Find me

Find me in the valley, among the trees of old.

Find me in the meadow, among the wheat of gold.

Find me along the banks, overlooking the sea.

Hear me whisper, my dear, oh please come find me.

 

I’m dreaming of a life, that may not be meant to be.

Oh, how was I to know, that this would happen to me.

I’m cold and wet. There is no end in sight.

Who would have guessed that this would be my plight?

 

Find me in the valley, among the trees of old.

Find me in the meadow, among the wheat of gold.

Find me along the banks, overlooking the sea.

Hear me whisper, my dear, oh please come find me.

I dream of fields and meadows, where I used to be.

These chains are growing heavy.

Oh, how I wish, I could break free.

My heart is slowly beating. My eyes wish to close.

How long I have been here, I no longer know.

 

Find me in the valley, among the trees of old.

Find me in the meadow, among the wheat of gold.

Find me along the banks, overlooking the sea.

Hear me whisper, my dear, oh please come find me.

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Every tape is always the same. Each and every one. Every. Single. Time. I hate that husky voice that sings these ominous words. I know that I know that voice, but I cannot for the life of me place it. I hate hearing the child’s screams of torment and horror after the singing fades away. I have twenty-four hours to find the latest victim before her life is ended before it barely began. I have failed seventeen times now. Seventeen fucking times. Each of their faces haunt me while I am awake. Each of their screams haunt me while I sleep. Another damn tape. Another damn twenty-four hours. I always too late. Seventeen times, I have been too late.

My bulletin board is overflowing with information. Somewhere in this mess is a clue. I am desperately trying to find a connection among the victims. So far, the only one I have found is obvious, each one was a child between the ages of six and twelve. Seven were boys. Ten were girls. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicity, and religions. It is true that some share a few of these categories, but there is not one single thing to tie them all together. They go to different schools and have different babysitters. None share a common hair type or eye color. Their facial features are not similar.

My head feels as if it will burst. I chew a couple of aspirins that I keep in the top drawer of my desk. I chase them with a few antacids and wash the whole nasty mess down with yet another cup of cold coffee. My ulcer flares up in protest. This job is going to kill me one day. Today, however, is not the day. Today, I have to focus. Another damn tape. Another damn twenty-four hours. Jesus help me. I cannot fail this time.

I don’t know how long I had been lost in my thoughts before my partner, Jimmy Bridgemore, slammed a stack of papers onto the desk in front of me. He regarded me with an icy stare for a moment.

“Daydreaming won’t get this case solved, Mac.”

I sighed and took another swallow of cold coffee. “I was thinking.”

“Mmm, hmm. Yeah, well your thinking hasn’t helped too much as of late.”

“I swear Jimmy, let off of me already. Today is not the day to fuck with me. Now shut up and let me think.”

“I catch you daydreaming and you tell me to lighten up on you. Do you have any idea where I just came from? Of course not. Well, let me tell you. While you were in here in la-la land, I was getting chewed up one side and down the other by the chief, so excuse me for not wishing to kiss your ass right now.” Jimmy said in a huff as he plopped down on his side of the desk.

Shit. I had forgotten all about the meeting with the chief. No wonder Jimmy was in such a mood. I regarded him for a few more moments before hitting the play button on my tape recorder. I have to admit that it was a low move, even for me. Jimmy had every right to be angry with me, but we had more pressing matters to attend to presently. If this nightmare ever ends, I am going to pay for him and his wife to go on that cruise they are always going on about. They have been saving since the day they married but life had a way of sneaking up on them. I think they only had a few hundred dollars saved up. That is a pittance after ten years of trying.

Jimmy sat there for a long time before he spoke. “Do we know who he has taken?”

I shook my head in negation.

“I better call Angela and tell her I’m not coming home tonight. Did we get a box too?”

“Not yet. I’ll call downstairs and tell them to expect it.”

“Yeah, by now they know the routine.”

“Yes, unfortunately, they do.” I said, suddenly very tired. It was going to be a long ass morning.

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The box arrived twenty minutes later. Per the chief’s orders, all of the boxes were only handled by Forensics. To date, none of them have yielded a single scrap of evidence. The killer has been so clever thus far. If you were a gambler, you would think the odds would eventually be in our favor. It is statistically impossible for this monster to keep us in the dark forever. At some point, he has to grow bored of merely taunting us. Sooner or later, the rules will change.

Jimmy and I arrived in the Forensics lab shortly after Doug Harper, the head technician and his assistant, Meg O’Mallory finished dusting the outside of the package for prints.

“Find anything interesting?” Jimmy asked grimly.

“Not so far, Jimmy boy. You would know if we had.” Doug said, not looking up from his notes.

Jimmy stuck his tongue out and rolled his eyes. I have seen this play out a thousand times. Doug knows how much Jimmy hates being called “Jimmy boy”. If he wasn’t so damn good at his job, I think he would be picking his teeth out of the plaster long before now.

I made my way over to Meg. She is a voluptuous woman, just my type, if I am honest. I used to dream about running my fingers through her long auburn hair. I bet it feels just like silk. I love how the ringlets curl around her gentle, smiling face. I miss her smiles. Since this case began, she does not smile anymore. None of us do.

“Morning Meg. I wish I was visiting under better circumstances.”

“As do I, Mac. As do I, but if wishes were fishes….”

“We’d both be on a beach somewhere having a much better time.” I continued for her.

To this, she raised her eyebrows for a moment and looked at me before returning to her work.

“We are done with the outside of the package now. It is clean. I’m going to open the package, unless you wish to do the honors, Mac.”

“Pass me a pair of rubbers. I’ll do it.”

The packages were always red and tied with a golden bow. They resembled Christmas presents. Unfortunately, nothing cheerful ever awaited us inside. This time was no different. On a piece of velvet was a child’s left foot. I gently lifted the little appendage and placed it on the examination table. Meg started her inspection.

Speaking into a tape recorder, she began dictating her findings. “The foot measures approximately seventeen centimeters long. There is limited lividity on the right side where it was resting in the box. Rigor mortis has not set in yet. I see some dirt under the toenails. Note that the sole of the foot is clean as is the rest of the skin.”

Doug was taking notes even more quickly now. He paused when he heard dirt. “Make sure we take a sample from each toe nail before we start dusting for prints.”

“Consider it noted, Doug.” Meg said, undeterred by his obvious statement. “I’m moving on to the wound. The foot was severed from the leg just above the ankle bone. The flesh is torn as if it was pulled instead of cut. The bone is shattered. Jimmy, swing that magnifier over here. There seems to be something lodged in the marrow.”

Doug finally stopped taking his notes, grabbing a camera. “Let me get a few pictures of it before you extract the object.”

“It is just a fragment. I don’t think you will be able to photograph it clearly but knock yourself out.”

The flash from the camera made me see spots. I noticed that Meg had shielded her eyes with her hand. Smart and beautiful.

When Doug had finished, Meg gently grabbed the sliver of metal and put it in a petri dish. Doug scooped it up and began analyzing it under the microscope. Grabbing a blunt instrument, Meg began scraping under each nail. She deposited the muck into separate vials and labeled which toe the samples came from under. While the pair worked, Jimmy and I carefully removed the velvet lining and started dusting the inside of the box for prints. We came up empty. Neither of us were really surprised.

Meg had finished with the nail scrapings when she picked up the velvet liner. As she turned it over and over in her hands, her brow became more and more furrowed. She started to slide it between her thumbs and index finger. She slid it under the magnifier and stared at it intensely, turning it this way and that.

“What is it Meg?” I asked her, perplexed.

“There is something inside. I am looking for the seam and, ah ha! Got it.”

Meg gently pulled on the fabric with a pair of tweezers. Once she got started, it opened easily. Inside was a piece of paper. It was no bigger than a square of toilet paper. At first, I thought it was one of those inspection squares. By the expression on Meg’s face, I could tell it was something more. She turned it around so that Jimmy and I could get a better look at it. It had a solitary letter printed on it, “M”.

“Jimmy go down and get the other liners! NOW!”

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All seventeen of the velvet liners contained a letter. Meg was able to lift numerous fingerprints off the slips of paper. Doug was frantically scanning each into the computer. We had a complete set of prints, plus some duplicates. We knew at least a few of them had been handled by the same person. The computer would tell us the rest. Hopefully, this monster has been finger printed at some point in his life. We left the pair to work on matching the prints.

Time was slipping away. It was already eleven when Jimmy and I finally made some sense out of the letters. They read:

IF YOU DARE FIND ME NOW

Doug came running into the room waiving papers above his head like a madman.

“We have him! We have the dirty bastard!” he said in between breaths, still flailing around.

I snatched the papers out of his hands and was shocked by whose picture was staring me in the face.

“It can’t be. Are you sure?” I asked.

“Let me see!” Jimmy demanded as he pulled the papers from my suddenly weak grip. Scanning the pages, he sat down with a thump, opening and closing his mouth like some sort of fish.

The three of us sat in silence, letting the information absorb.

“Doug, are you absolutely sure these are right?”

“I ran them twice, Mac. I am sure. It’s Jacqueline’s brother.”

I bolted from my chair and grabbed Doug by his shirt collars. “Please tell me that you made a mistake! Doug, it can’t be him!”

A hand touched my shoulder. I dropped Doug and almost took a swing on poor Jimmy. Instead, I collapsed back in my chair. How was I ever going to explain to my ex-wife that her brother was a killer of children? No, not just a killer. He tortured them first. The unspeakable acts he committed upon these helpless little ones were so horrific that we had to suppress most of the details from the public. I bent over and puked into my waste basket.

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Within the hour, we had a S.W.A.T. team assembled. Jonathan lived in the family beach house in the summer months. During the fall and winter, he stayed at the cabin, Jacqueline and he inherited after their parents died. Since it was late fall, he would more than likely be staying there. It was isolated on a hundred acres of private forest.  Behind the house, was a meadow. This time of year, it would be overgrown with wild grass, the color of gold.

The woods provided excellent cover. The sun was at our backs now that the morning had given way to late afternoon. The plan was simple. Jimmy would drive up in a marked car. He would explain to Jonathan that I had been involved in a shooting and was badly injured. Since no one at the station could reach Jacqueline, Jimmy drove here by the chance she had come to visit.

Right on cue, Jimmy drove past where I was hiding in the bushes to the right of the front porch. I watched him mount the first step before he was blown back off of his feet. He staggered around like a drunk at last call before another blast struck his shoulder, spinning him around. Jimmy took two more steps before a third blast caught him in the back of the head, dropping him where he stood. People say that time slows down in moments of crisis. Those people of full of shit. I was no more than four feet away and in the space of ten seconds, my partner of fifteen years was dead on the front lawn. He wasn’t going to get to take his wife on that cruise after all.

As soon as the first blast sounded off, the members of the S.W.A.T. team began closing in on the rear of the house. I heard canisters of tear gas being shot through the windows. I pulled on my gas mask as one of the canisters flew out the hole in the front door. I watched in dismay as it landed where Jimmy’s head used to be. Gun fire broke out. From the sound, Jonathan was shooting out the back of the house. I cautiously left my hiding spot and made my way to the remains of the front door.

The interior of the house was choked with tear gas, blocking my vision to the point that I could only see a few feet in front of me. I carefully crawled along the floor where the air was clearer. Splinters of wood rained down all around me as the S.W.A.T. team fired back. I had to move out of the line of fire. I crab crawled my way into the kitchen when my leg bumped into something hard. It was a trap door. Jonathan was no longer in the house. I tried to call on my radio but the gun fire was much too loud. Going down the ladder without any back up was a stupid idea, but the only option I saw. With my heart racing in my ears, I climbed down into the darkness below.

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Instead of a cellar, I was in a long tunnel that reminded me of the ones miners work in on those late night black and white movies my father was always fond of watching. Bare, dusty bulbs caste a sick yellow glow every few feet or so. Jonathan was nowhere to be found. I made my way along. The ground was packed hard, so I left no footprints. After about two hundred yards, the tunnel split into three passageways. I glanced down the right one. It seemed to go on forever. I immediately disregarded that one. Acting on instinct, I went to the one on the left. The skin around my mask was immediately cooled by a breeze, albeit a faint one. I discarded my mask and took after Jonathan in earnest.

It felt like I was trapped in that hell for hours. By my wristwatch, it had only been five minutes since the first shot. I guess those people were right about time slowing down. They are still full of shit for being right. The breeze picked up as I realized that I could see daylight up ahead. I broke into a run, hoping that I had caught up to Jonathan, knowing he still had a good lead on me.

I tentatively poked my head up out of the double doors that he had left open upon his escape. I almost got my head shot off. If I had been a split second slower, Forensics would have been scraping what was left of my brains off of the side of this damn door. I heard an engine crank close by.

“Go ahead Mac! Show that ugly face of yours again! I’ve got something for you if you do!” Jonathan taunted me.

With no idea of whether or not he had a child hostage in the vehicle, I could not risk shooting back at him. So, I waited. I heard the engine rev up before the sound started to fade. I counted to three and poked my head out once again, my service revolver at the ready. The Jeep was almost out of firing range so I scrambled out of the ground and ran after it. I shot three times. Once at the driver and twice at the back wheels. I think the first shot hit him. The other two missed completely. I saw the dirt puff up as he drove back out of range. I took off after him, yelling into my radio while I could still see the license plate. Jonathan disappeared into the woods. Damn his 4 x 4. Over the radio, the Captain was telling me to hold position and they would send back up. To hell with that. I took off after him on foot.

I came across Jonathan’s Jeep ten minutes later. The engine was still clicking and clanging as it cooled. There was blood on the driver’s seat. My first shot did indeed hit its target. I scanned the area around the vehicle. He could have gone anywhere. The woods stretched out in every direction. I started to pan out in circles around the Jeep in hopes of finding any clue as to which way he had run. I did not have to walk far before finding blood on some leaves on the forest floor. I must have hit him good for there was far more blood than I would have expected from a shoulder wound.

I made my way following the blood until I noticed a building in the distance. It was a small farm house from the looks of it. The state of ruin was a shame. In its heyday, it might have been a grand little home. I found more blood on the stairs leading up to the porch. I approached cautiously. The floor boards creaked much too loudly for my liking under my feet. I heard a loud bang from the side of the house and ran that way, all caution forgotten. The cellar doors were open. Again, following my instinct, I descended into the darkness below for a second time.

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Immediately, my nostrils were assaulted with the smell of rot and mildew. Spider webs clung to my face. I had to rein my imagination back in for a second as I pictured giant spiders crawling on my face and down my back, drinking in the sweat that poured from there. I tried to breath from my mouth, but the taste was so bad that I went back to breathing through my nose. The cellar was almost pitch black, yet I had not run into anything yet. I found this curious as I made my way around blindly. From the dark, I heard laughter. The sweat froze as my blood turned to ice water. Now the spiders would have to slink through the fine hairs on my neck and arms for they were standing on end.

I turned slowly, trying to discern where the sound was coming from. Unfortunately, it bounced off the walls, distorting it. It was then that I realized why it was so dark. Jonathan had closed the cellar doors behind us. I must have walked right by him without so much as noticing him. He could have killed me right then, but he did not. He was having too much fun, after all. This was the apex of his sick game. Now he had me right where he wanted me and like a fool, I walked into his trap willingly.

Another of those eerie laughs rang out. I turned in every direction, my gun shaking in my now unsteady hands. I stopped suddenly, realizing that I was masking his movements. The silence hung thickly in the air. The only sound I could hear was the thud, thud, thud, of my own heart and my shallow harsh breaths. The sweat had dried up on my skin. I was terrified. The darkness felt oppressive. It pushed in on all sides. My arms and legs felt like lead had been poured into them. My tongue was dry and bloated in my mouth. My stomach loosened as white stars of light started to flash across my vision. I was hyperventilating. I tried desperately to calm myself before I passed out when I felt a hot breath pressing into my ear.

“Oh please. Oh please. Won’t you ever just find me?” I heard as a finial flash of white splashed across my vision and I sunk down into the shadows.

My head felt so heavy. I tried to raise it but a flash of pain hit me and I almost passed out. My eye lids refused to open. I tried to moan but my lips would not part. My arm would not move either. Neither would my legs. Do I have arms and legs anymore? Thinking hurts too much. I wanted to go back to sleep. Cold water snapped me back to reality. I bolted upright and gasped for air. The pain was excruciating. I almost blacked out again when I got a second cold shower.

“Wake up asshole. Sleep time is over.” Jonathan said sternly as he set down a metal bucket.

I slowly focused on him and my surroundings. My arms and legs were duct taped to a chair, as was my mouth. I was still in the cellar. Across from me, Jonathan was dragging a metal table from a small room that looked like some sort of walk in closet. Hanging on the walls were all manner of saws, axes, knives, blades, sickles, hammers, and other tools of torture. I was trapped in his dungeon. Something white catch my attention on the other side of me. It was a sheet. I could see it moving up and down slowly. The child. Dear God! The child!

“Ah, I see you have noticed my other guest. How rude of my to not introduce the two of you!” Jonathan said in a sickening playful manner.

“Mac, meet Jack!” he said with a laugh that curled my already compromised stomach.

Sitting next to me was Jack. My little boy. His skin was as pale as snow. His eyes had lost all of their brilliant blue. His hair hung limply around his angelic little head. My Jack. As much as I did not want to, I had to look down at his feet. Relief swept over me as I saw that both of his were just where they were supposed to be, still attached. This was quickly swept away when he looked at me. There was no recognition in his eyes. They were glazed over, lost in a fog of heavy drugs.

The sight of my son was enough to enrage me. I yanked. I pulled. I bucked against the tape that bound me. I was going to kill Jonathan with my bare hands. I was going to beat his skull in until it was jelly in my fingertips. I was going to use every tool in this sadistic room to tear him limb from limb. Laughter greeted my efforts until one of my legs broke loose from its bindings. I stood up bent over and hobbled as hard and as fast as I could at Jonathan. He easily moved out of my way, sending me crashing into the wall. I turned at the last moment and saved my stupid head from another bashing. I heard the chair crack as I fell to the floor in a heap.

“WOOO! You have some fire in you! I’ll give you that Mac! Ah, what’s the matter? Aren’t you having fun? Oh don’t look at me like that. I have been practically begging you to stop me since the beginning. I can’t help it that you are fucking idiot. Shit, I thought I was going to have to spell it out for you. Ha! I did have too didn’t I? I can tell by the look on your face that you finally found my little love notes to you. Jesus, no wonder Jackie left you.”

More laughter followed this tangent. Jonathan picked me up from the floor. I grabbed his throat with my free hand meaning to rip out his spine. He quickly bashed my head into the wall, knocking me back out.

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When I came to again, I was tied more securely to the chair, clothesline this time. Jack was on the metal table, still in a drug induced fog. The tape had been removed from my mouth so I tried to speak to him. Before I could get out a sound, Jonathan back handed me hard enough to send stars across my vision and blood poured from where I bit my lip. My mother always said that I had a hard head, but all of these knocks to it were starting to prove otherwise.

“The only sounds that I want to hear from you are screams of agony. If you cannot do that, then I will have to start cutting on my dear ole nephew, just like I did he pathetic mother.” He said with a smile.

I started to speak again. He knocked me over sideways with another slap. My spit out blood as I bit the other side of my bottom lip. Righting me back up, he held a knife so close to my eye that I was afraid to blink.

“Try that shit again and I will pluck your eye out and leave it hanging on your damn cheek. Now pay attention because I am only going to say this shit once. The only sounds I want to hear from you are screams of agony. Got that!” he screamed.

I was afraid to answer or shake my head. I swallowed hard and heard a dry click in the back of my throat.

“Very good. You can teach an old dog new tricks after all. Now that I have your attention. This is what I am going to do. I am going to cut your boy up and guess what? You get to watch! Doesn’t that sound like a helluva lot of fun?”

I tried to look at my boy. Jonathan just smiled at me.

“Go ahead. Take one last good, long look at him. Ok, that’s enough. Time for Uncle Jonathan to play. Weeee!”

The crazy fucker actually skipped over to the table. There was no way any of this was real. I had to be dreaming. Psychotic killers do not skip. This was real life. They simply do not do shit like that. While I sat there, helpless, not believing that what I was seeing what actually happening, Jonathan began to sing that damn song. His voice echoed and bounced off of the walls. It distorted his voice so much so that I finally knew why I thought it was familiar but could never place it.

He took his time selecting the tool in which to begin. As if the situation was not surreal enough, he actually started monologuing like some villain in bad movies.

“You know, Mac. I don’t always drug the kids. I’m doing Jack a kindness. It is you that I want to torture, not my little Jack. Hell, I love the kid so, I drugged him. Normally, I just start cutting into them after I leave them down here for about an hour in the dark. Sometimes I like to burst through the cellar doors like I am rescuing them. You should see their faces! They light up with hope. I let them believe for a few moments before I show them my knife. Man, it is one hell of a rush seeing their little faces drop.”

Psychotic was not the word for what Jonathan was, no not by a long shot. He left that way behind. He truly was a monster. No human would do this. He was genuinely happy and thought this was all some sort of twisted, yet fun game. The man was having the time of his life right now. The sound of approaching engines stopped his fun, however. The goofy smile flew off his face as it contorted with rage. All of a sudden, I was in the room with a wild animal holding a handsaw. His eyes darted all around as if his brain was short circuiting. Footsteps beat upon the floors above my head.

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I started to scream but stopped as Jonathan put the blade up to Jack’s throat. The craziness had not left his eyes, but the smile was back. I swallowed my scream as he tilted my son’s tiny throat up to expose the soft flesh. Tears ran down my cheeks but I barely noticed. With my own eyes, I pleaded with him to have mercy. Part of me knew that it would do no good. His grin widened as he went to carve into Jack. Before his blade could release more than a trickle of blood, a deafening shot rang out. Jonathan’s right eye disappeared in its socket. With that grin, still on his face, he slid down the wall, dragging the handsaw with him. I watched in horror as my son’s life force sprayed out of him and the once sparkling light, died in his eyes.

Here I stand and watch after body, after body is uncovered in the field of gold behind Jonathan’s cabin. The chief told me that more bodies were found buried in the walls of the ocean side cottage. The number so far is fifty-seven. I will stand here until they uncover them all while his song haunts my mind on perpetual loop.

Find me in the valley, among the trees of old.

Find me in the meadow, among the wheat of gold.

Find me along the banks, overlooking the sea.

Hear me whisper, my dear, oh please come find me.

 

I’m dreaming of a life, that may not be meant to be.

Oh, how was I to know, that this would happen to me.

I’m cold and wet. There is no end in sight.

Who would have guessed that this would be my plight?

 

Find me in the valley, among the trees of old.

Find me in the meadow, among the wheat of gold.

Find me along the banks, overlooking the sea.

Hear me whisper, my dear, oh please come find me.

I dream of fields and meadows, where I used to be.

These chains are growing heavy.

Oh, how I wish, I could break free.

My heart is slowly beating. My eyes wish to close.

How long I have been here, I no longer know.

 

Find me in the valley, among the trees of old.

Find me in the meadow, among the wheat of gold.

Find me along the banks, overlooking the sea.

Hear me whisper, my dear, oh please come find me.

Oh please. Oh please. Won’t you ever just find me?

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