Mark A Davis
Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, burst into Frosthaven Police Department Headquarters and stormed up the stairs to the second floor. He flung open the door to the office of Police Chief Copernicus. A coffee cup -- with the legend World's Greatest Detective on the side -- was halfway to the chief's lips. Grandpa slammed his fist onto the desk, scattering paper and donuts.
"Chief Copernicus!" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed. "I protest!"
Behind Grandpa, the room just outside the chief's office became unnaturally quiet.
The police chief leaped to his feet. "Grandpa Anarchy!" he yelled. "Barging in here? What's the meaning of this?"
"You've nabbed the wrong man!" Grandpa Anarchy growled. "Nebuchadnezar Jones would never murder four women -- and I can prove it!"
"Ah," the chief replied, calming down. "Is that what this is about? Well, I'm afraid you're wrong, Grandpa. We caught patrolman Jones red-handed."
"There must be some mistake!" Grandpa insisted. "Nebby would never do it! He's one of the good guys -- one of us!"
His chair squeaked as Police Chief Copernicus sat down. He sipped his coffee. "Early this morning," he said, "the body of Janet Wojokowski, 25, was found at the corner of 12th and Sycamore. She'd been slashed with a knife as many as fifty times. This is, as you know, the fourth murder of this sort in four months -- the work of the man the press dubbed the Frosthaven Slasher. Only now we know it was one of our own -- police officer Nebuchadnezar Jones."
"Murder! Officer Nebby?" Grandpa replied. "Impossible!"
"Grandpa Anarchy, you do know what being caught red-handed means?" asked the police chief. "He was found standing over the corpse, covered in blood, and with a hunting knife in his hands. His hands were literally red."
"But...." Grandpa began.
"Grandpa," said the chief, "his DNA and fingerprints match those from the three previous murder scenes. Hair samples from his moustache were also found at the scene...."
"It's a setup!" Grandpa exclaimed.
"As well as the butt of a Saúl Noboa Limited Edition Cuban cigar -- a rare brand which officer Jones smokes exclusively. I'm sorry, Grandpa, but our case against Nebuchadnezar Jones is airtight. He is the Frosthaven Slasher."
"Hmmm." Grandpa Anarchy stroked his chin. "That does indeed sound like an airtight case." He grimaced, and added, "Which is why I refuse to believe it!"
A pained look crossed Police Chief Copernicus's face. "Mister Anarchy...." he began.
"It's too neat and clean!" Grandpa protested. "Obviously we were meant to find Nebby in the act of murder. It's a perfect frame job if I've ever seen one!"
Police Chief Copernicus stood. He strode around his desk and carefully shut the office door. Then he leaned in until his face was inches from that of Grandpa Anarchy.
"Grandpa Anarchy," he hissed. "Around here we adhere to a little something I like to call the rule of law. Perhaps you've heard of it? We do things by the book, understood? When the evidence overwhelmingly points the finger at a suspect -- even when that person is a close friend -- we arrest that person.
"Unless, of course, we can blame some loser we don't care about," the chief added. "In which case we arrest that person and pin all the blame on him. But in this instance that would appear to be impossible, so I'm going to have to ask that you step aside while we proceed with our case."
"Perhaps the murders were done by some sort of malevolent spirit," said Grandpa. "One that only appears when you say it's name. Or it came out of the mirror, or... you know, it could have been a spooky clown that hides in the sewer, or maybe a creepy doll...."
"Not this time," said Police Chief Copernicus.
"Or, you know, Nebby might have been possessed by an evil spirit," Grandpa said. "Happens all the time, you know. They make you punch your best friend, and they never let you forget about it...."
"No," said the chief.
"Nevertheless, I will not rest until I've found the real culprit!" Grandpa growled. "This I swear to you, Chief Copernicus!"
Police Chief Copernicus and Sargent Shakespeare stared into a crystal cabinet -- a piece of furniture of brass and wood that stood six feet tall, and which held at its center a glittering crystal column. Inside of this could be seen a ghostly gentleman in Victorian dress. He appeared to be angry, yelling and hurling insults and curses that could not be heard, but whose meaning was quite clear.
"So," said Chief Copernicus, "this is the actual spirit of Jack the Ripper?"
"Absolutely," Grandpa Anarchy replied. "I've tangled with him a half dozen times. I'd recognize him anywhere."
"And he's capable of possessing anyone, and causing them to commit murder?" asked the chief.
"He's famous for it!" Grandpa said.
Police Chief Copernicus smiled. "Amazing work, Grandpa!" he exclaimed. "I can't believe that you've cracked the case! We'll book him this afternoon!"
"Then officer Nebuchadnezar Jones is free?" Grandpa asked.
"I'll sign his release right now," replied the chief. "Again, good work! Now, I think the newspaper and television types want to see you outside...."
"Oh? Sure," Grandpa said. He shook the chief's hand, then stepped outside the office. The door closed behind him.
Sargent Shakespeare glanced to Chief Copernicus. "Then the Frosthaven Slasher was really the ghost of Jack the Ripper?" he asked.
"Well, just between you and me," said the chief, "all the evidence still points to Nebby. But as I told Grandpa, if we can blame some loser we don't care about, we'll do it. And what better fall guy than the most famous serial killer in history?"