Okay, everyone, I am upping the anti on the “Creepiness Factor” of the killer in The Rose File. There is much more to come from “The Soft Spoken Man”, but this is the (unedited) scene where he first makes an appearance…
He awoke in a groggy haze. His head was spinning and his stomach was churning.
Where am I, he thought to himself. When did I fall asleep?
As the haze cleared, he became more aware of his body and his surroundings. He was laying on his stomach on what felt like a bed of some kind with his arms over his head. He tried to pull them down so he could prop himself up and see his surroundings, but they were restrained somehow. His first reaction was to be confused, but when he lifted his head slightly and saw that his wrists were bound to a wrought iron headboard panic set in. The young man tried to struggle against the bindings but the nausea and dizziness reared up full force. In an attempt to keep himself from vomiting, he laid still and tried to get his breathing under control.
It felt like an eternity before he was fairly confident he wouldn’t be sick. He tentatively tried to move one of his legs and felt a pull of resistance against his ankle. Panic and nausea swept over his body again. The cold sweat that spread across his back brought on another startling revelation: he was naked.
His primal survival instincts kicked in and, nausea or not, he struggled like a wild animal to get free. He screamed as loud as he could hoping someone would hear him and come to free him. After several long minutes he lay still on the bed, breathing heavily. His muscles and throat were on fire from the efforts and the nausea he had felt had now settled into a thick, greasy knot in the pit of his stomach. For the first time since he was a little kid, he closed his eyes and wept.
The sound of footsteps somewhere behind him snapped him out of his private pity-party. He held his breath, not daring to hope that salvation was approaching. A door creaked open, brightening up the room for a brief moment before it creaked closed again.
“Now then, have we finished with our little tantrum?” The soft voice that spoke from behind him was vaguely familiar. “I’m sorry for the after effects of the drug, but it was a necessary evil, I suppose.”
He heard rustling behind him and to his left but he didn’t dare lift his head to see what was going on. The rustling was followed by the sound of metal being set on metal several times in a row, as though someone was laying out silverware on a metal tray. Panic was rolling through him and he fought hard to suppress the urge to struggle and scream again. Something inside him told him that it would be a wasted effort anyway.
“Okay now,” the voice spoke, “we’re all set to go, Teddy.”
“My name isn’t Teddy.” His voice came out in a hoarse whine that even surprised himself.
“Hush now, Teddy.” The voice was practically in his ear. “We’re going to have ever so much fun.”
He felt the light brush of fingers down his bare spine and the chill that surged through his body made him want to be sick.
The Genesis File is a short story I wrote for a Writer’s Digest contest last year. The contest limited the entry to 4,000 words, but, since I didn’t place in the contest, I’ve decided to revise and expand it. I’m planning on releasing it as an ebook short story (or novella if it’s long enough) around the same time I publish The Marked File, my first full-length novel.
My main character in The Marked File, Detective Jess Reilly, is the subject of The Genesis File. This is her Genesis, so to speak. The Genesis File tells the story of a series of events that occurred during Jess Reilly’s senior year of high school. These events ultimately lead her down the path to becoming a Boston Homicide Detective and are alluded to in The Marked File.
I have been working on the re-write of The Genesis File and would like to share with you a portion the new opening scene. I hope you enjoy it!
She was found in the snowy field by a couple of cross country skiers. There was no question she was dead. Her legs were spread obscenely and her skirt was rucked up around her waist. The blood staining the front of her blouse spoke of a painful death. Despite the remoteness of the location, her panties were stuffed in her mouth to stifle her screams. Maryanne Porter looked up at Detective Frank Galvin through terrified eyes. It was that look alone that told him more about her final moments of life than anything else at the crime scene.
He took a deep breath to steady himself. As a ‘small town’ cop, he wasn’t accustomed to getting called to such brutal crime scenes. Detective Galvin also knew this was going to get sticky since the victim was the wife of prominent businessman and Chamber of Commerce Member, Thomas Porter. He had reported Maryanne missing a couple of days ago, but state law prevented the police from doing much of anything for forty-eight hours. Mrs. Porter was an adult and, under the law, was allowed to take off without a trace for a couple of days if she wanted to. Detective Galvin had been honestly surprised when he didn’t get a call from the Mayor’s Office requesting they forgo the forty-eight hour wait period. He had been convinced someone as connected as Mr. Porter would have tried to call in a favor.
As I was editing The Marked File the other day, this moment between Reilly and John touched me even more than it did when I first wrote it…
There have been a couple versions of The Marked File’s cover and descriptive blurb, but I believe this is the final version of each of them…
In the middle of the night a happy, successful young man walks off his roof and plummets three stories into the alley below.
At first glance, his tragic death appears to be a suicide but Boston’s top murder cop, Detective Jess Reilly, isn’t buying it. She knows, sometimes, a murder can look a lot like a suicide. When a second body shows up it’s just too much of a coincidence for Reilly and her partner, Detective Greg Fisk, to ignore. In a strange case where nothing is as it seems, Reilly and Fisk must scrutinize everything… including a witness who seems entirely too interested in the investigation.
When the forensics lab makes a startling revelation about this elusive killer’s method, Reilly and Fisk must race to find him before he marks his next victim for death…
Without giving too much away about the central plot of The Marked File, I want to talk a little about my favorite line in the book so far. In fact, when I was writing the scene and this line came out onto the page, I actually had to pause for a bit to absorb it. The title of the book had always been related to the rather unique method of my murderer, but this scene suddenly gave the title an underlying meaning that I hadn’t even considered. It was a moment when I realized my lead character, Jess Reilly, had truly taken over and revealed to me a part of her that surprised me a little. I have been lucky to experience a few moments while writing The Marked File where, by some cosmic magic, my characters take on a life of their own and teach me things about themselves that even I couldn’t have imagined.
In the scene, Jess is reflecting on the events of a very intense evening. The case she has been working on has her over-tired, frustrated, and wrestling with some demons from her past. The killer she is chasing is just barely beyond her reach and she’s afraid that she won’t stop him/her before she ends up at another crime scene…
She realized she was absently running her fingers over the thin scar that ran from just below her left ear all the way to her collar bone. Would he look at that tattoo like a scar or would he be happy with it when this was all over? Either way, just like her scar, it would always be there. It was funny, she thought, how life has a way of marking you; of giving you permanent reminders of your past.
Here is the line from that brief paragraph that has stuck with me since I wrote it…
Uh oh… A little tension is brewing between Detective Reilly and her partner, Detective Fisk… Is it just the stress of a frustrating case or is Reilly really letting her judgment be clouded by the handsome and charming Mitchel Pearlman? Keep an eye out for The Marked File, coming out this Winter, to find out…
“Nothing, Reilly, I’m just starting to wonder if your judgment on this guy is getting a little cloudy.”
“I’m not sure I appreciate the implication of your statement, Detective Fisk.” Jess’ voice was hard now. She hated to admit there was something disarming about Mitchel Pearlman, but her judgment on the matter was crystal clear.
Freedman stirred and coughed uncomfortably in the back seat of the sedan. Both Jess and Greg started a little since they had both forgotten the young officer was in the car with them. They glanced at each other like a couple of parents who had just been caught fighting by one of their children. Jess pulled in to a spot at the hospital’s parking garage and couldn’t help but notice the look of relief on Freedman’s face when she put the car in park and the door locks released.
Jess strode purposefully away from the car toward the exit of the parking garage. She felt badly for making Freedman uncomfortable, but she was still pissed at Greg for implying she wasn’t taking a proper look at Mitchel Pearlman. She knew how to run an investigation and how to tell a person of interest from a freaked out witness. What difference did it make if she happened to find this particular freaked out witness kind of cute? His smoky grey eyes had been so filled with concern over the death of a young girl and his voice, with a whisper of Texas, had a pleading tone as he asked her how she dealt with working with needless death every day. Besides, facts were facts and the fact was Pearlman was in shock after discovering Tanya Langer’s body and you can’t fake that; especially when you’re face to face with an experienced murder cop.
Okay… As promised, here is the opening scene from The Rose File. This novel will be the follow up book to The Marked File. It is unedited and I welcome any feedback you guys have. Enjoy…
Detective Jess Reilly ducked under the yellow crime scene tape the responding officers had put up to mark the area around the body. The irony of a body being discovered in a cemetery was not lost on her as she scanned the Granary Burying Ground. She turned on her digital recorder and clipped the microphone to the lapel of her jacket. Her partner, the crime scene unit, and the M.E. were on the way, but right now it was just her and the dead. The body of a young man was laid out on his back in the area where two of the paths through the old cemetery crossed. He was barefoot and dressed in white linen pants and a white linen dress shirt. A single red rose lay on his chest under his neatly folded hands. Squatting, she used her flashlight to study the body and spoke into her recorder.
“Victim is male, Caucasian, light brown hair, estimated age early twenties. Cause of death is not apparent from the body’s current position although he appears to have beaten about the face. Ligature marks on the wrists and ankles suggest the victim was bound prior to death.”
Footsteps approaching from behind her caused her to look over her shoulder and see her partner walking up the path.
“Hey, Reilly. What do we have?” Fisk squatted next to her and surveyed the scene.
“Young male victim. Identity to be determined. We need to get some lights in here so Crime Scene can do a thorough search.” Jess’ espresso colored eyes swept the area in the dark. “We’ll have to make sure we instruct them to just be conscious of the historical significance of the site. Tell me what you see, Fisk.”
Greg took some time to move his flashlight over the body and surrounding area before answering. He knew she was testing him. “There are no obvious signs of COD. Although the vic was beaten, rather savagely, I don’t see how that could have killed him. He was bound prior to death since the marks on his wrists and ankles indicate he struggled against his bindings. I don’t think he was killed here.”
“What makes you say that, Detective?”
“No blood, no obvious signs of a struggle, and the body just looks too… staged.”
The ghost of a grin briefly crossed Jess’ face. Fisk’s instincts and observational skills were constantly improving. She nodded her approval.
“I agree with your opinion that the murder didn’t take place here. The killer seems to be methodical.” She rose and circled the body, her eyes flat as she studied death. “As you said, the body seems staged. The all-white clothes are too clean to have been worn prior to death. There’s a contradiction between the savageness of the facial bruising and the almost reverent way the body is dressed and laid out. Fisk, get some photos of the body and the scene so the M.E.’s team can get to work when they arrive. I’m going to get a statement from the officer that discovered the body.”