The Last DancebyAurora Black©
You know when you look back at your earliest works and you laugh your ass off? Well, this is one of those. I wrote this bleak attempt at a crime drama/thriller when I was 17 and experimenting with different genres. *shuddering*
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The air circulating through the woods was damp and pungent. There were no stars in the spacious night sky above. In the distance, the sounds of night creatures were a constant drone to the shadowy figure among them. With the passage of time, the shadow shifted and moved. The figure descended to the ground, not disturbing the surrounding foliage around him. He pressed his cheek to the ground, listening to the nighttime sounds, waiting for a certain opportunity to present itself to him.
He did not have to wait long.
His chance came to him in the form of a young woman, alone and unprotected. She was walking along the narrow path which wound its way through the forest, towards the area where the Shadow Man lay, watching her. She did not see him. He was pleased at this. The Shadow Man was also satisfied with her reaction at the moment of reckoning.
Yes, I enjoy it very much, he continued to muse, as he dragged the young woman's limp form into his truck, which was waiting under the cover of trees. He was content for the time being.
* * *
Detective Shawn Williams knew when he arrived early at the police station that morning that something serious had occurred. The officers within the work areas were frantic. The large switchboard that was affixed to the wall literally blazed with light, marking the many phone calls that were plaguing the small station.
On the other side of the chaotic room, Williams found Captain Taylor, who notified him of the situation.
"All hell has broken loose in this town, Shawn. The daughter of one of our city's most wealthy contributors was kidnapped last night, we have absolutely no leads concerning the condition of the girl or the identity of her assailant, and there is an extremely long line of reporters outside of the station's door."
The captain pulled Williams to the side and whispered, "I don't think that I need to tell you that the pressure to put an end to this thing is closing around the whole department. The girl's family has hired their own private detective to try and outdo us. If we don't find something to tell them about this soon, all of our badges will be hung in their mansion as trophies!"
Captain Taylor let go of Williams and strode a short distance and looked out of a nearby window. Williams waited patiently until the captain continued.
"I know that there is more than one night's mess to clean up, Williams. More than one girl. I haven't forgotten that, but unfortunately that's how our system works. As soon as something happens to either a rich or famous person - or someone who has ties to someone rich or famous - then the police goes into overdrive to catch the criminal."
The captain watched the frenzied mob of reporters outside of the station's third story window. "Look at them. They're scrambling around like ants at a picnic. Trying to get something, anything to put on their broadcasts or write in their papers. They won't get a damn thing; not if I have anything to say about it!"
His face was tightly drawn with annoyance. "That doesn't mean that they will give up, though. They've already gotten to a hell of a start this morning. Phone calls from tabloids, newspapers and crank calls! Look at this wall, for Christ's sake! It's lit up worse than a Fourth of July celebration in Vegas!"
The Captain was obviously distressed.
"I've noticed," said Williams. He followed the captain into his office. "How does this crime fit with the others?"
At his desk, the captain leaned forward in his chair. "All seven of these crimes, including the one last night, were all committed in some wooded area."
Williams let out a long sigh of frustration. "That doesn't help much. Jesus, what the hell do you think Grosse Arbre, or 'Big Tree' for people who don't know French, is full of? Forests and woods! What are we going to do now?"
Williams couldn't disguise his sarcasm as he bolted out of his chair. "Close down all of our city's parks? Tell those reporters that these young women were being abducted and murdered by Bigfoot? Warn females to beware of the Big Bad Wolf?"
The captain got up and stood face-to-face with Williams. "Don't patronize me, dammit! I'm doing all that I can for now! All of these grieving parents, the reporters, and the big-shot rich guy who's demanding justice because his daughter is missing, and now you! I'm counting on you to handle this situation, and possibly catch this maniac before he does this again!"
The captain took a deep breath before continuing, "A friend of the victim's discovered the crime scene when she saw an item that belonged to the missing girl. I want you to check the scene for clues that we may have missed. I'm sorry if my ideas on handling this case seem a bit off, but I thought that you of all people would understand the need to protect others from this fate."
Williams knew exactly what the captain was referring to. Too well. He remembered a crime, exactly like this one, a year before. That case involved a young woman that Williams knew. Intimately.
Mentally shaking himself out of his reverie, Williams realized that the captain was still talking to him. "I'm sorry. What did you say, Sir?"
The Captain shook his head. "I said that if you're feeling overwhelmed with this task, I could find someone else to handle this case."
"That won't be necessary, Sir." Williams was now determined to seek out whoever was responsible for the deaths of these women and... he didn't want to think about it. Not right then. Not ever. "You can count on me, Sir. I won't let you down."
* * *
It seems to get easier all the time, thought the Shadow Man, as he continued to drive down the abandoned road, towards his hideout. He dwelled on the details of the kidnapping in his mind's eye, cherishing them.
He recalled the preparation, the timing, and the skill of his latest accomplishment. He was consumed with pleasure when he remembered how easily he was able to get his hands on the stuff that he needed to pull it off.
Before he grabbed the girl, he took great care in pouring an agreeable amount of chloroform onto a sterilized white cloth before sneaking up behind her and smothering her. He wasn't sure of how much to use, but the results were satisfactory. She fought him, of course, but she learned quickly that she was no match for him. Shadow Man laughed at this. He had also checked to make sure when he was loading her into his truck that she was still alive. He was not disappointed.
Yes, he wanted her to be alive, so she could pay, just like the others did. The Shadow Man glanced over at his still unconscious passenger. How fresh and young she is, he thought. She will be perfect.
Smiling cruelly, the Shadow Man turned on the radio and started to hum "Killing Me Softly" along with the music.
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