This is the raw, unedited first two chapters of Cannibal Dreams.
He put on the clean room gear. The helmet, jumpsuit, gloves, and boots were connected together with Velcro. The clean room was a nice model. He’d ordered it off the internet over a year ago. It worked to keep the mess out of the rest of the house and it was easy to clean when he finished.
The body was already on the table. Rigor had come and gone. Most of the blood had congealed and settled, leaving dark spots visible through the skin. The wounds on the boy’s body had scabbed over.
August plugged in the Sawzall. It whirred to life with a high pitched hum. The pitch became deeper as the blade bit into the first piece of flesh. The blade shredded the skin, severed the ligaments, nerves and tendons. The teeth ate through the windpipe with ease. Even when it hit the spine there was very little resistance. It sheered through the bone quickly and effectively. The boy’s head fell to the floor with a thud that couldn’t be heard over the motor of the saw. Dark, almost black, fluid oozed from the wound.
He moved to the arms next. These required bracing. Straps hung from the ceiling. He took his time securing each wrist into its designated strap. If he didn’t, the arm might move and the saw would get into a bind, causing it to not cut through the bone.
The legs were the hardest. He started at the ankles, cutting just above the joint. He repeated the procedure just about the knee. Getting through the femur was always tricky. It dulled the blade. He had to cut it twice on each leg. The saw made a loud whine and the blade broke.
Under his mask, he swore vehemently. It took him a few minutes to replace the blade. The gloves were great for protection, not so great for manipulating small parts.
After he replaced the blade, he went back to cutting off the legs at the hip. He shoved everything except the right foot inside a large, heavy duty bag. Now, he had to work on the torso. He still hadn’t figured out the best way to do it. He knew he had to remove the organs, which was always disgusting.
The saw tore into the chest. Miniature bone slivers filled the air. Bone dust flew up. The flesh was shredded as the saw yanked it away from the body. This is why the body sat for a day before being cut apart, there was less blood to be strewn about the room.
He removed the organs and put them in the bag. He took the saw and began cutting through the ribs. The torso was tedious work. It had to be cut five or six times, in different directions, before it would fit in the bag.
When he finished, he zipped the bag closed. Everything was inside except the feet. He used a sprayer hose to rinse the table. The water splashed and flung droplets cascading across the room as the stainless steel table was cleaned. Drains built into the table, carried away the messy leftovers of his dismemberment. Next, he dried it with a plush, soft dark blue towel.
The feet he put on the table and began examining them. They were dirty; caked with mud and blood. This would never do. He turned the water back on, making sure it was warm, and began to clean the feet.
He’d been very careful to remove them about an inch or so above the ankle joint. Ensuring to cut the tibia and fibula with the precision that would have made a doctor proud. The feet were mostly just scratched and cut. The result of being barefoot when forced to walk through the property into the house. However, one wound caught his eye. It was bigger than the others, deeper.
Augustus reached for the filet knife that he kept close by. Very carefully, he began to scrape at the wound, removing the tissue in layers and chunks until the bone was visible. This done, he washed the foot again. It was ready for the final step.
A package of tube socks, protected by a zip lock bag, set on a counter top in the room. He dried his hands and made sure they were clean before opening the package. The socks were bright white and brand new. He took them over to the feet.
Moving with ease, that was only learned through experience, he put the severed left foot into a sock. He did the same with the right. Using the extra material, he tied the socks together, ensuring that the feet dangled in them like sausages.
It took both hands to carry the duffle bag full of dismembered body parts out to his truck. He returned to his house and grabbed the socks. Outside the clean room, he now disrobed from his clean suit. He picked up the socks and headed back outside.
He drove the twenty-one miles to the river and tossed the duffle bag into the black water. It gurgled as it sank. Even on the best days, the visibility was practically zero here. At night, only the nocturnal creatures with great night vision could see his deed. He got back into the truck and drove into town.
It was late when he arrived. The bars had all closed. A few drunks loitered in the streets, talking loudly or stumbling, as they went wherever they went. He turned into a residential neighborhood. It had once been one of those fancy ones, the kind that everyone with money wanted to live in. But those days were gone, it was mostly starter homes for young families now. The streets had become crowded. The small yards unappealing. It had been replaced by bigger houses in better neighborhoods. He drove slowly down the street. No lights shown from windows. No security lights flashed on. A few houses had left their outside lights burning through the night, more out of forgetfulness than anything else.
He stopped the truck in the middle of the road and tossed the socks. They wrapped neatly around a utility wire. He tried not to giggle as he got back inside, pulling his door shut very quietly, ensuring not to wake the neighborhood. Slamming doors would be unusual here at this time of night.
With the feet now safely out of his possession, he turned the truck around. He drove out of the neighborhood and was gone, disappearing into the night on an old highway that was hardly ever used. He headed east, homebound. The night was clear and cold. It had snowed a few days earlier and cinders had turned the snow black. His headlights reflected off the blackened mounds of dirty ice and onto clean, undisturbed fields of snow. He’d used his tractor to clear his driveway a few days earlier.
His tires crunched over frozen gravel as he returned. He got out of the truck and walked to the old barn. Inside, the clean room still needed to be cleaned and dismantled. He set to work. By sunrise, his muscles were starting to ache, but the room was clean. All the pieces were stacked against the wall, looking like pieces from an abandoned office building. He left the heat running in the building and went to the house.
The house was colder. A chill had crept in as the fireplace had slowly began to die out. He piled wood in it, bringing it back from the brink of death. The new wood hissed and popped as it soaked in the heat and flames and fueled the fire back to a roaring inferno.
Augustus was about to sit down when he remembered he hadn’t put the meat up. He sighed heavily and put his coat back on. He trekked back out to the barn and hung the meat he’d fileted off the back and ribs of the boy he’d just dumped in the river, into an old section of the barn. It had once been used to cure pork, but those days were long gone. Something growled, he turned and caught a glint of light from Genevieve, his pet jaguar. Her cage took up the largest part of the barn and cost a fortune to heat, but it was worth it.
“Genny,” he cooed at her. She gave a low, guttural growl in response. A second, higher pitched growl followed it. It came from the darkness behind Genny. Vera, his other pet, was hiding, but didn’t want to go completely unnoticed. “Good girls,” he cooed at them again before leaving.
The guy in overalls rushed me. His shoulder slammed into my gut, lifting me off the ground. The air was forced from my lungs as we hit the wall behind us. I had a gun and could hit my attacker in the back of the head with it or shoot him, but killing a serial killer on the job, produced a lot of paperwork and death was always a possibility when a gun was involved. My other option was to rip off his ear.
My fingernails dug into the cartilage at the top of the serial killer’s ear. I yanked. Blood gushed into my hand, running down my arm in a crimson line. The flesh between the tips of my fingers became spongier. I pulled harder. The suspect let out a yell and pushed harder against my mid-section.
Gabriel and Xavier had guns drawn. John Bryant, our newest member, was holding a Taser. None of them were firing. I was too close to use either weapon safely. I’d feel the jolt of the Taser, even though it wasn’t set to high.
My ribs began to hurt. If I didn’t do something soon, the brut would break a rib just using his shoulder and the wall behind me.
“Now?” John asked.
“Um,” Gabriel seemed to waiver for a moment. I took the moment to finish the damage I had started. The ring of the ear, including the lobe, completely came off. I dropped it to the ground and grabbed the other ear with my other hand. As soon as my fingers touched it, the killer moved back, letting me fall to my feet. I kicked him in the knee with the heavy work boots I always wore on the job. The steel-plate in the toe connected with his knee cap. The steel-plate in the bottom of the boot connected a little lower. The monster went down to one knee.
He growled at me.
“Well?” I asked the men in the room, wondering what the hell they were waiting for. John fired his Taser. The man in front of me took the voltage and began trying to stand, despite the Taser and the dislocated knee. “Jesus Christ,” I muttered, kicking him again, in the other knee. There wasn’t a pop, it didn’t dislocate, but he grunted louder. I was running out of options and time. I really didn’t want to shoot him.
“John, stop,” Gabriel commanded. John took his finger off the trigger of his Taser. Gabriel moved in. He began to put cuffs on the serial killer. The monster moved like Flash Gordon, turning, he managed to grabbed Gabriel and swing him over his knee. His hands clutched at Gabriel’s throat.
“Let him go, now,” I put my gun to his forehead. Gabriel’s face was turning the same shade of red as his hair. Now, I wanted to shoot him. Instead, I hit him in the forehead with the butt of my gun. He crumpled to the floor, his hand spasming and releasing Gabriel. Gabriel gagged and coughed.
“Thanks,” he croaked. “You could have done it a few seconds earlier.”
“I was trying to convince myself not to execute him.”
“This is better,” Gabriel agreed. “There would have been a lot of paperwork if you had shot him at point blank range in the forehead.”
“Hey, I offered him the chance to surrender twice before he rushed me and then, I only removed his ear instead of busting open his head. I think it showed a lot of restraint.” Restraint wasn’t exactly my strong-point on a good day. Lately, I hadn’t had many good days. Lucas was still off work. Michael was still dead. His killer was still out there. He’d gone dormant and every killer we’d caught in the last two months was a surrogate for the one that had got away.
However, while waiting for our first case in December, I had taken the initiative to use our Killer’s Database to track his work. He’d been killing fair queens for years, all over the country. Until three years ago, then he’d stopped. Our sniper had re-emerged after the carnival bombings began in June of last year. He’d gone dormant again after killing Michael.
It was late January. We had at least four months until fair season began again. That didn’t stop me from checking the database for his MO weekly.
The new guy, John Bryant, seemed to be working. He hesitated more than I liked and he still made some mistakes, like Tasering a suspect a few weeks earlier while Gabriel was tousling with him, but there was a steep learning curve. He’d either figure it out really quick or he’d die. So far, it didn’t matter to me either way, unless it effected one of the others.
“Xavier, check her over. John, help me with the suspect,” Gabriel ordered.
“I’m fine,” I said before Xavier could reach me.
“You just had four hundred pounds crushing your ribs. You might be tough as nails, but you are going to be looked at before we leave this house,” Gabriel informed me. “And get the crime scene people in here. There are at least parts of seven victims in the guest bedroom.”
“I’ll call the techs,” a uniformed officer who had made entry with us said from the doorway that led to the kitchen. He was ashen and shaking. We had told him not to come in, but he had insisted. It wasn’t just the body parts in the other room or the fact that entire place smelled like road kill. He had lost some blood from a bite mark and watching me pull off a serial killer’s ear seemed to disturb him.
“Arms up,” Xavier told me. His fingers instantly went under my shirt and began prodding my ribs. They were bruised, his touch was akin to being stabbed, but nothing felt out of place, loose or broken. “She’s good,” Xavier told Gabriel.
“Are you ready for this?” Gabriel asked John. John nodded, but looked a little unsure. The press was outside. This was the first time he’d be face to face with them as we took a suspect out of a house.
This killer wasn’t really special by our standards, but living in a town of only 400 people in Pennsylvania seemed interesting. The fact that he was Amish made it newsworthy. Add to it that no one knew there was a serial killer until a tornado left body parts strung across three miles of Pennsylvania and it was worthy of national news. It was also the reason we were here. The tornado had destroyed his barn where he’d been storing the dismembered corpses.
“Am I bleeding?” I asked.
“No,” Xavier told me.
That was a plus, it meant my battered body wouldn’t end up being broadcast across the country. As long as I could walk, upright and unassisted, without blood gushing from some part of my body, my cell phone wouldn’t ring constantly. Besides, Lucas tended to freak out when it did, blaming himself for not being there.
“Shall we?” Gabriel pointed towards the door.
“Xavier or me first?” I asked.
“Xavier,” Gabriel answered. I stepped aside, taking a position at the rear of the group. If our killer attempted to escape, I could shoot him on TV. That would be interesting. I was willing to bet the live broadcast would be interrupted.
Noise washed over us first. Evening was starting to set in, not yet dusk, but almost. There was still enough sun that most of the cameras didn’t require extra lights. Some reporters were shouting our names; others were busy giving their spiel to their cameras as we walked past.
None of us made eye contact. We focused our gazes on the vehicle borrowed from the Marshals’ Service in Pittsburgh that would be transporting our suspect. The back was an enclosed cage. The doors were already open. Several men in tactical gear with large weapons stood at the back of the doors. Xavier walked with determination, a good gait that didn’t require me to walk fast to keep up, but kept us all moving past the crowds that lined our way.
“Marshal Cain, is he missing an ear?” Some reporter asked, trying to shove a microphone in my face. I walked past, unwilling to make a comment. Losing an ear was a lot better than being dead in most people’s opinions.
“Nice,” one of the Marshals’ standing guard at the van said to us as we handed our suspect to him.
“He should have known better,” Gabriel shrugged. We were out of ear shot of the cameras and reporters. This area was sealed for their protection.
“By the blood on her hands, I’d guess it was her work,” one of them smirked.
“Better than a bullet to the back of the skull,” Xavier answered. “The ear will heal. Most bullets in the head don’t.”
“Are we using your plane to get him to KC?” Someone who looked to be in charge asked.
“No, they have something lined up for him in Pittsburgh. We’ll follow you into the city,” Gabriel answered.
We may not get invited to other Marshals’ parties very often, but we were respected by our fellow officers. They might yank our chain once in a while, but the death of Michael had proved we were just as much a part of the Marshals’ as anyone else with the badge. Every Marshal with a day off out of the eight states that touched Missouri had shown up for his funeral. All of them had given their condolences to both his family and us. Michael had been buried with the full rights and rituals due to a fallen Marshal.
After handing off the Amish serial killer, we got into our SUV. There was a collective groan. It was my turn to pick the music. I hooked up my iPhone to the stereo. Angry Johnny by Poe instantly began to blare from the speakers when Gabriel turned the ignition. This was a new thing we were trying for long car rides. None of us agreed on music, so we each took a turn playing music for an hour. I had built a playlist with the intent of annoying my fellow passengers. They made me listen to Johnny Cash and Nelly, I could make them suffer through girl grunge bands and German industrial.
Just for the record, I am not a fan of “The Man in Black.” I like my music hard, Rob Zombie and Rammstein were the chart toppers, along with Nine Inch Nails, Garbage and Ozzy Osbourne. They didn’t need to know that in private, I listened to Carrie Underwood, Lady Gaga or Simon and Garfunkle. Nor did they need to know that I liked the song The Highway Man which featured Johnny Cash or that I had over 48,000 mp3s in my music collection. There were some things that were still private.