Click on the covers below
The Devil Can Wait
Bronze Medal Finalist
November 2008 Cover
of the Month
the world of Detective Sam Harper
and the official site of author, Marta Stephens
From the Desk of Detective Harper
Itís snowing again. Big wet flakes plunge from the evening sky to the streets below. From my fourth floor window the scenery looks as peaceful as the pictures on the Christmas cards Emma keeps on her desk. For me, itís the season without reason. The new layer of snow only reminds me of the bodies piling up in the city morgue. When the hell did I start to count down to the holiday season by the hike in the crime rate?
I close my eyesóeach victimís face flashes before them. I curse under my breath and try to make sense of the killings.
Superstitions and biblical prophesiesóold wivesí tales told to scare the shit out of weak men, and innocent children. Delusions of twisted beliefs rule the mind, poison the heart, and push unsuspecting fools to the brink of insanity.
To hell with what anyone says. Thereís nothing supernatural about those boys we pulled out of the bay. They were dead long before their bodies washed ashore. The kicker? Assuming the bodies decayed at the same rate, heís killed one kid every week. If heís still at it, weíre already too late to prevent ... Jesus, who knows how many more. But it was the water and natural processes, not demons that left us with little more than the discarded remnants of a madmanís fury. Yet the crimes are precise, planned like a well-choreographed dance I didnít agree to, but even the most deliberate acts of violence are rarely perfect.
On the streets, tinsel and bright colored lights canít mask the undercurrent of fear that has spread through the city and reporters are pressing for answers. All I need to hear is a slip of the tongueójust one mindless deed and the killer is mine. But solutions are in short supply and the knot in the pit of my stomach is more in tune with each tick of the clock that measures another segment of time without answers. One inaccurate statement from me is all it would take to feed the media frenzy. That pack of journalists can lick their lips and starve before Iíd give them a crumb to feed on.
Damn, itís after eight. Later than I meant to stay. Iíve thumbed through the case file a million times and the lack of evidence stings like a sharp blow to the jaw. Facts are distorted, leads havenít panned out. Just when I think Iím close, the evidence points in a different direction and makes it impossible for me to wipe the case from my mind. This time, capturing the guilty wonít begin to make anything right. The killerís obsessions have destroyed lives and shattered beliefs.
A familiar, unsettling jerk in the pit of my gut yanks harder with each ring of my cell. I know exactly whatís coming. Donít need to answer the call to know the killer has struck again. This time, that nagging little voice in the back of my head tells me Iím in for a long ugly chase down a narrow path that leads straight into hell.
* * *
Text, photographs, and artwork copyright © 2007-2008 by Marta Stephens