Tagged: Scott Tierney

Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 6


“It’s a Sunday, Nick. Nobody goes into the office on Sunday. At least not every Sunday. Not even you.”

Despite his wife’s toying remonstrations from the bed, Pineclay remained facing the dresser, back turned. He continued fiddling absent-mindedly with the buttons on his sleeve – at that moment, it was all he was capable of doing. His mind was a spiralling muddle of conjectures, his thoughts mere snowflakes spinning without vector inside a furiously shaken globe. He scrunched his eyes, concentrated hard, trying to get his bearings. Only moments before he had been in an interrogation room…with a killer…an old man…who had done…something? But what? Whatever this something was, be it an act of kindness or one of assault, Pineclay found that he could not recall. He was certain that the event had shocked him, unsettled him, even – but why? Being attacked could be shocking – but so could the sudden and unexpected reveal of a birthday surprise, friends leaping out from behind the curtains and thrusting cards and kisses and gifts and…

“Gifts…” Pineclay murmured to himself, a flicker of anamnesis burning then fizzling before he had a chance to clutch it. He again heard his wife. 

“Nick? Sunday, you know? The day of rest…”

Dismissing any further thought to his newly transposed circumstances, as one shifts from daydream to reality with only a fleeting memory of the previous, Pineclay spoke. The words felt recited.

“Crime doesn’t take a vacation just because you ask it to. And you know I’m being transferred.”

“Yeah yeah, to a new unit and you need to make a head start.” his wife finished with a playful sigh. “You’ve told me enough times already.”

“I’ll be back in time for lunch.” Pineclay heard himself lie, remembering full well that he wouldn’t even make it back for the following day’s breakfast. “Have it ready. I’ll be there. I promise.”

As his wife considered him with an expression both accepting yet dubious, Pineclay found himself again fumbling with his cuff button, distracted, his next words not so easy to come by as before. “You know how it is. The wheel never stops turning. The pursuit…it never ends. If I don’t keep up to speed with everything that’s going on back at the station, I’ll–”

“How long have we been married, Nick?”

“Seven years.” Pineclay replied without hesitation. “It’s nineteen ninety-five, spring, and we’ve been married seven years.”

“And in all those years, all those days of marital bliss, how many weekends have we spent together?”


The impetus of the detective’s excuses ground to a halt. Having let his cuff fall open and dangle unbuttoned, he slowly turned to face the bed.

His wife was younger than he remembered – youthful, not only in years but more so in demeanour. She had a rejuvenated radiance about her so blinding and brilliant that the detective found himself squinting. A radiance which, he remembered, had long since dissipated, syphoned by so much unnecessary heartbreak and absence – the majority of which was his fault. Flattening the rolls of silk nightgown over her hip, she repeated from the glare the very question Pineclay himself was still pondering.

“How many weekends, Nick? In total.”

Ashamed into retreating back to the dresser’s mirror, Pineclay couldn’t bring himself to admit to the single-syllable answer.

It was then that a boy and a girl whom Pineclay only faintly recognised exploded into the bedroom and began running laps around the bed. Having announced herself the winner, the girl bounded towards her daddy’s leg and knotted her arms around it.

“Gee, you’re shorter than I remember.” Pineclay marvelled at the little girl, noticing the tightness in his voice which he did his best to conceal. “It seems like only yesterday that you were so small. 

“And Jack…look at you.” Pineclay gulped. “You must be nearly–”

A knocking at the downstairs door called the girl and her brother away – away from Pineclay’s gaze and his longing want of an embrace. A rumbling of little feet on the staircase and a dog barking and the front door opening and a pair of “Grandpa!” exhalations brought the scene downstairs to life in the detective’s mind. In the hurried interval it would take to slip a button and clasp a wristwatch and kiss his wife’s belly goodbye, he would be making his way downstairs – passed the kids, passed the puppy, passed his stepmother–

Before finally passed his father. 

For the last time. Pineclay arrived at the terrible realization that tomorrow his father would be gone, gunned down. 

And Jack. Jack. He stood watching from the landing as though peering into a grave, the boy of no more than five playing meet and greets with the grandparents in the foyer below. 

From the bedroom, tolling like a bell, Pineclay heard the bedside phone begin to ring. Taking his arm, his wife joined him at his side. 

“Ignore it.” she said softly, her very presence seeming to muffle the interminable ringing. “Your children miss you, Nick – and with each weekend, one hour of overtime at a time, you’re missing them.”

“I know. But if I don’t… I have to–”

“You don’t have to do anything.” she squeezed his arm tighter, as though he were adrift and would be swept away by the currents at any moment. “I understand. I do. It’s just maybe you could put your work to one side, just for today? 

“Come downstairs with me. We’ll have breakfast. You and your father haven’t laughed in too long, and you’ve been meaning to show him the rifle you got Jack for his birthday. Then tomorrow, Monday, then you can rush back to the office… 

“In the meantime, stay here with us, just a little while longer. A lifetime longer, if you wish.” came the whispering in the detective’s ear, so warm and convincing it was undeniable. “You’ve got all the time you’ll ever need, right here with us.”

Pineclay’s wife kissed his cheek, and pressed a cold and heavy object into his hand. “Today is a gift, Nick. Don’t let it go to waste.” 


Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 5


Akin to the breaking of a sheet of ice which floats atop a lake’s surface, upon the penetration of the dagger’s tip the skin of the old man’s forehead sank below an up-pouring of blood.

Immobilized, it took a dazzling metallic glint from the dagger’s blade for Detective Pineclay to avert his eyes – when he turned back, he was aghast at what he saw.

Smiling, giggling, the kindly Andrew Walton Cane was pulling the dagger down, and through, the entire length of his face.

Like any officer who had dutifully served a long and consuming career, Pineclay had seen some things. Dark, horrible things…the horrors of which still haunted his waking, workless nights. Yet at this moment, face to face with an act of self-mutilation in its rawest form, Pineclay’s experience failed him. Without his knowing, his gun tumbled from his hand. It landed somewhere in the massing pool between him and the killer. Ears pricked by the clatter of metal against tile, only then did Pineclay summon the necessary bearings to intervene, to move and wrench the dagger from Cane’s hands before he disfigured himself any further.

But the detective found that Cane was in fact no longer holding the dagger, his soft pink hands having parted to his sides in the posture of the divine saint. Pineclay looked on with detached bewilderment as, somehow…the cutting continued. Somehow, a trick both sick and miraculous, the automated dagger ploughed downwards through its meadow of flesh, lengthening the immaculate furrow in Cane’s face inch by terrible inch. As though a anchor ushered only by gravity, never deviating nor slowing from its perpendicular trajectory, the dagger’s hook tore through chin then throat then breast then belly, all to a sound comparable with scissors being pushed through a sheet of wrapping paper.

And all the while, Cane’s glaze of harmonious serenity never waned. 

In stark contrast, Pineclay’s posture collapsed and he stumbled back against the wall.

After a time indeterminable the dagger reached its journey’s end, no further skin left to cut. With a final separation at the groin, having spliced clean through both trouser belt and buckle, it broke from the flesh, and like a rocket lifting off in reverse it landed handle-down on the bloodied floor, blade perfectly upright as though Excalibur emerging from a lake turned red by the delight of shepherds.

All-but down on his knees, Pineclay was ready to vomit – yet, dare he believe it, worse was still to come. 

Cane raised his hands to his face, took hold of the flaps of meat teetering above his eyes like the ears of a lop rabbit–

And tugged. 

Pineclay felt the colour depart from his own cheeks just as rapidly as the skin did depart from the Cane’s. He assumed, and willed, that he might faint.

Yet no escape into unconsciousness was granted, for it was the most curious thing – in spite of the act of ungodly dismemberment being undertaken solely for his audience, so much ripping and tearing and divorcing of sinew, the detective was struck at how at ease he was. He felt light, weightless, tranquil, warm as though hunkered within cotton. Maybe this unnatural and unbecoming equanimity was shock taking over, the mind’s way of inhibiting all comprehensible emotion when the neurons in one’s brain became overloaded? But no, Pineclay dismissed this theory. The sensation he was experiencing was something…other, something out of body – a sensation he had no choice in allowing to steer him. 

Thus, Pineclay righted, and observed with attention unflinching as the old man shed the remaining skin from his torso. Upon the completion of said parting, Pineclay did not witness a deluge of plasma and organs as one would expect – only the emergence of a strange, black, boundless opening akin to the hollow of a tree. He found himself stepping toward it, summoned, feeling himself bowing – it seemed as though the lamp-lit outline of Cane and the table and everything else within the room made up the stitching of a dense curtain, and only that revealed within the curtain’s parting–

“Seriously Nick, you don’t really have to go into the office today, do you?” he heard his wife. The morning sunlight played upon her reclined form as she fluttered her eyes awake.

Pineclay peered down to find that he was buttoning the sleeves of his uniform, a brand new tie, heavy with silver bar, already snug around his neck.

He was…home


Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 4


For the longest time, Cane’s hands remained open, anticipating delivery of the object which Pineclay clasped tightly in his fist.

“If you wish for me to share with you its gift, detective, I will need to retake custody of that dagger.”

Pineclay scoffed at what he took to be a threat of the most benign. Size difference and physique aside, both heavily in his favour, the detective was well aware that handing over a weapon to a clearly psychopathic killer was not the wisest of strategies. That being said, the detective was also aware that if this precarious gesture did somehow loosen the killer’s lips, causing him to slip confessions rather than riddles, it was at the very least a risk worth considering. 

But it is a risk…

Seemingly, this deadlock of affairs Cane understood.

“As long as there remains an arm’s length between us, you will hold the deciding advantage.” he smiled, his fingers, with so much dried blood under the nails, remaining open. “I assure you, detective, I seek only that dagger in order to educate – not to lacerate.”

Pineclay shrugged, the hunk of loaded iron holstered at his hip providing all the assurance he needed. What the hell he figured, offering the dagger up – albeit blade first. “But you pull anything clever,” he warned, unbuttoning the clasp on his holster, “and I’ll make your mutilations look as ham-fisted as hash. Comprehend?”

Cane nodded. He accepted the dagger with chivalrous delicacy, cradling the bronze artefact as the very treasure he had sworn it to be. It was only when Pineclay rested an impatient hand on his firearm that Cane broke from his reverie.

“Your father was killed in the line of fire, was he not?” Cane ventured without a hint of expression, as though his inquiry were nothing more intimate than an asking of the time. “And your son. He met a similar fate, also?”

The plaintiveness of Cane’s questions caught Pineclay off guard. As such, his response was more a retaliation than a riposte.

“What’s it to you? You trying to teach me a lesson?”

“I have a lesson to teach, yes. One which I have recently learned.” Cane continued. “Having a father on the force must have been of great determination? When coming to choose the profession which would define you, I mean. Once upon a time I myself also arrived at this same juncture, and I, like yourself, decided wholeheartedly to pursue the calling of a career, albeit one as an academic. 

“Please note my emphasis, detective,” the old man raised up his voice. “Pursue. I did not happen upon my perceived calling by chance, I pursued it as a moth does pursue the moon.”

“Or like I was pursuing you. And look how that turned out.”

“Indeed.” Cane smiled. “I became infatuated with pursuit, you see? The pursuit of pursuit, singularly guided by it as a bloodhound does pursue a scent. I pursued the professional satisfactions of a career with such tenacity that I eventually forgot what satisfaction actually was. I did not realise this at the time, naturally. One never does. Unlike yourself, detective, I did not have a family to turn my back on, nor a wife, nor…children. Thus, I felt no pang of regret.”

Brooding with impatience, the Pineclay made a show of gripping his holster. Unfazed and unsettlingly collected, Cane went on.

“Lord, I was such a foolish old fool. Hours, days, years…a lifetime wasted in the study of those lives already passed! I spent my best years choking on library dust in an endeavour to quench my enterprise, travelling overseas to courses and conventions and excavations and conferences, staying in single-bed rooms, chewing single-portion meals, never accompanied, never partnered. Toasting my successes alone.”

“That’s your excuse for murder?” Pineclay scoffed. “Bachelorism?”

Belying their amiability, Cane’s eyes turned on the detective, flickering with the flames of a suppressed anger – this the detective found most rewarding, and thus worthy of his own pursuit

“Do yourself a favour, Cane. Admit to it. You cut that woman open. You cut them all open. And you enjoyed it.”

Falling into a penitent silence, the old man’s gaze came down to the dagger. As though testing it for dust, he pulled a single finger along the cusp of its blade.

“I did not kill her.” Cane assured. “As for enjoying it–” 

“Come on! Murder weapon! Scene of the crime! The damn blood on you!”

“No…no, I do not expect you to believe a word that I say. I myself did not believe the dear Mrs. Haven when she came to my aid–”

“With her ‘gift’?”

“Yes, detective.” the old man brightened, his brief animosity withdrawn. “You see, Mrs. Haven confessed to once being just as adrift as you and I–”

“We’re not alike, you and I.

“-She spoke of a kindred spirit gifting her salvation, just as another spirit had done before them, and umpteen more before them, generations upon generations gifted a lifetime of hindsight by–”

“Out with it, Cane! Enough riddles!” Pineclay snapped. “You’re not making sense!-”

“I know. And for that I am sorry. But I can only attempt to impart the knowledge which I, and those who have come before me, have learned through experience. Through bitter, excruciating experience…

“And here-upon, detective, the time is right that I present to you the dagger’s gift.” Cane grinned. “My gift. From me to you.”

It was only then that Pineclay realized that the blood-bedraggled and previously seated killer was now standing in the middle of the room. Pineclay instinctively reached for his firearm and flicked back the hammer. “Sit the hell down! You take a step closer and I swear I’ll-”

Yet, nonchalant to the detective’s remonstrance, the wispy old man seemed quite content not to venture a step closer. Instead, much to Pineclay’s puzzlement, Cane proceeded to clasp the dagger between both hands and raise it up to his eyeline. He did not aim nor foist the dagger at Pineclay, however, nor even signal any intention to weaponize it against him; rather, as though hoisting a chalice of holy water above his head in order to baptise himself, Cane gently rested the dagger’s point against his own forehead, just above his balding hairline– 

And pressed. 



Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney




The Dagger: Part 3


“It is a dagger.” Cane stated, his correction not in the least bit antagonistic nor confrontational – which only piqued Detective Pineclay the more. Had the surveillance cameras in the interrogation room not been monitoring, the detective would have granted this blood-caked killer a more up-close examination of this dagger…

Yet Pineclay restrained himself. Rather than lose his cool and go off like an apoplectic gorilla – a tactic which in the right circumstances had its merits – he would instead undertake a different tact. Slaps and insinuations having provoked nothing from this kindly gentleman – a kindliness bordering on the saintly which Pineclay found revolting – he would entertain Cane’s intellect, if only to grease the wheels of the interrogation. Anything that got him off the streets and a step closer to the chamber, Pineclay reasoned, was advantageous.

“A dagger, huh?” he said, toying with its sixteen inches of silver and bronze. “You don’t say? And it’s Mesapo….Mecepo-”

“Mesopotamian.” Cane smiled without a trace of antagonism. “Or at least from an age prefacing the earliest Mesopotamian civilisations. The craftsmanship does not correlate with anything I have studied before. It is entirely unique. Born of its own creation, somehow.”

As though a concrete monument upon which pigeons roosted, Cane spoke these words while sitting entirely motionless at the table, appearing neither anxious nor nervous nor even the least bit excited. There was only one adjective with which Pineclay could describe the killer’s disposition: content. Blissful, pleasant, Christmas Day-armchair content. Revolting…

“Well guess what, professor. When I run this dagger of yours for tests I can promise you this– your prints will be all over it.”

“That I would have assumed.” Cane shrugged his bare shoulders. “For more than a month that dagger has scarcely left my hands – but not for the reasons you would assume.” he added. 

“Enlighten me. What do I assume?” Pineclay enquired with a facetious wave of the dagger. “Don’t tell me you’ve been using this thing to carve up your Thanksgiving joint? You serial killers…where’s your sense of hygiene?”

“I would never dream of committing such a profanity.” Cane tittered. “No, I have been studying that dagger punctiliously ever since the wonderful Mrs. Haven brought it to my-”

This Mrs. Haven?” Pineclay pointed the dagger to the top-most photograph on the heap – a middle-aged woman surgically dissected into two rib-exposing fillets. “You’re going to have to help me, Cane. It’s not easy putting a face to your victims after you’ve skinned them.”

Cane glowed with moon-like innocence, not in the least bit offended by the detective’s bunt. “As is my expertise, the departed brought the dagger to my offices and requested that I perform a thorough investigation of it.”

“I’d say you did more than that…”

“I did what any proficient historian would do – I focused the entirety of my attentions into uncovering the mysteries surrounding the artefact placed in my charge. For weeks I locked myself in routine: I made do with a single meal, a single hour’s rest, not answering my phone nor checking my emails nor corresponding with friends or acquaintances or the last of my remaining family until I had succeeded in my task. I assure you, detective – my efforts, my every waking hour since receiving it, have been fixated absolutely upon that very dagger you hold in your hands.”

“And the verdict?” Pineclay glanced over the glinting blade. He noted that for the first time the killer did not meet his eye. As though air expelled from a worn-bald tyre, the old man sighed despairingly.

“Triumph…I found none. I failed in my objective, wasting so many hours, days…years…” His words evanescing at the cusp of his lips, Cane seemed for a moment swallowed by self-pity. It took some time for him to reassert eye contact with the detective.

“You recognise the ugly hollowness of which I speak, do you not, Detective Pineclay? The wrenching comprehension that your best years upon this earth have been squandered thanks only to your misguided priorities? You know this feeling, deep in your gut? Yes?”

Uncomfortable, Pineclay switched his attention from Cane’s gaze to the weapon, twirling it with dismissive fidgets. All the while, the police badge in his pocket seemed to double in weight. The gun at his hip felt as heavy as a slab. “Hollow, huh? Not your smartest choice of words…

“Tell me,” he pried, lurching himself down on the table and back into the position of aggressor. “What’s this thing worth? I’m no expert on antiquities like yourself, but I’ll bet it’s twice my salary.”

“You are correct. It is a treasure of immeasurable value.”

“Wow. As that much? So that’s why you killed the wonderful Mrs. Haven…”

Cane whistled a laugh, genuinely amused by the accusation. “No, Mrs. Haven did not allow me the opportunity to commit a theft so rash – even if I had intended to. Rather – to her eternal detriment, I may add – as an award for my fruitless endeavours for which I was emphatic that I apologise, she presented me with a gift.”

Pineclay paused his fidgeting. “A gift?”

“Yes, detective. A gift so valuable it can not be measured against mere currency.” 

Cane leaned across the table and extended his delicate blood stained hands into the form of a nest.

“Would you care for me to share with you this gift, detective?”



Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney

The Dagger: Part 2

On coming face to face with the man accused of the murder of twelve people – the murder and mutilation of at least twelve people, he reminded himself – Detective Pineclay had to double-check the mugshot in his file against the unremarkable figure seated quietly at the table. For a moment he assumed his bungling captain had made one of his all-too regular oversights and sent him to the wrong room. Maybe it was all a rib? Cap’s idea of a thigh-slapping hee-haw? 

But Pineclay was indeed in the correct interrogation room, and this was indeed Andrew Walton Cane – an elderly man just as slight, straight, commonplace and bland as the walking aid with which he shared his name. The only noteworthy feature to distinguish this most forgettable of men was his state of dress: he wore smart shoes, trousers and belt – but no shirt. From the waist up, Cane was completely bare-

And coated in a semi-set residue of dried blood as thick as psoriasis.

Standing guard beside the door was a young officer – arms folded, yawning – clearly just as underwhelmed by this killer as the detective. 

With a pat of his side-arm, Pineclay inferred that the yawning officer take his leave. “Uncuff him before you go.” he added with typical curtness. This duty the officer performed without concern, freeing the killer’s binds before locking the door on his way out.

“There. Now it’s just us…all on our lonesome.” Pineclay winked to the killer. He allowed the tension inside the cramped and already claustrophobic little room to ferment; when he sensed it was at its peak, like that of pre-thunder, he reached up and disconnected the CCTV camera in the corner, making sure that the killer was observing him – a ploy, of course, as the interrogation rooms’ cameras could only be deactivated remotely, but the old tricks worked the best. In addition, the detective switched off the overhead lights so the only illumination was that which hummed from the lamp on the table, at which the killer was seated. Pineclay wanted no outside interference, nothing that would distract either he or the killer from the task of substantiating the latter’s guilt. To this end, the room’s heating had also been dialled down beforehand.

“Cold?” the detective commented knowingly, leafing absently through his wedge of documents as he stalked the lamp light’s verge. “Bit cold to be going around half-naked, no? Not good for an old man with barely a chicken wing’s worth of fat on him. And balding. Yeah, I can see the goose-pimples behind your ears. Haven’t you been offered anything? A coat? Coffee? Not even a nice hot water bottle?” 

Needless to say, the arresting officers had made no such proffer of magnanimity – considering the atrocities he was deemed to have committed,  this little man was lucky to have made it through the system without a succession of heavy beatings, never mind a snuggle. Still, the detective posed the question all the same. Keep the ‘suspect’ guessing, that was the key. Pineclay was well versed in every devious manoeuvre, knowing them all like the back of his hand – the back of a hand which he summarily lashed across the killer’s Dunchenne smile.

“Get that smirk off your mouth!” he barked, jabbing a knuckle into the killer’s exposed and somewhat flabby torso. “Where’s your shirt, huh? Did you burn it? Where’d you dump it?” he escalated with an old-school wrestler’s chop, coating his forearm in flecks of smutty dried blood. “And whose blood is this?”

Pineclay was well aware that his inquisition was only just getting warmed up, very much in its developmental stages. Nonetheless, in spite of such stimulating motivation, he was perturbed at the killer’s lack of reaction. The majority of murderers the detective had subjugated during his long career – from the crime of passion housewives to the harelipped boilers of children – would have either pissed their pants or tried to bite him by now. But this mild and diminutive Cane…if even a wrinkle of disconcertment had blemished his ordinary face then the detective had been too slow to catch it.

“Nothing, huh? Figures. I guess you’re not so brave when you’re unarmed. And to think…an hour ago you were found kneeling next to this.” Pineclay said, tossing the ream of crime-scene photographs across the table, the bloodiest and most heinous anyone in the department, including the coroner, had ever seen. “Ring any bells? How about this one? Him? Her? Any of these?” he added, slapping down photo after photo, each more gruesome than the last. “Same pattern every time, same signature – one cut. Head to bowels. Like a hog for the pit.”

Table strewn with images of violence, the detective moved to strike the killer again – but just as before, much to his frustration, the killer did not flinch beyond an initial twinge of inconsequential imbalance. Worse, in fact. Upon casting his eyes across the photographs, the colourless man seemed only to examine them with a religious wonder, as though baring witness to some obscured beauty nestled within the proliferated deluge of so much blood and entrails. To Pineclay’s growing sense of umbrage, it felt as though he were merely presenting this gentile old codger with nothing more unsavoury than the Polaroids of his newborn children, the residue plasma which accompanies a labour irrelevant and essentially invisible when set against the miraculous inception of a child. 

Having been indisposed for the birth of both his children, however, Pineclay could not confirm this assertion – he thus accelerated his interrogation, pacing ever-tightening circles around the killer.

“Yeah, you were a clever bastard, I’ll give you that. No connections between your victims, no trail of breadcrumbs left for me to follow. Guess I’m getting old and fat, huh? Not so willing to make the sacrifices as I used to be…otherwise I’d have brought you in myself.” he snarled regretfully.

“Yet still I’m left wondering,” the detective pondered with intentional theatricality. “Little sprout like you, arms like pea shoots. Some of those victims, your victims, were big lugs, twice your size – how’d you manage to slice them up so clean? Always figured you used a power saw, or some kind of spinning blade like they have down at the abattoir. Never pictured you wielding this hunk of junk.”

Slipping it flippantly from its evidence bag as though the last chip in the packet, Pineclay held the long-bladed knife under the lamplight, rotating it from side to side so its blade did glare into the killer’s eyes – not that he blinked.

“What is this thing, anyway? Some kind of letter opener you got in a cracker?” the detective teased, juggling the knife from palm to palm. It was heavier than it looked, its sixteen inches of silver blade and bronze handle weighing nearly as much as a brick. This being the first time he had actually seen the murder weapon, the detective now saw that the tip of the blade curved into a small hook no wider than an owl’s claw, while the intricate and ornate detailing around the handle was perhaps Grecian? Egyptian?

“Mesopotamian.” the killer announced with a disconcerting softness, a voice equally as genteel as the man himself. “And it is not a knife, detective, nor a letter opener.”


Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney

  1. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 1 by Scott Tierney
  2. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 2 by Scott Tierney
  3. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 3 by Scott Tierney
  4. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 4 by Scott Tierney
  5. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 5 by Scott Tierney
  6. Serial Saturday: The Dagger Part 6 by Scott Tierney

The Dagger: Part I

Detective Pineclay barged shoulder-first from the elevator and down the corridor toward the Homicide Department’s interrogation rooms. He was crimson with indignation. His bulldozer strides fuelled by equal measures caffeine and gall, the veteran detective could not believe his luck – or, to be more accurate, lack thereof.

Leaning beside the door of Interrogation Room Two with that desultory Southern indifference he was so renowned for, Captain Finlay greeted the sour-faced detective.

“Congratulations.” he yawned from his slovenly recline. “Figured I better call you, seeing as the lights were out in your office. Not like the department’s resident night-owl to be absent.” He yawned again, knowingly, peering all the while through the small rectangular window in the door. “What kept you? No, don’t tell me – your idea of a vacay is working a few extra hours down in the bomb squad?”

With an insubordinate grunt, Pineclay shoved the rotund captain to one side so as to peer through the wired glass – as though sticking his arm into a scorpion’s nest only to retrieve a cold, shed skin, the resulting sag of the detective’s already downcast features suggested that he wasn’t exactly elated with what he saw. Or rather, who.

“You should be happy, no?” Finlay assumed. “You’ve been on this guy’s ass for a helluva long time.”

“Too long.” the detective replied, snatching the file of arrest documents from under his captain’s arm. He scrutinized every page, his expression of disdain consistent. “Nine months on this case, nine damned months, and he gets himself caught the one night I take off early.

“What difference does that make?” the captain shrugged, turning his obesity back to the window. “Your guy got lazy, you got lucky – that’s how it goes.

“Still, kind of ironic, huh? All those hours you’ve spent cooped in your office, haunting this place like the spectre of some frontier sheriff gunned down at his desk, and when a break does come your way–”

“I was still working.” the detective corrected, nostrils flared with an indignant sniff. “I always take my work home with me.”

This the captain had noticed. All too clearly. “Another case?”

The detective gave something resembling a nod.

“Christ, Pineclay. The way you burn the midnight oil we’ll soon be shipping it in by the barrel!

“Although isn’t today the day…you know?”


“And you’ve still?–”


The captain rubbed the folds of his chin. “And your wife doesn’t–”

“Yeah.” the detective repeated, an unmistakable stone-faced stipulation that the matter was not to be furthered – unless gunshots were fired.

“Anyhow, however you slice it,” the captain plucked sharply at his braces, “your man’s been caught. Red handed. Blood red – right up to his wrists in it, if those money shots are anything to go by.” he nodded fleetingly to the crime scene photographs sticking out from the file, not wishing to see them again lest he regurgitate his last three meals. “There’s enough in that file alone to fix him with the penalty, never mind the evidence you’ve already gathered. And that knife they found him with, the one still wet in the bag, there. If that’s not a final nail in the coffin I don’t know what is.”

Wearily, Pineclay held the bag up to the corridor’s fluorescent tubes, casting the silhouette of a long-bladed knife across his wearied face. The detective remained staring up at the knife long enough for his captain to interject the disquiet with his typical bedside patter.

“Jesus, Pineclay. I’ve seen porcupines with less stubble. When was the last time you slept?”

The detective twisted the knife in the light. “The last time you skipped lunch. Captain.”

Finlay rolled back to the window. “Touché. You friendless bastard.”

A woman dressed in a sharp suit and a sharper scowl approached the two men, her bayonet heels clipping against the corridor’s tiles. “Here. Here’s everything I’ve been able to dig up on your killer.” she insisted, handing Pineclay a slither of biographical profile which the detective considered to be meagre. Pathetically meagre.

“No arrests. No misdemeanors. Nothing previous in all his seventy years…” He flipped back and forth through the half-dozen pages, all the while disconsolately shaking his head. “Not a lot to go on, Doc.”

“Cut her some slack, Pineclay.” Finlay scoffed. “Shrink’s been here half the night trawling that up, never mind handling all the other loonies under her guard. If she doesn’t work as hard as you then she works just as long! Speaking of which, Rushton.” the captain addressed the woman in a tone heavy on the rhetorical. “Did you ever get around to taking that honeymoon with your newly-wed?”

“Not as yet, Cap.”

“But you’re planning to, right?”

“Hawaii.” the psychiatrist replied with android formality. “Once I’ve cleared my backlog.”

The captain blew out a sigh. All this ambition exhausted him. “Married nearly a month and you’ve only been home to shower. Damn it, Rushton, you’re not even wearing your wedding ring.”

“I was worried it might get damaged, sir.” she stated, all the while swiping through the itinerary on her phone. “Besides, it interferes with my work.” With her free hand, the department’s sole psychiatrist reached into her shoulder bag and retrieved another file of documents, this one so thick it could chock an airliner. She passed this dog-eared wedge to Pineclay – as though a parcel being exchanged between conveyor belts, the detective accepted it without acknowledgement and began shuffling tonight’s newly acquired material into the ever-thickening chronicle, these late additions testing the strength of its already overtaxed binding. All the while, Rushton continued scrolling her phone, the blue light bleaching the colour from her face.

Casting a disparaging glance between his two most prolific – if misanthropic – subordinates, Captain Finlay exhaled heavily. “You two should have an affair. Go find a cheap hotel somewhere outside of town and get down to some illicit, ham-cold fornicating.”

An appointment to keep and seemingly oblivious to her captain’s remark, Rushton made her excuses and clipped away. Pineclay concluded his shuffling, and checked his watch.

“Has he been primed?”

The captain chuckled, stepping aside from the door. “He’s all yours, Pineclay. Go do what makes you happy. Hey, but before you go,” he added, catching the detective’s elbow. “When this case is through, how about you take that vacation you’re long overdue? Unwind, huh? Blow off some steam.”

“Yeah yeah.” the detective frowned, the idea sounding about as productive as trying to sell bath salts on the deck of the Titanic. “There’s problems with the Urbana case that Collins needs my help with, and the trio of bodies we dug up near the lakes, and there’s the case–”

“There’s always a case, Pineclay.” Captain Finlay growled, impressing the authority that his rank imbued. “For once, why don’t you try solving the problems you’ve got between the cases? Take that wife of yours to see the grand-kids. Visit your daughter. Christ, do regular things like regular folk – before you finally snap and I have to turn that damned shrink on you. Yeah?”

Alas, deaf to his superior’s advice, the detective had already slunk into the interrogation room and slammed the door behind him.