Standalone Excerpts

The sting­ing was almost inci­den­tal. An after­thought. Some­thing was ter­ri­bly wrong, but Cal­lie couldn’t process what. Her legs went rub­bery. She slid down the wall. Hit the con­crete. A burn­ing sen­sa­tion began along her side.

You’re like all the rest. You’re not real­ly Jes­si­ca. You aren’t per­fect at all.”

She rec­og­nized the con­tempt in his voice as he walked away, his hand swing­ing by his side, the knife drip­ping. She was con­fused. It was blood. Her blood. It hit her. He’d stabbed her. More than once.

She touched her­self. Blood. Sticky. Messy. She need­ed help. The thun­der rum­bled angri­ly as the rain con­tin­ued to come down now in sheets. She could hear the rats scram­bling through the garbage behind her.

She couldn’t die. She wouldn’t die. She had too much left to do.

Things began to fade to black.  She need­ed to move where she would be seen. Could she stand?

She tried and almost passed out. But she could crawl. She pushed her­self to the alley’s entrance and then col­lapsed on the side­walk. She was so tired. So cold. Every breath hurt, com­ing in shal­low spurts, like a pant­i­ng dog in the swel­ter­ing heat of a Louisiana summer.

She quit strug­gling. It didn’t mat­ter any­more. She wouldn’t make it. And it pissed her off to think that every obit­u­ary would shout that “Jes­si­ca Had Died.” Not Cal­lie Chen­nault. Every pic­ture accom­pa­ny­ing every arti­cle would be of Jes­si­ca. Not her. She’d lost her iden­ti­ty in a char­ac­ter so long ago that no one knew the real her anymore.

Even if some­one passed by on foot, they wouldn’t stop for a bloody, limp Cal­lie. She was a stranger, not the sophis­ti­cat­ed beau­ty on the cov­er of In Style or Enter­tain­ment Week­ly, the cool blond with the fiery lips and tem­pera­men­tal attitude.

No, she would die alone on a New York side­walk. A no one.

Cal­lie took one last, painful breath and gave up.

He placed the last of the wet dirt on top of the sec­ond grave. Smoothed it with the back of the shov­el. Reached for the col­lec­tion of branch­es and rocks and leaves that he’d gath­ered before he began dig­ging. He tossed them hap­haz­ard­ly over his hand­i­work and stepped back to sur­vey the ground. Per­fect. Any­one ven­tur­ing off the Appalachi­an Trail this far would have no idea what rest­ed beneath the soil.

He took pride in his hand­i­work. Years of hon­ing his skill had made him a mas­ter of death. He’d start­ed years ago in his teens, pick­ing up hitch­hik­ers. Per­fect­ing the art of tor­ture. Per­fect­ing his knife skills. Dis­mem­ber­ing the spec­i­mens. Learn­ing how to dis­pose of body parts.

Oth­er hunts fol­lowed. Some­times, a sin­gle spec­i­men. Some­times, a group. He’d espe­cial­ly enjoyed see­ing Atlanta fran­tic dur­ing his series of child abduc­tions and mur­ders. He thought it pure genius to focus on the lit­tle ones of pub­lic ser­vants. He’d tak­en the kids of a fire­man. A city coun­cil mem­ber. The school superintendent’s daugh­ter. A cop’s twins. And the pièce de résis­tance? The mayor’s grandson.

His lat­est spec­i­men gath­er­ing con­sist­ed of high-end pros­ti­tutes. The Chat­ta­hoochee Nation­al For­est had pro­vid­ed cov­er for this most recent hunt. Its miles of wilder­ness proved the ide­al dis­pos­al area. He’d wit­nessed the arrival of spring as the area greened up. Watched it blos­som into its sum­mer love­li­ness. Seen the explo­sion of fall col­ors come vivid­ly to life as he buried his pre­cious specimens.

But he was at the end of this cycle of mur­ders. He refused to tramp through iso­lat­ed areas dur­ing win­ter snow. Last night’s kill would be the final in this series.

He returned to the camp­site. Packed up. Pulled his keys from his pock­et. Noticed the rain had stopped. The sky lightened.

And then he saw it. A rain­bow in the sky.

 That was it.

Just as God placed the rain­bow in the sky as a promise to Noah that He would nev­er flood the earth again, He’d gen­er­ous­ly gift­ed him with a new idea.

His next mis­sion would be served as The Rain­bow Killer.

Thoughts raced in his head as he planned a new series of mur­ders to com­mit. The spec­i­mens would share noth­ing in com­mon, mak­ing him impos­si­ble to catch. But every mur­der would end in spec­tac­u­lar col­ors. In hues of the rainbow.

Con­fi­dence pul­sat­ed through him. This could be his claim to fame. A last­ing legacy.

He couldn’t wait to begin.