Broken Pieces

Time Killer by Todd M. Thiede

“I hate hospitals,” Jesse whispers as they ride the elevator up to Stephen’s room. “They remind me of the perils of our job. I remember visiting my dad once after he was attacked with a knife. We spent a lot of time visiting my grandma, too, before she passed away. Not good memories here.”

Stephen Bjornson slowly opens his eyes. The room is very bright, not just from the lights, but because everything is so white. His head is spinning and he can’t seem to focus well on any particular object. He remembers sirens and flashing lights and being carried from his house. Then, the terror returns. He stifles a mental scream. Still it creeps up on him as he recalls. He closes his eyes and starts to cry as he realizes that he may be in heaven. Everything is so bright, clean looking, and quiet.

Then, the sound of beeps from machines and voices from the next room permeate his consciousness and confirm that he is still earth-bound. As he tries to raise his arms to wipe away tears, he feels the tape pull on his arm of an I.V. He can vaguely make out thick bandages and senses the wetness of blood seeping through on his right hand. He feels bandages on his lips. He closes his eyes as the room starts to spin, but then he pictures the masked man kneeling over his beautiful wife and the pen in his hand. He bolts straight up, screaming her name. The medical staff burst into the room to stabilize him. It takes two big orderlies to hold him down and strap him down.

The detectives walk into Mr. Bjornson’s room just as he is calming down. In a very direct voice, Detective Larkin says, “Mr. Bjornson, I’m Detective Larkin and this is Detective Fairlane. I know this is going to be very difficult, but we need to ask you some questions so we can find this guy. He needs to be stopped before he can do this to another family.”

Bjornson interrupts the detective before he can go any further. “Where are my kids? Are they okay?” he asks in a slightly slurred voice. He appears panicked and he can’t form the words well. Max realizes a small window of opportunity to question him.

As gently as he can he explains the fate of the Bjornson children and, as expected, he breaks down. Stephen is distraught, shuffling in his bed. His head is tossing back and forth as he fights his restraints. The detective asks him another question, hoping he will answer. “Mr. Bjornson, I know you’re in pain. We want to help you and are truly sorry for your loss. We also need to catch this guy before he kills again. Please help us!” Max says as he reaches down and touches Stephen’s arm.

He is bitter. “What do I care? He took everything from me. I have nothing to live for!” Bjornson wails.

“If you truly feel that way, Mr. Bjornson, then you’re wasting my time,” retorts Detective Larkin. Slowly Bjornson lifts his head up, his whole body goes rigid, and he blanches visibly. He gasps for air as if he is having a hard time breathing.

“I’ve heard that before,” Stephen says his eyes wild. “The man in the suit said it to me many times. Not to mention that he kept mumbling those exact words over and over to himself. ‘Quit wasting my time; you’re wasting my time; time is money,’ over and over again. I’ll hear those words in my head the rest of my life!” Bjornson then drops his head, looking down at his bandaged hand. “He kept telling me that I wasted his time a month ago and it cost him $633. He actually had me pay him $633, but that is not the weirdest thing. He collected $650 between my wallet and my wife’s purse, but he left $17 as change on my dresser. If he was robbing me, why wouldn’t he take all of our money? Why didn’t he take any of our stuff? He even left my wife’s jewelry.”

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Genre – Mystery / Thriller

Rating – PG

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