First to Die - Kate Slayer
FIRST TO DIE
Table of Contents
A Note from Kate
2014 Kate Slayer
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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“There is a Reaper whose name is Death,
And, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Reaper and the Flowers (1839)
Working homicide can twist you around so fast you think you're riding the Tilt-A-Whirl at the carnival. They hand you a ticket, you get on the ride, and then spend the rest of the night trying to get your equilibrium back. It's not something I ever get used to, and I wasn't sure if I had the stomach for it anymore. It should roll off like rain water and wash down the gutters of the filthy streets of Riverview that I call my home. They don't. Maybe I was getting soft?
The traffic pattern weaving through my home was noticeable to anyone that shifted their eyes to the south. Worn-down circles of naked oak, stripped by a steady shuffle of restlessness. I hadn't been sleeping well for the past couple of weeks and it had almost depleted me of the last trace of energy that I needed to function. Dead bodies. They have a creepy way of crawling in, and cuddling up next to me.
Stephanie Mason had been hanging with me for a while. Eighteen days and I still couldn't get her out of my mind. I couldn't shake her. Every time I closed my eyes, she was there, shaking me awake in the middle of the night. Cloudy vacant eyes, forced open with fancy needlework. Pleading with me. Muffled screams coming through her thick, black-threaded mouth, painted with blood red lipstick. Begging for me to help her. I couldn't. I had nothing to work with. Nothing but words carved deep in her flesh with a dull, rusty blade.
Forever is the darkness I create
Blood for blood each life I take
Evil stands without remorse
When shadows form their chartered course
A warning that he'd be back. A guarantee that hell had unleashed a demon and it was lurking deep in the shadows, propelling and transforming me into this obscured existence. I normally don't have a problem with dead bodies, but this one followed me around and demanded my attention. I was doing my best to tolerate it. Everything was in extreme order. Waking at odd hours and walking the hardwood floors was an endless routine. Repeated activities were beginning to tease my sanity and peculiar behavior absorbed my nights.
Images of a padded cell at the Dane County Jail messed with my head and thoughts of bed restraints at the area nut-house were my latest fantasy. Anything, to pull me out of this sleepless funk.
I turned off my radio sitting in the charger on the end table, to silence the beeps and chatter from dispatch for the night. Yelled for Max and we made our way to the couch. Seventy pounds of German shepherd to keep me warm and keep my secrets. I switched on the TV, hoping it would drown out the noises in my head and sing me a lullaby. One good night of sleep was all I needed and I would be good to go. A weather alert was crawling along the bottom of the screen for the entire Metropolitan area. Storms were cropping up west of the city, like the weeds in my yard, and a round of explosive thunder rattled in the distance. With any luck, it would blow over. I inched my legs to the back of the couch, careful not to disturb Max, and closed my eyes.
I woke to the sound of a banshee's wail, yanking me to my feet. "What the hell?" Max didn't flinch. She never got excited unless she was going to get the