Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry.
Detective Bryce Nance left the crime scene after working it for two hours.
On his way back to the office he thought about retiring…again. He’d been threatening to retire for months. He was tired of waging war with death dealers. His brain was scorched with images of dead eyes, and mangled bodies.
Thirty years on the force now. Was he ready to leave? He wasn’t sure he wanted to retire. What would he do? He’d been a cop all of his entire adult life. He’d drive his wife of thirty years nuts, if all he had to do was piddle around the house!
As he filled out his report later he thought about the victim, a short oriental man who had both hands and feet cut off. The coroner said he bled to death from his massive wounds. No other wounds were found on the body.
It was the second body this week with the same wounds. Talk of a serial killer made its rounds in local newspapers and news television. When the second murder was announced the hashtag #HandAndFootPsycho popped up on social media platforms.
The chief-of-police, Dwayne Fitsimmons, got a call from the mayor who hated all the coverage the case was getting. Fitsimmons, in turn, called a meeting with his detectives and rank and file cops.
When he was done berating his men he let them go to work. Detective Bryce walked up to him afterward and asked for a minute of his time. When they got to his office and he told him that he was considering retiring, the chief rolled his eyes skyward and pounded his fist on the desk!
“You’ve got to be kidding me Bryce! You’re the best detective we have! You’re good for at least five more years. Is it a raise? I’ll give you a raise!”
“No…it’s not about the money chief. I’m tired of seeing dead eyes in my dreams.”
“Awww…Bryce me lad…”
“Don’t give me that phony Irish accent, I’m serious.”
“Is that the way it is? Then you might want to check with your union steward, but you still have two years to go before voluntary retirement is possible. It’d be a terrible thing to lose after all these years of service because…”
“I’m outa here!”
Chief Fitsimmons lit up a cigar as Detective Bryce stormed out the door. He took a couple of puffs and shook his head. He had enough things to worry about.
Two days later.
Detective Bryce came up with a working theory.
Both victims were found in city streets. Not inside somewhere. Whoever committed the crimes must have acted swiftly because there were no witnesses. Both murders happened at night on what were busy roads during the day.
He thought about the fastest way the killer could escape the murder scene. After studying his notes, he found that there was a sewer opening just feet away at both of the murder scenes.
He theorized that the killer must have used the sewer to get away. The next step was to check out the sewer system, but he wasn’t going to do that alone. People got lost in New York’s historic underground tunnels.
He needed his partner and a guide.
Back at the station house he spotted Detective Jimmy Jones, who was recently put on the case with him.
“Jimmy! I need to find someone who knows the tunnels and would be willing to serve as a guide for us.”
“Yeah, I have a theory how the murderer is getting around. I need your help partner.”
“Okay. I do happen to know someone who’ll fit the bill. He’ll do anything for money. He lives on the streets. I’ll get the word out right now.”
Detective Bryce watched him go. He was ten years younger than himself. Still vigorous and ambitious. He was a good man.
The next day.
Detective Jimmy pried open the steel cover and with the help of Louie (their guide) slid it aside. It was after 11:00 o’clock and the side street they picked was quiet. Louie went down first, followed by the two detectives.
They all had flashlights and were waving them around in different directions. The detectives switched their shoes out for boots. Louie wore his usual black high top sneakers.
Detective Bryce pulled a map from his inside jacket pocket. The three of them had already looked it over before going down. Without a word, he picked a direction and Louie led the way.
They went to the sewer opening nearest the last victim. The detectives bent over and studied the ground. Detective Jimmy found the first droplets of blood. Their were dried out, but recognizable on the narrow walkway alongside the sewer floor. More followed. Then abruptly stopped.
Whatever had been dripping must have been covered up, because they lost the trail. They decided to call it a night after taking photos and making notes of where the blood spots were. A forensic team would examine it in the morning.
Four days later.
Detective Bryce was sitting at his desk when the forensic report came back. The blood they saw was the same as the victim’s. There was no doubt about it now. There was a monster loose in the sewer system.
As he considered the report his phone rang. Another victim!
When Detective Bryce got to the scene police had it roped off. The victim was a woman. She was missing her hands and feet. The pools of blood were still sticky and flies were already buzzing around the body.
He looked over a few feet and saw a sewer grate. He was back.
The media had a holiday with the sensational murders. They’d attracted national attention since the second murder. The third poured fuel upon the fires of speculation on who would do such a thing?
The next day, Louie and the detectives went down the grate near the last murder. A very nervous Louie demanded twice his usual fees, and stuck to them like glue. As they came to an intersection of tunnels something flew out of the shadows and scooped a screaming Louie up like a baby and ran off with him!
Both detectives pulled their service revolvers and gave chase. Whatever grabbed Louie must have been incredibly strong! They could hear his cries of terror ahead of them. Then they stopped.
When they finally got to Louie he was missing his hands and feet! His eyes were still open in shock. Detective Bryce stopped and kneeled alongside of him. He was still faintly breathing!
His partner had kept the chase up. There was nothing he could do for Louie, but he could help his partner. Holding the flashlight in front of him he trotted as fast as he could through the foot deep muck. There were two openings ahead. He stopped in between them and listened.
He heard a noise at the same time he was hit from behind, sending him sprawling in the muck. He looked up at the giant pale figure eerily illuminated by his flashlight on the ground. He was bald and had dead white eyes!
The albino horror pulled a hatchet from his rope belt and slowly approached him. Detective Bryce fumbled for his shoulder holster and gun. The thing bent over and brought the hatchet down, lopping his left foot off!
He could hear himself screaming in agony when the shots went off! Detective Jimmy was in a firing stance squeezing off careful shots! Then he fainted.
The giant staggered backward, but managed to stay upright. Detective Jimmy reached down into his partner’s coat and grabbed his pistol.
The thing was howling in pain and anger. Detective Jimmy fired again. This time the giant went down and stayed there.
Detective Bryce opened his eyes and looked down at his feet. One was missing, but he was alive. He was in a hospital and his wife was at his side. She leaned over and kissed him when she saw he was awake.
“Jimmy?” he asked.
“He’s outside. I’ll get him for you,” she said.
A minute later Detective Jimmy came in with Chief Fitsimmons.
“How are you doing partner?” Jimmy asked.
“Great. I didn’t need that foot anyway. So what was that thing that attacked us?”
An awkward silence.
“It’s body wasn’t there when we sent a team back down to get it,” the chief said. “Try to look at the bright side. You can retire now!”
Detective Bryce looked over at his partner and asked, “So who do you think took the body?”
As It Stands, add this tale to the many others about New York’s famous underground.