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Angola LaGrange and the Brain Teaser Part 12

The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. After a week with no conflicting leads, the FBI officially closed the case on the Brain Teaser investigation, blaming Virginia Dean, who left a suspicious suicide note claiming she

The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. After a week with no conflicting leads, the FBI officially closed the case on the Brain Teaser investigation, blaming Virginia Dean, who left a suspicious suicide note claiming she was the serial killer and the fourth victim, her boyfriend Richmond Jones was her accomplice. But something still didn’t fit for me. I tried to convince the lead investigator, but he refused to listen. On my way back to my car, I got a mysterious phone call, and before I could figure out who it was, I was jumped and knocked unconscious.

Read the full details HERE and the unfolding case below.

Pain was the first thing to break into the clouded confines of my mind. My muscles ached and my head throbbed. I tried to rub my temples, but my arms wouldn’t budge. Red-Orange light filled the inside of my eyelids.

What happened?

I forced one eye open, only to be met with a searing bright light.

“Good, you’re awake.” The voice was distorted, like they were speaking through a mask, but there was still something vaguely familiar about it.

“Where am I?” I tried again to lift my arms, with no success.

“I suppose you could call it my backup plan.” The voice moved to the other side of me. “Don’t worry; the disorientation will fade soon enough.”

My attempt at wiggling my fingers met with success. So the restraints on my arms are probably physical, not chemical, good. “I take it then, that I’m now speaking with the real Brain Teaser?”

The voice let out a snort of laughter. “Brain Teaser? A juvenile name created by infantile minds. Reporters more interested in scaring the public with a new bogeyman than looking for the truth of their stories or stopping to examine the world for themselves.”

My mind was beginning to clear. “Well, I suppose you’d prefer I call you by your real name, Doctor Hudson.”

The light moved away from my face. I opened my eyes to see the doctor standing over me in full surgical attire.

She removed her mask and said, “I suppose you are cleverer than I originally gave you credit for. But don’t flatter yourself; Ashley Hudson is hardly my real name.”

I stole a quick glance around the room. It was laid out like an operating theater, very similar to the one the FBI had found in the building Virginia had jumped from. Only this one was set up for one person to use.

My arms and legs were held down by thick leather restraints with cloth pads between them and my clothes. No way to break those. If I’m lucky… I tugged hard from my shoulder, trying to pull my arm through the leather cuff. No luck on the arm, but the cloth pad shifted ever so slightly out from under the restraint. I guess it’s a good thing my arms are smaller than the average man’s. I just needed to keep Doctor Hudson distracted so she didn’t see me trying to escape.

Or cut my brain out.

“So, Doctor, isn’t this the part where you explain to me why you’ve been removing the brains of random citizens?”

“What could possibly inspire me to waste time explaining things I already know to someone who will very shortly be dead?”

“The egotistical need to demonstrate how your way of thinking is superior to mine?” I tugged against the restraint again.

“Please, if I had to resort to such petty displays to be certain of my superiority I never would have gotten this far.”

Ouch, too narcissistic for an appeal to ego. “Then how about a trade? You tell me what I want to know, and I’ll tell you how I figured out your identity.”

She hesitated.

“Listen, looking around it seems clear to me that you don’t intend to stop. If I figured it out, that means that somewhere you made a mistake. If that happens again someone else might figure it out, too. And they might do so before you’re stalking them in a parking garage. You’re going to kill me anyway, what do you have to lose?”

“Hmm, I suppose you have a point. But don’t expect me to stop working.” She grabbed an electric razor off a nearby tray and began systematically sheering off my hair.

I tried to cover my escape attempts with winces as the clippers touched my head.

“This is actually the primary reason we focused on male subjects over female. Bald men are far less conspicuous than bald women.”

“We? You and Virginia, or you and Richmond?”

She laughed. “All of the above, but I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. You were most interested in the ‘why’ of my experiments. In a word, research. Despite all our advances in technology and experimental procedure, there is still so much about the human brain that defies our understanding.”

I inched the cloth a bit farther out from under the restraints.

“And all because proper experiments are deemed ‘unethical.’ Even animal testing is getting harder and harder to do, and there is far too much dissimilarity between a human brain and a rat brain to conduct truly useful research. There’s truly nothing in the world to compare with the feeling of holding the brain of another human being in your hands.” She walked back around so I could see her. “Society may call me a murderer, but the things I’ve been able to learn about the human brain have saved countless lives.”

“I think the term you’re looking for is ‘serial killer.’”

She dismissed my comment with a wave. “You wouldn’t understand, you’re just another societal drone, blindly following.”

“Not like Virginia, or Richmond?”

“Indeed. I found Richmond first. He was a surgical resident at my hospital, and it quickly became apparent to me that he could see beyond the blind rules of society. I took him on as an apprentice, and at first things went more smoothly than ever. But over time Richmond’s work became, sloppy. He was careless in his disposal of the used subjects, which ultimately led to one being discovered.”

“So, he became a liability.”

“That’s when I discovered Virginia. She was everything Richmond had seemed to be when I first noticed him, but more levelheaded. My initial hope was that bringing in a second assistant would encourage Richmond to shape up.”

“And their relationship?” I tugged against the restraints again.

“A ruse. Virginia’s idea, actually. It gave them even more excuses to spend time ‘alone together.’ Time that was actually spent on my research. But even so, Richmond’s carelessness continued to endanger our operation, and he knew far too many details to simply fire.”

“That’s when you killed him.”

“A mistake, as I soon learned. Not killing him, that was an inevitable result of his shoddy work, but it was only after his death that the media began to acknowledge the ‘Brain Teaser’ killings. If I had known, I would have set Richmond up as the subject of the investigation.”

“Instead of Virginia.”

“Yes, Virginia’s ‘suicide’ was an unfortunate result of the media attention. I knew neither of my assistants had been as careful about not leaving evidence as I had, it was only a matter of time before something led back to our operating theater.” She returned to shaving my head. “In fact, I was already planning her suicide note when you came to visit me. That forced me to accelerate my plans, still the whole thing went off perfectly, if I do say so myself.”

“But if you were so confident your plan had worked, why did you kidnap me today?”

“Ah, yes. With the news that the FBI had officially closed the case, I thought it best to go down to the police station, posing as a relative of Virginia’s to pick up her things—just in case some loose piece of evidence pointed back to me. While I was arguing with a particularly stubborn clerk, I overheard you speaking with that ghastly reporter about the case not being solved.”

Me and my big mouth.

“I’d already looked into you, after your untimely visit to my lecture, so I planned to call and set up a meeting, just to discover what you might have known about the case. But when, on my second attempt, I saw you walking distractedly through the parking garage, I decided to take the opportunity and simply eliminate you from the equation. A messier solution than I would have liked, but I simply can’t afford to leave any loose ends when I move on to the next city.”

“And here we are.”

“Indeed. Now, I believe I’ve held up my end of our little bargain, so tell me, what clues did I leave that led you to my identity?”

“Well, first, when you set the stage of Virginia’s suicide, you left the operating theater in the same configuration that you had last used it, with tools arranged for both you and Virginia. But based on the note, the most recent murder would have been Richmond’s, meaning that there shouldn’t have been a second person in the room.” I glanced around. “A set up more like this.”

“Hmm, I see, a bit careless on my part, but still, hardly evidence that would implicate me.”

“True enough. I poured over what little evidence you left for a week trying unsuccessfully to make it point to anyone definitively. Until you called me.”

“How so? You couldn’t have known it was my number.”

“Exactly. When we first met, you received a call from Virginia, one where you very cleverly warned her that she was speaking to a detective so she wouldn’t give anything away, but it was you who unknowingly told me the answer. You knew it was Virginia from the caller ID.”

Doctor Hudson set the electric razor back on a tray and faced me. “And why should it be unusual for me to recognize a resident’s phone number?”

“It shouldn’t have been. Which is why I didn’t realize until I didn’t recognize your number. But what you couldn’t have known is that we found you because of a picture on Virginia’s phone. The phone she left in her trashed apartment. For you to have recognized the number, you must have either arranged for her to have a separate phone just for you—unlikely given your picture on her cell—or she was calling from a place you knew. Perhaps the landline of the apartment you used as your killing ground?”

“Impressive.” She forced a gag from the tray into my mouth. “Still, even this revelation came too late.” She grabbed a scalpel and circled back behind me. “I’m afraid this next part is going to hurt.”

To Be Continued…

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