The Abydos Triad by Terence West

EXTRACT FOR
The Abydos Triad

(Terence West)


Chapter One

It was cold and dreary, but what was new? The dark, gray clouds had been threatening rain all day, but had just let loose a light sprinkling. Such was life in Seattle during the winter. He pulled his collar up around his neck to fight against the biting wind. Picking up his pace, he began to move briskly along the old, paved road. Dark streaks of asphalt cut across the faded gray surface of the road, signs that at least the county had tried to patch it. Tall weeds and grass had begun to reclaim what was originally theirs by jutting up through cracks and old potholes. Nature had a way of doing that.
He tilted his head back and stared at the clouds. They were a cocktail of black, various shades of gray and a few stray tendrils of white. The storm was fast approaching. The crack of thunder echoed in the distance causing his skin to crawl. Thrusting his hands into the deep pockets of his black, wool coat, he wrapped it tightly around his chest. The cold was penetrating his bones, making him feel perpetually damp.
He was late for work, which in itself wasn't that unusual. He had been on several occasions lately. Warnings had been issued, of course, but this time, it was different. This time, he would be fired. There were no other options in his mind. His supervisor would check the time cards just before lunch, as he always did, then haul out the chopping block.
He was going to have to drag his sorry carcass home after lunch and tell his girlfriend he lost his job. It wasn't bad enough that the bank had repossessed his car two weeks ago, but they were also falling behind on their mortgage payments. He felt a knot begin to form in his stomach, while acid threatened to backwash into his throat. He hated bills. They were the very bane of his existence. Such was the life of an artist.
Jax was a writer. From the moment he came home from the processing plant, that was all he did. When he was in college, he had at least had a computer to use, but now he sat at the dining room table in the center of his small singlewide trailer and wrote with pencil and paper. It was maddening to a certain degree, living hand to mouth, but that was his life now. No more depending on Mommy and Daddy for his weekly cash stipend, no more tooling around in the Lexus before class, no more mansion on the lake. It was all up to him now, and it was all because of a woman. His woman.
How he hated her for it.
It wasn't entirely her fault, he knew, but she was convenient, and he needed someone to blame. Jax had, at least, been a willing accomplice. During their junior year of college, he and Sara had met and fallen in love. They were both English majors with a passion for the written word. He couldn't count the nights they had spent just reciting their favorite poems to each other, her favorite was Yeats, his—Shakespeare. They knew they were perfect for each other, but his parents had thought differently.
He pushed the thoughts away. That was the last thing he needed right now. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a red and white soft-pack of cigarettes and peered inside. Two smokes left. He considered his options for a minute, then decided to go ahead. He was already late as is. Grabbing the butt of the cigarette with his lips, he pulled it free of the pack. Depositing the pack back in his pocket, he produced a small silver lighter and lit the cigarette. Jax ran his hand through his short, messy dark hair. The rain was making it worse, but by this point, he didn't care. He took a long drag off the cigarette and slowly exhaled the smoke.
Jax felt the rain begin to swell. The drops were growing in size and frequency. He quickened his pace as a cold shiver ran down his spine. Twisting his head around, he glimpsed a dark form standing amidst the tall weeds just off the road.
It wasn't moving.
Jax stopped. Turning his body ever so slightly, he focused his attention on the form. He couldn't tell what it was through the rain. Focusing his eyes, he began to make out the vague outline of a woman. A feeling of dread passed over him. Something wasn't right here... He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was a definite twinge of danger. Jax's senses were buzzing. Every nerve in his body was screaming for him to run, but curiosity overrode them. He stood firm in his spot, waiting, watching.
He suddenly felt a presence to the rear. Spinning around, he came face to face with another large black form. Stumbling back, he stifled a gasp in his throat. She was wearing a long, black, form-fitting robe with dark lace trimming. A hood was pulled up, while a thin veil of black lace fell over her face. All he could make out was the hint of her lips. He took another step back as they curved into a sultry smile.
“What do you want?” Jax stammered.
“To release you,” the woman replied. Her voice was unnatural. It had an almost metallic tone to it, as if a machine were reproducing it. “I can give you everything you ever wanted.”
“I don’t know who the hell you are, lady, but I’ve got to get to work. I don’t have time to screw around.”
The woman raised her arm and extended her hand in one fluid motion. “I think you will make time for this.”
Jax felt compelled to take the woman’s hand. He raised his hand slowly toward hers, but yanked it back at the last moment as if he had been burned. “Who are you?” he asked pleadingly.
“I am the way. Take my hand, Jax. Everything will be fine.”
Jax took a deep breath. A tingle of electricity washed over his body as an overwhelming, peaceful sensation set in. He wasn’t afraid anymore. Reaching up, he took the woman’s hand.

***

Lexy Weiss watched a bolt of lightning arc across the dark sky. The stream of pure electricity flashed for an instant sending a blanket of seething white light down upon the city. The light permeated every corner, every alley and every haven of the night, but only for an instant. The familiar rumble of thunder followed its bright counterpart, announcing their power and glory.
She lifted her hand and pressed it against the glass feeling the cool air outside. Storms usually had a rejuvenating effect on her, but this night, it was different. There was too much on her mind to find any ease in the Earth’s majesty. She watched the rain hit the window and run down as it made its way back to the ground, where it would re-join the water table and start the process again.
Touching her forehead to the glass, she let the coolness soothe her throbbing headache. Turning slightly, she glanced over at the small kitchenette in her apartment. She wondered quickly if she should take another aspirin this late at night. It would probably interrupt her sleep, but then what didn’t lately? Lexy looked out the window across the Emerald City—Seattle, Washington—through the haze of rain. It was strikingly beautiful, as all major cities are when seen from this high up. The lights twinkled on and off across the city as brownouts affected them and as people arrived home or went to sleep. She wondered for a moment if the storm had anything to do with the twinkling lights and if she should fish out the emergency candles from her hall closet.
Lexy pulled herself away from her seventeenth-floor window and looked around her small apartment. The floor plan, which was roughly rectangular, had a small living room situated in the middle, with a kitchen to the left and bedroom and bathroom, the right. It was sparsely decorated, but then again, it was all she could afford on her teaching salary. An old green couch (she found it at Goodwill one afternoon fresh out of college) sat in the middle of the room flanked on both sides by two large bookcases, while a small coffee table lived in front of the couch amidst the sea of tan carpet. A battered television was situated on a faux wood entertainment center in front of her.
On the far back wall there was a large, wooden desk her parents had given her during her freshman year of college. On it, her one luxury, a state-of- the-art computer she claimed was an “educational tool”, but in reality, she spent more time in chat rooms and message boards than researching lesson plans.
She loved the Internet. It was the one place where she could go and leave herself behind. On occasion, she had logged into a chat room as a man, just to see what kind of response she would get. She had a set of “cyber friends” she had never met in real life, but she knew the deepest, darkest secrets of their lives. The Internet was strange that way. She found that people had no problem speaking their minds there, saying things she couldn’t even begin to explain the rationale of. It was anonymity at its finest. That’s probably why she liked it so much. She could leave her mundane existence behind for an hour or two and become the person she wished to be in real life—charming, sexy, but at the same time, friendly and wise. She thought about logging on, but reconsidered.
A stack of ungraded papers sat in the middle of her coffee table she had assured the students would be corrected by tomorrow. Her workload wasn’t heavy and she’d had ample time to get the job done, she’d just been procrastinating. Fresh out of college, she’d accepted the first position that had come down the pipe. She was a young, headstrong history teacher with a mind to change the system. Now, five years later, she had slipped into the routines of her work: read a chapter, take a test, read a chapter, take a test. Gone were the inspired lectures of her first two years, now replaced by “reading time”. The students were still learning the subject matter, of that she was certain, but she wasn’t instilling the wonder and awe she had felt sitting in her high school history class as she listened to true tales of great battles, heroes and the evolution of our society.
She couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when she lost her lust for educating, but she knew what the culprit was, or rather “who”. She had bonded with several teachers on the staff who had been at this same job for what seemed to Lexy, like eons. They had grown cynical of their profession, and some, even fearful of the students. She had listened to these old crows sit around the teacher’s lounge and rattle on about how they needed raises, that their classrooms needed better equipment and their general dismay with the state of the education system in America. At first, Lexy found herself arguing with her colleagues, but now, she found herself sitting in on these discussions, sipping a cold cup of coffee and dreaming of how her life could’ve been much different. They had “infected” her with their cynicism, but she knew no one was to blame but herself. She could’ve easily taken her lunch somewhere else, or used her free period to grade papers, but instead, she found herself day after day in the teacher’s lounge, listening to the same old tired rhetoric.
But that wasn’t what was really bothering her, was it?
She moved through the living room and sank down into the couch. She watched a small cloud of dust rise from the cushions, then slowly settle back down. Focusing on the large window in front of her, she watched another bolt of lightning tear through the heavens on its suicidal path toward the ground. Every night, the dreams came. She was so exhausted, but she didn’t want to go to sleep, unwilling to face the horrible images again.
Those women…those poor women…but they weren’t real, right? They were just figments of her overactive imagination, right? They couldn’t be real. She had been watching the news religiously lately and no word of their fate had been uttered. The police couldn’t keep something like that bottled up, could they? Or perhaps they just hadn’t found the bodies yet. Lexy shook her head. It was all a dream, she convinced herself; something stress related. That’s all it could be.
She gave the clock on the wall a quick glance. It was closing in on two in the morning, and she had to be to work in five hours. Her first class was at seven-thirty and she needed at least half an hour of prep time beforehand. She needed to sleep. Her body needed time to recharge. She could feel the heaviness in her limbs. They were already beginning to succumb to sleep.
Sitting forward on the couch, she ran her hands slowly over her knees and then leaned her head back. Tightening the muscles in her neck, she twisted her head to the right, then to the left. It popped several times in both directions. She felt the usual twinge of numbness, but it returned to normal. She knew she would have to stop that nasty habit if she didn’t want to end up with arthritis in her neck. She smiled at the thought. It was an old wife’s tale. Popping your neck or knuckles didn’t result in arthritis, she told herself, but it probably didn’t do much to prevent it either. Arching her back, she felt her tired muscles stretch out.
Standing up, she looked one last time out the window at the rain, then closed the drapes. She had to go to bed. It was Monday tomorrow, and she didn’t want to face the week with a lack of sleep. Reaching down, she grabbed the tests off her table and stacked them neatly together. She slid a small silver paperclip over them and deposited them on her computer desk as she headed for her bedroom. Looking back into her living room before she clicked off the lights, an odd thought crossed her mind. Maybe I need a pet to keep me company… Flipping off the light switch, she adjourned to her cramped bedroom.
This room, much like her computer, was something she splurged on. She loved to lie in bed Sunday mornings, smoke cigarettes and read magazines. It was her private time. Her own little slice of the week when she could just retreat and relax. She didn’t allow herself to think about work, bills, or anything else that caused stress in her life. This was her time. Because this was the room she found herself in the most, she outfitted it accordingly. A large, four-poster bed was pressed against the back wall with a round, wooden nightstand accompanying it. A beautiful lamp sat in the middle of the stand, along with several books and magazines she had been perusing. Long, lush drapes hung over the window and a matching rug took up most of the floor in the room.
She moved toward a tall mirror that hung on the opposite wall and stared at the reflection. She was wearing a simple pair of gray sweats and a white t-shirt that showed off her midriff. Her curly brown hair was held up messily behind her head by a tortoise-shell barrette, while a slim pair of reading glasses perched on her nose. She was twenty-nine years old, on the very verge of thirty, an age she had always associated with “old”.
She was slim, but not quite in the best shape of her life. She was beginning to see the results of her inactive lifestyle on her body. She glanced down at her breasts. She had always secretly wished they were bigger. Maybe her life would’ve been better if they had been… She let out an uncomfortable laugh. She didn’t want to believe that, but somewhere, back in the deep, dank, recesses of her mind, she did. She stared at the dark bags beneath her brown eyes. Along with her lips, her eyes had always been her favorite feature. A boy in high school had told her that she had “the most beautiful bedroom eyes”. That had been a defining moment in her life. She had gone from awkward teenager to a woman at that instant. She wondered for a moment whatever happened to that boy, but quickly let the thought slip away. It wasn’t worth dwelling on.
Moving to the side of her bed, she removed her glasses and set them carefully on the nightstand. Reaching into her hair, she pulled out the clip and deposited it next to her glasses. Running her hands through her shoulder length hair, she let her head fall back as a yawn escaped her lips. She slipped comfortably into her unmade bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin. Snapping off the light, she watched a blue-white crackle of light fill her room and fade away.
She closed her eyes. Luckily, Spring Break was only a week away and then she could finally catch up. Rolling onto her side, she adjusted the pillows beneath her head and let go. She needed to sleep….

***

Sara was sitting alone. She had chewed her nails down to stubs on her fingers and had been chain-smoking ever since. Flipping her dirty brown hair out of her eyes, she leaned back in her seat at the kitchen table. She took a long, deep breath, then returned her attention to the papers scattered before her. All of them bills.
She grabbed a small, blue wallet off the edge of the table and flipped it open. Thumbing through the check register, her mood worsened. They were several thousand dollars in debt, and she had no way of paying that money. Jax was their only source of income. She glanced at her small butane lighter. It would be easy to burn this place to the ground, she thought.
“Where is that son of a bitch?” she yelled angrily. It was no secret between the two that their love had drowned some time ago in a sea of debt. She had encountered the phrase, “living on love” in her studies. She scoffed, mildly amused. Love doesn’t pay the bills.
Sara heard a loud knock at the door. Quickly pulling the bills into a pile and crushing out her cigarette, she moved toward the front door. Leaning to her right, she lifted two of the blinds and peeked through the window. There was nothing there. Sara furrowed her eyebrows and turned away from the door. That was when she heard another knock at the back door.
Sara jumped. Pressing her hand against her chest, she walked quickly through a small hallway toward the back door. She gently placed her hands on the cool, metal door and listened. “Who is it?” she asked. There was no reply. After a moment, she slid her hand down the door to the handle. Sara slowly pushed open the door. Taking a step outside onto the small, rickety porch, she glanced around the house. It was raining and a fog had set in killing visibility. Their house was at least a mile in every direction from neighbors, leaving her all alone. She squinted her eyes and peered into the dense fog trying to make out shapes and forms. There was nothing.
“This isn’t very funny!” Sara yelled to no one and everyone at the same time. “Knock it off!”
Taking a step back into the house, she pulled the door closed behind her. It was some neighbor’s kid, she assured herself, playing a prank on her. She muttered several profanities under her breath as she twisted the small silver lock. Turning to her right, she stopped and fell back to the floor.
“Jax?” she asked softly.
It was Jax. She could easily tell. He was still wearing the clothes he had left in two days ago, but something wasn’t quite right. He was motionless. Sara couldn’t even see his chest rising and falling with breath. She leaned slowly forward and rolled onto the balls of her feet. Standing up, she reached for the hallway light switch. She laid her fingers gently on the rocker switch and clicked on the light and gasped. “What in God’s…?”
Before she had even finished her question, Jax was upon her with animal fury, ripping and tearing at her flesh. Sara screamed out, but her voice was drowned in a gurgle deep in her lungs.

***

Lurching straight up in bed, Lexy felt a trickle of sweat run down her forehead and over her lips. Her mind was frantic with the images she had just seen. They were so vivid and detailed, as if she was actually there, but that couldn’t be. She glanced over at her small alarm clock. Two hours had gone by. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath. Reaching over to her nightstand, she clicked on her lamp.
A cold shudder passed over her body, then nausea gripped her stomach. Leaping out of bed, she looked at the red mess she had been sleeping in. It was splattered haphazardly on the walls around the bed, while small droplets were scattered about the floor. Tears welled up in her eyes. Her mind had gone into a state of shock at the sight. Looking down, she saw her body was also covered with blood.
Was it hers?
She hysterically ripped off her shirt and sweats and began to examine her body. There were no signs of cuts or wounds, but the blood was everywhere. It had permeated her clothes and was still wet on her skin. She didn’t know what to do, then a single thought erupted in her brain.
Running naked through her apartment, she snatched her telephone off the stand in the kitchen. Lifting the white receiver to her mouth, she dialed 911.
“911 operator. Please state the nature of your emergency,” the calm female voice answered over the phone.
“Please help me!” Lexy shouted. “Everything’s covered in blood! I don’t know what to do!”
“What’s your address?” the voice asked quickly. “Ma’am?”
Lexy strained her mind, but couldn’t come up with the information. Looking at her phone, she could see her own bloody fingerprints on its white surface. She gasped and dropped the phone to the floor feeling revulsion at the sight. Lifting her hands, she stared in horror at the red substance covering her fingers and the darker areas where clotting had begun to take place. She had to get the blood off. She had to get clean. Charging back down the hall, she turned into the bathroom and jumped into the shower. Twisting the knobs on the shower all the way on, she sank down into the corner as the water began to wash over her. She was shaking as she watched the blood mix with the water and swirl down the drain.

***

Thomas Weiss sat down at the kitchen table in his luxurious home and opened his morning newspaper. Lifting a dark blue coffee mug from the table, he took a long sip of the hot liquid inside. He looked out the kitchen window at the beautiful morning dawning over Washington D.C. It was going to be a beautiful spring day. A small smile passed over his lips. Turning away from the window, he dug into the paper.
The telephone rang.
Setting the paper aside, he moved swiftly toward the phone hanging on the wall. He had to grab it before it woke up his wife. He had always been an early riser, while his wife liked to sleep in. He was just glad he could afford the lifestyle that allowed her to do that. Grabbing the phone off the base, he cleared his throat once, then pressed the talk button.
“Chairman Thomas Weiss,” he answered confidently. “Dad?” he heard a weak, sobbing voice ask.
“Lexy? Is that you, honey?” he asked, the confidence quickly fading from his voice. “What’s wrong?”
A pause.
“I’m in jail,” Lexy replied hesitantly. “What in God’s name happened, Lexy?” Another pause.
“I murdered someone,” Lexy said through her tears.
Thomas felt the phone slip from his grasp as he stumbled back. His legs were weak rubber beneath him. Not thinking, he fell back toward his chair, but missed, hitting the floor. Pulling himself up off the floor, he quickly reached down and retrieved the phone. “Everything’s going to be all right,” he assured her. Without another word, he hung up the phone.

The Abydos Triad by Terence West

EXTRACT FOR
The Abydos Triad

(Terence West)


Chapter One

It was cold and dreary, but what was new? The dark, gray clouds had been threatening rain all day, but had just let loose a light sprinkling. Such was life in Seattle during the winter. He pulled his collar up around his neck to fight against the biting wind. Picking up his pace, he began to move briskly along the old, paved road. Dark streaks of asphalt cut across the faded gray surface of the road, signs that at least the county had tried to patch it. Tall weeds and grass had begun to reclaim what was originally theirs by jutting up through cracks and old potholes. Nature had a way of doing that.
He tilted his head back and stared at the clouds. They were a cocktail of black, various shades of gray and a few stray tendrils of white. The storm was fast approaching. The crack of thunder echoed in the distance causing his skin to crawl. Thrusting his hands into the deep pockets of his black, wool coat, he wrapped it tightly around his chest. The cold was penetrating his bones, making him feel perpetually damp.
He was late for work, which in itself wasn't that unusual. He had been on several occasions lately. Warnings had been issued, of course, but this time, it was different. This time, he would be fired. There were no other options in his mind. His supervisor would check the time cards just before lunch, as he always did, then haul out the chopping block.
He was going to have to drag his sorry carcass home after lunch and tell his girlfriend he lost his job. It wasn't bad enough that the bank had repossessed his car two weeks ago, but they were also falling behind on their mortgage payments. He felt a knot begin to form in his stomach, while acid threatened to backwash into his throat. He hated bills. They were the very bane of his existence. Such was the life of an artist.
Jax was a writer. From the moment he came home from the processing plant, that was all he did. When he was in college, he had at least had a computer to use, but now he sat at the dining room table in the center of his small singlewide trailer and wrote with pencil and paper. It was maddening to a certain degree, living hand to mouth, but that was his life now. No more depending on Mommy and Daddy for his weekly cash stipend, no more tooling around in the Lexus before class, no more mansion on the lake. It was all up to him now, and it was all because of a woman. His woman.
How he hated her for it.
It wasn't entirely her fault, he knew, but she was convenient, and he needed someone to blame. Jax had, at least, been a willing accomplice. During their junior year of college, he and Sara had met and fallen in love. They were both English majors with a passion for the written word. He couldn't count the nights they had spent just reciting their favorite poems to each other, her favorite was Yeats, his—Shakespeare. They knew they were perfect for each other, but his parents had thought differently.
He pushed the thoughts away. That was the last thing he needed right now. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a red and white soft-pack of cigarettes and peered inside. Two smokes left. He considered his options for a minute, then decided to go ahead. He was already late as is. Grabbing the butt of the cigarette with his lips, he pulled it free of the pack. Depositing the pack back in his pocket, he produced a small silver lighter and lit the cigarette. Jax ran his hand through his short, messy dark hair. The rain was making it worse, but by this point, he didn't care. He took a long drag off the cigarette and slowly exhaled the smoke.
Jax felt the rain begin to swell. The drops were growing in size and frequency. He quickened his pace as a cold shiver ran down his spine. Twisting his head around, he glimpsed a dark form standing amidst the tall weeds just off the road.
It wasn't moving.
Jax stopped. Turning his body ever so slightly, he focused his attention on the form. He couldn't tell what it was through the rain. Focusing his eyes, he began to make out the vague outline of a woman. A feeling of dread passed over him. Something wasn't right here... He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was a definite twinge of danger. Jax's senses were buzzing. Every nerve in his body was screaming for him to run, but curiosity overrode them. He stood firm in his spot, waiting, watching.
He suddenly felt a presence to the rear. Spinning around, he came face to face with another large black form. Stumbling back, he stifled a gasp in his throat. She was wearing a long, black, form-fitting robe with dark lace trimming. A hood was pulled up, while a thin veil of black lace fell over her face. All he could make out was the hint of her lips. He took another step back as they curved into a sultry smile.
“What do you want?” Jax stammered.
“To release you,” the woman replied. Her voice was unnatural. It had an almost metallic tone to it, as if a machine were reproducing it. “I can give you everything you ever wanted.”
“I don’t know who the hell you are, lady, but I’ve got to get to work. I don’t have time to screw around.”
The woman raised her arm and extended her hand in one fluid motion. “I think you will make time for this.”
Jax felt compelled to take the woman’s hand. He raised his hand slowly toward hers, but yanked it back at the last moment as if he had been burned. “Who are you?” he asked pleadingly.
“I am the way. Take my hand, Jax. Everything will be fine.”
Jax took a deep breath. A tingle of electricity washed over his body as an overwhelming, peaceful sensation set in. He wasn’t afraid anymore. Reaching up, he took the woman’s hand.

***

Lexy Weiss watched a bolt of lightning arc across the dark sky. The stream of pure electricity flashed for an instant sending a blanket of seething white light down upon the city. The light permeated every corner, every alley and every haven of the night, but only for an instant. The familiar rumble of thunder followed its bright counterpart, announcing their power and glory.
She lifted her hand and pressed it against the glass feeling the cool air outside. Storms usually had a rejuvenating effect on her, but this night, it was different. There was too much on her mind to find any ease in the Earth’s majesty. She watched the rain hit the window and run down as it made its way back to the ground, where it would re-join the water table and start the process again.
Touching her forehead to the glass, she let the coolness soothe her throbbing headache. Turning slightly, she glanced over at the small kitchenette in her apartment. She wondered quickly if she should take another aspirin this late at night. It would probably interrupt her sleep, but then what didn’t lately? Lexy looked out the window across the Emerald City—Seattle, Washington—through the haze of rain. It was strikingly beautiful, as all major cities are when seen from this high up. The lights twinkled on and off across the city as brownouts affected them and as people arrived home or went to sleep. She wondered for a moment if the storm had anything to do with the twinkling lights and if she should fish out the emergency candles from her hall closet.
Lexy pulled herself away from her seventeenth-floor window and looked around her small apartment. The floor plan, which was roughly rectangular, had a small living room situated in the middle, with a kitchen to the left and bedroom and bathroom, the right. It was sparsely decorated, but then again, it was all she could afford on her teaching salary. An old green couch (she found it at Goodwill one afternoon fresh out of college) sat in the middle of the room flanked on both sides by two large bookcases, while a small coffee table lived in front of the couch amidst the sea of tan carpet. A battered television was situated on a faux wood entertainment center in front of her.
On the far back wall there was a large, wooden desk her parents had given her during her freshman year of college. On it, her one luxury, a state-of- the-art computer she claimed was an “educational tool”, but in reality, she spent more time in chat rooms and message boards than researching lesson plans.
She loved the Internet. It was the one place where she could go and leave herself behind. On occasion, she had logged into a chat room as a man, just to see what kind of response she would get. She had a set of “cyber friends” she had never met in real life, but she knew the deepest, darkest secrets of their lives. The Internet was strange that way. She found that people had no problem speaking their minds there, saying things she couldn’t even begin to explain the rationale of. It was anonymity at its finest. That’s probably why she liked it so much. She could leave her mundane existence behind for an hour or two and become the person she wished to be in real life—charming, sexy, but at the same time, friendly and wise. She thought about logging on, but reconsidered.
A stack of ungraded papers sat in the middle of her coffee table she had assured the students would be corrected by tomorrow. Her workload wasn’t heavy and she’d had ample time to get the job done, she’d just been procrastinating. Fresh out of college, she’d accepted the first position that had come down the pipe. She was a young, headstrong history teacher with a mind to change the system. Now, five years later, she had slipped into the routines of her work: read a chapter, take a test, read a chapter, take a test. Gone were the inspired lectures of her first two years, now replaced by “reading time”. The students were still learning the subject matter, of that she was certain, but she wasn’t instilling the wonder and awe she had felt sitting in her high school history class as she listened to true tales of great battles, heroes and the evolution of our society.
She couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when she lost her lust for educating, but she knew what the culprit was, or rather “who”. She had bonded with several teachers on the staff who had been at this same job for what seemed to Lexy, like eons. They had grown cynical of their profession, and some, even fearful of the students. She had listened to these old crows sit around the teacher’s lounge and rattle on about how they needed raises, that their classrooms needed better equipment and their general dismay with the state of the education system in America. At first, Lexy found herself arguing with her colleagues, but now, she found herself sitting in on these discussions, sipping a cold cup of coffee and dreaming of how her life could’ve been much different. They had “infected” her with their cynicism, but she knew no one was to blame but herself. She could’ve easily taken her lunch somewhere else, or used her free period to grade papers, but instead, she found herself day after day in the teacher’s lounge, listening to the same old tired rhetoric.
But that wasn’t what was really bothering her, was it?
She moved through the living room and sank down into the couch. She watched a small cloud of dust rise from the cushions, then slowly settle back down. Focusing on the large window in front of her, she watched another bolt of lightning tear through the heavens on its suicidal path toward the ground. Every night, the dreams came. She was so exhausted, but she didn’t want to go to sleep, unwilling to face the horrible images again.
Those women…those poor women…but they weren’t real, right? They were just figments of her overactive imagination, right? They couldn’t be real. She had been watching the news religiously lately and no word of their fate had been uttered. The police couldn’t keep something like that bottled up, could they? Or perhaps they just hadn’t found the bodies yet. Lexy shook her head. It was all a dream, she convinced herself; something stress related. That’s all it could be.
She gave the clock on the wall a quick glance. It was closing in on two in the morning, and she had to be to work in five hours. Her first class was at seven-thirty and she needed at least half an hour of prep time beforehand. She needed to sleep. Her body needed time to recharge. She could feel the heaviness in her limbs. They were already beginning to succumb to sleep.
Sitting forward on the couch, she ran her hands slowly over her knees and then leaned her head back. Tightening the muscles in her neck, she twisted her head to the right, then to the left. It popped several times in both directions. She felt the usual twinge of numbness, but it returned to normal. She knew she would have to stop that nasty habit if she didn’t want to end up with arthritis in her neck. She smiled at the thought. It was an old wife’s tale. Popping your neck or knuckles didn’t result in arthritis, she told herself, but it probably didn’t do much to prevent it either. Arching her back, she felt her tired muscles stretch out.
Standing up, she looked one last time out the window at the rain, then closed the drapes. She had to go to bed. It was Monday tomorrow, and she didn’t want to face the week with a lack of sleep. Reaching down, she grabbed the tests off her table and stacked them neatly together. She slid a small silver paperclip over them and deposited them on her computer desk as she headed for her bedroom. Looking back into her living room before she clicked off the lights, an odd thought crossed her mind. Maybe I need a pet to keep me company… Flipping off the light switch, she adjourned to her cramped bedroom.
This room, much like her computer, was something she splurged on. She loved to lie in bed Sunday mornings, smoke cigarettes and read magazines. It was her private time. Her own little slice of the week when she could just retreat and relax. She didn’t allow herself to think about work, bills, or anything else that caused stress in her life. This was her time. Because this was the room she found herself in the most, she outfitted it accordingly. A large, four-poster bed was pressed against the back wall with a round, wooden nightstand accompanying it. A beautiful lamp sat in the middle of the stand, along with several books and magazines she had been perusing. Long, lush drapes hung over the window and a matching rug took up most of the floor in the room.
She moved toward a tall mirror that hung on the opposite wall and stared at the reflection. She was wearing a simple pair of gray sweats and a white t-shirt that showed off her midriff. Her curly brown hair was held up messily behind her head by a tortoise-shell barrette, while a slim pair of reading glasses perched on her nose. She was twenty-nine years old, on the very verge of thirty, an age she had always associated with “old”.
She was slim, but not quite in the best shape of her life. She was beginning to see the results of her inactive lifestyle on her body. She glanced down at her breasts. She had always secretly wished they were bigger. Maybe her life would’ve been better if they had been… She let out an uncomfortable laugh. She didn’t want to believe that, but somewhere, back in the deep, dank, recesses of her mind, she did. She stared at the dark bags beneath her brown eyes. Along with her lips, her eyes had always been her favorite feature. A boy in high school had told her that she had “the most beautiful bedroom eyes”. That had been a defining moment in her life. She had gone from awkward teenager to a woman at that instant. She wondered for a moment whatever happened to that boy, but quickly let the thought slip away. It wasn’t worth dwelling on.
Moving to the side of her bed, she removed her glasses and set them carefully on the nightstand. Reaching into her hair, she pulled out the clip and deposited it next to her glasses. Running her hands through her shoulder length hair, she let her head fall back as a yawn escaped her lips. She slipped comfortably into her unmade bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin. Snapping off the light, she watched a blue-white crackle of light fill her room and fade away.
She closed her eyes. Luckily, Spring Break was only a week away and then she could finally catch up. Rolling onto her side, she adjusted the pillows beneath her head and let go. She needed to sleep….

***

Sara was sitting alone. She had chewed her nails down to stubs on her fingers and had been chain-smoking ever since. Flipping her dirty brown hair out of her eyes, she leaned back in her seat at the kitchen table. She took a long, deep breath, then returned her attention to the papers scattered before her. All of them bills.
She grabbed a small, blue wallet off the edge of the table and flipped it open. Thumbing through the check register, her mood worsened. They were several thousand dollars in debt, and she had no way of paying that money. Jax was their only source of income. She glanced at her small butane lighter. It would be easy to burn this place to the ground, she thought.
“Where is that son of a bitch?” she yelled angrily. It was no secret between the two that their love had drowned some time ago in a sea of debt. She had encountered the phrase, “living on love” in her studies. She scoffed, mildly amused. Love doesn’t pay the bills.
Sara heard a loud knock at the door. Quickly pulling the bills into a pile and crushing out her cigarette, she moved toward the front door. Leaning to her right, she lifted two of the blinds and peeked through the window. There was nothing there. Sara furrowed her eyebrows and turned away from the door. That was when she heard another knock at the back door.
Sara jumped. Pressing her hand against her chest, she walked quickly through a small hallway toward the back door. She gently placed her hands on the cool, metal door and listened. “Who is it?” she asked. There was no reply. After a moment, she slid her hand down the door to the handle. Sara slowly pushed open the door. Taking a step outside onto the small, rickety porch, she glanced around the house. It was raining and a fog had set in killing visibility. Their house was at least a mile in every direction from neighbors, leaving her all alone. She squinted her eyes and peered into the dense fog trying to make out shapes and forms. There was nothing.
“This isn’t very funny!” Sara yelled to no one and everyone at the same time. “Knock it off!”
Taking a step back into the house, she pulled the door closed behind her. It was some neighbor’s kid, she assured herself, playing a prank on her. She muttered several profanities under her breath as she twisted the small silver lock. Turning to her right, she stopped and fell back to the floor.
“Jax?” she asked softly.
It was Jax. She could easily tell. He was still wearing the clothes he had left in two days ago, but something wasn’t quite right. He was motionless. Sara couldn’t even see his chest rising and falling with breath. She leaned slowly forward and rolled onto the balls of her feet. Standing up, she reached for the hallway light switch. She laid her fingers gently on the rocker switch and clicked on the light and gasped. “What in God’s…?”
Before she had even finished her question, Jax was upon her with animal fury, ripping and tearing at her flesh. Sara screamed out, but her voice was drowned in a gurgle deep in her lungs.

***

Lurching straight up in bed, Lexy felt a trickle of sweat run down her forehead and over her lips. Her mind was frantic with the images she had just seen. They were so vivid and detailed, as if she was actually there, but that couldn’t be. She glanced over at her small alarm clock. Two hours had gone by. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath. Reaching over to her nightstand, she clicked on her lamp.
A cold shudder passed over her body, then nausea gripped her stomach. Leaping out of bed, she looked at the red mess she had been sleeping in. It was splattered haphazardly on the walls around the bed, while small droplets were scattered about the floor. Tears welled up in her eyes. Her mind had gone into a state of shock at the sight. Looking down, she saw her body was also covered with blood.
Was it hers?
She hysterically ripped off her shirt and sweats and began to examine her body. There were no signs of cuts or wounds, but the blood was everywhere. It had permeated her clothes and was still wet on her skin. She didn’t know what to do, then a single thought erupted in her brain.
Running naked through her apartment, she snatched her telephone off the stand in the kitchen. Lifting the white receiver to her mouth, she dialed 911.
“911 operator. Please state the nature of your emergency,” the calm female voice answered over the phone.
“Please help me!” Lexy shouted. “Everything’s covered in blood! I don’t know what to do!”
“What’s your address?” the voice asked quickly. “Ma’am?”
Lexy strained her mind, but couldn’t come up with the information. Looking at her phone, she could see her own bloody fingerprints on its white surface. She gasped and dropped the phone to the floor feeling revulsion at the sight. Lifting her hands, she stared in horror at the red substance covering her fingers and the darker areas where clotting had begun to take place. She had to get the blood off. She had to get clean. Charging back down the hall, she turned into the bathroom and jumped into the shower. Twisting the knobs on the shower all the way on, she sank down into the corner as the water began to wash over her. She was shaking as she watched the blood mix with the water and swirl down the drain.

***

Thomas Weiss sat down at the kitchen table in his luxurious home and opened his morning newspaper. Lifting a dark blue coffee mug from the table, he took a long sip of the hot liquid inside. He looked out the kitchen window at the beautiful morning dawning over Washington D.C. It was going to be a beautiful spring day. A small smile passed over his lips. Turning away from the window, he dug into the paper.
The telephone rang.
Setting the paper aside, he moved swiftly toward the phone hanging on the wall. He had to grab it before it woke up his wife. He had always been an early riser, while his wife liked to sleep in. He was just glad he could afford the lifestyle that allowed her to do that. Grabbing the phone off the base, he cleared his throat once, then pressed the talk button.
“Chairman Thomas Weiss,” he answered confidently. “Dad?” he heard a weak, sobbing voice ask.
“Lexy? Is that you, honey?” he asked, the confidence quickly fading from his voice. “What’s wrong?”
A pause.
“I’m in jail,” Lexy replied hesitantly. “What in God’s name happened, Lexy?” Another pause.
“I murdered someone,” Lexy said through her tears.
Thomas felt the phone slip from his grasp as he stumbled back. His legs were weak rubber beneath him. Not thinking, he fell back toward his chair, but missed, hitting the floor. Pulling himself up off the floor, he quickly reached down and retrieved the phone. “Everything’s going to be all right,” he assured her. Without another word, he hung up the phone.

EXTRACT FOR
The Abydos Triad

(Terence West)


Chapter One

It was cold and dreary, but what was new? The dark, gray clouds had been threatening rain all day, but had just let loose a light sprinkling. Such was life in Seattle during the winter. He pulled his collar up around his neck to fight against the biting wind. Picking up his pace, he began to move briskly along the old, paved road. Dark streaks of asphalt cut across the faded gray surface of the road, signs that at least the county had tried to patch it. Tall weeds and grass had begun to reclaim what was originally theirs by jutting up through cracks and old potholes. Nature had a way of doing that.
He tilted his head back and stared at the clouds. They were a cocktail of black, various shades of gray and a few stray tendrils of white. The storm was fast approaching. The crack of thunder echoed in the distance causing his skin to crawl. Thrusting his hands into the deep pockets of his black, wool coat, he wrapped it tightly around his chest. The cold was penetrating his bones, making him feel perpetually damp.
He was late for work, which in itself wasn't that unusual. He had been on several occasions lately. Warnings had been issued, of course, but this time, it was different. This time, he would be fired. There were no other options in his mind. His supervisor would check the time cards just before lunch, as he always did, then haul out the chopping block.
He was going to have to drag his sorry carcass home after lunch and tell his girlfriend he lost his job. It wasn't bad enough that the bank had repossessed his car two weeks ago, but they were also falling behind on their mortgage payments. He felt a knot begin to form in his stomach, while acid threatened to backwash into his throat. He hated bills. They were the very bane of his existence. Such was the life of an artist.
Jax was a writer. From the moment he came home from the processing plant, that was all he did. When he was in college, he had at least had a computer to use, but now he sat at the dining room table in the center of his small singlewide trailer and wrote with pencil and paper. It was maddening to a certain degree, living hand to mouth, but that was his life now. No more depending on Mommy and Daddy for his weekly cash stipend, no more tooling around in the Lexus before class, no more mansion on the lake. It was all up to him now, and it was all because of a woman. His woman.
How he hated her for it.
It wasn't entirely her fault, he knew, but she was convenient, and he needed someone to blame. Jax had, at least, been a willing accomplice. During their junior year of college, he and Sara had met and fallen in love. They were both English majors with a passion for the written word. He couldn't count the nights they had spent just reciting their favorite poems to each other, her favorite was Yeats, his—Shakespeare. They knew they were perfect for each other, but his parents had thought differently.
He pushed the thoughts away. That was the last thing he needed right now. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a red and white soft-pack of cigarettes and peered inside. Two smokes left. He considered his options for a minute, then decided to go ahead. He was already late as is. Grabbing the butt of the cigarette with his lips, he pulled it free of the pack. Depositing the pack back in his pocket, he produced a small silver lighter and lit the cigarette. Jax ran his hand through his short, messy dark hair. The rain was making it worse, but by this point, he didn't care. He took a long drag off the cigarette and slowly exhaled the smoke.
Jax felt the rain begin to swell. The drops were growing in size and frequency. He quickened his pace as a cold shiver ran down his spine. Twisting his head around, he glimpsed a dark form standing amidst the tall weeds just off the road.
It wasn't moving.
Jax stopped. Turning his body ever so slightly, he focused his attention on the form. He couldn't tell what it was through the rain. Focusing his eyes, he began to make out the vague outline of a woman. A feeling of dread passed over him. Something wasn't right here... He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was a definite twinge of danger. Jax's senses were buzzing. Every nerve in his body was screaming for him to run, but curiosity overrode them. He stood firm in his spot, waiting, watching.
He suddenly felt a presence to the rear. Spinning around, he came face to face with another large black form. Stumbling back, he stifled a gasp in his throat. She was wearing a long, black, form-fitting robe with dark lace trimming. A hood was pulled up, while a thin veil of black lace fell over her face. All he could make out was the hint of her lips. He took another step back as they curved into a sultry smile.
“What do you want?” Jax stammered.
“To release you,” the woman replied. Her voice was unnatural. It had an almost metallic tone to it, as if a machine were reproducing it. “I can give you everything you ever wanted.”
“I don’t know who the hell you are, lady, but I’ve got to get to work. I don’t have time to screw around.”
The woman raised her arm and extended her hand in one fluid motion. “I think you will make time for this.”
Jax felt compelled to take the woman’s hand. He raised his hand slowly toward hers, but yanked it back at the last moment as if he had been burned. “Who are you?” he asked pleadingly.
“I am the way. Take my hand, Jax. Everything will be fine.”
Jax took a deep breath. A tingle of electricity washed over his body as an overwhelming, peaceful sensation set in. He wasn’t afraid anymore. Reaching up, he took the woman’s hand.

***

Lexy Weiss watched a bolt of lightning arc across the dark sky. The stream of pure electricity flashed for an instant sending a blanket of seething white light down upon the city. The light permeated every corner, every alley and every haven of the night, but only for an instant. The familiar rumble of thunder followed its bright counterpart, announcing their power and glory.
She lifted her hand and pressed it against the glass feeling the cool air outside. Storms usually had a rejuvenating effect on her, but this night, it was different. There was too much on her mind to find any ease in the Earth’s majesty. She watched the rain hit the window and run down as it made its way back to the ground, where it would re-join the water table and start the process again.
Touching her forehead to the glass, she let the coolness soothe her throbbing headache. Turning slightly, she glanced over at the small kitchenette in her apartment. She wondered quickly if she should take another aspirin this late at night. It would probably interrupt her sleep, but then what didn’t lately? Lexy looked out the window across the Emerald City—Seattle, Washington—through the haze of rain. It was strikingly beautiful, as all major cities are when seen from this high up. The lights twinkled on and off across the city as brownouts affected them and as people arrived home or went to sleep. She wondered for a moment if the storm had anything to do with the twinkling lights and if she should fish out the emergency candles from her hall closet.
Lexy pulled herself away from her seventeenth-floor window and looked around her small apartment. The floor plan, which was roughly rectangular, had a small living room situated in the middle, with a kitchen to the left and bedroom and bathroom, the right. It was sparsely decorated, but then again, it was all she could afford on her teaching salary. An old green couch (she found it at Goodwill one afternoon fresh out of college) sat in the middle of the room flanked on both sides by two large bookcases, while a small coffee table lived in front of the couch amidst the sea of tan carpet. A battered television was situated on a faux wood entertainment center in front of her.
On the far back wall there was a large, wooden desk her parents had given her during her freshman year of college. On it, her one luxury, a state-of- the-art computer she claimed was an “educational tool”, but in reality, she spent more time in chat rooms and message boards than researching lesson plans.
She loved the Internet. It was the one place where she could go and leave herself behind. On occasion, she had logged into a chat room as a man, just to see what kind of response she would get. She had a set of “cyber friends” she had never met in real life, but she knew the deepest, darkest secrets of their lives. The Internet was strange that way. She found that people had no problem speaking their minds there, saying things she couldn’t even begin to explain the rationale of. It was anonymity at its finest. That’s probably why she liked it so much. She could leave her mundane existence behind for an hour or two and become the person she wished to be in real life—charming, sexy, but at the same time, friendly and wise. She thought about logging on, but reconsidered.
A stack of ungraded papers sat in the middle of her coffee table she had assured the students would be corrected by tomorrow. Her workload wasn’t heavy and she’d had ample time to get the job done, she’d just been procrastinating. Fresh out of college, she’d accepted the first position that had come down the pipe. She was a young, headstrong history teacher with a mind to change the system. Now, five years later, she had slipped into the routines of her work: read a chapter, take a test, read a chapter, take a test. Gone were the inspired lectures of her first two years, now replaced by “reading time”. The students were still learning the subject matter, of that she was certain, but she wasn’t instilling the wonder and awe she had felt sitting in her high school history class as she listened to true tales of great battles, heroes and the evolution of our society.
She couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when she lost her lust for educating, but she knew what the culprit was, or rather “who”. She had bonded with several teachers on the staff who had been at this same job for what seemed to Lexy, like eons. They had grown cynical of their profession, and some, even fearful of the students. She had listened to these old crows sit around the teacher’s lounge and rattle on about how they needed raises, that their classrooms needed better equipment and their general dismay with the state of the education system in America. At first, Lexy found herself arguing with her colleagues, but now, she found herself sitting in on these discussions, sipping a cold cup of coffee and dreaming of how her life could’ve been much different. They had “infected” her with their cynicism, but she knew no one was to blame but herself. She could’ve easily taken her lunch somewhere else, or used her free period to grade papers, but instead, she found herself day after day in the teacher’s lounge, listening to the same old tired rhetoric.
But that wasn’t what was really bothering her, was it?
She moved through the living room and sank down into the couch. She watched a small cloud of dust rise from the cushions, then slowly settle back down. Focusing on the large window in front of her, she watched another bolt of lightning tear through the heavens on its suicidal path toward the ground. Every night, the dreams came. She was so exhausted, but she didn’t want to go to sleep, unwilling to face the horrible images again.
Those women…those poor women…but they weren’t real, right? They were just figments of her overactive imagination, right? They couldn’t be real. She had been watching the news religiously lately and no word of their fate had been uttered. The police couldn’t keep something like that bottled up, could they? Or perhaps they just hadn’t found the bodies yet. Lexy shook her head. It was all a dream, she convinced herself; something stress related. That’s all it could be.
She gave the clock on the wall a quick glance. It was closing in on two in the morning, and she had to be to work in five hours. Her first class was at seven-thirty and she needed at least half an hour of prep time beforehand. She needed to sleep. Her body needed time to recharge. She could feel the heaviness in her limbs. They were already beginning to succumb to sleep.
Sitting forward on the couch, she ran her hands slowly over her knees and then leaned her head back. Tightening the muscles in her neck, she twisted her head to the right, then to the left. It popped several times in both directions. She felt the usual twinge of numbness, but it returned to normal. She knew she would have to stop that nasty habit if she didn’t want to end up with arthritis in her neck. She smiled at the thought. It was an old wife’s tale. Popping your neck or knuckles didn’t result in arthritis, she told herself, but it probably didn’t do much to prevent it either. Arching her back, she felt her tired muscles stretch out.
Standing up, she looked one last time out the window at the rain, then closed the drapes. She had to go to bed. It was Monday tomorrow, and she didn’t want to face the week with a lack of sleep. Reaching down, she grabbed the tests off her table and stacked them neatly together. She slid a small silver paperclip over them and deposited them on her computer desk as she headed for her bedroom. Looking back into her living room before she clicked off the lights, an odd thought crossed her mind. Maybe I need a pet to keep me company… Flipping off the light switch, she adjourned to her cramped bedroom.
This room, much like her computer, was something she splurged on. She loved to lie in bed Sunday mornings, smoke cigarettes and read magazines. It was her private time. Her own little slice of the week when she could just retreat and relax. She didn’t allow herself to think about work, bills, or anything else that caused stress in her life. This was her time. Because this was the room she found herself in the most, she outfitted it accordingly. A large, four-poster bed was pressed against the back wall with a round, wooden nightstand accompanying it. A beautiful lamp sat in the middle of the stand, along with several books and magazines she had been perusing. Long, lush drapes hung over the window and a matching rug took up most of the floor in the room.
She moved toward a tall mirror that hung on the opposite wall and stared at the reflection. She was wearing a simple pair of gray sweats and a white t-shirt that showed off her midriff. Her curly brown hair was held up messily behind her head by a tortoise-shell barrette, while a slim pair of reading glasses perched on her nose. She was twenty-nine years old, on the very verge of thirty, an age she had always associated with “old”.
She was slim, but not quite in the best shape of her life. She was beginning to see the results of her inactive lifestyle on her body. She glanced down at her breasts. She had always secretly wished they were bigger. Maybe her life would’ve been better if they had been… She let out an uncomfortable laugh. She didn’t want to believe that, but somewhere, back in the deep, dank, recesses of her mind, she did. She stared at the dark bags beneath her brown eyes. Along with her lips, her eyes had always been her favorite feature. A boy in high school had told her that she had “the most beautiful bedroom eyes”. That had been a defining moment in her life. She had gone from awkward teenager to a woman at that instant. She wondered for a moment whatever happened to that boy, but quickly let the thought slip away. It wasn’t worth dwelling on.
Moving to the side of her bed, she removed her glasses and set them carefully on the nightstand. Reaching into her hair, she pulled out the clip and deposited it next to her glasses. Running her hands through her shoulder length hair, she let her head fall back as a yawn escaped her lips. She slipped comfortably into her unmade bed and pulled the blankets up to her chin. Snapping off the light, she watched a blue-white crackle of light fill her room and fade away.
She closed her eyes. Luckily, Spring Break was only a week away and then she could finally catch up. Rolling onto her side, she adjusted the pillows beneath her head and let go. She needed to sleep….

***

Sara was sitting alone. She had chewed her nails down to stubs on her fingers and had been chain-smoking ever since. Flipping her dirty brown hair out of her eyes, she leaned back in her seat at the kitchen table. She took a long, deep breath, then returned her attention to the papers scattered before her. All of them bills.
She grabbed a small, blue wallet off the edge of the table and flipped it open. Thumbing through the check register, her mood worsened. They were several thousand dollars in debt, and she had no way of paying that money. Jax was their only source of income. She glanced at her small butane lighter. It would be easy to burn this place to the ground, she thought.
“Where is that son of a bitch?” she yelled angrily. It was no secret between the two that their love had drowned some time ago in a sea of debt. She had encountered the phrase, “living on love” in her studies. She scoffed, mildly amused. Love doesn’t pay the bills.
Sara heard a loud knock at the door. Quickly pulling the bills into a pile and crushing out her cigarette, she moved toward the front door. Leaning to her right, she lifted two of the blinds and peeked through the window. There was nothing there. Sara furrowed her eyebrows and turned away from the door. That was when she heard another knock at the back door.
Sara jumped. Pressing her hand against her chest, she walked quickly through a small hallway toward the back door. She gently placed her hands on the cool, metal door and listened. “Who is it?” she asked. There was no reply. After a moment, she slid her hand down the door to the handle. Sara slowly pushed open the door. Taking a step outside onto the small, rickety porch, she glanced around the house. It was raining and a fog had set in killing visibility. Their house was at least a mile in every direction from neighbors, leaving her all alone. She squinted her eyes and peered into the dense fog trying to make out shapes and forms. There was nothing.
“This isn’t very funny!” Sara yelled to no one and everyone at the same time. “Knock it off!”
Taking a step back into the house, she pulled the door closed behind her. It was some neighbor’s kid, she assured herself, playing a prank on her. She muttered several profanities under her breath as she twisted the small silver lock. Turning to her right, she stopped and fell back to the floor.
“Jax?” she asked softly.
It was Jax. She could easily tell. He was still wearing the clothes he had left in two days ago, but something wasn’t quite right. He was motionless. Sara couldn’t even see his chest rising and falling with breath. She leaned slowly forward and rolled onto the balls of her feet. Standing up, she reached for the hallway light switch. She laid her fingers gently on the rocker switch and clicked on the light and gasped. “What in God’s…?”
Before she had even finished her question, Jax was upon her with animal fury, ripping and tearing at her flesh. Sara screamed out, but her voice was drowned in a gurgle deep in her lungs.

***

Lurching straight up in bed, Lexy felt a trickle of sweat run down her forehead and over her lips. Her mind was frantic with the images she had just seen. They were so vivid and detailed, as if she was actually there, but that couldn’t be. She glanced over at her small alarm clock. Two hours had gone by. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath. Reaching over to her nightstand, she clicked on her lamp.
A cold shudder passed over her body, then nausea gripped her stomach. Leaping out of bed, she looked at the red mess she had been sleeping in. It was splattered haphazardly on the walls around the bed, while small droplets were scattered about the floor. Tears welled up in her eyes. Her mind had gone into a state of shock at the sight. Looking down, she saw her body was also covered with blood.
Was it hers?
She hysterically ripped off her shirt and sweats and began to examine her body. There were no signs of cuts or wounds, but the blood was everywhere. It had permeated her clothes and was still wet on her skin. She didn’t know what to do, then a single thought erupted in her brain.
Running naked through her apartment, she snatched her telephone off the stand in the kitchen. Lifting the white receiver to her mouth, she dialed 911.
“911 operator. Please state the nature of your emergency,” the calm female voice answered over the phone.
“Please help me!” Lexy shouted. “Everything’s covered in blood! I don’t know what to do!”
“What’s your address?” the voice asked quickly. “Ma’am?”
Lexy strained her mind, but couldn’t come up with the information. Looking at her phone, she could see her own bloody fingerprints on its white surface. She gasped and dropped the phone to the floor feeling revulsion at the sight. Lifting her hands, she stared in horror at the red substance covering her fingers and the darker areas where clotting had begun to take place. She had to get the blood off. She had to get clean. Charging back down the hall, she turned into the bathroom and jumped into the shower. Twisting the knobs on the shower all the way on, she sank down into the corner as the water began to wash over her. She was shaking as she watched the blood mix with the water and swirl down the drain.

***

Thomas Weiss sat down at the kitchen table in his luxurious home and opened his morning newspaper. Lifting a dark blue coffee mug from the table, he took a long sip of the hot liquid inside. He looked out the kitchen window at the beautiful morning dawning over Washington D.C. It was going to be a beautiful spring day. A small smile passed over his lips. Turning away from the window, he dug into the paper.
The telephone rang.
Setting the paper aside, he moved swiftly toward the phone hanging on the wall. He had to grab it before it woke up his wife. He had always been an early riser, while his wife liked to sleep in. He was just glad he could afford the lifestyle that allowed her to do that. Grabbing the phone off the base, he cleared his throat once, then pressed the talk button.
“Chairman Thomas Weiss,” he answered confidently. “Dad?” he heard a weak, sobbing voice ask.
“Lexy? Is that you, honey?” he asked, the confidence quickly fading from his voice. “What’s wrong?”
A pause.
“I’m in jail,” Lexy replied hesitantly. “What in God’s name happened, Lexy?” Another pause.
“I murdered someone,” Lexy said through her tears.
Thomas felt the phone slip from his grasp as he stumbled back. His legs were weak rubber beneath him. Not thinking, he fell back toward his chair, but missed, hitting the floor. Pulling himself up off the floor, he quickly reached down and retrieved the phone. “Everything’s going to be all right,” he assured her. Without another word, he hung up the phone.