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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wazzup Pilipinas Original Short Stories Series: The Innocent Bone


Wazzup Pilipinas!

“The unsolved Collins case, done on May 2009 at the Collins residence (Woodwork Forest) consists of the murder of Brad Collins and disappearance of two people, namely Cooper and Elaine Collins. For eight months, investigators still has not conquered more evidences regarding the crime. Cooper is considered the prime suspect due to his unexpected disappearance with his wife. Grace Collins, the only witness to the crime, had bruises and wounds all over her body when she was found in the streets. However this does not prove the innocence of the 15 year old girl. She stated that she escaped from the house because of Cooper’s attempts of maltreatment. This holds a strong verification against him and is now searched for months.”

Strange things make us curious. Challenges make it intriguing but what I know is that I can’t be lost in all of that. This odd case I’m handling is simply a matter of time and I need to search and be patient. I can’t be pressured, I can’t be intimidated. My team sees me as the head of their game; hence, I should play that role.

I proceed to the hospital to visit Grace. I entered the room 308, well-lighted with white walls. I saw her lying in the bed - pale and sleeping as usual.

“I can do this for hours” I thought “just stare and then watch her over”.

The only one left after the tragic event of her family. The only hope for my break, the one who holds the guidelines for resolution.

Suddenly, she wakes up and opens her eyes.


“De...tec...tive Claire” she said.

Everyday she’s getting worse. She showed symptoms of a rare disease but the doctor still has not figured it out. Last month, she always laughs for nothing and had trouble walking. This month, she can’t swallow any food, not even a grain. After that, she is somehow incapable of saying what she wants to be told.

“Yes, Grace? Do you want to eat your porridge or do you need something?” her eyes were heavy and I could say she’s tired. Tired of all of this.

“Ma’am..please..he-elp me..” she becomes pale as she talks.

“Help you with what?” I was worried now that she was really serious.

“The..the..b..b-box”

“What box?”

“I a-pologize..forr..being the b-burden.. after all the..se mo..nths. I’m..sor-“

“Grace! What’s the box? What’s inside the box!?” I can’t believe I yelled at her.

I was mad. Not at the fact that she hid something, but at the point that she’s giving up. She can’t. She just can’t.

“Ma’am…” she sighed “tha..thank..you” she stared at the ceiling and I found myself shouting and holding her tightly, shaking her with all my strength after I heard a beep sound from the cardiogram. Doctors rushed in and some of the nurses take me outside. I was crying as I saw them reviving her.

I have no connection with her but everything came back to my senior high. I always see her going home quickly. She was a grade three student back then, full of scars and bruises. I once followed her to her house and I wanted to be her friend.

“Grace!” I shouted. She was startled and I think was afraid of seeing me. I walked towards her; I was actually happy when she saw me. I was close. My smile faded when I saw his stepbrother. It was Brad. Brad stared at me like he was staring into my soul. I was looking at him and I noticed the dark circles under his eyes. He was holding a small pack of white powder. He keeps on rubbing his nose. Everybody knew what he was doing the in school: sell and buy. He’s the same age as me but always cuts classes. I stepped back and walked away. I was a coward. I managed to look back but Brad was gripping he hand tightly and pulling her into the house. He was smiling, she was miserable. I turned away and I told myself never to look back ever again.

I’ll be graduating and I will pursue criminology.

I fell asleep and someone was shaking me to wake up.

“Ma’am, the doctor has news.” It was Aaron Marquez, a friend of mine since I got my job. A charming and trustworthy guy. The only person I can always work with.

“What was it? And what’s with the shaking Aaron?”

“You’ve been asleep for hours Clai- I mean Ma’am.” He smirked. Then I remembered the real problem.

“Okay, okay. So how’s grace?”

“I think you should talk to him” he said pointing at the doctor behind him.

“Doctor, how’s Grace?” I asked worriedly.

“Well, the good thing is she is alive. But-“

“But what?”

“Ms. Claire, she’s unconscious right now. We did everything we can. I thought it was hopeless but she somehow came back. There was something she’s holding onto.”

“Will she make it?”

“Some of the patients can but I can’t assure you that. As for her disease, we were searching for the symptoms and there was an exact type of it. Still, there’s a possibility that it’s not it. Maybe soon, we may be able to find the disease and its cause. Now, if you would excuse me, I shall proceed to the ER.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

He walked away and I was shaking. Aaron was holding me and tears fall down from my eyes. I don’t know if I should be thankful or sad because I have no idea what the box is. The box! What’s so important about it? I was thinking of going inside. I glanced at the tube that supports her. I can’t go there. I don’t have the guts to see her actually dying.

I gathered my team the next day, seven people will be helping me to find the box; Grace’s box.

“Guys, as you all know, we have few evidences conquered for the Collins’ case. Evidence is in need of search. I need you all to find the boxes inside the Collins’ house. There’s something inside the right one.”

“What exactly is inside it?” one of them asked.

“Something the witness values.” I replied.

“Isn’t Grace Collins in a coma?” another one asked.

“Yes but-“somehow I can’t speak. I was reminded of the picture that she’s dying.

“That is a sensitive question, my friend.” Thankfully, Aaron answered. Good thing he was also with me. Everyone stopped raising their hands.

“Now let’s work people!” he said. He was smiling as if this was a game.

The problem is it wasn’t. Though it gave me hope at some point. The Collins’ house remained the same except that it was a place of crime. Big, wooden, creepy cabin-like house. Full of rocks in the front yard. Noon and my members found silly and weird boxes. One box contained rocks and another had worms and bird poos. This is no time for joke but I needed a bit of it. No success for day one, I guess we should move one.

Day two, I decided to order them to go to the rooms on the second floor. They were working together, working hard: I suddenly remembered why after all these months; we receive the clue from Grace? Why kept it to herself? I walked across the hallway wondering why. It’s already two in the afternoon; we came here every eight in the morning and still no evidence. Then unexpectedly..

“CRAAACK” I stepped on something. It sounded like eating a piece of crunchy biscuit. There must be something wrong under the carpet. I was about to walk away when my curiosity tells me to come back. I lift the dusty carpet.. and I saw a crushed, bloody finger bone. The flesh was obviously rotten but there were parts like someone sucked it, like someone devoured it. I carefully put it in a Ziploc wearing my hand glove, we found proof number one.

Everything was in order until Aaron finds another room. Namely, it was also Brad’s. Maybe his storage for his drugs I think. Foul smell comes from the inside although it was locked and force was still not enough. I saw someone from my team ran down the stairs and we heard her throw up outside. The door was metal and has a small window enough for us to see. It looked like a prison door except that it was blacks. I peeked through the hole and I saw a mattress, drawers, money, plastic packs of marijuana and few blood drops. I told Aaron to get the gear.

It took less than a minute before we gain access to the room. I can sense the odor becoming stronger when we walk into the room, good thing I have my face mask. We double checked the drawers but nothing worthy for the case. We already know that Brad is actually a drug user. The strange thing was Brad died because of poisoning, not over dosage. Cooper, Grace’s stepfather, has the fingerprints all over the bottle used and was accused of the murder. He was never seen after the crime as well as Elaine, Grace’s mother. The authorities concluded that Cooper ran away with Elaine because he was guilty of his offense. Grace justified this and she was considered the witness, I considered her the witness.

I realized I was staring at the blood drops when Aaron tapped me one the head.

“Distracted again?” he asked.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t overthink ma’am.”

Aaron traced the smell and paralyzed. It was from the mattress. At first I thought it was impossible until I saw it with my own eyes. He cut it in half and bones fell from inside. Apparently it was a man’s unconnected skeleton.

After two days of returning to the laboratory of forensics, the result of the remaining bones stunned me. It was Cooper Collins’. The one who physically, emotionally and psychologically abused Grace. The one whom I thought was the prime suspect. The one who took hostage of Elaine. Everything crashed down. There were so many questions that filled inside my mind. I was ignorant. I was a fool for believing. I don’t know if I should be mad or if I should cry.

“Ma’am, you’re not alright, aren’t you?” a voice asked me. It was Aaron’s. I stared at the floor and pretend that I didn’t notice him. He sat beside me and puts a hand on my shoulder.

“Claire, for three years working with you, I saw you succeed and I saw you fail. In an inquisitive life, we assume and sometimes we prevail…” I remembered the times we handled extreme cases. I remembered the efforts we put just to solve them.

“You are a great leader, our captain. I hope you won’t forget that. Don’t give up on finding the truth. It’s what we do, right?”

I couldn’t help myself but broke into tears. Last thing I remember is that I was leaning on Aaron and sobbing hard.

Determined, we went back to the Collins’ house. This shall be the last time of returning. The only place we’re not done with is the attic. Full of stuff and complicated objects encountered us. The untidy clothes, antique furniture and belongings were found. Only the ray of the sun served as our light from the windows.

After several hours, one of us discovered a whip. We all supposed it was Cooper’s and we were right. It was used to lash Grace when he was drunk.

I was looking at a photo of Grace and Elaine when I noticed something shiny from under the old cabinet. I was puzzled and tempted to get it. I thought of it as a trap but I shouldn’t be afraid. I kneeled and reached for it.

Something touched my hand.

It made my heart stop; I was sweating with cold sweat.

I took my hand out.

Thankfully, it was only a cockroach.

For the second try, I used a pole to get the shiny thing towards me. It was round, no, it was square and flat. I inspect in securely and there was something peculiar about this. It was the box Grace was talking about.

“Could it be?” one said

“This should be the answer. Open it.” Another one said.

“Okay, here it goes..” Aaron lifting the lid of the box.

What we saw was a small notebook and a human rib. However, unlike Cooper’s, it is white and clean, as if someone is still brushing it. The journal of the notebook was full of sentences.

“Something’s familiar about this…” I said. I tried to recall a piece of memory and I saw my former high school. I saw what Grace was holding when she goes home. It’s this journal. I recognized the handwriting when she wrote the statement regarding the case. It was hers even if there was an “Elaine” written on the first page.

“It’s Grace’s”

“How are you so sure?” Aaron asked with a smirk.

“Because I’m a great leader, your team captain.” I replied proudly.

Just seeing Aaron and my members smile gave me hope. It’s still not too late.

We are in the van on the way to the laboratory when I started reading it. I am intrigued and at the same time scared of what I may find out.

Grace’s Journal:

“I am innocent. I am innocent. I am innocent…” I skipped two pages because the same phrase is repeated. I wonder why.

“No one likes me. Nobody. I am but an innocent child. Even my old family hates me and my mother so we left. Why try to please others if you won’t be pleased yourself? My mother remarried and he was a nice guy. I loved having “Collins” in my name, and I had a big brother. New school and I hoped for new acquaintances, new life.

Everything changed when I’m alone in this house.

Everything I dreamed lost. My heart was overflowing with fear and anger. I discovered lies that were meant to be known…”

The van stopped.

“What happened?” I looked at my team then at Aaron.

“Tires went flat. Don’t worry it only takes several minutes to change it.” He answered.

“Okay.” I said with relief. “Can someone help him, please?”

A guy went out with him and takes out a spare tire from the back. Aaron said we should stay out of the car so that they can lift and fix it easily. I then continued reading.

After reading almost 15 pages, Aaron announced that is already fine to go inside the van. In these fifteen pages I’ve read, she tells hoe her real father and mother would argue over little things, how this father’s family despise her mother, how her classmates would bully her after her mother married Cooper. It was sad since the Collins family is not the first one to make Grace emotionally challenged as a child.

The time I read the next page, goose bumps appeared on my armed and I almost choked by the first sentence.

“A girl followed me and shouted my name. I don’t care actually but she seemed friendly. It was not sympathy I saw in her eyes. It was hope. I know I had to talk to her. I needed someone to listen to my pain in this hellhound. I wanted to leave the Collins house so badly. I was about to speak when Brad interrupted. Hope changed into fear again. The girl walked away when she saw him. I wanted to yell at her to come back. At least help me. Brad grabbed my hand and took me into the house. I never entered the school again. I never saw the girl again.”

She was talking about me. The day I told myself to never look back again.

Hours passed and we are finally at the crime laboratory. I ordered someone to examine the rib bone and I proceed to my office. I know I am unstable after what I just read. She needed me and I turned away. I wished I never left her. I tried to relax but I am tensed up. I can’t be like this.

“Breathe Claire, breathe.” I told myself. I managed to pull back the tears because I don’t want anyone to see me crying.

A knock startled me when I was about to start. I thought it was Aaron but it was a middle-aged worker. She brought coffee and it was the only thing that can make me calm.

“Thank you.” I said gratefully.

“No problem. Aaron told me to deliver you some of your favorites anyway.” She smiled.

“Oh.”

“Well, continue what you’re doing. Sorry to bother you.”

“It’s okay. Thanks again.”

She went out and gains an inspiration to keep working and solving.

Grace’s Journal:

“Brad always takes me to this secret room with a hard door. I can tell it was sound proof because I call for help and no one would hear me. He will do this habit of touching my thighs and...”

I can’t believe this happened to her. If I can just go back, if only I did something. She wrote an indication of molest, that’s why she needed me. However, that was not the only factor to hurt her more.

“The stupid head of our family, Cooper, was just like my dad but only worse. I regret staying here. He would always come home drunk. I guess true colors will show in a matter of time. And you know what? He would spend my mother’s income for alcohols and drugs. Maybe brad got Cooper’s genes after all. One time, he punched me in my belly without any reason. I cried every night praying for answers and blessings, for protection and safety. I also woke up one day and saw bruise on my mother’s face, same thing as for my scars. I exactly know where it came from without any questions.

I am so proud of my mother even if she didn’t succeed. After seven years, I was sixteen and she stood up against Copper when she found out what Brad does to me.

Weeks before, we made a plan to escape at midnight. Unfortunately, Cooper was outside because he knew the plan. My mother fought bravely thought I know that Cooper was stronger. He held my mother’s hair, pulled her and banged her head against the tiled sink. I attempted to run but Brad was embracing me tightly. I can’t lose from his grip. I closed my eyes but he was holding my face to let me catch my mother. I saw how my mother was totally murdered. I was shouting to stop it, I was crying heavily.”

Shock and chills ran down my spine while reading that page. It is very disturbing especially if you watched someone died. With all my strength left, I continued.

“Now, Cooper realized what he had done. It was so strange but he was holding my mother in his hands. At a short period, I was insane, driven mad. He walked towards me and told me to eat my mother’s body and he shall spare my life. He was using me to hide evidence and at some point, I obeyed. I don’t know why. I cooked my mother’s body parts and ate all of it. The next day, the bones were gone. Maybe Cooper buried it in the cemetery. The last one left on the floor was a rib bone which made me come back to my consciousness.

My mother was gone. I’m all alone now. I don’t deserve this. I should be innocent.

Revenge is the only solution I could think of.

The next week I cooked for Brad and Cooper. They were weak. They only ate a spoonful of the soup and they became paralyzed. Brad was dead within a few minutes. Maybe it’s the power of his marijuana and my insecticide power that killed him. As for Cooper, he really was strong. He asked me why and I told him why not ask himself. I loved my mother and all they did was rip me apart.

Actually, I learned something from him: how to hide evidence.

I chopped him and cooked him as a stew. I ate the steamed brad first then sipped the soup. I hid the bones and I am planning to run away. At least get to leave this house. I get to leave my past. I was innocent, was.”

I was breathing heavily as I walked out of my office. I stumbled upon the floor and I don’t know what happened next.

“Claire?” Aaron was holding me and trying to wake me up. I saw a light from above and figured out I was still in the lab.

“Claire, thank God, we were worried about you.”

“I know now what happened, I know, I know.” I said tremblingly.

“Yes, I have read that part after you fainted.”

“We need to go,” I said “to the hospital.”

“By the way ma’am, a doctor called and said Ms. Collins’s disease was diagnosed. He said it was Kuru Disease.” One of the crew said. Finally, it was identified.

I regained my strength. The case made me the fool. I was the joke.

“Search for the Kuru Disease on the web. I want to know that it is exactly.”

It took a few seconds before the results showed:

“Kuru Disease is also known as the laughing disease and is caused by eating an infected brain. It was first diagnosed in Papua New Guinea tribes due to eating the brains of dead relatives during funeral rites. The signs and symptoms were trouble walking, increasingly poor coordination, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, moodiness, muscle twitching and tremors, pain in the legs and arms and random laughing or crying. People infected with Kuru Disease die in a comatose state with six to twelve months after experiencing initial symptoms.”

The last sentence. Grace is in a coma right now. We need to get there fast.

“Guys, we need to go immediately,” I commanded “We should keep moving, let’s go into the van!” this time, I should be strong. The case is almost solved. We need to finish this. I went back to my office to get the box, including the rib and the journal. I rushed and I was praying while Aaron was driving.

Noon and we saw the white interior of the hospital. We ran into the elevator but Aaron and I were the only ones to enter before it was overloading.

“Ma’am we’ll take the stairs. We will meet you there.” A member said.

I smiled and the doors shut. I pressed 3F and we went up. As soon as we reached it, we ran. Aaron was behind me and following me. The doctors were reviving her.

Just when she gave her last breath, she gave a smile, a remorseful one. Then she closed her eyes and a teardrop fell from her right eye.

I was allowed to enter the room. I saw here pale face. I thought of the advantage, she will finally rest from all the pain. I was still holding the box and I took out the rib bone. I was staring at it and Aaron was beside me. I placed the rib in her hand and the hospital workers took her out.

“She kept it, it was her mother’s innocent bone, the only thing left from Elaine.” I said.

“Grace believed in hope. I regret the opportunities I did not take but does that mean there won’t be anymore.

Of course everyone has flaws and I still believe Grace was innocent because she did a tragedy out of pain and fear.”


Contributed by Corrine Joyce Reloj

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6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. The story was nice. It is a mystery and tragic story. I like the plot twist and the revelations when the protagonist found the journal. The story shows that in every problem, you must have hope and don't give up in finding solutions. It also shows that all secrets will be revealed in time. Good job for the author. :)

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  3. Congratulations to the author for creating a wonderful story! It was nice, I liked the theme. It wasn't boring nor predictable so I enjoyed reading! :)

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  4. The story was creepy and disturbing (in a good way). The author wrote the story brilliantly, the choice of words and the concept of the story was amazing. It wasn't boring and it was really intriguing. It was a great story indeed! :)

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  5. Joey Joline Nailes

    Awesome! Honestly, I am not really a fan of mystery/suspense stories but this one is an exception. I find this story very interesting. It gave me chills while reading this.  There's no part in the story where I got bored. Keep up the great work! I wish that I could read more of your works.

    Thank you for sharing. :)

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  6. One of the things I am commending in the story is the way she wrote it. I'm not a fan of mysterious stories, but this one was very detailed. Aside from the mystery, the story contained the tragedy of Grace's story.
    While reading this, I feel proud at Claire for staying strong, although she knew Grace had something in her dark past. She was determined to solve the case even though she was a fool, according to her perspective.
    This story was a great read, hoping for others to notice this story as well! :)

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