Chapter 8

November 14, 2011 at 12:17 am (The Truth)

The blood had invigorated him. Its gorgeous red hue and succulent scent had driven him almost to orgasm. The woman’s screams, muted for the sake of the neighbours, drove him onward. Careful, Steven thought, don’t let the giddiness overrule his good sense. He had to stick to the plan, after all.

He hadn’t expected to enjoy killing women as much as he did. In the past, it had always been boys. His teacher had always been obsessed with little boys. He hadn’t diddled them, he had just liked to carve them up. And even that had lessened with time. Steven thought that his teacher didn’t quite have the stomach for the job anymore. As time marched on, the student was becoming stronger and more skilled than his teacher.

Having the use of the woman for the past few days had been wonderful. She hadn’t screamed nearly as much as he’d hoped she would. He couldn’t use force while he was raping her. His teacher would have noticed any marks he’d placed on her body. The marks had to match, he’d insisted.

He’d been forced to go out and purchase her some heroin. The demon that crawled under her skin had demanded sustenance and he had been forced to tie her down and gag her or she would have attracted too much attention. The heroin had calmed her enough that he had untied her and used her for hours. She hadn’t cared what he had done to her. It had been glorious.

None of the girls he’d fucked now, or when he’d been in school, had ever wanted to do anything fun. They’d refused to let him tie them up. Some of the younger ones had refused full intercourse. He’d almost slammed his dick into one bitch before common sense had prevailed and he’d left the whore lying on her bed. She’d cried and told him she loved him and he had walked out of the room and never talked to her again. She didn’t understand what love was. None of them did.

Her screams were getting weaker. The fresh heroin he’d let her have hadn’t been strong enough to block out what he was doing to her body. Tears streamed down her face and she choked on her sobs. Steven loved the sound of her panting cries. He wanted to fuck her while she bled around him. He wanted to stab his knife into her in rhythm with his dick.

He wanted to bathe in her blood.

***

The killer had stood off to the side and watched as Steven performed the ritual. Steven did a thorough job. Steven enjoyed the ritual more than he ever had. The game had never interested Steven. This would be like a twofer. Steven got the blood and he got the game.

How this woman’s death would shake the city to its core. He was back and they would know it soon. He waited for Steven to finish and then he walked over and watched the woman die. Steven hadn’t wanted to use an autopsy table, like he had twenty years ago. Steven had liked doing his work right on the cold cement.

It took them an hour to prep the body for transport. The killer didn’t want any stray hairs or skin cells to remain in the car. It was a rental and he’d had Steven use a false name on the documents, but he still wasn’t taking any chances. Once the woman had been stowed in the trunk, he had insisted that Steven spend another half hour washing the blood and other fluids down the drain in the middle of the floor. It would have been easier with an autopsy table, but he had to give in to some of Steven’s preferences. When he was satisfied with Steven’s work, he poured a gallon of bleach down the drain. Anything the crime scene techs could dig from the drain would be compromised by the bleach.

Steven parted ways with his teacher once the warehouse was cleansed. He took the rental car and drove to the appointed staging spot. His teacher had insisted that he wait a minimum of one hour before setting the scene. Steven didn’t like sitting in the car with the body in the trunk. He was vulnerable and he knew it. If a cop came by and searched the car, he’d be in deep shit. The idea of a cop coming by struck him as really funny and he laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks.

Steven had forgotten to check his watch when he left the warehouse. He estimated the amount of time it took to get from the warehouse to the staging site and decided he’d waited long enough. Exiting the car, he popped the trunk and pulled the woman’s body out. Dragging her along the cement, he shoved her onto a small patch of grass beside a garage and unraveled her from the plastic.

His hands encased in gloves, he positioned her as his teacher had demanded. When the scene was set, he grabbed the plastic and dragged it back to the trunk. Shoving it in, he started the car and drove up the alley. He still had to ditch the plastic and return the car to the rental agency, but those were minor details. The bulk of the job was behind him. Steven hoped his teacher didn’t intend to wait long between killings. He could feel his insides quivering with anticipation of the next one.

He wanted another woman to play with.

***

Mack was once again hunched over the files in his kitchen nook, adding bits of information where it fit in the puzzle. He had a functioning back door now and the aching muscles to prove it. He’d made decent headway on the patio, too, but figured it would be a full day on Sunday as well before that was finished.

He found his mind wandering back to Nelle. Several times while he’d been hammering nails he’d shaken himself out of some daydream that stalled his progress on the patio. He had to laugh at himself. He’d given Harris such a hard time for being stuck on Nelle when she was only ten years old and now here he was behaving the same way. Their conversation while driving to and from Surrey had been relaxed and honest. He hadn’t needed to temper what he was saying. Talking to her had been cathartic and he hoped she’d felt the same way.

The ME had called to give him the details of the Ebersole autopsy. There had been nothing of note. Carlton Ebersole had indeed died from the giant knife sticking from his back. It was a clean blow, striking no bone on the way in. It severed the aorta, killing him in seconds. Otherwise, Carlton had been in excellent health. He didn’t smoke, he wasn’t a heavy drinker and there were no illegal drugs in his system at the time of his death.

The crime lab had called a half hour later to tell him that the prints on the windowsill belonged to the wife. Mack updated Pike and made plans to visit the widow Ebersole first thing Monday morning. Mack had ignored Pike’s crack about his voodoo being on the fritz.

Mack had stopped for dinner and then put another hour into the patio before calling it quits. A quick shower and he was ready to tackle the files. Now, several hours later, he decided it was time to quit. His eyes were getting droopy and his mind wasn’t quite as focused as he needed it to be. Tucking the files away, he stood up and switched off the light in the kitchen. Halfway to the living room, he heard an ear piercing scream coming from the back alley.

Mack grabbed his gun and streaked out the back door. Jumping the loose wood he’d left stacked at the edge of his patio, he raced across the back yard and out beside his garage. The screaming woman stood across the alley from him, but was facing him and pointing. Mack turned to his left and saw the body spread-eagled on a small patch of grass.

There was more blood on her than was likely still in her. After a quick assessment he determined that the death hadn’t happened here. Someone had killed the woman in another location and then brought her body to his alley.

He crossed the alley, tucking his gun into his waistband. Carefully approaching the woman so as not to scare her, he gently cupped her shoulders and blocked her view of the body. She collapsed against him and he wrapped her in his arms.

“Do you have a phone with you?” he asked.

The woman nodded and pulled her cell phone from her purse. Taking it from her, Mack called the precinct. He called Pike next, telling him he needed him on site. He didn’t know if the inspector would allow them to handle the case, but he didn’t want to waste any time if they got the go-ahead.

“Why don’t you think they’d give it to us?” Pike asked. “You’re already on scene.”

“The DB is my mother,” Mack replied, referring to the dead body lying on his grass. At first glance, he’d been looking for any signs of life, though he’d known from the amount of blood that that was unlikely. The longer he’d looked, the more the features had aligned themselves into ones he’d recognized.

“Shit,” Pike muttered. “I’m on my way.”

***

Within the hour, his alley looked like a three-ring circus. A tent was pitched over the body, to protect it from the drizzle that had started to fall. Yellow crime scene tape had been stretched across the alley, blocking Mack’s access to his backyard. The ME, Adia Kovel, had only just arrived with two attendants ready to move the body on her order.

Mack’s boss, Inspector Keith Hilbert, had given him the go-ahead to process the scene, but ordered Mack to keep his head about it. If there was any sign that Mack was bearing too much pressure, Hilbert would take him off the case. Mack ignored the qualifier. Someone had done this to his mom and he intended to find out who it was. This was no random attack. The fact that her body had been dumped behind his house was an orchestrated slap in the face.

Pike had arrived twenty minutes before the ME had. He’d hunkered down next to the body and analyzed it with Mack. Once the photos were taken, the hands were bagged and the ME rolled the body.

“What do you make of this?” Kovel asked, motioning Mack closer.

Mack leaned over to view his mother’s back. Kovel pointed to the middle of her spine. Blood was obscuring part of the cuts made there, but what Mack couldn’t see yet, he could fill in. He’d seen them before. He’d just been looking at them in the files in his house.

“It’s a Roman numeral. The killer is counting this victim as, by the looks of it, number eight.” An image flashed through his mind, too quick for him to catch at first. Staring into the distance, he brought it into focus. It wasn’t an image but a serious of them flipping rapid-fire across his brain, like a cartoon flip book. He saw a hand wielding a knife, carving the Roman numeral into flesh.

“You recognize this?” the ME asked.

“I do,” Mack said, distracted.

“Are you going to fill me in, Detective?”

It was posed as a question, but Mack knew Kovel wasn’t actually giving him a choice about answering. Mack knew what he was looking at, but some of the damage to the body was different. Still, the ME would be able to research the case and determine how exactly the two styles were the same and in what ways they were different.

“The Surrey Slayer,” Mack replied.

“Ah, jeez,” she whispered, glancing at the mark on the body. There wasn’t a soul in law enforcement or the field of medicine, in British Columbia, who wasn’t aware of the case. “Do we have a copycat here, or the real thing?”

“I’ll need you to review the original case and help me determine that.”

“Then I’ll see you in my office at 8am sharp, Detective.” The ME motioned for her attendants to move in with the body bag.

Mack took Pike aside. When they’d moved away from any eager ears, he whispered what he knew. “It’s the same as the Surrey Slayer. It was never released to the public, but each body had a Roman numeral on it, carved into the spine. My brother was number seven.”

Either someone else had accessed the police file and learned of this fact, they’d been told about it by a former officer who had worked the case, or the original killer was sending them a message. Mack had never believed that the Surrey Slayer had quit killing. But, if the number was correct, he must have.

“Detective?” Kovel called out to him.

Mack walked back and squatted down next to her. The ME had used a small forceps to pry something from the victim’s mouth. Dropping it into Mack’s hand, she then requested an extra light be brought closer. A small slip of paper had been rolled inside some plastic wrap, to keep it from getting damaged. Mack opened the plastic covering and dropped it into an evidence bag. Unraveling the item, he saw that newspaper letters had been cut out and pasted onto a small sheet of legal paper. The message was brief, but succinct.

 

For

twenty years

I slept

now the

hunger

is awake

and

I must feed

 

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