"You probably want to send me to a psychiatrist right now."Tricia fumed as she drove around downtown San Diego. The bitch resisting her threw her plans off. Each of her victims were carefully chosen, painstakingly selected. Then that mere slip of a girl showed up. What did the ash-skinned man call her again? "The Bladekeeper." Whatever that was. Tricia was too far along to let some wanna-be Scooby-Doo character interfere. No time to worry. She wasn't far off her own schedule. The loss of her preferred target was annoying; going after the receptionist was now out of the question. The police might realize she was the original target. Same with going after the so-called Bladekeeper. She fought back, but couldn't know about Tricia's plans. Even without taking the ashen man's warning into account, going after the Bladekeeper was a non-starter.
"You're looking for a serial killer."
"I'm having dinner with a very attractive woman."
"So, now, I'm single, but if I get involved with someone, seriously involved, then whoever the next woman is, she had to be comfortable with the idea that I work crazy hours."
Still, that left Tricia down a name on her list. Culled from phone books, researched on the Internet to get personal details, each person on her list was there because there was no link, no common thread beyond living in San Diego and what she did with the body afterwards. The media hadn't even picked up on the idea one person was performing most of the murders in the past few weeks. Mind, the police department was keeping reporters in the dark. Didn't want to scare the general public now, did they?
Tricia finished her circuit of downtown and turned her car towards the beach. Thursday night downtown was never a good time to find anyone. Yet, tomorrow night would be worse – too many witnesses. But for the beach. The beach would have a selection of humanity for her.
Arriving at the public beach, Tricia parked her car. She got out, bringing her duffle bag with her. Everything she'd need was in that bag, and she had several more at home in case she had to abandon this one. She even had a swimsuit in the bag. It turned out to be very useful with her fourth victim, a pre-med student who she convinced him to want to examine her anatomy quite intimately. As much as it pained her to re-use a method, it was successful.
Tricia entered the women's locker room. She quickly changed out of her business attire and into her red string bikini. Years of working out after classes through college and work once she graduated paid off for her as she checked herself out in a mirror. Tricia let her dark hair down, flowing over her shoulders. Perfect.
Hefting her duffle bag over her shoulder, she left the change room and walked down the beach. Many prospects were around, laughing, playing, unaware of the predator walking through their midst. Tricia allowed herself to smile. She held the power of life and death over this herd of people. One of them would let the others live a little longer. Problem was, there were too many in groups. The few she saw alone were didn't fall in the requirements for her or the ashen man – no homeless unless Tricia could find a missing persons report for them.
A few cat calls from a group of young men caught her attention. Tricia turned to them, cocking a hip so she could rest her hand on it. "Yes, boys?" she purred.
"What's a fine woman like you doin' all alone out here?" asked one of the guys. Tricia marked him as the leader. "Don't you know it's all dangerous for a woman to be alone these days?"
"Dangerous?" Tricia laughed in spite of herself. "What do I have to be afraid of?"
"Him!" another guy called out. The group broke out in drunken laughter.
Tricia looked over the first guy with a more critical eye. "Oh, I don't know. He seems to be a big ol' softy to me." She winked at the man.
"Maybe you should join us."
"I don't know." Tricia made a performance out of biting her finger. "I mean, I'm new in town and I don't know where to go. Maybe one of you can show me?"
The first guy started walking over to Tricia. "Maybe. What are you looking for?"
"A good time." Tricia linked her free arm around her victim's waist. "I'm sure you can do that for me." She started leading him away from his friends.
"So, what's your name? I'm Peter."
"Madison. My friends call me me Maddy." Tricia smiled, trying to calm her victim – Peter she reminded herself – so he wouldn't panic too soon.
"Maddy. I like it."
"So, where are you taking me."
Peter shrugged. "Depends on what you want."
"What can I say?" Tricia blew into Peter's ear. "I know what I want and will do anything to go after it. Men included."
"Anything?" Peter stammered.
Peter flushed bright red. "I know a place we can go to."
"It is far?"
"Not if we take my car."
"Oh, Tiger, that's too long to wait." Tricia ran her free hand along Peter's arm, squeezing his muscles. "Not when such a fine specimen as yourself is oh so close to me. I don't think I can hold out that long." She turned enough to let the young man look down into her cleavage.
Peter looked around. He pointed further down the beach. "There's a set of public showers that way. I'm sure we can fit into one if we try." He nodded at the duffel bag. "What's all that?"
"Everything I need." Tricia licked her ruby lips.
Peter picked up his pace, leading Tricia to the showers. He checked the men's area to make sure it was clear, then ushered Tricia inside. Peter was almost running by the time he found a shower stall big enough for both of them. "In here!" He closed the thin wooden door behind them. "How's this?"
"Perfect!" Tricia set her duffle on the tiled floor of the shower. She bent over at the waist to open a side pocket on the bag, wiggling her hips to keep Peter distracted.
"What are you getting?"
"Don't look, Tiger. It's going to be a surprise." Tricia pulled a long-bladed stiletto from the bag, keeping the weapon hidden from Peter with her body. She spun around and thrust the blade up to the hilt into Peter, below his rib cage. "Surprise!"
Peter's eyes widened. He opened his mouth to speak. Tricia twisted the blade. Pain crossed over the young man's features. His legs gave out under him. Tricia caught the body in her free arm, then pulled the stiletto out. She ran her finger over the young man's blood on the blade. Still holding him up, she dropped her weapon and ran her bloodied finger over Peter's forehead. Tricia carefully intoned the ritual, trapping the young man's soul within the shell of his body. She waited a moment. If the ritual failed, the blood would remain where she had put it. To Tricia's relief, Peter's blood soaked into his skin.
Tricia looked out into the change room, making sure no one had entered. Satisfied she was still alone with her sacrifice, she manhandled the body against the stall walls. The idiot had found a place big enough for the two of them to stand in; perfect for what he had in mind, but not for her. She was tempted to pin him in place, but the next ritual required the body to be marked in a specific manner. Tricia retrieved her stiletto and used her sacrifice's board shorts to clean the blood and gore off the blade.
The stiletto was perfect for killing the young fool, but the next step needed a different approach. Tricia put away the killing blade and brought out a butcher's skinning blade. She started reciting more words from a language she didn't know, then made an incision at the top of Peter's head down to his skull. Tricia then cut through the skin and followed the spine down to the tail bone. She returned to his shoulders and added two more cuts, each along his arms. As she continued to recite the words, she felt her sacrifice's bones move underneath the skin. Tricia picked up her pace, adding cuts through Peter's legs, slicing through his board shorts. She then stepped back, out of the shower stall.
The young man's skeleton shed the skin. Organs, blood, and gore fell to the floor, landing in horrifying splashes. Tricia retrieved her blood splattered bag. Nothing she could do about it, but the skinning knife had to be cleaned. She reached into the bag to pull out a plastic bag and placed the knife inside. After another quick check for witnesses, she ushered the skeleton, now free of muscle and sinew, out of the stall. It's bony feet clattered on the floor tiles.
Tricia reached past the collapsed heap of Peter's body to turn the shower on. The sound should keep people away for a while, giving her more time to escape. However, being bloodstained herself would get someone's attention. She ordered the skeleton to follow her to the women's showers, where Tricia cleaned up and changed into a light t-shirt and a pair of jeans. She tied her hair back into a ponytail and put on a pair of glasses with plain glass instead of lenses.
Satisfied with her own appearance, Tricia started with the skeleton. Even if she could get out unnoticed, the skeleton wouldn't, not easily. She took out a long trenchcoat from her duffel bag and tossed it at the creature. As she rummaged, she ordered her new minion to put on the coat. Tricia pulled out a baseball cap. If the skeleton could stay to dark areas until she could get it in her car, Tricia would be home free. She put the cap on the skull, adjusting it so that the least amount of light hit the skeleton's face.
Tricia gave her duffle to the skeleton, further reducing her current appearance's connection to the hot cougar who picked up Peter on the beach. She left, walking with a purpose. Once outside, she maintained her pace, not looking around at anyone else. Once off the beach and on the road, Tricia ordered the skeleton to hide in the shadow of a clump of bushes. After making sure her minion was out of sight, Tricia continued back to her car.
"Dad, you're kicking us out of the house?"
"I can't believe you, Brenna."
"Believe what you want."
"And watch out for Killer."