The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 39

Copyright 2016 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, Calfornia

“Wake up, Haley. We’re almost there,” said George. He tapped her on the shoulder. “Wake up, Haley.”

“What? Oh my gosh. We’re here.” She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair, licked her finger and dabbed under her eyes. “I’m going to be meeting Aunt Robin for the first time and seeing Eric again. I hope I look presentable.”

“You look fine, this woman will fall in love with you,” said George. “And no smudge in the world is going to keep that guy from loving you. Now, let’s go. The fire chief’s car is on the driveway.”

“I hope Aunt Robin is okay,” whispered Haley.

Haley looked around their surroundings and remembered she had driven down this side street, Lombard, in an escape from Police Officer, James Stetson who had been commanding a Taxi driver to follow them. Stetson persisted in harassing them and she, Jeanne, and Krista nicknamed him The Creep.   The front door stood opened. “This isn’t right. Stay behind me, Haley.” George pushed the door open wide. All the lights were on in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. As they approached the bottom of the stairs, Haley heard familiar voices. “Eric? Chief? It’s Haley and George.”

“Come up, and come on in,” Eric said from the first bedroom on the right side of the hall.

Robin had been rubbing her forehead and when she looked up, she said, “Oh my gosh, what a sweet looking and beautiful girl, Eric.” Haley walked into the room timidly. “And who’s the giant man behind her?”

“Hello, Aunt Robin,” said Haley as she moved forward with hands outstretched to give Robin a hug. “This is my Aunt Mattie’s special friend, George. We came to see if we could be of help, or perhaps keep you company tonight. Are you okay?”

“Why is everyone asking me if I’m okay? I just got weak in the knees just now. I’m not sick or hurt.”

Everyone in the room looked at each other. “Okay, okay, what’s the conspiracy here? Oh my, look at the clock, it’s near midnight. Tell me, someone,” she demanded. “Why are you all here so late?”

Just then, heavy footsteps rumbled up the stairs. Detective Fontino, in his beige trench coat and wide banded grey fedora, swung into the doorway. Two of his men, both also wearing hats, split down each direction of the hall checking the other rooms. FBI’s Special Agent Robert Parker appeared next. The fine threads of his vested suit announced his good taste under a darker and more detailed  rain resistant coat than Detective Fontino’s. The FBI Agent had dispersed a major portion of his team to work down by the cable car turntable, but two other agents had accompanied him and they stood as stone pillars by his side.

“What’s going on here,” asked Fontino. “Is Robin okay? Anyone hurt?” He paused, looking at each of them. “Who called this meeting of the great sleuths?”

“Well,” said Robin. “I’m okay, but everyone else here is a bit crazy. They all came over after dark, and they all think I’m hurt, sick, or in trouble.” Robin pushed back her silvery blonde hair, folded her arms across her chest, and waited for someone to answer. “Who’s going to talk first?” she asked.

“Yeah,” said Fontino. He then pointed to Haley and George. “I can imagine who you are, miss, but who is this man next to you?”

“He’s like a special uncle,” said Haley. She looked at George and saw the twinkle in his eye. He also had a big grin on his face.

“Since we’re making introductions, this man here,” said Fontino as he slapped his hand on Parker’s shoulder, “is FBI’s Special Agent Robert Parker. He’s offered me his assistance and we’re going to capture the Serial Killer.” The group eyed and nodded at Parker with respect.

“Ahem,” Chief Mullins interrupted. “Detective Fontino, Agent Parker, Eric, George, there’s something you need to see right away. Please follow me downstairs now.”

“Hey, Chief,” said Fontino. “You’re mighty serious. What’s up?”

“You’ll see. Just follow me. But maybe you’d better leave your two men upstairs with the girls.”

Fontino turned and signaled for his two detectives to stay put.

As the group of men turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, a breeze blew down the hall. “Whoa, what a chill. The window must be open,” said Eric. “The front door closed now?” he asked one of Agent Parker’s men.

“We were the last to arrive,” said Parker. “I’ve posted two men outside to assist.”

Chief Mullins turned on the light in Robin’s studio.

“Holy smokes! What the heck happened here?” said Fontino.

“It’s like a tornado sucked everything off the shelves,” said Eric as his eyes wandered around the room.

“This is how I found the room when I came down to check if the telephone down here worked. Look at this,” said the Chief holding the telephone cord with frayed wires and threads that had wrapped it. “The wire’s been pulled out of the wall,”

“Oh Lord, in Heaven! What’s happened to my room?” Everyone turned to see Robin pushing her way in between Eric and Fontino. Haley tried to hold her back. “Oh no. No, no, no.” Robin cried as she strained forward to pick up a book from the floor. Fontino and Eric grabbed her by the arms and pulled her back.

“I’m sorry, Robin. This is a crime scene now. We can’t touch or move anything until a forensics team gets through this room first.”

“But I have to see what’s happened to my stuff,” pleaded Robin. Tears ran down her face. Eric put his arm around her shoulders and turned her toward the door.

“My drawings…my favorite paints, brushes, my work…”

Robin sobbed as she picked up the corner of a picture hanging from the easel. “What’s this? I didn’t draw this.”

George, the tallest of all the men there, reached out and held up the torn and flimsy sheet of sketching paper at the corners. He tucked them under the clips on the easel. “I didn’t draw that. Where did this picture come from?” said Robin. She pointed at the page darkened with charcoal.

Everyone in the room stared at the picture. “It looks like a portrait of a merchant marine. See, it’s the knitted cap that makes me think merchant marine,” said Eric.

“Close. But no.” said George. “See the type of jacket he’s wearing? It’s got a short collar and the style speaks to me of a light weight jacket. This is not what merchant marines wear. Take a closer look under the harsh lines slashed across the picture. It looks like someone tried to destroy the picture after it was drawn. See the darker and harder strokes across the face and chest?”

“You got that pegged right, George. You’ve got a good eye for details…well heck, Robin’s the artist, and all of us are in the detail work.” He laughed, then added, “We’re all going to do good.”

“Detective Fontino. I know this man. It’s the same person who had dinner with Officer Stetson tonight. I spoke with him as well,” said FBI’s Special Agent Parker.

“Parker, you’re saying that Stetson had dinner with his killer tonight?”

“Wait a minute. Who got killed tonight?” asked Eric.

The Chief nodded his chin at Fontino. “Yeah, what was that you were saying about Stetson?”

Detective Fontino looked around and then back again, hard, at Parker. “Did I hear you say you spoke with this man, this man in the picture? That this man might be Stetson’s killer?”

“Stetson’s dead?” asked Haley. Her voice just above a whisper.

“Where’s my two guys? Martino! Have you checked the whole house?”

“Yes, Boss. All clear. No one else is around but the neighbors across the way are playing peek-a-boo. When I see them looking at us, they pull their curtains shut. A minute later, they’re peeking out again.”

“I suggest we all settle down in the living room,” said Special Agent Parker. “It will be more comfortable there. We all have a lot to share and discuss.”

“Okay. Everyone out to the front room,” said Fontino and he waved them out of the studio. “I’m sorry Robin, I don’t know what’s happened here but we’ll get to the bottom of this. I promise you. No one’s going to do this to you and get away with it. Nope,” he said as he pensively shook his head from side to side, “I’m going to catch whoever did this.”

“Robin, would you like some tea?” asked the Chief.

“I’ll help you,” said Haley.

“No, don’t go Haley. Sit by me on the couch, won’t you?” Robin sniffed and rubbed the back of her hand over her eyes.

“Of course, but first let’s go upstairs and change your clothes. There are smudges on the sides of your tunic,” said Haley.

“Now you’ve got charcoal on your face, too,” said Fontino. “How did you get those dark smudges on your side there? You didn’t rub against the picture. I was watching you.”

“I don’t know,” said Robin as she twisted from side to side trying to see the smudges on her clothing. “I haven’t used charcoal to draw for months. I don’t know how …I don’t know how or why anything that has happened, happen.”

George stepped forward. “Aunt Robin, you have a lovely home here. I’ve heard about your beautiful view. Would you be so kind as to show it to me tonight?”

“I’d be glad to, George. But it’s foggy and it will be chilly out there. Come this way,” she said as she led Haley and George to the patio doors. “Where is it you live?”

Eric interrupted them with a kiss to his aunt’s cheek. “You okay right now?” he asked looking directly into her eyes.

“Yes, dear. I have plenty of good company. I’m sure I’ll be safe now.”

Eric smiled at Haley and turned to the others. “Who wants coffee?” asked Eric. “Is it okay to make coffee, Fontino?”

Fontino stood in the other corner of the living room talking with his men. They nodded their head in agreement while he gestured and spewed out instructions. When he was done, he joined Eric and said, “Coffee, black, sounds great. It’s going to be a longer night than I thought.”

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 38

Copyright 2016 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California

Fire Chief Greg Mullin’s red sedan with lights flashing halted with a jerk as he stepped hard on the brakes at Robin’s driveway. He and Eric dashed to the front of the ivy covered brick home on Russian Hill. The English style door lamp shone wide over the doormat and highlighted the leaded and beveled cut windowpanes of the front door. Looking through the panes, Eric said, “I don’t see a light in the living room.”

“She must have gone upstairs,” said the Chief.

Eric used his key in the Schlage lock and the door swung open smooth and quiet. The two men moved stealthily through the entry and split directions. Eric checked out the kitchen and the pantry while the Chief checked the living room. He looked out through the patio doors after making sure the locks and the windowpanes were in tack. Eric flipped the switch to turn on the overhead light. “Nothing’s out of place.” Then they heard a sound above them.

“Quick. Upstairs,” the Chief said. The loving nephew and the fire chief, whose heart had been captured that night upon his first meeting with Robin, raced up the carpeted stairs to her bedroom.

On the right side of the hallway moonlight spilled out from Robin’s bedroom doorway. Eric paused before stepping into the quiet room. The Chief, right behind him whispered, “She looks asleep.” Eric turned on the bedside lamp.

The glow from the pleated cream-colored lampshade gently filled the room, but what Eric saw confused him. His Aunt Robin lay on her back with her arms to her side, her fists scrunched the comforter between her fingers like roots of a plant clinging to the soil. Her eyebrows furrowed toward the center and her eyelids squeezed tight. “Aunt Robin?” Eric whispered. “Aunt Robin, wake up,” he repeated.

The Chief moved to the other side of the bed and picked up her right hand. He opened her fingers to release the fabric. “Robin, can you hear us?” he said as he rubbed the top and bottom sides of her hand.

Swallowing back his fright, Eric sat down on her bed, put his arms around her shoulders and lifted her close to him. “Aunt Robin, wake up. It’s Eric.”

Seeing movements under her eyelids brought on a torrent of relief. Eric kissed her forehead and held her close, “What happened, Aunt Robin? Did you have a nightmare?” She didn’t respond. The silence worried Eric.

“Robin, Sweetheart,” said the Chief. He patted her hand as he spoke again, “Wake up from your deep sleep. Eric and I are here to keep you company tonight.”

For five long seconds, Robin didn’t appear to have heard them. Then her lips parted the slightest bit and a moan slipped out. She moved her head from side to side, “I can’t wake up. I have to wake up,” she said.

“Everything is okay, Aunt Robin. It’s okay to wake up now,” said Eric.

Her eyelids opened to a slim slit. “Everything is so blurry. Eric, it is you. And Greg, you’re here, too.” A slight smile formed, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes again, and fell into a slumber.

“No, don’t sleep now, Robin. It’s time to wake up and chat,” said Greg.

Eric blurted out his questions. “I agree with the Chief, Aunt Robin. Are you okay? Were you in danger? What made you ask for help?”

“Here now,” he said as he moved her to a sitting position against the pillows. “Does that feel more comfortable?”

She opened her eyes again and took a long look at him. “Yes, but why are you here in my bedroom? And why are you taking my pulse?”

“You don’t remember what happened? You don’t remember talking to me on the telephone?” asked Eric.

“No. I came up to bed and must have conked out right away. I had such a terrible headache,” she said as she raised her hand to touch her forehead.

“You didn’t fall or anything after we left, did you?” asked the Chief.

“No, sweetie. What makes you think that?” She paused for a moment, and then said, “Oh, I do remember feeling weak at the knees while standing at the kitchen sink. But I don’t recall falling on my head.”

“Maybe you became overtired with getting ready for company today,” said the Chief.

“Aunt Robin, I called you tonight and when you were on the line you cried out for me to come help you. Then the line went dead.”

“I don’t remember talking to you on the phone tonight, dear. But I’m glad you called me,” she said with a weak smile and touched her head again.

As they spoke, the Chief moved behind Eric and bent over by the bedside table. “Your phone is on the floor here and off the hook. There’s no dial tone.”

“If it’s off the hook it should be screeching,” said Robin.

“Nope, it’s quiet, very dead,” said the Chief with a smile. “I’ll go downstairs and check out the spare phone in your studio.” He turned and left the room.

Eric covered his aunt with a light blanket from the soft chaise lounge in the corner. “Aunt Robin, I don’t understand what’s happened. When I heard your distress I became frantic with fear.” He lowered his eyes and held her hands. “I thought maybe the worse was happening.”

“Oh dear, that is a horrible experience,” Robin said. She pulled out one hand and put it on top of his. She rubbed his hand affectionately. “I’m so sorry, but I don’t remember calling for help. I’m all right now, aren’t I? See,” and she reached up to touch her hair. “Wait…what’s happened to my hair? It’s unbraided and tangled. Maybe I did have a nightmare and tossed around a lot.” Then she touched her face and the sides of her arms. “The rest of me seems okay.”

“Were you having a bad dream tonight? You’re still in your day clothes, you must’ve have been very tired when you came in here to lie down.”

“Don’t worry, the wrinkles in this outfit can be pressed out. I would’ve welcomed the sleep to get away from that terrible headache. Although it keeps coming back. I think I will go see my doctor this week and…”

“Ahem, sorry to interrupt. But Eric, I need you to come see something,” said the Chief.

“What’s there to see? I want to see, too,” said Robin.

The two men glanced at each other. The Chief said, “That’s a good idea. I don’t want you to be alone up here.”

Eric put out his hand to help Robin stand. She took one step, then her left hand covered her forehead, and her right hand grabbed Eric’s shirt, she cried, “My headache is back.” Robin’s  knees buckled and she began to fall.

Copyright 2016 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, Calfornia

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 37

Copyright 2015, MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California

Stunned by Aunt Robin’s cry for help and the telephone call from George, Eric dialed the Chief. “Chief, Robin’s in danger. Meet me outside. You drive.”

“Got’cha.”

As he grabbed his jacket, Eric instructed his assistant, “Howie, you’re in charge. It’s a personal emergency. I’ve got the walkie talkie with me.” He ran out the bay doors and into a red sedan with the gold seal of California blazing on the front passenger door.

Fire Chief Greg Mullins flipped on flashing lights as Eric climbed in. “Tell me what’s happening.”

Eric held up his hand. “In a minute.” Static buzzed from the walkie-talkie, a dispatcher answered and Eric gave him the message. “This is Captain Eric Mahoney. Make this a double urgent relay to Detective Fontino. He is to meet me at my Aunt Robin’s house on Russian Hill right away. Yes, he knows the location. Tell him Robin needs us now. Over and out.”

As their car sped down the street, Eric took a few deep breaths. “My heart’s running in a race. I don’t know why but for some reason I felt the urge to telephone my aunt. She spoke in such a low voice. Then when she cried for help, the line went dead.”

“Okay, I’ve got’cha, but now try to calm down.”

“Chief, I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ve got to get there quick.”

“Hold on,” said the Chief in an even tone. “We’ll be there soon.”

Eric hung onto the dashboard as they made a right turn onto Hyde Street. “Thank God I’ve got the key to her house.”

“And, that she’s got a driveway for us to park,” added the Chief.

“What if we can’t get to Robin’s fast enough. God, if only we could fly like birds.”

“You don’t think birds can have heart attacks? Stay calm, Eric. We’re almost there.”

Eric’s teeth bit the inside of his lower lip as he prayed for his aunt’s safety. He did not want her to be a victim of the Serial Killer. He turned toward his closest friend, “If the fiend has changed his victim location, I pray it will not be in my aunt’s neighborhood.”

His heart kept trying to break out of its muscle restraints, Eric also had wild thoughts spinning through his mind. What if it is the Serial Killer there? He might have already harmed her. But what if he’s still there? What will I do? From what I’ve seen him do, he’s strong. Can I hope to beat him, capture him, or kill him? He has a rage, big-time, and he has a non-stop lust for killing. He’ll kill everyone and everything in his way, like how he killed that little dog. Eric shifted in his seat. His whole body alert to the danger potential. If he has hurt Aunt Robin, will I have the strength through rage to kill him?

The walkie-talkie buzzed and the dispatcher relayed a message from Detective Fontino. “Detective Fontino, Special FBI Agent Parker, and their men are on their way.”

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 36

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California

“I think I know who that woman might be,” said a voice from the staircase.

Startled, George and Mattie froze. Then seeing Haley come down the stairs in her nightgown, George fired two quick questions, “Who is she? How do you know?”

“It’s only a guess from what I heard you say. Do you remember anything else?”

“Yes, although some of the details of the visions repeat themselves and blend with new details in my recall.” George paced back and forth in the living room as he spoke. “I’m in a dimly lit cavern and a dark figure is moving closer to the woman. Her eyes are opened wide with terror.”

“What do you think is happening? Is she about to die?” Mattie spoke in a panic. “George, what are we going to do?”

George jabbed one of the couch pillows with his fist. “Unlike the other visions I’ve had, tonight I’ve tapped into someone’s immediate need. Bits and pieces still come to mind but there’s not enough information to determine what to do or where to start.”

“I know what you haven’t said, George,” interjected Mattie. “You think it has to do with the Serial Killer who is terrorizing everyone on Nob Hill.”

“You’re right, Mattie. And, here’s something else I’ve just recalled. A strong wind storm is swirling things around and I hear a specific and unusual noise, too.”

“Is it like a train coming before a hurricane? What does it sound like,” said Haley. She moved over to the couch with Mattie and they sat down, clasping each other’s hands.

George snapped his fingers and rushed over to the floor radio. “I knew I’d heard that sound before.” He turned the small black knob on the right side of the smooth rosewood panel. “It sounds like this,” he said and paused. “It is the sound we hear when we turn on a radio.”

The three of them listened with intense interest. “It is static mixed with the electrical whining noises. This always happens when the radio tubes are warming up.”

“What you’ve described is chaotic,” said Mattie. “Strange noises amid turbulence, a flashing knife blade that almost gets you, a girl screaming, and a terrified woman lying on a rock in the dark. George, you’ve tapped in on the minds of the Serial Killer’s victims.”

“Whatever the reason you’ve connected with them, I believe they are still alive,” said Haley. “We’ve got to do something quick.”

“I agree, but how am I going to find her?” said George waving his arms and looking upwards toward the ceiling.

“Didn’t you say, ‘Pictures, red paint, twinkling lights, a bridge, paper chaos, and sharp knives?” asked Haley. “I think one of the two women you connected with is Eric’s aunt, Robin. Eric had said that one of the treasures of living on Russian Hill is the beautiful view of the sparkling lights on the Bay Bridge at night.”

“Oh, and she’s an artist,” added Mattie. “The red paint and paper chaos might be from that.”

“We’ve got to warn Eric and get to his aunt right away,” said George.

Haley stood and said, “I’ll get you Eric’s phone numbers and go change my clothes.”

“You’re going with me?” said George.

“Most definitely,” said Haley closing the closet door. She slapped a piece of paper in George’s hand. “I’ll be five minutes.”

When Haley disappeared from the top of the stairs, George pulled Mattie into the kitchen. He whispered, “As soon as we leave, call Joe and Norm. Tell them, Red apples. They’ll watch the house and protect you until I get back. Got that?”

“Yes,” Mattie said. “I’ll fill a thermos and pack what you’ll need.”

“I’ve got some other packing to do as well.”

“You think you need to, George?”

“Don’t worry. You haven’t forgotten my specialty, have you? I’ll be fine. And even if all is well at Robin’s house, I may decide to stay a bit longer in that city. Keep us in your prayers, will you?” George kissed Mattie’s forehead and headed for the kitchen wall telephone.

 

Eric picked up the call at the first ring. “Captain Mahoney.”

“Eric. This is George. A friend of Haley’s Aunt Mattie. Listen with care, please. You don’t know me, but I sense that your Aunt Robin is in danger. I sometimes have a psychic ability to receive visions and from what I’ve seen tonight, Haley and I were motivated to warn you. We are coming to your aunt’s house. Eric, we want to be on hand to help if needed.”

George heard a heavy sigh. “Your hunches or visions are correct,” said Eric. “I just got off the phone with my aunt. She called out for help. I’m leaving now. I’ll see you there.”

 

Standing at his gun cabinet hidden behind one of the pantry walls, George slid on his shoulder holster and tucked in his handgun. He picked out one of the five powerful rifles poised in readiness and he picked out the ammunition he needed.

George heard Haley’s quiet footsteps too late. He cursed himself for letting down his guard as he snapped the secret panel shut and turned. Haley’s eyes were wide and her hands trembled.

“Eric’s on his way to Robin’s house,” said George. “I told him we were on our way as well.” He shifted his rifle to his other hand, and patted her on the shoulder. “The unknown can make us worry more than we need to, Haley. We’re doing what we need to do now. I know it’ll be hard for you, but let’s try to stay calm.”

Mattie came into the kitchen carrying a tall thermos and two shoulder bags. “Here’s a change of clothes, for both of you. Haley, you and George might be staying there longer than you expect.”

Haley’s trembling hands took the overnight bag from Mattie. The thought of staying for more than a few hours deepened the seriousness of the situation. George saw how she tried to hide her fears in her response, “Aunt Mattie, you think of everything.” She kissed her aunt’s cheek and gave her a big squeeze. “You be careful, too.” She turned and rushed through the front door and down the porch steps, her breath making small white puffs in the darkness of the woods.

George accepted the tall thermos of coffee and his shoulder bag. When Mattie’s arms slipped under his elbows to hug him he felt her fingers touched the leather holster. He watched her as she leaned back and eyed the rifle he held in his other hand.

Then as they looked looking into each other’s eyes, Mattie said softly, “Whatever is out there signals a great danger. Be careful.”

George held Mattie with his lean and strong arms close and tight. His kiss, though short, was loving and deep. Then he let go and bounded out of the cabin to his van.

 

“Here’s the hot coffee,” he said as he handed the thermos to Haley. “The collapsible cups are in the glove box. Cream and sugar packs are there, too.” He paused when he saw her cold and scared face. To distract her, he said, “Those clothes look good you and they’ll keep you warm Haley. You know how San Francisco’s chilly at night.”

She nodded and he saw a small smile.

He backed out of his van’s cab and went to open the van’s hatch. Haley turned to watch him tuck his rifle in place and then cover it with a tarp. The hatch snapped close.

George slipped into his leather seat, locked his door, and turned the key. The roar of the powerful engine filled the cab. The van rolled forward crunching gravel like teeth grinding candy.

“Thank you for not making me stay behind. I want to be there to help in any way I can.”

“I understand what you mean, Haley.”

“How long before we get to Aunt Robin’s?”

“Thirty to forty minutes. Maybe even faster as its late now. You can catch a nap if you want.”

“I couldn’t. I’m worried and excited at the same time. I don’t want anything bad to happen to Eric’s aunt, and I’m in shock that I will be seeing Eric again so soon. I had myself psyched out for a long duration without any contact with him.”

“Aye, I can understand those feelings, too,” said George.

The next few minutes passed in silence, until Haley said, “From what you’ve described, I am afraid for his aunt. She’s all alone. Jeannie, Krista, and I were going to stay with her tonight.”

George acknowledged her concern with a nod of his head. Haley yawned, scooted down in her seat, and used the hood on her jacket as a pillow. “This thick jacket feels so comfortable, I could …”

“Fall asleep,” said George, finishing the sentence for her. The steady hum of the road and her exhaustion from the lack of sleep over the last two days had finally captured her.

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 35

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Lowe, Oceanside, California

Deep into the thicket of the Saratoga Hills frogs and crickets sang in harmony by the creek. The soft glow from the remaining embers in the fireplace of Robin’s home created shadows all around the living room. Haley, Jeanne, and Krista had fallen asleep exhausted upstairs in their shared bedroom.

George and Mattie had fallen asleep in front of the fireplace with their arms about each other. A grunt from George broke the silence and woke Mattie. She watched in surprise as his right leg kicked out and his right arm came up in the air as if to defend himself.

“Wake up, George. You’re having a bad dream,” she whispered in his ear. As she brought down his arm with a gentle touch, she asked, “Are you fighting someone?”

He didn’t respond.

“Say something, George. Stop staring at the ceiling. Look at me.”

“I’m attempting to recapture the remnants of a dream I had.”

Mattie understood what he meant and patted his arm. “It must’ve have been a bad dream. Your brows were knit together and the furrows on your forehead were so deep, I could grow rice there.”

“You do make waking up a joy, dear. But yes, the dream was dark, scary, and frustrating. More so for the two women in it though,” he said. “Two things are bothering me. I heard a young girl screaming, and then saw a woman struggling and she seemed unable to speak.”

When he stood and offered Mattie a hand to get up, his tall figure reminded Mattie how special he was. “No one around this area is as tall, lean, and strong as you are,” she said as she stood and put her arms around him, and held him close.

“You feed me right,” said George. He tussled her hair, and kissed the top of her head. “Now, getting back to what I saw. The visions I had don’t make any sense. At times, I stood right next to the woman lying on the slab of rock, unable to move. I couldn’t make out what was causing the terror in her eyes.”

“Were you fighting against someone right before you woke up? You jerked your leg up and then your arm shot out like this,” she imitated how his arm rose up in a right angle.

“I don’t remember fighting or moving. I just watched and listened.”

“What did you see?” asked Mattie.

“It’s confusing. Because what I can remember comes back in broken parts, and not in an order as I experienced them. There’s more coming back. Strong gusts of wind blew against my back and the chill in the cavern-like place made me feel a stinging on my skin. Nothing there felt good. The woman on a slab of rock wasn’t moving but I sensed her struggle against something that seemed to be holding her arms and legs in place. She seemed terrified of something near her but no one else was around, just me.”

“I hope,” said Mattie, “she woke up from the dream when you did.”

George paced back and forth in the living room, combing his fingers through his short grey hair and then stroking his mustache. “I don’t think that’s it. Tonight, I tapped into someone’s horrible experience. Do you remember me telling you, Mattie, about tasting evil?”

“Did that happen again in this dream?”

“Yes, it did.”

“Goose bumps always rise on my arms when I’m scared. I’m scared now.” She rubbed her arms. “George, I remember how you described feeling surrounded by evil, and how you could smell a distinct odor and even taste it.”

“Yes, and when the smell of evil became stronger, the woman’s fear heightened. Tonight, I tried to escape the stench invading me through my pores. The taste of it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Not even in any war zone. I wanted out of the dream,” he said as he brushed the top of his hands. “I don’t know why I had any part of this.”

Mattie took his hands in hers. “You’re trembling, George. When you were trying to get away from the evil, is that when I woke you?”

“No, not yet – I’m recalling other things now. I see stars twinkling over a city covered with lights, a dense fog lays over the ocean like a blanket, and a partial outline of a bridge. It has no lights on it. I can’t figure out if it is the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge. What can you make of these details?”

“I think,” said Mattie, “the young girl and the woman are having a huge nightmare. And because you were up-close at times, I’d say this woman is someone you know, or, it may be someone you’re about to meet. Nonetheless, they are both in great danger, George. Both of them need your help right away.”

“I agree. But how…whoa!” Mattie watched George shy to his right. His hand covered the left side of his face.

“That felt like cold blade of fine steel that just passed my face,” said George. “Good grief. I hear the voice of the young girl calling for help again. Her arm is reaching out to me. Pieces of torn pictures, and newspaper are swirling around a room. The lamp has fallen over, and scissors are flying against a wall. I’m trying, but I can’t reach her hand.” Then George stopped talking.

“Why did you stop? You were trying to grab her hand. What happened?”

“My mind went blank. Perhaps I’ll recall more details later,” said George. He sat down on the sofa with her.

“You look tired. Lay back and close your eyes. I’ll go make some tea,” said Mattie.

George did as she suggested. But as she turned toward the kitchen, George grabbed her wrist. “No, don’t go. I see something else.”

“What is it?”

“A young girl with blonde hair has her arms tied to a post now. She’s crying, she’s scared, and struggling to get loose. She’s the one screaming for help.”

“George, you’re seeing two separate nightmares. Do we know anyone who looks like these two people?”

“About a half dozen friends in town,” George said and paused. “There’s more, Mattie. I see paint splattering and dripping everywhere. It’s all red.”

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Low, Oceanside, California

The Serial Killer of Bush Street Part 34

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Lowe, San Diego County, California

Alone, after her nephew, Eric, and his friend, Fire Chief Greg Mullins, had gone back to work, Robin stood by the television rubbing her forehead and twisting the channel selector one way, and then the other. “That’s the same stuff you told me this morning,” said Robin to no one but the television. “Well at least there have been no new murders by the Serial Killer,” she added. Plopping down on the couch, her fingers flipped through the evening newspaper. Her mind buzzed with noise, and her head began to ache again. The newspaper’s flag, The Examiner, and headlines referring to the serial killer became a blur. The television news reporter’s voice droned in the background.

Robin pinched the bridge of her nose and blinked her eyes. She wasn’t seeing what she was looking at. Tossing the paper aside, she headed toward the kitchen but moved slower than she expected. What’s wrong? It’s too early to be so tired. It must be boredom. Has the Serial Killer killed anyone else since this morning? She grabbed a glass from the kitchen cupboard and turned on the faucet, and at the same time turned the brown knob on her counter-top radio. The signal for the classical radio station KABL sizzled with static then became clear. The music of Stravinski’s “Rite of Spring” usually lifted her spirits, but tonight, the rhythm felt faster than usual. The string section played as if it were in a race, and the volume increased on its own, rising in decibels, hurting her eardrums. Robin’s hands flew to her temples and her fingers felt her head throbbing. She reached out with her right hand and snapped the radio off. The recurring visions of debris swirling like a cyclone returned. Sharp and bright bolts of lightning penetrated the scene. This time though, the background lighting changed from a deep amber to a dark and murky red. If anyone knew I have these awful visions, they might think I’m crazy. Icy cold silver flashes passed the left side of her face. Robin shuddered. Quit spooking yourself. Go paint a picture.

A quick sputtering of static sparked from the radio. “What is going on around here?” She patted the top of the radio. “Are your radio tubes about to burst?”

The quietness of no answer prompt more humor from her. She spoke aloud to herself, “Dear Lord, my favorite radio might be heading for the junkyard. Maybe you can help Ernie, the local fix-it man, to make it better?”

As she headed back to the living room, she realized the absence of pain, but when thoughts of the serial killer invaded her mind again, Has he killed again? Where is he?, the headache pain re-emerged. Robin held her temples and stomped the floor in protest, “Darn, it’s an addiction. I can’t get him off my mind.”

A blinding light flashed across Robin’s eyes and the muscles of her knees softened. As she fell, she grabbed the edge of the sink. Keep the eyes open and breathe in deep. Oh, it’s time to call the doctor about this. Robin slid to the floor. Her fingers clung to the tile edge of the sink as she waited for the fog in her mind to clear, then she pulled herself up straight again. Thanks for the help, Lord.

Taking small sips of water, she encouraged herself. There’s nothing wrong with you, Robin. You’re just exhausted from preparing for visitors. Go to bed now. “Besides,” she spoke out loud again, “if you can’t stand, then you can’t paint.”

Feeling better, Robin went around the house checking all its locks. “You know, Lord, it’s been a long and disappointing day. A full house full of female company would have been nice. Maybe sometime soon? But thanks for all those other blessings.”

Before climbing up the stairs, Robin looked into her studio and saw everything in good order. Clean paintbrushes stood in jars and holders and the sketches she drew of her neighbors lay on her desk. A blank canvas waited on the easel for her next creative touch. Then she thought of Fire Chief Greg Mullins. Why didn’t Eric bring him around  long time ago? They seemed such close friends. “The next time he comes to visit, he’ll get a tour of this studio. Maybe he’ll have an interest in my art.” That Fire Chief, has a spark of light in his eyes when he talks with me. And his wink, combined with his smile, is out of this world. “That’s what’s missing, Lord. How about another dose of the Chief’s flirtation? It would make for a better day.”

Robin held onto the handrail for steadiness as she climbed the carpeted steps. She pushed off her flats, and lay back on her down pillows. The soft hum of the overhead fan lulled her into a deep sleep.

The sky became dark and the stars, like pinpricks, populated the sky above Robin’s Russian Hill home. In her bedroom, however, a different kind of darkness crept into Robin’s consciousness. In her mind’s eye, a vision of small items swirled around.  Thin knotted yellow ribbons fluttered back and forth in the wind and then burst apart going every which way. Bright silver flashes passed by and she felt the coolness of them as they landed with a thump on her pillow. The same radio static she had heard down in the kitchen weaved non-stop through the chaos of the scene. Low moans of dread and shrieks of terror spiked through the darkness that enveloped her. Then the sweetness of quiet ebbed in like a gentle flow of water into a pond.

The serenity did not last long. Robin’s heart jumped as her bed shook. It seemed like the first jolt of an earthquake. But she knew that particular thump to be the prelude to a personal and terrifying event. She had felt this shaking before. No, no, no! No more bad dreams! Robin struggled to wake up as darkness covered the swirling scene. She tried to move her arms and found no response. Once again, she was a captive of the shadows she could not decipher. Hooded in dark robes, the faceless shadowy figures glided closer. As Robin struggled to wake, her breaths became rapid, and her heart pounded. But no matter how hard she tried, her efforts were all on the inside of her mind. Her arms, legs, and head – her whole body lay dead still. This is not insanity. This is a nightmare.

Robin tried calling for help, but her lips could not move. Once before, half way out of a nightmare she heard herself expelling guttural sounds of what she had been trying to say. “Jesus, help me!”

Even knowing that the nightmare would end in its own time, the panic continued to race through Robin’s body. What does the Devil of Darkness want? Does he want me to die of a heart attack in my sleep? Oh, God! Help me! Once again, Robin struggled to voice the name of Jesus. No sounds came out. She felt the strain on her vocal cords. Her hands tried to reach her throat to soothe the pain, but her body parts lay still. She couldn’t speak and couldn’t move. In her mind’s eye, she saw dark shadows moving toward her in the threatening murky red area where she lay. Then, cold and bony hands gripped her ankles and were dragging her toward the diagonal corner of the bed. It was a pit of darkness. She had been there before. Robin wanted to dig her fingers into the bed sheets to stop them, but she couldn’t move them either. She couldn’t save herself from the descent into the blackest parts of the darkness. Jesus, Jesus, save me…!

 

The sharp ring of Robin’s telephone broke through her nightmare. She rolled over to reach it but knocked it off the bedside table and its receiver fell off its cradle. Still frightened, she choked out the words, “Help me.”

Robin’s mind drifted between the nightmare and present time. Through a hazy vision, she stared at the telephone on the floor by her bed. Did she hear Eric’s voice? “Help me! I need you. They’re pulling me down.” She paused to catch her breath. “It’s the darkness. Oh God. Please, help me…”

Tears streaked down Robin’s face staining the satin cover of her comforter as she rolled onto her back. The Sacred Cross on the wall over her bed was the last conscious vision she remembered.

Copyright 2015 MillieAnne Lowe, San Diego County, California

 

A Bucket of Teamwork

An Exceptional Story to Share!

Storyshucker

Several summers ago for work, I attended a week-long team-building conference held on a college campus. Attendees were divided into groups of five and members of each group were to collaborate on various projects for the duration of the conference. Small assignments began on day one and we were informed that the conference would culminate with a day-long special teamwork exercise. On the last day of the conference a project unique to each group would be assigned and required to be accomplished by day’s end.

“To demonstrate how your group has become a solid team.” the instructor explained with an evil grin.

Groans echoed through the classroom. My group’s leader was the most vocal.

None of the five in my group had met before the conference. In fact, we each came from a different state and attended the conference for various reasons. My group leader made it clear that he…

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