“Imagine the human body as one enormous cell. Like every cell, it needs a nucleus. That’s where the brain comes in. Without it, none of the other parts of our body would function. Let alone function together! It’s impressive to think that one three-pound mass could run so many complex systems.
Not to mention the overwhelming amount of information that’s held within. All our memories, every aspect of our personality, all of our creativity, our emotions, our logic. It’s all there. Everything that makes us, us is encased in that small collection of cells.
This is why the brain is my ultimate prize. The one piece of the equation that balances everything. And it’s about time that I finally bring everything, and excuse the pun, to a head.”
“This isn’t a game anymore! You need to stay out of this or you’re going to get hurt!”
Her head was pounding. What happened?
“This isn’t one of your stupid detective novels, Amber!”
It’s cold. Where was she? Amber was lying on something hard. She struggled to open her eyes, but found the light to be too unbearable. She fought to sit up, reaching to grab hold of something…
“No, Amber, I’m sorry…”
Marty! Amber tore her eyes open and sat upright. She found herself in her bathroom, lying in the tub. Everything flooded back. Marty was…
No, it wasn’t possible.
“…I’m going to have to kill you.”
Marty was the Anatomy Killer.
“Oh God, I have… to warn Carl…”
Amber struggled over the edge of the bathtub, but still found it too hard to stand. She instead slumped down on the floor. Crawling over to the sink, she managed to pull herself to her feet. Wobbling, she stumbled forward and caught herself on the doorframe. Jack The Ripper stared up at her from the floor of the hallway. He quickly hopped out of the way as she shuffle-stepped out of the room to get to the phone. The more she moved around, the easier it was. Hitting the living room, she turned to race for the phone, but was stopped by something.
Jerking her head around, she noticed a black cassette tape seemingly floating in mid-air.
Upon further inspection, she noticed it was taped to the ceiling. The words “WATCH ME!” printed in bold, black marker on the label. Amber pulled it down and turned to her old VCR, finding it already hooked up to the television. She slid the tape in and the image immediately jumped onto her screen. Her eyes widened and she felt herself getting dizzy again, she fell back onto the arm of the couch to steady herself. The image on the tape filled her with dread.
Body parts. Jars of body parts. The camera panning slowly over the jars into what appeared to be a basement. But the body parts were nothing compared to what the camera finally settled on. A man, tied to a chair, gagged and struggling against the rope. Amber recognized him almost immediately.
It was Carl Ballis.
“It’s always been your brain I’ve admired the most, Carl. The cold, calculating logic. The ability to see things that no one else see’s. You taught me so much. And you did so much good. But now…”
Marty gently patted his friend and mentor on the head.
“But now… you’re just some pathetic voyeur. You said it yourself, you stopped working on homicide cases and started spying on cheating husbands. You gave up. You’re wasting that brain of yours. But not anymore. I won’t let it go to waste anymore.”
Marty pulled the gag out of Carl’s mouth. Carl smirked.
“I’m the pathetic one? You, someone who swore your life to serving and protecting, pointlessly killing innocent people. For what, a fuckin’ collection of parts? What good is any of this, you idiot?”
“Oh, you still think this is about the collection? Now, come on Carl, all of this is just an added bonus. Why would I target you for a simple collection of useless parts?”
“Then what is it, what the hell is this for? Why kill all these people?”
“To get you back in the game! You were the best, and still are, but you were wasting away like a loser! The world is full of corruption and evil. Killers murdering for no reason every day. I was already having trouble dealing with the terror that happens every day. But then to have the only person I ever respected give up and quit? That was just too much disappointment to deal with. I lost faith, Carl. I lost faith in you, and I lost faith in there being any chance at justice in this world. The darkness is the winning side, so why not join it? And why not make you pay for letting it happen?”
“So, you’re doing this to punish me for quitting? You know why I quit, Marty!”
“Oh, give me a break! You ran away! Yes, your wife was murdered…”
“In our own bedroom!”
“Yes, yes, your wife was murdered in your own bedroom. But what did you do? Tatum offered to let you join the investigation. The whole force wanted to help you, but you turned and dove head first into a pool of booze and self-destruction. And because of it, the killer was never caught!”
“You think I don’t know that! Every fucking day I blame myself for that…”
“But you just can’t do anything about it. Your brain is useless to you now. You let your whole life become invalid. And I can’t sit by and watch this happen anymore. I had to lure you out. I had to see if you had it in you. You did impress me, Carl. I’m glad to know that you can now die with a little bit of dignity.”
“You son of a…”
Marty returned the gag to Carl’s mouth.
The phone was dead.
“Fuck! Come on!”
Amber threw the phone across the room. Marty must have cut the phone line. There was no way for Amber to call for help. She recognized the basement, Marty had given her a photo-tour of his house while they were dating, which meant she knew where Carl was being kept. She knew where Marty was…
She stopped herself. The thought of Marty doing these horrible things was too much to bear. She had to help Carl; she had to put an end to this. She had to get out of the apartment.
“I can do this. I’ve been outside before…”
Amber swung open the front door and moved to leave. But she stopped violently right at the edge of the doorway, as if some invisible force field was blocking her path. Her breathing got heavy, and she began to feel faint. She couldn’t do this. But she had to…
With all her strength, she set her first foot out of the apartment.
The sound of a buzz saw filled the basement. Marty looked almost sad as he slowly approached Carl. He went to say something, but his voice was drowned out by the noise. He finally gave up and went to move the saw towards Carl’s head…
…but Carl suddenly sprang forward, smashing head long into Marty’s chest. They both plunged backwards, the saw flew down behind them, slamming against the concrete of the basement floor, casting sparks as it spun around under it’s own power.
Carl revealed the small pocketknife he kept up the sleeve of his jacket. While Marty was getting the saw ready, he had worked the rope off with the knife. Marty jumped to his feet and lunged at Carl before he could get in a motion with the knife. The two struggled, smashing into the shelves of body parts. Jars shattered, bones bounced around on the floor as the two slammed each other against the walls.
“Dammit, Carl, don’t fight this! You’re old, you can’t possibly over power me now!”
Marty kicked Carl hard in the stomach and threw him to the ground. He reached onto the workbench and grabbed a large dagger.
“You see this! This was what I used to slice the uterus out of your assistant! Can you really live knowing that that was your fault!”
Marty raised the knife above his head, ready to plunge it into Carl’s back as he went to get up. But suddenly, Carl swung around on the ground. Marty’s eyes widened as he noticed the circular saw now in Carl’s hands. He had grabbed the still-on machine off the ground when he fell. And in an instant, the blade made quick work of Marty’s shins.
Marty screamed in agony, falling to the ground. The knife bounced and slide under a nearby shelf as he continued to scream in pain. Blood poured out onto the floor.
Carl fought to his feet. He started to stumble towards the steps. But he couldn’t keep his footing, slipping on a liver that was lying on the ground, he fell back to the concrete. He once again tried to get to his feet, but was suddenly shoved violently back down.
“No! You’re not leaving! You’re not walking away again!”
Marty had leaped onto his back, clubbing Carl in the back of the head in a rage. Carl kicked out violently in an effort to get him off, and Marty recoiled with a scream as Carl’s kick connected with his badly damaged leg, snapping the shin bone. Marty fell back violently, squirming and screaming. His leg where Carl had kicked it was dangling by muscle tissue, the bone having been completely shattered now.
With one last burst, Carl pulled himself upright again, but Marty had swung around and grabbed his legs, plunging the retrieved dagger into Carl’s calf muscle. Carl let out a near-inaudible gasp and collapsed down again, landing roughly on a rib cage that no doubt belonged to Johnny, the copycat. The ribs buckled and Carl hit the floor. Marty clawed his way on top of Carl, lifting the dagger above his head again. Blood and spit flying out of his mouth as he began to swing the dagger down.
Carl spun around in a flash and swung an arm up. Marty stopped suddenly as something pierced through the side of his throat. The dagger fell out of his hands again, and Marty slumped off of Carl, a broken rib bone stuck through his neck. Carl kicked his way back and watched as Marty let out his last gurgling breaths before finally collapsing silent on the ground. Carl was bleeding badly from the head, feeling dizzy, he let himself slide into unconsciousness knowing he was probably going to bleed to death. But at least it was over…
“And for his bravery in putting an end to the Anatomy killer nightmare, we give this silver Defender of the People medallion to Detective Carl Ballis!”
The crowd of people outside the police station cheered as the Mayor reached down and slide the medal over Carl’s neck.
“We are truly in your debt!”
Carl half-smiled as his wheelchair was turned around and wheeled off the stage.
“Take me somewhere where there aren’t as many people. And perhaps a ton of booze…”
“You know, I’d say you shouldn’t drink but if anyone deserves one, it’s you, hero.”
Amber patted Carl lightly on the shoulder as she pushed his chair into a nearby park.
“Ah, give me a break, kid. I’d be dead if you hadn’t gotten the cops there when you did. I owe ya one.”
“Owe me one?! You owe me a hell of a lot more than one, Mr. Hero.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. So, what are you going to do now that you’re back in the real world?”
“I was thinking of writing a book.”
“Oh hell, not a cheesy detective novel?”
“No no, I think I’m done with all that. I’m thinking of writing a book about dealing with trauma. To help other people that were involved in attacks.”
“Sounds like a plan. Oh look, a pub…”
“Yeah, alright. But you’re buying the first round…”