hotel at present.” He went to the back room and called the police himself after he closed the door, so that Detective Stevens could not listen to the conversation.
The police arrived 5 minutes later and apprehended Detective Stevens. He was still drenched with blood with the candle in his hand when they arrived. A cursory investigation of his room was done and his fingerprints were found all over the body and his gun. The Detective was questioned thoroughly, he did not remember been at the library or anything else that had happened after that during that evening.
A psychiatrist was then called in, during hypnosis the personality of a killer made its appearance. Detective Stevens was a detective by day and a killer at night; who this time had not used scorpions but his own gun to do the killing.
What then had happened to all the gold and diamonds he had stolen from these businessmen? A local orphanage had received recently a very large donation from an unidentified man, the diamonds were never found. Detective Stevens is just a memory and is now a patient at Georgetown Mental Hospital.
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Short Story / Science Fiction
Book Review / Science Fiction
Essay / Historical Fiction
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