Authors: Rayven T. Hill
Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense
JEREMY didn’t like Grandmother. Not at all. It seemed to him she was nothing but a mean old witch.
Mother had to go away. She said there was a meeting of the parole board in Kingston, and would be gone all day.
She’d left early in the morning, and Grandmother came over to watch him, while she was away.
“Now you be a good boy, Jeremy, and do what Grandmother tells you,” she’d warned him before she left.
“Yes, Mother,” he’d replied.
And now she was gone, and he was stuck here with the witch.
He watched her now, sitting in Father’s chair, knitting. She was a shrunken old woman. Her hair was too thin and her lips were way too tight. And the way she squinted through her glasses when she looked at him, made him think about an old prune.
“Jeremy, why don’t you go outside and get out of my hair?” she snarled at him.
What hair, Jeremy thought. But he decided it was better to be outside, where he could forget about that old hag for a while.
On his way out, he passed through the kitchen. He’d had a much too small breakfast that morning and his stomach was grumbling. He looked over to the counter beside the fridge.
I’ll have a couple of cookies.
He lifted the lid off the jar carefully, reached in, grabbed two fat chocolate chip cookies, and slipped them in his pocket.
“You little devil!” Grandmother screamed.
He spun around. She was hobbling across the floor, a determined look on her face.
“You little sinner,” she screamed again, as she raised her hand and swung it with all her force. The blow caught him on the side of the head, knocking him on his back.
She stood over him. “You’re nothing but a thief,” she shrieked. “A wicked, wicked thief.”
He cowered back and trembled as she leered at him.
He started to cry.
“Get a tissue and clean yourself up,” she screeched. She stood towering over him, her hands on her hips, a menacing look on her face.
He got slowly to his feet. She cuffed him once more on the back of the head, forcing his head to shoot forward. He stumbled, and then tripped and fell against the stove, head first.
He landed on his back again.
Again she screamed, “Get up, you horrible little creature.” She pointed. “Go up to your room until I decide what to do with you.”
He rose unsteadily. He felt dizzy as he staggered from the kitchen and headed up the steps to his bedroom.
A screech behind him. “I’ll be up later to deal with you.”
He finally made it up the stairs, stumbled and fell through his bedroom door, then lay on his bed and cried.
A few minutes later, he began to tremble in fear when he heard Grandmother’s footsteps on the stairs. He curled up on the bed and watched the door. Waiting.
She was there now. She was carrying one of Father’s belts.
“Get your shirt off now, and take your pants down,” she screamed.
The tears flowed as he did as he was told.
“Now bend over the bed.”
The first blow made him catch his breath. He didn’t think he’d ever felt that much pain in his life.
The blows continued. One after another.
Whack. Pain. Whack. Pain. Whack.
Then, it was over. “Let that be a lesson to you,” she screamed, and then she was gone.
He pulled up his pants. His back was too sore to put his shirt on, so he lay down on his stomach and cried himself to sleep.
He slept and tossed most of the day. Finally, somewhere in the middle of the afternoon he was awakened by the sound of a car, crunching in the driveway. He looked out the window. It’s Mother. He was never so happy to see her.
He put his shirt on and went into the bathroom, washing his face before going downstairs.
Mother was inside now, and she heard him coming. She gave him a hug when he reached the bottom of the steps. He winced in pain at her touch, but then smiled bravely, and looked up at her.
“Welcome home, Mother.”
She smiled at him. “I hope you were a good boy,” she said.
He nodded up at her, and stepped outside. Away from Grandmother.
She came out a few minutes later with Grandmother. He watched as they got in the car. She was taking her home. She’ll be back in five minutes.
And she was.
When she returned, she called Jeremy into the house. “Grandmother told me what you did,” she said sternly.
He looked at her. She looked kind, but a little angry maybe.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I was hungry.”
“Next time just ask first,” she said gently.
“Yes Mother,” he said meekly. He looked at his feet.
“Grandmother said she had to punish you. She was right, and I hope you learned a lesson here.”
“Yes Mother, I sure did.”
Sunday, August 14th, 3:00 PM
THE RECENT murders in Richmond Hill were suddenly big news.
It seemed like all of the national television and news media were here, nudging each other for precious space, packed like sardines, swarming about, just waiting.
Behind them, news vans lined the street in both directions. Many blocked passing vehicles, and officers were milling about, directing traffic, and threatening to tow away the parking offenders. Rubberneckers were further hampering the flow of cars, and many of the curious had pulled over to see what was happening.
Lisa Krunk had a prominent place in the front line. She’d been waiting all day. As soon as she’d heard about the scheduled news conference, she rushed over, dragging Don with her.
A small podium had been set up at the bottom of the precinct steps.
Like a sudden swarm of avid wasps, the cameras zoomed and whirled in unison as Hank stepped from the precinct doors and headed down the steps.
Amelia was by his side, and she held his arm as they approached the podium.
Jake and Annie stood behind with the Chief of Police. A couple of uniforms stood at either end, glaring at the crowd, as if daring them to cross the invisible line of demarcation.
Lisa stepped in a bit too close, but was quickly sent back a step or two, by a frown and a furious wave, from one of the cops.
Hank stepped to the microphone and cleared his throat. The swarm hushed, and all eyes were front and center.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to thank you all for coming.”
Hank looked down briefly as if consulting his notes.
“My name is Detective Corning and I’m the lead investigator in this case. As this is an ongoing investigation, I’ll need to keep this brief.”
He cleared his throat again.
“As you know, this city has been the victim of three murders in the last two weeks. All three appear to be the work of one perpetrator. Certain items in evidence point to that. I can’t go into it specifically right now, but these malicious acts seem to be the acts of a possible serial killer.”
Hank glanced at the Chief and continued, “The Chief of Police is considering the safety of the people of Richmond Hill to be of primary concern, and everything will be done to ensure that.”
Hank consulted his notes again.
“We’re expecting an arrest at any time, and this barbarous individual will be caught and will face the full extent of our judicial system.
“Now as you probably know, sixteen-year-old Jenny James has been missing for almost two weeks now. It’s known she was last seen with Chad Bronson, the first victim.
“We believe Jenny has not come to any harm at this point, and her mother would like to say a few words to her abductor.”
He glanced at Amelia, who stepped forward.
The crowd seemed to slide in a few inches simultaneously. She had their attention.
“Thank you,” she said quietly, before taking a deep breath, and continuing, “Please, if you have my daughter, or you know where she is, then I’m begging you to contact the police, or just let her go.”
Her voice broke and she stopped a moment, and then continued, “Please, she’s all I have left.”
She dropped her head to hide her tears. Hank placed his arm around her shoulder, and she stepped back.
“Thank you for coming. I have no further comments, and there will be no questions.” He turned away.
There was a sudden roar. The crowd was disappointed. Their questions had been cued up and waiting, and they all spoke at once.
Hank disregarded them. Amelia took his arm and they headed up the steps. Jake and Annie followed them into the building.
The crowd of reporters slowly dispersed, packed up their equipment, and the once humming street soon became just another street.
Sunday, August 14th, 5:00 PM
JENNY was lying on her back, staring at the metal roof of the barn, far above her head, when the door creaked open and Jeremy stepped in.
She turned her head and watched him as he drew closer. He sat on the floor a few feet away, and leaned back with his arms supporting himself. He just stared.
She turned her head back and studied the roof again.
“I just came from town,” he said.
She ignored him.
“I called your mother,” he said.
She sat up suddenly and looked at him, waiting for him to continue.
“I told her you’re ok.”
Her eyes grew larger. She didn’t know what to say.
He spoke again. “I told her not to worry about you. You’re in safe hands.”
“Is . . . is she all right?”
“I guess so. I hung up right away. I know they can trace calls, so I had to hang up. I called from a phone booth, you see. And I wore gloves, too. Have to be careful, you know.”
Jenny dropped onto her back again and closed her eyes. She’d been hoping he would eventually let her go. Ever since that day he’d beat her, he’d been fairly civil to her.
She turned her head and looked back at him. “If you aren’t going to hurt me, then why can’t you just let me go?”
“You know why,” he scolded.
“Can’t do it.”
He was quiet for a while, and then said in a teasing voice, “I have a surprise for you.”
She was silent.
“Don’t you want to know what it is?”
“I’ve fixed up your room for you.”
She stared at him. She thought about her room at home. Her nice frilly curtains. Pretty wallpaper. Stuffed teddy bears everywhere. Her soft pillow, the moon through her window at night, and her warm cuddly bed. She began to cry quietly.
He watched her for a while, and then stood and pulled a ring of keys from his pocket. He selected one, approached her, and unlocked the collar from around her neck. He let it fall to the floor.
She rubbed her neck with her hand. It felt good to finally be free of that awful leather dog collar. She considered running as fast as she could. Maybe make it through the door, and then she was sure she could outrun him. She glanced at the door, but he seemed to sense her thoughts, and grabbed her arm to block her escape.
His hold was gentle, but firm, as he tugged at her arm. “Come on,” he said.
As he kept his grip on her wrist, she followed him obediently across the rough straw-covered floor to the doorway. He urged her gently outside.
She blinked and squinted, and then covered her eyes with her free hand as the bright sunlight hit her. He paused a moment, as if allowing her to become accustomed to the glare.
In a moment, she was fine. She dropped her hand and looked around her. She hadn’t been outside for a long time, and missed the fresh air. She took a deep breath.
She walked slowly as he tugged at her arm, leading her down the gravel driveway, from the barn, heading toward the house.
She kept one eye on the ground around her, hoping to see a weapon, any weapon she might be able to use, a rock, or a stick, anything. She saw nothing.
He led her up the steps of the house and inside. Pushing her ahead of him now, he kept the hold on her arm and they silently climbed the stairs and went into the bedroom.
It was almost a welcome sight. Certainly better than being chained up in the barn, but it also meant he seemed determined to never let her go.
The wall where she’d escaped had been repaired. The bed was put back together, and the room was clean and organized. A bouquet of flowers had been placed on the stand beside the bed. There was a CD player on the stand as well, with a stack of CDs beside it.
Her small measure of joy turned to despair when she saw the chain fastened to the ring on the floor.
He dropped her arm and gave her a little push. “Go and sit on the bed,” he ordered.
She sat obediently on the edge of the bed, without saying a word.
He kept one eye on her as he picked up the short piece of chain. There was a padlock hanging from it. He bent down and wrapped the chain around her ankle, and then hooked the lock through the links and snapped it shut. He tested it to make sure it couldn’t slip from her foot. He seemed satisfied.
He picked up the longer chain. It was fastened to the ring at one end, and he secured the free end to the chain on her ankle with a second lock.
He stood and dropped the keys into his pocket and stood back.
“Stand up,” he said.
“Now, walk around, and make sure you have enough room to move.”
She walked toward the window. She could just barely reach it, but she could at least see outside. She moved to the other side of the room, toward the door. Same thing, with plenty of room to move about her prison.
“I’m sorry I still have to keep a chain on you,” he said softly, “but I can’t let you try to escape again.”
She looked at him and nodded slightly, and then sat back on the bed and dropped her head.
“I’ll be back up soon with your dinner,” he said, as he left the room and closed the door behind him.
She heard the rattle of the bolt as he locked it securely.
She was no longer as afraid of her captor as she’d once been, but still, she wanted to go home, and away from this awful place.