I slithered through the city streets in my old Mercedes-Benz keeping one eye on the road while the other glanced here and there, searching the criss-crossing pathways for my next target. The next one will be my tenth, double figures, my dad would be proud… I think. Rolling down main street I could see there were slim pickings. The papers had whipped the public up into a fright making everyone partner up into small groups and pairs while they journeyed to and from home and everywhere else in between. Trust them to publish every gruesome detail of my crimes. It made my craving harder to control but I had to, unless I wanted to get caught. The thought did cross my mind. Forever I’ve been on the fringes of humanity, forever I hid behind everyone else while they took the limelight and with the thought of me at last revealing myself to the world and becoming an infamous legend, I have to say, it really peaked my interest. However I wasn’t ready yet, there was more fun to be had. I cruised slowly down the road but not too slowly to raise anyone’s attention. I was careful, more careful than usual and as I rounded a corner on my right I came across two young women, in their twenties and stumbling their way home after a long night of partying. The one on the left had long blonde hair and wore a long flowing white dress while the other on the right was the complete opposite with her dark hair curled into a bun and her short, tight black dress cut above the thigh, in between the knee and hip. I licked my lips. It was unusual for me to target two women at once but hey, desperate times and all that, the blonde was more like my other targets anyway, she looked young and innocent. I was about to call their attention to me when a strapping lad with dark gingery hair a thick bushy eyebrows came running up to them from behind. He was a lot taller than the two girls, possibly as tall as me, and as he made it to them he wrapped a long arm around each of them, they laughed and welcomed him within their group while I swore and sped up slightly, passing them with a pissed off frown as my plan was foiled even before it had begun.
The press weren’t the only people I blamed for the difficulty I was having tonight, it was also Detective Inspector Strawbridge’s fault. Hell, just thinking about him puts a bad taste in my mouth. He’d been the one investigating my murders, making press conference after press conference stating whatever detail about me that comes to mind without any evidence to back them up. He was right most of the time of course but that doesn’t matter, he just guessed well. After they found the body of my fourth victim he goaded me in the announcement to the press corp, saying that I’m a sick wacko that preys on young, vulnerable women and that I’m as thick as pig s**t. He finished off by saying that I’ll make my first mistake soon and he’ll be there waiting to put the cuffs on me, yet its five victims later and he’s got nothing to show for it. That thought made me chuckle, he has no clues and he hasn’t even got close to catching me. Truth be told the announcement got me supremely riled up, so much so that I sent a letter in to the Gazette and Strawbridge himself, a letter that made my feelings towards them very clear and since then I hoped Strawbridge would be mad with rage every day and night, making mistake after mistake as the anger engulfs him while he still fails at each and every turn to catch me. I always keep a copy of the letter in the glove box for a rainy day when I’m feeling down. I reached in and took out the folded piece of paper, unfolded it with the tips of my fingers and set it down on the passenger seat next to me, flattening it out with the palm of my hand and glancing down at it while I drove. The letter read:
‘Greetings, this is the Sandman. My first widely publicized victim was Anna West. She was 21, young and vibrant, and way too trusting. I strangled her with my gloved hands and watched closely as I saw the life drain from her eyes and her lips turn blue. Then I filled up her eye sockets, nose and mouth with sand to keep her from coming back from the dead. She was young and beautiful but now she looked empty in more than one sense of the word. That night before bed I stayed up thinking about my next victim but eventually I fell to sleep like a baby, my last thought being that of the final terrified moments of Anna’s life. My next victim would come two weeks later with the third three weeks after that. I enjoy what I do, it satisfies me too much so I’m never going to stop, not ever and you’re not going to stop me. I’m too careful and smart for you, I can target anyone walking the streets. I see those busy streets every day and do you know what I notice? I notice everyone going about their business, not giving a damn about anyone else and certainly not giving a second thought for the more vulnerable parts of society, the vulnerable parts that I can just easily pick off.
Strawbridge is an idiot. I followed him a few times from his work, watched him go to my crime scenes, watched him go to lunch bitching and moaning about the case, watched him clock off and go straight to a hotel to cheat on his wife and then go back home and eat dinner like nothing’s happened. Does everyone really think this guy will catch me? I don’t think so. So I’m going to continue having a good time, Strawbridge will continue failing and everyone else, well everyone else will just have to stay in my state of fear.
I smiled as I reread it a second and third time. I picture what Strawbridge’s face must have looked like when he first read it. Red with anger and embarrassment I guess. I licked my lips when I thought back to Anna West, she was my first publicized victim but I had murdered a lot earlier than that. Images of my first victim floated through my mind’s eye. I was in high school when I did it and I was so scared and petrified of getting caught, but also a little excited at the thought of not. The person I killed was a bully, she used her unnaturally tall and meaty body to push around smaller kids like me, I hated her with such a passion that one day I lured her away from the school grounds. She usually followed me to beat me up where the teachers couldn’t see, so I used her own strategy against her and wandered down to the stream that encircled the school, pretending that I didn’t know she was following me. When she at last unveiled herself to me I quickly snatched up a stick that was as thick as my fist and clubbed her hard around the head with it. With the force of the swing sending her flat on her side, she sat in the mud, dazed and bleeding. She started whimpering a crying which enraged me further. This girl gave me months and months of torment so the least I could do was to condense my revenge into these few moments of her pain. I stood over her with the branch still gripped tightly in my hand and a wicked smile stretched across my face, and swung again and again and again, my arm getting weaker with each swing but my heart burned with desire for her death. She raised a weak arm to defend herself but that just enraged me further, how dare she try to take this vengeance away from me. I didn’t stop until she was an ugly, grotesque, smudge on the ground, then I shoved her body into the river and let the currents take her away. Easily disposed of.
The teachers noticed she had gone missing and called the police, eventually they would find the body miles away on the banks of the river but by then the body had decayed to such degree it was hard for them to investigate fully. They found out that she had been abused by her father who, lucky for me, took the fall for her murder despite his claims of innocence, while I tip-toed about in the background, watching and noting the police’s constant failings, grinning ear to ear. I can still recall the feeling of my arm shaking after the attack, it seems to shake after each murder now.
My thoughts were interrupted by someone catching my eye as they wandered down the opposite side of the street. The hem of her light blue summer dress billowed in the wind and her long blonde hair rippled with each step she took. She had long, smooth tanned legs and a narrow face with a beauty spot above the left side of her lip. Looking her over I couldn’t help but take note of her long slender neck that I was so excited to get my hands on. She looked like a model, and my next victim. I followed her for a few blocks as I planned my next move, she never noticed me, no one ever does. My hands nervously gripped the steering wheel as my eyes lingered on her, watching every movement she made while waiting for my window of opportunity. It came soon enough as she crossed the road and made a right down some wet stone steps. I parked up and launched myself out the car quickly but casually, with the streets almost empty I couldn’t risk someone catching me on the off chance so every step I took was careful and calculated. I got to the top of the steps just in time to see her hit the bottom and turn left into the park. I practically leapt down the stairs after her making sure to land lightly so as to make as little noise as possible, trying very hard not to spook her and, as I poked my head round the corner, I saw her walking only a few feet ahead. The path she was on took her close to some overgrown bushes that was almost to her height and situated on the left side of the path, perfect place. I straightened myself up and walked out into the open, quickening my pace up to catch up to her, which I did thanks to my long, strong legs. Being the Sandman really takes it out of you sometimes, lucky I grew up strong and fast otherwise this would get really hard, really fast.
Without taking my eyes off her I routed around in my coat pocket and brought out the weapon I normally use for these occasions, a long sock stuffed with a handful of phillips head screws that I stole from work. The hexagonal heads usually embedded themselves in my victim’s skull, making funny shapes and sometimes the sharp spiral of the thread would also make cool patterns. I usually look the girl over, savouring the memory before going to work on her. Once I had the sock secured in my hand, hidden away from view, I quickened my pace and got myself ready to pounce. As I got to within a few feet of her I saw her glance behind herself in my direction, she’d heard me and now she knew I was closing in behind her. Seeing her slight glance I knew my window was closing fast and when she started to speed up I knew she was trying to get away so I had to act right there and then. Pushing myself into a run I caught up to her heels within a few strides. I let one end of the sock full of screws dangle from my hand while the open end was tied around my palm before swinging it in a wide arch striking into the side of her head, she didn’t know what hit her. She fell forward head first to the ground and twitched awkwardly like a fish flopping on the shoreline. I stood over her and watched her squirm and wriggle as her body tried to put up some sort of defence. Flipping her over using my foot, I saw that what used to be a beautiful long face had now become a gross mess. The weight of the screws broke her jaw which hung down at a weird angle, I could see the hexagonal and spiral shapes of the screws in the wound on the side of her head, blood poured over it from the large wound and her eyes rolled back in her head with her eyelids twitching non-stop.
For two long weeks I had been waiting for this feeling of release and tranquility. I slipped back to the car and drove on breathing deeply in and out, letting the murder cleanse my soul. Excitement and adrenalin flowed through my veins and I felt invincible again, no-one could every pull this feeling away from me. I would die before giving it up. I moved through the city looking over the party goers huddling together trying to keep each other safe, little did they know they were being watched by an unstoppable killer who only a few minutes ago took his next victim. I can’t wait to see the headlines when they find her, and I wonder what Strawbridge would come out and say this time. Would he say that he’s doing everything in his power? Would he say more derogatory remarks about me? Who knows, but I know one thing: He was not going to be the one to catch me. I started laughing uncontrollably, I coudn’t help it, this was just too damn easy. I made the decision to drive around the city for the next hour since in this state I know I wouldn’t be able to get to sleep, besides it was fun seeing everyone’s fearful faces.
It was maybe twenty minutes later when I glimpsed something in my rearview mirror, it was a car behind me that straight away made my mouth run dry and heart skip a beat. Thinking fast I changed lanes and sped up slightly. The police car changed lanes with me and kept on my a*s. ‘Ok, no need to be alarmed,’ I told myself ‘I probably have a light out or something’. The police cruiser did what I expected it to a moment later, it turned on its lights and sirens at me indicating for me to pull over. I did what I was told, not giving them any ammunition to arrest me, for all they know I am just any old law abiding citizen so I waited in my car while the police officer took his time getting out his, it was then that I remembered about the pair of eyes and blood soaked sock of nails still in my pockets. Slightly panicked I rushed the objects out of my pockets and threw them into the glove box just in time to see the officer coming up the side of my car. He knocked on the window and pointed down, I obliged.
“Good morning, bit late to be out isn’t it, sir?” he asked innocently
“Yeah well I’m self employed so I need to work at all hours to earn enough money,” I lied
“Really? What do you work as?”
“A carpenter,” I answered a little too quickly “What seems to be the problem officer?”
“Yeah unfortunately this car has been flagged for not having insurance. Can you step out of the car please and follow me to mine?” Alarm bells started to ring in my head, I was a hundred percent sure my insurance was paid up, but there is always that little bit of doubt. A tense moment of silence fell on us both as I thought over my next move, maybe it is just this small problem. So to not cause a big scene I complied and got myself out my car, followed him the few feet to his and sat in the back, looking forward all the time at my car, wishing I was still in the driver’s seat while I waited patiently to get back there.
He explained to me about the penalties for not having insurance, I asked for him to run my plates again, which he thankfully did without argument but after he ran them he said the same results came back, still no insurance. I reluctantly accepted it, there was nothing I could do. He told me that my car would have to be towed away while he escorted me back to police headquarters where they can get everything straightened out. I nodded in silence, hoping all the while that they wouldn’t look inside the glove box while also on the inside I was starting to panic, do they usually take people back to police HQ just for no insurance? I honestly didn’t know, so even though I started to think there might be an ulterior motive for getting me there I resigned myself to silence while the police car made it’s journey back to base. The two officers in the front seemed like typical people. A dark haired, straight talking man and a blonde haired, blue eyed woman that oddly enough looked similar to the victim I had just killed, talked casually throughout our journey. I thought it was odd how they could be so calm while I was out there, I mean for all they knew there was a killer on the streets right now and they were too busy flirting disgustingly with each other.
To make my torture complete, time felt like it slowed down to a crawl and just when I was about to burst out and yell curses at them I saw the sign for the police headquarters just up the road. I breathed a sigh of relief, calming myself down with some major effort as we soon slid ourselves out the car and made our way through the wet early morning drizzle to the reception area where they took their time booking me in with surprisingly thorough details. After which they escorted me down the halls to the waiting room. The room itself was small and dimly lit with a wide wooden table pushed up against the far wall and two dusty office chairs was set on either side. The floor made the place smell foul as if it had endured many years of people puking up or p*****g all over it and there I sat, on the old stained and smelly chairs, impatiently waiting for the next hour to roll by. Funny, as I looked around the room it reminded me not of any waiting room I’ve ever seen but of interview rooms from police dramas on TV. An uneasy thought started to grow in my mind.
I heard voices and footsteps getting closer to my door, it was a voice I recognized but couldn’t quite place at that time, it got clearer and clearer until I could hear it just outside, ‘Who was it?’ I screamed internally. The recognizable voice bugged me beyond belief, however my thoughts were answered only moments later when the door squeaked open and in stepped Inspector Strawbridge holding a thick file hooked under his arm. The dark rings under his eyes and messy, greasy hair told me he probably hadn’t slept in days, his sleeves were rolled up showing his thick, hairy forearms. He practically skipped towards the table, decided to stand at the opposite side away from me and slammed the heavy file down right in front of my eyes making me flinch away. He spread his two beefy hands wide on the table and leaned forward over me to look me straight in the eyes. I could see the hatred and anger he had for me. My heart leaped up into my throat and suddenly the chair I was sitting in felt like it swallowed me up whole. He smiled at me with his yellow teeth gleaming.
“I got you,” is all he said and in that moment, as I stared speechlessly back at him, I knew he had.