Monday, April 9, 2012

An Easter Sunday Killing

A short thriller for your reading pleasure. Please be advised, this piece includes some explicit content that may not be suitable for ages seventeen and under.

Happy Easter!


          
Jane picked up the petite cake from the backseat of the car, wincing at the candied fruits sitting unsteadily atop yellow frosting. “I hope your mom doesn’t hate my cake,” she said.

        Luke grinned, showing straight white teeth, blue eyes gleaming in the midday sun. “She loves everything you make, honey.”
        Jane twitched something close to a shrug. She wasn’t good at this kind of stuff, but she was learning.
           “By the way, have I told you how unbelievably sexy you look in that dress?”
           She gave him a lazy, heated look, liking him better in scrubs than in his suit and tie. Sighing, she ran a hand over her pale silk dress. “The heels are too high.”
           Jane shut the car door, turning sharply at the sound of tires screeching on a hard turn down the street. A dark maroon van came into view, heading their way, and fast.

Luke straightened, brows knitted with worry. “Get inside, Jane.”
        The van careened to a hard stop just behind Luke, tires smoking. Two masked men jumped out, one held a gun.
           “Luke!”
        “Inside! Now!” he screamed at her.
        But Jane’s feet were rooted to the sidewalk.
        A gunshot rang. The cake splattered to the ground. Luke staggered, his gaze lost.  Jane cried out, tears springing to her eyes, the cold cement cutting up her stockings as she knelt over his body. The face of a masked man loomed, her arms raised to cover her face. He swung. A sharp pain split her temple and her legs collapsed beneath her. The world flicked black and soundless.
*     *     *
        “All you girls are alike. Getting with these assholes who can’t treat you right,” came the angry mutterings of a young, male voice she didn’t recognize. “Come to me crying after his latest shit. Make me pick you up off the floor. Then treat me like I’m nothing. Sick of it. I’ll give you something to cry about. Something to fear.”
        Pain thudded like a spiked hammer against her skull. She groaned, eyes struggling to open.
        “Awake now, sleeping beauty?” asked the young man.
        She moaned, mouth dry as bone. She tried to shift, tried to wipe the dampness stinging her eye, but she couldn’t move her hands. Jane tried again, only then realizing that her hands were tied behind her. Panic injected through her veins, like a wakening slap across the face.
        “Now, now, don’t go freaking out on me. There will be time for that later,” the man cooed. He had his back to her, fiddling with something—a video camera—on a tripod. He turned to look at her, his face hidden behind a black ski mask.
        She was in a basement perhaps. Brick walls, windowless and bleak. A nasty smell hung in the air, like decomposing meat. “Please…what do you want from me?”
        The young man laughed, crossing his arms over his chest. He wore a tight black v-neck, accentuating his scrawny frame, and faded blue jeans over black work-boots. “What do I want?” he asked, walking towards her.
        She tried to hide, tried to curl away from his outstretched hand. He cupped her face, pinching her chin. “Look at me!”
        “No,” she yelped, squeezing her eyes tight.
        “Look at me, or I will cut off your eyelids, and then you’ll have no choice.”
        A sob escaped her and she forced her eyes to open.
        “You want to know what I want?” he sneered, and then moved to the side, angrily pointing a finger at the video camera. “Millions of people watching us right now. I want all the pretty girls like you to be afraid.”            
        Jane stared into the camera lens; a bright red light blinked back at her.
        “I want all the dickheads like your All-American boyfriend to think twice before dating cute things like you. They just might end up tasting cement and the cold lead of my bullet.”
        She remembered the blank look in Luke’s eyes, the gaping hole in the back of his head, and the bloody mess splattered like a popped water-balloon on the street. A violent shudder went through her at seeing her dress speckled with his blood. “Luke…” she whimpered quietly.
        “Luke?” The masked man snorted, beady eyes rolling. “Only one shot and the kid went down for the count. My aim’s getting better.”
           Luke’s murderer feigned sadness, lips pulled into an exaggerated pout. He faced the camera. “See that boys? Girls like this one…will end up getting you killed. I’ll make you see...”
        Jane didn't hear his next words. A loud ringing of agony, grief, sorrow, and fury culminated, growing dark and bitter inside of her. Turning her blood cold. She began to tremble, her vision twisting the world into a spectrum of crimson, darkening until it was black as ink.
Luke.
Luke had been the only good thing in her life, the only person in this world she’d ever loved. He’d loved her back without asking anything from her in return...unlike all the others.
        Her gaze burned at her abductor’s back.
           They had picked the wrong girl to take from. A wrath of cold vengeance hardened within her. Raw and malevolent, drowning out the fear. It concentrated, finding purity and purpose. A shaky serenity seeped into her muscles. She tested the bindings trapping her wrists. They were well restrained, but her legs were free. The chair was solid. Wooden. Probably from an old dining table set.
        She stared at the young man’s back, the peeking knife at his waistband. There were two other men, she recalled. This one—the one who shot Luke—another who had knocked her unconscious, and the driver of the van. Were they here somewhere?
        “…I’m going to show you cold heartless twits, make you think twice overlooking guys like me for some pretty-boy shitbag in a muscled tee.” He whirled on her. Jane stilled.
        He reached her in two strides, seizing a handful of her long hair and yanked hard. She hissed, her gaze sharpening with the promise of retribution. The angle had her looking right up at him. He kissed her roughly, teeth scraping, lips bruising. Another jerk of her hair and he released her. Bile filled her mouth. She spat the taste of him.
        “You’re going to have to try harder than that, sweetheart, if you don’t want me to get angry.” In full view of the camera, he squeezed her breast, gripping hard, his other hand trailing down to the vee of her thighs.
        She growled low, breathing heavily, imagining snapping every one of his filthy fingers and shoving them down his throat.
        He stalked back to the video camera. “The whole world is going to see just how scary I can be. You’re going to watch me…”
        She stood quietly, stepping on the seat of her chair, and then over and behind the seat-back, until the chair was completely in front her. She gripped the sides, raised it above her head and rushed at him. She slammed it across his back and neck. He snapped forward, stunned. Rage filled her and she raised the chair again, crushing it down with the full force of her weight. The chair splintered to pieces.
        Rushing footsteps echo from the stairs. She pulled the knife from his waist, slit the tape on her wrist and ran behind the door, ducking down low.
        A foot appeared, and then another. The man was holding a gun. “Mike?” he called. “Shit, Mike!”
        He wore a black shirt, long shorts, and tennis shoes. In one fluid motion, she sliced the tender flesh exposed behind his knees. One and then the other. He cried out, stumbling to the ground. The gun clattered away, the sound of agony still trilling from his lungs.
        She leaped over him, and stabbed the knife at his outstretched hand just as his fingers tipped the butt of his gun. He let loose another ripping scream, the pain-filled bawls reverberating from the once quiet stone walls.
           Hands steady, she picked up the gun, and then smashed the butt against the back of his head. His screams stopped.
           One more to go. She checked the clip; it had been a long time since she’d last held a gun. She whirled to face the open door just as the third guy came running in. Wide eyes of youth stared back at her. He was just a kid.
           Her fingers pulled. Once, twice. A quick double tap, the shots hitting him right above his eyes.
           She stood, legs shaky but strong. Only when the body stopped twitching did she turn her attention back to the others. She searched through their pockets. Mike had a wallet. Amateur, she sniffed. She pulled out his driver’s license and held it up for the still-blinking camera to see.
           “Come find me,” she said, staring coldly at the lens. “Hurry, or the only thing you’ll have to arrest are dead bodies.”
        She grabbed the roll of tape and began methodically tying up Mike and his injured accomplice; wrapping their wrists, and then their ankles. At the back of the room were hooks, like the ones in meat plants, hanging from the ceiling. The basement was an honest-to-god torture room.
With considerable effort, she lifted each one by the armpits, dragging them across the floor and onto the lowered hooks, using a lever to lift them up until their feet dangled inches off the floor.
        Still no sound of sirens. It would be a while, she figured.
           Mike began to stir.
        She closed her eyes, exhaustion filling her. But there would be no rest. Not until she’d made good on her promise. More blood would spill tonight, the devil in her to dance to an audience of corpses.  
           “Do you know what Luke did for me?” she whispered to Mike, remembering the day she'd first met Luke at the hospital. He'd taken care of her bruised and battered body, shown her unbelievable kindness. That day, he'd given her something to live for, him.
           “Please…” Mike wheezed. She kept his mask on, it was better this way.
           A bubble of crazed laughter spilled out of her.
           He began to struggle, body wriggling on the hook. “Jerry! Jerry, wake up man!” he cried.
           “Jerry’s too busy being unconscious,” Jane said, eyeing the puddle of blood beneath Jerry’s swaying feet. “I imagine having the muscles behind your knees sliced open is pretty painful.”
           Mike whimpered, tugging roughly at his bonds, but she had been careful. He wouldn’t be escaping. “Please…please I’m sorry!”
           She stood to face him, one hand clutching the gun, the other gripping the knife. “You’re sorry?” she asked, almost stabbing him then. “Luke was a good man. A fucking angel on this piece-of-shit earth and you took him from me.” It didn’t matter what happened to her, she’d always been unfortunate. But Luke…not Luke. She pressed her blood-caked palms against her eyes, remembering how he’d held her, how he’d stroked her hair.
           “I just wanted…I just wanted to teach people a lesson,” Mike sputtered. “Teach them to respect guys like me.”
           It was her turn to sneer. “Respect guys like you?” She turned to the video camera, the blinking red light like a beacon in the room. “How many women have you hurt in this hell-hole?” The smell of death mixed with fresh blood and Mike’s acrid stench grew ever pungent, making it hard to breathe.
           He wept so that his lips glittered with spittle, eyes clenched as if hoping to wake from this nightmare. Many. He’d hurt many.
           She drew closer and he shrank, body desperately trying to twist away.
           “How the tables have turned…But you were right about girls like me, leaving people dead.” She stared into his eyes, wondering where evil came from, knowing that he must see it in her gaze too, the darkness living within.
           There was a peculiar mole in his left eye. It was a second later when recognition set in. He was the kid from the grocery store—the one Luke had joked with. She snarled at the memory and stared down at the the tight fist she made around his knife. Raising the blade, she began to cut his shirt down the middle, exposing his torso; unaffected by his burbling pleas for mercy. Luke was gone. He had been her mercy, her conscience, the light chasing away the demons within her. Now the demons were back, and there would be nothing to stop them from bathing in Mike’s blood.
            “What…what are you going to do?” Mike screamed, wide eyes of panic morphing into mirrored globes of horror. “Please! Don’t do this!”
           With her other hand, Jane gripped the gun. “I’m going to do what you couldn’t. Make sure people never forget you.”
          She aimed and pulled the trigger. The shot rang, sparks sputtered from the camera. The red light blinked dead.
           Mike howled.
“I don’t like people watching me while I work,” she said evenly, a sinister smile curving her full lips. “Don’t scream to loudly, okay? It sets my teeth on edge.”

THE END

3 comments:

  1. Anna - hot story here, full of intensity and action bursting off the page. There's something dark about Jane, not sinister, but dangerous. She would make a great conflicted hero of a vigilante--style series.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Joseph! It's definitely out of my element (writing horror/thrillers), so it was a great way to stretch my writing skills and try something new. Thanks for the idea on perhaps making Jane a returning hero! I hadn't thought of the possibility until now.

      How's the search going for your villain?

      Cheers,
      Anna

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  2. Thanks to you and a few other friends, I at least have a starting point. Part of the problem is that I want to know the story before it's even being written, which of course, takes out that element of spontaneity.

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