Like him, the satchel was old, worn, and dirty but stronger for it. Built for another purpose, but molded to its new life with surprising capability. It was filled with hard things, pointy things, and enough destructive power to rain death with the force of a hurricane. Still, hope existed within its folds.
Setting aside the stained bible that rested atop his instruments of death, the Hunter drew out a long and slender knife. It found its sheathe with a ring of the blade.
Knives, blades, flechettes, guns, ammo, explosives, trinkets of all shapes and size, and even a good old silver cross. Each one found its pocket, its holster, or its home. Each one was snug and secure, able to withstand a beating should the need arise, but ready to be drawn at a moment's notice.
Many of his kind found the weight of the weapons cumbersome and restrictive. He didn't agree. If anything, if made him feel more centered then any other time. He felt bald and exposed otherwise. Cold.
The satchel was back into his trunk. A moment later, a newspaper clipping fell to the street below. He quickly gathered it up and tucked it into his pocket before closing up.
He didn't need to read what was in the clipping. The Hunter could probably recite the first lines from memory.
BRUTAL MURDERS CONTINUE!
After months of searching, police still have no leads for the terrible
serial killer that has terrorized Maple Brook county since early October.
While police assure residents that they are hot on the trail, one off duty
officer revealed that they have yet to find anything substantial. The victims,
three separate young women,all engaged, were each found with their faces
removed with surgical precision. While leaving the muscle and bone beneath...
Staring up from his parking space on the abandoned road, the old church before him appeared empty. He knew better.
Its windows were cracked and broken in many places. Several shutters hung loosely. Some local jokers had spray painted a number of foul words across one side. Chunks of wood had split here or there, giving him the impression that the building could collapse at any moment. Not far behind, the old graveyard sat as dead still as the corpses it housed.
The Hunter's boots made loud thunks as he walked up the rotting steps. He didn't care. It knew he was coming anyway.
He'd watched the thing for the last several weeks. It wasn't until the day before that he realized it had been watching him back.
Disguised as a young girl in her early twenties, the Hunter had started watching her under the presumption that she was the thing's next target. While he didn't introduce himself, he also didn't make a point to hide either. Every now and again he'd see her sitting at the large bay windows of her apartment, watching the world go by. Or, as he discovered, watching him.
It wasn't until the girl hadn't come home that he decided to look a bit closer.
Breaking in was easy enough. Her apartment didn't even have a deadbolt.
At first glance, it hadn't been anything out of the ordinary. He found everything he would have expected to. The kitchen was stocked but not overly. There was some dirty laundry but there was a basket of clean ones needed to be folded. Glasses on the night stand, TV in the bedroom...nothing strange.
It wasn't until he was on his way out that he noticed the small bookcase in the landing.
There was no seam between the bookcase and the wall.
The Hunter gingerly touched it and tried to move the bookcase forward slightly. No give. He tried harder, not overly worried if he knocked the whole thing over. Still, it didn't move. Now, glancing inside, he could see the notch in the back that indicated the false backing.
Tearing away the books, the backing was removed easily. Behind it lay three jars.
Even with years of monsters and mayhem under his belt, it was hard not to grimace at what was inside.
Each jar was mostly empty. A clear fluid filled them but the Hunter was confident that it probably wasn't water. Floating inside the jar was a skinned human face. They would bunch up and stretch out as if flowing with some unseen current, but every now again they'd take shape.
And that shape would be a silent, soundless scream of pain and horror.
He'd kept the jars.
With them hidden in his trunk near the satchel, he pushed the thought of the tortured souls in order to steel himself for the monster to come.
Drawing an old revolver, he lifted his foot and caved in the front door. What he found inside was far from expectation...
[Read more in Part 2! Coming Soon.]