Olivia awoke from her haunted sleep, she couldn’t get the image of that message out of her head. She sat up and put her hands on her head, whimpering softly. She wiped the tears from her eyes and began to recall her awful dream. It was the wall with the message in the darkness of night, a dark figure was piling the bodies of dead cats and dogs at the foot and the writing began to drip as though bleeding. The figure turned and saw her, reaching out with a black gloved hand and saying in a sinister voice
“Enjoy your shoot, I’ll be watching, watching you forever” at which point she would always awake in a cold sweat. She wiped the sweat from her breast and moved into the kitchen. Beginning to make a coffee, she suddenly dropped the glass pot and shrieked in horror. On the wall outside, was engraved the words ‘Watching you forever’ and a great pair of eyes, carved out of the stone wall, glared through the window at her. She burst from the kitchen and into the garden in her night shirt and slippers and stared, wide-eyed at the text, before shrieking at the sky.
“Leave me alone you bastard!”
The night of the reunion came, ex-students of the nearby Park Barn School gathered at the community center and met each other with open arms and smiles. The old groups of geeks, footballers, hot chicks and ugly chicks were quickly abolished and all began talking to all. Barton met up with Leon and went on to find his old gang of friends. There was Matthew Thompson, the small guy who had befriended Barton on his first day eight years ago. Then there was Christopher Martin, a mentally disturbed boy who suffered from mild delusions, but was the nicest person you could ever meet. There was also J’onn Martin, a boy French in origin, but born in the UK who failed to fit in anywhere else and so was accepted by their group. Finally, there was Chuck Rane, the comic relief character of their little family, who reminded a lot of them of James May due to his strange voice.
The group reminisced about all their good times, trips out to the cinema, or Laser Quest followed by a Burger King. They laughed and joked before, to their surprise, the girls from the hot chicks came over and joined them. Many of them were already drunk and made several passes at them, so they went with the flow, got completely drunk and partied. Barton and Leon, quite tipsy themselves, went to the side of the room to discuss their findings.
“This guy, or girl, or whatever is creating a pattern” Leon began “It’s a very subtle pattern, because it’s only just beginning, but it’s definitely there” Leon wobbled a bit and sat down on a chair, Barton remained standing.
“This started in Park Barn, around the school area and TESCO” he pondered aloud “Now, that area has been almost purged of its animal population and the messages have appeared in the Grange Road area. The messages are definitely the portent to the next attacks, but what’s the link?”
“Which way did you use to walk home?” Leon suddenly said
“Along the main road and up past the Bellfields graveyard, why?” Barton replied. Leon sighed, as if to say ‘blast, there goes that theory’. When Barton looked up, an all too familiar face was there. It was Kate, the girl he got to know in the two years of further education at the school. And over those two years, he slowly began to fall in love with her. He was obsessed with Olivia, that much was true, but he truly loved Kate. It wasn’t until he was certain he wouldn’t need to face her again that he let his feelings be known. Since then, he had not seen or heard from her, but she wasn’t preparing to slap him which was a good sign.
They shared a drink and talked about old times, before joining the dance floor and letting loose. Before long, Barton felt a hand on his arm and was pulled to one side. When he looked around, it was Olivia, just as he always saw her on the posters in his room, but she looked so much better in person.
“I need to talk to you” she said in a voice that was half desperate and half firm. She pulled him out into the car park and sat him down on a bench beside him. Barton couldn’t help but stare at how gracefully her hair blew in the wind, but the fear in her eyes most grasped his attention “I take it you’ve been investigating this whole Message Murderer?”
“Is that what they’re calling it? The Message Murderer?” Barton asked, again the fear caught his eye, he pushed the drunkenness to one side of his mind and became the caring friend that he never was “What’s wrong? You look terrified and exhausted” Olivia wiped a tear from her lined eyes.
“I don’t sleep much these days” she said quietly “I can’t face the nightmares. You’re going to think I’m crazy, maybe I am, but this Message Murderer is really getting to me”
“Firstly, you are not crazy, I should know I’ve been there” Barton said clearly “And, this guy is getting to everyone. Some nut going round scratching messages in walls and then butchering all the pets in the area” Olivia grabbed his hands and cut him off.
“It’s not that!” she burst out “This person knows who I am, knows where I live, knows what I do and I’m scared” She broke down in tears, trembling and breathing heavily. As the tears poured freely, Barton reached out and held her close. He had accepted that Kate did not return his love for her and that Olivia was out of his league and would always be. But in this moment she needed him to be there for her and he was going to do what he could, obsession or not. She soon sat up and wiped her eyes once more “So…you have been following it then?”
“You know me, putting all my analytical skill to the best use I can fathom” he replied with a smile “Whoever this person is they’re obsessive about animals with homicidal tendencies. Basically, they have some negative past with animals and are finally giving into their urges. But it’s methodical, only attacking domestic animals. Perhaps the link is domestication? Could they be striking out against it, saying that domestic animals are impure? We could be looking at an environmentalist nut”
“But what do they want with me?” Olivia suddenly said “There was a message directed at me and me alone. And this morning there was one on my wall outside. They got into my yard!”
“They’re very clever, I’ll give them that” Barton thought aloud, with his hand on his chin “Could they be obsessed with you as well?” Olivia looked around at him with a look that said ‘as well?’ he suddenly realised what he had said “I mean, as well as animals, obsessed with you and animals. That’s what I meant…that’s what I…oh dear, what have I done?”
“You…you still like me, don’t you?” Olivia said softly “I mean, ‘like’ like me” Barton slowly nodded and she looked down almost smiling “I knew it, you’ve been acting so strangely, locking yourself away, not even getting a day job to avoid contact with everyone. Never going out”
“And some asshole still managed to rob me” Barton cursed
“But it’s all because…you don’t want to run into me. In a whole city you’re afraid to leave your home because you just might see me” she put a hand on his shoulder “That’s really sweet, in a strange sort of way”
“Well, you always said I was a strange one” Barton smiled and they laughed together. They had never done that before, but then, they had never sat and talked before. Their eyes met and they stared deeply into each other, as though looking past the form and into the soul. Barton quickly deterred his vision, recalling their initial fallout due to uncontrollable staring, but felt her cold hand on his cheek as she turned his head back to her. She leant in and closed her eyes, the eye shadow in all its glory sent him into a state of unfathomable desire as he joined her. When the lips met, a rush of joy infiltrated his soul as he began to feel the essence of the woman he desired so much enter his body. Wrapping their arms around each other and drawing their bodies closer together, he could almost feel the fear draining from her body, her body which he had fantasised holding so often. He now felt the soft texture of her flesh against his as she stroked his hair and he caressed her back. And from the darkness of the world and the mind, a tall and dark figure looked on and placed a gloved hand on its shoulder.
“It’s a man! He’s been spotted!”
The words seemed to ring down the line as Leon passed the latest news onto his friend and Barton lowered himself into his chair. It had happened again, the Message Murderer had struck again. As he read the local newspaper, it trembled in his grip, the artist’s rendering in a sea of dark text.
‘MESSAGE MURDERER RETURNS
The community was shaken by a surprise strike from the Message Murderer, as people are now calling him. The killer struck early this week, not able to wait until Friday to once more spill the blood of another two dozen animals in the Grange Road area. But this time, he was caught in the act.
A local teenager, Diane Summers, was on a late night walk to relieve a chest pain when she encountered a man she describes thusly ‘He was tall, about six and a half foot tall and wearing a long, black coat that reached the top of his tall army boots. He had a small, rimmed hat on his head and a thin, black material, like leggings, over his head to hide his face. And I know it sounds crazy, but you know that Freddy Krueger guy from the Elm Street films? He had, like, a replica glove on his right hand and he spoke like him too. He told me something like this was just the beginning, then backed into an alley’
The teenager was reportedly highly traumatised by the encounter and, as expected, more messages were found on several gravestones in the Bellfields Graveyard and on the old people’s homes along the estate. The police have given the same warning as previously, but with the killer’s toll now at forty-one and still no clue as to his identity, they fear this horror film copy-cat will cause more death and despair for weeks to come’
Barton sat back in his chair and threw the paper to one side. This guy robbed him, used his own stuff to carry out these murders and is threatening the woman he now realises loves him. His eyes snapped open, what if he’s done something? He scrambled to the computer, he didn’t have her number. He called Leon, Leon didn’t have it either, but passed him on to Vicky.
“Her phone number, why?” she asked
“Never mind why, do you have it?” Barton almost shouted back
“Of course I do, but what I don’t understand is why you want it and, furthermore, why she would want to talk to a weirdo like you” Vicky had grown more spiteful in the years they had spent apart, she was as attractive as Olivia, but twice as cruel. Barton finally lost it.
“Look, this Message Murderer knows where she lives and has threatened her” he burst out “You don’t know what happened last night, and I don’t want to rub it in your face, but she and I…well connected. She entrusted me with finding out what this creep wants and now he’s struck again he may have moved on her already! Now will you just give me the damn number?” He paused, waiting for the reply, but it never came and he realised he had been addressing a low and long beep. “Oh you stupid-!” he leapt up and ran to the door, swinging it open.
In the alley in front of his home, there stood the tall and dark figure that haunted the streets, the news and Olivia’s nightmares. He scraped the blades up the side of the wall and then along the bicycle guards. He slowly removed his hat and bowed slightly, as a car pulled into the T-junction at the end of the road. When it had turned and gone, so had the figure. Barton rubbed his eyes and ran to the alley, on the ground there were the single standing footprints of the man, but no prints leaving the scene. He paused and looked down to the metal guards, the scrapes were as clear as day, but there were no scrapes on the wall. Barton turned and began to run down the road, he had a faint idea where Olivia lived and he was not going to stop until he got there.