“Open the door. This is Uxbridge Police. We have a warrant.”
Heart pounding in my temples, I roll the window down a few inches. Marcus isn’t moving or giving the smallest indication he’s going to stop this charade.
“What can I do for you officer? It’s quite unusual for you to be here alone. Where’s your backup?”
The patrolman glances about, but nobody pays us the any mind. Scuffling his feet on my driveway, the tall thin patrolman shut off his shoulder radio transmitter and leans towards the car.
“I’m looking for Officer Whitten. He went missing a few months back then quit the force over the phone and hasn’t been heard from since.”
I tilt my head to get a better view of the patrolman. Pale blue eyes, nervous and shifty scanning every which way but me. “Okay?”
“His credit card was used to order an item of E-bay. It was shipped to this address. A Darth Vader collectible.”
This is about that Darth Vader doll?
“Are you serious, officer? You’re here for the doll?”
His gaze finally finds mine, eyes hot with sudden anger. “I’m here for my friend. Is he here?”
I don’t know an Officer Whitten but, I do have the item in question, so I open the door. Slowly. I step from the car and lead the way towards the side entrance. The patrolman follows close behind me and Marcus at a casual distance, a toothpick lodged in the corner of his mouth. Putting my hand on the knob, I glace at the patrolman over my shoulder.
“Are you sure you don’t want to wait for back up?”
He shakes his head in the negative and I push the door open leading into the kitchen. The stench of stale beer, cigarettes, and marijuana force me to put a hand over my nose. There’s a body on the kitchen floor, a young man passed out in a pool of vomit. At the wooden kitchen table, a young woman sits naked on a chair reading a tablet and smoking a cigarette.
“Ella, who the fuck is this?”
“A cop, Ana. Don’t be rude. He came for the Darth Vader doll.”
“The fuck you say?”
“I’m here for my friend, Officer Whitten,” the patrolman cut it.
Sighing, I ask him to produce the warrant. Without a word he hands it to me.
“This warrant is for the doll.”
The young man balls his hands into fists and takes time before responding. “We know Officer Whitten’s credit card has been used several times traced to this address. He must…”
“Ella, give the officer the doll and he can be on his way,” Marcus says from the corner of the room, a cigarette replacing the toothpick in is mouth.
The cop faces Marcus, body tense with his hand resting on his firearm. “This isn’t your business mister, please remain quiet.”
Marcus puts a finger to his lips and slowly shows the officer his FBI credentials. “You’re in over your head. Take the doll. Give it to your boss. Tell him you didn’t find anything else. Do you understand?”
The cop swallows and nods.
“Just give him the doll? Fine. I don’t give a shit.”
I lead the way down a short hallway to the spare bedroom, stepping over beer bottles and cigarette butts to reach the door. Giving it a shove with my shoulder, I step into the room ahead of the patrolmen.
The bedroom is empty save for a lone bookcase against the far wall. A ceiling fan spins at low speed, a thumping sound punctuating each rotation. Tied to one of the fan blades is a rope fashioned like a makeshift noose. A toy plush Darth Vader doll is tied to the rope and swings round in endless circles.
“Take the doll. There’s nothing else for you here.”
The patrolman ignores the doll and approaches the bookshelf. The only object on the shelves is a golden urn. Turning to me, a look of confusion on his face, the cop attempts to speak.
“Is this Officer Whitten?” He manages to ask in a low voice.
What? I burst into laughter. Removing the doll from the noose, I join the patrolman at the bookshelf before the urn.
“Don’t be so dramatic. You think I have an incinerator in the basement?”
Marcus laughs and lights the cigarette.
“The ashes are my father. I’m surprised you didn’t know. It’s in my file.”
The patrolman doesn’t understand and I’m not sure if I’m surprised, he doesn’t know or just so sick of this small-town life that I can’t be surprised anymore by the complete incompetence of the local police.
“My condolences,” the patrolman says.
Marcus lets out a low whistle and appears at my side. “That will be quite enough. The patrolman was just leaving.”
The patrolman takes the doll from me and starts backing up towards the door. Does he think I’m going to kill him?
Suddenly bells began to toll, the sound rattling the house. Gong. The bells sound like some evil twisted church where the organist is on acid and screaming in foreign languages.
The naked woman reading the tablet stands, putting her device on the kitchen counter. Pulling a button-down shirt over her shoulders, she walks to Ella’s side.
“It’s time for the trial. Are you coming?”
The patrolman clutches at the doll, fingers white with exertion. “A trial?”
His voice cracks and his backward progress is stopped by the door.
“The trial of Officer Whitten. You can be in the front row.”
The bells ring and ring and the patrolman lets out a scream as the lights go out.
THE SEARCH FOR DARTH VADER - PART TWO NEXT SUNDAY NIGHT 8PM EST
NEW FICTION SERIAL KILLER FANTASY CAMP FOR WAYWARD BOYS
“If you were held prisoner and couldn’t avoid being killed, which serial killer would you choose to do it? You can pick from any throughout history. Hannibal. Jack the Ripper. Dexter. It’s like fantasy football, but fun.”
I check my reflection in the camera’s mini display screen before continuing.
“It seems you had a reaction to Dexter. Your eyes moved or am I just imagining it. You want a Dexter ending? Like you saw on television? I can make that happen. Just say the words.”
“Allow me to continue. I could disembowel you, Hannibal style and ask at just the right moment, “Bowels in or bowels out like Judas.”
Still and only silence.
“You’re not amused? Not even a little? I’m sorry. I will continue with our tour though madmen over the centuries. Would you prefer a classic? I can wear a Jack the Ripper mask if that will make you feel more comfortable. Does the thought of being killed by a woman ruin the fantasy? I do apologize. I promise to do my best to entertain even with my limitations. You know, being a woman serial killer and all.”
My phone beeps and flashes with incoming messages and email. I press the buttons on the side and hold until the screen powers off.
“I’m sorry about that interruption. How rude. We don’t want that. Where were we – the classics. Yes, I’ll stay with male serial killers. Whenever I mention Aileen Wuornos or other female killers, men lose interest. I can see it in their eyes. No! I don’t want to be killed by no damned woman. Get me a real damn killer like Ted Bundy or Richard Ramirez. Fine. You want the Jeffrey Dahmer ending? Men *always* demand the Dahmer ending. Tedious if you ask me, but this is your fantasy camp after all.”
Standing, I stretch my limbs before reaching a hand beyond the camera. Searching, my hand finds a face and I get a fingernail under the tape covering the mouth. Yanking my arm up, I rip the duct tape from the man’s mouth.
Screams fill the room. This is always my favorite part. The screams.
The screams continue and he bucks against the restraints, but it’s futile. I’ve been wrapping these men tight to the table Dexter style for years. He’s going nowhere, I can assure you.
I push the camera aside so the man can see my face.
“Stop screaming. Stop. You sound hysterical. You need to stop and tell me the ending you want. It’s the rules. You must follow the rules. Why pay all this money to take part in my fantasy camp if you don’t want to play the right way? This isn’t okay. Now, pull yourself together. Stop acting like a sniveling shit and *tell* me what ending you want.”
The man tries to compose himself but continues blubbering. Men always ruin these moments if you let them. I slap his face a few times. Hard.
“Snap the fuck out of it you little bitch.”
To my surprise he stops crying immediately, arms going still at his sides.
“Dexter,” he manages after some time.
I close my eyes and smile. Finally, he chose. After all this time, I can begin.
I walk to my desk to retrieve my phone. Tapping at the screen, I open the music player app and being my playlist.
“There’s this song I like to play to get me in the mood.”
Only Girl in the World by Rihanna blares thru the speakers. I twirl and dance and make my way towards the bed. His eyes follow me, fear forcing tears down the side of his face. I sing to him
“You can come inside (yeah) And when you enter, you ain’t leaving Be my prisoner for the night, ooh.”
I stop by the side of the bed and lean close to his face. Pressing my mouth against his ear so he’ll hear me over the music, I scream, “I’m sorry. But I lied. You’re not getting the Dexter ending. I want to tell you all about my routine. I’m so proud of it. After years and years, it’s almost perfect.”
I tap my phone to change the song. It’s Landslide by Fleetwood Mac.
“I want to talk about the woman you raped and murdered.” There’s a tear in my eye and I wipe at it with my elbow. “She was a mother. An artist. A wife. A piano player. And you took it from her.”
“Oh mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above?”
“I’ll never get over it, what he did to me. I could have had any dad in the world but instead I had him. I can think of many troubled broken men that would have been an upgrade. Darth Vader had one good moment of redemption in a life of evil murder, that would have been preferable to my father.” The song ends and the final one begins. Tears stream down my face.
“I remember the day mother died. It began for real immediately after the funeral…”
“Peace through pain is precious ‘Specially when it’s done by you Itching is the pulse inside Creeping up to come alive It’s just doing what It’s gonna do.”
I don’t know how my knife got into my palm, but the entire world erases and I’m alone inside my mind. The song pounds in my brain and the image of my father rises like a zombie in my brain.
“No. It’s not going to happen anymore,” I scream and plunge the blade into his side. Blood spurts from the wound, splashing my hand with sticky hot wetness. Hand covered with blood; I pull my hair from my face so I can make eye contact with him. “I have the best doctor I could hire in the other room ready to keep you alive. You’re going to get the ending you deserve.” Yanking the knife from his body, I wipe it on the sheets.
The screaming begins again, his voice cracking in agony.
I’ll watch this scene on video tonight when I’m alone. Whiskey and weed and this man’s endless screaming.
But there will be no mercy. And he won’t die today or quickly. This has just begun. I turn to him, trying to get his attention through the screams and thrashing. He can’t focus so I simply walk from the room.
The doctor waits on the other side for me. Without a word, I motion for the doctor to tend to the prisoner. The doctor rushes from me, glad to be out of my presence I’m sure. He’s not one of my toys. He’s far too useful for that. And that’s more than I can say for most men.
My phone beeps. It’s Ana.
“Well, is he still alive?”
Instead of answering, I send her the video from my phone.
A few minutes later I receive another text.
“Very good young Padawan. You’ve graduated to the next level. Perhaps you’re ready to confront Darth Vader after all. I’ll see you tonight, my love. Kisses and murder. Always, Ana.”
I close my eyes and smile. “It’s gonna be martinis and madness tonight. I can just feel it. Do join us for dinner, friends. It will be to die for…promise. Sunday night dinner at Holden Farms. 8PM. Arrive hungry and ready to be entertained.”
Meet Ella Thomas.
A beautiful 20-year-old writer haunted by a traumatic past. Trapped in a small-town where everyone knows her secrets, she flees on a road-trip across America in search of adventure and to find the man that holds the key to understanding the violent days of her childhood.
Two mysterious men stalk Ella on the odyssey from Massachusetts to Las Vegas - an FBI agent named Marcus that suspects her of being a serial killer and an assassin called Mr. Brown with a familiar face she can't quite remember.
At the core of her journey of self-discovery is the search for Ray Holden. Everyone tells her he is dead, but she refuses to believe it and her insistence on finding him sets off a chain of events that culminates in a shocking final turn.
Follow her journey to learn the answers to the burning questions. Who is Ray Holden? And more importantly...
Is the FBI correct? Is Ella Thomas a serial killer?
One reader described Ella as "Dexter meets Lolita". Read this fast-paced thriller to discover the truth about Ella Thomas.