When speaking of serial killers, one most often thinks of such household names (if they may be called that) as Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler, and Ted Bundy. Few mentions are made in the textbooks and scholarly discussions, or in the pop culture discussions, of the dancer known simply as Etienne. Likely because so little is officially known about him–which makes him a legend in his own right–as well as the fact that he is not exactly a serial killer in the traditional sense.
Always throughout human history there have been people with the gift of warping time–literal human time machines, so to speak. They can travel back and forth between time and place, leave the house at noon to show up at the ten o’clock meeting, work late into the night while “finding the time” for an evening date. These people are invariably energetic individuals. Time doesn’t hold the same rules and regulations for them, they quietly and eagerly pass over the mundane and boring bits. Time travelers are incredibly rare, and usually guarded about their so-called ability.
Etienne was one such individual, at least according to most experts. No other satisfying explanation has ever been put forth for his odd and atrocious activities. Likewise, no knows why he did what he did. Some say it was boredom. Others say he was trying to end his own life. The truth cannot be ascertained anymore, since Etienne is likely dead, though even that is unknowable.
The incident began when investigators discovered Etienne’s body in his apartment. He had been strangled with the cord from the window curtains, the corpse laid out in a crucifix shape on the living room floor. There had been signs of intrusion. A copy of the apartment key was found on the body and on the coffee table. No windows were broken, the security was in tact and working properly. At first the detectives found no finger prints beyond Etienne’s, both throughout the apartment and on the body. On closer inspection, they found fingerprints on the cord and on Etienne himself–his own fingerprints. This naturally did not garner much attention, one would expect his fingerprints in own apartment.
The real problem came to light when a mangled corpse washed up from the river a week later. Using DNA analysis, the police determined the new body was Etienne, even though this should have been impossible. News broke that the dancer had an unknown twin brother, and speculation began over who killed who and which was the “real Etienne”.
Things became increasingly complicated as more bodies appeared throughout the city, each one killed in a unique and grisly manner, each matching Etienne’s description, all of them having the same fingerprint and DNA evidence. This troubled the police to no end, but gave the media a lot of fodder, especially the tabloids. A hunt ensued for Etienne, sort of a weird “Where’s Waldo” game. The talk of the town, for the first time since Etienne had risen to stardom with his now memorable dance moves, was the mysterious bodies that kept appearing. Hoax busters appeared from all corners of the globe, to no avail. No one was able to disprove the evidence inside the police station archives, and many leading experts walked away from the problem disturbed and confounded. Etienne became a subject no academic wanted to touch, for fear of being mocked or shamed–far easier to leave this in the field of the occult where it thrived on mystic’s fore-tellings of where Etienne was to appear next.
The climax of this situation–as told by many urban legends and periodicals of the time–happened when the police found Etienne based on an anonymous tip that he was at a particular underground club, and there arrested him for murder of himself. They kept him locked in a cell for twenty-four hours, despite public outcry–after all, there are no laws regarding self-murder or even apparent suicide. Etienne is recorded as having spent the night of October 13–a Friday coincidentally–in jail to face charges of possible manslaughter. When the police could not gather enough credible evidence to convict him, they had to let him go in the morning. But when they opened the cell door, he was no where to be seen.
Etienne and the clothing he wore that night disappeared. There was no sign or evidence as to how he escaped. Most say he used his time magic to wind the clock back or maybe forward on his life to a point where he was no longer arrested. There were no more Etienne bodies found, though a few claim to have seen him alive now and then, though with only questionable evidence.
The records exist on Etienne, no one can deny who has bothered to research this tricky subject. However, he has almost entirely disappeared from urban legend and pop culture, perhaps because he no longer exists in most time continuums.
Word Count: 834
The prompt for this story came from the Do-It-Yourself Giallo Generator.
More Flash Fiction Friday can be found from the blogs of the writers of Forward Motion!