He tried to run.
Professor Otto Sturm entered the library, saw me and turned to leave.
I shot him through his left knee and dropped him to the floor.
As he tried to crawl away, I crossed the room and kicked him in his wound. He fainted from the pain as I secured the door.
I took the portly bastard by the collar and dragged him to the fireplace, where hot embers glowed, and the poker lay with its head buried among them.
Otto let out a weak groan as I cut open his pants leg from the hem to the injury, and then he shrieked as I slapped the poker against the bullet wound. The sound reverberated in the confines of the room, and the stench of singed flesh and burnt blood filled the air.
I put the iron back in the fire, settled myself into the chair and looked at the man.
“Mr. Blood,” Otto gasped, forcing a smile. “I think there’s been some sort of misunderstanding.”
“No. Not that I’m aware.” I cocked the hammers on the Colts, and he stared at them, unable to look away.
“Now,” I continued, “there’s been a murder on my farm.”
His eyes darted from the revolvers to my face, then back again. “I’m sure I know nothing of it. I am, however, quite willing to put the full resources of the university at your disposal. Perhaps together, we could unravel the mystery of the tree killer.”
I shot him through the other knee, but this time, he didn’t pass out.
He whimpered and babbled incoherently as I took the iron out and slapped it against the knew wound.
Otto vomited over himself – a collection of eggs, toast, and what looked like curdled milk – and begged me to stop.
“I suppose you’re realizing I didn’t mention the tree,” I remarked, returning the iron to the embers.
He nodded, sweat beading on his forehead.
“Who else was with you?” I asked.
He shook his head.
“Otto,” I whispered. “I’m not foolin’ here. I’m about to cut on you in ways you’ve never dreamed of. This will be something new for you, and I promise it’ll be something bad. Who else was with you?”
“Von Kampf,” he sobbed.
I nodded and blew out his brains.
As blood and gray matter sizzled on the embers, I went looking for Beatrice Von Kampf.
She needed to die.