Romance, which gets entangled with a serial killer and his elusive life, sends Wendy into the mind of her kidnapper. Can she figure out why he does what he does? Will he kill her too, like he did the other thirteen women before her?
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“Don’t think about it,” her mind begged because behind the doors of that house lay something too horrible to think about. It was the birthplace of evil…. A tiny community in the Blackridge Mountain Range was stunned by a gruesome discovery made by one of their local residents while he was out hunting with his dog, Rusty. “Rusty ran into some underbrush the way he usually does when he scents a rabbit but he wouldn’t come out when I called him,” Ralph Hicks stated. “I figured I had to go in after him.” In the brush he found the dog tugging on a human arm. After the discovery of the unidentified body, the FBI was called in as an investigation was already underway for the disappearance of the Novelist of the Year Award winner, Wendy Stallone. During the investigative efforts of the FBI, more bodies began to surface.
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The small child buried herself deep under the thick patchwork quilt. Eyes that should have been shut hours ago were wide open, watching… waiting. She listened for the sounds which would let her drift into the land of dreams or send her bolting out through her window, running up the mountainside to her grandfather’s cabin.
Many nights she had found herself breathless from her frantic pace, then pounding on his door with her little fists, screaming out, “Grandpa, Grandpa! Please let me in!” His door would open and his leathery arms would reach down to lift her up and carry her inside.
Gently cradling her in his arms as he’d sit in the old wooden rocking chair, he’d rock in a slow rhythmic motion while speaking to her in his soft deep voice, “It’s ok angel, you’re safe now… I’ve got you.”
The image of her grandfather’s sun darkened face smiling at her while letting her snuggle in his arms began to carry her off into a distant world, while sleep wrapped it’s seductive embrace around her, beaconing her to slip away into it‘s depths.
No not yet! Forcing her eyes open, she listened intently. Only the chirping of the crickets with the buzzing sound of the night insects, rippled through the silence. Maybe he wasn’t coming home tonight, that had happened before. Many nights she had lain awake, almost afraid to fall asleep because there had been many nights he’d awaken her with screaming at her mother.
A frown of concentration drew her eyebrows together, as she strained to hear the familiar sound of the old faded red pickup truck echoing through the hollow, the tires bounced over the pot-holes in the gravel lane with thuds becoming increasingly louder as he got closer to the house. Every muscle in her body tensed like a puppy waiting uncertainly for it’s master who would just rather kick at him than to pet his head. She was wide awake now.
She heard the creaking of the old easy chair as her mother tiredly pushed herself up out of it to go into the kitchen and warm his supper. Mama had been waiting too. Nights like these were always the same; waiting and wondering. Would he be so drunk where he could barely stumble from the truck to the house? Mama hoped so because it was easier that way. Those nights he’d stagger though the door and go right past her to their bed, then pass out fully dressed.
Then there were other nights when no matter how good you were, he would find something to work himself into a rage about. These were the nights the child would go clamoring out through her bedroom window and run as fast as if the devil himself were chasing her.
His old truck was pulling into the front yard now. She couldn’t see it because her window faced the side of the house but, she could hear the squeaking brakes and the stubbornness of the motor sputtering, refusing to shut off when commanded. Finally, it silenced itself. Her heart began to beat faster as a sharp spasm of fear raced through her body. The truck door ground open on rusted hinges, then slammed shut with a metallic finality.
Not realizing she was holding her breath, as she listened to his heavy footsteps on the pinewood planks of the front porch, her eyes darted to the opened window then back to her closed door. The spring on the screen door stretched with a protesting whine then snapped shut behind him with a clatter.
“Supper’s ready,” mama called from the kitchen.
“I’m not hungry,” he answered flatly.
“I fixed your T-bone steak, just the way you like it.” Mama replied hesitantly, in hopes his favorite food would soften his mood.
“Damn it woman! Why don’t you ever listen to me?” he screamed, as a crash came from the kitchen. The child heard her mother cry out in pain.
“Thomas! Stop it, before you hurt the baby!”
Torn between the desire to escape and the instinct to help her mother, the child slid from her bed and opened her bedroom door. She saw her mother crouched on the kitchen floor near the stove with her arms wrapped protectively over her swollen belly. Blood from a cut on her face mingled with the mashed potatoes from the plate he had hit her with after jerking it out of her hand.
“No!” the child screamed as she saw her father aim a vicious kick at her mother’s stomach. She ran toward him and grabbed his arm, trying to stop him.
He spun around with his face contorted with indescribable rage, “Don’t you ever interfere with me,” he roared, as he moved towards her. His arm swung out and caught the side of her head, knocking her back against the door frame.
She grabbed onto it to keep from falling, then backed away from him while her eyes filled with tears. Through the blur she saw her mother struggling to get up off of the floor. “Go,” she cried out desperately, “go to Grandpa’s!”
Her father lunged toward her and tried to grab her by her arm, the child slipped through his out stretched reach and fled.
The night air was getting cold but she didn’t notice, as branches slapped at her and briars reached out to grab onto her nightgown. She ran through the woods and up the trail leading to her grandfather’s cabin.
It wasn’t long before she ran past the coop where Grandpa’s chickens clucked excitedly after being awakened by the sound of running feet. She scrambled up the wooden steps of his porch and began to pound on the door.
“Grandpa! Wake up,” she shouted. She glanced anxiously into the darkness behind her while waiting for him to come to the door. “Grandpa! You’ve got to get up and make him stop! He’s hurting Mama and he might hurt the baby- please Grandpa, get up!”
Hearing no sounds of movement coming from within, she twisted the doorknob and the door swung open. She stepped into the dark room as she wondered why her grandfather hadn’t come to the door. Her hand slid along the wall until she felt the light switch. His lamp next to his rocking chair turned on showing her that he wasn’t there asleep like he had done many times before. She looked towards the door leading into his bedroom.
“Grandpa?” she asked, as she opened his door and peered in.
Moonlight filtering through the curtains revealed his sleeping form. Crossing the bare wooden floor to his bed, she reached out and shook him.
“Grandpa,” she said louder as she tried to wake him. “Grandpa! Wake up!”
Silence was the only response filling the room. He was lying so still. Climbing up on the bed beside him, she reached out to turn his face towards her own. His skin felt cold and clammy against her hand. She then placed her hand upon his chest, wanting to feel the rhythmic breathing pattern she had grown accustomed to when she cuddled in his lap. But, it wasn’t there… just stillness.
He was gone and was never coming back.