Sunday, May 28, 2006

Return of the Duck


Thirty years ago in the small town of Papazoni, home of the Salisbury steak, in the Midwestern state of Hysteria, a series of brutal murders occurred that baffled the police and local authorities and cut down the lives of many people. The killer was apprehended, but released on good behavior and kept under heavy surveillance ever since. Now, in the city of Bloomington, in the eastern state of New Jersey, a killer going by the pseudonym ‘the Duck’ has surfaced and is perpetrating crimes that mirror those of Papazoni thirty years ago. But the original killer is still in Papazoni under heavy surveillance. Who is committing the murders this time?

Chapter One: the First Blood

Little Timmy Jones was watching the Spongebob Movie in his living room, blissfully unaware that today was his last day amongst the living.
The doorbell rang quite suddenly, making Timmy jump. His parents were attending a meeting in town and weren’t due back home for at least another two hours. Timmy put down his popcorn and got up to open the door. He opened the door and saw, to his dismay, a person in a Grim Reaper costume holding a knife.
The figure tackled Timmy and slammed the door shut. His muffled screams were heard by a neighbor who was outside tending to the hedges in his front yard.
When the neighbor went to investigate, all he found was Timmy’s blood-soaked body, an unfinished movie about a talking yellow sponge, and a small rubber duck that went ‘quack’ if you squeezed it lying on Timmy’s corpse with two evil eyebrows drawn on its face. As for the hooded figure, he was nowhere to be found.

Two weeks later, in that same town or at least somewhere in the vicinity of the town, Little Cindy Pumpernickel was playing near a small creek, completely unaware that today was her last day amongst the living. She enjoyed playing down by the creek. It gave her a feeling of immense calm that she just couldn’t explain in rational terms. Her favorite activity was catching crayfish and watching them walk around on her hand.
She was skipping a stone across the creek, thinking of politics and controversy in the government, and had just bent down and picked up a crayfish when she felt a strange prickly feeling on the back of her neck. She looked behind her and saw nothing, but she still couldn’t shake the feeling. She returned to her crayfish, out of both slight uneasiness and because it had just pinched her rather hard. She had just begun to calm down when she heard a noise behind her. She looked around and screamed.

Little Cindy’s mother was in her garden when she heard the scream. She ran down to the creek to see what the matter was. Her blood ran cold at what she saw.
Little Cindy was gone. There were several blood-stained rocks and, sitting in prominence on the biggest rock there, a small smiling rubber duck was there, with evil eyebrows painted on it’s countenance, holding down a note like a paperweight. Cindy’s mother picked up the note, tears of sorrow and dread filling her eyes, and read two words that forever shattered the peace and calm of her life and the lives of about thirty-six others:
I’m Back

Three days later, in that same town, though in a different part, Little Billy Walker was playing Ratchet Deadlocked on his PS2, worryingly unaware of the events about to take place.
Earlier he had been watching TNBN (This Network Broadcasts News). The top story was about a murder, identified as ‘the Duck’ that was killing small children and leaving a small rubber duck on the spot where the victim was killed. Police had recently recovered the body of one Cindy Pumpernickel, who was the third victim of ‘the Duck’, floating under a bridge on the town’s main street. There was severe bruising around the throat and the cause of death was apparently strangling, though police reason she could have just as easily been drowned.
Police had issued a warrant for a man named Phillip Duckhunt, who had had prior experience in a similar case. Phillip Duckhunt was in his late fifties and lived in the town of Papazoni, home of the Salisbury steak, in the mid-western state of Hysteria.
Billy had no interest in these affairs, even though he was living in the same town that the murders were taking place. He was a ninth degree black belt in Tae-Kwan-Do, Master of Ju Jitsu, and World Champion Drunk Boxer; he was perfectly capable of defending himself, or so he thought at the time.
His mother entered the room shortly after he had cleared the Dark Cathedral main level, and told him that he had a phone call. What he heard next would scar him emotionally for the rest of his life.
“Hello Billy. You probably don’t know who this is, but rest assured you will be enlightened soon enough. You’ve probably heard about me on TV recently. I do seem to be making a big hit of myself.”
“Sheryl Crowe?”
“No not Sheryl Crowe, you idiot! They call me ‘the Duck’.”
Billy’s blood ran cold.
“Why are you calling me?”
“Because I wanted someone to know who is going to be killed next.”
“Billy,” his mother called, “Who is it on the phone?”
“Tell her it’s Frankie from school, or it’ll be you instead.” The killer said.
“It’s Frankie from school!”
“Well tell her to get a move on, I’m expecting a call from your father any minute,” said Billy’s mom.
“Such a loving mother you have, Billy. You’d almost think she wanted you dead,” said the killer.
“What do you mean?”
“Why, if you get off the phone now, I shall have to kill you instead of her.”
“You’re going to kill my mother?” Billy said in alarm.
“That’s the trouble with these little ambiguous pronouns; you never know exactly who I mean.”
“So you ARE going to kill my mom!”
“Maybe?  I don’t know, I guess you’ll have to agonize over it all night long!” there was a sudden outburst of maniacal laughter over the phone.  “Oh, it’s just too delicious!  If only you knew the plans I had for you!  IF ONLY YOU KNEW!!”  There was more laughter.
The killer hung up.
Billy sat there in shock. He did know Frankie, they had been friends for as long as Billy could remember. He picked up the phone again and had almost completed dialing her number when the phone began to ring again. He answered it to hear the killer’s voice.
“Ah, ah, ah. We can’t have you warning people of their imminent demise, now, can we. That would spoil the fun.”
“You think this is a game?” Billy shouted into the phone, but the killer had already hung up.
Billy sat there in shock. He knew he had to tell someone, but he couldn’t use the phone as the killer seemed to be able to predict whom he was calling. In Billy’s mind, it logically followed, and he didn’t realize how correct he was, the killer was watching him.
“Billy, time for dinner!” his mother called him from the kitchen.
Billy was shaken from his reverie and went to the kitchen. He sat down at the table to enjoy his fried liver and mashed potatoes.
“what did Frankie want, darling?”
Billy paused for a second. He wanted to tell his mother the truth, but he wasn’t sure if the killer wouldn’t be able to find out.
“She just called to ask about tomorrow’s homework.”
“This late at night? She’ll be lucky to get it done before bedtime!”
If what the killer says is true, she’ll be lucky to get it done at all, Billy thought to himself.
That night, Billy couldn’t sleep. He was worried about Frankie and frightened for himself. He tossed and turned, thinking that any shadow could be the killer. Once again, he had no idea how correct he was.

The next morning, Billy went downstairs to the smell of bacon. He went into the kitchen to find his neighbor, Mrs. Vivian Ditherspoon, flipping pancakes on the frying pan. She had a grave look on her face.
“Billy, I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
Billy looked up, expecting the worst.
“Your mother was killed early this morning while she was coming home from the grocer’s with milk, eggs, cheese that was slightly on the moldy side, and that strange bread she often buys that has those small seeds embedded into the crust. Someone had stabbed her with a knife in the back. The police were going to wake you, but I told them it would be best to hear it from a familiar face.
Billy was in shock. Frankie hadn’t been killed, at this he was overjoyed. But his own mother had been murdered after the killer had promised her he wouldn’t, at least not yet. He was dumbstruck.

In the town of Papazoni, or rather, in a suburb not to far away, a solitary, slightly overweight man approached a suburban house near a twisted old tree that desperately needed to be watered. His goal was inside that house.
He approached the door to the suburban house, hesitated, and pushed it open and stepped inside. The inside was surprisingly clean and well organized compared to the outside. From what he could see, the person who lived here liked to keep order in his or her life, as opposed to the sort of mess you would find in a regular suburban home. There was a startling cough from an old rocking chair in the corner of the room.
“Back again, Duckhunt?”
Chief Inspector Phillip Duckhunt looked around to see Susan Pettifoot sitting in a rocking chair knitting a balaclava out of yarn.
“Were you expecting me, Little Susie?”
“Let us dispense with the pleasantries, Duckhunt. I know why you’re here, and I presume you want my help.”
“Astounding as it is, the Duck is back. He’s already killed four people and…”
“I know, I know, I was just watching the news bulletin on CNN. Tell me, has anyone established any suspects yet?”
“No, not yet, but…”
“You call yourself a detective. How can you ever hope to catch the Duck if you don’t even have any suspects? Don’t answer that, I know there isn’t an answer.”
“Are you willing to help us?”
“Yes, as long as we get one thing straight. Last time I had committed the perfect crime: kill of members of a competition that I so desperately needed to win and at the same time start an urban legend that persists to this day. In case you haven’t noticed, rubber duck sales have significantly dropped in the Papazoni area. Obviously, we have a criminal who is copying my work. This man prefers to stick to people with the same names, as you have undoubtedly deduced by watching the news.”
“We had figured that out, yes.”
“Good! Now, the next step in the logical chain of events is to establish a connection between the murderer and the murdered. What do Cindy, Timmy, Nigel, and Mrs. Walker have in common?”
“They are all heirs to the Washington Fortune, the greatest fortune ever to be established in the state of New Jersey.”
“Then we must clearly be looking for someone who wants to inherit that vast fortune, or at least someone who gets a cut of it should the currently living heir decide to snuff it.”
“Of course! That way, they could spread around bribe money so that the judges will vote in favor of his candidate in the upcoming Great Dane Pedigree Decathlon in two weeks! It all makes perfect sense!”
Susan stared at him for a minute, and took a deep breath.
“You’re an idiot, Duckhunt. I know that stupid guesses are how you’ve solved every case you’ve ever been given, but dumb guesswork won’t be how you solve this one. Now get out of my house, you’re spreading idiocy in my home.”
Duckhunt left with a spring in his step. The case was finally starting to piece itself together.

Billy was incredibly jumpy today. No matter where he looked, he kept thinking he saw a dark shadow move out of his sight. He thought he saw one duck into a bush, sidle behind a building, and fly behind a cloud overhead. He had been told not to worry, but he had also been told that he would be an eventual victim.
He shrieked as Frankie Patterson said ‘Hi!’ to him.
Billy shrieked.
“I’m sorry? Does the sound of my voice frighten you?”
“No! Sorry, I’ve just been a bit jumpy lately.”
“So I see,” Frankie said with a slightly bemused expression.
Billy was at a loss for words, temporarily. The sight of Frankie safe, sound, and clearly not dead was a relief to him, but he couldn’t be sure that the Duck wasn’t somewhere nearby.
“Are you alright?”
Billy thought for a second.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine.”
“Okay,” said Frankie uneasily.
“Really! I’m fine. I’m just a little jumpy today.”
“Oh, that’s right. I’m sorry to hear about your mom. What are you going to do now?”
“My dad will be able to look after me, I’m sure.”
“Any idea of whom did it?”
“Yes,” said Billy quietly.
“I know who killed my mother. In fact, he called me and told me that it would be you instead, but he lied. He also told me that I would be next if I told you.”
Frankie stood in shock.
At that moment the bell rang, signaling the beginning of class and another day of school. It all passed in a haze for Billy. He was scared, for himself and Frankie, because he had just told her that she would be next and if the killer heard him then he would be killed instead. He was very jumpy for the rest of the day. He went to see the nurse because his teacher was concerned about his mental well-being. The nurse prescribed Ritalin and went back to her game of solitaire.

Later that evening, Billy was walking out of the local library, carrying a book that he had recently checked out called ‘What to do when you Know you are Going to Die’. He was about to cross the street towards the local private school when he saw a hooded figure standing beneath a street-lamp. Billy froze, and turned around to walk away. The figure ran forward and was about to stab him with a wicked looking switchblade when Billy turned around and roundhouse kicked him in the face. The figure stumbled backwards as Billy punched him in the gut. Billy then executed a series of moves that most ninth degree black belts had difficulty mastering before the age of twelve. The figure staggered backwards as Billy charged at him again. He dropped down onto one hand and tripped the figure with a sweeping kick to the ankles. Billy was about to walk away when the figure leaped onto his back with the knife inches from his throat.
“You see, Billy?  I had such golden plans for your future, but you’ve just gone and blown them up in my face.  Now your girlfriend will suffer for it!”
They wrestled, Billy kicking and yelling, the figure stabbing and slashing, or at least attempting to. They hit a street sign, Billy was on top, and he had almost managed to get the knife from the figure’s hands when a kid who attended the local private school yelled to them from across the street.
“Hey, Gaybates! Get a fucking ROOM, for God’s sake!”
Billy looked up, momentarily shocked, as the figure quickly thrust the knife into Billy’s jugular. Billy gasped as the killer threw him onto the sidewalk. The kid on the other side of the street cried out in shock and ran to the nearest dorm. The killer retrieved the knife and threw it at the kid’s back. It hit home, and the kid crumpled onto the sidewalk.

The next day, the police had roped off the area as inspectors flew around in search of clues. But the scene was empty, except for two small rubber ducks with evil eyebrows drawn on their faces placed right over the spots where Billy and the prep school student, later identified as Peter Wiggindale, were murdered the night before.

With the death toll so high, the authorities had to sit up and take notice. Many ordinances that were ordinarily reserved for emergency situations were enacted. A curfew was installed, as well as a neighborhood watch, and street prefects. The school systems were also investigating the students, as it had been mostly children of middle school age that had been killed. Locker checks and intruder drills were practiced regularly. The police began to interview possible suspects and witnesses concerning the killings, but nothing turned up. The Duck was a master of stealth.
With no clues to bank off of, and no suspects to investigate, the police began to establish motives and possible connections between the victims. All this happened, while a frightened little girl hoped and prayed for her life.

Frankie Patterson was sitting awake in her bed, her bedroom windows and door locked tight, unfortunately unaware of what was happening on the other side of town. She mourned the loss of her best friend, but was too afraid for herself to dwell on his memory much. It later turned out that her fears were completely baseless at the time.

On the other side of town, near the local general store, a gang meeting was taking place. The leader of the gang, nicknamed ‘Doom’, had called the meeting due to the death of their most valued member, Peter Wiggindale (a.k.a. Rich-blood Alpha).
“Brethren of the Night, I have called this meeting to formulate vengeance against the one who struck down our brother Rich-blood, whose importance I need not remind you all of. We must avenge his death, and to do so, we must catch the criminal known as the Duck!”
“Rich was our friend and brother; we cannot allow him to go unavenged!”
There was a general murmur of approval.
“We must hunt this killer down! Does anyone have any information we can use to find him?”
There was a long silence, before a new member, aptly named ‘Young blood’ spoke up.
“What about the Walker residence? He wiped out that entire family! Maybe he uses it as a secret hideout!”
“Very well,” said Doom, “We shall investigate the Walkers’ place. In the meantime, everyone get weapons together. This guy was able to take down a ninth degree black belt single-handedly. We must not underestimate him!”
There was a roar of approval, followed by the screech of a cat, and a disapproving shout from someone in a nearby house.
“Will you dumb kids keep it down! Some of us don’t have our internal clocks set for Tokyo!”
There was a brief silence. Youngblood suddenly shouted.
“There he is!”
Standing in an alleyway not too far from the gang meeting, was a hooded figure holding a wicked switchblade and a metal pole.
Doom suddenly shouted to the crowd.
“Get him!”
Everyone surged forward towards the hooded figure, as he jumped out of the shadows and began to attack. He knocked out the first two people he came to with the pole, and hamstrung the next one with the knife. He cut a swath through the crowd towards Doom’s position, though he did not kill anyone. Doom himself was fumbling with a lead pipe that was stuck in his back pocket. The killer leaped up onto the platform next to him and swatted away his lead pipe. He grasped him by the throat and removed his hood so that Doom could see his face.
Doom’s shriek rent the night air before it was suddenly cut short.
Towards dawn, Youngblood began to stir, his head throbbing with pain. The Duck had knocked him unconscious in the fight last night. His vision was blurred with tears as he began to sit up. He looked around him to take stock of his surroundings.
He was sitting in a small park near the local general store with unconscious and bleeding bodies around him. He looked at the nearest person and shuddered at his swollen and bruised face. He stood up hesitantly and began to walk towards his house on a nearby street. He tripped over the body of someone who had been slashed across the back and fell face forward onto the large cement platform in the center of the park. He looked up and screamed. Sitting there smiling at him with two evil eyebrows drawn on its face, was a small bloodstained rubber duck.
His scream woke up a resident of a neighboring house, who looked out the window and nearly died of shock at the sight. His phone was in the downstairs living room, and so he hobbled down the stairs and dialed 911 as fast as he could.
When the police arrived, they found Youngblood passed out near the spot, surrounded by many bruised and bleeding bodies that were later put into a juvenile delinquent center for associating themselves with a gang.
Once again, the Duck was nowhere to be found.

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Old Comments

  • Since you have mentioned Chapter 1, I believe it is an excerpt. There is suspense to keep the reader hooked till the end. I suggest you should go for a bit of editing and getting the story a little more organised. You can turn it into a good book and children are going to love it. Congratulations.

    Dr George Karimalil

    Posted by Dr George Karimalil  on  06/10  at  10:46 PM
  • I agree, it’s fun, doesn’t take itself seriously enough to cause nightmares, but has that gruesome delight that goes with the morbid imagination.

    The one small dicontinuity problem that I tripped over was that the only phone I have ever had that could ring while I was dialing is my cell.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/30  at  05:01 PM
  • Page 1 of 1 pages

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