Trinity Island – Chapter 17

January 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm (Trinity Island)

Galen decided he needed to work off the theory that he was looking for a single killer until Dr. Yvonne confirmed otherwise. Since Larry Streiber was an anomaly, he would start there. He left Claire and Mac at the house and headed into town. He assumed he would find Trent West at the bank, but when he got there he found that Trent had stepped out for lunch. They didn’t know where he was dining.

He walked into the bakery and found his ma alone. She’d just finished up her lunch rush and wouldn’t see another soul for at least thirty minutes, if she was lucky. She sat behind her counter with her feet up and a tiny pot of tea steaming away at her elbow. She had the paper laid out in front of her, open to the crossword.

“What’s a five-letter word for a son who hasn’t provided his mamma with bambini yet?” she asked.

“Colin,” Galen replied with a grin, giving up his middle brother without blinking an eye.

Mrs. T muttered under her breath, too quietly for him to make out what she’d said. “Heard about your dinner with Claire at The Sand Dollar.” With a pointed look, she added, “from Mrs. Freedman.” Mrs. Freedman ran the hardware store with her husband and believed she always had the latest and best gossip. Mrs. T disagreed, on principal, but had to concede this one.

Galen cringed and then he sighed. His date seemed so long ago. He’d been getting so little sleep the past few days he’d considered returning to the cabin so he wouldn’t disturb her, but Claire had nixed that idea. He was glad she had, or they wouldn’t have had any time together.

Galen circled the counter and wrapped his arms around his ma’s shoulders. He kissed her on the temple. “I like her, ma. And I think she likes me, too. I’m going to see where that takes us, but I’ve also got to figure out who killed those people. That has to be my priority right now.”

She patted his arm and took a sip of her tea. “I know it does, my boy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t still remind you of your duty every chance I get.” She turned her head and kissed his cheek before waving him away. “I’ve got a crossword to do.”

Galen stepped back out onto the boardwalk and spotted Trent West at the far end of the street, entering Page Turners. When he stepped inside, he found the bank manager at the bar doctoring his coffee. Approaching from behind, Galen asked for a few moments of Trent’s time. He gestured to an empty table, not giving Trent the chance to decline.

Sarah brought Galen a coffee and one of his ma’s hazelnut cookies, on the house. He took a moment to assess the man before him. Trent wore a casual business suit without a tie. He sat slouched over, with one hand stuffed into his pants pocket and the other idly tapping against the lid of his go cup. Trent was a transplant, having come to the island sometime after Galen had left for the RCMP. He couldn’t recall his ma ever saying anything about the man, good or bad.

“Tell me what you remember about the time just before Larry Streiber disappeared.”

“He started behaving strangely that last month,” Trent said. He explained that he’d been at the bank for several years by then and he’d never seen Larry behave that way. “I don’t know if he was hiding something, or worried about something. He never confided in me.”

Galen watched as sweat beaded on Trent’s forehead. He hadn’t taken any time to think about Galen’s question, he’d just launched into a comment on Larry’s strange behavior. Behavior that couldn’t easily be substantiated so many years later.

“Who did he tend to associate with in his off hours?”

“Your dad, come to think of it,” Trent said.

Galen nodded his thanks and Trent took his coffee and left. He wondered how much Larry Streiber had confided in his father. He couldn’t recall his dad mentioning anything suspect about the man’s disappearance, but it was several years ago now and Galen had had a lot on his mind back then. He still did, but the longer he was away from Victoria, the further those thoughts got. If not for the stress of multiple homicides, his time on Trinity would feel like a vacation.

Galen called his ma to find out where his dad was and learned that he’d gone to the hospital to visit Kay Hager. When he’d asked her why, she simply told him to ask his father. Galen pulled up out front and parked in the same spot he’d used for several nights running. He still placed his card on the dash, though he wasn’t too worried about getting his truck towed.

He walked up to the front desk and asked after Alyssa. She’d been traumatized and she’d suffered through the beginning stages of torture, but she was eating well and asking when she’d be able to go home. They thought that was a very good sign. Galen had talked with Alyssa the morning after she’d been brought to the hospital, but she hadn’t been able to tell him much. She’d been drugged most of the time she’d been in the shed, which Galen thought was a good thing. She’d remember less of the trauma and would heal, emotionally, a lot faster than she might have otherwise. Unfortunately, her being drugged meant she didn’t remember anything he could use.

She could remember coming out of the house after her time with Jeff Anglove and she’d started to walk down the road toward the wharf. She’d heard a sound behind her and she’d swung around, but something had hit her in the back and she’d felt her legs give out immediately. She remembered lying on the ground trying to move, but her body wouldn’t respond. She couldn’t even turn her head. Feet had come into view, men’s running shoes, but the drugs had taken over and her eyes refused to remain open.

When she’d opened them again, she’d been strapped to a table. She’d called out and heard nothing. She’d yelled, but no one had come. An hour later the door had opened and someone had stepped into the building, but she couldn’t see him. He left the lights off and no light came in through the windows or under the door. Until the door had opened, she’d had no idea that it was daytime. He’d flicked a switch and a bright bulb shone down on her face, blinding her.

He’d spoken to her then. She said it hadn’t made sense to her, but he’d talked about a path to the light. He said her blood was coursing with demons and he’d have to free her of them. Then he’d started to cut her. She’d screamed and screamed; he’d talked to her the whole time. She couldn’t remember anything beyond the demons in her blood. When he’d finished, he’d drugged her again.

And then she’d woken up inside the body bag. It had been just as dark as the shed, but much colder. She’d reached out and felt the plastic surrounding her.  Panic had started to set in, and then someone held her hand. She’d cried to them to help her. The bag had risen to the surface and then the person holding her hand had talked to her, reassuring her, as they’d freed her.

Galen poked his head into Alyssa’s room, but she was sleeping so he didn’t disturb her. Jacques was sprawled in the chair beside the bed; he’d been sleeping, but came instantly awake once the door opened. Galen motioned him back and closed the door. He didn’t have anything to report. He’d already confirmed for Jacques that one of the bodies recovered was positively identified as his niece, Melissa Romm. Jacques had taken the time to call his sister and then he’d gone right back to Alyssa’s room to keep watch over her.

Galen opened the door to Kay’s room and saw that some of the bandages had been removed from her head. The bruising was mottled and angry looking, but it was healing. The swelling had been reduced significantly after the first 48 hours. Dr. Eberly was pleased with Kay’s progress, but he was keeping her for a while longer.

His dad sat in a chair next to her bed. He looked comfortable, patting her hand and telling her some story about when Galen and Colin had convinced their baby sister to let them cut her hair. They’d been ten and seven and Megan was just three at the time. They’d sheared off half her hair before their mother had caught them. Galen could still remember the sting of her palm against his ass.

“Colin hadn’t wanted to do it, but Galen badgered him until he gave in.”

Galen cocked his head to one side, staring at his father. “I don’t recall it that way, dad. In fact, I had little trouble convincing him to do most of the shite we got up to.”

“I think your father is trying to sell me on your brother,” Kay said.

Galen raised a brow at his dad. He hadn’t had much time to hang with Colin, so had no idea if he was seeing anyone. His ma would know if he was showing interest in someone, of course, and likely would have told his dad.

“Just trying to paint a picture of my kids, is all,” Paddy insisted. He’d told her about all of them, but he must have gone into more detail on Colin than he’d realized. The girl was sharp, even if she was suffering from a concussion and serious trauma.

Galen shrugged. “He’s gainfully employed and he’s got some mad BBQ skills.”

Kay’s laugh tinkled out when Paddy rolled his eyes, but Galen had no intention of extolling the virtues of his middle brother. He was a butcher, so he knew his meat. He was three years younger and had retained his Irish accent. He was a mean bastard to play against on the rugby pitch. And he was as faithful as the day was long, which Galen figured was an attribute in short supply on Trinity.

“I like a good BBQ, same as anyone,” Kay said.

Paddy patted her hand, thinking that pretty much settled it. He followed his son into the hall, surprised when Galen told him that Larry Streiber had finally been found.

“Trent West told me that you knew him quite well. Can you tell me about him and what he was going through back then?”

Paddy sat in one of the visitors chairs outside the room. He hadn’t thought of Larry in a while, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t missed the man. He and Larry had been fishing buddies, heading up the Inside Passage on week-long trips, coming home with big fish and bigger stories.

“He was investigating something at the bank, but said most of it was circumstantial. He was trying to get proof of his theories when he disappeared. He never did tell me what he was looking into, or whom he suspected.”

“You don’t know if it was a bank employee he was looking into?”

Paddy shook his head. He’d gone over their conversations in his head, trying to determine if Larry had ever let a name slip, but he’d been very secretive about it. He’d wondered, often, if Larry had confided in the wrong person. Or perhaps his method of gathering evidence had been spotted.

“Whatever it was that he was looking into had to be big. It was enough to get him killed, wasn’t it?”

Galen agreed, wondering how he’d ever figure out what Larry was up to. He couldn’t subpoena any records unless he knew what he was looking for. Larry would have had his hands in just about everything at the bank. It would take a forensic accountant months to go through the bank’s records and hunt down whatever Larry had spotted. Galen doubted that the government would foot the bill for that job.

He’d have to trace Larry’s last steps before he approached anyone at the bank. Whatever Larry had found was likely still on the books. If Larry’s death was a separate incident from the women’s, his killer had to be getting worried. Galen left his father with Kay and headed back to the station. He had a board for the women’s disappearances and he wanted to add information for Larry to it. He didn’t have a lot to go on, but seeing it on the board might show him a pattern.

***

They’d found the shed, but the cop didn’t know who had used it. Marty had lived in fear the past few days, expecting a knock on his door. He’d thought for sure that Alyssa would have told them who he was. Why was she keeping it quiet?

Marty paced a path through his living room to the front window, peering out into the waning light of day, before turning away again. Back and forth he traipsed across the carpet, trying to process his thoughts. The fear of being caught was waging war against the hunger that was building inside him. The euphoria of the kill had long since passed. It hadn’t fulfilled him at all, because the hunger knew that the last offering had been wasted.

Marty could still taste the salt of her skin on his tongue. And the richness of the iron in her blood. He could smell her hair as though he’d sprayed the scent in the air. He needed her; needed to finish what he’d started. She was waiting for him. She’d wanted to be led down the path to the light and he’d failed her.

He would have to fix that.

Marty picked up his cell phone and dialed the hospital. He asked to speak with Alyssa and was told that she wasn’t taking any calls. When the nurse asked who was calling and if she could take a message to Alyssa, Marty hung up.

She was still there. The cop had what he needed from her. Now it was Marty’s turn. He’d have to go in now, at night, to cut down on the chances of someone seeing him. He’d have to take his boat over to the main island, because the tide was in. He wanted to wait until the next day, to work through his plan, but the hunger was burning through him. He knew that if he didn’t do this now, the hunger would consume him.

He grabbed his boat keys and left the house before his brain cracked from the stress of trying to beat back the hunger. On the trip over, he passed by the marina, but the activity had waned. All of the work was being done at Wallis House now. His ladies were being analyzed by someone who didn’t appreciate them the way he had. He’d been tempted to go see them, but he knew the risk of capture was too great. They were beyond him now; he’d have to start over.

Mooring his boat in the smaller marina near the ferry, Marty headed for the hospital on foot. He entered through a side door, wanting to avoid the bustle of the emergency ward. Marty walked down the hallway, peering in doors as he went. When he found the linen storage, he slipped inside and pulled a coat and mask from the shelves. The lab coat covered his track suit and the mask disguised the lower half of his face. A surgical cap completed the image of a doctor checking on his patient. Marty stepped from the room and checked the hall for other hospital personnel. He didn’t have a name badge, but some doctors carried them in their pockets, didn’t they? He couldn’t worry about that now. The hunger could smell the blood; it urged him on.

Marty walked down the hall towards the emergency ward, knowing that Alyssa would be kept in one of the suites closest to the ER. They wanted to keep an eye on her, to make sure she made a full recovery from her experience. Marty chuckled as he thought about getting in under their noses to help Alyssa with her transition. By the time their machines told them something was wrong, it would be too late to save her.

The hospital didn’t keep charts on the walls outside the suites. But the doors had windows in them, allowing him to peek inside at the occupant. Alyssa’s was the second door he came to. She lay on the bed with the sheets pulled up to her chest. Her arms were covered in bandages, blocking his view of the work he’d already done on her.

Was she asleep? Should he help her on the path without waking her up? He didn’t know if they had to be awake to know where they were going. They’d always been awake before, except for the one whose head he’d crushed. That had been an accident though. Marty hoped she’d still made her way along the path. Just then he saw Alyssa’s hand move. He wouldn’t have to waste precious time rousing her. A quick glance over his shoulder showed the halls to be empty still.

Marty pushed his way in, heading straight for the bed. He had his knife out, held down at his side. Alyssa turned her head when the door opened, registering the doctor, but also registering the danger. She screamed before he was even halfway across the room. Scrambling over the side of the bed, she cried out as the IV was ripped from her hand.

Marty swore as her scream echoed off the walls. The sound crashed through his brain, spiking off his nerves. Between the piercing screams clanging inside his head and the hunger crawling up his throat, Marty couldn’t focus. He staggered toward her, coming around the bed just as the bathroom door opened. Turning to face the new threat, he barely had time to get his knife up when the man jumped on him. Marty crashed to the floor. He panicked, swinging the knife back and forth. He struck the man several times before he managed to push the guy off him.

Alyssa grabbed the bedpan and swung it with all her might. Bashing him in the side of the head, she wound up and swung a second time. Marty ducked and tackled her to the floor. She grabbed the face mask and ripped it off, seeing his face for the first time. She used the bedpan to block the knife. The clash of metal on metal reverberated up his wrist, causing Marty to drop the knife. He scrambled to his feet trying to collect it and Alyssa kicked out at him.

He’d been inside the room too long. The machines were beeping and people would be coming. He abandoned his plan and ran for the door. He leapt over the downed man and wrenched the door open. Without looking, he ran straight down the hallway to the side entrance. Several voices shouted after him, but he ignored them. Outside, he sprinted across the side parking lot, toward the forest. He didn’t stop until he’d made the trees.

Marty paused to catch his breath. He shed the hospital gear and checked behind him to ensure he wasn’t being pursued. As his heart rate returned to normal, the hunger crept up his throat, ready to strangle him. Walking through the woods towards his boat, Marty wouldn’t allow the rage to eat away at him. He had to get back to the safety of his home. He feared the blackness; he didn’t want to come back to himself and still be in the woods. They would find him if he waited too long.

He should have waited! He’d known it was a bad idea to go in without a proper plan. Now Alyssa had seen his face. Did she know him? He didn’t think so; she hadn’t said his name or looked shocked. But she could tell that cop what he looked like. Had she gotten a good enough look at him? Maybe it would be okay and she wouldn’t be able to describe him well enough for the cop to make an identification.

Could he take the chance though? Could he stand to wait around hoping that no one would come knocking on his door? The hunger wouldn’t let him wait very long. He’d have to do something, and soon. Motoring his boat through the water, he felt a trickle of sweat run down his face. Swiping it away, he was surprised to see blood on his fingers. Alyssa must have cut him when she’d bashed his face with the bedpan. He licked the blood from his fingers as he recalled the spirit in her. So much fight! He’d have to bide his time and find a new place to complete his work. Then he’d capture Alyssa once again and finish what he’d barely gotten started.

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