Tag Archives: mystery

Orion

And I smile, because if the most correct thing in the world looks wrong the only thing you can do is to smile.

Bessie runs further, straight ahead into the fields, as if she is hunting something.

I shout her name, but, really, I don’t care.

Bessie is somewhere in the wet mud, but I can only look up, at the wrong Orion.

Orion has seven stars. Three in a line diagonally from the horizon and a very vivid square of four stars is arranged around those three, locking those three into an imaginary square.

But Bessie runs somewhere in the mud and all I can look at is the wrong Orion, the Orion with four stars in the center. And the fourth star, every time I raise my head against the cold, looks wrong. Continue reading

White Bones

They say it was me. They accuse me. Me!

They say I was too obsessed with those bones.

This is an outrage. This is insanity. I told the director weeks ago that there was somebody else; again and again I told im that somebody was fumbling with my bones – but he wouldn’t listen.

I knew he was special the moment he arrived. Eurasian male, definitely an adult, that’s all we knew for sure when the delivery came.

A blue plastic box with foam padding, and when I took the first layer off and saw his skull I was barely able to hold my excitement back. That’s something you read a paper about, not something you ever see yourself, not something that you get to have in your own museum!

The others, of course, didn’t realize the treasure. They knew he was unusual, but it’s not their specialism and so they don’t remember a thing they were taught at university – if they were ever taught a thing – and so they don’t understand. Completely white. Bright white, like your grandmother’s best Sunday china. Every single one of those bones looked like a piece of porcelain, just not as smooth and shiny. But even the skull and even the teeth, fully white without a single spot of gray! Continue reading

The Fire Sings

“It’s going to be nice,” says my mother.

She stood up, grabbed my hand and led me out of the hut.

Walking down the dry path we already saw the crowd setting wood in its place.

We walk around the site one, twice, thrice.

“It’s the tradition,” says my mother. “It keeps us safe.”

A girl sits on the floor, not far from the wood. Her mother feeds her the special leaves and the root.

“Chew well,” says the mother.

The girl cries. Continue reading

Rex brought a gift

It’s been two days since Rex disappeared. It was Friday night and it’s Sunday now. Two weird things have happened since then.

I’m not sure whether I should count Friday night as a ‘third weird thing.’ Shana and I were both unable to sleep. It might have been that Rex wasn’t there or that our back door was broken or that Shana or just the whole crazy week, but I think it was something else. It felt to me as if the air was electrically charged. And it probably was my imagination, but in some moments I heard an extra breath, one that wasn’t ours.

I blocked the bedroom door with our dresser. I know that sounds crazy but even Shana didn’t object – usually she calls me out on my stupidities. Afterwards she cuddled up, placed her head on my shoulder and I think she fell asleep.

For me that wasn’t possible. I tried to sleep, but with every passing hour I got not just more tired but also more nervous, nearly agitated. I felt my legs shivering, but not from cold.

I saw the first sunrays through the window. From one moment to the next my nervousness fell away and I fell asleep.

My body was shaking.

“Wake up,” she said. “Please wake up.”

Shana’s face was right above mine. There was sweat on her forehead, like a warning sign.

Then the first weird thing happened.

“Sorry;” she said. “I didn’t want to wake you, but I have to ask. Did you eat all the meat? Did you?”

I said No.

Shana’s cheeks lost their color.

“Oh,” she said. Like an additinoal word one drop of sweat fell on my face.

Shana had gotten up a few hours before me. She had asked Travis for help, the older bachelor living next door with his cat. He always had woodwork projects and Shana had rightly assumed that he would have a slab of wood to block our back door until the replacement on Tuesday.

Travis had decided that it was easier to walk around the back of the house rather than carry the heavy plate through both of our houses. He had left his garden and Shana had entered our gate for him.

“Lot’s of trash here,” he had said.

Travis went inside with his slab of wood. Shana went outside to look for the trash.

It was in the bushes right behind Travis’ house, just out of sight from our usual way into the forest. Stained wax paper. Cling film. Empty plastic bags. Soft white plastic trays for meat.

Shana recognized most of them. She even recognized her handwriting on the bags that should have been in our freezer.

Saturday was a long day. I won’t go into the details but there was screaming and accusations that I was lying. Then Shana called her father and I listened to her crying and screaming while I sat in the living room with a bowl of cereal.

In the end her father convinced Shana that it was all not such a big deal. Shana’s father said it was likely just a homeless person or a drifter hungry for a good meal and that the guy probably also stole other stuff and we just didn’t notice it. He also suggested that Rex was maybe on his tracks and that that was the reason why he ran off.

Then, after Shana had repeated all of that calmly to me, there were more accusations that she wanted an alarm when we moved in and that I was the one to reject it because it was too costly. I reminded her that it wasn’t possible to install an alarm because the back door would have to have been replaced.

At some point the police came and wrote all these things down and a bit later an alarm company came and made us an offer that Shana signed while I was out of the room. Then there was more fighting.

And in all these fights there was one thing I didn’t want to bring up. One thing that I thought Shana would at some point realize or that the police would possible bring up:

There were no signs of a fireplace. Either the thief had used our stove – and I like to believe we or at least Rex would have noticed that – or he had eaten the meat raw.

Let’s just say Saturday night I didn’t sleep much either. We blocked the back door with Travis’ slab of wood and brought all valuables into our bedroom – nothing seemed to be missing except for my camera but I often misplace it and didn’t think much of it. I blocked our bedroom door again, this time with a wedge, a shelf, a stack of books under the door handle and a small bell tied to the handle as an improvised alarm.

An hour later I took the bell off because it kept ringing. There was no other noise and I couldn’t see the door handle move, so it was certainly just the draft.

I don’t know when I fell asleep. It must have been pretty late, probably around 2 or 3am. I kept imagining breathing sounds and every creak in the old house seemed like footsteps or something crawling along the walls or pressing against the door. A few times I nearly dozed off but a sudden noise made me rip my eyes wide open to stare at the window.

A second night without sleep. A second weird thing.

There never was anything that sounded real. There were no loud noises, no sliding or pulling noises. Certainly I didn’t hear the back door being opened.

And yet, when we woke up, it was opened.

Sunday morning Shanah woke me up. She couldn’t move the big shelf on her own but needed to use the bathroom.

When I pushed the door handle down there was a sudden push from outside and the door opened. Rex’s body rolled partially inside the room. Rex jumped up with his tail wagging, the tongue hanging out of his mouth and his eyes full of excitement.

I just stared. My mind was still too sleepy to decide whether to stroke his head or whether to recoil. Shana’s gasp freed me from my dilemma.

Rex’ whole head and front legs were soaked in dry blood. Dark red stains even covered his back and neck. Rex didn’t seem to mind. He just tried to push his nose and the side of his head against my arm the way he always did when he wanted me to caress him.

Shana volunteered me to wash him. While I pushed Rex towards the bathroom Shana went downstairs. Rex left red stains on my pajama pants and the white wall.

Before we even made it to the bathroom Shana screamed.

She stood at the front door with shaking shoulders and her hand on the key. The other arm pointed towards the kitchen. The key turned. Shana went outside.

Then I saw why she screamed.

There was a dead deer in front of the kitchen counter. The body was torn open; intestine and organs were spread all over the kitchen floor. The deer’s neck was ripped apart and the mutilated head barely anymore attached to the body.

Rex followed me down the stairs. While I stared at the carcass in our kitchen Rex rubbed against my leg. Without thinking about it I caressed his head. When I pulled my hand away I realized that, from the look of it, Rex’s whole head must have been inside the dead deer.

I washed Rex first. During that time Shana came back inside, got dressed and left without a word.

With Rex locked inside the bathroom I went downstairs to get rid of the carcass. When I tried to pull the deer corpse into a black bin bag the head completely ripped off and blood splattered all over my clothes. The head went in a bag together with a severed leg. With some squeezing and through breaking the second hind leg the rest of the body fit inside another bag.

It took me around three hours just to clear the blood away. I didn’t even have the energy to deal with the stains that Rex left on the stairs and the walls upstairs.

Shana later texted me that she went to a friend’s place. She told me she wouldn’t come back while ‘my dog’ was still in the house. After a lengthy debate she agreed to come as long as he was locked inside the living room and I made sure to bring him to the pound on Monday.

Rex was peacefully sleeping in the wet bathtub. I dried him roughly with a hair dryer – he seemed to enjoy that – and locked him in the living room.

Only then, with Rex locked away and Shana on her way home, I realized the one thing that should have jumped straight in my face:

In the morning Rex was inside. The carcass was inside. But the Travis’ slab on back door was still in place. And the back door was still locked.

I went outside to check. The garden gate too is still locked.

There were no open windows. No open doors. No nothing. I don’t know how Rex could have gotten inside.

He is still in the living room. I hear him whining right now. He is scratching against the door. I locked the door but I can see how he is pulling the door handle down to try and open it.

It’s been more than three since we found him on the street. I know he is a smart dog. But in all these years, not a single time has he tried to pull the handle.

Update: Rex, the goddamn best dog in the world

Dalton V. // Without a Choice

Dalton V. was delivered to us on Wednesday. When I say ‘delivered’ I mean it precisely that way – his hands were bound behind his back, his legs were shackled together and his mouth was gagged. He fought against the shackles, his whole body constantly seemed to be shaking. Both of his arms were heavily bandaged.

His short black hair was well groomed and his beard trimmed short. We were warned that Dalton, an athletic 28 year old would likely “try to harm himself and others” if given the opportunity.

About four months ago, the 22nd of February, a twelve year old girl called Jillian disappeared on her way home from school. A witness saw the girl pushing her bright red bicycle along a side road.

The search mission as well as the appeals to the public were unsuccessful. The police received a whole barrage of hints about Jillian’s whereabouts and at least one witness mentioned a white van. Continue reading

Ötzi’s brother

The director ordered us to be at the mountain at 4am. He said we had to keep it secret. He said we had to pull something out of the ice.

Ours was a strange museum – officially a museum, officially funded from the arts and history fund, but as most things in Austria that wasn’t really the way we worked. We had an alibi exhibition with rather uninteresting items found on the glacier – shoes and ice axes from Roman times were the highlights – but the main purpose of the museum was research. Glacier research to be precise; and climate change monitoring.

The director was a bit ahead of the time; he had specialized on glaciers early in his career and then was one of the first loud proponents of what was back then called ‘climate change theory.’ He was right of course, and the director’s research and stop-the-idiocy campaign was part of what led to the Green renaissance in Europe – the founding of Green parties, the mainstream acceptance of environmental concerns into policy making and so on.

But I don’t want to bore you with the details of all that. When I began to work at the museum climate change was already broadly accepted as a fact.

We, in a way, were the benefactors of climate change. While people like the director were horrified by the fact that glaciers are shrinking year after year, there was also excitement in the air. When glaciers retreat they expose things that haven’t been seen for many years, often hundreds or thousands of years.

That’s where our shoes and ice axes and the many other artifacts came from. They were a side effect of glacier research, a side effect of our regular and systematic trips on top of the frozen crust. Most objects were old trade goods or simply old tools, often made of stone and wood. There were the occasional frozen birds or deer; individuals of extinct species.

And then, of course, there was the find of the century: Ötzi.

You might have heard of him, the man that lived more than 5000 years ago and died on the glacier from an arrow wound in his shoulder.

It was the most exciting discovery ever made in a glacier. A body so well preserved that even his blood cells, cause of death, and last meals could still be identified.

We missed Ötzi. A university was quicker at staking their claim. The director protested, he said that we were the experts, that we should have Ötzi – but there is nothing a small museum can do against a well-funded university’s claims.

That’s why the director demanded secrecy when the second body was found – not even two weeks after Ötzi. While we were hiking up to the glacier – not a safe route during the night – he joked that we had probably found Ötzi’s brother.

No machinery, no helicopter; just five scientists with ice axes, saws and backpacks.

A friend of the director had found the body during a hike. The hiker took a wrong step and slid half-way into a crevasse; nearly he ended as an ice mummy himself. But he managed to get out and right away rushed down the glacier and towards our museum. Down there, while he was inside the crevasse, a leathery brown face had grinned back at him.

I was only one of the safety men. Three of us were on the glacier with their feet dug into the ice and two were dangling down into the crevasse – one to free the body, one to prevent it from sliding further down.

I heard them moaning and cursing occasionally, but I didn’t see anything happening in the crevasse. My legs were shaking under my body from the cold and strain when we finally pulled them out.

I’ve never seen anything like it; I can’t even describe it – the moment when one man in a red jacket pulled himself out of the crevasse. Then a second one, with a brown object on his shoulder, was pulled out of the dark gap in the ice.

If not for the head I could have confused the body with a long and thin leather handbag. The body was bent forward, the arms aligned with the body.

I only saw the back of his head; the dark brown skin and sparse blond hair. And of course the back with the ripped fur coat and the darker areas. Crusted blood, like on Ötzi. Another violent death.

I remember thinking that the director might be right; that it could indeed be Ötzi’s brother.

We were back in town by around 8am. A car was waiting – but not big enough for all of us.

The director and Bennetio went along in the car; the rest of us got the day off. It felt strange to let the mummy out of sight after the whole ordeal. I knew that I was giving up on something important and unique and incredible, but my exhaustion prevented me from being upset. I was looking forward for another few hours of sleep.

I helped pack Ötzi’s brother in the car. That was the only time I ever got to see his face. There was no sign of the grin that the director had talked about. The lips were pulled back and the teeth exposed, but certainly not a grin. If anything, Ötzi’s brother looked angry.

His eye sockets made me uncomfortable; his eyelids were pushed inwards as if the eyeballs had just disappeared. The nose and other areas on the face had small cuts. But the strangest thing was the way his expression and face, even his whole body seemed to be frozen in time. His hands were still clinging to the thin, wooden bow, the fur and leather clothing was still wrapped around his body and his face still seemed as if he wanted to say something.

He looked so normal. Not like a mummy, not like a thousand-year-dad man; he looked like a modern man whose face had from one moment to the next been transformed into leather.

The car began to drive; then the door shut. The remaining three of us hiked into town in silence, but on the other’s faces I saw the same fusion of excitement and exhaustion that I felt myself.

The exhaustion grew with every step. Waiting at the bus stop I fell asleep with my head against the advertisement. The sound of heavy rubber tires on gritty cement woke me up.

On the bus I grabbed one of the hand rails to keep myself from falling; then sank down on one of the empty seats.

The old woman next to me looked concerned.

“Are you okay?” She asked.

“Sure, just tired,” I said. “Long night.”

“I think you cut yourself,” she said.

Her fingers were pointing at a dark red stain on the hand rail.

At home I examined my hands and arms closely. No cuts.

Frozen blood. 5000 year old frozen blood. It must have stuck to my glove when I placed the body in the car.

I slept a deep, dreamless sleep. It was evening when I woke up and turned the radio on. I was expecting to hear news about Ötzi’s brother, but the director had kept it all under wraps. He really wanted to make sure that he would be the first to examine the body; he wanted to make sure that his name would be the one attached to the find.

The next morning I went to work early – only to find the main entrance locked. I had to go all around the building to the staff entrance. A few other people were already standing outside.

“The director said we have to wait here.”

The door opened. I heard my name and went inside. Two others followed me.

“Look,” said the director. “We have to search this place. A mummy doesn’t just get lost.”

“The cold rooms?” I asked.

“All rooms.” The director said.

“You lost the mummy?” Asked one of the other two.

“I think Bennetio stole it,” said the director. “The driver is already on the way to Bennetio’s house; you are the only other ones that know about Ötzi’s brother. We can’t have this leak to the press.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“I examined the mummy during the day,” said the director. “And asked Bennetio to guard the room for the night. I would never have thought he would do such a thing; to take the mummy and run. But there’s nothing on the tapes; he must still be in the building.”

We went as teams of two. I went with the director to check the smaller upper floor; the other two went to check the spacious exhibition areas downstairs. The director and I looked in every possible room, shelf and wardrobe, even under desks and in personal lockers.

“We should call the police,” I said.

“They would close us down,” said the director.

The scream came while the director and I were going through the offices a second time. We ran downstairs to find the two others standing near one of the large windows in the back offices.

Two steps to the right of the window a broken arrow was lying on the floor. The director picked it up.

“This is ancient,” he said. “Bennetio must have lost it.”

The window was pulled shut, but not completely closed.

In six years of working at the museum I only heard the director curse once.

“Shit.”

The director reported the “theft of artifacts” to the police and we searched the rest of the building, but Bennetio as well as Ötzi’s brother were gone.

More than one and a half years after we recovered and lost Ötzi’s brother, deep in a crevasse of the same glacier where Ötzi had been found, they discovered another mummy with leathery skin.

An arrow was stuck deep inside his chest.

Still, the coroner concluded the blood loss was not significant. Bennetio froze to death.


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.