Daddy's Little Girl
The woman was much heavier dead than alive, and even after years it still often caught him by surprise. He couldn't drive his nondescript late-nineties hatchback all the way to where he was going to dump the body, the tire tracks out here in the woods would be like a neon sign saying 'DEAD BODY BURIED HERE!!!' It was a major inconvenience, but a necessary one, and he mused to himself that this was why overweight women rarely found themselves as targets. Not because they weren't attractive, but because the bodies were harder to dispose of...
Placing his canvas-wrapped burden on the ground for a moment to catch his breath, he estimated that he had nearly a quarter of a mile to walk still before he would get back to the maple tree with the horseshoe nailed to it. He had nailed it there to mark the area of the hole he had dug, covered it with a sheet of plywood, then covered it with leaves and dirt and twigs. It would be indistinguishable from any other part of the woods. After placing the body in the hole, he would scrape the carefully spread out dirt back in on top of it, replace the plywood, then cover it with more dirt and leaves. No one had found one of his graves yet, which he attributed to the skill with which he covered up his actions rather than blind luck.
By the time his flashlight hit the rusty horseshoe, he was sweating even in the cooling night air. Dropping the bundle from his shoulder, he slipped off his MOLL-E pack. Finding the military spec folding shovel, he poked around until he found the plywood. He dropped the body into the hole, a flash of red from her hair showing through the clear plastic he had lined the canvas with. He was somewhat proud of that idea; they would never find blood or DNA in his trunk!
The excess dirt he had spread all around the area was quickly gathered, and the rest of the task was just muscle memory. After there was no trace that anyone had dug here, he pulled the hammer from his pack and removed the horseshoe from the tree and dropped them both in his bag. Hefting it onto his shoulders, he started the long trek back to his vehicle. Lacking the canvas-wrapped piece of meat he carried into the woods, he could take the shortcut on the back road rather than tramping through the underbrush. It would be a much easier walk, plus would leave less of a trail if anyone was to find this body.
As he broke through the tree line and stepped from the soft loam onto a cracked and broken road that hadn't seen maintenance since Eisenhower was in the White House, he whistled a random tune that he couldn't have named if he had to. He felt great! Still buzzing from his earlier activities, he was free from getting all scratched on thorns and low branches. Despite the nearly demolished blacktop, it was smoother than trying to make his way through the the brush growing between the trees, and he was now about a hundred and ten pounds lighter than when he started this trek. There was simply no reason not to feel great.
This was just a pass-through town where no one knew him, no one suspected his true natures, and a long ways away from anyone who was after him. He had money in his wallet, supplemented by the two hundred in cash that had been in her purse. And while most people would feel some ripple of trepidation being out on this middle of nowhere road in a strange place in the near the woods, he felt not even a flicker of unease. Even with the moon giving the old road and the trees around him an alien glow, the idea of fear never even crossed his mind.
He was a predator, more frightening than anything out in the forest. Earlier tonight, and not for the first time, he had ended a woman's life with his bare hands. He reveled in the power it gave him, choosing whether or not to let air into her lungs. The feel of her struggle, the choice or whether to collapse the airway and end it quickly, or compress and release, drawing it out. The feeling of being God, of deciding how slowly or quickly they would die, the total control over their world, and watching as the spark of life fades from their eyes. The feel of the tiny bone in the throat, one that so few people even realize is there, the hyoid bone, as it snapped under his hands... There was nothing out there in these woods more dangerous than him!
He had to force himself not to skip in a manner unbecoming of a grown man. The cool October breeze had dried the sweat on his skin and ruffled the slightly too-long hair that brushed the collar of his plaid flannel shirt. The night was chillier than he had expected when he left his jacket in the car, but it invigorated him rather than bothering him. It was a perfect night for a walk, and it was only about a mile to the cutoff where he had parked earlier.
No stranger to physical activity, he often ran and tried to work out a little when he could. Not trying to build the gaudy muscles of a gym rat, he simply sought to keep his body in proper condition to allow him to continue his... hobby. Being strong and solid was important, as it wasn't like it was in the old movies. Women didn't just fall into a swoon when they realized your intent. They fight, scratch, claw, and kick. You had to be strong enough to take it, because having one escape was the end. They had seen your face, heard your voice... You might as well put the needle in your own arm. Or flip the switch on the chair, depends on what state you are in...
And if they scratched your face, you had to take good care of that wound. Scars make you stand out, give people who last saw them something to say when questioned. Like his old Subaru, he had to be invisible, non-descript. He wasn't vain, but he was self-aware enough to know that women often considered him attractive. That helped. One had even told him that he looked like a young Mark Harmon. Later, as he wrapped his hands around her neck, he reminded her that Mark Harmon had also played Ted Bundy early in his career. For some reason, that was important information for her to know before the end.
Shifting his pack to avoid putting pressure on the sore right shoulder he had mostly used to haul the evidence of his last adventure out to the woods, he paused as he heard something in the distance that he didn't expect this late. It sounded like an older model vehicle, probably with an exhaust leak. He quietly panicked for a moment as he ran through any evidence he might have left then relaxed. There was nothing to point to him, and no one knew him here. So what if someone saw him? What description would they give? About six foot, dark hair, brown eyes, needs a haircut wearing a dark flannel shirt and faded jeans? That was a quarter of the population! Breathing a sigh of relief, he continued his stroll, whistling again like he didn't have a care in the world.
The vehicle drew closer, slowly, as the road didn't permit much in the way of speed. A bolt of panic shot through him as he heard it slowing down, but the apprehension faded when the seventies-model Ford truck pulled up beside him and a young blond woman leaned over toward the passenger side and opened the door. “Hey, there, sweetie,” she said, southern accent dripping off her voice like honey. “You look like you need a ride!”
The moon seemed to turn to the bright sun shining on him alone. She had long blond hair pulled back in that untidy knot girls were favoring since that MMA lady started wearing it, looked to be barely able to buy her own whiskey. A smooth, tanned face held bright blue eyes and perfect white teeth, and the tight camouflage tank top and cutoff denim shorts left little to the imagination. Petite, young, beautiful in a trashy sort of way... and all alone in the middle of nowhere. Just his type... Pouring all his charm into his voice, he replied, “Yes, ma'am, a ride would be great about now! I've been walking for hours! About how far is it to town?”
“You'd be walking for hours more, honey. Town is nearly an hour here by car. Or truck, as the case may be. Hop right on up here!”
His car was only a quarter of a mile up the road, but he could easily walk back before the sun came all the way up in a few hours. And he could leave the body in the woods and be gone before anyone even knew there was anyone to look for. Slipping the backpack off and rubbing his sore shoulder, he climbed up into the truck and dropped the bag beside him on the floorboard. “I sure appreciate it, miss.”
Her smile could have lit up a ballroom. “You can call me Sissy. Pretty much everyone does.”
“Well, Sissy, nice to meet you, and thank you for your hospitality. You can call me John.” It was not his name, but that didn't really matter. “This is a really nice truck. Your husband's?”
Her laugh was a little too loud and a little too redneck for his taste. “Oh, no, honey, I'm not married! It was my daddy's. 1975 F-150. He did all the work restoring it himself, back when he was dating my momma.”
So no husband... That would make things easier. “So, your daddy doesn't mind you taking out his truck at two in the morning?”
Her face fell. “Well, I guess it's my truck now. Daddy passed away a couple of months ago. Momma ran off when I was a baby, and took my big brother with her, so there's just me now.”
So no one was looking for her, even better. “I'm very sorry for your loss. I lost my own father a few years back. It was hard.” Running that back through his head, he decided that it sounded believable. Truth was the miserable bastard had dropped dead of a heart attack in the middle of beating him with a belt because he spilled his milk at dinner. All he had felt was relief.
She nodded sympathetically as they rode along through the darkness. “It is hard. But life goes on, even when everyone doesn't, huh?”
“That's true, very true,” he agreed. “I couldn't have said it better myself.”
She drove with one hand while she shook loose a cigarette loose from a pack, then pushed in the lighter in the dash. “You smoke?” she asked, offering him the pack.
He shook his head. “Quit a few years back. You go ahead though.”
The lighter popped, indicating it was hot, and he took it and lit her cigarette for her. It was the kind of psuedo-sweet gesture that he had learned endeared him to girls like her. As expected, her smile widened. “Thank you! Aren't you a gentleman!”
He returned the smile, genuinely amused at how easy some women were to fool. “My momma would still beat me like a rented mule if I wasn't!” The colloquialism flowed naturally enough, having picked it up while traveling in the south, but it still sounded horribly fake to his own ears. Turning the conversation back to her, he said “Tell me about your daddy. Sounds like he was a great guy.”
That seemed to be just the right thing to say, and he could tell she had idolized the man. “He raised me all by himself my whole life. Was a mechanic and fixed everyone's cars in the whole county. He could make an engine purr like a kitten, I tell ya... And would hunt anything you could eat! He always took me with him, because I used to be a tomboy and followed him around like a lost pup. I can't tell you how many deer we took down when I was growing up. I could gut an animal better than any boy around!”
He nodded like he understood, although he inwardly cringed at the thought of eating something you killed and gutted yourself. “There good hunting around here? Thinking about trying my hand at it.”
“Oh, yeah! Deer all over the place, turkeys, squirrels and rabbits. And the next county over has an elk hunt you can put in to draw for. We got pulled six or eight years ago, daddy brought down a huge one! Talk about amazing meat! We only had a ten out of twelve hundred and nine chance, but where I was still a kid I got to help him.”
“Nice!” he said, then put his plan into action. Wrapping his arms around his midsection, he let out a loud groan.
“What's the matter?” She asked. “You're not a vegetarian or something, are you?”
“No,” he muttered. “Just feel kinda sick all of a sudden. Getting nauseated. I might need you to pull over...”
“Oh, ok... Well, did you have chicken for dinner? Chicken is responsible for three out of five cases of food poisoning, you know?”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “I did, at a diner a few towns over. You a nurse or something?”
She shook her head. “No, I just helped out my daddy in his garage. Kept books and stuff for him. I like numbers and statistics and stuff. Can you make it a little farther? I think there's a house up here a little ways.”
“I don't want to bother anyone,” he said.
“I think it's abandoned, like a cabin or something. Has to be better than puking on the side of the road. Anyway, I didn't go to school for it or anything, but I helped him with all the papers and business stuff he needed. I wanted to go to beauty school, but daddy said they wouldn't take me because I'm left-handed and it would all be backwards.”
He had never heard of that before, but he didn't know any left-handed barbers, so he couldn't argue with it. Letting out another groan, he said “I don't think I can make it. Can you pull over?”
She looked at him for a long time, which alarmed him because she was speeding up and looking at him meant that she wasn't looking at the road. The truck bounced and shuddered over the potholes and cracks. He wanted to have some more fun, but it wasn't worth it to die in a car crash! “Really, just pull over! I don't want to vomit in your daddy's truck!”
She nodded and cut the wheel sharply to the right. “It's okay, we're almost there. Just hold on!” The truck bounced off the blacktop onto a dirt tack into the trees. He smiled, thinking that he wouldn't even have to lure her off the road.
The track ended in a wide driveway at a huge log cabin in a clearing, surrounded by outbuildings. There were no lights on, no cars in the driveway, and the truck's headlights were the only light besides the moon. Empty, quiet, secluded. It was perfect! Keeping up the sick acting, he slowly got out of the truck, one arm around his abdomen, and staggered carefully toward the front of the truck. When he heard the driver's side door click open, he grinned. Showtime!
A few steps closer to the porch, he cried out, wrapped both arms around his middle and collapsed forward. Dropping his head so that he could see a little behind him, he saw her carefully and slowly approaching him. Probably wanting to help him, but not willing to get puked on to do so. He squirmed a little, trying to look like he was more in pain than sick. She came a little closer, still hesitant, but took a few more steps.
The rocks in the dirt dug into his knees and shins as he knelt there, adrenaline thrumming through his system. His pulse pounded in his ears and his muscles were tight cables, coiled with potential energy like a snake waiting to strike. She was just a few feet away, close enough to smell, almost close enough to feel... But not close enough. He put one hand on the ground as if to support himself and called out, “Sissy? Can you help me? It hurts really bad, and I can't get to my feet.” As she still hesitated, he said “I promise I won't throw up on you!”
Finally, she approached him from behind, still slowly but with a deliberateness that suggested that she wasn't going to back out this time. The sound of her Dollar Store flip-flops drew closer and he counted the steps until she was in reach. One... two... three... Four! Just as her small hand lightly touched his shoulder, he spun around and grabbed her wrist in a vice-grip.
She let out a cry as she fell forward in front of him, and before she could even react he was on top of her. His knees held her small hips to the ground, and no amount of squirming could move him. He loved this part; the overpowering them as he held her life in his hand. The only odd thing was that she didn't scream. She fought valiantly, but never screamed. As he let her wrist go and moved his hands to her throat, his smile turned feral. Gone was the charming smile he faked to lure in his victims, gone was all veneer of civility. He was a predator, and she was his prey. Soon she would be back with her daddy.
Her hands went to his, pulling and plucking ineffectively at his much larger ones as he put a little pressure on her neck. She drew in a rough breath, as he hadn't completely occluded her airway. He was going to play with her a little, enjoying his power over her. “You know, you really shouldn't pick up hitchhikers, little girl. Especially in the woods, at night.” He pushed down, cutting off her breath as she struggled. She was conserving oxygen by still not screaming. “You never know what you might stumble into. I wasn't even going to kill again in this town, was just going to move on into the night. We passed up my car miles ago. But you were right there, all but begging for it.” He eased up the pressure, letting her have the little bit of air before crushing it closed again. “I would have looked elsewhere for number nine. This is really your fault... A pretty little thing like you, didn't your daddy ever tell you you could pick up a serial killer?” He closed off her throat again, relishing the spasming muscles in her neck, desperate to pull in air. Still confused, he relaxed his grip a little to allow her to answer. “Why aren't you screaming? It's so much better when they scream!”
“No one to hear,” she gasped. “Pointless.”
He thought about that, and let it go. She was right, and she had been strange since he first met her. Toying with her trachea, pressing and releasing, he just didn't want this unexpected gift to be over too quickly. But something nagged at his mind like a bug crawling on skin just out of reach. Attempts to isolate the feeling were fruitless, so he sealed her airway closed for the final time.
Her right hand clawed at his hands ineffectively, drawing a little blood but it barely even registered. His blood pounded in his ears as the moment drew closer. The moment he could watch as her eyes glazed over when she was no longer in residence, when she would cease to be a person and instead just be a pile of inanimate flesh. It was odd that only her right hand was struggling against him, but maybe she just wanted to focus her effort on her stronger hand...
Too late, he remembered. She couldn't be a hair stylist because she was left-handed. The thought barely registered in his mind before an unbearable fire tore through his back, and his entire lower half just went dead. Unable to maintain the pressure on her throat, his hands flailed ineffectively. Arching her back, she easily rolled him to the side, driving the eight-inch hunting knife deeper into his spine.
Mental shock overshadowed the approach of physical shock. Suddenly he was the one who couldn't get his breath. Or move, for that matter. His mind randomly fixated on the fact that he had never seen the huge knife on her, that it must have been in a sheath on the back of her belt. He would have to check for that next time.
But there would never be another time. He couldn't even feel as she pulled the large bone-handled skinning knife out of his back, having to wiggle it a little to release it from the bones of his spine. His blood gleamed on the hooked blade, and a piece of tissue was stuck in the hook. A piece of his intervertebral disc? And did it even matter at this point? His deeper brain had realized he was paralyzed, dying, that the nerve superhighway through his body was completely severed, but his conscious mind had not.
She carefully, gently, laid him on his back with a smile on her face. “Didn't your daddy ever tell you not to hitchhike?” She said conversationally. “You know, I was going to do this anyway. You attacking me just made it more fun. This is where I was going to take you, to daddy's old hunting cabin. All my toys are inside, but out here in the yard works, too.”
He looked at her incredulously, none of this making sense. This wasn't right... He was the predator! She was supposed to be dying on the ground, not kneeling serenely over him cradling the knife like a child, talking to him like they were discussing what to have for dinner. “But... what...?”
Sissy smiled her natural smile, not the sweet little-girl smile he had seen earlier and it was just as chilling as his. “Oh, honey, I've confused you! I'm sorry!” She sat beside him, crossed-legged, and toyed with the knife like most people would play with an ink pen. “I know, it's odd... Female killers make up less than one percent of all serial killers. So nobody ever expects us. But that's nothing... You know what the odds are of two of us being in the same car? That's just astronomical! That would be one for the books. You know, if anyone would ever know about it. But they won't. No one will ever find your body.”
“I-” He began, but this last thoughts were literally cut off as she calmly sliced through his throat with all the emotion of a woman slicing a tomato for a sandwich. The blood pooled in the dirt under and around him, and she carefully cleaned the blood off her knife with his shirt tail. The bones of his spinal cord had nicked the blade a little, but she could work the small defect out when she sharpened it.
Standing up, she walked back to the truck where she placed the knife back in it's sheath in the door. It would have to be cleaned properly and the chip tended to later. Grabbing the keys from the ignition, she trotted off to the shed beside the house to get her daddy's game sled he had used to bring home deer and creatures too heavy to carry. It would be perfect for moving this one around the the refrigerated room in the cellar where they had cut up deer and turkeys, and had been a logical place for her to deal with her kills. No one would question red meat wrapped in a freezer in a hunting cabin. She would clean her kill and prepare the meat, just like her daddy had taught her.
Humming a little tune, she rolled what was left of him onto the flat plastic and began to pull it around to the back door to the cellar and unlocked it. Taking one last look at the body before processing it, she snorted. “Eight kills... Amateur!”