Reluctant Virgin Passage

A passage from “The Reluctant Virgin”:

Familiar with the contours of the landscape, the stalker walked briskly on an alternate trail to a position on the path ahead of her and waited, hidden among the pitch-black foliage, knowing that the woman would shortly pass by. Her eyes misted with tears, the woman was stunned when a sinister shadow became human and sprung to life from the gloom surrounding her. She froze in her tracks as she stared at the apparition. The terrifying shape possessed eyes that glowed with hate. She recognized the eyes, which increased her shock. She was unable to react as fear paralyzed her. With only a moment’s hesitation, the stalker smashed a fist-sized rock against the young woman’s head. She collapsed. As she lay unconscious, the murder weapon was thrown into the river. Next, the stalker lifted the helpless victim, carried her away from the path beside the river, and dumped her into the thick undergrowth. In the darkness amid the secluded bushes, the stalker sexually violated her, and when finished, executed a strange course of action. An observer might have mistaken it for a ritual. The stalker’s face displayed no emotion while patiently waiting for the victim’s breathing to cease. When certain she was dead, the murderer slipped away into the impenetrable darkness, thinking no more of the corpse in the valley than if it had been a sack of garbage.

Later, after the body has been discovered, Samuel Mann, the coroner, tells detective Thompson and his partner Jim Peersen:

The coroner asserted testily, “This is a preliminary report. Nothing is gospel until after the autopsy.”

“Tell us as much as possible,” Thomson urged, feigning politeness. He was well aware that Mann never voiced an opinion in ten words if were able to employ fifty.

“I don’t think the victim was attacked where they discovered her body, but she died here. There’s almost no blood. Strange! Have you found another site?”

“Leave that to us Sam. Get on with it,” Thomson insisted impatiently.

Mann continued, his irritation with Thomson clearly evident. “The severe lacerations on the right side, at the front of the woman’s skull, indicate that the killer struck her with a blunt instrument, likely a rock, as the gashes are jagged. It was a severe blow, struck very forcibly. It suggests extreme anger, perhaps rage. Have you found the murder weapon?”

“For God’s sake Mann, keep going,” Thomson replied, his annoyance increasing.

“The cause of death was likely severe head trauma, but not necessarily, as the whites of the eyes reveal significant reddening, which may suggest asphyxia. The autopsy will determine the exact cause of death. There are no signs of a struggle, no defensive wounds, and no marks on the body to indicate that the killer tied her up. I found no extraneous material under her fingernails. At the morgue, I’ll scrape under her fingernails and examine the contents microscopically. I believe that she either knew her attacker or it happened too fast for her to defend herself.”

“Was she raped?”

“There are severe lacerations around the vagina. The sex act was extremely violent. The sex most likely occurred after she was unconscious. Considering the injuries that are evident, for her sake, I certainly hope so.”

Samuel continued. “It’s difficult to determine the exact time of death as the heat and lack of movement of air in the underbrush have accelerated the decomposition. The rain also destroyed evidence. That’s all I can tell you until I, and the chief coroner, perform the autopsy.”

Thomson and Peersen ignored Mann’s egocentric use of the language and gazed silently at Samuel Mann as he strutted from the scene, adjusting his colourful bowtie as he departed.

Recovering, Peersen said. “Great! It’ll be a damn difficult case to solve—a body found in an isolated location and no witnesses.”