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Synopsis

I’m an ex-Murder and Robbery Detective Captain from South Africa. I write from experience. From the heart. And the readers will feel that. I take them on an authentic journey through a labyrinth of bloody corridors. Thrilling and fast-paced. Gripping.


Chapter 94

numerical

Alexa

Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
09:17am

At the foot of Table Mountain, palm trees swayed gently in the summer breeze. On the white sandy beach of Camps Bay, Alexa Morgan dipped her toes into the Atlantic Ocean. “Brrr,” she said, shivered and shrieked in delight as strong comforting arms grabbed her from behind. She was weighed down, unable to run away from the icy water lapping at her ankles. “No, Mom, let me go. It’s freezing.”
Alexa was lifted into the air and swirled round. She laughed from deep within, enjoying every second of the attention.
“I’m getting giddy, Mom. Put me down.”
Both mother and daughter fell onto the warm sand, sprawled on their backs, laughing till long after the thrill was gone.
Overhead, seagulls screeched. They circled marquee tents laden with the finest food Cape Town had on offer. Smoky bacon, omelettes, lobster, oysters, caviar and gallons of Dom Pérignon.
Christmas brunch was a ritual for the super-rich of Camps Bay. Only residents from this small elite suburb were invited. And they attended religiously.
They drove down from their mansions in shiny Lamborghinis and Bentleys, sporting Rolex watches and diamond rings.
They had everything money could buy. But instead of modesty, they preferred to gossip behind cupped hands, judging each other and trying to impress.
Olivia Morgan hated snobs. They don’t appreciate the little things. They’re wasting their lives away on pettiness. Vain and corrupt. She stood up, tucked a strand of blonde hair in behind her ear and helped Alexa to her feet. “Pancakes for my little muffin?”
“I’m not little anymore, Mom. I’m sixteen. And I want ice-cream instead.”
“This early in the morning?”
“It’s Christmas,” Alexa said, drawing out the word, “please”’.
Olivia beamed. How can I say no to that sweet face? “All right then. But only if you promise not to tell your dad.”
“When is he coming back?”
“He has urgent business to attend to, Alexa.”
“He didn’t even say goodbye.”
“He looked in on you before he left. You were asleep. Now come on, before those vultures eat all the ice-cream.”
“They won’t. They eat celery sticks and drink champagne.”
Olivia smiled at the girl with the golden hair and big blue eyes. “That means more for us. Race you there.”
Alexa reached the tent first. She instantly ordered two scoops of caramel twist. It was her favourite. The server smiled and stacked the cone.
Alexa turned. “I need to go to the toilet. I’ll be right back.”
Olivia grabbed hold of her. “I don’t think you should go alone, muffin. This is Africa after all.”
Alexa’s demeanour changed in an instant. Eyes dark with unsuppressed hostility. Her pretty face altered to an ugly mask. She plucked her wrist out of Olivia’s grip. “Let go of me. I’m not a damn child anymore,” she sneered and darted off.
Her mother’s warning was lost in the din of the crowd. “Be careful…”
A frumpled old lady with a fake tan and red-painted nails stepped up to Olivia. “Mrs Morgan, I believe.”
Olivia shook the bony hand and glanced back over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of Alexa.
“You can call me Mrs Harrington,” the old lady insisted. “You should be familiar with the name. We own all the Nissan car dealerships in South Africa. My husband’s very well-known and respected throughout the world.”
Olivia tried not to show her emotions. A car salesman. Whoop-dee-doo.
Mrs Harrington flickered her eyelids and gave a phony smile. “So you moved here a month ago. How do you find South Africa? Is it to your liking? The crime rate is something dreadful, isn’t it? These barbarians target us hard-working types. I heard your husband’s a business tycoon. American? Don’t worry, we won’t hold it against you, my girl. I’m English myself.”
“My name’s Olivia. And if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my daughter,” she said, rushing off as a bad feeling pricked her skin.
She reached the restroom and zipped through the toilets.
Empty.
A sudden surge of fear painted her face pale. Terror dug its claws into her core as she whizzed back outside, eyes darting in search of a pink frock and blonde hair.
Then she spotted her.
There.
A young man ran towards a white panel van carrying Alexa in his arms. He flung her into the back, slammed the side door shut and jumped up into the cab. The driver pulled out into the flow of steady traffic with a honk, floored the accelerator and sped off on screeching tyres.
Olivia’s heart wanted to explode. She sprinted after the van. “No,” she screamed. “Stop them. Somebody help me. They’re taking my daughter.”
But the bystanders didn’t want to get involved, didn’t want to jeopardise their own safety. They shielded their eyes with fancy sunglasses, turned their backs on her and spoke behind cupped hands.
Olivia was hysterical. “Alexa,” she cried feverishly, running out onto the main track. She waved down a car.
Stumbled.
Fell.
Cracked her head against the asphalt.
And then her body went limp as she dove into the dark abyss of unconsciousness.

PART 1

The night before:

Pretoria, South Africa
8:32pm

Chapter 1

The girl in the red dress woke with a feeling of dread. A burning sensation shot down her right hip and thigh. The pain was excruciating.
Someone else was in the dimly lit room with her. She saw his shady figure. Heard his heavy breathing. Felt his touch. Shuddered as his hands caressed her skin, squeezing her breasts and stroking her womanhood.
She gasped, and then cried out in pain.
Rough hands tried to pin her down on the table. But she clawed at his face. Dug her nails into his skin and felt his tight grip slacken for an instant.
“Fuckin’ whore,” he shouted.
The girl attacked again and broke out of his hold, sprang upright and bolted for the door.
Terrified.
Dazed.
She had to get away from him.
Where am I?
She ducked out into the dark hallway, running blindly. Her hollow footsteps pounded like a drum. Heart racing. Legs pumping. How did I get here?
She pulled clear of him but stumbled and fell.
Up again.
Running.
He was closer now. She heard his breathing.
Adrenaline jetted into her veins. It gave her new strength.
She ran like a wild animal, propelling forward and regaining the advantage. Her lungs were on fire, and her right leg and buttock ached like hell. It isn’t from the fall, she thought.
Thick sticky blood ran down her leg.
The pain was intense.
Focus.
With each step she drew farther away.
She glanced over her shoulder but couldn’t see him. Then stepped off her left foot and darted into a side corridor to her right. There were half-built rooms on either side.
Construction site. Hide.
She zipped into a room and ducked in behind a pile of flat timber. Crouching. Watching the doorway. Focussing to steady her breathing. You’re an athlete, you can do this. The wounded leg went numb and she was losing blood. It soaked her dress. I need help.
She heard his fast approaching footsteps. Saw his dark figure blitz past the room. Heard him slow down.
Stop.
Silence.
Then the slow crunch of heels on cement as he turned back towards her.
The man’s shadow filled the doorframe. Stood motionless for a few moments. Then moved slightly as he cocked his head sideways to listen for any noise that might surrender her position.
His eyes swivelled, searching the room. “I can see you,” he shouted in trickery and lunged forward.
Her heart fluttered. She searched for an escape route, knowing she had to get out of there immediately.
The hip-high wall behind her stood unfinished. She broke cover, jumped over it and powered down the dusty lane.
He came after her. Jumped, landed awkwardly and tumbled to the ground. “Aah.”
She caught a glimpse of him getting back to his feet. Saw his shadow limp. “No way you’re going to catch me now, you bastard,” she croaked and stretched her lead.
The bright headlights of a vehicle appeared in the lane ahead of her. She shouted and waved her arms, sprinting towards it, frantically glancing backwards.
Her attacker was on the move again. Running hard. But she had at least fifty metres on him.
“Help,” she shouted and flagged the Mercedes Benz down.
The driver slammed on the brakes.
“Please help me,” she cried.
Her attacker was closing in fast. He was twenty paces away.
“Get in quickly,” the driver commanded gruffly.
The girl ripped open the passenger door and dove onto the backseat. “Go,” she shouted, frowning at the device in the driver’s hand.
A cattle prod sparked blue flashes of light.
The hooded figure ripped round and forced it down onto her skin, knocking her unconscious.

Chapter 2

Frank’s cell phone rang. He groaned and reached for it on the bedside table. “Dempsey.” His mouth tasted like cork. A hangover banged against the walls of his skull. Even his eyelids were hurting.
“Captain, we found another girl.” It was Scooter Telford, one of his sergeants.
With the other hand, Frank pinched his temples between index finger and thumb. “The MO?”
“Modus operandi’s similar to the other two. That makes it three murders in three weeks.”
“Fuck. We’ve officially got a serial killer on our hands. Where are you?”
Scooter gave him the address.
“I’ll be there in thirty,” Frank grunted and rang off.
His wife stirred beside him. “Who was that?”
He swung out of bed and pulled on his jeans and boots. “It’s work. Go back to sleep.”
She sat upright. “But it’s Christmas morning. The children haven’t opened their presents yet.”
Here we go, Frank thought and made a dash for the bathroom. “They can do it without me, Honey. A young girl’s been brutally murdered.”
“I’ve had as much as I can take, Frank. You’re never home. And when you are, you’re drunk.”
Frank sighed. Yeah, yeah. Give me a break.
The running tap droned out her nagging, but he still caught a word here and there.
“Taking kids…my mother…divorce.”
He brushed the old alcohol taste out of his mouth, splashed cold water onto his face and looked at himself in the mirror. Dangerous green eyes stared back at him. Bloodshot but alert.
The dark rings beneath them were from too much whiskey and not enough sleep. Touches of grey dusted his moustache and goatee. Worry lines furrowed his brow, skin like old leather.
My youth is formally over.
Frank winked a wink of encouragement, sprayed his armpits with deodorant and pulled on a fresh shirt. He strapped the silver Pietro Beretta 9mm Parabellum to his hip and headed for the front door. “Let’s get this show on the road,” he grumbled.
“The kids and I will be gone when you get back.”
Frank bit his tongue and locked the security gate behind him. She’ll simmer down.
He stepped up into the black Ford F350 truck, covered his bloodshot eyes with a pair of Ray-Bans and turned the ignition key.
While the motor idled, he slipped a bottle of whiskey out from under the seat. Reached into the cubbyhole and swallowed two headache pills with a few mouthfuls of liquor. It’s the only way to cure a hangover.
At 07:14 hours Frank ducked in under the crime scene tape.
Scooter’s freckled face was pasty white. “It’s not pretty, Cappie.”
“Murder never is.”

Chapter 3

The coroner with the crazy white hair looked a bit like Einstein. Huge steel-rimmed spectacles were perched on the tip of his nose.
He took a photograph of the body and set the camera down on its casing. “Ah, Frank.”
The six-foot-three Detective Captain towered over him. “Doc.” Frank’s jaw hardened as he studied the macabre scene. “Fuck me.”
The thing Frank hated most in life was any form of violence or abuse against women and children. It brought out the worst in him. And in this case, it felt as if his head was going to burst.
Candles in the shape of a pentagram had melted around the girl’s mutilated body.
She lay on her back, spread-eagled, arms and legs tied to stakes in the ground. The red dress she wore had been pulled up over her bloody thighs.
Frank noticed her dismembered hands and feet were stapled back into position with steel clips.
Doc indicated to the open wound on the girl’s neck. “Like the others, the killer had bitten into her Adam’s apple and chewed through her throat.”
Frank breathed heavily as he stared at the girl’s bloody face. Her lips had been sliced off from ear to ear in a gruesome smile. His gaze rested on her glassy eyes. They’ll never cry again, he thought bitterly and lit a cigarette. The smoke tasted like burnt hair.
Doc cleared his throat. “There are comparisons between the three crime scenes.” He counted on his fingers. “Each took place at a construction site. All the victims were tortured for hours. The exact same ritualistic activities were recreated,” he said, indicating to the pentagram. “Strands of hair were removed from all three victims and their faces plastered with make-up. Their hands and feet were cut off at the joints and stuck back on. Rectangular strips of flesh were removed from their upper right thighs, and their right buttocks were sliced off whilst they were still alive.”
Frank narrowed his eyes. “Motherfucker.”
“The mutilation appears to be identical to that of the other two victims. But there are dissimilarities.” Doc patted his coat pockets for a cigarette. “I left mine in the van.”
Frank offered him one.
Doc stuck it between his teeth like a cigar and lit the tip. “At first glance it appears to be the same killer. The teeth marks on her neck are consistent with the others. I’ll know for certain when I compare the evidence back at the lab.” He indicated to the lacerations on her face. “But here’s where thing’s become fickle. The previous two victims were cut up with surgical precision. This handiwork is slapdash. Raggedy edged. As if it was his first endeavour.” Doc pointed towards the girl’s hands and feet. “Same there. Messy. The carving skills on the hip and thigh are frayed in comparison to the other victims, yet similar in shape.” He crouched with the cigarette stuck in the corner of his mouth. “And lastly, this one was raped post-mortem…the other two weren’t.”
Frank needed a drink. “Are we dealing with a copycat killer?”
“It could’ve been the case had these details been published earlier,” Doc said. “But the media only reported the previous killings as cult related. No specifics were given other than dismemberment.” He shook his head. “You did a great job in keeping the information from them, but Lucifer alone knows how those reporters didn’t sniff it out.”
Scooter Telford scratched his carrot-red head. “So what are you saying? That the killer’s got a trainee?”
“Yes, we’re dealing with two killers. Look at this,” Doc said and pointed. “Wool doused with lighter fluid was inserted into the anus and set alight. It’s the protégé adding his signature to the crime.”
Frank stared at the chewed throat. “Is it a cult killing? Maybe a high priest schooling his apprentice?” He turned to flick the cigarette butt over the crime scene tape and spotted a photographer taking snapshots of the corpse. A news crew was reporting on the murder, video cam zoomed in.
Frank had a pit-bull reaction. He charged towards them, barking orders at the three uniformed police officers to his left. “Get these bastards off my crime scene.” But he reached the baffled journalists before they could. “Give it here.”
Frank grabbed the photographer’s camera and confiscated the video cam.
The female reporter objected loudly. “You can’t do that. People have the right to know when a serial killer is on the loose.”
“Give me back my equipment,” the photographer yelled. “Or I’ll sue you and the police department.”
“Same here,” the cameraman added.
Frank’s face whitened in anger. The last thing I need is mass hysteria, he thought. And the easiest way to get that would be to show footage of a gruesome serial murder.
He knew it would not only sow panic amongst civilians, but would certainly empower the killers and keep them informed on how the investigation was progressing.
Frank couldn’t allow that. He would drip-feed the media with information to manipulate the investigation when he thought the time was ripe. And that time wasn’t now. “I’ll arrest your asses for hampering my enquiry,” he snarled. “This isn’t America. Now fuck off.”
The uniform policemen seized the reporters’ cell phones to prevent them from recording further footage of the crime scene, and then escorted them to their vehicle.
“Get Liz Hamilton down here ASAP,” Frank said and shoved the cameras into Scooter’s hands. “Delete and dump it.”

Chapter 4

“Come on people, let’s pick up the pace. Time is the one thing working against us,” Frank said. He was upset by the barbaric way in which a young girl’s life had been ripped away and therefore demanded immediate results. “When I get my hands on those motherfuckers…”
Doc knew Frank better than most people. They’d worked side by side on numerous murder cases. He understood his bitterness and relentless drive to hunt down cold-blooded killers. He even condoned the rumours about Frank’s ruthless tactics when he caught up with murderers and rapists. It sits thick in his veins. But this is a time for reasoning. “Catching a serial killer is a thinking-man’s game,” Doc said. “Investigating a crime scene of this magnitude requires patience and precision. It’s a time-consuming process, which necessitates the examination of all the evidence with a fine tooth comb.”
Frank shrugged. “Yeah, I know, Doc. I just want to get hold of the bastards who did this before they strike again. And for that to happen, I need answers.” He looked at his watch. “Where the hell is Liz? The sooner she gets here, the sooner we can get a profile on the suspects.”
“On her way,” Scooter replied.
“Who found the body?”
“The night watchman did, Cappie.”
“What does he know?”
Scooter shook his head.
“Bullshit. He must’ve seen or heard something,” Frank growled.
Scooter held an imaginary glass to his lips. “Too much Christmas cheer. He claims to have passed out. When he woke and did his rounds, he found her and called it in.”
“What does your gut tell you?”
Scooter pulled a face of uncertainty. “He’s an unlikely suspect. A drunken sod, if you know what I mean. But you never can tell with serial killers, can you?”
“Where is he now?”
“I had him escorted to our office for further questioning. Doc took his fingerprints and DNA before he left.”
Frank tapped Doc on the shoulder. “Give me an estimated time of death.”
“She’s been dead for about seven hours. That would make it around 1am.”
“Do we know her name?”
“Not yet.” Doc showed him the Electronic Identification Pad. “I sourced the girl’s fingerprints. No prior records.” He shook his head in frustration. “In order to determine her identity, we’ll have to run her prints through Homeland Security. Even if we send it as top priority, we won’t get the results back till after New Year’s. You know what government departments are like over the Christmas holidays.”
“Leave it to me,” Frank said. He took out his cell phone and stepped away to make the call. Having friends in the CIA has its perks. They have all the latest technology and more. “Americans,” he smirked. “There’s nothing they can’t do. They’re always bigger and better than everyone else.”
Nick Crowley answered after the fifth ring. He sounded groggy. “Is that you, Frank? A bit early in the morning there, buddy…but Merry Christmas all the same.”
“There’s nothing merry about it,” Frank growled, and brought him up to speed with the case.
“Email her prints to my office. I’ll meet you at The Blue Lizard Bar in an hour,” Nick said and rang off.
Frank emailed the file as he paced impatiently up and down the perimeter. “Where the fuck’s Liz?”
He looked up at the sound of a car racing towards him.
The driver braked sharply, skidding to a halt metres away from the scene. Clouds of dust blew past the rundown car and died at Frank’s feet.
An attractive woman of about fifty jumped out from behind the wheel. She had fair skin and shoulder-length ginger hair.
Frank gave a wry smile as she scurried onto the crime scene. Dr Liz Hamilton makes a peculiar figure, he thought. That’s why people deem her odd—who wears a winter coat on a summer day?
Frank, however, appreciated her uniqueness. After all, she had a PhD in clinical forensic psychology. Was a world-renowned profiler. Had been involved in solving forty-six serial murder and rape cases. And was one of the toughest women he’d ever met.
“Damn, but it’s hot,” she said mopping her brow with a sleeve.
“Take off your coat then,” Frank suggested.
“No. It’s too cold.”
He chuckled. That’s Liz Hamilton. Eccentric to say the least.
Liz immediately started assessing the crime scene, stalking it like a leopard would its prey. “Talk to me, Doc,” she instructed, listening attentively as she circled, sniffed and studied the dead girl. Then turned on her heel and deliberated the body from a different angle, muttering her findings as she went. “Exhibitionist. Cannibal. Advanced Antisocial Personality Disorder…a psychopath.”
Suddenly she did a 360-degree twirl like a ballerina. “Everything you see was meticulously planned, showcasing that our main suspect is likely to be intellectual and mature. An older male.”
Scooter Telford stared at the mutilated corpse, mumbling to himself. “Twenty-seven…three…ninety-one.”
Liz frowned at Frank. “Does he still do that counting thing?”
“Don’t ask,” he replied, shaking his head.
She muttered something under her breath and continued. “What’s the most frightening aspect about these killings?”
Scooter blinked and raised his hand like a schoolboy. “A period of two weeks lapsed between the first two murders…but only one week between the second and third. This bastard’s upping his work tempo. He cut his killing time in half. And if we don’t find him soon, bodies are going to pop up like mushrooms.”
“Halfway there,” she said and pointed a crooked finger at Frank. “What do you think?”
“I’m twitchy about him changing his killing pattern. He’s mutating.”
“Eureka,” she shrilled. “That’s what makes him dangerous and unpredictable. More bodies will follow. We’d better find him quickly.”
“So who are we looking for?” Frank asked, dying for a drink.
“It’s not an exact science but I’d say our main suspect is a highly intelligent prowler. Someone powerful who loathes females. The second one is much younger and eager to please. Also male. Both Caucasian. Two callous predators.” She imitated a witch from Macbeth. “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
Frank scowled. “Scooter, take the lead on the investigation. I’ve got to meet up with someone. Call me when you’re done here.” He indicated for Liz to follow him.
“I need to see the evidence in the other two cases,” she protested.
“Doc will call and meet you back at his lab after he finishes up here. Come on, the clock’s ticking.”

Chapter 5

Frank pushed the sunglasses back onto his head as he walked into The Blue Lizard Bar. He blinked and waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloomy interior.
Pink and blue fluorescent lights lit up the liquor display cabinet. Its dull glow reflected in the mirrors, illuminating the barman and three customers drinking at the counter.
The most prominent figure was a man the size of a grizzly bear. He downed a mug of beer, belched and ordered a top-up.
The other two figures at the far end of the bar were more inconspicuous. Statues painted in shadows. Silent. Watching.
Frank recognised their silhouettes and led Liz Hamilton to them.
He patted the grizzly on his back as he walked past. “You alright there, big fella?”
“Hi, Frank.” The man gave a shy smile. “They removed the surgical wire,” he said and wiggled his lower jaw to show it had healed.
“That’s great, buddy.”
Frank recalled the day he’d broken the grizzly’s jaw in two places, knocking him off the very same stool he was sitting on. It happened only a few months ago, so the images were still fresh in his mind.
When the barman spotted Frank, he got cranky. “Hey, you need to pay your tab.”
But Frank ignored him and slid onto the barstool beside Nick Crowley. He introduced the man with the pale spiky hair and steel grey eyes. “CIA Agent in Charge, International desk, Africa.” Then indicated to the curvy blonde half Liz’s age. “Agent Jane Delaney. Hacker extraordinaire…meet renowned profiler and forensic psychologist, Dr Liz Hamilton.”
They shook hands.
“Did you hear me, Frank?” the barman bawled.
“Yeah, yeah. Give me two double whiskeys, Dingo. Put it on the book. I’ll pay at the end of the month.”
“That’s what you said three months ago,” the barman snarled, looking to the grizzly for assistance.
The bear caught a flicker of Frank’s dangerous green eyes challenging him, daring him to make a move. He dropped his gaze. “You’re on your own, Dingo. I like chewing steak, not sucking slop through a straw.”
Frank smiled a fake smile. “Come on, Dingo. You know I’m good for it. I’m just going through a rough patch right now. It’s bloody Christmas.”
Without backup, the barman surrendered. He poured the drinks, shaking his head. “You’re a bastard, you know that, Frank.”
Frank’s scar-knuckled hand folded around the tumbler. He flung the drink back and glanced sideways. “What’ve you got for me?”
Nick showed him a printout of the girl’s address. “Her name’s Nancy Lewis. She’s seventeen years old. Ivy League. Attended Water Cliff Ridge High. Held various sprinting records as a national athlete, served on the student body, and was top of her class.”
A thousand questions milled in Frank’s mind. The most prominent one was: Where do I start?
He closed his eyes. Leaned back his head and rolled it in a half-moon from side to side. The tension in his neck crackled and popped like a bowl of Rice Krispies. Think, Dempsey. “We’ve got to determine if there’s a link between the victims, or if the killers are targeting a specific type,” Frank said and sloshed another whiskey. He hoped the alcohol would shoot open the fogginess in his head and provide him with some solutions. Like my wife always says, “when you’re on the booze, Frank, you’ve got an answer for everything”. He turned to Jane. “Can you check to see if there’s a connection between the three victims and their respective families?”
She flipped open her laptop. “Give me the names of the first two girls.”
“Lucia Buckner and Cynthia Reynolds.”
She typed their profiles into a complicated web of catalogues and initiated the search engine. “It’ll take a few minutes.”
“In that case, keep them coming,” Frank said and pointed the barman to his empty glass.
Nick Crowley shook his head and ordered a coke each for him and Jane. “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to be drinking, Frank?”
“You foreigners just don’t get it, do you? South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world. Here we drink to take off the edge.” Frank snorted and rubbed his tired eyes. “I can’t imagine doing this work sober. There’s too much death in my life. And on top of that you sound like my fuckin’ wife. Concentrate on the work at hand,” he said and started discussing the circumstances surrounding the other two murders. “Lucia Buckner disappeared during a banquet…Cynthia Reynolds from a wedding reception. Nobody saw anything. They just vanished. Blood samples taken post-mortem confirmed they were drugged with a substance common to South America. It’s called scopolamine, also known as ‘Devil’s Breath’. It eliminates free will and wipes the memory of its victims.”
Liz toyed with a tuft of ginger hair, absorbing the information. She deliberated. Categorised. Then stared at her pink and blue reflection in the mirror behind the bar as she hugged the winter coat tightly to her chest. Pearls of sweat formed on her upper lip as she mumbled to no one in particular.
“They’re deceitful. Skilled liars, making it difficult to detect if they’re telling the truth. They take their victims from public places. Arrogant. Egocentric. Charismatic even. Popular figures in the community. They wear masks of sanity to blend in with society, but they have a total disregard for laws and social norms.” She spoke as if she was watching the murderers on a monitor. “They derive pleasure from torture and slow death. Power-seeking killers playing God…but with a hint of lust.” She sipped her whiskey as if it held the power to foretell past and future deeds. “They’re filled with hatred and contempt. Organised exhibitionists who pose the broken bloodied bodies of their prey.”
Dingo the barman and his mountain grizzly were transfixed, captivated by the words coming out of her mouth.
She spoke with a madness in her eyes. “Necrophiliacs. Cannibals and sadists. Intoxicated with the urges of paraphilia as they insert sharp and abnormal objects into and around the genitals. A platoon of demons have inhabited their souls.”
Frank was on his fourth double. “I could’ve summed all that up in three words,” he said glancing sideways at Nick. “They’re evil motherfuckers.”
Liz emptied her tumbler. “I haven’t come across serial killers quite as unique and complex as these two before. They cover the whole spectrum of wickedness wrapped into one. Very interesting though. It’ll be a challenge to find them,” she said and shifted her gaze to Dingo.
Frank noticed how her black eyes were giving Dingo the creeps. It was evident in the way he stood wide-eyed watching her, scratching the itch on his skin.
Liz also recognised his fear. “Boo,” she screeched, leaping towards him in mock attack.
Dingo flinched, lifting eight inches off the ground. “Aah,” he shouted, hands before his face, whimpering like a little girl.
She sat back down without taking her eyes off him. “Tequilas all round,” she croaked.
Dingo tried to redeem his masculinity. “She’s a fuckin’ witch, I tell you.”
But nobody bought it.
He dropped his eyes and poured their drinks.
Frank gave a tight-lipped grin and raised his glass. “Let them fall where they may,” he said and imitated Liz Hamilton sculling her Tequila without salt or lemon.
She slammed the empty glass back onto the counter, studying it like a gypsy would a crystal ball, hands trembling as she visualised the future. “Rivers of blood will pour from the sky before we find them.”

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T.C Chadinha

Christchurch, New Zealand

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