February 11, 1987
Holly Tyler had just gotten off of work from her job at the mall. It was 11:30 on a Wednesday night, and she was exhausted. She had been working late every night for the past week, but it had been totally worth it. Not only was there the extra cash on her next paycheck for overtime hours, but she had finally gotten the number of that cute new guy who worked the closing shift.
Holly was rummaging through her purse, searching for her car keys in the cluttered mess that she called a bag, when she heard it. She stopped in the middle of the dimly lit parking lot for a moment, listening intently to see if she had heard correctly.
After all, a baby’s cry is unmistakable.
It only took Holly a few seconds to locate the source of the cry – it was coming from a baby carrier that someone had left underneath one of the few lampposts in the lot that actually worked. The baby's mother had most likely left it there, Holly thought, either too young or too afraid to raise the baby on her own.
She hurried over to the spot, already concerned. It was only around ten degrees out, and she had no idea how long the poor thing had been sitting out here unnoticed.
If Holly hadn’t been so concerned for the well-being of the child, she might have noticed the sound of footsteps coming from behind her. Or the shadow that appeared as the person following her passed underneath a light.
Unfortunately for her, Holly didn’t notice these things. Maybe if she had, the entire night would have ended differently.
If she had noticed, maybe Miss Holly Tyler would still be alive.
Holly breathed a sigh of relief when she got there. The baby was fine. She knelt in front of the seat, smoothing down the blankets that had been tucked around the child.
“It’s okay, sweetie.” She murmured softly, trying to sound as comforting as possible. “Everything’s gonna be okay.”
She was a beautiful baby, Holly decided. Blonde peach fuzz peeked out from underneath a little pink hat, and big blue eyes that were just beginning to change to green stared at Holly in amazement.
Those big eyes continued to stare up at her in wonder, even as a pair of hands settled on Holly’s throat in a vice-like grip.
It only took fifteen seconds in total for Holly Tyler to be rendered unconscious by her assailant.
As soon as she was out cold, the attacker released their hold on her neck, causing her to fall to the pavement in a heap. Then a second figure came out from its hiding place in the shadows, and headed for the baby.
She knelt over the child, allowing the little one to grab a hold of her hair and tug on it gently.
She laughed. “No, no, River.” She said, scolding her gently, then winced when the hair-pulling only grew harder. She put up with it for another minute, but then a particularly sharp pull had her cursing in pain.
He watched, enthralled, as she became enraged.
She struck out at the child, causing River to release her mother’s hair in shock before erupting into ear-splitting wails.
She stood there for a moment as the last bits of her anger drained away, before she realized what she had done. Then she swore a blue streak as she fumbled to undo the buckles and straps of the seat belt, attempting to get River out of it.
Once she had finally accomplished that, she cradled the infant to her chest.
“Shh, shh…” she crooned. “It’s okay now, you’re okay now…”
He rolled his eyes as he lugged their unconscious prey to their car. While he was willing to admit that having the child made it much easier for them to lure in prey, he didn’t like that she had changed because of it. She was no longer his bespoke psychopath, his worse half. Yes, that side of her still existed, but it was hidden most of the time by a more caring, loving side of her.
He hated it.
Two weeks later
"And now, we go to Daniel McGraw, our on-the-spot reporter in the ongoing investigation into a set of human remains in Devil's Lake, North Dakota."
“A set of human remains was discovered by a local hiker earlier this week.” Daniel McGraw announced gravely. “Earlier this morning, police released the victim’s identity as Miss Holly Tyler, age twenty-three.”
A picture of Holly, which was said to have been taken with friends a few days before her disappearance, was projected onto the screen. It showed a tall woman of medium build, with brown and black-streaked hair in a pixie cut, and blue eyes.
Daniel McGraw continued in a voice over:
“Miss Tyler was last seen by co-workers on Wednesday, February 11, at 11:25 P.M. when leaving the Holiday Mall where she worked. If anyone has information regarding her whereabouts after this time, please call the police hotline at –“
He changed the channel, looking for something else to watch. He had gotten all that he needed to know out of the news report - the idiotic police had no clues that linked them to that girl's death. They had left Devil's Lake only a few hours after dumping the body, although they had only moved a few towns over for now - going to Crary.
“I’ll take World Literature for $1,000, Alex.” Came the voice of a contestant on Jeopardy! as he finally settled on a show.
He looked down at her sleeping form and smiled. She had put the child to bed a few hours ago, before joining him on the couch in their motel room. She had fallen asleep curled up on his chest, and in his eyes, she never looked cuter.