The Ominous Messenger
Jack receives an eerie warning from an unbelievable source
Friday, the morning of the 17th
The sound of a woman screaming woke Jack up. He was not sure if it was in his dream that he heard the scream, but Jack checked the clock and noticed that it was about 2:00 AM. It was the middle of summer, so Jack had his bedroom window open, making it possible for him to hear a scream from outside. He climbed out of bed and strolled towards the window. Jack took a quick peek outside, not expecting to see anything, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man running about 30 meters from his house. His neighbors, Richard and Jessica Henderson, resided on the acreage next door, and their house was about 50 meters away. Jack saw the person was fleeing away from the Henderson home, so he turned around to find his phone when he heard a loud screeching sound. He glanced back outside, and sitting on the roof was a barn owl. Jack turned back into his room when he heard, "If you value your life, you should leave now. Runaway and never return."
A surprised Jack gazed back outside but only noticed the barn owl. "Did you say something to me?"
The owl just stared back at him with a blank expression, so Jack thought, "I must be still half asleep to think a barn owl was talking to me." Jack located his phone and called the Henderson house, but he only got a message; "The number you have reached is not in service at this time.", so he hung up.
After a brief moment of indecision, Jack thought, "I better go check what was happening outside." Jack hastily got dressed, seized his flashlight and handgun, and proceeded out the door.
Jack slowly walked to where he thought he viewed the stranger running, and after a short walk, he detected something that looked like a body lying on the ground. As he crept closer, his body now trembling with fear, he could see that it was Jessica lying on the ground. Jack reached out to check for a pulse but found none. He could see her body was covered in blood as there were multiple knife wounds. The sight of Jessica's lifeless, bloody body made Jack almost want to vomit, but he pulled himself together and reached for his phone, but then realized he forgot to bring it with him.
Jack didn't think the man fleeing was Richard, as Richard stood about 5 foot 10 and weighed about 180 pounds, while the stranger was definitely over six feet tall and well over 200 pounds. Now shaking violently with fear, Jack headed toward the Henderson house and was about to knock on the door when he noticed it was slightly ajar. Jack was unsure what to do, but after a brief hesitation, pushed the door open and called out, "Richard, it's Jack, are you here?". There was no answer, so Jack carefully entered the house and walked toward the main bedroom. Jack tried to be as quiet as possible as he crept forward, and there was hardly a sound except the slight creaking of his footsteps. Jack shouted out again, "Richard, this is Jack, are you here?" Still no answer, and as Jack inched toward the bedroom, his heart was pounding like a jackhammer. As he entered the bedroom and pointed his flashlight inside, he could see lying on the floor in a pool of blood, Richard's lifeless body. Jack quickly backed away as a rush of terror now consumed him. Jack ran back to the kitchen and seized the phone, but he noticed the line was dead. He quickly looked around to see if he could find either Richard's or Jessica's cell phone but couldn't locate them, so Jack thought he better head back to his house to call the police.
Jack ventured outside and started to sprint towards his house, but then he noticed there were lights on in his house, and he was sure they were off when he left. Jack came to a dead stop and stood frozen in fear and thought, "The killer was now in my house." After a few seconds, he thought, "I have a gun, and the killer probably only has a knife, as that is what Jessica's wounds looked like." However, he didn't check to see what type of wounds Richard had. Jack then thought, "If the killer had shot Richard, I would have heard the gunshots, but Jessica's scream only awakened me." He thought he could handle a killer with a knife, but then he thought, "What if there were two killers?" Maybe it would be best if he were to head down to the Benson house as they would be the next closest neighbor. Their home was about 400 meters away. Jack turned off his flashlight as he didn't want the killer to spot him heading for the neighbors.
As Jack approached the Benson house, he noticed their front door was open. "Fuck, has the killer already been here? Do I dare go in to investigate?" After a brief delay, Jack gathered up his courage and entered the house. Slowly Jack walked toward the main bedroom, and he tried to call out to the Benson's, but his fears had him so choked up he was speechless. Jack crept into the bedroom, turned on his flashlight, and found Ted and Diane dead, lying in their bed, with multiple stab wounds. Jack quickly exited the bedroom as he felt nauseous and was afraid he would pass out, but he slowly took a deep breath and searched for their phone. Once he located the phone, he again found the line was dead. "What the fuck is going on?"
Jack peered out the window and saw that the lights in his house were now off. "Maybe the killer has left. I should be able to sneak back and call the police from my house." Jack thought that would be the best move as the next nearest neighbor, the Conrad's, lived over a kilometer away. Jack took another deep breath, gathered his nerves, and then headed out the door.
Jack quietly walked back to his house, and he constantly surveyed the area to see if the killer or killers were in the vicinity. Jack's hand, holding the gun, was trembling so much he had to stop to try to calm himself, but he couldn't get control of his emotions as his fears had utterly overwhelmed him. After a minute, Jack calmed down enough to advance and got to within 30 meters of the house. Jack then crouched down into some bushes and scanned the area. He saw no evidence that the murderer was nearby, so he thought it was safe and cautiously started to rise when all of a sudden, a loud screeching noise reverberated from above. Jack looked up and saw the same barn owl sitting on a tree branch. Jack let out a massive sigh of relief and was about to continue when he heard, "I warned you once, and you did not listen to me, so I will warn you again, if you value your life, you should leave now. Runaway and never return".
The voice came from overhead, but when Jack gazed back up at the tree, all he noticed was the barn owl. "Were you talking to me?" Said Jack with a sense of disbelief.
The owl remained silent and looked at him as if he were an idiot. Jack thought he must be losing his mind. Why would an owl be talking to him? Jack thought he was just tired and must be hearing things, so he paid no attention to it.
Jack started to walk towards his house, again scanning the area to ensure the killer wasn't nearby. As he stepped up onto the front porch and reached for the front door, Jack felt a sharp pain in the back of his head, and his mind all of a sudden went fuzzy, and he fell to the ground.
When Jack woke up, he noticed two police officers, who had their guns drawn and directed at him. He looked around and observed that he was sitting in his kitchen, covered in blood, and in his right hand was a bloody kitchen knife.
One of the cops yelled, "Drop the knife!"
Jack instantly dropped the knife, raised his hands, and said, "Officers, I don't know what is going on here?"
At the police station, the Chief talked on the phone to the mayor. "It looks like an open and shut case, your honor. Four murder victims and we found the neighbor soaked in blood with a bloody knife in one hand. I think his story about hearing a scream in the middle of the night and then going out and finding the dead bodies of his neighbors is just nonsense. Once we get a DNA match on the blood and a forensic match on the knife, I am sure we can get a confession out of our suspect. I'll call you back, Mr. Mayor; Officer Logan, who is in charge of the investigation, just entered my office."
"What do you have, Dennis?"
"Bad news Chief. The blood on our suspect and murder weapon does not match our victims, and the suspected murder weapon doesn't match the wounds on our victims either. And get this, the blood on our suspect and the suspected murder weapon isn't even human; it is blood from an owl, a barn owl to be exact."
"That can't be. Our suspect must have covered himself and the knife with the owl's blood to throw us off. Maybe he covered himself in owl's blood to make it hard for us to match the victim's blood on him."
"Well, officer Johnson was checking around the Wilson house and found a barn owl that died from a knife wound. Around the owl, he found shoe impressions that are size 13. Our suspect and all of our victims don't wear shoes that big. Also, around the body of Mrs. Henderson, he found the same shoe impressions. The shoe impressions and a trail of blood were leading away from the house, just like our suspect said when he saw a taller man running away last night."
"Are you are saying you believe the story Jack Wilson gave us?"
"Well, everything he said so far holds up. The phone lines of all three homes, the Henderson's, Mr. Wilson's, and the Benson's, were cut. We found a set of fingerprints on the knife that didn't match Mr. Wilson's or the victims. We also found the same prints in all three homes. Unfortunately, we did not find a match in the database. We also talked to the other neighbors, and they said everyone got along great with Mr. Wilson, saying he was a kind and generous person who would never do anything like what happened last night. We also checked the knife wound on the owl, and forensics say the killer used the same knife on our four victims as well as the owl. We could not find a knife in any of the homes that match."
"I still don't know. Maybe this guy is brilliant, and he is setting us all up."
"One more thing Chief, Doc Stevenson, examined Mr. Wilson, and he indeed was hit in the back of the head with a blunt object, maybe a baseball bat, which would have knocked him unconscious."
"Well, we can't let him go as the public would be outraged if they think we are letting a mass murderer go free. Let's keep him locked up until we can find more evidence. Go back out there and find the murder weapon."
"Ok, Chief, I'll see what we can find."
Monday, the morning of the 20th
After a few days of investigating, the police could not find any new evidence, but on Sunday night, another murder occurred, close to a town 10 kilometers away. The killer used the same M.O. and murder weapon to kill a couple in their home while they slept, similar to the murders from Thursday night. After this latest murder, the police knew they had the wrong person locked up and had to let Jack go.
Officer Logan drove Jack Wilson home after he was released. As Jack opened the car door and got out, Officer Logan said, "Sorry, Jack, for putting you through all of this."
"That's ok, Officer Logan; I know you were only doing your job. I was starting to wonder if I had committed those murders and was losing my mind. I am glad that I did not do it. I hope you find the real killer."
"We will do the best we can. I will let you know if we catch the killer. Bye Jack."
As Jack looked back and watched Officer Logan drive away, he turned around and proceeded up to his house. On the front porch, he heard the familiar screeching sound. Jack looked around and saw the same barn owl he saw the night of the murders, sitting on his porch railing. "What the hell are you doing here?" Jacked yelled at the owl as he turned away.
"I warned you twice, but you did not listen, so I will warn you one final time, if you value your life, you should leave now. Runaway and never return."
A startled Jack looked back at the owl. "What did you say to me?"
The owl just stared back at him with an ominous expression. Jack looked at the owl and thought, "It looks like the owl has a perturbed look on it." Jack shook his head in disbelief and turned away.
"You heard what I said, just like you heard what I said the first two times I tried to warn you."
A now agitated Jack turned back towards the owl, grabbed a shovel leaning up against the wall, and raised it above his head with both hands. "Shut up, you stupid bird, or I swear I will give you a trouncing!"
The owl continued to stare back at Jack with a now disappointed expression.
Jack stopped himself from striking the owl and just dropped the shovel. "I must be losing it. Why do I keep seeing this owl, and why do I think the owl is talking to me? This lack of sleep the past few days is playing havoc with me." Jack ignored the owl and headed into his house.
As he entered his home, Jack again felt a sharp pain in the back of his head as he started to feel dizzy and collapsed onto the floor.
Jack woke up in the middle of the night and saw that he was lying in his bed. He looked at the clock, and it showed 1:25 AM. He then looked at his watch, which also showed the date, and it showed it was the 17th, which would suggest it was back before he heard Jessica screaming on Friday morning. "This can't be right; my watch must be wrong. It can't be the 17th."
Jack heard that now familiar screeching sound again and glanced over to where the sound came from and recognized the same barn owl sitting on the bedroom window ledge. "I've warned you three times, and three times you refused to heed my warnings. Now you will face the consequences from refusing to take my advice."
"What are you talking about?"
"You remember the three warnings I gave you."
"Yes, but I thought I was just imagining it, as who would believe an owl could talk."
"Well, you should have listened to me as now you will pay the price for your failure to heed my advice."
"Wait, give me one more chance; I will leave as you suggested."
"I told you the third warning was your final chance, so now it is too late. You know that baseball expression, three strikes, and you are out. Well, you have used your three strikes, so now you are out!"
Friday the 17th, 9:00 AM
Officer Logan arrived at the murder scene, and Officer Johnson was briefing him.
"It looks like we have five dead bodies, Mr. and Mrs. Henderson, Mr. and Mrs. Benson, and Mr. Wilson. All five victims died from stab wounds. The coroner told me that it looks like the killer started at the Benson's as he estimates their time of death to be around 1:00 AM. The killer then headed over to Mr. Wilson's house and killed him in bed at around 1:30 AM. Lastly, he headed over to the Henderson's, but he must have made a sound that woke the couple. It looks like Mr. Henderson got out of bed, and then the intruder stabbed him several times. Mrs. Henderson made it out of the house and onto the backyard before the killer caught up and killed her. The coroner estimates their time of death to be around 2:00 AM. We found footprints around Mrs. Henderson, and it looks like it came from a tall man, someone over 6 feet tall as the shoe impressions look to be about size 12 or 13. Once we get it back to the lab, we will know for sure. The footprints and a blood trail led to the road, which is where the killer probably had his vehicle waiting." Says Officer Johnson
"Any other evidence?" Asks Officer Logan
"We are dusting for prints, but that will take some time. So far, no sign of the murder weapon."
The two officers heard a loud screeching sound, and they both glanced up to the tree and saw a barn owl on a branch peering down at them.
"You know Dennis, that same barn owl has been following me around all morning. I saw him at the Benson house and then again at the Henderson house and now here again at the Wilson house." Says Officer Johnson
"Maybe he was a witness to the murders, so maybe you should question the owl." Says Officer Logan with a laugh.
"Or maybe the owl is our killer; as you know, sometimes a criminal will return to the scene of the crime to observe the police." Says Officer Johnson laughing as he again looked up to the owl. But then Officer Johnson's smile quickly disappeared as he thought the owl was grinning for a brief moment.