Trinity Island – Chapter 10

December 31, 2012 at 10:23 am (Trinity Island)

He’d touched her hand and it was gloriously soft and smooth. He’d felt the warmth and vitality flowing through her veins. He’d wanted to slit them open to see her demons flow free. Because he’d seen the demons in her, too. They couldn’t hide from him. He knew what to look for; he knew where to look for them. Soon, he would have to help her, his beautiful Claire.

But first he had to finish with Megan. Such a pretty little thing, Megan was. Her flaxen hair lay shiny and thick against her face. He’d taken great care when washing her hair. She’d been very proud of it and he wanted to do right by her now. Her little body was still beautiful; the cuts he’d made glowing a brilliant red against her pale skin. She’d been a lovely dancer. He’d watched through the windows as she’d danced naked for her lover.

Then he’d watched her as she’d watched her lover take another, and another. The demons had screamed through her, but she’d ignored them. Her resolve was strong, but the demons were always stronger. She knew that now. She had seen the light at the end of his ministrations and now she knew the path she was on was right. She’d given herself over to his power with great enthusiasm and vigor.

Her screams had excited him. He’d used her the way her lovers had used her, but only he had helped her down the path of the light. He ran his hands over the cool flesh, remembering the screams and the exuberant battle her demons had fought. Leaning closer, he inhaled deeply, the clean, fresh scent of her dead flesh. Even now he could feel his body responding to the glorious beauty of her cooling skin. His fingers tingled with excitement as he trailed them up her inner thigh. He found the entrance with his middle finger and slipped it inside.

The cool moistness enveloped him and he moaned in ecstasy. His breathing became ragged as he moved his finger in deeper. In and out, as he had moved inside her. Panting, his body throbbing, he finally tore his finger free and scrambled onto the table with her. He thrust inside her, grunting with exertion until he emptied himself. Spent, he lay down on top of her, his finger lazily circling her nipple.

“My beautiful Megan, how perfect you are. So perfectly right for me, yet you gave yourself to him. That son of a whore who begat whores.” The panting grew until he gripped her breast in his fingers and squeezed. He punched her, once, twice, in the ribs, all the while muttering that she was a whore. Kneeling between her thighs, he let his fists fly, beating her breasts and stomach.

“Why him?” he screamed. “Why give yourself to a whore-maker unless you’re a whore, too!” He twisted his body, putting his back into it as he punched her. Sweat beaded up all over his body; it dripped off his face and pooled onto her chest. He didn’t notice when the sweat mingled with his tears. When the fight was gone, he collapsed on top of her and cried uncontrollably. He sobbed her name over and over. He didn’t notice when her name changed to that of another.

When even his tears were spent, he remained on top of her, crooning to her.

“My perfect Megan. Eternally, beautifully, mine.”

***

He zipped up the body bag, covering his beautiful Megan’s face for the last time. He didn’t remember beating on her, or making love to her one last time. He chose only to remember how valiantly she’d fought with him to rid herself of her demons. Such a strong, vibrant woman she’d been. He was glad to have known her; glad to have helped her. But the practical side of him knew that there were people out there who didn’t believe in his work.

He had to be careful with his ladies. If he didn’t lay them to rest just so, they’d be found and then his work would be over. He pushed the extra air from the bag before sealing the zipper with duct tape as extra precaution against seepage. He’d already backed his truck up against the door to his shed so he wouldn’t have to carry his lady very far. Heaving the body bag over his shoulder, he hefted it into the bed of the truck. Dragging the steel cable and hook across the room, he set it beside the bag. He would attach it to the bottom of the bag later. Adding the metal plate with the o-ring to the bags had been a stroke of genius. Now he didn’t worry that the join between the bag and the cable would ever break.

Turning back to the room, he gave it one last glance before closing the tailgate and getting into the cab. He didn’t have far to go. He wouldn’t drive the body off the island. He couldn’t; the tide was in. Instead, he drove his truck down to his dock. His boat was tied up, ready to receive its package. He backed his truck down the slope until it edged up against the dock. Getting out, he dropped the tailgate and hauled the bag out. Dropping it as gently as he could into the back of his boat, he retrieved the cable and set it down as well. He drove his truck back up to the house before returning to the boat and starting it up.

Tossing the lines, he putted his boat out around the west side of the island, heading for the second pinch point. This point was much smaller than the first, though it still flooded with water when the tide was in. The island it created when it was flooded was barely half the size of the middle island. Only one person lived out there, that freak calling himself a professor. Professor Chu supposedly studied botany and he allowed droves of students to clamber all over his land.

The freak turned up at the strangest times and it drove him crazy. But he had to take the chance that the professor would spot him as he crossed the pinch. There were far too many other people near the first pinch point and it would take too long to go all the way around the far island. It wasn’t large, but it was long, with most of the far tip being unusable land.

As he neared the pinch, he scanned the land for any movement. He didn’t think anyone would take much notice of him, except that he didn’t have his running lights on. He moved across the pinch, his boat clearing the muddy bottom with a few feet to spare. Continuing around, he headed east, toward the marina. He didn’t see any movement and assumed that the professor was tucked in for the night. He didn’t know that he was being watched from an entirely different spot and from an altogether unexpected source.

The Preacher powered his boat up for speed and then switched his motor off and allowed the momentum to carry him into the quiet marina. He couldn’t know that earlier in the day the cop and Mac had stood directly over his ladies while they tried to ascertain what had happened to them. He would have found that knowledge a little thrilling and a little worrying. He’d had free reign on the island until the cop came. Now he had to be extra careful not to make a mistake.

Taking out an oar, he carefully dipped it into the water. The lapping of the waves against the rocky shore covered what little sound he did make. The marina wasn’t patrolled, so he didn’t have to keep an eye out for a guard. He did, however, have to make sure no drunken kids were trying to steal a boat for a joyride. He’d almost gotten his boat swamped when they’d fired one up and come straight at him. Thankfully he’d already dropped off his lady that night.

All was quiet. It was mid-week and most people had to work in the morning. The kids would be back in school in less than a month and were making the most of their freedom. Gliding his boat to a stop directly behind the boathouse, he attached the bowline to a hook he’d added several years ago. He hooked the cable to the body bag and then he turned to scuba gear he stored inside the stern seating. Unlatching the seat’s lid, he pulled out the tanks and regulator. He’d already checked the gear earlier and knew the oxygen mix to be perfect. All he had to do was strap it on and slip into the water.

His hands shook as he picked up the regulator. He didn’t recognize the fear as it skittered down his spine. He hated diving. He didn’t like the sounds of the tank. Part of his brain knew that it was just the hiss of air as it passed through the hose. But the other part of his brain, the part his mother always warned him about, heard words in the noise. The longer he dived, the clearer the words became.

If he stayed down too long, his ladies started to talk to him. They weren’t kind to him. He’d done everything for them and they didn’t appreciate his efforts. Waving his hands to rid them of the shakes, he ignored the warnings in his head and strapped on the tanks. Before he could cave to the pressure inside his head, he adjusted the regulator, tossed the bag over the side of the boat and followed it in.

The body was light and the bag still had some air in it, causing it to float on the water. The bag was matte black and didn’t reflect the lights from the marina or the moon. He swam to the edge of the boathouse, dragging the bag behind him. Once he reached the first stanchion securing the wharf to the boathouse, he fit the regulator on his mouth and started breathing from the tank. He tied a weight belt to the stanchion because he wasn’t strong enough to drag the bag under the water. Securing the belt to his tank’s harness, he released it from the stanchion. Immediately it pulled him under the water.

His ladies were secured thirty feet below the surface, to allow for boat clearance even at low tide. He kept them in a row, their cable hooks attached at four-foot intervals. The movement of the water allowed the bags to brush up against one another. The Preacher felt that it gave his ladies a chance to bond. Once he’d descended the thirty feet he worked his way along the row of ladies, counting off their names as he went. The first lady wasn’t his. The first lady wasn’t even a lady; the guy had been too nosy for his own good and it had gotten him killed. His death had been The Preacher’s beginning. He’d watched as they had disposed of the body and he’d appreciated the ingenuity behind it. So he’d stolen their idea.

It had taken him several months to get everything set up and ready for his first lady. He’d hated learning to scuba dive, but it was essential to the plan. His work shed had taken a significant amount of time and money preparing. He’d had to do the work himself and could admit that he wasn’t particularly handy. Buying body bags in bulk over the internet had turned out to be one of the easiest things he’d done.

He made it to the last lady in the row, his fifth, and walked his hands four feet down the pipe. He didn’t know what the pipe was for. He didn’t care, as long as it never needed to be fixed. It was sturdy enough to secure his ladies in place. He worked the cable underneath the pipe and wrapped it around, attaching the hook to the long end. He forced the hook down the cable until it was snug against the pipe. With his lady in place, he worked his way back to the boathouse, the weight belt starting to drag him down.

Hauling his weight plus the heavy belt up the stanchion took effort and caused him to breathe heavier. The hissing from the tanks grew louder and the voices started to whisper to him. They started by calling his name and he never understood how they recognized him. Once he acknowledged their presence, they’d start to sing. He knew of sirens and thought his ladies were trying to lure him in as he had once lured them in.

“No,” he whispered inside his head. “You’re not there. I know you’re not real.” He told himself that over and over, but the whispers still came.

“Come to me.”

Yes, he would come to them. He would always come to them. He couldn’t help it anymore. It was his calling and he couldn’t ignore his life’s work.

“Why did you do it?”

He didn’t like that question. It sounded accusatory and he didn’t have to answer to anyone anymore. No one questioned what he did. He was his own man now. His own man!

“Stay with me, forever.”

That last was the hardest one to ignore. His ladies wanted him to stay with them. They loved him as he had loved them. And part of him wanted to stay. But he ignored the lure of their voices and struggled with the weight belt until he rose close to the surface and could hook it around the stanchion. Then he surfaced underneath the wharf and ripped the regulator off his face.

He didn’t know he was gasping until he heard the footsteps above him. He sunk lower in the water and tried to control his raspy breathing. He didn’t want to submerge again. He didn’t think he could outlast the voices. The footsteps carried on toward the boathouse and he breathed a little easier. Whoever was up there hadn’t heard him, they’d just been walking down the wharf. Though the boathouse was on pillars, it sat lower in the water than the wharf, requiring him to swim around it, out in the open. Remaining underneath the wharf until the last minute, he hugged the edge of the boathouse, keeping his form low in the water at all times.

Carefully, so as not to bang the boat against the boathouse, he climbed over the edge and settled against the side. Unclasping the harness for the tanks, he shed his scuba gear and relaxed a little more. He wasn’t out of the woods yet; he still had to make it home without anyone spotting him. It wasn’t as dangerous now though; his lady had already been stowed. After casting off, he pulled the oar out and began rowing away from the marina.

His beautiful Megan was settled in.

Soon he would have to bring her a neighbor.

***

Galen rose early the next morning. Though he’d be spending the better part of the day hiking through the forest with Mac, he still wanted to get a run in. He felt sluggish if he went too long without a good lung-buster. Tossing on sweats and a t-shirt, he laced up his sneakers and headed out the door. Starting off at a sedate pace, he allowed his muscles to warm up. After ten minutes the pace got boring and he stepped it up a notch. He had just cleared the woods and was heading around the side of Wallis House when he pushed himself to a full sprint.

The road from Wallis House led straight into town, with no other houses between them and the shops. The street was quiet; not even his mother was up this early. He stuck to the road, skirting Main Street and heading two blocks over to Piedmont. His temporary police station came was up ahead on the left, the Laundromat was across the street from it. He was still two blocks away when he noticed a man coming out of the Laundromat with a bag over his shoulder.

“Hey!” he called out, trying to get the man’s attention. Galen thought he saw the man tense before he turned down the narrow stretch beside the building and ducked out of sight. Galen ran to the crossroads of the next street and turned down it, hoping to see where the guy had gone. The man was nowhere to be seen. Galen jogged down the road between Piedmont and Main until he was lined up with the building opposite the Laundromat. The man had disappeared.

“Shit!”

Galen felt certain that the man he’d seen coming out of the Laundromat was the camper. He’d been some distance away, but the man had had the same build, similar hair, and the overall appearance of someone who was living off the land. Since he didn’t have his camping gear anymore, the man would either have to hole up in a shack somewhere, or build temporary shelter in the forest.

He couldn’t understand why the guy had run since, as far as Galen knew, he wasn’t wanted for anything. According to his records, he was clean. He could understand if he’d gotten spooked seeing a guy racing towards him, but the man had never looked around. He’d simply stepped between the buildings and vanished. Kind of like the girls on the island were vanishing.

Galen stopped in his tracks, his lungs heaving. To keep from getting dizzy, he walked back toward his office. If the camper could survive in the wilderness for a few weeks, what’s to say he couldn’t have been there all along. Whoever was making the girls disappear would likely be good at their own disappearing act. As he got to the door of the office he realized that he hadn’t brought his keys. He had a copy of the file at the cabin, so he turned and headed back. He’d finish his run, shower, and then he’d take the file to Wallis House. Mac would make breakfast and then Galen wouldn’t be forced to eat his own cooking.

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