Peering through half-open eyelids, Seth struggled to make out the glowing, red numbers on the alarm clock. Five more minutes until Mel’s alarm goes off. Damn! I hate waking up right before the alarm. He fought to keep his eyes open as he watched the minutes tick down. Four, then three, then two minutes slipped by and each one made his eyes droop a little more. He drifted back to sleep just in time to be jolted awake by the alarm. Profanities rapid-fired from Seth’s mouth with such vehemence that Malachi sprang from the bed and cowered in the corner.
“I hope you’re happy; you’ve scared the dog to death.” Melanie reprimanded. “I don’t know what you’re so pissed about. At least you can go back to bed; I’m the one who has to get up.”
Rolling his eyes, Seth flipped the pillows before turning over and attempting to go back to sleep. In the back of his mind, he hoped for a new body—preferably one both Kim and Angela could work on instead of Agent Dictator. He missed the fun banter with his Angels of Death and, of course, his new pal, Bill.
A few hours later, Seth awoke and the house was silent. The dog was curled up in the corner, sleeping, and there were no messages on his phone. A quick text to the ‘angels’ confirmed that there were no new victims. As much as he hated to admit it, there was a certain adrenaline to being there among the dead bodies. He’d never felt so alive. Being in the morgue, standing over a fresh victim, made Seth feel as if he’d cheated death. A little voice inside his told him to seek professional help. Only a psychopath gets a rush from gloating over victims, dude. Seek help!
Instead of calling a psychiatrist, he called Angela to see if there was any news. Hmm, can’t tell if she really doesn’t know anything or if she’s hiding something. I hope the find something soon. I need it to finish my book.
Marie opened her eyes and couldn’t tell if it was daytime or night. All sense of time seemed to fade in her windowless prison. Whether she’d slept for ten minutes or ten hours, she didn’t know. And I don’t care either, she thought bitterly, but her spirit was too strong to accept that kind of defeat. She did care, even more since Jill was now caught in the same vicious web.
“Jill,” she whispered. “Are you awake?”
“Shh, yes. Where is he?”
“I’m not sure…I fell asleep and—“
Just then the overhead light clicked on and Marie’s words froze on her tongue.
“It’s lovely to know my pets care so much about me. I’m your first thought as you wake and I haunt your dreams as you sleep. I have some good news for you. You’re going to have some company soon. I think it’s high time we shake things up now that the FBI is involved. You two had better be on your best behavior when I get back.”
Marie waited until the garage door opened and she heard the sound of his engine disappearing down the street.
“Okay, he’s gone, at least for now. Can you see a little silver key up on his workbench?”
“No, but you’re higher up. Can’t you see it?”
As much as she didn’t want to let Jill see what had become of her, Marie had no choice. Even if it breaks Jill’s heart, I have to let her know what that monster did to me. Vanity won’t help either of us get out of here, Marie decided.
In spite of the pain, and dizziness, she turned to face Jill.
“Oh my God! What’s wrong with your eye?”
Marie’s voice sounded coldly detached as she explained what he had done to her. Jill’s pale face lost all color by the time Marie had finished her tale.
“We’re gonna make that SOB pay,” Jill hissed. “When we get through with him, he’ll wish he was never born.”
Fury burned in Jill’s gut as she craned her neck and stretched against the restraints. A glint of silver was tucked back, nearly against the wall but it resembled the key Marie needed. With all of her strength, she threw her body toward the bench as the restraints sliced into her flesh but the cot pitched forward about an inch or so.
“How far did I move, Marie?”
“Almost two inches…can you try again?”
On the third try, Marie’s table was pulled closer to the workbench by the chains linked to Jill’s cot. For a fleeting moment, a flicker of hope kindled in her heart until the garage door opened and the flame was snuffed out.
“Quick! He’s coming. Scoot back where you were,” Marie hissed.
“Hang on a sec…I can almost reach.”
Jill’s fingers stretched out as far as they could until the metallic sound of the key clattered onto the floor. Muttering a curse, she snatched up the key and a split-second later Marie yanked on the chain to pull Jill back into place.
“Did you miss me, pets?”