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Murder on the Mars Express: Chapter 8

Chapter 8:

Of Other Animals

Io always was the curious one.  That’s how she became a travel writer… to pay for all her flights of curiosity.  She’d followed her nose to all the exotic places left for an escapist to escape to.  However, curiosity has spelled the end of more than one cat.


The captain did finally relent and lift the lockdown… apparently that Hamagami fellow is a bit further up the corporate ladder or maybe has friends in high places, Nick thought.  However, the captain kept the Corinthians under lock and key.

“They had nothing to do with this!” Io’s eyes were wide.  Nick knew that the only way to deal with her when she is this way is to let her talk it out.

“We don’t know that,” Nick knew she would fire back.

“Oh, always the doubter.” She shot to her feet  “You know they didn’t do this.”

“I’m not disagreeing with you.”


“I believe the Corinthians aboard were not responsible-”

“Then why aren’t you talking to the captain to get them released?”

“I don’t have any proof… facts, evidence… nothing that would hold up in court, a real court.”  With the passion dissipating she slumped into the chair by the door.

“I know.”  Now to redirect her passion.

“The Corinthians are probably safer where they are.  And the killer will relax…”  She perked up at that.


“The crew will relax too.”

“You know… we might just get a look at the full autopsy report… and the security file on the crew-”

“And the Corinthians,” Nick reminded her.  It was a possibility she did not wish to entertain.

“And the Corinthians.”


Scapegoats.  That’s all the Corinthians were.  The captain needed to keep order and keep the Corinthians safe.  One hothead here endangers the entire group when tensions were already on such a knife edge.  The situation on Earth is not getting any better.

The Corinthian Order was ostensibly a religious order.  They believed that humanity as a whole is too worldly.  With a desire to return to simplicity they sought to reform not just their church, as the apostle Paul did of the Corinthian church, but all of humanity.  Some simply were monks seeking to make their peace with god before the end came.  This is how they began forty years ago.  In the last five years, however, things have changed.

On the more extreme end of the spectrum they also believed in a variation on the “end of days” scenario depicted in the Bible.  A faction of Corinthians have taken to violence.  They explode bombs in crowded streets like the one in Madagascar, derail bullet trains in Japan, poison public water in London, and a dozen other horrible terrorist acts around the globe.


By adding to the chaos they seek to speed the second coming and the ascent of the chosen to heaven.

The question is are the Corinthians aboard the peaceful “be the change you want to see in the world” type or the “kill everything” type.


The captain even called in help from the company psychologist.

“If you are looking for somebody who is prepared to undertake an attack of such brutality…” Dr. Dulabi explained, “it is probably somebody with mental health problems.”

“What ‘bout the heart?”  It was the security officer, Kirby.

“Hmm.  The brutality is one layer of this crime.  The heart is the second.  The killer may have removed the heart for any number of reasons… and I won’t go into them now.  That would just be speculation at this point.  The dual nature of this crime suggests organization… a mind at work.”

“Have you seen the vids of the crime scene, doctor?”  The captain was worried about a leak.

“Oh, you misunderstand me.  The distinction of murder into disorganized and organized is simply a way to understand the crime.  A so-called crime of passion… a lover’s quarrel that turns deadly, a bar fight… these are a low level disorganized crime.  Some serial killers, frenzy killers and spree killers as they are known, are a higher level of this disorganized type… they kill for the thrill and are completely lost in the moment.  Out of control.”

“So our guy ain’t?”

“Right.  All the mess was to distract you.  There was a plan.”

“Yeah? What is it?”

“I haven’t the foggiest.  Often unless the killer contacts the authorities or the media the plan is not known until capture.  Even then… understanding the logic of such a man is often beyond our capacity.”

“Thanks, Doc,”  The transmission ended there.  I asked Io how she got her hands on the recording.

“Oh, it was easy.  A kind word here, an innuendo there.”

“What if they talk?”

“Then he’ll be in way more trouble than we’d ever be.”




About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...


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