Monday, July 4, 2011

The Artist teasers: Interpreting "the 4th" in a Different ( and disturbing) Way.

My serial-killer thriller, The Artist, begins after the murder of the fourth victim. Below are some snippets from the first chapter.  I'd love, love, love some feedback.  Enjoy!

The killer always called Detective Corey Malone at home after committing his crime.
      The first phone call came four months ago in October.  He had called at 2 a.m. waking Corey from a seldom-found deep sleep.  Her answering machine had caught the message, projecting his voice throughout her apartment.  At first it had lingered in her ear, intermingling with her dreams. A haunting ancient sound he made, like something trapped within the walls of her childhood fears.
        Corey. Coreeeey.  I've left you a present. 
        The present? A mutilated and murdered freshman college girl.
        The phone had rung two more times since October.
        Now, a few minutes after midnight, the phone rang for the fourth time in four months.  
        “I’ve left you a present." The killer left the name and address of an apartment complex and hung up.
        He didn't give Corey a chance to respond to him.  He left her dumb with the receiver perched at her ear.  She listened to the buzz of a disconnected line and the thunder of blood rushing through her head. 
      But that was her relationship with him: a disconnected line.
      Corey grabbed her car keys, cellular phone, brown leather jacket, and gun. 
     She lived west of the Las Vegas strip on Jones Boulevard. She decided to go north to take Charleston across the Strip to avoid the mass of tourists that the huge hotels drew. Her heart pounded, sending vibrations through her entire body.  She was like a young lovesick girl late for a date. 
       Date? Could a police detective have a date with a killer? Definitely. Dating was part of many relationships, and enemies have relationships just like friends.  Enemies exchanged pieces of themselves, hoping to extract something new, something desired, something one needs and does not have any other way of getting, just like friends, or even lovers.  Corey gave the killer the attention he hungered for and in exchange she wanted a glimpse of his mind.  Corey needed him to call, yearned for it like a junkie.  But how else could she catch him?  Police no longer hunted criminals. The life of an undercover was slowly becoming the technique for all types of investigation: become the think you are trying to catch.  Vice cops did drugs; Corey allowed a serial killer to use her home phone number. She must indulge the killer: allow that twisted part of his soul to seep into her house through the ring of her phone. Doesn't the phone goes both ways?
      By the time Corey reached the location her tires were squealing and her nerves were screaming.  Checking her watch she noted the time at 12:37 a.m.  Gripping her gun, she climbed out of the car and hurried toward the apartment buildings. 
      She should call her partner. She should call CSI. She absolutely should not enter the scene alone.
      But Corey had to see his gift as he intended: she, alone; the scene, undisturbed. 
      The designated apartment door grew and swelled in her vision becoming a blue blur. She squatted down and scurried up to the door.   Staying low, she pressed her back against it closed her eyes and counted to ten.  Holding her gun with one hand, she raised a trembling fist and pounded on the door.
      "Police," she shouted.  "Open up."
      No answer. She tried the knob, but the door was locked. Squeezing her eyes shut, she cocked her head and bit her lip.  Her mouth silently formed the word damn.
      She unfolded into a standing position, angled her body away from the door and kicked her right leg out.  Her heel slammed into the doorknob, knocking it loose so that the second kick busted the door open.
      The scream that tore from the apartment nearly blasted Corey back over the railing.  The unexpected violence of sound hurled her into a state of hesitation and confusion.  She lingered in the terror of an unsuspecting citizen for only a few seconds before this killer's present jolted her back into a homicide detective.                                      
      “Police,” she blurted. 
      A few drops of blood led from the doorway to a mass of entangled limbs 6 or 7 feet away. A sour stench wafted thick in the room.  Corey placed her hand over her mouth to restrain the gasp bubbling in her throat and to keep the smell from becoming a taste.  At first it appeared as if the victim sat with her legs outstretched and her upper body bent over them so that her head hung between legs and her hands had been tied to her ankles with rope. The victim’s head bobbed while the hands flexed and clenched.
      "Thank God," Corey whispered and began to approach the body, careful to walk in a single path from the door to the body with as few strides and possible. A quick scan of the apartment revealed the tracks of a vacuum.  Then she froze, her pale face shining, her eyes bursting with a flame of horror.
       The head and arms did not belong to the same body as the legs. The arms were milky white and the legs, tanned.  Urgent glances caught only pieces of the picture but as Corey's nerves calmed her perception sharpened.  There were two bodies.  Two women had been stripped naked and placed in a 69 position.   Each girl had her wrists tied to the ankles of the other.
The girl on top was alive. The girl beneath her was dead. 

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