A Sight To Behold
It’s amazing how a simple mask can change one’s entire personality. The most mundane person in real life can become the freakiest of freaks while the freaks just get freakier. The more he thought about it the more he realized that we all wear a mask for the world to see whether it is a physical one or not. We wear one mask for family, one mask for friends, another for the general public when we’re out and about and then all the others for whatever situation we happen to find ourselves in. The mask he wore now made him feel powerful, like he could stand above all as the grand supreme ruler. The mask he wore in his daily life was a humble one that he didn’t like very much. This one was… better.
He let out a loud sigh walking across the room; it appeared he had a crier on his hands. His arm surged with power as he backhanded the kneeling creature before him, “Stop your sniveling, scum!” He shouted at the cowering figure.
The duct tape prevented any scream that might have escaped his victim’s lips. He almost laughed out loud (and he did smile unseen beneath his mask) as the thought crossed his mind that duct tape really did have a million uses. This was his domain while even with his mask on he may not be king of the world; he was most definitely all powerful in here. All knelt to him in here though not from fealty. The truth was the one’s who came here had little choice since his first action was always severing all the ligaments of the knee. They had no choice but to kneel before him. They saw a monster, he saw meat.
Christopher had just been on his way back to his shitty little basement apartment that night. He carried a small plastic bag with his night’s meal, a can of what he knew was probably the worst chili he would ever eat but for fifty cents it was sustenance nonetheless. The only other item in the bag was of course a cold forty ounce malt beverage because life sucks and it was cheap. He had put his key into the slot of his deadbolt though he didn’t know why he bothered; he had almost nothing for anyone to steal. A single bed laying on the floor of his closet called a room, a tiny refrigerator that barely worked and a two burner stove of which only one worked and then only sometimes. His material possessions could be carried in a backpack: a few outfits and his entire music collection which was all of two cds. Christopher was thinking about how much his life sucked as he turned the key and the lights went out.
Christopher’s eyes struggled to open like a drunk waking from a blackout. His vision was a bit blurry and it took him a few seconds to realize his hands were bound behind his back and he wasn’t able to open his mouth. Then the pain hit. It felt to him as though someone had started a fire under his knee caps. Fear and pain ripped through him like the proverbial bull in a china shop. He was lying on some old, decrepit hardwood floor desperately in need of refinishing though splinters seemed to be the least of his worries. He tried to yell out but it was useless through the duct tape over his mouth. He managed to get to his knees with tears streaming down his face then came the backhand that knocked him right back over again.
Tears streamed down Christopher’s cheeks which didn’t help his blurry vision in the slightest. Towering over him was some unknown giant wearing the most wretched looking mask he thought he had ever seen. It appeared to be some sort of leather twisted and contorted as though the face had been grabbed by Satan’s dark hand, squeezed and twisted out of shape, then there were the horns protruding out either side. It looked like something out of a horror movie but the pain told Christopher this was no nightmare, no movie, this was his horrifying reality and the tears flowed.
One huge hand reached down grabbing the crying meat sack by the hair pulling it back to its knees. He didn’t know this piece of meat’s name, he never knew their names nor did he care. What he saw before him was just meat. It could be a worm or god himself it didn’t matter in here. This was his domain, no one mattered here and no one ever escaped. Honestly no one could escape, it wasn’t as though one could stand let alone run with no knees. The twenty miles back to the city was a bit far to crawl. Most of the sniveling scum he brought here did much the same as the one before him now, curl in a ball, cry and waited to die.
“Stop your sniveling boy. No one can hear. No one is coming to save you. You’re annoying me. I don’t think you want to annoy me, do you?” His deep growl was calm and devious.
Christopher’s eyes widen in sheer terror hearing the beast speak. He didn’t think it could get worse than the fire burning in his legs but he didn’t want to find out either. The tears continued to roll down his cheeks as he sat kneeling before the beast trying his best not to make any sound. He bowed his head in defeat not wanting to look at that horrific mask any longer.
He began to take in his surroundings as the beast paced back and forth as if pondering something. There was very little light in the tiny shack, most of which came from moonlight shining through the weather worn slats barely holding the place together. He could see little outside other than trees and tall weeds that were poking between the slats as well. He felt as removed from civilization as one could get. A musty, dank odor filled the room along with the unpleasant body odor of the masked giant but underneath there was something else. Beneath the years of moisture soaked into the shacks walls and floor, beneath his captor’s funk there was something worse, the smell of rot, decay and death. The shack reeked of death making Christopher’s heart pause a moment as he swallowed hard almost choking on his own spittle. Terrible things had happened here and they were about to again tonight.
The masked giant stopped his pacing, paused briefly before his captive then let out a howl of laughter sounding to Christopher like Lucifer himself. The giant turned his back to Christopher a moment which was a great relief then shattered as the beast turned back around. Christopher couldn’t see it but he knew that bastard was smiling ear to ear beneath that awful mask. He turned facing Christopher with a meat hook in his hand that looked to Christopher to be as big as his head if not larger. His eyes shot wide with fear as the giant took one step toward him swinging the hook forward. The hook penetrated the flesh of his back between his spine and shoulder, the point burying in deep with the ease of a rock through water. He was not able to hold in the scream it forced out of him audible even with the duct tape still covering his mouth. With one massive arm the beast lifted him up by the hook until his toes were unable to reach the floor hanging him from another hook screwed into a rafter beam. The white hot pain shooting down his spine was too much for his already overloaded system and once again the lights went out.
The giant moved his homemade butcher block table to the side of tonight’s victim. He laid out his tools of which he granted there was little. He had a couple giant cleavers and a few knives all sharpened to near razor perfection. While his victim hung there unconscious he pulled a chair sitting his large frame before him. He needed some inspiration. He pulled his album of newspaper clippings from the bag beside him that had held his tools setting it on his lap to thumb through it.
He had made the papers numerous times though police were no closer to knowing who he was than they had ever been. Most of his victims were unknown to the outside world as they had never been found. He craved praise for his grisly work so at times he couldn’t resist leaving a little present for the world. There was never much left when he was done just skin and bones really. Without DNA most of his victims couldn’t be identified. Somewhere along the line someone had dubbed him the Knapsack Killer as he generally left what remained of his victims’ bones in a sack made of their own skin. He felt like doing something special tonight though, something that would make a big headline in the paper for him to add to his scrapbook. A huge smile lit up the face beneath the mask as he thought of just what to do.
One hard smack brought a groggy moan; the second opened its eyes. Christopher tried to lift his head for a moment but the pain was too much. His head slumped down to his chest, his neck lacking the strength to lift it again. He felt the meaty hand grab him by the hair lifting his head and he prayed the beast would just slit his throat and be done with it.
He could see the killers black steely eyes through the mask knowing instantly that a quick death wasn’t coming. He was looking into eyes of pure evil. He had a moment to think that if the eyes were the window to the soul that this beast didn’t have one. The glint of moonlight off a shining steel blade took his attention away from thoughts of any soul but his own.
“Have you ever felt special scum?” All Christopher could manage in response was a weak groan. “I’m going to make something very special of you boy. Pity you won’t know just how special it is. You’ll make the papers. You’ll be a bright shining star for your fucking fifteen minutes. Would you like to see the other scum I’ve made famous? They were all very special yet sadly… also anonymous.” Still all Christopher could manage were a few groans as words seemed to be unable to find his tongue if he could have spoken through his duct tape gag anyway.
The giant meat hook of a hand held up a scrap of newspaper showing Christopher one of his “masterpieces” though Christopher’s eyes were unable to decipher the image. He could see a lump covered in blood with a few bones poking out the top. His vision was too blurred to read the entire caption below it catching only, Knapsack Killer leaves another “package” for police.
“Don’t worry I have something better in mind for you boy.” Christopher could almost hear the killer’s joy in the ominous words.
There were no more words to be had, only screaming as the killer went to work with his blade. He kicked open an ice chest with his foot tossing in the sweet meat one slice at a time. Christopher’s muffled screams were short lived as the killer worked his way up from the bottom of his feet carefully separating the skin from the muscle beneath. Blood drained down onto the already black stain where this ritual had been performed many times before. When the beast reached the already destroyed knees of his victim he did the boy the favor of ending his misery.
Grabbing the boy once again by the hair lifting his head to look him dead in the eye he proclaimed the last words Christopher would hear, “You have to go now boy. Your screams are giving me a headache. I’ll remember you fondly if it’s any consolation to you. You are about to become quite the sight to behold indeed! Goodbye scum.” With the final word still oozing off his fat tongue the killer stuck the blade in just below Christopher’s naval lifting it up until it stopped at the boy’s sternum slicing through the muscle of his diaphragm forcing the last breath from between the boy’s lips. He smiled beneath the mask having always enjoyed that final look of shock and surprise as they died. Now he could work in peace.
Jack Sawyer was nothing, just another twenty-something fresh out of college with a degree in journalism, a minor in photography, a camera and desperately trying not to be just another star chasing paparazzi. That wasn’t an easy proposition but then again there weren’t exactly a ton of stars flocking to Kansas anyway and he had no real desire to go to New York City or Hollywood to try to make ends meet. He was running out of time though, he couldn’t stay with his parents forever, a fact they reminded him of about a thousand times a day. He needed to catch a break.
So here he sat in his beat up jalopy listening to the police scanner which he had spent his last hundred bucks on just praying for a scoop. He’d settle for just about anything at this point not involving another damn cat or old lady. He needed a fireman rescuing a baby from a towering inferno or a cop taking a bribe, something, anything to get him the hell out of his parent’s basement.
The speaker of his shadily procured scanner barked out a call that caught Jack’s curiosity. A sparkle danced in his eyes and he almost laughed as he couldn’t be happier. He only hoped his hunk of garbage jalopy could traverse the five blocks to Oppenstein Park before any of his counterparts. His heart raced with instant thoughts of becoming famous for the shoots he would take. He had heard the words he had been waiting to hear for months barked in static from the police scanner, “Unit 42 proceed to Oppenstein Park, suspected knapsack spotted.”
Jack pulled up just a few spaces from where the police cruiser had parked right up on the sidewalk its doors still ajar. His head darted in all directions unable to believe he could possibly have scooped his competition. He saw no one else with a camera in the area as he raced through the gates of Oppenstein Park. His heart was beating so hard in his chest he thought it may burst through at any moment then he saw the two policemen from Unit 42 standing still as stone as if frozen in place in one of Jack’s photos. Jack lifted the camera around his neck for his first shot unable to see what had stopped the boys in blue in their tracks. Jack had read the articles on the Knapsack Killer who had evaded law enforcement for at least the last five years dating back to when Jack was still in high school but this was his first opportunity to see the carnage up close and personal.
Jack moved cautiously forward not wanting to catch the attention of the police who were still frozen stiff at the moment lest they stop him from getting close enough for a good shot. He knew he may only get one opportunity at this and he intended to make the most of it. He crept ever closer still unnoticed by Kansas City’s Finest. He made a note in the back of his mind how unprofessional it was just freezing like that. The Knapsack Killer had left numerous packages over the years, surely they had seen the photos if not been at previous scenes themselves. Why freeze now? He thought creeping ever closer to whatever scene of carnage held the officers at bay.
Oppenstein Park in the heart of downtown Kansas City had recently been redesigned and transformed by artist Laura DeAngelis. A large round common area was created with a half moon garden of flowers along one edge, an open main entryway and a second entryway guarded on either side by large trees. Stainless steel images of the many migratory birds of the area were inlaid into the concrete but their magnificence was not what had stopped the officers in their tracks. Jack could see their gaze was on the “star disk” just off center in the large common area. It was made to reflect images of constellations and looked brilliant at night as it was lit from within. It was quite beautiful yet Jack knew it was not this beauty that stopped police dead any more than the bird inlays.
Jack crept around to the far side of the central commons to the entryway guarded by the trees to stay out of sight as much as possible. He was mostly hidden behind one of the trees as the police reanimated, one barking to the other to retrieve the crime scene tape from the cruiser. Jack snapped a couple shots of the officer darting back to the vehicle at a sprint. Then he looked into the commons and the star disk the officers had been mesmerized by seeing now why. He lifted his camera zooming in to get a better look before his view was blocked. His mouth dropped agape as he unconsciously snapped shot after shot.
He had seen photos of the Knapsack Killer’s previous work but this was different. He had never seen anything like it. This one was no knapsack of bones like the others. There upon the star disk that had become the highlight of Oppenstein Park was a gift box if you wanted to call it that. The bright June Midwest sun beat down allowing Jack to see through the “present” the Knapsack Killer had left police this time.
Knapsack had somehow fastened his victim’s bones together in a cube then covered it with the skin of the victim turned inside out. The dried blood had blackened in the heat of the June sun shining overhead but the light still shone through the thin veneer showing that there was a pile of what remained of whatever poor sap Knapsack had used inside. Knapsack had used the intestines as ribbon wrapped tightly around the meat box in perfect imitation of the prettiest Christmas or birthday present one could find. Atop the box presumably fastened in place by the entrails ribbon, sat the victim’s brain playing the part of a nifty little bow glistening in the noonday sun. Jack snapped photo after photo until the film in his camera was at an end though Jack subconsciously kept pressing the button again and again until the officers finally spotted him and forced him to move back.
All Jack could think was that was quite the sight. The thought of his own glory faded as he moved away, the image of what he had seen thoroughly burned into his brain. He took but a few steps before doubling over to vomit up his morning’s coffee and strawberry jelly donut all over the well groomed grass of beautiful Oppenstein Park.
Alice O’Hanrahan liked only the best and freshest meat and would brag to anyone who would listen that she knew just where to get it. No one argued with her as she had the best barbeque in the county, perhaps the entire state, in their opinion. She refused to tell anyone the name of her butcher lest they steal the best cuts of meat before she got it first. She made her weekly trip into Kansas City to pick up the best meat in the state in her opinion. If no one else knew about Joe’s Butcher Shop that was just too damn bad in her opinion.
She pulled up in front of Joe’s unable to keep the smile from her face from the knowledge she truly did know where to get the best meat in all of Kansas and few others, especially none from her neck of the woods, seemed to know about it. She closed the door of her pickup truck, which seemed about ten times too big for such a frail looking old woman, and stepped onto the sidewalk in front of Joe’s Butcher Shop. It was no wonder so few knew about it. The sign hanging in front seemed older than Alice and so sun faded it was barely readable. Unlike most other butcher shops, Joe’s did not sport giant glass windows in front displaying all the wonderful meat they had to offer. No, Joe’s Butcher Shop was a brick building with one small window just big enough for the barely operational neon sign that was down to just the “J” being lit in faded blue. Alice placed her hand on the door handle pulling it wide enough to fit her, unadmittedly, large derriere through.
Joe’s was a bit of an old fashioned place with a small bell on a string hooked to the door so that it dinged as patrons entered. Alice entered her favorite dimly lit butcher shop with her smile growing as the smell of fresh meat hit her nostrils. “Joe.” She called out to her old friend.
“One moment Ms. Alice.” The friendly voice called out from the back where the real butchering was done.
As Alice looked around at the displays of fresh meat under glass the hulking butcher appeared from the back with a big smile for his favorite customer. “How are you today Ms Alice?” Joe sounded like the most friendly, gentle giant one could ever wish to meet.
“I’m old as fuck Joe so y’know, damn arthritis and all. Just the way it is. So what’s best today big guy?” Alice wasn’t really one to complain preferring to get straight down to business.
“You know it’s all good in here Ms Alice. I do have my special blend ground beef you love so much just made a fresh batch in fact.” Joe flashed a million watt smile at the elderly lady who had been coming to his shop for a couple decades now.
“Well give me as much of that as you can! People think it’s my spices that make my burgers so good but it’s really just your delicious special blend dear. One of these days you’re really gonna have to tell me what’s in it.” Alice gave him a wink as they had this back and forth banter every week.
“Ancient Chinese secret Ms Alice. I’ll never tell.” Joe said with a smile and a wink of his own.
“Say did you hear they found another victim of that Knapsack guy? Just terrible. The paper said this one looked like some sort of Christmas box or something. Just horrible.” Alice was shaking her head in disgust making her small talk.“Can’t say that I have Ms Alice, never any good news in the paper honey. Gimme a moment and I’ll get your meat wrapped up for ya Ms Alice. Would you like me to put it in a knapsack for ya?” Joe gave her a wink letting out a roar of laugher as Alice scolded him for his gallows humor though she was laughing herself.
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