A young life is extinguished, and a journey into darkness begins.
|Carrie Mathis had a placid, peaceful expression on her face that was very unsettling to look at in contrast to the wide gash across her throat. Her heart had stopped several hours earlier so blood no longer pumped from the wound in the grotesque, morbid spray like fashion all too familiar to movies, but rather trickled out slowly, pooling around her head and soaking into her beach-blonde hair, turning it crimson.
Her hands and arms bore none of the minor injuries one would expect to see if she had resisted her attacker, neither were there any of the tell-tale markings usually left by duck tape, rope, or any other kind of restraints anywhere on her body. Instead, her arms were folded neatly across her chest as if to protect her modesty. The entire scene gave the observer the impression the high school senior had met her fate without a struggle, and that made Detective Maxon uneasy for many more reasons than just the obvious ones. It was too familiar.
" Has to be Schutter right? Isn't this just like how he killed people?" wondered Officer Martins aloud, clearly hoping for confirmation from Maxon. " Let's not jump to conclusions, we don't know what we have here yet,"
he replied with practiced professionalism as he leaned down into the sand to get a closer look at the body. It was no secret that Ashton's most reviled and hated son, convicted triple murderer and child-killer Mason Schutter had escaped from prison a few weeks earlier through unknown means and a lot of the locals were not shy about expressing concern that he might think it was time for a homecoming.
Maxon had been skeptical of the idea at first, now he wasn't sure what to think. Carrie had been reported missing the night before, which would lead one to the conclusion that her absence wasn't noted by her family until last night, and that they reported it immediately. Yet as Maxon looked at her lifeless form he couldn't help but notice how emaciated she looked as if she hadn't had anything resembling a meal in weeks and wondered to himself if her family had been aware of that.
It would have been very difficult not to notice it. so why was it not included in their statements? The detective ran a few different scenarios that fit what the evidence was showing him through his mind, and they ranged from probable to wildly unlikely.
"How did you end up here Carrie?"
he asked the lifeless girl, half-hoping for an answer of some kind. Carrie, of course, did not answer. She only stared up at the blue morning sky with vacant, glossed over eyes. Maxon hated looking at eyes like that on someone so young. It made him sick no matter how many times he saw it. But at the same time, he couldn't look away, he had to absorb every detail and archive it in his memory, so he could do right by this dead child before him when the time came. and it would come, he knew that in his heart. He would find the person who did this, no matter how long it took. He was confident about that. But he still felt a horrible, twisting feeling swelling in his gut as he tried not to ask himself " Will there be more before the end?"
I was never as good at listening to people's thoughts as Grandfather. No matter how many times he shared the secret with me, I could never quite match his abilities. Where he could quiet his mind and listen to a person's deepest desires, fears, repressed memories and hidden shame, I could only ever make out the thoughts and emotions that bubbled to the surface, and I've always found that emotions are much louder than coherent thoughts. Carrie had been scared before the end. Too scared. Her fear rang in my ears like a foghorn, made it too difficult to hear the thoughts I was looking for that were like whispers in comparison. I had to reach into her mind and calm her down, the way Grandfather had taught me. She resisted at first, they always did. But eventually, her terror evaporated. By the time I opened her neck with that buck knife, she was too lost in the dream I had made for her to feel any pain, and that wasn't a favor that I did for everyone. she had been lucky. I have what I need now, and as I watch these detectives across the street out on the beach, I can only feel my resolve building. I will complete the task Grandfather has laid out before me, and I WILL prove my worth to him. I am a good grandson.
No matter how much he tried, Mason could not remember where he had been for the past five weeks, or even where he was now. It was a highway, that much was clear, but that was about it. He never thought to ask himself how he was aware that five weeks had passed. He felt as if he had just woken up from a coma and his mind was in a daze. As he walked along the pavement towards nowhere in particular, ominous half-remembered images flashed through his mind. A house cloaked in darkness, amused laughter that belonged to no human being, the sound of glass shattering somewhere in the distance, a weeping voice that could have only belonged to a child, a portrait with no face, and most potent of all, an agonizing feeling of hunger, that was what haunted him most. He had been starving in that horrible nightmare and was starving now. Somewhere in the peripheral of his thinking, he knew he must have been a wanted man by now, he still remembered where he had been before the nightmare, but he was still trying to sort what was real from what was not, and he desperately wanted to eat. each step he took felt heavier and heavier. Mason had never been in the habit of praying, but as he strode down the highway in his lethargic state he said "fuck it." and decided to give it a try. God's response was less than overwhelming. The black pavement he walked on seemed to stretch endlessly ahead of him and the afternoon heat was intolerable. He walked for hours until it seemed like exhaustion would take him before he finally heard the unmistakable hum of a car's engine and turned abruptly to see a black Camero coming up the road. The car slowed down and came to a near stop next to Mason as the car's tented passenger side window rolled down to reveal a familiar face that thankfully, did not seem to recognize him.
"Hey man, are you ok? you look fucked up."
It was Wes Martins. Fifteen years had put a thick black beard on his jaw, and he was without a doubt fatter than he was back then. Looking at him now, Mason could swear that the motherfucker must have put on at least 200 pounds but it was Wes, of that he was sure. Mason never forgot somebody who broke his jaw.
He thought to himself as he pondered the possibility that God had a pretty sadistic sense of humor. Wes was the last person Mason wanted a ride from, but his odds of survival without assistance at this point were bleak, to say the least. He opened his mouth to say something, only to fall flat on the pavement. Before he lost consciousness, he swore he could hear that voice from the shadows, laughing at him.