Purity of Purpose
That name on the phone’s screen set her skin prickling; it was the name of the dead man nailed to an upside down cross above the stage just a few feet away from her.
She hit the answer button.
The voice on the other end was low and resonant.
“I believe in purity of purpose,” it said in a thick accent.
This was it. Him. This was the voice of her tormentor at last. “Kronin.” Sam could barely say the name without spitting it.
“Yes… you know my name, but not your own. How can you know anything of purpose, when you don’t even know who you are? All this time, I try to get you to remember…”
“I’ll kill you for what you did to Elias. And Barnes. And the others. For everything you’ve done.”
“Revenge. That is exactly what I talk about. What could be more pure?”
“I want to know why.” Sam said.
“Barnes… I could not let him take you away from me. The rest… the rest I want you to know also. It’s what I’ve wanted since the beginning. I want you to remember. With remembering comes understanding. But first you must know who you are. And the answer to that question… will be found at your foster mother’s house.”
Sam’s heart froze within her chest as the line went dead.
Later, Sam would remember nothing of the drive to Kathy’s house. It was a period of time dominated by one single thought, repeating over and over and over again:
She’s okay, she’s okay, she’s okay…
The Mustang skidded to a stop just a few feet from Kathy’s front porch. Sam left the keys in, engine running as she burst from the car, leaping up the porch steps, pausing for only the briefest instant to note that the front door was not completely closed…
The house smelled of pot roast. In the foyer, a small plant stand next to the staircase had been toppled; a pot broken on the floor, the soil spilled and scattered over the carpet.
A single slipper rested on the second to last step of the staircase. Desert Eagle in hand, Sam rushed up the steps…
Down the hall, through the open door of her mother’s bedroom…
The first thing she saw was the blood on the sheets. So much blood, a red so bright against the stark white. Her foster mother lay on her back in the middle of the bed, glassy eyes staring at the ceiling, arms spread out at her sides, her pink robe soaked in crimson. There was almost nothing left of her throat and neck but a dark, pulpy mass.
Sam dropped the pistol and staggered to her mother’s bedside, her body shuddering, her head working back in forth in mute denial of the carnage before her. Tears traced her cheeks in a steady stream, blurring her vision as she brought clenched fists to her mouth to hold in the scream that wanted so desperately to erupt from her throat.
It couldn’t be real; it couldn’t be happening. This was all just a terrible dream and all she wanted to do was wake up.
Sam didn’t know how long she stood, shivering and staring in disbelief before she noticed the wall across from her, where the pictures had been removed and a bloody message had been painted—a single word, written in letters two feet high, a name: