THE TALL MAN
Ray Pendleton lives for nothing more than to punish those who sin.
The day had started overcast, the sky awash with various shades of grey, but now it was turning jet-black, just like that of Satan’s soul. The thunder rumbled across the land and the streaky lightning emblazoned the sky.
Ray drove down the high street in his old, grey van, kitted out and customised for his needs. The back windows were tinted and sealed shut, he’d soundproofed the inside, making it a cosy playroom to transport his victims from one place to the next. Chains and shackles were fixed to the floor and along the wall were numerous hammers, drills, and saws. The van’s side sliding doors made it easy to capture and contain.
Ray parked his van opposite the Cosmo Bar and sat patiently, lying in wait for the group of friends to arrive that he nicknamed ‘The Sinful Six.’
On this night, he wasn’t the gatekeeper of the nightclub door, nor was he there to socialise or drink; something far more sinister brewed in the dark corners of his twisted mind. He watched and observed the partygoers coming and going with a look of disgust and contempt.
Filthy animals, he thought to himself, as they all played out lurid and melodramatic acts of drunk and disorderly behaviour.
The blackened clouds struggled to withstand the burden of the weight they’d been holding back for a while. But, with another clap of thunder, the clouds suddenly gave way to an instant downpour of thick, heavy rain.
An immediate covering of water appeared on the street, sending people scurrying off in all different directions as the rain poured down with an almighty roar. Ray gazed dully at the dashboard clock; it wasn’t nine yet, but he knew his Sinful Six would arrive soon.
The rain whipped down like crystal nails but, through the fierce sheets of rain, the Sinful Six had appeared. One by one, they stepped out from the black cab which had brought them into town. Ray watched on as they all made a dash for shelter under the roof of the Cosmo Bar. And, just like that, a curtain of black fell over his graveyard eyes.
He’d been a danger in their shadows for several months, an enigmatic stranger some might say, a man who didn’t exist. He looked on at the Sinful Six like that of a butcher, sizing them up like pieces of meat. With a shallow smile from cheek to cheek, his mask was as cold as a funeral.
The group consisted of a mixture of personalities. Some had stories to tell while the rest were more conservative and played the quiet and shy kind. But, the one thing they all had in common, the one thing they never revealed to anybody, was the darker side of their persona, shrouding them in a grave blanket of secrecy and sin. Each individual portrayed themselves as a Doctor Jekyll to the outside world but, behind closed doors, their characteristics couldn’t be more different, being more comparable to that of Mr. Hyde.
There was Zara, a sexually promiscuous woman, who thought nothing about flaunting her body online to like-minded guys while her boyfriend Ben would secretly wager money on a roll of a dice and chanced his arm at the turn of a card. Johnny was the quiet one, an introvert some might say, but he held late-night sexting sessions with Zara, unbeknown to Ben, who sat downstairs, gambling all his money away. Craig was the troublemaker of the group, who was always pulling pranks on his friends. His best friend was Casey, who lived with Drake. This couple was a little older than the rest. They seemed to have it all, but all that glittered was not gold.
Ray had looked distastefully at the individuals for a while now, knowing that when they laid their heads down at night, each and every one of them would wrap and consume themselves in a blanket of sin, all choosing to bed the devil, Beelzebub and his dastardly ways. His hatred for these people was palpable. But he had plans, plans to deliver terror, turmoil, and anarchy to the doorsteps of each and every one of the Sinful Six’s tumultuous lives.
Life had dealt Ray some tough blows. His mother was a whore and his father a gambling man. He’d suffered years of abuse at their hands; every day was punishment day. Both parents had canes – each more than a yard long and half an inch thick. One, two, three – in quick succession, the whooshing sound of the cane coming through the air and then, the thud. Four, five, six. The blows were thick and fast. With each blow, the skin softened and the pain grew. One time, he’d been hit so hard that the bamboo cane had broken, snapped completely in half.
But those days had gone, that was Ray’s adolescence life. Now, he was a strong, intense individual, obsessed with philosophies of vengeance and retribution. He lived a single life now, deep in the woods, preferring to stay away from prying eyes and all people who lied.
Ray fired up the van and got ready to leave, but not before tapping at his phone and hitting send. Then, lifting one hand, he slipped his fingers under the seatbelt strap and fastened himself in. With a subtle look of amusement, he pushed down on the accelerator and drove away.
The recipients of Ray’s message were the Sinful Six and the message was sent under the identity of an unknown number. The message which they had all received read:
Soon your secrets will be out. They are not safe with me. The Tall Man is real and he’s coming out to play.