Here is the next installment in The Nietzsche Files I – Beyond Good and Evil. If you’ve not read the first 3 parts, you can read them at the links below:
Beyond Good and Evil
“Why are we in the middle of the woods, Baldwin?” Detective James asked as the car pulled into a secluded section of Pocahontas State Park.
“We’re meeting my guy here and I have a hunch,” Detective Baldwin replied.
Baldwin pulled out her cellphone and looked at it — no signal. She held up the phone for Detective James to see.
“And?” he said.
“I’m thinking Nietzsche figured out a way to hack into our cellphones. I mean, we all know how vulnerable they are.”
“So why not just turn it off instead of riding out to east bumble-berry?” He said with a furrowed brow.
“Because they can be turned on remotely without you knowing it. You really aren’t all the tech savvy are you?”
“No, I throw my cellphone on the table when I get home then I go out and meditate in my garden. I’m not dependent on my techy toys.”
“Well,” she said. “I don’t have any hobbies like that. I have a few beers, watch TV and go to sleep. Social media is the only way I can keep up with my family.”
“Don’t you have any friends?” He asked with a quirked brow.
“Nope. Tried it. Got sick of the drama, decided I was better off by myself. Plus, this job gets into your brain.”
“Not mine. It’ll eat you up if you let it Baldwin.”
She thought to say something, but simply shrugged it off and said, “My guy will be here shortly.”
Nietzsche strolled up to the dilapidated Tyler home in the Manchester section of town. He whistled the song “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen as he slipped discreetly behind the house.
As he stepped up to the back door, he pulled on his mask and black gloves. He unlocked the door quickly with a set of lock picks and vanished inside without being noticed — a skill he’d honed to perfection over the years.
Once inside, he saw someone went to great lengths to destroy the kitchen. He discerned by the state of things it must have been the work of vandals. His experience taught him humans possessed a strange need to destroy things labeled as cursed or evil. The damage he saw exhibited a need to tear down the house and rid the neighborhood of a diseased building. Buildings are not cursed or evil. It is the individuals who inhabit them that are.
“My, my,” he said to himself as he walked into the living room.
Obscenities, graffiti and strange symbols covered the walls of the downstairs rooms. The estate sold off all of the furniture leaving the house empty like the molted shell of a cicada. Nietzsche turned around in place with his eyes closed beneath his mask and took a deep breath. His lips curled into a smug smile.
“Mmm,” he whispered to himself. “There you are.”
He walked amidst the trash strewn about the living area to a modest study. A blood stained Oriental rug covered the majority of the floor, a fading reminder of the atrocity that happened years before, but this did not concern him.
“You lingered here,” Nietzsche said, pointing to the southwest corner of the room. “Your puppets murdered the children eldest to youngest. You were trying to extract information. What were you looking for?”
Nietzsche turned in place, examining the room carefully. The bookshelves bare but mostly intact. A small window offered just enough light for him to see the entirety of the room. He noticed where a desk once sat, along with a chair and ottoman nearby, presumably where John Tyler did the majority of his reading. He walked around the room, lightly rapping on the walls and tugging on the bookcases.
“You must have hidden it here somewhere,” he said aloud, pursing his lips in thought. “Did he get it, John? I don’t think he did. And whatever it was, you knew the lives of your family were not nearly as valuable as the item. You were quite cleaver, I’ll give you that.”
“Alex?” Laertes’ voice came from his cell phone.
Nietzsche removed the phone from his jacket, “Yes?”
“Detective Baldwin and James have gone out of range.”
“Hmm,” Nietzsche said thoughtfully. “When did you last detect them?”
“Beach Road in Chesterfield.”
“Oh ho!” Nietzsche exclaimed with a feigned sense of delight. “Detective Baldwin is really quite sharp. She’s figured out our little trick it seems. But has she figured out the cypher?”
“She will,” Laertes said. “She mentioned having someone who could help her.”
“Very resourceful,” Nietzsche replied. “I had expected she would take the time to solve it on her own, however, I must say we’ll need to step things up a bit.”
Nietzsche continued to walk around the room when he felt the floor shift in a peculiar way where the chair and ottoman once sat.
“What would you like me to do?” Laertes asked.
“Half a moment,” Nietzsche responded as he pulled back the corner of the blood stained rug.
Nietzsche rapped lightly around the space and found a spot that resonated more loudly than the surrounding floor. He pulled a small pocket knife from his jacket and inserted it into one of the gaps between the planks and lifted a section of the floor up.
“Apollyon,” Nietzsche said as he pulled a heavy object wrapped in an indigo clothe from the secret compartment. “Oh, he would be so infuriated to know he was this close.”
“It is fortunate that the Keystone can only be detected when activated,” Laertes replied.
“Indeed, it seems Mr. Tyler did not realize such a powerful being would be paying attention,” Nietzsche responded flatly. “But, it is clear he understood the consequences of Apollyon acquiring it.”
“Yes,” Laertes acquiesced. “We already have enough problems brewing.”
“Precisely, and that is why I am attempting to round up the ones who might assist with the end of all things.”
“What do you plan to do with the Keystone?”
Nietzsche placed the wrapped stone in his pocket and walked to the back of the house.
“We must now find in whom Apollyon is hiding,” Nietzsche replied. “That requires activating the Keystone.”
“Do you think you are ready for such an undertaking?”
“I have no doubts, whatsoever,” Nietzsche replied succinctly.
Once outside and confident he wouldn’t be seen, Nietzsche took off his mask and gloves then tucked them into his pocket. He entered his car and pulled away.
“Now, I think we need to send yet another warning, Laertes, but this time, we’ll add a bit of panache.”
Detective Baldwin and James watched a portly middle-aged man read the cipher. His round glasses rested on the tip of his nose as he scanned it a few times.
“Well, Jack?” Baldwin asked.
The man looked up at Baldwin with an irritated look and lit a cigarette.
“You drag my ass all the way out here and you’re gonna rush me?” Jack asked in an annoyed southern drawl. “Just sit tight, I’m almost done.”
Baldwin sighed sitting back in the seat of her car. Jack Donovan had a formidable intelligence and could have done anything with his life, but instead decided to work at a convenience store where he spent long hours playing video games or reading.
“Gotcha, ya slick bastard,” Jack said as he crushed the cigarette underfoot and handed the cipher back to Baldwin.
“Well?” She asked again.
“I want fifty bucks,” Jack said with a smirk.
“You know I don’t carry…” Baldwin said just as Detective James cut her off.
“I got it,” Detective James said as he pulled out money and offered it to Jack.
“Alright, now we’re talkin’,” Jack stuffed the money in his pockets. “You ready?”
“Yeah,” Baldwin replied.
“It says ‘Robin of Locksley and I in a place of the same name did reside, but my home is here and his across the pond on the other side'” Jack turned and walked towards his car.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean, Jack?”
Jack looked over his shoulder. “Really? You really can’t guess that one?”
“Sherwood Forest, Baldwin,” Detective James said. “You really should learn more about this state. You know John Tyler? The tenth president?”
“Let’s go,” Detective Baldwin said. “I know what he’s researching.”
As the two detectives pulled on to Beach Road, they simultaneously received a voice mail alert on their phones.
“Of course the number is blocked,” Detective James said as they both listened to their messages.
Detective Baldwin held her phone close to her ear as not to allow Detective James overhear. She experienced hunches her whole life, sometimes she’d listen, others not. She found the hunches she ignored always led to failure.
“Detective Baldwin,” Nietzsche’s voice purred. “You’ve been a naughty little girl. Figuring out how to evade my surveillance. Hiring a savant from the convenience store you frequent to decode my cipher. Tsk tsk tsk. You’re not playing the game quite the way it is supposed to be played.”
“Be that as it may,” he continued, “I will make the obvious assumption that you’ve uncovered the identity of the individuals I am investigating. Such a pity that horrible tale. Three children in a seemingly perfect family cut down senselessly during a home invasion. It makes one wonder if there is any good left in the world. It makes one wonder, why does one even continue to try if the bodies continue to stack up like long forgotten books in the cellar of society’s mind. You’re probably thinking right at this moment that you did catch the murderers — the monsters. But alas, you merely captured marionettes and cut their strings. Perhaps this will be yet another thing you can emote about at your lamentable AA meetings. Oh yes, I know everything about you. It seems your father wanted a boy, and unfortunately, he got you. Always trying to show him you are every bit as capable as a man, but time and again you fail to meet his expectations. Now, you are sitting on the cusp of another failure. You murdered two innocent people, people who had no choice but to be puppets to a monster far more terrible than your beleaguered mind can begin to understand. Perhaps in time, as we continue our dance, you just might be illuminated.”
“Baldwin!” Detective James exclaimed. “You need to get me back to the station. He’s threatening my family if we say a word to anyone about the phone tapping.”
Baldwin nodded quickly and gunned the engine. There was a strange pause in the message, and then Nietzsche continued to speak.
“By now Detective James will have insisted that you hurry to the station. I assure you, I am not going to harm his family. But, this last leg of the journey you and I shall take alone. If you alert anyone about my ability to see and hear all your pathetic little department is doing, the consequences will be…less than pleasant. But, I know you won’t because you’re focused on catching me. You feel it will redeem all the failures in your life and show your father he was wrong about you. You are more than welcome to try, but you will fail miserably. I am beyond you.
“But, I digress. The real point to this call was to make a tentative deal. Now you’ll want to be a good girl and listen very closely. If you have indeed deciphered the case I am solving, I will give you the opportunity to redeem yourself. You may ask why, but I have my own reasons, and quite frankly they are none of your concern at the moment. However, time is of the essence. Tonight at precisely 12:13 I want you to return to the crime scene. There, you will find me and the true monster. He will be facing you when you walk into the study where the crime occurred. You must be stealthy, and you must not enter the room until exactly 12:21. You will shoot him directly in his third eye without hesitation. If you hesitate, you will be consumed by his darkness. That gives you approximately eight minutes to plan your entrance. Yes, this is a test. And if you fail, your father will be right, but you won’t have to worry about people uncovering that you are a morbid alcoholic. Addiction is a terrible thing, Detective Baldwin. I suggest, once we’ve caught your monster, that you seek professional counseling, as it is clear by your rubbish bins that AA is not quite doing the trick.”
There was another pause as Baldwin recklessly turned on to Centralia Road off Ironbridge Road.
“Hmm. I think that’s it for now,” Nietzsche continued. “I have studied you closely, Detective. I do think you are up to the task. But I must reiterate, I am not the monster you are looking for. However, I must prepare for this evening. I do hope you can make it to my little soirée. I will be very disappointed if you are wrong.
“By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t a recording. Ta-ta for now!” Nietzsche said and hung up the phone.
“Goddammit!” Baldwin exclaimed throwing the phone against the dash. “Goddamn him!”
“What?” Detective James asked in an agitated tone as the two sped back to the city.
“I’m going to get this asshole if it’s the last thing I do.”
“Just get me to the station!” Detective James said.
(To Be Continued)
Thank you again for waiting for this installment. The next piece will be the final part to this particular mystery. I intend to have it published by November 1, but we all know the path to hell is paved with good intentions.