Your suggestion that I keep a dream journal seems prudent, especially if I’ve experienced a genuine Wanageeska manifestation. I will record any significant dreams from this point forward. Fortunately, last night’s sleep was, as they say, deep and dreamless. I slept like the dead, and have awakened early, refreshed and up to the task of making my initial case notes.
I’ve been called in to Pannawau to assist local law enforcement in the investigation of the murder of one Christopher Phillips (age 21), and the disappearance of his fiance, Alexandra Melmoth (age 20). Phillips picked Melmoth up at her family’s house one week ago today, and they never returned. A search was undertaken 24 hours later, which lasted three days and turned up two things:
One, Phillips’ car, submerged in nearby Lake Mammedaty.
And two, Phillips himself, dead of multiple stab wounds and left exposed to the elements on the side of Mount Pannawau.
Of Melmoth, no trace was found. At least, not until the autopsy.
I refer you to the relevant portion of the coroner’s transcript. Present were Pannawau county coroner Phil Phillips, Sheriff Theodore Patton, and Captain John Cheveyo of the Alo Reservation Police.
Patton: So whattaya think, Phil?
Phillips: Yeah, there’s something in his mouth, alright. Probably have to break his jaw to get at it, though. Might be easier if we give him a few hours out of the cold, wait for the rigor to pass.
Patton: I think we better go ahead. John, you agree?
Cheveyo: Not my jurisdiction. But, yes. We should go ahead.
Patton: Phil, I’ll talk to Kate, if you want…
Phillips: No, it’s okay. She’s my sister. I’ll talk to her. Don’t know if she’ll forgive me, but… I’ll talk to her.
Alright. This might get a little ugly, gentlemen, so hang on.
<rattle of tools>
As agreed upon by myself and the High Sheriff of Pannawau County, I will now proceed to break the patient’s jaw in order to extract… whatever it is some sick bastard’s shoved into his mouth.
<sharp metallic rapping and the crack of bone>
That should just… about… do it…
<crunching sound, then a pause>
My god, is that…? Teddy, hand me those forceps, will ya?
<rattle of tools>
Patton: What do we have, Phil? Is it– Well, I’ll be damned.
Phillips: Note that I have extracted from the patient’s mouth the finger… possibly the ring finger… of a young woman, I’d say… severed cleanly at the base.
Fingerprint evidence established the digit as Ms. Melmoth’s, and this is the element that caused them to call us. The finger, coupled with the pattern of the stab wounds in Phillips’ torso, lead them to suspect ritual murder of some sort.
And of course, as you know all too well, sir, the Melmoths are a family with whom the Agency has had dealings before. Alexandra’s grandfather Oscar, known locally as “The Old Man,” was responsible for the Yig Incident in 1972, and before that had developed quite a reputation in the more esoteric black market economies of the world. He’s still alive, you might like to know. Stark raving mad since ’72, of course, and completely harmless according to the best authorities on the matter. Still, considering the nature of the case, it’s an element I’ll be keeping an eye on.
At any rate. The coroner further speculates that the finger was severed by means of a cigar cutter or similar device, perhaps one custom-made for this specific purpose. We already have people looking into that possibility, but it may be a few days before any useful information comes of it.
And that’s all I have for now. I’m due to meet Sheriff Patton and Captain Cheveyo in two hours to discuss the case, take a look at the Phillips boy’s car, and canvas the location where they found the body. The Sheriff has expressed some impatience with my desire to revisit a week-old crime scene, especially one that’s been exposed to the elements for all that time. Once he gains more familiarity with our methods, I’m sure he’ll come around.
But first, that continental breakfast!
Agent X-23, signing off.