The following day Sand checked the police computer files to quell his curiosity. Jules Eckberg was denied parole in the autumn of 2008. In the spring of the following year he had been killed in a prison riot. The mugshot of Eckberg, slightly older and thinner, a dead look in his eyes but still the killer Sand remembered, brought back sickening images of his young lover, Bjarne. The computer file included photographs. Sand skipped past them and closed the programme, satisfied that any link between the murder and the mutilation of Mrs. Moen’s cat did not exist.
The file from Håkon sat on his desk. It required his signature to officially hand the case over to the Animal Protection Alliance. He flicked through to find the last page. Sand froze staring at it. Had he just seen that? He leafed back through the slim file until he found what had caught his eye. The dead cat’s name was Bjarne.
The ping from his computer announcing an incoming email broke the moment of stillness. Sand looked at it. An unknown sender and no subject title, probably junk. The message was open in his preview browser. He glanced at the first lines, preparing to delete it.
‘Dear Anders,’ it read. ‘I do hope this finds you well. What luck that it was you that was sent to see poor Bjarne yesterday. I had thought it would take a little longer before you would uncover my work. As it is, this means the real fun can begin much sooner.’
There was no signature or name attached, just a graphic of a small Easter egg at the end of the text. Sand looked round the office. Gabi Henriksen, his young partner, saw him looking round.
‘What’s up?’ she asked.
‘Nothing. Just a strange message.’ Sand pointed at his screen. Gabi wheeled her chair over to his desk and scanned the email.
‘Bjarne? The dead cat?’
‘What does the message mean?’ Sand shrugged. Gabi pointed at the small graphic. ‘Look, it’s got an actual Easter egg. You know what an Easter egg is in an email or programme?’
‘Of course I do. I’m not that old,’ Sand said. Gabi was fifteen years younger than him and tech-savvy. His stone age attitude to new technology was a running joke between them. The difference in their approaches was what made them a good partnership.
‘Click on it then,’ Gabi said.
‘Yes, boss,’ said Sand, clicking on the Easter egg. The sound of the loud drumming crashed through the office. Heads popped up from behind partitions. Sand scrambled to reduce the volume on his computer. Then he stopped. He listened to the drumming.
Pedersen emerged from his room and shouted above the ongoing din. ‘Sand, turn that racket off.’
Sand stood still. The drumming was him. It was his drumming from last night. Someone had recorded it in his house. The noise stopped. On Sand’s computer screen a graphic appeared. It showed a cat being sliced open and decapitated. The words ‘Remember Bjarne’ flashed up in blood red, accompanied by a loud, evil cackle.
‘Is this some sick joke?’ Gabi said.
‘I thought it was, until now,’ Sand answered her.
A disguised voice, a male one, but run through some electronic synthesiser spoke from the computer. ‘Welcome to the game, Anders Sand. See you at the park. Midday. Don’t be late, we wouldn’t want you to miss the fun.’
The computer screen went black.
‘What’s this about a park, Anders?’ Gabi asked.
Sand looked at the time. It was just after ten. ‘Come on. We need to talk to Pedersen.’
This is part five of my A to Z Challenge 2017. More information on the challenge, and other stories and blogs taking part in it, can be found HERE.
Throughout April I hope to publish a section a day, relating to a letter of the alphabet, which in the end will make up a continuous story, all based round the objects found in this children’s jigsaw:
Other entries in the challenge, and a version of the final complete, joined up story can be found here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.