Writing on the wall, blood in the streets and movement in the shadows. Three things that had become second nature to the locals, another is death. From out of no where, violence had sprung onto this recovering world and it had taken its toll. As the night once more drew in, the new fear began to spread again. The streets were silent, there were no warning messages this time, had he finished or was he playing a game with them? Toying with their minds before striking again?
It may have been late, but the police would not wait another day to begin to question the group of ex-students who seemed to be at the center of this whole messy affair. When the hypnotist arrived, they began immediately and long into the night. Secrets were revealed, whole sides of people that had once been hidden came out in all their glory. But there was no indication of any link with the killer. When Barton and Leon prepared for their turns, Chuck emerged stroking his head as though nursing a severe headache. Barton entered the room, it was clinical and close with nothing but a table and two chairs. The man put him under, what followed was unknown to him but as clear as day for those looking on.
“Is your name Barton Arthur?” the man asked.
“Yes, that is my name”
“Indeed, and what would you describe yourself as?” he continued, preparing a notebook.
“I’m shy, secluded, intelligent and very creative” Barton said in a dull tone “I hide away from society and its cruelties, I’m actually quite nice, but most people are too sure of themselves to try me”
“I see” he noted down some shorthanded words “Do you like animals?”
“I’m allergic to most furred creatures, I was only ever allowed a fish and a budgie” Barton continued “The budgie died and my fish is still alive today, he’s going on fifteen now. Good age for a goldfish”
“What are your views on human life? Is it something one can simply destroy without consequence or…well, you tell me”
“I’m too superstitious to believe that you can kill without consequence, and not just in a lawful sense. If I were ever to consider a homicidal course of action, there would be too much doubt in my mind. There’s no real evidence to support ghost theories, but you can never prove that something doesn’t exist”
“You would fear the repercussions on a supernatural scale?” the man asked in the middle of writing. Barton nodded and the hypnotist glanced to a mirror at the side of the chamber. Behind the mirror, the officers nodded back.
“Well, it’s not him” the female said “In fact, most of them came out with pretty much the same thing. If it weren’t for the hypnosis I’d be saying they’re all in on it and are using the same story”
“That was the case before we were allowed to use hypnosis” the male responded “Now we can halt any attempt to pervert the course of justice. So, no luck with any of them?”
“All but one, Chris Martin” she replied “He’s mentally disturbed, but that doesn’t account for his reactions in the interview. The slightest mention of animals made him crazy. His psychological tormentor is a bulldog, for Christ’s sake. He has a history of violence, loves horror films, especially slashers and has homicidal nightmares” she paused and looked up “He also reads very deeply into this sort of thing, we searched his laptop and there is an entire folder with over three gigabytes of pictures and information on Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, all of them”
“Obsession with serial slasher killers” the male pondered aloud “Is it possible he is experimenting on animals to see what it would be like to kill?”
“The difference is he’s a gang leader” the female said slowly “So why target his own kind next?” the male looked back into the chamber.
“People can do all sorts of things when they’re pushed to their limits” he said calmly.
Night fell once more. The air of unease was thick and the fear was real as the dark figure moved once again through the streets. He passed a large field with a lake, there was a ghostly light above the surface of the water and he stared for a while. The light seemed to recede into the lake in fear and the figure sniggered to himself. He passed a signpost, scraping his gauntlet along the panel and then moving it to his shoulder as he inspected the street ahead. Coming to a t-junction he looked down both streets slowly, before turning to the right and proceeding.
Judd Swabey turned over in his bed, he couldn’t sleep. His best friends had just been slashed to death and now a threat was out against the rest of them. He sat up and wiped the sweat from his face, what was wrong with him? He was safe at home and in bed, nothing was getting in. He rose from his bed went to the window, breathing in deeply as his trembling hands grasped the curtains. He threw them back as was cut off from a yell of terror as a gloved hand grasped his face and dragged him through the opened window and out into the front yard. The dark shape dropped from the outhouse roof and descended upon him with a flash of silver stained with a dark red.
Down the street, nightmares once more plagued the beautiful Jennifer Berkheimer. She found herself within what seemed to be a large crowd of terrified people charging through a street. People abandoning their cars and running as a tall man in a suit approached them. With a great swing, there was the sound of a revving engine as he held up a large chainsaw. Jennifer sighed deeply.
“Great, last time I watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre before bed, perhaps a light comedy next time” she said to herself as she joined the crowd in their retreat. She was struck by the usual ‘running in a swimming pool’ sensation as she turned to run, cursing repeatedly. Her hands suddenly lifted up and out from her body, forming a star with her legs, she went to say ‘what the hell?’ but couldn’t, her mouth would not open. She closed her eyes for two seconds then opened them to find the dark figure standing over her bed. With duct tape, he had tied her limbs to the bedposts and sealed her mouth as he stroked his blades across her chest and neck.
With a black gloved hand he stroked her hair as she struggled and moaned behind the tape. Then, with a flick, the claw caressing her breasts flicked into them and were dragged down her front and then up and across her throat. Her long blonde hair was stained with the red of her blood and her bound arms went deathly limp. The figure looked at her naked and blood soaked body with a dark satisfaction, before taking his gloved hand and ramming two of his fingers up between her legs and streaking the fluids across her chest. With a dark gargle of contentment, he turned and left through the window.
“Another evening of terror as an additional thirteen teenagers felt the blades of the Message Murderer” the news reporter began “The dark secret behind these killings is how thirteen young people were killed whilst inside their own homes? The methodical tactics of this new terror have gripped the entire world, as today we received support from our American allies, who are sending over their top investigators to catch this monster”
Barton came up from his basement, as though awakening from a daze, he couldn’t even remember what he went down there for. When he looked through the sitting room window and saw the police vans and officers crawling all over the street, panic gripped him. He instantly ran up the stairs and into the master bedroom where, to his utmost relief, he found Olivia still asleep. He wiped his brow, thinking ‘he must be completely stumped’ and returned to the kitchen.
Olivia descended the stairs about thirty minutes later, adjusting her hair with one hand and holding the rail with the other, she was still shaken. From the kitchen, Barton heard her shriek of terror and leapt into the hallway. Through the opened door, violently carved into the tarmac, were the words ‘Very close now, it will just be the two of us’.
“What does he want?” Barton postulated aloud, he paced the room before a gathering of his closest friends. The only one not present was Chris, who had been detained for further questioning “Let’s just say that it is Chris behind all this”
“He has the mental background of a killer, that’s for sure” Mat said suddenly, leaning forward.
“And we know he had the hots for Olivia in the last few years we were studying together” Chuck said, J’onn rolled his eyes.
“Chuck, name me one guy who didn’t fancy Olivia” he said harshly, before glancing over at her “No offence, but you’re hot” Leon joined Barton in the middle of the room.
“Look people, we can figure this out” he said “Now, in my eyes, it can’t be Chris, end of story. He’s just not the type to bring harm to someone knowingly…” he paused, his eyes widened and mouth dropped with the all too familiar look of ‘why didn’t I see it before?’ “Unless he didn’t know he was doing it!” Barton spun around.
“Of course! He suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder!” he burst out “One of two people in our year known to suffer from it, it creates an entirely new, sometimes completely reverse, version of the Chris we know. Where Chris can sometimes control his anger, the other side of him would kill on sight”
“Ha! Sounds like a comic book” Chuck giggled.
“Exactly!” Leon said, but he suddenly stopped, as though struck down in his path “But Chris was at the station last night” the whole room dropped “Blast! I was so close! No! I can’t let this one stop me!” he threw himself down in the chair and massaged his forehead. Olivia stood up and left the room, giving Barton a quick kiss on the cheek before she left. J’onn looked over to him.
“Damn I wish she’d come to me” he said quietly, Leon slapped him round the head and resumed to ponder.
“‘Soon it will just be the two of us’?” Leon thought quietly “Now, we know he means Olivia, but why? What’s the link, there must be a link, some rational reason for singling her out. We’ve established that we’re looking at someone who knew us at school, the route of attacks goes all the way from TESCO where we had lunch all the way to this house…what am I missing?” Barton put his hand on Leon’s shoulder.
“Take it easy, buddy” he said calmly, but Leon stood up.
“I can’t, there’s a killer out there and something tells me he’s all done with the gangs and the pets! If we don’t work out what this means, we can’t stay one step ahead!” Leon yelled, he turned back to Barton “The message he left by the bodies, what did it say this time, perhaps we can analyse it to work it out?”
“It said ‘Those of you as evil as I prepare for my arrival’” Barton replied, Leon spun back around.
“Let’s see…hmm” he began to think aloud “Right, ‘as evil as I’…perpetrators, criminals, murderers? No…he’s a murderer not a vigilante, this is against the innocent and there is no logical reason for him to change that now” he walked up and down before halting “Wait, ‘as evil as I’? Perhaps it’s not the sentence we’re supposed to analyse!”
“Word for word?” Barton exclaimed “The key word in the sentence is clearly ‘evil’, other words for evil or evil deeds?”
“Cruel?” J’onn said aloud.
“Injustice?” Chuck shouted.
“Sin?” was Mat’s response.
“Wait…I think I have it!” Leon suddenly said “He’s targeting the weak at their most vulnerable times, just like a bully! It’s not evil, it’s cruelty to your fellow man! He’s going after bullies! Oppressors!” he paused “But who’s bully or oppressors?” The room once more sank into silence, their pattern was destroyed, no one was ever cruel to Olivia. “Our only chance is to run through the names of the known bullies from our year and get warnings out to them”
“Right, I’ll get right on it” J’onn announced.
“In the meantime” Leon said seriously, while glancing at everyone one at a time “We have to stick together! If this guy is targeting bullies from our year now, he may target us next!”
Night crawled over the sky, police cars filled the streets and officers stood guard at every alleyway, gateway and tunnel. This time, he was not going to slip under the radar, this time they’d get him. Once more, the dark shadow stalked the streets, a large, thick knife in his hand. No claws tonight. He scraped the knife along the alley wall as he strode down it in his tall, black boots, his coat blowing in the wind. Halting at the end, he slowly turned his head as a police officer walked past the other entrance to the alley. After a brief pause, he set out into the night.
Officer John Bryman met up with his colleagues on the corner of Cedar Way, sighing heavily.
“Anything?” he asked, a female associate turned to him.
“Nothing” she said “Maybe we scared him off? That wasn’t the plan” she folded her arms “It’s freezing out here! It’s April for God’s sake! But I guess we’re lucky it’s not raining” they chuckled, stifled by a strong, cold wind that shot through the street and out onto the road.
“Do you ever think…” John began “Do you ever think that this guy isn’t…like, human?” the woman laughed coldly.
“That is perhaps the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard! Of course he’s human!” she sneered “Just because he’s copycatting Freddy Krueger doesn’t make him a Dream Demon!” again their laughter was stifled. Before long, another man came charging up the street, it was another officer.
“A message! They’ve found a message! Down the street!” he called “We’re in the wrong place! He knew we’d be here!”
“That’s impossible!” the woman called back, the second officer beckoned them to follow. They passed a large crossroad and came to the park, the same park that the first human murders took place. On the wall, in the usual fashion, were the words ‘One step ahead of you! April Fools!’ surrounded by manic laughter. “Son of a bitch!” she reached for her radio, only to hear the commissioner calling back.
“He’s in Park Barn again! The son of a bitch went back to Park Barn! We’ve got fifteen bodies here, all teenagers, some girls some boys. All of them attended the same school in the same year, coincidence?” the woman looked at John with a horrific look, before the replied and leapt into their cars.
“In a cold mimic of his first attacks, the Message Murderer has cut down fifteen young men and women from the Park Barn area” the news reporter said sadly “All of the victims were either eighteen or nineteen and all were killed in their homes and then dragged onto the street, some found as far as a mile from their homes. Police are baffled as to how and why the killer has moved so quickly between locations and as to just how long these blood-soaked nights will continue. We are assured by the killer himself, however, that this is far from over. As the message he leaves this time reads ‘Traitors beware, your judgement will come!’”
Barton rose from his bed and crossed into the bathroom. When he emerged, he slowly travelled down the stairs and into the living room, he paused. Something had caught his eye back upstairs, but he was too tired to give it notice. He bounded back up the stairs and into his room, to find what it was, before halting in a pose of terror and disbelief. On his shelf, where it had sat for several years before, was his Freddy Krueger glove. He checked the cupboard, the hat had been returned too and the same amount of money had also been returned to his wallet. He looked up at the glove, it was not how he remembered it. For the blades were still stained with blood. Without a second thought he sped across the hall and into the master bedroom, before falling down on his knees and letting out a cry of despair. The bed was ripped to shreds…and empty.
His shaking face looked up at the wall where, carved into the plaster, was the sinister message ‘Peek-a-boo, I found you!’. Barton walked up to the bed on his knees and cried into the shredded mattress, yelling out in anguish and despair. In this, just like everything else he tried to do, he had failed.