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The Five Confessions

by Steve Lance 15 days ago in fiction · updated 15 days ago

The Good Ship Wilson

The Five Confessions
Photo by Teng Yuhong on Unsplash

Derrick was happy he won the bid to salvage the interior of the old ship Wilson. They planned to scuttle it in a month, he had that long to remove anything of value. He liked the work because he could do it alone and set his own hours.

The Wilson was a good size ship, with no crew on board it was a little creepy to walk through. They say all old ships have ghost, and this one certainly felt that way. Derrick was a little surprised to come across a couple of holding cells on one of the lower decks. I guess it made sense, if you’re at sea for months, you need a place to keep crew members if they get unruly.

As he was checking out the cells, he thought he heard a voice. It sounded like ‘Bring them here’.

Derrick shrugged it off, an abandoned ship can be pretty spooky, it was all just in his head. He would go home, get a good night sleep, and start in the morning.


When Derrick woke in the morning, he was still tired, he had gone to bed early, but it had been a restless night. He was also sore, as if he had been in a struggle. He took a quick shower and headed for the ship.

The first order of business was to see how much copper piping he could salvage, most of it would be on the lower decks. As he was scouting around for copper, his eye caught some movement in one of the holding cells he had found the day before. He stopped and went back to look, that is when he saw a man tied up and gagged in one of the cells.

Derrick found the key and was unlocking the door when he heard the voice again.

Do not let him go. Make him confess.

‘Who said that?’ Derrick shouted. He looked around to find who was talking. He did not see anyone and was having trouble determining the direction of the voice.

He must confess what he has done. Make him talk. Record his confession,’ the voice said.

There was a tripod with a camera set up. Derrick recognized that the equipment belonged to him, but he had no idea how it got here.

Derrick entered the cell and started to take the gag off, the man was terrified and tried to pull away.

‘Who are you, how did you get here?’ Derrick asked.

‘What do you want of me, just let me go, I can get you money, just tell me what you want,’ the man pleaded.

Make him answer for his crimes,’ the voice said.

‘Who is he? Derrick asked the voice, ‘Who are you?’ Derrick redirected his question to the man.

‘I’m John, John Howard, what do you want of me?’

He killed a little girl and dumped her body in the woods by the Old Mill Bridge. Make him confess.’

Derrick looked at the man and said with a cold stare, ‘Why did you kill that little girl?’

‘I didn’t kill anyone, I don’t know what you’re talking about, please let me go,’ John replied.

Make him confess, use any means necessary, use your tools if you have to, get a confession. The family needs closure.’

It took Derrick several hours to get a confession out of the man. In the end, everything the voice said, the man ended up saying, that he killed the girl, that he dumped the body in the woods by the Old Mill Bridge, word for word just as the voice had told Derrick. It was all recorded and sent to the police.

‘You have done a good thing, the family can now be at peace, leave the man tied up, he will sink with the ship,’ Derrick heard the voice say.

Derrick turned on the TV later that night, the news was reporting the story, the missing girl’s body was found, the police had a suspect but were not releasing any details. This was one of a string of missing girls, people had hoped they had run away, but now it was feared the other girls may be dead also. The police would not comment on if they had any other leads.


Once again Derrick had a restless night. As he drove to the ship, he decided he would turn John Howard over to the police. Let him answer for his crimes. When he got to the holding cells, he stopped cold in his tracks, there was another man in the other cell.

Make him confess, he killed the girl from the church, dumped her body in the woods behind city hall,’ the voice said.

‘Why do I have to do this?’ Derrick asked the voice. ‘I don’t want to be some vigilante, dispensing frontier justice.’

It is you’re mess to clean up,’ the voice replied.

It took Derrick much longer to get a confession out of the second man, he even had to cut off one of his toes. But just like before, the man confessed word for word what the voice had said. The confession was sent to the police and Derrick headed home.

This went on for three more days, each morning another person gagged and tied up in the cell. Each morning the voice telling Derrick what crime was committed, and each time the confession sent to the police.


The news had gone National, and the town was full of media trucks with satellite dishes on top. There were daily protest demanding the police release the names of the suspects, along with calls for the Chief of Police to resign.

Detective Baker, returning from the Chief’s office looked at his partner, Detective Rodriguez and said, ‘The Chief wants us to release the name of at least the first suspect, John Howard, he says it may help us get clues of his whereabouts.’

‘We have five murders, by five different people, yet the crimes are all very similar. There is more to this story than we know. You can’t start releasing those names, the Chief knows that. He is just trying to save his own ass.’ Rodriguez said.

‘The news media is starting to put the pieces together, John Howard has been missing for over a week, and there have been some leaks. Maybe it will shake something lose,’ Baker said.

The police did release John Howard’s name, they were careful to say he was only a person of interest. They might as well have thrown raw meet to a pack of hyenas. The reporters descended on the Howard’s residents. They peaked in the windows, trampled the flower beds, shined lights at the house, shouted questions anytime something moved. John’s wife Linda, hoping to get the reporters to leave agreed to give a press conference.


Derrick was watching TV when a special report was broadcast. Linda was bravely standing with a lawyer on one side and her teenage daughter – who insisted on being there - to her other side.

‘My Husband did not do this hideous crime. He is incapable of such a thing. We do not know where he is and fear for his life. Please leave us alone.’

The news media was relentless, ‘Where is your husband’, ’If he has nothing to hide, why has he not turned himself in’, ‘Do you feel bad for the family whose child was murdered’, ‘Does your husband know where the other girls are?’, it went on for an hour.

John’s daughter with tears streaming down her face took the mic, ‘My dad is missing, something has happened to him, you should be helping us, not making it worst, what is the matter with you.’

When the news conference was over, Derrick heard the voice.

It is not right that John killed someone else’s daughter, and his daughter lives on. An Eye for and Eye.’

Startled Derrick said, ‘What are you asking me to do.’

You know what to do, you’ve done it before.’


‘Hey Baker, we got the lab results back, all five crime scenes, the same person. And three of those people who confessed, airtight alibis, no way they committed the crimes,’ exclaimed Detective Rodriguez.

‘We have been so foolish; we get videos of confessions and take them at face value. I’m looking at them again and it’s so easy to see they are coerced. Why do we always believe what we want to believe, even when our gut tells us it’s not true,’ said Baker.

‘That poor Howard family, we need to release a statement saying he is most likely a victim. Not the killer,’ Baker said.

‘We can’t do it, the killer, the real killer can’t know we are on to him. There has to be something in the videos that will tell us where he is,’ said Rodriguez.

‘It’s a ship,’ said an Officer who happened to be walking by and stopped to watch the videos.

‘How do you know?’ ask Baker.

‘I was a security officer for a major shipping company before I joined the force. Those are holding cells on a ship,’ the Officer said.

‘We need to start checking every ship in the harbor,’ Rodriquez said.


Derrick watched as the Howard family slipped out the back door and drove to a local motel, they needed to get away from the media. The voice in Derrick’s head was getting louder.

Get the girl, take her to the ship. She can die with her dad.’

Derrick saw the girl going out to get ice, he may not get another chance. He drove his car up, jumped out, hit her in the head, and threw her in the back. As he sped away the mother caught a glimpse of what was happening.

In a panic, she ran out and started searching for her daughter, but it was too late, she was gone. She started screaming and the motel clerk came out to see what was happening.

‘Call the Police, call the police, my daughters been taken,’ Linda cried. She broke down and fell to the pavement, sobbing uncontrollably.


Detectives Baker and Rodriguez got the news that the girl had been taken. They were down at the docks when they saw a car pull up to a ship on the other side of the harbor.

‘Isn’t that the ship Wilson, aren’t they planning to scuttle that next month,’ ask Rodriguez.

‘Yes, and no one would be aboard,’ said Baker as he reached for the radio. ‘We need some backup at the ship Wilson down at the docks. No lights or sirens, we may have the killer.’

Baker and Rodriguez made their way to the ship and started working their way down each deck. They could not wait for the backup.


The girl had come to as Derrick was taking her into the holding cell. When John Howard saw his daughter, he tried to scream, but the gag was too tight, he fought to free himself, but it was no use.

Derrick in front of John pulled out a large knife and held it to his daughter’s throat.

‘I’m going to have to kill her, I don’t want to, but he is telling me to do it, he’s saying you must watch.’

Baker had reached the holding cells and saw Derrick draw the knife.

‘Drop the knife, we have you covered,’ Baker said as he came around the corner.

Derrick turned around and held the girl in front of him, with the knife still to her throat. The voice came into Derrick’s head.

Don’t let them stop you. Kill the girl. Slice her throat.’

‘I don’t want to. I’m tired of killing. You told me after we got these confessions it would be over,’ Derrick answered the voice.

Baker, not sure what to make of what Derrick was saying, ‘It’s ok, no one has to die, just put down the knife.’

‘I can’t, he won’t let me,’ Derrick said.

‘Who won’t let you?’ Baker asked.

‘The same person who made me kill the other seven girls; he is telling me to kill this one. Can’t you hear him.’

‘Sure, I can hear him, but he’s telling me you’re not suppose to kill this one. He’s saying you should give me the knife.’

During this time Baker had slowly been circling around Derrick, causing Derrick to also circle. Derrick now had his back to the door.

‘You’re trying to trick me, that’s not what he is saying.’

‘What kind of a knife is that I’ve never seen one quit like it,’ Baker asked.

Derrick looked down at the knife and for a moment took it away from the girl’s throat. Rodriguez who had creeped up from behind him, grabbed his arm and pulled it away. Baker than grabbed the girl, while Rodriguez finished taking Derrick to the ground.

Just as Rodriguez finished cuffing Derrick, the backup arrived.

‘Good timing boys, you missed all the fun. We are going to need medical for these guys, and let’s secure the scene,’ said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez look at Baker and asked, ‘Did he say seven?’

‘Yep, I guess there are two more bodies to find.’


Steve Lance

My long search continues.

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