A serial killer pops up in a small town in Utah touted as being one of the 50 safest cities in the nation. Winding down his career, Detective George Burton must find this killer while the city's mayor breaths down his back. As his personal life falls apart, he begins to question whether it will be himself or this case that cracks first.
Dark clouds had swallowed the mid-October sun. They sat low and pregnant with what would be the first of many winter storms in the coming season. The usual duplicitous smiles coated the TV weathermen as they danced across a green screen predicting the snow would only fall in the mountains. The valleys, they claimed, would see only rain. Tim might have had trouble believing it.
However, he remained blissfully ignorant of this most recent meteorological predicament; and cared even less. He sat upon his stool-shaped throne behind the counter of the Cloud 9 Motel and flipped distractedly through an issue of Playboy. The owner kept an entire box of them in the back. Old issues from, as he put it, "an era where 'The Heff' was a god amongst men, rather than some reality show punchline."
Wind whipped through the old walls creating a hollow, weeping sound and caused the old motel's structure to creak and moan. The combination of these sounds and Tim's general disinterest nearly masked the clank of the ancient bell positioned over the door; signaling the arrival of a new customer. A large shadow moved across the room but Tim still did not look up. He was mid-way through a particularly gorgeous article and intended to finish. After all, people didn't come to Cloud 9 for the glowing customer service. Room rates were by the hour and it was best if expectations were kept low.
It wasn't anything his new customer said or did that caused Tim to look up suddenly. It was the slight drop in barometric pressure that caused his hairs to stand at attention on his arms. A familiar feeling that he dreaded.
There are dark men in this world whose very presence feels like death. They do not speak of their evils because there is no need to speak of them. Everyone around them just knows. In this line of work, Tim had only come into contact with a person like this twice and each time the memory had been seared into permanence. So when the air seemed to be sucked out of the room like a vacuum and every hair began to tingle with electricity, he recognized the feeling immediately.
Standing in front of Tim was a corpulent man with a pasty complexion. He stood back from the counter to give his enormous belly the proper clearance; laying his pudgy hands on the table and Tim saw they were almost comically oversized. It reminded him of when he was little and would blow up disposable gloves to put on his head. The man had swollen jowls and his hair was an oily combover with a dark brown hue. His eyes were sunken and reptilian, but there was nothing particularly evil about him. In fact, his eyes darted back in forth as if he were the nervous one. Something was definitely wrong here.
"What can I do for y-" Tim began, but a slight movement to the back and right of the fat man caused him to stop. Against the wall, where the ice machine sat was another figure.
The second man was bald and short. He seemed to be in his early thirties and muscular. His arms were folded in front of him and he was slowly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. His skin was pale and there were little moving specs where Tim could see exposed skin. On his forearms and neck and his face…
Spiders! The man had spiders crawling all over his skin. Without knowing he was doing it, Tim found himself standing up. He took a step away from the counter before the fat man grabbed him fiercely by the arm.
"Calm down kid, they're just tattoos." He said simply, "Remember what your parents taught you about staring? It's rude."
Tim pulled his hand back quickly; resisting the urge to rub it in his shirt. The fat man's hands were clammy and moist and Tim wanted to run and scrub off the grime; possibly in a vat of acid. He was also having trouble listening to the fat man's advice. Upon closer inspection, he could see that the specs were, in fact, tattoos, but because the man was shifting back and forth the light danced across his skin giving the artistry the illusion of movement. Alarms were screaming inside Tim's head now. The most basic animalistic functions, his lizard brain was demanding control.
'Predator! Run! Hide!' It screamed.
"There is a nice little room at the back corner that we will need. Room 406 I believe was the number. We'll need it for the next two weeks, at least." The fat man drew Tim's gaze back and dropped a crinkled wad of cash on the table.
"Uh, Ok yeah." Tim responded, surprised he could speak. He grabbed the money and stuffed it into the register. The system was old and receipts were hand-written; it took a few tries to get it ready as his fingers were shaking . "You'll mum…need to sign…you know what? Never mind, it's all yours. Enjoy your stay."
The fat man nodded slightly then stared at Tim for a moment. His mouth turned up into a slight smile and his tongue slid gently out of his mouth, licking his lips.
"Is…is there something else I can get for you?" Tim asked.
"Well you certainly don't expect us to break into the room, now do you? Shouldn't you give us the key?" The fat man said with a small chuckle. There was no mirth in the sound of his laughter.
"Right. God. I'm sorry." Tim turned around and grabbed the key from the peg. He fumbled and dropped the keys onto the ground. When he stood back up he let out a yelp.
The bald man had moved up to the counter and was staring at him with something like intent indifference.
The fat man grabbed the key, nodded a thank you, and was gone.
The bald one remained, trapping Tim in the stare for what seemed like eternity. The corners of his lips curled ever so slightly in the hint of a smile. When Tim was younger, he had a read a book by Orson Scott Card called 'Eye for an Eye' where the main character would give people cancer just by willing it to be so. Tim was suddenly convinced that this is exactly what was happening. This thing in front of him was destroying him with a single glance. Tim's skin tingled and he knew, he just knew that his DNA was changing: dying.
The man flicked his hand up and a knife materialized out of thin air. He gently brought the point of the blade down onto the counter and a small scratching sound like nails on a chalkboard emitted from the counter's new wound. When the man had finished his artwork, he brought the blade up to his mouth using it sans his pointer finger for the sign of be quiet.
The he turned and walked away. Tim's eyes lowered to the counter where a rough etching of a spider now stood.
- - - - - - - - -
Will "the Drill" (or Willy the Whale as he was referred to in secret) stood outside the front door and carefully lit a cigarette. He waited a minute for his charge, Cero, to finish whatever it was he was doing inside the motel lobby.
Cero walked out moments later with what might've been a smile on his face. Willy would enjoy these moments when people shit their pants around Cero a little more if he weren't constantly in a similar state himself.
He hoped his bosses had no need of the spidered man during the job. He dreaded trying to kill him when it was over.