Estimated reading time — 22 minutes
The predator casually surveyed his hunting ground. His camouflage consisted of a dry cleaned white suit, matching silk shirt and a carefully chosen tie. His sleeves were rolled just enough to display a fake Rolex, and the greying hair at his temples had been darkened with very cheap, and very temporary dye. The same dye darkened his goat-tee. Beside his Italian leather loafers rested a slim and shiny black briefcase.
In the cheap and tawdry decor of an American mall he struck a sophisticated and prosperous contrast, which further accentuated his illusion.
Sitting quietly and sipping his coffee he stalked. A hunter of opportunity, he had no specific prey in mind. If the chance presented itself, he would pursue. If not, he would slink away empty handed, as he most often did. Even nature’s greatest predator, the tiger, was only successful on one out of seven hunts.
He freely admitted a much worse ratio than that, but caution was his code and a successful hunting trip was one safely returned from. A lost opportunity was unfortunate, and merely so. But detection, capture, and consequences were unthinkable. His recent narrow escape in Charlotte was not something he was anxious to repeat.
He eyed a group of coeds as they passed by, barely bothering to conceal his stare. They were certainly cute, but too many, safety in numbers. Another young pair across the concourse caught his eye. Only two was a good sign. It meant they were out looking for something (boys most likely), available, and interested in being approached. Best of all, two could be played against each other. This could be an opening, but not too hasty. First they needed to be watched. He had to be sure they were alone, that there weren’t parents, older siblings, or other members of their clique about to intervene.
They turned the corner, walked cross the Sears entrance and began heading towards him and the food court. His interest was evident as they approached and passed him by, averting their eyes and giggling together. They were both young blonds, thin, dressed to attract attention and wearing too much makeup, the very picture of youthful naiveté.
It was be tempting to take on both, but together they may be too much to handle safely. His lascivious eyes had already developed a preference, but he would not allow himself to be ruled by impulse. Pragmatism and opportunity must govern. He would first need to observe to determine which was dominant, and play on that.
He drew his cell phone, set the alarm for 20 minutes, and then rose to pursue his quarry.
A sudden a discomfort scratched inside his head, like an itch against his skull. It was followed by a compulsion which drew his gaze away from the blondes’ swaying hips to the other side of the concourse. There, half hidden behind a display was a girl, her eyes intent on him. When their gazes met she looked away quickly, but he understood; she had been watching him. Interesting.
He quickly reassessed the situation. She seemed to be alone, young, brunette, and dressed all in black. Better and better. He always had a thing for the goth/emo look. Perhaps here was an easier, lower risk, and more desirable target.
Forgetting the blonds he moved towards the new opportunity.
As he rounded the corner and approached she came more fully into view. Long dark tresses flowed and framed her angular face, contrasting with her bright green eyes. Makeup accentuated her fair complexion, but her application was subdued, done with taste and skill. Her black t-shirt seemed a size too small and stretched a gruesome visage of a demonic pope across a generous bosom. The heavy metal t-shirt was tucked into a pair of skin tight black jeans, adorned with chains and patches, which themselves tucked into a pair of hard looking boots strung with yet more chains. The projected image was that of a strong and rebellious young girl. The image he received was an overdeveloped and naive creature whose premature independence would be her downfall.
He approached smiling broadly, “Hi! How’s it going?” he asked.
She looked him over and tersely replied “Hi.”
Skepticism was written across her face, which seemed natural enough.
He continued, “I noticed you from across the way”, gesturing with is head. “The fluorescent lighting doesn’t harm your complexion much.”
“Sorry, I’m a photographer by profession and sometimes it can be hard to turn off.” As he explained reached into his interior jacket pocket and deftly offered her a glossy business card. “You see, I’m a talent scout and journeyman photographer for Teen Scream Magazine. The name’s Eric Avaggio” he said with an insincere smile. “I’m actually prowling about now. Malls are great places to find subjects. The lighting is absolutely terrible. Whenever somebody looks half way human under them it suggests they’re photogenic. That they photograph well.”
She took the embossed and elegant card from his outstretched hand.
His outward demeanor didn’t betray his nerves. His heart was racing and his stomach was twisted in knots. He felt like a kid asking this girl out. He resisted the powerful urge to leer at her body but instead kept his gaze fixed on her face and eyes. She had such pretty eyes, a deep ocean green that you could almost feel yourself drowning in… Time enough for that later. Now he needed to maintain control, to set the snare.
“You’ve heard of Teen Scream of course?” he elicited
She didn’t talk much, but she was probably just nervous. “We’re always looking for new talent and new faces. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind joining me for a minute or so” he gestured towards the table he had been sitting at. “We could take a few test shots ‘n see how they come out, maybe discus the possibilities.”
“Modelling of course! Haven’t you ever wanted to be a model?”
She replied with a dismissive snort, “Never really thought about it.”
“Well, you might want to. You can make some quick cash, and who knows, you might blow up and have a career. It won’t take long. Say, I’ll even buy you a coffee.” That was a mistake he thought. It might come off as too desperate. Time to change topic and distract her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
She looked at him with her deep green eyes, “Violet” she answered.
“That’s different. My daughter has a friend named Violet, she looks nothing like you though” He never had a daughter. “So Violet, what’s with that shirt?” he asked as he started walking away. She took the bait and followed him as she explained.
She had just finished talking as they reached the line at Dunkin’ Donuts. “That’s really interesting,” he lied. “So how long have you liked that group?” He needed to keep her talking and prattling on. It would set her at ease and make her feel like she had some control. They ordered, paid, and then clearly annoyed the teller by getting a receipt.
“I can write it off as a business expense” he explained to the clerk.
The mention of business shifted the conversation back to his terms. As he lead Violet back to an open table in the food court he began to spin his practiced web of lies. He explained who he portrayed himself as, that he received a commission for each prospect he brought in and a bonus if one was actually hired. That he didn’t want to get her hopes up but there was always a possibility, bait and deception.
With effort he kept his eyes glued to hers and did his best to read her. She was a tough one, very impassive. There were times he didn’t think she was buying it, but then she would raise her eyebrows, smile, or give some one word response, something to show that she was still interested. He decided that this one was probably not too bright.
It was getting late and it was almost time to spring the trap. He pulled his best lure from his briefcase, an immaculate and lusciously printed nine by eleven glossy folder made up to look like the cover of the magazine itself. It even included the name “Teen Scream” splayed across the top in its distinctive font. The cover girl was a broadly smiling young model wearing a glamorous evening gown and confidently strutting down a catwalk surrounded by photo flashes. The cover lines surrounding the image read “Your Glamorous Career”, “How to prepare for your first Photoshoot”, and “the ins and outs of professional modelling”.
Violet took the folder and opened it to find the inside flaps filled with bundles of documents, all printed on high grade bright white paper and prominently bearing the Teen Scream letterhead. Affixed to the lower inside flap was another of Eric Avaggio’s business cards tucked into specially cut slits. Violet’s amazement was reflected in her eyes. His heart leapt. She was taking it all in, hook, line and sinker.
Twenty minutes were up, and the soft tone of his phone alarm wafted over the table.
He pulled his phone from inside his jacket, glanced at the screen and commented “Sorry, I need to take this.” He rose, turned off the alarm, and held the phone to his ear. “Charlotte, how’s it coming?” he said as he walked out of earshot, leaving Violet to nibble his carefully prepared bait. He mocked conversation from a safe distance for a short time before coming back to the table.
“OK… OK… well, what can you do? Just be prepared, I’ll call you when I’m leaving to let you know.” He turned off his phone and placed it back in his pocket.
“Sorry about that.” She didn’t respond, flipping pages of the brochures, apparently mesmerized by the glamour of it all. He continued “we were supposed to be in town for another couple of days, but corporate needs us back to do some re-shoots.”
Violet looked up at him her face as impassive as ever.
“Look, you seem like a nice kid and I would feel guilty if I showed up, offered you this great opportunity and then just disappeared. Besides, I would hate to have wasted the night and not get paid for it. I just talked to Charlotte. She and Bill are back at the studio packing up. If you want, I’ll bring you by the studio, we’ll take a few headshots, nothing too elaborate, and then we can drop you off back here. It shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.”
Say yes, say yes, say yes…
Violet looked at him, “OK, I guess…”
He smiled as she rose and followed him through the mall towards Sears, the exit, the van, her nightmare, and his dream. He started with a quick apology for leaving so fast (“We usually get your hair and make-up done…”) but quickly segued the conversation back to her to get her talking. She needed to be distracted, not thinking about the situation, not noticing that she was walking into a trap. Keep asking questions, keep her talking, hide his growing sense of anticipation, lead her along, almost there…
They exited the mall through the rear exit/entry for Sears and walked under the dimly illuminated extended car port. This was the hard moment. This was the moment he had lost the girl in Charlotte, the incongruity of the ugly white windowless van and the posh photographer had been too stark for her.
He lead Violet around to the passenger side and opened the door for her.
She stopped, a look of concern on her face.
Cool as ever he smiled at her, “Not what you expected, eh? Well, the camera equipment doesn’t fit so well in my Benz. Besides, Charlotte, Ben, and I can all fit comfortably in this.” Shit, had said Ben instead of Bill? Would she notice?
“A Benz?” she asked. “I prefer Jags,” and she ambled inside.
Relief and elation washed over him. Practically dancing around the back of the vehicle, he climbed into the driver’s seat.
It was over now, there was no escape, she was his. If she tried to get out he could easily grab her, and if she caused a fuss, there was the fillet knife hidden under the visor. He breathed a sigh of relief and looked over his catch with satisfaction. Gods, she was sexy. It had been weeks since his last catch and he had a lot of frustration to vent.
“Aren’t you going to call Charlotte and Ben to tell him we’re coming?” she asked as he smiled and chuckled.
“Or is it Bill?” the innocence in her eyes replaced by a deviousness. “You should’ve stuck with just Charlotte. It’s easier to remember. Do you always use the names of cities you’ve visited?”
“What th-“ he didn’t finish the words as blackness enveloped him.
The sound awoke Violet from her restless sleep. Her back, neck, and whole body was stiff and sore from sleeping in the van’s passenger seat.
She climbed out of the van to stretch in the early morning light to work the kinks out of her joints and gather her thoughts.
The van was hidden out of sight down a rarely used dirt road past the overflow parking lot behind the mall. It seemed like the perfect place to stash the van until she could get control of the situation. There was no going back now, and it felt good to finally start.
One would have thought it’d be easy to find a vulnerable man, somebody she could use, control, and practice on. She knew there were plenty of overly romantic young men who dreamed of whisking away a beautiful young girl and dedicate their lives to her. But they were all too shy to make a move, and too nervous to act when she approached.
No matter now, she had found her way out, and she was never going to see Fred and Rose Jones again.
Rose was an idiot and bad enough. Fred Jones was the real problem. He had the most disgusting thoughts about his foster “daughter”. Rose may not have realized why she and Fred were having so much sex recently, but Violet understood, and Fred knew damn well. At dinner, he would watch Violet put food in her mouth and fantasize. He would listen to Violet take showers and even pressed his ear to the door when she went to the bathroom. The humiliation was too much, and worse, she knew that the urge to act was growing day by day in Fred’s mind…
That didn’t matter now. By the end of the day she would be well beyond Fred’s reach.
Limber, and as ready as she could be, she opened the passenger door and climbed back into the van.
The rear section was protected from view by a heavy curtain which she brushed aside to reveal the cavernous rear interior.
There lay the creep, right where she left him, his hands cuffed behind his back and legs elevated and tied to the van’s interior frame. He was no longer the picture of affluence and sophistication he had presented the night before. Disheveled, unshaven, wrinkled and sweat stained. He looked more like the dirty old man he was.
As the light broke on him he squinted before focusing on her. He didn’t even try to speak through his gag. “Good morning! Did you sleep well?” His eyes danced away, over her body, fixing first at his fillet knife that she now wore in her belt, but then scrutinizing her chest before moving back to her face.
Seizing the opportunity, her mind grabbed his gaze and held. She looked deeply into his eyes, concentrated, and she saw. Not words, but images. Violet saw him remembering her buxom chest from the night before, and that she didn’t fill out her t-shirt the same way.
“They’re called padded bras, dipshit! Fucking men, all you can ever think of is tits!”
She kicked a cardboard box at her feet. It was full of Teen Scream folders like the one she had been shown the night before. “Quite the operation you have here, Mr. Avaggio. But wait, that isn’t your real name, is it? Your actually John Johnson, isn’t that right? ”
She could see the shock and surprise in his mind, then actual coherent thoughts. She knows my name! That isn’t good.
She smiled sarcastically and bluffed, “I know much more than you think.”
His mind spoke of anger, escape, make her pay, make her scream.
“No, I won’t be doing any screaming for you.” She waited a moment to let it sink in and gauge the response. “You’re going to play by my rules or I’m going to the police. You’ve been a bad boy, Mr. Johnson.” She held up a pair of girl’s pink underwear which she had found in the glove box. Its significance had intrigued her, but she needed his mind conscious to learn more.
The sight of the underwear brought a sudden change in Johnson’s mind. The rage was washed away and replaced by fear and something else.
Oh, she could sense there was more, much more, and thinly protected. Violet pushed deeper and soon found a name, Eliza. Speaking the name directly into his mind, like a spell, conjured forth images of a bright and beautiful girl with curly red hair, deep blue eyes and a fresh and youthful face. The scene was abruptly shred by visions beyond Violet’s naïve imagination as the memories in Johnson’s black mind replayed. She could see Eliza in the van, on the mattress, bound in those restraints. She saw him. and what he did to her. Violet heard the screams, saw his lustful and brutal pleasure, and witnessed her pain. Realization flooded in on Violet’s unsuspecting mind and struck her dumb.
Silently and slowly she withdrew from the metal chamber of horrors and into the crisp and fresh outdoors. Violet breathed deeply, as though the brisk air could cleanse her of the burden of what she had just experienced. She crouched down at the base of nearby tree and cried, and wretched, and cried. She cried for Eliza, and cried even more when she realized the fate that had been in store for herself.
She’d never imagined that such cruelty and evil could actually exist in the world. Oh, she’d heard of such things, but to hear about it, or see it in a movie was so abstract. Those were things that happened to imaginary people in faraway places. Now it was real, and in a van not twenty feet away.
Violet rose and began wandering the dirt road away from the mall and deeper into the forest. She needed to think.
What to do? The safest thing was to walk back to the mall and turn the creep in. But where would that leave her? Back in the care of Rose and Fred Jones, and that was the best case. More likely she’d be dumped back at juvie, for god-knows how long, to be watched over by more perverts before being assigned to another rent-a-family paid to pretend to care about her.
She had planned and built herself up to this for a long time. Now she had started.
Maybe, this Johnson was the perfect tool. He was on the run and couldn’t turn her in to the police. He was dangerous to be sure, but she had ways, and she’d already overpowered him. All she really needed was to keep control for a little while, to use him for a day at the most.
But there was something else. There was Eliza. Witnessing her pain and suffering had forged a feeling of sisterhood in Violet’s heart, and she couldn’t walk away from that. Johnson would need to pay for what he had done.
It was late afternoon when she reentered the van.
Lacking windows the van’s rear interior was hot and smelt strongly of Johnson’s funk. Violet paid no mind, determined not to show weakness.
“OK Johnny, I’ve decided that I can use you,” she said in her most confident voice. He looked at her dispassionately, deeply breathing the stale rank air. The fear and panic were gone. Now she read an acceptance, no, it was patience. He had control of himself and was watching, waiting for an opportunity.
What is this? How does she know my name?
“I know lots of things Johnny. Like I know what a sick fuck you are.” She couldn’t hide the disgust in her voice.
Know things? What could this bitch know? The money, that’s it! I’ll tell her about the money, and when she gives me the chance…
“Where’s the money?” All she needed to do was ask and his mind betrayed him. She slipped into the front of the van and reached up and under the driver seat, right where his mind had told her. She felt and pulled out the zip lock bag filled with cash, lots of cash. She was tempted to learn how he got it, but after her last excursion into the depths of his mind, she wasn’t sure she was ready to find out.
Without counting Violet returned to the rear section to faced her captive.
Johnson’s eyes widened at the sight of his stash in her thin hand. Fuck me. Oh Christ, how could she … she didn’t know, she asked, she… she can read my mind. No, this is a game, it’s some kind of trick.
“No tricks Johnny”
What the fuck are you?
“I don’t know what I am, but maybe together we can find out.” She reached deep into his consciousness and dug, looking. It didn’t take long, and when she found it, she held it lightly.
Oh god! I can feel her! Get out you bitch! Let me go, LET ME GO!!
She sneered at him. “I don’t think so. I want you to pay attention and feel, this,” and that thing in his mind which she held so lightly, her mental grip turned rigid as she twisted and jerked. She felt his pain erupt around her like lightening. In truth she didn’t know what it was she tore at, simply that it caused terrible agony in her victim but never seemed to cause any permanent damage. Best of all, it didn’t even leave a mark.
Johnson winced and closed his eyes, breaking her connection and allowing the pain to subside.
Trembling with the aftershocks of pain, Johnson opened his eyes and Violet reentered his mind. She needed to follow up with another demonstration, to overawe him and head off any attempt at resistance. She now spoke directly into his mind.
“That is just a taste of what I can do.” She could feel his unreasoning fear mixed with the memory of pain. No thoughts, just fear. Good, she thought, he needs to be afraid.
“I’m going to untie your legs now. Don’t even imagine escape. Do you understand?”
“Pay attention Johnny,” and she stabbed at that soft spot just enough to scare him as she screamed in his mind “Do you understand?”
Yes. I understand.
She undid the tangle of rope suspending his legs. As they dropped, a look of relief passed over his face.
“Move your hands to your front, slowly.”
She watched as he moved his legs up and between his still cuffed hands. He dared a thought that she would release his hands as well.
“Fat chance. Get up, you’re driving.”
He looked at her perplexed, his mind echoing the confusion.
“We’ve been here long enough, they’ll be looking for me by now,” best to leave that out there and vague, let him fill in the details. “We need to be moving, and you’re my ticket out.”
She gave him a wide berth as he moved into the driver’s seat, even exiting the passenger side, the palm of her hand resting on the handle of the fillet knife.
Once he was seated she commanded, “buckle yourself in.”
After she heard the click of the belt Violet climbed behind the passenger seat, keeping her distance from her prisoner, and took a seat in the rear of the van. She tossed the keys into Johnson’s lap.
“Now, start the van and drive.”
He paused, and a moment of silence passed. “Where am I driving to,” he asked aloud.
“Leave the mall by the front entrance. Turn left at the light and take the exit onto the highway headed north. At the split bear left and continue North.”
He put the van in gear and headed out.
“You need to feed me.”
“No, I don’t.” She thought better, and added, “I’m almost done with you. You can eat them.”
They had been driving for nearly three hours and it was already past dark. She hadn’t eaten breakfast so her hunger had been manageable for most of the day, but now she had to admit that she was also hungry.
From the back of the van, she craned her neck and saw that they were getting low on gas; the needle was getting close to E.
They needed to stop, and Violet needed to rest. She would need her strength to deal with the creep, and didn’t want to risk being tired or hungry if he pulled something.
She had seen signage on the highway for motels and gas stations and directed him to take the next exit. Just off the ramp was a Motel 8 that would serve nicely. She had him pull in and park on the far side of the building, where the van wouldn’t be seen easily from the office.
“Turn off the engine and give me the keys.”
He turned off the van but hesitated to hand her the keys.
She tried to not let her nervousness show as she drew the 6 inch blade from its sheath. “Move your ass into the back and lie down.” She’d been tempted to enter his mind and try to dominate his body, but that was risky. It was a very difficult skill that she had never managed well enough. She was tired, he was alert to her abilities, and if she failed it may provide the opening Johnson was waiting for. Better to use the old fashioned way.
The blade forced obedience well enough and Johnson did as he was told. She directed him back onto the mattress and his still cuffed hands back behind his back. She could read the patience in his mind. He was looking for an opportunity, just not seeing one. He reluctantly complied and allowed himself to be tied again.
“I’ll be fast, so don’t even think about it.” She commanded as she peeled out several bills from the wad of cash. She had counted it earlier and found it to be $2,389 exactly.
She grabbed the keys from the ignition and climbed out of the van.
Approaching the motel office she realized that no talents were needed to size up the desk clerk. He was an older Indian gentleman, probably the owner, probably married to a diminutive Indian woman, perhaps intrigued by the cute young thing walking into his business but not fool enough to think anything past a business opportunity. Violet didn’t bother to expose her flesh and instead exposed the bills.
She soon walked out of the office with few questions and the key to room 119. She had made sure that Patel, which was the name displayed on his desk, found something to busy himself with in the back for the next few minutes, so she wasn’t worried about being observed.
Johnson was still not in the mood to test the point of the fillet knife and submitted to being herded into the motel room.
“Sit” Violet commanded pointing at a chair she had positioned against the bed frame. He gave her an askance look but did as he was told. Once sitting she tied his limbs and mid-section tightly to the legs, arms, and back of the chair. She used much more rope than needed and tied the knots in large clumsy tangles. Johnson had plenty of rope in his van and she used the rest to secure the chair itself to the bed frame.
Feeling more secure, Violet moved to the desk by the bed and started opening the drawers. The top contained a maroon Gideon Bible but the second had a few fliers for local pizza places. She selected one and using the phone on the desk placed an order for a large with extra cheese with anchovies.
“I don’t like anchovies” he called.
“Yeah, well what you like is fucked up, asshole” she threw back at him.
They shared silence as Violet’s rapidly flicked through the channels on the TV until the pizza arrived. The transaction was conducted outside the room, and the pizza eaten in silence by Violet alone. Johnson watched in resentment, but knew better than to open his mouth.
After finishing her meal Violet took several gulps of soda from the Styrofoam cup so generously provided by management, and braced herself for what she knew must now come.
She dragged a chair over and sat facing Johnson from several feet away. He looked sweaty, smelly, famished, and beaten. Violet pierced into his eyes and entered his mind.
“OK you raping asshole, tell me about Eliza.”
Twenty minutes later, Violet was outside sitting on the concrete floor, her back against the door to room 119 with tears pouring down her face.
Johnson had treated her to the grand tour of his depraved mind. She had seen it all. His body may be weary, but his mind was strong. He had gleefully shown her more than she or anyone would ever want to see, things that would haunt her the rest of her days. Many times she had needed to use pain to make him relent on the details and focus on the necessary information. It was so much worse than she had suspected. There hadn’t been just Eliza, flashes of many young girls had come and gone. She didn’t need to survey the details to know their fates.
Violet tried to hold back the flood of obscenity as best she could. If she saw too much she would feel the same responsibility to all of them that she felt for Eliza. Violet knew she wasn’t yet strong enough to fight for all of them. No, she would do justice to this one, and that one would need to stand for all.
The exertion had been worth it. She had learned what she wanted to know.
As she gradually built the strength to walk past that thing tied up in the room, she sat and she shook, unaware of Patel in the dimly lit office.
He had watched scenes like this unfold so many times in his parking lot. He tried to be sympathetic but there was nothing he could do, except guard his own interests. Customers like these, while common, sometimes meant trouble. Patel thought it best to keep a careful watch.
The tingling in his arms slowly subsided but the soreness remained. Good thing that dizzy bitch didn’t know how to tie a proper knot. Witch, demon, or whatever the fuck she was, she knew, and that made her dangerous. But she had a weakness, the eyes. If he could get out of this chair and avoid her eyes, he could get control of the situation. Then he would make that bitch silent, for good.
Johnson dwelt on these thoughts as he rocked the chair back and forth, back and forth, the knots slowly loosening. His hobby had taught him the benefits of tying a good knot, and he’d watched the bitch tie enough clumsy tangles to see his chance.
With a good heave he threw his weight and felt the chair as it went just up to the tipping point. With one last hard heave the chair tipped over, twisted the now slack ropes, and shattered on the floor.
He knew ruckus had certainly woken the witch, who had locked herself in the bathroom, but he had a head start. His hands were still in cuffs but he easily removed the loops of rope from his body and stumbled to his unsteady feet. On shaky legs he went for the door and tumbled outside and into the lights of the parking lot.
The movement on the security camera caught Patel’s eye as Johnson lifted himself and stumbled, fell again, rose and shambled the last few feet to the van. Patel thought the man had fallen again, but now he could clearly see the man reaching up under the van’s rear wheel and frame. Patel saw only briefly as the man pulled out a hidden gun and headed back towards the open door of room 119.
Movement was relieving the soreness in Johnson’s legs as he rose from under the van, the comforting weight of the .357 in his grip. He had no plan past killing the witch and making a fast get away. She knew too much to live and was much too dangerous to try to capture.
He reentered the dark room, his eyes dilated from the streetlight outside. Despite the gloom he could see the bathroom door wide open. Movement! Without looking, he blasted in the general direction, the sound reverberating in the small room. Again, something moved and he blasted away, each shot flying wild. He was running out of time. Taking a grip of the pistol with both hands, he risked looking over the sights to aim, but tool late! He had her in his sights, and he was in hers. Like a bull, he felt the impact of her entering his mind.
“Drop the gun” he heard in a strange accented male voice from behind. The command was followed by the distinctive cocking of a shotgun.
Drop the gun. She commanded in his mind.
“I said drop the gun!” the man ordered again.
Drop the gun!
He tried to pull the trigger but he could feel her burning in his brain, trying to gain control. His hand shook, muscles and synapses torn by conflicting orders. He felt her groping for the hurting place.
“Drop the gun!”
Drop the gun!
“I said drop it!”
Every bit of his mind was focused on struggle with the mental invader. Unable to reason or think ahead he held desperately to what little control he had, not to lower the gun, to keep her in his sites, to find a way to escape.
The room lit with the alternating blue and red lights of a police cruiser. Sweat poured down Johnson’s face. The hunter had been cornered. Even if he could somehow pull the trigger and kill this monster, he would never get away. They would find the van, find his implements, the pictures on his computer. His hand shook and the sweat poured.
Suddenly, Johnson’s mental commands changed causing Violet to briefly lose her grip. In that split second of freedom, Johnson acted. He placed the gun barrel to his own temple and pulled the trigger.
The deafening report was followed by a profound silence as Johnson’s head poured its contents onto the unused polyester bedspread.
Officer Rosco heard the shot as he exited his cruiser and approached the motel room with his gun drawn. Patel, shotgun in hand, gave the officer a wide berth to enter. They had been through this routine before, and both knew what was expected of the other.
With the arrival of Rosco, and the suicide of the man, Patel assumed the situation was under control. “I need to check on my guests,” he called to Rosco in his heavily accented English. But first Patel went back to the office to return the shotgun. He knew better than to be an armed foreign man banging on motel doors at night.
Rosco quickly assessed the situation in the room. The man was clearly dead, no coroner was needed to make that call. A shadow attracted his eyes.
“Hands up” he cried as he trained his weapon on the dark specter. Rosco’s eyes adjusted to the gloom and he found himself aiming at a lithe young girl staring intently at him.
Somehow Rosco found himself lowering the gun. He knew this against regulations, but at the moment he seemed to neither care nor even be aware he was doing it. The only thing he could do, the only thing he wanted to do, was drown in this young girl’s beautiful green eyes.
A sense of calm came over Rosco as she moved closer, their gazes locked. His view of the gloomy motel room clouded, dissolved, and gave way to a daydream like vision of a parking lot surrounded by trees.
It seemed so surreal yet as vivid as a memory. He could even make out the sign reading “Freetown State Forest”. Beside the sign, he spied a large white van, the very same he had noted in the parking lot outside the motel room. As though he was looking through the eyes of another, the scene moved forward past the van, along a path into the woods, then to the right, off the path, through the brambles and past a large boulder. The view continued to move deeper into the overgrowth to a fallen tree, and behind that tree, a long shallow hole partway filled by a black trash bag.
Lingering on the plastic bulk, a soft female voice whispered in his mind, “find her.”
The vision/daydream continued as he saw the bag covered under dirt and then leaves. The viewer looked up and Rosco could see the white van and the parking lot through the woods, perhaps a hundred feet away.
Again the voice, “Find her. Forget me. Find her.”
The officer continued to stare dumbly as Violet slipped past him, peeked around the doorway, disappeared into the night, and was gone.
Credit: Sasha Brokov