Please enjoy another short story on our hero from The Body Hunters and The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied.
The chorus of a thousand cicadas surrounding him, child predator Chester scrambled through the marshes of the Florida Everglades. He was covered in swamp muck and the stink of his own fear, rivers of sweat pouring down his body. His heart jack hammered against his ribcage. Pushing through wild grass and reeds, the police bloodhounds howled at his back like the hounds of hell. He could feel the jaws of the law slowly closing in on him.
He wouldn’t be caught, he couldn’t. Chester may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he knew he could not let the authorities catch him. He knew what happened to men like him in prison. With his scrawny physique, there was no way he’d survive life in prison with muscle bound inmates with a penchant for taking their frustrations out on child killers.
Chester slipped into a grey puddle, while the FBI helicopter hovering over his head like a hawk lost track of him. He nervously pulled himself out of the marsh as discreetly as possible, mindful of the gators that resided in the area. He turned his head to his left to see the flashlights belonging to police and Feds getting closer. Chester escaped down a path through the brush he’d been familiar with since he was an adolescent. He smiled to himself as he eluded his pursuers.
FBI Special Agent Aiden Stone was separate from the pack of law enforcement agents, tracking his quarry on his own. A walking mountain of solid muscle, Aiden was six foot four, his skin the color of damp Hawaiian sand, a compromise of his native Hawaiian father and his biracial mother’s heritage. A grinning skull that symbolized his time with the Marines was tattooed on his right bicep. Ocean blue eyes inherited from his Irish maternal grandfather were wide and searching the area for the child murdering beast. Dressed in his Kevlar FBI vest, t-shirt and jeans, Aiden large hand clenched a plastic charm bracelet that belonged to Chester’s latest victim.
After the sixth child murder, two weeks ago by this particular serial killer, the FBI was called in to investigate. Tracking serial killers was Aiden’s specialty. Along with the usual detective skills required by the Bureau, Aiden was also blessed or cursed with another set of skills; he was a physical medium or psychic. By touching an object belonging to a victim, he was able to access the memories attached to the item.
Through his psychic forensics, Aiden was able to obtain evidence linking Chester to the brutal crimes. With a warrant, they entered Chester’s seedy apartment, finding all the evidence they needed to convict him, but before the suspect could be arrested he’d attempted to abduct another victim that very morning. Luckily the grade schooler knew all about ‘stranger danger’ and was able to get away. The incident sparked a county wide manhunt for Chester who’d vanished into the Everglades after a high speed chase.
Aiden kneeled, his black Timberland boots squishing the mud under his feet as he ran a hand over his close cropped hair. Closing his eyes, he squeezed the bracelet a little tighter in his fist. Like a television that needs an antenna, he saw static at first and then the picture in his head started to make sense, but still with interference. He closed his eyes tighter, hoping that would make the image easier to decipher.
In the spirit realm, the place between life and death, Aiden opened his eyes. What he sees is still grainy, but he’s able to see the original owner of the necklace; a seven year old girl with brown curls, still in her Disney Princess pajamas and bare feet, the charm bracelet on her wrist. They’re standing in the Everglades and the little girl is pointing to a barely visible path and a triangular shaped boulder. A small cabin can be seen in the distance.
“He took me down there.” The child informed him.
Aiden nodded, looking down on the child. “I’ll take care of this.”
The little girl nodded her understanding and Aiden’s blue eyes snapped open in the real world. The image of the path the little victim pointed out is burned into his memory. In minutes, Aiden located the triangular boulder and headed down the path.
Chester has just reached his destination, nearly tumbling down the hill to the small shack where his rusty pickup truck is parked out front. It would take the police hours to locate the ramshackle cabin where he takes his young victims and has his way with them before dumping their broken bodies in dumpsters or roadside ditches. By the time the cabin was discovered he’d be well on his way to Mexico. He shoved open the door, ready to change into a clean set of clothes before making his escape. The cabin contains ‘trophies’ from his young victims, connecting him to each of the child murders over the past five years.
While Chester was in the back of the cabin changing, Aiden stealthily entered the premises, his flashlight and Glock handgun aimed in front of him. His flashlight falls on the ‘trophies’. A toddler’s Crayola red tricycle, a pair of tiny patent leather shoes, a child’s backpack, and several other items belonging to victims are scattered throughout the large room. Beside each item stands the ghostly, semi-transparent form of the corresponding victim. Seven little victims filled the cabin for Aiden’s eyes only, including the owner of the charm bracelet who was standing directly behind him.
Pulling a relatively clean shirt over his red hair, Chester stopped in his tracks upon seeing the FBI agent in his hideout. Aiden levels his Glock at Chester’s chest.
Aiden’s baritone voice echoed in the nearly empty cabin. “Chester Drummond, you are under arrest. I want your hands on top of your head NOW!”
Chester’s eyes shifted from left to right as if considering his options. He became skittish and antsy, like a cornered animal. His eyes are aimed at the front door, his body poised to move.
Aiden didn’t miss a beat. “I said get your hands on top of your head! On your knees NOW!”
Instead Chester screamed, leveling a large plank of wood at Aiden.
The ex-marine easily blocked the attack with a large forearm, putting the perverted killer on his back. Aiden stood over the twisted killer, weighing the option of putting a bullet in his skull and ending things right here and sparing the taxpayers the cost of a trial. He was an FBI agent after all and he could make up any excuse he wanted as to why he had to shoot the suspect.
“Kill me. Please kill me!” Chester pleaded, his dirty grey eyes wide with fright as he looked up at Aiden.
Aiden had nephews and the things this animal did to innocent children sent chills down his spine. Leaning heavily on the side of vigilantism, Aiden considered pulling the trigger, but the appearance of Chester’s ghostly victims stayed his hand, the children were watching his every move. Sighing heavily, Aiden shouldered his Glock and slapped the cuffs on Chester.
As he was leaving the cabin with Chester in tow, FBI and police swarmed the area, having gotten the call from Aiden before he entered the premises. Aiden escorted the predator to other agents who took him off to a Bureau issue Suburban.
Aiden walked over to his superior officer. “You may want the Crime Scene Unit to go over the cabin. It looks like he has trophies from his other victims.”
The older man nodded. “The forensic team is en route. Good job, Agent Stone. How did you find him?”
Aiden shrugged “Just a hunch I guess.”
Looking back to the cabin, he saw the ethereal forms of the seven little victims, who quickly dissipated into the night.