Sarah Gates knew she was about to die. Ironically, she had always known this day would come, with the circumstances of her miserable life consumed by acts of violence almost every day. Her life had prepared her for a violent and, most likely, an untimely end. She had always believed it would be carried out by her own hand, but she never suspected that it would come this way. Only three weeks earlier, it seemed that the chain of torturous events in her life had finally come to a close, giving her some semblance of hope, the hope of a new life, new experiences, new love. Now, as she lay in the cab of her old Chevy pick-up on the side of a little used road in the middle of the night, she knew that the hope of a new life was gone forever. The horrible acts that had been committed against her since childhood were back with such ferocity that she knew there was no escape. The only consolation, she knew, was that this would certainly be the last atrocity she would ever have to face. It was over, that much was certain, but still, she pleaded.
“You don’t have to do this,” she whispered through the tears that she no longer fought back.
The man that stood before her flashed a glacial smile, his teeth glinting yellow in the amber light of the harvest moon that hung onimiously in the heavens above. The passenger door was ajar, and his frame seemed to hover in the opening, completely silhouetted against the light of the moon. He worked swiftly and with ease as he cut the cotton ropes that bound the woman’s ankles. You couldn’t really be the victim of a vicious car accident if your feet were tied together, now could you? He glared over his shoulder, scanning out into the night. It was the perfect place for just such an accident.
To the left of the road lay an extremely steep embankment, riddled with large trees and scrub brush, descending an astonishing two hundred feet to the small stream below. Ridge Road, as it was locally known, was especially dangerous at night, and most locals heeded the treacherous warnings posted in large diamond shaped yellow signs that adorned its shoulder in spaced intervals.
Yes, this will do nicely, he thought to himself as he cut into the last knot. With one more look down the dark road, just to ensure that no unseen motorist may happen by and discover them, he returned his attention to the woman.
A scream broke the silence as his knife sliced into the smooth skin on the woman’s ankle as the last knot gave way. The dark figure swung a hard right hand that caught Sarah on the side of her chin, silencing her. She tasted the copperish, thick fluid that flooded the inside of her mouth. It wasn’t the taste that bothered her, she was accustomed to it by now. She had endured it for a lifetime, what was one more night?
She spat out the vileness and glared up at her attacker. She wasn’t going to make this easy, at least. Finally free of the tight bonds, she brought her right foot up hard and was gratified when she felt it strike the man under the chin. The impact staggered the man, momentarily rendering him off balance. With the sudden opening, Sarah began to kick violently at her attacker, legs flailing in her feeble attempt. She fought desperately to free herself, to escape, to live.
The man recovered quickly and seeing that his quarry was about to get away, he pounced. He felt the impact on his ribs and chest as his full weight descended onto her legs. Sarah realized that he was much too powerful for her to fight off. With her hope of escape dashed, she succumbed to his will. And he finally managed to get her lower extremities under control.
With his free hand, he raised the knife above his head, its toothy outline set against the background of the yellow moon. The image of ancient Aztecs performing gruesome human sacrifices was suddenly conjured in her mind’s eye. She then realized that her life was over. Hysteria rose from the depths of her soul as he plunged the knife in a vicious, downward arc.
“It’s a time to pay for your sins, whore,” the man said as the blade sank deep into her abdomen, the razor sharp edge turned upward toward her navel.
Sarah screamed in detached agony as she felt the entire seven inches of the steel disappear into the folds of her skin. Her cries echoed across the deep ravine as the man drove the blade upward, slicing through skin and clipping her body’s organs, until the steel struck bone at her sternum. He removed the knife, sheathed it, and proceeded to do something utterly unimaginable.
The killer cocked his head to the side as an off beat thought occurred to him. All at once, he no longer cared that people think of Sarah dying in an automobile accident. He was going to make this much more exciting, for him, for everyone. His sickening sense of humor consumed him as he began to perform his last defilement to the woman’s body.
Through tears of agony and fading consciousness, Sarah watched in horror as the man slid one long fingered hand inside the monstrous incision he had just made. Oh, God, his hand is actually inside me, her mind screamed in detached misery. Stricken, her eyes remained transfixed as he removed a blood soaked fist, rivers of the black liquid cascading about like miniature waterfalls. Then her eyes rolled back under heavy lids, and her pain was no more.
The man watched as Sarah’s head fell back on the seat and rolled to one side. It was done, well, almost anyway. He hastily smeared his dirty hand on the top of the truck cab, then he rocked back admiring his work. Satisfied, he stepped from the passenger door and made his way to the rear bumper.
With a Herculean effort, he leaned into the massive bulk. After a long moment, the truck began to move, slowly at first, then growing faster. Before he realized it, the truck was racing down the steep slope, plowing over the saplings and bush in its way.
The old Chevy barreled over everything in its path. Out of nowhere, the right front tire slammed into the rocky outcropping and the truck began to flip, clockwise, uncontrollably. In the first rotation, Sarah Gate’s dead body was flung from the cab and began following the thundering mass of metal on its course of ultimate destruction. The limp body of the forty-one year old woman rolled heavily over the brush and rocks, leaving behind a swath of painted forest floor. She finally came to rest face down, thirty yards uphill from where the careening truck had wrapped itself around the giant trunk of an ancient magnolia tree.
The killer watched from the safety of the road with bemused astonishment at the carnage he created. His eyes had followed his victim’s body as it floundered down the embankment, and even mustered a slight chuckle when he noticed a dangling string of intestine, its bloody tendrils caught in the light of the moon as it hung, wrapped around the plush limb of a holly bush. He waited, silently until the sounds of the forest, interrupted by the screams and the sound of bending metal, returned around him. The cicadas and crickets buzzed and chirped in the early morning darkness. Finally satisfied that all was right with the world around him, he turned east and set off in a calm and measured stride toward his new destination whistling the first bar of Amazing Grace.
This, he thought to himself as his heavy feet paddled on the cracked asphalt, is only the beginning.