The 9th Victim: Eyes in the Dark

An excerpt from The 9th Victim: This short piece takes place during a major plot point.

The knife sprung back gently, like a compressed sponge releasing a small and slow stream of blood. It was if some part of him didn’t want to make the cut or the knife itself was resisting. He furrowed his brow, intrigued and brought the knife back again.

The edge pressed deep into the throat, sharp. He drew it across to make his signature cut spreading the skin thinly with precision. The stream turned into a river as the blood poured out over his fingers, warm and as thick as molasses.

He felt his lips stretch across his face tightening the muscles in his cheek. He was smiling.

And that’s when he saw them.

The whites of two wide-set eyes staring at him from across the woods.

Anger flooded his senses, a red brighter than the blood that coated his hand, the knife still pressed deep into his next masterpiece.

The eyes blinked once, the first to break contact.

Human eyes.

He was caught


The 9th Victim: Williams, an Introduction

An excerpt from the 9th Victim, Williams is a fictional town.

The town of Williams, like most coastal towns in Northern British Columbia, is one of devastating contradictions. With a permanent population of less than 2,000 people the tight knit community struggles to stay together amongst the fast money and violent culture that has taken over, fed by the huge transient population. Despite closures and dwindling jobs in all three of Williams’ main industries (fishing, logging, and mining) there is still a rampant tendency to live fast and let the money fly and the men come in droves to work, the more dangerous the job the better the payoff (and the better the party at the end).

But still there is beauty.

The stretches of coastal rainforest that have remained unscathed from logging offer a staggering wall of majestic greens and browns and the silence of the woods is at once sinister and oddly peaceful. Grizzlies and wolves are a common yet majestic danger and orca and humpback whales can be seen in the spring. Farther inland a maze of caves offers an otherworldly draw, their yawning mouths carved deep into the mountain face where underground springs and deep caverns seem to sink to the centre of the earth.


The 9th Victim: The Body of Willie McKaig

An excerpt from The 9th Victim: the first body is found.

Referred to naively in police files as the first victim, the first body found was discovered in late January on a Wednesday. The body appeared like an apparition out of the fog to Donald Mercer. Donald had been searching the creek bed of McKenzie Creek Park just off the road in the early morning for cans and bottles, anything he could return for a refund. He ambled through the winter broom, his gloved hands melting the shaded frost as he ran his fingers tightly along the brush.

It was unseasonably warm for January and the leaves did not crunch around Donald’s feet as he stepped but rather sprang gently back up from the ground as though barely disturbed. Nature was not marking his path.

At first glance the body looked to be a pile of debris. Nothing more sinister than an unwanted sweatshirt thrown over a bag of illegally disposed trash and partially caught in the storm drain to wait in the stagnant, half frozen water.

Due to the angles Donald had thought there might be bottles in the bag.

He tentatively made his way deeper into the ravine, cautiously placing each foot on the slightly frozen soil, not wanting to slide into the dank marshy water. While halfway down Donald took a step, his left foot sinking into the soft mud up to his ankle. He swore loudly, wrenching his leg back up, the mud squelching and sticking to his leg, resisting his escape, holding him in place.

In his statement Donald described that moment, imitating the sound of the suction as his foot finally released from the mud and describing a prickle that suddenly ran across his neck as he got free. He said it was like a sixth sense trying to stop him from reaching that figure in the water, to save him from an unspeakable terror.

He says his hands started to tremble and he felt cold deep in his bones.

The fog was lifting, slowly burnt off by the rising sun and as he got closer the smell of rot hit his nose, faint but unmistakeable.

The body was of one Willie McKaig, a lifeless lump floating half frozen in the creek bed, cradled almost lovingly by the icy mud and brittle reeds. The face was half submerged but still easily identifiable and the body was bloated from days in the creek. Willie’s skin was mottled and distorted with shades of grey and purple that are never found in living tissue.

It looked like Willie had just fallen in and drowned. Drunk as usual.

There were no slide marks or sign of struggle in the foliage around the ravine to indicate he had slipped in, but Donald thought he may have toppled over the top of the storm drain from the road. Perhaps Willie had been resting on the railing.

Donald scrambled back up the hill his search for bottles forgotten, and walked straight to the police station a few blocks away. The mud was still settled in his left boot and it squished around his toes with each step.

Donald was calm when he arrived at the station, appearing detached at first, though very disturbed.

Yes, he was sure it was Willie McKaig. No, he did not touch the body. Yes, he had come to the police station right away. No, he had not seen Willie in days nor had he thought to look for him. No, it did not look like anything untoward had happened.

After the interview was over Donald threw up, the smell of rotted flesh mingling with dirty creek water still clinging to his nostrils and inescapable. He could almost taste it.

It wasn’t until the body was removed that anyone noticed the three thin yet precise cuts across Willie’s throat. The cuts first appeared like just another set of bloated wrinkles and upon closer inspection looked as if in some last ditch attempt to save himself Willie had grown gills extending on either side from his Adam’s apple to his ears.

That someone had murdered Willie McKaig was not a surprise.

Nobody had liked Willie, not even his four children and especially not his two ex-wives.

Willie was a long retired logger, forced to stop working after his left arm and right knee were shattered in a bar brawl. He was well known in Williams, having lived in the town for just shy of thirty years though the host of assault and battery charges under his belt and a reputation for theft made sure Willie was never considered a local by the community. Nobody wanted him.

He was a mean and vicious man and, though no one would say the words aloud, it was a relief to have him dead.

The popular theory was that Willie had pissed off one of the fishermen or transients at the bar where he was last seen on Saturday and finally picked a fight he couldn’t win. Nobody was coming forward and, in the spirit of honesty, no one was looking too hard.

It wasn’t until the second body was found a month later that any connections were made and that people started to care about Willie’s murder.

The fact that the only item missing from both victims’ wallets was their IDs, the way both bodies were so carefully disposed, and the exact same three cuts across the throat – two of which were made post mortem. The similarities were too close to be coincidence.

Williams had its first serial killer.

The 9th Victim: A Killer’s Obsession

An excerpt from The 9th Victim: This chapter takes place later in the story. Our serial killer reveals his biggest obsession. He is cracking up inside, his impulses finally taking precedence over his methodical planning. He is slipping.

McDonald Creek is a dark, wooded parkland area across from the houses on 4th Street. In the light of day it is beautiful, all tree lined paths and spring flowers. A stream meanders alongside the trail, slow but determined, and a field stretches green and inviting throughout the area. The trees themselves are tall and twisted, mostly Gary Oaks with the occasional arbutus and birch thrown in for variety. The park is always crowded by midday, filled with walkers and explorers, children and the elderly.

But not at night.

In the night it is ugly in its emptiness. Sinister and frightening, made evil by the body that had been found several months ago marking the start of our serial killer’s presence in Williams. Even the nightly police patrol doesn’t make the park seem any safer.

Though he has only left his mark once somehow people can sense that this is his favourite place.

He waits against a tree along the edge of the park, completely still and staring at her door with intense focus. His body is obscured from the houses across the street, blending into the trees and forest like a nightmare. His hand itches in anticipation but still he does not move. It is nearly 6:30am and he has been there for close to an hour, waiting. Every morning for the last month he has come and every morning for the last month she has left her house around 6:30, her dedication admirable in the face of the biting cold. Spring mornings in Williams are not comfortable. They are wet with a bone deep chill and they are dreary despite the new life springing up all around.

It is dangerous for him to be here but he can’t stay away. He loves to watch her stretch, warming her body against the morning chill. Her runner’s clothes are loose but form fitting, her hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. He wants to grab it, force her head back and stare into her eyes. He wants to possess her, feel her, own her.

Detective Danni Brooks.

He is obsessed. Her every move fascinates him, drawing him in deeper and deeper into his own mind. He is starting to get sloppy, starting to ignore the strict rules and structures he had created for himself. Sometimes it is almost as if he wants to be caught, even just to stare into her eyes and have her know him for who he truly is.

He licks his lips as her door opens, watches her lift her arms up high in the air, turning her head side to side in a gentle stretch. Suddenly his body stiffens as shock courses through him, anger drenching his gaze as barely contained rage tries to burst from his body.

Danni Brooks is not alone.

A tall, blonde man stepped out of the house behind her. He knows who it is instantly, that pathetic forensic expert who is always staring at her, her co-worker Will. He wants to rip his throat out, tear it with his bare hands.

Danni Brooks is his.

He holds himself still, his eyes narrowing as he watches them. Will says something and Danni laughs, her lips stretched wide in a smile. Evidently Will is joining Danni on her run. Evidently Will has stayed the night. Hatred so intense it frightens even the monster inside him rises in his chest.

He imagines all the ways he wants to kill Will, tearing him apart and hurting him. Sometimes quickly in frustration, sometimes slowly out of fury. In his anger he wants to make Danni watch. Make her understand who she belongs to. Make her appreciate all the opportunities he has had to kill her but hasn’t. She is alive because he has decided she should be alive. He clenches his fists, eyes narrowing.

Rage makes him reckless.

The couple starts their run, jogging side by side down the street. It disgusts him. Infuriates him.

He waits until they are out of sight, and then waits ten minutes more before he finally moves. His legs are stiff from the cold and from the rigidity of his position but he enjoys the pain and prickles as they come back to life. He slides himself back into the darkness his thoughts racing.

He tries to calm himself, he can’t let himself slip now.

But soon she will know who he is.

Soon Danni Brooks will understand.

The 9th Victim: An Ominous Silence

An excerpt from The 9th Victim: Our serial killer remembers his first time.

The first time was so easy it should have been frightening.

He was seventeen at the time, driving just for the sake of driving late at night while his parents slept. His parents no longer tried to stop him from doing whatever he wanted knowing instinctively to be afraid of this thing they had created. A sinister anger had settled over him gradually over the years, sparking in his eyes and showing in the tight way he held himself. There was darkness in him.

It even disturbed him sometimes as he looked into the mirror starring into the emptiness in his own soul.

He knew that he was not normal, that his thoughts and urges were not typical, but he didn’t care. Sometimes he even reveled in his uniqueness.

They say the tendencies usually start early with acts of cruelty, warning signs for those around you. A tortured cat or a bullied kid, perhaps even a dark diary or hit list. But not with him. He went straight from anger to the unthinkable.

The hitchhiker’s name was Miles and he found him on the side of the road just on the outskirts of Williams. Miles was on his way north and was short, thin, and twitchy in a way that made him believe Miles wasn’t his real name.

Good, he thought.

He talked casually to Miles as he drove north along the highway, turning corners and heading in a direction Miles couldn’t recognize as not the way he wanted to go. The woods grew thicker blocking out the moon and his hands tightened around the wheel, excitement mingling with the anger inside him to create a sick feeling in his stomach that was almost enjoyable. He started to sweat.

When he pulled over by the caves Miles started to get nervous. He clutched his bag tightly, talking quickly and laughing awkwardly. It wasn’t funny, he said. Where are we? What do you want?

He looked over at Miles and felt his mouth move, stretching over his teeth. He was smiling, silent.

Suddenly Miles looked scared and he unbuckled his seatbelt, his hand shaking as he laughed again, trying to diffuse the tension of the situation. Trying to get out alive.

He struck quickly, surprising even himself, wrapping his hands around Miles’ throat and squeezing, feeling the bones crack and popping the trachea. Pop. He can still remember the noises, the gurgling and the gasping. He can still feel Miles clutching his wrists, frantically pulling and desperate to survive. He can still remember watching Miles slowly die and can still see the terror in his eyes as his soul left him.

He held onto Miles neck far longer than he needed to but it was better safe than sorry.

It wasn’t difficult to pull Miles out of the car, Miles had been a small man and he was easily manoeuvered. Navigating the caves was slightly more difficult as he fireman carried Miles’ body deeper into the dark, thankful for the headlamp he kept in his car.

He knew these caves intimately and brought Miles about half a kilometre in, pausing to break every now and again, sweating through his t-shirt from the exertion and also the realization of what he had done. He did not feel any remorse but he was suddenly worried that he would be found out.

When he reached his destination, a deep pit in the dark with a narrow opening and a stagnant pool at the bottom, he stopped one last time. He emptied Miles’ pockets pausing to look through his wallet.

He had been right, Miles was not his real name.

He dropped Miles into the pit, wiped his hands on his pants, and left the caves.

He burned Miles’ backpack and wallet a week later, but kept the ID in a box under his bed. The body was never found.

And that was just the beginning.

The 9th Victim – Chapter Two: In the Basement

Chapter Two: In the Basement

The camera clicks resounded in the near empty basement, bouncing off pipes and giving off an eerie echo. Each flash of the camera was a spotlight on every piece of Evidence (capital E) as Will Breuker worked his way around the room with a detached manor. You had to be detached in a job like this or you would go mad. Dealing with everyday acts of cruelty is enough to make even the most optimistic person a pessimist.

And this, well, this was so far beyond everyday acts of cruelty. This was evil.

Will, although he tried hard not to be, was an obvious cynic. At the still young age of thirty seven he had already seen too much to be anything else. But this crime had already surpassed the worst he’d dealt with. Decaying cuts covered the rotted body as he captured each one with flashing light. The smell drifted around him, clouding the air in a suffocating way. He was going to be sick.

After photographing the body he did his best not to look at it as he made his way around the room. Though even without looking at it he knew he would still be able to conjure up the image of rotted flesh and decaying body in an instant. For him, the worst would come when they identified the victim. When the pictures surfaced and the personal details came to light and he was forced to reconcile this thing with a real person. A real person, someone with a life and family. Will pushed that thought down as he moved on, taking pictures of everything, every spot on the wall, every scuff on the basement floor as the few detectives still in the room talked around him. Time moved quickly as he focused on his job shutting off all other parts of his brain.

“That’s done.” Will did not turn as he spoke, but let the camera drop around his neck as he stepped from the room. He didn’t turn back, but the horror he had seen was still burned in his mind, like ash from a fallen cigarette on a couch, to reappear in the dark of night in the most terrifying of nightmares. Aaron, the other photographer, nodded and continued with his collection of evidence.

With a calm mask that betrayed none of his inner feelings, Will made his way through the house to the yard, passing what was left of the investigation team. Most of them had left by now. He nodded at those who greeted him, not stopping for small talk.

“Breuker!” Danielle Brooks made her way towards him. “How’d it go down there?” Danni never referred to a crime scene as a murder.

“It went,” Will lowered his eyes to check his watch and looked anywhere but at Danni. “I need to head back to the office.” He started to walk away but she caught his arm.

“You came here with Aaron?” Danni asked tentatively.


“Well, since he’s not ready to leave yet, and you didn’t bring a car, I’ll take you back.” Will opened his mouth to tell her it wasn’t necessary but she stopped him, “I’m headed there anyway.” He couldn’t think of a way out of it so he followed her to her car. Danni unlocked the doors and he climbed his way in, still trying as hard as he could not to look at her.

Danielle Brooks was pretty, no denying that. Thirty four years old and just under 5’6”, she was in incredible shape. She never bothered with a lot of make-up and her mousy-brown hair was always pulled back messily, with wisps escaping from the elastic after hours of work. Her style was unprofessional but no one ever commented.

Though pretty, most of Danni’s features were unremarkable. But not her eyes.

Danni had the most striking eyes. Cat-like, impossibly large, and chocolate coloured, with black lashes that framed them and two perfectly arched eyebrows over top, they were the most intense eyes Will had ever seen. And they made him nervous.

Feeling the gaze of those eyes always made him want to shiver.

They worked together fairly often, it was a small department in a small town and everyone worked together fairly often. But Will tried to avoid her as much as possible personally. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a nice person, she was. Almost too nice in that annoyingly eager way of the insecure. But that wasn’t it. It was more that he didn’t know how to act around her so it made him uncomfortable. She always seemed to be expecting something from him, always seemed to be watching him. Not in a creepy way, just in a curious way. That was why he didn’t like to be around her too much.

Will hated to be thrown off balance.

Even now, as they drove in silence to the office, Will shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Danni glanced at him again. He could see her out of the corner of his eye. Four times she had looked at him, probably completely unaware that he knew, probably completely unconcerned. He shifted again, trying to think of something intelligent to say but at a loss. He cleared his throat once, then twice, and spoke. “How are thing with you?”

“I can’t complain,” She managed a shrug as she spoke. She glanced again, “And you?”

Will looked at her then back out the window, “It’s alright.”

That was the extent of their conversation on the forty five minute drive. Both avoided talking about the tragedy they had just left, striving for a moment of normalcy away from the evil, even if it was unbearably awkward. After fifteen minutes of silence she turned on the radio to a folk station, music that he loathed. When he got out of the car he curtly thanked her and left, not even waiting to see where she went.

Will briskly made his way into the lab, a man on a mission. He knew he had a long night ahead of him, and he was determined to ignore any distractions.



The 9th Victim – Chapter One: A Third Victim

Chapter One: A Third Victim

They found the body in the basement, amongst the drip drip of the water pipe and the musty smell of long forgotten heirlooms. The coroner estimated that it had been stashed there at least a month ago. The skin had turned a mottled purple with dark blotches that were scattered over the body. Gender was impossible to tell as it had rotted so bad, like fruit on a radiator. What was left of the eyes stared out blankly at a horror only this person could have known. Detectives have to deal with this sight so often they almost become desensitized to it. This is how you can always tell a newbie from the veterans. Newbies are always the ones retching uncontrollably and questioning their beliefs.

How could God allow someone to do this to another human being? How can there be so much evil in the world?

Danielle Brooks was not a newbie. This wasn’t her first murder case, though she still had rushed to it with a sense of justice that can only be held by the truly naïve. The call had come into her office just after noon that day, right as Danni was enjoying her lunch break. She couldn’t deny the ringing in her office much more than she could deny her lungs free oxygen. One of her fellow detectives was calling from the scene, his voice hoarse with disgust.

The original call had been made by Mr. Maier from 953 Cecil Lane, a monstrosity of a house. He and his wife had just arrived home from vacationing in Mexico for two and half months when they were assaulted by a revolting smell that has no equal, the stench of death. They made a quick run through of the house and came across the body in only a short time.

When Danni finally arrived the majority of the detectives were already there. Mrs. Maier, Evelyn as she begged to be called, had broken down on the yard out front. Her husband stood next to her, his hand on her shoulder, the remains of vomit staining his sapphire blue shirt. The families from neighboring houses had already started to gather with the perverse fascination of those who live. They stood in clusters behind the yellow police tape, gathered like lemmings, and craned their necks for a chance to see what was happening.

This fact alone disgusted Danni more than anything. She had gone into this line of work to bring down the sociopaths who were capable of this kind of atrocity. She had come here wanting to fight the good fight, to give a chance for good to prevail over evil.

But these sick people with their fascination of evil made her job just that much harder.

“The bastard’s gone and killed another one. This is the third victim this month.” Detective Sanson was the first to speak to Danni as she edged her way into the house. Once through the doorway the stench stopped her dead in her tracks. She brought her hand up to her face, covering her mouth and nose and trying to keep the smell at bay.

It didn’t work.

The smell seeped through her fingers causing Danni to remember a science fact from long ago: whatever you smell is actually particles of that object floating into your nose. She felt like she was breathing the rotted flesh, particles of the victim entering her mouth and nose. It felt like cannibalism and she almost lost it right there, chewed spinach and chicken making its way up her throat along with the burn of bile.

“You gonna be alright Brooks?” Sanson questioned as he watched her out of the corner of his eye and shuffled a few steps over. What he was really worried about was not that Danni may be traumatized by what she was about to see, but that she may ruin his spit-polished shoes if she were to retch.

“I’ll be fine,” Danni replied as she trekked bravely into the manor.

The house was spotless and everything about the home screamed money.

A long corridor lined with professional photographs of the Maier family led the way to the stairs down to the basement. Nothing appeared out of place. Not an obvious clue to be found, just as with the last two cases. Two guys from forensics had turned off the lights and were scanning every inch for even a spatter of blood or bodily fluids with black lights. The process so much more meticulous and less glamorous than CSI would have you believe.

The stairs to the basement creaked, a loud eerie squeal that iced the blood, the kind most commonly heard in horror movies right before someone dies. It made Danni shiver and her heart skip a beat as they made their way to the scene. She never got used to this. The smell only got worse and on the third stair from the bottom the victim’s rotted corpse became visible. Bile rose once again in her throat. “Jesus,” she whispered under her breath, whether as a plea or an exclamation it was unclear.

Other members of the forensics team were taking pictures of the crime scene, the camera flashes blinking on and on like fireworks on Canada day. The mood was somber as is to be expected in this kind of setting. Various experts mumbled to their colleagues discussing theories and interpretations. “Not a trace of blood to be found, the body was stashed”, “Could it be a copycat?” “Naw … there couldn’t possibly be two people sick enough to commit this kind of crime.” A few even told jokes to lighten the mood but the laughter never lasted longer than a few seconds and was always followed by a brief but extremely uncomfortable silence.

Danni was always disgusted with those who found humor in this job. It was disrespectful and wrong.

“Detective Brooks,” a deadpanned voice uttered with a sneer. “Nice of you to join us.” It was Detective Munro who was now taking steps towards her. He was head of the Police department of the town of Williams (population: 17,000) and was one of the department’s top detectives. He was respected amongst the communities, cited as a hero among men.

He was also the most arrogant and sexist prick that Danni had ever met. She found him to be condescending and an opportunist. He was short with thinning hair and a body in dire need of exercise, lumpy but not fat. His face almost took on the characteristics of a weasel with his long thin nose and beady eyes that were puffed up from insufficient sleep.

“Sir,” Danni acknowledged him with a curt nod, carefully avoiding looking at him while trying not to see the corpse at the same time.

“Squeamish?” Munro chuckled as he noticed what she was trying to do. He continued to chuckle as he moved on to ask Aaron how forensics was holding up. It was going to be a long day.