This story is by Claude Bornel and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
In his ten years on the force, Detective Mayers had seen nothing like it. He stood on the bank of the lake staring at the naked, mutilated body laying close to the water. Mayers took a sip of his coffee and watched someone rowing a boat in the distance. He turned to his partner, who had placed yellow tape around the crime scene to contain the small crowd gathering.
“It’s the third girl in four weeks,” his partner said, scratching the back of his head. “No clues so far.”
Mayers sighed, squatted and examined the remains of the young, blond woman. He looked closer at her heart, crushed and left inside her opened chest. He wondered again why the killer removed her eyeballs and cut her head off. “I agree; it’s the same method. I’m afraid this is the work of a serial killer.”
Two days later, Lena was brunching with her sorority friend Sandra, in a small French bistro.
“Are you coming to the party tonight?” She said.
“I’m not sure,” Sandra replied, as she chewed a bite of crepe. “I want to go back to college in one piece, thanks.”
“Don’t let the fake news spoil our fall break,” Lena said, dismissing her words. “By the way, Robert confirmed.” She enjoyed teasing her friend.
“Robert Johnson? He’s so hot!”
Lena nodded. “You know all the boys I invited, except one.” She said and twirled her long blond hair with her finger.
“I met this guy at Starbucks. He is tall, strong and has dimples.”
“Did you start without me, bitches,” a woman blurted out, startling Lena. She hadn’t noticed someone coming up behind them.
“You are late, Teresa,” Lena complained. “I hate you being so sneaky.”
“And I hate people calling me Teresa.”
“Sorry, Terry,” Lena rolled her eyes.
A month ago, Lena and Teresa met at CrossFit. Despite their friendship, Lena was uncomfortable with Teresa’s volatile personality.
“Whatta ‘bout this dimple guy?” Teresa asked, disdainfully.
“I invited him to the party.”
“Someone out there has killed three women already,” Sandra retorted. “And you invite a stranger? Tell her she is crazy, Terry, please.”
“Okay, you’re fucking crazy,” Teresa said. “You should keep your heart, soul, and mind pure.”
“Since when you go to church? Such a hypocrite!” Lena burst out and gave a defiant look at both girls. “If I will sleep with him or not, it’s not your business.”
“Don’t be a whore,” Teresa insisted.
“What’s his name?” Sandra asked, trying to calm everybody down.
“Jack the Ripper,” Teresa teased. “I went to the Jack the Ripper tour last time I traveled to London.”
“Terry might have a point.” Sandra captured both girl’s attention. “He may be cute, but he can also be a psycho. There’s a monster ripping girls apart, Lena. Underneath, people are never who we think they are.”
Lena frowned, shook her head, then changed the subject. “Are you bringing the booze this time or not?”
“Last time you let us down,” Lena mentioned.
“I met this fucking chick, remember? She made me forgot the Smirnoff, but I won’t forget this time.” Teresa said defensively.
The three women stayed in the bistro for another hour. They ate, drank, gossiped, laughed and then left.
At 8 p.m., Lena opened the doors for her guests. She was glad that Teresa had brought the hard liquor and Sandra had helped with the final touches. The initial anticipation gave way to a sense of pride as the place filled up. Lena couldn’t help but wear a smug smile on her face. Of all things, Lena was most proud of the Airbnb house she had rented.
Lena walked across the living room to go the kitchen that connected in an open floor plan. She glanced at the abstract paintings on the walls and noticed the people chatting. The young, blonde woman grabbed a Corona inside the stainless-steel double-door fridge. She greeted a few classmates from college before taking a lime wedge for her beer and going outside. The backyard was huge. It had a long rectangular pool, a tiki bar and a lot of chairs for her guests to relax in. She loved the green golf grass going all the way to a forest preserve on the back.
“I think Jack is too good to be true,” Sandra approached Lena, who observed the guy socializing with people he had met.
“I saw Robert inside. He was asking for you,” Lena watched her friend run away as fast as a fly that had been shooed.
Lena swayed to the rhythm of Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up” as she walked towards Jack. She was a girl who wanted to have fun. She wanted to make up the time when her overprotective parents never let her go to parties or sleepovers. Now, the 22-year-old was hosting her own party and could do whatever she wanted. Wearing a tank top over tight jeans shorts, Lena stopped in front of Jack, moved her hips and put one hand in the air. With the other hand, she held her beer and wiggled the index finger inviting Jack to join her.
When it was close to midnight, half of the guests had left while the other half had gotten stoned on who knows what. Lena came back from the bathroom and bumped into Teresa in the backyard.
“You didn’t let me down. You brought the booze,” Lena said, having trouble standing still.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough Corona and Smirnoff?”
“I’m fine, Terry,” she said, then hiccuped. “Jack is so sexy. Did you see his muscles? He is a rower, he competes.”
“Stay away from him,” Teresa insisted.
Lena was too impaired to take her friend’s advice into account. “Are you jealous? Oh, I forgot. You’re not into men. I’m sorry. I’m so confused.”
“It’s your last warning.”
Lena shook her head and went back to Jack. She recognized a Lana Del Rey song in the background. The shifting tempo of “West Coast” represented her state of mind and the most people around her. Lena leaned on Jack, who, after smoking pot, had sat in a chair. She listened to the idea he whispered in her ear.
“Have you ever had sex in the woods?” He pointed to the forest preserve.
She leered and pulled him out of the chair. None of the guests noticed them walking down the yard and disappearing among the trees.
Lena found the right spot and kissed him. She took her clothes off and looked at Jack pulling his pants down. She sat on him and rode him as if she was riding a horse. Lena closed her eyes and bit her lips. She moaned and listened to him moaning. She leaned back her body and looked at the tall trees pointing to the dark blue starry sky.
“Are you coming?” Lena asked. “You’re slowing down.”
“No, no,” he replied. “I think a bug just stung me on the neck.”
“Shut up. Keep banging me,” she finished the sentence and Jack fainted in slow motion. Before Lena could react or say anything, she felt a tiny prick on her neck the way Jack had said it happened to him. She touched her neck and saw the trees and the stars spinning and spinning until she collapsed.
When Lena regained consciousness, she had no clue of where she was or what time it was. She was blindfolded, and she couldn’t move. Her legs and arms had been strapped to a flat surface, like a surgeon’s table. In vain, she moved her body, trying to get free.
“Don’t waste time,” a muffled voice said. “Yours is short; very short.”
“Let me go, pleeease,” Lena sobbed.
“Can’t, babe, you’re a whore. I hate whores.”
“Y-you never had sex?”
“Sex hurts. Dad was a priest. He showed me one time how it hurts,” the killer replied.
Lena listened to a noise as if a knife was being honed.
“Starts with the eyes,” the killer explained. “The eyes are the doorway to the soul. What you see corrupts your heart, soul, and mind. Dad said to keep them pure. But you didn’t, did you?”
Lena listened to a few steps coming in her direction.
“After I remove yours,” the killer whispered. “You will be pure again.”
Lena had the blindfold taken off.
“Y-you? W-why…,” Lena said her last words.
Early in the morning after the party, Teresa was rowing a rowboat on the lake. The sun was dawning behind her. She turned to her right side and glanced at a small crowd in the distance standing at the bank of the lake. She saw two men closer to the water, looking at something on the ground. One had a cup of coffee in his hand, the other scratched the back of his head. She couldn’t stop grinning as she watched the scene.