Summer, July 2014
“You’re probably wondering why you’re naked and tied to a chair?”
Rachael Terina grinned, because she loved asking that question. She knew that her victim wouldn’t reply to the question, and the reason he wouldn’t reply was because a gag was tied tightly around his mouth. Having awoken, her victim was thrashing around frantically, the chair rocking around like a four-legged tap-dancer, and Rachael stepped back to watch his vain struggle. Both of his ankles were tied to the legs of the sturdy wooden chair, and both of his wrists were tied to the arms of the chair, although Rachael was mildly impressed by the rocking momentum his frantic movements produced. Rachael knew that as soon as his faculties stabilized, he would start settling, because the burning question would be rattling around in his mind, What the fuck? The victims always settled down, or most of them settled down when they realised that their frenetic movements weren’t going to help them. Rachael liked to stand right in front of them, four feet away from them, because when the victim finally understood that struggling was pointless, they would slowly raise their gaze and glare at her. And then she could see it; she could watch the parade of emotions dancing across the victim’s eyes. Confusion was normally the first emotion to dance for her, and as the victim tried to bite or shake the gag free, she could almost hear the burning question being muffled out; What the fuck? Rachael used hospitality tea towels as her gags, because they were larger and thicker than normal household tea towels. She always tied three knots in the tea towels; a double knot in the middle and smaller knots on either side, because once the gag was pulled tight and secured in the victim’s mouth, speech was almost impossible. The gag was an important prop, because Rachael didn’t want her victim’s speaking, screaming or bellowing until she was ready to move the performance forward. Normally after asking the burning question with their eyes, the victims would look at their tied wrists, then they would look down at their tied ankles, and then again, their focus would slowly turn back to her. And more emotions would dance for her; surprise, disbelief, and then hopefully, fear. Rachael loved scaring the shit out of her victims, loved watching their eyes as their mind came out of the drug-induced state of confusion. The burning question would be rattling around in their minds, although as things started becoming clearer, their minds would be nervously thinking, I’m naked, I’m tied to a chair, I’m gagged …
This one, this scumbag, this victim began settling, and slowly his gaze rose and focussed on her, so Rachael leant forward and stared at him as she prepared to use her favourite line again. When her victims awoke, Rachael always used her favourite line as a question, although for the second occasion, seeing as how the gag eliminated the possibility of a reply, she would present the line as an assumptive statement. Enjoying the moment, she said casually, “You’re probably wondering why you’re naked and tied to a chair.”
Motionless now, the man stared at her.
Rachael remembered that a few of her victims had started thrashing around again after she relayed the line for the second time, indeed, one of the victims had thrashed around so frantically, that the chair had toppled over and the victim ended up lying on his right side. Rachael had been pissed about that, because he was a big guy, two-hundred and twenty pounds plus; and if she tried to pull him back to an upright position, she could well place unnecessary strain on her back. She remembered squatting down next to him and huffing, So you’re naked and tied to a chair and you’re lying on your side, but whatever Fat-Boy, I can still kill you! She much preferred her victims to be still and motionless like this creep in front of her was, because effectively, this was a show, a performance, a three-act play that she had put a lot of time and effort into perfecting. Being an assassin, it made sense to disable the victim and then kill them straight away, although the people who hired her normally wanted answers, and Rachael was skilled at extracting information.
In the background, her portable radio was on quietly, the radio tuned to the sports channel.
Rachael walked away from him, and she knew his eyes were following her, so she stopped at a small table then faced him. She leant over the table and chopped, diced and separated the white powder, then neatened it into a single line. Without looking at him, she said blandly, “I only drug people, strip them naked and then tie them to a chair if I believe that the person has done something that they shouldn’t have done.”
Rachael leant over and fed the straw up her left nostril, then she snorted the powder in, lolled her head back, closed her eyes and sighed, allowing herself to be swept up in the first magical moments of the experience. The white powder, the cocaine, gave her a lift, gave her a buzz, and she had become accustomed to buzzing as she sent another asshole on the journey to meet his maker. Strangely, Rachael pondered that if she was a stage actress plying her trade in Community or suburban theatres, she would need to have a snort before she presented herself to the audience, because the buzz that the snort promoted emboldened and invigorated her. Get into character girl, and give the clients what they want …
Feeling like a God, feeling like THE God, she turned to him. “So yeah scumbag, think about what I said. I want you to think about whether you’ve ever done anything really bad, anything evil, like I mean have you ever done anything that would make somebody so angry that they would want to hurt you?”
He was staring at her, and Rachael flicked the white particles off her left nostril, then said, “It’s cocaine; I enjoy a little snort when I’m doing something like this.” She knew that his mind would be spinning, and questions might be popping in the spinning mind; Something like what? The cocaine was swelling and expanding her senses, so she nodded her head and said, “Good shit too.”
Leaning on the table, she looked at him and said, “I feeling good scumbag, and a small part of me wants to take your gag off so that we can chat and get to know each other better, but nahh, maybe not, because I feel obligated to tell you something …” she strolled over and stood in front of him, four feet away from him, give or take a couple of inches; then she said, “I’ve been following you for three weeks, and in my spare time I’ve also done a little research on you, and with everything I uncovered or discovered about you, I just thought, nahh, I don’t like this asshole.”
Rachael noted that the man didn’t flinch, he remained still and rigid.
“So, here we are, you and me, meeting for the first time, and as you’ve probably noticed, this meeting has us in entirely different situations. You’re naked and tied to a chair, so if I was taking a wild guess, I would assume that you would rather not be here; and then there’s me, and I’m walking around freely and snorting cocaine, so the big difference between you and me is that I do want to be here.” The man was still staring at her, so Rachael continued. “Me, the person who is walking around freely has looked into your background, and me, the person standing in front of you has already informed you that I’ve been following you for three weeks, and yeah scumbag, I’m sure that I already mentioned that I don’t like you, so my question to you is, do you know what this about?”
The man remained motionless.
Rachael cocked her head and said calmly, “I asked you a question, and I’m expecting an answer to my question, so to avoid unnecessary violence, I want you to nod your head if you know what this about, or alternatively, shake your head if you don’t know what this about.”
The man shook his head timidly.
“Okay, let me help you,” Rachael began, then she focussed on his eyes as she said grittily, “Ellie Singleton.”
Rachael noted the surprise in his eyes, saw him stiffen, so she asked, “Did you know Ellie Singleton?”
The man seemed frozen for a moment, then he shook his head.
“Hmmm,” Rachael pondered, “I will ask that question again, and before you answer, I need to direct your attention to my back-pack on the table.”
The man gave a cursory glance to the back-pack, then he focussed on her again.
“The items that could produce the unnecessary violence are sitting innocently in my back-pack, so think about that as I ask again; did you know Ellie Singleton?”
The man remained motionless, staring at her.
Rachael nodded, then she said glibly, “Okay, since you didn’t answer me, that means that I might be in for a fun night as we work our way from Point A to Point B.”
Rachael moved to his right side and squatted down next to him, and with her lips right next to his ear, she said quietly, “The police are almost certain that you killed her, but my, you are good at covering your tracks.”
He turned his face to stare at her, and she could see the fear in his eyes, so she said, “No evidence left at the scene, no hair samples found and no semen in the victim,” she ran a hand over his shaved head, then continued, “Shave your head and shave all your bodily hair; yeah, I guess we could say that you’re good at this, which makes me suspect that you might have done this before, or seeing as how you’re freshly shaven now, you may have been planning to do it again.”
Rachael was in total control; a helpless scumbag before her, the cocaine lifting her to a higher plane, although she tensed when she felt it coming. “No, no …”
She stiffened, trying to hold it back, but it bucked and reared, the power of the involuntary physical reaction more powerful than her desire to stop it; and she sneezed. A moment ticked by, a tense moment, and with recent experiences flitting through her mind, Rachael tried to own the moment through sheer strength of will, although her body mechanics were in a war with her strength of will, and she felt it.
Distraught, she sighed and moved out of his line of vision. It was becoming too regular an occurrence to ignore; snorting, sneezing, then pissing her pants. Not that it happened every time she snorted, but the fact that it did happen occasionally was the problem. It wasn’t like she sneezed and then a gallon of urine would flood out; no, it was just a trickle, just a splash of urine, although the end result was wet pants. She did consider that maybe she should see a doctor and get an expert opinion, although she could envisage the doctor advising, ‘Maybe you should give up the snorting.’
Uh, uh, sorry; she was in an intimate relationship with cocaine, and she wasn’t emotionally ready to break up.
The abandoned, run-down timber shack was small, boasting only the main living area, two bedrooms off to the left, and a small kitchen. She moved to the furthermost point of the kitchen, out of his sight, and produced a tissue which she slid inside her leggings, wiping herself then wiping the inside of her pants.
It didn’t matter that this ruthless killer had witnessed her pissing herself, because he was never going to get the opportunity to tell anybody about it; the concern for Rachael was that this might be signalling health problems up ahead. She resisted the temptation to deliver a solid whack to her lower stomach, then she tucked the tissue into her jacket pocket and nodded. An amateur may have left the tissue behind, and when the cops finally stumbled on to this soon-to-be-corpse, they would note, Ohh, look at this; a tissue that may contain DNA!
Rachael was a professional, ensuring that even the most minor details were respected, hence the beanie, her golden blond hair tucked up inside, sleek driving gloves on her hands to discount the possibility of fingerprints. If you’re going to kill some low-life fucker, everything needed to be planned and detailed, every possible situation or outcome needed to be given consideration, and with that in mind, she also wore men’s trainers, trainers that she had brought from a second-hand market. The trainers were four sizes bigger than her own size, and two pairs of socks were stuffed into the toe of each trainer to ensure that they wouldn’t flop around too much. Blood may well be spilt on this night, and if it was, she would stand in the blood and leave a few very clear footprints on the timber floor. Ohh look, the police would say, We’re looking for a guy who wears size 10!
Mildly embarrassed, although even more pissed off; Rachael fronted the man again. “Okay, where were we?”
She ran a hand over his shaved chest, “Ohh yes, we were discussing your expertise in covering your tracks. So, shave all your bodily hair, and I’m assuming that you must have worn a condom when you raped Ellie, or else you’d be sitting in the slammer right at this moment. Your big thing though, the piece de resistance shall we say, the thing that stumped the police were your alibi’s, not one, but two of your friends lying for you.”
She leant down and placed her hands on her knees, staring into his eyes as she said bluntly, “I was presuming that to lie for you, they may well be evil monsters just like you, and yeah, having met one of them, I’m convinced that he is just a lowlife scumbag.”
He remained silent, so for Rachael, it was time to move forward. She unwound the gag, and the man coughed and spluttered, then clenched his teeth as he spat out, “Jesus, are you gunna pay for this!”
She laughed, then asked mockingly, “Ohhh, I’m going to pay?”
“I’ll find out who you are, and then …” the man stopped, seeming to realise that since he was securely tied to a chair, maybe now wasn’t the right time to issue threats.
“Go on, and then what?” she asked.
“Who are you?” he spat out.
“Yes, that’s probably the best way to start,” Rachael began, “My name is Rachael Terina and I was hired to get you to confess to your crime.”
He stared at her, then with his bare thighs trembling, he muttered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Rachael huffed, and then assuming that now was a good time to produce the introductory-necessary violence, she flung her right arm back and then slapped him hard.
“What the fuck!” he bellowed, alarmed that she had turned from calm and relaxed to aggressive in the blink of an eye.
“Listen scumbag, essentially life is about making choices, it’s about ticking the appropriate box. In your case, you have two boxes to choose from, A or B. Ticking box A means that you will confess to your crime, and then we’ll leave your fate in the hands of the court; or else you can tick box B, which means that you will deny your involvement in the crime, and then your fate lies in my hands.”
Rachael moved over to her back-pack and produced a slimline Cedura cutting knife which she waved in front of his face as she said threateningly, “Make your choice wisely scumbag; confess and you’ll have your day in court, or else lie and Rachael Terina and this knife will decide your fate.”
She could see the terror in his eyes, and she would love him to see what she was seeing, would love him to understand how terrified Ellie Singleton would have felt in the last few moments of her life. Or maybe this prick already understood about sheer, unadulterated terror; maybe that was what it was all about.
Glaring at him, she asked quietly, “Ellie Singleton, did you rape and kill her?”
He shook his head frantically, “No, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Rachael leant in, and very gently, she skimmed the knife across his throat, then she said instructionally, “Okay, maybe you didn’t understand what I said. You only have two options; confess and then we’ll let the courts decide what happens to you, or lie to me, and I’m going to make sure that you die in the most horrific manner possible.”
“No wait, I don’t even know anybody by that name!” he replied breathlessly.
“Hoo boy, you’re pushing me scumbag, and I need to tell you that I am a woman of very little patience.”
In desperation, he bleated, “Wait, the cops interviewed me over that, but they didn’t charge me because I was with my friends at the time, which they verified, so you’ve got the wrong person!”
“Yes, I do acknowledge that your alibi was verified, but the cops work in different ways to the way I operate.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s just say that my way of interviewing people is a little different from the police method.”
“I’m innocent!” he declared, “I’ve never hurt anybody in my life!”
Rachael raised her eyebrows, then she asked drolly, “Ohhh, what about the attempted rape of Sophie Baldwin?”
Stunned that the girl knew about that incident, the man sank back into the chair as he muttered, “Ummm, that was a misunderstanding, I mean I was set up.”
“Really? What about the assault of Jenny Price?”
The man was uncomfortable that she knew about events that he had been charged with, and he said hesitantly, “Arrhh, that was, was a misunderstanding.”
“Gee, you seem to get involved in a lot of misunderstandings.”
He stared at her for a moment then asked, “Who the hell are you?”
Rachael smiled for him, then said, “Ellie’s parents, as I’m sure you can understand, are devastated by the loss of their daughter, and when they saw that the animal who did it was going to get away with it, they contacted someone who then contacted someone else, and me, I guess you could say that I’m the last but most vital link in the chain.”
With the knife pointed directly at him, Rachael stood tall and proud as she declared, “I’m the last link in the chain of revenge.”
Panicky, his mortality dangling before him, he offered timidly, “Speak to the cops, they verified my alibi and they can tell you that it wasn’t me.”
“Hmmm, thanks for the advice, but I went one better,” she paused and then said, “James Knowsely.”
Naked, tied to a chair, his mind in chaos, the man replied, “Yeah James, I was with James on that night; speak to him!”
“I did.” she replied crisply.
The man didn’t particularly like her smug smile or the knowing look in her eyes, and he muttered cautiously, “So okay, he would have confirmed my alibi.”
“I guess this comes back to the difference in the interviewing styles that myself and the cops employ,” she began, “The police are severely restricted in their interviewing techniques, but I’m not.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s just say that your friend James found himself in a very similar situation to the one you’re currently in, and with a little bit of gentle persuasion, he ended up telling the truth.”
The man shivered, then said timidly, “Okay, so you should know that I had nothing to do with it.”
“Arrhh, he told me the truth, so you should know that you’re in a shitload of trouble.”
“No wait, listen-”
The radio caught her attention and she yelled, “Shut up!”
Rachael strode across to the radio as the baseball updates came on. Listening intently, she nodded at a few scores, but then she gasped, “What?” Tossing her head back in despair, she shouted, “Fucking Angels!”
Six legs of her seven leg multi-bet looked headed for victory, although it seemed like the Los Angeles Angels were going to fuck her up again, down 2-4 at the bottom of the seventh.
She rarely included the Angels in her multi-bets, because they had proved to be her Achilles heel. The Angels won when she picked against them, and they lost when she picked them, although in this game, they had ticked all the boxes; number one pitcher up, playing against a team languishing near the bottom, never having lost three in a row at home for three years, and they also needed to win to stay in touch with the leaders. Rachael knew that betting on baseball was risky, because a lucky swing or a fielding error could see a good side losing to a shit side, all the same, she usually had a seven leg multi every two weeks. She was thorough and meticulous with her selections, and her strike rate of one in six for the seven-legger was pretty good, although she did hate losing.
She always put $300- on the seven leg, then as insurance, she had $50- on each the trebles, four folds, five folds and six folds. Her best ever win was last season, $11,200- for the $500- outlay, and indeed over the four years she had been betting, she was in front by a mile, although past glories couldn’t soften the frustration of losing.
“Fucking Angels,” she muttered, “Bunch of fucking pussies.”
With a souring mood, her grip on the knife tightened, then she turned to face him. “Okay, I will only ask this once,” she said quietly, “Don’t fuck me around, just tell me the truth, and then we can all get on with our night.” She squatted beside him, waving the knife in front of his face as she asked impatiently, “Did you rape and kill Ellie Singleton?”
Exhausted and sweaty, Mia Coombes pushed on determinedly, her calf muscles tightening as the road inclined.
Being a serious jogger, she had been running up and down Cribb Highway every Thursday evening for the past six months. Cribb Highway connected the country towns of Middleton and Bassington and ran for more than forty miles through the heavily forested State National Park. When the freeway opened three years ago, Cribb Highway became almost redundant, used only by locals, so it was ideal for Mia’s run. On a Thursday evening, she rarely encountered any cars, and if a car was coming, she would notice the high beams well before the car whisked by.
Mia had two burning ambitions; the first to run a respectable race in the New York marathon, the second to do the Empire State Building run without stopping, so the steeply inclining Cribb Highway was a perfect training ground.
Mia lived in Brocksley, the neighbouring town of Middleton, and it usually took her forty minutes to drive to her starting point for the run. She always parked in the truck bay just past Greaves Road, and from there she would start her run. Ten miles out of suburban Middleton, Cribb Highway began to incline, the incline modest for at least two miles before it became intimidating. The incline rose steadily for eight miles until it plateaued out to a friendly crest. Mia had a designated turnaround point, a monstrous oak tree that bordered the road, the tree’s roots responsible for the regular cracking of the bitumen road. Mia had dubbed the tree Mia’s Tree, and she always patted the tree before she crossed the road and began her descent. Running up, ten miles, running back down, ten miles, although the running down was obviously the less body-stressful. Running up normally took her more than two hours, only twice in the six months had she beaten the two-hour barrier; running down took her half the time, and she usually sprinted the last mile.
At age twenty-six, she was never going to be an Olympic marathon runner, although her goal was clear; before she turned thirty, she wanted to be in the top one hundred female finishers in the New York marathon.
With calf muscles which seemed to be snapping at her, she reached the crest and fell into Mia’s tree, panting, “Hi, it’s me; how are you?”
She checked her stop-watch; two hours, four minutes, thirty-one seconds. “Hmmm, not bad.”
She crossed the road, noting that the evening had taken hold, her descent destined to be completed in darkness. As she began the journey back, the crest flattened down, Mia already pumped by the invigorating descent. She ran on the bitumen as she usually did, preferring it to the gravel siding.
On the torturous run up, her mind was normally clear, her only objective being to get there as quickly as she could, but on the run down, she let her mind wander; Should I be bold and just ask Matt out?
Mia frowned, because she knew that she wasn’t bold enough to ask anybody out. “Maybe just keep dropping subtle hints.” Mia whispered to herself as she fiddled with her I-Pod, then she slipped the ear-phones in, and after drawing in a determined breath, she began the long trek back.
Jason Taranto was pissed off at missing the freeway entrance, and he wanted to drive quickly and get off this God-forsaken road. Miles and miles of unlighted tarmac, the highway dog-legging and curving continuously, forcing him to concentrate intently. “Fuck this road!” he spat out.
The road curved again, forcing him to ease his foot onto the brake, then it straightened, and he accelerated, the high beams showing a straight stretch of dipping road then a curve to the right. He grabbed his cell and punched in a few numbers, his vision flicking from the cell to the road as he pressed call, and …
“What the fuck!” he screamed, skidding the car to a halt.
In the confusion that the sound of the thud promoted, he wondered, Did I just hit a deer?
With the car still running, he got out and hurried around to the right side of the BMW, then he gasped, “Fucking Jesus!”
The callee of his phone call picked up and said, “Hello, hello, Jason?”
He stared at the phone in his left hand then mumbled, “Arrhh Jan, I’ll call you back.”
The callee seemed confused as she asked, “Are you okay, I mean you sound a bit rattled.”
He disconnected, rattled, yeah … Miss the fucking turn-off, hit a fucking deer, and my little baby has a big dint on her front passenger side.
Taranto looked back up the road, wheezing out nervously, “Yeah, where is it? Where’s the fucking deer?”
He shook his head as images flashed into his mind, “No, no way …” a flash of luminous yellow appearing in his mind’s eye, white legs, two white legs, “No, please …”
Taranto stood motionless, fighting against the images, “It, it was a deer.”
The images pounded in his mind, and Taranto shivered, because he realised that unless the deer in these parts wore safety gear, he had hit something that wasn’t a deer. Tentatively, he walked back down the road then stopped.
He saw a trainer on the gravel siding, the trainer sporting luminous yellow flashes on its side, the trainer attached a leg. “Fucking Jesus!”
Taranto stumbled up to the leg and gasped.
A body lay sprawled in a ditch, the left leg the only part of the body to remain on the gravel siding, and the leg looked out of place, seemed to be un-naturally positioned in relation to the rest of the body.
“Fuck, fuck …” Taranto moaned as he shuffled in to get a closer look.
The thud had been a big one, had been the kind of thud you’d expect when you hit something while you’re doing fifty-plus. The thud boomed in his mind as he reached the gravel siding and peered down, Taranto shaking his head frantically, “No, no, please …”
Inching closer, he froze; female by the looks, dressed in a white t-shirt with three hooped visibility stripes very prominent, white three-quarter leggings, and the white trainers with the luminous yellow flashes.
Not daring to step off the siding, he shone the cells torch on the figure.
Her head, torso and right leg were all in the ditch, facing towards his car, the left leg pointing in the other direction and resting on the siding.
Short of breath, sweating, Taranto waited for signs of life, although the figure seemed motionless, seemed as if, as if …
A thought hit him, Just go!
Corrupted, small, frightened, panicky, Taranto switched off the torch, muttering to himself, “Go, yeah? … fuck, shit … just go?”
He turned his focus to the road, looking in both directions, no sign of approaching lights, no noises suggesting that any cars were in transit, and he flicked his gaze back to the now darkened, crumpled heap.
He stepped backwards, shaking his head again, then he sprinted towards his car, jumped in and took off with a squeal.
His hands were shaking violently on the steering wheel, when a thought hit him, “Fuck!”
He smashed his right hand on the steering wheel, “You fucking idiot!” he cursed, “You should have pushed her other leg into the ditch.”