China Doll

A killer by the name of the China Doll has struck the small town of Santa Catalina, New Mexico, but she's not the only mystery in town.

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1. Prologue

Nobody would have looked twice when the doors to the lobby burst open, but there was no one there to look once, much less twice. It was, in their defense, very late at night.

The woman stood in the entryway, pursing her lips. She wasn't surprised at the lack of an audience, in fact, she had expected and planned for it. She strode toward the stairwell confidently, removing a small box from her handbag. She pulled out a few metal objects, inserted them into the keyhole, then turned the knob and walked upstairs, pulling the door shut and locking it behind her.

When she arrived at the correct level, she opened the door to the hallway. Striding toward number 307, she paused, listening to hear if the neighbors were awake, but she had timed it perfectly: none were. Her host wouldn't have guests, either; she knew that for a fact.

Again with her metal tools, she unlocked the door swiftly and silently. Slowly, she pushed the door open the least she could, then squeezed through and shut it again. Her heels wobbled in the thick carpet, but her ankles did not give; she made her way to the bedroom auspiciously. 

The man woke up as the woman bent over her bag, picking up and inspecting tools in the faint lamplight. He tried to speak out, but his lips wouldn't move, and neither would his hands or feet.

At the sound of his struggle, the woman turned around, holding what he immediately recognized as a scalpel. "Don't worry, sir," she soothed as his fingers scratched at the tape binding him to his bed. "I'm sure you know that this won't hurt."

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