Steps of a Killer

by Karen J Mossman
The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold is a collection of short stories. This is the first story in the book.

Hampstead Heath was beautiful in the early morning sunlight. The dew sparkling on the grass gives it a magical appeal. The ground was elevated and I could see the city below. People were waking or heading off to work. It was just a normal day for them.

For a moment, I gazed over at the trees and breathed deeply. I could feel her. Exhaling, I took another breath and my feet moved in her footsteps. Briefly, my eyes closed as I advanced. This was where she was, where she walked, stumbled, and broke into a run. Her feet became mine as I moved with her towards the trees.

Entering a pathway surrounded by woodland, I knew beyond a doubt this was where she was killed.

My heart thumped. My breath was jagged, and the adrenaline surged through my veins as I entered the pathway. I knew this was where she was killed.

A sob escaped me as I became her, and he was behind me. Moving quickly, I stumbled. My head whipped round in time to see his shadow leap at me. Crying out, I threw my arms forward, hoping to knock him away. Instead, we rolled together on the ground. Me and a shadow from the past.

We came to a stop, having hit an obstacle. A shaft of sunlight hit the trees and a beam of light illuminated his face.

Later, I sat alone in the Dandelion café sipping my drink and staring out of the window. The high street was full of shoppers. They carried bulging bags and had no idea a killer was amongst them. He probably looked like an average man on his way to do business, going to the pub for a drink, or to meet friends. They won’t know what he did or the life he took for his personal gratification.

My fingers worked the fabric in my hand, a bit of cloth that came from an evidence bag.  I felt the girl in my core. Her hopes and dreams for a future she will never have. Poor girl. Poor, poor, girl.

Coldness enveloped me and for a second everything around me seemed to go silent. I took a sharp intake of breath – he was here.

My mind returned to the café, and the surrounding people come back into focus. “Excuse me? Is anyone using this chair?” My blood ran cold. It was the face of the man I grappled within the forest.

I shook my head, too stunned to speak. He moved the chair to a different table and joined an older man. They chatted as I stared at his profile.

His forehead jutted out a little and his hair was side-parted, his nose sharp and long, and he had a slight double chin.

How can he sit there looking like any normal guy?

Pulling out my phone, I selected Seb’s name and listened to it ring. Seb was my brother and a police detective.

“Cassie,” he answered.

“I’ve got him,” I stated.

“What? Where?”

“Right here. I’m looking at him.” I was staring at the side of his head, unable to take my eyes from him, unable to fathom how normal he looked when he carried such a terrible secret. I expected him to look like the monster he was.

“Where Cassie? Where are you?” Seb asked.

“The Dandelion café,” I told him. A place I regularly visited.

“Okay, I’m on my way.” He hung up without saying goodbye. He had a habit of doing that.

The man’s companion got  up, and I heard him say, “Thanks for the coffee.” My eyes burned into the side of the killer’s head. He glanced around as he raised the drink to his mouth.

My blood boiled. How dare he just sit there and act normally. He probably thought no one knew, except he was wrong. I knew.

Unable to help myself as I moved to his table, sitting in the empty chair. He looked surprised. The words bubbled inside but I couldn’t bring myself to utter them.

“Can I help you?” he asked, sounding like a regular guy. He had a normal voice with an open expression, friendly even.

Seb would be annoyed. He says I’m a loose cannon and unable to contain my feelings. He’s right. I shouldn’t take risks, but often unable to help myself.

“I know,” I whispered.

He stared at me for a moment before saying, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

I wanted to throw the fabric I still clutched at him, asking if he remembered it. Because of where it came from, I couldn’t.

“Yes, you do.” I spoke calmly. “I can see it in your eyes.”

He continued to stare, and I could hear him breathing. “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.”

“No, I haven’t. I know who you are, or rather what you are.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed. “And what’s that?”

I looked around. “Do you want me to say it out loud?”

He leaned forward, and I flinched as my back pressed into the chair. In a whisper, he said, “You’re crazy, I don’t know you.”

As his breath washed over me, I sensed she wasn’t the first he’d killed.

The shock of his evil breath made me rise to my feet. I knew then I shouldn’t have confronted him. He stood up too, scraping his chair on the floor.

Glancing out of the window, I urged Seb to hurry. The man gave me a hard stare and strode out the door.

Damn! I rushed after him while putting the phone to my ear, pressing redial.

Seb’s voice came through and I heard he was on hands-free. His blues and twos echoed down the phone and in the distance as he approached.

“Can you still see him?” he asked after I explained.

“No, he’s gone. Where are you?”

“Two minutes. I’ll be two minutes. Stay there,” he said urgently before hanging up.

Moving away from the doorway, I looked up and down the high street, stopping sideways to look at the reflections in the shop window, hoping to spot him.

I could still feel his presence.

Spinning around, he was right behind me. Something sharp pressed against my skin.

“Keep walking,” he commanded. His touch consumed me. My psyche flooded, and I saw everything he had done. How those poor girls suffered! I couldn’t do anything except walk with him. I knew beyond a doubt he would plunge the knife without conscience and disappear into the crowd before I even hit the floor.

Where the hell was Seb?

He walked me into an alleyway, and out of sight behind a large dustbin.

Seb! The sirens approached.

The blade was against my throat, and his other hand was pulling at my skirt and underwear.

“How did you know?” His fetid breath covered my face.

“I know everything,” I told him as the blade broke my skin.  I panicked.

“You know nothing!” he hissed.

“I know if you don’t let go, that man over there will kill you,” I said playing my trump card.

He laughed but still checked. Seb came skidding over, grabbing him by the neck of his jacket. He threw him to the floor. With a knee in his back, Seb cuffed him.

“Are you all right?” he asked, staring hard at me.

I pushed my clothes back into position and wiped the trickle of blood from my neck, Seb yelled at me again. “Yes!” I retorted. He turned away and spoke into his radio.

People gathered, wondering what was going on. They shouted in our direction, aiming their phones. I tried to keep my face hidden. Seb yelled at them to stay back.

The man, the killer, struggled on the ground trying to break loose. Seb had trouble holding onto him. I couldn’t do anything to help as the guy swung around and pulled Seb with him. Sirens filled the air as Seb fought to keep a hold on him.

Relief flooded through me as cops spilled into the alleyway. As soon as they relieved Seb of his prisoner, he strode towards me.

“You bloody fool!” he said, moving my hand away from my neck and shook his head. “Get that looked at. God, Cass, what the hell were you thinking?”

“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling shaken, and put my hand back to my neck.

The killer threw us a strange look as they carted him off. My brother, Seb, and I are used to it.

“At least you’ve got him,” I said, as we walked back up to the road.

“Have to link him with the crime yet.”

“Him attacking me will give you time to do that.”

“Don’t tell me my job,” he snapped, and I knew I wasn’t off the hook yet, although he rarely stayed mad for long.

An ambulance pulled up, and I was glad to get inside and away from curious eyes and stares. It was just a scratch, and a plaster was all that was needed.

Seb drove me home, and I took the tongue-lashing, as was par for the course. You see, Seb and I are twins, almost identical. Opposite genders can’t be identical and we aren’t, but we’re as much alike that as a brother and sister can be. People always look at us twice.

Seb was a seeker which means he always finds what he’s looking for, especially when it’s me. He can zone in on where I am, so I never get lost. Seb has no psychic power, but together we work well as a team.

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