We went to the last victim’s apartment. The apartment manager let us in. The door was clean of any signs or police tape.
“Have you been inside since … the police came by?” I asked the manager.
“Uh, I let Rob’s sister in and gave her a key so she could get his stuff out,” he said.
I looked at Kowalski. “Shouldn’t the apartment be locked down while the investigation is ongoing?”
“Why? It’s not a crime scene. The officers who checked it out didn’t see anything out of place. So what are looking for?”
“I don’t know. The killer chose the victim based on where he lived. There must be something special about the apartment or maybe the building. The killer could have drawn his square anywhere but he chose this place.”
“What if it’s random?” Kowalski asked.
“Then we have no chance at predicting where he will kill next and I’ve wasted the last week of my life on a pointless task,” I said.
“A lot of police work is pointless tasks.”
“That’s not how things work around me.”
“What makes you special?”
“Nothing.” I was a girl detective as a teen and now I’m a character trying to avoid plot hooks. I turned away from him and started walking around the apartment looking at the walls and shelves for a clue. Rob had been the man found in my apartment. Pictures of him with family and friends dotted the walls.
In the living room, I examined his DVD collection. Action, horror, and martial arts movies dominated but I noticed a shelf near the floor with romantic comedies. Nothing jumped out at me as strange or out of place. I turned to walk into the kitchen and stumbled as my foot caught on something. The carpet had a loose flap in the middle of the room. I crouched down, pulled the carpet up and felt a chill run up my spine. The third act twist had just shown up.
Kowalski leaned over the sofa and asked me, “What did you find?” I yanked the carpet up and to the side, exposing the floor. Underneath the rug was a series of circles, one inside the next. Between the circles, symbols, glyphs, runes, sigils, and other things I couldn’t identify were carved into the wood. A dark brown substance was smeared, tracing every line, on all of them. Kowalski stared at it all with mixed horror and puzzlement playing across his face. I probably didn’t have to tell him the brown smears were most likely blood either the victim’s or the killer’s or both. “What is this?” he asked.
“It’s a magic circle meant to draw energies from the victim and give power to the killer.”
“And how do you know that?” he asked. His eyes narrowed and his posture shifted.
“I took a few classes on myths, magic, and religions. This rune represents power. This symbol means power and this one is life. It’s all jumbled up from like five different systems. The killer probably just copied it out of a book.” Kowalski relaxed as I rambled about the circle. I had actually learned most of what I knew when magic beings started appearing around me. Several days of hard studying at the public library had given me enough knowledge to mostly avoid getting involved with anything supernatural up til now.
This jumbled as it was might still work. The normal rules didn’t apply around me. I had seen portals to other worlds, wizard duels in alleyways, magic rings(I knew they were magic because they glowed), and ghosts in numerous locations. I had even seen a circle like this but simpler and made of stones. That one I had disarmed by kicking the stones and running away. This one, one of four, might be harder to dispel. I reached to touch one of the symbols.
“Stop! Don’t touch that,” Kowalski shouted. “This is a crime scene now. We need to get out and call CSI to come examine the floor.” He grabbed my arm and gently guided me out of the apartment.