Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Serial- Part 31

            “You got somewhere to be?”
Seth instantly dropped his arm, as if he hadn’t been checking his watch every few minutes. His brow knitted, mimicking confusion.
            “Um, no…why?”
His Angels of Death laughed and shook their heads.
            “Okay, fine. I promised I’d be home before Mel so we could spend some time together.”
            “Since we’re not working on Kendra, why not cut out early, Seth? It’s not a big deal.”
Sighing, Seth agreed. Without access to the murder victim, it made no sense for him to stick around the morgue. He caught up with Bill on the way out and handed back the detective’s papers.
            “Sorry, I couldn’t get you more info, buddy. You kinda pissed off Agent Dictator and with Kim and Angela off this case my hands are tied. In fact, I’m sneaking out early myself. I can only take so much of the feds.”
Reaching Seth’s car, they shook hands and departed.
Thuds from above woke Marie from her fitful slumber. Oh no, please don’t come down here. Please don’t come down…Damn! His feet clomped down the stairs drawing closer until the door creaked open, slowly. Again, he was toying with her. The sound sent ripples of terror up and down her spine. Unlike his last arrival, the light remained off but it made no difference to Marie. The trauma sustained in his attack had rendered her completely unable to open one eye and unwilling to open the other. The eye that had been skewered with a searing-hot blade continued to ooze and drain down the side of Marie’s face leaving macabre smear of bloody discharge and tissue from the inner recesses of her socket.
            “Are you awake, pet? I have to admit; you’ve thrown a monkey wrench into my plans. I had already started to leave my breadcrumbs for the authorities so that they’d follow the trail and arrest my patsy but you have no link to any of my potential dupes.”
Marie’s eyes remained closed. She said nothing, even after he removed her gag; she remained stoically silent.
            “I’m talking to you! Answer me!”
Good, I’m getting to him, she thought. The corner of her mouth twitched, remnants of a phantom smile long forgotten. In her short time as his captive, Marie forgot what joy felt like and how to smile. Pain and fear were her only companions in the darkness of his lair.
            “Fine! Have it your way. I was going to take pity on you and end it quickly but no; you had to be temperamental, just like…her.”  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Serial- Part 30

Suddenly, the room felt as if it was shrinking, a stifling, claustrophobically-heavy air threatened to smother all three of them. Seth pressed his hand against his chest while Kim fiddled with the thermostat. Even when the blower kicked in, it did not seem to break up the oppressive air clinging to the morgue.
            “Are you guys okay?” Angela asked the others. “Both of you look really flushed.”
            “It just felt like the air conditioner cut off but I’m fine,” Seth replied, smiling. “Kim? Are you okay?”
            “Never better.”
Angela’s eyes shifted back and forth between Seth and Kim. She couldn’t put her finger on it but something felt strange; she attributed it to the faulty air flow as she snapped photos.
            “So, ladies? Are you two just going to leave me hanging? What else did he, you know, the killer, do?”
            “Well, in addition to the branding, he also cut some pieces off of her. Basically, there was a slab from between her hip and knee as well as a strip from her back. We suspect he ate them since the one looked to be around the size of a steak and the other was…well, it would have been the tenderloin. It looks like your suspicion that he’s eating them is correct.”
            “That sheet, or whatever it was, that he tied around her was made of human flesh. It had been treated so we’ll just have to see whether the lab will be able to gather any additional information as they run tests. This guy is…it’s like he’s just toying with us.”
Angela shook her head, frustrated that she was powerless to stop the madness. More than anything, that was what had upset her the most, the inability to speed up time so they could catch the killer.
            “Kendra could be annoying but she didn’t deserve this. No one does. I just hate not being able to stop this guy before he kills again.”
            “How do you know it’s a guy?” Seth asked. His eyes widened in anticipation. “Is there DNA or something?”
            “No,” Angela sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t say ‘he’ it’s just that I really can’t fathom a woman doing something like this. I’m sorry. I should stay in the habit of remaining gender neutral until we know for sure. The last thing anyone needs is for me to accidentally slip and then the media goes wild with it.”
While the girls worked on their body, one not related to the killer, Seth read through the packet of information on the latest victim, Kendra. In addition to the information the girls had provided, Detective Crash had outlined each and every one of the victim’s wounds, no matter how insignificant. Everything from tiny lacerations to rope burns on her ankles had been identified on the report. Additionally, there was a handwritten note in the corner of the page. Bill’s hurried scrawl seemed better suited for a doctor than a lawman but Seth managed to decipher most of the words; only pausing occasionally to benefit from the experienced eyes of Angela or Kim to decode the mysteries hidden in the detective’s hieroglyphics. There was one note that none of them could read, Seth wondered if it meant he was getting closer to identifying the killer’s identity. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Serial- Part 29

Melanie’s alarm blared, bolting her upright from a sound sleep. I need a vacation day from my vacation day. She tiptoed quietly to the bathroom to avoid waking Seth. Usually, he slept through her alarms. Usually. Not so amiable as he’d been the night before, he stormed into the bathroom and shouted to his wife through the shower curtain.
            “Where, in hell, where you last night?”
Had she not been so cranky from lack of sleep, Melanie might have ignored his brusque tone. As each droplet of water pounded into her throbbing skull, she was in no mood for his bellowing like a jealous lover. She jerked the shower curtain aside and poked her shampoo-covered head out, dripping water all over the tile floor.
            “How dare you? First of all, if you have a problem with me going out then maybe you should stay your ass at home instead of scampering behind those morgue girls. Second, I’ve never begrudged you time with your friends or to pursue your writing, so screw you!”
Even if he wasn’t face-to-face with a crazed soapy banshee, Seth would have known he’d crossed the line. She deliberately used poor grammar only when she wanted to pick a fight. It made the Grammar Nazi in him scream out in agony. He took a moment to breathe before responding, knowing the words he chose and the inflection would mean the difference between making up and a fight. He chuckled softly, knowing she was pretending not to care what he had to say.
            “Stay my ass at home, huh? Message received. I’ll be here, with dinner ready, when you get home from work. Tonight, I’m all yours.”
The curtain parted again and she peered at him suspiciously through the gap.
            “Really? You mean it?”
            “Fo’ reals, yo”
He pretended to gag on the slang, making Mel giggle. Whew, dodged a bullet there. Laughing means all has been forgiven. She proved it a second later when Mel apologized too. After she raced off to work, Seth made a visit to the morgue. He set an alert on his phone so that he’d leave on time before entering.
            “Hello, Angels of D-, um, sorry. I was expecting someone else.”
            “This is a crime victim investigation. Who are you and why are you here?”
            “Agent Dictator, I presume.” Seth scoffed, extending his hand in greeting. “I’ve heard all about you.”
The snickers and snorts of repressed laughter tittered through the room as colleagues of Agent Dictator stared at the floor to avoid eye contact. Bill made his way from the back of the room and met Seth by the doorway.
            “Kim and Angela aren’t going to be working on this one. Come with me and I’ll take you to them.” Bill gave Seth a friendly shove and ushered him out into the hallway. “Man, you must have a death wish. Those guys will be up your butt so far you’ll think your proctologist has been flirting with you. Try not to tweak ole Dick’s nose anymore today. He’s got a whole lot of butt-hurt from the TV interview. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to give you a hard time now. The lovely ladies of the morgue are in here today…”
In grandiose style, Bill held open the door and Seth followed
            “Guess what Seth just said to your favorite agent.”
He proceeded to relay the story to Kim and Angela. They stifled their own laughter to avoid having the FBI play hall monitor in their work space. Still chuckling, Bill shook his head and clapped Seth on the back.
            “You’re a riot, buddy. Look what I snagged for you. Here’s what we’ve got so far. Technically, since the FBI is involved I really shouldn’t be showing you but it’s not like you’re the killer…are you, Seth? Ha! You should have seen the look on your face. How ‘bout it, girls? He looked like he was gonna pee his pants. Don’t do that in front Agent Dictator or he’ll haul you in for questioning. Hang out over here with Kim and Angela so you can read over the information sheets and I’ll pop back over later. Heh, you’re not, are you?”
Still laughing at his own joke, Bill disappeared into the hallway. Seth took a minute to greet his “Angels of Death” before delving into the packet Bill had procured. He scanned over the first page, including patient’s name and her description, looking for something exciting.
            “Did you hear what the killer did to her?” Angela asked; her voice was barely above a whisper.
            “No, what?”
            “He burned a message into her stomach; you know, like a brand. It said, ‘My Pet’. Isn’t that awful?”
            “That’s not all he did to her, though.” Kim replied. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Serial- Part 28

In spite of the cramping in her neck, Marie lifted her head as far as it would go to see what new hellish game her captor was playing. The knife he’d been holding earlier was glowing red in the flame of his kitchen torch. When she cried out in terror, his eyes lit up like child’s on Christmas morning.
            “I-I think we got off on the wrong foot here. Let’s just start over, ‘kay?”
            “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Pet? Even now, I can see the defiance in your eyes because I dared to call you pet.”
His snort of derision acted as punctuation, signaling emphasis on her new moniker. Not once, while he was speaking did he remove his blade from the torch flame’s caress. Each second felt like an eternity as Marie waited for her captor to speak again.
            “I saw something in a movie once and I’ve always wanted to try it.”
His words barely registered with Marie; her eyes were focused on the glowing red blade drawing closer to her. With his free hand, he gripped her forehead so forcefully it felt as if he was trying to squeeze Marie’s brain out through her ears. She could not turn her head no matter how hard she tried. Still, the searing hot blade came closer and closer to her face. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she begged him to let her go. An evil laugh, sinister enough to sound like it came from the depths of hell itself bubbled up from his cruel core, drowning out the sounds of her pleas.
            “I wonder if it really will pop,” he whispered in her ear.
Before she could ask what he’d meant, a searing hot explosion of pain rippled from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. Violent red bursts of color filled her field of vision blocking everything but the pain until the darkness swallowed her.
            “Well, that was disappointing, pet. In the movie, the bad guy said the hot blade was supposed to make the victim’s eyeball heat up and then burst like a piece of popcorn. There was no bursting…just blood and oozing gunk. I suspect you’ll be unconscious for a while. Sleep well for tomorrow is another day.”

It was after two AM when Melanie’s car pulled into the driveway. She had ignored Seth’s texts all evening and fully expected him to be angry. Instead, the second she clicked on the light in their kitchen she noticed the vase full of roses. A box of her favorite gourmet truffles was propped next the champagne bucket they’d received as a wedding gift, years prior. Beads of condensation shimmered on the bottle’s slender neck and two of their crystal flutes patiently waited for a taste of the golden bubbly. Seth had fallen asleep at the kitchen table, his face mottled and marred by the textured table cloth. Malachi had flopped on the floor by his master’s feet. As Melanie, stepped closer she placed a gently kiss on Seth’s forehead and helped him to bed. This worked out best. Now I don’t have to explain where I was and what I was doing…at least not tonight, she decided before crawling into bed next to her husband. 
***As a side note, I'd like to apologize for leaving you hanging last night. My internet was acting up and I was unable to post. Thank you for sharing your time with Seth, Angela, Kim, Bill, the "Pets", and "Him".***

Monday, September 22, 2014

Serial- Part 27

Marie cleared her throat and tried to keep the tremble from her voice as she made her plea. Her words were carefully chosen, as if talking a suicidal jumper down off the ledge. He saw through her guise and decided it was time to needle her a bit.
            “If you don’t shut up, I will slap some more duct tape over your flapping lips. Got it, Pet?”
His derogatory tone, and smug sneer as he called her, “Pet”, pressed Marie’s buttons. Before stopping to think, angry words flew from her mouth.
            “Hey! I have a name so…use it. How would like it if I called you ‘rude bastard’, or ‘pervert’ or sick a---”
Before she could throw in the onslaught of profanities she’d planned to unleash, he stuffed the sock back in her mouth, muffling her words. She tried to spit it back out but he pressed the blade to her throat. Marie froze. A tsunami of fear crashed over her; every muscle rigidly tensed to prevent trembling. One little slip, she thought; one hand tremble, or a cough and he’ll slit my throat. Trying not to think about what could happen, she willed herself to stay as still as possible.
            “That was a rude outburst, Marie. Don’t you think? Yes, I’m sure you do. Even though you can’t nod your head right now because my knife will slice through your windpipe, you know you were being impolite. Since you and I are going to be spending lots of time together, you’d be wise to watch your mouth. Now, would you like to apologize?”
The absurdity of what he’d said left her stunned. This wacko kidnapped me, shackled me to a table, and stuffed a dirty sock in my mouth but, somehow, I’m the rude one? Unbelievable, she thought. Though her body remained tensed, Marie’s eyes expressed what she was unable to say aloud. Fury and disgust laser beamed from her corneas into his forehead but unlike comic book characters, she was unable to inflict real damage on her captor.
            “That does not look like remorse, Pet,” he hissed as he pressed the point of his blade just under her eye.
Despite her best effort, the bubbling fear sent tears streaming down her cheeks. He dabbed them away with a rag before applying a strip of duct tape over her mouth.
            “Ah, yes, you’re contrite now, aren’t you? Well, I’m afraid this is just too little, too late. You need to be taught a lesson. First, you interrupted all the effort I put forth into capturing that rich-witch redhead. Then, you were disrespectful to me. You leave me with no other choice. This is going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt me, my pet”
At the close of his monologue, he applied one more strip of tape. He turned his back and Marie was left to consider his words. Great…I’m being “taught a lesson” by a homicidal freak. There’s got to be a way out of here. Wait, what was that?
The strange hissing noise made Marie crane her neck to see what he was doing. Oh SHIT!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Serial- Part 26

    Enraged, he paced back and forth in the small room like a caged tiger. Not only had his target, the rude redhead in her BMW, slipped through his fingers; a stranger had seen him. If only he’d looked before tossing her into his vehicle he could have played the role of a hero who’d saved a drunk girl from nearly face-planting onto the sidewalk. Instead, the mystery girl woke up shackled to the table in his basement. A torrent of profanities flew from his lips. You have no choice. She saw your face…she has to die.
    The internal debate raged on: kill her or set her free. On one hand, he knew he could not release her, at least not alive, but the logistics behind her death was the true choice at hand. He had always prided himself on ridding the world of the rudest, most obnoxious, people his city had to offer but this time it would be different. For the first time, he felt something akin to guilt and remorse. I’ll draw it out of her. Surely, she must have some secret that makes her worthy of agonizing death. I’ll find it and then I’ll make her pay…just like the others. Believing that it would only take a little pressure, he resolved to bring out her worst to appease his conscience.  With as much force as he could muster, he ripped the tape from her face and yanked the sock from her mouth
            “OW!” She screamed. “Are my lips still attached? Sheesh!”
That’s it? Okay, time to kick it up a notch. Knowing she could not see what he was doing, he turned his back to her and faced his work bench. He deliberated jumbled his tools and knives to pique her fears. A quick glance over his shoulder revealed that she was trying to crane her neck to see what was going on while catching her breath. When he lit the blowtorch, that’s when she broke the silence.
            “Excuse me. Could you please tell me what’s going on here? Clearly, you thought you had someone else so why don’t you just put something in my drink; I’ll fall asleep and you can dump me off somewhere. I barely saw your face so there’s no way I could identify you. No harm/no foul, right?”
She even said please. Damn her! He turned to face her and stared directly in her eyes. Say something rude. Do it. Mentally willing her to obey, he raised his favorite filleting knife to eye level.
            “Okay, let’s just take a deep breath, shall we? No need to…”
Marie was attempting to keep calm but the waver in her voice betrayed her. His eyes lit with sheer malice. Her fear will make her crack. It always does.
***Please return Monday, September 22nd for the next installment of SERIAL***

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Serial- Part 25

He reached under the back seat to retrieve a duffle bag. Must look the part, after all. In a flash, he had completely changed his attire and shoes to fit in with the club crowd. He looked like a different man as he paid the cover charge. I’ll take that charge out of her collagen-filled lips and liposuctioned ass. He strolled to the bar and ordered a drink: club soda with a twist of lime.
            “I’m the designated driver tonight.” He offered as an explanation.
            “Good for you, man. Arrive alive. Nah, it’s on the house.”
He thanked the bartender and slipped him a twenty as a tip. The bartender’s eyes popped when he unfolded the bill.
            “Wait! I think you must have grabbed the wrong-”
He held up his hand to stop the bartender.
            “No, I know what I handed you. Kindness should always be rewarded. I’m guessing all these wannabe players stiff you when it comes to tips, huh?”
            “You don’t know the half of it. The waitresses with their skimpy skirts and breasts popping out rake in the serious cash but when the men come up here to get a drink we’re lucky to get a couple quarters.”
He shook his head and commiserated with the bartender for a few minutes before his eyes caught sight of his target. This place is going to be a veritable smorgasbord of victims. I definitely need to make a few return visits. But, for now, there’s the girl I need to meet. He watched her first, as she interacted with the other girls around her. He watched as she treated waitresses and waiters like dirt or practically spat in the faces of men who asked her to dance. He flagged a waitress and sent a round of drinks to Miss YouWish’s table but asked not to be pointed out. Moments later, he sent the waitress over with another round. The girls pranced around the dance floor and his redheaded victim exuded an air of arrogance. Yes, soon you will be mine. He strolled over to the same bartender to place an order for the BMW driver.
            “Hey! How’s it going? Another club soda DD?”
            “Thanks, no. I have a special lady friend I’d like to surprise. How about an apple martini? Make it strong, buddy, I need all the help I can get.”
            “You’ve got it, brother. Good luck!”
He moved to a corner booth with the drink and seconds later a colorless, odorless, tasteless powder dissolved into the drink. Step two…complete.
            “Miss? Hi, I’m sorry. I got her a drink and, well, now I’m too shy to give it to her. Would you?”
            “Aw, you’re too sweet. Between you and me, you’re too good for her but I’ll deliver it if you want. Same table, right?”
            “Yes, please.”
            “What if I pointed you out to her? How about that?”
            “Oh, gosh. I don’t think I could. Wait! Would it be corny if I wrote her note and asked her to meet me by the door?”
            “Well…Here, go ahead and use my pad. I’ll deliver it but don’t get your hopes up, okay?”
He handed the note to her and a hefty tip. People never remember the faces of a big tipper. The note simply stated, “Please enjoy your drink. I find you very attractive and I’d be honored if you’d meet me outside on the deck. It might be a bit chilly--Wear your jacket.”
He slipped outside and waited. After ten minutes, he started to wonder if she’d refused his offer. She seemed like the type who would storm out there, entourage at her heels, to humiliate some poor sap. By the time she’d make it outside, the drug would be kicking into high gear and he could sweet talk her into chatting for a while, alone. Just as he made his way toward the door, a woman staggered outside. The hood of her black coat covered her head as she fell into his arms. He wrapped his arms around her waist and dragged her to his vehicle. Fellow men from the club gave him “the nod”, that head-tipping, knowing look that meant: we’ve all been there, buddy.  It never raised suspicions when he needed to drag a victim away from a bar or club. Her legs had stopped moving altogether by the time he reached his SUV. He dropped her into the back, tossed a blanket over her, and raced back inside. He went back to the bar and ordered a soda. He threw another ten at the bartender and said goodbye. Next, he sought out the waitress.
            “Thanks for your help. She shot me down but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Have a great night, miss. Here, this is for you.”
He dropped a ten on her tray before heading out the door. On the outside, he had an air of calm but on the inside he was chomping at the bit to get home. It took every ounce of self control not to run to his vehicle; even more not to speed or run red lights. It felt like an eternity until he made it back to his humble abode. He left the garage light off as he lugged his cargo into the basement. Upstairs, he could hear his dog sniffing under the basement door but he remained in darkness. His new victim would be unconscious long enough for him to get her shackled to the table and prepare her for whatever struck his fancy. Once she was secured in the windowless room, he finally flicked on the light.
            “What the hell? Who are you?”
The girl on his table had short, blonde-almost-platinum hair. The cute pixie cut flattered her rosy cheeks. He was wondering how he’d ended up with the wrong girl when her steel blue eyes fluttered open.  This is all wrong! Not the right girl and she should NOT be waking yet.
            “Wha? Wh-Wh-?”
            “Who are you?”
            “M-Ma-Marie. Thir-sty”
Scowling, he stormed out of the room and returned a moment later with a bottle of water and a straw. She slurped nearly half the bottle before the coughing fit erupted. He was near seething by the time she’d recovered.
            “Where am I and who are you?” She demanded.
            “I’ll ask the questions here.”
            “Screw you! You kidnapped me you twisted f-”
Before she could finish the word, he stuffed a sock in her mouth and slapped duct tape over it. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Serial-Part 24

Once the cameras stopped rolling and the television news vans departed, Agent Dictator pounced.
            “What the hell was that? I guess you think you’re so clever withholding key evidence. I could have your badge for that, Crash.”
            “I did not, under any circumstances, withhold evidence, information, or anything else pertaining to this case. You never bother to ask.” Bill’s tone was calm, almost serene. “Instead of taking a moment to converse with those of us who have already been working these murders, you jumped in front of the camera like the glory-seeking hound you are. I fail to see how that could possibly be construed as my fault, seeing as how protocol dictates the proper way to proceed with an investigation. You did not follow protocol.”
Agent Dictator’s face turned same shade as the glob of ketchup clinging to his tie. Fellow agents and local law enforcement alike stopped what they were doing, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Most expected him to explode, the agent’s face certainly looked as if it would; instead Videla stormed off, barking orders into his cell phone.
            “Something tells me, Agent Dictator doesn’t like me very much,” Bill quipped as he joined Seth, Angela, and Kim.
            “Why ever would you think such a thing?”
            “The Captain won’t be happy. He’ll get an earful from the FBI director but inside he’ll be laughing too. Listen, I hate to do this but better me than the Fibbies…Kim, Angela, I need you two to come give statements.”
            “Really?” Seth asked. “They have to give statements because he said you withheld evidence? Heck, sign me up! I’ll give a statement too.”
            “No, Seth, that’s not why,” Kim replied. “We need to give statements because we knew her. Bill’s right. It’s better if we get it on record now and offer to recuse ourselves from the investigation than have to put up with Dick Dictator.”
            “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, Seth. Agent Dictator’s first name is Richard.”
Unable to hold it back, Seth’s laughter sounded more like a snort, stirring the others laugh uncontrollably.
    The sky was dark by the time Seth drove home alone. As Detective Crash requested, Kim and Angela went to the station to provide statements. The drive felt lonely and, only then, did he wonder what kind of reception he’d find at home. Crap! I didn’t even think to call Mel. She’s going to be pissed. Maybe I should stop and pick up something special for her. It’s not too late to still have a nice, quiet evening together. He picked up a bottle wine, some long stemmed roses, and a box of chocolate covered strawberries before cruising home. The house was dark, leaving Seth to assume she had gone to bed angry. Instead, he found a note on the kitchen counter.
I went out with my friends. They, unlike you, have time for me. Dinner is in the fridge if you want it. Don’t wait up!
Seth raked his fingers through his hair and slammed his fist down on the counter. Roused from his sleep, Malachi trotted into the kitchen to investigate.
            “Mommy went out, huh? Guess she’s pissed off at me. Well, Kai, I guess she’s entitled but…”
He stooped down to give Malachi a scratch behind the ears and that’s when the dog’s wide tongue slurped across Seth’s face.
            “Thanks, buddy. I needed that. C’mon, let’s go for a ride and we’ll go pick up some treats for you. Now, don’t you dare tell Mommy She would not approve.”
His car felt as though it was on auto pilot; he’d driven that same route so many times he could have done it with his eyes closed. Just then, a shiny red Beemer cut in front of him and blew through the light. Instinctively, his hands pounded the center of the steering wheel sending an angry blast from his horn. The driver rolled down her window and flipped him off with her perfectly manicured, French tipped, artificial-nailed finger. Blood-boiling, seething rage welled up from the inner recesses that he tried to keep at bay. He followed the vanity plate YOU WISH for several miles until the BMW pulled up to a glitzy club. The redhead behind the wheel tossed her keys to the valet as four other girls hopped out of the car.
            “The victims I’ve researched will have to wait. There’s someone who needs to learn some manners.”
He cracked his knuckles and pulled around back to the parking garage. A quick scan revealed no cameras. Perfect!   

Monday, September 15, 2014

Serial- Part 23

After shooting out the surveillance cameras all along the community college’s parking lots and behind the main building, he unceremoniously dumped his “pet” alongside the dumpsters. It was still dark as his SUV pulled into his garage.
            “Aw, look who came to see me. Who’s my good boy? Are you ready to go night-night?”
The dog’s tail wagged for his master and trotted upstairs to the bedroom. While the television droned in the background, he was already researching his notes on his next victim.

            “Seth, sweetie? I made you breakfast.”
Melanie kissed her husband's face and forehead until his eyes fluttered open. Seconds later, Malachi jumped into the bed and helped Mel rouse the sleepy author from his bed.
            “Okay, okay! I’m up. I swear it.”
The rich scents of percolated coffee and bacon made Seth’s stomach rumble. He brushed his teeth and headed downstairs, still in his pajamas. It felt like a Saturday but he knew it wasn’t. He was trying to remember what day it was when he reached the kitchen.  All of his breakfast favorites were set out on the table: bacon, French toast, Mel’s famous yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit, coffee and orange juice.
            “Mmm, this looks delicious, babe. What’s the occasion?”
            “No occasion. Can’t I just spoil the man I love?”
            “Spoil away, my dear. I was just surprised, that’s all. Did you call off work today?”
            “As a matter of fact, I did. I’m playing hooky today. Well, not really. I miscounted. I had an extra use-it-or-lose-it vacation day so, rather than lose it; I took it. I forgot to tell you last night. I was so sleepy after dinner. It just slipped my mind. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you put something in my food to make me sleep.”
They laughed at her joke and even Malachi seemed to know it was a vacation day. The mood of his humans felt more jubilant than normal. Regardless of the reason, he enjoyed the strips of bacon that were being slipped to him under the table, presumably without the other’s knowledge. Even clean-up seemed to be less of a chore. Melanie and Seth acted more like newlyweds; washing the dishes together and spraying each other with sudsy water. And then the phone rang; the elephant in the room or the turd in the punch bowl. It was the one thing that, lately, seemed to divide them and intrude upon their otherwise idyllic lives. For a brief moment, she stared at him as if wanting to say, “Let it go to voicemail”, but she didn’t.
            “Aren’t you going to get that? There might be a new body.”
Seth smiled and answered his phone. She’s too good to me. She knows I’ll end up going out and she’ll be left all alone but she lets me do what’s best for my writing. I’ll make it up to you one day, Mel. I’ll have enough money to get you anything your heart desires.
    Melanie watched her husband’s face light up and she knew what it meant. Her vacation day would be spent with Malachi unless she could find one of her friends in between shuttling their kids from one event to another. Lost in a state of ennui, she barely noticed as Seth dropped a kiss on her cheek before he raced upstairs to shower.
    The community college was not more than ten minutes from Seth’s home. He’d never been to a crime scene in the daylight before and it felt oddly out of place. On one hand, it seemed so much less threatening but on the other, it was much easier to see what had happened to the victim in full scale. The throng of workers only added to the chaos. Every few seconds another cell phone snapped photos or onlookers tried to do amateur video reports to post on social media. Eventually, the police were forced to demand that the college’s employees be sent home so that the victim’s privacy could be protected. Seth stayed off to the side and out of everyone’s way as they worked. The onslaught of new victims brought more law enforcement out of the woodwork. Even the FBI decided to grace the local authorities with their presence.
            “The killer knew this girl.” The new agent announced. “Look at the way she’s placed here, so delicate….and covered with a hand-stitched blanket. There was some sort of bond here. We need this girl’s identity ASAP! I want prints and forensics now, not in ten minutes, not tomorrow, NOW!”
Seth gaped at the newcomer, shocked by his rude demeanor.
            “He’s a real ass; isn’t he?”
The words came from behind him and Seth nearly leapt out of his skin.
            “Damn, Bill! Give a guy a heart attack, why don’t ya? Sheesh!”
            “I wouldn’t dream of it. Your lovely wife would kill me if I gave you a heart attack on top of everything else. What Agent Dictator doesn’t know is that we’ve already done all of that. Even more, we already have an ID of the victim because she was taking night classes here.”
            “I assume you’re being facetious and his last name isn’t really dictator, or is it?”
            “I’m so glad you get my sense of humor, Seth, but be careful about assuming. You know what they say, right? Sadly, this unfortunate SOB’s last name is Videla.”
            “Um, I’m not following you.”
            “Jorge Rafael Videla was a ruthless dictator in Argentina. A redundancy, isn’t it? Ruthless dictator. Anyway, I saddled him with the nickname Agent Dictator during the Rhymes case and it stuck. You can see why. I’ll be back in a minute…the journalists and television news crews have arrived so I’m going to go make Agent Dictator look like the idiot he is.”
Seth smiled. Seeing obnoxious people get served their just reward made his day. Just as Bill had anticipated, Agent Dictator tried to bask in the spotlight. He preened before the cameras and boasted about the FBI’s involvement, vowing to take over for the overburdened local police. Grinning for the on air reporter, he continued.
            “As we speak, our men are collecting data to uncover the latest victim’s identity and we will--”
            “If I may, Agent Di, um, Agent Videla” Detective Crash interrupted. “The overburdened local police has already obtained the victim’s identity and, after her family has been notified; we will release a statement.”
            “Detective Crash!”
A plethora of reporters and newscasters called out his name begging to ask their questions. Bill obliged as Agent Videla seethed in the background. Seth’s muffled guffaw drew curious looks from Angela and Kim. He waved them over and explained what Bill had done.
            “I’m setting my DVR to record every local news program tonight so I can watch it over and over again. The look on that FBI agent’s face was priceless. Don’t you just love when rude people get owned?” Kim laughed.
            “Especially him,” Angela agreed. “Agent Dictator is such a jerk. If anyone deserved to have their tongue cut out and lodged in an uncomfortable place; it would be him.” 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Serial- Part 21

            “Just think, this entire city…Scratch that. Our entire state is just crawling with rude people. I’m actually performing a public service. I should be given a medal instead of having to keep my activities hidden. I’ll show you what I mean. I’m sure you’ve been to that coffee shop on the corner of Main and Vine, Dark Side of the spoon, right?”
She nodded but doubted he’d noticed. He was too caught up in his monologue.
            “Then I can guarantee that, at one time or another, you were waited on by Trevor. He was smug, condescending little SOB who had something rude to say to each and every customer. No doubt, you noticed a whole lot of commotion the other day. Well, that was Trevor having his sarcastic tongue cut from his mouth. I didn’t bother moving him into a room like yours since he wasn’t worth keeping around. Just the sight of him infuriated me. He was discovered the other night and I’ll bet the cops and the medical examiners are in a state of panic. First, there was the lady they’d found in the trunk of a car, then the floater who’d served as fish food for about two weeks before he washed up from the river. The backtalking barista, Trevor, was next and then they’ll find you. It will prove how incompetent the police really are. They can call in the FBI, the National Guard, and/or Batman but I’ll never, ever, get caught.”
            “Yesss, you will,” she slurred. “Thhhey’ll c-c-catch y-y-uhhhh”
            “It’s about time you finally shut up, pet. I will never be caught because people are idiots. My plan is perfect and before my patsy goes down everyone will be pointing fingers at each other. My puppets will dance just like they did before. Gerald Rhymes was nothing compared to the next monster they’ll frame. The cops are so easily fooled. They’ll nail another innocent slob and I’ll laugh at their ineptitude. For now, it appears the strychnine in your soup teamed with the antifreeze in your soda have left you paralyzed. Pet, I wish I could say this wasn’t going to hurt a bit but I’d be lying.”
    Though she was unable to move, or speak, she could hear everything he’d said. Panic struck, coursing the poison through her system even faster. The slow suffocation was excruciating and fear had nearly swallowed her whole until a brilliant, warm, light enveloped her. A voice, one that sounded like her grandmother, called her by name. A lullaby, the same hymn her grandmother used to sing ushered her to the great beyond. Once his captive’s heart ceased to beat; it was time to prepare her for the big unveiling.
            "Oh, my pet, you will be a monkey wrench in whatever theories the cops have begun to formulate. But where to put you…that is the true test. I think one of the dumpsters on the community college’s campus will be a good place for you. You’ll be discovered quickly; at least I hope you will. I’d hate to think of maggots feasting on your flesh.”
The dead body was doused with several buckets filled with a bleach and water mixture. Once the final excrements from her body were flushed away and her clothing spread out on the table to dry, her naked corpse was wrapped in a special, handmade sheet tied toga-style around her body. Her captor had made the “death shroud” especially for her out of treated flesh from his past victims.
            “I hand sewed this for you, my pet. I hope you like it. Perhaps, you even learned how to appreciate gifts now that I taught you some manners.”
With a backpack full of supplies, he loaded the body into his vehicle and tossed a blanket over her. His backpack was secured into the passenger seat before he started the engine and opened the garage door.
            “I shall miss you, my pet. There might be someone else in your room but they’ll never fill your place in my heart.”
A cruel, sarcastic laugh immediately followed his words. He was already planning to capture his next victim.
***Be sure to return, Monday, September 15th for the next installment of SERIAL***

Monday, September 8, 2014

Serial- Part 20

Three pairs of wide, unblinking, eyes stared at Detective Bill Crash, wondering if they had heard correctly. Did he really just say, “Eat it”?
            “Well, if you look at the sections removed on each victim, they would be prime edible spots. Think about it…the floater had a slice taken out from around his ribs. Trevor here is missing a nice meaty strip right here,” Bill explained as he pointed to the corresponding areas on his own body. “Why else would the killer take those areas? Rhymes had already told the world that those were tasty cuts. I wouldn’t be surprised if the killer mimics the rest of Gerald Rhymes’ victims until he, or she, is caught.”
            “A copy cat,” Angela sighed. “Just what we need.”
            “What’s worse is that we have no leads. Until we find something, we’re going to see more and more dead bodies popping up.”
They tried to brainstorm, hoping that any speculation might trigger a something that would lead to a clue, but after several hours there was nothing uncovered.  Weary and achy, Seth trudged out to his car and waved goodbye to the others. He hoped he would make it home before Melanie. After ruining her sleep, he wanted to make her something special for dinner.
            “Rise and shine, sleepyhead. You haven’t passed on now, have you?”
He placed two fingers against his captive’s throat to see if she still had a pulse. The faint throbbing increased as the girl’s eyes fluttered. She’d lost all track of time in the windowless room where she was tied to a table. Since the night he’d first taken her she prayed for death but it had not come.
            “I have some good news for you. Would you like a little good news for a change?”
She nodded her head. Dehydration had taken its toll and she was unable to produce tears. Please, God, let him kill me without too much pain. I can’t take much more.
            “Well, I have some good news for you. I brought you something to drink and some food. Would you like that?”
Even though the offer seemed too good to be true, her head bobbed up and down rapidly. She tried to force her eyes open wider and emulate eagerness. Instead, the movement only managed to make her feel dizzy.
            “Good, I’m glad you’ve learned to appreciate gifts when they’re given. You, my pet, have been my greatest achievement. Now, let’s untie your arms and I’ll help you up.”
Stiff from the restraints, she allowed her captor to help her into an upright position. For the first time, he was gentle when removing the duct tape over her mouth. Next, he placed a paper cup in her hand and she slurped semi-flat cola through a straw. Her parched throat absorbed the fluids and she sipped until the cup was empty. It was then that he produced a bowl of noodle soup. She’d guzzled half the bowl before she noticed a funny taste in the back of her throat.     
            “What’s wrong, pet? Feeling a little lightheaded? Yes, I thought you might. Sadly, our time together has come to an end. You see, I managed to frame that moron for my earlier escapades and now I’m going to do it again. The best part about this is….I already have the perfect dupe. Even better, I actually have the choice of several different suspect. They’ll be the next copy cats shortly thereafter. I cannot and will not get caught. EVER!”
**Unfortunately, my pets, YOUR torture must last longer. I will be "off the grid" for several days and unable to post to my blog; however, I will reward you with an extra-long installment when I return. As an added bonus, I will also reveal some top-secret, very exciting news. Until then, I leave you with this warning:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Station Identification Break

We interrupt this installment of Serial to bring you these words from your sponsor.

As a contributing author for the Zombie Response Team, I would like to personally invite you check out the ZRT website and the recent article I wrote on Alternative Energy at: 

Thank you and we'll return you to your regularly scheduled program after this..... 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Serial- Part 19

            “Sorry guys. I, um, have low blood sugar and I ran out of the house without eating. It was dumb and I know better but I feel better now.”
Color burned on Seth’s cheeks. He wondered whether they’d truly bought his story but he had to say something. Pull yourself together, man! They’re looking at you like you’re losing it.
            “No need to apologize,” Kim insisted. “I’m sure I’ve got a pack of crackers or a candy bar in my desk. Wait here and I’ll get you something to eat.”
            “That’s okay, you really don’t have…Okay, I guess she’s not listening, huh?”
Angela and Bill laughed as they watched Kim disappear inside the building and return seconds later with an assortment of snacks: a pack of peanut butter crackers, an apple, at bottle of water, a banana, and a candy bar.
            “Here, eat however much you need. No one is allowed to pass out in my morgue!”
Under threat of being force fed, Seth munched on the crackers between sips of water. In spite of his insistence that he felt much better, both ladies made him polish off the candy bar also.
            “Okay, I ate it all-gone now, Mom. Can I go play now?”
Seth’s words dripped with sarcasm but the girls laughed anyway and agreed they could all go back inside. Once everyone was gowned and ready, it was time to get back to business.
            “So, before Seth almost did a crash and burn into the dead guy,” Angela teased. “Bill, you said you could explain why tongue-less Trevor didn’t spit out the blood. What were you talking about?”
            “Well, I noticed a few things when I was looking over the body and, now that we have more information, it all makes sense. For example, see right here on his cheeks? Something was gouging into them on both sides. I think it was a bite block with a cheek retractor…they use them in the dental offices sometimes but usually the dentist doesn’t clamp it on so tight that it digs into the flesh.”
            “So our murderer is a dentist?”
            “No, not necessarily. Anyone can buy that stuff on Amazon or Ebay nowadays so it could be anybody. What’s interesting is how there is also a small puncture wound, right here.”
Using an instrument, Bill pointed to a spot right along the recently deceased’s hairline. The others leaned in to see exactly where he was pointing.
            “I might be wrong but I think our killer rigged up some kind of harness to keep the victim’s head up and back. Think about it. If you were strapped down and your mouth was forced open so you couldn’t close it; meanwhile, your lips and cheeks were forcibly retracted, it is already going to be difficult to swallow. Now, the tongue has pincer marks so it is safe to assume that the killer used some sort of tongs or maybe even a pair of pliers to pull that sucker out as far as he could before getting in there with a knife and hacking it off. Unlike all of the other pieces that were removed, the killer didn’t heat the implement to cauterize the flesh as he cut. He…or she... wanted, Mr. Burbridge to drown in his own blood. I can’t prove it but I’d be willing to bet money that ole tongue-less Trevor, as you so charmingly nicknamed him, had something blocking his nose too. It could have been something as simple as a clothes pin but with the inability to breathe through his nose, he’d have been forced to breathe through his mouth. When panic or pain sets in, what is one of the first physical responses we have?”
            “Rapid respiration,” Seth interjected.
            “Exactly! So, our victim was inhaling at an accelerated rate when a tidal wave of blood poured down his throat. He couldn’t put his head down to let the blood flow out of his mouth so... the only thing he could try was coughing hard enough to expel the blood but you need air in your lungs to cough. With that much fluid pouring down his throat, it wouldn’t take long for him to die. This was mostly a superficial amputation of the tongue so it was more about the symbolism since he didn’t eat it.”   
         “What do you mean, eat it?”