It seemed like days, in fact it had been eight hours, he had no way of knowing that. His legs and hands were numb, trying to think about a plan of escape, escape? yes that would be something especially since he would fall flat on his face.
So many things seemed funny at this time. The minds way of protecting itself, then he heard the footsteps. It was like a movie, a sick movie, a bad turn of events for sure, he was supposed to be the protector, not the protectee.
The man stood in the door, the detective was impressed, the man had dressed the part, nude except for a black hood that fit snuggly, zipped down the back. He walked over, pulled the detective up by one arm, he was strong, very strong and crazy..He knew for sure, the eyes were wild, unfocussed.. black seemingly without pupils.
He was willing himself to live, willing himself to not feel the torture that was being inflicted upon him. A few times he had passed out, only for the man to throw the cool water on his burning flesh. How long had it been? How long would it be? This is what the women had felt..blood rolled from the gaping wounds on his torso.. His hands were raw and sore from pulling against the restraints. He could not scream anymore, his throat was swollen.. He heard him light the torch, he closed his eyes in expectation, pain, pain beyond what was believable and then,, silence.
His eyes tried to open felt like something was pulling the lids back down..darkness again.
He was aware of voices and bandages and crying.. it sounded like his wife and his daughter. He let himslef drift back into sweet oblivion.
It had been six months, the things that had been done to his body had healed, the abuse to his mind was something altogether different. The first couple of months he would wake screaming, it had finally tapered off to loss of breath and profuse sweating. He stared at the word that had been burnt into the flesh starting at his jawline leading down across his stomach, ending at his hip bone.. it said "PREY", he leaned his head against the mirror and cried.. not silent but loud racking sobs, deep soul searching sounds.. he let out the anxieties, the hurt, the pain, he allowed himself to feel pity, just this one time,, just this one time.. he cried for himself.
His wife didn't want him to go back, but she was wise and knew, he had to. At the station he was greeted by his fellow detectives,, he hated the looks they gave him.. He had already done the pity thing he didn't need it from them. The captain called him in.. funny, so funny "he was worried about his mental state" He ignored the concern and picked up the files.. seven more women had been killed, the nausea gripped him, he knew what they had felt, the only difference, they had been raped.
The noon hour..seven files containing twenty to thirty pages back and front had been gone through.. lab reports, crime scene pictures, autopsies... and then he realized,, it had to come from him, he was the key.. The man hadn't wanted him dead, that was why he had burned prey into his flesh. He was not prey, HE WAS NOT PREY!
The scar was still tender, but it had to be done.. the tattooist was as tender as any big rough man could be.. he laughed to himself and told the man to continue. The tears that ran from his eyes this time wasn't pity, it was a gaining of strength, it was...freedom.
Interrogation, hours of questioning, he could not tell them a thing.. He could not even describe him. The sketch could have been a million men. All he could tell them was the man had been tall, well over 6ft, he had a medium build maybe the weight of 185 pounds and, he could attest to his strength. While he was trying to remember, another woman was tortured and murdered.
His dreams were dark, the outline was there but never clear.. As much as it hurt to think about and relive that day, he had to.
The harder he thought, the more his nose bled, his wife was afraid he would have a stroke,, she cried and begged but he wouldn't stop. Their lives had been changed, and as long as he was out there, it would never be the same.
Since that day, waking had been tiresome, he wanted to sleep, just put his head under the cover and sleep. He knew it was depression, he had been given something for it, he wouldn't take them, although he felt miserable, he had to be alert. It was wearing on his home life. Twenty years of marriage was going down the drain.. He knew she tried, she had been patient, she didn't even complain, but it was there.
One more woman..twelve in all, almost one a month for the past year.. why? no one knew, who? no one knew. What he did know, it was enough, it was as he had known all along, up to him, he was now, the "protector"...
His captain spoke with him. he didn't think it was a good idea not after what he had been through. But, he insisted, so the story was put out, the challenge was thrown down..now, the wait.
He insisted his wife and daughter leave, he couldn't have them here, his mind had to be clear. Looking at his wifes eyes his heart ached, this was the only way he could protect them.. he made it a point to emphasize how unwise it would be to let anyone, anyone know where they were, anyone included him. He made them promise and ushered them into the cab.. before climbing in, his wife put her lips close to his ear and whispered to him that when it was all over, she would be back, right there with him, so make sure he got him. He actually smiled at her for the first time since leaving the hospital. She had given him hope, something personal to fight for.
Waiting wasn't long.. There he was in all his glory, he sat in a chair, a towel across his lap. He had on the hood, at first he just sat and stared at the camera, then he began to speak. Like daggers in the Detectives spine...the man went into his speech..nothing anyone wouldn't expect, how great he was, what he'd done, who he had done it to, and then, he told the Detective that he had marked him, and that he belonged to him, that when the time was right, he was going to make him his all the way, he snatched the towel off of his lap and laughed.. His captain reached over to shut it off but he stopped him, there was part of a sign.. in all capitals, (KINS).. it sat above and behind his head.
The message had been sent via delivery, private delivery, so very private, the delivery boy was ten, the man had handed him the box, told him where to go and given him a hundred dollar bill. When asked what the man looked like, the kid said he didn't know, the man had worn a hood, when asked didn't he think that was strange, he just shrugged his shoulders, the blissful mentality of the young.
Technicians worked on the tape, he worked on his mind, he knew that sign, for now though he stood in front of the mirror... The snarling teeth of the wolfs' snout stopped just under his jaw, the way it had been done, when he stretched his neck it appeared the wolf was turning his head, the body stretched down his torso, the bushy tail ending mid thigh. Most of it had healed though some parts were still sore, the tattooist had done his work well. He took five pictures before achieving the result he wanted and, it was good, so very good.
There he stood, nothing but a loin cloth, the black wolf exposed to the world.. he knew this would make the man angry, he was prepared, his video was finished. The man had sent a VHS tape.. his was being sent, through the satellites.
His fellow detectives clapped him on his back, those that knew him, others glanced at him and turned away quickly. He retrieved files and worked on them.. the technicians could find nothing else on the tape, they made the letters bigger.
Glancing through the pictures, his eyes weren't focussed, his thoughts random, a picture here and a picture there, then a picture, then another picture and then...a picture! There it was, WARNER WILKINS (KINS) it was a winery, it had been closed for three years, the third victim had been found there.. we thought it had just been a place to dump the body.
He kept his new found knowledge to himself. It wasn't for glory, not even for revenge, it was to make sure the job was done right. There would be no trial with this one, no wasted tax payer money, no jury, no judge, he would serve as executioner..that was all that was needed.
It was cold, rainy, dark, a good day for an execution.. he smiled. Entering the building, the smell came back to him, this is where the man had brought him.. his stomach turned and the nauseous feeling took him. The little .22 in his boot, cut into his ankle, he had dealt with worse pain than that.. he slowly walked down each row, being as quiet as possible. At the end of the last row, sitting in the middle of the room was a chair, it was one of those swivel office jobs that all the bosses liked, he giggled down inside, thinking how he sounded like Mike Hammer. He stood and stared at the chair, it didn't move. He aimed his 9mm and fired, he was sure he screamed as the clip emptied into the back of the chair, he dropped the clip, reloaded and fired again.
The dummy even had on a black hood.. damn how could he have been that stupid..His eyes watered as he listened to the little recorder...
I took you out of your element, and if you would have been patient and not given in to anger maybe, maybe you would have caught me.
The wolf means nothing to me, I marked you, you are PREY, and I will hunt you down, I will catch you, whenever I am ready, you belong to me.. believe me, I will claim what is mine, and your mind is first, think about how many women will die before we meet again. I am off now, I have a hunt in progress. Oh by the way.. Mrs Wolf, is very beautiful...