All three of us caffeine-fueled officers of the law left the Toast and made our way on a four-hour road trip. By the time we arrived at the Singapore Sling, Ling met us at the front counter with a puzzled expression.

“Officers, are you here about the disappearance of Mr. Blanco?”

Luther told him, “Yes, Ling, hoping you can help us. Is there someone who can take over for you while we ask some questions of you?”

Ling nodded, then snapped his fingers. An Asian woman, fairly young and dressed in a close-fitting red gold ornamental dress much like Chinese women would wear in a formal way, came forward. He whispered to her.

“Officers, follow me to the back of the restaurant past the kitchen. Mr. Blanco had an office there,” Ling said.

Wyla spoke when we reached a part of the office away from the ears of the kitchen. “Ling, your manager has been murdered. His body was found last week in a wooded area outside of Milwaukee.”

Ling rocked back and forth, almost as if he was going to faint. He sat down at Blanco’s office desk chair. His breathing accelerated; he was on the verge of hysterics. I thought to get him some water. There was a water cooler next to a couple of tall file cabinets. As I was filling up a paper cup with cold water, I looked up.

My eyes glanced at a hanging camera device hooked to a corner molding close to the filing cabinets. I gave Ling the cup of water. All of us stood over him like a mother hovering over an upset child.

“Is there something you can tell us?” Wyla probed, seeing that Ling was calmer.

“What do you mean?” Ling asked, still confused.

I put my hand on Ling’s shoulder, “Ling, what Agent Stark means were there and visitors for Mr. Blanco recently?”

He looked in deep thought, then jerked and looked up at us. “Two weeks ago, one of his clients who regularly purchased the balut came in from the back door. She seemed to be there to talk to Mr. Blanco,” Ling told us.

What did the woman look like?” Wyla asked.

“It was the pretty Filipina woman from Indiana. Mr. Blanco told me to go back to the front while he talked to her.”

“Ling, is there a way we can view a history of who comes into this area and leaves?” I asked.

“Yes, every month I take the cartridge from the camera and transfer it to a file on the computer. The most recent file I created a month ago,” Ling said.

Luther said, “Could you bring up the file so we could view it?”

Ling nodded a positive response and went through the motions on the desk PC to open up the file. What we saw at first was kitchen help coming and going, then halfway through scrolling down, there was Romeo Blanco opening the back door for Amora Rathbone. The date on the corner of the screen seemed to be two weeks ago on a Monday, the first week of September.

Luther asked Ling, “Why was Blanco in the back room at this particular time and day?”

Ling turned around and looked up at Luther, “Sir, we are closed on Mondays. That is when Mr. Blanco does inventory and paperwork. I usually help him with the inventory.”

Wyla bent down, penetrating an authoritative stare at Ling, “Can you transfer this to a flash drive so we can use this evidence for our case?”

“Oh, yes, I will be glad to. Anything to find out who killed Mr. Blanco. He was not only good to me as a boss but has helped me several times with my yearly visas,” Ling said. Luther wrote out on a blank sheet of copy paper the address of the detective division in Anderson and attached his business card.

Luther, on the dark interstate going south on I-65, brought up an intriguing and bizarre premise. “Ladies, imagine tying all these victims to what we believe came from a centuries-old aswang who comes from the sky to attack or kill them to overcome some burning curse. Can you actually think the city prosecutor can prove this in our modern-times court?”

“I’m trying to wrap my head around how to give my superior at the agency the most recent update. We’ve had some bizarre cases, but usually the suspect was classified as a serious psychopath, not someone who could turn into an evil flying creature,” Wyla said, shrugging her shoulders.

I chimed in, “We are going to tell all that we have, no matter how strange. It will land how it does. Knowing human nature, we might be forced to call the killer out. I don’t know how many torn up victims I can look at!”


We got back to the division. Mitch was still in his office. From his open door, he whistled, motioning for us to get into his inner sanctum. We filed in, Wyla, Luther, and I.

The sergeant didn’t waste any time in raising his voice as his bulging blue eyes showed total exasperation and anger. “I want some answers! The mayor doesn’t like the growing victim list with the perpetrator still out there!” We looked at each other, not really sure who would speak first.

Wyla was the brave one. She spoke up, “From my boys and what I saw in Milwaukee, then taking into account what we learned today, the victim in Milwaukee has been identified as Romeo Blanco. We all saw from a camera in the back room of his restaurant that he left with a woman the day he disappeared.”

“Sarge, we all know the woman he left with is Amora Rathbone, daughter to Ethan Rathbone, the billion-dollar CEO from IndyMerck,” Luther added to the discussion.

“Can we connect from what happened in Milwaukee to the young woman butchered last night?” Gable asked.

“One thing for sure, the nature of the savagery…the form of cannibalism shows it could be the same killer,” I said, having great difficulty in holding back a complete breakdown of emotion. I was fond of Katie Fisher, something in my training that was not recommended.

Mitch Gable got up from his desk chair and began to pace the space in front of us. “Let me lay this out from the last three and a half months. The attacks of the pregnant women came from some fantasy legend who had a specific agenda for unborn babies.”

He stopped pacing, pointing to each one of us. “Now you tell me this assailant has turned his or her agenda to murders of men or women with a cannibal stamp on it!”

“Sarge, the case has become pivotal. You well know. When my wife’s liver was eaten partially away, I believe the assailant slightly turned more savage for a very good reason. What Althea and I found out in Algiers, outside of New Orleans, this “tik-tik” type of aswang eats babies from a belly entry into the womb as well as devouring certain inner organs,” Luther said, laying all the bizarre, out-there nature of the true name of what this suspect turned into.

“Sarge, we have all had so many bits of evidence pointing to this ancient legend with each victim. By your face and projecting attitude, I can feel your unbelief,” I said, knowing he might throw us out in a rage.

Gable lowered his head, looking to be in deep thought. I felt a change in his agitation to a more calm state. He paced again, saying in a soft tone of voice, “I’m sure all of you have a specific person of interest in mind. Do what you can to sew up the loose ends for a solid action to bring the suspect in with a firm case of its guilt to all the victims. Don’t talk about what you have told me this evening with anyone!” He waved us on to disappear out of his office. I felt but didn’t share that our sergeant had much pondering to do on what we had laid out to him.

The weekend was here. Wyla, Luther, and I agreed to map out a strategy separately. We were to compare notes on Monday. I made up my mind that no matter how far out from my years of training, I had to see this through until she was caught, made powerless, and brought in. Let the courts decide what to do with such a criminal; the public would be shocked at how a beautiful-looking and professionally successful woman who came from the best of families could perform such heinous acts of violence and cannibalism. I knew it was going to be difficult to relax enough to fall asleep. When alone in the solace of my apartment, I would see the images of the condition of Katie Fisher. Her pale eyes, faded by death, still open. The lower part of her body torn to shreds.

This case had put a knife into my soul. I felt like a mentally tortured victim. Amora Rathbone had purposely changed her mode of behavior to get to me. That day in July, she looked into my eyes as she was going to ascend to her cold Tower. She decided to torture and damage the one thing in my life I was proud of: my job. I wasn’t going to let her succeed.


For all installments from The Islands Tell of It, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Chapter 1: The First Victim
  2. Chapter 2: Four Months Before October
  3. Chapter 3: Bobber’s Café
  4. Chapter 4: Heat Wave
  5. Chapter 5: Deep-End Dining
  6. Chapter 6: Rathbone Estate
  7. Chapter 7: Althea’s Run
  8. Chapter 8: Emergency Interrupts
  9. Chapter 9: Girls Talk Turkey
  10. Chapter 10: There Came a Lull
  11. Chapter 11: Dangerous Mind
  12. Chapter 12: Luana Barba
  13. Chapter 13: Trip to Milwaukee
  14. Chapter 14: Enough Killing
  15. Chapter 15: A Parking Lot Visitation