‘Why don’t you put the gun down, Detective?’ Dag Moen said. ‘You can see I am not armed.’ He held his hands out, palms up to show he held nothing.
Sand looked round the room. There were plenty of sharp, dangerous tools surrounding them, but Moen appeared to be unarmed. He slowly bent down and placed his gun on the floor.
‘You’re soaked through. Take off those wet clothes.’
Sand had almost forgotten how wet he had become walking through the storm. Now he realised he was cold. ‘I’m okay, thanks.’
Anger flashed over Dag Moen’s face. ‘The jacket and sweater. Now.’
‘You think I’m wearing a wire?’
‘Prove me wrong.’
Sand paused for a moment, then stripped off his jacket and pulled his sweater off. He was left in his damp vest. ‘Satisfied? We’re alone. Why here?’ Sand asked.
‘The museum? This room? You don’t see it? I thought you were a smart man, Detective.’
‘Your father worked on whaling vessels out of Bergen.’
‘You never found the murder weapon, did you?’ Moen pointed to a large filleting knife hanging on the wall. ‘Something like that is what you’re looking for.’
Moen turned and walked through a tunnel into the adjoining room. Sand followed.
The walls of the room were covered with pictures of whales caught at sea. The whaling boats were factory ships. Once a whale has been hunted, caught and hauled onto the deck, workers start dismembering the carcass straightaway. The photographs in the room showed the process. Whales were shown in various states.
‘You never wondered why he killed them the way he did.’ Moen said. ‘Do you see it now?’
Sand walked past him, peering at one picture after another. The images flashed through his brain. He filtered them alongside the bodies of Bjarne Johansen and Rolf Karlstad. Bjarne the cat. Dahlia Solberg.
A gash is made from the whale’s stomach right along the underside of the body. The skin is folded back and the giant intestines removed. There were photographs of the huge organs lying around the bloody carcasses on the red-stained ship deck. The tail and head of the whale are then removed before the workers begin cutting out the valuable whale meat from the skin.
Slashed open, intestines pulled out, decapitated. The way Eckberg and Moen killed their victims.
‘Why? Did he want to make some point about whale conservation?’ Sand said. He found it hard to see the serial killer as an environmentalist.
Moen laughed. ‘Perhaps. Maybe he had sympathy for the beauty of an animal gutted and destroyed in such a way so he gave them some revenge.’
‘You don’t really believe that.’
‘No. I think he learned the perfect way to eviscerate a living mammal. And he loved his work.’
‘He was sick.’
‘What does that make me, Detective?’
‘You can’t work that out.’ Sand turned away from the photographs on the wall and faced Moen. ‘Why did you burn Dahlia Solberg?’
‘You haven’t had the final pathology report yet? Let me guess, they told you it was petroleum jelly.’ Sand nodded, Moen shook his head. ‘Think oleochemical instead of petrochemical. Similar properties but one is derived from animal fat, the other from petroleum.’
‘You covered her in whale oil?’
Dag Moen grinned. ‘Neat idea I thought.’
‘What do you hope to achieve by killing me?’
‘Revenge. Closure. Fun. Take your pick. Do I need to have a reason? Always trying to make sense out of the chaos. That is your curse, Detective. I tried to do that for years. Then I found out I could embrace the chaos, like my father had done.’
Sand had heard enough. His small backup gun was tucked into his trouser waistband. He pulled it out from under his vest and aimed it at Moen.
Thunder crashed outside as the storm reached it’s peak. The lights flickered out for a split second. A power surge. When they came back on Sand was pointing his gun at an empty space.
Detective Bakke saw a man burst out the side door of the museum. Through the dark storm he couldn’t make out who it was. They got into a car and sped off. Bakke started his car and drove closer to the museum. The side door crashed open again and a man wearing only a white vest sprinted out through the rain. Bakke recognised Sand and sounded the car horn.
Sand turned and ran to the car. ‘Did you see him leave?’
Bakke nodded. ‘Get in.’
Sand jumped into the passenger seat as Bakke gunned the engine and sped off after the fading taillights.
This is part twenty-two 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 have published 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:
To read the story from the beginning, go here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.