The Art of Deception - XTales (Suspense, Crime, Psychological, Serial Killers, 10 mins. or less, Creepypasta)

A crazy killer is murdering young women. Surprisingly, no one can clearly remember his face. What kind of deceptive tricks is the killer playing?

Reading time: 8 minutes.

Now, also available on Wattpad and Pratilipi.

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The detective sat idle in his chair while scrolling Instagram reels. Anxiety kept eating away at him. The case of two murders that he was working on had gotten nowhere in the past week. If he has no clue soon enough, this will turn cold like the bodies they had found. He had no idea what he was watching. The scrolling gave him a false sense of progress. He felt as if he was going somewhere. Maybe the killer will turn up at the bottom of the feed.

A car chased across the highway at the speed of the wind. The caption read When Liquor store is closing in 5 minutes.

Does your dog bite? It's complicated, another caption read. The dog rolled down a small thing that made the skaters trip and fall. The first comment read An alternate universe where John Wick dies, and his dog takes revenge.

Next was a deleted scene from a superhero movie.

A few more jokes followed by a few life lessons.

"Here's something I didn't know until I was in my thirties…"

You could reduce the carbon emission of your…

"My new book unravels the secrets of the human psyche. It's titled The A—"

The dating apps aren't working. So I guess it's time to look confused in the gaming section.

Dad notices his daughter hasn't got a dance partner, so he jumps in.

The detective slammed the phone on the table.

"Agh!" he growled. Then he rubbed his eyes and realised that endless scrolling won't help. He had to try a new angle of investigation.

He was only thinking when the officer assigned to take the statements from the witnesses entered the station.

"About time," said the detective with relief. "Did you find anything?"

"I think so."

The officer put the records on the table. The inspector unknowingly opened them.

"These are all the statements," the officer began. "They all have one thing in common."

"What? They didn't see the killer."

"Exactly the opposite!"

The detective jerked his head up like a spring. "They did?"

"Yes. All the witnesses remember seeing a slender young male in his thirties with an injury on his forehead."

The detective changed his demeanour as if he was entirely a different person. He shuffled through the statements with an electric speed.

The officer guided him. "See, this old lady saw someone with a band-aid on his forehead. Similarly, this student mentioned he saw a man who must've had an accident. He didn't mention a band-aid, but he did mention an injury on his forehead."

The detective took his time to read the statements.

"I called him and asked if he saw the injury himself," the officer explained. "He said he only saw a patch and concluded that the guy had an injury."

The detective went through all the statements. A couple and a young girl distinctly remembered a band-aid on the guy's forehead. Others mentioned either an injury or a patch. "Is it, at all, possible that the murderer got injured during the attack? Maybe, one of the victims hit him in self-defence."

"Unlikely," the officer suggested. "We would have found his blood at the crime scene. I think it was an old injury or a very distinguishable scar."

"Great! More work!" said the detective annoyingly. "Alright, we'll start with the fresh injury. Find out if anyone recently got their forehead patched up. It's a long shot, but worth looking into."

"What!? That's insane. There must be hundreds of clinics and hospitals."

"Start with the ones closest to the crime scenes."

The detective then left the office with a brisk pace and a goal in his mind.

A few more days passed. Both the detective and the officer kept looking for suspects with no luck. Anyone they could find did not match the description by the witnesses. Each day the detective got more agitated.

One evening, the detective was drinking while at home when the officer knocked on the door. The detective let him in and offered him a drink. The officer politely declined.

"So, any luck?" asked the detective.

"No. I have hit a dead end every way I take."

The detective hung his head down. Then, he went on to gulp down another glass of whiskey. The fire seemed to quench his own fire, but it wasn't the case. It only made him angrier. He kicked the table with fury, stood up, and started pacing in the living room. "It seems like he patched himself up," the detective guessed.

"Or maybe, it was an even older injury. As I said, it could be an ugly scar."

"Or—" a new thought occurred to the detective. It came to him like wall-in-the-face. He hit his head on the door. "He did not have any injury at all," he finished his thought while rubbing his own forehead.

The officer tried to follow the detective. "What do you mean?" he asked.

"Don't you see? He tricked everyone with one band-aid. Nobody clearly remembers what his face looked like. Everyone focused on one thing."

"His forehead!"

"Exactly! God, we're such idiots."

"He is, like, a master of deception."

Suddenly, something else clicked in the detective's mind. He stared at infinity for a second, and then, he smiled.

After a few days, the detective was at a seminar. He walked among the audience and settled down on a chair. Soon, the speaker arrived and took the stage. The detective looked at the band-aid on his forehead and smiled.

"Welcome, everyone," the speaker spoke in a kind tone. "I can not thank you enough for coming here. For those unaware, it's the first reading of my new book, The Art of Deception. It explores the depths of the human mind. And how we perceive reality. This book will ..."

He kept speaking for the longest time. Then, he read a few random pieces from his book. The detective almost fell asleep. When it was finally time for autographs and one-on-one, the detective dragged himself and stood in the line. The author signed copies of his book, wrote compliments, and engaged in small conversions. The detective kept himself contained because he didn't want to alert the author.

When his turn arrived, the author asked for his name without looking up.

"So, what's your name? Or would you like me to sign it for a friend?"

"How about you write your confession?"

"Excuse me?"

The detective showed him his badge.

The author panicked. "Can we take it somewhere else?" he requested. "Somewhere private, please."

The detective was having fun. He agreed. On their way to a private room, the detective received a call. It was from a woman.

"Hello, who is this?"

"Hello, sir, my name is Lucy. I have some important info about the murderer you are looking for."

"What?" The detective froze in his spot. "What is it? Have you seen him?"

"Yes, and more. You have to come and meet me. I can't talk on the phone."

The detective could not move. The killer was right in front of him. He couldn't let him go. On the other hand, the information could be crucial in successfully landing a conviction. He had to think fast. "Alright, listen up, Lucy! Text me your address, and I'll be down there fast as I can."

The detective hung up the phone and followed the author into the private room. While on his way there, he forwarded Lucy's address to the officer and asked him to get the information from her.

The author took the detective into the room he was staying in. Within a few hours, the author had managed to make a mess. His notes were everywhere, and his half-finished bottle of whiskey was on the table, the same kind the detective drank.

"Alright, officer," the author quickly spoke. "You can't just barge in like that and scare my fans."

"Call me detective, and I don't have time for your stupid tricks of deception." The detective did not want to play the author's game. He was a little short-tempered.

But the author wouldn’t just give in so quickly. "I don't know what you are talking about."

"Let me remind you, then," said the detective. He grabbed the author's arm and twisted it.

The author cried with pain. "AGH! What are you doing? You can't do this. I HAVE RIGHTS!"

"You lost your rights when you murdered those girls in cold blood. YOU SICK FREAK!"

The detective grabbed the back of his head and slammed it on the table hard as he could. The author almost fainted, but the detective didn't let him fall.

"I—I didn't murder any—I didn't murder anyone."

"Don't you dare lie to me! I finished your book last night. I know what you are doing, and this—" he peeled the band-aid without any prompt. "This won't help either."

The author let out a slow but lasting yelp increasing in intensity and volume. The detective watched him in disbelief as a few tiny drops of blood appeared on the small cut on the author's forehead.

"So, you really did cut yourself while committing the crime."

"What the hell are you on about?" the author replied angrily. "I slipped and fell face first. And I DID NOT MURDER ANYONE!"

The detective didn't know what to think for a few seconds while the author kept crying and cursing in pain.

"This is police brutality! My lawyer will talk to you."

"But I have witnesses," the detective replied in defence. "Who described a guy just like you, a slim man in his thirties with an injury on his forehead."

"That wasn't me—wait!" The author suddenly stopped moving. His eyes were fixed on a memory. "I think—I think I saw him too."


"Yeah, yeah. A few weeks ago, I met a crazy fan during my seminar. He was creepy as hell. I still get chills thinking about him."

"Did he say something? What did he want?"

"He said he was a magician. He was trying to learn the art of deception."

"And you taught him!"

"Hey, it's my job. I didn't know the guy was going to murder people."

The author couldn't handle the burden. He slumped in his chair with his head hung low. "Oh, man! I can't believe I helped him," the author said while making himself a drink. "I even mentioned my injury. I taught him how a unique, distinguishing feature would distract his audience."

The detective didn't lose hope just yet. "So, he learned this from you. But he couldn't distract you, right?"

The author looked up. "What?"

"The other witnesses don't remember him clearly, but you do. Right?"

"Oh, yeah," the author said with certainty. "I will never forget that face. I sensed something off about him as I saw him."

Finally, the detective let out a sigh of relief. He fell on the couch next to the author. "Ah…you have no idea how relieved I am now." He went on to make a drink for himself as well. "I am so sorry I hit you. I was just so pissed at this case."

"Are you sure you made the right career choices?"

The detective laughed and finished his drink. Then, he stood up as an entirely new person. "I'll send my officer and a sketch artist; thank you for your help."

The detective stormed out of the room, ignoring whatever the author said about his lawyer and this not being over.

The detective dialled the officer's number, who took some time to answer.

"Hello, sir."

"Did you get to the girl yet?"

"Um—I'm on my way, sir."

"Forget that. I'll talk to the girl. You get a sketch artist and get your butt here."

There was silence followed by deep breathing.

"Hello? Did you hear me?" the detective asked.

"A sketch artist? Did we get anything?"

"We hit the goddamned jackpot. We finally have a witness who's seen the killer without that stupid band-aid."

"Oh, who is that?" the officer asked curiously.

"Some writer and a psychologist. I am texting you the address."

"Alright, sir. I'll get there as fast as I can."

The officer hung up the phone and groaned with anger. He put the blood-covered phone on the sink. Then, he washed his bloodied hands first and then the phone. Finally, after cleaning up, he peeled the band-aid from his clean forehead and threw it away carelessly. He then quickly left through the door with a nameplate on it that read Lucy Paige.

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    1. Your review doesn't count. You are my brother.


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