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The City of The Faceless

By @LilyRavenclaw

One week later our very own Officer Haegen left the station in the hands of three other deputies. He was to call in for backup if necessary. But of course, it wouldn’t be necessary. When was the last time it was ever necessary?

He had his gun strapped to his waist and the files in his hand as he got into his car, his banged up old car, at least compared to the cars in the sky cities. “The filthy rich *********** he thought. The cars in the sky cities were…well, made for the sky. The cars in the inferior ground cities were the cars that were “old fashioned”. The government must have placed him in the ground cities out of spite, he was sure of it. He had every qualification to be placed in a high-class, respectable area but instead they had placed him here. He rolled his eyes as he started the engine with a simple tap of his finger. He voiced the address to the AI system in the car and the embedded GPS promptly located the position. With that, he was off.

The car drove itself through neighborhood after neighborhood, along street after street until it was a significant distance from the city. The houses began to look old. Especially old and dilapidated.

When he finally reached the address, he exited the car with the case file and walked up to the porch. Trying to keep his calm in spite of the looming and haunting home he approached the front door. With his hand on his gun he coolly knocked. He stepped back and waited for the door to be answered. He examined his surroundings. There was no one outside. Not a soul to be seen. Instead there was a dead silence. A cold silence. But the sun was out and shining so what could go wrong?

He eventually stepped to the door and knocked once more. In order to remain inconspicuous he refrained from announcing his station. If he was to conceal his identity until the door was opened, there was a higher chance that the door would be opened in the first place.

It was only common that it would take time for the door to be opened. People often procrastinated as long as humanly possible before opening up a door. Not wanting to have to make conversation with another person. Quite common.

Opening the file in his hands as he waited, he went over all the information once more. The letter with the address on it lay inside as well.

At last the officer heard the smallest noise on the other side of the door. The door painfully slowly but surely opened to reveal a tall man. He wore bright colored clothes and had strikingly green eyes. His hands were graced with stark white, oddly clean gloves. But there was an off note about him.

Officer Haegen looked the tall man over.

“Hello.” the tall man said, averting his gaze so as not make eye contact. For a short moment there seemed to be a sliver of confusion in the man’s eyes, as if he had been expecting someone but not a police officer. However the sliver almost instantly faded and Haegen swiftly forgot it.

“Hello sir. My name is Officer Haegen. I have reason to be suspicious of you and your home and have authorization to question you and investigate your home.”

And suddenly, in that moment something broke within the man’s character. Or maybe it was a slip of a mask the tall man was trying to wear. The careless, ignorant and selfish attitude the man had barely been feigning quickly drained into oblivion. It was almost like an acting scene in a play where one of the actors had screwed up and caused everyone else to break character. Whether or not it was so, Officer Haegen now had much more than reason to be suspicious.

Although our officer was just barely discovering it, he was part of a play conducted by and casting the tall man standing in front of him. A two-faced act.

“Oh sir that won’t be necessary!” The man took a defensive stance and looked directly into the officer’s eyes.

“It’s all the more necessary at this point.” Officer Haegen stared straight back at the man. Mentally comparing the colorfully dressed man to the man Haegen had seen and met three seconds earlier. It wasn’t the same person. But it was. The man he was three seconds ago, was timid, anti-social, just like every other sorry human being in the ground cities. Just like every human being anywhere for that matter. The man he was now was bold, foolish and desperate. And one might wonder what he was desperate for…

“You can question me here if you like.” The tall man made the faulty mistake of touching the officer on the shoulder which dug him deeper into a hole that only the guilty fell into. The officer barely had to do anything. The guilty so easily expose themselves once they are suspected.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to step aside.”

“So that we can converse here?” He was practically begging now.

Suddenly two other police cars pulled up to the curb. Two other officers stepped out and started walking in Haegen’s direction. He had called back up the moment the he had viewed the old suspicious house and was now glad he had.

“No sir.” Something told the officer that this man was far beyond the point of being given the benefit of the doubt. He had already proven he was two-faced, probably three-faced.

The two other officers approached Haegen and the tall man.

“I’m going inside to investigate. Watch him. If he tries to run you have permission to physically detain him. If I call for help I want one of you to come in and the other to stay here with him. If I don’t come out within fifteen minutes or you don’t hear from me for over that amount of time, you are required to call in for more backup. Understood?”

“Yes sir.” The two other officers replied, nodding their heads.

Then, Officer Haegen brushed passed the brightly dressed man and crossed over the threshold, gulping his fear and apprehension as he did so.

Inside the house it was dark. All the windows were covered in foil. He took out a flashlight and pointed the beam in front of him. There was hardly any furniture and none of the rooms seemed much lived in but the kitchen was full of food.

Upstairs was the same as downstairs. Cobwebs were hauntingly laced in the high corners of bed rooms and in window sills. Every now and then he was sure he caught the tail of a cockroach scurrying away from the light of the flashlight.

Finally he descended to the basement. The basement lacked as many windows as the topmost floors but it was no darker. The foil on all the widows above did its job very well of keeping out the light. Unlike the newer model homes, this house also lacked an embedded all-present AI system. The absence of an intelligence somehow made the officer uneasy. He had lived his whole life with AI in his home.

At last Haegen came to a coat closet in one of the hallways in the basement. It was like any other coat closet, or so it seemed at first. It had three unused hooks resting on the back wall but there was nothing inside the closet. He knocked on the left side wall to check for hollow sounds. Nothing. He knocked on the right. Nothing. He knocked on the back. And the hollow note rang loud and clear.

Aiming his flashlight more precisely, the officer searched for a handle or even the simple outline of hidden door. He felt it at last, a more profound crack in the wood than that was natural. He then began to push against it, not finding a handle.

With enough strength and sweat at last the door gave in and crashed to a cement floor on the other side. For a moment, although the door was open and the secret room exposed, our own Officer didn’t look to see what was inside. The little humanity that was left in him, which so many people had lost, feared what he was about to see. However, his job called upon him to be bold and brave, so he proceeded.

When the beam of his flashlight hit the room his heart stopped. His stomach threatened to crawl up his throat altogether. He suddenly felt nauseous.

In front of him, hanging from the ceiling and thrown carelessly on the floor, were numerous body bags. Some unzipped and exposing lifeless, cold and pale bodies. Some of the bodies lie dead with their eyes wide open in utter horror. Others seemed peacefully sleeping. The horrid irony of the situation was that their faces which were exposed in death, would have been hidden in life. Everything about the sight was disgusting and horrific. And at the farthest corner of the room lay what looked like a crude machine. An old machine. It was large and intimidating.

Officer Haegen slowly edged around the bodies toward the machine to investigate further, although his instincts screamed at him to do otherwise.

As he examined the machine intricately, he began to cough and cry simultaneously.

The machine had the makings of what years ago would have been considered some kind of food processor or grinder. As he continued to investigate he saw traces of blood and gore within the machine’s workings. Within the opening there were blades, screws and grinders with traces of red littering their members. At last it dawned on him. The machine and the line of body bags. The all too sickening prospect finally reaped its consequences: Officer Haegen heaved onto the floor of the room.

He tried to communicate to the officers waiting outside the house, to tell them of what he’d found and how to move forward, but he hardly had a second of time in between his fits of vomiting. Not to mention he was practically sobbing every tear he had stored in his body.

He finally decided to evacuate the room and its revolting contents.

Once he had ran out and raced up the stairs far away but of course not enough (he would never be far enough away from that image), he was struck with a sudden idea. He remembered the letter that the girl had handed him exactly a week ago after she had walked into the station. The letter that had sent him on this criminal chase in the first place. The letter that been asked to be delivered. He quickly took the file from under his arm. Looking over the contents and astounded that the text within the letter had not been recorded. Nor had the letter been opened at all.

A curiousness took him over. He wondered what could be inside the letter. Or if there even was a letter to read at all but instead an empty envelope.

He quickly ripped the envelope open and pulled out a small scrap of parchment. It was folded neatly in half. Desperate to discover what it read, his hands were almost too shaky to get a grip on the edges.

When he finally opened it and read the message he dropped it to the floor and ran straight out the front door. He was greeted with relief from the two other officers waiting outside who had now handcuffed and detained the colorfully dressed man, but Haegen ignored them. He ignored the several other policemen who had pulled up in their cars and raced to meet him. He barely acknowledged their questions of concern. Finally he collapsed, knowing that a responsible officer would hold steadfast and strong in stressful and horrifying situations, but giving into disbelief and nausea nonetheless. Yet even his dreams and nightmares were filled with the memory of the letter which read: “This is the last one I’m sending you today.”

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