Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Short Story

Here's the first story in my collection, Stories Light And Dark. Since Kindle allows you to read it for free anyhow, I may as well post it here as well. If you like this, you might want to check out the rest of the book, available here: Stories Light And Dark 1 If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow it for free. I always want to tell people my stories aren't all as dark as this. Or, if it's a spiritual story, I want to tell them they're not all like that. That's why I gave my compilation the title I did.

The Last Hours Of Brandon Kratz

The trail of corpses will lead them here. They’ll find their killer, they always do. But the reign of terror made it worthwhile, a few days of carnage that had the entire country glued to their television sets wondering how long it would last. And though it will all end at the cabin up ahead, the world will not soon forget the name of Brandon Kratz.
The cabin cannot be too far now, I know these woods too well to be mistaken.
They will find their man, but they’ll never find the answers they’re looking for. They’ll never understand how a seemingly loving family man could have killed his wife and children and fed them to the neighbor’s dogs. They’ll never understand how a person who looked so normal could be capable of such evil. Sure, there’s the rambling manifesto they found on Facebook, but that will serve more to disturb than enlighten. They’ll talk to the neighbors and relatives, who will tell them what a friendly and helpful person Brandon Kratz had always been. But these answers are not the ones that will help them sleep soundly at night. These are answers that only serve the festering doubt and fear that will linger in their minds and hearts.
What they want is to think that there is something that separates unfeeling, uncaring killers from the rest of society, some distinction that they can make and so separate the horror from their own lives. But they will find no answers because there are none, at least not the kind that bring comfort. Many murderers have given their explanations for what they have done, but the average person is unwilling to accept the truth of such explanations. They want rational reasons and are unwilling to cross into the territory of insanity, which is where all the real answers lie. They like to believe in a rational world, but they are too cowardly to embrace the truth that the world is the better part irrational.
I continue on my way towards my final destination, keeping to the woods and shadows in case the helicopters come. There is a determination in my stride, and I will myself to confidence regarding the direction I take. There really is no point in doubting myself now.
Would you like my truth? I have done what I did because I am God to myself. Perhaps you feel the same way too: frankly, I don’t care. I only know that there is no reason not to take what I want, do what I want. I see no reason to care about a world that is outside of myself. What good is it if it is not there for my pleasure? I don’t care about you, nor would I ask you to care about me.
Ah, but you do care, don’t you? You and everybody in Southern California are very concerned about me, concerned that I am out there, somewhere, unchained by the laws of society. You will not rest soundly until Brandon Kratz is captured or dead. Have no fear, you will get your wish soon enough.
I estimate I have about a fifteen minute walk yet. The going is slower than I anticipated. But I cannot come up short now, not when I am so close to the end.
The life of a serial killer is brief but thrilling. I am like a force of nature that tears through a neighborhood, a city, the countryside. Like an approaching tornado, a community forgets about their normal lives and activities. I am the one concern. I am the center of the universe, mine and theirs. And for a brief time, I am the only thing that exists, the only thing that matters. Ayn Rand grasped merely a portion of the truth. If self-interest is the highest good, why stop at pursuing my own ends, why not bend all others to my own desires? Why not have the universe exist for me?
And so it began. If one starts out quietly, there is a lot of time to commit the initial murders before talk of a serial killer begins. I disposed of the wife and children first. I then quietly dispensed with the elderly woman across the street. With her blood I left a note on her wall in order to alert the authorities as to whom they were dealing with—the name Brandon Kratz was written in letters five feet tall, with every drop the old woman had in her. It took her lazy son two days to get around to paying her a visit, even after he must have heard about the murders in her neighborhood.
I guess I’m fortunate that I don’t look like a killer. People seem to trust me, maybe because I’m good at appearing caring. Even more important than not appearing threatening, I believe my features are generic enough to allow me to blend in with a crowd. If you saw me walking down the street, chances are you wouldn’t even notice me. Try it the next time you’re in a busy restaurant or a crowded mall. Take a look around you and see if you can spot the next Brandon Kratz that’s about to go off the deep end. See if you can spot the one carrying a weapon, see if you can catch a glimpse of murder in a stranger’s eye.
The temperature is warm and I am dressed for protection rather than comfort. The sweat makes my clothing cling to my body, making every movement an exertion. It occurs to me that I haven’t slept since this all started, more than three days now. I have been living on adrenaline, but that can only take you so far. I am tired. I’m glad that I am almost at the end of my journey. I think back on what a journey it has been.
There’ve been a lot of mass murders in the L.A. area recently. There’s been such a rash of murders that people are wondering if there is something in the air or in the water. There is a lot of talk and—typically—nothing will ever come of it. But even in this place and time, the name of Brandon Kratz will stand out. More than Billy Moreau’s four murders, more than Eric Cooper’s five. Even Ryan Kennedy’s seven murders don’t add up to Brandon Kratz’s total. I’ve been on quite a roll. Let’s see, now, Stefani Kratz, and Codi Kratz, and little Amber. Old lady Weathers. That hitchhiker, Chad, I think his name was. And then there was the mall shooting. I only killed two there, but I escaped, which was the important thing. I don’t think anybody even saw me there, although I’m sure I must be on some security camera somewhere wearing my trench coat and black military helmet. Kind of stupid of me, doing that at a crowded mall. Too easy to get caught. They could have got me alive, which would have been horrible. They would have stuck me under a microscope and viewed me like I was a bug. Much better this way, where they are searching for me with satellites.
Sorry, where was I? Six—no, seven, I’m forgetting Chad again. And then there were the two sheriff’s deputies that pulled me over. That was well done, they were armed and dangerous. But it cost me; I had to leave my car in the process and I’m pretty sure the cops will know where I am and that I’m on foot. I’m in the woods so they’ll be able to limit their search to a relatively small area. The road’s coming to an end for Brandon Kratz, but it will be the ending that I design. All I have to do is make it to the cabin.
It won’t be far now. I’d love to get rid of this riot facemask, but it’s part of the plan. There’s really no path anymore, just trees and undergrowth. Still, I know it can’t be far. I feel it in my bones.
I approach the cabin. It does not belong to me, but I know about it, planned to make it the end of my road. I open up the door and the terrified pleas begin.
“Where’s my family? Did you do something to them? Are they okay? Why are you doing this? Please, please don’t hurt them.”
“Now, Mr. Kratz,” I say “I’ve explained this to you before. There’s been a lot of killing and someone is going to have to take the blame for all the damage done.”
What society really wants is to get a hold of the psychopath and make him pay for what he’s done. But they rarely get the chance. Too often, the murderer kills himself rather than being taken alive. Such will be the case today.
“The people will need some kind of closure, no matter how unfulfilling,” I continue. “A corpse is better than nothing. At least that way they’ll be able to sleep tonight.
“Now if you’ll agree to open your mouth for me, I can promise to make your end short and painless. But it won’t look like suicide through clenched teeth. Are you going to cooperate?”
He looks at me with a clenched jaw and a look of defiance, as though anything he did mattered to me.
“No? Well, your loss. This might take a while longer, but the result will be the same.”
I place the gun to the side of Brandon Kratz’s head, wait for him to stop his futile head movements. I’m tempted to make the shot a poor one, make him suffer for his insolence. But I know I can only use one shot if it’s going to look like it is self-inflicted. I have to make it a good one. When I know I have a good shot, I pull the trigger. It’s a full cascade of blood, brain and bone that comes out the other side of his head, and Kratz quickly slumps in his chair. I untie my victim and allow him to drop to the floor. He’s lying in his ever-increasing pool of blood, his tongue hanging from his mouth as though he were a gibbering idiot. “It’s a pity they never count my final victim,” I think to myself. I always feel cheated by that.

According to news coverage, Brandon Kratz’s body was found in a cabin in the mountains last evening. He had shot himself in the head, it was reported, his suicide bringing to an end the latest and deadliest in a recent spate of killings. As for me, I’m busy clipping newspaper articles at the moment. After a little time off to rest up, I’ll be searching once again for another Brandon Kratz, the normal kind of person that no one would ever suspect could commit the horrible crimes he’ll be accused of.
The next time you’re in a busy restaurant or a crowded mall, take a look around, see if you can spot the next Brandon Kratz. Is it the tired-looking waitress that’s pouring your coffee, the man sitting next to you with his wife and kids, or the older gentleman at the bookstore who looks incapable of harming a fly? It could be anybody. It might even be you.

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