Tag Archives: Horror

Getting to Know You “SYWBASK” [Fiction]

Amanda

I didn’t question joining him under the umbrella even though it put me well within reach of his free hand. What was he going to do, manhandle me to the car I was going to willingly? Seemed funny. If there was anything giving away his feelings, it was his white-knuckled grip on the umbrella handle. Though we said nothing, the continuous sound of the rain provided enough noise to keep us from having to fill an uncomfortable silence.

I hadn’t considered what would happen when it got this far.

I thought I would find him. I thought I would introduce myself. I thought I would even follow him for a day or two after he brushed me off before going on to whatever the rest of my life was.

Then he opened the car door for me. Late model BMW, black. The kind of car you looked at and looked past. Just like Phillip himself, the guy who disappears in a crowd.

I hesitated.

Safety rules say you never go anywhere with a stranger without notifying someone of where you’re going and who you’re going with. Except I had no one to tell. Or at least, no one who would do more than note it down on a piece of paper and forget about it for a week. By the time they followed up, I could have been rotting in a ditch three days.

I settled into the black leather seat.

If Phillip noticed my hesitation, he didn’t comment. I needed a plan. Sammy O, the reporter who helped me track him down, told me not to pursue it.

Let it go. Your parents are dead and he’s dangerous. Nothing good will come out of this.

Maybe that was true. Maybe not.

Sitting in the seat waiting on Phillip to get in, I stared out into the sheeting rain and forced myself to consider what would happen now. Phillip would get into the car. He would drive me somewhere, maybe his home on Colorado, maybe somewhere else. No matter where we ended up, I was going to be at a disadvantage, even with the pistol I had tucked away under my left arm. He had height, reach, and weight on his side. I had, maybe, the element of surprise.

Phillip tucked the umbrella behind the seat and then studied me as he put the keys in the ignition.

“How old are you now?” he asked.

“You don’t know–“

“No, I don’t.”

The car started with a simple yet satisfying thrum and he backed out of the parking space.

“Why don’t you?”

“You overestimate your importance in my life, Amanda. I suppose that’s what I ought to call you.”

The rain had turned into a distant sound like being on the wrong side of an airport listening for planes. I chose not to concentrate on it, but instead strained to hear something in his voice that sounded like humanity.

“The press painted you as the one who got away. Painted you as heroic. Made you important,” he continued. “However, I wasn’t even aware of you until I took a stroll through your home and found the door with your name on it decorated in stars and ribbons. Your mother’s doing, I don’t doubt. By then, you had already disappeared into the night and I went about my business as usual.”

His delivery chilled. I wondered what it would feel like to be so unattached.

The radio suddenly sputtered static and he jabbed the power button. What had he been listening to in here?

“21. My birthday was in April.”

“Ah.” His only comment.

“Why?” The cramp in my stomach told me I didn’t really want the answer.

“I don’t kill children.”

All around us, the rain washed away evidence of our passing.

Missed a section? Check back!   Part One | Part Two

At the Robin’s Egg “SYWBASK” [FICTION]

PHILLIP POV

Amanda. Silhouetted against the florescent lights of the Robin’s Egg, I pegged her for a lost sixteen-year-old looking for money to get home after having made one of those mistakes you don’t run home and tell to Momma. Then she introduced herself.

Lawson. I hadn’t killed anyone by the last name Lawson. I visualized the pages in my book and nothing popped out. Still, looking at her face, she seemed familiar. A clipping floated in my vision. Freeman. Amanda Freeman. Courageous Ten Year Old Escapes Slayer. Of course, she was much younger in the picture, but it was her watching me intently as she waited for my response. It hadn’t been three seconds.

“And how does that help you?” I asked.

Her face was not one I had come to associate with those grieving the dearly departed. Survivors of my victims burst into tears in my presence and cursed liberally the system denying them justice. Amanda instead was sizing me up. Not quite in a predator versus predator way, but far closer to that than predator versus prey.

Around us, the rain continued its droning and drowning of the parking lot. My car, two rows from the door and facing it, awaited me. I had no plans, though some always formed when I was aimless. Sometimes they were to see a movie. Sometimes they were to see someone’s insides. I rarely knew which ahead of time.

She didn’t answer my question. Her eyes darted out to the parking lot as a car, headlights blaring yellow, rolled by to park at the end of the row closest to the diner. I studied the curve of her brown neck and fall of her black hair. Amanda, the one who got away. Or at least, that’s what the papers said. I hadn’t even known she was there until she was gone. Yet they made it seem as if she had confronted me and escaped but only by a hair. Now here she was again, older, perhaps wiser, but certainly with an agenda.

Was it closure?

Those who begged for closure also begged for an explanation. Why did I kill their relative, their friend, their love, their child? As if I knew and could speak it in words for them to understand. I do know, of course, but I also know nothing I say will give them the panacea they seek. Why do I kill? For pleasure. Who do I choose? Whoever catches my fancy. The only rhyme or reason is the artist’s eye within me and it does not negotiate or deviate. Once it chooses, it will have satisfaction.

“We need to leave.”

A minute had passed since the last time Amanda spoke. She looked at me again, her eyes brown-green and certain.

“We?” I asked and popped open my umbrella to shelter us from the unrelenting rain. There was nothing I could do about our shoes.

“Yes. We need to talk.”

Four words which often struck fear in the heart of man. I smiled.

“This way.”

So You Wanna Be a Serial Killer [Fiction]

A snippet opener for a new story eating my brain with a spoon.

Phillip Denton wasn’t what I expected, but then your heroes usually aren’t. He was more gangly than broad, but with the kind of wiry muscle that still left him capable of being a bobcat in a bag to handle. I could imagine him overpowering them, one at a time, then carrying them away for his own purposes.

I know what those purposes are. I’m not going to repeat them here. We’ll get to that.

The day we met, it rained until the streets turned from blacktop to rapids. I shivered outside the Robin’s Egg Diner waiting for him as he had his pancakes with extra butter and syrup. He always had the same thing. I checked. No eggs. No sausage. No coffee. Just pancakes.

He stepped outside, black coat with an equally black umbrella though it would do little good in the downpour, and prepared to go to his car. I put my hand on his arm.

In that moment, I remembered the clippings, every one of them, and how they made it clear he was an unstable and dangerous man.

Good.

“Hi, I’m Amanda Lawson,” I said when he turned. “You killed my parents.”

–“So You Wanna Be A Serial Killer” 2017?

Devouring Mother – “The Box”

“What’s in the box?” – Detective David Mills “Se7en”

You spend the entirety of this short film with that exact question on your mind. In “The Box”, one of the four shorts done in “XX”, you are presented with a typical family: mother, father, daughter, son. One day, on the subway, they encounter a man with a wrapped box which he claims is a present. The son widdles his way into getting a look inside and thus starts the downhill slide. He stops eating. Then, like an infection, the lack of hunger passes to his sister, and finally to his father. However, my favorite scene in the whole piece lasts for about one minute and is the grisliest part of the whole film.

Mother lies down to sleep after having asked father about what he and the son talked about. Her concern is hyper-present. He gives her a non-committal answer and goes to sleep. Then a camera cut followed by the camera panning down the mother’s body. As it moves, the viewer notices first spots of blood, then you see her ruined arm followed by her destroyed leg. Yet you know from the beginning of the shot, she is alive. Father cuts away portions of her flesh and offers them to their children. However, watching the family consume her flesh is not the strangest part. The final shot of that scene is a shot of the mother’s face as she breaks into a smile.

The concept of the devouring mother is the mother devouring her young. Instead we are given the idea of the family devouring the mother. The entire scene is done superbly. They don’t spend much time on the grotesquerie, which would have detracted, but stay on the main idea: the family coming together. Her smile signifies her return to the family, her being included again, and the return to happiness that brings.

The viewer is never told what’s in the box. In fact, we’re lead to believe nothing was in the box at all. An idea, which coupled with the mother being the only survivor, must add to her guilt.

“I’m so hungry.”

“Whoever Fights Monsters” written by the man who advised Thomas Harris

As my longtime readers will undoubtedly know, I love Hannibal Lecter. Not in the “I want to marry him” kind of way, but just in the “you are who you are and don’t apologize” sort of adoration. Yes, I am 100% aware he is not a human worth emulating in any regard other than that. Someone who eats other people is not a good role model. Let me just put that out there.

However, since I adore Hannibal, I find myself wondering about the people Hannibal is based on. Thomas Harris created an exceptional serial killer, several in truth, so where did he get those ideas? In doing research about Harris, I came across Robert Ressler. Not a well-known name outside of certain circles, truthfully, but vitally important to the field of research regarding ‘serial killers’. In fact, he is the one who coined the phrase, serial killer. Before that, they were called stranger murders because they didn’t fit the profile common to murder back then which was that a person was generally killed by someone they knew who would be caught fairly quickly.

Fast forward a bit and a dear friend, Isabella Darkwood, walked into our writing group and handed me a book, “Whoever Fights Monsters” by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman. I am ashamed to say I did not start reading right there at the table. In fact, I wouldn’t touch it for months, almost a year. It sat on my bookshelf and stared at me, then I moved to another apartment where it sat on another bookshelf and stared at me. Finally, I picked it up and read it through in three days because I was reading every spare second I was able.

For those of you whose primary understanding of the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit comes from Criminal Minds, you might be a bit disappointed. Ressler makes a point of saying BSU agents are not field agents and they are not usually involved in catching the bad guy beyond doing a profile. However, his discussions of profiling from an infant art into what might possibly be considered a science are fascinating. Learning about the interior workings of the FBI is enlightening, including how the unit went from being two men with an apprentice to the creation of VICAP. A lot can happen in 20 years.

Serial killers, according to Ressler, fit into three categories presented along a sliding scale: Organized, Disorganized, and Mixed. The distinctions, though not as stark as some would like, are markable and this gets me to why I find this important.

A couple years ago, I wrote a novel “Hush” which includes a serial killer stalking a psychic. I based my villain on what I knew of serial killers at the time, which includes a lot of pop culture depictions. I have not published “Hush” because I simply haven’t gone through and made sure I enjoy it enough to send to other people. However, having read Ressler’s book, now I want to go back and profile my own killer and see if I can make him more interesting and more realistic. Is this necessary? No, not at all. However, it will make me happy and that is enough. Perhaps it will even make others happy. That would be even more than I could hope for.