"I did it! I finally did it!", the words thunder inside of Malcolm's mind.
Malcolm pulls the bloody, jagged knife from the woman's neck. Her lifeless eyes stare vacantly into his own. Deep, sea-blue eyes made all the more vivid by the paleness of her bled-white skin.
Her head rolls backward at an unnatural angle. Her dead eyes now stare unblinkingly at the roadside curbing.
Malcolm's face twitches with spasms of maniacal pleasure. He wipes the knife clean of blood on the woman's bluejeans and staggers to his feet.
Suddenly, the surrounding cottages blur and swirl rapidly around Malcolm. He feels himself being sucked into the maelstrom; no matter where he looks, his gaze is pulled toward the ripped and mutilated neck of his victim.
Bestial rage gives way to a deviant, almost electric sense of exaltation and triumph. He is deep in the thrall of the kill.
"I am Malcolm, the Chosen One. Unholy fire and destruction shall spread before me. The world shall fall into a Dark Age for a thousand years."
Malcolm thrusts the knife above his head in a clenched-fist tribute to Destiny. His mouth turns toward the stars and fills the cool night air with an inhuman, feral howl.
"Hey, what was that?"
Scuffled footsteps approach from down the hill.
"What's that guy-- Jesus,....".
The five boys are college students on their way home from drinking (which they are good at) and picking up girls(they all struck out, again).
The boys are mesmerized by Malcolm, like deer caught in a car's headlights. He is holding a big knife over his head about thirty yards uphill. Three blades are attached to the knife's base, a long blade in the middle with two smaller blades on either side.
Malcolm turns and the boys see his face in the starlight. It is a face that might have been strong and handsome if it weren't twisted by the animalistic joy of killing.
One of the boys thinks the face looks familiar, but he isn't sure.
The limp body of a woman lies sprawled at Malcolm's feet. Something isn't right about the way her head lies in relation to the rest of her body.
Secretly, one of the boys tries to think of a TV hero who has faced a similar dilemma so he will know what to do next. In his panic he draws a blank.
A tall boy, the Leader of the Pack, decides it's time for action. He puffs himself up and takes a quick, determined step towards Malcolm. Malcolm holds his ground and bares his teeth. He slowly lowers his knife so it points straight at the Leader's throat. The blades glint in the starlight as they flick in a quick left-to-right slicing motion.
"Come here, little boy! Daddy has some candy for you!", Malcolm hisses.
"H-o-o-ly shit!", a boy mutters under his breath.
The Leader of the Pack retreats to his friends as quickly as he had rushed to lead them.
The boys look at each other uncertainly. Malcolm draws strength from their fear.
Another heavy-set, unshaven boy steps in front of the group. He has drank more beer than anyone else so he is the bravest. The Brave One turns to rally the others to quick and manly action.
"Come on.", the Brave One yells and points to Malcolm. "If we all jump this dirtbag at once he can't get all of us." The other boys take their eyes off Malcolm to stare at the Brave One.
"Yeah, right you fucking moron. Why don't you lead the charge? When that knife is stuck between your ribs, the rest of us should be able to handle him just fine. You dope!"
The boys look at each other. They look at Malcolm.
"What do we do?"
The standoff continues. No one moves. No one is sure what to do next. Their dilemma seems insoluble.
A high pitched voice wails, "You better not fuck with me, buddy. I'm the best damned running back Notre Dame ever had!". The other boys all turn to look down at their 5'3", 130 pound colleague.
"Oh, that scared him." the Brave One mocks. "Now he has no choice but to surrender."
"Well, it works in New Jersey." the football great mumbles dejectedly.
"You guys are a bunch of pussies! Let's just get him!" The Brave One turns again to rush Malcolm.
Malcolm is gone.
The mangled, broken body of the woman remains.
Cautiously at first, then in a rush, the boys run up to the woman's body. Once they get a close look they immediately wish they had stayed where they were.
Repulsed by the carnage, the Brave One turns his head away in disgust. Something down the street, on the sidewalk, catches his eye. It moves briefly into the light.
It is a black snake, at least six feet long and as thick as a man's calve.
The snake stops and turns its head toward the boys. The Brave One swears to himself that two brown human eyes stare at him from inside the snake's head, eyes that flame like bottomless pits of fire.
But it is the feeling behind the eyes that drills into the Brave One's drunken soul and will haunt his dreams for months.
Hatred. Pure, unadulterated hatred. A hatred so intense that if a man felt it for just one moment he would become totally, irretrievably insane.
The snake, or whatever it is, turns and slithers into the shadows.
"I've got to lay off the tequila", thinks the Brave One.
Unlike the Brave One, Notre Dame's Best Running Back Ever cannot take his eyes off the slain young woman. Nearly choking on the dry panic that swells from his stomach to his throat, he repeatedly opens and closes his mouth like a fish yanked from water.
No sound comes out except a pathetic scratching.
He tries again. Nothing.
His rubbery legs are about to give way when Notre Dame's Best Running Back Ever finally collects enough saliva in his mouth to swallow. His next scream is more successful.
"Hel-l-lp! Heel-l-lp!", the football great shouts, his voice a full octave higher than usual.
"Murder! Wake up! Someone! Call the police! Hel-l-l-lp!"
A table lamp switches on. Light dimly filters through drawn curtains. Panicked fingers dial 911. Minutes later, the first police cars arrive and park near the Flying Horses Carousel. Sirens wail and blue lights flash officially.
Officers David Kachavos and Stephen Swope are the first to shine their flashlights on the victim. Neither has been at a murder scene before.
Officer Kachavos thinks it will look very nonchalant to arrive at the murder scene holding a Styrofoam cup of coffee in one hand and a pastry in the other. He is determined to act as if murder and mutilation is part of his everyday life.
"Damn! Another murder? I'll check it out in a few minutes, chief. I've got to stop at Dunkin' Donuts first," Officer Kachavos fantasizes saying to his superior as he walks towards the body.
The sight of the body quickly pulls Kachavos out of his reverie.
"Jesus..." Kachavos mutters, "Look at the way she's cut, Swope. This guy must have used a power tool or something."
Officer Kachavos bravely tries to bring the shaking Styrofoam cup to his lips without spilling hot coffee all over himself. He is not wholly successful.
Kachavos' partner, Officer Swope, does not answer. Officer Swope is not feeling well at all.
In fact, Swope is desperately trying not to think about the woman's bluish-white and butchered body. Or the way her head rolls backwards from her shoulders at an odd angle, only connected to the rest of her body by tendons and torn muscle.
"And her eyes ... those blue eyes ... the way they don't move at all ... the way they just stare accusingly ... It's like they're accusing me!",Swope thinks to himself.
Swope tries to focus on the door handle of the police cruiser to the exclusion of all else.
"Just think of the door handle. Don't think about it ... Her! Oh, Jesus. It will be over soon. The other guys will come and I can get out of here.", Swope's thoughts ramble on.
"Nice chrome", he murmurs out loud.
"Dear God, please don't let this happen here. Don't let me get sick", Officer Swope prays. But the more he tries to put the image of the dead body ... and those blue eyes ... out of his mind, the more detailed and ghastly the vision becomes.
Swope's face loses its color as blood drains from his head. He begins swaying back and forth like a sea-sick tourist on a whale watch boat. One of his hands covers his mouth. The other rubs his stomach.
Now Swope's imagination shifts into overdrive. He begins to see himself straddling over the butchered girl. Her body turns into a human-shaped mass of raw and bloody ground beef. Except for the eyes. They are blue as the sky and embedded in the ground beef like raisins in a cookie.
Staring at him. Wanting him.
Swope sees himself slip a hand inside the knife wound on her neck. He reaches inside the wound and behind her thick, meaty breasts and pulls out a big hunk of fresh ground beef. Then he starts slapping it into thick, juicy hamburger patties. The pungent smell of raw meat fills his nostrils. He puts the hamburger pattie to his mouth and tastes its damp clamminess with his tongue and...
Officer Swope's prayers are not answered.
To the disgust of the growing crowd of bathrobe-clad bystanders Officer Swope heaves the nice lasagna his wife cooked him all over Trinity Avenue.
Heaving and retching are contagious, especially at murder scenes. Six queasy bystanders catch the bug from Officer Swope. And then three more.
After a few minutes of this the crowd disperses.
Malcolm scrambles madly from cottage to cottage. He runs down a dark alley and onto a short narrow section of street. Then he races back down another alley, hurdles a white picket fence, and keeps running. Winding to his right, then zig-zagging to his left, Malcolm makes his way to the west side of Oak Bluff's gingerbread village. Nearly every police cruiser on Martha's Vineyard has converged on the east side, at the murder scene.
Finally, about seventy five yards down Circuit Avenue, Malcolm spots the car he borrowed for the evening. Malcolm slows to a walk and tries to appear casual and unhurried while simultaneously scrutinizing every sight and sound for possible danger.
Suddenly, Malcolm is gripped by a wave of insane anxiety. He clenches his fists to stop his hands from shaking. The frantic thud-thud-thud of his furiously beating heart drowns out all other noise.
Just concentrate on the car and look natural, Malcolm scolds himself.
The roaring gusts of his own breath subside. Malcolm pulls himself together and makes his way to the tan Mercedes Coupe. He pulls the door open and lithely slips into the leather bucket seat. His keys jingle briefly and the Mercedes hums to life. Malcolm slowly pulls out onto the street and cruises along Farm Pond.
He hears the distant rising and falling of police sirens far behind him.
"Dumb fucks", Malcolm spits to himself over the barely audible hum of the Mercedes engine.
"How ridiculously easy this all is!"
It is 4:45 A.M.
An occasional car rolls drowsily along the road, its driver tired and a little drunk, quietly desperate to get home before he nods off at the wheel.
Nobody is happy to be driving at 4:45 in the morning.
Nobody, that is, except Malcolm. He is wide awake. Excitement courses through his veins. His hands tap the steering wheel in time with the Rolling Stones..."Start me up .... Start me up and never stop."
Malcolm's headlights push through the starry darkness and up and over a small bridge. He is heading on Beach Rd. towards Edgartown. To his left is State Beach and Nantucket Sound, to his right Sengekontacket Pond. He can taste the salty sea air seeping into the car.
Malcolm slows for turns before he even sees them. He has driven over this road a thousand times before.
"ALL COUNTRIES SHALL KNEEL BEFORE ME. FIRE AND DARKNESS SHALL REIGN. MY POWER IS WITHOUT BOUNDS. CIVILIZATION SHALL END," a God-like voice booms inside Malcolm's mind.
Then a smaller voice speaks up from deep inside, "Your dirty."
"I'M DIRTY?", the God-like, booming voice asks itself.
"You're dirty. Your nothing, you're no fucking good!", the smaller voice continues. Then, the smaller voice grows louder, louder, until it matches the volume of the God-like, booming voice, "You're filthy, disgusting. A shapeless blob of loose hanging skin."
"GET OUT OF MY FUCKING BODY!", the once smaller, now booming voice roars.
Malcolm's skin crawls as if wave upon wave of indescribably horrible filth is being heaped upon him, its moist dampness clinging to his body.
A disgusted shudder racks his body. "Yes, I am filthy.", the once God-like, now small and plaintive, voice whines.
Malcolm nearly misses the right turn onto Vineyard Haven Rd.
"I'm dirty. I've got to get clean." Malcolm grinds his teeth together.
He turns left on Barnes Rd. and heads towards the cliffs at Gay Head.
The light of a new day cascades peacefully upon Martha's Vineyard. The morning dew sparkles like chipped diamonds carelessly strewn in the grass. Early risers awake and make coffee. The flamboyant colors of the gingerbread cottages are restored by the sunlight. A fishing boat leaves Menemsha village, its crew busily preparing for the day's work ahead.
The tan Mercedes is pulled over to the side of Moshup Trail. It's engine is still running with a subdued hum that is oddly magnified by the stillness of the early morning. The driver's side door is open and a dim overhead light illuminates the interior.
A feminine computer voice repeats over and over again, "The side door is open... The side door is open... The side door is open."
On the pavement, next to the Mercedes, is a black leather loafer. Fifteen feet away, on the sandy path that leads to the ocean, is its partner. Every fifteen to twenty feet along the path another item of clothing is discarded... a shirt, pants, socks.
At ocean's edge Malcolm stands on one leg and fumbles with his underwear. His feet slip on the wet rocks and he tumbles.
"I'm dirty. I'm filthy. I've got to get clean!", a small, tinny voice babbles endlessly as it recedes into nothingness.
Finally naked, Malcolm rushes into the water. He dives headfirst and disappears under the dark and mysterious sea.
A man pushes his head above the water's surface. He is disoriented and frantically searching for breath.
His mind fights back from a shadowy, sulphurous place where grinning red demons gnaw on the flesh of the loudly groaning Damned.
A place where a little boy with sad eyes had quietly threatened him with acts of unspeakable cruelty.
The man feels a horrible itching all over his body.
It is as if he is crawling back into his own skin.
"What the...., Where....?" The man looks out to sea. He painfully tries to focus on the thin strands of fog hanging motionless just over the gently rolling waves. The sun is rising behind him and the sky above turns deep blue.
The man tries to remember the night before. He had a few drinks at home. Then he drove into Edgartown and drank more at David Ryan's Tavern. Then, after David Ryan's, his memories fade into a shifting gray mist.
"Shit!! Where am I?", the man asks himself. But he already knows where he is, and the fact that he knows frightens him. The back of his head begins to throb in time with his pounding heart. His body aches from the cold.
He turns in the water and looks back at the shoreline. The magnificent tan and red Gay Head cliffs loom menacingly above him, basking in the golden aura of dawn's first light. "Damn it! Not again!"
It is David Callahan's third blackout of the summer.
David painfully makes his way back to the beach. Shivering, he puts on his underwear. He finds the rest of his clothes along the path to the road.
His Mercedes is at the end of the path.
It is still running. Just like last time.
David finally gets home. His fiance Susan is waiting in his kitchen. Her eyes are red and swollen from hours of crying.
"Where were you?", she screams, "You just disappeared! Who were you with?"
"I hope you both drop dead!!!"
With that, Susan takes her engagement ring off her finger and throws it at David. Sobbing, she turns and runs from the house, determined never to return.
Dead .. dead .. dead .. drop dead.
" 'Dead' is such a strange word when you think about it", David muses.
David stands alone in the kitchen. He closes his eyes and rubs his fingers against his forehead.
Disturbing images flit before David's eyes, and he becomes afraid.
Afraid Susan is right.
Somehow, David knows he was with another woman last night.