Long Road To Ruin

He kills them all without remorse, but very much with reason.

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10. Bound

She opened her eyes and winced; the dull pain in her head was enough to send her to her knees if she hadn’t already been on them. She tried to move her hands to touch her face and was surprised when she found them bound by thick shackles. She was a cop; she would get out of this. She swallowed nervously, her throat feeling particularly dry.

Justine tried to think, tried to sort her thoughts from the night, to figure out what the fuck was going on, before something else happened. She had come home with Jasper, showered, got changed, put on a pair of slippers and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. Only something was wrong, something was off. She couldn’t remember anything after that. Then she woke up here, in the basement of some dingy warehouse, it looked like, bound from escaping.

She tried to loosen the shackles again, but it was useless, and she was so tired. She tasted something bitter in her throat and coughed. The coughing continued until she wheezed for air. She couldn’t take a breath without it hurting, and she was afraid of what this might mean.

It couldn’t come back. It just couldn’t.

Justine blinked suddenly as she heard the sound of a door unlocking. Would the person who kidnapped her let her choke to death? She didn’t have to argue with herself about that; this person was responsible for the murders of several young girls in this town, and neither herself or Jasper were very close to catching him, or them. Yes. It was them. He had an accomplice, Justine remembered. She tried to focus on how to breathe properly and winced when a harsh light surrounded the room, then darkness fell around her once more.

She heard movement and tensed. Suddenly, there were a pair of hands on her and she stiffened. They were touching her face, her lips, her hair. She heard an intake of breath and her eyes widened. That was impossible. She turned her head from him but he held fast, and she vaguely wondered if he was going to snap her neck. She gasped again, feeling her lungs start to feed into what was happening to her body.

“Asthma,” he grunted to her. He produced something from his pocket and shoved it into her mouth. “Use it,” he ordered. When she didn’t make an attempt to help herself, he grew angry. “I’d rather you didn’t die this way, it’s less…pleasurable. You won’t look at me, I know, because you can’t. If you could see me through the darkness, you would scream.”

“W-why?” she wheezed, her arms coming up as she clenched her fists around his shoulders, trying to shake him. “Why did you do this, William?”

“William?” The voice muttered carelessly. “Ah, you mean Mr. Hastings. He’s dead, killed about an hour ago. He was of no further use to me.” Her head hit his chest and she struggled, but he held her. She felt his lips against her ear, and even they felt familiar as he whispered, “No one can save you now, Justine.”

And then she knew.

* * *

Jasper smirked as he turned around to face the other officer. When he stood and stared back at Dan, he said, “Mr. Hatchet, this is Detective Kevin Skeeter, and he’s here to help with the case.”

Skeet smiled slightly, his green eyes strained from lack of sleep as he sat down at the bar. He ordered a beer and turned to look at Jasper. “Have you found anything new?”

“Nothing,” said Jasper, frowning. He pushed a trembling hand through his thick hair and sighed. “Don’t kidnappers usually leave a note with a ransom?”

“Maybe he wants you to figure out who he is and then he wants you to catch him.”

Jasper closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. None of this made sense and it was pissing him off. He suddenly felt a pang on guilt as he said, “She’s going to die because I’m sitting here drinking a beer. I should be out looking for her.”

“But you don’t know where to look,” said Skeet.

“I have some ideas of where the local fuckjobs took people from past cases,” Jasper explained. “Maybe this guy took her to one of those places.”

“That’s a lot of ground to cover,” Skeet muttered as he finished his beer. “I think we should get started. We might not have a lot of time.”

Jasper stared at him, his blue eyes hard. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

* * *

When Jasper got back into his car, there was something white sitting on his dashboard. He picked it up and stared at it before opening it. The handwriting was unfamiliar, but the message was clear. He wasted no time in hitting the gas and shooting away from the bar, and Skeet. He could barely see the lights in front of him as he reached ninety on the speedometer. He had no idea where he was headed until his cell phone rang.

“Hello?” he muttered, trying to keep his voice steady.

There was a sharp intake of breath and a sob.

“Justine! Where are you?”

“I can’t,” she mumbled weakly. “I can’t breathe.”

“Fuck!” he swore as he held the phone from his ear. “Justine, baby, please tell me where you are. Try to stay focused. Do you see anything that could help me?”

“I’m in a basement. He…he let me call you. He wants you to come. He-”

“Justine, don’t let the asthma take a hold of you. You have to tell me where you are.” He was trembling so badly that he had to pull over and calm down. His heart was pounding in his chest and he couldn’t seem to stop it. “Why isn’t he helping you feel better?” Jasper asked.

“He wants…you to catch him…Jasper…” she said slowly. He could hear that she was having more difficulty now than she had been moments ago.

“Do you know who it is?” Jasper asked frantically.

“It’s-”

Silence.

“I’m sorry, Justine can’t come to the phone right now. But feel free to talk to me if you would like.” The voice was cold and brutal. “What would you like to discuss, Detective?”

“Listen you fucking dickhead,” Jasper whispered, “I swear if you hurt her I will find you and personally rip your throat out.”

“That sounds like a threat, Detective,” said the man.

“Oh, that isn’t a threat, it’s a promise. You touch Justine again and I will come and find you.”

“Yes,” he muttered. “Because you’ve done such a marvelous job at that so far.”

Then Jasper heard himself holding a dead line. He tossed his phone across the dashboard. Anger and fear flooded through him as a horn blared on the side of him and he heard a voice.

“What are you doing? Why are you just sitting there?” Skeet shouted as he pulled his car closer. He was staring intently at Jasper, a worried expression crossing his face. His eyes fell on the beat up phone and he pieced it together. “What did he say?”

“She tried to tell me who did this to her, and I have a feeling, and it’s a really horrible one.” Jasper said softly. “Because if I’m right, which I usually am, Justine’s in serious danger.”

Skeet was quiet for a moment before he asked, “Where is she?”

“I have an idea,” said Jasper. “But we have to get there fast because she’s dying.”

“He’s killing her.”

Jasper stared over at the other officer, frowning. “If she doesn’t calm down, her fear is going to kill her. She has asthma, Skeet.” He stared out the windshield now. He didn’t wait for a reply as he stepped on the gas again and shot away from the curb, and down the street. He saw the other car behind him as he drove and he started to relax.

He turned his car down a road east of the town and kept going until he reached a large gray building that had several windows and was surrounded mostly by piers. He went right by and parked a block away, where he got out and looked around. The air smelled of sea water and it disgusted him.

“Why did you park here?” Skeet asked as soon as he got out of his vehicle. He shut the door quietly and came to Jasper’s side. “He might not be watching for us, he might be with her.”

Jasper’s eyes were cold as he turned his head. “He isn’t very smart, because if he was he would have done some research on Justine before taking her. That’s what some, if not all, kidnappers do. He would have realized that she is allergic to salt water, sea water as we know it, and being here is making things worse for her.”

“Why would he bring her here then?” Skeet wondered as the air, aside from smelling of fish, was growing colder by the second. He stared out at the water, and then looked up into the sky, where the clouds became dark. “If he didn’t know she was asthmatic and she dies, wouldn’t he feel cheated?”

“He may,” said Jasper carefully. He had taken his gun out and walked passed Skeet to get a better look at the building. “But he may also want us to catch him because he feels bad about what he’s done.”

“What do we do if we get in there and she’s-”

“Don’t you dare,” Jasper hissed, turning around. He would have gladly shoved the butt of his gun into Skeet’s face for that, but he needed his help.

“I’m sorry,” muttered Skeet. “I’m just trying to look at all the possibilities.”

Jasper said nothing as he started toward the building. It took him only a few minutes to get there and only seconds to open the door. He slipped inside, Skeet trailing behind him, and as the door closed he glanced around; ahead of them was a long hallway with no windows and few doors.

“Where do you think she is?” Skeet asked.

“A basement,” he said.

“How can you be so sure?”

Jasper stopped and looked at him but said nothing as he walked to the closest door and pushed it open. He cautiously stepped down the stairs and was rewarded with a large room that looked very much like a warehouse. He sighed. This was going to be harder than he thought. When they were halfway into the room a voice broke the silence.

“Good evening, gentlemen. Have you come to enjoy the show?”

Jasper’s eyes widened as the light fell on the person who spoke. He came out of nowhere, his brown eyes hard, and his lips thin.

Samuel Hale stood several feet from them and he was holding Justine’s blood-covered badge in his hand.

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