The Detective, Years After

4. Chloe N. Clark

Chloe N. Clark

The Detective, Years After


Missing women often appear

to me in dreams, always asking


the same questions: why it was her

that I had found instead of them,

why she was the one brought home


alive, fighting

the twisting, a rush

that crept up through her body.


Years later, she would say to me:

Most days, I think I will start

screaming and never stop. 


The wind will sometimes wake me

from dreams, inciting the trees

outside to tap codes onto my windows,

Morse message pleas for me to stir,


and the women will be waiting

at the foot of the bed or standing

by the window or leaning over me

to whisper secrets in my ears—

locations of their bodies,


the depth of dirt that presses down on them,

the feel of decomposition

—and I never know

how to tell them I am sorry

I stopped looking.


The missing women ask me why I never

found them; I try to answer

but words come out


sounding only like the crush of dead leaves

under foot as I searched.



Chloe N. Clark‘s work appears in Apex, Flash Fiction Online, Liminality, previous issues of Abyss & Apex, and more. She writes for Nerds of a Feather and Ploughshares. Find her on Twitter: @PintsNCupcakes



Editor’s Notes: The multiple ghostly, yet innocent, images in the art piece, “The Ghost of Bernadette Soubirous,” (artist unknown, c.1890,, serve to represent the ghosts of the victims of the serial killer in this poem of psychological horror.

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