Authors: Conrad Jones
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #International Mystery & Crime
Copyright © 2015 Conrad Jones
he drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the giant redwoods at Muir Woods had been exhilarating. He slowed the motor home to a crawl to glance across the bay at Alcatraz Island. Across the bay, the pepper pot shape of Coit Tower looked like a chess piece from that distance. The bay wind buffeted the side of the RV threatening to blow it across into the next lane of oncoming traffic. Below the bridge, thick clouds of mist rolled in on the breeze making it impossible to see the water below.
It had been easy to blend in with the other visitors to the city. Hunting them had been simple. Immensely exciting but simple. The Tenderloin area of the city, on Nob Hill, thus known because it was where the dark underbelly of life was situated, was a predator’s paradise. It was saturated with prostitution, porn and pills. Finding and trapping his prey was easy. The hunt for his victims was over. He had his prizes and now he relished the thought of their pain.
t had been a long time since he had enjoyed the look of terror in a captive’s eyes. He yearned for the tears that flowed freely down their cheeks, the sobbing, the pleading, the coppery smell of their blood. Their fear drove him to a state of excited insanity.
His journey through the woods took a little over two hours. The sun was sinking and the shadows beneath the tree canopy deepened. He’d parked in a secluded area away from the most popular tourist sites and lowered the blinds in the driver’s cab. As he stepped into the living area of the huge camper, he could sense their fear. The smell of their bodies drifted to him, sweat, perfume and despair. Few would ever know that despair had an odour but he had been so close to human agony so many times, that its smell was like an old friend.
He walked to the table near the sleeping area and listened to their breathing. Short shallow gasps, in and out, in and out. He smiled as he ran his fingers over his tools. The feel of the cool metal and the glint of steel in the lantern light heightened his ecstasy and increased their despair.
. The faces of his victims drifted through his mind, fear and pleading in their eyes. They were always more distressed when they watched him working on the other victim. Always. It didn’t matter what nationality they were; American or English, Dutch or German, French or Spanish, male or female, young or old, their reaction to watching another suffering was always the same. He made them watch the other suffer and bleed, thrash and tremble beneath the agony of his implements. It reduced them to quivering mutes.
It was the realisation that their time under the tools was close that distressed them most. Knowing that their turn was just minutes away and that it was totally inevitable was too much for some of them. Many lost consciousness as their brains shut down to escape the madness before them. Of course he would wake them and they would suffer exactly the same horrors that they had witnessed happening to the other victim and then he would allow them to rest and recover for a while. Sometimes he had to tend to their wounds to keep them alive longer. They would live until he was ready.
He closed his eyes and listened to their muffled sobbing. They had seen his tools and their imaginations would be running wild. The anticipation of the pain that would come would cause them more mental distress than the blades ever could. They couldn’t close their eyes or turn their heads away as he worked on the other. He made sure of that. They had to watch. That was the integral point of the game. The anticipation of their suffering was all that mattered to him now. Beautiful pain. Human emotion at its most intense.
When he was done with them and their life force was extinguished, he would take the long road back across the bridge and out through Bakersfield. He would continue on for a few hundred miles or so and then head east into the Mojave Desert. There he could stop each night and dispose of the bodies a little at a time, spreading the evidence widely across the desolate sun parched soil where the animals and insects would complete their disposal. Then he would take his twisted memories and head through San Bernardino leaving the RV in Los Angeles before flying home.
His fingertips touched the serrated edge of a small bone saw and lingered there. A smile crept across his lips. He picked it up and then studied the women. If they could have closed their eyes, they would have. Tears trickled from the corners of their eyes leaving trails of black mascara on their cheeks. He watched their chests rise and fall, their bodies racked by sobs. Sheer horror was etched on their faces. “Now, my darlings, whose turn is it to go first this time?”
Jayne Windsor frowned as she watched her friend making a fool of herself again. Every time they went out together it was the same routine and each time Jayne would swear that she wouldn’t go out with her again. The problem was that she didn’t have many friends, in fact she had one. Despite all her promises to herself, whenever Jackie called and suggested going dancing, she folded and agreed. If she didn’t go out with Jackie then she wouldn’t go out at all. Her work colleagues had shunned her ever since the Barton kid went missing. She felt sorry for his family but it wasn’t her fault. She had had no choice. Her workmates hadn’t had much time for her before the kid vanished but afterwards, she was virtually a pariah. They blamed her. They weren’t allowed to say anything but then they didn’t have to. She could hear the whispers, sense the disgust, feel the hate that was aimed at her.
Jackie was the only true friend that she had. Sad but true. Despite what had happened, they had remained friends. They had been through a lot together but every time they went out, she knew what would happen before it happened. Jayne would drive because she didn’t like the way alcohol made her feel and Jackie would be smashed before she got into the car. Within an hour of being in the club, she would have her tongue down the throat of whoever would buy her a cocktail and Jayne would be left fending off the advances of the losers that no one else wanted to talk to.
As she watched Jackie gyrating about on the dance floor, the fact that the evening had gone exactly as she had predicted came as no surprise. Tonight’s selection of drunks desperately trying to pull had been particularly cringe-worthy. She had batted away a succession of dribbling idiots, some of them so inebriated that they circled the dance floor continuously, pint pot in hand only to return ten minutes later for a second attempt. Then a third and fourth and so on. If she had had a gun, there would be at least three dead bodies already.
The club was a dive. She had to be careful that her shoes didn’t stick to the carpet. The smell of stale ale permeated the air and she knew that her clothes would stink the next day despite not touching a drop of alcohol herself. The only upsides to the dump were the music and that it was close to the car park. Jayne liked the DJ and she wanted to dance but not with any of the idiots who were loitering around the dance floor. It was like a cattle market. Drunken men stood around the periphery of the dance floor watching the women dance, sizing them up, stalking them, looking for the intoxicated ones who would be easier prey to drag home to their lairs. Jayne hated the whole seedy charade. A leery smile, a few vodka cocktails, a greasy kebab in the taxi, casual sex and the embarrassing walk of shame home in the morning. She couldn’t understand why some women did it, regretted it and then looked forward to repeating the entire process again the next week. It wasn’t her thing. She wanted a bit more from an evening out. She wanted a bit more from life full-stop.
“Your friend seems to be having a good time,” a deep voice said from behind her. Jayne sighed and turned to look at the speaker, ready to rebuff his approach with a suitably cutting remark but when she looked at him, her breath stuck in her throat. “There’s nothing worse than watching your friend getting off with someone while you’re left alone with an empty glass is there?”
“No,” Jayne smiled. She felt her pulse quicken. “Nothing worse,” she stammered. The power of intelligent speech had deserted her.
“I can fix that very easily.”
“Pardon?” Jayne asked confused.
“The empty glass,” he pointed to her hand.
“Sorry. I don’t understand?” she asked feeling very silly.
“I can fix the empty glass problem,” he laughed. “I can have it refilled quite quickly.”
“Oh!” she blushed. “I see. I’m sorry but I didn’t realise what you meant.”
“No need to apologise,” he smiled. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“No thanks,” Jayne said. She habitually refused drinks from strangers although she had never found it quite as difficult before as she did this time. “I’m driving,” she added as an excuse. “I’m only on diet coke anyway but thanks.” He looked slightly offended. The smile disappeared from his face for a moment but it was still in his eyes. Maybe she hadn’t put him off completely. It had been months since anyone half as good looking as him had approached her. On second thoughts it was years. If she blew him out she would kick herself for months.
“I’m going to have one anyway,” he said holding up his empty glass. The smile returned. “I’m designated driver tonight too so I’m sipping diet coke while my friend is dancing like my dad.” He pointed to the dance floor where Jackie was attached to a man’s face. “Well, when I say ‘dancing’ I mean that in the loosest sense of the word.” They laughed and Jayne felt him touch her arm. She felt electricity run through her. “Your friend looks like she’s sucking the air from his lungs!”
“Oh don’t,” Jayne grimaced. “She’s so embarrassing.”
“So is he,” he shrugged and held up his glass. “Sure I can’t tempt you?”
“Go on then,” she smiled coyly.
“It doesn’t mean we have to get married or anything,” he smiled as he turned to walk towards the bar. His eyes held hers for a moment.
“You wouldn’t have to drag me to the church,” Jayne muttered under her breath as she watched him walk away. She felt her knees going weak and her skin tingling. He was the type of man she could sleep with and introduce to her mother. The two things rarely went hand in hand. No doubt about it.
She turned back to the dance floor to watch Jackie gyrating around her latest catch. The term ‘twerking’ popped into her head for some reason. She wasn’t sure why. Jackie was more likely to knock over a table of drinks by shaking her arse than she was to sweep a guy off his feet. She had a pretty face and plenty of cleavage but if she ever asked Jayne, ‘does my bum look big in this’ then the honest answer would be, ‘yes, it looks massive,’ so she was never honest. Sometimes lying was the best option, especially where Jackie was concerned. Not that she felt bad about lying to her, Jackie was the biggest liar to walk the planet. This time, her lies had dug them both into a deep hole. One she wasn’t sure that they would get out of.
A lone male dressed in skinny jeans and a striped shirt spotted her looking at the dance floor. His quaffed hair would have been okay on the lead singer of a boy band but he was ten years too old and ten kilos too heavy. Jayne had several categories for men and she instantly placed this one in the ‘knobhead’ group. A sickly grin crossed his lips as he staggered towards her. Jayne held up her hand like a traffic warden stopping an approaching vehicle. It didn’t deter him.
“Do you want to dance?”
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“I suppose a bonk is out of the question?”
“I was joking!”
“Come on. You look bored on your own there,” he slurred. “Have a little dance with me.”
“You can hardly speak never mind dance. Go away.”
“Don’t worry about me, darling,” he slurred again, “beer has never affected my performance.” He winked but the drink made it look more like he had a bad twitch.
“Come on you’ll enjoy it.”
“Have you ever done any modeling?” he grinned like a snake. “I’m a photographer you know?”
“You’re making me want to heave,” Jayne shook her head and sighed. “Go away!”
“The lady said go away,” her knight in shining armour said returning from the bar. “So I suggest you piss off before you get hurt.” The man thought about challenging him but then he thought better of it. He turned and staggered across the dance floor in search of easier prey. “I don’t think he wants to dance anymore,” he said handing Jayne her drink with a smile. “Have you done any modeling?”
“Shut up!” she laughed. “Don’t you start with the corny chat up lines.”