The Devil's Dawn

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Squad cars lined the west side of Cornish Street, creating a barrier that prevented all unauthorized traffic from accessing the area around the Redruth home. It was a large and bright dwelling, enough to take the space of two average homes on its plot and styled like a classic villa, with a considerable garden that wrapped around the entirety of the structure. The street itself stretched off into a narrow, winding country lane that led out of Newfield and off towards the east hills.

Cornish was an outlier for the city, separated in both location and average wealth of its residents. Where a regular street in the Suburban District might situate five homes per side, the ones that lined Cornish were too large, too lavish, and too expansive to allow such quantity. There were three houses along the side across from the Redruth home, each with people in the lawns looking at the police blockade across from them. Redruth was flanked by two homes, each far enough apart to place an average-sized house between them.

The home in question had been owned by the same family for almost eight decades, undergoing renovations at numerous points to create the fine arrangement of halls, rooms, and intertwined passages that made the estate an architectural treasure and a historical monument to Newfield's lasting ages. It was this renowned status that led to the heavy police presence in the wake of an emergency call that drew the attention of every news agency in the tri-county area.

The call had come in just an hour before, made by the owner of the house, Morgan Redruth. In it, he said that his three siblings, Owen, George, and Brenda, had been murdered that night, and he was the one responsible. The first officers on the scene had forced their way into the home and found Morgan seated at a card table in what was possibly once a smoking room, the remaining seats occupied by the deceased bodies of his siblings. He was taken into custody without struggle or word.

Inspector Myra Athelney stood with her notepad in hand and pen uncapped, only three lines written and the ink dried. She'd been the first on scene with the officers who had downed the door, and the sight of Morgan Redruth seated calmly with the pistol in front of him, the dead siblings still in their chairs with their heads twisted at torqued angles, the blood on their clothes, the table, and the floor, had been one of the more unsettling displays in her career with the Newfield Police Department.

She scratched gently at the side of her face, moving a few loose strands of her light ginger hair up and tucking it behind her ear. Her notes were sparse due to the unusual clearcut nature of the case. It was very rare in her tenure that the perpetrator gave themselves up immediately after reporting the crime, especially one like this. Now her presence was to make sure the scene was properly catalogued and archived.

That, and to babysit.

Behind her, an officer slowly worked his way up the stairs and into the room, coming into full contact with the rustic stench of the blood that had long since soaked into the wooden floors. Winston Baynes was a portly man for someone who'd requested Patrol, but he never failed his physicals and consistently beat out most of his colleagues during fitness challenges. The sight of the table's occupants made him weary in a way that his own physique rarely did.

"Really is as bad as they said," Baynes said as he moved to stand at Athelney's side. The inspector sniffed in response. "Where's the perp?"

"On his way to the station," Athelney replied. "Went quietly."

Baynes hooked his fingers into his belt. "His story?"

"Said he invited everyone over last night, waited for them to sit down, then shot 'em."

"But he called this morning, didn't he? He left them like this overnight?"

Another voice from the corner piqued in. "Not quite."

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