Traces Of Red

The mind contains many horrors, Paranormal Investigator Ezekiel King has seen many of them.

In his search for clarity and purpose, he has stumbled into something far more foul than he could imagine. As this evil coils within the city streets, King most travel through the shifting prisms of terror it leaves in its wake if he is to understand avert a looming catastrophe.

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2. Chapter 1

Anyone can cause death given the right circumstance or motivation. Wildlife do it to survive or protect their infants, Man does it out of complex emotional reactions, some justifiable, some open to debate, others despicable.

So it is nothing for Man to cause death. But it takes an exceptional type of man to cause six ritual deaths in less than twenty-four hours. And he was, without a doubt, one such man.

Each death had been carefully planned out - there was no way he could have done it randomly- he knew their daily routine. Each death methodical, there was no rage or excitement - he did it like performing a simple household chore. The first, Sarah Mills, was bludgeoned to death, the second Michelle Abnett , strangled and stabbed. The third and fourth Sonali Kanani and her daughter Pooja were drowned in their tub. The fifth Anatalia Podovski , a habitual drinker, was poisoned.

We had just arrived at the sixth.

The scene was the same as the others - the body was at the centre of the room, naked. Hands were folded over the stomach, the eyes, nose and tongue removed. The limbs had been severed, sawed off from the knee. The blood had been expertly drained and used to make three concentric circles around the body. Each circle contained seven archaic symbols. The four walls had not been excluded; each had the seven blood drawn symbols.

She entered the room cautiously behind me. It was clear the rank, metallic smell of blood choking the air made her uneasy. I sat down outside the last circle, the blood still gleamed in the room light. It had not yet fully congealed. Good. I could begin my ritual.

Exhausted, I made myself comfortable, settling and adjusting mentally. Whimsically I scratched the guava-sized scar at the back of my head, shut my eyes and concentrated, my mind slowly struck a balance. I see nothing, but feel everything, everything that made up this room, from the minute dust to the stale stink of blood. Blood. I reached out for the blood...but stopped.

‘You don’t need to do that.’ I said. She still kept the pistol trained at the back of my head. ‘Just do what you have to do.’ ‘Trust me, you don’t need to.’ I repeated.

Her aim still on me I found my focal point again, I tasted frustration, fear and her resentment for having to resort to the likes of me. I blot it out, calmly erasing her presence and reached out for the blood again. It was sticky to touch. I dragged my index and middle finger through it then put them in my mouth.

Images washed over me in torrents and I struggled to keep my mind afloat. There was too much data, too much detail, so as usual I waited for everything to settle. When they did I picked through images, from one to another, selecting what I needed and disregarding the rest, as if getting first pick in an exclusive art gallery. The last portraits are usually what I need, but the others gave me a better understanding, a story.

I…

I am a single mum called Rachel Horsley, a beautiful but constantly tired croupier. The double shift at Reeds Casino is taking a toll on me. But I need it to keep my daughter Suzie in university. She is back for the weekend, I checked on her, she is fast asleep in her room. Pot roast is in the microwave, I’m starving but I fall asleep the moment I sit down. I am dreaming of the vacation I had before I gave birth. It was to Milan, I had my most memorable moments there. I will not experience such again. I wake, I cannot breath, a man stands over me in a ski mask, he is strangling me. I try to scream, nothing comes out so I fight, clawing at him with every ounce of power. I fight, and fight, and fight. But my vision starts to fade, my arms are too heavy to keep up, I begin to drift. I Hear Suzie scream out something, and that was the last thing I heard.

 

I...

I AM A Paranormal Investigator called Ezekiel King.

My declaration brought me back into focus. I struggled to my feet, the usual feeling of filth and contamination overwhelmed me, gagging I spat out what I could of Rachel’s blood into a hanky. I am told by Molly that for the thirty years I have been on this earth I’ve had the reputation of being cold and heartless. She said some have referred to me as cruel or damn right beastly. I am not, my ability has given me deep insight into the madness and grotesque faculty called the Human Mind. To feel pain, fear or grief will draw me closer, into that madness. That I cannot afford. So I distance myself from the morbid visage, I treat every victim I encountered as a subject.

‘Subject is Rachel Horsley.’ I said scrutinising the meticulous way furniture had been moved about to make space for the ritual. ‘Was there any other body?’

‘Rooms are clear like the others, why?’ Leila Gallows asked. She had swept the other two rooms when we came in, so now she had a puzzled look on her face, her pistol was lowered. At five feet something she was one hard-working tough cop. But things have not been going her way for some time now. Her attitude had gotten her transferred to head EIU, the “Extraordinary Investigation Unit”. The Unit looked into cold cases, UFO sighting, zombie killings, vampire congregations. You name it they checked it, anything out of the ordinary concerned citizen’s imagination, which of course did not fit the realm of reality. They paid their taxes right? Someone had to look into their reports and reassure them everything was normal. By her bosses banishing her to professional career wasteland, a blow had been dealt to her pride and sense of self-worth. This made her all the more a bitter person.

When I came with information concerning a cold case, ritual killings that have occurred every decade for the past two decades, she pegged me as the killer. I stumbled unto how to track the killer while going through a manuscript in my vast library – Yes my library, we’ll get to that later – It predated anything I’d ever known. I fully don’t understand it but it showed that the killings were at locations denoted by satanic lunar alignments for the demon Galtoga. The alignment occurred once every ten years. That was that night. And after seeing me perform my ritual at every site, she had good reason to peg me as the killer.

‘She had a daughter.’ I said and Leila nodded in recognition of this new information and moved in for another sweep. I follow close behind.

She pushed open the first door which was the bathroom instructed me to look for anything out of the ordinary and moved on to the next room. The bathroom was typical but badly tiled with a faint sweet smelling fragrance. The normal female paraphernalia littered the place – but it was neat compared to mine even on a good day- I could hear Leila on her cell, calling it in and asking aggressively for more hands, her unit was already spread across the last five sites, and it was usually the last to get anything in the form of support. Soon this place would be frenetic like the others, several cars with flashing blue lights, the ambulance at the corner, the signature yellow and black tap keeping the inquisitive public and members of the press at bay. But we’ll be gone by then, there was still one more site and one last kill and I was determined to stop it.

I did a three sixty, taking in the place for the last time when I accidentally caught it. It was at the side of the sink, no more than the size of a pin, traces of red. I took the speck of blood on a clean finger, sat on the toilet bowl, shut my eyes and licked it.

Images cut through me like razors.

I...

I saw Sylvia Maples at the department store, Sonia Caruthers, an eighteen year old, a drifter. I took them and twenty-five others and gave thanks. I do not kill for pleasure or to appease some mental delusion. I did not have a troubled childhood, I actually had quite a pleasant one. I am not a deviant killer. A psycho.

I do not kill but offer sacrifices, benediction to my god. Seven sacrifices for the seven symbols that denote his existence. Each sacrifice has to be rendered and laid out identically or all offerings are void. See, it is not the work of a psychopath. It is religious, it is worship.

 

I...

I fight the obscenity mirrored in my mind striving drunkenly to reach the other room. I already knew what had transpired. Leila stood, gripped from behind, with a combat knife to her neck, her pistol in a corner and Cornelius Brooks with the advantage.

He was a big well-built man. The ski mask was off, he looked tough but well into his sixties, sporting a skin-cut and a well-chiselled goatee.

‘Get any closer and she gets it.’ He warned. ‘I couldn’t care less, Mr. Brooks’ I replied watching Leila squirm and sting me with her eyes. ‘She is already known. What I do care about are your other victims, the ones authorities know nothing about.’ I took a step closer. He took one back, dragging Leila along. ‘I have a couple the rest are all fragments. Patricia Downing, a prostitute, she gave you a private showing before you did your thing.’ Another step forward, another step back. ‘Elisha Masterson, mother of three, you claimed to be the buildings plumber routinely doing maintenance.’ ‘What the fuck are you!’ he barked, clearly agitated by my words. ‘Just tell me the rest, give these girls and their families some closure.’

Sirens, bellowed in the distance, this stand-off was soon coming to an end, and he knew it too. He dug the blade deeper into Leila’s neck drawing blood, coercing me to back off to a corner, away from the pistol and the door. Like the horns of disaster more sirens howled into the night and he snatched a brief glance at the window.

‘You won’t get far. It does not have to end violently’ I added trying to make him see some reason

. He pushed Leila to me driving the blade deep across her arm. I am immediately showered with warm blood, catching her desperately and at the same time trying to clasp the cut. She took hold of my arm looked me straight in the eyes, fear, agony and tears engulfed hers. Her blood kept drenching the both of us.

‘Don’t let him get away!’

I grabbed the pistol, took one last glance at her trying to stop the bleeding and raced out of the apartment in all my fury. I heard screams and used them as a beacon. He was halfway down the stairs when I began my pursuit. I ran as fast as I could down the stairs and out the entrance swing doors. I could see him down the block and picked up the pace. It was well past dusk the heat-wave of the afternoon still wrapped the night like a shroud. The sidewalk quickly became a cacophony of screams and shouts as Brooks pushed his way through people out for the nightlife. Drenched and sprinkling blood, I didn’t help matters, scaring people the more in his wake.

We took a left down the next block bursting into an alley. All I could hear by then was my pounding heart and our feet as they hit the ground. He was fast for an old man. He tossed bins over in feeble attempts to slow me. I skipped and hopped them in stride, he knew I was catching up, slowly but surely. Seconds seem like minutes but I could see illumination in the horizon, we were heading out into the open. I was going to end this before then. I levelled the pistol on him, I couldn’t care less if it wounded him or took his head off.

I pulled the trigger as my feet came up from under me. I never knew what I slipped on, I remember the shot ricochet off the wall, and I came crashing down pathetically like the heap of trash I’d been avoiding, skidding miserably on the tarmac. I instantly got on my hands and knees, they throbbed with pain. Brooks kept his pace turning to wave to me as he thundered out of the alley.

Brooks head snapped sideways as his body bent over. The concussion travelled down his hefty body and contorted it violently, as his legs went into the air his head deformed. Brooks’s body flipped twice as it went over the speeding car and clattered to the ground. An amalgam of screams and screeching tyres followed. I got to my feet limping quickly to see the carnage. The driver had just made it to the rear of his totalled vehicle hands on his head panicking. Other drivers were flagging cars behind them to slow down as some onlookers dialled for help. I made my way to the twisted horrible mess called Cornelius Brooks. Blood spurted and trickled through crevices around him, his body trying to comprehend, convulsed sporadically.

Despite the pool of blood he was creating I made it to him and crouched, he pulled a grotesque sneer on what was left of his face and said. ‘Y...You will never know them.’

In reply I made myself comfortable, my mind struck a balance, and I buried my mouth in an aquifer of blood gushing from his neck. I felt people scream and back away sharply in disgust.

I blotted it out....and drank, and drank, and drank.

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