Death isn't something to be feared, my dearest. It is the warmest, most welcoming sensation anyone can experience. It's pure joy, passion and ecstasy rolled into one. As you travel down that tunnel toward the light at the end, you feel the most amazing sensation of belonging. You are finally where you should be - a place with no pain, no horror. There's no suffering or injustice. There's just a dazzling light that seems to engulf every single atom of your essence.
Enjoy your death, my friend. Bathe in the light when it comes to you. Be thankful it can come, for not all of us can go down that path. I've died. I began my trek down that path but the light was robbed from me. Substituted with darkness...terrible darkness that infests you like the worst of cancers.
You see, I was marked by a vampire to become his off-spring - his child of the night. He brought me death but then breathed in an entirely different, terrifying life. Everything that I was and believed in - all that made Arianna Grayson - died with me when my heart stopped and I began my journey to the place of death. It's gone now. I know and accept it.
All that is left within is a soulless monster that feeds on humans. I never wanted this - unlike so many others. I sought to root out the killer and I became what he was. He raped my soul, robbed me of my decency - my humanity, my ability to die, to love, to have children - real human children.
The monster that I am has become glorified in movies and literature. Thousands of teen age girls would give anything to feel his kiss but they don't know the truth. The Edwards, Stefans and Vampire Bills of the world don't really exist. They're a sexual deviant's fantasy. Our kind, from what I gathered so far, doesn't fall in love with humans. We get infatuated, certainly, but not for sex. It's more about the blood, every single drop of it.
To feel the vampire's kiss you have to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. When it's laid upon you, it's not a simple peck on the neck. There's nothing sensual about it. It's a brutal, vicious attack that will leave your body torn to shreds. Our blood rage consumes us, changes our physical features to better serve our diabolical purposes.
Normally, I'm a thin redhead with a decent figure. My hair is about shoulder length, eyes emerald green and my skin definitely shows the need for a decent tan. I may be "ginger" but my body doesn't show any freckles or moles. In fact, there isn't a flaw anywhere, if I can be that conceded. It's one of the few benefits of the affliction.
When the rage takes me, though, any perceived beauty disappears - I completely transform. My nails morph into long, dagger-like claws. My mouth expands and a set of long, jagged teeth come to the surface. My red hair disappears, receding somewhere into my epidermis as my ears elongate and my true form reveals itself. My eyes are no longer green but black - like looking into the darkness itself.
If you come across me in this form, it will be the last thing you will ever see. When the rage takes you - there's no controlling it. There's no stopping it. All we can do is surrender to the lust, satisfy it and clean up the mess left behind. It's all done in the shadows, mind you, to avoid discovery (although some like my maker, Allister, flaunt our power over you).
I don't want to hurt anyone - I hate that I am responsible for so much pain and death. I have no choice. The affliction will consume your every thought and all that matters is tasting the blood - chewing the internal organs and sucking them dry like a demonic milkshake.
I tried for a while to channel my hunger, to focus it on the murderers I was charged to capture. It worked well for a time but then one of my partners came across me at the wrong time and...well, I'll get to that.
Just know it's a terrible existence, my friend.
So how did Arianna Grayson, Special Agent in the FBI, become a monster? I was on a case - one of those career making cases - tracking the most active serial killer in the United States.
I worked to become part of the Bureau's serial killer task force for several years. I took every assignment in every backward podunk FBI office I could. If it was a murder, I'd do everything I could to solve it. Mostly I dealt with drug related murders, domestic violence that turned deadly and your random prostitute meeting the wrong john.
After five years of experiencing the seedy side of the world, I was finally called up to the majors. I joined the FBI task force to find a Michigan serial killer with a fondness for stabbing black men. Called "The Serial Stabber" in the press, he was caught in an Atlanta airport trying to leave the country. I discovered his Middle Eastern descent from my research into the killings and advised of the flight risk. I found his itinerary through the FAA's internal computer system enabling us to make the collar.
With my first big case under my belt, my new unit welcomed me on the next.
Carl Ambrose had been on the S.K.T.F (Serial Killer Task Force) for about four years. He was one of the first African Americans to get the assignment. He had been decorated multiple times with the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement, the Medal of Valor and the Shield of Bravery. Needless to say, he was one of the best.
In his forties, he still kept a young appearance, with a close-cropped hairstyle and smooth mocha skin. His frame was fit, muscular and he sported a tiny mustache. He had an air about him...a confidence that made all around gravitate to him.
His partner for the past two years was LaRissa Cantello. Like Ambrose, Cantello had gone through some traumatic murder scenes. She was instrumental in the capture of some of the most notorious Serial murderers with her command of forensics, meticulous data analysis and ability to put pour through the data and see the truth.
She was pretty, in her twenties, with short cropped dark brown hair and caramel skin. She had a tiny nose with a mole near the tip. Cantello always seemed to be trying to prove herself to her partners, even though she already had their full confidence.
Our SAC (special agent in charge) was Panagiotis Nasso. He was older, with gray bushy hair that he obviously struggled with combing every morning. His suits were expensive, more than most government salaries would pay for. Still, "Gio" as he asked to be called, wasn't dirty. He ran a tight ship, complete with deadlines and expectations placed on all of his subordinates. He also had a keen mind for criminal investigation, able to pick up on some of the minutest detail that most would miss.
As I walked in to the meeting room for S.K.T.F. at FBI headquarters, my senses were assaulted by hundreds of pictures of brutally mutilated bodies - fourteen murders in total, all people of different sexes, races and religious beliefs posted on a large whiteboard. There were young preppy college kids and old vagrants. There were hetero and homosexuals. Each murder was extremely violent in nature but the manner of the deaths seemed to change.
All the victims had their insides torn out by sharp objects and in all of the cases; the organs were gnawed on by some strange animal that we simply couldn't identify. Even stranger, the DNA recovered from the scenes (that didn't belong to the victim) was identical, but had the most unusual characteristics. It was definitely human but with something different. Some sort of chromosome or mitochondrial strand was off according to the squints (lab technicians).
They couldn't definitively identify the perpetrator as human.
Aside from the mutilations and weird DNA, there wasn't much stringing the cases together. They were all from different parts of the country. The closest thing you could find to a pattern was that they always seemed to occur at night. Still, it didn't matter which night of the week or the cycle of the moon. Each victim seemed to be chosen randomly.
As I scanned through the evidence on the board, I noticed something peculiar with each. There were strands of fabric - the same fabric - near or on the bodies in each instance.
"Good to see you here early Agent Grayson," Nasso said as he headed into the room, a cup of coffee steaming from his hand, "Take a seat, if you would."
I acknowledged with a nod and headed to a chair next to the extremely long mahogany meeting table. The others came in shortly after I had settled in and gave me glancing nods.
"I believe you both know Agent Grayson," Nasso began, "After her exemplary work on the Stabber case I've extended an offer for her to join our team, which she's accepted."
Ambrose and Cantello provided a golf clap; I smiled my acceptance of their congratulations.
"Okay, so moving on, this case - 306-HQ-234568 - we're going to call the Annihilator case," Nasso continued, "Since we've allegedly received a letter from our perp."
"What?" Ambrose gasped; Cantello's eyes bulged in shock.
"Indeed, we now have a message from our perpetrator."
"What does it say?" Cantello asked.
"Here you go," Nasso handed a one page copy to each of us and I quickly scanned through the hand written letter.
IF YOU'RE WONDERING, YES THE MURDERS OF ALSTAN MORRIS AND MARIA TOCANADO ARE RELATED. I DID THEM, AMONG OTHERS.
TO PROVE TO YOU I AM WHO I CLAIM TO BE, HERE IS A PIECE OF TOCANDO'S LOWER INTESTINE. TEST IT WITH YOUR DNA TECHNIQUES; I ASSURE YOU IT BELONGS TO HER.
I WANT YOU TO STOP ME END MY SPREE - BUT I KNOW YOU CAN'T. SO I URGE YOU TO STOP YOUR INVESTIGATION - YOU'LL SPEND YOUR ENTIRE LIFE PURSUING ME TO NO END. I WILL NEVER BE SUBJECT TO YOUR JUSTICE.
ALLISTER THE ANNIHALATOR
All the script was written in block lettering, with heavy, angry strokes. Smudges of ink were in several spots on the paper.
"He seems a bit of a perfectionist," I observed.
"How so?" Nasso asked.
"Well, the way STOP ME was stricken through seemed to suggest the author was upset with his mistake as it was aggressively crossed out."
"Assuming 'Allister' is a male," Ambrose added.
"Of course, we can't assume that until we have more evidence to suggest it," I continued, "But it's obvious the killer identifies himself as the male gender - at least in his kill rage."
"His what?" Cantello asked.
"Many serial killers aren't hauled up in a cabin in the mountains," I replied, "The majority are functional members of society. For those to be able to provide that face, they have to keep their homicidal tendencies under wraps. Their kill rage - if you will - isn't always there. So, at the very least, the killer identifies himself as a male during this period."
"Well said, Grayson," Nasso replied, "But I don't think we can rule out anything at this point - including the nut job up in the mountains."
Cantello shot Ambrose a she already made a rookie mistake smirk that made me feel a bit uneasy. My attempt to impress my new partners had slightly backfired on me - I needed to redeem myself. I glanced toward the board and took notice of the fiber that seemed the only link to tying the crimes together.
"Those fibers," I asked, "Has it been determined what they are?"
"It seems they're some form of tweed," Ambrose replied, "Like from a suit. However, the thread count and make up is a bit unusual. It's not the typical tweed suit you can pick up at the Men's Warehouse."
"You know, I have some Facebook friends who make suits back in Scotland," I casually mentioned, "I wonder if they could help me place it."
"Great, work that," Nasso ordered, "Ambrose, focus on the latest crime scene - use those skills of your to see what we haven't seen and Cantello - "
"I know," she sighed, "Work with the Squints and see what we can find."
Through my friends on Facebook, I discovered that the tweed was indeed rare called "Inveraray". A priceless fabric, it was thought lost until a man bought a jacket and matching waistcoat on E-bay. We cleared the man of any involvement. A new version of the Inveraray tweed was developed and in production - but the one found in the crime scene was not the 21st century version. These threads had been around for nearly two hundred years.
"Yes, I do know of one man who works with original Inveraray," Lorna Morrison, a dress maker in Inveraray, Scotland, replied, "It's very strange. He has a customer who ships him the material and asks for suits to be made from it."
The man, Dougal Macraild, was a non-descript Scottish-born suit maker living in Elgin, Moray, Scotland. There was no way of contacting him directly as he didn't have a phone and no form of electronic presence. He was lost to the world.
After grabbing a flight to Scotland, I took the Inverness to Aberdeen train line that stopped at Elgin station. Elgin was a beautiful little burgh, with a scenic hilly countryside and impressive stone buildings. The entire town seemed to have the classic Scottish feel to it. The Ladyhill and Duke of Gordon monument seemed to tower over the little hamlet, as well as the simply gorgeous Elgin Cathedral exploding into the blue skies like a castle.
Even with the quaintness of the burgh, it still had a slightly modern feel to it. Macraild lived outside the town, in a tiny cottage off of Calcots Road. As I approached the door, I couldn't help but imagine the Wolf of Badenoch terrorizing the countryside in the 1390's. This cottage looked like a remnant of Elgin's fiery past.
I knocked, but there was no answer. I knocked again, a little more forcefully. Still nothing. I balled a fist and banged louder.
I could hear some cursing from behind the door as it opened.
"Who ye?" An old voice said as the door crept open.
"My name is Arianna Grayson," I began.
"Grayson, I don't know any Grayson - except for Logan Grayson. Bastard owes me two rhino."
"Yes, two-hundred quid. Pounds. What's the matter with ye?"
"Sorry, I'm from America."
"The colonies, eh? Figures," he grumbled, "I was a wonderin' why ye were talkin' so funny."
"What ye want with an old man, my pretty?"
"I'm investigating a murder."
His eyes grew wide; a flicker of knowledge seemed to pass quickly.
"I donna know nothin' about nothing." He grumbled and tried to close the heavy wooden door. I stuck my foot in between it and its jam, feeling an instant shot of pain when it slammed on it.
"What ye doin'? Get your fool foot out me crevice."
"Please, I've come a long way to see you," I pleaded, "I identified a connection between you and this killer. If you don't speak with me, others will die by his hand and you'll have to go to God with that on your head."
"I ain't meeting me maker anytime soon, Lassie," he grumbled, "But I assume you'll be out there banging to heaven on high unless I speak to ye."
"Indeed I will, Mr. Macraild," I smiled, "See, we already know each other well."
"Come on then."
The interior cottage looked like it was stuck in a time warp. The only modern machinery was a sewing machine that appears to be made in the early 1900's. The old man had little hair on his wrinkly head. He was closer to his maker than he believed, almost as old as the sewing machine itself.
"So what of it then?" He barked as he served me tea.
"Your name has come up during our investigation," I continued, "In relation to a rare tweed. The killer appears to be wearing this tweed during his attack on his victims."
The old man looked down, almost saddened.
"I told ye, I know nothin' about all that," he said sadly.
"Do you know about Inveraray tweed?" I asked.
His eyes shot up and met mine.
"Of course, you can get it anywhere now." He quickly replied.
"Not this one," I shot back, "This one was last manufactures over 130 years ago."
"I told ye," he repeated, "I donna know nothin' about that."
"I've been told the opposite," I pressed, "I've been informed you have been making suits for a certain customer with Inveraray tweed."
"Pack of lies," he barked.
"Come on, Mr. Macraild," I continued, "Do you think I would be here if we didn't have hard evidence that you were involved? DNA and hair fibers matching you to the creation of this suit."
I was bluffing, there was nothing but the word of Lorna Morrison that Macraild was the man I needed to see. It was all I had to go on and I prayed he believed me.
"We know you made the suits, sir," I pressed further, "Now give me his name or I can extradite you to the United States as an accessory to the murder and obstruction of justice."
"Missy," he slowly replied, "If I give ye the name that ye want. If I provide that to you then I am sentencing meself to death. Don't ye understand? He allows me to live as long as I serve him. He's the devil, young Lass. I made me bargain with him and iffen I back out on it, I'll be under ground in short order."
"Help me catch him, Mr. Macraild," I pleaded, "Stop his reign of terror and you won't have to fear him anymore."
"How old do I look to ye?" A strange question.
"I'd say late seventies," I was being kind, he looked nearly a hundred.
"I'm one hundred and fifty years old," he replied, "I've seen me children die. I donna see me grandchildren or great grandbabies because they think I'm not natural. And nay am I."
"That's remarkable but I don't see -"
"He was once a very close friend of mine - a long time ago. He simply loved Inveraray tweed and would come in to me shop all the time for a new suit. For a time, I looked forward to his visits. He was always the kindest of gents, paid me more than the suits were worth," he continued, "As the years continued I noticed that while I grew older, he never changed. He kept the same, youthful look. I asked him what his secret was but he just smiled."
"I had taken ill, deathly ill and it looked like my water horse was coming for me," the old man continued, "And out of the blue he shows up. He had this elixir - this terrible tasting concoction that was so salty I nearly gagged it out. I took the medicine and in a few hours I felt the best I had in me life. Externally, I was the geezer I had been but internally I felt like I had in my twenties. The sickness was gone."
"And it went on, year after year, usually around Christmas time, he would return with a new vial of that monstrous remedy. All he ever asked was to provide me talents as a tailor with his special tweed."
"When was the last time you saw him?" I asked.
"Give me a name, Mr. Macraild," I commanded.
"I canna do that, Mistress. Haven ya not been a listenin'?" He was growing more upset, "One Christmas, I refused to take his elixir. I'd lived enough. More livin' than most folks in the world get. I told him I donna want his concoction anymore. That's when he showed me, my dear."
"Showed you what?"
"His true face." His voice grew darker, more ominous, "The face of the Devil himself."
"You're telling me this man is the Devil?"
"Aye, that he is," he continued, "And it's my pact with him that will send me to Dante's levels. So you see, child. I neither want to anger him and see that face again, nay do I wanna meet St. Peter for that judgment. I canna tell you his name."
"Can you give me anything - anything that could help me?"
"For a pretty one, you are a bit dense," he chided, "You canna stop the devil, Mistress."
"Give me something, damn it!"
"Fine...if it will get ye off me doorstep and about your business," he sighed, "His most recent order was sent to this address in the Americas. If you hurry back, you just may be able to beat it there."
His decrepit hand scribbled an address on a sheet of paper. When I reached Elgin, I phoned to the FBI travel that I would be headed on the first flight out to Chicago.
A couple days later, we staked out a post office in downtown Chicago owned by an Alvin Morrisey. I was with Ambrose while Cantello watched his home. Morrisey was a strange character. There was a birth certificate filed with the city that would make him out to be about 35 years old. He owned property throughout the country, including areas where murders had occurred. He travelled and seemed to have an abundance of money, left to him by his father Arnold Connacher, a former police homicide detective. It was unknown why Morrisey changed his surname.
Interestingly, his grandfather Allister had come from England in the early 1900's. Perhaps it was the grandfather the old Scot knew of? Not much was known about Allister's movements during that time but at some point he seemed to settle in Chicago and began working for the police department. Eventually, he would transfer to different departments across the nation and everywhere he went, brutal macabre murders would pop up.
Could we have stumbled upon a family of serial killers - secretly manipulating crime scenes to escape their pursuers?
Sure enough, Alvin too had worked for a homicide department in Trenton, New Jersey before returning to Chicago. The first of the Annihilator murders had occurred in Trenton, Susie Benton. Murders began popping up all throughout Long Island and New Jersey during Morrisey's time there, only to subside when he left.
Everywhere he went, murders we now attributed to the Annihilator seemed to occur. We were certain we had the right guy - now we just needed him to show himself.
It was early morning when I woke Ambrose from his sleep. The post office wasn't open but a man in a tweed suit had suddenly appeared at the front door. He had a key to the place, like he was an employee. Looking both ways, he entered.
"Units two and three, we have a suspect that has entered the post office," Ambrose said into the thin mouthpiece that wrapped around his dark face.
We waited for an agonizing minute as the other FBI agents stealthily moved into place.
"Let's go," Ambrose commanded.
I followed him, gun drawn.
We moved down the sidewalk briskly, trying not to be in view of the post office's glass door. We slinked our way across the street and were near the doors when the man emerged, package underneath his armpit. His tweed jacket was a mixture of light and dark brown. He had short, cropped dirty blonde hair parted in the middle and a bushy blonde mustache on his non-descript nose. His thin cheekbones seemed to be drained of blood. He was white as a ghost.
"Alvin Morrisey!" Ambrose called out, causing the suspect's glance to direct toward us, his piercing green eyes seemed to look right through us.
He smiled, staring directly at me.
"Which one of you was it?" He said, a hint of an English accent still present.
"Morrisey! Put your hands where I can see them!" Ambrose ignored the question.
"Certainly not you," Morrisey sneered, then returned his gaze to me. A gust of wind seemed to escape from behind me, causing me to briefly look back. When I returned to Morrisey he was gone and Ambrose was stepping backward.
"What the fuck!" Ambrose cried as a shot rang out.
I looked around me and saw a shadow heading down a side street.
"Got him!" I yelled and took off running.
"Grayson, wait!" I heard Ambrose calling after me. The shot had come from his gun.
I was running as fast as I could, pumping my legs like a turbine. Throughout high school and college, I was a member of the track team. There hadn't been a perp alive who could outrun me. I stopped at the side street, took a quick glance. Dark, no lights from the street lamps and it was a new moon. Pitch black...for fuck's sake.
I glanced down to see the darkest blood I had ever seen. It didn't look human, still I had a feeling it was from our suspect. I eased my way into the alleyway. My keychain had a small LED light that I used to illuminate the pathway directly in front of me.
"Give it up Morrisey," I called out into the darkness, "There's no way out of here now."
"What's your name?" The voice came directly from behind me, I spun, shown my light but there was nothing.
"It's over - show yourself and we - " I screamed as the force hit me, knocking me down to the ground and shaking the gun loose from my hand. My other hand held still was clamped to the tiny LED light. I directed the light to where I thought the gun went - nothing - not that I could see two inches in front of me. Shit.
"Arianna!" I heard Ambrose call out, "Detective Grayson - where are you?"
"Ariannnnnna...." I heard a monstrous voice behind me and turned. Nothing.
"Over here!" I cried.
"Grayson!" I felt Ambrose's light from his flashlight hit me.
"Careful," I replied, "He's in here and I've lost my sidearm."
Ambrose gave me a disapproving look and helped me to my feet.
"Are you nuts?" He scolded, "Never run off like that."
"Can we do this a little later?"
He focused his flashlight down the side street to the dead end. Something reflected back from the light. It was my gun which I quickly retrieved. Ambrose continued to move down the street, following the blood to the back wall of the street.
"There's no way he could have scaled that," I said.
"Yeah," Ambrose replied, continuing to flash the light around the area. There was nothing in the street. He was gone.
A few days later, another murder - Tracy Caril - a goth club hopper from Oak Park was found. With her, a note:
THE LOVELY RED HEAD IS DEFINITELY A FINE ADDITION TO YOUR TEAM. I KNOW SHE VISITED MY MATE, DOUGAL. HAVE TO VISIT HIM, SOON. MEANTIME I ASK YOU TO GIVE THIS MESSAGE TO ARIANNA.
DEAREST GINGER - MEET ME AT JUDGE DOTY'S THOUSAND.
ALLISTER THE ANIHILATOR
The text was written in Tracy's blood. I was already spooked, since I hadn't been able to find my id and badge since the incident at the post office. If Morrisey had it, he had my home address in D.C., thanks to my driver's license. Now he was directing his deranged notes to me. Inadvertently, I had sparked the fascination of a serial killer.
We met at the Chicago field office, conferencing Gio in as we brainstormed on the message.
"Judge Doty? There's a Federal judge in Minnesota by that name." Nasso said.
"What could he have meant by Doty's Thousand?" Cantello replied.
"I don't have any recent references to it," I replied.
"Maybe it doesn't mean anything - it's gibberish to keep us from tracking his crazy ass down," Ambrose mused.
"I don't think so, Carl," I replied, "No, this guy is deliberate in everything he does."
"Now you have a connection to him," Nasso replied, "Do you know a Judge Doty?"
"No," I sighed. I had no idea.
It took me a few days but then it dawned on me - everything this guy does has a historic feel to it. The tweed jacket, the way he spoke, right down to the way he parted his hair. Perhaps the Judge Doty in question was a historic figure, not someone alive today.
After some research, I discovered an interesting fact. In 1836, Federal Judge James Duane Doty purchased a thousand acres to erect the city of Madison, Wisconsin. He hoped to have the city become the capital of the territory when it became a state in the Union, even naming the city after the fourth President of the United States - James Madison, who had recently died.
Madison wasn't too far from Chicago and knowing we'd be watching the airlines and trains out of Chicago, Morrisey could easily move there.
We raced to Madison but discovered we had been too late.
Another murder - Virginia Eccleston - had already taken place.
With her, yet another note written in the victim's blood:
I'M SO DISAPPOINTED THE LOVELY ARIANNA GOT HERE TOO LATE. SHE COULD HAVE STOPPED THIS MADNESS. IT SEEMS THAT I'LL NEED TO KILL ONCE MORE TO GET HER ATTENTION. CAN YOU PREVENT ME FROM FEEDING AGAIN?
ARIANNA, MEET ME AT THE DARK PYRAMID NEAR THE RIVER OF THE MONKS. IF YOU GET HERE IN TIME, YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SAVE THIS ONE AND GAIN A NEW FRIEND.
YOURS FOR ETERNITY,
ALLISTER THE ANIHILATOR
Thanks for reading the excerpt of
The Taking of Arianna Grayson - Book Two of the Serial Vampire Series
Find out the latest on this series at http://serialvampireseries.com