“My name is Seneca Fairbanks. My father is Fletcher Fairbanks of the law firm Fairbanks, Boyle, and Grime.” I shifted in the hard metal chair, trying to cross my legs, but the shackles prevented me from doing so.
“Is that the same Fairbanks as Francis Fairbanks, the real estate tycoon?”
“Yes. Francis is my grandfather.”
“Wow, you must be set for life,” the police officer said, smirking at me. I shot him my own distasteful smile. I loathed discussing money. He must have perceived my revulsion because he changed the subject. “Mr. Fairbanks, my name is Officer Smith.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Officer Smith. Please, Officer, call me Seneca.”
“Seneca, nice to meet you as well.” Officer Smith looked confused with my politeness and manners, but considering his profession, he perhaps didn’t come across many well-bred individuals. “Mr. Fairbanks,” he continued, “I’m going to ask you to tell your story again.”
I sighed. “Officer Smith, do you really want to waste your time and mine?”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Fairbanks. I don’t consider this a waste of time. I am very thorough when it comes to my work.” I sensed condescension in his tone but being that I have always been very empathetic to the working class, I understood his distaste for someone like me, someone born with a silver spoon and the world at his fingertips.
“Officer Smith,” I said in a knowing voice. “Now, this is not a threat. It is a warning. Before I go into my story for the final time, I want to make sure you are aware of potential consequences, given the danger we are in.”
The officer placed his hands on the table. “Mr. Fairbanks, you’ve made me thoroughly aware of the situation. But we have secured the room and have taken precautions. And you are aware of your right to an attorney?”
“Yes.” I chuckled at his quip. He didn’t smile. “Of course.”
Officer Smith spoke. “So, please, if you will, tell me your story again.”
I straightened my shirt collar and cleared my throat. “It began last year when I turned twenty-one. I had been a bit lax when it came to decision making, and with my parents harping on me about college, the stress burdened me.”
The officer jotted something down and I continued talking.
“My group of friends had all gone off to college, and I stayed behind, living with my parents, waiting for an act of God to tell me what I should do with the rest of my life. College was irrelevant and I yearned for exploration. I started commuting to the city and going out to various bars and eateries. Though I am not much of a drinker, I found a greater camaraderie among bar patrons.” Officer Smith continued jotting down notes.
“Anyway, I began to make connections and soon I found a roommate to move in with. I found a job in a coffee shop—my parents were not pleased—and set out on my own, not realizing that my fate would take me on another path.” I noticed Officer Smith had ceased writing and gazed at his fingernails. “Officer, you seem as if you are hardly interested. I can give the name of a great manicurist.”
Smith’s mouth gathered into a straight line. “Mr. Fairbanks, please continue.” The officer leaned back with a smug look.
“I now had my first place with a roommate who worked two jobs and was never home. It gave me a lot of time to think. I knew I wanted to do something extraordinary with my life, and as it turns out, something extraordinary came to me.” I stopped.
Smith squinted at me, scanning my face. Probably searching for some manifestation of the monster hiding beneath my rounded babyface. I continued.
“As I walked home one night after stopping by a bar and having probably a few more drinks than I should have, a ferocious beast attacked me. I would later learn the beast was my maker, but he abandoned me, leaving me to make my own path with his curse upon me.”
“Wait,” Officer Smith shook his head. “I need you to stop right there, Mr. Fairbanks.”
“Seneca. I prefer Seneca. Mr. Fairbanks is my father or grandfather. Not me,” I added curtly.
“Okay, Seneca. I need you to go into detail about what you believe happened that night.”
“Officer Smith, we are here today because I choose to be here. I choose to help you in your investigation. What I believe is true, Officer. I am nothing if not forthright.” I grew frustrated. Officer Smith’s sarcasm grated on my nerves. Sarcastic people, in general, gave me considerable frustration. It was difficult to tell when they were being sincere.
I saw the tension in Officer Smith’s jaw. His words were deliberate, measured. “Please, continue with the details of what happened that night.”
I nodded, pleased we came to an understanding.
“Anyway, that night was a Tuesday in October. The seventeenth. That night, I had met with a group of men and women who had just come from a concert. Not a concert like a rock concert, but an actual theatre production. They spoke of classical music, and it immediately drew me to them. We drank scotch and had a few laughs. By the time they left, the night held a blurry aura, and it embarrassed me I couldn’t handle my scotch, so I blundered out the back to make my way down the alley to my apartment.
"That was when I came across this homeless man. He carried a tattered book and spouted gibberish. He sounded upset, and I tried to get around him, but he blocked my path. I attempted to reason with him, explaining I couldn’t understand him.
"Suddenly, his words became clear, and he begged me for money, but I had no cash on me. He told me I reminded him of himself when he was young. He sounded angry when he said it. Then he shrieked at the moon. He screamed, ‘I am cursed!’ over and over again.
"His face distorted like that of a demon, and he lurched at me, biting my arm and breaking the flesh. I howled out, and he peered up at me, my blood on his face. ‘And now, I pass my curse unto you.’ I’ll be honest when I say I wailed and ran all the way home. I drifted off to sleep with the ranting of a madman running through my head.”
Officer Smith studied my face once more. This time, it seemed as if he searched for truth. “What happened after that night?” he asked.
“Now, I will warn you that what I’m about to share with you is graphic. I only share it in such detail so that you can see the seriousness and severity of my situation.” Smith nodded, not making eye contact with me, and I continued.
“A couple of nights later, I went back to the same pub, even though I felt out of sorts after the contact with the demented man in the alley. I felt somewhat out of touch with the world and hoped my friends were at the pub again.”
Officer Smith interrupted. “By friends, do you mean the people you met the first night?”
“Of course. We bonded over the love of music that night. You should try listening to classical music some time officer Smith. It is truly exhilarating.”
“All right. Get on with it.” Apparently, he didn’t like my little jab.
“Anyway, my friends were nowhere to be found, but I met a lovely redhead. Andy was her name.”
“Ms. Andrea Hemmingway,” Smith stated.
“Yes, Ms. Hemmingway. What an intriguing last name. Would you agree?” Officer Smith stared blankly at me. I continued. “Anyway, Ms. Hemmingway had just broken it off with her fiancé and she was quite a wreck. She needed someone to lean on and I had two available shoulders.” I grinned at Smith. He did not return the favor.
“Any-hoo. Ms. Hemmingway, Andy, apparently had too much to drink that night. She told me many intimate stories about her relationship with her fiancé. As it turns out, her fiancé developed a budding affair with Ms. Hemmingway’s sister. She had no one in her family to turn to. She suspected they would all be on her sister’s side because her sister was the beloved youngest.
"Then she leaned in to kiss me. But I am a gentleman and would not take advantage of a woman whose life was obviously in such turmoil. Instead, I offered her to walk her home or at least get her a cab. She inquired if I knew of any hotel rooms nearby, and there was a nicer establishment down the road, so I offered to walk her.”
Officer Smith raised his eyebrows at me. “Oh, dear, Officer Smith. I know what you’re thinking. But if I refused to kiss a young girl in distress, I assuredly wouldn’t try to bed her in a seedy hotel room.”
“I thought you said that it was a nice establishment.”
“I did, but I thought it was nice for Ms. Hemingway. I prefer to stay at more upscale establishments.” Officer Smith rolled his eyes and shook his head. I chose to ignore it.
“So, Andy and I exited out the back of the bar and into the alley. I had a few chardonnays, but assuredly not enough to hallucinate. When I strode out the door, the lunatic of the previous night accosted me. Now, I could have sworn he was there, but Andy said nothing of the sighting and he vanished into the night so that I couldn’t be sure that he was ever there at all.
"At that point, I felt shaken and disoriented. Andy, not sensing my aura of unpleasantness, latched her elbow in mine. I suffered a sudden pain in my chest and then my head. I reached up with the hand that wasn’t in a locked arm position with Andy, and I saw that my hand was distorted. My fingers had elongated and became claw-like. I put my hand down immediately, trying to hide it from Ms. Hemmingway. I picked up my pace. I knew it was the curse, and I just wanted Andy to be safe, indoors, and far away from me.
"Now, I have done nothing threatening or remotely close to injuring anyone in my entire twenty-one years of life. So, it confused me when images began flashing in my head, no doubt images put in there by the curse of the madman. I saw myself strangling Andy. I could see myself slashing her skin to ribbons and consuming her blood, lips pressed to her delicate porcelain skin.”
Smith shifted uneasily in his seat.
“Oh, dear. Officer Smith. I just need to be certain you know precisely the kind of images that were running through my head. Be assured that I am not proud of these thoughts. I’m not being braggadocios. Of course, I am ashamed of them. I merely describe them, so you know how insane they are. How foreign they are to the thinking of an average man.”
He pursed his lips at me and nodded curtly. I didn’t think he could look so terse.
“Then Andy tripped. Though our arms were joined, I couldn’t hold her up, and when she fell, she scraped her knee. The coppery smell of blood saturated the night air. I can sincerely say to you that I have never been able to smell blood, but that night I could. It jarred me. She giggled, sitting on the ground. Her skirt hoisted up, and her panties touched the concrete. Legs splayed, she laughed at her clumsiness.
"Another sharp spasm blossomed in my head. I held both hands in front of me, and they appeared monstrous. I knew if she looked up from her knee, she would see my altered appearance. I knelt and shoved her backward, so she was lying down. She continued giggling but asked what I was doing. I hushed her and placed my eager mouth to her wound.
"Again, I’m not boasting or proud of this when I say it, but my brain exploded when her blood reached my tongue. I fixed my mouth around the whole of her wound and began suckling. I heard her suck in a breath, like it stung at first, but then she sighed. She actually seemed to enjoy it, and I thought maybe the curse came with some kind of power, like vampire’s draw on their victims; only, she coaxed me and cooed in elation. In my frenzy, I bit through her skin. That she didn’t enjoy.”
A bead of sweat streaked down Officer Smith’s face, and I hesitated for a moment to let him collect himself. When he motioned for me to continue, I did.
“Anyway, I remember little after that. I know she started screaming, and I know that her screams let the monster finally take over. Thinking back, it was like I saw outside my body. My arms and face grew mangy with hair, and I doubled in size. I remember my claws sinking deep into her porcelain thighs, slicing them to ribbons. I remember her creamy skin glowing in the moonlight. Then, I vaguely recall my monstrous teeth, biting through the velvety skin on her neck and ripping through her esophagus.”
I realized I breathed thickly and Officer Smith glared at me loathingly. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, collecting myself. I didn’t expect them to believe me, but there had to be some evidence that could lead to the truth. I had complete faith in the justice system.
I was able to appease myself and continue. “Anyway. There were many more that came after Andy. At first, I thought I could control it, but I couldn’t. Yet, the monster had a way of taking care of me. It always hid the body, and in the morning, there were no traces of what I had done besides the missing women.”
I ceased talking and reached towards Officer Smith, pleading. “I understand if you need to lock me up, but I will warn you that eventually, you will see the curse. You will need to end me to get me to stop. It is my legacy.”
Officer Smith leaned back, away from me. He stared at me for a moment and then got up and left the room. If the gods looked down on me, they would have chosen for me to change at that very moment, exposing me for what I was when there was no one present for me to hurt. But the gods were not with me, and when Officer Smith came back in the room and sat down, he had a file in front of him.
“Mr. Fairbanks, can you tell me about your final victim? The one who got away?”
I sighed. “I know her name was Monica Jones. She was from out of town, visiting a girlfriend.” I shook my head. “She was so lucky that her friend came. I could have killed both of them. She looked so frightened. My form must have been horrifying for her. She was lucky that her friend saw me, otherwise her friend might not have ever believed her when she described the monster who attacked her. Anyway, she was the lucky one. How is she?”
“Oh, Ms. Jones is fine. I don’t think she was aware of the danger she was in.”
“Oh, she believed me a friendly beast? Perhaps she drank more than I had estimated.” I shook my head in disbelief.
“Mr. Fairbanks, Mrs. Jones, your final victim described you to a tee.”
“Yes, so you knew to be looking for a monster, but how did you find me?” I asked, now leaning forward in curiosity.
“Mr. Fairbanks. Seneca. Mrs. Jones described your haircut, height, approximate weight, everything. She described you. She said nothing about a monster.”
I stopped, leaning back in confusion. “Well, that’s possible. She saw me before I changed. She probably just didn’t want to sound crazy. I know how she feels.”
Smith stared at me. When he finally spoke, it was at a measured pace. “I have some pictures that I’m going to show you. A nearby shop just recently put up a security camera in the alley. Before you say anything, I want you to take some time to look at the pictures.” He looked at me knowingly. He opened the file and pushed it in front of me. He got up and went to another officer standing at the door.
As I looked at the pictures, I heard Officer Smith whisper to the other officer. “Maybe this will make him see.”
I ignored them and looked through the pictures. They were taken off a security camera that was set up in the alley. The camera had captured the most recent murders that occurred in that alley. It was odd though. The figure in the picture was not a menacing monster. It was just my small frame. My small frame, strangling a woman. My small frame biting a woman in the neck. I couldn’t believe it. I flipped through the pictures. They weren’t true. How could this be?
After some time, I put the pictures down. Smith walked back over, his face blank. He sat down. “Mr. Fairbanks. Can you explain the pictures?”
“Aha!” I snapped my fingers. “This all makes perfect sense,” I said to the officer. “The camera captures the real image. Kind of like how a vampire can’t be seen in a mirror. It makes complete sense. Again, all part of the curse.”
I picked up the pictures and paged through them again with wonder this time.
Officer Smith got up from the small table and whispered to the officer stationed by the door. “Do you think he’s faking it? Do you really think he believes he is cursed or is it all an act?”
I listened to them talk like I wasn’t in the room. Some people had no manners. At least they knew. They knew this was my destiny. This was the act of God that I had been looking for. I wondered if I could be stopped. I truly was extraordinary.