Where the Bodies Are
The McAllister Series Book 1
Step into the twisted mind of a serial killer in this disturbing psychological thriller. Dead bodies are being left where they are sure to be found. But, the killer made a mistake; one victim left for dead survived. Kept in a medically induced coma while she recovers, they can only watch her and wait for the killer to come back for her. While Detective Michael Underwood protects their only living witness, Detective Jim McNelly and his reporter friend Lawrence Hawkworth are determined to find the killer and bring his killing spree to an end. Instead, they discover a bigger mystery. The killer’s reality blurs between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind. Overcome by a blind rage that leaves him wallowing in remorse with the bodies of victim after victim, he is desperate to stop killing. After learning of his victim’s survival, the killer sees it as a sign they are meant to be together. Threatening her tenuous grip on life, he is determined to take back his prize while he continues kidnapping and murdering young women. Accustomed to a life of abuse, one victim’s experience becomes her refuge in a desperate bid for survival. Instead of killing her, he keeps Katherine Kingslow imprisoned in the dark while he continues plotting to take back the Jane Doe in the hospital. How long can Kathy survive and will she lose her own mind? The search for the killer will lead to his dark secret buried in the past, something much larger than a man compelled to kill again and again.
The McAllister Farm
The McAllister Series Book 2
Step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are in this disturbing look at the boy who will grow up to create the killer. 1981 Meet David McAllister, the boy who will grow up to create the killer. In 1981 there was a man who lived on a farm. William McAllister was a private and reclusive man who, above all else, did not like to have attention drawn on his family. He wanted only to be left to mind his own business and family and for the world to do the same. But that very reclusiveness fosters contempt and suspicion in the people of the small farming community his family has called home for generations. William McAllister has a son, Jason McAllister. Jason is a troubled boy. Growing up under his father’s strict rules and isolated from the normal childhood relationships, he is left to explore his darker inclinations. Seeing the darker side of Jason, William tries to rein his son in by bringing him into the family business. Just then a serial killer starts preying on local young women. The McAllisters quickly find themselves drawn into the spotlight when the town decides William McAllister is the killer. As the town’s search for the killer focuses on the McAllister farm and the woods behind it, the threat to the McAllister secret grows. The McAllister family history is as dark as the secret hiding in the woods. The attention is a threat to both William McAllister’s profession and his family. He has no choice but to find the killer himself. He might not like what he learns.
Hunting Michael Underwood
The McAllister Series Book 3
Step deeper into the twisted mind of a serial killer as he slips further into madness in this disturbing psychological thriller. Hunting Michael Underwood follows on the heels of book one, Where the Bodies Are, bringing the first two stories and their characters together as the search for the killer continues. Michael Underwood has vanished and everyone is searching for him. Detective Jim McNelly is determined to not stop until he finds him. Working with the detective, Lawrence Hawkworth is still chasing the bigger story he knows is behind the bodies. Jason McAllister knows he must stop the killer he created before he goes too far. He may be the only one who can stop him. Unable to let go of his barely remembered past and the search for his sister, the killer goes looking for Jason McAllister’s past and his family. ***** Detective Jim McNelly is furious. Detective Michael Underwood disappeared without a trace with the only living witness to the McAllister murders. Worse, Michael is not who he pretended to be. And then the other shoe fell. Jason T. McAllister, tried and convicted of the kidnapping and murders of multiple women and the prime suspect behind the bodies discovered in the woods behind the McAllister farm, is being inexplicably set free. He will not spend the rest of his life in prison. Jim is determined to find Michael Underwood, bring him down, and discover the truth about who he really is and what his connection to Jason McAllister is. Working with his long time friend, the notoriously unscrupulous investigative reporter Lawrence Hawkworth, Jim will not stop until he finds Michael and the answers to the bodies found in the mass graveyard in the woods behind the McAllister Farm. Jason McAllister knows he must stop the real killer behind the murders he was convicted for. As the killer spirals further into madness, Jason is the only one who can stop him. But, he needs help. He is going to have to talk to his father, William McAllister, the man who taught him how to hide the bodies. Michael Underwood and Katherine Kingslow are on the run. A victim of domestic abuse and only
known survivor of the McAllister Farm killer, Kathy has lapsed into Stockholm syndrome. Now she is torn between her need to be with her captor and fear of his escalating psychotic episodes. Everyone is hunting for Michael Underwood.
Killing David McAllister
The McAllister Series Book 4
Everyone wants to kill David McAllister in this explosive conclusion.
David McAllister must die.
Crazy comes to a head in this disturbing psychological thriller.
When an unbalanced serial killer sets his sights on a little girl, there is only one way it can end. Someone will die.
Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it. He has gone by many names, but he was raised as David McAllister, and finding what he is looking for is not enough to quiet the darkness inside him.
The organization ordered the cleanup of the entire McAllister family.
The job was given to Sophie McAllister.
While Detective Jim McNelly and his reporter friend Lawrence Hawkworth continue to hunt them down, the McAllisters move into hiding.
David McAllster’s psychosis continues, but now Sophie’s daughter is in danger. He believes she is his tiny sister Cassie.
The presence of his now adult sister Cassie does not stop his dead little Cassie from tormenting him.
Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it. He has gone by many names, but he was raised as David McAllister, and finding what he is looking for is not enough to quiet the darkness inside him.
David McAllister must die.
While the McAllisters move into hiding, Detective Jim McNelly and his reporter friend, Lawrence Hawkworth, continue to pursue them. Jim and Lawrence split up to follow their own leads, routes that will take them each on their own path to discover secrets behind the McAllisters.
Anderson and William are trying to keep the group together and ahead of the detective hunting them while trying to resolve the issue of what to do with David, Kathy, Rose Bheals, and the boy Jason brought, Billy.
Kathy is becoming increasingly fearful both for and of David and wants out, but feels trapped. She is certain death is the only way out.
Cassie swore to kill David for what he did to Connie and the others. Torn by memories she does not have and the knowledge of the dark hole this life will bury her in, she needs to escape.
Sophie has been ordered to kill David and Kathy. She may have to kill her own brother, Jason, too. When the time comes, she’s not sure if she can do it.
With Marjory’s lapses into the foggy confusion of Alzheimer’s, nobody believes her when she really needs them to, when Sophie’s little girl’s life is at stake.
David is slipping further into madness and, convinced she is the little sister he lost so many years ago, he is going to take little Lauren with him. Having his now adult real sister, Cassie, there is no help.
Will someone reach David and Lauren in time as the blackness closes in and rage takes over?
WHERE THE BODIES ARE
Whispers. Far away and insidious. Darkness.
To sleep more deeply is to dream more deeply.
In the darkness, where the nightmares live.
Whispers. Far away and insidious. Darkness. Escape. Trapped. Helplessness. Weak. Cold wet. Dog. Nothing. Fear welling up, bubbling up in a scream yearning to tear free from a dry scorched throat, and silenced with the silent slipping of a needle into the injection port of a thin intravenous plastic tube.
Bruising and swelling leave her barely recognizable as human in the monstrosity of the ruination inflicted on her. Days meld into weeks and still she sleeps.
The dark blue car sits parked in an alley. The male figure inside is slumped over the steering wheel, violent tremors wracking his body.
He sits up, staring at himself in the rear view mirror.
The eyes in the mirror are red and rimmed redder. They are haunted by terrible visions and unbearable knowledge.
Tears flow freely, unstoppable.
He sobs a deep shuddering sob and shakes his head in disgust and self-loathing, his mind reeling.
He came back to his senses just as the first police car drove past him with lights and sirens blaring, startled back by the lights and noise.
Brought suddenly crashing back to reality, he had quickly turned into the first semi private place he spotted and put the car into park, finding himself in a dirty alley. It looks and feels as deserted and desolate as he feels.
By the time he parked, his mind began fogging over the recent events he so desperately wants to erase, pushing the world around him to a distant place where he will be safe from it.
He sits there, stunned, feeling numb and detached the way a heavy fog makes the world seem far away and unreal.
Faint ghosts of his actions tickle at his memory.
The memories of his sister’s accident so many years ago, vague and full of missing pieces, huddles in the dark corners of his mind, giving him teasing glimpses he does not want to see.
He cannot quite remember what happened on that tranquil neighborhood street only minutes ago. The memory is just right there, tantalizing and dreadful, a gossamer veil he can just barely brush with his fingertips. Drawn by the need to see as much as by the revulsion and need to escape it, he wants to pull the memory up but does not dare. He tries to push it away instead.
The scene, the fantasy he’d replayed in his mind over and over a million times as a child until he finally pushed it away and blocked it out, now teases and torments him, flashing glimpses at him in a blinding fashion, confusing the past with the present.
More confusing are the brief flashes of scenes on that street.
The happy smiling face of a little girl looking up at him with eyes full of trust.
The terror filled eyes of a woman in a face twisted with determination.
An approaching car.
The pleading look of a child standing on the sidewalk.
The trusting eyes of a little girl turning to a liquid look of fear.
A little bundle of teeth and hair.
“What did I do?”
He looks down at his hands. He holds out his hand, staring at it in wonder.
The flesh is punctured, blood still dripping from the wound.
He feels a wave of sickness wash over him, reeling with a strength-sapping stomach-churning, dizziness.
“What did I do?” His voice trembles.
A black void now lives where the memories of the moments between watching the house and being awakened by the wail of a police car should be.
It is impenetrable.
I blacked out, lost time and memories. Just like that time I got stupidly drunk years ago.
Only this time he is not suffering from the after effects of alcohol poisoning.
“What did I do?” He reels. “I tried to kidnap that little girl, that innocent little girl. I would never think of hurting her, any child.”
He leans out the open car window and vomits. His whole body convulses with it, vomiting until there is nothing left to vomit out but his self-disgust.
He would gladly vomit that out too if he could. But, he needs that self-loathing, that putrid disgust. It reminds him of who he is. What he is.
“I deserve to suffer. I could kill myself or turn myself in, but that would be an act of kindness I don’t deserve.”
His stomach continues to clench painfully, heaving long past when he is certain he must have puked his empty stomach out to join its contents on the dirty pavement, his whole body shuddering with each painful spasm.
THE MCALLISTER FARM
Is there something wrong with me?
Why does it feel so good
to see something squirm in pain?
To see the fear and begging in their eyes?
To be the only one who can help them
if I only just stop,
but to go ahead anyway?
The shovel makes a sly shuh-king noise as its blade bites into the hard earth that likely has never been touched by the tools of men.
William McAllister struggles against the un-giving ground, putting his foot on the top edge of the shovel blade beside the handle protruding from it and using his weight and muscles to force the blade deeper.
He grunts with the effort.
The night creatures watch silently from the safety of their hideaways in the woods.
His breath turns to fog in the cool night air, coming heavier from the exertion.
Satisfied he has pierced the ground deep enough; he works the shovel back and forth before leaning on it, scraping out a pile of hard dirt. He dumps it next to where he is digging and thrusts the blade into the earth again.
It is spring and still chilly at night. The ground is still thawing from its winter freeze, making the job harder.
The trees stand sentry above, dark figures against the moonlit sky blocking out some of the stars. The lower brush surrounding him grows where the trees thin to let more light reach lower, allowing it to thrive and grow taller and thicker, giving the spot a more secluded feeling.
The wind picks up, hissing through the leaves of the treetops.
He ignores the whispering trees, continuing to dig until the hole is big and deep enough.
At last he pauses, wiping away the sweat dripping into his eyes from his forehead.
He drops the shovel on the ground and picks up a sheet-wrapped object lying on the ground behind him. It is perhaps the size of a small child of about four or five years old.
The sheet looks ghostly pale in the darkness, seeming to hover on its own in the barely visible arms of the dark-clothed man against the background of the dark woods surrounding him.
Kneeling, William gently lays it in the hole.
He picks up the shovel, standing over the hole staring down into it for a pause that lasts only a few heartbeats but feels longer.
Without a word, he starts shovelling the pile of disturbed earth back into the hole. With each thud of dirt hitting the sheet-wrapped object its startling brightness against the dark of the dirt and night grows smaller. He keeps at it, methodically tossing in shovel full after shovel full until the
displaced dirt has all been replaced and the wrapped object completely buried. The rounded mound of dirt is dark against the rotting leaves and brown pine needles covering the ground all around.
With a powerful swing, he brings the flat bottom of the shovel blade down on the mound. It hits with a dull thud, leaving an indentation in the disturbed earth. He pounds it again and again, compacting the loose chunks of dirt, but it isn’t enough. He wants the mound to be level with the ground around it.
Scattering leaves, twigs, and fallen pine needles over it, he starts stomping the mound with his boots, stomping and stomping, clouds of vapour puffing out of his mouth in the chill air with the effort. He scrapes the surface with the sharp shovel blade, smoothing it.
Scattering more debris on the spot, he presses it in with the flat of the shovel and then sets the shovel down to scatter more loose debris on top.
Finished, he studies his handiwork and nods, satisfied.
There is no visible sign the ground has ever been disturbed unless you know to look. The next good rain will wash away even those faint traces.
Picking up the shovel, William moves off through the woods, eventually arriving at a farmyard.
In one direction across the farmyard is an old barn that has not been used to house animals for decades. Straw still litters the floor in places around the edges and in old stalls. The rest is swept clean. The moonlight coming in through the cracks between boards and in the windows glints dully off the rounded metal frames of old tractors huddled in the darkened interior. Like the farm itself, the tractors were passed down to him from his father.
The old barn is feeling its age and will probably need to be rebuilt in another ten years.
Close to him near the edge of the trees is a shed used for storage for anything small enough to pile on its shelves and in corners.
Centered between them across the yard is a small old farmhouse.
It is the kind of farmhouse built before building codes, when a handshake was enough to suffice and a farmer built his own house with a hammer and nails and his own sweat. The house is small but well built with two small bedrooms and a mud-floored cellar for cold storage and the only access to the cellar a trap door with a ladder that goes straight down. The walls are made of flat boards grouted between them to seal the cracks.
The house was built by an earlier generation of McAllisters when they first settled here and the farm handed down in the family.
The livestock on the farm consists of a small flock of free roaming chickens that provide them with fresh eggs, a single aging nanny goat they use for milk, and a small herd of feral cattle that live mostly unbothered in the field. An old barn without doors beyond the trees surrounding the farmyard provides the cattle shelter when they need it.
William walks across the yard and puts the shovel in the barn, hanging it on the wall, then heads for the farmhouse.
The light shining on a pole in the farmyard reveals the lines at the corners of his eyes; lines drawn by hours spent working outside under the burning sun and against the ravages of the wind and weather. He looks forty, although he is younger.
Marjory greets him at the door, wringing her hands and looking anxious.
“Did you take care of them?” Marjory asks.
He nods. “They won’t be found where I buried them.”
“Good,” she says. “Now we have to break it to them.” Marjory is upset and wishes they did not have to do this.
Today had been as any other until the racoon came.
After supper and the kids are sent to bed, William and Marjory sit in their chairs in the small living room. He is holding up a newspaper, but isn’t really reading it, while she knits.
Finally, William puts the paper down and looks at Marjory, watching her for a moment before speaking.
“I’ve decided it’s time to start working on bringing Jason into the business.”
Her hands freeze and Marjory stares down at her knitting without seeing it. Her first reaction is disbelief. It’s not that she does not believe; she does not want to believe. She tries to tell herself she heard wrong.
His silence as he stares at her, weighing her reaction, waiting for what her reaction will be, makes it undeniable.
Marjory swallows. Her throat feels suddenly strained, like the muscles are stretched like taught elastics, pained. Her body is stiff like sun-hardened mud that might crack if she tries to move.
She looks at him and he sees the anguish in her eyes.
“I think it’s time,” William says, trying to explain although he knows it is useless. He knew how she will respond to his announcement. “My father started training me younger than this. The boy needs more direction and responsibility to keep him out of trouble. It’s time he starts growing up.”
Marjory’s face twists into a scowl and angry tears come to her eyes.
“He is too young,” she says, her voice rough with the tears and anger. He’s my baby, is what she is thinking, but does not voice it.
I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, she thinks, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
I could have taken the children and run away with them when they were younger, to keep them out of his business, but who would look after the three of us? How would I support them? With my little education and being a woman with children and no family, I would be utterly and completely on my own and no one would hire me.
I would have to go into hiding with the kids with no support from anyone anywhere.
It is not William she is afraid of following her if she left him.
A woman with children working is unheard of. Who would raise my kids while I worked? Those who do manage it are frowned on and talked rudely about behind their backs. It is shameful unless you are widowed.
“It has to be this way,” William says gently.
Marjory knows he is right. She went into this marriage knowing, had kids knowing, that one day their sons would be groomed to work with their father and eventually replace him in the business. It’s the way it has been done for generations, just as the farm is passed down through the McAllister clan for generations.
She turns away from him, angrily gnashing her knitting needles together as she takes her anger out on her knitting, refusing to look at or speak to William for the rest of the evening.
William thinks it over long and hard while they sit in awkward silence, trying to figure out how he will go about training the boy.
Is he ready? I put it off too long, hesitating to take away the boy’s innocence.
He keeps coming back to Jason’s disturbing behaviour with the coyotes.
He is old enough, he decides. The coyotes proved that. If I wait much longer Jason might be harder to manage.
The next question is how. William settles that question quickly, thinking again about the coyotes.
HUNTING MICHAEL UNDERWOOD
“Michael Underwood walked
out of that prison
and off the face of the earth,
taking our only witness with him.
I will find him and bring him down.”
“Who the hell are you?”
The steady drone of the tires on concrete should have lulled Detective Jim McNelly into a false sense of normalcy. Nothing will be normal again. Not for him, or for anyone else.
His fat jowls work as he clenches and unclenches his jaw, his thick hands gripping the steering wheel hard. His bulk is more than ample enough to fill the driver’s seat of the ancient brown Oldsmobile, almost spilling over into the passenger side.
The McAllister murders.
They are eating away at his gut, tormenting his sleep, and torturing his heartburn. They are victims he failed to save.
The phone call that brought him speeding towards the prison had shattered his morning.
It is Jim’s day off, but his conscience isn’t having it.
Michael Underwood vanished along with our only living witness to the McAllister murders, Jim thinks, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
Michael visited McAllister in prison after the guilty verdict came down on Jason T. McAllister. That was the last time Michael Underwood and our only witness, Katherine Kingslow, were seen.
He takes a sip of coffee, his unkempt moustache soaking up some of the brew.
The phone rings.
“McNelly,” he answers it gruffly.
“Jim, have you heard the news?”
He recognizes the voice immediately, Lawrence Hawkworth.
It was thanks to Lawrence’s investigation that we discovered the identity of the killer.
Hawkworth, that buzzard-like creature who has no shame when it comes to digging up and publishing dirt for the InterCity Voice. He’s the most notoriously underhanded investigative reporter in town, but he is effective. Otherwise, Jason McAllister would still be an unknown perp.
Lawrence Hawkworth is also his long time friend.
“No. I haven’t turned on a radio or T.V.” He’d had enough of the news long before the trial finished.
“This hasn’t hit the news wires yet. It’s more rumour than news.”
“What is it?” Jim frowns, sipping his coffee.
“The judge is cutting Jason McAllister loose.”
Jim’s grip on his coffee mug tightens and he scowls.
“What do you mean, cutting him loose? He’s being shipped today to a high security nut house. It’s not a real sentence, but at least he’s locked up for now.”
His sentence will be determined on a month-to-month basis by a board of psychiatrists and the suits that run the place.
The idea infuriates Jim. Not guilty by reason of insanity, that was the trial verdict. Instead of hard time in a penitentiary, he’s doing not so hard time in a psychiatric facility. How long he serves depends on his behaviour.
“That’s been put off. His lawyer managed to get the appeal date pushed up, fast tracked because someone at the top just wants it to go away, I’m sure of that.”
“I’m not surprised. He used the media to get the public to sympathize with McAllister while he filed his appeal against the guilty but insane verdict. The moment the verdict came down the media switched from portraying McAllister as a monster to calling him an innocent victim railroaded by the police without proof, almost in the same breath. It will be impossible to find another jury that hasn’t been tainted by the media for another trial.”
“It’s gone past that now. I doubt there will be another trial, not even a trial by judge.”
“What do you mean?”
“Rumour has it the judge is releasing McAllister pending a new trial when the appeal comes before him. The appeal is just a formality. It’s already decided.”
Jim flinches, freezes, a stone cold statue. “You’re joking. It’s not funny.”
“It’s no joke. Jason McAllister will be standing before the judge within the next few days. He’s walking out of that courtroom a free man.”
Lawrence’s words hit Jim like a physical blow, rocking him as hard as it did when the verdict came down.
His coffee cup explodes against the wall in a shower of broken ceramic fragments and coffee erupting and splattering out from the wall like dull brown blood.
It’s all too convenient. McAllister is too insane to be found guilty of kidnapping and murder, but not insane enough to be a danger to society. McAllister has just been handed a free pass, a get out of jail free card. Do not pass Go and do not collect your two hundred dollars, just go and run. Disappear.
“What secrets do you know McAllister?” Jim mutters under his breath.
“What are you going to do, Jim?”
“I’m going to get the son of a bitch.”
Kathy peeks out again to see Michael turned away and talking again.
A shiver shudders down her spine and she suddenly feels an uneasy feeling rush through her.
A premonition? That’s silly, I don’t believe in nonsense like that.
She turns away, going into the kitchen. She can’t watch any longer.
Michael pleads with Cassie to understand.
“I did my best to protect you, I really did. There was only so much I could do.”
“But you didn’t protect me, did you?” Cassie accuses. “You didn’t protect me ever, David.”
“Don’t call me that,” Michael says defensively.
“You let him take us David. You let him take us and kill our mother. You let him keep us and hit us.”
“Don’t call me David,” Michael repeats. “That’s the name he gave me.”
He can taste the resentment of the name ‘David’ on his tongue as he says it.
“You ran away and left me behind,” Cassie accuses. “You left me alone with him.”
“No I didn’t,” Michael says. “You are lying now. You were already gone when I ran away. You were the one who left me alone with him.”
“You made me go, David. They were not very nice people who took me in after. I went to foster homes. You know all about foster homes, don’t you David? You know because you knew lots of runaway kids from foster homes. You heard the stories about what they do to kids in foster homes.”
“No,” Michael shakes his head. He is starting to feel sick. He doesn’t like this conversation. “You didn’t go to foster homes. You were adopted. You found a good family who took care of you.”
“That is what you want to believe. I went to foster homes first, before I finally got adopted.”
She looks down at her feet sadly, scuffing the dirt with a toe.
“They were not very nice people, any of them. I was better off with him.”
“No, don’t say that,” Michael whines. He is starting to sound like a little boy. He feels like a little boy, overwhelmed with a world that is so much bigger than him.
Cassie looks up at him again, her eyes burning with resentment.
“Then you let him take me again. You were supposed to protect me. Always, you promised to protect me always.”
“No, you were gone,” Michael moans in despair. “You ran away. I found you. After years of searching, I finally found you. And you ran away from me. He couldn’t have taken you again. You ran away.”
“You know he did, David.”
“Stop calling me David!” Michael snarls. “That is not my name!”
“Then who are you, David?” she asks, now mocking him. “Michael Underwood? Michael Ritchot? How many names have you had? Do you even know your real name? Do you even remember? David McAllister. That is who you really are. It doesn’t matter that is not the name you were born with. You are a McAllister, just like him. He raised you to be just like him.”
“No!” Michael yells, half standing up. He makes himself settle back into the chair.
Kathy hears Michael yell from inside the house and pushes away the urge to go see what is happening.
Don’t torture yourself by looking.
“I am nothing like him,” Michael hisses angrily, leaning forward threateningly.
“Day-vid,” Cassie taunts in a sing-song voice, dragging out the sound. “Day-vid, Day-vid, Day-vid.”
Michael lunges up from his chair, grabbing the chair in a fit of rage, the world around him fading, being pushed away to a distant place and replaced with the black fog of anger. He swings the chair viciously at Cassie and smashes it against the ground.
“You hurt me David.” But it isn’t Cassie’s voice now. The voice is not that of a small child.
Michael spins to face Jane Doe and blanches. His mind compartmentalized his sister, needing to separate the two of her into separate people. Cassie is the little girl, the innocent he needed to protect. Jane Doe is the woman, the stranger Cassie became, the woman who fought against him and ran away.
“You took me and you hurt me David,” Jane says, her calm voice slicing through his heart in a way anger never could. “You hurt me and locked me in the cellar and you killed me. You were supposed to protect me David.”
“No!” Michael cries. “I did not kill you. You are still alive. I know it and I will find you. Wherever you are, whatever he did with you, I am going to find you.”
“No you won’t, David.” She coos at him. “You are bad. You are very bad. You were bad as a boy and you are bad now. I don’t want you to find me.”
Michael is stunned. How can she not want me to find her? I have to keep her safe so the bad thing can’t happen to her.
“I will find you, I promise,” he whispers. “I will keep you safe from him.”
“Who will keep me safe from you, David?” she asks. “Who will keep me safe from David McAllister?”
“Stop calling me that,” he growls. “I am not David. I am Michael. Michael.”
He blinks. Jane Doe is suddenly gone. He turns in confusion.
Cassie is standing behind him, watching him.
“Cassie,” he begs.
“You hurt me David,” she says quietly, her voice small. “You tried to kill me.”
“No,” he says hoarsely.
The flutter of a curtain in the window of the house next door catches his attention. He sees it out of the corner of his eye. Michael looks and the curtain is still, but he knows it moved. The neighbour next door is spying on him.
With a sinking in his stomach, Michael realizes that he had been yelling. He groans.
He goes into the house looking for Kathy.
Kathy is trying to make herself busy tidying up, although she finds the task almost impossible to force on herself, the heavy weight of unhappiness dragging her down.
“We have to go soon,” Michael says. “We have to move on, find a new place. We have to keep moving. Just for a little while.”
Kathy stops tidying, looking at him.
“That’s good. I don’t like this house.” She doesn’t tell him she is embarrassed and uncomfortable knowing that the neighbours see him talking to nobody in the back yard, that they know just as she does that he is crazy. Something is broken inside him and it is making him behave in ways that scare her.
She won’t leave him. She still harbours that fear inside that she just can’t let go. She knows Ronnie is dead, but that nagging doubt keeps pushing at her. What if he isn’t? What if Ronnie is somehow alive and comes after her?
Besides, Michael would never hurt her. He will hurt others, but never her. He even killed Ronnie so that he could never hurt her again.
KILLING DAVID MCALLISTER
“Day-vid,” little Cassie whispers in a taunting sing-song.
Why did you hurt me David?”
She stares at him with vacant eyes, the light of life extinguished.
“Did you mean what you said? That you are going to kill him?” Kathy asks, looking at Cassie.
Kathy still feels the shock. It fills every fibre of her being, numbing her and pushing the world away to some distant place. She feels like she is trapped in a bad movie.
“Did I mean what?” Cassie does not look at her. She can’t. Every time she looks at Kathy she is filled with anger.
“At the farm; you said you are going to kill him. Did you mean it?”
“I meant it.” Cassie glances at her and quickly looks away.
Kathy swallows, thinking.
Do I ask? What will she do, kill me? Isn’t that what I want? To die? To get this all over with? The only way out of this is death.
“Who did you mean?” she asks, hesitating. “Which one of them are you going to kill?”
“Does it matter?”
Kathy feels nauseas. I don’t know who I want it to be, she thinks.
“I feel like this is unreal,” Kathy says. “I thought you were dead.”
“I’m not. No thanks to you.”
“You deserve it.”
Kathy’s throat constricts and her eyes burn with the tears that threaten to come.
“It’s time to go.” The voice has the raspy tremor of age.
They look up at Anderson’s intrusion. Kathy is anxious he somehow knows what they are talking about.
Cassie gets up and walks away without looking back.
Kathy watches her go. “She hates me,” she says softly.
“She has good reason to,” Anderson says.
He reaches one age-gnarled hand down to help her up.
She reaches up, taking his hand and letting him help her up, surprised at the strength in his withered muscles.
They walk to the vehicles together, where everyone is waiting.
Anderson moves to walk next to William.
“We have to drop off your Mrs. Bheals somewhere at the first chance,” Anderson whispers to him. “We have too many people involved in this already. I don’t think I can do anything for that woman David brought, but we can get rid of the old woman before it’s too late for her.”
“I couldn’t leave her there. You saw the place. What it’s like; the patients. She doesn’t belong there. There is nothing wrong with that woman’s mind. I don’t know why she was in that place.”
“Family probably wanted to put her where she can’t trouble them,” Anderson says. “It happens when you get old.”
“What about the kid?” William asks, his eyes shifting to look at t
derson’s face is grim.
I don’t want to tell them the kid is probably going to have to be disposed of, he thinks. But, William probably already knows that.
“David,” the little girl voice whispers quietly. “Day-vid. Daayyy-vid.” The voice remains quiet, a soft whisper only he can hear.
“Be quiet,” David mutters under his breath.
He ignores the voice.
“You cannot leave me David.”
He rolls over on the bed, facing the other way and covers his head with the pillow.
“You cannot forget me David.”
“Shut up. Leave me alone,” he mutters.
“You cannot escape me David.”
Kathy comes out of the bathroom and looks at him on the bed.
“You can’t hide from it, David,” Kathy says. “It’s time to get up and move on. They will all be waiting for us.”
David pulls the pillow off his head and swings his feet over the edge of the bed, sitting up.
“I’m ready. Let’s go.”
He gets up and picks up their bags, heading out to the car.
Kathy follows, giving him a worried look.
“He is still talking to his ghost,” she says so quietly David does not hear.
The others are gathering at the two vehicles, loading their bags in the trunk and truck box.
“We have a six hour drive,” Anderson says. “Then we pick up a third vehicle. I don’t like us travelling split up in so many vehicles. It increases the risk of us getting separated, but we need to change our travelling groups.”
He looks at William.
“Everyone, get in. William and I will do one last sweep of the rooms to make sure we are clear.”
“What are they checking for?” Billy asks.
“To make sure you didn’t leave any save me notes,” Ethan says. He gives an annoyed tug on the dog’s leash, pulling him away from whatever he is trying to sniff on the ground.
“To make sure we left no evidence we were here,” Lauren says.
“Knock it off you two,” Sophie says. “They are just checking that nobody left anything behind.”
Kathy glances at Cassie.
Cassie does not return the look, her look guarded.
Minutes later, William and Anderson return from checking the rooms and they are driving away.
Billy watches the motel vanish in the distance behind them.
William stops the truck on the side of the road. Ahead they can see the sign for an old motel chain that died off except for the odd motel.
“This is it. Stay down and out of sight in the back. I don’t want Miller seeing you. You know how this goes. I’ll get out and talk to him. We drive to the switch location, and go our separate ways. I will let you know when it’s safe to sit up.”
Jason grins. “Just like old times, going out on jobs with my dad.”
William scowls, but he is feeling it too, the nostalgia of the days when he was young and strong, taking Jason on the road to teach him the business. Jason’s eager young face looking up at him from where he is huddled out of sight on floor in the front.
It brings with it also the darker memories; Jason just a boy, shooting the coyote bitch, intentionally torturing the animal when he was a good enough shot to have killed her easily. The thrill he saw in his eyes, his enjoyment in the rabbit’s slow panted terrified death at his hands. The barn. The blood. Amy Dodds.
William closes his eyes tightly against the unwanted intrusion of those dark memories from his past.
I should have put the boy down after the coyote. I should have put him down after the rabbit. Before Amy. The memories and the thought they bring is a physical pain that fills his whole being with a sorrow that cannot be denied; pain of loss and failure on multiple levels. It centers in his chest and sends a shooting pain down his left arm that leaves him momentarily breathless.
Jason watches his father’s expression change. He sees the pain the old man can’t hide and the color seeping from his face turning it grey despite the flush of anger rising up his neck.
Is he angry he has to bring me? Yes, he does hate me that much. Look at the rage having to spend even a moment with me is filling him with, Jason thinks. Dad, you’ve always been a hard unforgiving man. No matter how small the mistake I ever made; it just made you hate me more.
William pulls himself together with effort. You are getting soft, Old man, he thinks.
“Okay, let’s go.” William’s voice is rough with the gravity of the moment.
He puts the car in gear and drives on. Jason ducks low in the back just before they reach where anyone at the motel might see him. Parking across the lot, William gets out and walks across the lot, his slow pained shuffle giving away his age-wreaked weakness.
William knocks on the motel door and it is opened almost immediately. He looks eye to eye with the man who opens the door.
“Mr. Miller?” William asks.
The man nods.
“Let’s go,” William says. “Drive out of the lot and turn left. Continue out of town and over the bridge. Turn left after the bridge and continue for three miles. I will pass you and then you follow me. Park back to back when I stop.”
The man nods again.
William walks away, heading to the truck without looking back. As he is getting in, he sees Mr. Miller drive by in an SUV.
A thrill courses through William as he follows him out the parking lot. It is an undeniable excitement at being back doing what he has done his whole life despite the gravity that hollows him out.
He follows the SUV at a distance, accelerating to overtake it at the designated spot, and winds through country back roads with the SUV following until he finally pulls over. As instructed, the SUV does a three-point turn in the road, backing up with the rear bumpers facing each other and leaving room to stand between them.
“Stay down,” William whispers to Jason and gets out of the truck.
Thank you, L. V. Gaudet and Silver Dagger Book Tours.
About the Author
L. V. Gaudet is a subjugated cubicle dweller by day and a Canadian author of dark fiction by night, a member of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, the Horror Writers Association, and Authors of Manitoba.
L. V. grew up with a love of the darker side; sneaking down to the basement at night to watch the old horror B movies, Vincent Price being a favourite, devouring horror books, and has had a passion for books and the idea of creating stories and worlds a person can get lost in since reading that first novel.
This love of storytelling has L. V. working writing and editing into a busy life that includes a full time job, family, and doing the little things to help the writing community including offering encouragement to others in the online writing community and volunteering time editing the Manitoba Writers’ Guild newsletter and helping with their Facebook presence, proofreading for the HWA newsletter, and visiting schools for I Love to Read month.
L.V. Gaudet currently lives in Winnipeg with two rescue dogs, spouse, and kids.
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