Halloween is a mere few days away. Here’s an excerpt from ‘Your Last Breath’ to put you in a scary mood.
Note – American serial-killer, Raymond Lang , has fled to England to avoid capture. The mix of British English and American English words and phrases in the following excerpt illustrate this.
The muted tone of the hall telephone ringing behind her closed, home-office door interrupts Annabelle and reminds her she’ll have to buy another set of telephones soon. The one in the hall is the only one in her present set still working. Rising from her desk and moving to the hall, Annabelle picks up the phone.
There’s no response, just silence. Annabelle lets out a deep sigh of frustration. She wishes these irritating sales people would leave her alone. They’re always interrupting her when she’s busy with something.
She knows it’s one of them again because there’s always a prolonged silence before their automated message starts. Does she want double glazing? Will she answer a survey? These are only two of the many unwelcome sales calls she receives on a daily basis. These days they don’t get a chance to play their recorded sales pitch. She just hangs up as soon as she recognizes the silent period. She does that now, replacing the handset with her prolonged sigh.
Since the telephone has already disturbed her, Annabelle makes her way to the kitchen for a mid-morning drink and then spends the next couple of hours doing a few chores. She decides to prepare a casserole and pop it in the oven to slow cook. Now she can work a bit later and still enjoy a good meal when she’s finished. Living on her own, she can please herself about the hour she eats.
I let her ‘hello’ sink into my brain but I don’t respond. She sounds as beautiful as her profile picture. She doesn’t stay on the line long before she hangs up. The excitement of a new quarry stimulates my thoughts and the words for my book tease me, they just won’t flow forth on their own. I need this, I need Annabelle!
I don’t know anything about her apart from what I’ve read on the internet, and it bothers me a little, but the need to finish this book drives me from my chair. Grabbing my car keys I hurry to the car and unlock the trunk. Moving things aside, I pull a red, steel toolbox towards me, open the lid, and rummage around inside until I find what I’m looking for, a knife—no, THE knife. The same one which gutted Amy and made Laura bleed. I run my finger along its blade, admiring its sharp edge and deadly point. If fate will allow, in a few hours it will be stained with Annabelle’s blood.
I toss the knife onto the passenger seat and climb in behind the wheel. It only takes me about twenty minutes to find Annabelle’s house at the end of a quiet, narrow lane. Some way in I see a leaving delivery truck and he pulls into a passing place to let me through. A little way on I see a second place to pull off not far from her house, so I park there and walk the rest of the way. Apart from seeing the delivery guy, it looks an isolated, quiet area to live.
The single vehicle lane, devoid of any other buildings along its length, opens up at the top to reveal just two isolated dwellings. Annabelle’s cottage, similar to the other, is a cute little place with a modest and well-manicured yard containing a few small flower beds out front. Approaching carefully, I sneak to the back and find the back area is much larger than the front. Although it’s officially still winter and only a few daffodils are in bloom, its tidiness shows many hours of loving care and dedication from someone.
I peek in one of the side windows of the cottage and see her. Annabelle! She’s leaving a bedroom carrying a basket of laundry. I continue around the house and find her again, now in the laundry room filling the washer with the contents of the basket.
Annabelle is dressed in a pair of blue denim jeans and a pink cardigan over a snug fitting white top. She’s in her early forties but looks like she’s taken care of herself. She’s very appealing to the eye. She’s even more attractive in person than in her pictures. As she finishes her task and turns to admire her garden through the window I was watching her from, I have to quickly duck out of sight.
Annabelle and I continue this game of cat and mouse for a few hours as she goes about her chores, never suspecting I’m only a few feet away from her some of the time. I watch her put together some kind of dish, a casserole of some sort, then put it in the oven to cook. I watch her wash dishes, sort through her mail, and sweep a few floors. She dries and folds her laundry before taking it to the bedroom.
When she finally settles back at her computer, I decide it’s time to take action. She seems mild and meek, so I should be able to control her if things don’t go as planned. I still need to pull this off quickly and smoothly.
I see a shovel leaning against a wheelbarrow that’s been left beside a freshly dug flower bed. A plan comes to mind, so I grab the shovel and approach the back door. Through the glass panes in the door I can plainly see into the empty kitchen. I place my knife in my waist band and dial her number once more.
Annabelle had just settled back at the computer when the ringing of the phone disturbs her a second time. The sooner she buys another set of telephones the better, and then she won’t have to keep traipsing out of her study to answer it.
“Hello?” She hears that annoying automated silence again and curses the wretched sales people.
Again Lang remains silent. While she’s still in the hall, he grabs the shovel and swings it hard at the door, shattering the glass which cascades noisily onto the kitchen floor. Without delay he tosses the shovel into the grass. Immediately drawing his knife with one hand while reaching through the door with his other hand, he unlocks the door. Turning quickly, he flattens his back against the outside wall. Hidden from Annabelle in this manner he waits, listening intently…
Annabelle hears the loud, shattering crash from the kitchen and freezes.
Hell! That sounds like a window breaking….
Her unease turns to curiosity. Inquisitively, she takes a few strides swiftly down the hall before fear takes hold of her again and she stops. Standing just inside her kitchen, she hesitates uncertainly….
Lang hears her footsteps lightly tapping down the hall and entering the kitchen, but it’s silent after that. He grips his knife tighter and tries to control his breathing and heart rate. He wants her to come near the door—or better yet, open the door herself before he strikes. He doesn’t hear anything more for what seems like several minutes.
Why is she so quiet? Did she flee to the front door? She couldn’t have, I would have heard her leave the room like I heard her enter it. No, she’s just being cautious. Be patient, she will open the door….
Quietening her breath, Annabelle nervously enters further into her kitchen and sees the smashed back-door window pane.
Oh no! Thousands of glittering pieces like sparkles in sand lay randomly scattered on the floor where they’ve landed. She panics, terrified. Her heart jumps in her chest almost reaching her throat. Glued to the spot, she’s acutely aware of her awakened nerve endings primed for flight. Is anyone there?
Holding her breath, she listens…. There’s no sound now, just the faint ticking of the wall clock. Fearfully, she looks around…. The back door, thankfully, is still closed. Looking through the broken pane to the garden beyond, she can’t see anyone. Everything outside looks quiet—seems normal, yet, someone or something has broken the glass. Carefully, trying to avoid stepping on the shimmering fragments but failing, she slowly inches closer to the door…. Is it still locked?
The faint sound of glass being ground into the hard floor disrupts Lang’s thoughts. She is there after all.
His adrenaline starts pumping faster. His pounding heart makes it difficult to hear what’s happening inside the house. He knows she’s close now; he can smell her perfume wafting through the broken window. Come on, open the door!
He can feel his impatience building. He can’t wait! He grips his knife tightly and reaches for the doorknob. She’s right there, I can feel her!
Frantically checking behind her while drawing ever nearer to the back door, Annabelle feels rather than sees, the smashed door crash violently inward with the propelling force of the intruder.
As he bursts into her house in one super-quick motion, he sees she’s only a few feet from him now. Sheer terror fills her face as he swiftly crosses the final few feet. She opens her mouth to scream, but his knife penetrates her flesh as he buries it deep in her stomach.
She inhales loudly as the pain takes her breath away. Her blue eyes dart around the room before settling on his face. Through the tortured, pained expression on her face he thinks he senses a hint of recognition in her eyes. Does she recognize me from my blog picture? Who the hell cares?
Emboldened by the agony on her face he shoves her backwards across the kitchen until she comes up against the counter. He withdraws his knife then plunges it back into her body. He feels the tip hitting something hard. She’s small—her spine possibly, or it could be the counter top behind her. Her warm blood flows slowly over his gloved hand as he draws near her to breathe her in. The smell of her perfume, her blood, and the sweet smell of her terror excites him.
He withdraws the knife once again before driving it deep into her petite frame. Her gasp is silent this time. She starts to sink as her life ebbs, so he drives his knee between her legs to hold her up and feels her blood soaking into his jeans.
Gripping her hair he lifts her head and looks her in the eyes for several moments. The life is leaving them so he twists the blade to get a response. They shoot skyward then back to him—sadness and pain look back at him—and he delights in it.
Slowly, he removes the blade from her body and holds it up between them so both of them can savor it. Her dark red blood trickles down the blade, running over the hilt and onto his gloved hand. Her breathing is slow and shallow as he places the bloody knife to her throat.
Annabelle’s strength is gone, her struggles futile. She watches him as he cruelly holds the dripping, bloody knife up for her inspection, sees him devouring her terror before he menacingly moves it to her throat. Her last fading vision is of his manic eyes oddly searching hers and his look of sheer ecstasy as she feels her life drifting away….
She’s barely conscious. Finally, I press the blade into her soft, pink flesh. I smile to her as I plunge it deep drawing it across her throat and opening her neck. What little of her precious lifeblood she has left spills to the floor. She lets out a gurgling gasp as her eyes flutter shut, and her head goes limp in my hand. I kiss her lips. Breathing in and relishing her final breath, I withdraw my knee allowing her to sag lifelessly into the pool of her own blood on the tile floor beneath her.
Leaning over her body, I place my hands on the counter in front of me and inhale the delicious aroma of her blood and the stench of death I’m becoming so used to now. With my cravings now satisfied, I push back from the counter and feel something sticking to my hand. It’s an open address book and one of the entries, on the page I’m staring at, intrigues me.
Under the name Alex Renshaw, dear brother-in-law, his business card is pasted down. That’s when I realize she has a private detective in her family. Alarmed at this revelation, I take one last look at the gruesome scene I’m leaving behind, then head for my car.
In less than thirty minutes, I’m in front of my laptop typing furiously away at my story. Annabelle’s dried blood flakes from my fingers as they speedily fly over the keyboard tapping out the keys.
It must have got there when I took my blood covered gloves and outer garments off outside her house.
I feel a bead of sweat trickle from my hairline. As it mixes with the dried blood on my face, I wipe it away with the back of my hand smearing blood across my forehead and the back of my hand. I know I’m a mess, but I need to make full use of this clarity I’m feeling right now. There’s no time for a shower, no time to remove the evidence of what I’ve done. Only writing matters to me now.
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