3 minutes ago:
“Did you make contact with the principal’s office yet?” Armstrong asked.
“Oh no,” interrupted Mitchell as they climbed out of the car. “Kids are already out.”
“Classes had just finished when they finally picked up,” the reply came back over the radio. “Students were already loose in the halls. Too late to try detain the boy.”
“Shit. Could they give you a description or a more up-to-date picture of what the kid looks like now?” asked Madden.
“There was no need.”
1 hour twenty-five minutes ago:
“Ever seen anything like this before?” Detective Armstrong said.
“Only when I worked in San Fran,” the chief firefighter replied. “Saw houses that looked like this after the big quake in ’89. Broken apart like they were Lego.”
“Minnesota is not exactly notorious for its seismic activity,” said Armstrong.
“Mystery solved, partner,” said Mitchell, jogging up to the two men. “Caterpillar parked up in the trees around back. Still got roof tiles, glass and chunks of brick in the bucket. Looks like someone took it to the house like they were cutting up a birthday cake.”
“Anyone inside the building?” Armstrong asked the firefighter, nodding at what was left of the once palatial home.
“No, no one in. But if you’re going to investigate, I’d be careful. Can’t tell how sound, structurally, the place is.”
“We’ll bring our umbrellas, just in case.”
1 hour 16 minutes ago:
“Jesus Christ,” Mitchell said, as the strip lighting in the garage sparked into life. “I’ve seen some vandalism in my time, but this is some next level.”
“Sacrilege is what this is,” said Armstrong. “The furniture, the TV, the clothes: all that stuff can be replaced, but this is a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302. Super rare. And this one was mint, until some asshole drove an angle grinder down the middle.”
“It’s the same M.O. throughout. Everything cut, or attempted to be cut in two.”
“Let’s find out who the homeowners are, and where they are,” said Armstrong. “Poor fuckers are going to come home to a nasty surprise.”
Mitchell let out a long whistle. “They’ve really cheesed someone off, whoever they are. This is some cold-blooded revenge right here.”
58 minutes ago:
“I’m not an animal lover,” said Mitchell. “But I’m not an animal hater either.”
“This is inhuman,” said Armstrong.
The stables were situated far off to the side of the house. Two horses inside. Both dead. Both cut in half, with a chainsaw. Same way the family’s two Great Danes, Scooby and Marmaduke the name tags said, had been. The chainsaw itself lay in a puddle of blood and equine evisceration on the straw-covered floor.
44 minutes ago:
“Detective Armstrong, the house belongs jointly, or rather did, to one Richard and Colleen Sampson.”
“’Did’? Something happen to them?”
“Yes,” came the reply over the radio. “They divorced. Proceedings took place this week. Decision was finalized this morning, as it happens.”
38 minutes ago:
“It’s an amicable split, apparently,” said Mitchell, reading the details from his phone.
“They always say that,” quipped Armstrong.
“Weird. They’re both independently wealthy, each got their own money, but somehow she still manages-“
“-to get half,” finished Armstrong. “Oh my God. All of this. He’s preparing to give her half of everything he owns. Literally.”
33 minutes ago:
“Richard Sampson: suffered a nervous breakdown after the dotcom bubble burst, dealt with serious bouts of psychosis, it says here. Had some episodes, some violent outbursts,” said Armstrong.
“Seemed to get himself back together,” quipped Mitchell, looking around the once expensively furnished vestibule and stepping across the canyon the excavator had gouged out of the tiled floor.
“With a hell of a lot of medication, it would seem,” said Armstrong.
Mitchell stopped to look at the picture frames discarded on the ornate glass table, the photographs that had been inside removed and torn in two. All perfect family snaps of the perfect family. Mother, father. And son.
“I think I know where Sampson might be right now.”
11 minutes ago:
“Class photograph was taken four years ago, it says on the back, when the boy was ten,” said Mitchell.
“He could look completely different now,” said Armstrong.
“Tech boys are on it, chasing down the parents’ Facebook, Instagram, etc.,” said Mitchell, speeding through two stop signals.
3 minutes ago, continued:
“Say that again,” said Armstrong.
“The Sampson boy did not show up for school today,” the voice on the radio repeated.
“So why are they here?” said Mitchell, directing Armstrong’s attention to the school gates.
Most of the rich parents or their home helps were sat in their cars waiting for their precious babies to find them, but a few stood out in the sun hoping to grab the attention of their unique snowflakes. And two of them stood out in particular.
“The Sampsons. Both of them. Hand in hand.”
“So genuinely… amicable, it would seem,” said Mitchell. “He sure doesn’t look like he’s spent the day carving up everything he owns. Neither does she.”
There was movement and a gasp from the assembled as all eyes, those of parents and students alike, moved upward.
A teenage boy appeared on the roof of the school and stepped out on to the edge, overlooking the entrance porch. He was filthy, his hair and skin caked in dirt, dust and what had to be blood. Tears streamed down his face as he started to laugh.
“Guess we know what Son of Sampson looks like now,” whispered Mitchell.
“What’s this for? Show?” the boy shouted down at his parents. “Putting on a united front for my benefit?”
Richard Sampson said nothing. His mouth was slightly open, his eyes wide, his expression blank. He seemed not to hear Colleen’s cries as she broke free of his grasp and made for the school doors.
“I’m glad to see you’re so fucking happy. With your little arrangement, all of your property split evenly down the middle,” said the boy. “Well I’m not happy. Far fucking from it. But then you’ve never asked me what I thought, have you? Maybe that’s because, to you, I’m just like the house, the cars, the horses, the dogs. A piece of property to be shared equally. So why don’t I make this real simple for us all.”
Blake Sampson has planned this very carefully.
He lands bare feet first, dead center on the roof of the school entrance porch, its aluminum-lined apex at such an acute angle that it acts like an upturned axe.
One bloody, lifeless half of him slides down the left side of the porch and splats down in front of Richard Sampson. He does not react.
One bloody, lifeless half tumbles awkwardly down the right, and lands like a freshly butchered side of ham at Colleen’s feet. She is still screaming, only much louder than before, saying the boy’s name over and over. She cannot be consoled.
Richard Sampson does not even try.
“He’ll need to up his meds,” says Mitchell.
“You cold bastard,” says Armstrong.
Sirens are fast approaching.
“I hope one of those belongs to the next shift. My one ended ten minutes ago.” He turns away from the scene and ambles back toward the school gates. “I really need to go home and hug my wife and kids.”