Trinity Island – Chapter 22

February 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm (Trinity Island)

Jenna knocked on the door a little louder and waited. Claire’s car was in the drive, so she knew her friend was home. When no one answered, Jenna tried the door knob. It was locked, but Claire had given her a key so she could come and go when she needed to take measurements or check colour schemes against the walls. Jenna unlocked the door and pushed it open, looking around the empty living room.

“Hello?” she called out.

Marty held Claire over his shoulder as he moved through the house. He’d been in the kitchen leaning against the wall when he’d heard someone knock on the front door. His belly on fire, the blood dripping down the front of him, he’d hauled Claire up and left the kitchen. The old man was still lying in the hallway. Marty thought about slicing the man’s throat with his knife, but figured he didn’t have the time. The back hall led in two directions; toward the front of the house and whoever was knocking on the door, and to the side of the house, near the garage.

His work had to be done on the proper stage. The hunger in him stoked the fires that fuelled him, giving him the burst of energy he needed to make it down the hall to the side door. He’d just cracked it open when he heard someone calling from the front. He slipped out, closing the door behind him.

Jenna looked at the security box on the wall. It had beeped when someone opened a door and then beeped a few seconds later. She stepped into the room and closed the front door behind her, registering the beeps once more. Someone must have come in from outside. She called out a little louder, but no one answered. Worried now, Jenna headed down the hall to the turret room. Pushing the door open, she saw that all was dark inside. She headed down the hallway and turned towards the kitchen.

Paddy’s crumpled form leaned against the wall. Jenna cried out and ran forward, afraid to touch him anywhere. Her fingers fluttered over his throat, but she found his pulse was solid and sure. She pulled her phone from her pocket and called 911. She gave them Claire’s address then told them she’d call them back.

“Claire,” Paddy whispered through swollen lips. Marty’s boot had smashed them against his teeth.

“Where is she, Paddy?” Jenna asked.

“He’s got her,” Paddy whispered. “Tell Galen, Marty has her.”

“Sarah’s brother?” Jenna asked. Paddy didn’t respond, too exhausted or too sore to make another sound. Jenna looked down the hall, toward the kitchen. She spotted some streaks on the wall and moved over to get a closer look. As she neared the kitchen door, she noticed the destruction within. Remembering all of the personnel in the barn, Jenna ran for the sliding door. She opened it wide and screamed at the top of her lungs. Several people came charging out of the barn and Jenna waved them over.

When Dr. Yvonne entered the house, Jenna gestured to the hallway, to Paddy. Dr. Yvonne entered the hallway and looked first toward the side door. Turning the other way, she moved quickly to Paddy’s side and assessed the damage.

“I’ve already called an ambulance, but Paddy said that Marty took Claire.”

Dr. Yvonne left Paddy in the care of one of her assistants and crossed back to the kitchen. She noted the broken china, the knife on the floor, and the bloody handprint on the wall. Jenna called Galen, but she was rambling, making little sense. Dr. Yvonne took the phone from her and filled him in. “It looks like she put up a fight. Someone has been hurt.”

“How badly?” he demanded. He and Mac had just arrived at Marty’s house and found the boat. The house was empty.

“Hard to say,” Dr. Yvonne said. “The knife used has a short blade. The pool of blood on the floor is quite small, but it depends on how long the wounded person remained in one spot. Neither one is here now, so they weren’t immobilized by the cut.”

Galen thought of the women Dr. Yvonne had conducted autopsies on, in Claire’s barn. They’d all been cut many times, enough to bleed, but not enough to kill. He tossed the keys to Mac, knowing he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on his driving. “I’ll get a search organized. He can’t have gone far and he won’t get off the island with her.”

Dr. Yvonne handed the phone back to Jenna. She studied the marks on the wall as Jenna babbled on about the security system beeping as doors opened and closed. The kitchen door leading outside didn’t have any blood on or near it. Dr. Yvonne headed back into the hallway and turned toward the side door. Running down the hall, she studied the handle.

“He went this way,” she called out. Her team came down the hall and examined the door. Yvonne had gloves on, so she pulled the door open and looked outside. Spots of blood dotted the concrete, leading away from the house. She followed it until they disappeared in the dirt at the back of the garage.

“He’s on foot,” she said. On foot in a forest that spread across half of the island. “He could be anywhere,” she realized.

***

Marty’s strength held out until he got Claire to his truck. Tossing her across the passenger seat, he raced around the hood to the driver’s side. He carefully manoeuvred the truck through the forest track, watching for any large branches that could get caught up in the undercarriage. His gut felt like it was crawling with fire ants. He could see them if he closed his eyes, crawling in and out of the hole with little bits of his flesh in their grasp.

The truck hit a large pothole, jolting Marty out of his imaginings. He chastised himself; he needed to keep his eyes on the road. If the truck got hung up on a branch or if he broke an axle on a too large pothole, he’d have to drag Claire through the woods to his workshop. Muttering under his breath about fire ants, he forced his eyes to remain open.

The truck lurched and jumped as he crawled through the forest. He started to doubt that he was going the right way. He yelled at his stupidity for not having marked the trail better. Slamming his fist against the wheel, he cursed his rash behaviour. After twenty minutes of agonizing slowness, he finally made it to the familiar clearing. All self-doubt vanished as his mood lifted. Parking the truck, he noticed the blood all over the steering wheel. He didn’t remember bashing his hand against it, but his fingers throbbed and several cuts seeped blood.

Ignoring the pain, he hauled Claire down from the truck and tossed her over his shoulder. The sharp movement caused the fire ants to hiss and snap their mighty jaws. He felt a wave of nausea pass over him as they tore at his flesh. He bore down, blocking out the feverish pain and using every ounce of his strength to carry his burden through the woods to his workshop. A wave of relief washed over him as he entered his workshop.

He set Claire down on the table and fastened her right arm and leg with the thick leather ties he’d created from old leather belts. Pinching the skin to get the belts secured tight enough, he moved around the table to capture her other limbs. As he grabbed her left leg, it twitched and his eyes darted up to her face. Her eyes were closed, but he sensed she was waking. If she made a sound, the neighbours might hear.

Moving over to a bench along the side wall, he grasped two small bundles of cloth. Forming a ball with one bundle, he shoved it between Claire’s lips. He wrapped the other cloth around her head, tying it tight around her lips, securing the gag in place. He finished securing her to the table and then he went back to the other bench and surveyed his tools. Now that he had her, he was afraid to start. He felt that she could lead them both down the path to the light, but he didn’t think he wanted to go just yet.

He was starting to like the feel of the hunger crawling around inside of him. The power of it was seductive. It tempted him to be creative, to expand his area of expertise. It enticed him to take his time while he worked the demons free from his ladies. To revel in his work. The suggestions that the hunger showed him, the images it flashed across his brain, warmed his blood, making him hard.

The pain in his belly all but forgotten, Marty chose his tool and made his first cut.

***

Sarah served her customers on autopilot. She kept waiting for Mac to call her and tell her that Marty had been apprehended. She wasn’t certain of her feelings. She’d never had much in common with Marty. He’d been so much younger than her that when they’d been kids, she’d mostly been annoyed by him. Once she’d left for school on the mainland, she’d lost touch with him. When she’d returned to the island they’d been civil, but she had never felt a bond with him. She’d gotten along better with her older brother, because he’d been in her life longer.

Now she wondered if she hadn’t been able to bond with Marty because she’d known something was fundamentally wrong with him. Could she have spotted some crazy behaviour in him, if she’d looked close enough? If no one else in the town had noticed it, Sarah didn’t think that she’d have been able to. But she hadn’t really tried, either.

It was still hard to swallow; if Marty turned out to be the killer, and she was having less doubts of that the longer she thought about it, then what did that make her? They shared the same blood. Sure, they had different fathers, but Sarah wondered if it wasn’t her mother who had brought this on. Had she warped Marty’s mind against women? Sarah and her older brother had been teenagers before their father died, so they’d been able to ignore everything their mother had said. They’d known she was starting to splinter from stress and that it was affecting her rational thought. Marty wouldn’t have been able to determine that for himself.

Sarah pulled her apron over her head and tossed it on the counter. She couldn’t wait around for Mac or Galen to call her with news. She would get a few answers from the one woman who had been with Marty as he’d grown into a man. She’d demand that her mother explain what had gone on in that house while she’d been away at school.

As she hurried out the door, she almost knocked Mrs. T over. She called out an apology, but said that she couldn’t stop to chat. “I’m going to have a long overdue chat with my mother, Mrs. T.”

Mrs. T thought it would be a fruitless effort, but didn’t tell Sarah that. She knew from the nurse who stopped by regularly to check on Mrs. Miller that the woman’s mind was mostly gone. She only hoped that Sarah was strong enough to handle that realization. Since she’d come by expressly to chat with Sarah about her latest order from the bakery, Mrs. T turned around and headed back towards her shop. When her cell phone rang, she smiled upon seeing Galen’s name on the display. She enjoyed having her eldest son back on the island.

“You haven’t come by to see your momma in two whole days–”

“Ma,” Galen cut her off.

She could hear it in his voice. “Paddy?” she asked, the fear putting a quaver in the name.

“He’ll be fine,” Galen assured her straight off.

The fear for her husband, followed by the intense relief that he would be fine, threatened to swamp her, emotionally. She focused on the anger that he’d gotten himself hurt, instead. “What do you mean he will be?” she demanded.

“He’s on his way to the hospital. He’s suffered a concussion and some bruising to his face, but Dr. Yvonne says he should be fine with a little rest.”

Mrs. T absorbed the information, already running through a long list of instructions for her other children. Someone needed to mind her shop while she went to the hospital. None of her kids had inherited her skills at baking, and that was a shame.

“How did this happen?” she asked, her mind still half on her to do list.

“Marty Miller attacked him in Claire’s house.”

Mrs. T sucked in a sharp breath. If Paddy had been knocked unconscious, what had happened to Claire?

“He’s got her,” Galen said, anticipating the question. “We’re organizing a search party, but we have no idea which way he went. We believe he’s on foot in the forest, but he could have gone down a dozen different paths.”

Galen ended the call so he could begin the search and Mrs. T hurried over to her car. She would call her children just as soon as she saw her husband. They’d pester her for details, so it would be better to have them first.

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